Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
After the first couple of rounds in NBA fantasy drafts, the field gets cloudy.
The statistical difference between players gets smaller and smaller, so it's difficult to gain an edge over your fellow draftmates.
The key: target the undervalued.
There are players available with the potential to exceed their average draft positions (ADP) in production by several rounds, giving you the equivalent of say, multiple fourth-round picks instead of a fourth, a fifth and a sixth like everyone else has. There's your edge.
Here are five players going later than they should in drafts (ADP courtesy of Yahoo! Sports):
Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans Hornets (ADP: 46.6) - There is still a dearth of shot blockers in the NBA so I figured owners would be jumping at the chance to draft Davis higher than this. Just look at Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka. Ibaka had significant value last season since his 241 blocks were 109 more than the next closest player, Javale McGee, had. Ibaka finished the season ranked 12th overall in standard rotisserie leagues and is being drafted at an ADP of 23.0. Davis is already a better offensive player than Ibaka and might be his equivalent as a shot-blocker and rebounder, yet he's going more than 23 picks later.
O.J. Mayo, SG, Dallas Mavericks (ADP: 99.0) - I've been trumpeting Mayo's potential for a breakout season since he joined Dallas several months ago. Apparently I'm the only one. The shooting guard has been coming off the bench the last two years for Memphis and as a result only averaged 11.9 ppg in that span. But he posted 18.0 points, 3.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.7 made 3-pointers per game over his first two NBA seasons while starting all 164 games. With the Mavericks, he's a lock for 13-16 shots, including 4-6 3-point attempts per game, especially with Dirk Nowitzki dealing with a knee injury.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Charlotte Bobcats (ADP: 82.4) - Kidd-Gilchrist is a rookie and he's on the Bobcats so he already has two things going against him. However, I think Davis' former Kentucky teammate is also ready to contribute right away. The 6-foot-7 forward is a high-energy player who will contribute with boards, blocks and steals while dishing a few assists. He needs to develop a consistent jumper but on a team starved for star power he'll have plenty of opportunities to experiment with his mid-range game.
Kenneth Faried, PF, Denver Nuggets (ADP: 87.0) - Faried has a nose for the ball, plain and simple. Despite possessing a 6-foot-8 frame, Faried finished his college career at Morehead State ranked 11th in the history of college basketball with 1,673 rebounds. As a rookie, Faried began the season on the bench and barely played in the first month of the season but he was starting regularly by mid-February. He averaged 10.2 points, 7.7 boards and 1.0 blocks per game despite playing just 23 minutes per contest. More minutes should give Faried a chance to rank in the top-10 among NBA rebounders in his sophomore season.
Luol Deng, SF, Chicago Bulls (ADP: 71.4) - Deng saw his points per game average slip from 17.4 to 15.3 last season, but he still was a valuable contributor in multiple categories. With Derrick Rose out due to a torn ACL, the Bulls will likely lean more heavily on Deng to score the basketball, meaning the forward could threaten his career high of 18.8 ppg. Even if he ends up in the 15-16 range in ppg, Deng does plenty else for fantasy owners to justify taking him earlier than his ADP. Deng hasn't averaged less than 5.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals or 0.5 blocks per game in any of his last seven seasons.