Five Players Going Undrafted To Keep An Eye On (Fantasy Football)
Every single year undrafted players make a significant impact on the Fantasy Season. Look no further than last season where Elijah Mitchell helped carry many seasons to success, or Amon-Ra St. Brown who catapulted teams into Championships. These rookies were able to make sudden impacts that affected the fantasy season heavily.
Players like Cordarrelle Patterson and Hunter Renfrow took their new opportunities and became fantasy relevant somewhat out of nowhere. So… who are this year’s players that are going undrafted that could be fantasy relevant before we know it? Here are five players where opportunity and ability could be lining up to create fantasy football diamonds in the rough.
Devin Duvernay– WR, BAL
Underdog ADP: 198.1
Sleeper ADP: 217.8
The Ravens traded away Marquise Brown who saw 26.3% of the team’s targets last year. Most people expect that Rashod Bateman will see a major upgrade in targets along with Mark Andrews being the true WR1 for the team.
However, Duvernay could be a true league changer. Bateman may have the draft capital, and we know Andrews is not going anywhere as Lamar Jackson’s safety blanket, but don’t forget Duvernay has speed. Speed is the very thing Brown took with him in his trade, and so there is a real chance Duvernay becomes the down-the-field target. He has a 107.7 on his speed score and a 44 in quickness. What does that tell us? He has straight-line speed, and that means his best usage should be downfield. This could make him rather unreliable in redraft leagues, but in a best ball format, he really could thrive as our Best Ball Primer suggests. Let’s not forget that Bateman struggled with injuries most of last year. If he misses time, Duvernay will be at the top of the depth chart at WR.
There are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t draft Duvernay, a small passing volume team, and the number three target on that team, but Jackson has grown as a passer every year in the NFL. If that trend continues, his deep targets could become more reliable, and perhaps more accurate. We have seen Lamar go deep, now he was only 22.6% on those passes last year, but he could get better. If that percentage improves then Duvernay projects to be the most likely recipient of that deep ball growth. That very easily could make Duvernay a valuable asset. So, don’t draft him, but don’t forget about him either.
Wan’Dale Robinson– WR NYG
Underdog ADP: 190.4
Sleeper ADP: 228.3
This is simple. The Giants have a guy exactly like Robinson in Kadarius Toney who is coming into his second year, and they paid Kenny Golladay a ton of money to improve their WR room. One problem, that was the old coaching staff and general manager. This offseason they cleaned house and the new leadership group opted to draft Robinson in the second round of the draft. This was a surprising move for sure, but when paired with the offseason issues with Toney, and Golladay’s health issues the last two years, maybe there is a true need for reliability in the receiving room.
Robinson played his last year of college at Kentucky and put up pretty good numbers. He averaged 8 receptions a game and over a hundred yards. He played out of the slot mostly but was still a key piece of the Kentucky passing attack. Without any change happening he might just be the main target recipient for the team. He is a rookie, so I expect it will take him some time to get going, but just like St. Brown last year he could be a player down the stretch that helps win you a championship. Robinson could just be a target monster similar to Hunter Renfrow last year because he might be the guy who is out there and playing while the other guys, who might be better, will be on the sideline in sweatpants.
It’s not a great team, and he could easily be the third or fourth receiving option for that bad team but if you see him have two weeks of stable production no question he is worth a waiver pickup. It is that simple. He has the chance to be the actual number one guy, even though no one thinks he will be, but the draft capital is a signal we should not forget about. Just keep your eyes on him and his target share.
Trey Sermon– RB, SF
Underdog ADP: 215.5
Sleeper ADP: 246.8
I know! He doesn’t fit the Kyle Shanahan system, and he isn’t fast enough, and he is probably another one of the high draft capital players that Shannahan just missed on. All of that very well could be true, and right now he is buried on the depth chart, BUT he is in an offense that loves to run the football. Add the fact that no one in San Fran can seem to stay healthy for an entire season and the argument becomes pretty easy.
