2023 "Mr. Relevant" Late-Round Targets


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2023 "Mr. Relevant" Late-Round Targets

Hopefully, you’ve used our other articles — notably our 2023 League-Winners, Targets, and Values — to build a solid roster before you get to the end of your draft. The last pick or two of your fantasy drafts are never Irrelevant. You can win leagues with those selections. Hence “Mr. Relevant.”

When you get to the conclusion of your draft, that’s the time to consider swinging for the fences. “Boring” players, those capable of providing you 8 to 10 PPR fantasy points in a pinch, are constantly available on the Waiver Wire throughout the season. These are not the kinds of players we want to recommend in this article. Consider those players “singles,” to borrow a baseball term.

What we want to do in this article is try to hit the ball out of the ballpark. This article, by its nature, will have far more strikeouts than home runs, but that’s the point — we’re trying to predict who the hot Waiver Wire pickups will be before they become hot Waiver Wire pickups. Here are players who we’re targeting 150 or more picks into fantasy drafts whom we believe feature that kind of upside.

This article will be constantly updated throughout the preseason. ADP in this article is based on our ADP tool’s PPR setting, which pulls from NFFC drafts over the last 14 days.

Players Added Since August 23

Keaontay Ingram (RB, Ari) — Ingram is the last man standing behind the injury-prone James Conner in Arizona’s backfield.

Evan Hull and Zack Moss (RBs, Ind) — The Colts will be without Jonathan Taylor for at least the first four games and potentially longer.

Players Removed Since August 23

Zamir White (RB, LV) — Josh Jacobs and the Raiders agreed to a one-year deal, pushing White into a handcuff role.

Trey McBride (TE, Ari) — Zach Ertz is back from his ACL injury and the Cardinals passing game will have Josh Dobbs or Clayton Tune running the show to open the season.


Jordan Love (GB, ADP 168 QB20, PROJ QB20)

Love attempted only 83 career passes since he was selected with the 26th pick in the 2020 draft. It’s finally Love’s job after the Packers moved on from Aaron Rodgers this off-season. It’s incredibly difficult to decipher just how good Love could be given his limited sample of regular-season action. Love was considered a raw prospect when he came out of Utah State, but the Packers felt comfortable enough to give him a chance to start in 2023. They clearly believe he’s cleaned up his biggest issues — accuracy, decision-making, and mechanics — while biding his time behind Rodgers. Love will be in a position to immediately succeed with a talented roster that won 13 games in three straight seasons before last year’s eight-win campaign. He could have one of the league’s best O-lines in front of him if they stay healthy, and Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon are one of the better complementary combinations at the position. His receiving corps is a massive question mark too, but he has a big-time potential playmaker in Christian Watson as well as break-out candidates in Romeo Doubs, Luke Musgrave, and Jayden Reed. The uncertainty surrounding Love is driving his price down, but it could come with some unknown upside if you take a shot on him late.

Kenny Pickett (Pit, ADP 172 QB21, PROJ QB18)

Pickett experienced an up-and-down rookie season as the sole QB taken in the first round. His line of 389 passing attempts for 2,404 passing yards, 7 TDs, and 11 interceptions was underwhelming, while his 6.2 YPA ranked ahead of only Kyler Murray. His 0.32 FP per dropback ranked dead last. The advanced metrics were better, as Pickett finished 23rd in all three of EPA/play, CPOE, and adjusted completion percentage. His offensive line could be significantly upgraded this year, with the additions of Round 1 OT Broderick Jones, Round 3 TE Darnell Washington, and free-agent signee Isaac Seumalo at guard. OC Matt Canada’s scheme wasn’t doing Pickett many favors with just 44.8% of Pickett’s yardage coming after the catch (9th-lowest) despite him hitting his receivers as required quite often — he ranked 11th in high accuracy throw percentage. A successful sophomore season for Pickett would likely include increased emphasis on the deep ball. He ranked 5th in deep ball accuracy while his 4.4% turnover-worthy throw percentage on attempts of 20+ yards was 7th-best. On paper, Pickett has all the ingredients to put together a Year 2 breakout: continuity on offense and in playcalling, an improved offensive line, a deep and talented receiving corps, and a signature skill that he performs better than most of the league. Pickett is off to a strong start in the preseason, as he looks more comfortable in the pocket and has more zip on his ball.

