Fantasy Football Rankings: The Best Value in Each of the First 20 Rounds
The fantasy football season is nearly upon us. Many drafts are still waiting to happen, so it's time to take a final look at the average draft positions for players and identify bargains in each round.
As I combed through the information based on over 5,000 completed drafts of the past week, I was shocked to see the kind of value a savvy owner could get in the later rounds.
While there are many gems in every fantasy draft, there are players in each round who seem to be falling too far.
This column is designed to help fantasy football owners plan wisely as they map out their 2010 strategies.
Keep in mind, this information is based on a standard lineup and a PPR (points per reception) format.
Once you have this redraft fantasy football thing figured out, it's time to try a dynasty league.
Until then, hunt for the following 20 bargains in your upcoming drafts.
Round One: Andre Johnson, WR, HOU
ADP: 1.06 (No. 6 overall)
Andre Johnson is my pick for MVP this season.
It’s a little risky to choose a wide receiver, but I believe this is the year that Johnson makes his mark as the most dominant wideout in all of fantasy. He has two straight seasons of at least 100 catches and 1,500 yards.
This year, I believe he’ll add double-digit touchdowns for the first time in his career, making the gap between himself and the next tier of wideouts big enough to merit him being the MVP.
Round Two: Miles Austin, WR, DAL
ADP: 2.08 (No. 20 overall)
Austin's 2009 season featured 81 catches, 1,320 yards, and 11 touchdowns.
Keep in mind he wasn't even a starter until a month into the season.
If I take a RB in round one, I'd be thrilled with Austin falling as my No. 1 wide receiver.
Round Three: Pierre Thomas, RB, NO
ADP: 3.10 (No. 34 overall)
With Mike Bell out of town and Lynell Hamilton out for the year, Reggie Bush is the only thing standing in Thomas’ way of being a legitimate top-10 option in fantasy leagues.
I'll take my chances.
Round Four: Matt Forte, RB, CHI
ADP: 4.10 (No. 46 overall)
Forte is currently being drafted as the 21st overall running back. We've seen this preseason that he's on a mission to bounce back from a putrid 2009.
I'd take him as my No. 3 running back in a heartbeat.
Round Five: Arian Foster, RB, HOU
ADP: 5.08 (No. 56 overall)
If you haven't figured this one out, you've been living under a rock.
With Ben Tate out for the season, the stars are aligned for Foster to have a breakout season.
Don't be afraid to take a gamble here. These are the rounds where championships are won.
Round Six: Mike Wallace, WR, PIT
ADP: 6.10 (No. 70 overall)
Wallace shined as a rookie, but the trade of Santonio Holmes takes him to a different level.
He may start slowly but should thrive when Ben Roethlisberger returns from his suspension.
Round Seven: Johnny Knox, WR, CHI
ADP: 7.11 (No. 83 overall)
We've been trying to figure out all summer which Bears receiver would step up in 2010.
Most thought it was going to be Devin Aromashodu or Devin Hester, but it looks like Mike Martz has fallen in love with the speedster.
Round Eight: Eli Manning, QB, NYG
ADP: 8.02 (No. 86 overall)
If I was to pass on the premier signal callers, Manning would be a tremendous prize in this round.
If he can come close to his 4,021 yards, and 27 touchdowns from 2009, he's a steal this late.
Round Nine: Cadillac Williams, RB, TB
ADP: 9.01 (No. 97 overall)
If you don't think you have a shot at a legitimate starting running back as late as the ninth round, you could be wrong.
Cadillac may not be the threat he once was, but I'd run the card to my league commissioner if he was still on the board.
Round 10: Mike Williams, WR, TB
ADP: 10.01 (No. 109 overall)
Back-to-back Bucs in the later rounds? You bet!
The rule of thumb is to typically stay away from rookie wideouts, but Williams has shown enough this preseason to merit a shot, especially in the 10th round of a draft.
Round 11: Jabar Gaffney, WR, DEN
ADP: 11.07 (No. 127 overall)
Gaffney is flying under the radar in many drafts right now, but he's in line for a great season in Denver.
Demaryius Thomas is far from ready, so Gaffney is the receiver to target from the Broncos.
Round 12: Jermaine Gresham, TE, CIN
ADP: 12.11 (No. 143 overall)
If I loaded up on running backs and wide receivers, I'd be thrilled to see Gresham still on the board here.
He and Carson Palmer have developed a quick rapport, and people tend to forget just how dominant Gresham was at Oklahoma.
Round 13: Fred Jackson, RB, BUF
ADP: 13.04 (No. 148 overall)
C.J. Spiller is the back to own here in a dynasty league, but Jackson isn't going to go down without a fight.
His hand injury is a short-term concern, but Jackson could make for a good spot starter on many fantasy teams this season.
Round 14: Alex Smith, QB, SF
ADP: 14.05 (No. 161 overall)
At this point, you should have your starting quarterback and possibly a backup as well.
If I had Smith as my No. 3 quarterback or as a backup to an elite No. 1, I'd feel pretty comfortable.
Round 15: Jacoby Jones, WR, HOU
ADP: 15.03 (No. 171 overall)
At this point in the draft, it's time to go for your sleepers.
Jones has been a DLF favorite for years, but this looks like the year he may finally put it together in Houston.
Round 16: Laurent Robinson, WR, STL
ADP: 16.12 (No. 192 overall)
With Donnie Avery's season-ending injury, Robinson vaults to the No. 1 spot on the Rams' depth chart.
There simply aren't many No. 1 receivers left on the board at this point, and Sam Bradford has shown promise.
Robinson is worth the dart throw here.
Round 17: Kyle Orton, QB, DEN
ADP: 17.05 (No. 197 overall)
If you're still looking for a backup quarterback in round 17, this may be your best pick of the draft.
Orton has a fresh two-year extension with Denver and has looked great this preseason.
Most wouldn't guess, but the former Purdue Boilermaker has thrown for over 9,000 yards with 51 touchdowns and just 39 interceptions in his career.
Round 18: Chris Chambers, WR, KC
ADP: 18.10 (No. 214 overall)
Chambers was solid down the stretch for the Chiefs last season. If you were to take his numbers in Kansas City and calculate them over a full season, you'd have a 1,000-yard receiver.
There aren't too many of those in round 18.
Round 19: Louis Murphy, WR, OAK
ADP: 19.06 (No. 222 overall)
I find it very hard to believe there are 221 better fantasy football players for 2010.
Murphy has entrenched himself as the best receiver on the Raiders, and he should battle Zach Miller to lead the team in receiving this season.
He's a bargain if he lasts until round 19.
Round 20: Fred Taylor, RB, NE
ADP: 20.02 (No. 230 overall)
Your choices are going to be pretty slim this late.
There's no way you can get a starting running back from a good team in round 20, right!?!
Everyone wants Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson to lead their teams. Savvy drafters do their research and plan beyond just round one. That's what brings success in a fantasy league.
The question is, are you now ready to take it to the next level and try a dynasty league?