2021 Mr. Relevant

season

We hope you're enjoying this old content for FREE. You can view more current content marked with a FREE banner, but you'll have to sign up in order to access our other articles and content!

2021 Mr. Relevant

Hopefully, you’ve used our other articles — notably our Values, Targets, and League-Winners — to build a solid roster before you get to the end of your draft. And when you get to the end 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 from baseball.

What we want to do in this article is try to hit the ball out of the ballpark, as the 2020 version that recommended Curtis Samuel, Tee Higgins, Chase Claypool, and Russell Gage did. 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 pickups will be before they become hot Waiver pickups.

The last pick or two of your fantasy drafts are never Irrelevant. You can win leagues with those picks. Hence “Mr. Relevant.”

So here are some players we’re looking to draft 150 or more picks into fantasy drafts whom we believe feature that kind of upside.

Quarterbacks

Tua Tagovailoa (Mia, ADP 157 QB20, PROJ QB18) — An up-and-down rookie campaign in which he was benched in-game for Ryan Fitzpatrick multiple times didn’t engender much hope for Tua’s future, but a strong preseason might present a good buying opportunity here. As a rookie, Tua completed 184/288 passes (63.9%) for 1805 yards (6.3 YPA), 11 TDs, and five INTs in nine starts. Tua admitted this summer that he didn’t know former OC Chan Gailey’s playbook well enough as a rookie, but he'll be much better versed in this year’s playbook with George Godsey and Eric Studesville operating as co-offensive coordinators. More importantly, he’ll be healthier than he was at any time during his rookie year as he’ll be close to 22 months removed from the devastating hip injury he suffered in his final year at Alabama. Tua won’t have any excuses this season after the Dolphins brought in two explosive receivers in Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle to group with DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki. Tagovailoa is a timing and rhythm passer who works well within the structure of the offense to distribute the rock all over the field, and he’ll actually have the weapons to do it this season after he was throwing to the likes of Mack Hollins and Isaiah Ford at the end of last season. Tua is being drafted as a low-end QB2 but he has plenty of room for growth in his own game in Year Two, especially with an influx of talent. He doesn’t have much of a ceiling with his lack of rushing production after posting 109/3 rushing as a rookie — he ran for just 340 yards over the course of 32 games at Alabama — but he’s worth a late-round pick with a path to easily beat his ADP.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (Was, ADP 176 QB22, PROJ QB22) — Fitzpatrick is by no means perfect, but he certainly gives Washington a chance to reach new heights. What’s most impressive is just how much Fitzmagic has improved as a player late in his career. Over the last four seasons, Fitzpatrick is tied with Kirk Cousins for ninth-best in YPA (7.7) and is tied with Matt Ryan for 17th in FPG (17.9). With the cast of weapons — Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas, Curtis Samuel — and a borderline elite defense backing him, Fitzpatrick is in such a fantastic spot to succeed. Their defense is going to keep them in plenty of tight ball games, which, theoretically, will allow Fitzpatrick to not play loose with the football and take unnecessary risks. With all of that said, while Fitzpatrick is a fantastic target as a QB2 in SuperFlex leagues, he’s right on the borderline of relevancy in 10- or 12-team 1QB leagues. At the very least, we’ll surely recommend Fitzpatrick as a streamer or DFS a few times this season.

Zach Wilson (NYJ, ADP 206 QB27, PROJ 25) — The most impressive rookie QB so far in preseason? It might be the guy who was least hyped from a fantasy perspective, the Jets’ #2 overall pick. Wilson, who checks in at 6’2”, 214 pounds, has some major Baker Mayfield vibes coming into the league because of his size, arm strength, and second-reaction skills. As of publication, Wilson joins Trevor Lawrence as the only rookie quarterbacks who look like locks to start in Week 1. He should be a great fit for Mike LaFleur’s wide-zone scheme, but we’ll see how he handles pressure at the next level considering he consistently played from clean pockets last season. Former Jets QB Sam Darnold was pressured at the highest rate (42.1% per PFF) last season, but at least the Jets traded up to land top O-line prospect Alijah Vera-Tucker. Wilson also won’t have to play in Adam Gase’s offense, which is a major plus. GM Joe Douglas loaded up on receiver help this off-season by signing Corey Davis and Keelan Cole before drafting Elijah Moore at No. 34 overall after he surprisingly dropped out of the first round. The Jets’ offense is on the rise but their defense could still be a work in progress, which could lead to some pass-heavy scripts after they allowed 28.6 points per game last season (seventh-most). Wilson will take some lumps early with such a major jump in competition behind an OL that will take some time to gel, but his preseason showing has been promising, and the Jets’ weaponry is much improved.