Brock Purdy (SF, ADP 176 QB22, PROJ QB17)

Purdy is the poster boy for the NFL’s version of “Mr. Relevant.” He was the last pick in the 2022 Draft, but the moniker “Mr. Irrelevant” doesn’t apply to him after how he played at the end of his rookie season. Purdy has started eight games in the regular season and playoffs, recording an incredible 7-1 record. His only loss came in the NFC championship game against Philadelphia, where he tore his UCL on the 49ers' first series. Purdy took over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13 and threw for multiple TD passes in seven straight games while averaging 20.5 FPG. His .69 FP per dropback from Week 13 through the Wild Card Round would’ve ranked behind only Jalen Hurts (.71) and Justin Fields (.70) over the entire season. Purdy had just 21/26/2 rushing in that seven-game run, so his production came almost exclusively through the air, unlike Hurts and Fields. Playing in the league’s most effective scheme for generating YAC helped out Purdy’s fantasy value immensely, and it could make him one of the more productive fantasy QBs this season. Purdy’s only major obstacles are his health (he’s on track to be ready for Week 1) and his lack of rushing ability. Those factors are holding his ADP down, but he should still have no problem producing in his healthy starts in arguably the NFL’s most QB-friendly offense.

Bryce Young (Car, ADP 208 QB26, PROJ QB23)

The Panthers made Young the second top overall selection in Carolina’s 29-year history, joining Cam Newton from the class of 2012. He’s coming off a stellar three-year career at Alabama, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 2021, throwing for 4872 yards and 47 TDs in 15 games playing with Jameson Williams and John Metchie. His production tailed off as a junior without his star WRs, posting 3328/32 passing in 12 contests in 2022. He completed 65.9% of his passes and averaged a healthy 8.8 YPA and 303.7 passing YPG with an 8.5% TD rate and 1.3% INT rate over his final two seasons. Owner David Tepper did everything in his power to ensure his top pick succeeds by putting Andy Dalton, Frank Reich, and Josh McCown around Young to start his career. Young can extend plays and will run a little with 185 yards and 7 TDs in his final 27 games at Alabama. Young is a hyper-accurate passer to all three levels of the field with the IQ to get through his progressions in a timely fashion. He’s likely to take his lumps as a first-time NFL starter but has a touch more upside than other QBs being drafted around him if he can quickly adapt to the next level.

Sam Howell (Was, ADP 200 QB25, PROJ QB27)

Howell was considered a first-round talent entering his junior season at North Carolina, but he had a rough final season to fall to the fifth round. He regressed from a 69.0% completion rate as a sophomore down to just 61.6% as a junior, and his YPA fell drastically from 10.5 to 8.6. Howell did lose Javonte Williams, Michael Carter, and Dyami Brown to the NFL in 2020, which left him just Josh Downs in 2021 who broke out as his new #1 WR after recording just 7 receptions the season prior. Howell took his rushing production up a notch, dialing up 183 attempts for 1072 yards and 11 TDs. His sole NFL action came during Week 18 in Washington’s 26-6 win over the Cowboys, completing 11/19 passes for 169 yards and 1 TD and while tacking on 5/35/1 rushing. Howell will be on the QB streaming radar if he averages five rushing attempts per game in 2023. He’s passed the eye test this preseason, completing 28/37 passes for 265 yards (7.2 YPA) and 3 TDs with 4/25 rushing. Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samuel give him a dangerous trio at WR, and OC Eric Bieniemy is poised to bring some pace to this offense. He’s going to have a shorter leash with Ron Rivera fighting for his job and Jacoby Brissett behind him on the depth chart, but he’s worth a flier to see if he can catch lightning in a bottle.

Running Backs

Chase Brown (Cin, ADP 182 RB58, PROJ RB56)

Cincinnati has a void to fill after three-down backup Samaje Perine bolted for Denver in free agency, and Brown has the chance to grab Perine’s valuable handcuff role. Perine ranked as the RB2 behind only Josh Jacobs in Weeks 11-13, averaging 23.7 FPG and turning in 82+ scrimmage yards and 19+ FP in each game. Brown started his career at Western Michigan in 2018 before transferring to Illinois and eventually becoming their go-to back in his final two seasons. He posted 498/2648/15 rushing (5.3 YPC) and 41/382/3 receiving (9.3 YPR) in 2021-22 for per-game averages of 137.7 scrimmage yards, 1.9 receptions, and .82 touchdowns. Brown finished with the RB class’ third-best SPORQ score thanks to a 4.44-second 40-yard dash, a 40” vertical, and a 10’7” broad jump at 5’10”, 209 pounds. Brown has the chance to be a home-run-hitting chance-of-pace runner behind Joe Mixon, and he’s got a touch of upside if he can be his handcuff. He’s battling just Trayveon Williams and Chris Evans for playing time in this backfield, who have a combined 64 carries for 315 yards in 60 career games. Mixon played poorly enough last season to find himself in a timeshare with Perine in the postseason, which gives Brown an outside chance of grabbing an even bigger role if Mixon’s play continues to decline.