Sermon is not a bad player; he showed a ton of talent coming out of Ohio State and many analysts had him as one of the best backs in the 2021 draft class. He did run a 4.57 40-yard dash but scored a 98.6 in speed. This rightfully led to the hype for him last year, and frankly, he did not deliver. He never got the chance. Elijah Mitchell took the job after the injury to Raheem Mostert, and never let go. Even when Mitchell was injured, the team opted for Deebo Samuel as an RB over Sermon. So, maybe everyone was wrong, maybe Sermon just doesn’t have it, maybe he won’t even make the roster for the 49ers.
What if Mitchell gets hurt though? What if the new rookie Tyrion Davis-Price has a hard time like Sermon with being what Shanahan wants for his main RB? From reports, Deebo Samuel doesn’t want to be a running back. So, what if the team has no choice but to go with Sermon at some point. What then?
I’m not saying Sermon is a guaranteed running back breakout to watch for if he gets a chance, but Shanahan has made some mediocre backs look great in his career, and there is no reason to believe he couldn’t do something with the talent of Sermon. Every year the 49ers seem to have a new player break out for their RB, and Sermon has a real chance to be that guy. He could be nothing, and so I understand him not being drafted but please do not bury him and think he has no potential!
Mo Alie-Cox– TE, IND
Underdog ADP: 209.8
Sleeper ADP: 248.3
Gigantor is an athletic freak! Yet, he has only scored double-digit fantasy points five times in his career. Last season, he split work with Jack Doyle and had Carson Wentz as a QB. Those two things alone are an easy way to keep a good player down. Coming into his fifth season in the NFL, Alie-Cox has his best opportunity to finally be a consistent fantasy asset. The receiving options in Indianapolis are fairly pedestrian outside of Michael Pittman, and everyone believes the passing game should be better with Matt Ryan than it was with Wentz. So why is Gigantor going undrafted?
Every one one of his double-digit fantasy performances came on the back of touchdowns. Look at Kyle Pitts last year to see that TEs with Matt Ryan, even athletic freaks, don’t wrack up the touchdowns. This would signal that Alie-Cox could have a good game here or there, but is most likely not going to be a weekly starter for your team. This assumes that Gigantor doesn’t see a massive uptick in the number of targets that he receives. His high water mark is six targets in his career, and that was with Phillip Rivers as his QB. Matt Ryan targets TEs at a very high rate, and if Mo Alie-Cox gets the kind of targets Pitts got last year, or even better Austin Hooper from 2019 Gigantor could skyrocket into fantasy relevance.
The team figures to be better in the passing game, they have one reliable target in the wide receiver room, and Alie-Cox is a hyper-athletic Tight End. I understand the desire to avoid Gigantor as he has never been very reliable, but the opportunity is juicy. Just don’t forget to see how things go when the season starts.
Calvin Austin III– WR, PIT
Underdog ADP: 215.9
Sleeper ADP: 317
Yes, it is very unlikely that Austin is a starter this year. He seems to be the heir apparent to the Diontae Johnson role after Johnson leaves in free agency next year. Austin could be a benchwarmer most of the year and bring no fantasy value whatsoever. The issue is you are not going to find many more athletic guys than Austin on your waiver wires: 4.32 40-yard dash, and scoring in the 90th percentile in both quickness and explosiveness. He was a hyper-productive player his last two years in college going over 1,000 yards both years and came to a team that could utilize a player of his skillset.
Austin thrived with manufactured touches in his time at Memphis, and could easily be used in three and four-receiver sets as a screen man. That alone could make him a valuable best ball player as his explosiveness could lead to some huge plays without having to have great Quarterback play. This is good because most likely the Steelers are not going to have great QB play for most of the season. Regardless of who the starter is between Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett, the best weeks are not going to be incredible performances as passers
Johnson and Chase Claypool both missed a game last year due to injury and have issues at times with drops. We know Mike Tomlin does not take kindly to his receivers dropping the ball, and if there is a game where one of them gets in the dog house or misses due to injury Austin could thrust his way into a fairly significant role. He shouldn’t be drafted in redraft leagues but might deserve a late-round flier in best ball. However, regardless of format, this is a player you need to keep an eye on going through the season if for no other reason than for next year where he could be a main weapon for this team.