Brolley: Most-Drafted Players

published 08/12/19 4:07:21 PM EDT
by Tom Brolley

My guy Joe Dolan already laid out his “Most-Drafted Players” earlier this preseason. It’s only fair to share with you who I have the most exposure to for the upcoming season. I’ve drafted 37 best-ball teams so far this summer and this is where I stand so far. I’m highlighting every player that’s on more than 15% of my teams. I pick up my best-ball pace once the calendar flips to August and this season is no different. I’ll make sure to update this article later this month when I have about 60+ drafts under my belt in a few weeks.

Quarterbacks

As you can see from my most-drafted QBs, I tend to wait until the bitter end to draft this position. I typically start considering my first QB around the ninth or 10th round. I have almost no shares of the elite options and a ton of shares of QBs being drafted outside the top 10 at the position.

Dak Prescott (Dal, 19%) — Dak has been incredibly consistent through three seasons, giving him a nice built-in floor, but I think he has some real upside potential this season. The offense started to shift in Dak’s favor in the second half of the year with Amari Cooper in the fold. The Cowboys have finished in the bottom half of the league in plays per game since Dak arrived, but they finished 12th last season (63.6) after picking up the pace with Cooper in the lineup. The Cowboys also parted ways with the stale Scott Linehan, elevating Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator. Moore, who is 30 years old, is younger than about half of the league’s starting QBs. He should bring some fresh concepts to reinvigorate this offense.

Carson Wentz (Phi, 19%) — Wentz is pretty much the first QB I’ll reach for if he makes it to the ninth round because I think he has the potential to be the QB1 this season. The Eagles could have a high-flying attack since he has one of the league’s best receiving combinations at WR and TE. Wentz should also be completely healthy after he rushed back for 2018 off his ACL injury, which may have led to a back injury that finished his campaign last season. Wentz has a real chance to get back to his pre-ACL form back in 2017 when he was the favorite to win the MVP.

Tom Brady (NE, 22%) — I didn’t plan on taking Brady so much as my QB2 but he’s routinely been available in the 13th/14th round with about 20 QBs already off the board. Brady had a down fantasy season in 2018 and his receiving cast has been thinned out since last year. He’s still the G.O.A.T. and he’s still one of the most efficient passers — he’s topped 7.5+ YPA in four straight seasons. He could easily get back into the top-12 at the position like he has so many times in his career. I’ve typically drafted Josh Gordon at the end of drafts when I’ve selected Brady.

Kirk Cousins (Min, 22%) — The Vikings upgraded their offensive line by drafting center Garrett Bradbury in the first round, and they brought in QB whisperer Gary Kubiak as an "offensive advisor." With an improved O-line and Kubiak’s offensive touch, Cousins has a chance to get his YPA back up from 7.1 in 2019 to his 7.9 average from 2014-18 in Washington, which would give him a chance to crack the top-12 once again.

Sam Darnold (NYJ, 19%) — I’m not exactly beating down the door to take Darnold but I’ve liked him as a bottom-barrel QB2 when it’s down him and the likes of Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr, and Andy Dalton. I thought Darnold held his own early last season when he became the youngest QB to start a game before starting to flourish in the final four games of last season. His supporting cast has been upgraded with Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder added, and I’d be even more excited about Darnold if Adam Gase and his slow-paced offense wasn’t in New York now.

Other Notable QBs

Cam Newton (Car, 16%) — I’m completely stunned at how under the radar Cam has gone so far this summer. Last season, he was headed toward his sixth top-5 fantasy finish in eight seasons until he injured his throwing shoulder. I do worry that OC Norv Turner could scale back his rushing opportunities, but Cam also has his most career upside as a passer throwing to playmakers Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel.

Lamar Jackson (Bal, 16%) — There’s no denying Jackson is the worst or among the worst starting passing QBs in the league, but I haven’t drafted Jackson for his arm. I drafted Jackson for his legs and the weekly fantasy floor he gets from them — he averaged 79.4 rushing yards per game in his seven starts. I’m just hoping for Jackson to have some small gains as a passer to raise his weekly ceiling potential. New OC Greg Roman should help since he got the career-best performances out of mobile QBs Colin Kaepernick (49ers) and Tyrod Taylor (Bills).

Mitchell Trubisky (Chi, 16%) — I’m treating Trubisky and Jackson pretty similarly this summer. Trubisky doesn’t have the same rushing upside/fantasy floor as Jackson does this season, but Trubisky does have more room for growth as a passer with his receiving weapons in Chicago, which gives him more ceiling potential than Jackson. Trubisky’s passing efficiency improved from 2017 (6.6 YPA, 59.4% completion) to 2018 (7.4, 66.6%) under Matt Nagy, but he’s still has a long way to go in the accuracy department. At least I’m anticipating more passing volume for Mitch — he attempted 31.0 passes per game in 2018 — this season with their defense likely to take a step back against a tougher schedule.