Running Backs

Sony Michel (LAR, ADP 239 RB71, PROJ RB31) — NOTE: MICHEL IS MOSTLY INCLUDED HERE AS A DISCLAIMER. HIS CURRENT LATE ADP WILL RISE. An August thumb injury clearly worried the Rams about Darrell Henderson, who appears fine, but it highlighted the fact that their RB depth is shaky, and Henderson has been unable to stay on the field consistently in his NFL career thus far. The Rams traded a couple of draft picks — 5th and 6th rounders, which change to a 4th-round pick if the Rams get a 4th-round comp pick, as expected — to get Michel, who reunites with his former Georgia RB coach, Thomas Brown. It’s a pretty big price to pay for a back who was on the roster bubble in New England, and one who is on the last year of his deal, so it suggests the Rams have an idea on how to use Michel. While Michel has also struggled to stay healthy in the NFL (knee, foot, quad), he also was sneakily good last year when active, ranking 25th in PFF run grade and a surprising 4th in passing grade. The Rams believe him to be a great fit for their outside-zone heavy scheme, and in an interview with our John Hansen on SiriusXM Fantasy the morning of the trade, ESPN’s Adam Schefter suggested this move wasn’t just for depth. We aggressively moved Michel into our top 36 at RB, and will be targeting him in drafts.

James White (NE, ADP 156 RB52, PROJ RB42) — One of the league’s premier receiving backs, White has been steadily sliding up our boards this summer with the quality play of rookie QB Mac Jones, who is also benefiting from Cam Newton being away from camp with COVID-19 protocol issues. Add in the August trade of Sony Michel to the Rams, and White once again looks like one of the best PPR values on the entire board. White tied with Alvin Kamara for the league lead in targets per route among RBs (0.30) last season and now gets the added benefit of being the sole passing-down back in New England. In addition to Michel, Rex Burkhead is also gone, which is sneakily massive for White’s projection. In the 17 games that Burkhead missed over the previous three seasons, White has averaged 15.2 fantasy points per game. For reference, that 15.2 FPG would have been good for an RB16 finish last year. Additionally, White was 41st of 68 RBs in routes run per game last year (13.7), while Burkhead was 47th (12.8). Expect White to usurp many of those routes. With a playing time boost coming because of Burkhead’s departure and a target increase likely coming when Jones takes over for Newton, White has the scoring floor of a low-end RB2 but he’s priced like an RB5.

Damien Williams (Chi, ADP 156 RB53, PROJ RB53) — Williams nearly won the Super Bowl MVP the last time the world saw him on a football field in February 2020. He became the first player to run for more than 100 yards with a rushing and receiving TD in Super Bowl history. He opted out of the 2020 season for COVID concerns, given his mother had just been diagnosed with cancer, and then the Chiefs cut him following the 2021 season. Williams should have fresh legs in Chicago and he should be somewhat familiar with Chicago’s offense since Matt Nagy worked under Andy Reid before taking the Bears’ job. Williams will serve as the backup to David Montgomery as a runner and as an insurance plan behind Tarik Cohen, who is extremely slow in coming back from an ACL injury. Williams should be the favorite for passing down work in Chicago at minimum until (if) Cohen returns, and has shown the ability to be a major fantasy producer if the situation were to arise.

