This article is among my favorite ones to write each season, as it gives me an opportunity to explain my favorite value picks as we head into the biggest draft weekend on the fantasy calendar. I’ve outlined one player from each round who I find myself drafting ahead of consensus.
Round 1: Tyreek Hill, WR, Miami Dolphins
In all honesty, I struggle to label any of the top-10 picks in Yahoo drafts as underrated. But I’ll give the nod to Hill, who has a current ADP of 6.9. I’ll gladly grab Hill over Travis Kelce and Cooper Kupp, both of whom have nearly identical ADPs. And I greatly prefer Hill to the RBs who are drafted immediately after him, such as Nick Chubb, Bijan Robinson and Saquon Barkley.
Round 2: Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Pollard is on a very short list of RBs who have a good chance to be the No. 1 overall player in fantasy this season. The Cowboys chose not to sign a big-name veteran RB during training camp, which has cleared the deck for Pollard to have a major workload in an otherwise thin RB corps. Having averaged 5.1 yards per carry and 8.2 yards per catch during his four-year career, Pollard simply needs the necessary touches to lead the NFL in total yardage.
Round 3: Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints
Olave is a terrific target for those who pick in the back half of Round 3. The Ohio State alum is coming off a dazzling rookie season where he amassed 1,042 yards despite playing most of the season with journeyman QB Andy Dalton. Beyond being more familiar with the NFL in Year 2, Olave should benefit from a QB upgrade to Derek Carr, who showed last season with Davante Adams that he can help a star WR reach great fantasy heights.
Round 4: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Detroit Lions
Gibbs is about to take the NFL by storm. The rookie will be among the RB leaders in receptions and will prove to be the Lions' best rusher while sharing carries with David Montgomery. Currently the 16th RB in Yahoo ADP, Gibbs will finish the season among the top 10 at his position while being featured in a Lions offense that tends to highlight running backs.
Round 5: Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
Managers who want a QB who could be the top fantasy producer at the position cannot wait any longer than Round 5. Herbert is coming off a down year, but he passed for 5,014 yards and 38 TDs the previous season. With new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore likely to encourage more downfield passing and rookie WR Quentin Johnston having joined an already impressive group of weapons, Herbert has the potential for a career year.
Round 6: Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Although I’m somewhat skeptical of Mattison’s overall talent, I have to admit that the Vikings seem to have no reservations. The 25-year-old is cleared for a massive workload after Minnesota cut Dalvin Cook in the spring and then resisted the urge to sign a veteran RB during training camp, aside from Wednesday's addition of Myles Gaskin. Mattison should get most of the team’s carries and goal-line work, and he ought to have a role in an effective passing game that features plenty of dynamic options.
Round 7: Darren Waller, TE, New York Giants
Similar to Herbert in Round 5, Waller represents the last option before his position experiences a value drop. The 30-year-old received rave reviews from training camp and is one of the few tight ends who projects to be his team’s top target earner. Durability will continue to be a question mark for Waller, but he has a high ceiling, as is evidenced by two previous seasons with more than 1,100 yards.
Round 8: Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
There is no doubt that Williams has issues with durability and consistency, but he also has a terrific skill set and fits perfectly with the downfield emphasis that new OC Kellen Moore will bring to Los Angeles. Having averaged 15.7 yards per catch in his six-year career, Williams could ascend to the alpha-WR role over 31-year-old possession receiver Keenan Allen. I’m not ready to guarantee a career year for Williams, but I see him as the type of boom-or-bust pick that smart managers make in the middle rounds.
Round 9: Rachaad White, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Like Williams, White has breakout potential that makes him a terrific mid-round option. The second-year pro has almost no competition for carries on a retooling Bucs team and has already proven that he is a capable receiver out of the backfield. White can reach the 250-carry plateau and rank third on the team in targets, which will make him a solid RB2 despite the likely middling nature of Tampa’s offense.
Round 10: Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks
I’m going to cheat on my final pick and name a player who belongs in the initial 10 rounds but can be selected as late as Round 12. Smith was the breakout QB of the 2022 season, throwing for 4,282 yards and 30 scores after going undrafted in most leagues. Managers who expect the 32-year-old to regress are ignoring the fact that Seattle augmented an already strong offense with a first-round receiver (Jaxon Smith-Njigba) and a second-round running back (Zach Charbonnet). Smith merely needs to be competent to put up big numbers with this loaded group.