10 players to reach for in fantasy football drafts

Hindsight is 20/20, but no one likes realizing they've reached too early on a player, whether from draft-day ridicule or from season-long smack talk. Yet, reaching for the right players can help you build a fantasy football championship team.

The FantasyOmatic algorithm provides a ton of unique data that can help you take the guesswork out of these tough draft decisions and reach for the right players.

The one-of-a-kind algorithm boils down hundreds of pieces of fantasy football data into simple ratings, including a Player Rating and Matchup Rating.

Over the past 13 NFL seasons, the algorithm's ratings have been 46 percent more accurate at predicting player performances than the traditional metrics of Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) and Strength of Schedules (SOS) based on Fantasy Points Against (FPA).

Based on these ratings for the 2015 season, here are 10 players to reach for on draft day.

C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos

NFL.com ADP: Round 2; Reach for him in: Round 1

C.J. Anderson finished the 2014 season with the highest Player Rating of any running back in fantasy. He outperformed against tough matchups on his schedule and produced at an elite level when he faced easy ones.

Anderson was the fifth most productive fantasy running back against "Bad" or "Worst" rated matchups. Ideally, you want your players to avoid these matchups but Anderson ate them up in 2014.

The great news for Anderson is that he has the eighth easiest projected schedule of all fantasy running backs going into 2015. That is an easier schedule than ANY of the other running backs currently going in the first round in NFL.com drafts.

Anderson was top-15 in "Fantasy Points Per Attempt" for running backs last season, while the Broncos were in the top 10 in rush attempts. Over the final five weeks of the season, only the Cowboys and the Texans ran the ball more than Denver did. From 2006-to-2014, new head coach Gary Kubiak's lead running back finished within the league's top 10 in carries five times.

Anderson should get plenty of opportunities in 2015 -- and be able to make the most of them. Given the number of committee backfields in fantasy, numbers like this can help you feel better about reaching for him in Round 1.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts

NFL.com ADP: Round 3; Reach for him in: Round 2

The Colts attempted more passes than any other offense and produced top-10 volume in receptions for wide receivers in 2014.

T.Y. Hilton is not only the class of the Colts' deep receiver group, but his algorithm Player Rating ranks among the top-10 of all fantasy receivers.

His strong rating was boosted by being the fourth most productive fantasy receiver against difficult "bad" or "worst" rated matchups. Yet, Hilton enjoys the sixth easiest schedule of any fantasy receiver in 2015 so taking advantage of matchups should not be a problem.

Having a matchup-proof WR1 in a high volume passing offense with one of the easiest schedules in the league will help to maximize the scoring potential of your WR1 position all season.

All these numbers add up to second-round value for Hilton, allowing you to take him a round before his current third round ADP. Making him a great pick to fill your WR1 void after all the big names have been taken.

Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints

NFL.com ADP: Round 3; Reach for him in: Round 2

In 2014, the Saints finished in the top half of the league in rush attempts and Mark Ingram led all Saints running backs with 19 touches per game.

Ingram had the 14th best Player Rating of any running back in football last season, due in part because he was the seventh most productive running back against "bad" or "worst" rated matchups. Yet, tough matchups shouldn't be an issue in 2015, since the Saints have the sixth easiest projected fantasy running back schedule.

Ingram's strong numbers place him firmly in the second round of most drafts but many drafters are scared off by the signing of C.J. Spiller. Yet, the numbers indicate that Spiller's impact will likely be felt as replacement for the 83 running back receiving targets left with the departures of Pierre Thomas and Travaris Cadet.

Don't count Ingram completely out of the passing game, either. He accounted for 23 percent of the running back targets in 2014, and has already shown good hands this preseason.

Ingram has the ability to perform at an elite level when given the opportunity and all the data going into this season points to a high volume of touches combined with an abundance of easy matchups, which all make Ingram worthy of an RB1 reach in Round 2.

Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL.com ADP: Round 4; Reach for him in: Round 3

Buccaneers' second year wide receiver Mike Evans finished his rookie season with the 15th highest algorithm Player Rating of all fantasy wide receivers. His stellar Player Rating was boosted by having the 10th highest "Fantasy Points Per Snap" (FPPS) and the fourth highest "Fantasy Points Per Target" (FPPT) of all receivers.

