Most of my Top 200 Fantasy List is somewhat in line with the average draft position we see in typical drafts, which makes sense. My hope is to estimate how touches and roles will be distributed across teams, and the biggest indicators are past usage on a team level, and individual performance.
However, there are times when I am outside the norm. Here is my explanation of some of the players where my ranking is out of line, and why I think that is. You can assess whether my rationale works.
ADP: WR8 (2nd Round)
My Rank: WR22 (5th Round)
Why my rankings differ: There’s no doubt of Bryant’s freakish talent, especially in the red zone, when at his peak. The issue, though, is that Bryant has been nowhere near the sure thing of some other wide receivers who are going in the same range. Go look at the Top 15 Wide Receivers. Even discounting his missed games, over the last two years, Bryant has 2 of the 3 lowest seasonal receiving yards per game for the last two years (Only DeAndre Hopkins 2016 is lower, and he was over 90 yards per game the season before and is going more than a round after Bryant).
My fantasy projections for the rest of the Cowboys’ skill players are pretty much in line with ADP, but Bryant is expected to have a sizable chunk of the offense. Maybe he will, but he hasn’t put up numbers justifying his draft position recently. The second round is a spot where you have to nail the pick.
ADP: RB12 (2nd to 3rd Round)
My Rank: RB18 (3rd to 4th Round)
I wrote about my thoughts on Marshawn Lynch earlier. He’s in a good situation, and he might get off to a good start scoring touchdowns. My concern is whether he has it, since it’s been several years since the last time we saw him go through a full season.
ADP: QB2 (2nd Round)
My Rank: QB5 (4th Round)
Why my rankings differ: This one’s more a case of acknowledging *some* risk with Brady at age 40, and thinking he’s one of several options and not a clearcut #2 at the position. Drafters are grouping he and Rodgers together, just a few picks apart. Rodgers averaged a couple more points a game a year ago. Thus, we expect more regression from Rodgers? Matt Ryan averaged more points, and Brees was similar. Brees is going a full round later and Ryan two rounds.
The data on 40-year old QBs is very thin. Brady’s in uncharted waters. We’ve seen Brett Favre and Peyton Manning age quickly overnight at a similar age. I’d wait on that tier of QBs after Rodgers, and certainly wouldn’t be taking one in the 2nd round or early 3rd. That probably means I would never get Brady and would get Ryan instead two rounds later.
ADP: WR18 (4th Round)
My Rank: WR28 (6th Round)
Why my rankings differ: I think this one is more an allocation of expected usage. Tyrell Williams emerged last year after Allen got hurt. The team drafted Mike Williams (he’s out right now but could contribute at some point). Hunter Henry is moving into year two, while veteran Antonio Gates is on board. Add in that Allen has had injury issues end each of the last two years prematurely, and the risk has me putting him at the opposite end of this large tier of receivers in the 4th to 6th round range.
ADP: RB29 (7th Round)
My Rank: RB36 (9th Round)
Why my rankings differ: Frank Gore has been Mr. Consistent. He’s now 34 years old and hasn’t missed a game since 2010. Of course, of the 19 backs who had at least 100 carries at age 33, only 4 of them did it again at age 34. That’s a large decline rate. (Only two–Marcus Allen and John Riggins, were top 24 in fantasy points).
So while backs start falling off a cliff, the rate of how many fall really picks up for those that make it to the age Gore is now. My rankings bake in those odds. Gore is a good gamble by the 9th round–he’s going to start the year getting the most carries–but you get enough booms earlier than that it makes it difficult to take him in the same range as other starters.
I also think Gore wouldn’t have been getting those carries on most teams to allow him to finish RB12 the last two years while averaging under 4 yards a carry. The Colts have been running back depth empty recently. Will rookie Marlon Mack show enough to demand carries as the season goes on?