Draft This, Not That: Identifying Alternatives To Some Risky Draft Day Targets

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Fantasy owners often face tough decisions on draft day.  Should you reach for a player?  Should you wait and find a similar alternative?  Is the price point really worth the risk?  Let us try to help with some of the tougher decisions you may face:


Greg Olsen – Tight End – Carolina Panthers
Current ADP – 65.0

Thus far in drafts fantasy owners are selecting Olsen as if he’s still a locked in elite tight end.  While there’s a good chance he does produce those types of numbers, is it really something you are willing to gamble on?

Olsen played in seven games last season, and even when he was on the field the results were less than impressive (17 receptions for 191 yards and 1 TD).  He was targeted 9+ times in two of the final three games, but only one of those yielded any results (9 receptions for 116 yards and 1 TD against the Packers).

The Panthers are going to look towards Christian McCaffrey to play a large role in the offense while Devin Funchess and first round selection D.J. Moore are going to get ample opportunities to produce.  Then you have fourth round selection Ian Thomas, who has been drawing rave reviews this preseason and has been labeled as one of the team’s biggest surprises:

Because of an injury to Chris Manhertz, rookie tight end Ian Thomas, this year’s fourth-round pick from Indiana, was thrown right into the fire. He responded by consistently finding open lanes in the secondary and pulling down intermediate-length passes. – Joseph Person of The Charlotte Observer (click here for the full article)

Could Olsen be asked to do more blocking while Thomas is deployed as a receiving option?  It just adds to the risk, and while Olsen may be healthy that doesn’t mean he’s going to be the focus of Cam Newton.

Tight Ends with a similar ADP who we’d prefer:

  • Evan Engram – 65.6
  • Delanie Walker – 76.2


Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders – Wide Receiver
Current ADP – 34.8

We’ve long heard about the hype of Cooper, and while he did post 1,000+ yards in his first two seasons he’s just never seemed to be able to put it all together.  His career high is 83 receptions and in 14 games last season the numbers were unimpressive:

48 receptions (96 targets), 680 yards, 7 TD

The touchdowns were a career best, though it’s tough to bank on him replicating it.  You can argue that with Michael Crabtree now in Baltimore there should be more opportunities, but we wouldn’t underestimate the potential impact of Jordy Nelson (even at 33-years old) and Jared Cook will also have a role.  Throw in Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch and there’s no guarantee that Cooper is the center of the offense.

That’s not to say that Cooper can’t finally live up to the hype, but are you willing to bet on it in the third round?  A round or two later we’d be willing to make the selection, but this just seems slightly too high.

Wide Receivers with a similar ADP who we’d prefer:

  • Demaryius Thomas – 47.0
  • Golden Tate – 54.0

Sources – Fantasy Pros, ESPN, Charlotte Observer

Make sure to check out all of our 2018 preseason rankings:

Date Updated
Running Back09/02/18
Wide Receiver 08/29/18
Tight End08/24/18
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One comment

  1. Michael says:

    Thanks for the insights into fantasy football like the one above. Between your rankings and insights I have won my league the last few years so I will keep coming back for more. Are you posting PPR rankings this year? Thanks again for the great work.

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