Fantasy football is a fun yet cruel game.
Managers have to successfully maneuver between brutal injuries, bad luck, roster mismanagement while things are completely out of their control.
With the knowledge that anything can happen, it’s wise to fall back on a few key strategies that can actually tilt the fantasy odds ever in your favor. The key is to nail the draft and to do that players must be able to find value. And one of the best ways to increase your statistical edge is by taking advantage of shoddy average draft position (ADP).
Savvy fantasy football managers will be able to identify which players will gain value throughout the season. And we're here to help.
Here are five NFL players who should beat their ADP and become values barring an injury.
*PPR ADP via FantasyPros as of Aug. 24.
Najee Harris (ADP: 16)
Capitalizing on rookie value is a tried and true method of fantasy football success. That is, if you pick the correct rookie, of course.
And there is no better rookie to select than Steelers first-rounder Najee Harris. While the Alabama product might be running behind a sieve of an offensive line, he'll still get plenty of volume, which is all fantasy managers should really care about.
Even if Harris ends up averaging a paltry three yards per carry, he's one of the few players in the NFL — rookie or veteran — who could see upwards of 300 touches this season. The Steelers have historically been in favor of a bell-cow running back as opposed to a committee, and that is incredible news for fantasy managers.
Look at Pittsburgh running backs of the past: Le’Veon Bell and James Conner both enjoyed fantastic fantasy seasons as the undisputed leaders of their respective backfields. That along with the draft capital the Steelers invested in Harris should equal a lot of points in real life and in fantasy.
Harris is going to be handling the football more than most running backs in the league. And that's exactly who you want to invest in.
Darren Waller (ADP: 23.2)
Drafting Darren Waller in the late-second/early-third round might seem like it’s a bit of an overpay, but that simply isn’t the case.
Not only is Waller good at football — which is pretty important — but he also plays tight end, arguably the most top-heavy position in fantasy.
Last season, the two highest-scoring tight ends — Travis Kelce and Waller — scored 312.8 and 278.6 PPR fantasy points, respectively. Robert Tonyan and Logan Thomas tied for the third-most PPR fantasy points scored by a tight end at 176.6, more than 100 points less than Waller.
In leagues where managers must start at least one tight end every week, it’s a massive advantage to have one of Kelce, Waller or George Kittle at the position. But currently, Waller is the best value among his tight-end brethren.
Waller has a beautiful path to a productive fantasy season. The Raiders’ other skill position players aren’t exactly world-beaters. That means Waller should once again be a target hog in the Raiders' offense.
He’s a monster in the open field and averaged a juicy 28% target share last season. He’s a home run pick if he stays healthy.
Darrell Henderson Jr. (ADP: 49.6)
With an ADP in the fourth round, Henderson could be a steal in what's referred to as the "running back dead zone," aka Rounds 3 through 6 in your fantasy drafts.
Over the past three seasons, Sean McVay’s Rams have ranked fourth overall in rushing percentage, which led to Todd Gurley becoming a fantasy football legend. Henderson won't reach that level, sure, but he's easily the most talented back in the Rams' running back room and will get plenty of touches.
During the six weeks last season in which Henderson served as the Rams' primary back, he ranked as the 13th-best RB in fantasy. With more time learning Los Angeles' offense as well as growing comfortable with the speed of the NFL game in Year 3, Henderson is could be a big breakout candidate.
Henderson is also expected to take on more of a role in the Rams’ passing game, and targets are worth 2.74 times as much as a carry in PPR leagues. so that should be a huge boost to his value in 2021.
Austin Ekeler (ADP: 11.4)
The undrafted speedster has been a superstar when healthy. With Justin Herbert under center, Ekeler averaged more than 18 touches per game and that number could rise in 2021 thanks to the addition of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.
Ekeler is currently being drafted as RB10 in PPR formats, which is way too low.
Corey Davis (ADP: 115)
Corey Davis could be one of the biggest steals in fantasy football drafts this season.
The Jets' new WR1 broke out with the Titans last season despite playing in a run-first offense and starting opposite of A.J. Brown. While Davis will probably have a downgrade at quarterback as Zach Wilson acclimates himself to the NFL, he should see plenty of targets as the Jets' top wideout.
Wilson and Davis have already built some solid chemistry if the preseason is any indication. Davis has been targeted on 77% of his routes and is the only receiver with more than a 50% target share, according to PFF.
Davis is currently hovering around WR45, which is ridiculous. He was top 25 last season and now finds himself in a far better situation that could lead to one of the highest target shares among all receivers.
Davis is one of the few WR1s you can draft in the double-digit rounds, which makes him a no-brainer selection.
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