“Upside-down” drafting means searching for value picks later in drafts. You get a much better feel for how you should construct your team in the early rounds if you’re prepared and confident in knowing which players you plan to target late, which players are values based on their average draft position (ADP), and most importantly, what positions will be in abundance. My personal list below is clearly wide receiver-heavy, but don’t be misled. Most late-round players are dart throws, so it all comes back to value. While each draft is different, these wide receiver value players encourage favoring the running back position early on as things dry up quickly there, as they seem to every year.
ADPs noted below are from PlayerProfiler, via the FFPC. For the purposes of this article, I’m treating any player whose ADP is in Round 22 or beyond as “undrafted”, and all ADPs referenced are with a 12-team format in mind. The names below appear in no particular order.
Chris Godwin (ADP 180.5 – Rd 15)
The breakout is on the way. Godwin’s talent is undeniable, and DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries are either afterthoughts or on their way there. Tampa Bay likely agrees, as Godwin is current slated to start opposite Mike Evans per this report. Godwin is also a #ReceptionPerception favorite, which bears noting. Godwin could end up being a steal, potentially producing fantasy WR3 numbers with just a 15th round price tag.
Keelan Cole (ADP 214.5 – Rd 17), Dede Westbrook (ADP 235.7 – Rd 19), & Donte Moncrief (ADP 262.3 – Rd 21)
Deciphering Jacksonville’s wide receiver depth chart has proven to be one of the more difficult tasks thus far in the preseason. Cole closed out his rookie season last year strongly when called upon, averaging 10 targets, 5.7 receptions, and 109 yards per game over the final three games. He has been standing out in camp, consistently drawing the praise of his coaches and media alike.
But despite Cole’s performance toward the end of last year, Westbrook and Moncrief are also talented and can usually be found available even later in drafts. Personally, I think that Westbrook is the most talented receiver on the Jaguars. The explosive former Sooner fell in the 2017 NFL Draft due to off-field concerns, but his nearly 20 yards-per-reception and 17 touchdowns in 2016 demonstrate his immense upside. Finally, Moncrief has been a continual disappointment to fantasy owners during his tenure with the Colts, but the talent has always been there, and he may be motivated to finally play to his potential on his one-year $7 million prove-it deal. One of the these Jaguars wide receivers could become a fantasy gem, and it won’t cost much to take a shot on your pick of the three.
John Ross (ADP 195.3 – Rd 16) & Tyler Boyd (ADP 347.8 – Undrafted)
Ross is a favorite of Ben Gretch at Fantasy Insiders, and Boyd has garnered much praise from Shawn Siegele over at RotoViz. Both of these wide receivers have the opportunity to see a big target share opposite A.J. Green as a result of Brandon LaFell‘s release. Ross was a Washington standout whose record-breaking 4.22 40-yard dash propelled him into the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but injuries have continually derailed his progression. Boyd, another collegiate standout out of Pittsburgh, has his merits as well. His time in Cincinnati has likewise been underwhelming to this point, but the first unofficial Bengals depth chart lists Boyd as the WR2 behind Green after a productive showing in training camp. Neither receiver will cost much, and Tyler Eifert‘s struggles to stay healthy ensure plenty of opportunity for whichever one can seize it.
John Brown (ADP 189.9 – Rd 15)
Brown may finally be back, and I couldn’t be happier. Brown boasted 65 catches for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns back in 2015 but has been struggling with health issues ever since. Now seemingly healthy, he has ample opportunity on a Ravens team with the most Air Yards available in 2018 and a quarterback with the seventh-most pass attempts in 2017. Sometimes, the dots just connect themselves with a perfect intersection of talent and opportunity. Flacco is already finding a connection with his new receiver, which bodes well for prospective fantasy owners taking a chance on Brown in the 15th round.
Albert Wilson (ADP 306.2 – Undrafted), Danny Amendola (ADP 185.4 – Rd 15), & Mike Gesicki (ADP 150.3 – Rd 12)
It’s difficult to determine the biggest benificiary of Jarvis Landry‘s departure from Miami. Kenny Stills should be the de facto WR1, but that still leaves plenty of vacated targets to go around. DeVante Parker is sidelined with a broken finger, but even before then, Parker had been underwhelming in camp. Wilson is one of the favorite late-round fliers for quite a few big name analysts, but Amendola could also steal away a lot of targets as the new outlet receiver for Ryan Tannehill. While Gesicki is a hotter dynasty buy, he also has the chance to pay early dividends during his rookie campaign, shining thus far both as a blocker and as a premier red-zone threat. One of these Dolphins could emerge into a fantasy threat, and all are available late into drafts.
Austin Ekeler (ADP 156.8 – Rd 13)
Listed as the Chargers’ RB2 behind Melvin Gordon, all signs point to the third-year runner keeping that job in the near future with rookie Justin Jackson nursing a hamstring injury. Ekeler picked up where he left off last year, showing flashes thus far in the preseason by picking up chunks of yardage after the catch and flashing big-play ability. He remains an elite handcuff option with talent that could push for increased passing game usage as the season progresses and can be gotten late in the 13th round of drafts.