Jerome Ford (Cle, ADP 182 RB59, PROJ RB64)

Ford was a four-star recruit and a consensus top-10 RB prospect before joining the Alabama Crimson Tide as a true freshman. Joining a roster that also included Najee Harris and Brian Robinson didn’t result in any playing time for Ford, who opted to transfer to Cincinnati after just six days in the portal. Ford was a major player in the Bearcats’ 2021 playoff run, accumulating 1307 rushing yards on 6.1 YPC. That remarkably efficient senior season for Ford led to him being drafted as a Round 5 pick in the 2022 draft. He had just eight touches as he was buried on the Cleveland depth chart behind D’Ernest Johnson, Kareem Hunt, and Nick Chubb. The departures of Johnson and Hunt this off-season opened the door for Ford to serve directly behind Chubb. Ford is trying to stay in the #2 RB spot as he’s week-to-week with a hamstring injury from early August. The Cleveland coaching staff has been hesitant to give Chubb a bell-cow workload throughout his career. Ford could carve out a complementary role to Chubb within this offense and could be one of the more valuable handcuffs in fantasy. The Browns traded for Pierre Strong to help with their depth behind Nick Chubb, which isn’t the best sign for Ford’s health, but his acquisition was bigger indictment on the rest of their RB depth chart.

Gus Edwards (Bal, ADP 196 RB63, PROJ RB57)

Edwards wasn’t activated until Week 7 last season because he was rehabbing from a 2021 torn ACL. He missed two more games with a hamstring injury and finished the year with 87/433/3 (5.0 YPC) in nine games. He did not catch a single pass and finished as the RB53 at 6.7 FPG. In almost all ways, Edwards was a “mini” version of J.K. Dobbins. He ran nearly 80% of his carries behind gap scheme concepts and ranked exceptionally well in yards after contact per attempt (16th among qualifying RBs). Still, Edwards’ only top-24 half-PPR RB scoring week in 2022 came when he scored 2 rushing TDs in his first game back from injury in Week 7 against the Browns. So why are we ahead of markets on Edwards? First of all, it’s the fact that he’s here. The Ravens could have saved money by cutting him, and instead, they reworked his contract. Second is that Dobbins has skipped most of the off-season as he angles for a new contract despite playing in just 23 games in three seasons (Dobbins has returned to practice). Edwards will be touchdown-dependent even if Todd Monken gets the RBs more involved in the passing game, which would favor fellow vet Melvin Gordon, but he’s an effective grinder who is currently the clear #2 behind a wild card in Dobbins. It’s easy to view him as one of the best — and most affordable — true handcuffs in fantasy football.

Ty Chandler (Min, ADP 211 RB64, PROJ RB58)

Chandler had a largely unproductive college career until transferring from Tennessee to UNC in his fifth year, finally breaking out to the tune of 1068 yards on the ground and tacking on 210 receiving yards on 15 targets, as well. He does bring solid size-adjusted athleticism to the table with a 73.3 SPORQ score, but he managed just six carries as a rookie. Chandler ran a blistering 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the 2022 combine, and he’s shown plenty of elusiveness to create extra yards on his limited touches in the last two preseasons. Receiving skills might be the best thing an RB could have to siphon work from Alexander Mattison, but Chandler was not an efficient receiver in college, never breaking 2.0 YPRR or more than 24 targets in any season. He may just need more opportunities in the passing game, though, and he impressed with 4/29 receiving in the preseason opener — Mattison rested, and Kene Nwangwu sat with an undisclosed injury. Mattison has never been a particularly explosive runner, and Chandler could bring some much-needed juice to this backfield. Mattison also has never been the main back for extended stretches heading into his fifth season, which gives Chandler an opportunity to bite off a bigger role than anticipated.

Kyren Williams (LAR, ADP 215 RB65, PROJ RB65)

Williams had rotten injury luck to start his professional career. He missed a major chunk of time in the summer for a broken foot during OTAs, which required surgery. He then suffered a high-ankle sprain on the opening kickoff of the NFL season. His ankle injury ruined his chance to contribute right out of the gates, with Sean McVay throwing Cam Akers in the doghouse early in the season. Los Angeles’ fifth-round pick never got going once he returned to the lineup in Week 9, and it didn’t help that Akers earned back his workhorse role. Williams posted 35/139/0 rushing (4.0 YPC) and 9/76/0 receiving (8.4 YPR) on 12 targets (5.0% share). He owned a 24% snap share and a 16.5% carry share, and he ran 73 routes (7.3 per game) in 10 contests. Williams fell to Day 3 of the draft in 2021 when he posted a 4.65-second 40-time and a 32-inch vertical at just 5’9”, 194 pounds. There’s a chance he’s just not a good enough athlete to be an impact running back, but he’ll get a better chance to prove himself this season without two debilitating lower-body injuries slowing him down. Akers is the heavy favorite to lead this backfield, but we’ll see if he can stay in McVay’s good graces for an entire season. Williams is separating himself from rookie Zach Evans for the #2 spot, and he is shaping up to be the Rams’ third-down back and the immediate backup to Akers.

