2014 Fantasy Football: 12 Undervalued Players Based on Fantasy Football ADP

As you build your fantasy rosters, there are a variety of strategies that can lead to fantasy success.

Regardless of the strategy you use, however, one of the keys to success is uncovering players that are undervalued. In this post, I identify 12 players that I expect to outperform their current average draft position (ADP).

Depending on your source, ADP can vary widely from site to site. In order to smooth out that variability, I've used the consensus ADP data from FantasyPros, which averages ADPs from multiple sites.

Later in the offseason, I will publish an update to this post and include more players. I realize some of you may play only in ESPN leagues or only in Yahoo! leagues, etc. and averaging out ADPs may not be as beneficial for you. Even though there may be some overlap, the plan is to create individual lists for individual fantasy-league sites later this month as well.

For now, here is a list of 12 players that I feel are undervalued based on their current ADPs (ADPs via FantasyPros):

QB - Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 71, QB11)

While real NFL clubs struggle to find their franchise signal-caller, it's not nearly as difficult for fantasy owners in standard leagues that start one quarterback. Beyond the elite three fantasy options at quarterback, there is modest separation in terms of projected fantasy points in the other nine fantasy starters (QB4 to QB12) in 12-team leagues.

In other words, the gap in my projections between QB3 (Drew Brees) and QB4 (Matthew Stafford) is larger than the gap between QB4 and QB12 (Tony Romo). While I like to ignore the fact that my projections could possibly be wrong, that means I'd rather grab one of the elite three if they fall or more likely wait within the next tier.

One of the league's most athletic quarterbacks, Kaepernick has rushed for 1,335 yards (6.92 YPC) and 11 touchdowns in his past 30 games counting the playoffs since taking over for Alex Smith in 2012. On a per-game basis, that would be worth 6.65 fantasy points per outing derived from his rushing stats alone.

Perhaps he won't run as often in 2014 due to better weapons in the passing game, but his passing stats should improve significantly. Even though the Niners are a run-first team, they will likely open up the passing game more and Kaepernick's peripheral passing stats should improve.

With Michael Crabtree (Achilles) missing the majority of the season, the 49ers got virtually no production from their wide receiver corps other than Anquan Boldin during Crabtree's absence. In fact, the team's second leading wide receiver not named Boldin or Crabtree had a total of 113 receiving yards in 2013.

Even though Crabtree is currently working through a minor hamstring injury, he is (or will be) healthier heading into the season and should build upon his 2012 breakout campaign. In addition, they added Stevie Johnson, who gives the team three competent wideouts to go along with tight end Vernon Davis.

The 11th quarterback off the board, on average, Kaepernick is my seventh-ranked fantasy quarterback with upside for better without the steep price to match.

QB - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (ADP: 102, QB14)

Even cheaper than Kaepernick, it wouldn't be a surprise if Cutler had a top-five season. In fact, the Cutler/McCown duo last year combined for a total of 289.6 fantasy points, which were only exceeded by two quarterbacks last season.

No quarterback has a better trio of wide receivers and running back than Cutler has with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte. That trio combined for a stat line of 263/3,310/22 last season in their first year running Marc Trestman's offense. Returning all 11 starters on offense, the offense as a whole should have an opportunity to improve on last year's success as they are more familiar with the offense.

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RB - Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: 49, RB20)

The Jaguars ranked in the bottom five in the league in rush attempts last season and the Jaguars certainly want to change that. Outscored 86-264 during their eight-game losing streak to start the season, the Jags went 4-4 in the second half and should keep games more competitive in 2014.

Signing a three-year deal in the offseason, Gerhart will go from being used infrequently as Adrian Peterson's primary backup to becoming the team's workhorse back. When he's been on the field, he has been productive. In his seven career games with 15-plus touches, Gerhart has averaged 12.6 fantasy points per game in standard-scoring formats. As a comparison, only 10 fantasy running backs averaged at least 12.6 FPPG last season.

While Gerhart's ADP continues to rise, he remains undervalued as my 13th-ranked fantasy running back and 24th-ranked player overall.

RB - Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (ADP: 72, RB28)

On Thursday (unless it's a different day), I will post a list of players that are currently overvalued and Bell's backfield mate, Reggie Bush, will almost certainly find his way on that list even though I have Bush (RB19) ranked slightly higher than Bell (RB20). Despite minimal separation in my projections, Bush is going several rounds earlier than Bell.

The team plans to split the workload fairly evenly between the two backs this year although Bush (277) and Bell (219) both had more than 200 touches last year. Bell is a talented receiver in his own right with 50-plus receptions in back-to-back years, but I expect Bush to lead the duo in receptions with Bell getting more carries and touchdowns.

