I’m now in my 28th season covering the NFL for fantasy, and at this late stage of my career, I’ve found myself narrowing my focus down to one thing, but it’s a big thing. In fact, one could argue that it’s everything.
My point of emphasis is very simple: I just want to be better than the markets. If a player breaks out or even exceeds expectations, I want to have ranked him higher than his ADP, and vice versa.
I gauge my success based on the discrepancies I have with the ADPs and my rankings, which are arrived at based on my projections, and whether or not I was on the right side of things.
Some notable examples from last year in terms of beating the markets on players were:
Darnell Mooney — Ranked 30 spots above ADP
Michael Pittman — 25 spots above
Deebo Samuel — 20 spots above
Marquise Brown — 22 spots above
AJ Dillon — 16 spots above
Jalen Hurts — 15 spots above
Javonte Williams — 13 spots above
Ja’Marr Chase — 11 spots above
It works the other way, too, and some good examples from 2021 were:
Julio Jones — Ranked 30 spots under ADP
Michael Thomas — 27 spots under
Courtland Sutton — 19 spots under
JuJu Smith-Schuster —16 spots under
Laviska Shenault — 13 spots under
There were a ton of other minor wins where I was better than the markets, but certainly also some minor losses — and some big losses. Usually, if an older guy surprises us, or if a really boring guy compiles surprisingly good numbers, I’m screwed, as I was with these guys last year:
James Conner — Ranked 27 spots under
Melvin Gordon — Ranked 20 spots under
Devin Singletary — 16 spots under
Brandin Cooks — 10 spots under
Leonard Fournette — 8 spots under
Note: Cooks was never “boring” and he was actually one of my favorite players of the 2010s coming out and early in his career, but I didn’t think the Texans would be as solid as they were (did anyone?). But these examples illustrate my ageist tendencies well, along with my infatuation with youth, speed, juice, etc.
The 2021 season was a good one, but before I got sore from patting myself on the back at season’s end, I dove into 2022 because I’m a little addicted to being on the right side of ADPs and the like. I’ve been all over this year’s rookie class after attending the Senior Bowl practices and the Combine, and I’ve never spent more time on season projections than I have this year. I’ve spent a lot of time breaking down the field for this season, and I’ve also done my fair share of Best Ball drafts, mostly on Underdog, so I have a good feel for which players the markets should be generally higher on, regardless of whether it’s Best Ball or not.
But with the NFL draft almost a month in the rearview, I’m ready to roll out my initial look at the best values that I have seen the last few weeks. I’m focusing on Underdog (which has .5 PPR scoring) for this article, which I’ll be updating all summer.
NOTE: All ADPs and analysis updated as of 6/19/22.
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Joe Burrow (Cin — Underdog ADP 69/QB7) — Burrow is QB4 in my initial season rankings, so he’s a value on Underdog. But he’s only 10 points from the QB2 spot in my early season projections, and it won’t take much to convince me to make that move this summer. He’s a homerun if things go only relatively well in Cincinnati this year, and he should go bonkers if things go swimmingly. I got him at 69 overall (QB6) in one of my Underdog Best Ball Mania drafts and I’m still strong at RB and WR.
Derek Carr (LV — Underdog ADP 108/QB14) — I don’t like their early-season schedule, and they are a little thin at receiver, but I’m still in on Carr as this year’s Matthew Stafford. The durable Carr was fifth in the league in attempts last year and will have to sling it a lot yet again. If he gets full seasons from Davante Adams, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow, Carr will have you sitting pretty with a great QB value — even better than Stafford last year (with lesser numbers). I’ve been defaulting to Carr as my ideal value pick as my QB1 if I wait that long, around 105-120 overall on Underdog.
