Best Ball Bargains: Jared Goff and Others Tripe For The Picking
The late chef and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain was once asked if it was acceptable to turn down offal –– animal organs and entrails –– at a dinner party.
“Is it OK for me to say I would rather poke my eyes out with a pen than have a mouthful of your tripe à la mode?” Bourdain’s fan inquired.
Bourdain was aghast.
“You have disrespected your host, OK?” he replied. “That tripe à la mode could be a beloved family dish. You just basically spat in the milk of their mother. You rejected any possibility of trying something new. You revealed yourself to be an inward-looking buffoon and no one I would want to be friends with.”
Bourdain was harsh, but he was right: One man’s tripe is another man’s treasure.
And so it is in fantasy football. We all crave the Kobe beef of the player pool, but it’s rare and expensive. The beef tongue is cheaper and more readily available in fantasy drafts, but not everyone has a taste for it.
Some of the offal that can be consumed in the double-digit rounds of best-ball drafts has most fantasy owners recoiling in horror, but some drafters realize that with the right seasoning and preparation, these off-cuts can be quite delicious. Let’s look at a few of the players being waved away as if they were organ meats.
Jared Goff, QB, Rams (Best-ball ADP: QB16, 167.9 overall)
Goffal, anyone? With an ADP that puts him in the high-QB2 range, Goff isn’t considered that unsavory, but he’s generating little enthusiasm despite finishing QB13 in fantasy scoring last year and QB7 in 2018. There were some bumps in 2019. Goff’s YPA dropped from 8.4 in 2018 to 7.4, and he went from 32 TD passes to 22. He averaged 3.3 yards per attempt in a 20-7 loss to the 49ers in Week 6, and he went three straight games without a TD pass in November. But Goff quietly caught fire down the stretch, averaging 328.6 passing yards in five December games. Even if Rams head coach Sean McVay isn’t being praised as the boy wonder anymore, he’s still a skilled play-caller and offensive chorographer. And Goff has a strong collection of pass catchers, with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp at wide receiver, and Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett at tight end.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers (Best-ball ADP: QB17, 168.6 overall)
Late-season camera shots of the injured Roethlisberger standing on the Steelers’ sideline suggested that he’d been doing his rehab work at Primanti Brothers. Bigger Ben is set to return from an elbow injury that put him on injured reserve after just two games. He’s 38 now, so the age cliff looms, but a terrific young WR corps should help prop up Roethlisberger’s fantasy value for another year or two. Rookie Diontae Johnson and second-year man James Washington made significant contributions in 2019 despite substandard QB play from Roethlisberger’s backups, and JuJu Smith-Schuster is still a stud. Roethlisberger’s QB3 in 2018 fantasy scoring was largely volume-driven, but his QB10 finish in 2017 is certainly repeatable and would return a tidy profit on a modest investment.
Darrynton Evans, RB, Colts (Best-ball ADP: RB60, 206.3 overall)
The rookie replaces Dion Lewis as the backup to Derrick Henry. A 5-10, 203-pound sparkplug with 4.4 speed, Evans will get passing-down work and occasionally give Henry a breather. Evans’ value would soar if anything happened to Henry, especially with the rest of the Titans’ RB cupboard so bare. Evans had 255 carries for 1,480 yards and 18 TDs in his final season at Appalachian State along with five TD catches, and his home-run speed could play particularly well in best-ball formats. If the Titans had invested a third-round pick on a running back from, say, Auburn instead of one from Appy State, his overall ADP would probably be 50 spots higher.
Damien Harris, RB, Patriots (Best-ball ADP: RB67, 225.0 overall)
The Patriots effectively redshirted Harris in his rookie season, sticking with a rotation of Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead. Michel is 25 going on 36. His oft-injured knees are a concern, he’s coming off a lackluster second season, and he’s a nonfactor in the passing game. White is a fine pass catcher but hasn’t logged more than 94 carries in any of his six NFL seasons. Burkhead turns 30 in July and is a potential cap casualty. Harris started ahead of Raiders first-round pick Josh Jacobs and highly regarded 2021 draft prospect Najee Harris at Alabama, and the Patriots invested third-round draft capital in him, which suggests his time is coming. It’s a good time to get in on the ground floor.
Breshad Perriman, WR, free agent (Best-ball ADP: WR57, 171.4 overall)
Perriman had a better December than Santa Claus last year, with 25 catches for 506 yards and four touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ last five games. Injuries to Chris Godwin and Mike Evans funneled some extra targets Perriman’s way, but the late-season outburst wasn’t entirely injury-enabled — Godwin played in three of the last five games, and Evans played in two. Among receivers with 35 or more catches, Perriman ranked first in average depth of target (18.78), fifth in yards per catch (17.92) and 14th in yards per target (9.92). Perriman’s landing spot in free agency is being viewed negatively – his overall ADP was higher when he was still unsigned – but Sam Darnold is a talented young passer who could come on quickly, and it’s not a stretch to think that Perriman is a better, more dangerous pass catcher than Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims or Chris Herndon.
Steven Sims Jr., WR, Redskins (Best-ball ADP: WR84, 233.5 overall)
Terry McLaurin was a rookie revelation for Washington in 2019, so there’s relatively little attention being paid to Sims, an undrafted free agent from Kansas who came on late in his first NFL season. Sims’ overall rookie stat line was modest (34-310-4), but over his final four games he had 20-230-4 on 36 targets. Sims’ quickness belies his 4.6 timed speed. He’s the favorite to be Washington’s slot receiver, and there’s little target competition on the roster other than McLaurin. New head coach Ron Rivera has talked up Sims this offseason, comparing him to the Panthers’ D.J. Moore.
Jalen Hurd, WR, 49ers (Best-ball ADP: WR95, 239.4 overall)
Hurd is a 6-4, 230-pound brute who was drafted early in the third round in 2019. He had two TD catches in his preseason debut but missed the entire regular season with a stress fracture in his back. Hurd began his college career as a running back at Tennessee, leading the Vols in rushing as a true freshman and then running for 1,285 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore. He decided he wanted to switch to receiver and transferred to Baylor, where he had 69 catches for 946 yards and four touchdowns in his final college season (along with 48 carries and three TD runs.) It’s exciting to imagine what Kyle Shanahan might have planned for a guy whose size and positional versatility makes him such an intriguing weapon. With the 49ers taking Brandon Aiyuk in the first round of this year’s draft, Hurd has become a forgotten man, but it wouldn’t be shocking if Hurd proved to be a more valuable fantasy asset than Aiyuk this year.
Gerald Everett, TE, Rams (Best-ball ADP: TE28, 222.5 overall)
Everett seemed to be on his way to a third-year breakout, catching 23 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns over a five-game midseason stretch before hyperextending his knee in a blowout loss to the Ravens. With Everett hurt, fellow tight end Tyler Higbee was thrust into a greater role and went berserk, putting up 43-522-2 over the last five games. Higbee’s late-season performance was too eye-popping to have been a fluke. But what about Everett? He was the Rams’ first draftee of the Sean McVay era, taken in the second round in 2017. Everett is an 86th percentile SPARQ-x athlete and has made steady progress in the Rams’ offense. Can McVay find a way to effectively deploy both tight ends? Well, yes, by using more 12 personnel sets, with two TEs on the field – and that’s probably going to be the Rams’ base offense in 2020. There’s room for two talented TEs to produce in this offense.
(ADP information is based on Fanball 10 best-ball drafts that have taken place since May 1.)