Fantasy Football Draft: Players to Target

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 24: Running back David Johnson
SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 24: Running back David Johnson /
Fantasy Football Draft
Fantasy Football Draft /

Fantasy Football Draft: Players to Target!

Summer is almost over, school is starting and that can only mean one thing – football season. This is one of my favorite parts of the year (almost as exciting as the holidays), I love getting ready for fantasy football draft season! This year is no different, I have already countless mock drafts and I have already drafted about half of my leagues. Throughout the off-season I followed all of the moves closely and developed a list of players that I thought landed in good spots or whose role I thought would increase. Once the Ezekiel Elliot news hit and two trades happened and it blew up everything. After going through my mocks, actual drafts and sorting the Zeke-less Cowboys I started to develop a list of players that I thought we the best values. Together they make a list of players to target and players to avoid. Things can and will change between now and the start of the season, especially with final roster cuts still to happen. As of right now these are the players I feel that are going at a good value and you should target them:


Tyrod Taylor: The fact that you can get Tyrod Taylor for virtually nothing in drafts right now is just mind-blowing to me. He is going outside the top 15 quarterbacks in drafts right now and yet he still finished as a QB1 last year throwing to the likes of Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. Quarterbacks going before him? Phillip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Ben Roethlisberger. I would rather have Taylor than all of those guys with the exception of Rivers, but Rivers has a much tougher schedule than Taylor.

Taylor is the poster child of waiting for the late rounds to get a QB and still finding value. Sammy Watkins is gone now (still trying to digest that), but he is used to playing without him and still being effective. In the draft they added Zay Jones who is the NCAA’s leader in receptions and traded for Jordan Matthews which are  upgrades at receiver from last year. All we need now is for Matthews to recover from his injury and develop chemistry with the offense.

Andy Dalton: Andy Dalton had a sneaky good year last year, and for most of the year he was without arguably his three best targets in A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Gio Bernard. He was throwing the ball to the likes of Brandon Lafell and Rex Burkhead and still finished as a QB1. With all of the previous mentioned players seemingly comeback 100 percent healthy plus the draft editions of John Ross and Joe Mixon there is nowhere to go but up. The only concern is the offensive line losing two big pieces in free agency. The fantasy value of a lot of key players is going to be tied to how well the offensive line comes together.

Dalton however, can still be productive even with an average/below average line. He was sacked the second most times in the NFL last year and still finished as a QB1. He got a significant upgrade in the weapons around him and the defense isn’t getting any better so they are going to have to throw it a lot if they have any hope at keeping pace in their division.

SEATTLE, WA – DECEMBER 24: Running back David Johnson
SEATTLE, WA – DECEMBER 24: Running back David Johnson /

Fantasy Football Draft: Running Back Targets

David Johnson: David Johnson seems like a no brainer but, depending on the league you are in you can get him with the third or even fourth pick. Johnson is good enough to be the number one overall player and getting him any lower than that is value in my book. He has potential to go for 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. Of the big three running backs at the top I think he offers the best value. The reason? I believe it’s the fact that even with the great Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona has no one that is going to scare opposing defenses in the passing game other than Johnson will make people a little hesitant to draft him with the top two or three picks making him a value, all be it a slight value.

Todd Gurley: I know he was one of the biggest busts of last year, a lot of people picked him in the top three overall picks, but this is part of the reason I think he should be targeted. People are going to remember is previous season and pass on him and he is going to drop. At some point every player becomes draftable and Gurley right now is. His offensive line added some big names during the offseason and didn’t really add much of anything in terms of competition. He is going to get volume and volume means production, especially at the running back position.

The addition of Sammy Watkins is only going to open up things by keeping the defense honest. Even though a lot of the fronts Gurley faced last year weren’t loaded boxes he was still the focus of the defense. The Rams added just enough via the draft and free agency, plus the huge trade for Watkins, things can only go up from last year.

Spencer Ware: Spencer Ware was very difficult to put on this list; he very easily could have ended up on the players to avoid portion of this list. Why didn’t he? His draft stock is starting to fall and yet every indication as of now is that he is going to be the lead back and in an Andy Reid offense that is a valuable position. The addition of Kareem Hunt via the draft is more than concerning, but until the rookie proves himself enough its Ware’s job to lose, and Ware has proven himself to be more than capable. For those two reasons and his current ADP he is someone I am going to target.

