Not all of the cheaper alternatives in life provide positive value like in fantasy football.
Sometimes, that’s all it is—possibly not worth the value. The goals for these articles on cheaper alternatives involve identifying a player’s underlying skills, similar to players going earlier. Check out Part 1 here as we move on to the wide receiver and tight end positions. If you’re a zero-RB enthusiast like myself, these players could be potential bench or flex options with upside to be every-week starters in your lineups.
Cheaper Alternatives at Wide Receiver No. 1 – Brandon Aiyuk
It’s risky to consider a receiver paired with a quarterback possessing the rushing skills like Trey Lance. The question marks for Lance surround his passing skills, with the brutal 57.7% completion percentage (No. 47), 71.2% on-target percentage (No. 41), and a 97.3 QB rating (No. 17) amongst quarterbacks with 50 pass attempts, per SIS. However, Lance tied for first with Aaron Rodgers with 8.0 AY/A, though it’s a small sample of 71 pass attempts.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Garoppolo posted efficient and mostly better numbers with a 7.4 AY/A (No. 7), 77.4% on-target percentage (No. 14), and 98.7 QB rating (No. 14). However, where Lance versus Garoppolo theoretically helps Brandon Aiyuk is the average throw depth. Lance ranked second with 9.9 and Garoppolo at 7.5 (No. 28). Interestingly, Aiyuk’s 9.5 aDOT (No. 63) and 9.2 YPT compare similarly to Deebo Samuel’s 8.1 aDOT (No. 78) and 11.6 YPT.
Unfortunately, Aiyuk’s ADP around pick 75 on Underdog at WR37 doesn’t provide a massive discount. Aiyuk also goes near a juicy group of receivers in Allen Lazard, DeVonta Smith, Kadarius Toney, and Christian Kirk. Another concern for Aiyuk is whether Samuel garners the third-highest target share at 32% from Week 1 to 9 or has a regression in rushing touchdowns, impacting his fantasy value. From Week 10 to 18, Samuel averaged 0.9 TD/G, ranking sixth amongst rushing players (RB/WR) with the lowest amount of attempts (6.6/G) and rushing yards (42.9/G).
Aiyuk’s YAC Ability
Let’s examine the advanced stats via SIS since it’s nearly unfair to compare Samuel to Aiyuk. Deebo Samuel smashed in every metric, with the second-best yards per route run at 3.1 behind Cooper Kupp versus Aiyuk’s 1.8 (No. 32).
Aiyuk also boasted the YAC ability with 6.2 YAC per reception (No. 8) versus Samuel at 10.0 YAC per reception (No. 1). The table above sorts by a 17-game sample in 2021, but the 18-game sample remains similar. Broken tackle plus missed tackle rate remained the only metric where Aiyuk bested Samuel, evidenced by Aiyuk at No. 2 (28.6%) and Samuel in fifth (24.7%). Although the season-long target shares don’t align, Aiyuk garnered a 22% target share versus Samuel at 19% in Weeks 10-18. Thankfully, the 49ers’ target tree seems narrow, with Samuel, Aiyuk, and George Kittle likely eating up 70-75% of the team’s target share.
Summing It Up
As someone who doesn’t expect Samuel to repeat his 2021 success, I’m drafting a ton of Aiyuk as a WR4/5 in my zero-RB builds. Aiyuk nearly matched his rookie season in Year 2, yet Samuel’s career-best season clouds our minds and shifts the ADP. The ADP bakes in concerns and skepticism around Aiyuk, and it’s not a big discount as one of the cheaper alternatives to other upside receivers like Elijah Moore, Drake London, and Rashod Bateman. Especially if Aiyuk falls past ADP, scoop up the potential value in 2022.
Cheaper Alternatives at Wide Receiver No. 2 – Rondale Moore
In fantasy football, I tend to target younger players. The second-round pick out of Purdue boasted an intriguing prospect profile with an elite 18.5 breakout age. As a freshman, Moore posted 1,258 receiving yards for a 34% receiving market share and 37% receiver dominator rating. Unfortunately, Moore suffered a hamstring injury in 2019, impacting his college production.
Based on the overall college production, Moore’s closest comps include DeSean Jackson, Elijah Moore, and Mike Wallace. Unfortunately, Moore underperformed as a rookie with a 14% target share (No. 70), ranking fourth amongst receivers on the team. The Cardinals spread the ball around with DeAndre Hopkins with a 20% target share, Christian Kirk at 19%, and A.J. Green at 16%. The trend may continue in 2022.
Uncovering Moore’s Underlying Metrics
Unfortunately, Moore’s terrible 3% air yard share aligned with 97 (yes, 97) total air yards. It’s an uber-small sample, but Moore had the third-best Receiver Air Conversion Ratio (RACR) at 4.48. Moore proved he’s a YAC monster with 8.1 YAC/Rec (No. 3), though the narrative around his rookie season involved a dead last aDOT at 1.7 amongst receivers with 50 targets, according to SIS. Braxton Berrios finished with an aDOT at 5.0 as the second-worst receiver in that metric, providing context on Moore’s brutal aDOT. Since 2016, according to TruMedia, Moore had the third-best YAC/Rec (98th percentile) behind Deebo Samuel and Mecole Hardman. Meanwhile, Moore ranked dead last with 1.44 air yards per target behind Anquan Boldin at 5.75 (first percentile). The visual below shows all receivers sorted by YAC/Rec and AY/Target via TruMedia from 2016 to 2021, and Moore is highlighted at the bottom right.
