Drafting In Reverse 2013 Pt. 1
Trolling the Depths
Drafting in Reverse is a mental exercise of sorts that I’ve been doing for years now. I started publishing it in 2009 when I was writing for Fantasy Phenoms and it’s been one of Rotobahn’s signature preseason articles since our inception in 2010.
The basic principle of Drafting in Reverse is to forecast how a specific draft will play-out in later stages, so that you gain a strategic advantage with your early-round picks. This gives you the ability to plan effectively and to take advantage of the deeper parts of the draft, while knowing when to strike on the talent pool's more scarce commodities. In short, it keeps you in the sweet spot for value-drafting throughout the entire draft.
Way back when, before the days of the internet, in what I call “The Magazine Era”, most fantasy geeks prepared the same way. They read fantasy football mags, which were mostly rags that regurgitated the same heavily-dated information.
It occurred to me that I was usually grossly over-prepared when it came to the top 100 or so players and relatively underprepared when it came to the second half of the player pool. I started dedicating far more energy to the later rounds and reading more non-fantasy content that got deeper into team-by-team information and I got really informed. I eventually became fairly notorious for making hay towards the end of drafts while most GMs were swinging and missing.
A few years later, the internet age was underway. Drafting websites sprang up and we all entered the ADP Era. Now my reverse approach worked even better because I could easily identify which of my targeted players would slip to me late and which players I needed to be more aggressive with. Drafting In Reverse was born and that’s how I’ve been rolling ever since.
It has evolved into a 3-part series, and today, in Part 1, we get into the draft so deeply that we explore the guys who aren’t even being taken, plus the best of the last forty players being drafted.
In part two, we’ll evaluate players with ADPs from 101-200, and in Part 3, we’ll work backwards through the top 100 players, and, finally, we’ll build a team in reverse--using the information in all three articles.
Alright then, let’s troll the depths. Here are the top forty players who are currently going undrafted in 12-team leagues with 20-round drafts. Said differently, these players carry ADPs of 241 or higher, or, have no ADP at all. For those of you who like deep sleepers, it don’t get no deeper than this in 12-team leagues.
Please note, for context, that these players are being ranked for their upside value and not for their logistical value. You may see certain handcuff options ranked higher in the actual rankings than they are ranked here. Obviously, if that player was YOUR handcuff, you’d take him sooner. Our cheat sheets take that into account, but here, we are swinging for late round value. Now, what constitutes “late rounds”? In 20-round drafts, I start looking at these players in about the 15th round or so. Obviously, if some of my higher ranked players are still there, I’ll be taking them, but this group, even though they aren’t being drafted in most leagues, are viable to us in the last quadrant of 12-team 20-round drafts--right around 170 overall.
Lastly, I am posting this article today because I have had so many requests. I normally hold off until after the third week of preseason, but I’m going early ... because I care. I will update this portion of Drafting In Reverse some time next week to reflect major changes in ADP. Ok, let's dig in and take at look at the undrafted.
|1||Kenny Stills||WR||NO||7||We have him ranked higher than any place I have seen, and though he will definitely get more buzz in the coming weeks, he is currently going undrafted more often than not. I’m looking for him in the last quarter of big drafts ... about rounds 15-17 and I’ll adjust up another round if he starts getting too much pub. Check out our dynasty update on Stills. His pre-draft scouting report can be found here.|
|2||Vance McDonald||TE||SF||9||He needs to be drafted because, though he may end playing a part-time role, he has the upside to go off with the 49ers looking for options in the passing game. It will likely come down to how well he is blocking for his teammates because his receiving skills are already there.|
|3||Markus Wheaton||WR||PIT||5||Must be drafted as he is one injury away from being a very good WR3 option. Wheaton can play right now, but has two very solid vets ahead of him. He’s an outstanding flier for Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders owners as he actually has more upside than either one of them.|
|4||Deonte Thompson||WR||BAL||8||A huge sleeper who has been banged up in camp. We like Thompson a lot and think he’ll get every opportunity to shine in Baltimore this year. He’s a good fit for Flacco’s huge arm and downfield prowess. I love him as a late round flier.|
|5||Riley Cooper||WR||PHI||12||Sociological issues aside, Cooper is a huge value late in drafts. He has WR3 upside if he plays well and stays healthy. Yes, WR3.|
|6||Marquise Goodwin||WR||BUF||12||There are reasons why he might be more of a role player, especially as a rookie, but as we said before the draft, we love his talent. If you are looking for a high-end sleeper late in drafts, you can do a lot worse than Flash Goodwin. Check out Goodwin’s Scouting Report and get a look at his talents.|