Kenny Gainwell (Phi, ADP 159, RB56, PROJ RB56) — A player we had valued as a Day 2 selection, Gainwell was a steal for the Eagles in the fifth round of April’s NFL Draft, and he might give new coach Nick Sirianni a Nyheim Hines kind of weapon in the backfield. In fact, he was our guy Greg Cosell’s favorite receiving back in the 2021 draft class (he opted out of the 2020 season, which might explain why he fell so far). “Gainwell is not at quite the same level athletically and explosively as Alvin Kamara, but he presents similar value to an NFL offense with his multiple run game experience and his ability to line up all over the formation as a receiver,” Cosell wrote in our 2021 Rookie Draft Guide. Gainwell has had a solid camp and preseason thus far, and the Eagles have already thinned out the depth chart in front of him, releasing Kerryon Johnson. More importantly, the Eagles’ top RB, Miles Sanders, has had the same drop issues that plagued him in 2020 pop up in training camp. The Hines comparison makes Gainwell a really fun end-of-bench stash, and our Adam Caplan believes 40-plus catches are in the mix. The higher end of Gainwell’s range of outcomes is very appealing.

Darrel Williams (KC, ADP 175 RB59, PROJ RB52) — Williams, with snap shares constantly above 20% on the season in 2020, was much more of a wrench in the value of Clyde Edwards-Helaire than he was a useful fantasy player in his own right. Williams posted 39/169/1 rushing and 18/116/0 receiving on 26 targets, totaling a whopping 57 touches in 16 games. Interestingly, his two best rushing performances of the season came during the playoffs, when CEH was out in the Divisional Round against Cleveland (13/78) and limited in the Championship Round against Buffalo (13/52/1). So it stands to reason he will function as a rotational piece and handcuff in 2021, as Le’Veon Bell is now gone and Jerick McKinnon is in town. Williams is valued for his leadership, blocking, and special-teams contributions, and he can catch the ball well enough, but his standalone fantasy value is basically non-existent if CEH is healthy — Williams finished as a top-36 fantasy RB just twice in 16 games in 2021. But if CEH does go down, and he’s already been dealing with an ankle injury in August, the things Williams does well should get him into the lineup and active in one of the NFL’s best offenses.

Salvon Ahmed (Mia, ADP 212 RB66, PROJ RB59) — Ahmed started last off-season with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent out of Washington before the Dolphins claimed him before the start of last season and placed him on their practice squad. Miami eventually had enough of Jordan Howard and Matt Breida and they called him up to be the backup option behind Myles Gaskin. Ahmed posted 75/319/3 rushing (4.3 YPC) and 11/61/0 receiving on 14 targets to average 11.5 FPG in six games — he missed three contests in the second half because of a shoulder injury. He averaged 21.0 touches and 97.0 scrimmage yards per game with two scores in his three games with 60% of the snaps or better with Gaskin out of the lineup. The Dolphins did little to upgrade their backfield this off-season by signing career backup Malcolm Brown and drafting Gerrid Doaks in the seventh round. Ahmed will be competing for snaps behind incumbent starter Gaskin, and HC Brian Flores showed last August he’s not afraid to throw a curveball when it comes to his backfield so he could be competing for more than backup snaps. And this summer, he’s been extremely involved as a receiver, which we love to see in last-round type of picks.

Wayne Gallman (ATL, ADP 248 RB97, PROJ RB65) — The Falcons backfield got a lot more interesting after the team signed Gallman the day after he was cut by the 49ers (9/2). Atlanta has been searching for depth behind starter Mike Davis all offseason by taking stabs on two UDFAs (Javian Hawkins and Caleb Huntley) and then getting Qadree Ollison reps as the No. 1 back in the preseason with Davis resting. While Atlanta cut Hawkins and added Huntley to the practice squad, HC Arthur Smith loved what he saw from Ollison so much… that he let him go and replaced him with Gallman. Now, you don’t need us to tell you that Gallman is not a prodigal talent of sorts. Gallman was a backup grinder in New York and never really got much playing time until Saquon Barkley missed most of last season. However, he was probably better than you remember in 2020. Over the Giants final nine games, Gallman rushed for 122/572/5 for a very nice 4.69 YPC and added 11 grabs for 73 yards through the air while splitting work with Alfred Morris and Devonta Freeman. Looking a bit deeper, Gallman’s efficiency wasn’t all that bad, either. He tied Damien Harris for 19th-best (out of 47 qualifying RBs) in yards after contact (2.6) and earned a higher success rate on his carries (40%) than Freeman and Morris did combined (35%). Mike Davis is still the “1A” at worst here, but Gallman at least gives the Falcons some much-needed depth at the position. Cordarrelle Patterson will get some touches for sure, but it’ll be Gallman’s backfield if Davis goes down and misses any time. Gallman is a perfect bench stash for the last round of your draft just to see how this backfield shakes out in the early goings.

