What we think of certain players is important. What our opponents think of them is even more crucial.
Let’s say every single person in your league believes Lamar Miller should be a second-round pick. In that case, there won’t be much value in drafting him. It’s just one example of how vital Average Draft Position (ADP) is when preparing for the greatest day on the fantasy calendar.
With training camp just a few weeks away, we have some initial data to comb through, courtesy of our friends at RealTime Fantasy Sports. It’s part of our Draft Guide, which will be getting loaded up with tons of information, rankings, mocks and columns over the next few weeks.
Here are eight players’ ADPs to track because they’re undervalued right now.
1. Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns – ADP: 140.7
New Browns coach Rob Chudzinski has coaxed career-best seasons out of Kellen Winslow Jr., Antonio Gates and Greg Olsen. Next up on his hit list is Cameron, a third-year pass-catching tight end that was buried on the depth chart behind Ben Watson last season and Watson/Evan Moore in 2011. Now the 6’5/254 former basketball player who ran a 4.59 at his Combine is on top of the depth chart. New acquisitions Kellen Davis and Gary Barnidge are role players.
"This is an offense that has featured tight ends and tight ends have always been a big part of it," Chudzinski said. "[Cameron] has the skill set that fits."
Cameron, currently the No. 16 TE off the board, has the perfect recipe to keep his ADP in check. He plays for the Browns, has 26 career catches and is an unknown former fourth-round pick. Apparently owners haven’t been reading much Rotoworld -- we’ve had 14 blurbs on Cameron since last season ended.
2. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants – ADP: 56.0
Nicks’ career-worst 2012 numbers are a little deceiving. He entered the season at less than 100 percent after fracturing his foot in May and then dealt with knee swelling from Week 4 on. The only time he really looked healthy was during Week 2, when he put 10 catches and 199 yards in the mouth of Aqib Talib. The rest of the time, he struggled to explode off the line and separate from man coverage.
Now Nicks is coming off a knee scope that has him at 100 percent already. More importantly, he’s entering a contract year and is very aware of his potential earnings. Nicks skipped voluntary OTAs, but understood that the Giants aren’t going to give him a new deal considering all the lower-leg injuries he’s endured.
This isn’t to say that Nicks can control whether he gets hurt because he’s in a contract year, but he very well could be preparing himself and his legs better this season. Extra endurance training, extra attention to diet and extra weight strengthening should equal a better shot at sustained health. And health really is the only question here. If at 100 percent, he’s a near lock to exceed that WR20 ADP.
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3. Jared Cook, TE, Rams – ADP: 102.2
It’s easy to understand why owners are hesitant to jump in with both feet on Cook. He’s generated a ton of hype in fantasy circles over the last few seasons, but has never topped 49 catches or four touchdowns in a season.
However, since Cook was so criminally underused in Tennessee, we actually don’t know if that hype was unwarranted. When given opportunities, he displayed truly unique agility, elusiveness and speed for a man that goes 6’5/248. His catch radius and hands are major assets. So will the Rams actually use him? Considering they gave him a $35 million contract, we can confidently say yes.
Over the last three seasons, Cook has averaged 4.4 targets per game. Pencil him in for roughly twice that many this year, and improved accuracy as he goes from Jake Locker to Sam Bradford.
“He’s going to play all over the place. … We’re excited about creating mismatches, and offensive success these days is about creating mismatches.”
4. Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals – ADP: 132.7
New Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is something of a passing game savant, but he does it a little unconventionally. He doesn’t have much use for running backs or tight end as receivers, instead focusing strictly on the wideouts. That’s because he wants players that can get vertical and execute difference-making chunk plays.
Last year’s Colts offense he presided over was a perfect example. Rookie Andrew Luck ranked second in completions of 20+ yards (65) and tied for fifth in completions of 40+ yards (11). Reggie Wayne had a near career-best season at age 35, T.Y. Hilton/Donnie Avery combined for a hefty 110 catches and Vick Ballard/Donald Brown combined for just 26 receptions.
All this leads us to Arizona, where Arians is now the head coach. It’s a perfect opportunity for Floyd, last year’s No. 13 overall pick. Carson Palmer is a shell of himself but still a massive upgrade on the three-headed nightmare of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley. Floyd ran ahead of last year’s No. 2 WR Andre Roberts during spring practice and reportedly led the team in targets. He’s clearly the far superior talent.
5. Zac Stacy, RB, Rams – ADP: 126.9
The Rams want us to believe that they’ll stage a true four-way competition for the starting running back job at camp. That’s a half-truth. Although Isaiah Pead, Stacy, Daryl Richardson and Terrance Ganaway are all in the mix for carries, they’re not competing for the same role.
The 195-pound Richardson and his 4.46 wheels are penciled into the outside runs. He’s also going to be used as a receiver more. “Any time we can get Daryl the ball in space, it’s going to put added pressure on the other team,” coach Jeff Fisher said. Ganaway, a fullback type at 6’0/240, is trying to carve out a short-yardage role.
That leaves just the unproven Pead and rookie Stacy battling for the true feature back job. After averaging 5.72 YPC behind an overmatched Vanderbilt offensive line for the last two seasons, we can’t count Stacy out.
6. Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots – ADP: 46.5
Everyone knows that Wes Welker averaged 112.0 catches per season over his six years with the Patriots. Everyone also knows that Amendola was brought in to fill that slot role. So why is he going in the fourth round right now? Injuries. Over the last two seasons, Amendola has missed 20 games and been extremely limited in at least five others.
The good news is that the injuries have been somewhat fluky. He didn’t blow out a knee, tear an Achilles’ or battle through recurring hamstring pulls. Amendola’s injuries have been a torn triceps muscle, a strange clavicle dislocation and a sore heel. They will not linger or leave him at risk for aggravation. Aggressive owners should be attacking the injury prone label in situations like this, not avoiding it.
The other factor here is the mess the Patriots have made at receiver. With such little proven talent at the X spot, Aaron Hernandez gone and Rob Gronkowski (back surgery) a candidate for the reserve/PUP list, Tom Brady will have to lean on Amendola. The two have reportedly formed a strong bond already as the ex-Ram stood out during OTAs and minicamp. Amendola is a legit threat to lead the entire league in targets.
7. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers – ADP: 52.3
In 2011, Nelson was fantasy’s No. 2 wideout. Last year, he was on pace for a 91/1216/11 line until a pulled hamstring and sprained ankle threw his season off the tracks. That would have been good for a seventh-place fantasy finish. Now Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are gone, yet Nelson is the No. 19 wideout in ADP, pushing into the fifth round. The annual dominance of Aaron Rodgers keeps Nelson’s statistical floor extremely high.
8. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots – ADP: Undrafted
Tom Brady has lost a ton of weaponry, but the Patriots’ offense isn’t suddenly going to go in the tank. It’s just a matter of who will pick up the slack.
Note that Aaron Hernandez lined up either in the slot or out wide on 59 percent of his snaps last year. That role will not be filled by dead-legged movers like Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui or Daniel Fells. Ballard is Rob Gronkowski’s backup at the in-line tight end spot. The F, or move tight end spot, is more likely to be filled by a receiver.
We know the Patriots are at least a little high on Edelman because he was stealing snaps from Wes Welker early on last season. In fact, Edelman was the main receiver in two-wide sets and drew a start in Week 1 before a Week 3 hand injury changed everything. He’s been playing with Brady for four years, possibly giving him an edge on the likes of Josh Boyce, Michael Jenkins and Donald Jones.