BY the time you read this there’s a high chance you would have already drafted your NFL fantasy side for the upcoming season. If that is the case, every coach is likely scouring the waiver wire looking for players to add to their watchlist or potentially stash in their final bench spot. Whether you’ve done your draft or not, depending on your league size these 15 NFL players are somewhat underrated heading into 2019, making them potentially game-changing additions for your squad if everything goes according to plan
All numbers/stats provided are based on ESPN PPR fantasy leagues
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AS the name suggests most of these players will be drafted somewhere in the top 100-150 picks, meaning by the time you’re ready to take a gamble with one of your few remaining roster spots, they could already be gone. However, if your fellow draftees are asleep at the wheel or making bad business decisions like drafting the Bears D/ST in Round 9, these guys could prove to be bargains.
ADP = Average Draft Position
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams – ADP: 105.5, 89.0% ownership
SEEING Jared Goff come off the board as the QB13 behind the likes of Tom Brady and Russell Wilson surprises me. After finishing 43rd for fantasy scoring per game in his rookie year, Goff has finished 11th and 10th in 2017 and 2018 respectively, with a high chance this upcoming year will be his best to date. The Rams are expected to put up a ton of points again under Sean McVay this season and with one of his favourite weapons, Cooper Kupp, back in action, snaring Goff late in drafts looms as a serious steal.
Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers – ADP: 112.8, 79.5% ownership
WHILE DJ Moore is the Panthers receiver generating a lot of buzz, his fellow pass-catching teammate could be in for a breakout season of his own. After starting just 12 games in his two NFL seasons to date Samuel is expected to have a bigger slice of the pie that is Carolina’s offense this year which is great for his fantasy potential. A healthy season from the versatile wideout would certainly help, but the natural jump in development Samuel is expected to take in year three makes the former Buckeye worth a mid to late-round flier.
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys – ADP: 121.5, 77.0% ownership
A lot of the chatter in Dallas revolves around what the offense can do with a full season of Amari Cooper. Don’t sleep on the player opposite him though, with sophomore receiver Michael Gallup pencilled in as WR2 for the Cowboys, ready to become more of a factor in 2019. While he finished 4th in targets for Dallas last season, Gallup only managed to record a catch 48.5% of the time, which is a glaring concern. With Ezekiel Elliott still in street clothes though, the Cowboys may be forced to lean on their passing attack a touch more early on, which would only further help Gallup’s fantasy scoring.
Image from thestar.com
Jordan Howard, RB, Philadelphia Eagles – ADP: 123.5, 82.2% ownership
A lot of fantasy coaches believe rookie Miles Sanders is the only Philly back worth owning. I beg to differ. A fresh start with the Eagles could help Jordan Howard turn his form around after declining in each of his seasons with Chicago finishing as the 20th ranked RB for points per game in 2018. Don’t let last year fool you though, since being drafted in 2016, Jordan Howard trails only Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley for rushing yards with 3,370 in his career to date. He’ll split carries/snaps with Sanders and Darren Sproles, but Howard should still be a worthwhile late selection, especially in non-PPR leagues.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens – ADP: 125.3, 77.6% ownership
HIS passing numbers may alarm you, but there’s a reason the 2016 Heisman winner is labelled as a dual-threat quarterback. He took that label and ran with it (pun intended) when Baltimore announced him as their full-time starter, setting an NFL record for carries by a quarterback with 147 over just seven games! Don’t go expecting him to rush the ball 20+ times with too much regularity, but his ability to move the chains with his legs makes Jackson an intriguing fantasy prospect to say the least, It’s slightly risky, but I think Jackson’s worth the gamble at QB.
STILL UP FOR GRABS
WHILE the group above may be already off the board, these five dudes might still be available for hire. Good for your last or second-last selection these players can add valuable depth to your side with a chance they can deliver some serious numbers if things break right.
Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers – ADP: 141.4, 66.7% ownership
WINNING double-digit games for the first time since 2009 helped Rivers post the 11th best fantasy season by a quarterback last year, in turn, outperforming the expectations of a lot of people. Currently coming off the board as the QB17 there’s still some fuel left in the tank for old man Rivers, and the Chargers will be eager to capitalise on it while their Super Bowl window remains open. It’s probably safe to plug Rivers with another QB on your roster, but if you’ve left it until late, you do a lot worse than drafting the future HOFer.
Image from washingtonpost.com
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – ADP: 153.9, 52.2% ownership
RIVERS is gone and you still need a quarterback? Enter Jameis Winston, who could be just about anything this year. We tend to forget that Winston is a former No. 1 overall pick, but then again, he hasn’t exactly reminded us all that often. There were some positive moments for Winston last season, with the Bucs QB recording the 12th most fantasy points through Week 10 to Week 17 and a new head coach with an entirely new offense means change could be on the horizon. I’m a believer in Winston this season and while it may pay to have a backup plan, he’s going undrafted in a handful of leagues, making him a potential lottery ticket late in your draft.