Tony Jones Jr. (NO, ADP 372 RB94, PROJ RB62) — Latavius Murray has been put on the roster bubble by multiple Saints’ beat writers and we received further confirmation about his status in the Saints’ backfield during the second week of the preseason. HC Sean Payton told the Monday Night Football broadcast, “If you’re asking me today, my #2 running back is Tony Jones.” Jones has shown some juice with 12/106 rushing in the first two preseason games and he played with the starters in the second game while Murray, who will turn 32 in January, has looked sluggish with 9/12 rushing in the first two contests. Jones could potentially fill the same role Murray has occupied the last two seasons as a between-the-tackles runner in a big frame (5’11”, 224 pounds), but he still needs to prove himself as a receiver with just 27/271/2 receiving over his final three seasons at Notre Dame (2017-19). The Saints are on the league’s most cap-strapped teams and they could save $3 million by releasing Murray before the season starts. If Jones wins the #2 job, he could have some standalone value since the Saints don’t want to run Kamara into the ground on early-down snaps and he’d be the top handcuff for this backfield. Murray should be avoided in drafts the rest of the summer while Jones is a late-round target just in case he establishes himself as the clear #2 option behind Alvin Kamara.

Carlos Hyde (JAX, ADP 453 RB122, PROJ RB58) — First-round pick Travis Etienne suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury during Jacksonville’s second preseason game, and the Jaguars officially ended his season by placing him on injured reserve. Jacksonville’s three-man backfield has turned into a two-man rotation with James Robinson taking on most of the early-down and passing-down work with Hyde mixing in behind him. The Jaguars handed Hyde a two-year deal this off-season when none of the other 31 teams in the league would’ve given the 30-year-old more than a one-year contract. It’s not totally surprising since new GM Trent Baalke drafted him in San Francisco and new HC Urban Meyer coached Hyde at Ohio State. Hyde did run well for the Seahawks in 2020, posting 81/356/4 (4.4 YPC) rushing and 16/93 receiving on 20 targets in 10 games — hamstring and toe injuries slowed him. He managed 14/79/1 and 2/16 receiving in his lone start for Chris Carson in Week 11 last season. Hyde is by no means a glamorous pick but he has a chance to be relevant this season, especially in non-PPR formats, since Meyer has plans to use him in this suddenly thin backfield.

Wide Receivers

Jakobi Meyers (NE, ADP 150 WR62, PROJ WR55) — Meyers needed a Julian Edelman injury to break into the lineup last season, but the former UDFA WR never looked back after he got his chance to play starting in Week 7. Meyers led the Patriots with a 29% target share last season on his way to posting 59/729/0 receiving (12.4 YPR) on 81 targets for 143.5 FP in 14 games. He ranked as the WR34 in the final 11 weeks of the season with 12.9 FPG despite throwing for more touchdown passes (2) than he caught (0). Meyers had the most receiving yards (729), targets (81), and receptions (59) without a touchdown catch last season — Danny Amendola was the next closest in each category with 46/602/0 receiving on 69 targets. The Patriots weren’t going into 2021 without upgrading their pathetic wide receiver corps from last season as they signed Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne to compete with Meyers for targets and playing time. Meyers has the best chance to lead the group in slot snaps after running 60% of his routes from inside the last two seasons. Meyers’ needs Mac Jones to see the field sooner rather than later after Cam Newton threw for a miserable eight touchdowns in 15 games last season while averaging a league-low 177.1 passing yards per game. Jones has been picking up momentum to do just that as we head into late August while the drumbeat for Meyers has been steady all summer long out of Patriots’ off-season workouts and training camp practices. He continues to be the team’s most consistent wide receiver and while he’s unlikely to crush it for fantasy, he has a chance to settle in as a steady WR3 option in PPR formats despite being drafted around 150+ picks into drafts.

