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USATSI

There are few things more satisfying than watching everyone run to the waiver wire early in the season only to find that the guy they expected was available is already on your roster. Fantasy managers who drafted James Robinson or Elijah Mitchell the past two years know exactly what I'm talking about. 

My hope is that there are a couple of Week 1 surprises on the list below, but that's not all you'll find. You'll find at least one player who I expect to start the year on the PUP list, but could be a league-winner in the second half. You'll find multiple running back handcuffs, a few late-round tight ends, and even one or two quarterbacks.

So what does this hodgepodge of players have in common? Well, they all have a consensus ADP on Fantasy Pros outside the top 180 and they're all being drafted after the first 10 rounds at CBS as of August 25th. I've sorted them by division with a few words on my favorites in each division. 

I expect a few objections that a couple of these guys are too well known, so I'll update in September for the final draft weekend if ADP changes that much. 

NFC North
Projections powered by Sportsline
CHI Chicago • #24
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
120th
RB RNK
46th
PROJ PTS
100.2
SOS
31
ADP
185
2021 Stats
RUYDS
433
REC
14
REYDS
96
TD
2
FPTS/G
4.6
DET Detroit • #9
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
152nd
WR RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
79.2
SOS
23
ADP
188
GB Green Bay • #87
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
141st
WR RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
119.1
SOS
13
ADP
192
MIN Minnesota • #17
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
144th
WR RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
187.2
SOS
22
ADP
212
2021 Stats
REC
50
TAR
82
REYDS
655
TD
7
FPTS/G
9.3

The NFC North has a big advantage over everyone else in this regard. While Herbert is my favorite of the group and Doubs has been the talk of training camp, Jameson Williams is actually one of my favorite late-round picks, as long as you have an IR slot in your league.

Even in industry drafts, Williams often makes it to the final round because he's already been placed on the PUP list and will miss at least the first four weeks of the season. My expectation is that Williams will return after the team's Week 7 bye and I'm perfectly fine with drafting him, stashing him, and then having an open roster slot for that first run of waivers. 

With perfect help, Williams could have been the WR1 in this class and if he is back to 100% he may just be the No. 1 wide receiver in this class for the 2022 Fantasy playoffs. Williams has exceptional speed and produced more than 1,500 yards as a 20-year-old at Alabama. He's an incredible talent who only needs to get healthy and learn the system. 

AFC South
Projections powered by Sportsline
JAC Jacksonville • #17
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
168th
TE RNK
17th
PROJ PTS
148.1
SOS
30
ADP
180
2021 Stats
REC
46
TAR
73
REYDS
408
TD
3
FPTS/G
6.9
HOU Houston • #12
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
104th
WR RNK
47th
PROJ PTS
168.1
SOS
26
ADP
214
2021 Stats
REC
33
TAR
60
REYDS
446
TD
1
FPTS/G
6
IND Indianapolis • #14
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
160th
WR RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
97.2
SOS
29
ADP
214
TEN Tennessee • #40
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
177th
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
104.8
SOS
23
ADP
NR
2021 Stats
RUYDS
350
REC
19
REYDS
87
TD
2
FPTS/G
9.1

Dontrell Hilliard isn't my favorite, but he does appear to be the handcuff to Derrick Henry, so if that's your kind of thing he should be on your radar for the final round. Same goes for Evan Engram, who appears locked in as TE1 in a Doug Pederson offense. 

The guy who is my favorite is Nico Collins. Collins struggled as a rookie, but he's 6-foot-4 and ran a 4.45 40 at his pro day, so I'm willing to give him a pass on that bad rookie year. Collins has virtually no competition for targets behind Brandin Cooks and I expect both an increase in pass volume and pass efficiency in Davis Mills' second year as a starter. Collins profiles as a borderline flex with Cooks healthy and a potential top-25 wide receiver if something happens to Cooks.

We're taking Collins as early as Round 10 in our mocks, but his ADP does not reflect that at all. I wouldn't be surprised if he's one of the risers of the final two weeks of draft season.

AFC West
Projections powered by Sportsline
LAC L.A. Chargers • #7
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
159th
TE RNK
16th
PROJ PTS
160.9
SOS
6
ADP
185
2021 Stats
REC
48
TAR
63
REYDS
478
TD
4
FPTS/G
7.9
KC Kansas City • #10
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
125th
RB RNK
50th
PROJ PTS
128.1
SOS
10
ADP
206
LV Las Vegas • #35
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
132nd
RB RNK
53rd
PROJ PTS
142.9
SOS
8
ADP
219
DEN Denver • #1
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
166th
WR RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
107.9
SOS
5
ADP
245

Isiah Pacheco and Zamir White are a pair of backs I was shocked qualified for this list. Pacheco in particular has been drafted as high as Round 8 in some of our industry drafts. While I think that's a mistake, it's also a mistake to let him last past Round 12.

