The NFL season is right around the corner, and with it comes the fantasy football season. Yesterday, I wrote an article about the top five fantasy football busts based on current ADP. Today, it’s time to look at the late-round fantasy football steals that can take your squad to the next level.
Note that this exercise is focused on identifying late-round value. Because of this, anyone with a top-100 ADP was not included in this list. That’s not to say there aren’t ADP discrepancies in the early rounds, just that finding those discrepancies isn’t the purpose of this article. Also note that rankings are given in PPR formats and Average Draft Position is provided by FantasyPros.
Fantasy Football Steals in 2020
Jamison Crowder (101st Overall, WR41)
Drafting Jamison Crowder isn’t a fun thing to do. However, he’s an absolute steal in fantasy football at his current ADP. The New York Jets have one of the worst rosters in the league, top to bottom. The defense is atrocious and there aren’t many weapons for third-year quarterback Sam Darnold. After losing Robby Anderson in the offseason, Crowder is the only wide receiver of note with an established rapport with Darnold. Breshad Perriman isn’t going to steal too many targets, and rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims is currently battling a hamstring ailment. The Jets are going to have to throw the ball to keep up with opposing offenses, and Crowder is going to see a high target share by default.
Adam Gase is bad news most of the time, but he’s actually great at funneling targets to his slot receiver. Crowder’s penchant for working the short part of the field combined with New York’s low scoring offense keeps him from having elite upside. That said, his combination of target share and presumed passing volume makes him one of the safest late-round plays out there. He’s a perfect flex play, especially in PPR leagues.
DeSean Jackson (160th Overall, WR60)
Fantasy football owners have clearly grown tired of DeSean Jackson – that’s the only way to explain his current ADP. The Philadelphia Eagles have a terrible group of wide receivers, and Jackson is the only proven commodity at the position. Alshon Jeffery is probably starting the year on the PUP, Jalen Reagor is an untested rookie, and Marquise Goodwin opted out. Carson Wentz already proved he can be effective with DeSean Jackson, as the two combined for eight receptions, 154 yards, and two touchdowns in Jackson’s only healthy game from a season ago.
Zach Ertz is going to lead the team in targets, and there’s no way that Jackson maintains his 2019 Week 1 pace over a full season. However, he still has the speed to get past a defense, and he only needs one or two plays a game to be a fantasy-relevant flex play. The injury risk is definitely there, but he should be a starting-caliber option when he’s on the field.
Darrell Henderson (113th Overall, RB42)
The fantasy football community seems convinced that rookie running back Cam Akers is going to start the season for the Los Angeles Rams. However, that is anything but a foregone conclusion. While Akers certainly could win the starting job, Darrell Henderson has just as good a shot and is going far later in drafts.
Akers has the slightly higher draft capital, but he’s a rookie and has to get acclimated to NFL life in a shortened offseason. Henderson, meanwhile, has a year of experience under his belt and was taking first-team reps early in camp. If you go for a Zero RB strategy, Henderson is a perfect late-round target that should have a decent snap percentage, at least in the early part of the season.
Zack Moss (121st Overall, RB44)
As mentioned in the fantasy busts article, I am not a believer in Devin Singletary. While Singletary should receive a decent workload, he’s not going to receive the valuable touches – Zack Moss will. Last year, the Bills only gave Singletary three carries within the 10-yard line, utilizing Frank Gore as their primary goal line back. With Gore out of town, Moss and his 223-pound frame will receive those carries.
Additionally, Singletary was absolutely terrible as a receiver last year. He had the third-lowest receiving DVOA in the league, and Moss profiles as a much better receiving back. Singletary and Moss should have a similar amount of touches by season’s end, but not all touches are created equal. Targets and goal line carries are far more valuable than carries between the 20s, and Moss is in line for those valuable touches. It might take him a while to get going, but he should outproduce Singletary as the season progresses.
Blake Jarwin (165th Overall, TE21)
Blake Jarwin going in the 13th round is the reason late-round tight end drafting is so common. Last year, the aging corpse of Jason Witten recorded 83 targets and actually finished as the TE11 in PPR scoring. With Witten gone, Jarwin inherits the TE1 spot in the Cowboys’ offense and should be much more effective.
2020 Blake Jarwin is better than 2019 Jason Witten, so he should be more efficient on a per-target basis. Some may worry about CeeDee Lamb eating into Jarwin’s targets, but Lamb should inherit most of Randall Cobb’s 83 vacated targets. There’s plenty of passes to go around, and first-year head coach Mike McCarthy will probably throw the ball more than Jason Garrett ever did. Nobody is suggesting that Jarwin will match Travis Kelce and George Kittle’s production. However, Jarwin should give you solid production more often than not and is a great late-round option for those who want to build up the rest of their roster in the early rounds.
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