Fantasy Football: 8 UDFAs That You Need to Pay Attention to in 2019
Every year there are a few undrafted free agents (UDFAs) who battle their way to a roster spot and somehow fight their way to fantasy relevance. Many teams end up bringing more UDFAs to offseason camps than they do even drafted players. According to Spotrac, these UDFAs will make $480,000 minimum this year if they make the final roster cut. Kurt Warner, Tony Romo, Arian Foster, and Wes Welker are some recent UDFAs who went on to dominate for their fantasy squads. In last year’s article, I highlighted a number of names to pay attention to including some major fantasy contributors such as Phillip Lindsay, Josh Adams, and Robert Foster.
Note: This conversation is for dynasty rosters and depth chart projections and NOT for redraft purposes. Let’s take a deeper dive into 8 names who weren’t drafted in the first 7 rounds. Who will be this year’s underdog UDFA?
1. Georgia RB Elijah Holyfield signed by the Carolina Panthers
You recognize the last name as the son of a boxing legend but Holyfield was highly recruited but joined a crowded backfield with eventual NFLers Sony Michel, Nick Chubb and a number of other recruits. Holyfield was more solid than spectacular although he did run at 6.4 per carry and over 1,000 yards last year. He tested extremely slow at the combine (4.78 40-time) which likely caused him to slip out of the draft. The Panthers did draft Florida RB Jordan Scarlett ahead of him but Holyfield has a chance to add depth behind Christian McCaffrey.
2. Missouri WR Emanuel Hall signed by the Chicago Bears
Hall was one of the more surprising names to go undrafted as many draft experts penciled him in the top-10 among WR prospects. Hall himself was shocked:
Top round talent that fell all the way to free agency, and I’m not discouraged a bit. When this is all said and done this story is going to be crazy!
— Emanuel Hall (@emanuelhall) April 27, 2019
Hall was a high school track star and struggled to get on the field and through injuries his first couple years at Missouri. In 2017, he was second in the NCAA with 24.8 yards per reception, showcasing his after-the-catch ability. Despite playing with Drew Lock, there was always plays left on the field and a question whether he could sustain production through an entire season because of constant injuries. Hall ran a 4.39 at the combine and could find himself in the WR rotation behind Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Taylor Gabriel as the WR4.
3. Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr. signed by the Cincinnati Bengals
Morgan was another draft day snub that many thought would get a call on the last day of the draft. Our own Matt Harmon detailed Morgan as a Day 3 Sleeper in his recent pre-draft Reception Perception article. As the leading receiver the last two years at Nebraska (a school not known for high-profile WRs), it’s easy to see why Morgan might’ve flown under-the-radar. Harmon noted that Morgan “can lineup inside or outside at both X-receiver and flanker. The incoming rookie runs disciplined routes and creates separation at all levels of the field“. He compared him to Rams WR Robert Woods. The Bengals do have needs beyond A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd to fill out their WR corp. Don’t be surprised if Morgan finds himself a roster spot.
4. Kansas State RB Alex Barnes signed by the Tennessee Titans
Barnes was a favorite of our own Mike Wright during the combine process as he posted 34 bench reps and was productive at Kansas State. He was second-team All-Big 12 with 1,355 rushing yards and 12 TDs adding another 20 passes for 194 yards. The backfield is crowded with veterans although the Titans can move on from Derrick Henry if they choose to this year. Barnes is a thumper who definitely could find his way on special teams.
5. Northwestern State WR Jazz Ferguson signed by the Seattle Seahawks
There was a black hole at the WR position in Seattle and the team felt it as news broke that Doug Baldwin could be done in the NFL following multiple surgeries. The Seahawks addressed their need in this draft with higher draft capital with the athletic, shirtless marvel D.K. Metcalf and West Virginia’s Gary Jennings Jr. But remember the name Jazz Ferguson… which might not be hard to remember. Originally an LSU recruit, Ferguson transferred for academic reasons. He had an outstanding 2018 campaign catching 66 passes for 1,117 yards (16.9 average) and 13 TDs. At 6’5 227 lbs, Ferguson ran a 4.45 which showcases the kind of upside he could bring first as a special teams contributor but potentially as a red-zone monster. Jazz’s brother (Jaylon) was an LB drafted in the 3rd round by the Ravens.
6. Louisville WR Jaylen Smith signed by the Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens were another WR-needy team that selected the first receiver off the board in Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and followed that up with Miles Boykin in the third round. So why are we talking about Smith? Smith has serious chemistry with Lamar Jackson as he averaged 22.2 yards per reception along with 6 TDs in 2017 at Louisville. He was first-team All-ACC the year after before a poor senior campaign which likely kept him from being drafted. Smith has the size (6’2) and speed (4.47) to make this roster and perhaps push for an outside WR role with a QB that already knows his strengths and weaknesses.
7. Missouri RB Damarea Crockett & Michigan RB Karan Higdon signed by the Houston Texans
Crockett & Higdon are on this list as the Texans have one of the thinnest RB groups in the league as somehow did not address their need in the draft. With the ever-aging Lamar Miller at the top of the depth chart, things could turn over quickly. Crockett was another Missouri Tiger anchored in the Drew Lock offense that went undrafted. Many critics claim there were some hollow numbers from that offense that will get exposed at the pro-level. Crockett did start out with a bang as a 1,000-yard rusher as a freshman in the SEC but his production steadily declined over the next two years as he struggled with injuries. Higdon is a bit smaller (5’9) but also was a 1,000-yard guy at Michigan. Neither are big pass-catchers, though this offense has never really supported receiving backs. The Texans’ RB target share (16.14 percent) is the lowest in the league over the last five years running.
8. Texas WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey signed by the New Orleans Saints
Part of me thinks I’m only adding Humphrey to this list because his first name is Lil’Jordan. But Humphrey was uber productive as the main guy in the Longhorns offense finishing 2018 with 86 receptions for 1,176 yards and nine TDs. He excelled as a predominantly big (6’4) slot WR, which this offense could definitely use. Apart from Michael Thomas, there is room for someone to step up as Tre’Quan Smith has been inconsistent and Ted Ginn Jr. is old and breaking down. Sean Payton knows how to use big, slow WRs (think of Marques Colston or Brandon Coleman) who run solid routes.
- Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State)- Buccaneers
- Tyree Jackson (Buffalo)- Bills
- Jake Browning (Washington)- Vikings
- James Williams (Washington State)- Chiefs
- Devine Ozigbo (Nebraska)- Saints
- Trevion Thompson (Clemson)- Chargers
- Greg Dortch (Wake Forest)- Jets
- Keelan Doss (UC Davis)- Raiders