Keaontay Ingram (Ari, ADP 233 RB69, PROJ RB75)

Ingram is a back with great size (6’0”, 221 pounds) who fell to the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft because he didn’t really use that size well enough when finishing runs. His very small sample as a rookie — 27 carries — seemed to confirm that, as Ingram averaged just 2.2 YPC and was “stuffed” on 63% of his runs, second most among all RBs with 20 or more carries (Fantasy Points Data). While Ingram averaged negative yards before contact, that’s not entirely the offensive line’s fault, as James Conner was stuffed on less than 40% of runs and averaged 1.35 YBC. It potentially speaks to Ingram’s indecisiveness at the line of scrimmage, but there’s hope he improved after Arizona’s new coaching staff handed him the #2 RB job after releasing Corey Clement. Backs behind Conner inherently have value because of Conner’s injury history — he’s missed 3+ games in five straight seasons since becoming a starter. The Cardinals will bring in RB help before the season, but Ingram is the last man standing behind Conner if you’re throwing a late-round dart in deeper formats.

Evan Hull (Ind, ADP 237 RB71, PROJ RB63) and Zack Moss (Ind, ADP 233 RB70, PROJ RB71)

Jonathan Taylor’s already awful fantasy situation somehow got worse on cutdown day. He surprisingly opened training camp on the PUP list after undergoing an “arthroscopic debridement” surgery on his right ankle in January. And, in even more stunning news, he’ll remain on the PUP list to start the season after the Colts failed to find a trade partner, forcing him to miss at least the first four games in 2023. Taylor could miss even more time if his holdout drags into the season before the Oct. 31 trade deadline before Week 8. There’s a real chance that Taylor will never play another snap for the Colts with their relationship clearly fractured.

Indy’s RB depth is being tested heading into the season after top backup Zack Moss broke his arm in practice on July 31, which left rookie Evan Hull and Deon Jackson as the top RBs in camp. Moss is the best bet for volume in this backfield but he may not be ready until after Week 1. They did cut Kenyan Drake on Aug. 27, which is an indication he could be back soon, though. Hull is the most intriguing option after a fairly strong training camp, and he could carve out a passing-game role after leading all FBS backs with 55 receptions last season. Jackson seemingly has the most work to do with Indy’s new coaching staff, but he can’t be counted out in this wide-open competition for touches. I’m prioritizing Hull over Moss then Jackson later in drafts, but Shane Steichen is likely to use an ugly committee for as long as Taylor is out. Still, it’s worth spending a pick on one of these backs late in drafts to just in case one of these back pushes ahead of the pack.

Wide Receivers

Marvin Mims (Den, ADP 160 WR65, PROJ WR64)

The Broncos entered the draft with limited capital because of its misguided trade for Russell Wilson last off-season. They already had Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and K.J. Hamler on the roster when they selected him, which speaks to how much Sean Payton coveted Mims. Mims went to Oklahoma after setting a national record with 2629 receiving yards in a single season, which helped him reset the Texas state record with 5485 career receiving yards. He grabbed an immediate role with the Sooners, leading them in receiving yards in each of his three seasons. Mims shined in the 40-yard dash (4.38 seconds), broad jump (10’9”), and vertical jump (39.5”), but he checked in the smaller side at 5’11”, 183 pounds at the combine. Our Brett Whitefield believed Mims can be an immediate deep threat with the chance to develop into a great route runner. Denver’s depth chart has been thinned out since the draft with Patrick (Achilles) and Hamler (illness) now out of the mix, which gives Mims a much better chance to make an impact. Russ is going to have to play much better than he did last season for Mims to be an immediate factor, but Payton is one of the NFL’s best offensive minds. Jeudy suffered a hamstring injury on Aug. 24, which should elevate Mims into a bigger role in the first month of the season.

