In my opinion, one of the key components of a successful fantasy draft is finding the best value player at each of your picks and not reaching for a certain player or position. Although it's easy to push a player up your board on draft day because you want to draft a certain position in a certain round, this more often than not leads to regret only minutes later when you realise you passed on a potentially elite receiver for a mediocre running back and there's still RB's of similar ability left on the table at your next pick (don't worry, we've all made this mistake). This is why I've decided to give my thoughts on some players that I don't feel will give you the production their current draft position suggests, as well as some players that I think have great value at their ADP and you should target in your draft. Below are my picks for rounds 1-4, my choices for rounds 5-8 and 9-12 will be published over the summer.
All ADP's taken from fantasyfootballcalculator.com for a 12 team league with full PPR scoring.
Avoid: Melvin Gordon (1.09)
I can't deny that Gordon was incredible last year finishing as a Top 10 PPR running back despite getting injured early on in the Chargers' week 14 game at Carolina and subsequently missing almost three full matches. However, I can't see the third year back putting up as impressive numbers as he did last season.
Gordon scored 10 touchdowns in 2017 despite not scoring any the previous year and I fully expect this number to drop as the Chargers look to the passing game in the red zone to exploit the abilities of the now healthy Keenan Allen, rookie Mike Williams and second year tight end Hunter Henry. In fact, I see the whole offense shifting more to the passing game, leaving Gordon with potentially fewer carries. A reduction in carries could be a big problem for Gordon as he wasn't one of the most effective runners in 2016 averaging only 3.9 yards per carry, 18th best of all running backs with over 150 rushing attempts.
Although I do predict Gordon to still be an RB1 in 2017, I don't feel he's worthy of a first round selection and that there are better options available at his ADP of pick nine.
Target: Antonio Brown (1.04)
This a really simple one for me. Brown has been the top scoring PPR wide receiver for three years in a row and I see no reason for that to change in 2017. Despite often being drafted at pick four behind running backs David Johnson, Le'Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliot, it's only Johnson that I would choose ahead of the 28 year old Steelers receiver in PPR drafts this summer. The reason for this is that early on in the draft I like to take players with the highest guarantee of top production and Brown fits the description perfectly. He's almost a shoo-in to be a top three wide receiver (barring injury) and with Big Ben fit and healthy under center I expect AB to be the number one fantasy wide receiver once again. On top of this, unlike his teammate Le'Veon Bell, Brown rarely struggles with injury and hasn't missed a regular season game since Week 12 of the 2012 season.
Points wise, I predict he'll improve on his tally from last year as fellow wideout Martavis Bryant returns to the line up in 2017. Although Bryant may take a few targets away from Brown he'll also take away a lot of attention which should leave AB with more one-on-one match-ups for him to exploit.
All things considered, I think Antonio Brown is as close as you can get to a sure thing in fantasy this year and a player to target early in the first round of PPR drafts this season.
Avoid: Marshawn Lynch (2.09)
Hard as I try, I just can't bring myself to draft a 31 year old running back who is coming out of retirement in the second round. Nobody has any clue how good or even how durable Beast Mode is going to be in 2017 so the fact that fantasy players all over the world are willing to draft him as the RB10 is ridiculous to me.
I understand that he's walking into a starting role on an AFC contending team with one of the best offensive lines in the league but, and I will repeat myself, he's the wrong side of 30 and hasn't played any football for a whole year. In addition, the last season he did play back in 2015, he struggled on the Seahawks offense and was certainly not the dominant Marshawn Lynch we'd come to expect.
Although he does have great touchdown upside, in a PPR league I feel there are so many better options available in the middle to late second round that I'd much rather draft. He's way too risky for me!
Target: Doug Baldwin (2.11)
Although his ADP has been creeping up over the past few weeks, I'm surprised Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin is still only going at the back of the second round. I know he might not be the most exciting pick on the planet, but Baldwin has finished as a WR1 in PPR scoring leagues for two years in row now and all things point at this continuing in 2017. Baldwin has unquestionably become Russell Wilson's go to guy racking up 94 receptions from 126 targets last season and, with Tyler Lockett recovering from a serious injury, it's possible that Baldwin could even hit the 100 mark this year.
