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INDIANAPOLIS --- Every player has a price in fantasy football. The goal is to avoid players where the price is too high and draft players where the price is too low. That's how you draft well and create a deep roster for the season.
Opinions will vary on those prices as the offseason unfolds, with the price coming in the form of what round you have to pick these players in mock drafts and eventually, your league's real draft. The prices themselves will also fluctuate. For example, Cowboys RB Joseph Randle's stock has gone from the 11th round to the 7th round in the past two months, with only Darren McFadden to beat out for the starting job.
This week, I studied recently released fantasy rankings (NFL.com Fantasy Football's Draft Kit is out with full rankings) and participated in a 12-team mock draft with 11 other serious managers. Each made picks that made sense, based on rankings and their personal strategy (click here for NFL.com's mock draft lobby). Below are the picks Colts.com Beat Writer Kevin Bowen and I felt were underrated and overrated, based on the rankings and mock draft.
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (11th round) - If you aren't interested in spending a pick in the first three rounds on Andrew Luck or Aaron Rodgers, then wait, wait, and wait some more to draft a quarterback. The position is deeper than ever in 2015. Tannehill was the 9th ranked QB last season but was still taken in this mock draft and ranked after Tony Romo, who finished 11th among QBs last year in standard scoring. 11th round? Tannehill adds freakishly talented rookie WR DeVante Parker (Louisville) and Kenny Stills? Big bargain.
Colts QB Andrew Luck (3rd round) - Fantasy experts will debate taking Luck and Rodgers in the 1st or 2nd round all offseason (you know where I stand at this point), but if he falls to the beginning of the 3rd round, like he did in this mock draft, you'd be silly not to take him. Why? Because that would mean you had an early first round pick, and your first three selections would be a stud RB, stud WR, and Andrew Luck. In this mock draft, the team that got Luck also got RB LeVeon Bell and WR Alshon Jeffery (could have taken Randall Cobb or T.Y. Hilton too). Those two with Luck? Yes, please.
Colts RB Frank Gore (4th round) - I'm on record saying Frank Gore is the best value RB in fantasy football right now. That could change in August, but right now, he's a steal. He's also easy to handcuff late with Daniel Herron if you're worried about his age and injury (you shouldn't be, because he hasn't missed a game since 2010). Gore had the most runs last year with 8+ men in the box with 76. The next closes RB was DeMarco Murray with 58. Gore still rushed for 4.3ypc and 1,100+ yards. I also suspect he's going to catch a lot more passes under Pep Hamilton than he did the last few years in San Francisco. I'm speculating here, but I'm guessing with T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, Duron Carter, Coby Fleener, and Dwayne Allen to potentially worry about, defenses won't be stuffing 8+ defenders in the box on Gore. I see top-12 RB upside with Gore, and it only costs a 4th round pick right now.
Falcons RB Tevin Coleman (5th round) - The pride of Indiana rushed for 2,000+ yards on a mediocre team. Combine that with the fact that he has a Shanahan coaching him on a team with a new coaching staff, and I'm even more intrigued. Devonta Freeman doesn't impress me that much. I want to see how this competition plays out in camp, but Mr. Shanahan may have found his next Alfred Morris.
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (6th round) - Don't shoot the messenger, Colts fans. Shane Vereen is gone, and Blount has a lot of upside as the 29th RB taken in this mock draft, as long as he doesn't fumble because, ya know, Belichick.
Saints RB C.J. Spiller (6th round) - Spiller was taken one pick after Blount. I'm having a hard time getting Darren Sproles 2.0 out of my head with this one. Plus, Pierre Thomas isn't a Saint anymore. It will be a split workload with Mark Ingram, but Sean Payton knows how to utilize a RB with catching ability like Spiller. Sproles quietly had a couple top-15 fantasy RB seasons in PPR in New Orleans. Spiller could do the same. In this mock draft, Spiller went 40 picks after Ingram.
Ravens WR Breshad Perriman (7th round) & Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (9th round) - Amari Cooper, 5th round. Kevin, White 6th round. Perriman is the rookie WR I'm targeting, followed by Dolphins rookie WR DeVante Parker (9th round). I can't get sucked into thinking last year's rookie WR class will repeat itself. It was the first time in a long time rookie WRs performed that well in fantasy football (but don't forget the first rookie WR taken Sammy Watkins still finished outside the top-24 WRs). With Perriman though, the price and situation are right. Perriman fills a void left by Torrey Smith, and Steve Smith Sr. is 36-years-old. I like the fit. It reminds me a lot of the need Kelvin Benjamin filled with the Panthers last year. They had to throw him the ball. There was nobody else. I also like the fit of Parker in Miami, with no clear-cut top WR there either. So much of fantasy WRs for me is who is throwing them the ball. I'll take Tannehill and Flacco over Carr and Cutler right now.
Saints WR Marques Colston (9th round) - Jimmy Graham? Gone. Kenny Stills? Gone. Somebody has to catch the ball in New Orleans, and it looks like the two primary options will be Brandin Cooks and Colston. Cooks went on IR last year, dashing any hopes of consistent rookie production. It seems like Colston's been in the league forever, but he's still only 31. He also hasn't missed more than 2 games in a season since 2008. Five straight seasons of 900+ receiving yards, in seasons with far more options for Drew Brees than the Saints have now. It may not be a flashy name, but you'll enjoy the production.
Saints QB Drew Brees (4th round) - He lost Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills. Even with them, Brees still finished as the #6 QB in fantasy last year. QB is too deep to take one this early if you miss out on Luck and Rodgers. The difference between Brees and Tannehill last year was only 24 points for the entire season, and Tannehill is being drafted six or seven rounds later!
Broncos RB C.J. Anderson (1st round) - I think Anderson was awesome last year, but you always have to wonder if a RB will get the same workload with a new coaching staff. I like his chances, but enough to spend a first round pick on him? I'd feel much better taking Matt Forte or a stud WR, which went after Anderson in this mock draft. You can't win your league in the first round, but you can lose it.
Chargers RB Melvin Gordon (3rd round) - That's an awfully high price tag for a running back. Yes, the Chargers have a big need at running back, but I'm not sure Gordon will be an every down back in San Diego. The knock on him was his receiving ability coming out of college, and the Chargers have a reliable option in Danny Woodhead as a 3rd down back that they've utilized extensively in the past. Other RBs that went after Gordon that I'd feel more comfortable with: Lamar Miller, Jonathan Stewart, Frank Gore (or a solid WR2).
Rams RB Todd Gurley (5th round) - I love this guy. I'm going to be really tempted to take him in my keeper league, but in regular leagues, you just don't know how much he's going to play coming off the torn ACL. The Rams have already said they are in no rush to get him on the field. A 5th round pick is a high price to pay for a player who may not be 100% all season. Big fantasy red flag here. Why not take Rams RB Tre Mason in the 7th round instead.
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (1st/2nd round turn) - Megatron is a beast, but I don't think he is a top-5 fantasy WR beast anymore. He was taken as the 4th WR in this draft with the first pick of the second round. Johnson was the 14th WR in standard scoring last year, after missing three games. He also has a reliable 2nd option in the offense now in Golden Tate to take away some targets. He's good. Don't get me wrong, but I'm ranking Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, and Odell Beckham Jr. ahead of Megatron.