Fantasy Football

2018 Fantasy Football Undrafted Player Watch

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As fantasy drafts come to a close and the NFL season gets ready to kick-off, we find ourselves intrigued with lower rate players (in terms of current ADP) that could become high-end value gems as the season progresses.

Not knowing what will transpire in terms of injuries as of yet, this group of player speculation has credence to have more than just matchup and bye-week potential for your squad.

Finding those diamonds to either stash on your bench or snag off the waiver wire before they become household names, could be the difference in winning and losing.


Let’s get to it…

2018 Fantasy Football Undrafted Player Watch

Quarterbacks

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Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: 195-205)

The perception of Blake Bortles over the last couple seasons has suggested he isn’t worth owning as a starting caliber quarterback. While it’s become difficult to argue this fact, Blake is a very intriguing player entering the 2018 campaign.

Finding his way to career highs in completion percentage (60.2%) and interception ratio (2.5%) last season, Blake made strides in his overall game. This came behind the strength of a solid run attack and supreme defense. While his past two seasons have left something to be desired, this could be the year Bortles gets back on track.

Holding an undrafted ADP, Blake holds fantastic backup/bench stash appeal which could provide solid output as the season moves forward. The Jags are loaded with a plethora of talented pass catchers, while still possessing one of the better run games in the league behind second-year pro Leonard Fournette. Blake has no excuse but to lift his level of play to higher levels.

With that said, Blake finished last season as the thirteenth best thrower in fantasy football securing a healthy 249.7 points. When you place this in perspective, Blake was a mere 11.1 points from holding the tenth spot ranking him just behind Drew Brees. The value is off the charts for Blake to have a place on your squad. In our eyes, Blake is one of the greatest value players as his services can be snagged in the last round of your draft.

On-Deck
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: 200-205)
Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland Browns (ADP: 215-225)
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (ADP: 250-260)

Running Backs

Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (ADP: 185-195)

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Entering the 2017 season, the Los Angeles Chargers drafted the electric and supremely underrated skill of Austin Ekeler. Ekeler enjoyed a fairly productive rookie season being used in a pure reserve and pass catching back role. He was able to show his strong ability in the process.

Fast forwarding to 2018, head coach Anthony Lynn has gone on record to suggest Austin has earned more playing time even with Melvin Gordon leading the way as their bell-cow back. The upside for Austin obviously resides in the passing game leaving him more valuable in PPR formats with high handcuff appeal. As the Chargers look to be the leaders of the AFC West this season, Ekeler could have a major role.

Ekeler completed his rookie campaign finishing as the forty-fifth ranked running back earning a decent 106.9 points. He also saw his production increase as the year moved forward. Without any real competition standing in his way for third down and change of pace duties, Austin has a great opportunity to become a flex producer as the year moves forward.

The Chargers will be multidimensional in their scheme in year two under coach Lynn, and we absolutely love the upside of production compared to his value of ADP.

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts (ADP: 185-190)

Entering the NFL Combine process, the former N.C. State running back Nyheim Hines caught our eye with his quick first step and one-cut lateral movement bursting through the drills with ease. Hines also showed his great receiving ability with soft hands displaying the skillset which was as advertised from his days in college.

While given more opportunity in his Junior season, Hines found his way to over 1200 yards from scrimmage while scoring a whopping 12 total touchdowns on the season. That is rather impressive.

Entering the NFL and being selected by the Colts, hype began to form around Hines. Especially given the lack of depth at the running back position for Indianapolis. With new head coach Frank Reich ready to steer the ship, Hines was provided the opportunity to prove he could endure a full workload at least as the primary pass-catching back.

Unfortunately, due to a subpar preseason filled with fumbles and lack of great execution, Hines will begin the year in the dog-house. However, there is no questioning Hines ability which should eventually propel him to find ways to steal playing time.

If Hines can correct his ball control issues and adequately understand the speed of the pro league, he should become a PPR machine. Some are ready to throw in the towel on the young rookie, but we have no issue holding Nyheim on our bench for the first quarter of the season. Low risk and potential high value exists here.

On-Deck
Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs (ADP: 215-220)
John Kelly, Los Angeles Rams (ADP: 220-240)
Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals (ADP: 255-265)
Mark Walton, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: 350-360)



Wide Receivers

Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals (ADP: 205-215)

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While it may seem easy to evaluate any rookie and suggest they could become a potential star producer, this could be the fact when we come back to review the Cardinals rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk. Leaving no stone unturned, Kirk showed his brilliance this preseason proving he was worth the price of admission.

With Larry Fitzgerald having perhaps one solid season left in the tank, his tutelage should be felt in Kirk early. This could lead to Kirk being worthy of a flex role within the first three weeks of the season. We do have our reservations on Arizona’s starting pivot Sam Bradford. However, we can’t discount the fact that the Cardinals will be much better offensively this season with David Johnson returning. Being a secondary option to Fitzgerald and Johnson, Kirk will see lesser talented coverage leaving great opportunity to produce points.

