2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: The deep sleeper list you cannot go into your draft without, featuring Carson Wentz and Kenny Golladay
Those late round picks aren't just for kickers and defenses anymore. Here are Dave Richard's favorite deep sleepers heading into the season.
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For each of the last five seasons, I've tried to find that one player with a very late pick who everyone will eventually want off waivers after the first few weeks of the season. Last year, that player was Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe, who had a promising Week 1 (11 targets!), but became a ghost after that.
Oh well. No harm, no foul. The whole premise is to find a player who carries virtually no risk. You spend a pick in Round 10 or later -- in some cases much later -- and you hope for the best. If the player doesn't work out then just toss him back for someone else.
I've settled on six players I'd consider with that late-round pick, including THEEE guy I'm taking in every single one of my leagues. He's first on this list.
Everyone below has an Average Draft Position of 140th or later, and some of them are people your friends have never heard of. Go get them!
Matthew Stafford sorely needs a big red-zone threat after recording just 17 red-zone touchdowns in 2016, his second time with fewer than 20 in three years. Stafford also lost Anquan Boldin, who caught six of his eight touchdowns in the red zone.
That's where Golladay comes in. He's tall, strong, and has a wide catch radius perfect for nabbing passes in the red zone. He also flashed incredible concentration on his pair of jaw-dropping touchdowns in the Lions' first preseason game.
Curiously, he had just four targets in his next two preseason games for a total of two catches and eight yards, but played 30 snaps with the first-team offense, including 26 in that third preseason game against the Patriots. Perhaps the Lions have tried "hiding" Golladay following his attention-drawing game.
Come to think of it, coach Jim Caldwell was very low-key talking about Golladay following the big game and was noticeably irked when a reporter asked about Lions backup quarterback Jake Rudock openly admitting he was willing to throw at Golladay when he's in single coverage.
Marvin Jones has been good this preseason but fell off a cliff 11 months ago after a hot start. Golden Tate is a good slot receiver but not a big-play beast. Golladay might be the best downfield threat the Lions have. He's the kind of player worth taking a shot on late, particularly since the Lions have ordered nearly 600 pass attempts each of the last six seasons.
Draft him if: You're interested in picking up a potential steal with a pick in Round 10 or later regardless of format.
Add him off waivers if: Your bench includes receivers like Kenny Britt, Robby Anderson, Jones, Rishard Matthews, Corey Coleman, Sterling Shepard, Jordan Matthews, Kevin White and Kendall Wright. Golladay has more upside.
Kupp's not going to win many foot races to the end zone, but he's going to draw a lot of targets anyway. The third-round pick is the FCS all-time leader in total receptions (428), yards (6,464) and touchdowns (73). He's exactly the type of player the Rams need opposite Sammy Watkins.
Think of the role Pierre Garcon played in Rams coach Sean McVay's offense back in D.C. Garcon was never the deep-field guy, but was the move-the-chains guy. Kupp should fill that role for Jared Goff this season.
As a matter of fact, he already has. In two preseason games Kupp caught 8 of 10 targets for 107 yards and a touchdown, and all but one of them came with the first-team offense.
Expect Kupp to be at his best in PPR leagues. However, given Watkins' shaky injury history and the likelihood the Rams will play from behind a decent amount, a 120-target rookie campaign from Kupp. With those kinds of numbers, he could be a reliable No. 3 Fantasy receiver regardless of format.
Draft him if: You're in Round 9 or later in a PPR league, Round 11 in a non-PPR.
Add him off waivers if: You need some added depth at receiver, because you just lost Cameron Meredith or Julian Edelman.
IIs this one a little too obvious? The Bills traded Watkins and lost Boldin, and are left with Jones, Jordan Matthews and Andre Holmes. Matthews is well known following his three seasons in Philadelphia, but Jones has the most upside of the group, and it's not close.
Last year, Jones was the only real threat at East Carolina, and caught 158 passes for 1,746 yards! The 6-foot-2 receiver was a stud in the slot but has since branched out and will play on the outside most of the time for the Bills. At the Combine he ran his 40-yard dash in 4.45, so he has speed on top of his size and great hands. No wonder he was a regular with the starting unit in the preseason, catching six passes on 14 targets for 70 yards.
This is simply a receiver in a good situation with a huge workload coming his way. The Bills should end up playing from behind more often than not, opening the door for Jones to come up with a bunch of catches, especially with Matthews dinged up. Everything is up for grabs in this passing game and he's their most talented target. As many as 75 catches shouldn't be discounted, even if his quarterback situation isn't to be desired.