Both of these backs are on teams that we just aren't sure are sold on their starters. Both of these backs could be goal-line backs, according to reports we've heard during camp. And both of these backs are rookies on teams that could have some fireworks on offense. On the downside, both of these backs are probably going to be sharing with someone if the starter goes down. I slightly prefer White, but I'm fine with either in Round 11.

NFC East
Projections powered by Sportsline
DAL Dallas • #18
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
128th
WR RNK
57th
PROJ PTS
163.5
SOS
17
ADP
192
WAS Washington • #11
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
189th
QB RNK
21st
PROJ PTS
257.2
SOS
24
ADP
214
2021 Stats
PAYDS
3563
RUYDS
215
TD
28
INT
7
FPTS/G
18.4
PHI Philadelphia • #35
Age: 27 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
196th
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
43.3
SOS
16
ADP
258
2021 Stats
RUYDS
373
REC
13
REYDS
83
TD
7
FPTS/G
6.2
NYG N.Y. Giants • #3
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
195th
WR RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
184.5
SOS
31
ADP
274
2021 Stats
REC
36
TAR
53
REYDS
366
TD
1
FPTS/G
11.2

While Sterling Shepard did surprise me by coming off the PUP before the year started, and all the other Giants receivers seem to be hurt, he's not my favorite on this list. At least not until I hear he's back to 100%. My favorite is Jalen Tolbert, and he could have a huge opportunity due to the recovery of another injured receiver, Michael Gallup.

Tolbert was the Cowboys' Round 3 pick out of South Alabama, where he thoroughly dominated the lesser competition, averaging 122 receiving yards per game. His 51.2% dominator score rank was in the 97th percentile for receivers entering the NFL and he's drawn good reviews in Dallas this offseason. 

it's always tricky to evaluate small-school guys like Tolbert, and the fact that he's already 23 makes him even more suspicious, but that maturity combined with this opportunity could equal a very fast start. If Gallup isn't able to get back to 100% early in the year, Tolbert could get an extended run as the WR2 in an offense that we expect to be well above average, if not explosive. 

NFC South
Projections powered by Sportsline
NO New Orleans • #5
Age: 32 • Experience: 12 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
135th
RB RNK
49th
PROJ PTS
120
SOS
9
ADP
187
2021 Stats
RUYDS
554
REC
27
REYDS
162
TD
2
FPTS/G
7.8
ATL Atlanta • #1
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
QB RNK
23rd
PROJ PTS
258.9
SOS
10
ADP
267
ARI Arizona • #81
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
165th
WR RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
172.6
SOS
10
ADP
198
2021 Stats
REC
53
TAR
110
REYDS
519
TD
5
FPTS/G
8.1
TB Tampa Bay • #8
Age: 33 • Experience: 12 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
178th
TE RNK
20th
PROJ PTS
114.9
SOS
8
ADP
246
2021 Stats
REC
26
TAR
39
REYDS
257
TD
1
FPTS/G
3.7

As you may be able to tell, the quality is beginning to drop off at this point, especially once we get past my favorite in each division. Although, I will say I think there's an underrated chance that the four NFC South players above all have an impact this year. Mariota runs enough to be a borderline startable QB in a one-quarterback league, Robbie Anderson is likely the No. 2 wide receiver on the Panthers, and Kyle Rudolph could have the Gronk role. But I don't like any of them as much as I like Mark Ingram

Ingram played two games without Kamara last year and averaged 20 touches, 110.5 yards, and 19.1 PPR Fantasy points per game. That makes Ingram one of the most attractive handcuffs, and he's not being drafted as such at all. I also think there's a chance he's like a poor man's Kareem Hunt without a Kamara injury, especially if the Saints stay as run heavy as they were last year. I actually have Ingram projected in Hunt's range, but I rank him much lower because you don't have to draft him near that high.

