Top 10 – Undervalued Players
#10 Torry Holt: He has finished in the top 15 for wide receivers for eight consecutive seasons and has only missed two games in his entire NFL career. Last season, which many considered a disappointing season, he had the same number of receptions and yards as the previous year but his touchdowns dropped from ten to seven. He finished 11th for wide receivers in a year where the Rams offense was a disaster because of injuries. Put all that together and you have a wide receiver that cannot finish worse than 11th but who has consistently shown that he can be a top five receiver.
#9 Willis McGahee: He finished last season as the ninth best running back in his first year with Baltimore and in the 14 full games that he played, he averaged 20.6 carries per game. New Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron loves to throw the ball to his running backs as we saw with Tomlinson in San Diego and last season with Ronnie Brown who had 39 receptions in only seven games. The retirement of Ogden may be a concern but his replacement, Jared Gaither, is a very good run blocker which may make the Ravens run the ball even more than last year. McGahee has only missed three games in four seasons and he will at least get as many carries as last season so he can only improve if we consider the improved line and the Cam Cameron factor.
#8 Jerricho Cotchery / Laveranues Coles: They are both being drafted in the 25 to 30 range for wide receivers even though Cotchery finished 20th last year and Coles was as good as him in points per game. The Jets line is much improved this season with the additions of Faneca and Woody as well as Ferguson and Mangold who should improve in their third season. The quarterback play is still inconsistent but it cannot be worse than it was last season. Both of these receivers have been good for two consecutive seasons so they are pretty safe picks and they also have a lot of upside because of the much improved offensive line.
#7 Maurice Jones-Drew: He is once again being drafted much lower than he should be because everyone fears that Fred Taylor will continue to steal carries away from him. He was the 8th best running back in 2006 and the 11th best in 2007 and he is only 23 years old. Those numbers alone should make him a top ten pick but his average draft position is about 13th for running backs. If you now consider that he has reached those numbers with less than 170 carries, that Fred Taylor is 32 years old, that the Jaguars line is better than last season and that it has a lot of depth, it makes him a very good safe pick in the late first or early second round.
#6 David Garrard: His numbers from weeks 11 to 16 when his offensive line was the same as it will be this year would have made him the ninth best quarterback and only ten points behind the fifth best. Of the eight quarterbacks above him, one retired, one lost his best offensive lineman and one had 70 more pass attempts than his average of the past three years. The additions of Porter and Williamson give Garrard more options this season and the depth on the offensive line makes him a pretty safe pick. The concern with Garrard is that he has yet to play 16 games in a season but it is also only the second time that he enters the season as the starter. Nonetheless, he should finish much higher than number 13, his current average draft position.
#5 Owen Daniels: He was the seventh best tight end last season in only his second NFL season and had only three touchdowns. Schaub played eight full games last season and Daniels had 41 receptions for 528 yards and 1 TD in those games which would have made him the fifth best tight end over 16 games. He is currently being drafted as the 11th best tight end which means as long as his numbers decrease by less than 10% he will be a good pick. That is a little ridiculous if you consider that he is 25 years old and his projected numbers over 16 games with Schaub are 25% higher than his actual statistics from last season.
#4 Aaron Rodgers: His average draft position is about 18th at the moment for quarterbacks even though he is on one of the best teams in the NFC. You can find a full article that explains why we believe Aaron Rodgers is much better than that here. If we assume Rodgers will run for about 150 yards and a touchdown which should not be too hard to do for him, his passing numbers only have to be 70% of what Favre’s were last season for him to finish above his average draft position.
#3 Tony Scheffler: He became the starting tight end for Denver in week 5 and still finished the year as the 11th best tight end. Over the past two seasons he has started 17 games at tight end and had 61 receptions for 768 yards and 9 touchdowns; those numbers make him a top six or seven tight end. Furthermore, last season Denver was missing two of its best offensive linemen for most of the season and their starting quarterback was playing with diabetes and did not know it. There are slight concerns about his foot injury but the season is still three months away and it should not be a concern when you are drafting a potential top five tight end in the tenth round.
#2 Marques Colston: Only ten wide receivers finished in the top 20 in each of the past two seasons and Colston only played 14 games in 2006. He is by far the best wide receiver on an offense that was first in passing yards in 2006 and third in 2007. If we look at the receivers who finished above Colston last season, Moss and Wayne should still be above; Owens is 35 years old and could slow down; Edwards could very well be a one-year wonder considering similar receivers dropped by an average of 16%; Fitzgerald has been inconsistent; Houshmandzadeh and Johnson were only slightly better and there are quite a few question marks in Cincinnati this year. On average only three or four wide receivers will remain in the top ten the following year and Colston is one of the few safe options in the top 10 from last year, yet he is only being drafted in the early third round.
#1 Clinton Portis: In six seasons in the NFL, Portis has never had less than 250 points per 16 games in a point per reception league. He will be only 27 years old when the season begins, he was the third best running back last season, he has missed only 12 games in six seasons in the NFL and yet he is only being drafted as the eighth or ninth best running back. Moreover, last season the Redskins were missing its two best run blockers on the offensive line for most of the season. New head coach Jim Zorn will probably use an offense similar to Seattle’s where he was quarterback coach for the past few seasons and Alexander managed to put up very solid numbers from 2001 to 2006 in that offense. Portis is a much safer option with your first round pick than someone like Marion Barber who has not proven much or Gore, Jackson and Johnson who have poor offensive lines. Portis is not a spectacular pick but remember that since 2004, only 7 of the 28 running backs that were drafted between picks 6 and 12 finished the season in the top 12. This means that if you make a pick in the middle to late first round, it has a 25% chance of living up to those expectations; Portis has shown much more consistency than any other running back taken in the middle to late first round.