You’re probably going to find good players in your fantasy football drafts — there are plenty to go around at every position, after all.
But, luck notwithstanding, the biggest key to nailing your drafts and maximizing your shot at successful fantasy seasons is securing the best value as you build your clubs.
And that’s the genesis of our ADP alert feature, which returns for its second summer to help you identify potential bargain and buyer beware options with draft time almost upon us.
In case you’re new to this, ADP is short for Average Draft Position, which is tracked over at fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Listed after each player’s name is the slot in which he’s currently being drafted at his position, followed by his specific round and pick number.
BARGAIN: Titans QB Marcus Mariota (ADP: QB17, 11.09)
Mariota’s step back in Year Three cost Mike Mularkey his job, yet people are drafting the former Heisman winner like he’s still playing in Mularkey’s outdated offense. Despite cutting his passing TD total in half from 2017 to ’18 and matching his career high in giveaways, Mariota finished as fantasy’s QB18 overall. Now he’ll work with Matt LaFleur, who assisted in Jared Goff’s breakout and Matt Ryan’s MVP season the past two years. Moreover, the Titans hope a healthy Corey Davis, in addition to new change-of-pace back Dion Lewis and an improving Taywan Taylor, further bolster Mariota's weaponry. Indeed, Mariota's surroundings have greatly improved, and one of the game's more dangerous dual threats will be on the move more this season. Just be sure and draft a solid backup, perhaps another mobile value pick at QB like Alex Smith or Dak Prescott.
BUYER BEWARE: Eagles QB Carson Wentz (ADP: QB7, 7.04)
Make no mistake: Wentz is one of the game’s brightest stars at any position as he enters his third season. But he’s unlikely to play in the preseason after a serious knee procedure in December and is no lock to be starting behind center come Week 1; some in the Eagles building would actually prefer he didn’t start with as valuable an insurance policy as Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles. Why, then, is he being selected only two spots after Cam Newton and less than a full round after Drew Brees? Wentz’s wild uptick in production from his rookie to sophomore seasons — from 16 to 32 touchdowns and 6.2 to 7.5 YPA — might not fluctuate as significantly back toward the norm this year, but the chances of a dip coming off injury are higher than him picking up close to where he left off.
BARGAIN: Packers RB Jamaal Williams (ADP: RB32, 6.12)
Aaron Jones is the Packers’ most dynamic runner; Ty Montgomery is their most versatile. It doesn’t matter. Williams has already proven to be the most dependable, and with Jones suspended to begin the season and Montgomery nothing if not an injury risk, there’s bell-cow potential available late in Round 6, in an offense that could lead the league in scoring. Williams finished as RB29 during his rookie season, but from Week 10, when Jones was sidelined with a knee injury, on, he was RB9 overall … mostly with Brett Hundley at the controls. The hard-charging Williams exceeded expectations as a receiver and, even if Jones and Montgomery are healthy, should be the clear-cut option by the goal line.
BUYER BEWARE: 49ers RB Jerick McKinnon (RB17, 3.04)
Follow the money? Oftentimes it’s not a bad plan when attempting to crack the usage code of a relatively unknown commodity switching teams, like McKinnon. But since getting paid like an elite back, McKinnon was put on ice for a month of the preseason with a calf injury. And McKinnon’s is hardly the only head-scratching free-agent deal Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have handed out. Would it be that stunning if Alfred Morris, who signed a vet minimum deal following McKinnon’s injury, turns out to be a better bargain? Morris won’t help on passing downs, but he has three 1,000-rushing yard seasons on his resume — including two under Shanahan in Washington — and McKinnon has never reached 1,000 yards from scrimmage in his first four seasons.
BARGAIN: Eagles RB Corey Clement (RB43, 10.02)
If you’re looking for a later-round flier, why not bet on a dude who shined in the Super Bowl as an undrafted rookie and is behind only Jay Ajayi and his troublesome knees on the depth chart? Clement has shined this summer in picking up exactly where he left off in Super Bowl LII, when he had 100 receiving yards and a touchdown. He’s been tethered this summer to Darren Sproles, a guy who knows a little something about versatility and maximizing his chances. Sure the Eagles parted with draft capital for Ajayi, but the best players will play, and a pass-happy coach like Doug Pederson is going to coax plenty from his top young receiving back, who earned only one fewer snap than Ajayi in the Super Bowl.
