Drafting In Reverse 2014 Pt. 1: The Undrafted
Trolling the Depths
The undrafted. As said in the original Drafting In Reverse column back in 2009, and for those of you who know your Johnny Dangerously…. In the words of Dr. Zillman, “these are the unlucky ones.” For whatever reason, these viable fantasy options are being wholly disrespected and ignored.
In fairness, some of these players are on the fringe--the edge of fantasy viability. Having said that, of all those players out on the edge of viability, these would be the most likely to move from said fringe into the fray. Hence, whether you draft them or not, keep them on your mental short list, because, if they break out, it won’t be a fluke.
We’ll be recommending those who step up and perform in our weekly waiver wire. So, even if you blow this column off, we’ll be doing our level best to backfill this information and get them onto your team on the other side of the draft. And, don't get me wrong, the guys ranked near the top, in my view, should NOT be left for free agency in larger formats. Guys like Archer, Latimer, Gresham, Polk and Brown (both of them) really ought to be owned in big formats. We'll take a look at all of them, and be sure to hit the links to the rookie scouting reports if you haven’t already digested them. We get into far greater depth and always include game film in the scouting reports.
Back to Drafting In Reverse.... Conceptually, looking at the talent pool backwards is intended to strengthen your decision-making throughout the draft. We want to hammer the strengths of each segment of the draft into our heads so we always have an innate feel for what we’ll be able to get later. Simply put, knowledge of what you can get late should color your decision-making process in the early stages. You always want to be selecting from the strength of the talent pool, and knowing what that strength is going to be all the way through a draft allows the fantasy GM to make sound informed strategical choices. This weekend, I will be back to take a look at players who ARE being drafted, but who carry an ADP greater than 200. For those who are new to this series, I'll then tackle players with ADPs between 101 and 200. Lastly, in Part IV, we'll look for value in the top 100 and then draw conclusions that we can use to strengthen our draft plan.
The ADP used was obtained at Fantasy Pros and MyFantasyLeague.com. To quality for this list, the players had to have either no ADP at all or ADP lower than 264 as of August 12th. And, they had to qualify on both lists. I erred on the side of omission. Alright, let’s dig into the undrafted.
Listed in current order of preference.
Dri Archer, RB, Steelers
He’s really a hybrid talent, and he could end up being classified as a receiver at some point in his career. For this year, he’s a RB, and that could make him a valuable option, especially in PPR leagues. I’m not going to wax poetic about Dri’s talents here. I did that at length in his scouting report, which includes plenty of film. Check it out. If you lack the time to read it, then just take my advice and make sure this kid is owned in your 12-team league. People are painting Archer as a gimmick option. I assure you, he’s more than that and he could prove it pretty quickly if given the chance. If the Steelers use him as much as we think they should, he’ll be a household name by October.
Cody Latimer, WR, Broncos
Upside alert! I can assure you that Latimer will not go undrafted in any 12-team league that I am a part of. You simply don’t pass on the chance to land a Peyton Manning receiver with this much talent. I wrote an extensive scouting report on Latimer, who we see as a future star and the future is only an Emmanuel Sanders injury away. If you own Wes Welker, Sanders or even Demaryius Thomas, Latimer is quality insurance against injury, because any injury to any Broncos receiver puts Latimer square on the must-own list.
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals
This is a player with Pro Bowl ability and he’s in an offense that will afford him a good amount of red zone opportunities. He’ll be a nearly every down player by our math and he has a solid relationship with his quarterback. Not only should he be owned, but he has starter’s upside in large leagues. He should be drafted. End of story.
John Brown, WR, Cardinals
Wake up, world. John Brown’s a potential stud as we told you in his scouting report. He could actually have WR3 value with just a single injury in Arizona. Not that we view Floyd or Fitzgerald as being injury-prone, but Brown is an interesting handcuff option in large formats and long term leagues for sure. This kid’s a player.
Chris Polk, RB, Eagles
This one is a joke. Polk needs to be owned as a handcuff to LeSean McCoy and it’s not happening—probably because of Darren Sproles. Sproles’ value will certainly go up in the event of a McCoy injury, but no way in hell would he handle the bulk of the backfield work. No way. He has other crucial jobs on special teams and he’s an undersized 31-year old running back. Chris Polk is the guy whose role would explode if McCoy goes down. He’s there for the taking in all formats. Handcuff this man, LeSean owners.
