News & Analysis

Leveraging PFF's fantasy football projections to find undervalued players

When the dust of the fantasy offseason begins to settle, the consensus ADP begins to take form. Trends ebb and flow during summer, but for the most part average draft position stays pretty rigid for most players. Staying rigid yourself is not the best way to approach drafts as new information presents itself. Luckily, we have the PFF Fantasy Football Projections to leverage. 

The PFF projections model — managed by PFF data scientists Eric Eager and Kevin Cole — is designed to use PFF grades, game situation and other stats to predict each game of the season. The totaled stats are then divvied up to skill position players based on another model that predicts their share in the offense.

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We can use this model in conjunction with PFF Consensus Rankings to find undervalued or overvalued players based on the discrepancy between their projected fantasy points and their draft positions.

Undervalued

QB: Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

FFPC ADP Projected Fantasy Points PFF Consensus Rank
98.1 289.4 97

There's no question that Brady has moved into a better situation when it comes to available weapons. He will be leaving the Patriots’ 22nd-ranked receiving corps in 2019 (70.4 PFF receiving grade) and heading to a Buccaneers’ group that was tied for first with an 84.5 receiving grade.

In our projections, Brady comes in as the third-highest-scoring quarterback in 2020. This beats his ADP of QB10 and even our PFF consensus ranking of QB8. It’s fair to say that with Brady’s age comes risk. Not to mention, we have evidence to suggest that quarterbacks who switch teams rarely outperform their ADP — that risk is clearly baked into Brady's current ADP. However, if any quarterback can switch teams and still find success, it’s Brady.

RB: Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers

FFPC ADP Projected Fantasy Points PFF Consensus Rank
46.0 230.0 59

This selection might surprise some people, but hear me out: Mostert has effectively taken over the lead rushing role in the vaunted 49ers offense. They were second to only the Ravens last season with 498 rushing attempts and 2,305 rushing yards. In 2019, Mostert ranked 11th in rushing grade among running backs with at least 100 attempts — tied with Joe Mixon.

With the Matt Breida off to the Miami Dolphins, Mostert's only remaining competition is Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon. Coleman had his role completely relegated at the end of last season and into the playoffs — he only had one game with more than six touches after Week 9. Mostert’s path to leading this team again is crystal clear.

PFF's brand new strength of season page shows that the 49ers have the easiest SOS for Weeks 1 through 13. Additionally, they will face a dream opponent in the Arizona Cardinals during fantasy championships in Week 16.

WR: Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions

FFPC ADP Projected Fantasy Points PFF Consensus Rank
120.0 204.9 68

Marvin Jones might not be as appealing as his teammate Kenny Golladay, but that’s OK. Jones is being drafted around the 10th round right now, and that is straight disrespect. Our projections and consensus rankings have him shaping up to be a low-end WR2 with quarterback Matthew Stafford back in the fold.

With a healthy Stafford from Weeks 1-9 last season, the Lions were No. 1 in the league with 56 deep passing attempts. The next-closest team — the Seattle Seahawks — had just 49.

Looking at SOS, the Lions have the fifth-easiest fantasy regular season. Jones is one of the cheapest WR2s and has an underappreciated track record.

TE: Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

FFPC ADP Projected Fantasy Points PFF Consensus Rank
79.3 200.3 91

This ADP was pulled for drafts that began after Gronkowski's trade to Tampa Bay, so I'm of the opinion that he is massively undervalued by the fantasy community. Still just 31 years old, Gronk is two years removed from putting up a respectable 1.71 yards per route run and 14.5 yards per reception in 2018.

Our projections like his chances of returning to form in 2020. He is projected for just a shade over 200 fantasy points, good for TE6. He's being drafted as the TE9. 

Overvalued

QB: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

FFPC ADP Projected Fantasy Points PFF Consensus Rank
57.0 240.5 74

Some people won’t be happy about this one. Murray is being lauded as the quarterback most likely to jump into the upper echelon this year. In FFPC drafts, he is currently going as the third quarterback off the board. All things considered, Murray had a very respectable rookie season, but we need to pump the brakes a little bit.

Murray’s legs will keep his fantasy floor high, but for most of last season that was the only thing keeping his value alive. In 10 of his 16 games, Murray scored less than 18 fantasy points. Additionally, the Cardinals had one of the worst offensive lines last season (though PFF's Steve Palazzolo recently ranked their situation as the 22nd best in the league for 2020). Murray was sacked 47 times last season — third-most in the league — and that number may come down, but it won’t be by much.

RB: Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

FFPC ADP Projected Fantasy Points PFF Consensus Rank
31.9 167.6 51

The reasoning behind this one is simple: It's hard to expect big production out of rookies considering all the Covid-19 issues teams are dealing with. Plus, Taylor isn’t even guaranteed the starting role this year, with Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines both expected to be involved in this rushing attack. Taylor could emerge down the stretch, but a third-round pick is a high price to have to wait for a payoff. 

Our projections view Taylor as the most valuable of the Colts' running back trio but falling far short of his RB18 draft cost. The PFF staff rankings agree — only Kevin Cole has Taylor ranked higher than 53rd overall.

WR: D.J. Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars

FFPC ADP Projected Fantasy Points PFF Consensus Rank
64.3 160.9 44

Chark doesn't quite fit the mold here based on consensus rank versus ADP — our staff is pretty high on him. PFF's projections, however, slot the third-year man at WR38 compared to an ADP of WR22.

This selection really comes down to whether or not you like Gardner Minshew throwing the ball for the Jacksonville Jaguars. I, personally, do not. Minshew's completion percentage when adjusted for depth of target was 69.7%, which places him 33rd among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts. That, combined with an aDOT of just 8.3, makes it hard to fully back Minshew/Chark. 

On the surface, Chark appears to have had quite the impressive sophomore season. He eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards, scored eight times and showed out for a 75.2 receiving grade. However, four out of his five best-graded games were played with Nick Foles at quarterback. In fact, Chark graded above 69.2 just once after Week 5.

TE: Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

FFPC ADP Projected Fantasy Points PFF Consensus Rank
33.7 207.3 57

The Eagles are known to utilize 12 personnel — 49.8% of their offensive plays in 2019 employed one running back and two tight ends — but they've added wide receiver depth in first-round pick Jalen Reagor and former 49er Marquise Goodwin. I wrote last week about how impressive young tight end Dallas Goedert was last year — these are all bad things for an otherwise excellent real-life player in Ertz. 

Ertz is currently being drafted in the third round of FFPC drafts. He was good last season but not nearly as elite as Travis Kelce or George Kittle. PFF’s fantasy projections have him scoring out as the TE6 — which is still pretty good. But the cost opportunity of some of the running backs and wide receivers in this range feels too EV- to move on.

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