R-E-S-P-E-C-K! Find out what it means to me! Well in this case what it means to my fantasy team. Sometimes in the midst of hyping younger, more attractive players or searching for the upside that will bring us to championship glory, we disrespect the players and their contributions from the previous season. Today, and every month from now until the beginning of the 2017 season, I'll try to identify players that are being under drafted, and put some respeck on their name!
All ADP’s used in this article are from fantasyfootballcalculator.com and are based on PPR scoring because, as Sal Leto from the FLAFFL House podcast says, "if you're still playing Standard, you might as well be homeless."
Mark Ingram, RB, NOS - Average ADP: 3.03, RB 13
You may be thinking to yourself, top of the third round is a decent investment, that doesn't seem too disrespectful to me. Well, you'd be wrong especially after you look at some of the names being drafted ahead of him. Carlos Hyde, Lamar Miller, Todd Gurley and Jay Ajayi are the four running backs being taken directly in front of Ingram. While I understand that past performance isn't the only factor in predicting future success, it cannot be ignored that Ingram finished 10th in PPR last season despite Sean Peyton’s inexplicable love for Tim Hightower. Now, Hightower has gone to San Francisco to cloud Carlos Hyde’s situation, leaving Ingram as the sole workhorse back on one of the league's best offenses. While New Orleans is usually known for its aerial prowess, the Saints actually ranked higher in rushing DVOA (3rd) than passing DVOA (6th). Ingram also ranked 10th in DYAR, defense- adjusted yards above replacement, proving that his production wasn't simply a product of the offense around him. In addition to the loss of Hightower, the Saints also traded away Brandon Cooks, leaving a sizable target vacuum, especially in the short passing game. All of this adds up to Ingram being a definite RB1 for me, and an absolute steal at the top of the third round.
Michael Crabtree, WR, OAK - Average ADP: 4.12 WR23
When preparing for this article, I didn't expect Crabtree to make the cut. Surely after the last two seasons he'd finally garnered the respeck he deserves. Apparently not, as he's still only being taken as the 23rd wide receiver off the board. A model of consistency since arriving in Oakland, Crabtree’s 2015 and 2016 seasons are nearly identical and made him WR19 in 2015 and WR11 last season. Often overshadowed by his younger, sexier teammate Amari Cooper, Crabtree continues to outperform him. While this won't always be the case, Crabtree will only be 30 years old at the beginning of next season and is the best red zone receiving threat on 2016’s 4th ranked passing offense by DVOA. While some fantasy players may reach for the likes of Cooper or Michael Thomas in the 2nd round, give me the steady Crabtree at the end of the fourth any day of the week. You don't always need to be the prettiest girl at the bar, sometimes you just need to be the one that consistently shows up.
Isaiah Crowell - Average ADP: 6.10 RB29
Look, I get it, no one on the Browns deserves much respeck. They're currently the worst franchise in the NFL, though my Chicago Bears are doing their damndest to stage a coup. However, Crowell was one of the few bright spots for Cleveland, rushing for almost 1,000 yards and finishing as the RB16 in PPR. While we spent most of the 2016 offseason hyping Duke Johnson, Crowell was the forgotten man, mostly due to perceived pass catching deficiency. He answered those criticisms, catching 40 passes for 319 yards in the league's worst passing offense. Add in the offseason additions of Kevin Zietler and J.C. Tretter and Cleveland has improved an offensive line that Crowell already averaged 4.8 YPC behind last season, and could have one of the league's best units. While the quarterback situation is most likely still going to be a mess, there is almost nowhere to go but up, giving me little reason to think that Crowell will perform worse than he did last season. Currently being drafted in the 7th round, he is an RB2 with an RB3/4 price tag and could be the type of player that gives you a large depth advantage over your competitors.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, MIN - Average ADP: 8.11 TE10
Adam Theilen - Average ADP: 13.09 WR61
I'm going to end the first edition of this column with two guys from one of the most disrespected groups in the NFL: Minnesota Vikings pass catchers. Before you start laughing hear me out. First of all these guys both deserve respeck simply for having the balls to try to catch passes from Sam Bradford. Bradford has spent most of his career injured, and by the way he leads his receivers I sometimes think he wants to share the pain. Rudolph finished 2016 as the number 2 TE in fantasy, and was easily Bradford’s favorite red zone target. I know that the Vikings signed Latavius Murray this offseason and will most likely hope to run the ball more in the redzone, but nothing about Minnesota’s offensive line suggests that they will be effective in that regard. If you're like me and tend to wait on the TE position, Rudolph represents the perfect mix of low risk, high floor, decent ceiling that I'm looking for. As for Adam Theilen, he isn't just disrespected, he's largely forgotten about. Finishing as WR27 in 2016, Theilen caught fire the second half, only falling below double digits twice from weeks 9-17 including a 48(!) point performance in week 16. Reminiscent of Eric Decker, Theilen proved himself to be a more reliable target than his more talented counterpart Stefan Diggs, and can be had at a fraction of the cost. I envision Theilen as a WR3 with upside next season and a great later round target in deeper and 3 WR leagues.
Well that wraps it up for today. Be on the lookout next month when I'll try to find more players that deserve some Respeck on their Name!
Anthony Reimer is a contributor and member of the FLAFFL House Family. Follow him on Twitter @reimeras & on the Fantasy Life App @mrmeseeks