Although Moore had historically poor underlying metrics, it’s a mix of optimism and skepticism considering the team context, prospect profile, and other skills pointing to improvements in Year 2. With Hopkins suspended for six games, Marquise Brown added, and Green trending downwards, Moore has a chance to garner the second-highest target share until Hopkins returns.
Green finished with 848 receiving yards as WR42 in PPR/G, yet he averaged 1.8 YPRR (No. 37) in 2021 and 1.1 YPRR (No. 82) in 2020. That indicates Green’s skill and efficiency have tailed off after the fourth-best YPRR (3.0) from 2016 to 2018 amongst receivers with 50 targets, per SIS.
Summing It Up
Moore possesses the breakaway speed with a 107 Speed Score (85th percentile) like Tyreek Hill or Marquise Goodwin, plus a 96th percentile Agility Score, aligning with the fourth-best BT+MT/Rec. Thankfully, Moore has an ADP around WR50 after pick 100 in Underdog leagues, making him readily available in the middle rounds. Moore serves as a low-risk, high-upside receiver with underlying skills hinting at a breakout. I’m late to the party, but I’m bringing the food to start choo-chooing on the Moore hype train.
Cheaper Alternatives at Tight End No. 1 – Cole Kmet
Typically, I’m targeting an elite tight end in the first few rounds, so I love drafting Cole Kmet as a back-end TE1 or TE2 with top-5 upside. Kmet ranked 12th with a 17% target share and top-12 in receptions, receiving yards, and air yards amongst the position. Kmet’s Underdog ADP has him as TE11 at pick 124, making him one of the last tight ends to feel comfortable drafting if you don’t draft an elite option.
We want tight ends to rank highly in routes run, snap share, and garner the target opportunities. Kmet checks those boxes, evidenced by an 84% snap share (No. 4), 456 routes run (No. 7), and 91 targets (No. 9). As a prospect, Kmet possessed the athleticism that adds to the positional value, creating mismatches against linebackers and defensive backs. Kmet ranked in the 83rd percentile in Speed Score, 89th percentile in Freak Score, and 92nd percentile in Freak Score at 6-foot-4 and 262 pounds.
Unsurprisingly, Kmet’s underlying metrics align with the inefficiencies, evidenced by his -1.3 FPOE/G (No. 141) and a 1.3 YPRR (No. 18). He ranked sixth in routes and targets out of the slot amongst the tight end position, showing Chicago’s willingness to use Kmet’s receiver skills. Expect positive regression for Kmet, especially with the zero touchdowns in 2021.
Summing It Up
Since Justin Fields landed in the previous cheaper alternatives article, we’ll mention Kmet as a back end TE1 that could garner the second-highest team target share behind Darnell Mooney. Kmet sneakily posted TE1 usage in routes, snaps, and targets, with the athleticism we should chase in tight ends with upside. There’s some downside to targeting a pass catcher paired with a mobile quarterback, but Kmet qualifies as a small miss, big win type player.
Cheaper Alternatives at Tight End No. 2 – Gerald Everett
Let’s run it back with the next Logan Thomas since I expected Gerald Everett to leap in 2021 with the Seahawks. Unfortunately, the Seahawks’ offense went old school and established the run with limited effectiveness, outside of Rashaad Penny’s strong finish. Everett is an explosive athlete with an Explosion Score in the 94th percentile.
Like Russell Wilson last season, Everett joins another efficient passer in Justin Herbert, with the eighth-best AY/A at 7.5. Herbert ranked second in air yards (5,014) behind Tom Brady versus Wilson’s 1,702 air yards (No. 19) amongst quarterbacks with 100 pass attempts. Given Everett’s athleticism and ability to run past defenders, Herbert’s skills should boost Everett’s value. When we add in the volume element of over 250 pass attempts for Herbert, plus the fourth-highest Pass% for the Chargers, Everett’s volume and efficiency should translate into fantasy production.
Amongst tight ends with at least 50 targets, Everett posted a 64.3% route percentage (No. 23) and averaged 1.5 YPRR (No. 17). Everett led the Seahawks in route percentage and nearly every other metric, with a 20% targets per route run (TPRR), ranking 22nd (min. 300 routes).
With the mediocre underlying metrics, Everett ranked third with a career-best 1.45 RACR, though that’s probably not something to expect in 2022. He showed the ability to gain YAC with 5.2 YAC/Rec (No. 13), plus the third-best broken plus missed tackle rate per reception at 27.1% behind Travis Kelce and George Kittle. Hopefully, the Chargers see the underlying metrics and effectively use Everett, but he’ll be the fourth team option (at best) with a 13-15% share.
Summing It Up
Ideally, we shouldn’t punt tight end with Everett’s Underdog ADP around pick 160 as TE17. However, he showed TE1 upside with five weeks as a TE1, averaging 13.3 PPR/G in 2021. We want pass-catchers attached to efficient passers, and Everett checks that box paired with Herbert. Everett has the talent and data to boast the YAC ability by breaking and forcing missed tackles. It might be a bold call, but I prefer Everett as one of the cheaper alternatives to Dawson Knox and Irv Smith.