Draft him if: You're in Round 9 or later in a PPR league, Round 11 in a non-PPR.
Add him off waivers if: You need some added depth at receiver, especially in a PPR.
If you saw Carlos Hyde play this preseason, you saw him catch a touchdown pass among four grabs. But you also saw him look lost on handoffs, averaging 2.6 yards per run. That's because Hyde's struggled to mesh with Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. It's not a great fit for him. But it could be for Breida.
Breida didn't have a great preseason either (3.8 yard rushing average) but at least he had multiple runs of 10-plus yards and caught three passes. Moreover, he's schooled in Shanahan's scheme, and you can see it when he runs without hesitation. Fellow rookie Joe Williams fits in similarly, but Breida was the one running second behind Hyde in the Niners' dress-rehearsal third preseason game, even pitching in 4.1 yards per run. That means something.
We know Hyde isn't a master of the system, nor is he a durable runner. He's missed at least three games each of the last two seasons with injuries. If he misses time for any reason -- including under-performance -- Breida figures to be the next man up. And, given Shanahan's history using multiple backs, he might have value independent of Hyde.
Draft him if: You take Hyde with a pick earlier, or if you don't think Hyde is worth a pick at all. Also consider him if you're in a deeper draft (15-plus rounds).
Add him off waivers if: You have Hyde on your roster already, or if you're not jazzed with all of your bench players.
Thomas Rawls is a punishing rusher, and he's punished himself a few too many times already in the NFL. He's already suffered an ankle injury that cost him some preseason work. C.J. Prosise is a pass-catching maven, though he also can't seem to stay healthy. Eddie Lacy has been able to stay healthy this summer, but he's playing at close to 250 pounds ... and runs like it.
Carson can do anything these guys can -- and has shown in the preseason he can do it well. Through three games, he's averaged 4.4 yards per carry and earned playing time with the starters in the second and third matchups, totaling 73 yards on 14 carries (5.2 yard average) and three catches for a wild 61 yards. He's also been the talk of the locker room as teammates have marveled at his ability.
"He can do it all," Russell Wilson said. "He can run. Obviously he can catch the ball really well. He's tough-minded, always seems to do the right thing. For a rookie, he's been really remarkable. I think he's going to have a remarkable year, too."
Draft him if: You take Rawls with a pick earlier, or if you don't think the other Seahawks are any good. Also do it if you're patient -- plan on rostering him for at least three weeks and waiting out the Seahawks backfield situation. If you're not patient, you should just keep his name in mind for down the road.
Add him off waivers if: You have Rawls and/or Lacy on your roster already, or if your remaining running backs stink.
We're cheating a little bit with Wentz, who's ADP is slightly above 140. The Eagles surrounded him with receivers this offseason and through three preseason games, it looks like it's paid off. He's completed 69.6 percent of his throws (versus 62.4 percent last year) and has averaged 10.5 yards per attempt (versus 6.2 yards per attempt in 2016). His offensive line has remained stable and he's thrown three very different types of touchdowns -- a deep ball, a catch-and-run and a red-zone strike.
The Eagles aren't expected to be a run-friendly offense -- mostly because their running backs look so pedestrian! Last year they finished sixth in the NFL in pass attempts with 607 and gave Wentz all of them. With a year's worth of experience under his belt, you have to think they're going to give him just as many, especially after the team's offseason additions. All he has to do to hit 4,000 yards over 600 pass attempts is average 6.7 yards per attempt. That's asking very little.
As for touchdowns, the trio of Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith should bring in 18, which is more than the 16 Wentz had in all of last year. Wentz should run for a couple, and should be able to find 10 more from the likes of Darren Sproles, Nelson Agholor, Brent Celek and Mack Hollins. It's not too hard to buy into a 30-total-score campaign.
It makes Wentz a pretty good value as a bench quarterback for Fantasy. And if LeGarrette Blount proved ineffective, Wentz could have more opportunities in the red zone too. You can't go wrong with him as a late-round flier.
Draft him if: You're in a league with 14-plus teams, or in a draft with 15-plus rounds. Also snag him if you get Aaron Rodgers, Marcus Mariota or Matthew Stafford -- Wentz has good matchups when those passers have bye weeks.
Add him off waivers if: Your backup Fantasy quarterback is Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor or Carson Palmer. Also if your starter is Rodgers, Mariota or Stafford.
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