NFL Offseason

Under the Radar Rookies that could be Fantasy Sleepers

            I have been playing Fantasy Football for 6 years now, and there is nothing like winning the championship. I don’t want to toot my own horn but I have been privileged to win 3 championships over my fantasy career. Since the season is right around the corner, I went back and looked for similarities on those championship rosters. Fantasy football is mostly a game of luck, so I wasn’t expecting to find any correlations between the teams. However, there was a glaring similarity. I had a rookie who broke out unexpectedly on each team (Jordan Howard, Michael Thomas, and Evan Ingram). These were players that I picked up in the waiver wire who ended up being major contributors for my team. This led me to look at this year’s rookie class, seeking under the radar players who can potentially bring me the same success.

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  1. Deon Cain WR, Indianapolis Colts. College Stats: 2040 Yds, 130 Rec, 20 Tds, 6th-Round Pick.

         Other than TY Hilton, the Colt’s receiver room is a mess. Right now Ryan Grant is slated to start at the other receiver spot. I have my doubts about Grant because he could never emerge in Washington and their receivers were average at best. My gut feeling is that 6th-round pick Deon Cain will start opposite of Hilton when the season starts. Many people might think I am crazy for believing in a 6th-round pick, however, the round Cain was selected doesn’t reflect how talented he is. The reason he fell so late was because of character concerns. I had a 3rd-round grade on him coming out, and his grade could’ve been a little higher if he tested better. He looked way more explosive on tape, than his testing would reflect. What I loved most about Deon is he was one of the best route runners in the class. Meaning his skills are more likely to translate to the NFL right away. He knew how to release off the line of scrimmage against any coverage, and could cleanly get in and out of  his breaks. His problem was catching the football. He had a lot of concentration drops so hopefully Deon is working on fixing some of those issues. He can be very productive with the ball in his hands, especially if Andrew Luck returns to form, who is more than capable of getting the best out of Deon.

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  1. Equanimeous St. Brown WR. Green Bay Packers. College Stats: 1481 Yds, 92 Rec,   13 Tds, 6th-Round Pick.

         I know what you’re thinking, “This guy is putting stock in another 6th-round pick? He doesn’t know what he is talking about!” Just hear me out. The Packers receiving corp looks a little different than it has in recent years. Davante Adams and Randall Cobb are still there, but Jordy Nelson was cut this off season. The Packers also added Jimmy Graham to fill their void at Tight End. Now I am very high on Davante Adams, and  I believe he is going to have a monster 2018 season. However, I am skeptical of Cobb and Graham. Cobb hasn’t been the same player that he once was, and Jimmy Graham is more of a red zone threat. Meaning his production is going to to be heavily reliant on touchdowns. Like I mentioned before Jordy Nelson was cut, so the X receiver spot is open. This is where Equanimeous St. Brown comes in. The Packers selected 3 receivers in this past draft to compete for Jordy’s former spot. EQ had my highest grade out of the bunch. It’s mind boggling that he fell so late, because we are talking about a 6’6, 215 lb receiver who ran a 4.46 40 yard dash at the combine. Guys with those physical gifts usually don’t make it out of the top 50 picks. I believe that he fell because he was very inconsistent on tape. He would show flashes of brilliance, and than follow it up with taking a play off. His effort was up and down and I think teams noticed it. If he can get his priorities right, he has the talent to be a weapon that Aaron Rodgers can utilize.

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  1. Jordan Wilkins RB, Indianapolis Colts. College Stats: 1751 Yds, 279 Att, 14 Tds, 5th-Round Pick.

        I slept on Jordan when I was evaluating this year’s class. He caught my eye while watching his teammate AJ Brown for the 2019 class. I kept saying, “Who is this number 22 kid?” because Jordan kept making plays. The funny thing about the Colts, is like their receiving corp, their running back room is a mess. They are supposed to run a committee which is poison for fantasy owners, but really any guy can emerge as the lead dog. Colts’ Gm Chris Ballard said he liked what he saw from Jordan in the off season, and that he would definitely be in the mix if he keeps up the good work. I believe that he would definitely be worth a late-round pick because of the upside.         

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  1. Michael Gallup WR, Dallas Cowboys. College Stats: 2690 Yds, 176 Rec, 21 Tds 3rd-round pick.

         The Cowboys have one of the oddest group of receivers in the league. I say this because they really just have a bunch of guys who are all the same caliber of receiver. This opens the doors for some competition, but from everything I have seen the Cowboys are sticking with the veterans as of now. That means that Allen Hurns will start at Z, Cole Beasley will start at Y (slot), and Terrence Williams will start at X. Things could change throughout training camp and the preseason, and I believe that rookie Michael Gallup has a shot to take Williams’s spot. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Gallup coming out, but I definitely believe he can be a starting receiver in this league. I just don’t see as high as a ceiling as others saw. Regardless, the Cowboys don’t have a true a number one, so if Gallup can break into the starting line up, he should see plenty of opportunities. In fantasy, opportunity is everything. If he does earn a spot with the first team, I see him as a low end WR3 or a solid flex.

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  1. Chris Herndon TE, New York Jets. College Stats: 1048 Yds, 86 Rec, 7 Tds, 4th-Round Pick.

         Tight End is the most top heavy position in fantasy. There are a couple of clear cut guys that will give their owners top end production. After those guys, there is a significant drop off in consistency and overall fantasy points. This means fantasy owners take a big risk passing on players like Gronk, Kelce, Ertz, Olson, etc…which is why I like Chris Herndon as a late-round flier. He wasn’t one of my favorite prospects, but I liked his game to some degree. I believe he is the most talented Tight End on the Jets’ roster with the departure of Austin Seferian Jenkins who was a very underrated fantasy option last year. I know there were some reports of off the field issues that Herndon was facing, but if everything checks out, I believe he can plug right into the offense. The Jets’ Quarterback situation is going to affect his value as well. There is obviously some unknowns with rookie Sam Darnold (I believe he is going to be very good), but if Josh McCown is named the starter I would like Herndon even more. McCown has always incorporated his Tight Ends, making guys like Gary Barnidge a viable fantasy option.  

 

Work Cited

  1. “NFL Draft Tracker – Picks.” NFL.com, National Football League, www.nfl.com/draft/tracker/picks
  2. “Sports Reference | Sports Stats, Fast, Easy, and up-to-Date.” College Football at Sports-Reference.com, www.sports-reference.com/.

 

 

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