Running Backs

James Conner (Pit, 22%) — Conner does have more competition for snaps this season between Jaylen Samuels (receiving back) and Benny Snell (short-yardage), but HC Mike Tomlin has always preferred a workhorse back since his first season when Fast Willie Parker saw 352 opportunities in 2007. The Steelers should have one of the league’s best O-lines once again this season, giving Conner a great chance to be an elite fantasy option like he was before his ankle injury in Week 13.

Damien Harris (NE, 22%) — Harris has been a favorite RB4/5 for me since he has major potential to blow up playing in this high-scoring Patriots offense. The Patriots picked Sony Michel in the first round last season, but they were concerned enough about his arthritic left knee to use a premium, third-round pick on Harris. There’s a solid chance that Harris steps into a major early-down role at some point this season, which would give him RB1 potential.

Damien Williams (KC, 19%) — I’ve always been a fan of Williams’ explosiveness and his versatility, and I’m certainly buying in now that he’s getting a golden opportunity as Andy Reid’s top back in the league’s most potent offense. Reid called Williams his full-time starter earlier this summer, and his top competition comes from a deteriorating Carlos Hyde and rookie Darwin Thompson, who I’ve also invested in. Williams has more floor potential than most players being selected in the second or third round, but he also has top-5 potential if he plays like he did last season and if he sees the lion’s share of touches in this backfield.

Duke Johnson (Hou, 19%) — Duke has been a favorite of mine late in drafts because I thought there was a great chance he would be moved to a better situation by the time the trade deadline approached in the middle of the season. Well, Duke didn’t have to wait that long as the RB-needy Texans acquired him on Aug. 8. The Texans have had to max protect for Deshaun Watson too much the last two years, which has hurt their RB catch totals. Still, the Texans should heavily work Duke in on all downs since they gave up potentially a third-round pick and since Lamar Miller has been pedestrian at best.

Darrell Henderson (LAR, 19%) — I’m swinging for the fences when I draft Henderson in the seventh round. Henderson is an ideal fit for this Rams offense, and I’m expecting him to have a big enough role to be a weekly flex option alongside Todd Gurley. However, Henderson has league-winning potential if Gurley’s arthritic knee forces him to miss time this season.

Nyheim Hines (Ind, 27%) — Hines caught 63 passes last season and he’ll once again be locked into his passing-back role this season. He also has the potential for more work if Marlon Mack misses time or struggles ahead of him, and he should be more efficient in his second season after averaging just 6.8 YPR.

Kalen Ballage (Mia, 22%) — I’ve faded Kenyan Drake all summer and I’m not a huge fan of Ballage, but he’s been mispriced by the public for most of the summer. His ADP is finally starting to rise with reports coming out of South Florida of a split backfield between Drake and Ballage looming this season, which was my expectation as soon as Frank Gore bolted for Buffalo.

Other Notable RBs

Alvin Kamara (NO, 16%) — Kamara is very good at football and I’ve gladly selected him a bunch picking out of the fourth or fifth spot this summer.

Kerryon Johnson (Det, 16%) — Johnson has been a target of mine in the early third round because of his three-down potential with Theo Riddick gone. He quietly averaged 3.2 catches per game last season while averaging an excellent 5.4 yards per carry. Johnson has legit potential to catch 60+ passes to go along with what should be a healthy ground-game workload playing under run-heavy OC Darrell Bevell.

Leonard Fournette (Jax, 16%) — Fournette has been discounted because of his injury issues through two seasons, but he’s also in the best spot of his career with RB T.J. Yeldon and dreadful QB Blake Bortles out of the picture. Fournette actually averaged 2.8 catches per game in his first two seasons, and he could be an even factor as a receiver with Yeldon gone. Fournette also has the chance to climb above 4.0 YPC for the first time if defenses have to respect Nick Foles more than they ever did Bortles.

Rashaad Penny (Sean, 16%) — Penny, a first-round selection in 2018, is likely to see a much bigger workload in 2019 after averaging just 6.9 opportunities per game as a rookie. Mike Davis was a major thorn in Penny’s side last season, but the Seahawks let him and his 154 opportunities (10.3 per game) walk this off-season. With no major threat on the depth chart behind Penny and Chris Carson, Penny’s opportunities per game could double in 2019.

Miles Sanders (Phi, 16%) — HC Doug Pederson has preferred using backfield committees in his first three seasons, but I’m hoping he eventually bucks that trend this season. The Eagles used the #53 overall pick on Sanders, and he has the skills to be a three-down back potentially this season. Sanders’ ADP is starting to rise but he’s still worth the investment starting in the sixth round.