Alec Pierce (Ind, ADP 175 WR70, PROJ WR58)

Pierce came into the league as a major deep threat after averaging 17.5 YPT at the University of Cincinnati and running a 4.41-second 40-time at 6’3”, 211 pounds. He landed in the absolute worst offense to run vertical routes and play almost exclusively on the perimeter. Matt Ryan finished with a league-worst aDOT (6.4 yards) and the second-worst deep-throw rate (5.0%) per Fantasy Points Data. Pierce still had a few moments as a rookie with three weekly finishes as a top-24 fantasy WR and four finishes as a top-36 WR. Pierce posted 41/593/2 receiving (14.5 YPR) on 76 targets (13.2% share) for 5.7 FPG. He played on 66% of the snaps and ran 439 routes (27.4 per game) in 16 contests — he missed a game for a concussion. Pierce finished with a 24.9% air yards share despite finishing with just a 13.2% target share. Corey Davis was the only player with a higher air yards share (25.6%) and a worse target share (11.7%) than Pierce (per Fantasy Points Data). Among 81 WRs with 50+ targets, Pierce ran the highest percentage of his routes from out wide at 93.5%. Pierce could be primed to take a significant step forward in Year 2 with Parris Campbell’s 91 targets vacating the offense, and new HC Shane Steichen should move him around more and use him more creatively. Anthony Richardson is far from a precision passer entering the league. Still, he possesses a howitzer for an arm, which should open up Indy’s downfield passing attack after the dead-armed Ryan led the offense last season. Pierce will be a volatile weekly fantasy asset playing with a rookie QB while slotting in behind Michael Pittman, but he should pop for a few more big games in Year 2.

Jonathan Mingo (Car, ADP 169 WR68, PROJ WR61)

The Panthers immediately went to work to improve Bryce Young’s receiving corps by selecting Mingo early in the second round this spring. He stayed in-state with Mississippi as a four-star recruit and made contributions throughout his four seasons. A foot injury prevented his career from taking off as a junior, and he finished with an underwhelming 73/1207/8 receiving (16.5 YPR) in his final 19 contests in 2021-22. His stock rose with an excellent performance at the combine, posting a SPORQ score of 97.3. He checked in a 6’2”, 220 pounds with top-notch marks in the vertical jump (39.5”), broad jump (10’9”), and 40-yard dash (4.46 seconds). The Panthers didn’t have many options to upgrade at WR in a weak free-agent batch after tearing down their passing game this off-season. They eventually settled for Adam Thielen and D.J. Chark, which means Mingo has the chance to be the main man in this receiving corps in the near future. Thielen is heading into his 10th campaign having not hit 1000+ receiving yards since 2018, while Chark is on another one-year deal because of 19 missed games the last two seasons. Mingo has so much going for him because of his ideal situation and his impressive size and athleticism, and the one thing holding him back is his lack of production at Mississippi. It’s a red flag for his chances to be a fantasy producer in 2023, but he’s still worth a look late in drafts just in case he can put it together just like D.K. Metcalf did as a rookie in 2019. Mingo and Metcalf had similar SPORQ scores (97.3 vs. 99.7) and receiving yards (1207 vs. 1215) in their final 19 games at Mississippi.

Van Jefferson (LAR, ADP 180 WR71, PROJ WR55)

Jefferson came into the NFL with a reputation as one of the best route-runners in the 2020 Draft class, but Sean McVay has mostly deployed him as a deep threat through his first three seasons. He finished with the third-longest aDOT at 16.9 yards among 117 WRs with 25+ targets, behind only Justin Watson (20.4) and teammate Tutu Atwell (17.9). Jefferson made a leap in Year 2 with 50/802/6 receiving before taking a step back in 2022. A pair of off-season knee surgeries held him out for the first six games before he was forced to play the majority of his games without Matthew Stafford. Jefferson posted 24/369/3 receiving (15.4 YPR) on 44 targets (13.5% share) to finish as the WR72 with 6.1 FPG. He played on 78% of the snaps and ran 275 routes (25.0 per game) in 11 contests. Jefferson is the clear favorite to be the #2 WR but he’ll be a distant second option behind Cooper Kupp, who earned a league-high 29.9% target share before his injury in 2022. Jefferson will be back to full health after multiple operations last year and he has plenty to play for entering the final year of his rookie deal. He’ll also benefit from a healthy Stafford at QB. He just needs more easy-access targets after more than a third of his targets (15) came on go, post, deep cross, and corner routes last season (per Fantasy Points Data).

Jayden Reed (GB, ADP 182 WR72, PROJ WR69)

Reed steps into a passing game that’s essentially starting from scratch after the Packers completely dismantled the group over the last two seasons. Green Bay traded Davante Adams away and let Marquez Valdes-Scantling walk last off-season before Allen Lazard followed Aaron Rodgers to the Jets after leading the Packers in targets in 2022. Reed broke out with 59/1026/10 receiving (17.4) as a redshirt junior at Michigan State before cooling off as a senior with 55/636/5. He finished with per-game averages of 4.8 receptions, 69.3 receiving yards, and .63 touchdowns in his final two seasons with the Spartans. Our Brett Whitefield believes Reed’s vertical ability and his YAC potential make him an intriguing prospect. The Packers entered the draft extremely thin at receiver with just second-year WRs Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs at the top of their depth chart, but they left it with an intriguing group that’s teeming with upside. Reed will enter the season as the team’s slot WR and the #3 WR with the chance to quickly vault up the depth chart, especially with these receivers mostly starting with a clean slate with Jordan Love. It wouldn’t be shocking if Reed leads this group in receptions if Love has an affinity for targeting slot receivers.

