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Undervalued Rookies of the 2017 Class

Now that the dust has settled from the NFL Draft, a sufficient amount of data is available in terms of ADP for the 2017 rookie class. As a result, overvalued and undervalued skill position players can be identified. In this two-part series, I will examine the dynasty value of ten rookies that are currently viewed as polarizing prospects. For the second installment below, I discuss rookies that are being undervalued based on their NFL Draft pedigree, ADP and overall 2017 outlook.




JuJu Smith-Schuster

Once viewed as a near consensus top-five pick, JuJu Smith-Schuster now finds his ADP falling as far as the second-round in rookie drafts. Provided he landed in an appealing location with the Pittsburgh Steelers for fantasy purposes, the pessimism on Smith-Schuster’s value is difficult to justify. Based on pure upside, the 20-year-old projects to return short-term dividends and hold longevity as a slot receiver in the NFL.

A primary argument against Smith-Schuster’s worth is the presence of Martavis Bryant in Pittsburgh. Bryant is arguably the better talent, as he owns a career 76-1314-14 receiving line across 21 career games in the NFL. The issue is, he is one setback away from a permanent suspension. If Bryant were to fall suspect to off-field issues for the third instance under the NFL’s new substance abuse policy, he could find himself in company with Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon. Given such an outcome, Smith-Schuster is undervalued at his current asking price. In the event that he is asked to shoulder an expanded role on offense due to the absence of Bryant, the USC product would immediately enter the WR2 conversation in fantasy circles as a member of Pittsburgh’s prolific offense.

 

Curtis Samuel

In a rather surprising turn of events, the Carolina Panthers opted to select Curtis Samuel in the second-round of this year’s draft after allocating the eighth pick overall to Christian McCaffrey. Due to his versatility, Samuel is expected to serve a hybrid role in tandem with McCaffrey as a slot receiver and option out of the backfield.

Among the youngest players in the entire 2017 class, Samuel is still only 20 years old. His age and pedigree from Ohio State alone warrant considerably more praise than his present ADP in the second-round of rookie drafts. Keep in mind, Samuel posted a 4.31 forty time at the NFL Scouting Combine. Carolina evidently has a plan in place to manufacture touches for the dynamic weapon because of his draft capital, which figures to bode well for Samuel’s dynasty outlook.

 

Carlos Henderson

Arguably the most versatile wide receiver in the 2017 class due to his prowess on offense and special teams, Carlos Henderson is the ultimate utility piece for an NFL franchise. The Denver Broncos realized the Louisiana Tech product’s immense ceiling by selecting him in the third-round of this year’s draft. Dynasty owners should take note, as the rookie has a clear path to regular snaps with Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer as his main sources of competition.

It is also important to note that Demaryius Thomas is set to turn 30 years old this upcoming season, while Emmanuel Sanders has already reached that age plateau. Both wide receivers should remain serviceable assets in fantasy for years to come, but Henderson very well could be the heir apparent to one of them long-term. Remember, the 22-year-old rookie led the nation with 48 forced missed tackles last season in college. Simply put, Henderson’s dynamic playmaking ability and positive rookie outlook make him a potential steal at his current ADP of the late second-round in rookie drafts.

 

Jake Butt

As a result of a torn ACL suffered in Michigan’s bowl game last season, Jake Butt witnessed his capital in the NFL Draft plummet to the fifth-round in 2017. The Denver Broncos acquired Butt at a substantial discount, especially since the tight end has been regarded as one of the best in-line prospects to declare for the NFL over the past few rookie classes.

Butt’s current ADP of the fourth-round in dynasty rookie drafts mirrors the concerns of NFL teams in the sense of taking a conservative approach with the 21-year-old. The issue is, Butt could be undervalued with such a valuation assuming he remains on track to be medically cleared by August or September for football activities. Outside of blocking options in Virgil Green and A.J. Derby, Denver lacks admirable depth at the tight end position. This makes Butt someone to consider in the third-round of rookie drafts, as he could earn an immediate allotment of snaps when cleared for game action in his first NFL campaign.




Aaron Jones

Before declaring Jamaal Williams as the successor to Ty Montgomery in Green Bay’s backfield, understand that fifth-round pick Aaron Jones is perhaps the most talented insider runner on the team’s entire roster. In fact, Jones set UTEP’s all-time rushing record (4,114 yards) across less than three full collegiate seasons. The running back even posted a top-two SPARQ score at his position in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Even though Ty Montgomery is the most valuable option to own in Green Bay entering 2017, Jones is a candidate to complement him in areas like the passing game that Jamaal Williams is less adept at. This makes Jones a far more appealing asset to select near the fourth-round of rookie drafts, as an investment in Williams will require a second-round price tag.

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About Cory Evans

24 years old. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Fantasy football consumes my life, especially where dynasty is concerned. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@CoryEvansNFL)