BUYER BEWARE: Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (RB10, 1.12)
What do the nine backs going off the board in front of Cook have in common? They’re each ticketed for feature roles to begin the season. This inclusion isn’t unlike Wentz’s; Cook is an absolute stud with superstar potential. He’s also coming off an ACL injury, clouding his early-season outlook. New Vikings OC John DeFilippo is going to have Kirk Cousins throwing the ball around the yard, which bodes well for Cook, who attracted 13 combined targets for 10 grabs in three full games as a rookie. But Mike Zimmer has made it clear that an inferior talent in Latavius Murray, who performed yeoman’s work in Cook’s absence, will have a significant role. We love Cook, just not his price tag.
BARGAIN: Browns WR Jarvis Landry (WR21, 5.02)
Bless those who are letting Landry fall into Round 5 for us. The “Hard Knocks” star and sole picture of stability in Cleveland’s roller coaster WR corps, he obviously has more value in PPR leagues after clearing 110 grabs but not the 1,000-receiving yard mark last season. That unorthodox production still led to WR14 overall standing in standard scoring leagues, and it’s not like Cleveland has an environment that won't lend itself to Landry being a target machine again. Bonus: We now know Landry will play through injuries, right?
BUYER BEWARE: Rams WR Brandin Cooks (WR17, 4.09)
Cooks has been traded in consecutive offseasons by forward-thinking offensive-minded clubs and now finds himself in a scheme that spreads it around more than the previous two after averaging 120 targets in his three full seasons. Few players in the league are more explosive, but Cooks also is prone to the occasional clunker (eight touchdown-less games with fewer than three catches and/or 40 receiving yards over the past two years). He just got paid like an upper-echelon WR1, but Cooks must now contend with Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman four times per year.
BARGAIN: Jets WR Robby Anderson (WR35, 8.03)
He disappointed fantasy owners in the playoffs last year, and the Jets aren’t likely to practice too much more patience in Anderson, who has been arrested thrice since arriving in the NFL as a 2016 undrafted free agent. Still, he was fantasy WR8 overall entering the playoffs last season, having posted 75 yards and/or a touchdown in eight of his previous 10 games, and brings unique field-stretching upside coming off an NFL-best seven explosive scores, according to Pro Football Focus. He thinks he’ll avoid a suspension to begin the season, too, after a clerical error lifted one offseason arrest warrant. Sound fortuitous? So is fantasy’s WR16 overall getting drafted as a back-end WR3, never mind the Jets landing Sam Darnold with the third overall pick in front of two QB-needy clubs.
BUYER BEWARE: Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (WR25, 5.10)
In case our readers aren’t familiar with the PUP (physically unable to perform) list, a player who finds himself there to begin the regular season can’t play until at least Game Seven, which means missing at least 40 percent of the fantasy season. Jeffery, who underwent rotator cuff surgery in February, reportedly is a PUP list candidate. Even if he avoids it, his Week 1 outlook, and history of injuries, should cause trepidation for owners looking to draft him as a potential WR2 or even high-end WR3. Our advice would be to wait four full rounds and pluck Nelson Agholor.
BARGAIN: Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard (TE16, 13.12)
A special talent who finished his rookie season on a tear prior to landing on I.R., Howard will have to fight Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, not to mention fellow TE Cameron Brate, for targets, hence the discount here. But there isn’t a late-round tight end more worth targeting than the Alabama standout, who hasn’t even come close to scratching the surface of his playmaking potential and has top-five fantasy upside at his position. He was more efficient than Brate in overall catches and touchdowns, and Howard easily could become the second-favorite option for Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Since we're on the Bucs, Godwin is another late-round gem who belongs on your radar.
BUYER BEWARE: Panthers TE Greg Olsen (TE5, 6.01)
Olsen’s iron man streak was snapped last year because of a broken foot, and before returning for his 12th season, the 33-year-old reportedly mulled retirement in the offseason. Frankly, we struggled to fill this spot, and thought long and hard before settling on the ultra-consistent Olsen over guys like George Kittle and David Njoku. But the selection of first-round WR D.J. Moore, healthy return of 2017 second-rounder Curtis Samuel and the precarious state of Carolina’s line, never mind Cam Newton learning his first new offense in the NFL, signal a bit more volatility for Olsen than we’re comfortable betting on this early. More affordable options like Howard and Trey Burton abound, but we wouldn't fault you if Olsen's track record gives you peace of mind. Hopefully you can find it a tad later.