ADP Early Values- NFC South
by Matt Kelley
ADP. Average. Draft. Position. There’s almost nothing you’ll hear more about in terms of a
fantasy football draft between now and the kickoff of the NFL season. ADP can fluctuate
depending on your league type, scoring and league size. For the sake of this article, we’re going
to assume that the league is a 12 team, PPR, single QB, and a total of 16 roster spots (all ADP
in this article is based on Bestball 10’s 12 player leagues). Pretty standard league, a format
you’ll most likely play in if you’re reading this
As always, the goal in a draft is to take someone at an Average Draft Position that is most
beneficial. Let’s say you want Drew Brees as your QB. Nothing wrong with that, but you don’t
need to take him with your first pick. In fact, you probably don’t need to take him with your first
eight picks. If you wait eight picks and miss out on him, good news for you, someone has let
value at another position fall and you’ll still get a good QB. ADP should be used as a guide
throughout your draft to understand where players are typically going, not as a strict source to
say you need to take this player. Depending on what position you draft from you may be able to
wait on a certain player, you may need to reach to get your guy and both of those are okay.
Know your leaguemates if you can. Where they’re from, tendencies, and experience. All of this
can influence ADP.
Now that we’ve breezed by what ADP is, what it means, and how it’s used, let's look at some
fellas in the NFC South that should outperform their ADP.
Russell Gage-- I know, how many fantasy relevant wide receivers can the Falcons have? Well,
I’m borderline saying three. We all know about Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley but if you didn’t
watch a lot of Falcons football last year, you may have missed out on Gage. Then again, if you
did, he may have won you a week here and there from the waiver wire. Gage is currently going
at pick 232-- 19th round-- i.e. free unless you’re in a really, really deep league. So while
technically you don’t need to draft Gage by ADP, he might be worth that late round flyer pick.
Mohammud Sanu was dealt to the Patriots and that role has been filled by Gage. From week
eight on, Gage saw at least four targets in every game. In games without Jones or Ridley, Gage
saw double digit targets in two games. In two other games with Jones and Ridley, Gage saw
nine targets. Gage totaled 70 targets from week seven forward. Austin Hooper vacates 97
targets (over 13 games) and I don’t think all of those are going right back to Hurst. If you haven’t
caught on by now, the Falcons throw the ball a lot. Normally you’d hear there’s too many
mouths to feed between Jones, Ridley, Hurst and Todd Gurley but, I think the volume is there
for Gage to have flex appeal on most any given week. He’ll be on the field in three wide receiver
sets so his snap share is capped but, should Julio or Ridley miss time, he’s an easy plug and
play. If you draft him, you can save your FAAB and not worry about fighting for him on the
Christian McCaffrey-- ok just kidding. Actual Player: Ian Thomas. As mentioned in my Panthers
preview, Ian Thomas is now the TE in Carolina, no longer behind Greg Olsen. Ian Thomas is
currently going as the 18th TE off the board, pick 143 overall, top of the 12th round. He’s going
nearly 30 picks after Dallas Goedert who is the second TE on his own team. The top three TE in
fantasy seem to be pretty clear cut with Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Mark Andrews. There’s
some positions where I deviate from top players, TE isn’t one of them, these guys are to me, in
their own class. So if you miss out on these three guys, WAIT. There’s a ton of TE’s left after
those three and it's one of the most difficult positions to lockdown in fantasy, I know. Here’s the
thing though, Thomas walks into a role where the TE saw 82 targets last season in 14 games.
Nearly six targets a game. Carolina is in an entirely new regime with Matt Rhule and company
but, the offense should see an uptick in pace, which should mean more plays, which should
mean more opportunity. 80+ targets is well within the range of outcomes for Thomas. Thomas is
also going after guys like Hayden Hurst (whew, that hype train is starting to go off the rails),
Jonnu Smith, Jack Doyle, and T.J. Hockenson. Not to get too deep into the woods here
because we could be here all day but Thomas has a very real possibility to outperform all of
these players. Is there risk involved? Yea, we’re talking about a player in the 12th round. I think
Thomas will be worth your pick and worth the wait at the position and finish around TE 14, with
an outside shot to break into the top 12.
New Orleans Saints:
Emmanuel Sanders. I’m going to be real honest... I have buyers remorse from buying into a role
that has been unpredictable for fantasy managers over the years. Teddy Ginn, Tre’Quan Smith
(shudders), and Brandon Coleman. It’s been since 2016 since the WR2 on the Saints had
meaningful value and wasn’t just a shot in the dark (technically Michael Thomas was the two
that year with Brandin Cooks being the one, remember that?). So why is this year different?
Well, few things. The NFC South is absolutely loaded. Every one of those matchups has the
ability to turn into a shootout. Oh by the way, the Saints also face the Raiders, Lions, and the
Chiefs (good luck keeping up). Michael Thomas is largely, and rightfully so, considered the best
WR in the league. Attention will surely be devoted his way giving Sanders both the second best
defender on a team and often, in plus matchups. Emmanuel Sanders walked right into San
Francisco last season and got 97 targets on a team that threw the ball 476 times. The Saints
have been lower passing volume the last couple of years but the Saints should surpass the 500
attempt mark in what could be QB Drew Brees last season. If the Saints throw 530 times,
Emmanuel Sanders would need an 18% target share to see 95 targets. Both seem like fairly
reasonable numbers. Plus, Drew Brees is still hyper efficient. Manny Sanders has an ADP of
113, the middle of ninth round and the 47th WR off the board. While his upside is capped
because, well, Michael Thomas, Sanders can provide you with weekly flex value with occasional
WR2 upside. I’m going back to the well here, give me Manny Sanders!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Tom Brady. It’s still weird that he isn’t a Patriot right? Gronk too. At this moment, you could say
both guys are a value but, let’s focus on Brady. Brady currently has an ADP of 122, the first pick
of round 10, and the 13th QB off the board. He’s teetering on QB1 territory here, so he’s a value
for now, we’ll have to see what this looks like in August. The Patriots have largely won off of
defense, short passes, featuring random running backs, and ‘Beli-checking’ everyone. At least
we think, right? Brady has actually thrown the ball at least 570 times the last three seasons. In
4pt per passing touchdown leagues, Brady hasn’t hit the 300 fantasy point mark since 2015.
He’s been a steady option, he just hasn’t necessarily provided league winning upside. Grant you
in 2016 he scored 258 points after his "Deflategate" suspension and he could have won folks a
league that year. This year though, Brady departs everything he’s ever known to a team that
has arguably the league's best wide receiver corps. He’s reunited with his buddy Rob
Gronkowski so there’s a familiar safety blanket for Brady assuming Gronk can stay on the field.
Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are absolute monsters and Brady’s best collective options in
years. Brady has quietly thrown for over 4000 yards in each of the last three seasons. As talked
about with the Saints, the Bucs are in this loaded NFC South and are going to have to put up a
lot of points. I expect Brady is currently being drafted at his floor with a ceiling of being in the top
8 fantasy quarterbacks. Think Jameis Winston numbers with a *few* less interceptions.