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Erickson: Top fantasy football values in Best Ball rankings vs. ADP

Jan 3, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) smiles after scoring a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The name of the game in fantasy football is value. If you aren’t exposing value by taking advantage of market holes based on best ball ADP, then you’re leaving major EV on the table.

We build the foundation of a championship-winning roster by aggressively attacking the mispriced players, not by reaching on overvalued players and teams.

Leveraging my tiered best ball rankings is a great way to start identifying value candidates, but I’ve taken it a step further by pinpointing a select few players who are screaming “buys” at their current price tags.

These guys all rank higher in my best ball rankings than their current ADP, which is why I find myself coming away with one or several of them in my fantasy drafts. And until the consensus decides to price-correct on these players, I’ll continue to pound away at them all summer long, injecting my teams with +EV. If you like winning, I’d suggest you do the same. After all, you can’t go broke making a profit.

Editor's Note: Dive into PFF's 2021 Best Ball Draftkit for everything you need to win it all at the end of the year!

WR BRANDIN COOKS, HOUSTON TEXANS

We know the Houston Texans’ offense will probably be terrible next year without QB Deshaun Watson, but we can’t pass up on a player the PFF fantasy projections have pegged as the WR28 at a WR42 ADP price tag.

Cooks has finished worse than the WR16 only once since 2015, and that was down to injury.

Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks (13) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Needless to say, the volume is going to be there for the taking with Cooks entrenched as the team’s undisputed No. 1 wide receiver, a role that we got a glimpse of in him last season after Will Fuller V got popped with a suspension. Cooks averaged 22.5 fantasy points per game, 19.4 expected fantasy points per game and a 28% target share when he was given that opportunity.

We saw the likes of Allen Robinson II (WR8), Robert Woods (WR13), Terry McLaurin (WR18), Robby Anderson (WR24) and Cooper Kupp (WR25) all post top-25 seasonal performances amid poor quarterback play in 2020, making Cooks a sure-fire bet to outproduce his ADP.

WR ANTONIO BROWN, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Business is booming. The Buccaneers officially signed WR Antonio Brown to a one-year deal, according to The Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud. A.B. is back in our fantasy football lineups, folks.

The polarizing wideout was shockingly efficient despite joining the Bucs squad in Week 9, leading the team in target rate (25%, 14th overall), PFF receiving grade (82.6) and fantasy points per snap (0.36).

Mike Evans was the leader in fantasy points per game (15.2) when the trio of Evans, Chris Godwin and Brown played together from Week 9 onward, but it wasn’t by much — Godwin (14.3) and Brown (13.4) were hot on his tail.

A.B.'s fantasy output in 11 games awarded him WR31 status on points per game basis — a far cry from his current ADP of WR47. His off-field antics aside, that’s way too late.

The Bucs’ target distribution was virtually flat across the board, which builds the case for Brown as potentially the sneakiest value of the group in fantasy drafts. Godwin and Evans are being drafted close to each other in the fourth round of current best ball drafts, with Brown going outside the top 100.

He has the lowest floor of the team’s top-three wideouts, but that matters much less when considering his discounted price tag.

Just keep in mind that Brown just posted the lowest aDOT (9.5) since his rookie season, so his path to success will have to be based more on volume and per-snap efficiency than huge downfield plays in the Bucs offense.

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