Mike Davis (Chi, 19%) — I remember Davis getting buzz as a potential top-60 pick back in March after the Bears signed him and traded away Jordan Howard. Then the Bears traded up to draft David Montgomery in the third round and now Davis is lucky to go in the top-200 picks. Davis is a handcuff going into the season, but Montgomery is an unproven rookie and Davis can work all three downs if he’s needed to do so.

Ito Smith (Atl, 19%) — Devonta Freeman didn’t quite make my list of most-drafted backs, but I think his situation is screaming value since the Falcons have upgraded their interior O-line and they let Tevin Coleman walk in free agency. I also realize Freeman’s body may be breaking down based on his ugly injury history in recent seasons, which is why I have so many Smith shares. Saying that Smith struggled as a rookie last season would be an understatement — he averaged just 3.5 YPC and 5.6 YPR — but we’ve seen plenty of talented back improve in their second years.

Dion Lewis (Ten, 16%) — Lewis’ ADP climbed too high last season and now he’s seen too much of an overcorrection this summer. The Titans appear ready to give Derrick Henry as many carries as he can handle this season, but Lewis will still carve out a passing-back role. The Titans RB depth chart is still laughable as well, and Lewis could be thrust into a 20+ touch role per week if Henry would miss time. Henry has also been slow to recover from a calf injury in August.

Giovani Bernard (Cin, 16%) and Jamaal Williams (GB, 22%) — Bernard and Williams were two of the best handcuffs last season. Gio averaged 17.5 touches per game with Mixon out of the lineup while Williams won plenty of fantasy championships with his performances during Weeks 15-16. Both Bernard (Trayveon Williams and Rodney Anderson) and Williams (Dexter Williams) have rookie competition for their #2 roles, but I think the veteran incumbents will hold the edge if there’s an injury ahead of them.

Wide Receivers

Michael Gallup (Dal, 41%) — As you can tell by his ownership percentage, I think Gallup has been one of the biggest ADP bargains this summer. The Cowboys drafted him #81 overall in 2018 and he started to break out from Week 13 on through the playoffs. He’s the clear #2 WR in this offense since Cole Beasley left for Buffalo with the Cowboys replacing him with Randall Cobb, who hasn’t been good since 2015. Gallup caught just 48.5% of his passes last season but he averaged a healthy 15.4 YPR and 13.9 yards on his average depth of target. Gallup is also having a strong Year Two training camp, which has been lost in the shuffle with Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, and Amari Cooper all seeking new deals. Dak threw his way three times on the opening drive of the preseason.

Quincy Enunwa (NYJ, 30%) — Enunwa is one of the best ADP bargains available, and I’ve drafted him even more because of my Sam Darnold shares. Enunwa averaged 5.3/69.5/.3 receiving in his first four games before a hand injury and a high ankle sprain slowed him starting in Week 5 — the ankle injury caught up to him later in the season again. The Jets gave Enunwa $20 million in guaranteed money at the end of last season — more than Jamison Crowder’s $17 million guaranteed — and they plan to use him more as a downfield option on the outside.

Josh Gordon (NE, 27%) — When I’ve drafted Tom Brady as my QB2 in the late rounds, I’ve typically paired Gordon up with him a round or two later. I know, Gordon has yet to be reinstated and there’s no guarantee that he’s even on an NFL field this season. Still, I feel like a lot of signs are pointing toward Gordon playing at some point this season, and I’ve hedged my Gordon selections by picking six other WRs when I’ve selected him. If Gordon is reinstated just before the season, I think we could see Gordon going in the seventh round or better.

D.J. Moore (Car, 24%) and Curtis Samuel (Car, 22%) — I’m betting on these young Panthers WRs to continue their breakouts that we saw in the final weeks of last season. Moore and Samuel were top-40 picks in the last two drafts so they have plenty of pedigree. The Panthers cleared their WR depth chart for them to become every-down players, and they have serious upside potential with their game-breaking ability.

DeSean Jackson (Phi, 24%) — D-Jax has averaged 17.5+ YPR in four out of his last five seasons, and he’s going from one of the least accurate deep passers in Jameis Winston to one of the most accurate in Carson Wentz. Jackson’s vertical ability could help this offense become of the league’s best this season. When drafting Wentz in the ninth round, I love to pair D-Jax with him in the eighth or 10th round.

Cooper Kupp (LAR, 22%) — Kupp scored 6 TDs in just eight games, and he was on pace for 80 catches and 1100+ yards before his non-contact ACL injury. He also upped his yards per route run average from 2.05 in 2017 to 2.27 in 2018. QB Jared Goff clearly needed Kupp in the second half of last season as his passing yards per game dropped from 329.6 yards with Kupp to 256.3 without him. Kupp’s ACL injury has kept his ADP down this summer but he at least avoided the PUP list to start training camp, which gives him a great chance to be ready for Week 1.