Broncos D/ST – ADP: 159.1, 50.3% ownership
WHY can’t the Broncos have the best defense in fantasy football this year? They have finished no lower than 13th for fantasy scoring in the past seven seasons and now have defensive-minded coach Vic Fangio leading the charge. They lost some talent in the offseason, but their dynamic, pash-rush attack coupled with defensive stars across other lines will keep Denver among the relevant fantasy defenses in 2019.
Kalen Ballage, RB, Miami Dolphins – ADP: 159.5, 40.1% ownership
I’ll be frank with you, I hadn’t heard much about Kalen Ballage before I started preparing for this fantasy season. It was difficult for Ballage to stand out in his rookie campaign fighting for snaps behind Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake last year. With Gore now out of the picture though, Ballage looms as a worthwhile bench stash at worst, with a high chance he’ll see an uptick in offensive responsibilities for Miami. His only TD last year came via an explosive 75-yard run and if he can get off the chain a few more times, the Dolphins may be forced to hand him the ball with more regularity.
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts – ADP: 161.3, 34.6% ownership
INJURIES curtailed Jack Doyle’s season last year, allowing his teammate Eric Ebron to become a touchdown specialist for the Colts. Ebron’s 13 TD’s tied for second-most in the league, but that didn’t stop Doyle from being relevant in the six games he did appear in. On a points per game basis, Doyle was the 10th highest scoring fantasy tight end in 2018 finishing second only to T.Y. Hilton in most relevant receiving stats for the team. Currently ranked as the TE19, there’s no reason why over a full season Doyle can’t produce another top-10 fantasy season even without Andrew Luck under center.
BY now, your draft has probably come to an end and you’re sitting there looking at your team thinking “was Player X really a good pick in Round 14?”. If the answer to that question is no, you’re in luck. While adding these players right away isn’t a priority, some of these names could prove to be relevant fantasy ones throughout the season. Snapping them up from the waiver wire in case they pop is a fine move if you’ve got a bench spot to burn (you probably don’t need that backup QB). Worst case scenario, especially in deeper leagues, be sure to add these guys to your watchlist in case injury strikes, so you can be ready to pounce.
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers – ADP: 167.0, 29.6% ownership
WITH a lot of speculation surrounding Melvin Gordon’s future in L.A., both Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson are seeing their ADP climb. Ekeler will most likely take over the No. 1 RB responsibilities if Gordon is traded and/or fails to report this season, but don’t be surprised if he concedes that role to Jackson throughout the year. After barely seeing the field in the first 11 weeks of last season, Jackson broke the shackles to post double-digit fantasy numbers in three of his final six games, showcasing talents in both the running and passing game. If you’ve got the roster space and the patience, drafting him with your last pick could pay off big time.
Devin Funchess, WR, Indianapolis Colts – ADP: 168.7, 34.0% ownership
WITH two yo-yo seasons behind him, Devin Funchess lands in Indianapolis with the potential of producing a bounce-back year. Of course, with Jacoby Brissett now throwing for the Colts, Funchess’ ceiling may take a hit, but that doesn’t make him irrelevant by any stretch. Indianapolis’ depth chart behind T.Y. Hilton is wide open at receiver, leaving the former Panther with plenty of potential work as the second-best wideout on the squad. Funchess is currently the 70th ranked wide receiver coming off the boards, but a touchdown happy 2017 that saw him finish the year as WR22 means he’s worth a punt in deeper leagues.
Image from clutchpoints.com
Demaryius Thomas, WR, New England Patriots – ADP: 169.5, 7.0% ownership
YOU may have read earlier in the week that Demaryius Thomas was cut by the Patriots, which was true. Now that N’Keal Harry is set for a stint on the IR though, Thomas is back with the former Pro Bowl calibre receiver eager to carve out a niche in New England. As Thomas continues to work his way back from an Achilles injury his future in this offense is somewhat uncertain, but he is just one week removed from recording seven catches for 87 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Patriots’ final preseason game. We can expect plenty of inconsistencies from Thomas in 2019, but he may emerge as one of Brady’s favourite targets as the year progresses. Good enough for me.
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles – ADP: 169.9, 6.6% ownership
PLAYING behind target hog Zach Ertz severely limits Dallas Goedert’s output, which is a large reason he is virtually going undrafted in fantasy leagues. In his rookie campaign, Goedert did manage to play nearly 50% of the Eagles’ snaps last season, recording 30+ catches for over 300 yards and four scores. Those type of numbers aren’t enough to warrant picking Goedert to start the season, but if he can eat into some of Ertz’s targets then there’s no reason why we couldn’t see him emerge as a noteworthy fantasy TE.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Free Agent – ADP: 170.0, 2.5% ownership
CAUTION, I’m not saying adding Jay Ajayi to your team is a good idea – yet. After spending most of last year on the sidelines Ajayi still remains unsigned, but let’s not forget that in his last two healthy season he combined to go for over 2,100 rushing yards while hauling in 50 receptions too. If a big name goes down early, Ajayi’s agent could be a busy man, making him a potentially hot waiver wire add throughout the year.
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