Draft NFL Premium: Best Ball Value Watch
NFL Best Ball expert, Mike Beers, will examine trends in average draft position (ADP) and highlight what he believes are currently some of the best and worst values in best ball leagues. He’ll also share one of his favorite best ball drafts to wrap up this weekly Draft NFL Premium series.
Best Ball Value Watch: Week of August 7
Football is BACK! As of this minute, nine preseason games have been played and three more a queued up for tonight. It feels good to have the players back on the field and on our TV screens, even if the games don’t really mean anything yet. Let’s get to this week’s Must Buys and Avoids. As always, you can follow ADP yourself using the RotoGrinders Draft ADP tool.
Anquan Boldin (ADP: 213 Overall, WR84) – Anquan Boldin signed a one-year, $2.75 million contract with the Buffalo Bills last week. The venerable receiver who has never had fewer than 55 catches in a season and scored eight touchdowns for Detroit in his age 36 campaign last year immediately became one of my favorite late rounds targets when he signed. Boldin brings much needed experience to the Bills receiver corps, and I expect him to quickly develop into one of Tyrod Taylor’s most trusted targets, as he has done for several quarterbacks over the past ten-plus years. While Boldin isn’t likely to generate many explosive weeks, he’s a good bet to provide at least a handful of starter-caliber performances over the course of the season, making him a great value where you can currently get him, with your last pick.
Update: After I wrote the section above, news broke that Sammy Watkins had been traded to the Rams, and the Bills added Jordan Matthews in a trade with the Eagles. The deal makes me like Boldin slightly more, as he should get a greater share of targets, but it’s a downgrade for the offense as a whole. Keep targeting Boldin in rounds 15-plus.
Julius Thomas (ADP: 144 Overall, TE18) – While it is never ideal for an offense to lose its starting quarterback, I think the move from Ryan Tannehill to Jay Cutler could be a good thing for Julius Thomas. Historically, Cutler has been kind to fantasy tight ends. Tannehill targeted tight ends on 16.5 percent of his pass attempts over the past two seasons, while Cutler looked to tight ends on 21 percent of passes during his time in Chicago, including 25 percent of his pass attempts in 2014 and 2015 (he played only 5 games in 2016). Thomas has flashed the requisite talent to be a fantasy TE1, and Cutler just might give him the opportunity to go with it.
Rob Kelley (ADP: 120 Overall, RB43) – I have already mentioned Jonathan Stewart and Matt Forte in these articles, and now it’s time for another starting running back with a double-digit round ADP to make his mark. You will want to move fast on this one, because positive press is starting to flow in for Kelley. While Samaje Perine still lurks in the background, within the past couple of weeks a Washington beat writer has called Kelley the “clear” number one running back in D.C. and Perine did not have a strong first preseason outing, both dropping a pass and fumbling (the fumble was recovered by Washington, but the impression was made). Kelley was hardly a dominant force last year, but once he got rolling in Week 8, he averaged over 12 fantasy points per game, and he did not fumble in 151 carries. The coach’s trust is his to lose. Chase the touches here – Kelley is a great value as a 4th or 5th RB on your roster.
Thomas Rawls (ADP: 144 Overall, RB49) – Unlike Kelly, Rawls does not have a starting job locked up, and his lower price reflects that. But, like Kelley, he has an opportunity to receive starter volume on an offense that should make plenty of trips to the red zone this year. He even got a similar vote of confidence from a beat writer, saying he appears to be “the clear number one back” right now. I’m not quite as confident in that report as I am of the Kelley report, given that Rawls’ competition has already developed moderately successful track record as a starting running back, but it’s certainly encouraging news for #TeamRAWLS. Eddie Lacy has been the presumed RB1 in Seattle all summer, and owns an ADP about six rounds earlier than Rawls as a result. As with Kelley, I think you will have to move fast on this one – if Rawls continues to work with the first string and shows well in the preseason, we could see a flip-flop in Rawls and Lacy’s ADPs. Lacy has not been a model of work ethic, struggling to keep himself in playing shape in past offseasons, and it would not a shock to see him suffer an injury early on, even if he does begin the season as the starter. Get your Rawls shares now.
Jordan Matthews (ADP: 130 Overall, WR52) – Matthews has just been traded to the Buffalo Bills along with a third-round pick, for CB Ronald Darby. Matthews suddenly goes from a near afterthought (to me at least) in the Eagles offense to the de facto WR1 for the Bills. As I mentioned above, I think the net result of the Watkins and Matthews trades is negative for the Bills passing game, but this has to be a positive for Matthews’ fantasy prospects. My immediate reaction to the news is to move Matthews up into Jeremy Maclin territory (Maclin’s ADP is WR38) as the top receiving option on an offense that I do not expect to be particularly good. Until his price adjusts, he’s a buy.
Samaje Perine (ADP: 99 Overall, RB35) – See Rob Kelley above. Perine has been going before Rob Kelley on Draft since the lobby opened. It’s time to move the guy who may barely touch the ball without a Kelley injury to the back end of the draft.
Tyrod Taylor (ADP: 126 Overall, QB17) – To be fair, Taylor is not very expensive. I kind of liked his value before the Watkins/Matthews trades, and the Boldin acquisition had me tempted to move him up my ranks. Still, there’s no way for me to paint this most recent change to Taylor’s weapons in a positive light. In the Bills first preseason game, the night before Watkins was traded, Tyrod was locked onto Watkins, targeting him four times and completing three passes on the opening drive. I don’t blame him – Watkins was by far their best receiver. In summary, Tyrod Taylor just lost his best weapon, and gained Jordan Matthews… I just don’t trust the Bills front office to put Taylor in the best position to succeed. Time to move him down your board.
Sammy Watkins (ADP: 27 Overall, WR14) – Not that Tyrod Taylor is the greatest talent on the planet, but Watkins takes a serious step backward in quarterback quality with this move to the Rams. The Goff-led Rams were able to keep Kenny Britt relevant last year, so there’s some hope, but the sledding just got a lot tougher for Sammy. The trade coupled with existing injury concerns has me all the way off of Watkins. Bummer.
Finally, I will leave you a few thoughts on one of my recent drafts. This was a 12-team slow draft.
I am a bit torn on this team. I feel very good about QB, RB and TE, but WR is a pretty big question mark. Three out of four isn’t bad? I knew that I would be weak at wide receiver when I decided to pair Jimmy Graham with Olsen at the round 5/6 turn, and I did my best to make up for it with quantity – going with nine receivers. If things go right, Graham will fill my starting flex position most weeks, and I will muster three good scores out of my nine wide receivers, but there is definitely risk here. Watkins joining the Rams certainly doesn’t help the Kupp pick. These drafts are all about trade-offs, and I took a risk tapping two high-end tight ends – always keep in mind the impact that your picks will have on the rest of your draft as you go along.
That’s it for this week. Good luck, everyone!