The targets should keep coming Evans' way in 2015 since new Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter brings with him a scheme that produced 163 targets for Julio Jones last season in Atlanta. Jones played the same "X" receiver role in Koetter's offense that Evans will play this year.

Matching Jones' 163 targets would only require an increase of 2.5 targets per game. If Evans achieves those target totals and maintains his FPPT average, he would be the most productive receiver in fantasy.

Last year Evans was one of the top 15 most productive receivers against "great" and "good" rated matchups. He will see a lot of those matchups in 2015 as he has the easiest projected schedule of ANY fantasy receiver.

Evans produced solid numbers as a rookie with two quarterbacks whose combined rating ranked 29th in the league. If Jameis Winston can even marginally improve the Buccaneer's quarterback play, and if Koetter can increase target volume in his new scheme, Evans has the potential to be a top-five fantasy receiver with an even higher ceiling.

Many fantasy drafters picking their first wide receiver in the third round will find WR1 value in Evans, despite his current fourth round ADP.

Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders

NFL.com ADP: Round 5; Reach for him in: Round 4

Latavius Murray may have provided a small data sample last season, but he left enough numbers to crunch to warrant getting excited about him in 2015.

Throughout Murray's limited 2014 campaign, he faced exclusively "bad" or "worst" rated matchups and still finished with the ninth most fantasy points per game against that level of competition. This season, Murray will finally get to face some "great" and "good" matchups, as he has the 10th easiest projected schedule of ANY fantasy running back.

As a lead back, Murray should get plenty of opportunities in a Raiders offense that had the 13th most rush attempts in 2014. Murray produced the 20th highest "Fantasy Points Per Attempt" (FPPA) last year with only 11 touches per game over the few games in which he actually played.

Everyone remembers Murray's two-touchdown romp last season yet this "bar bet" stat may surprise you: Only 18 percent of Murray's fantasy points in 2014 came from touchdowns, even though he was responsible for 50 percent of the Raiders' total rushing touchdowns in 2014.

If you are looking for an RB2 in the fourth round who has the best chance of RB1 production, reach for Latavius Murray. Murray's upcoming spike in opportunities combined with his ability to take advantage of them will add up to numbers that project fourth round value, even though his ADP sits in the fifth round.

Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals

NFL.com ADP: Round 6; Reach for him in: Round 5

Last season, Andre Ellington had the 16th best Player Rating of any fantasy running back while averaging 22 total touches per game.

Ellington was very productive when facing easy matchups. He was the 10th most productive fantasy running back against "great" or "good" rated matchups and he faces seven of those matchups in 2015 with three of them coming in the fantasy playoffs.

Ellington's 2014 numbers also indicate that the loss of Carson Palmer had a serious impact on his fantasy value. When Palmer started, Ellington averaged over 11 fantasy points per game. If Ellington had played all 16 games with Palmer in 2014, he could have finished with RB1 level fantasy production.

The addition of Chris Johnson won't guarantee less touches per game for Ellington, but it will likely mean that he drops to an even lower ADP by Week 1.

It is probably good to have some perspective on the 2014 version of CJ?K before you panic on Ellington. Johnson had the 57th highest RB player rating in 2014 and his Fantasy Points Per Attempt was 61st out of 78 running backs rated last season. This gives Johnson an overall rating similar to 2014 versions of James Starks and Shonn Greene.

David Johnson could eat into Ellington's third down snaps by season's end, but Bruce Arians promises to still make heavy use of Ellington this season and indicates that he targets 20 total touches per game for him.

Ellington's numbers still add up to fifth-round value despite his current sixth-round ADP and his ADP could be dropping even more in the near future.

Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys

NFL.com ADP: Round 7; Reach for him in: Round 6

After producing the league's most rushing touchdowns and the second most rushing yards per game in 2014, everyone wants a piece of the fantasy potential that the Cowboys' backfield offers. Yet, with DeMarco Murray gone, we are left to choose from his old "backup" and an injury-prone veteran.

Even in limited play last season, Joseph Randle provided plenty of data to evaluate. He finished fourth in the NFL with a 1.14 "Fantasy Points Per Rush" (FPPR) last season and led all running backs in "Fantasy Points Per Snap" (FPPS) with .55 FPPS on just 93 snaps.