Justin Fields (Chi — Underdog ADP 134/QB18) — I’ve added Fields on 6/19, but it’s still early and I’m still forming my opinion on him. But my vibe has been good from mid-May through mid-June. I think the receiving corps has more potential than most believe, and Fields’ legs are expected to be a large factor. His downside is probably QB15 and his upside is in the QB7-10 range, so he’s a viable QB1 and a great QB2. ADDED: 6/20
Mac Jones (NE — Underdog ADP 188/QB25) — The Pats drafted a couple of RBs in the fourth and sixth rounds, but they also took a WR in the second, and a QB in the fourth, and they added Davante Parker at receiver. New England’s identity this year may be that they have no identity, since they can run out a stable of quality RBs, but with a loaded receiving corps, they could also play some “spread-em-and-shred-em” this year. I have Mac as the QB20 in my season projections, and while he may not be the ideal upside choice for BB, I do think he can return a solid ROI. It would have been nice if Josh McDaniels stayed on board, but I’m still not ruling a 30-TD season out for The Joker.
Marcus Mariota (Atl — Underdog ADP 208/QB29) — I’ve never been much of a supporter, but a good case can be made for Mariota at this bargain-basement price. He has cheat code potential with his running, but he also has an intriguing collection of weapons to work with in a pair of sharp offensive minds in HC Arthur Smith and OC Dave Ragone, who are only getting better at their jobs. Mariota played for Smith in Tennessee, so he knows the offense. Smith loves big receivers, and with four pass-catchers in the mix checking in at 6’3” or taller in Kyle Pitts, Drake London, Bryan Edwards, and Auden Tate, plus the savvy play callers/designers on staff, it should be relatively easy for Mariota to average at least 1.5 TD passes a game. If he can stave off Desmond Ridder all season, Mariota should finish with 25+ total TDs along with 400+ rushing yards. He’s a great option if you draft a QB3.
Kenny Pickett (Pit — Underdog ADP 209/QB30) — I fully understand that his talents aren’t overwhelming, but I’m a Pickett guy. He does a lot of things well and has no serious holes in his game, plus his transition to the pros will be as seamless as it gets, since he’ll be at the same facility he was in college, where he was in a pro-style offense. Pickett also has some rushing potential and an outstanding cast of receivers, so we could be looking at a Mac Jones-like rookie campaign — only Pickett has better skill players and way more upside as a runner. Perhaps there’s more downside than I’m recognizing here, but we care less about downside in Best Ball.
Javonte Williams (Den — Underdog ADP 26/RB11) — Veteran Melvin Gordon was good last year, but aging RBs don’t get better as the years pass — they get worse. Meanwhile, 22-year-old RBs with some NFL experience and an impressive season or two under their belts tend to get better. That was the case with Christian McCaffrey, who was the RB10 his rookie season and then the RB1 at 22 years old in Year Two. Gordon will prevent an explosion by Williams if the veteran is on the field, but I’m expecting his body to start breaking down soon (and he’s typically missed some time). It’s a small sample, but the one week Javonte owned the backfield in 2021 he was the RB1 for the week, surprising 0.0 Javante stans like me. I’m gladly taking a young stud I’m projecting to touch the ball just under 300 times at an ADP that has actually dropped in June.
Breece Hall (NYJ — Underdog ADP 48/RB18) — Perhaps the rookie Hall is more “target” than value, but I’ll always bet on a high-end talent when the price is affordable, and Hall’s price is slowly increasing, but it’s still affordable. His current pricing may not constitute a steal, but I’d bet his ADP will jump anyone 10 spots by August, and I’d bet that he’s a second-round pick in a redraft in 2023. That’s the kind of fantasy pick I can back.
Travis Etienne (Jax — Underdog ADP 52/RB21) — I’m all about pedigree, so when I begin my search for values each year, I start with the high-pedigree guys who are coming off down seasons that have lowered their perceived values — and Etienne was one of my first stops this year. His foot injury is reportedly good-to-go, and some people have seemingly forgotten that he’s bulked up to handle the inside work, and we know he’s a good receiver. His ADP is climbing as of mid-June, but he’s still a value.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC — Underdog ADP 77/RB26) — Speaking of investing in high-pedigree guys, this former #1 pick was the fantasy buzzkill of 2020, and he wasn’t much better in 2021. But he’s tumbled down the board, and if he’s ever going to do it, this is probably the year. I like investing in 23-year-old RBs with two years experience, and a big role in the passing game is there for CEH, who improved his catch rate from 67% as a rookie to 83% last year. It’s fair to say he’s not the level of player many thought he’d be, but neither is Ronald Jones, whose stone hands should keep CEH on the field in passing situations. Edwards-Helaire’s lack of size and ideal play strength cannot be ignored, but he did run hard last season and flashed, and I see more upside than downside at this reduced cost. His ADP did climb a little since I originally published this article in May, and they added Jerrick McKinnon, but CEH is still holding as a value pick for me.
