This is it. Draft week is officially here. Every pick counts…which is why you shouldn’t let guys you want to keep falling and falling until they fall right onto someone else’s team. Here are 10 players who have been falling too far this summer.
Just a quick note on underdrafted players: Anyone can be underdrafted. A first-round pick can be underdrafted if he’s going at No. 12 when he should be going at No. 6. Without further ado.
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Off The Board: 21st amongst running backs.
One day, we’ll find out how the universe was formed. But even that won’t explain why Gore is going behind Darren Freaking McFadden in fantasy drafts this summer. Yes, Gore is old. But that simplistic “Do Not Draft” logic ignores two simple things: Gore is managed and manipulated as well as any running back in the league, and still pops off the screen on film.
There are going to be weeks where Gore’s workload leaves something to be desired, and he doesn’t produce like an RB2. But that’s going to be every week for McFadden. The same could be true for Maurice Jones-Drew (ADP: 25.3), and possibly even DeMarco Murray (ADP: 26.1). Gore is a safe pick, but not safe to the point of sorry. He is going to produce, and right now, it’s at a discount price.
Off The Board: 46th amongst receivers.
Here’s the deal: Wherever Thompkins is going, it’s too low. Forget the fact that Thompkins is an undrafted free agent, however hard that may be. He’s a deal so real, he’s locked himself in as the Patriots’ starting “X” receiver. That’s a position a fading Brandon Lloyd was able to wring 74/911/4 out of last season. With New England rebuilding its offense, Thompkins has played more snaps than any other Patriots receiver this preseason, and drawn the most targets from Tom Brady.
It would be silly to call Thompkins a guarantee to match Lloyd’s numbers. He didn’t play mistake-free football this summer, and as the cliché goes, hasn’t seen anything yet. But even 60/800/5 isn’t production you typically find out of the 132nd pick of a fantasy draft, and while it’s not a guarantee Thompkins will match Lloyd, it would be far from surprising if he surpassed him. Thompkins isn’t a sure thing, but he’s a dice roll whose “Yahtzee” odds are far higher than his ADP would suggest.
Off The Board: 29th amongst running backs.
Richardson’s ADP has predictably skyrocketed, but he’s still a bargain in the latter RB3 range. The runners directly behind him — Montee Ball, Rashard Mendenhall, Le’Veon Bell and Chris Ivory — are all riddled with question marks, while he’s foolishly going behind a gaggle of quarterbacks and mid-range WR2s. There’s nothing harder to find in fantasy football than starting runners, and D-Rich enters the season as a potential three-down back. Worries that he may eventually settle into a timeshare with Isaiah Pead….stuff them in a sack. Worry about what you know now, and not what might happen in November. Richardson has soundly out-played Pead this preseason, and needs to be treated like what he is: An every-down back with upside to spare.
Off The Board: 39th amongst receivers.
Givens is going 19 spots behind teammate Tavon Austin. In this business, that’s what we’d call “lunacy.” Givens was almost as effective of a deep threat as T.Y. Hilton last season, and has shined in the preseason, getting behind secondaries for five catches, 156 yards (31.2 yards per catch) and a touchdown.
Givens isn’t a one-trick pony, either, as he was Sam Bradford’s favorite check-down target during Danny Amendola’s many absences last season. A sure pair of hands simmering with big-play ability, Givens could and likely will take the lead in the Rams’ repurposed offense this season. He’s a legitimate threat for 1,000 yards, and a far higher-upside pick than some of the wideouts going in front of him (Kenny Britt, Lance Moore and Miles Austin, to name a few). Austin has the highlights, but Givens has the role and the NFL tape.
Off The Board: 14th amongst quarterbacks.
Vick is nearing the “just right” area of the draft board, but is still a major bargain for those intent on waiting on quarterbacks. Vick’s upside makes him a QB2 gamble worth taking over many of the RB4/5 fliers going directly ahead of him, including Bernard Pierce, Fred Jackson, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Ronnie Hillman.
