2 Undervalued Players You Need in the Divisional Round
Early in any given season, we see a trend where pricing does not keep pace with a player’s new value. Sometimes, this is because of a new role. Other times, it’s because salaries on former superstars can’t drop quickly enough to allow others to take their places. Whatever the reason, we see bargains appear cyclically.
It happens again toward the end of the regular season. This is when teams “shut down” players who can no longer contribute or others are given a new opportunity to shine.
But what about the playoffs? Isn’t this the time where teams take an “all hands on deck” approach?
Yes, but that isn’t exactly where we find the value.
In the postseason, the games, teams, and players are limited. That, alone, helps us hone in on a few targets. But, the reality is that the teams have also established their identities and how they want to play — and win — games. We don’t need to speculate.
Where we can shift said speculation is to the places where a player or team might deviate. When we can identify that and have a forgiving salary to go along with it, we can act.
QB Matthew Stafford – LAR $6,600 at TB – Whenever I write an article about value, I include the caveat that value does not necessarily mean inexpensive. It’s just about a player’s cost versus potential.
Matthew Stafford is not overly inexpensive. He is undervalued.
The Los Angeles Rams feature one of the best offenses in the league, and they have the second-most efficient passing attack in net-yards-per-pass-attempt. On the surface, that would lead to an easy target of Stafford. Not so fast. He has actually thrown for just 440 combined passing yards in the last two weeks — including the playoff victory.
This sounds convoluted. Is Stafford a good play or a bad one?
Both, and that’s the point.
Stafford has established himself as one of the best passers in the league, but there is enough recent history for others to stay away from him. This is also the reason why he is priced so low compared to other quarterback options. When scrolling through the names, how likely is someone to land on Stafford, even at his relative savings?
Stafford tossed a whopping 41 touchdowns in the regular season and started the playoffs with two through-the-air to go along with a rushing score. He has one of the highest floors of anyone in-play, and the ease with which we can make an argument against him only serves as a means to lower his salary. He is still as explosive as anyone at the quarterback position.
RB Dontrell Hilliard – TEN $4,500 vs. CIN – As of this writing, running back Derrick Henry is trending toward playing, and that immediately moves him into a position to thrive. Of course, WFS managers will need to consider how to handle Henry as they gauge his potential workload, but the true value lies in his backups.
D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard are being priced as if Henry will be on the field, but let’s play out how the game is likely to unfold. If Henry immediately returns to his regular role — which is certainly possible — then Foreman suffers while Hilliard remains the option on pass-catching downs. If Henry splits carries, those actual rush attempts likely go to Foreman and, again, Hilliard sees the receptions.
Ultimately, both paths point to Hilliard carrying value, where Foreman’s role is a lot less defined.
There is plenty of uncertainty surrounding Henry and the Titans’ offense, but trying to sort through the unknowns to find the reality is part of the game. At his low price, Hilliard is worth the investment.
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