Every year, players either surpass, meet or fall short of expectations, both on the football field and in the fantasy realm. For fantasy purposes, drafting the players who meet or exceed expectations is absolutely crucial. Once you hit the late-middle rounds, your eyes might start to glaze over. So many names have gone, and yet there are so many to go. But this is where you solidify your team. Whether it’s picking up a quarterback, defense/special teams or kicker or adding depth, these rounds matter. Plus, you might just find a player who ends up cracking your starting lineup rotation In order to make sure you make these rounds a success, we’ll be rolling out one overrated player, one underrated player and one safe bet for every ten picks, based on our player rankings. This is part six of seven in the series as we now tackle players ranked in the 101-120 range.
Note: Rankings as of 8-7
Most overrated: Rob Kelley (No. 105 overall, No. 39 running back) AND Samaje Perine (No. 108 overall, No. 40 running back)
It’s really hard to put someone in the 100s as overrated. It almost makes no sense. But because Kelley and Perine very likely come as a package, they are both overrated. The Redskins don’t run the ball often — 27th in the league last year per Team Rankings — which significantly lowers the ceiling of either player. Then, add in the fact that the Redskins will likely split carries between the two somewhat. Kelley is the starter for now as Perine must learn to protect the passer and the ball. But once Perine cleans things up, he will very much be a big equation of the backfield. Add in the fact that Chris Thompson (one of the best receiving backs in football) dominates third-down snaps, and there simply isn’t enough opportunity here for either Kelley or Perine.
Underrated: Theo Riddick (No. 107 overall, No. 40 running back)
In the mid-late rounds of your draft, your strategy shifts — or should shift — to taking chances. Instead of looking for consistent starters, you might look for a guy who could be a key contributor if things fall into place. Riddick fits that to a T. He finished third in the league last year in targets per game. In PPR leagues, he was the eighth-best running back in terms of points per game, per Player Profiler. Two years ago, he was 24th in that category despite playing just half of the team’s snaps. He’s an exceptional pass-catcher who is an Ameer Abdullah injury away from being the starter in Detroit, too. And given Abdullah’s injury history, Riddick is well worth the pick here.
Safest bet: Jack Doyle (No. 103 overall, No. 12 tight end)
Doyle was only on the field for about three-quarters of the Colts’ offensive snaps last year, 22nd among tight ends, per Player Profiler. Still, he finished 13th in points for the position. There’s a lot to like about Doyle. He was outstanding in the red zone, catching 10 of his 13 targets in that area and scoring on half of those receptions. With Dwayne Allen in New England, Doyle will be the top tight end in a pass-happy, Andrew Luck-led offense. That bodes very well for his production. He should live up to this ranking at the very least.
Overrated: Jacquizz Rodgers (No. 118 overall, No. 43 running back)
Even in his best season as a pro, Rodgers finished just 50th in total points and 40th in points per game among running backs, per Fantasy Data. The reason he is even being considered at this point in the draft is that Doug Martin is suspended for the first three games of the season. But even then, Rodgers isn’t guaranteed the starting spot for those three games, with pass-catching threat Charles Sims and rookie Jeremy McNichols in the mix, among others. Rodgers doesn’t specialize in any one area. He scored just twice on 142 touches last year, and he finished 45th in yards per touch among running backs who qualified, per Player Profiler. He’s not an option here unless you took Martin earlier, and even then, he doesn’t necessarily warrant a pick.
Underrated: Adam Thielen (No. 114 overall, No. 45 wide receiver)
Thielen was quietly one of the best receivers in the league when it came to making the most out of opportunities last season. With his fellow Vikings wide receivers either underperforming or hobbled, Thielen became a dependable target. His catch rate of 75 percent was fourth in the league last season, and his 2.13 fantasy points per target was second. Thielen is a highly volatile player. For example, he had 12 catches for 202 yards and two scores in Week 16 only to post one catch for seven yards in Week 17. But as explained with Riddick above, that’s far from the worst thing in these rounds and has a lot of upside. Thielen also generally became a bit more consistent over the second half of the season, when Sam Bradford began to adjust to his new home. He finished in the top 35 in six of the final eight weeks in PPR formats, per Player Profiler.
Safest bet: Tyrod Taylor (No. 112 overall, No. 16 quarterback)
In Taylor’s four seasons in Baltimore, he had nearly as many rushes and receptions combined (29) as pass attempts (35). Then in his first season in Buffalo, he was the eighth-best quarterback in Yahoo fantasy formats in points per game. He moved up to seventh last year, per Fantasy Data. This year, he’ll play in a more pass-friendly system, with new acquisitions Jordan Matthews, Anquan Boldin and Zay Jones. Granted, he will be without his most dynamic weapon in Sammy Watkins, but the receiver struggled to stay healthy during his time in Buffalo before being traded. Taylor finished as a top-16 fantasy quarterback in 12 of the 15 games last year, too, making him a solid play most weeks. He’s a perfect backup and not a bad option as a starter if you decide to wait until the later rounds for your starting QB.