Football is finally back! With the first week of preseason in the books, fantasy football is that much closer. Now I’m sure we’ve already all done our fair share of drafts, but what better time to draft than the preseason? This is when we actually get a glimpse of what key players and potential draft picks are actually capable of. Did the player you’ve been hyping up all offseason deliver? Or did they flop? If the latter was the case, good thing there’s still three weeks of preseason remaining.
Below I compiled a short list of late round gems whos upside far outweighs their current ADP. I didn’t include anyone being drafted earlier than the 12th round to keep the ‘gem’ label intact. You never know who will end up carrying your fantasy team throughout the season, it could even come towards the end of your fantasy draft. Every pick is important. Keep an eye out for the players below.
Reference: Fantasy Football Calculator
Drop some late round gems of your own in the comment section below!
RB Kenneth Dixon (Baltimore Ravens)
While looking around at Kenneth Dixon’s ADP, I was baffled to find out that he’s going higher in standard leagues (13.01) compared to PPR leagues (13.03). This is a back who will make a living at catching passes out of the backfield as he ended his college career at Louisiana Tech with 87 which boosted him into the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
The Ravens backfield is a bit of an enigma at the moment. A crowded household which also features the likes of Justin Forsett, Javorius Allen and even Terrance West will vie for snaps. Forsett will start as the lead back, but the veteran will wind down as the season progresses which opens the door for the young bucks in Allen, and of course our guy Dixon who happened to impress in week 1 of the preseason.
Looking at the stats, Forsett has combined for 75 catches in two seasons in Baltimore while Allen caught 45 last season as a rookie. This offense revolves around getting the ball to the RB in the passing game. In PPR leagues, Dixon holds a lot of value in the 13th round and exceptional upside as a FLEX. It’s all going to depend on who has the hot hand. Regardless, Dixon can rack up a solid 5-10 points per week in PPR formats. He will have his big weeks here and there as well. Look for him to get a steady increased workload as the season goes on.
RB Paul Perkins (New York Giants)
The Giants have been without a feature back for a while now, Paul Perkins is the next big thing in that backfield. Before I go any further, even PFF claims Perkins could seize the Giants RB job at some point this season. The rookie out of UCLA slipped all the way to the 5th round as the Giants got themselves a steal. He’s not the biggest or fastest back, but he possesses high-end elusiveness which has drawn comparisons to Jamaal Charles.
Entering the season, Rashad Jennings will be the lead back yet again for the Giants, but that won’t last too long. While the coaching staff has stated they want to get the seasoned vet more involved, there’s not much to rave about regarding Jennings who has averaged just over 4 yards per carry with 7 TDs in a starting role the past two seasons. Not much for Perkins to beat out.
The key with Perkins will be patience. He may not get the volume of touches you’re looking for from the start, but with rookie backs they typically tend to catch on as the season progresses. In Perkins’ case, he very well could take over the lead role by midseason. At a 14.05 ADP, that’s a steal for someone with starting potential, especially in an offense like the New York Giants.
WR Phillip Dorsett (Indianapolis Colts)
The 2nd year WR out of Miami didn’t quite live up to his 1st round draft slot as he missed 5 games and didn’t even catch half of his targets. Putting that aside, Dorsett is expected to breakout in his sophomore season as the Colts plan to implement their 3 WR set which also features the likes of T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief. While he’s the 3rd WR, there will be plenty of production to go around as he’s given an expanded role.
With a healthy Andrew Luck returning, the Colts will be among the leaders in pass attempts, and Dorsett will see a lot more targets than last season. With Hilton and Moncrief in front of him, Dorsett will see favorable matchups as well. He’s a big play threat who possesses great deep threat ability with elite speed. He’ll be on the other end of plenty Andrew Luck deep balls in 2016. Expect a huge bump in production.
When Luck was healthy in 2014, he led the league with 40 passing TDs – he could be right up there again, especially with the weapons at his disposal. Dorsett will benefit from the high volume passing offense and matchups he’s given with Hilton and Moncrief in front of him. A big upside pick who could outplay his 13th round ADP.
WR Devin Funchess (Carolina Panthers)
Of all the players on this list, Devin Funchess is by far the most hyped up. Based on the hype, you’d think he’d be going much higher than his ADP of 12.05. There’s a lot to like about the 2nd year specimen out of Michigan as he’s expected to make a major step forward as a sophomore.
To start, the return of Kelvin Benjamin from injury will provide a great compliment to Funchess on the outside and open up more opportunities as Funchess looks to improve on his rookie stat-line of 31-473-5. The Panthers were without a consistent, reliable receiver on the outside last season, so this will only do good for Funchess. With a year under his belt, reports indicate that he has made a lot of progress over the offseason as he indicated in the preseason opener.
At 6’4”/225, Funchess has tremendous size and is an elite physical specimen. The former college TE has an ideal frame for redzone situations and will rack up some TDs in that vicinity of the field. He has the physical traits to be lethal in every area of the field. Funchess is expected to breakout in a huge way this year and I very well could see him double his production and emerge as a viable WR2. The return of Benjamin will pay dividends.
TE Dwayne Allen (Indianapolis Colts)
Over the offseason the Colts prioritized Dwayne Allen as they opted to re-sign him and let Coby Fleener walk in free agency. Allen has had his fair share of struggles, mainly when it comes to staying healthy. He’s missed 22 games over the past three seasons (15 in 2013) and hasn’t been nearly as productive since his rookie year back in 2012. Still, I have hope for the 5th year TE out of Clemson.
Just two years removed from a season in which he hauled in 8 TD catches, the upside is clearly there for Allen. The biggest factor which I can attribute a productive season from Allen is a healthy Andrew Luck under center. Last season we saw Luck in and out of games and not at 100% in what was an incredibly disappointing season in Indy. With a healthy Luck playing in all 16 games, Allen has the potential to break career highs.
The majority of Allen’s points should come on TD catches. He is a tremendous redzone threat. I’ll go out on a limb here and say he breaks double-digit TDs this season, something only 3 TEs did last season. Rapport is huge for a QB and any of his receivers – Luck and Allen have both been there since day one, having been drafted together. While TEs are a premium this year, Allen in the late 12th round carries great upside and can emerge as a TE1.
TE Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys)
As I touched on lightly in Allen’s write-up, TE’s are a premium this season – you can wait it out until the very end and find yourself a starting caliber player at the position. Jason Witten could be that guy. Going at the tail-end of fantasy drafts with a 13.12 ADP, the seasoned vet is a steal that late. This is a guy who caught 77 passes last season and racked up over 700 receiving yards. He did so without Tony Romo for the majority of the season.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a QB-TE combo with better chemistry than Romo and Witten. A healthy Romo will boost Witten’s production, especially in the TD department as he caught only 3 last season. If anyone knows how to get Witten the ball in the redzone, it’s Romo.
Now I’m not saying Witten will return as a 1,000 yard TE like we’ve seen in years past, but a potential starting TE in the 13th round is too good to pass up. He produced with Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden tossing him the pigskin, so he’ll be able to return to top form with Romo back. Typically I stray away from older players in fantasy, but if there’s anyone who can stay at the top of his game until they retire, it’s Jason Witten.