Dameon Pierce (Hou — Underdog ADP 128/RB40) — I saw this guy up close and personal at the Senior Bowl practices, and he really jumped out to me. He’s not a stud, but he plays with a lot of energy and pop, and he’s good in the passing game (including pass pro). They’re not going to hand him anything, but 175+ touches are there for the taking with easy 200+ touch potential. I have him at RB31 as of 6/19, so he’s still a great value. He’s not a lock, which is why he’s still down the board, but he has a legit chance to produce like a top-50 pick.
Rachaad White (TB — Underdog ADP 130/RB42) — White’s been one of my favorite players in the draft since I watched him closely in practice at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL. I then met and interviewed him at the Combine in Indy, and I absolutely loved him. You can hear a snippet of the interview and White’s backstory and get a feel for his humility here. Some draft analysts had him ranked in the 15-20 range at RB this year, but I had him as the #3 RB pre-draft, and he ended up being the #4 RB taken by the Bucs, who had him as the best player on their board when they took him. We can’t expect an explosion from White this year given his spot on the roster, but we could certainly get way more than his ADP suggests. I think he’s a better receiver than Leonard Fournette right now, so if White can pick up the offense and the intricacies of it quickly, then I see a path to 150+ touches this year. If Lenny misses more time (out the final five games last year), White could be a league-winner. I took White at 124 overall as my RB5 on Underdog on 5/20.
Tyler Allgeier (Atl — Underdog ADP 151/RB47) — While Allgeier wasn’t considered a top prospect in the 2022 Draft, he’s easy to place in this article given the great opportunity he has right away in Atlanta. Allgeier is an upgrade over Mike Davis, and he’s way more equipped to handle a larger workload than Cordarrelle Patterson, so he only needs to beat out aging veteran Damien Williams (30 years old) for a large role. The other factor here is HC Arthur Smith, who clearly likes bigger, sustaining RBs who run north-south. That’s what Allgeier is, and he has quick feet and good vision, so he’s hardly a stiff. He was only a fifth-round pick, but Atlanta was one of the few opportunities for him to have a chance to be a foundation player in an NFL backfield. Our Greg Cosell saw some Alexander Mattison in him, and if he’s that good then he’ll be one of the better RB values in 2022.
Kenneth Gainwell (Phi — Underdog ADP 160/RB48) — I know they will use 2-3 RBs in Philly and that he’s the antithesis of an ideal Best Ball pick because he’s only a satellite player (and Underdog is only .5 PPR). But I do like Gainwell’s potential with two so-so options in front of him in Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, and a great OL in front of him. He arguably has the best hands on the team, other than maybe AJ Brown, and he did have 5 TDs on the ground last year along with a quiet 36 catches. I could see him putting up starter-like numbers five or six times this season, like he did last year in Week 4 with 3/31/1 and 6/58 receiving, or in Week 13 when he put up 12/54/1 and 5/33 receiving.
Darrel Williams (Ari — Underdog ADP 172/RB53) — I had originally written up rookie Keaontay Ingram for the release of this article in late-May, but Williams is now the guy to look at in Arizona, and he’s a perfect fit given his receiving and short-yardage experience. Arizona’s offense presents opportunities for the RBs to clear the first level of the defense, and Williams has clear RB1 potential if James Conner misses time. ADDED: 6/20
Sony Michel (Mia — Underdog ADP 206/RB61) — I loved Michel as a pick around 100 overall late last summer, and while that call wasn’t very good for much of the season, it did eventually happen for Michel, who was the RB9 the final six weeks of the season starting in Week 12 and the RB17 in FPPG. Michel’s getting up there at 27, but he has only 790 career touches. Fellow 2018 draftee out of Georgia Nick Chubb has 1029 touches in only two more games, for comparison. Michel can still play, and he could be critical here because he’s the best downhill thumper on the roster, which is needed here, and he fits well with their zone blocking scheme. Michel will be frustrating in season-long leagues, but in Best Ball, at this low ADP, he has a good chance to return a nice ROI.
