Fantasy Files: Buying Generic

The only advice you need for your fantasy drafts and/or auctions is this: get your assets at a discount. You may say that additional advice is necessary, but that would mean a much longer blog post, and none of us want that. When I go grocery shopping, there are only a few items that I buy that I absolutely must get the name brand as opposed to the generic (pretty much beer and ketchup). I save money and can’t tell the difference. Here are five “arbitrage” buys in your upcoming drafts:

The “store brand” Eddie Lacy (FantasyPros ADP: 5): Zac Stacy (FP ADP: 23)

This one’s easy because it rhymes. Then you think Lacy or Stacy, you think big back without that top-end speed who doesn’t catch a ton of passes but should see the end zone a lot. It’s true that the Green Bay offense has Aaron Rodgers and the Rams have Samuel L. Jackson from Unbreakable at QB. The Rams have improved their OL, and the NFC West isn’t the gauntlet of doom anymore with the Cardinals and 49ers dropping off somewhat this year. One little bonus is that the Tre Mason talk means that Stacy’s price may drop from the early third round to the late third, as opposed to having to buy Lacy in the mid to late first.

The “generic” Jimmy Graham (ADP: 9): Rob Gronkowski (ADP: 40)

Like you can’t keep Gronk out of the party, it’s doubtful that this ADP difference will stay so stark when August rolls around. Sure, you can draft Jimmy Graham and only worry about your TE on the Saints’ bye week. You can also take Gronk, late third round/early fourth at this point and maybe a round higher by training camp, and get two other really good players as well. It’s recency bias at its finest. Graham had 16 touchdowns last year yet has averaged 12 a year in his past three. In his last three years, you’re looking at a 90/1170/12 line. Rob Gronkowski has 42 career TDs in 44 career starts. Sure, the injuries are worrisome, but you’re getting the same per-game production at a cheaper cost. And by the way, Graham is not immune from injuries either.

Second-year WR “bargain” Cordarrelle Patterson (ADP: 48): DeAndre Hopkins (ADP: 153)

This one ’tis an unusual comparison because the players aren’t going to be used the same way. If you’re getting return yardage in your league, Patterson’s a slam-dunk pick at the end of the fourth round. Most leagues don’t do that, and while he’s going to get some handoffs, I’m not sure if his three rushing TDs is sustainable. Hopkins has Patterson beat in receptions (52/45), receiving yards (802/469) and because I can do simple math, yards per catch (15.4/10.4). Sure, Hopkins will have the immortal Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to him, but due to Andre Johnson’s pesky holdout, Hopkins is getting tons of reps to earn that critical chemistry. Hopkins is practically free whereas you’re not getting a lot of meat on the bone with the frisky downfield runner Patterson.

Rookie WR tall guy “el cheapo” Mike Evans (ADP: 97): Kelvin Benjamin (ADP: 137)

This rookie class is like the cast of the movie Go: power-packed. You may need to wait a while for the young fruit to ripen. Mike Evans is getting tons of love as this year’s WR1, but there are some roadblocks. The Bucs have three “trees”, including Vincent Jackson and fellow rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Even with Josh McCown’s history of throwing to tall guys from 2013 (ignore his career prior to that, please), it’s hard to imagine three guys being fantasy-worthy, especially with Lovie Smith at the helm. Enter Kelvin Benjamin, drafted by the Panthers, aka the Land that Wide Receivers forgot. Remember the year that Tom Brady almost made the Super Bowl with receivers like Jabbar Gaffney? Cam Newton would kill for a Gaffney. Benjamin has that tall WR thing going for him, so expect Cam to throw to his first authentic “tall guy” WR of his pro career. You might get double-digit TDs out of your WR5.

Rookie QB “Lite Beer” Johnny Manziel (ADP: 150): Teddy Bridgewater (ADP: 186)

Two years ago, I seriously considered a QBBC of Andrew Luck and RGIII. I wussed out. This year you can get a rookie duo at QB for almost nothing. I think Johnny Manziel would be higher in ADP if the QB market in general weren’t so deep. Here’s another thing to think about. If you’re in a “friends and family” type league, Manziel’s going to have major name recognition and could be drafted around QB12. Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t have Manziel’s Instagram chops but he’s more likely to be his team’s starter on day one. He’s the most likely QB in this year’s rookie class to be in that Peyton/Brady/Brees stratosphere later in his career, seemingly effortlessly putting up 30+ TDs a year. He can run a little too. He’s the perfect backup QB to take and won’t make the splash that Manziel will.

That’s five bargain-bin dudes you can get who will put up comparable numbers to your highly touted guys.

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