Marlon Brown, WR, Ravens
This is a head-scratcher. Steve Smith is past his prime and Brown is a touchdown scorer. While he certainly could get squeezed out of Gary Kubiak’s TE-heavy scheme, he could also end up as the Ravens best red zone option outside of Dennis Pitta. He’s a very worthy stash option in bigger formats, especially for those who end up drafting and playing Steve Smith.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals
Sanu could be a nice short term option, and it would not surprise me one bit if he had a big September with Marvin Jones out. Granted, Sanu will probably move up a bit, but the specter of Jones’ Week 5 return should keep him from moving up too much. He’s a clever way to fill a starting spot early on in deeper formats while you wait for your rookies and second year players to get going.
Brian Quick, WR, Rams
Quick is nearing the point where he should start to show something. We’ve always liked his ability and he could get some opportunities this season. He’s a player to watch in camp and he’s running with the starter’s so he could make a splash. He’s a deep flier with some legit upside potential. This kid is a very good athlete but was also a bit of a project. Now he's entering year three and good things could happen. The Rams are very underrated at the skill positions. The key for Quick is to perform well while Stedman Bailey is out on suspension. A slow start will cost him.
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Washington
Upside personified. As I said in Lache’s scouting report, he has as much upside as any back in the 2014 class. His rookie year could be anything from a redshirt campaign to a monster breakout. In deeper formats, this is a lottery ticket I very much want to purchase. Just be sure that he’s a depth option and not a player you are counting on early.
Jonathan Grimes, RB, Texans
He may fade back into the woodwork, but I doubt it. Right now, Grimes and Alfred Blue are the only two backs capable of carrying the load in the event of another injury to Arian Foster. We’ll determine which one has more value as we move through August, but the release of Andre Brown and Dennis Johnson has put the spotlight on Grimes and Blue. One of them (the one who wins the camp battle) must be owned in all formats and both of them should be owned in deeper redraft leagues.
Jordan Todman, RB, Jaguars
Right now, he looks like the guy to own behind the potentially brittle Toby Gerhart. While we think Denard Robinson has the most upside, Todman is currently holding down the second spot on the depth chart. Both backs should be owned in deep 12-team formats.
Charles Johnson, WR, Browns
I think he’ll move up throughout the rest of the preseason, but he should really be getting drafted now in larger formats. I want to see him hold up a bit with his newly rehabbed ACL before I push him up even higher up our board, but he has the potential to crack the top 200. He’s the receiver in Cleveland with the most upside after Andrew Hawkins and eventually Josh Gordon if his suspension is cut down.
Jerrell Jernigan, WR, Giants
One injury is all it will take to make Jernigan a PPR option. If the Giants top three receivers are all healthy, Jernigan will not find consistency, but when you consider that Odell Beckham Jr. is nursing a recurring hamstring issue, Jernigan should probably be getting drafted somewhere inside the top 264—the number of players taken in an MFL10.
Alfred Blue, RB, Texans
People are talking up Jonathan Grimes and rightfully so, but Blue was more impressive to us on film and has better goal line ability. If the Texans are sans Arian Foster for an extended period, Blue could end up being the back to own, and in big formats, he’s worth owning on a preemptive basis.
Theo Riddick, RB, Lions
When you look at Reggie Bush’s injury history and the fact that Joique Bell has been nursing a sore knee recently, you might come to the conclusion that Theo Riddick should be drafted in deep PPR formats. I know I have.
Levin Toilolo, TE, Falcons
He’s a starting tight end in a pass-first offense that features a solid quarterback who knows how to use the position. We’re not big Toilolo fans, but if he’s any good at all, he could have some value.
Robert Turbin, RB, Seahawks
If he’s officially passed by Christine Michael, he still has end-of-the-draft value in large leagues, especially large PPR leagues.
Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars
We are big fans of the former Michigan standout. We still feel that it’s only a matter of time before the Jaguars are forced to get him more involved. Having said that, we are fans of HC Gus Bradley, and we appreciate the way he’s making the young backs earn their way. He’s substance over flash and that’ll serve the Jags well over time. He’s like Greg Schiano, but he’s not a total d*&k.
Mike Tolbert, RB, Panthers
One injury is all it will take Tolbert to have weekly value in large formats. He could play an even more vital role than normal in 2014 if Carolina’s pass pro woes prove to be as bad as they look on paper.
Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars
He’s an afterthought but he shouldn’t be. Lewis is a compelling option in bigger formats, especially early in the season with so many injuries in Jacksonville.
Luke Willson, TE, Seahawks
When you look at his skill set and the offense he plays in, you almost have to conclude that Willson is a sleeper with a chance to break out in 2014. Seattle has a lot of very nice players, but they are largely injury risks. Sidney Rice is already done. Percy Harvin is always a hit away. Rookie Kevin Norwood is already nursing a foot injury. The RBs in Seattle are pounders with medium skill in the passing game. There are a few scenarios where we see Willson becoming a staple in Seattle’s offense and they don’t all involve injury to others. He should be owned in large formats.
