Should you select DeVonta Smith in fantasy drafts?

Should DeVonta Smith's current ADP in fantasy football drafts be viewed as a value or a price to avoid by fantasy managers heading into 2022?

Coming off a relatively quiet rookie year, DeVonta Smith’s fantasy football value took a hit during the 2022 NFL Draft. With more competition for targets in the offense, can he improve on his WR4 finish from last season? Let’s examine Smith’s ADP in 2022 fantasy football drafts and whether that presents value for managers.

DeVonta Smith ADP | Is he worth his current price in fantasy drafts?

Smith’s current ADP for 2022 redraft leagues is very much similar across the three formats. Other than on Yahoo, he’s generally being taken inside the top 100 picks, but rarely before pick 80. Smith’s selection ranges from WR34-WR39 across the different sites and formats.

Essentially, if you want Smith this season, it will take a seventh or eighth-round pick in a 12-team league to get him. The realistic target range is Round 7, but if you draft late in that round, he might be gone based on current ADPs.

DeVonta Smith’s projected fantasy value in 2022

Smith’s rookie season was a solid one but hardly jumped off the page. He saw 6.12 targets per game, a catch rate of 61.5% led to 3.8 receptions per game with 53.9 yards and 0.29 touchdowns per game. All of that left Smith averaging 7.2 fantasy points per game (ppg) in non-PPR and 10.9 ppg in PPR. Those returns were good enough for WR4 finishes.

Smith was a tough player to judge on a weekly basis. In nine of his 17 games, he finished with fewer than 10 points in PPR. That is outside of the average weekly startable range. Then he returned WR2 value on six occasions and WR1 value on five occasions. For a receiver that was viewed as a possession-type player, Smith was very boom and bust last year.

The Eagles’ offense got more complicated this year

A lot about the Eagles’ offense remains the same. Jalen Hurts is the QB, the coaching staff is the same, and the majority of the pieces around Smith are the same. However, there is one big addition, A.J. Brown. The Eagles’ big move during Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft has clouded the situation in terms of target share in Philadelphia.

Last year, Smith led the team in targets with a 22% target share. The combination of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert then split a 23% target share across the season. The trio of backs had another 21% share. The remaining 34% of the targets were split between the Eagles’ WRs 2 and 3 as well as the ancillary pieces of the offense.

Somewhere Brown has to fit into that. It’s unlikely to think he’s going to see much below a 20% target share, given his reputation and what the Eagles gave up to acquire him (and paid him). We can assume he’ll pick up the 57 targets from Jalen Reagor, plus perhaps share some of the 31 targets that Ertz saw before his departure with Goedert. But we still need to find targets as he will ultimately be in that 20-25% target share.

Now, we could see the Eagles throw a bit more. Their 494 pass attempts were the lowest in the NFL, so it would certainly help to see an increase. However, with Hurts under center, this offense will predicate around a strong run game. They might be more balanced, but they’re not going to suddenly throw the ball 650 times.

An optimistic projection might be 550 targets, with Smith having a 20-22% share. That’s a solid 110-120 targets (6.5-7 per game). Additionally, Brown’s arrival should switch the focus of the defense to his side rather than to Smith’s.

So, continuing with our optimism, let’s say Smith catches 65% of those targets with lesser coverage. That is 4.2 to 4.6 receptions per game and 57.2 to 61.6 yards per game. Add in 0.29 touchdowns per game as a median, and we’re at 7.5 to 7.9 ppg in non-PPR and 11.7 to 12.5 ppg in PPR. However, those are still WR3 numbers in both formats, and remember, we were being optimistic with those projections.

Should you draft Smith in 2022?

Remember that the answer is never “no, you should not draft Smith.” The question is really, “Where should you draft Smith if he’s still available?”

In PFN’s consensus 2022 WR fantasy rankings, we have Smith right around the WR40 range, so essentially at the floor of his ADP. We have him right around the 100th player in our rankings. That is in the region of the ninth round of a 12-team league and the late-eighth round at a push.

At his current ADP, it’s hard to make a case for Smith. We optimistically projected the Eagles to throw the ball 100 more times and for Smith to see lesser coverage and still came out with low-end WR3 numbers.

There are positives to Brown’s arrival, but they are minimal. There are ultimately more negatives for Smith being relegated to the WR2 and potentially the third pass catcher in an offense that was run-first last year.

Hurts is a fine fantasy QB in terms of his own production. However, from a point of view of supporting three pass catchers for fantasy, he’s less than desirable. Sure, he could improve, but this offense is unlikely to start suddenly throwing the ball all over the field. Instead, it’s much more likely the Eagles end up as a roughly balanced offense by the end of the season. That outcome does not project well for Smith at his current ADP.

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