Late-Round Targets: NFC

Graham Barfield
Graham Barfield looks at five undervalued late-round NFC running backs, wide receivers, or tight ends to target
Graham Barfield looks at five undervalued late-round NFC running backs, wide receivers, or tight ends to target

Yesterday I wrote about five players from the AFC with a 10th round average draft position or later to target and this piece will focus on late-round players in the NFC to aim for.

Before we get to it, these “hit” rate stats should put the late round fliers we’re stabbing at in perspective. From 2013-14, 37 WRs were drafted between 109-194 overall (10th-16th round). Only 27% of those WRs posted a top-36 PPR finish in their respective season. Similarly, 31 RBs were drafted between 109-194 overall from 2013-14. Only 25.8% of those RBs posted a top-36 year in their season.

Essentially, it’s incredibly hard to become “fantasy-relevant” (top-36) with an ADP outside of the top-110 players. Of course this analysis doesn’t account for waiver wire darlings like Justin Forsett or Odell Beckham Jr. were last year, but it’s still an interesting barometer of how often these late round player do indeed succeed in fantasy.

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Brian Quick (ADP: Early-10th round)

Before missing the final nine games of the 2014 season after a Week 7 shoulder injury that required surgery, Brian Quick was on a 64-973-8 pace (on 99 targets). Those extrapolated stats would have tied for a WR24 finish in PPR leagues (209.3 PPR points). Granted, extrapolating small samples has its own set of statistical downfalls and obviously doesn’t account for the Rams’ QB change to Nick Foles this year.

Quick did see his first preseason action in the Rams’ dress rehearsal on August 29th albeit on a strict snap count. If he’s active Week 1, he’ll line up outside opposite Kenny Britt in the starting rotation. His WR44 price tag is rather affordable.

Marques Colston (ADP: Early-10th round)

Colston is coming off a 2014 season in which he posted just 3.7 receptions and 56.4 yards per-game, both career worsts. He also saw just 6.3 targets per-game last year, the lowest target share of his career. Now 32-years-old, Colston may have crossed the age apex and entered the twilight years of his career. All of the above would explain why he’s just the WR43 in ADP right now.

So, why buy Colston? Not only do Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills and Robert Meachem’s departures leave a 228 target void in the Saints’ offense, but it also leaves 27 red zone targets for the taking. In his career, Colston has been an above-average touchdown scorer, converting 49-of-163 (30.1%) red zone targets into TDs. Colston’s skills may be fading, but he could have a bigger role in the red zone with all of the Saints’ turnovers on offense. If Colston has indeed hit the proverbial age wall, Brandon Coleman is a decent hedge in the late-12th round.

David Johnson (ADP: Early-11th round)

David Johnson’s name showing up on this list is purely about not investing in Andre Ellington’s 4th round ADP. Johnson’s early role is ambiguous and Ellington (foot) was playing injured last year. Regardless, Ellington was a volume-driven fantasy asset last year.

In the 11 full games Ellington played last year, he carried the ball 16 or more times in eight contests. In those eight games, Ellington averaged above 4 yards per carry once. Sure, he posted nine top-24 (RB2) weeks in 2014 but 41.8% of his total PPR output came in just three games.

Ellington is the clear starter going into the year, but now that new LG Mike Iupati (torn meniscus) is out for the first month of the season, Ellington’s 2015 prospects are riddled with red flags beyond potential usage and inefficiency. I’d rather target Johnson – a rookie with a 94th percentile SPARQ score - six rounds later.

Reggie Bush (ADP: Mid-12th round)

Similar to the Ellington situation above, the 49ers’ backfield is split in average draft position. On one hand, second-year RB Carlos Hyde is a 4th round pick and veteran Reggie Bush is going eight rounds later.

San Francisco lost its two best run blockers this offseason and if the 49ers’ offseason of disarray and departures on both sides of the ball ultimately leads to more negative game scripts, that bodes well for Reggie Bush’s 2015 prospects. At 30-years-old Bush is now on his fifth team in his career. Despite being on a variety of teams with varying schemes, Bush has never caught fewer than 34 balls in a season and has seen 50 or more targets in 8-of-9 seasons as a pro. His RB51 ADP is worth a swing.

Andre Williams (ADP: Mid/Late-12th)

Continuing the theme of taking the cheaper option in backfields, Andre Williams isn’t a booming commodity. His ineffective 3.3 yards per carry average on his 217 carries in his rookie season is squarely baked into his average draft position. Still, early camp reports have said Williams “has a shot” to overtake incumbent Rashad Jennings for the starting job and “has the best chance” to be the Giants’ goal line back. Williams converted six of his 11 carries inside of the 5-yard line into touchdowns in 2014.

I’m not wild about Williams’ prospects this year, but veteran Rashad Jennings is now 30-years-old and wasn’t fantastic by any means in 2014. In 11 games, Jennings managed 3.8 yards per carry on 167 totes and averaged 0.71 PPR points per touch, finishing 38th out of 57 qualified RBs. Andre Williams finished 51st (0.62 points per touch). Jennings’ mid-6th round ADP isn’t horrid, but it’s less attractive when Shane Vereen is going two rounds later and Williams is in “flier” range.

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