Terrace Marshall (CAR, ADP 156 WR61, PROJ WR66) — Carolina landed a first-round talent on Day Two of the draft and Marshall mainly slipped because he had three separate foot/ankle fractures since high school. Perhaps another (smaller) reason Marshall fell was because he was overshadowed at LSU by stud teammates Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase during the 2019 season. Still, despite all of the competition for targets in college, Marshall still averaged 4.9 catches and 73.8 receiving yards per game over the last two seasons while scoring 23 TDs in 19 games. Marshall is long (6’3”, 205 pounds) and has plenty of speed (4.38 40-time) to make plays as a vertical threat or with the ball in his hands on screens. Marshall primarily played on the perimeter in 2019 while Panthers’ OC Joe Brady was coaching him at LSU before Marshall took over Jefferson’s role in the slot last season with Brady moving on to Carolina. Marshall is going to start the year as a “big slot” in place of Curtis Samuel, who ran 71% of his routes from the slot in this offense last season. Of course, Sam Darnold will have to do his part to support multiple fantasy receivers and we have to hope that he’s just another in a long line of players to improve drastically away from Adam Gase. Still, Marshall has looked incredible in the preseason so far and, now that he is finally healthy, we believe he has the talent to push Moore and Anderson for targets.

Emmanuel Sanders (BUF, ADP 165 WR67, PROJ WR65) — Sanders is still playing at a relatively high level despite his advanced playing age (34) and despite tearing his Achilles tendon in 2018. Sanders is a great #3/4 WR option for the Bills because of his positional versatility. He ran about a third of his routes from the slot over the last two seasons after being Denver’s primary slot WR in 2018. Emmanuel also still has sneaky vertical speed to stretch defenses even though he didn’t get to show it much playing with Drew Brees last season. That shouldn’t be an issue in Buffalo this year with Josh Allen’s howitzer at quarterback. The Bills previously tried to trade for Sanders so he’s been on the organization’s radar, which makes sense since the organization has prioritized route-running and speed from its receivers — e.g. Stefon Diggs, John Brown, and Cole Beasley. Sanders will allow the Bills to use plenty of four-WR sets once again this season after they ran the second-most plays (186) with 10-personnel on the field last season. Sanders reportedly has the edge over Gabriel Davis for perimeter snaps when the Bills use three-WR sets. Davis and Beasley also aren’t on the best terms with organization as unvaccinated players, and they’ve both already been quarantined for five days in training camp as close contacts to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Sanders is being drafted as a WR6 in fantasy drafts but he has a path to WR3 production if he’s able to become the second option for Allen.

Bryan Edwards (LV, ADP 169 WR69, PROJ WR54) — Edwards’s rookie campaign never took off because of ankle/foot injuries and it didn’t help that Nelson Agholor deservedly earned more playing time, which propelled him to a breakout season. Our Greg Cosell saw some similarities between Edwards and Justin Jefferson coming out of college, and they both excelled against SEC competition — Edwards finished with the third-most SEC receptions (324) and the fourth-most receiving yards (3045). Edwards, the 81st overall pick in 2020, has the chance to be a volume receiver on the perimeter if he can stay healthy, which has been an issue for him dating back to South Carolina. Edwards opened last season as the starting X receiver along with fellow rookie Henry Ruggs, and it’s the role he’ll man this season next to Ruggs and slot WR Hunter RenfrowJohn Brown has been the clear backup in training camp. HC Jon Gruden may have gone a little over the top when he said Edwards has been looking like Terrell Owens in training camp, but it’s clear Edwards has been impressing his head coach. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler also reported that Edwards and Derek Carr have built a palpable trust this summer. Darren Waller is the no-doubt top option for Carr this season, but Edwards is worth a late-round dart throw in this otherwise barren Raiders’ WR corps in case he emerges as a strong sidekick to Waller.