|7||Zach Ertz||TE||PHI||12||Like a lot of these guys, Ertz is a 50/50 play, but those are good odds at this stage of the game. Ertz’s upside is TE1 and he’s about 50/50 to be of TE2 quality. He should be drafted.|
|8||Quinton Patton||WR||SF||9||Patton missed a whole lot of camp with a hand injury and is a bit behind. That being said, he is a serious competitor and a great fit for Harbaugh and Kaepernick. He may take time, but he might just take off right away. There’s certainly opportunity. I’m very happy to scoop The General up late in drafts and hope for some upside.|
|9||Aaron Mellette||WR||BAL||8||He’s been up and down in camp, but we love his talent and with all the injuries in Baltimore, he may end up being force fed. Solid upside here. Check out my recent article on the Raven’s rookie.|
|10||Kyle Williams||WR||SF||9||I might just take him and Patton with my last two picks if they are there. I’d have a pretty good chance of stealing one of Kaepernick’s starters without using much draft ammo. Williams is a solid talent if his knee is all the way back.|
|11||Jeremy Kerley||WR||NYJ||10||The more Santonio Holmes doesn’t want to practice, the more I want to draft Jeremy Kerley, who could be worth quite a bit in Marty Mornhinweg’s system. This kid is an underrated receiver.|
|12||Armanti Edwards||WR||CAR||4||I was talking about Armanti back in June. Check out his Dynasty Update. The key for Armanti now is to get healthy. If he wins the job as Newton’s 3rd receiver, he’s absolutely worth being selected. I’ll be looking for him late. We’ll keep you posted on this camp battle.|
|13||Aldrick Robinson||WR||WAS||5||He may be a role player or he may be a breakout player. Take him late and give him an audition. If he busts, we’ll have your replacement waiting for you in our weekly waiver wire.|
|14||Doug Baldwin||WR||SEA||12||Sidney Rice’s knees have us thinking that Baldwin could be a bigger factor in 2013. Definitely worth a look in tougher leagues.|
|15||Josh Boyce||WR||NE||10||Take a look at my pre-draft Scouting Report on Boyce. He’s a good fit for New England as I say in the report. He’s worth a flier and he’s worth more than that in long term leagues.|
|16||Chris Polk||RB||PHI||12||Polk is a guy to monitor. If he ends up passing Bryce Brown, he is going to have serious value. He’s worth a deep flier either way as a stash option. Polk’s got ability and he’s in a great scheme.|
|17||Kenjon Barner||RB||CAR||4||Barner’s pre-draft Scouting Report says it all. He’s a good back and he might playing more snaps than folks think. The Panthers have a big back in Newton any time they need one. Barner offers contrasting ability and is a better receiver than DeAngelo Williams.|
|18||Isaac Redman||RB||PIT||5||Redman is in the discussion and should be rostered just in case he ends up with early flex value and Bell takes longer to heal then we are currently being told.|
|19||Julius Thomas||TE||DEN||9||TE is a deep position, but this guy has good talent and he plays with that Manning guy. Must be owned.|
|20||Andre Ellington||RB||ARI||9||If you are looking to swing for the fences in the last round, and you own Rashard Mendenhall, Ellington is an interesting option. He gives you some handcuff and some upside. I don’t believe Ryan Williams can stay healthy and Ellington has more upside than Stepfan Taylor, who we like as well . Check out my pre-draft scouting report on Ellington.|
|21||Travis Kelce||TE||KC||10||Upside. Kelce has it. In an offense starved for weapons, he has the potential to be one. If you can stash him and wait a few weeks, you could have something.|
|22||Stepfan Taylor||RB||ARI||9||If Rashard Mendenhall goes down, and he could, we expect one of the rookie to emerge. If I am looking for a depth back in the last round, I’d be ok with Stepfan, who is a very fundamentally sound player who can play all three downs if need be. He should be rostered.|
|23||Lance Dunbar||RB||DAL||11||If there’s a guy to roster behind Demarco Murray, this is probably the guy. He should be owned.|
|24||Jake Locker||QB||TEN||8||He can be a QB that gives you both foot points and passing points in abundance. He’s also a potential bust, but what do expect with your last pick? If you want some upside at QB late, Locker’s a solid pick.|
|25||Toby Gerhart||RB||MIN||5||The idea that a Peterson owner could take AP and then not take Gerhart for 19 straight rounds is crazy, but it’s happening in mocks. Don’t let it happen with you.|
|26||Jeff Cumberland||TE||NYJ||10||Cumberland is fast and he can play too. His 2011 season ended early with an Achilles injury, but he came back last year and showed some ability but lacked his old burst. Well, the burst is back and Cumberland could be a nice late grab as a low-cost TE2 option.|
|27||Keenan Allen||WR||SD||8||They are running out of healthy options in San Diego. We’re not huge fans of Allen's rookie chances, but he’s worth a late flier as a stash option right now.|
|28||Nick Toon||WR||NO||7||We like him as we told you last Summer. He’s healthy now and if Colston ends up having trouble with his knees, Toon could emerge. With the shallow state of the Saints receiving corps, we like Toon late in drafts.|
|29||Spencer Ware||RB||SEA||12||Here’s one interesting thing about all the backs ahead of Spencer Ware on Seattle’s depth chart.... They all get hurt. Ware might be worth a look late in drafts as a stash option. I’ll tell you this much, if he ever starts getting carries, you want this kid. He’s a vintage Pete Carroll back.|
