It’s draft night. The night you have been waiting for all summer. The buzz is in the air. You and your friends have all gathered, the draft board is out, drinks are flowing, and the food is hot. Everyone is chatting about how the first three rounds are going to unfold. What RB goes first? Todd Gurley, David Johnson, or Ezekiel Elliot. Everyone is talking about those top players that are going to come flying off the board.
The one thing people aren’t talking about, and will never mention under any circumstance, is that guy that they have written down on that crumpled piece of paper deep down in their back pocket. That crumbled up piece of paper is actually the golden ticket. It holds the names of those guys that no one else knows about that you’re going to sneak into one of the last rounds of the draft with a huge smile on your face. Those names on that crumpled piece of paper should be these guys.
Jamies Winston: All you can think about are those crab legs he stole from Publix when he was at Florida State. Winston has grown leaps and bounds since then. He has taken command of the Tampa Bay locker room and is ready to take the next step on the field this year. Last season Winston finished just outside of QB1 territory at QB13. From weeks 10-17 he was the eighth ranked QB in fantasy football ahead of names like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers. He did all of this while his top WR Mike Evans was battling injury. Winston and Evans have also vowed to be the top scoring QB-WR duo in the league this season. In year two, we could see Winston finish as a top five QB.
Robert Kelley- The undrafted rookie from Tulane has quietly gone about his business this preseason and may find himself atop the depth chart in Washington when the season starts. Presumed starter Matt Jones hurt his shoulder, and will be questionable for the first few weeks of the season. Receiving back Chris Thompson has also been dinged up, but even if healthy, mainly sees the field on passing downs. Last year Thompson only produced two double digit fantasy games. I don’t see him cutting into Kelly’s workload much if Jones is indeed out. Kelley was already ahead of fellow rookie Keith Marshall on the depth chart before Marshall was injured during week 3 of the preseason. It’s not just the opportunity here though, he has been great this preseason. He has rushed the ball 22 times for 98 yards (just under 4.5 yards per carry) and has a touchdown. There is alot potential here, especially if Jones misses time.
Terrance West- The hype train started on Terrence West a couple seasons early. People in Cleveland thought he was the answer, then he bounced around to Baltimore via Tennessee. Justin Forsett has resurrected his career in Baltimore, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Reports out of Baltimore are that West has carried most of the weight this preseason in the crowded Baltimore backfield. Kenneth Dixon went down with injury last week and will be out nearly the first month of the season. Forsett’s status is still unclear for week 1. If West can keep Buck Allen in the rear view mirror, he could be the favorite to start the season opener. If he runs well, he may not give the job up.
Kamar Aiken- A year ago Aiken had 75 catches for 944 yards and five touchdowns. To make that even more impressive, he did most of his damage with Matt Schaub and Ryan Mallett. Now that Joe Flacco is back healthy, and Steve Smith Sr. is still recovering from the achilles, Aiken might outdo himself from a year ago. His ADP is the 49th receiver off the board, and he very well could be the Ravens leading receiver again this year. He finished as a top 25 WR a year ago, and no one is treating him like it.
Kenny Stills- How old is Kenny Stills? Early 30’s? He has been around for a long time right? These are all questions I began asking myself as I continued to notice the volume of targets he was receiving from Ryan Tannehill this preseason. Well, I was wrong. He is only 24 and this is his 4th year in the league. Compare that to his teammates Davante Parker and Jarvis Landry who are both only 23 years old. He is only a year older than both. Why is that important? Because the Dolphins have as much incentive to see Stills grow into a feature receiver as they do Landry or Parker. I feel that Landry has his spot locked down. Yet, what the preseason told us, by both target volume and snap count, is that Kenny Stills is ahead of Devante Parker. Not only that, but Tannehill feels very comfortable with Stills. I think Stills has a chance to be a solid WR3 or better for your fantasy team in the Dolphins Adam Gase system.
Tyler Higbee- Disclaimer, I want to give you guys that are going to help you this season. Tyler Higbee could be the best player on this list, but he may not get that opportunity immediately in LA. If you can afford to draft someone and sit on them, then this is your guy. If Jared Godd takes over at QB, Higbee’s numbers will sky rocket. The two have had an unquestioned chemistry in camp and Higbee has been dominant in the redzone. He is definitely the best TE on their roster, but it may take some time for him to work his way into your every weekend lineup. I guarantee you this though, your patience will be rewarded.
The good news about this list of guys on your crumpled up piece of paper in your back pocket is this (with the exception of Tyler Higbee), if they aren’t performing by week 4 then you can drop them without any hesitation. That is all you can ask for out of a late round draft pick. We all want someone that is going to blow up and make us look like a genius. Someone we can plug in our starting lineup every week or trade for a good profit. Yet, if that doesn’t happen, we want someone that we can get rid of when the bye week gauntlet approaches. If these guys don’t produce early, then it is no sweat off your back to drop them because you took a stab at them late in the draft. So, when it comes to that crumpled up piece of paper in your back pocket, take a chance!