Rashid Shaheed (NO, ADP 187 WR74, PROJ WR62)

Shaheed’s 2022 rookie season got off to a slow start, which is an unsurprising development for any UDFA. He wasn’t active in a game until Week 6, and in his five subsequent games, he logged just 32 routes. But Shaheed’s big-play ability was immediately apparent. Despite a 15% route share and 6 touches over that stretch, Shaheed scored a 44-yard rushing TD and a 53-yard receiving TD in those five games. From Week 11 on, New Orleans made Shaheed a full-time starter (77% route share), and the results were incredibly encouraging. Over his final seven games, Shaheed earned a 17% target share (behind only Chris Olave) and a 31% air-yard share while scoring +2.8 more FPG than his usage-implied expectation (XFP) — the 3rd-best mark of any WR over the full season. Shaheed is sneakily one of the better young WRs in the NFL as he enters his sophomore season. He may have a hard time earning consistent volume if Michael Thomas and Chris Olave stay healthy all year, but the fact he scored the 3rd-most TDs of 40 or more yards (3) on just 32 total touches proves he’s one of the most explosive players in the league. Shaheed suffered a groin injury in early August but returned to practice in late August to give himself a chance to have a prominent role in this passing attack.

Tank Dell (Hou, ADP 196 WR76, PROJ WR65)

Dell checked in at a diminutive 5’8”, 165 pounds at the combine, and ran a slightly disappointing 4.49-second 40-yard dash, but he had an electric 1.49-second 10-yard split. Our Brett Whitefield believes Dell is a natural playmaker with his lateral quickness and top-end speed. Dell landed in a receiving corps that’s very much up for grabs. It’s currently headlined by 31-year-old Robert Woods, who averaged 9.9 YPR in Tennessee’s abysmal attack, and Nico Collins, who has yet to reach 40+ catches or 500+ yards in each of his first two seasons. Dell has turned heads in the preseason and is ahead of John Metchie heading into the season. Dell has the chance to quickly become Stroud’s BFF, and the Texans have every incentive to get Dell plenty of early targets.

Darius Slayton (NYG, ADP 229 WR85, PROJ WR78)

The new Giants regime didn’t have a role for Slayton out of training camp, and he took a $1.5 million pay cut to remain with the team. HC Brian Daboll then made him a healthy scratch in the season opener against the Titans as Slayton found himself behind the likes of Kenny Golladay and David Sills to open last season. He eventually worked his way into a significant role by Week 4 because of injuries, trades, and his own strong play. Slayton earned a two-year, $12 million contract with $4.9 million guaranteed for his play last season. He posted 46/724/2 receiving (15.7 YPR) on 71 targets (14.0% share) to finish as the WR61 with 6.7 FPG. He played on 65% of the snaps and ran 366 routes (22.9 per game) in 16 contests. He had one weekly finish as a top-12 option and six finishes as a top-36 WR. Slayton has quietly put together three campaigns with 46+ receptions and 724+ receiving yards in three of his first four seasons. He’s never been a major target earner with 5.2 targets per game average, but he’s made his looks count in his first four seasons. He finished with career-bests in YPR (15.7), yards per target (10.2), yards per route run (1.79), and aDOT (14.4) in 2022. Slayton and Daniel Jones have developed a strong rapport since coming into the league together in 2019, and he’s the best bet to stand out in this crowded receiving corps behind Darren Waller.

Michael Wilson (Ari, ADP 226 WR82, PROJ WR73)

If there’s a true sleeper rookie WR out there, Wilson is a fantastic one to wager on. Among the Cardinals’ expected top five WRs in 2023, Wilson and veteran Zach Pascal are the only players taller than 5’9”. We obviously know who Pascal is at this stage in his career — more of a blocker and red-zone weapon — while Wilson has the talent to be the Cardinals’ top outside WR, replacing DeAndre Hopkins. There is absolutely a massive opportunity for him here. Wilson probably would have gone earlier on Day 2 of the NFL Draft if health wasn’t such a big question for him. A foot injury cost him time in 2020, and then he reinjured it just two days after being cleared in 2021, requiring two surgeries total. He played in just four games in each of 2020 and 2021. He then played in six games in 2022 before an unspecified injury ended that season, though it was obviously a great sign he could suit up in the Senior Bowl and minicamps. Speaking of the Senior Bowl, our staff got an up-close-and-personal look at Wilson, where he performed as the best receiver of the week in Mobile. A big receiver who can win at the catch point and with route-running savvy, Wilson has a chance to really endear himself to Kyler Murray and/or Colt McCoy by offering something his other receivers don’t. Wilson is off to a strong start and has consistently found himself open and running with the first-team offense in August. He’s one of our favorite targets in deeper formats since the Cardinals will be motivated to get him on the field plenty as a rookie as they look to the future.

