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Fantasy Football 2017: Steals and deals in the draft

August 7, 2017 Updated: August 7, 2017 at 12:37 pm
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photo -  Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree could be a fantasy steal for your team.
Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree could be a fantasy steal for your team. 

Fantasy football is finally back and while most owners know to select Antonio Brown, David Johnson and Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round of the draft, some owners struggle with who to take in later rounds. What about Round 4? Rounds 7,8 and 9? What about the double-digit rounds?

Here's s a list of players who provide good value and may be available in the middle and later rounds of a fantasy draft:

Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders

On most sites, Crabtree is being taken in the mid-fourth round depending on the league. He is being drafted between 46-48th. A fourth-round pick for a guy who ranked just outside the top 10 highest scoring receivers last season in standard scoring leagues last year is a good deal. The Raiders are locked into Derek Carr as their franchise quarterback and Carr’s improved each year in the three seasons he’s played in the league. Year 4 should be no different and Crabtree led the team in receptions and touchdowns last season. He was fourth in targets inside the 20 yard line among receivers in 2016.

Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts

Moncrief being drafted around the 8th round overall is criminal. Assuming Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck is healthy to begin the season that is. If he is, fantasy owners should be aware that Moncrief who totaled 10 targets inside the 20 last season, according to Pro Football Reference, is going in the late seventh and early eighth rounds. Moncrief’s 10 red zone targets are just four shy of the red zone targets top wideout T.Y. Hilton saw last season and Moncrief missed seven games. He was more efficient with his targets as well going 8 for 10 inside the 20-yard line and 6 for 6 inside the 10-yard line. He did suffer an AC joint sprain in practice Thursday, though the Colts are saying it is mild.

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Whenever a potential starting running back is being drafted in double-digit rounds, fantasy owners should take notice. With Buccaneers running back Doug Martin finishing the final three games of a four-game suspension he received for testing positive for a performance enhancing drugs last season, Rodgers has an opportunity to be an asset to fantasy rosters through Week 3 and perhaps longer.  ESPN’s Jenna Laine reported that Rodgers could win the job outright if he performs well. Rodgers is currently being drafted in the 136-143 range and he provides great value at that price.    

Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Cook is currently being drafted in the fifth round in most leagues. While a fifth-round pick may seem like a hefty price to pay for a rookie, Cook is shaping up to be the starter. With free agency acquisition Latavius Murray recovering from ankle surgery and veteran Jerick McKinnon limited due to injuries, Cook has received the bulk of the first team work and has impressed thus far. He has been lauded for his explosive playmaking ability both as a runner and even as a receiver, but it’s his pass protection that has really stood out. On his NFL.com draft profile pass protection was listed as weakness but so far it’s become an area in which he has improved. The Vikings should know a good running back when they see one as Minnesota just said goodbye to Adrian Peterson in the offseason.  

Eric Decker, WR, Tennessee Titans

Veteran receiver Eric Decker’s 2016 season ended in disaster. He was done after Week 3 for a pair of surgeries, one for his hip, the other for his shoulder. This year Decker is with the Titans who have needed a breakout wide receiver for a few years now. The Titans haven’t had a wideout break 1,000 yards receiving since Kendall Wright in 2013. Tennessee made targeting receivers a priority this season drafting Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor in the 1st and 3rd rounds respectively. Decker, Davis and Taylor join Rishard Matthews this year.  With Davis nursing a hamstring injury (and even if he wasn’t), Decker may assuming a leading role as a receiver in Tennessee given his experience. In 2012, 2013 and 2015 Decker broke 1,000 yards receiving and double-digit touchdowns. If his recovery goes well, he’ll be the man for the job in Tennessee. He’s currently being drafted in the mid 90s, early 100s range.

Adrian Peterson, RB, New Orleans Saints

Maybe it’s the comfort of brand-name value in Peterson, but he could be a good pick at his current value which is in the mid seventh to early eighth round. The backfield in New Orleans is crowded. Veteran Mark Ingram will be competing with Peterson for early down work and the team also drafted Alvin Kamara out of Tennessee to be a change-of-pace back. Ingram has had trouble with competition in the past, losing out carries most recently to Tim Hightower last season. It’s very plausible that Peterson could lead this team in rushing scores. He’s currently being drafted as an third running back and flex player but he has a lot of upside.

Paul Perkins, RB, New York Giants 

The running game for the New York Giants has been a middling mess the past few years with the team calling on the services of Rashad Jennings, Peyton Hillis and Andre Brown to name a few. The team hasn't had a back rush for 1,000 yards since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012. Interestingly enough, the Giants released Jennings in February and waited until the fourth round of the 2017 draft to select running back Wayne Gallman. That means coach Ben McAdoo and the brass of Big Blue are pleased with what they have in second-year back Paul Perkins. Perkins rushed for 456 yards on 112 carries last season, for a 4.1 yard-per-carry average. He also had 15 catches for another 162 yards. He's the top guy on the depth chart in New York and he's going in around 90th overall in fantasy mock drafts. 

Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins

Quarterback Kirk Cousins is being drafted in the ninth round as the 11th quarterback off the board despite finishing as the fifth-highest scoring quarterback last season. While some fantasy owners may be turned off by the fact that former Washington wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson are with new teams, the Redskins brought in Terrelle Pryor Sr. during the offseason. Pryor was a top 20 receiver last season, finishing higher than Garcon and Jackson. Cousins will also have Jamison Crowder and elite tight end Jordan Reed to throw to. Assuming the latter can stay healthy, Cousins should be a top-tier quarterback again in 2017.

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