2020 Fantasy Football: Best Value Draft Picks

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2020

2020 Fantasy Football: Best Value Draft Picks

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Value draft picks can often be the deciding factor in how fantasy football leagues play out. 

    Finding the best value isn't as hard as it sounds, either. Comparing average draft position (ADP) data to reports from training camps, past production and current projections help to identify plenty of options. 

    These are the best non-top-50 ADP values in fantasy football drafts right now. 

Ronald Jones II, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Ronald Jones II is on a clear upswing and just saw his offense get quite the boost via the arrival of one Tom Brady

    Yet Jones' ADP sits at 6.11, 72nd overall. 

    It's a little odd considering he posted 166.3 points last season, going for double digits eight times in a so-so offense. Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians hasn't been shy this August in proclaiming the 2018 second-rounder as the "main guy" in the backfield, either. 

    There's nothing but a hodgepodge of names behind Jones on the depth chart (LeSean McCoy, Dare Ogunbowale, Ke'Shawn Vaughn), and catching 31 passes last year makes it clear he's more than capable as a three-down player.

    His current ADP plants him behind rookie backs and even guys who could be stuck in minimal-usage roles in rotations such as Kareem Hunt, making him a superb value. 

Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Rookie running backs don't tend to carry the fantasy risk other first-year positions do. 

    That's especially the case with Cam Akers already getting first-team looks with the Los Angeles Rams at training camp and ESPN's Lindsey Thiry writing the second-round pick will get an "early opportunity to demonstrate his ability."

    That sounds great for a guy with an ADP of 7.03, placing him just outside the top 75 overall. 

    Akers, after all, ran for 2,875 yards and 27 touchdowns on a 4.9 per-carry average over three seasons at Florida State, catching 69 passes as well. While the Rams seem like a team that could employ a committee approach, the front office isn't going to use a borderline top-50 pick on a running back just to sit him. 

    The investment plus Akers' clear talent means he could see three-down work and easily outperform his draft slot. 

Cam Newton, QB, New England Patriots

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Fantasy football owners should know they can rely on Cam Newton

    The 2015 MVP is now the main guy for the New England Patriots. He's not only in an interesting situation with the coaching staff there, but he gets what could be a deeper cast of weapons than he's usually worked with thanks to a talented stable of backs, plus Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry and Mohamed Sanu. 

    But Newton's ADP is still rebounding, as he's just outside the top 150 at 13.01. 

    That's a 13th-round value for a guy with 3,100-plus passing yards in every season before last year, along with 488-plus rushing yards in all but two seasons. The ADP has him positioned behind guys like Ryan Tannehill and Jared Goff, yet the upside if he's healthy points to a potential top-five season at his position. 

Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    Terry McLaurin flew dramatically under the radar last season in Washington. That was after a summer where the coaching staff didn't use him much and he had to deal with a miserable quarterback situation while that coaching staff saw a head coach fired midseason. 

    Yet McLaurin feasted anyway, tallying 919 yards and seven touchdowns, good for 191.9 points. An improving situation around him hasn't stopped his ADP from sitting at 6.02, though. 

    Besides what should be a sophomore leap, McLaurin is now playing for an organization with a revamped coaching staff, and he'll benefit from more consistency under center. Head coach Ron Rivera isn't shy about the outlook for him either, as he told Fox Sports' Jay Glazer (h/t 247Sports' Garrett Stepien), "He's a guy that could be on the verge (of stardom), he really is."

    Fantasy owners would be wise to agree given all indicators, especially while his ADP ranks behind an injury risk like A.J. Green or someone like DJ Chark. 

Chris Herndon, TE, New York Jets

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The Chris Herndon breakout season might just be here. 

    He flashed as a rookie in 2018, scoring all four of his touchdowns with Sam Darnold under center. He then only got in one game as a sophomore. 

    Fast forward to now, and it sounds like the New York Jets want to make the 2018 fourth-rounder a major piece of the offense—at a time when his name doesn't even show up on the ADP chart spanning 211 picks. 

    Jets coaches have made it clear Herndon is the starting tight end, according to the New York Daily News' Charles McDonald. And at camp, he's seen work at tight end and moved around to spots like the slot. 

    While the Jets added Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims, they have to replace the 96 targets that went to Robby Anderson last year, and Herndon is both versatile and more experienced with Darnold and the offense, setting up for a big fantasy year. 

Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    It's a little strange to think Tom Brady is under the radar in anything, yet here he is with a 9.05 ADP, slotting him outside the top 100. 

    Savvy owners will take advantage of the fact that a player of Brady's caliber sits behind guys like Daniel Jones and Carson Wentz. Even last year, Brady put up 263.68 points, going for double digits 12 times. 

    He enters 2020 in an even better position than last year too. He's changing teams, sure, but he has a star-studded cast with Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin—most of whom helped Jameis Winston post 300-plus points last year. 

    This is one of the most talented supporting groups Brady has ever enjoyed, and Bruce Arians knows a thing or two about squeaking the most out of passers. Brady is bound to be in the top-five conversation at his position. 

Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee Titans

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Jonnu Smith is quietly one of the more versatile tight ends in the NFL, which is what makes him such a good fit in the run-based Tennessee Titans attack. 

    "He makes it fun," tight ends coach Todd Downing said, according to ESPN's Turron Davenport. "When you have a guy on your offense that can do so many things, you can be creative and find ways to get him touches."

    Smith doesn't have Delanie Walker on the depth chart in front of him now, meaning he could see an uptick from his 44 targets last season. 

    That hasn't helped his ADP, which sits at 14.04 and out of the top 175. But a versatile, after-catch mismatch guy like Smith could easily find himself flirting with top-10 status now that he's the guy. 

Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    An uptick in quarterback play if Nick Foles wins the job in Chicago could mean Anthony Miller dramatically outplays his current ADP of 12.10, just inside the top 145. 

    It's easy to forget that as a rookie in 2018, Miller scored seven times while playing through an injury before struggling last season in the touchdowns department. It's even easier to overlook the fact that he went wild late last season, averaging 5.7 catches and 72 yards per game over the final six weeks. 

    Miller might still sit behind Allen Robinson II in targets, but better quarterback play should mean he sees more than the 85 he got last year while 104 went to running back Tarik Cohen. 

    Given the team outlook and general upward trajectory, owners should feast with Miller positioned behind unprovens like Justin Jefferson and N'Keal Harry on ADP charts. 


    Scoring info courtesy of ESPN. ADP info via Fantasy Football Calculator