Post-Hype Bounceback Candidates

Jun 8th 2023

Tom Strachan

Fantasy Football is an emotional game and it can be hard not to hang on to the pain a player caused you when they flamed out for whatever reason last year, but quite often we see the market react too strongly to those situations and not take everything into account for the current year. If you’re drafting on Underdog right now, you’ve likely come across the players in this article when you’re on the clock and had to consider whether to draft them or not. In this article, we’ll make the case for why you might want to have a sprinkling of exposure to them as our Hot-Hot Best Ball Summer continues.

Deebo Samuel - ADP 34

This time last year it seemed to be undoubted that Deebo Samuel was going to continue to rush the ball and be potentially the focal point of the Niners offense. Fast forward a year and Deebo Samuel is talking about how last offseason’s contract dispute got in the way of his preparation for the 2022 season and how he vows to not put another year forward like the one he just had, where in games with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, Samuel averaged 11.34 Half PPR points per game. But there are reasons for belief that Samuel could bounce back this year, primarily that Samuel seemed to be Brock Purdy’s preferred target on many occasions and Samuel saw barely any drop-off in opportunities after Christian McCaffrey was acquired, putting up 8.0 touches per game before and 7.8 afterward, even while dealing with injuries. We’ve seen Samuel be a league-winner before, and it’s possible he does so again and this time at a cost 16 picks later than in 2022.

Marquise Brown - ADP 64

In 2022 Marquise Brown’s ADP ended up at 42.5 when Best Ball Mania III closed, a total of 22 picks higher than he’s currently being drafted, despite DeAndre Hopkins's recent release. The question of just how many games Kyler Murray plays this year is clearly weighing heavily on drafter's minds but at a certain point Brown looks like a value. With no other Cardinals selected before Brown, he’s the clear main weapon on this offense, yet players from 29 other teams are selected before him and wide receivers from 18 other teams are currently above Brown. There have been no negative reports about Murray’s recovery and if he plays a majority of the games this year, it could be entirely possible Marquise Brown sees a 30% target share on a depleted offense. The ‘Best Friends’ narrative has been good to us on other occasions. While we’re here, let’s also put an honorable mention in for Rondale Moore who is being drafted 28 spots later than in 2022 and could be set for an expanded role.

Gabe Davis - ADP 78

Perhaps the poster boy of 2022 hype, Gabe Davis is being priced over three rounds later than he was in 2022, a year where he underperformed while struggling through an ankle injury. It’s easy to say in hindsight that Davis was priced too steeply last year, but while he’s attached to Josh Allen he warrants perhaps a tad more attention than he’s garnering right now. How many players near to Davis’s ADP of 78 do we think have four weekly finishes inside the top 13 wide receivers? That’s what Davis did last year when he finished as the WR28, now he’s being drafted as the WR41 and with the bills thus far not having added serious competition for him, he feels like a great bounce-back candidate in 2023. 

Kyle Pitts - ADP 66

Another former-poster boy of the hype brigade, Kyle Pitts was hyped to near-impossible levels coming out of college, only to manage a single touchdown in his first season and then struggle to produce with Marcus Mariota in year two. What seems to get lost though is that Pitts’s 1026 yards were the second-most ever recorded by a rookie tight end and that if touchdown variance had shined brighter upon him, his rookie season would have been one for the ages. Now after a year where Marcus Mariota was incredibly inaccurate, drafters seem concerned that Desmond Ridder won’t be an upgrade over Mariota, and as such aren’t rushing to draft Ridder either, but Pitts is going three rounds later than in 2022 and at pick 66 he’s in an area of drafts where wide receivers dry up a little, which makes him even more tempting. For those who’ve been burned at cost before it’s perhaps understandable, but this isn’t a high-third-round pick we’re spending, it’s a sixth-round pick on one of the most athletic players at the position.

Rashod Bateman - ADP 86.7

Greg Roman enjoyed nothing more than seeing the offense complete a play and then slowly taking his time to call a play along the lines of ‘Zulu 4000 With A Coke Twist, Leopard Stripe Sixteen Variable Windy, Three Strokes Of The Grey Poodle Hanging Out At Martha’s, Left Left Left, Anchor Thirty-Seven, Scrambled Eggs On A Catamaran, Pat Ricard Nine Route.’ As Lamar Jackson spent ten seconds listening and then a further ten seconds regurgitating it to the players on the field it left very little time to get the play moving before the play clock got to single digits, and Greg Roman smiled to himself and chalked the day up as a success. This isn’t how things will be in 2023. Lamar Jackson is being given greater responsibility at the line of scrimmage and Todd Monken wants to play with pace and take shots downfield, rather than win the time of possession battle. We’ve seen Bateman win downfield and we’ve heard Lamar Jackson call him the WR1 in this offense. Ambiguity is likely to keep all the Ravens receivers priced in this range, but Bateman is absolutely the one who could breakout having already established himself with Jackson and getting him at a discount of three rounds on last year's cost, looks reasonable enough.

Russell Wilson - ADP 133

One year ago Russell Wilson was feeling like The King of The World as he sat on his new throne in his brand new office at the Broncos facility. A year on and Wilson is feeling perhaps a little fortunate to even be able to get back into the building after a disastrous first season on his second NFL team of his career. There are though reasons for hope this year and Wilson having dropped 54 picks in ADP down to the eleventh round now looks like a player who might be slightly undervalued. Wilson flashed down the stretch with two top-five performances in the last three weeks of the fantasy season and now has a better head coach along with an upgraded offensive line. Don’t put all your eggs in a Russell Wilson basket, but there’s enough reason to believe in the overall situation that a hard fade seems risky.

Dalton Schultz - ADP 133

It wasn’t so much that Dalton Schultz was bad in 2022, it was more that he didn’t live up to the hopes that he could make a leap into the elite tight end group, which is no easy thing to accomplish. Schultz was the TE11 in points per game, and following his move to Houston has dropped to TE13, and he’s going 61 picks later than where he finished the 2022 drafting season. Schultz dealt with injuries in 2022, but when healthy he was productive with Dak Prescott, the challenge will be whether he can replicate that with rookie, CJ Stroud. The Texans haven’t blessed Stroud with elite options and the wide receiver room, in particular, is begging for one of Robert Woods, Nico Collins, John Metchie or Nathaniel Dell to become a reliable option for Stroud, but it doesn’t feel like a huge leap to imagine it actually being a tight end who stands out the most in an offense that will have plenty of shades of Kyle Shanahan’s influence, where much of the Texans coaching staff learned their trade.