114 days until Chiefs-Lions opening kickoff…
In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Fantasy Life’s Discord Server:
Five No. 1 WRs who are awfully cheap in fantasy land
Rankings vs. Underdog ADP: Biggest values and fades
More touches for Antonio Gibson!?
Team Preview Szn: Buffalo Bills
It’s 5/16. Take it away, Ian Hartitz…
Every day is a great day to fire up a best ball draft.
Underdog Fantasy has contests of all shapes and sizes to enter, and some of the early average draft position (ADP) data is intriguing when it comes to WRs potentially being slept on.
Overall, just six receivers are their own team’s highest-ranked player at the position, yet they find themselves outside fantasy’s top-36 WRs at the moment.
A scholar and/or whatever edition of ChatGPT is out these days might describe these players as “fantasy football’s cheapest No. 1 WRs.”
* Law and Order intro *
These are their stories.
💪 Titans WR Treylon Burks (ADP: WR38, pick 76.3)
The allure of Burks is simple: He flashed down the stretch and remains the clear-cut No. 1 WR inside an offense with arguably less target competition than any other unit in the league. It’s rare to find a first-round WR with sky-high target share potential available this late in drafts.
Yes, the Titans remain fully devoted to the religion of giving Derrick Henry as many touches as possible.
Also, yes, Burks is currently going in a good range of drafts where there are only a few other WRs with his sort of upside still available; he’s a great third or fourth WR addition to squads deploying a zero-RB-esque strategy.
🌻 Ravens WR Zay Flowers (ADP: WR44, pick 89.5)
There’s a lot to like about Flowers as a prospect. Right now, Flowers, Odell Beckham Jr., and Rashod Bateman are going within 20 picks of each other.
Nobody is doubting the ability of Flowers to rise to the top of the group; just realize the Ravens haven’t exactly been great at enabling fantasy-friendly WRs over the years.
Top scoring Ravens WR in fantasy PPR points per game (min 8 games):
2018: John Brown (WR56)
2019: Marquise Brown (WR48)
2020: Brown (WR43)
2021: Brown (WR23)
2022: Devin Duvernay (WR61), Rashod Bateman (WR56) if you go with a minimum of six games
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz)
Apr 10, 2023
🕺 Patriots WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (ADP: WR50, pick 107.5)
Give the tik-toker credit for rebounding with a 78-933-3 receiving line with the Chiefs in 2022; his 9.2 yards per target were the most he has averaged since his rookie season.
Most impressive was JuJu's ability after the catch: He ranked seventh among 80 qualified WRs in yards after the catch per reception (5.9) during his first season in Kansas City and the production wasn’t overly fluky as evidenced by his sixth-place ranking in yards after the catch above expectation (Next-Gen Stats).
Smith-Schuster is still just 26 years old and once again finds himself in an offense with few other proven avenues to go with the football.
Of course, a big season is contingent on OC Bill O'Brien 1.) getting Mac Jones to look more like the guy we saw in 2021 vs. 2022, and 2.) Making life a bit more fantasy-friendly for a Patriots WR group that ranks 28th in expected PPR points over the past three seasons.
🐆 Panthers WR Jonathan Mingo (ADP: WR58, pick 128)
The Panthers are the right sort of situation for the talented rookie to ball out from day one. While it’s possible D.J. Chark, Adam Thielen, and Terrace Marshall earn the Week 1 starting nods, Mingo is reportedly already forming a strong connection with Bryce Young and could see his ADP (continue) to rise as this uncertain depth chart reveals itself.
The Panthers are a top-six offense in terms of available targets and air yards; Mingo arguably has less 2023 target competition than any rookie WR.
Read on for more on Mingo below.
💨 Giants WR Jalin Hyatt (ADP: WR61, pick 140.1)
This is easily one of the NFL’s top-five cheapest WR rooms.
Highest/lowest average ADP from every team's top-three WRs.
1. Bengals (50.5 average ADP)
2. Seahawks (52.8)
3. Chargers (63.3)
4. Vikings (72.1)
5. Jaguars (73.4)
28. Falcons (160)
29. Giants (163.3)
30. Titans (169.6)
31. Patriots (171.8)
32. Texans (184.5)
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz)
May 5, 2023
It’s tough to overly criticize Hyatt’s standing at the top of this muddled mess considering the rookie’s field-stretching skill set stands out in this slot-filled WR room; it’d be rather shocking if he doesn’t find a way into three-WR sets sooner rather than later.
Of course, being the primary deep-ball threat in an offense that posted the league’s third-lowest aDOT is like having the best raincoat in Nevada; Hyatt’s rather steep learning curve coming out of the wide-open Tennessee offense could prevent him from seizing too high of a target share inside of a passing game that was reluctant to overly feature any single WR last season.
Identifying major differences in rankings vs. average draft positions (ADP) is the easiest way to land yourself some value in fantasy drafts of all shapes and sizes. Chris Allen has you covered with some of Fantasy Life’s most-extreme discrepancies at the moment.
Drafting a team can feel daunting if you’re new to best ball.
You’ve got sickos throwing out strategy tips and folks arguing about Week 17 correlations. But the draft itself is also problematic. You’ll have a plan and then watch another manager draft your guy. And the backup options by ADP aren’t worth the click.
There should be a process for finding value independent of the market.
Enter Dwain’s Top 150 ranks.
With these, I found a few players worth reaching for and others to avoid as the hot best ball summer quickly approaches.
📈 Value Targets
😯 WR Jonathan Mingo – Panthers
Dwain’s Rank: 142nd
Underdog ADP: 129.1
Let’s set aside the obvious for a second. At 6’1”-226 lbs with 4.46 speed, Jonathan Mingo steps onto the Panthers squad as the most athletic receiving option for Bryce Young.
