Anyone who knows anything about fantasy football will tell you that the draft is won and lost in the later rounds. For all of the discussion about who should go in the first three rounds, you can bet that whomever you take is going to be a valuable player. That is, until that player has a terrible match-up or has to sit with an injury; then it’s the guys on your bench that become valuable. These are the guys that will make or break you when you need them the most. For example, no one drafted Adam Thielen, Robby Anderson, or Nelson Agholor as a starting wide receiver last year but if they did and they drafted Odell Beckam Jr., they had a great player to plug in and carry them the rest of the season. If you haven’t drafted yet or if you are keeping an eye on the waiver wire these are a few names to keep an eye on:
- Blake Bortles: I know what you are thinking, not this guy again but please hear me out first. A lot of owners got burned badly two years ago by Bortles and now are very gun shy about drafting him. To me this is a good thing. Two years ago people were drafting Bortles as a Top 10 quarterback and that was just way to high. Now with a correction in value he is a steal at number 21 ADP among quarterbacks. If you are not drafting him as your week to week starter but as a bye week or injury fill in, he is perfect. He isn’t going to hurt you at the quarterback position and with the easiest strength of schedule he may win you a few games. Low risk with a high reward is the definition of a perfect sleeper.
- Mitchell Trubisky: It is clear that the Bears believe in Trubisky. They made it a point in the off season to add weapons for him to throw to. The additions of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton make the Bears the clear winners of the Most Improved Receivers award. Trubisky, like Bortles, has a very easy strength of schedule and is being drafted at ADP 22. For all of you who had Aaron Rodgers go down last year and were able to plug in Jarred Goff, this is deja vu all over again.
- Teddy Bridgewater: OK this one is a deep sleeper but so was Case Keenum and look what he did last season. I wouldn’t draft Bridgewater but you can bet he will be on my waiver wire watch list. Bridgewater is only 25 years old and if given the opportunity, I can see him being this years Case Keenum.
- Chris Carson: Carson was supposed to be the man in Seattle last year. Now we come into this season and he is being forgotten. Seattle drafted Rashaad Penny in the 1st round and it came as a shock to everyone. Not that Seattle took a running back but that they took Penny two rounds before he was projected to go. Now we enter training camp and Penny hasn’t been able to see the field. Carson is being drafted as ADP 34 and he will be the starter to begin the season. If he is able to perform well and if Penny’s injuries linger, Carson will have a major role in the Seahawks offense. Not bad for a guy being drafted in the 9th round.
- James White: Outside of Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski the Patriots have no one to catch the ball the first 4 weeks of the season. This means that the Patriots will be using their running backs as pass catchers more than ever. Out of all of the running backs that they have on their roster, not only is James White the best receiver, he also is the player that Brady trusts the most. I will say it now, James White will lead the Patriots in all purpose yards and lead the team in total touchdowns. He has an ADP of 44 among running backs and is going in the 12th round.
- Chris Ivory: Ivory again is a player that I am not drafting but if the person who drafts McCoy doesn’t own him I will be keeping an eye on him while he is on the waiver wire. I will not be owning McCoy in any league because of his ADP, the possibility of a suspension, and his age may finally catch up to him. If McCoy is not able to play I will be picking up Ivory and stashing him on my bench. He at worst could be an early down bruising back with touchdown upside if McCoy can’t play.
- Rishard Matthews: I call him “old reliable.” I always end up owning him at some point because he always goes unnoticed. That is until he starts producing and then… well he still usually goes unnoticed. He isn’t flashy but he is a consistent Top-30 fantasy wide receiver who will never hurt you. He isn’t going to win you a game but he will contribute to your team if you have a bye week or an injury. Go ahead and draft Corey Davis in the 5th round and I will take Matthews in the 11th and we will see who got the better value at the end of the season.
- Mike Williams: It is amazing to me that Mike Williams’ ADP is still outside of the Top 50 among wide receivers. Anyone who has been paying attention knows he should be going in the 30’s and by the end of the season we may even consider him a Top 15 wide receiver. Randall Cobb, DeVante Parker, and Tyler Lockett are all going ahead of Mike Williams. A year ago the Chargers took him number 7 overall in the draft and during the preseason this year we are seeing why. If you are looking for this years Adam Thielen, make sure you draft Mike Williams.
- Antonio Callaway: This one is completely dependent on Josh Gordon and if he can stay on the field. If for some reason Gordon misses time be ready to grab Callaway. He reminds me very much of Josh Gordon and if I could get all of the upside that you get with Gordon without any of the risk I would be a happy man; that is what you get with Callaway. He could be the best rookie wide receiver in the league this year or he could be suspended for the entire year.