Gabriel Davis (Buf — Underdog ADP 56/WR26) — Davis is a guy we’ve been on since our insider Adam Caplan alerted us to his quick emergence as a rookie back in 2020. I did interview him at the combine that year (days before the Pandemic really hit) and I thought he was very smart, which is one of the things the Bills love about him. I drafted him last year in my #1 league after taking Josh Allen, but following the signing of Emmanuel Sanders, it just didn’t happen for Davis — until the playoffs. Davis in the postseason turned just 13 targets into 10/232/5 in three games, which was off-the-charts good. Through two seasons, Davis’ numbers have been remarkably consistent, and what stands out is his efficiency. The guy has scored a TD on 18 of 150 targets, or 12% of his targets, which is absurd. Also absurd is the fact that he’s scored on 18 of 84 catches, or 21.4%. Everyone is on him, as evidenced by his pricy ADP, but I’m still tabbing him as a value because I think he could easily lead the NFL in TD receptions this year.
Brandin Cooks (Hou — Underdog ADP 63/WR30) — I didn’t undersell Cooks by much last year, only 10 ADP spots overall, but I didn’t have much interest in drafting him due to serious concerns about the talent on the Texans, most notably their QB situation. It turned out Davis Mills was the second-best rookie QB last year and supported a top-20 WR. So I find it curious that Cooks is only the WR30 off the board with Mills a good bet to continue to improve behind a solid OL. Cooks had a great target share of 24% last year, which should drop, but it’s not like they added a ton at receiver. I love rookie wideout John Metchie, but he is coming off an ACL, so the passing game should still go through Cooks, who is still only 28 years old (29 on 9/25). He’s missed only five games the last five years, so he should be a little higher up the board.
Darnell Mooney (Chi — Underdog ADP 66/WR31) — Mooney was my Breakout WR for 2021, and while I didn’t expect him to finish 11th in the league in targets, I did expect him to kick ass in year two, and he really did. He did so despite getting inadequate QB play from mainly Justin Fields, and without much support from his fellow receivers. Allen Robinson is gone but they did add Byron Pringle and rookie Velus Jones, which should give Mooney some support, but since these are low-end guys, it’s clear that Mooney will still dominate the targets. Mooney was the WR46 last year per the ADP, yet despite some bad luck in the TD department he finished as the WR26. I have him as WR20 right now, so he’s a great WR2 option if you don’t hammer WR early, or a great WR3 if you do.
Skyy Moore (KC — Underdog ADP 83/WR39) — Moore’s one of my all-time favorite interviews on SXM from this past spring, and everyone I talk to around the league loves him, so it was no surprise to see Andy Reid go get him as, essentially, their Tyreek Hill replacement. Moore’s not as speedy as Hill, but he did run a 4.41 40, and he does also have outstanding short-area quickness, with an outstanding 10-yard split. I discussed that with Moore, and he said his initial quicks off the line was one of his best attributes. It’s an attribute I think KC will take full advantage of on quick-hitters, and Moore’s a guy you can do a lot of gadgety stuff with like jet sweeps and orbit reverses. Moore told me he’d be better off inside as a rookie, but he did line up outside in college, and while separation could be an issue at times, he can make up for it with incredible ball skills, thanks to his massive meat hooks (biggest hands in the WR class at 10.28 inches). I’ll gladly bet that the Chiefs can figure out how to use Moore well right away, and that Moore will be up to the task of taking on a big chunk of the receiving role here.
Christian Kirk (Jax — Underdog ADP 87/WR42) — I don’t think Kirk is a steal here, as his ADP rose 10 spots just in June, but I have always liked Kirk’s upside, and Kirk did average excellent 16.3 FPG, 67.8 YPG, and 8.0 targets per game as Arizona’s No. 1 WR once DeAndre Hopkins went down in Week 14. I’m not a Doug Pederson guy, but he’s been, at worst, serviceable for fantasy. The Jaguars have made a ton of poor decisions over the last 10 years, but I do like Kirk’s QB Trevor Lawrence, and I’m not too worried about the high number of receivers seemingly in the mix. For one, they’re paying Kirk a ton of money. And also, Marvin Jones is entering Year 11, and the rest of the receivers are underwhelming.
