It's impossible to win your fantasy football league in the first round of the draft. Everyone is picking from an elite crop of players, so it's not like the advantage of finding a top-three guy at No. 7 overall is that significant.
Leagues are won when you acquire a player who massively outperforms what you paid to add him, and that usually happens in the later rounds. With that in mind, let's take a look at a few mid-to-late-round options that have a chance to be league-winning picks.
All average draft position (ADP) information is via FantasyPros' ADP rankings.
4. Cam Newton, QB, New England Patriots (ADP: QB25)
Cam Newton is currently being drafted behind Gardner Minshew. Here at The Duel, we love Gardner Minshew – perhaps irrationally so. But he should not be going ahead of Superman. Excluding last year's injury-riddled campaign, Newton has finished as a top-four QB in five of the last eight seasons. And it's not like he's that far removed from an elite stretch. The last time we saw him healthy was the first half of 2018, when he was fantasy's QB4 prior to a shoulder injury. Now playing with the New England Patriots, Newton has a real shot at a top-five finish if he can stay healthy.
3. DJ Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: WR23)
DJ Chark was fantasy's WR8 from Week 1-14 before an ankle injury derailed his season. Yet inexplicably, the second-year breakout is now being drafted at WR23. Some fantasy managers are likely concerned about the Jacksonville Jaguars' offense, but as mentioned above, Minshew is better than people think – and he's a great fit for Chark. Minshew was Pro Football Focus' third-highest graded passer on balls that traveled 20-plus yards, and Chark excels as a downfield playmaker. Entering year three, Chark has already proven he can produce at a top-10 level when healthy, yet he's currently being drafted outside the top-20 WRs. That's a recipe for success.
2. David Johnson, RB, Houston Texans (ADP: RB19)
Since his 2016 breakout (2,118 yards from scrimmage, 20 TDs) David Johnson has been a disaster. He has missed significant chunks of time in two of three seasons, and even his RB10 finish in 2018 was underwhelming relative to ADP. But he showed real signs of life before getting hurt last season. From Week 1-6 Johnson was the RB5 in PPR formats. Though he was mostly active after that, he was clearly hurt. In fact, he never posted a snap share above 43 percent the rest of the way – seeing less than 25 percent in five of seven games. Now with the Houston Texans, Johnson will be taking the role vacated by Carlos Hyde (245 carries, 1,070 rushing yards). But it's his pass-catching ability that makes him so compelling. He was on pace to catch 80 passes for 840 yards and 8 scores before the injury. Set for a feature role in an explosive offense, Johnson's combination of rushing volume and elite receiving ability gives him legitimate top-10 upside – if he can stay on the field.
1. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions (ADP: QB13)
If anyone has a chance to break into the upper echelon of fantasy quarterbacks this season, it's probably the guy who did it last year – Matthew Stafford. Though a back injury ended his season after Week 9, Stafford actually finished as QB4 on a per-game basis. It wasn't a fluke, either. A change in offensive systems finally unleashed the gunslinger. Under Jim Bob Cooter in 2018, the Lions' signal-caller had the league's third-lowest average depth of target (aDOT). But under Darrell Bevell, his aDOT skyrocketed to a league-best 10.6 – and the results were undeniable. Stafford was a top-five QB in: yards per game (312.4), touchdown percentage (6.5), yards per attempt (8.6) and did it all while tying his career low interception percentage. He's not currently being drafted as a starter, but he looked like a top-five option in a new system last year. That's fantasy gold.
Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.