Other Notable WRs

Sterling Shepard (NYG, 19%) — Earlier this summer, I was fading Shepard and drafting Golden Tate at a cheap price but my stance changed once August rolled around. Tate got popped for a four-game suspension and Shepard’s price dropped because of a thumb injury that’s unlikely to be a factor once the season starts. Shepard will be the clear #1 WR for the first month of the season and there’s a chance that Tate never catches up to him as he gets used to a new offense and new QBs.

Christian Kirk (Ari, 19%) — Kirk actually caught Kyler Murray’s first college TD back in 2015 at Texas A&M, and he’s quickly adjusted to Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid attack since he played in a similar offense with the Aggies. Kirk is going to play out of the slot more this season, which should highlight his explosiveness after the catch. Kirk was on pace for around 800 receiving yards in a terrible offense last year before missing the final four games with a broken foot. He could be headed for a breakout campaign if this Cardinals’ offense improves like everyone expects.

Marvin Jones (Det, 16%) — Jones played in just nine games last season because of a knee injury, but he scored 5 TDs and topped 50+ yards in seven games before his injury. He also had a slightly better target share (19% to 18%) and more air yards (906 to 770) than Kenny Golladay, who has been a bit overdrafted in the fourth round.

Marquise Brown (Bal, 19%) — Brown received DeSean Jackson comparisons in the pre-draft process. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to run at the Combine because of a Lisfranc surgery, but he’ll be used as Lamar Jackson’s lid-lifter this season. I’d rather own Brown in a best-ball format since he should pop for a couple of big games this season, but he could be inconsistent playing with Jackson. Unless I hear some better news on Brown in the near future, I’m planning on backing off Brown with his slow recovery from his Lisfranc surgery.

Sammy Watkins (KC, 16%) — Most of my Watkins’ shares came from May/June when I thought Tyreek Hill may be suspended for a large chunk of the season. I’ve significantly backed off Watkins since it came out that Hill won’t be suspended and I’m unlikely to pick up many more shares of him.

Tight Ends

Noah Fant (Den, 24%) — I have mostly faded the Broncos WRs because I think Joe Flacco is terrible. He’s also not going to come anywhere close to averaging 42.1 passes per game like he did in Baltimore last season. However, I have gone after Fant quite a bit deep into drafts because of Flacco’s propensity to rely on his TEs. Over the last six seasons, Ravens TEs averaged a healthy 8.3 targets per game or 133.5 targets per season. Rookie TEs generally disappoint, but I think Fant could excel if the Broncos focus on using him primarily in passing situations.

Travis Kelce (KC, 22%) — Unlike Mr. Dolan, I’ve liked my teams drafting Kelce toward the back end of the first round. I typically pair him with one of the top remaining RBs (James Conner, Joe Mixon) or WRs (Julio Jones, Odell Beckham) at the beginning of the second round before going after the likes of Leonard Fournette, Devonta Freeman, Josh Jacobs, Keenan Allen, Stefon Diggs, and/or Julian Edelman in the third and fourth rounds.

Delanie Walker (Ten, 19%) — Walker crushed me last year when he broke his ankle on a terrible playing surface in Miami in the season opener. I must be a glutton for punishment because I’m back on him this summer. I’m back on the bandwagon this summer because he’s severely discounted because of last year’s injury, but there’s no denying how much Marcus Mariota needs and relies on him. Walker finished as a top-8 fantasy option in each of his previous four seasons before 2018.

Other Notable TEs

Jared Cook (NO, 16%) — Cook has been my go-to TE in the seventh round if I miss out on the clear top-six options at the position. I feel like the position really falls off a cliff after Cook and Vance McDonald and I haven’t spent a pick on the likes of Eric Ebron, Austin Hooper, and David Njoku in the next tier. I don’t totally trust Cook, but he has upside to finish as a top-5 fantasy TE for the second straight year.

Darren Waller (Oak, 16%) — Waller has a freakish athletic profile, but the light bulb has yet to flick on for him. The Raiders are set to give Waller his big break and the Raiders receiving corps is certainly unsettled behind Antonio Brown — they have the most vacated targets from last season with 359. Waller will be only 27 years old and there’s a chance it all comes together for him in his first season as a starting TE after learning the position behind the scenes in his first four years.

Trey Burton (Chi, 16%) — Burton averaged just 4.8 targets per game with an average depth of target of 7.7 yards as a first-time starter last season. Those averages aren’t going to cut it in 2019, but I’m betting on HC Matt Nagy using Burton more effectively in his second season.

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Tom Brolley
Tom Brolley

@TomBrolley

Tom Brolley is the better half of The Fantasy Free Agents Podcast with his partner Joe Dolan. Brolley owned a 53.8% winning percentage picking every game against the spread for his old site over the last two seasons.