Best Ball Journal: Five DRAFT Bargain Targets
Best Ball Journal: Five DRAFT Bargain Targets

This article is part of our Best Ball Journal series.

Here are five players I consider standout values at their current ADPs in 12-team Best Ball leagues on DRAFT. They are listed in descending ADP order rather than any order of value.

Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT (16.3, 9 to 24)

Everyone loves Juju so I realize I don't have to push hard on this one, but the market is still too cool on him. As much as I wouldn't blame anyone for selecting the likes of Davante Adams (8.5), Michael Thomas (12.5), or Julio Jones (13.7) ahead of Juju, I don't think it makes sense for him to fall to 16.3 in the same market. I don't know how everyone else's projections are looking but to me there isn't a meaningful difference between JSS and the previously mentioned three. In fact, I think he's more likely to finish first of that group than in the relatively distant fourth implied by the market.

Although he won't even turn 23 until late November, Juju already has 169 NFL receptions for 2,343 yards and 14 touchdowns on 245 targets (69.0 percent catch rate, 9.6 YPT). He saw 166 targets last year in a season where Antonio Brown saw 168 targets. Brown is gone, and Ben Roethlisberger led the league with 5,129 passing yards last year. Don't overthink this – Juju is a totally justifiable top-10 pick.

Tyler Boyd, WR, CIN (68.0, 37 to 89)

I'm a big A.J. Green fan and I even have some stubborn faith in John Ross one day breaking out, yet I can't imagine how someone reasons that Boyd should fall into the late sixth round in drafts. It'd be one thing if it were standard scoring instead of 0.5 PPR – I don't exactly expect Andy Dalton to throw 30-plus touchdown passes – but Boyd projects as an eventual 100-catch candidate, and he scored seven times in 14 games last year even with Jeff Driskel starting three of those games.

The Bengals threw 542 passes last year – a figure that should go up if Dalton plays 12 or more games – and Green remains a durability concern despite his greatness, with his 31st birthday up in July. There are reasons to think Boyd's production from last year is sustainable even if Green stays healthy, but the prospect of injuries to any of the injury-prone trio of Green, Ross, or tight end Tyler Eifert are additional scenarios that could boost Boyd's projection a bit.

In the eight games that all of Boyd, Green, and Dalton played last year, Boyd totaled 49 receptions for 620 yards and five touchdowns on 66 targets (74.2 percent catch rate, 9.4 YPT). Now 25 and heading into his fourth season, Boyd's trajectory is consistent with his strong prospect profile. His mediocre athletic testing is offset by the fact that he plays primarily in the slot, where route-running technique plays more than raw athleticism, and his profile is otherwise highlighted by strong age-adjusted production at Pittsburgh, where he caught 163 passes for 2,435 yards and 15 touchdowns in his first 26 games.

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To me, Boyd is precisely in the range of wide receiver rankings otherwise inhabited by Chris Godwin (47.8), Mike Williams (52.4), and Calvin Ridley (56.1), probably with Allen Robinson (65.9) immediately after. To make room, I would clear out D.J. Moore (58.5) and Robby Anderson (63.3) if necessary. I should probably otherwise note that I would rank Tyler Lockett ahead of all of these guys despite his ADP checking out somewhere in between at 48.6.

Dede Westbrook, WR, JAC (104.5, 63 to 146)

I'm still skeptical that Westbrook is a standout talent, but the fact is that he's in an exceedingly favorable situation and he possesses traits that bode well for the role likely awaiting him. He's going to be very busy this year, a realistic candidate to rank top 10 in targets.

Westbrook saw 100 targets last year, his second season in the league. That he caught 66 of those for 717 yards and five touchdowns (66.0 percent catch rate, 7.1 YPT) was vaguely encouraging in an offense that completed 61.4 percent of its passes at 6.4 yards per pass. Now, I don't think that highly of Nick Foles, but I have full confidence that assuming health he will lead the Jacksonville passing game to figures much better than 61.4 percent completion rate at 6.4 YPA. If passing game growth in Jacksonville coincides with the exit of Donte Moncrief (89 targets) and persisting knee troubles of Marqise Lee, who might end up on the PUP list as he tries to bounce back from a lagging ACL/PCL tear, then Westbrook would likely earn a greater market share at the exact time that the market grows. That this event might coincide with his own growth as a prospect in his third year sets the stage for a true breakout campaign.

