Late Round Sleepers for Your 2013 Fantasy Football Draft
For this article I perused the current Average Draft Positions for this season and started picking out players I will be targeting who fell below the 150th player selected mark. As we get closer to the season these ADPs will wax and wane, but there’s a decent chance they will remain good targets in the double-digit rounds.
164 — Rueben Randle
The Giants receiving core is top notch, but it fell pretty hard last season with nagging injuries to Hakeem Nicks. Eli Manning went from 4,933 yards and 29 receptions in 2012 to just 3,948 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2013. Much of that drop off was due to Nick’s injury woes and just a down season for Manning.
Mr. Randle was the fourth or fifth wide receiver last season as he learned the offense in his rookie year. He flashed in some games and even had a two-touchdown game in week 17. The 22 year old 6’3” 220 pound receiver is getting plenty of praised heaped on him by offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who has promised him significant playing time as the #3 receiver.
In 2012 the #3 receiver was Mario Manningham, who in 10 starts had 77 targets, 523 yards and 4 touchdowns. And that came with both Nicks and Cruz seeing 130+ targets apiece. This offense can support three fantasy receivers at its full potential and Randle is a much more dynamic player than Manningham was. If you add in Nicks injury concerns, you have a player with a decent fantasy baseline and huge upside if either Nicks or Cruz are out for a significant period.
167 — Aaron Dobson
I’ve talked about Dobson more than my fair share this off-season, but until his ADP gets out of control, I’ll keep talking. He is not a sure fire NFL star, that’s not what this is about. My Dobson love is based partly on size, hands and ability, but mostly due to his team, coach and quarterback.
The upside of a potential starting wide receiver for the Patriots at an ADP of 167 is just too appealing to turn down. And if you add Rob Gronkowski’s back surgery and Aaron Hernandez being released (or not released as the case may be) into the equation he starts looking even more like a steal at his ADP.
245 — Jeremy Kerley
It goes against all my native instincts to recommend a Jets receiver, but I’m going to go ahead and do it for the low price of his 245th ADP position. Last season Kerley led his team with 56 receptions for 827 yards and two touchdowns. This season it’s already looking like he might be the most targeted receiver in the group once again.
Stephen Hill is already getting poor grades in OTAs while Santonio Holmes isn’t positive his foot will be healed by week one. And the tight end position is being held down by the very average Jeff Cumberland, so there should be plenty of chances for Kerley to be on the field this season. Of course the Jets offense is going to be the opposite of high-powered, but in deep leagues Kerley is about as safe as you can get at an extremely reasonable price.
241 — Justin Forsett
The fantasy hype for the backup running back in Jacksonville has been for Denard Robinson, but the reality hype should be for Forsett. There’s much thought in the fantasy community that Maurice Jones-Drew is on the “most likely to be on the sidelines due to some injury or something” list and that gives Forsett some appeal, especially so late in the draft.
Forsett is also no slouch himself. He’s of course not elite, but he can handle himself when called upon. Just last season he rushed 63 times for 375 yards and a touchdown while with the Texans, but he especially thrives in the receiving game, which in the Jaguars offense will be called into use as they try to come from behind in the 4th quarter.
Forsett is a veteran who is well versed in being a running back in this league while Denard Robinson isn’t well versed in being a running back in any league. Pass blocking, route running, pass catching and a myriad of other subtleties of the position will keep Robinson in a very limited role this season, giving Forsett the bulk of the running back duties if Jones-Drew doesn’t completely recover from Linsfanc surgery or has another injury during the season.
243 — Christine Michael
The Seattle Seahawks are a great rushing team, as seen by the resurgence of Marshawn Lynch over the last couple of years. When I grab backup running backs I look for team ability at the position and players ability if he were to be needed to start. Michael fits the bill in both areas.
On the surface it looks like Robert Turbin would be the backup to Lynch, as he was last season, but Michael is a step ahead of him in ability and has already been impressive in OTA’s as he often ran with the first team with Lynch not in attendance.
Turbin was drafted in the fourth round last year and played well as a rookie, but with Lynch possibly facing a suspension due to DUI charges, the Seahawks jumped at the opportunity to take Michael in the second round of this year’s draft. For a team with two good running backs to grab another running back in the second, we have to take notice.
170 — Mike Goodson
At the moment it looks as though Goodson won’t see any closure to his legal troubles as it pertains to the NFL until after the 2013 season is over. So it looks like Goodson will be Chris Ivory’s primary backup and the third down back for the Jets.
Last season the Jets had no true third down back and it showed in running back receptions. In 2012 they had an end of his career LaDainian Tomlinson and in 14 games he managed 42 receptions for 449 yards and two touchdowns just in the receiving game. Goodson, still just 26, should easily be able to hit those numbers this season with upside for more, making him a good bet in PPR leagues.
No ADP — Zach Sudfeld
In the collapse of the New England Patriots tight end department we have a giant rookie stepping out of the rubble named Zach “The Colossal” Sudfield. I doubt that’s his nickname, but the dude is quite large. Check out his pro day comparables to Kyle Rudolph.