Kadarius Toney (NYG — Underdog ADP 101/WR49) — I actually liked Toney as a fantasy sleeper heading into the 2021 season, as you can hear from my pre-draft interview with Toney here. Heading into Week 4, the guy had only 4 catches for 14 yards on five targets, yet I used him in DFS and he wound up seeing eight targets and he put up 6/78. The next week, after loving what I saw from Toney, I traded for him in my #1 league, and then I predicted on TV that he’d go for 100+ with a TD in Week 5, and he went nuts with 10/189 (despite getting ejected from the game). Now of course, he was a disaster otherwise, and he does need to learn to play hurt, plus he’s still rough around the edges. He got off to a rocky start in 2022 with some trade rumors floating out there, but he seems to be fine as he reported to voluntary workouts in May. Toney is volatile, but he’s a baller whose team needs his playmaking ability, so I’ll pay this minimal price for a guy with top-30 potential.
Kenny Golladay (NYG — Underdog ADP 119/WR57) — I hated Golladay as a pick last year and I’ve actually never liked him much since he entered the league. I missed out on a nice 11-TD season back in 2018, and he’s certainly a solid outside receiver who can gain leverage and move the sticks as well as produce in the red area. As much as I love Kadarius Toney’s upside, I’m not sure we can count on him just yet, and I know we can’t count on Sterling Shepard, which is a shame because I’ve always loved him. Golladay’s ADP is down about 75 spots from last year, so he’s not only palatable, he’s a sneaky value I might actually feel good about drafting. I currently have him a little higher at WR47.
Jahan Dotson (Was — Underdog ADP 143/WR65) — The rookie Dotson is a little small, so play strength may be an issue, but he does play bigger than his size on tape, and he is not afraid to go over the middle. He’s a better prospect than Terry McLaurin was coming out, and I actually think he could be better than McLaurin fairly soon, since he’s a baller whose game is more complete than McLaurin’s. Dotson, for example, can line up anywhere, whereas McLaurin seems limited to the X receiver spot (we’re told he only wants to play X, as well). I absolutely loved Greg Cosell’s Diontae Johnson comp and believe he’s a future top-15 fantasy WR, so the value comes into play when you consider he’s more than capable of finishing inside the top-40 at his position in year one.
Jalen Tolbert (LAC — Underdog ADP 146/WR66) — I liked Tolbert a lot at the Senior Bowl practices this past January, and he landed in a good spot with Michael Gallup coming off that knee injury. Gallup may not be ready for Week 1 and Tolbert is an experienced player who caught 146 balls the last two years at South Alabama. He will have to beat out veteran James Washington, but that shouldn't be too hard. Even if Tolbert is relegated to the WR3 role here, the Cowboys can support 3000+ yards of WR production, and with Gallup hurt, there’s no guarantees here beyond CeeDee Lamb. Tolbert’s ADP did rise 25-30 spots since I originally wrote this article in mid-May.
George Pickens (Pit — Underdog ADP 156/WR70) — He’s Greg Cosell’s #1 WR in this draft class, which is really all you need to know considering his affordable pricing. Pickens may be in a WRBC all year with Chase Claypool and fellow rookie Calvin Austin, but Pickens is a better player than Claypool, so there’s a good chance Pickens takes over the #2 WR role opposite Diontae Johnson by midseason. I interviewed Pickens the day he ran at the combine and asked him to name an attribute that was going to make him money in the NFL, and I thought he’d say his ball skills, which are outstanding, but he said his speed. And sure enough, he ran really well the next day (4.47). Pickens slipped a bit in the draft to 52 overall, likely due to some (seemingly minor) character issues, but for what it’s worth, while he was a little bombastic with me, I got a pretty positive vibe overall.
Alec Pierce (Ind — Underdog ADP 159/WR72) — He’s another one of my favorite’s in the pre-draft process from my time watching the Senior Bowl practices back in January. Pierce is a little polarizing, but there’s a lot to like. He’s big and plays big, and he runs well (4.41 40), plus he has great hands and ball skills. He beat press coverage in college and he can line up inside if need be, so I’m penciling him in as no worse than their WR3 in Indy. We know Matt Ryan can get him the ball, and I actually think he might be a better red zone threat than Michael Pittman. I’m at WR58 with Pierce as we head into the summer.