Amon-Ra St. Brown (DET, ADP 179 WR72, PROJ WR67) — The 17th rookie WR drafted normally wouldn’t have much of a shot for fantasy relevance before the season started. St. Brown landed in the ideal location to potentially make some early noise since the Lions have the most available targets (360) from last season. He had a strong season playing out of the slot at USC in 2019, posting a career-best 77/1042/6 receiving (13.5 YPR) as a sophomore. St. Brown moved to the perimeter as a junior after Michael Pittman left for the NFL, and he managed just 11.7 YPR on his way to 41/478/7 receiving in six games. Amon-Ra checked in at a shade under 6’0” and 197 pounds, but he showed some athleticism at his Pro Day with a 39” vertical and 127” broad jump. Our Greg Cosell compared St. Brown to another USC receiver, Robert Woods, because of his ability to line up all over the formation and his ability to create separation with his quickness and route running. St. Brown is going to play as a slot WR in 11 personnel with just Tyrell Williams ahead of him on the team’s pecking order. The Lions are going to own one of the league’s worst offenses, but they should at least be in plenty of pass-heavy scripts for St. Brown to potentially rack up some catches for PPR formats. It doesn’t hurt that Jared Goff has also targeted receivers out of the slot the most since 2018. Our John Hansen has pegged St. Brown as a deep sleeper to target, and Amon-Ra could develop into a solid WR3 with a steady diet of targets out of the slot.

Sammy Watkins (BAL, ADP 190 WR75, PROJ WR79) — Watkins signed a one-year deal with the Ravens this off-season, reuniting with OC Greg Roman, who coached him in Buffalo for Watkins’ most productive season in 2015. While we’re by no means expecting Sammy to come in and post his second career 1000-yard campaign, he’s still just 28 and his signing was a completely reasonable expense for a team that really struggled at the WR position last year, especially in terms of depth. Against all odds, Watkins is the Ravens receiver who has managed to stay healthy with Rashod Bateman (core-muscle) and Marquise Brown (hamstring) each struggling through injuries in August — Bateman could miss through at least September. Watkins has been generating buzz since off-season workouts began earlier this summer with his boy Roman even calling Watkins one of the NFL’s best receivers early in training camp. It’s conceivable that Watkins could be Baltimore’s leading WR this season if he’s somehow able to stay healthy. He’s more than worth an investment as a WR7 with his ADP still sitting outside of 175+ picks in the draft.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (GB, ADP 201 WR78, PROJ WR77) — We’ve heard MVS is having a strong training camp and he’s been a standout among a crowded receiving corps behind Davante Adams. The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman took it to a whole other level when he predicted MVS could go for 1000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns this season. That projection is certainly a bit ambitious but MVS is the best fit to be Green Bay’s #3 WR since he adds a vertical element to the offense with Adams and slot WR Randall Cobb dominating in the intermediate and underneath areas. It’s going to be difficult for any secondary WR to emerge for fantasy with MVS, Cobb, Allen Lazard, and Amari Rodgers all competing for limited targets behind one of the league’s biggest ball-hogs in Adams. MVS is the best bet out of Green Bay’s secondary WRs to make a major fantasy impact after leading the league in YPR (20.9) last season and his 200+ ADP makes it quite easy to roster him.

Tyrell Williams (DET, ADP 218 WR81, PROJ WR73) — Williams is looking to get his career back on track after injuries derailed his time with the Raiders in 2019-20. He followed his former coach, Anthony Lynn, to Detroit this off-season on a one-year, prove-it-deal to do just that. Now it’s time to see if his body cooperates since he has 40+ catches, 650+ yards, and 4+ TDs in each of the last four seasons when he’s been on the field — he also averaged 15.9 YPR in 2016-19. Injuries spoiled his once-promising career as he struggled to play through plantar fasciitis in 2019 before he missed the entire 2020 season with yet another torn labrum. Williams is a former 1000-yard receiver with Philip Rivers in 2016, and he can get vertical and he can burn opposing defenses on crossers with his 4.48 speed — he owns a career 16.1 YPR average. His big frame (6’4”, 205 pounds) and big-play ability also helped him to 22 TDs on 359 targets (6.1% TD rate) in 2016-19. The Lions have a league-high 360 vacated targets and Tyrell will be competing with Breshad Perriman and Amon-Ra St. Brown to be the #1 WR in this offense — T.J. Hockenson is the top option in the passing game for Jared Goff. Williams was more interested in snaps and targets in 2021 as opposed to playing with a winner after missing the entire 2020 season. He’s been the #1 WR and best deep threat in training camp, and he’s going to go down as a steal more than 200+ pick into drafts if he can return to his old Chargers’ form with plenty of targets coming his way.

