This article is part of our DRAFT NFL series.
I've nearly completed three DRAFT best ball NFL drafts since last week's article, and for now at least there appears to be a general pattern materializing for me. You always have your idea of which players you like in a vacuum or at a given cost, but you can never quite know ahead of time whether or when the market will line up with your own player valuations.
For instance, I think Alvin Kamara is an awesome player, but I don't feel confident enough in his usage projection to spend the top-eight pick necessary to land him in most drafts. Conversely, I'm not a fan of Peyton Barber as a prospect, but I might still find myself acquiring some shares if he keeps falling into the 13th round. With my fourth draft just starting up, I'm starting to get a better idea of which players' draft placement might intersect with my valuation of them.
In the three DRAFT best ball leagues I signed up for, I picked Marcus Mariota and Pat Mahomes in two of them. In the one I didn't pick them I was assigned Matthew Stafford and Ben Roethlisberger after the clock ran out on me. (Sorry guys). I'm assuming there's a strong chance I would have picked Mariota and Mahomes in that league if I hadn't slept through the pick. The other players I've picked multiple times are A.J. Green, Allen Robinson, Derrius Guice, Rashaad Penny, and Royce Freeman.
With Mariota and Mahomes we're looking at, respectively, ADPs of 112.3 and 130.1. That's roughly the 10th and 11th rounds for two of the most high-upside quarterbacks in the league, both of them running threats in what could be two of the league's most explosive offenses. Mariota's situation improved with the firing of Mularkey and the hiring of Matt LaFleur at offensive coordinator, while Mahomes steps into the starting lineup just as Sammy Watkins arrives in free agency. I suspect I'll also acquire a bunch of Mitchell Trubisky shares for a lot of the same reasons as Mariota and Mahomes – Trubisky, too, is a top dual-threat prospect whose price is low in an uptempo, improving surrounding offense.
My recurring selections of Guice, Penny, and Freeman is very typical of me. I always I end up buying lots of rookie running backs, best ball and season-long alike, perhaps if for no reason other than that I'm vain enough to figure I know more about the rookies than most people. I ended up with Guice at 50, falling below his 43.5 ADP, and I'm not sure I'd want to pay quite that much normally. Penny and Freeman, on the other hand, I have and will continue to buy at an even higher price than their current ADPs. Penny checks in at 115.2, with Freeman at 175.2, and I'm confident both players will get picked in the second day of the NFL Draft. If that happens, their ADPs will skyrocket. This is a case of buying skills over opportunity, but Penny and Freeman are vastly more talented than the runners who otherwise go in their range, and it's not as if those running backs have particularly stable opportunity projections, either. Both runners were extremely productive in college, and they both enjoyed successful showings at the combine, too, with Penny logging a 4.46-second 40-yard dash and Freeman posting standout numbers all around. They're both over 220 pounds, too, so they could take on big workloads if they stumble into the opportunity.
I haven't been able to find any recurring bargains at receiver, where Green (22.8 ADP) and Robinson (60.5 ADP) are both conventional commodities. Still, I think they're both clearly standout values at their current prices. It's understandable for fantasy owners to be leery of Green following last year's team-wide collapse in Cincinnati, and that Robinson is returning from a torn ACL is a fair enough concern. Still, Robinson is a clear WR1 when healthy, and I think Chicago is a more favorable playing environment than Jacksonville was. Trubisky should be better than Bortles soon, and new coach Matt Nagy should conduct an uptempo offense that results in a heavy target volume for Robinson. In Green's case, we're talking about a player nearly falling out of the second round after six straight years of reliably elite production. Yes, Andy Dalton is not a good quarterback, but he never was a good quarterback before last year, and it didn't matter to Green's numbers then. Green finished last year with 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns. If that's a worst-case scenario, then buy.