August is here, and that means it’s Draft Month. Like you, we here at Extra Point are gearing up for our drafts this month as well.
There’s something classic and nostalgic about this time of year, preparing for “re-draft” drafts.
I remember back before Dynasty and Superflex were mainstream. Before Sleeper and Underdog and PFF. This was before apps and podcasts and Patreon.
We had to login to Yahoo.com anytime we wanted to check our teams, and we had to add up our own scores by logging into NFL.com if we wanted to know our scores before Monday morning.
My draft prep consisted of running down to the corner convenience store and grabbing whichever “Draft Guide” fantasy football magazine looked the most interesting on the shelf, and paging through it, scribbling notes and jotting down rankings.
Now, twenty years later, August is here again, and while the landscape and technology surrounding fantasy football is much different than back then, we all still feel that same twinge of excitement on Draft Day.
I love drafting. I love Draft Day.
Please enjoy the following Draft Day Bargains, and may at least part of this offer someone some food for thought as they embark on their own drafts this month.
WR Keenan Allen – Los Angeles Chargers Embed from Getty Images
ADP 25.9 – WR10
If you look at Allen’s 2020 season and remove Week 1 (because Tyrod Taylor was the starting QB) and Week 15 (because Allen left early due to injury), and you extrapolate his numbers over 16 games, Allen was on pace for 167 targets on the season, which would have ranked No. 1 in the NFL.
In addition to that crazy ceiling, Allen is among the most dependable and safest receivers you can draft for 2021. Last year was the first time he’d missed any games since 2016, and he has never had fewer than 97 receptions in a season during that time.
Justin Herbert returns, and the Chargers passing game, which was fifth in total passing attempts and sixth in passing yards in 2020, should remain as pass-happy as ever with receiving back Austin Ekeler and little else at running back. Los Angeles added deep threat Josh Palmer in the 2021 draft, but other than him, there are very few personnel changes in L.A., and Allen is poised for another monster season.
If you consider Allen’s 2020 explosion once Herbert took over along with the fact that Allen has been one of the safest producers at the position over the past five seasons, I’m not sure how you can logically come up with nine receivers and nearly thirty players you’d rather draft before him. Teams who prioritize RB early and then snag Allen as their WR1 in the early third round will be sitting pretty!
WR Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Embed from Getty Images
ADP 34.6 – WR15
Like Allen, Evans’ ADP isn’t egregiously low, but ranking him as the WR15 seems low considering he’s finished as the WR8, the WR8 and the WR6 over the past three seasons, and the entire Bucs offense has looked way more efficient ever since Tom Brady and Bruce Arians arrived in Tampa Bay.
In fact, Evans has finished the year as WR10 or better in five out his seven seasons in the league, and in both of those other two seasons, Evans missed time due to injury.
Evans has eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in every season he’s been in the NFL and has only missed six games in his entire seven-year career.
Much was made about fellow wideouts Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin stealing targets from Evans, but he has never been a huge target guy like Allen.
Tampa Bay ranked No. 6 in passing attempts and No. 30 in rushing attempts last year, and the only running back the Bucs added was Giovanni Bernard, a receiving back, and so I expect the Bucs to continue to air it out in 2021, giving Evans similar opportunity to put up numbers despite the presence of Godwin and Brown.
WR Brandin Cooks – Houston Texans Embed from Getty Images
ADP 88.7 – WR44
Annually one of the most underrated fantasy receivers in the game, Cooks is being massively disrespected this year as he’s being drafted as the WR44 so far this summer.
In the five seasons (out of seven) where Cooks has played in at least 15 games, he has finished no worse than the WR15, including an 81-catch, 1150 yard, 6 touchdown season last year.
Excluding his injury-shortened 2019, Cooks has only missed a total of one game, and has five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons under his belt.
Obviously, Deshaun Watson not being under center would not be a positive for Cooks’ 2021 season, but a 1200-yard season with Jared Goff as his quarterback in 2018 would suggest Cooks can still perform with less than elite quarterback play.
Add to the fact that Houston should be passing quite a bit in 2021 as they play from behind early and often, and I think Cooks will see enough volume to put up similar numbers to what we’ve become accustomed to out of him as the undisputed top target for the Texans. Even with a slight dip due to (presumably) playing with Tyrod Taylor all season, his WR44 draft position makes him a bargain regardless.
WR Marvin Jones – Jacksonville Jaguars Embed from Getty Images
ADP 108 – WR55
Wide receiver 55?! Outside of his rookie season, the closest Marvin Jones has been to finishing as WR55 was in 2018 when he finished as the WR56… he played in nine games that year.
Aside from that year, Jones has finished as the WR14, WR25 (in 13 games), and WR5 over the last three seasons.
Take away his rookie season when he barely played and the 2014 season when he missed the entire year, Jones has averaged 110 targets per season for his career. He has scored at least nine touchdowns in a season four separate times in his eight years of play.
