Fantasy Football: Do Not Ignore These Late Round WRs in 2018
The saying goes that ‘you don’t win your league at the draft’. However, I think owners who drafted Adam Thielen or Marvin Jones in the late rounds of 2017 drafts would tell you that hitting a home run with a late round WR goes a long way to ensuring your success. Both Thielen and Jones were drafted in the 9th round or later in drafts and finished as top 10 WRs. Let’s take a look at some of the players who have high upside despite being drafted late in 2018 drafts.
I’m going to start with a selection that will not be popular amongst many owners. They might still be feeling the sting of buying into the Adam Gase hype train the last offseason and being let down by Parker’s production. This disdain can be used to the advantage of savvy owners in 2018. Recent news of Parker’s hand injury combined with this post-hype sleeper trend has sent Parker’s ADP into free fall. Since July 28th, Parker’s value has fallen from the mid 8th round to the back end of the 9th/start of the 10th. He is expected to be ready for the start of the season, so now is your chance to buy low.
In 2017, the Dolphins offense was a disaster at the hands of a QB carousel consisting of Matt Moore, David Fales, and the recently un-retired Jay Cutler. Additionally, the offense featured target hog, Jarvis Landry, heavily. With Ryan Tannehill back from injury and Landry’s 161 targets up for grabs, there is plenty of room for DeVante Parker to finally ascend to his draft pedigree as a former first-round pick in the NFL Draft. The Dolphin’s confidence in him only bolsters my enthusiasm, as they recently exercised the 5th year option in his rookie contract, keeping him in Miami for the next two seasons.
The first thing you will hear in any discussion regarding Marqise Lee’s 2017 season is that he graded below the league average in Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception for every route. This may seem like a black mark on his resume, but I believe this can and should be swiftly forgiven. 2017 saw a litany of injuries for Marqise Lee, starting with a high ankle sprain in the preseason. Combined with subsequent knee and rib ailments bookended by another ankle sprain that would close out Lee’s regular season, one can see how Lee might’ve lacked the ability to separate.
Even though he was unable to run routes effectively due to playing through injury, Lee still managed a respectable 58.3% catch percentage which ranks him above WRs like Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Michael Crabtree and Brandin Cooks. Additionally, despite being hobbled, Lee maintained the trust of his QB, Blake Bortles. In fact over the last two seasons, Lee has averaged 7 targets per game which is a 16-game pace of 112. Based on 2017 league statistics this would’ve ranked Lee as the 19th most targeted WR in the league. At his current ADP of WR50 in the 11th round, Lee sounds like a no-brainer to me.
Stop laughing, I’m serious. John Ross obviously disappointed in his rookie season, finishing the year with no receptions on two targets and negative fantasy points. However, 2018 is a fresh start for the Cincinnati speedster. The Bengals have been searching for a WR2 to start opposite of AJ Green for a while now. That post was, until recently, filled by Brandon LaFell. With LaFell’s release from the team, 89 targets are now up for grabs. While that may not seem like a lot, it is enough to allow Ross to far exceed his current ADP of WR70, should he assume that role in this offense. It is worth noting that Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs had just 105 and 95 targets last season respectively.
I’m not projecting that level of success for Ross in 2018 and luckily for us, I don’t have to. Ross is currently being drafted in the 14th round of leagues. This means that he is either your last non-kicker/defense selection, or he is going undrafted altogether. At this price, how do you not take a flyer on a player who was drafted with the 9th overall selection in the 2017 NFL draft who can run a 4.22 40-yard dash and is currently projected to start for an NFL offense?