Josh Palmer (LAC — Underdog ADP 162/WR73) — I wrote when this article was first published in mid-May that may regret this inclusion, since Palmer has a target problem in LA with Mike Williams returning as a free agent and Jalen Guyton still in the mix. But I love Palmer, who I picked up and started in my #1 league’s championship last year (with results: 5/43/1). Palmer caught a TD pass on 12% of his targets last year, so he could produce based on scoring, but I’m also expecting him to play more than most, especially given Williams’ injury history and Keenan Allen’s advancing age. If either of those guys miss time, he’s got a shot to absolutely explode at a bottom-dollar price with QB Justin Herbert. And Palmer was playing over Guyton in the OTAs, which is a great sign. A young, talented kid who is seemingly buried in a good offense but is one injury away from starting is the kind of player we should be targeting in Best Ball.
Robby Anderson (Car — Underdog ADP 169/WR74) — Robby was eighth in targets (136) and catches (95) in 2020 and while he was still a decent 27th in targets in 2021, Anderson finished only 46th in catches with 53. What changed in ‘21 was Joe Brady took over the offense, but he was relieved of his duties in Carolina mid-season due in part to his role in Anderson’s decline. I don’t even like Anderson that much and I have him at WR50, and this is despite him talking about retirement this off-season. I will have to track Robby (and second-year man Terrace Marshall, who is starting to pick things up) this summer to make sure he’s on track for a positive season, but he's still a value no matter how you slice it.
John Metchie (Hou — Underdog ADP 187/WR83) — One of my favorite players in the draft, Metchie was extremely confident in his recovery from a torn ACL suffered less than two months earlier when I talked with him at the combine in late January. Subsequent reports post-draft as recently as this month were also encouraging, so for now I’m cautiously optimistic he can contribute meaningfully. Not only do I love the player and his inside/outside versatility and craftiness, this is a great landing spot for targets and competent QB play.
Byron Pringle (Chi — Underdog ADP 210/WR95) — While everyone rips the Bears for barely addressing their major need at WR this off-season — and they may be right for ripping them — I’ll be taking Mr. Pringle with one of my last picks at Underdog. I have him as the WR67 in my season projections with 55/660/4, and that’s really a low-end projection for this underrated receiver.
Romeo Doubs (GB — Underdog ADP 212/WR96) — I had a gut feeling that Doubs will surprise this year since before their rookies took the field as Packers, and a month and a half later, Doubs is looking good as he showed well early in Green Bay. He may not do much for more than two or three games, but he’s also a free pick. Granted, there's a clear downside because he could do nothing, but I liked Doubs at the Senior Bowl practices (other than a couple of drops), and, amazingly, our Greg Cosell threw out a Davante Adams comp in our Prospect Guide well before the NFL Draft. That makes sense because Doubs has good size, moves well and challenges defenses at all three levels, and can line up inside or outside. He’s my 2021 version of Amon-Ra St. Brown, who I loved last summer as a sneaky pick that seemed obviously mispriced to me (which he was).
Bryon Edwards (Atl — Underdog ADP 208/WR93) — Edwards underwhelmed last season, but he did have a few moments where his potential was clear, like his 3/89 and 3/85/1 performances in Weeks 3 and 10, respectively. He was traded to Atlanta, where HC Arthur Smith has designs on using him in AJ Brown’s old role in his offense, so he’s been added to my list. That solid role as the X receiver should translate to 2-3 good Best Ball games for the talented Edwards. ADDED: 6/20
Velus Jones (Chi — Underdog ADP 213/WR99) — Jones is off to a good start in Chicago, and they definitely need his quickness and speed. He’s a little unrefined, but he did play a lot in college and he flashed at times as I watched him practice for two days at the Senior Bowl. He should play a lot inside this year, and he certainly has the ability to move the needle for Best Ball 2-3 times this year. ADDED: 6/20
Calvin Austin (Pit — Underdog ADP 215/WR113) — My final longshot and my final reference to the Senior Bowl in this article, but I did love Austin in Mobile because the guy was creating major separation on most of his routes in practice. Our Greg Cosell doesn’t think he’s just a track guy, and I can confirm that having interviewed Austin at the combine. He’s small, but he’s a savvy football player whose playmaking ability will be hard to keep off the field. I’m calling it now: we will see at least two 100-yard games from Austin this year.
