A Look Back at the Best DFS Value Players from the 2021-2022 NFL Season
Value is the name of the game in daily fantasy sports, and each year there are a handful of players that repeatedly turn in surprise performances and offer owners consistent value. It seems as if value is created in one of two ways: players that take advantage of injuries and players that take advantage of great situations and soft matchups.
If you put an average running back on a bad team, he's completely irrelevant to DFS. However, put that same running back on a good team, running behind a strong offensive line, and in a great matchup, and you could potentially find top 5 fantasy output at a discount.
Here are five players that surprised the DFS world in the 2021-22 NFL season, and a look at how we can use that knowledge to find value in the 2022-23 season.
Overachieving Running Backs
The running back position is the toughest position in fantasy football to assess each preseason. We know the names at the top are valuable, but finding production from mid-level running backs is a must if you want to find sustained success on FanDuel and DraftKings. Here are a pair of running backs that proved to offer great value most weeks:
It was no secret that the Cardinals offense was going to score in bunches last season, but it’s hard to imagine predicting James Conner scoring 18 touchdowns while sharing a backfield with Chase Edmonds. He’s not the most efficient runner, only gaining 3.7 yards per carry, but with Edmonds missing five games and only having single-digit carries in six more, the path was cleared for an unexpected spike in production for Conner. That led to a 3-year extension and the top spot in the backfield for him heading into 2022.
Fournette is another back who looked as though he’d be locked in a season-long position battle in 2021. The high-scoring Buccaneer offense relied on him heavily through the middle part of their schedule, and Fournette delivered. He scored the third most points among running backs during the 11 games he played between Weeks 4-15, averaging 18 fantasy points per game in half-point PPR and contributing more through the air than his reputation would have suggested. Fournette’s 69 catches finished just shy of his career high set during his final year in Jacksonville and proved that he’s more than just the bruising back that can score at the goal line.
Late Season Wide Receiver Standouts
It seems like injuries create opportunities at the end of every NFL season, and more often than not, value is created at the wide receiver position as a result of these injuries. Here are two WR's that proved to be PPR machines down the stretch, thanks in part to the lack of production surrounding them:
Amon-Ra St. Brown
St. Brown outscored all wide receivers not named Cooper Kupp over the last six weeks of the regular season and was the fourth highest scoring player in all of fantasy from Weeks 16-18. He averaged 11 targets, 8.5 receptions, 103 total yards, and a touchdown per game in the final six games to close the season as WR21. While his weekly cap number will certainly increase in 2022, St. Brown is the clear #1 option in Detroit.
Renfrow took advantage of Darren Waller’s late season absences to emerge as the top pass-catching weapon for the Las Vegas Raiders and the 8th highest scoring receiver from Week 10 on. His ability to work in the slot and gain yards after the catch established his fantasy relevance. What came as an unexpected surprise were the four touchdowns he scored in the last three weeks of the 2021 season as he became a goal line threat in the mold of Julian Edelman in New England. Renfow won’t surprise anyone in 2022 if he continues to rack up targets, catches, and yards in bulk with some TDs mixed in.
Home Run Hitting Tight End
The tight end position has been a dumpster fire for the past few seasons. It seems like we can count on Travis Kelce and nothing else at the position. That being said, there are a handful of tight ends capable of putting up monster weeks... sometimes seemingly out of nowhere. Here is one guy that has been doing it for years, and turned some heads with his production in 2021:
Gronk was the perfect boom or bust option in 2021 that made for daily fantasy glory when players picked him on the right week. Between Weeks 4-10, he missed five games, went without a catch in his only game appearance, and Tampa Bay had their bye week. Despite that, Gronkowski averaged 12 points per game in half-point PPR scoring, good for third in the league among tight ends, and finished as TE5 across a full season in which he only played 12 games. Gronk closed the season with back to back 100-yard receiving performances, and is preparing to reunite with his now un-retired quarterback for another run at the Super Bowl in 2022.