Today I want to provide our readers with some late-round ammo, and we will focus our targets to fit the various league sizes in which our readers compete. Now, while I like to think that all of us play in competitive 12-team formats, I know that forming leagues can be difficult and sometimes we have to settle for eight or 10 or whatever we can come up with.
The objective is to identify the late-round talent to target for various league size based on ADP data over the last few weeks. I’m focusing on players who have the potential to become steals and perform far better than their draft position would indicate. You can gain a big edge by nailing a few of these picks, and the risk is next to nothing because of the predictable strength of the waiver wire in 2014.
The ADP (sourced from myfantasyleague.com) given is specific to the league size in question. I’ll go from small leagues to large ones.
Jim Hackett and I will get into some of these players and much on the WEEI Fantasy Football Hour, so be sure to tune in. Our fourth show airs this Sunday at 7:30 a.m on 93.7.
Terrance West, RB, Browns — ADP 142
I’ve been singing West’s praises since before the draft as I love his chances at earning a major role in his rookie season. That he plays behind oft-injured Ben Tate is an added bonus. Don’t let him get through your draft and into free agency. Roster him late.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles — ADP 143
He’s got big upside, but it might take a little time for him to get fully up to speed. Matthews is going to start as the third receiver in Philadelphia, but he’s a game-ready talent who can be a difference-maker for the Eagles. He has the potential to explode at any time. Matthews is well worth a shot at the end of your bench in small leagues. Check out his game by reading his Rotobahn scouting report.
Rueben Randle, WR, Giants — ADP 176
Randle has WR2 upside even in small formats, so I would make sure he is rostered in my league. With rookie Odell Beckham Jr. banged up a bit, Randle almost assuredly is going to get off to a good start, and he’s the best red zone weapon on the Giants roster — by a good margin.
Matthews and West still are late-round options, and so is Randle. Let’s find a few more options since it’s a deeper format.
Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks ADP — 145
I am not a proponent of drafting handcuffs (insurance policies) in smaller formats. Christine Michael is an exception to the rule. Seattle’s second year running back could be a star should he replace Marshawn Lynch for any reason. If you own Lynch, Michael is worth more to you than what’s typically left at the end of drafts. Check out his scouting report to see some impressive game film.
Khiry Robinson, RB, Saints — 157
He’s failed to make the draft board in a lot of leagues, and that’s a mistake. Robinson has much upside despite Mark Ingram‘s big preseason. Ingram’s health has been an issue every season, and Robinson has the ability to gain a primary role … this makes him a nice late-round flier for an RB-needy team.
Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars — ADP 161
He’s usually left for the waiver wire in smaller formats, but I’d consider adding him late in the draft because Lee has a chance to be Jacksonville’s true No. 1 option. This makes him worthy of a roster spot in 10-team leagues. Check out his scouting report if you are unfamiliar with Lee’s game.
Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs — ADP 176
As I said with Christine Michael, some backups are worth handcuffing in smaller formats. Davis is one of those guys as he would replace a lot of the stats that an injured Jamaal Charles would leave behind. Don’t draft Charles and leave Davis for somebody else … or for the waiver wire. His scouting report is worth a look.
Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs — ADP 174
Kelce is another flier you can take if you feel you need some upside at tight end. He’s a late-round option who could explode if the Chiefs feature him, as we suspect they might. Again, we want you playing into the strength of free agency. Take players who can hit big. Kelce has that potential for the Chiefs, who are looking for offensive weapons that don’t play running back.
Aaron Dobson, WR, Patriots — ADP – 207
He’s an afterthought in 10-team drafts so far, but I think Dobson has enough upside to be drafted as a deep upside receiver. The fact that we’ve seen nothing of him so far is causing drafters to avoid him, but I still see him as the best outside weapon in New England. He’s good value in the last few rounds.
Both handcuff players, Michael and Davis are even more crucial at this league size, and they will go off the board a bit sooner. If you draft Jamaal Charles or Marshawn Lynch, make them a priority once your key starters and high upside reserves are in-place.
I’ll give more options here with a wider ADP spectrum as 12-team leagues often have deeper benches than smaller formats.
Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, Giants — ADP 180
You can’t take him too early because his hamstring problems could spill over into the regular season. Still, this guy went 12th overall for a reason and the Giants will be featuring him soon enough. I love him as a high-upside WR5 or WR6.