If I had to pick one wide receiver outside the DRAFT top 100 to finish as a top-25 fantasy wideout in 2019, Westbrook would be my pick with Devin Funchess close behind.

Mohamed Sanu, WR, ATL (170.9, 102 to 207)

Sanu isn't your prototypical best-ball target given his lack of big-play ability (24 touchdowns in six years, 11.6 career YPR), but this is a case where the price is so low and the playing circumstances so favorable where he's still a clear value.

For as much as he might lack big-play upside, Sanu is nothing if not steady. In his three years with Atlanta he's turned 271 targets into 192 receptions for 2,194 yards and 13 touchdowns (70.9 percent completion rate, 8.1 YPT). Exciting or not, that catch rate at that per-target efficiency is a real asset. 

So what we have here is a clearly good player in an offense that we'd all project to be one of the league's best. When you're talking almost the 15th round, looking otherwise at the likes of Emmanuel Sanders (155.7), John Brown (157.6), Jamison Crowder (170.7), and Deebo Samuel (174.9), then it's time to stop overthinking things. Sanu is a remarkably convenient and cheap stacking partner with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Austin Hooper.

Malcolm Brown, RB, LAR (190.9, 105 to Undrafted)

I've already gone on the record that I think some of the panic over Todd Gurley is classically hysterical, but even the most durable running backs are candidates for catastrophic injury, not to mention short-term injuries that nonetheless open up profitable short windows for Zero RB investors of the backup in question. Given that, Brown always should have been on the RB5/RB6 radar of anyone using the Zero RB approach. But I also would acknowledge that, despite its hysterical tone and scale, there are legitimate reasons to worry about Gurley's knee.

If Gurley's knee is the cause for panic that the markets say it is, then it makes no sense for Brown to go as late as he does. There is a likely false premise in the market reasoning of the new ADPs in the cases of Gurley (17.7) and rookie third-round pick Darrell Henderson (63.9) relative to Brown's. The reasoning goes that if Gurley misses time, Henderson would more or less replace Gurley's prior functions on a 1:1 basis, thus dictating a price even higher than presumed starters like Tevin Coleman (66.4) and Lamar Miller (67.8). As much as I like Henderson – and I consider him the clear top running back of the draft class – I don't think he's a candidate to replace Gurley on a 1:1 basis.

Henderson is a dangerous receiver who's improbably elusive in the open field (8.9 yards per carry over his last 344 attempts), but at 5-foot-8, 208 pounds he doesn't project as well for repeated heavy-traffic contact as the 5-foot-11, 222-pound Brown. Moreover, the Rams are clearly high on Brown, and they likely wouldn't have signed C.J. Anderson last year if not for a broken collarbone Brown suffered in Week 13. After the Lions signed Brown to a two-year, $3.3 million offer sheet as a restricted free agent earlier this offseason, the Rams matched the offer, leaving the Lions to sign Anderson on a lesser one-year, $1.5 million deal.

So we know what Anderson can do in that offense, and we know that the Rams decided they'd rather have Brown. Anderson went over 20 carries and 100 yards in each of his first three games with the Rams.

Part of Brown's utility to the Rams is on special teams, where Anderson likely wouldn't contribute, but those who followed Brown's whole career would recall that he was at one point a five-star running back recruit for Texas, widely regarded as the best running back in his class. He went undrafted following four unproductive seasons at Texas, but he dealt with injuries and the program itself was a mess where basically no one thrived. But the bigger point is that, for all his underwhelming prospect markers, it's rare to find a former five-star recruit and four-year college starter held in such low esteem in one of the league's top offenses. If we all think Gurley's knee is a time bomb, then we should probably take Brown more seriously.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
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