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A fantasy draft is all about obtaining the most value with each selection. Value is available throughout a draft; grabbing it is one of the most important keys to a successful fantasy team. In an attempt to point out this value, we asked our staff to look through the Top 150 and identify players that should outperform their draft position.
Here are the players who received the most votes:
And here are all of the players mentioned and the reasons why.
Players Receiving 5 Votes
Ezekiel Elliot, Dallas
Matt Waldman: The tendency to overrate Tony Pollard for his athletic ability and highlight-reel moments against defenses focused elsewhere sets the stage for us to underrated Elliott's ability to earn hard yards against defenses playing to stop him. Pollard is a good back who could deliver top production with high volume, but the idea he's better than Elliott is rooted in the misguided notion mentioned above. Elliott is still in his prime years, physically. He may not have a top-three upside, but he still has a top-15 overall floor. Safe and productive and closer to top-five value than most think.
Jason Wood: Some would have you believe Elliott fell off the cliff last year, but he finished as the No. 6-ranked fantasy tailback. While his per-touch efficiency is on a four-year decline, he was coming from such a high level that it doesn't matter, particularly at his discounted ADP. Those expecting Tony Pollard to grab a larger share are basing that more on hope than evidence. Elliott is being paid to be the franchise cornerstone, and more importantly, Jerry Jones still wants Elliott to be the offensive engine. Until Jerry gives up on Elliott, he will continue amassing carries and every red zone opportunity the Cowboys can muster.
Chad Parsons: Elliott has been a top-15 fantasy running back every season, including in 2021 when playing through an injury for a chunk of the season. Leading the ground game for one of the better offenses in the NFL, Elliott has an all-time profile for production through his early years, and his draft cost has waned into the double-digits of the position. Elliott is one of the easy value plays of the position.
Gary Davenport: There's no denying that Elliott's per-carry effectiveness has waned as his career has progressed—he averaged under 60 rushing yards per game last year for the first time in his career. But that playing with a partially torn PCL much of the year, and even then, Elliott topped 1,000 rushing yards, scored 10 rushing touchdowns and finished the season as a top-10 running back. Fantasy managers may clamor for Tony Pollard to get a bigger piece of the backfield workload, but to date, the Cowboys have given no sign that Elliott won't be the clear-cut top back. Provided he can stay healthy, Elliott is a bargain in the middle of Round 3.
Andy Hicks: Ezekiel Elliott finished as the 6th-ranked fantasy back in 2021. This was considered disappointing. One of the few big-name backs to play all 17 games, Elliott played through niggling injuries and had five games with ten or fewer carries. Tony Pollard is likely to play more receiver routes. Expect the full workload for Elliott to resume with the PCL issue dealt with. Improvement on the offensive line is expected, and a fully fit Elliott could, for once in his career, be viewed as undervalued. He is being drafted at his floor. An easy choice.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta
Matt Waldman: I'm not expecting Tyler Allgeier to be as much of a factor as Atlanta hopes. Damien Williams essentially fits the Mike Davis role for a weak run-blocking offensive line when it runs zone concepts. It leaves Patterson the opportunity to repeat what he did for Atlanta this year. He's a good gap runner, and that fits what the Falcons' unit does best. If I were the opposing defensive coordinator, I'd let Marcus Mariota check the ball to Patterson all day. Considering the receiving corps, look for opponents to focus on Kyle Pitts, and get pressure on Mariota behind a weak offensive line unit. This will lead to game scripts where Patterson leads the dink-and-dunk parade as a receiver.
Jason Wood: Patterson was an improbable fantasy star in his first season with the Falcons. The gadget player had finished 70th or worse in seven of eight seasons before last year's star turn in Arthur Smith's offense. Patterson morphed into a two-way lynchpin and finished as the 12th-ranked fantasy running back. While many wondered if he would be a one-year wonder, the Falcons jettisoned Mike Davis this offseason and only added rookie Tyler Allgeier out of BYU in the fifth round. While Allgeier has good size (5-foot-11, 220 pounds), he's a plodder without the pedigree or draft capital to credibly threaten an established veteran who was one of only two bright spots on the field last year.
Jeff Haseley: People will tend to overlook Patterson due to his age (31), but he has only 320 career carries, averaging 5.1 yards per tote. That's fewer than almost any other fantasy back in the league. To make things more appealing, he was drafted as a first-round wide receiver talent. He has the tools to be the ultimate weapon, and Atlanta has figured out how to utilize him best. Don't be afraid of Tyler Allgeier or Damien Williams. Patterson is the guy they want and the one they will utilize. He was a fantasy weapon last year, and this year will be no different.
Anthony Amico: The arrival of Tyler Allgeier may cost Patterson some short-yardage work, but it also probably puts him in an ideal hybrid role for this team. The Falcons lack depth at pass-catcher behind Kyle Pitts and Drake London, meaning Patterson could finish third on this team in targets and be heavily in the rushing mix. He has a real starting-running-back upside if this happens.
Will Grant: Patterson represents a hybrid role where he will probably have 200+ touches this season, but most of them will be from the running back position instead of the wide receiver position. That gives Patterson a huge upside in PPR leagues as most running backs won't finish the season with more than 50 catches. While his age (31) probably limits the number of touches he'll get this season, the fact that there isn't much of a competition for the ball beyond Kyle Pitts means Patterson should have a decent floor as well. He's a great flex option for your fantasy team - especially in PPR leagues.
Player Receiving 3 Votes
Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay
Chad Parsons: Ronald Jones II is gone and frankly was nothing more than a speed bump to Fournette enjoying the lead role attached to Tom Brady. The competition is a pair of third-round young backs in Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Rachaad White. Vaughn has shown little through two seasons, and White is an incoming rookie. Expect elite upside weekly from Fournette as the Buccaneers have the second-highest High Leverage Opportunity Score (combining goal-line carries and targets for running backs) over the past three seasons. Fournette is the perfect combination of talent, level of offense, and expected opportunity to be a strong RB1 for fantasy.
Ryan Hester: Fournette's role last season was that of an elite RB1. If he has 80% of that role again this year, he's still a bargain. He has an efficient offense that will score points in bunches, a quarterback who turns good defensive coverage into gains of 10+ yards via check-downs, and Fournette will be the drive finisher. He showed up to camp overweight but had slimmed back down when preseason camp started. And his primary competition is a rookie. On a team with the most veteran of veteran quarterbacks with Super Bowl aspirations, it's unlikely that Fournette loses much of his role. Don't overthink this one.
Victoria Geary: Fournette finished fifth in PPR scoring formats and third overall in points per game, even after missing the last few weeks of the fantasy season. Fournette is locked into a three-down role and has the trust of Tom Brady in pass protection. He could see even more looks in the passing game early in the season due to Chris Godwin's injury recovery timeline. Don't let the overweight camp story fool you: Fournette still has an elite RB1 upside every week on your roster.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
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