Dalton Schultz (Dal — Underdog ADP 72/TE6) — I’ve really warmed up to Schultz over the last 3-4 weeks, so he’s been added to this list and checks in as the most expensive TE who I think is still a value. Schultz finished as the TE12 or better in 11-of-17 games last year, which was incredible (Travis Kelce was TE12 or better in 12-of-16 games). Schultz now has way less target competition with Amari Cooper gone and Michael Gallup coming off his ACL, and the early vibes are good on Dak Prescott, so Schultz looks very appealing at his cost. ADDED: 6/20
TJ Hockenson (Det — Underdog ADP 83/TE7) — Remember after Week 2 last year when Hockenson had 16/163/2 on 19 targets? He sure looked like a league-winner, but injuries, so-so QB play, and an unbalanced offense did Hock in. He’s had some concerning injury issues, and he’ll be sharing the ball more this year, but I still believe in the player, and he has the talent to produce difference-maker results at his reasonable cost.
Dawson Knox (Buf — Underdog ADP 99/TE9) — He’s always been a favorite of mine dating back to a combine interview I did with him back in 2019 (amazing dude), but also because he’s a big-time athlete and former QB. I guessed last year that he and Josh Allen were boys because I also interviewed Allen the year before, and I could just see them hanging out.
Turns out best friends on the team and you could see their chemistry explode right in front of our eyes last year. Knox may never get a ton of targets and he might be volatile, but he could also be the king of the blowup fantasy game after posting three 2-TD performances in 2021. His ADP has been rising since the draft, so his cost is actually getting more affordable.
Pat Freiermuth (Pit — Underdog ADP 124/TE11) — I loved him heading into his rookie season, but I did not expect him to do as well as he did, which is great. He’s not a steal by any stretch, but he is a guy who I think will continually rise up these ADP boards the next couple seasons. For example, I wouldn’t be surprised if his ADP is 75-80 next year — don’t forget that Ben Roethlisberger might have made this offense worse last year than it will be with Mitchell Trubisky/a rookie QB this year. If that’s the case, “Muth” will be a solid little value this year.
Irv Smith (Min — Underdog ADP 141/TE15) — I’ve been a big Irv guy from day one, and he’s been good when he’s played, catching 66 of 90 targets for 676/7. He’s on track as he returns from his knee injury, so it’s easy to get excited about the situation for Minnesota’s #2 pick in the 2019 draft (50 overall). The Viking OL is improved and might be top-15 at this point, and Irv’s good speed, route-running, and hands could make him a matchup nightmare for defenses focusing on stopping Dalvin Cook and a spectacular #1 in Justin Jefferson. And we know Kirk Cousins can get him the rock. The Vikings also lost Tyler Conklin this off-season and did very little beyond Jefferson and Adam Thielen at WR. Irv’s health has been positive since the draft, so he’s right on track.
Gerald Everett (LAC — Underdog ADP 174/TE22) — I’ve never been a big Everett guy, but there’s no question he’s a dangerous receiver given his speed. He lands in an excellent situation with the Chargers, who threw to their TEs eight times a game last year. There are a lot of mouths to feed and Everett may not get many TDs, but he’ll be an active part of their excellent offense, so he could have a handful of blowup games teaming with stallion Justin Herbert. And he’s basically free!
Austin Hooper (Ten — Underdog ADP 201/TE27) — Hooper is as boring as they come at TE, but if you’re shaky at the position and opt to take three of them, he’s a good bet to return a good ROI. He lands in a good spot in Tennessee, where the solid Ryan Tannehill can get him the ball, and they need help with AJ Brown and his 105 targets gone (Anthony Firkser is gone too). Hooper’s also savvy in the red zone (17 TDs the last four seasons), so 6-7 TDs can’t be ruled out.