Joseph Fauria, TE, Lions
He’s worth a look late for his upside. He’s a TE in position only and he could fight with Eric Ebron for snaps if the rookie struggles. Fauria has outstanding red zone ability and could become a valuable player if he improves his routes a bit. He’s worth keeping tabs on for sure and could be worth drafting in a few weeks if he has a good camp.
Dan Herron, RB, Colts
In a few weeks he could be a player to own. Let’s face it, Ahmad Bradshaw is a talented but brittle player and he’s ticketed for a major role. If Bradshaw goes down and Richardson fails to recapture his form, Herron is a breakout candidate based almost solely on location. We’ve always seen Herron as a back who could do good things if given the chance. He’s not special, but he’s solid … and his proximity to Andre Luck is a value added detail.
Stephen Hill, WR, Jets
He’s an upside flier who could be one of your early cuts. Not sexy sounding, I know, but this kid has size and he’s got serious long speed. If the Jets get their offense at all figured out, this guy could be a source of big plays. In large formats, he’s an interesting flier near the tail end of drafts.
Jason Avant, WR, Panthers
He may end up being the third receiver and that’s the role he’s played most of his career. Still, in large PPR formats, Avant could be a factor, and he’s worth owning if your league rosters enough players. He's not the kind of upside option I generally covet, but he can help you in bigger formats.
Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots
He’s talented and if he fails to make the final roster in New England, he’ll likely land on his feet in a place like New York (NYG), Arizona or Houston. Bolden is a big back who can play like a big back, but he also has some little back skills. He should find a home one way or another. He’s worth a look in real big formats.
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Bears
If you've been a longtime fan of Rotobahn, you may know that we like Jimmy Clausen as a prospect. We think he'll be a high-value waiver add in the event of an injury to Jay Cutler. The Bears offense is loaded and HC Marc Trestman's system has once again proven to be highly effective. For those who opt to roll the bones with Cutler, Clausen could be a cheap way to protect yourself from injury if you fail to get a high-quality backup. Again, this is a move for Cutler owners in certain scenarios.
Alright, so what did we learn? Well, we’ve learned that this year’s talent pool is absurdly deep. I raised the “undrafted” standard from last year and we still have a solid group of players that are out there for the taking in almost all redraft formats. Last season, my ADP cutoff was 240. This year, thanks to MFL10’s, we’ve raised the bar to 264—the number of players taken in a 12-team 22-round draft.
Let’s itemize the key takeaways….
- You can clean up at the tail end of almost any draft. You just need to know what to look for and you need to have space to fill at the right positions. This means that you can't draft a back like Seastrunk towards the end if you already drafted all the RBs you can roster. Leave space for your late-round targets if possible.
- While RBs with bell-cow roles are as rare as truly elite receiving options, you can get RBs with plenty of upside in every round of a typical draft, even in deep 12-team formats. Dri Archer heads that list, but he’s far from alone. This is partially due to mistakes being made by poor GMs earlier on in drafts, but it also underscores the depth at the RB position throughout the entire league. It’s one of the reasons RBs aren’t getting paid in the NFL. It’s a buyer’s market plain and simple.
- Getting an upside TE can be done at almost any level of any draft. This is crucial information if you don’t manage to score an elite tight end. This is a position that you can fix on the fly if need be. The free agent market will provide potential solutions. There's never a need to stress out about tight ends, as long as you are drafting well overall.
- People like quarterbacks and people like drafting quarterbacks. It's the one position that everybody knows--even the marginal player. While QB depth is absurd and while there’s enough of them to give all twelve teams two quality options, you do NOT want to leave your QB2 for the last round in a big draft. I like to do my QB business between rounds 7 and 15 ideally. There’s almost always good value in that zone. Again, this would be in deeper leagues. In shallow 10-team formats and smaller, you will never run out of options.
That’s it for the undrafted. We'll carry what we've learned forward to Drafting In Reverse Pt 2, where we'll cover players being taken from 201-264. Article by article, we'll build a picture of the entire draft board and how best to attack it for maximum fantasy performance in 2014.
- Post Draft Rookie RB Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft TE Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft QB Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft RB Rankings
- 2017 Pre-Draft WR Rankings
- 2017 Pre Combine Rankings
- Postseason Cheatsheets
- Tight End Rankings Week 17
- Wide Receiver Rankings Week 17
- Running Back Rankings Week 17