Justyn Ross (KC, ADP 228 WR83, PROJ WR106)

Our Scott Barrett is Ross’ #1 fan so we’ll let him explain his love for this second-year WR out of Clemson. From Scott’s 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Guide: “Ross is another player I want to be all-in on, which is fairly easy considering he’s free in all formats. If you’re in a non-keeper shallow league filled with casuals, you can probably just add him to your waiver wire watch list. But I think there’s a really good chance we see his ADP skyrocket before the end of the season, and I really do see massive upside here — he was a generationally good prospect (minus medical concerns), he’s been one of the biggest stars of training camp, and he’s playing with the best QB in football and alongside fairly light (or at least shaky) target competition. He’s unlikely to start the season off as a starter, but I also think it may only be a matter of time before HC Andy Reid comes to the conclusion that he’s either the most or 2nd-most talented WR on the team (after a healthy Kadarius Toney).”

Tight Ends

Sam LaPorta (Det, ADP 151 TE16, PROJ TE18)

The Lions had a hole at tight end after trading away T.J. Hockenson in the middle of last season, and they turned to another Iowa prospect to fill the void. LaPorta’s career took off in his final two seasons, earning first-team all-Big Ten honors and being named a Mackey Award finalist as a true senior in 2022. LaPorta totaled 111/1327/4 receiving (12.0 YPR) in his final 26 contests. LaPorta carried Iowa’s anemic passing game last year, accounting for 32.3% of its passing yards (657 of 2037) and 30.2% of its receptions (58 of 192) in 2022. He checked in on the small side (6’3”, 245 pounds) at the combine, but he logged impressive marks in the 40-yard dash (4.59 seconds), broad jump (10’3”), and three-cone drill (6.91 seconds). LaPorta has a chance to be a starter from Day 1, with the likes of Brock Wright and James Mitchell blocking his path to the top of the depth chart. Detroit’s receiving corps is also thin following Jameson Williams’ six-game suspension for violating the league’s gambling policy. Jared Goff notably targeted TEs on 12 of his 29 TD passes (41.4%) last year despite trading Hockenson after seven games.

Juwan Johnson (NO, ADP 153 TE17, PROJ TE16)

Johnson finally hit his stride in his third season in his transition from WR to TE, ranking behind 3rd in team targets (61), 2nd on the team in receiving yards (508), and 1st in receiving TD market share (30%). Johnson’s efficiency stats aren’t eye-popping (19th among TEs in YPRR), but he has a near-monopoly on TE routes in this offense from slot alignments. Last season, Johnson earned 58% of New Orleans’ TE routes but 75% of their TE routes from the slot — leading the team with 25 slot catches. Johnson has proven he can earn targets, especially from traditional WR alignments. He’s developed a quick connection with Derek Carr with several training camp practices turning into the “Juwan Johnson show.” He’s reportedly added some weight and strength to become a more effective blocker, which is important since Foster Moreau and Jimmy Graham are nipping at his heels. Johnson is likely to be a volatile fantasy asset in a loaded TE room in a receiving corps that has some big-time WRs in Chris Olave and Michael Thomas, but it isn't a big investment to buy into the hype in deeper formats.

Gerald Everett (LAC, ADP 173 TE19, PROJ TE17)

Everett is in an interesting situation for the second year in a row. In fact, the Chargers’ high-volume passing attack appears tailor-made for a tertiary option to succeed, sporting the fourth-highest pass rate over expectation in 2022. Justin Herbert threw to his first read only 57.1% of the time last year, the second-lowest among qualifying QBs — he isn’t forcing the ball to only one WR and icing out his TEs. Everett still largely failed to take advantage, averaging just 7.4 FPG in 2022 (14th) despite injuries wiping out much of his target competition for extended periods. His 34.7 YPG was a career-high but Everett never exceeded a 19% target share in any individual game. Like most TEs, this means Everett is largely TD-dependent in fantasy football. And he’s not even particularly favored there despite his 6 feet 3 inches, 239-pound frame – his five end zone targets ranked just fifth on the team. Still, it’s entirely possible the Chargers' offense scores often to give him a chance to best his career-high of 4 TDs. Kellen Moore’s new offense should boost his meager 6.0-yard aDOT from last season. Dalton Schultz owned an aDOT of 7.6 yards on his way to posting 57/577/5 receiving in 15 games. Everett has established himself as a solid TE2 and he has a touch of upside if Moore can unlock more seam looks for him in 2023.