#Patriots UDFA TE Zach Sudfeld’s Pro Day: 6’7/253, 4.78 40, 37″ vertical, 9’5″ broad. Kyle Rudolph: 6’6/259, 4.83, 34.5″ vert, 9’5″ broad.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) June 27, 2013
So why was he an undrafted free agent? There’s no doubt it was due to his numerous college injuries. But the good news he did play his full senior year in Nevada and has looked good in OTAs. With his speed, height and ESPN Boston noted his “”impressive pass-catching skills and dependable hands”
Of course the chances of him staying healthy, learning the system and making an impact are slim, but what are you going to lose? With Hernandez gone, Gronkowski’s back trouble and the lack of upside on the tight end depth chart, I’m taking a flier on him wherever I can.
190 – Marcel Reece
Last season we got a good look at what Marcel Reece could do in the receiving game when Darren McFadden went down with his annual injury. During that time, weeks 9-13 Reece was third in total yards with and 551 and first in receptions with 28 for all running backs which put him as the 5th best PPR running back during that time and that’s while only scoring one touchdown!
So what happens this season with Reece? The best news so far for his outlook is offensive coordinator Greg Olson’s glowing comments on his play as a third down back. He said, “It’s nice…to have somebody who is built like he is built and is also intelligent enough to be that third-down back who understands the blitz packages that other teams are doing and to have tremendous hands coming out of the backfield.”
Last season McFadden served as the every down back while he was healthy, which kept Reece from getting many looks, but this year it looks as though Reece will get work even when McFadden is uninjured. With the amount of football hours the Raiders will most likely be trailing, we should see plenty of Reece this season. Last season the Raiders targeted running backs the second most in the league and even though they have a new offensive coordinator in Greg Olson, his Buccaneers offense from 2008 to 2011 targeted running backs the eighth most in the league.
At the worst we have a third down back who will see plenty of targets and at the best we have a backup to a fragile starter who can be a top 10, even top 5 fantasy back as the starter.
255 — Roy Helu
Last season we were all looking to Helu for a break out season, but Alfred Morris broke out instead. Helu’s biggest problem, besides Morris, is his health, but at this late in the draft his upside trumps those concerns. Helu seems to be on track for a healthy start to this season and is in line to win the job as the third down/passing down back. If that happens he is worth more than his ADP, but he’s also on a team that excels at running the ball and likes to do it often. That in itself makes Helu worth stashing.
214 – Rob Housler
Mr. Housler was lining up as a wide receiver in OTA’s and received more work than Larry Fitzgerald. That extra work at wide receiver is good news for his fantasy prospects this season, even if he doesn’t see many plays on the outside because he’s continuing to prove his value as a receiver in a pass first offense under new head coach Bruce Arians.
No ADP — Dennis Johnson
Johnson is an undrafted free agent running back for the Texans. Does that sound familiar? Arian Foster was also undrafted and proved himself valuable and then took advantage when Ben Tate was injured. Johnson has been proving himself this off-season and has two players ahead of him with some questions. Foster’s statistics show he is wearing down and Tate has been injured more often than not.
Of course Johnson has two very good backs ahead of him and you aren’t going to draft Johnson instead of a player with just one back ahead of him, but the Texans offense is so run friendly that you might just think about it. He’ll most likely be on the waiver wire when and if his time comes, but if you have deep benches or are in a dynasty league, don’t skip him.
256 – Brandon Weeden
I can’t seem to get Brandon Weeden away from my articles and that’s because Norv Turner is really just that good at turning ok quarterbacks into good fantasy quarterbacks (see Philip Rivers). Yes, he’s older than dirt (i.e. 10 years younger than me), but he also has a strong arm that fits Turner’s deep ball philosophy perfectly. Remember when Josh Gordon was catching long touchdown after long touchdown last season? Well, that’s just a preview of what Turner will be able to do with Weeden. Ron Jaworski studied all of Weeden’s rookie games and came out of it saying, “There’s no question in my mind that his throwing skill set and Turner’s quarterback-friendly system will mesh effectively.” Whoa, slow down there Ron!
Am I saying that Weeden is a top 10 quarterback this season? No, I am not, but thanks for asking. I am saying that his upside, especially with good matchups this year, is top 10 for those weeks, which makes him a valuable streaming/bench quarterback.
185 – Jordan Cameron
See above. And then see what new head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner have done with tight ends in the past. Antonio Gates, Kellen Winslow Jr., Greg Olsen and Vernon Davis all shined under one or both of these guys. Turner’s offense opens up the middle of the field with deep routes, which of course needs good blocking up front, but thankfully that is a strength for the Browns. The suspension of Josh Gordon will hurt the offense early in the season, but a least Cameron will be a top target and when Gordon comes back, we should see Turner’s offense start to run more smoothly.
Last season Greg Olsen was the 6th ranked tight end for the Chudzinski led Panthers. I don’t see why Cameron can’t reach similar heights, especially with the tight end position after Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Jason Witten being wide open.