Vick is three years older and perhaps 2-3 steps slower than he was during his revelatory 2010, but showed in the preseason he still has top 6-7 upside. Considering Chip Kelly’s offense is predicated on racking up snaps — and his defense is likely to give up the most points in the NFC — Vick is going to find himself in weekly shootouts, and there’s almost nothing better for fantasy quarterbacks. Vick is never going to be a mistake-free player, but it would be a mistake not to take the plunge when his ADP remains north of 100.
Off The Board: 55th amongst running backs.
Bell is the Lions’ No. 2 running back. So why is he going 28 spots behind his backup Mikel Leshoure? Bell doesn’t have the name or the hype of the vast majority of the backs going ahead of him, but he certainly has the game. His 52 catches were fifth amongst running backs last season, while he averaged a cool 5.0 yards per carry. He’s the play-making, pass-catching backup to play-making, pass-catching starter Reggie Bush, making him an RB2 in waiting in PPR leagues. And though Bush has seemingly learned to play through injury the past two seasons, he’s still a 28-year-old back with a long history of aches and pains.
A young runner with a history of catching passes and getting more than what’s blocked in one of the league’s most wide-open offenses, Bell is an ideal late-round flier, and a lock to out-point Leshoure.
Report: 59th amongst running backs.
This should change in the coming days, but for now, Moreno is among the biggest values in all of fantasy football. It’s not because of his talent — Moreno has proven beyond a doubt to be a replacement-level runner — but his role. With Montee Ball still inept as a pass protector and Ronnie Hillman prone to treating the football like a priceless artifact, Moreno will be the back the Broncos rely on in the game’s biggest moments, at least in September.
Moreno answered the bell as an every-down player down the stretch last season, so the Broncos know they can rely on him if neither Ball nor Hillman takes the necessary steps forward. The presence of Ball could make Moreno expendable for fantasy purposes at any given moment, but he’s shaping up as a potential early-season FLEX option, and that’s worth more than the 162nd pick.
Off The Board: ---
Currently without an ADP — meaning a minimum of 188 players are being drafted ahead of him — Stills put the finishing touches on the Saints’ No. 3 receiver job in Sunday’s preseason game. The Oklahoma product whipped Kareem Jackson down the sideline for a 40-yard grab before freeing himself from Johnathan Joseph for a wide open 14-yard touchdown. Stills is still no better than fifth on the Saints’ target totem pole, but even the fifth spot has some fantasy value in New Orleans’ annually prolific offense. Stills’ production will be unpredictable on a week-by-week basis, but his unpredictability is still better than the crushing predictability you’d get from some of the players that are going in front of him, like Mohamed Sanu.
Off The Board: 38th amongst receivers.
You don’t typically land potential WR1s at the turn of the century mark, but that’s where Gordon has been going pretty much all summer. Of course, by now you surely know the catch: Gordon is suspended for the year’s first two games, no small thing when the fantasy season consists of just 13 contests. Alas, the upside is too great, the potential Andre Johnson too evident for Gordon to be coming off the board after the likes of Kyle Rudolph, Kenny Britt and Lance Moore.
The 6-foot-4, 220 pound centerpiece of what coach Rob Chudzinski and OC Norval Turner want to make an attacking, vertical offense, Gordon will be laying down the WR2 law upon his return, and could easily fashion himself into a lower-end WR1 if his talent rises the way it did down the stretch last season. That’s the kind of leap of faith you take earlier than 97.
Off The Board: 24th amongst quarterbacks.
Tannehill hasn’t had a concern-free summer, but it’s crazy to see so much air sucked out of his ADP after he entered camp as one of the most hyped QB2s. After rocky performances in Miami’s first two preseason games, Tannehill rebounded to go 27-of-42 for 291 yards and two touchdowns in the two exhibition contests that vaguely count. Yes, he’s working with a shaky offensive line, unproven rushing attack and drop-prone No. 3 receiver. Dustin Keller is out for the season. But Tannehill has shown more than enough to be more than one of the final players off the board.
Tannehill has all the tools of a franchise quarterback, and though he may no longer be a surefire break-out candidate, he has everything you should be looking for in a plug-and-play QB2.