Kadarius Toney (NYG, ADP 244 WR115, PROJ WR82) — A QB in high school, Kadarius Toney didn’t see a legit starting workload at wide receiver until his senior season in college, and what he did as a slot WR that season had several teams gushing over what he could be at the next level. The Jaguars and HC Urban Meyer desperately wanted Toney but settled for Travis Etienne and the Packers were very interested in Toney in the back half of the first round as well. Wes Huber acknowledged Toney looked tremendously raw as a route-runner early on, but has always had elite play-making ability when running with the football. By his final season at Florida, Wes writes that “his senior film blew me away. It’s truly a different player. He’s always had an elite skillset with the ball in his hands. But I was not expecting to see the crispness of his route running so quickly”. Greg Cosell mentioned Toney reminded him of Randall Cobb, but with significantly more explosion and straight-line speed. He recorded a near-elite 88.8 SPORQ score. Clearly, Toney has the tools to be an outstanding WR and elite fantasy contributor at the next level. However, given the presence of established talents like Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram — Toney’s path to consistent targets is cloudy. However, the risk of a limited offensive role is already well-baked into Toney’s ADP. Considering his talent and elite YAC skills, Toney profiles as a solid high-upside pick at the end of drafts — especially in best ball leagues.

Quez Watkins (PHI, ADP 261 WR148, PROJ WR80) — Watkins has been a big-time Training Camp superstar and his stellar August has earned him a starting spot in the Eagles 3-WR sets alongside DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor. The Eagles are surrounding Jalen Hurts with speed at receiver, which was a major part of their problem offensively in year’s past. Philadelphia no longer has a slow, plodding receiver room. Not only has Watkins easily passed Travis Fulgham on the depth chart, there is a chance he ends up beating out Reagor as the team’s No. 2 wideout. Watkins has lined up in the slot all preseason and showed off his 4.35-wheels by housing a screen in the Eagles first preseason game. Watkins missed most of his rookie year dealing with a balky hamstring, but he got on the field in Week 14 — just in time to build a little chemistry with Hurts. Make no mistake, the Eagles are run-first team, but their target totem pole after Smith and their tight ends is wide open. Watkins is an intriguing WR6 dart in deep leagues.

Josh Palmer (LAC, ADP 448 WR158, PROJ WR113) — The Chargers drafted Palmer in the third round to potentially be the team’s top perimeter WR starting in 2022. Mike Williams is entering the final year of his rookie contract and a strong rookie season from Palmer could make Williams expendable this off-season, who has mostly underwhelmed for the franchise in his first four seasons. Palmer comes to the NFL with his own underwhelming resume at Tennessee having failed to reach 500+ receiving yards or 35+ receptions in any of his four seasons with the Volunteers. He has excellent size (6’2”, 210 pounds) and speed (4.51 40-time) to excel on the perimeter, and he’s already beating out Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson to be the #3 WR behind Keenan Allen and Williams. Palmer has excelled as a route runner and he’s shown good hands during August, and he offers more positional versatility than both Guyton and Johnson, who are both more speed players than anything else. Palmer is also on the rise since Williams is already dealing with an injury (to his hip), and he doesn’t have the best track record of staying healthy and playing well through injuries. It could take Palmer a little time to carve out a fantasy significant role this season, but he’s become a late-round target with a strong start to his career and with Williams already ailing.

Tight Ends

Gerald Everett (SEA, ADP 172 TE19, PROJ TE19) — Everett’s never been regarded as a top-end receiving option in his career, but that may change in Seattle. Post-draft, HC Pete Caroll discussed how important the addition of Everett was to their offense for 2021, saying, “[OC Shane Waldron] has talked… about having three legitimate threats in passing situations so a defense can’t lock you down. It was one of the reasons Gerald was such a big get for us and was such a great acquisition for us in the offseason to help us.” Keep in mind, Waldron was the Rams TEs coach when the team drafted Everett in 2017. If that translates to a career-high in targets for Everett, he could enter the TE1 conversation as he’s been one of the league’s most underrated TEs with the ball in his hands. Over the past three seasons, Everett has ranked 8th, 1st, and 2nd in broken/missed tackle rate among TEs with 25 or more targets. He does face competition from Will Dissly for snaps, but Everett is certainly the better receiver, and is a near-lock to outperform his ADP if the Seattle coaching staff is to be believed and he winds up being the Seahawks’ third receiving option. The floor is already in place — Seattle went with a gross 3-man rotation last year between Dissly, Greg Olsen, and Jacob Hollister and that trio still combined for a solid 75/715/6 line on what wound up being a slow-paced, balanced team. Everett is just a value anyway you look at it, and is certainly one of the best late-round TE values available.

