2018 Fantasy Football Underrated Players

by Richard Savill
2018 Fantasy Football Underrated Players

For the most part, player rankings on various Fantasy Football sites tend to fall within a reasonable window. We all reflect a bias toward one player or another, but generally we invariably follow the charts and cheat sheets.

Sometimes we just have that urge to reach. Statistical projections tell us we should do otherwise, but ADP fluctuations demonstrate the arbitrary nature of NFL Fantasy Football pure rankings.

Hype plays a significant part in this and spikes the fantasy cola. As long as you regulate your intake, you should be able to avoid hard-wiring your drafting decisions.

The underrated players tend to be those coming off a miserable season. Injury concerns, off-field issues, etc. equally affect their fantasy perception.

Often, an underrated player might do very well, but bias places a qualifier on it. "If you take away those two plays, his stats fall way down", and so forth. Above all, lack of consistency causes comments like this. For a time, Nelson Agholor fell into that category last year.

The players I discuss here do not specifically represent sleeper breakout candidates. These are guys who I sense may have a better floor or room to improve their status from low WR3 or RB3 to a better level.

2018 Fantasy Football Underrated Players

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C.J. Anderson, RB, Carolina Panthers

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C.J. Anderson may count as underrated, but the harder determination is whether he counts as under-ranked. Although Anderson was a 1000-yard rusher in 2017 (extending to 1200+ all-purpose), his week-on-week fantasy numbers fell hopelessly to bust levels.

The problem? Lack of touchdowns and a poor Denver offense. Anderson put in better numbers when Denver typically rotated a committee in previous years.

Carolina is one of few teams where Anderson has ample opportunity to resume the elevated levels of his better days. Again, however, there is a problem. Christian McCaffrey leads the backfield. Anderson might be lucky to see 10-15 touches in more than just a handful of games. This is why we see him ranked around RB35.

During the off-season, the Panthers put out rather absurd notions concerning McCaffrey with regard to projected touches in the 20-25 range. If that was genuinely the case, then Anderson would get relief back work at best. Nevertheless, these comments indicate some form of demanding workload for McCaffrey.

The grand upside for Anderson lies solely with goal-line touches and as the immediate backup to McCaffrey. His role makes him a difficult weekly starter unless the Panthers equalize the backfield in spite of the comments made by OC Norv Turner and others. If we view Anderson in the same way as Jonathan Stewart of 2017, consider that an upgrade.

Paul Richardson, WR, Washington Redskins

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Although Washington supports an altogether different scheme than the Seahawks, Richardson could fit in anywhere. I believe this guy is an underrated talent for that aspect alone. Richardson is versatile, strong, fast and fights coverage for the football. This is a fine pick up by the Redskins.

Richardson had a stunted growth to his career because of a torn ACL during the 2014 playoffs and missed almost the entire 2015 season. The Seahawks revived him in 2016 in a limited capacity and more fully after an injury to Tyler Lockett. By 2017, he became an integral part of the Seattle offense finishing with a 44-703-6 statline.

It would help matters if we could rely on Alex Smith to show some of the gunslinger ability he demonstrated with the Chiefs in 2017. Unfortunately, the record for Smith attempting the deep ball shows him well below his fellow 2005 classmate, Aaron Rodgers for pass attempts of 20+ yards. In the last 10 years, Rodgers 2326 and Smith 1569. A difference of 757 attempts or 33% fewer.

This puts some murkiness into the fantasy potential Josh Doctson. Richardson is a more reasonable target for those medium to long-range attempts. Richardson may have had a mediocre 55% catch percentage in 2017, but Doctson was worse with 44%. If we consider the scanty attempts from Smith beyond 20 yards, it adds up better for Richardson for fantasy points in the long gainers.

Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers

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When it comes to a sleeper prospect like Montgomery, we forget he can also line up as a receiver in the Packers offense. Compared to other hybrids of recent years, like say Tavon Austin or Dexter McCluster (now with the CFL Toronto Argonauts), Montgomery has gained the most fantasy trust.

If only trust could translate into opportunity. Montgomery will have some for the duration of the early part of the season while Aaron Jones serves a two-game suspension. After that, we have little idea how the Packers will use him in a regular role.

