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Free Fantasy Advice: Market Inefficiencies

flickr.com/Keith Allison

flickr.com/Keith Allison

Here’s your now weekly public service post.  This list will be helpful for helping to come out ahead in your fantasy football draft.

Below, I’ve listed players who are being reasonably misvalued by the average draft position, compiled through thousands of mock drafts at FantasyFootballCalculator.com.  These are not my rankings of the players, but rather an explanation of why the average fantasy football player, who is generally very rational and predictable, will misvalue certain players.  I will not include kickers or defenses in this analysis, because though they are certainly misvalued, it’s not the kind of thing you’ll be spending one of your first seven picks on anyway.

Players who are being overdrafted

Michael Turner, RB, Falcons:  Turner is being taken on average with the third overall pick, and has not slipped further than seventh in any draft, but it’s probably unreasonable to expect first round type production from him.  The first assumption being made is that the Falcons, who were 4-12 just a year ago, will be able to pound out a bunch of wins on the ground.  That’s likely not accurate.  Secondly, the team is going to have to get Jerious Norwood more involved and that means less total carries for Turner.  People are convinced that Turner will get the goal line carries, and he probably will, but not in the quantity you’d expect from an elite fantasy player.  Let someone else make this pick.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals:  We all noticed the impact Fitzgerald made in the playoffs last year, but we now have five seasons of Fitzgerald in Arizona to know what kind of fantasy player he will be.  Seriously, he’s not a bad choice to be the first receiver off the board, but he’s been taken with the first overall pick in at least one draft.  There’s no reason to rush to add him before anyone else comes off the board: you’ll be just as happy with Randy Moss or Andre Johnson.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers:  Again, there is nothing wrong here with this player, at least not like in Turner’s case, but there’s no reason to make the selection in the first round if you are considering other options.  On average, Williams is off the board in most drafts before proven players like Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs, and even Brian Westbrook.  Throw Ronnie Brown into that group and you have 5 guys that have interchangeable value in seasonal leagues, so don’t feel like you have to rush in and draft Williams.  His upside is real, but no moreso than those other players, unless it’s a keeper league.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions:  He may be a freak, but he’s also a Lions receiver, and you probably shouldn’t touch him before the third round in most situations (again, assuming a non-keeper league).  Johnson might be good for a bunch of TD’s this year, but the 2nd round is going to be loaded with 10 TD type receivers.  Johnson’s a high upside player, but that upside might be 13 TDs, in which case, don’t pay a premium for the additional risk.  If there’s a run on receivers in the second round in your league, go for it.  Otherwise, let someone else overdraft him.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals:  The other Cards receiver is being overdrafted as well.  He’s a No. 2 receiver, and if you are going to take him ahead of any No. 1 WR, make sure that the No. 1 guy plays in an extreme rushing offense, such as Torry Holt, or Donnie Avery.  On average, he’s going ahead of Dwyane Bowe right now, and Bowe is a legitimate No. 1 fantasy receiver.  Boldin, on the other hand, probably should not be the first WR you draft, if you take him at all.  He’s a late 4th or 5th round pick, not a 3rd.

Terrell Owens, WR, Bills:  This one is obvious.  Like many experts, I think his TD catch value makes him a better fantasy option than teammate Lee Evans, but don’t try to make the Bills offense out to be a powerhouse that it is not.  This isn’t the 49ers, Philly, or Dallas, and Owens’ numbers are going to reflect that.  Owens isn’t a solid pick until round 6, at which point, he’s your No. 2 or No. 3 fantasy WR.

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers:  He’s not even guaranteed to be the starter coming out of camp, so he might not be worth a pick at all.  Right now, he’s being chosen as a back end No. 2 running back, but this year, Ryan Grant is strictly mid-to-late round RB depth.  Don’t touch him before the 6th or 7th round, and after you already have picked your starters at the RB position.

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys:  I implore you not to make Witten the first overall tight end taken.  This isn’t last year.  Conventional wisdom says he’s got to be the first tight end off the board, but there’s 5 or 6 TEs that all could end up with the highest number of fantasy points at the end of the year.  Also, he’s not fooling defenses in the NFL anymore, and consequently, his TD totals might not reflect the talented player he still is.

Players who are being underdrafted

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs:  Bowe is a legitimate No. 1 fantasy receiver in the wide open Chiefs offense, and if you think that Scott Pioli is for real, he might be the No. 1 most desirable receiver in a keeper league.  He’s a mid third round pick in most leagues, but you could justify taking Bowe in the early second, or as soon as wide receivers start coming off the board.

Peyton Manning, QB, Colts:  A very wide variance on where Manning is being targeted in drafts.  He’s not my no. 1 QB, not even my no. 2 QB, but you’d still lock him up before the end of the second round if he’s available.  He’s slipping to the 4th round in some drafts.  Hello!  You play to win the game, and Peyton Manning does that with your fantasy team.

Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins:  Ronnie Brown is probably the most talented RB in the league today, and he’s now two years removed from surgery on his ACL, which means he could be in for a huge season.  Right now, Ronnie Brown is a third round pick in most fantasy leagues, but I think he’s more of a back end first rounder or at the very least, a mid-second.  If he’s there when you pick in the third round, he’s easy pickings.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers:  He’s no. 4 on my rankings list, and I’m sure he’s the same on most other lists.  But here’s the big difference with Rivers: he’s an elite fantasy quarterback just like Manning, just like Brady, and just like Brees.  In any given year in the next three, Rivers could be the No. 1 QB in fantasy football.  If you are in a keeper league, he shouldn’t get out of the top 18-20 picks.  In a seasonal league, where he belongs depends on how your league is valuing the QB position.  If any QB goes in the first round, Rivers becomes a second round value.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos:  Don’t worry about the competition at the RB position in Denver.  Moreno was not drafted in the top 12 by a team with a terrible defense so he could redshirt this season.  Behind the Denver line, 1000 yards seems like a bare minimum for him this season.  He’s a late second or early third round value, and you can probably lock him up in the fourth round the way fantasy drafts are breaking.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers:  AFC West offense is dominating this list, and well, have you seen the defenses in that division?  Vincent Jackson is a third round value in all formats, who is being picked like a fourth rounder currently.

LenDale White, RB, Titans:  White has lost a ton of weight in the offseason and he scored 10 times last season, which makes him a devastating fantasy back.  Thing is, a lot of owners will struggle to justify drafting a backup as early as this, but you can steal White in the 4th or 5th round and get a legitimate No. 2 fantasy back who happens to be a No. 2 on his own team.

Donnie Avery, WR, Rams:  Avery is going to miss the next 4-6 weeks due to an injury, which should tank his average draft position.  He was already a steal in most leagues, keepers especially, not coming off the board until the seventh round.  Even with him likely to miss a game or two, if you are sitting in the eight or ninth round and have the chance to add a number one target in an offense which has no complementary option, enjoy the fantasy championship this move can net you.

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