|30||Alex Green||RB||GB||4||He’s a stash until things shake out. Green has good talent, but he’s not Eddie Lacy.|
|31||Keshawn Martin||WR||HOU||8||A very under-the-radar player who could start doing good things from the slot. Martin’s worth a look in the last round of big drafts.|
|32||Robert Turbin||RB||SEA||12||Still worth owning because he’s a good back and Christine Michael gets hurt. He’s also a guy to nab if you take Lynch and somebody beats you to Michael.|
|33||Mike Tolbert||RB||CAR||4||I’d roster Tolbert as a stash because you never know what they are going to do down in Carolina. He’s a decent way to handcuff DeAngelo Williams early on assuming Jonathan Stewart ends up on the PUP.|
|34||James Casey||TE||PHI||12||He’s been hurt but he has some upside in Chip Kelly’s system. Stash and give him a look early on and cut him if he’s not involved.|
Values From 201-240
These players are being taken late--after the first 200 picks. I've listed them in reverse order of their ADP, which is the number listed after the player's team. These are the best values I see over the last forty selections based on current ADP data obtained at Fantasy Pros.
Jake Locker, QB, Titans, 239
He can be a QB that gives you both foot points and passing points in abundance. He’s also a potential bust, but what do expect with your last pick? If you want some upside at QB late, Locker’s a solid choice.
Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs, 237
He should be gone earlier, because he has a ton of talent and he’s backing up a very valuable player with an injury history. How he’s lasting this long I have no idea. Check out my pre-draft report on Davis and get a look at his talents ... and his flaws.
Robert Woods, WR, Bills, 236
Woods is a player that could really go off at any time. It may come down to how well his quarterbacks play, but we love his game and we think he’s a very solid flier even a bit before his ADP.
Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars, 234
He’s got too much upside to be on the board this late. Robinson could end up having huge value if MJD has more foot trouble. Personally, if I draft Jones-Drew, THIS is the guy I am handcuffing to him. Yes, really. Check out our pre-draft report on Robinson.
Ed Dickson, TE, Ravens, 232
His value has dipped because of a hamstring injury, but it looks like he’ll make it back for the opener. I like him as a high upside TE2 that you can nab late. Flacco needs targets.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Browns, 227
He’s a very solid value here or a little sooner. We liked Weeden going into 2012 and we like him even more now with Norv Turner running the offense. We also like his weaponry. Weeden can be your QB2 and he’s way cheap. Check out my Hello Cleveland article from earlier this year if you missed it.
Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks, 222
Check out my pre-draft take on Michael here and take a look at what this guy can do. He’s well worth a flier at his current ADP and he’s probably the back to own if you draft Marshawn Lynch.
Kendall Hunter, RB, 49ers, 216
His Achilles injury has kept his value down, but he’s back now and we like him to be the primary backup to Frank Gore. Hunter could have some flex value during the byes and he’s a potential monster if Gore goes down. Get him if you own Gore ... or even if you don’t.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos, 210
He should be drafted because he could have real value if the youngsters struggle in pass protection. He’s a nice add late if you own either Montee Ball or Ronnie Hillman or if you are looking for an upside stash at tailback.
Joique Bell, RB, Lions, 205
Bell is a big value this late and must be drafted sooner by those who opt to roll the dice with Reggie Bush. Bell has clearly outplayed Mikel LeShoure at this stage and has shown himself to be a fine 2-way back.
Roy Helu, RB, Redskins, 207
He was going undrafted just a week ago and he’s still a value here. Helu is a very good back and if Alfred Morris went down, Helu could replace him in full and give you similar production. Even with a healthy Morris, Helu is going to have some value during the bye weeks.
As I suspected going in, we can get a lot of good items after 200 picks have happened and even once the draft is over. There is an abundance of upside plays at receiver and a few solid options with less upside, like Jeremy Kerley. There are still plenty of high upside fliers at TE and there are plenty of stash-able running backs, but very few sure things unless a light flex option turns you on.
There are also a few reliable players that can be counted on right away, like Brandon Weeden, Riley Cooper and perhaps Isaac Redman.
So what did we learn?
We learned that there will be good talent late and it’s well worth staying sober and alert for the duration so you can fully capitalize on it. From a strategic standpoint, we learned that we can hold off on our backup QB for a long time if need be and that we can do the same at tight end. We’ll carry this knowledge forward and use it when we conclude this series and draft our faux team.
I hope I gave you some good info here. Good luck to all early drafters!
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