Cody Latimer, WR, Broncos — ADP 193
He can’t start for you right away, but he is close to a significant role in a Payton Manning offense … and all he needs is for Wes Welker or Emmanuel Sanders to miss time. I am rostering Latimer late the same way I was rostering Julius Thomas last season. It’s a risk worth taking. Read Latimer’s scouting report if you’ve seen him in action.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals — ADP 232
Sanu is a short-term fix for those who need help at WR3 or flex early in the season. Sanu should post nice numbers in Weeks 1-3 while he fills in for the injured Marvin Jones. If you need help early,
this is your guy.
Dri Archer, RB, Steelers — ADP 236
We are big on Archer overall, and he can help you in large formats … especially large PPT formats. We expect him to make big plays on most weeks and to gain momentum as the year wears on. This kid is explosive. Check out his scouting report if you’ve never seen him play.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Panthers — ADP 247
He can help you in deep PPR formats and even in standard scoring. Cotchery is going to be a go-to option for Cam Newton and he’ll almost always face single coverage. He should be rostered in all 12-team leagues.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings — ADP 248
He’s often undrafted, and that’s not happening in any big league that I’m in, especially if I drafted Adrian Peterson early. I know most people are assuming that Matt Asiata will be the starter in the event of a Peterson injury, but we feel strongly that it would be a shared backfield, with McKinnon eventually becoming the more valuable of the two. He was taken in Round 3 for a reason. The ex-triple option
quarterback is a versatile and dynamic athlete who will get better every week as he learns Norv Turner‘s offense. He is well worth an investment late in 12-team leagues.
DeAnthony Thomas, RB, Chiefs — ADP 254
As with Archer, he’s a player who may take some time, or may explode right away. I like the idea of rostering him in deep leagues, especially if they use PPR scoring. By my math, the Chiefs have to make a big weapon out of either Travis Kelce or Thomas. They need places to throw the football and they need players who can make plays with the ball in their hands. Thomas could play a role as a slot receiver and as a change-of-pace back. Think Danny Woodhead with the ability to take it to the house. You can often get him at the very end … even in PPR leagues.
All of the above names apply to these groups as well, but let’s add a few more that stick out when looking at 14-team ADP data.
Andrew Hawkins, WR, Cleveland — ADP 210
He can be a weekly option for you in big formats for as long as his health holds up. Hawkins is one of the few players in Cleveland who can get open against man-to-man coverage. He’ll make weekly plays and have value in deeper leagues.
Jonathan Grimes, RB, Texans — ADP 216
In big leagues, Grimes is a smart way to protect yourself against an injury to Arian Foster. He’s the current backup and he’s a good back. If your 12-team league has deep benches, Grimes is worth a look in that league size as well.
John Brown, WR, Cardinals — ADP 241
The rookie is a Rotobahn favorite. If you don’t know him, spend a few minutes with his scouting report. Brown is going to be the third receiver in Arizona, and when you consider how much attention Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd draw, you have to like Brown’s chance of making some big plays. He’s certainly worth a look in big formats and he could have major upside if one of the big two goes down.
Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders — ADP 274
This is a late-round target of mine in big leagues because I love his talent and I don’t trust the two old backs in front of him on Oakland’s depth chart. All you need is an injury to Maurice Jones-Drew or Darren McFadden and you have an nice flex option with significant upside. Check out our original scouting report on Murray if you are unfamiliar with his game.
Brian Quick, WR, Rams — ADP 290
He’ll probably stay off the radar with Sam Bradford going down for the year, but I see some sleeper potential with Quick, who is entering his third year and is exhibiting improved route-running in camp. Quick has upside as a red zone weapon in an offense looking for them. He should be owned in all leagues that roster more than 200 players.
Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks — ADP 317
If I draft Percy Harvin in a really big league, I like the idea of taking Richardson late. The second-round pick might be an intermittent factor as a rookie, but if Harvin goes down, as he’s been known to do, Richardson’s value could explode. He’s a rare WR handcuff option that makes sense in big formats. Check out his scouting report if you’re never seen him play.
Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots — ADP higher than 317
Bolden currently is not getting drafted in most big leagues. That may change soon if the rumors of Stevan Ridley’s release prove to be true. Either way, we like Bolden’s all-around game. Few backs can play power roles and skill roles at a high level. He’s well worth a look late in all leagues that have more than 12 teams. He’s a potential steal and he’s zero risk right now.
Charles Johnson, WR, Browns — ADP higher than 317
Like with Bolden, Johnson is not getting drafted. It’s understandable, but I am taking him late in big leagues because I think he could evolve to become Cleveland’s No. 1 option within a month or so. It’s a low risk, high-upside move late in big leagues.
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