In determining a player’s fantasy football value once the season is over, there are essentially two factors at play: how high they were drafted andwhat they ultimately produced on the field. The best possible value would be if a player that wasn’t drafted in any ESPN leagues went on to lead the league in fantasy scoring. The worst possible value would be a unanimous number one pick that didn’t score any points at all. Below is a breakdown of the best and worst value fantasy football players from the 2015–16 NFL season. There are obviously other players who performed better than some of these guys but, given how and when they were acquired, these are my votes for best value.
👎Andrew Luck — Coming into the season, Andrew Luck was the starting quarterback for a Super Bowl contender. Three weeks into the season, the Colts were 1–2 and Andrew Luck had already thrown seven interceptions to his five touchdowns. His season ended after Week 9 when he lacerated his kidney and tore an abdominal muscle against the Broncos. Luck’s average draft position was 17.0, second among quarterbacks. However, he only scored 126 fantasy points which is 28th among QBs. All things considered, if you drafted Andrew Luck, you were disappointed.
👍Blake Bortles — With 25 quarterbacks having an average draft position higher, it’s more likely than not that Blake Bortles wasn’t even drafted in your fantasy league. However, before all was said and done, Bortles finished the season with the fourth most fantasy points amongst signal-callers. Between he and the two Allens (Robinson and Hurns), the Jaguars offense showed promising sparks throughout the year including a 50 point game against the Colts. Bortles threw for three or more touchdowns five times and surpassed 300 yards six times and while he did throw 18 interceptions, he also threw 35 touchdowns.
👎Randall Cobb — Who knew the Jordy Nelson injury would mean so much to the Packers offense. It turns out, the reason Randall Cobb was able to be so effective was because Jordy was outside stretching the defense. Without Nelson in the lineup this year, Cobb wasn’t able to be nearly as productive which is why he is the worst value pick at wide receiver this year. On average, he was the 8th wide out taken, just behind AJ Green. What people didn’t notice, or give enough credit to anyway, was how critical, and more importantly irreplaceable, Jordy Nelson was. Cobb finished 30th in fantasy points amongst receivers in 2015 as opposed to seventh in 2014. We can now say that a lot of that was because his boy Jordy was out there.
👍Allen Hurns — Don’t lie! You didn’t draft Allen Hurns. On average, he was the 64th WR taken meaning that even in a 12 team league, if every team picked 5 WRs, he still would not be chosen. Well, owners that did see some upside in Hurns were greatly rewarded because he went on to accumulate 155 fantasy points this season, ahead of names like Sammy Watkins, Emmanuel Sanders and TY Hilton. Hurns finished the year with 64 catches, 1,031 yards and 10 TDs. Not bad for a free agent pick up.
👎Jimmy Graham — It’s hard to give this to anyone other than Jimmy Graham. Coming from a Saints team that lit up the scoreboard, the Saints brought in Jimmy Graham hoping to add another dangerous dimension to their offense. However, quarterback Russell Wilson struggled to involve Graham in the game plan early and identify his role. Ironically, the Seahawks offense significantly improved as soon as Graham got injured. He finished the season with 48 catches, fror 605 yards and 2 TDs totaling 69 fantasy points, 17th best among tight ends. From 2nd at the beginning of the year to 17th at the end, Jimmy Graham earns my vote for worst value tight end.
👍Gary Barnidge , CLE— My hunch is that 99% of football fans had never heard of Gary Barnidge before this year. Right around his third straight double-digit fantasy scoring day is when he solidified himself on the TE radar. Possibly the highest scoring free agent pickup this year, Barnidge finished the season third amongst tight ends in fantasy points with 149. Barnidge finished with 79 catches, 1,043 yards and 9 TDs. From undrafted to third leading scorer at his position earns Gary Barnidge my most value tight end vote.
👎Le’Veon Bell — While Le’Veon Bell, when healthy, is arguably the best running back in the league, he’s had trouble staying off training tables as of late though resulting in him seeing the field in only six games this year. Well, actually, he missed the first two games of the year because of a suspension stemming from a marijuana charge but fantasy owners still took the chance on him as a first round pick. In fact, Le’Veon Bell was the highest drafted player in ESPN leagues with an average draft position of 3.0. After returning for five games, and averaging 15.6 fantasy points in those games, Bell suffered a season-ending ankle injury Week 8 against the Bengals. He finished the season with 83 fantasy points, 43rd amongst running backs. Getting just 83 points from the most popular player in fantasy earns him the worst running back value.
👍👍👍Devonta Freeman — In the average ESPN fantasy league, 39 running backs were taken before Devonta Freeman. Being that he finished the season leading all running backs in fantasy points with 230, he’s an easy choice for best running back, and overall, value. His versatility in both the run game and pass game made it easy for quarterback Matt Ryan to get him the ball and is also evident by the fact that 74% of his receiving yards came after the catch — a fantasy football owners dream. Consequently, Devonta Freeman is my vote for best value running back and overall fantasy pick.