RB - Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints (ADP: 90, RB32)

No running back had more receptions than Thomas last season as he also set a career high with 77 catches. What makes that feat more remarkable is the fact that (now former) teammate Darren Sproles also exceeded 70 receptions last year. That kind of production obviously makes PT much more valuable in point-per-reception (PPR) formats, but he has value in standard-scoring formats as well even though he may finish third on the team in carries.

RB - Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: 133, RB44)

One of the easiest positions for rookies to make an immediate impact is running back and Hill should assume a significant role from Day 1. As Giovani Bernard moves into low-end RB1 territory, Hill will get his fair share of early-down carries with dibs on goal-line work as well. With Jay Gruden leaving to become head coach in Washington, Hue Jackson takes over as offensive coordinator, which means the offense will be decidedly more run-oriented in 2014.

WR - Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons (ADP: 47, WR19)

White's injuries (and subsequently early-season struggles) are a blessing in disguise for those that want a value at wide receiver in 2014. As he played through a high-ankle sprain sustained in the preseason, White was mostly a decoy in the first half of the season and he missed a few games with a knee injury.

Down the stretch, White was healthy and hit his stride in the month of December. Over those five games, White had 43 receptions for 502 yards and two touchdowns. Only Julian Edleman (44) had more receptions while Josh Gordon (658) and Alshon Jeffery (561) were the only receivers with more yards during that span.

Going into the 2014 season, Julio Jones enters the season as the team's clear-cut No. 1 receiver and I have him ranked as such as my WR5. The retirement of Tony Gonzalez — and extra targets to keep the receivers happy — means there will be enough targets for both Jones and White (my WR11) to produce fantasy WR1-type numbers.

WR - Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins (ADP: 81, WR30)

Despite the change of scenery last year, Wallace failed to hit the 1,000-yard milestone for the second season in a row. Even though he set a career high in receptions (73), 60 Minutes set a career low in yards per reception (12.7) and touchdowns (five) last season.

New offensive coordinator Bill Lazor brings an up-tempo offense with him from Philly. It appears that the Dolphins will be much more creative in how they get the ball into Wallace's hands and reports this offseason have been very positive.

Compared to my WR19 ranking for Wallace, there is plenty of value compared to his current ADP of WR30.

WR - Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans (ADP: 165, WR54)

A tremendous athlete that appeared on Bruce Feldman's annual freaks list when in college, Hunter is 6-foot-4 with 4.4 speed and 40-inch vertical. Dangerous as a vertical receiver, he has shown flashes of his potential as a rookie with a couple of 100-yard games late in the season and averaged 19.7 yards per catch.

Not only has Hunter added 15 pounds to his (previously) thin frame this offseason, but he has received plenty of praise from his coaching staff as well. With plenty of breakout potential in Year 2, Hunter is one of my favorite sleepers this year.

WR - Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland Browns (ADP: 246, WR74)

Reports are that it could up to three weeks before we get a decision on Josh Gordon's appeal of his looming full-season suspension, but I expect the league to uphold the ban. While tight end pass-catcher Jordan Cameron will be a target hog if Gordon indeed misses the entire season, someone else on the roster will need to step up and I think Hawkins is the best bet within the wide receiver corps.

If you're in a deep league, Hawkins should provide fantasy owners some late-round production. Currently, I have Hawkins projected for a line of 62/707/4, which makes him my WR57 (or WR52 in PPR leagues) compared to his WR74 ADP.

TE - Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (ADP: 30, TE3)

Missing multiple games in each of the past two seasons, Gronkowski has also had more surgeries during that span than I can count on one hand. So, obviously, durability is a concern even though all signs lead us to expect Week 1 availability.

When healthy, however, Gronkowski is as good as it gets at tight end. Even though he played only seven games last season, Gronk set career highs in both YPG (84.6) and Y/R (15.2) last season and those numbers led the position group as well. More importantly, he dominates in the red zone with 43 touchdowns in 50 career games.

Going in the middle of Round 3, I'd be more than willing to take Gronk in the middle of Round 2.

TE - Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (ADP: 86, TE9)

Sticking with the durability-concern theme at tight end on this list, Reed played in only nine games as a rookie due to concussion effects. Going back to his days in Gainesville, Reed has had multiple concussions and that obviously will make fantasy owners a bit nervous, but there is no denying the ability.

The team's offensive coordinator recently said of Reed, "He’s going be a key player in our offense. He’s an elite route runner for the position, and he still competes with the toughness. He’s got great feet..."

In the nine games that Reed played last year, he tallied 45 receptions for 499 yards and three touchdowns. If we extrapolate that production over a full 16-game season, that would have put Reed on pace for 80 catches and 887 yards. To illustrate how rare that kind of production would be for a rookie tight end, only two rookies at the position have ever finished with at least 887 yards — Mike Ditka in 1961 and Jeremy Shockey in 2002.

As I noted earlier, I will compile a list of overvalued players based on current ADP and post that later this week.

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