Austin Hooper (CLE, ADP 200 TE25, PROJ TE17) — The Browns gave Hooper a generous four-year, $42 million contract with $23 million guaranteed last off-season. However, pass catchers transitioning to new teams often get off to slow starts and Hooper was no exception, especially during a tumultuous offseason and after going from the pass-first Falcons to the run-first Browns. However, after a mid-season appendectomy that cost him two games and a nagging neck injury cost him another, there is no doubt Hooper got a bit unlucky last year. However, when Hooper put that neck injury behind him in Week 15, he was quietly productive. Over the Browns final five games (including playoffs), Hooper finished with 25/211/3 — which shakes out to 12.8 fantasy points per start. Now, the big caveat is that Odell Beckham (ACL) was out, but we still don’t think it’s all that surprising that Hooper had his best stretch late in the year when he finally got healthy and got to build some chemistry with Baker Mayfield. HC Kevin Stefanski has talked up growing Hooper’s role this offseason and Hooper has even mentioned that, “spending more time with Baker [this offseason] has definitely helped me with my confidence.’' If you’re going to totally punt tight end, we love the idea of pairing up Everett (for upside) and Hooper (for floor) in the late-rounds.

Donald Parham (LAC, ADP 260 TE58, PROJ TE42) — Parham starred in the XFL last winter before he latched on with the Chargers for the 2020 season. The 24-year-old prospect is massive (6’8”, 255 pounds) and dripping with athleticism with 4.67-speed and a 38.5-inch vertical. The Chargers must be at least a little bit intrigued by Parham since they let Hunter Henry walk in free agency this off-season. However, they weren’t interested in outright handing him the job since they signed veteran Jared Cook to a one-year deal and they drafted developmental prospect Tre’ McKitty in the third round. Parham posted a silly three touchdowns on just 20 targets last season as he finished with 10/159/3 receiving (15.9 YPR) in his limited opportunities in 13 games. He impressed with 5/84/1 receiving on seven targets in the final two games with Henry on the sidelines. We’ll see if Parham is ready to take on a bigger role this season but, at the very least, he should see increased snaps in red-zone packages, which isn’t the best news for the rest of the fantasy-relevant Chargers. Parham isn’t on the radar in shallow 10- or 12-team leagues yet, but he’s someone to keep an eye on as an upside stash in deeper leagues (especially in TE premium formats).

Juwan Johnson (NO, ADP N/A, PROJ TE45) — Adam Trautman has been one of the biggest fallers in the tight end ranks since the preseason started, and that was before he picked up an injury in their second preseason game. Trautman has been taken out off the field in passing situations for Juwan Johnson during the preseason, and Johnson is headed toward a Jared Cook type of role in this passing attack. Trautman then needed to be carted from the sidelines with a foot injury in the second preseason game, but it looks like he escaped with a minor injury. Third-string TE Nick Vannett is also undergoing an MRI to determine the extent of a knee injury he suffered in the Saints second preseason game as well. Interestingly, Johnson has been used as a “big slot” receiver so far this preseason as he’s run 27 of his 47 routes (57%) from the slot. For reference, Jared Cook ran 59% of his routes lined up as a slot receiver last year. If Johnson has truly earned a starting role as the Saints top receiving tight end out of the slot, he has upside on what is an incredibly thin Saints’ receiver depth chart. Johnson was a WR in college and he’s listed as one on many of the drafting services, but he’s now worthy of a late-round flier on fantasy platforms that have him with TE-eligibility. ESPN, Sleeper, and MyFantasyLeague have Johnson listed as a tight end as of now (8/24), but Yahoo, CBS, and NFL.com do not.

Recent Articles