One of the numerous keys to winning a fantasy championship is striking gold with your middle and late-round selections. Drafting a productive player at a discounted price is how you can separate yourself from the pack. Last year, guys like Devonta Freeman, David Johnson, and Allen Robinson undoubtedly paved the way for many fantasy titleholders. None of them were early-round picks last summer, but that's precisely where they're being ranked this season. While many players are being overvalued based on factors like a recognizable name or last season's statistics, there are loads of potential league-winners being undervalued in 2016. I also wrote a similar article on a few overrated players, but for now... Allow me to pinpoint a few of my favorite fantasy bargains for the upcoming season.
Average Draft Position (ADP) values in this article were extracted from FantasyFootballCalculator.com's 12-team, 15-round standard format drafts.
Tyrod Taylor - QB, Buffalo Bills
ADP: 126 (QB15)
A sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft from Virginia Tech, quarterback Tyrod Taylor was finally given a chance to start in 2015 -- and he didn't disappoint. After coming off the bench in Baltimore since his rookie season, the Buffalo Bills brought Tyrod in before last season and gave him a legitimate chance to earn the starting job. He did just that, playing in 14 games and leading the Bills to a solid 8-8 record despite injuries to LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins. An ankle injury kept Taylor out for two contests, but when he was on the field, he was an effective, dual-threat quarterback. He threw for 3035 yards with a 216.8 YPG average, but more importantly, had an impressive 20:6 TD to INT ratio. What makes Taylor one of my favorite sleepers for 2016 isn't his passing potential. Instead, it's his dynamic mobility outside of the pocket. He rushed for 568 yards and 4 TDs, averaging 40.6 YPG, providing fantasy owners at least 4.0 points per week solely from rushing yards. Get this: Taylor's 19.2 points per week in 2015 would have paced him as the QB6 overall (ahead of Drew Brees) if he hadn't missed two games. If Watkins and McCoy stay healthy all year, in addition to Tyrod himself, I think he will be a serviceable starting QB in 10/12-team leagues in 2016 and a good bet to exceed his ADP.
Thomas Rawls - RB, Seattle Seahawks
ADP: 28 (RB13)
One of the most polarizing players in the fantasy football community is second-year running back Thomas Rawls. For every analyst that thinks Rawls will be Seattle's workhorse in 2016, there is another one who is hesitant due to injury or committee concerns. Rawls badly broke his ankle late in the 2015 season and hasn't resumed full-speed practice yet, but the Seahawks insist he'll be ready for Week 1. Also working against Rawls as he recovers from surgery is a crowded backfield that includes Christine Michael and a pair of rookies, Alex Collins and C.J. Prosise. Michael has talent for days, but has never proven to be a dependable runner in his three NFL seasons. Even with Prosise expected to handle passing downs, Seattle undoubtedly wants Rawls to be their lead back after showing flashes of greatness as a rookie. In his six games with 15 or more carries, Rawls averaged a spectacular 118.6 yards on the ground. As the Seahawks take it slow with their best RB while he returns from injury, Rawls' ADP is hovering just inside the top-30 overall. If you've seen how this "mini beast mode" runs the ball, you'd probably be willing to bet he has high-end RB1 potential in Seattle's run-heavy offense. Grabbing a player of his caliber in the third round of your fantasy draft, moderate risk included, could turn out to be a league-winning selection. I'd consider him in the second.
Frank Gore - RB, Indianapolis Colts
ADP: 74 (RB31)
Somebody who could easily destroy his current ADP this season is veteran running back Frank Gore. When Gore signed with the Colts after his days as a 49er came to an end, he surely didn't envision running behind Matt Hasselbeck for the majority of his first season in blue and white. With Andrew Luck back under center at the beginning of the season, Frank the Tank certainly has to be eager to improve upon his career-low 3.7 YPC from 2015. Indy's offense should bounce back in a big way with a healthy Luck, and this leads to more appealing game scripts and scoring chances galore. Gore currently has no real threat breathing down his neck for carries, which also bodes well for his 2016 outlook. Having not missed a game since 2010, the 33-year old remains one of the most durable backs in the NFL, even if he might not have many more years left in him. I'm betting Gore gets at least 15 carries per game in what could be one the NFL's best offenses, resulting in more touchdowns and a higher YPC in 2016. People forget that he finished last season as the RB12 in standard leagues. While that would likely be his ceiling this season, good luck trying convincing me to pick 30 RBs in front of Frank Gore. His ADP of RB31 seems like a reasonable floor if the Colts offense stays healthy. He's a major bargain this season.
DeSean Jackson - WR, Washington Redskins
ADP: 88 (WR37)
DeSean Jackson was limited to eight healthy games last season but still displayed his trademark speed when he was on the field. In those eight contests, D-Jax was able to rack up 30 receptions for 528 yards and 4 touchdowns, which made his full-season pace stats a respectable line of 60-1056-8. That would have made Jackson fantasy's 18th-highest scoring wideout in 2015, which I believe would have easily been within reach if he was healthy all year. So, why in the world are 36 receivers coming off the board before Jackson in 2016 fantasy drafts? Are people worried about the rookie Josh Doctson taking away targets? Or are they unsure of Kirk Cousins after just one season of solid play? The justifications for those reasons are razor-thin, and I'm confident D-Jax will blow his WR37 ADP out of the water this season as Cousins takes another step in the right direction. Having more weapons like Doctson and Jordan Reed to draw defenses' attention only helps Jackson as a deep-threat in 2016. He'll be an effective downfield target for the much-improved Redskins and has the big-play ability to single-handedly win you a few fantasy matchups. I see him as a top-30 WR.
Corey Coleman - WR, Cleveland Browns
ADP: 115 (WR45)
With a laughable ADP of 115 overall, good for the 45th WR in drafts as of early August, rookie Corey Coleman is primed to crush his current draft stock. An all-around playmaker at Baylor, the 22-year old Coleman enters the league in one of the best situations for immediate fantasy production. With another Baylor product in RG3 throwing him the ball, it's safe to say he'll be seeing plenty of targets in his first NFL season. The Browns probably won't be leading in many games this season, forcing them to play catch-up instead of draining the clock with a run-heavy approach, like Hue Jackson would certainly prefer. Coleman doesn't possess the frame that many No. 1 wideouts do, but his game is as well-polished as I've ever seen coming out of college. He's already turning heads in the preseason and until Week 5, when Josh Gordon returns, Coleman will be the Browns' top playmaker on offense by a wide margin. Even when Gordon is back on the field, it wouldn't shock me if Coleman ends up being the safer weekly option. If RG3 were to falter, Josh McCown can step in and get the ball to his receivers, so QB play shouldn't be a major concern. Corey Coleman should have the athleticism and volume to demolish his triple-digit ADP in 2016.