NFC West
Projections powered by Sportsline
LAR L.A. Rams • #89
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
158th
TE RNK
12th
PROJ PTS
151.6
SOS
10
ADP
183
2021 Stats
REC
61
TAR
85
REYDS
560
TD
5
FPTS/G
9.8
MIA Miami • #23
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
173rd
RB RNK
59th
PROJ PTS
74.9
SOS
1
ADP
216
2021 Stats
RUYDS
294
REC
7
REYDS
31
TD
2
FPTS/G
5.7
HOU Houston • #20
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
167th
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
27.5
SOS
5
ADP
266
2021 Stats
RUYDS
118
REC
6
REYDS
42
TD
1
FPTS/G
3.1
SEA Seattle • #7
Age: 32 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
QB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
89.4
SOS
2
ADP
276
2021 Stats
PAYDS
702
RUYDS
42
TD
6
INT
1
FPTS/G
12.8

Eno Benjamin is a nice handcuff, and Geno Smith could be a sneaky QB2 in leagues where you can start more than one, but Tyler Higbee is the star of the NFC West deep sleepers, and I'm not really sure why he qualifies.

Last year Higbee finished the year as TE14 overall and outscored Mike Gesicki, Hunter Henry and Pat Freiermuth on a per-game basis. He was even better in his final four games, averaging 13.8 Fantasy points per game. Now we've seen a big finish from Higbee that didn't translate the following year, but I think this is different.

For one thing, Higbee got the target share last year, but his efficiency just fell off a cliff, and I don't think there's any reason to believe he'll continue to be less efficient with Matthew Stafford than he was with Jared Goff. He has 100-target upside in an offense that we think may be the best in football, plus the top two target earners on the team are both 29-year-old receivers with extensive injury histories. He's one injury away from being the second target on the offense, and a potential league-winner at that. Even without an injury, I project Higbee to be a top-12 tight end, and he's rarely drafted in our drafts.

AFC East
Projections powered by Sportsline
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #84
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
169th
WR RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
149.4
SOS
12
ADP
NR198
2021 Stats
REC
34
TAR
59
REYDS
492
TD
4
FPTS/G
11.7
BUF Buffalo • #6
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
129th
WR RNK
55th
PROJ PTS
118.4
SOS
19
ADP
218
2021 Stats
REC
20
TAR
26
REYDS
178
TD
2
FPTS/G
3.5
MIA Miami • #11
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
WR RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
135.8
SOS
16
ADP
260
2021 Stats
REC
45
TAR
61
REYDS
602
TD
6
FPTS/G
9.2
NE New England • #14
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
163rd
WR RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
28.5
SOS
30
ADP
331
2021 Stats
REC
16
TAR
26
REYDS
95
TD
0
FPTS/G
2.1

Yeah, it's getting worse. Isaiah McKenzie is right behind Corey Davis here, but both are wide receivers who  probably need some help to be actual difference makers in Fantasy. For Davis, it may be as simple as holding off Garrett Wilson, which none of us really want. For McKenzie, he just needs to preserve the Cole Beasley role and be more efficient.

Beasley averaged seven targets per game over the past three seasons. McKenzie could earn those targets, but it will mean that Gabriel Davis and/or Dawson Knox don't take the step forward that they're being drafted to take. Considering I don't have Davis or Knox ranked as high as consensus, that seems possible. 

The other advantage McKenzie could have over Beasley is in the running game. He has 19 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown over the past two seasons and ran 10 times for 66 yards and two scores in 2018. If McKenzie could add a point per game on the ground, there's more upside. 

AFC North
Projections powered by Sportsline
CLE Cleveland • #18
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
WR RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
114.4
SOS
24
ADP
238
CIN Cincinnati • #34
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
80.7
SOS
15
ADP
259
2021 Stats
RUYDS
246
REC
27
REYDS
196
TD
2
FPTS/G
5.2
PIT Pittsburgh • #30
Age: 24 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
18
ADP
335
BAL Baltimore • #17
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
157th
RB RNK
56th
PROJ PTS
105.2
SOS
8
ADP
NR
2021 Stats
RUYDS
254
REC
30
REYDS
291
TD
3
FPTS/G
8.5

This section used to say Mike Davis. Now it says Kenyan Drake. And I'm not sure any of us know for sure who the first man up will be if J.K. Dobbins can't go Week 1. What we definitely know is that Gus Edwards won't be there. And 2021 showed that this offense could make Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman Fantasy relevant. I don't believe Davis or Drake have much left in the tank, but that doesn't seem to be a prerequisite in Baltimore. 

Based on what we know now, I'd bet on Drake as Dobbins' running partner for the first half of the season, though I wouldn't be surprised if Davis got the Week 1 start because he's been with the team longer. I definitely think it's possible Drake out produces Davis on fewer touches. Start looking for both of the Ravens' veterans after Round 12.