Christian Kirk has been left undrafted in a majority of leagues as owners use the wait and see approach. We view his situation in a completely different manner and fully endorse holding him on your bench as a high upside option.

Danny Amendola, Miami Dolphins (ADP: 210-220)

We will be the first to admit, the Dolphins moves this offseason left us wincing believing there wasn’t enough on this offense for fantasy relevance. We did some digging into the system to understand what coach Gase plans to accomplish. It suggests for Danny Amendola that PPR points could become abundant early and often.

There is potential for a multidimensional quick pass game in Miami. This is thanks to Ryan Tannehill retuning from his ACL injury and spending an entire 2017 season on the sidelines learning the system from the coaching perceptive. When Miami traded Jarvis Landry to the Browns this offseason, the key objective was to replace those targets with players that could fit the role, which Amendola clearly does.

Last season the Patriots leaned on Danny to produce in the absence of Julian Edelman, he did, in fact, enjoy a decent campaign which rivaled his career highs. Finishing last year ranked as the forty-third best receiver in fantasy football, we could potentially see an uptick in production with extra targets coming his way.

Scoring a decent 138.9 points while hauling in 61 receptions, that value increase could be had in the red zone where Miami looks to become a player in 2018. Amendola is a great bench stash and could become extremely relevant as the year moves forward.

Trent Taylor, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 320-330)

As the San Francisco 49ers continue their path to rebuild this once storied franchise, Trent Taylor is flying so far under the radar it’s quite ridiculous. With Jimmy Garoppolo now fully entrenched as the starting quarterback for the 49ers, Taylor has great value to become the teams leading slot receiver producing mass statistics in the process. Kyle Shanahan’s system does employ the Z and X receiving options first but has a definite role for the slot position.

We must inform the public that rookie Dante Pettis has been on his heels all preseason vying for his position with the team. So careful getting too excited here. Pettis has been used all over the field by Shanahan getting creative with the talented rookie.

As the season moves forward, Taylor could see his snap count dwindle if Pettis is productive. But for the first half of the season, we really like the upside Trent could have in PPR formats.

On-Deck
Geronimo Allison, Green Bay Packers (ADP: 190-200)
James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers (ADP: 215-225)
Tre’Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints (ADP: 250-260)
Mike Wallace, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: 260-270)
Tavon Austin, Dallas Cowboys (ADP: 295-300)

Tight-Ends

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins (ADP: 200-205)

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For those unfamiliar with the potential in the Dolphins 2018 first round selection, allow me to provide context. Mike Gesicki houses a frame that is becoming the new normal in the NFL. The difference here is that Mike possesses fantastic athletic ability that could turn him into a star in this league.

Gesicke is a natural pass-catching tight end with great hands and average blocking ability. This hsould allow him to carve out a key role early especially in red zone and goal line opportunities.

While the Dolphins are in transition to revamp the offense without Jarvis Landry and losing faith in DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki will become a breath of fresh air. If Miami can create a solid run game to assist Ryan Tannehill with the play action pass, the 6’6 Gesicki will be a force on the field.

Nick Vannett, Seattle Seahawks (ADP: 230-250)

One of our most interesting players at the tight end spot is the Seahawks Nick Vannett. It’s no secret Seattle is rebuilding on both sides of the ball and with Jimmy Graham taking his talents to Green Bay, via free agency, Vannett has been given the role as the starting tight end.

It isn’t clear if Nick was given the job by default or if he truly is the best available. However, given how coach Carroll run his offense, the tight-end will indeed have a role catching passes from Russell Wilson.

For our appetite, we can’t fully endorse Vannett with confidence. However, the value for targets does exist. Especially since we believe Seattle will be playing from behind often lifting garbage time points to another level. It’s never been our draft process to snag top tight-ends early. We like to play the weekly flyer in hopes to garner a starter to produce and become a mainstay.

On-Deck
Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints (ADP: 195-205)
Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (ADP: 215-225)
Rickey Seals-Jones, Arizona Cardinals (ADP: 220-230)
Luke Wilson, Detroit Lions (ADP: 230-240)

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Note: This evaluation is based on a 12 team league – 15 round PPR format. It will be subject to review on a quarterly basis.


Check out the rest of our 2018 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers.

About Chris Chous

Chris is the founder of All Day Football (ADF) leading as an NFL Analyst & Writer, Fantasy Football Analyst & Writer. 2018 member of the #SFB8. He is known for his great in-depth comprehensive analysis on all players, teams, systems and schemes that can bee seen on http://allday-football.blogspot.com. Follow him on twitter @chris_ADF1

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  1. Pingback: 2018 Fantasy Football Undrafted Player Watch - First Quarter Update - Fantasy Six Pack

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