NFL training camps are scheduled to begin in a few weeks, and the itch to do some fantasy football drafts is upon us. Mock drafts are a great way to scratch that itch and help prepare for our real redraft league drafts in July and August. There are some excellent mock draft applications out there to participate in. Our favorites include Fantasy Football Calculator (FFC) and MyFantasyLeague.com (MFL).
The biggest benefit of mock drafts, outside of scratching that itch, is to identify players that are overvalued and undervalued based on where they are typically drafted, and our own expectations of the players. Where players are typically drafted is encapsulated in numerical data called Average Draft Position (ADP). Even if you can’t participate in 100 or so mock drafts, review ADP data to understand where players are drafted by the fantasy football community.
Here are some players I consider overvalued, where their ADP is earlier than they should be drafted, and undervalued where their ADP is later than they should be drafted. Post a comment if you agree or disagree, and list your own.
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND
FFC ADP: 57.0 (5th Round, WR23) | MFL ADP: 51.7 (5th Round, WR24)*
T.Y. Hilton certainly made a big splash late last season. However, he did it after Reggie Wayne was sidelined and with a surrounding cast of inexperienced wide receivers. Hilton was the only guy Andrew Luck could lean on extensively. Indianapolis Colts added Hakeem Nicks in the offseason, Wayne returns, Dwayne Allen returns, and the Colts will continue to try to establish a running game with Trent Richardson. Maybe a new and full year with his team, and some fresh thinking from the coaching staff, will get T-Rich going. These are all certainly factors that could limit Hilton from a repeat performance. Consistency will be an issue, especially since Hilton isn’t even a lock for the starting lineup.
WR Sammy Watkins, BUF
FFC ADP: 72.2 (6th Round, WR29) | MFL ADP: 64.1 (6th Round, WR28)
Buffalo Bills fell in love with Sammy Watkins. So much so, they paid a handsome price to move up in the NFL Draft to acquire him, and shipped off their only proven veteran receiver, Stevie Johnson, to the San Francisco 49ers. Watkins is expected to be a star in the NFL, but until QB E.J. Manuel takes a big step in his development, Watkins’ production will be limited. Whether Manual is ready to take that step or not this year, or ever, is debatable. In addition to the quarterback play, Watkins would benefit from another productive receiver taking some pressure away from him. Robert Woods is only in his second year, and recently acquired Mike Williams can’t be counted on. As it stands, Watkins paying immediate dividends for fantasy players will be tough.
WR Michael Crabtree, SF
FFC ADP: 47.5 (4th Round, WR19) | MFL ADP: 42.8 (4th Round, WR18)
Michael Crabtree had a breakout season in 2012 when second year QB Colin Kaepernick took the field. With the aid of the dual-threat Kaepernick, Crabtree was able to use his speed and moves to lose defenders to accumulate 1,105 yards and 9 touchdowns. In 2013 Crabtree was hurt, but played the final 5 games and was moderatly productive, including scoring 10 fantasy points in each of Weeks 15 and 16. Unless Kaepernick tosses for a lot more passing yards than we’ve come to expect from the 49ers normal gameplan, it will be difficult for Crabtree to excel. There are a lot of mouths to feed between Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis and newly added Stevie Johnson. There are plenty of better, less risky options available in the same ballpark as Crabtree’s ADP.
RB Toby Gerhart, JAC
FFC ADP: 44.0 (4th Round, RB22) | MFL ADP: 57.3 (5th Round, RB23)
This former Heisman Trophy finalist backed up a future Hall of Famer for the first four years of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, resulting in little opportunity for significant carries. When his contract ended it came as no surprise Toby Gerhart didn’t need to settle for another backup role. With the departure of Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jacksonville Jaguars needed a running back with experience, but one without a lot of wear and tear. This scenario is very similar to Michael Turner, who backed up LaDainian Tomlinson for years in San Diego before heading to Atlanta to join a team with a good offensive line and young quarterback. I’m not suggesting Gerhart is an instant star, but he will earn a ton of carries and as a result outshine where he is currently getting drafted.
RB Pierre Thomas, NO
FFC ADP: 74.1 (7th Round, RB32) | MFL ADP: 74.2 (7th Round, RB30)
With the departure of Darren Sproles, more opportunities are in the cards for Pierre Thomas. As we’ve seen in the past, Pierre Thomas can be a dual threat back as he is a quality runner and receiver. The Saints philosophy was always to limit any one runners touches utilizing a constant rotation, but no one was brought in to fill the receptions that Sproles left behind. Last season Thomas ran the ball 147 times while accruing 549 yards and caught the ball 77 times for 513 yards. He finished RB23 in standard scoring leagues and RB16 in point-per-reception leagues. Even though Thomas is approaching the big 3-0, his chemistry with Brees, knowledge of the system, and opportunity for additional touches, Thomas should easily match last season, and possibly exceed it, which makes him a tremendous value from his average draft spot.
Julian Edelman, NE
FFC ADP: 66.6 (6th Round, WR27) | MFL ADP: 55.1 (5th Round, WR26)
Julian Edelman is certainly coming off his best season in the NFL. Of course, when a team’s best wide receiver leaves via free agency, not one but two top receiving tight ends go down via injury and legal issues, respectively, and the veteran WR signed as a free agent can’t stay healthy, the opportunities are endless for the player still standing. That was Edelman last season, and he delivered, becoming Tom Brady’s most reliable and regular target. Given similar circumstances as last season, I only see this connection getting better. Tom Brady will most definitely continue to rely on Edelman. With an ADP hovering in the low-20s amongst wide receivers, Edelman is a value capable of cracking the top 20, particularly in point-per-reception leagues.