Courtland Sutton (ADP 214.0 – Rd 17)
Many were projecting Sutton to be the first receiver selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. He wasn’t my rookie WR1, but Sutton tested well at the combine and wasn’t too far behind in my rankings. The reports out of Denver have been nothing but positive, which isn’t a huge surprise given his college track record and draft pedigree. Sutton should have a chance to slot in as the WR3 right off the bat behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in what should be an improved Denver offense from 2017 now that the quarterback spot is a bit more stable with the addition of Case Keenum. Like Gesicki, Sutton has both dynasty upside as well as opportunity to immediate produce.
Ricky Seals-Jones (ADP 151.2 – Rd 12)
A little run-in with the law earlier this offseason should keep Seals-Jones’ ADP in check. On the field though, Seals-Jones was wildly efficient in his first season. The Cardinals are in a state of transition, and outside of future Hall-of-Famer Larry Fitzgerald and superstar David Johnson, there aren’t many proven players on offense. Despite Christian Kirk‘s likely involvement early on, there are plenty of targets to go around, and Seals-Jones is arguable Arizona’s best red-zone receiving threat at 6’5 and 243 pounds. There are few sure things at tight end outside of the top tier, and Seals-Jones has the upside to produce similarly but at a far cheaper draft cost.
TreQuan Smith (ADP 327.7 – Undrafted)
New Orleans invested a third-round draft pick on Smith. Now, tethered to Drew Brees, he has a great chance to produce fantasy numbers if he can see the field early. The Saints also recently cut Brandon Coleman, which could speak to their confidence in Smith. While Ted Ginn and Cameron Meredith will likely start over Smith, it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to overtake them at some point during the season. A talented youngster catching passes from Brees is always worth a look at the end of drafts.
Kenneth Dixon (ADP 197.1 – Rd 16) & Javorius Allen (ADP 177.0 – Rd 14)
Expect most of the work in the Baltimore backfield to go to Alex Collins, who more than deserves the starting role after putting together a solid campaign in 2017. The Ravens seem confident in their running back corps and opted not to add any other runners by way of the draft or free agency. But despite the presence of Collins, both Dixon and Allen have a shot to get some receiving work, and both backs can be very productive when healthy. In PPR formats, both are worth a look late as complements and handcuffs to Collins in a revamped Baltimore offense.
Jameis Winston (ADP 213.9 – Rd 17)
Winston was a hot commodity prior to the announcement of his three-game suspension. The missed time drops his ADP, but Winston is quite capable of making up that lost production when he returns, as he was one of just three quarterbacks to throw for 300 yards in more than five games last year. Expect more improvement from Winston as the skill position players around him continue to improve and form one of the better offensive units in the league. Mike Evans is an almost unguardable receiver on the outside, second-year tight end O.J. Howard can be lethal downfield when healthy, and Tampa Bay invested an early-round selection in the dynamic Ronald Jones to bolster the backfield. Winston has top-five fantasy quarterback upside with all these weapons at his disposal, yet he remains almost an afterthought to many fantasy owners.
Taywan Taylor (ADP 262.3 – Rd 21)
A mysterious injury has kept Rishard Matthews sidelined for a good majority of the Titans’ offseason program, and Taylor has been performing well in the preseason in Matthews’ absence. ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky also believes in Taylor’s importance to the offense and big-play ability. A sophomore breakout could be coming for both Titans wide receivers, but Taylor is available at the end of most drafts whereas Corey Davis will likely be gone early on.
Anthony Miller (ADP 138.4 – Rd 11)
Miller may be the rookie wide receiver to make the biggest immediate impact. I’m not sure there’s been another player, rookie or veteran, who’s had a better training camp in 2018. The landing spot is superb, as I recently outlined in my dynasty rookie rankings. Other than Miller’s age, he checks every box out of college. Miller has been consistently beating corner backs and making highlight reel plays in camp. I expect his ADP to continue to rise as we get closer to Week 1, and the window to draft him at great value is rapidly closing. For now though, Miller’s untapped upside can still be gotten in Round 11, and sometimes later if you’re lucky.
Blake Bortles (ADP 277.3 – Undrafted)
It stands to reason that given the late-round appeal of the Jacksonville wide receiver group, it’s only natural that we circle the name of the guy under center, right? Bortles has been the punchline to plenty of jokes early on in his professional career. Coming off his best year as a pro, Bortles has a lot working in his favor playing behind a stout offensive line and getting good field position from arguably the league’s best defense. Expect Jacksonville to continue to feature Leonard Fournette and the run game, but it’s feasible that Bortles will see an increase in total pass attempts in 2018. After all, he threw only 523 times last year after back-to-back seasons of over 600 pass attempts in 2015 and 2016. Bortles is a screaming value at his current ADP and more than capable of fantasy QB1 production.
A few final players who could impress at value ADPs:
Corey Grant played well last year and would likely split work with T.J. Yeldon in the event of an injury to Fournette. Kenny Golladay is already being utilized over Golden Tate in two-receiver sets in Detroit and will see plenty of red-zone opportunity with Eric Ebron gone. Sterling Shepard is trusted by Eli Manning near the goal line and is a rare wide receiver handcuff to Odell Beckham. Tyler Lockett could see more looks with Doug Baldwin banged up, and someone has to catch passes in Seattle. Chase Edmonds is already showing dynamic ability in the preseason, and any missed time from David Johnson could make Edmonds a league winner.