Head coach Frank Reich’s plan for deploying Mingo makes me more interested than focusing on his measurables.
Frank Reich's vision for WR Jonathan Mingo
Shallows. Crossers. Vertical routes. Ball skills.
Repeated multiple times how great of a fit he is in their offensive plan. https://t.co/vDFlwc450R
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris)
Apr 29, 2023
The Panthers want the Ole Miss phenom to function as a short-intermediate option. And, compared to receivers drafted ahead of Mingo, Carolina’s decision makes sense.
Mingo’s after-the-catch averages and efficiency per route on short and intermediate targets align with his peers. So, without much competition in front of Mingo, drafters would be prudent to place bets on his takeover of the Panthers’ offense during his rookie campaign.
🚀 RB Elijah Mitchell – 49ers
Dwain’s Rank: 120th
Underdog ADP: 127.2
For Elijah Mitchell to be a value, you have to split his cost into two components: health and workload. And the market has appropriately priced his health.
Fantasy pundits assumed that Christian McCaffrey would take over the backfield without mentioning Mitchell. CMC’s knack for evading tackles and earning targets would wipe away any residual value for the remaining SF RBs.
Mitchell had other thoughts.
The two played in three competitive games and nearly split the workload. Even if you included targets, Mitchell had more high-value touches than McCaffrey. Granted, it’s a small sample size, but it indicates how Kyle Shanahan intended to deploy the duo.
CMC only had two more carries than Mitchell in the playoffs during their two games together. And yet, McCaffrey enters ’23 as the RB1 while his 1B sits at RB41. With San Francisco’s PROE likely to stay in the bottom 12, Mitchell should be a target at his current price.
Run, don't walk, to take advantage of these ADPs on Underdog Fantasy with a 100% deposit match of up to $100 by creating a new account below!
PLUS, if you need more fantasy value, we have you covered with 3 more players that are WAY too cheap right now.
PS, everyone needs more fantasy value. (Don’t fight it)
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Just make sure to avoid any questions about mulching your yard.
😎 Quite the fashion statement from one of the NFL’s best QBs. Joe Brrr strikes again.
🚑 If you could choose one player to have an injury-free career, who would it be? Fun replies here.
🏈 The Falcons plan on using the 2023 NFL Draft’s No. 8 overall pick all over the field. Let Bijan cook?
🦶 Incredible individual performance in the USFL. Who needs a kicker?
🏥 Injuries objectively suck. At least this rookie RB says he’s healthy.
✈️ You know there are problems when the Twitter bio gets changed. Drama with the Jets.
👀 Could this FINALLY be the year Antonio Gibson gets fed? Happy offseason coach speak szn.
🎤 Matt Ryan has an update on his future. No, he’s not retiring just yet.
📺 Streaming services are taking over. Major W for Peacock.
Fantasy Life senior analyst Ian Hartitz is breaking down all 32 NFL teams over the next two months. Let’s take a look at the Bills, who once again profile as having one of the league’s most fantasy-friendly passing attacks…
Stefon Diggs (Ian’s WR4)
Gabriel Davis (WR39)
Khalil Shakir (WR86)
Deonte Harty (WR87)
Diggs has peeled off 127-1535-8, 103-1225-10 and 108-1429-11 receiving lines since teaming up with Josh Allen in 2020. Only Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, Tyreek Hill and Justin Jefferson have averaged more PPR points per game during this span.
Of course, father time is undefeated, and Diggs turns 30 in November. This is historically when WRs go from great to good in fantasy land: Only 14 WRs have posted top-12 seasons in PPR points per game after turning 30 over the past 10 years.
And yet, nothing about Diggs’ 2022 performance indicated a major dropoff in performance was imminent and the Bills didn’t really add any target competition to worry about. Age alone isn’t enough reason to completely fade somebody; just realize it’s enough to serve as a tie-breaker when compared against similarly elite talents with absurdly fantasy-friendly volume.
The longtime stud remains plenty capable of twisting up cornerbacks of all shapes and sizes; you don’t need more than one hand to count the number of WRs you should pick ahead of him in fantasy land.
And then there’s Davis, whose season-long 48-836-7 receiving line wasn’t exactly what truthers had in mind considering the man ended his 2021 campaign with an incredible 8-201-4 performance in the Bills’ batshit crazy AFC Divisional Round loss to the Chiefs. His status as the WR38 in PPR points per game didn’t exactly pay off his pricey WR24 preseason ADP.
One important note: Davis suffered a high-ankle sprain in a Week 2 practice that he ultimately played through during the rest of the season. He still managed to post the occasional boom, but the injury helps explain why the team felt the need to re-sign Smokey and Beasley later in the season.
Bills GM Brandon Beane certainly seems to be giving Davis the benefit of the doubt.
“I have a lot of confidence with Gabe [Davis] as our No. 2 [wide receiver]’
— Dan Fetes (@danfetes)
Feb 28, 2023
Somehow still only 24 years of age, Davis (again) profiles as Allen’s rather undisputed No. 2 WR. The Bills’ pass-happy offense has produced the single-most expected WR PPR points per game over the past three seasons; improved health in 2023 should yield returns closer to what drafters were hoping for last season.
Or maybe it won’t; either way, Davis is currently being priced below where he finished last season. The definition of buying a fantasy asset closer to their floor than ceiling, Davis is a prime post-hype candidate who has proven capable of booming in a major way when everything is right.
I’m largely out on the rest of the Bills receivers as anything other than LATE round darts. This is mostly due to the insertion of the team’s first-round TE Dalton Kincaid. More on him … right now!
Looking for more discussion on the Bills? Check out Ian Hartitz & Dwain McFarland on the Fantasy Life Podcast!