Isaiah Crowell: Based on name value he is enough to make people shy away, but after looking a little deeper into the situation you start to see the making of a diamond in the rough. Crowell was one of the best in the league at yards after contact last year in an awful offense. The offensive line last year was above average, and they added some big pieces in the off-season making them, at least on paper, a candidate to be a top five unit.

With quarterback situation a mess they appear to be poised to lean on the run early and often and Crowell is locked into the early down role. He is also sneaky productive at receiver, where a lot of people are high on Duke Johnson’s skill set. If you have a later pick in the first round you are more than likely going receiver in the first and maybe even second round (think about a team with Mike Evans and Michael Thomas or Dez Bryant). This makes a getting a running back a must in the next two rounds and that is where Crowell is going, at the three-four turn.

Fantasy Football Draft: Wide Receivers to Target

Sammy Watkins: Say what you want about Sammy Watkins and his injury history but he is going on his fourth year in the league and has only had one season where he finished with less than 13 games played, last year. He played all 16 games his rookie year and his sophomore season he played 13 games. Also people seem to forget that there are three other receivers in recent memory that had the same injury and it followed a very similar pattern as Watkins’. Julian Edleman, Dez Bryant and Julio Jones all required two surgeries to fix their foot and look what they are doing now.

The recency bias on him has his draft stock a lot lower than he should be going. With Watkins being traded to the Rams in easily the most shocking move of the preseason does make him a little bit more of a risk than he was and his final preseason games are worth monitoring. I see his draft stock dropping even a little more now that he is going to an anemic Ram offense from last year. The new Sean McVay offense however, produces a plethora of new questions and the Rams have a lot of new play makers and movie pieces they need to figure out what to do with. There is enough talent on the Rams to keep the defense honest and from singling in on Watkins which is a plus, but he has to learn an entirely new offense in a little over a month. Watkins may be one of the biggest high risk/high reward players of the early rounds but he has the talent to justify taking him.

Keenan Allen: Another receiver labeled has injury prone that I don’t buy the tag, he had a freak injury in a lacerated kidney and a torn ACL that could happen to anyone. It would be a different story if the two injuries were related but they aren’t and neither are a lingering hamstring pull so assuming he recovers fully from a week 1 injury he should be back to his old self. He is a catching machine when he plays and has the potential to be the comeback player of the year. So why is his draft stock falling? There are so many mouths to feed in LA (still have to get used to saying that) that it’s really hard to say who is going to be Phillip Rivers’ go to target.

The LA Charger offense has the makings of the Saints offense of old where it could be anyone’s week but it is impossible to predict who. My gut is since there are a lot of new pieces in LA (four players who have been there less than 2 seasons) that Rivers is going to look to the veteran players in a time of need (4th quarter and red zone) and those players right now are Allen and Antonio Gates. Even with the team using their first round pick on a big bodied receiver in Mike Williams Allen is still the clear WR1 when healthy. And the best news for Allen is Williams getting banged up with a back injury and has missed valuable time.

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Tight End

 Eric Ebron: Eric Ebron was quietly a TE1 last season and a reliable option weekend and week out when he was on the field, so why is his draft stock so low? The answer is simple, lack of touchdowns. With the departure of Aquan Boldin in the off-season the door is open for Ebron the be their possession “receiver”. The Lions have a high-octane offense with lots of weapons and an up and coming running game to keep the defense honest. Right now Ebron is basically free in drafts so you can wait at the position and load up on WR and RB and still take a TE1. Let’s hope that he stays a secret and remains a huge value.

Hunter Henry: Hunter Henry was one of the few tight ends that are fantasy relevant their rookie year. He did this by tying for the lead in touchdown receptions at his position with eight. All while backing up one of the best to ever do it in Antonio Gates, who was chasing the all-time record for touchdown receptions as a tight end. The Chargers made it clear they were trying to get him the record by feeding him in the redzone.

This year with Gates another year older and almost certain to have his role scaled back at least a little bit, Henry could see his role increase, leading to more opportunities which almost always lead to production. Gates will still be there so his value is greater in keeper and dynasty leagues but he still has value in redraft. My feeling is that his season will take a similar path as last season. Starting slow as the Chargers will look to get Gates the record. After that I see Henry’s role picking up and having the bigger role in a high-powered offense.

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