Luke Musgrave (GB, ADP 195 TE21, PROJ TE26)

The Packers drafted Musgrave with their second draft pick in April to cap off a TE run in the early second round. Musgrave comes from strong football bloodlines as his father, Doug, played quarterback at Oregon, and his uncle, Bill, played QB at Oregon before becoming a longtime NFL offensive coach. The youngest Musgrave finished with the class’ best SPORQ score at 93.4 thanks to a 4.61-second 40-yard dash, a 36” vertical, and a 10’5” broad jump at 6’6”, 253 pounds. Our Brett Whitefield believes Musgrave has massive upside with his blend of athleticism and size. Green Bay vacated the sixth-most TE targets (74) from last season after Green Bay moved on from Robert Tonyan this off-season. The Packers notably moved on from Aaron Rodgers, and they’re going with an extremely young receiving corps with Jordan Love at the helm. Second-year players Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs will lead this WR corps, with second-round pick Jayden Reed joining the mix. Musgrave was actually the fastest player on offense during a day of practice at the start of August, beating every wide receiver in their daily charting. Matt LaFleur called his second-round TE an “exciting young prospect” who has a lot of potential. Rookie TEs typically struggle for consistent production, especially ones that are as raw as Musgrave, but the Packers are clearly excited about his potential and he’ll have opportunities to get on the field in a thin depth chart.

Jake Ferguson (Dal, ADP 198 TE22, PROJ TE20)

Though he’s a bit shorter than former teammate Dalton Schultz, Ferguson profiles as a similar receiver in the NFL, using his smarts and solid ball skills to produce rather than high-end athleticism (which he lacks). Ferguson caught 19 passes for 174 yards and 2 scores as a rookie, though he was used differently than Schultz. Ferguson ran over 60% of his routes in line, per Fantasy Points Data, and was targeted at an average depth of under three yards. Schultz, meanwhile, ran the plurality of his routes in the slot (44%) and was targeted at an average depth of over 7.0 yards. Ferguson also finished with a top-10 rate of YAC/reception, owing to his low aDOT (Schultz was bottom six). He looks primed to move into Schultz’s old role — and its 86 vacated targets — with rookie Luke Schoonmaker sliding into Ferguson’s old role (Schoonmaker is a more polished blocker). We know Dak Prescott loves a chain-moving, reliable tight end. Ferguson is someone we think can be that guy.

Tyler Conklin (NYJ, ADP 223 TE27, PROJ TE21)

Corey Davis had been away from the Jets since Aug. 16 for a personal matter, and he announced on Aug. 23 that he was retiring from football. New York’s WR depth chart is suddenly thinner with Davis’ retirement, which means the Jets could go with even more 2-TE sets than anticipated. The Jets are deep at the position with Conklin, C.J. Uzomah, and Jeremy Ruckert at the top of the depth chart, and more TEs on the field could help out with their issues at the tackle spots. Conklin is the preferred receiver in the group with 431 routes (4th-most among TEs) and a 62.6% route share last season —Uzomah ran 199 routes with a 32.8% route share. The passing-game pecking order is up for grabs behind Garrett Wilson, and Conklin will look to become one of Aaron Rodgers’ top goal-line options like Robert Tonyan did when he scored 11 times in 2020. Conklin is an excellent TE3 target in TE-premium and/or deeper formats.

Hunter Henry (NE, ADP 229 TE29, PROJ TE23)

Henry hasn’t turned into the star TE some believed he would be after a pair of efficient seasons to start his career, but he’s one of the more capable in-line TEs over the last seven years. That was more evident in the 2021 season — Henry’s first with New England — as he led the team in TDs (9) and earned more than three times as many end zone targets (13) as the next-closest Patriot. That season resulted in a TE15 finish for Henry (9.7 FPG), but 2022 wasn’t nearly as fruitful. The Patriots’ offense threw for 515 fewer yards and 7 fewer TDs than a year before, and Henry earned the worst YPRR (1.21) and FPG (6.1) of his career. A career-worst season could mean Henry’s losing his edge as he enters his age-29 season, but Henry has the advantage of being the only viable in-line TE on an offense that could take a step forward this year with a new OC. Henry could return to 2021-level production if Bill O’Brien can turn the ship around on offense. Henry has been Mac Jones’ favorite weapon in training camp practices, while move TE Mike Gesicki got off to a slow start before suffering a minor shoulder injury.