The main reason Baldwin is a great player to target this year is that he's being taken later than a lot of receivers that he's outscored in previous years. Brandin Cooks, Amari Cooper and Dez Bryant are all getting picked above Doug Baldwin despite him putting up more fantasy points than all of them in both 2015 and 2016.
I feel Baldwin is a lock to be a Top 12 PPR wide receiver come January and I'd be more than comfortable taking him at his late second round ADP.
Avoid: Allen Robinson (3.10)
I was going to talk about Brandin Cooks here but I feel I've exhausted myself telling people to avoid him on the podcast so I've decided to go with different wide receiver. Poor Allen Robinson fell from grace last season as he went from a Top 10 PPR wide receiver in 2016 to a being outside of the Top 25 receivers in 2017, breaking the hearts of countless fantasy owners on his way.
Despite having over 150 targets last year, Robinson only managed to pull in 73 receptions, although a large part of this low conversion rate was down to poor throws from Jags quarterback Blake Bortles, one of the main reasons I'm avoiding Robinson this year. The other reason, beside the quarterback play, is that Jacksonville look to be becoming more of a run first team after drafting Leonard Fournette with the fourth pick of 2017 NFL Draft. The knock-on effect of this will be that Bortles won't have to throw the ball as much as has in seasons past, a good thing for the Jaguars but not A-Rob.
Another factor is that the Jaguars defense is now stacked with talent after the offseason additions of Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye and this should mean that Bortles won't have to chase games as much as in previous seasons, again hindering Robinson who often benefited from garbage time points.
If he was still on the board in the middle of the fourth I'd struggle to pass on such a talented player but I feel his ADP is just a bit too high to be worth it.
Target: Isaiah Crowell (3.06)
Yes thats right, I'm telling you do draft a Cleveland Brown, but I've got a feeling Crowell will be well worth it. Crowell finished as a top twelve scoring running back in most PPR leagues last year despite being on a team that found themselves behind early and chasing in most of their matches, a game script that doesn't usually favour the running back position. With the Browns looking like they've improved this offseason, especially on defense, Crowell has an opportunity to receive more than the 198 carries he was given in 2016 and with a top 10 yards per attempt average of 4.8, he could become one of the top backs in 2017.
The icing on the cake is that Browns head coach Hue Jackson has said that he wants to use Crowell more this year and that can only be a good thing for his production. I'm expecting Crowell to be a low end RB1 in 2017, great value for a middle of the third round pick.
Avoid: Davante Adams (4.06)
A few months ago I quite liked the value of Green Bay wideout Davante Adams in the mid fourth round but then I uncovered some issues. The first was that he was very touchdown dependent in 2016 scoring an impressive 12 TD's but I just can't see him sustaining that level of production, especially with Green Bay drafting a red zone threat running back in Jamaal Williams. The second issue I have with Adams is his tape just doesn't get me excited. He might be in a great situation with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball but he often gets lost against defenses with a good number two cornerback.
Overall, I just don't feel Adams has either the safe floor or huge upside to warrant being a fourth round pick. I'd much rather take Julian Edelman, Golden Tate or Jamison Crowder, all players going soon after Adams.
Target: Drew Brees (4.11)
I'm normally not the kind of guy to take a quarterback in the first five or six rounds of a draft but with the value you're getting with Drew Brees in the late fourth round is almost too good to pass up. Brees has consistently finished as a Top fantasy quarterback since the universe was created 13.7 billion years ago (or so it seems) and despite losing Brandin Cooks in the offseason, I feel he has more than enough weapons to once again be near the top of the charts.
Also, according to Scout Fantasy, Brees has the second easiest fantasy schedule of all quarterbacks and although I usually don't give the strength of schedule much weight in my rankings with the NFL as unpredictable as it is, it can't hurt.
So at a spot where there's not many great value players in the either wide receiver or running back department, why not go for an almost guaranteed high end quarterback at the back of the fourth?
Mowlem is a sports writer from Reading, United Kingdom. All articles are written by Reece Mowlem (unless stated otherwise).