As a dynasty football manager, I am always on the lookout for players who could outperform their ADP by the end of the season. Oftentimes, these players are being undervalued because of a disappointing start to their career or a seemingly “crowded” offense that could limit their upside. However, the NFL is everchanging and situations can improve quickly, potentially providing a clearer path to production. In this article, I highlight three players who should exceed expectations and improve on their ADP by the end of the year.
Let’s dive in!
Javonte Williams entered the NFL after a productive career at North Carolina, despite sharing the backfield with Jets-rookie Michael Carter. His breakout year came in 2020 when he accounted for 52% of the Tar Heel’s running back production, totaling 1,445 scrimmage yards and 22 total touchdowns. What is most impressive is that he was able to produce those numbers despite only receiving 182 touches (30% touches market share), leading to a career-high 7.93 yards per touch. For reference, Williams’ yards per touch in 2020 ranked 4th among all CFB running backs with a minimum of 150 touches, ahead of both Travis Etienne and Najee Harris. He also showcased his versatility as he accumulated 25 receptions for 305 receiving yards (9% receiving yards share), proving that he can be a dual-threat running back at the next level.
Fast forward to the NFL Draft, and Williams was selected by the Denver Broncos with the 35th overall pick. And while it might seem like a crowded backfield at first glance, keep in mind that Melvin Gordon is in the final year of his 2-year contract with Denver. Considering the versatile skill set that Williams brings to this team, expect the Broncos to let Gordon walk in free agency, paving the way for his path to lead-RB duties. As for this season, Williams will absorb Philip Lindsay’s 125 vacated touches. However, I would not be surprised if he out-touches Gordon, especially if he proves to be the more efficient and versatile player to start the season.
While dynasty football managers are ecstatic to see Ja’Marr Chase take the field for the Cincinnati Bengals, we should not forget the productive rookie season that Tee Higgins had last season. Despite ranking 2nd on the team in target share at only 18.9%, he led the team in total PPR points (194.6), receiving yards (908), and completed air yards (598), ranking as the WR40 in PPR per game. While these numbers might not seem as impressive, wide receivers do not generally produce in their rookie season. Since 2010, we have only seen 17 wide receivers total a minimum of 100 targets, 750 receiving yards, and 5 receiving touchdowns in their rookie year. Of those drafted prior to 2020, 92% produced a top-24 season, while 53.8% would go on to have at least one WR1 season throughout their career. After meeting those thresholds, Tee Higgins now joins this elite list headlined by A.J. Green, Odell Beckham Jr, and Mike Evans.
While the addition of Ja’Marr Chase might raise some concerns regarding the available volume in that offense, there should be plenty of targets to go around for their top three receivers. From weeks 1 to 10 (prior to his injury), Joe Burrow averaged 41.1 passing attempts per game. And considering their defense has hardly improved, Burrow may be forced to throw it at a high rate once again. Even if that number declines slightly, Higgins should still see about 7 to 8 targets per game at a reasonable 20% target share. In fact, once Higgins took on a full-time role in their wide receiver rotation, he averaged 7.5 targets per game with Burrow. Lastly, it is important to note that Tee Higgins’ dynasty ADP had dropped from WR13 in February to WR20 in July, which is likely the effect of Chase’s addition. But considering his production profile and his ecosystem in Cincinnati, I expect Higgins to exceed and improve upon his dynasty value by the end of the season.
If your dynasty team is in need of a difference-maker at the tight end position, Gerald Everett could be the perfect trade target considering his upside and affordable dynasty ADP of TE22. Earlier this year, Everett was signed to a one-year $6 million contract to fill the void at TE on a Russell Wilson-led offense. Over the last few years, however, we have only seen glimpses of his potential. His best season was actually in 2019 when he averaged 5.1 targets and 34 receiving yards per game. While those numbers might not jump off of the page, his knee injury prevented a likely breakout year for the young TE. Prior to his injury in week 12 that season, Everett was the TE13 in PPR leagues, finishing as a TE1 in 4 games during that timespan. Furthermore, he also ranked TE9 in targets per snap (14.5%), TE9 in deep targets (8), and TE18 in yards per route run (1.77) in only 12 games.
Keep in mind that throughout his whole career with the Rams, Everett has never been the lead TE due to the presence of Tyler Higbee. In fact, over the last two seasons, both players have averaged around a 12 to 13% target share, clearly limiting each other’s upside. Entering 2021, however, Everett will finally have his opportunity to shine with the Seahawks, which could prove to be an outstanding landing spot. Over the last five seasons, when targeting the TE position, the Seahawks ranked 13th in passing yards (4,138), 5th in receiving touchdowns (45), and 9th in passer rating (105.7). In short, Russell Wilson loves to target his TEs (21.4% rate) and has had plenty of success with players like Jimmy Graham and Will Dissly. And considering the investment they made in Everett, I expect him to be featured in this offense alongside D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
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