He now finds himself in Jacksonville with rookie phenom Trevor Lawrence as the only wide receiver Urban Meyer and the current regime has actually chosen to go out and acquire (D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault are holdovers from the last administration).
Meyer has been critical of Chark during the offseason, and he is out until Week 1 with a broken finger that required surgery, and so Chark will lose out on valuable reps with Lawrence this preseason. Shenault is healthy, but his skillset doesn’t really overlap with Jones at all.
I like Jones as an outside shot to finish as the Jaguars’ No. 1 receiver by season’s end.
RB James Conner – Arizona Cardinals Embed from Getty Images
ADP 119.1 – RB37
Currently being drafted as an RB4, Conner looks like a bargain to me. After the Cardinals lost Kenyan Drake to the Raiders, they signed Conner to be their thunder to Chase Edmonds’ lightning in their backfield.
Still just 26, Conner finished 2020 as RB25 — only slightly out of RB2 range — despite only playing in 13 games. On a points per game basis, Conner only finished behind the likes of D’Andre Swift and Antonio Gibson by less than two points per game.
Assuming Conner is healthy, the opportunity will be there for him in Arizona. In Week 9 against the Miami Dolphins with Kenyan Drake inactive, it was going to be Edmonds’ time to shine. Finally, he was going to get a chance at the bulk of the carries and his bid for Canton was full steam ahead… until he finished with 25 carries for 70 yards, good for 2.8 yards per carry.
After that disappointing game, Arizona never gave Edmonds another chance, averaging just 5.3 carries per game the rest of the season. Clearly, the Cardinals don’t see Edmonds as a bell cow running back, and Conner was brought in to handle the bulk of the rushing attempts while Edmonds continues to play on passing downs.
The departure of Drake is vacating 239 carries from last year, and Conner is first in line to take those on. Assuming he is healthy and available — he’s currently on the COVID-19 reserve list — Conner can absolutely be a usable fantasy asset in an explosive offense.
QB Kirk Cousins – Minnesota Vikings Embed from Getty Images
ADP 152.5 – QB20
Over Cousins’ three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, he is averaging 4,055 passing yards and 30 touchdowns per season.
Cousins has stayed completely healthy and played the whole 16-game schedule in five out of the last six seasons. During those five seasons, Cousins has finished as the QB11, QB13, QB6, QB5 and QB10 and topped 4,000 yards passing every year. He also has 16 career rushing scores, an underrated part of his game, especially earlier in his career. Cousins has never thrown for fewer than 25 touchdowns in any season as the full-time starting QB, and his career average as a starter is 28.6 per season.
Cousins is helped by the dynamic duo at receiver, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. The latter hopefully has a developmental leap into the rarified air of the league’s elite in 2021, with Thielen playing a Robin to Jefferson’s Batman… a Robin who puts up double-digit touchdowns. Irv Smith and Dalvin Cook are also exciting options in the passing game.
All in all, Cousins is one of my main targets in drafts where I’m electing to wait on QB. He’s going in the 12th or 13th round in drafts, and when you look around and the likes of Sterling Shepard or Nyheim Hines are also being drafted in that range, it makes Cousins look like a nice, productive selection in those rounds.
RB Justin Jackson – Los Angeles Chargers Embed from Getty Images
ADP 212.4 – RB63
All fantasy owners know the deal with Ekeler. He’s a PPR god, but in real life, the 5-10, 200-pound back cedes a ton of carries to his next-in-command in the running game.
Ekeler missed six games in 2020, but if we go back to 2019, his last fully healthy season, he was actually out-carried by backfield mate Melvin Gordon, 162-132, but Ekeler still finished as the RB8 (RB4 in PPR) by virtue of his 108-target, 92-catch contribution in the passing game.
If one of Jackson, Joshua Kelley or Larry Rountree can take charge of that Gordon role in the Chargers offense, that player would immediately become flex-worthy in most leagues at the least.
So far in training camp, it appears as though Jackson is the odds-on favorite to have the first crack at that role. Daniel Popper of the Athletic reports that Jackson has seemingly locked up that job, in fact. Jackson boasts a career 4.9 YPC, and while that stat is perhaps more of a total offense stat rather than RB-only, it does span over three separate seasons, and he has looked noticeably more explosive than Kelley thus far into their careers.
A lot can change between now and Week 1, and even if Jackson wins the No. 2 running back job in L.A., it isn’t as if he should be expected to be a Pro Bowler or anything, but in the 18th round as RB63, why not take a chance?
Who are your draft day bargains? Join the conversation and drop us a comment!
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Your typical know-nothing wannabe who never played American football growing up, Andrew grew up playing the REAL football, dreaming of being the next Ronaldo (the Brazilian one).
One fateful day in 1998, Andrew was introduced to one, Randy Moss, who would almost singlehandedly vault American football to the forefront of a young twelve-year-old’s flimsy attention span.
Twenty-some years later, Andrew, now a father, coach and rabid Tottenham supporter, still loves both footballs.