Darren McFadden, meanwhile, had 513 snaps in Oakland last season and finished with a Player Rating comparable to 2014 versions of Trent Richardson and Toby Gerhart.

Randle's ADP has been dropping rapidly in the past month and he is currently going in the seventh round of NFL.com drafts. His numbers make him a safe pick in as early as the sixth round. This ADP vs. value difference makes him a low-risk draft grab and his numbers make him the likely heir to the snaps in Dallas.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL.com ADP: Round 7; Reach for him in: Round 5

If people question why you're reaching for Ben Roethlisberger, tell them he finished the 2014 season with the sixth highest algorithm Player Rating of any fantasy quarterback and had the sixth most "Fantasy Points Per Attempt" of all quarterbacks.

Roethlisberger also took advantage of good matchups, as he was the sixth most productive quarterback against "great" or "good" rated matchups last season. This will certainly come in handy in 2015 when Ben projects to have the second easiest schedule of any fantasy quarterback.

All signs point to the Steelers producing a high volume offense this season. In 2014, the Steelers scored a franchise record 27.2 points a game and Roethlisberger already said he wants to beat that record this season. Combine that with a Steelers defense that rates poorly at stopping opponents from scoring, and you have the recipe for a lot of throwing every week.

Having a favorable schedule in a high-volume passing offense already makes Big Ben an easy choice. But, since nine other fantasy quarterbacks are going off the board in NFL.com drafts ahead of Roethlisberger, you simply cannot pass on his draft value even as early as the fifth round, making him a perfect choice if you plan to wait to take a quarterback in your draft.

Rashad Jennings, RB, New York Giants

NFL.com ADP: Round 8; Reach for him in: Round 7

Rashad Jennings was a top-20 fantasy running back in 2014 and his numbers indicate that his production wasn't as much of a fluke as his current eighth round ADP may suggest.

Jennings had the 17th highest Player Rating of all fantasy running backs in 2014. His rating was bolstered by having the 15th most "Fantasy Points per Game" against "bad" or "worst" rated matchups, which made up over 60 percent of his schedule last year. This season, the Giants only face one "worst" rated matchup.

Jennings will cede touches to Andre Williams and Shane Vereen, but of the three running backs in that group, only Jennings has a Player Rating in the top 25.

The Giants had the fourth most rush attempts in the league last season and Jennings finished in the top 20 in "Fantasy Points Per Attempt" (FPPA), proving he is capable of cashing in on whatever opportunities he gets.

The algorithm suggests that even a small dip in touches would still land Jennings in the range of late sixth round production.

You will not find many running backs at the top of their depth chart in the seventh round, let alone those rated in the top 20. So reaching for Jennings should provide safe running back depth on your draft day roster.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago Bears

NFL.com ADP: Round 8; Reach for him in: Round 7

Martellus Bennett starts in an offense that produced the third most receptions to tight ends in 2014, and he finished with the fifth highest algorithm player rating of all fantasy tight ends.

Bennett also hauled in the seventh most tight end touchdowns, and garnered the second most tight end targets behind only Rob Gronkowski.

Bennett did very well against all levels of competition. He scored the fifth most fantasy points against "great" and "good" rated matchups, and had the seventh most fantasy points a game against "bad" and "worst" rated matchups. This should be good news in 2015 as he faces the fourth easiest projected schedule of any fantasy tight end.

Bennett currently has an ADP similar to other tight ends like, Coby Fleener and Antonio Gates, the latter of whom will miss the first four weeks with a suspension.

His role in the Bear's offense provides him an opportunity to produce, and his low draft value make him a safe reach in the seventh round, just in time to fill out your starting roster on draft day.

Reaching safely for the right players can make for a successful draft. Reaching the wrong direction can end your season before it begins.

Looking at the story that the numbers tell will always help you know when to take the right players at the right time. That way you'll live happily ever after with your fantasy team ... at least for the rest of the season.

*-- Chris Anthony is a guest contributor to NFL.com, hailing from Fantasy Omatic. You can follow him on Twitter @FantasyOmatic. *

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