Montgomery isn't just contending with the other running backs. We have to consider Jimmy Graham's role as well. Montgomery's heaviest usage came between the 20s with only a couple of red zone looks in his abbreviated 2017 season. If Graham takes targets at the expense of Montgomery, things could get pretty grim for those hoping for some extra PPR fantasy points.

The good news here is that Aaron Rodgers likes this guy. Montgomery is a competent pass-blocker and valuable to have for situations of long yardage on early downs. We know he can fill any role on this offense except for Davante Adams. So Montgomery, providing he avoids injury himself, has enough versatility to more than satisfy a fantasy owner who grabs him in a late round.

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons

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We tend toward the shiny objects in fantasy, so a player like Sanu ends up amongst the string and elastic bands in our fantasy utility drawer. I suppose Sanu gets that "never there when you need him" fantasy reputation because of the nature of Matt Ryan and Atlanta offense in general.

Part of the problem for Sanu, and I think this started with the Bengals too, is a kind of "second fiddle" syndrome. Playing with high talent like Julio Jones and A.J. Green relegates him to an afterthought. He has just two 100+ yard games in his career and neither were with the Falcons; plus zero 1000+ seasons.

That said, Sanu is a solid receiver as a Flex option in both standard and PPR leagues. He is a red zone threat too, so on some weeks you'll get an extra bang. While Sanu lacks upside, he maintains a decent floor for his tier. He has down weeks, but we sometimes have to accept those monster Julio days where everyone else on the Falcons are spectators. Yes, Sanu is just fine for our usual expectations, but...

The appearance of rookie Calvin Ridley is cause for concern on Sanu's target share for 2018. In fantasy, there is clearly over-concern. Practically a panic. On FantasyPros, Sanu currently sits at ADP 190 (ECR 143), while Ridley is the opposite at ADP 112 (ECR 149). You want a definition of hype? There it is.

Listen up folks, Sanu is a trusted receiver in the eyes of Matt Ryan. To even approach the fantasy levels of ADP 200+ seems rather ridiculous for a receiver of his caliber. I suppose this is great, because while others are following the shiny object, you can walk in and scoop Sanu for nothing.

Some Other Underrated Players in Brief

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Quincy Enunwa, WR, New York Jets

Uncertainty surrounding the status of Robbie Anderson should boost Enunwa and other receivers on the Jets. Enunwa is fast for a receiver of his size and a solid playmaker. Worth drafting at his deep ADP.

Frank Gore, RB, Miami Dolphins

Not underrated for his career at all. However, age bias continues in his latter days. Gore always beats the critics though and has already caught up to Kenyan Drake for a share of this backfield.

Ed Dickson, TE, Seattle Seahawks

We can't draft Ed Dickson, but there is a gaping hole for a tight end playmaker to fill. I'd take Dickson over Vannett because he trained with Greg Olsen as a next man up. A definite early addition to your league watch list.

Taywan Taylor, WR, Tennessee Titans

This guy makes me nervous about Corey Davis. Taylor showed some very strong talent in camp as an outside threat. Many of us prepared to make a reach for Davis, but with this guy suddenly breaking forward, that might not be such a good idea anymore.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Bortles suffers from inconsistency, but down the stretch in the fantasy playoffs last season, he was hot waiver property. He is an enigma because although his pass protection improved in 2017, his passing numbers lag behind his peers. Bortles has all the traits of a late bloomer and the Jags might thank themselves later for not giving up on him just yet.

John Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens

If Brown didn't have the medical issues and injury problems, he would be a WR2 somewhere in the league. Alas, he finds himself on the Ravens with one of the most unreliable quarterbacks in the NFL. Here we have a player full of talent, yet we cannot draft him. We can wait and see. That costs nothing.

Visit the F6P Fantasy Football Draft Kit Page for more advice to prepare for the 2018 season.

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1 comment

2018 Fantasy Football Overrated Players - Fantasy Six Pack August 20, 2018 - 7:01 am

[…] Well, we have to do it. Talking down a player doesn’t feel as good as talking him up. If you prefer the better side of things, check out my piece from last week to see the 2018 Fantasy Football Underrated Players. […]


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