From a dynasty perspective, name a player who is unlikely to contribute this year but could be a monster later in his career.
Jeff Haseley: Aside from the obvious Marcus Lattimore, here are a few I have my eye on.
- CAR RB Kenjon Barner: A very good pass-catching back who could have a role in 2014 depending on RB situation with Williams/Stewart.
- DEN WR Tavarres King - Fearless over the middle. Eric Decker is an UFA after this year.
- IND WR Nathan Palmer - Has talent, grit, tenactiy and toughness. Just waiting for his shot.
- WAS TE Jordan Reed - Similar measurables and skill set to Aaron Hernandez. Fred Davis is an UFA after this year.
- NO RB Travaris Cadet - Sproles-Lite. One of the reasons why NO traded away Chris Ivory.
- NYG TE Adrien Robinson - He's a Brandon Myers injury away from lacing them up in the Giants offense.
- KC TE Travis Kelce - Kelce could have a role as early as this year if he shows he can learn Andy Reid's offense. Once he gets it, he won't look back.
Chad Parsons: This could easily be a 10,000-word essay, but I will shine a light on one of my favorites from this year's draft class, Charles Johnson, wide receiver, Grand Valley State, drafted by the Green Bay Packers.
While the odds are squarely stacked against late round and undrafted free agent receivers to make any substantial impact, Johnson stands out and checks every box on my list. According to my projection system for rookies, Johnson has the highest score of any late round or undrafted receiver since Miles Austin. Will he blossom into a starting receiver like Austin? We will see, but here are all the things working in Johnson's favor:
- Ideal size: Johnson is 6'2" and 215 pounds, more than capable of being a starting outside receiver in the NFL.
- Speed: He ran a sub-4.40 40-yard dash, which for his size rivals some of the best prospects in the last decade.
- Athleticism: Johnson added a 133" broad jump and sub-7.00 three-cone drill at his pro day.
- Production: Small school prospects need to dominate their competition. Johnson did just that with 57% of his team's touchdowns his final season and over 40% of the passing yards. In addition, he scored almost 1.5 touchdowns per game.
- Situation: Johnson goes to a Green Bay offense that produces fantasy-viable options at will. Some will cite Dale Moss as a small school project that did not pan out in Green Bay of late. Moss was far less accomplished as a receiver and was quite dissimilar as a prospect.
Charles Johnson is still a long-shot to break out like Miles Austin did years ago, but his profile is very similar. To take a shot at a late-round prospect on the end of a dynasty roster, there need to be a strong argument that this player could succeed. Johnson is the ideal player to stash in deeper leagues and see what happens over the next couple seasons.
Stephen Holloway: One guy that fits this description to me is Geno Smith. He has a lot of talent, but the situation that he was drafted into is far from ideal. He will be competing with the incumbent, though poorly performing Mark Sanchez. Therefore, he will not get the majority of reps during training camp and the Jets are almost devoid of receiving talent. Their anticipated top wide receiver is Santonio Holmes and he has a current ADP of WR58 (ppr) and 162 overall. They also have Stephen Hill at WR73, and Jeremy Kerley at WR81. Similarly, their highest rated tight end is Kellen Winslow, Jr. and he hasn't played much since 2011 and his ADP is TE28 (ppr) and 238 overall. Even if he is named the starter early in the season, there is little hope for success in 2013. However, he might have a completely different situation in 2014 and his athleticism could produce with some help with roster make-over.
Andy Hicks: While Jeff mentioned Marcus Lattimore as obvious, I feel further needs to be added when mentioning him. He stands almost no chance of seeing significant playing time this year as the 49ers are going to let him recuperate from a horrible knee injury last year, following a knee injury to his other knee in 2011. This alone will put many people off drafting him and caution does need to be advised as the 2012 knee injury was a triple tear or a total knee dislocation. Many Dynasty leaguers will avoid him and he will fall in a lot of drafts accordingly or be undervalued this year.
The 49ers are one organization that can be patient with him though as they have Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Kendall Hunter and even Anthony Dixon available to them this year. With an excellent offensive line, this unit should be able to keep Lattimore fresh to fully rehabilitate and return for the 2014 season. Unless he suffers a significant setback, then his currency will be much higher heading into next season and owners can decide if they want to cash in on their 2013 investment or sell for a profit. His value will probably as low this year as it will ever be if he hits the field next year. He was the clearly ranked top back from this class and now is with a patient team who want him fully fit. You could not ask for more.
Heath Cummings: I'm going to go out on a limb and bring up Tyler Bray. Bray already has an NFL arm and he fell into a near perfect situation. There are a lot of things that need to go right for Bray to become a starting quarterback (and it starts with maturity), but look at who he has around him.
Alex Smith is one of the more cerebral QBs in the league. Backup Chase Daniel is constantly referred to as someone who will likely be a future quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator, and most importantly he has Andy Reid as his head coach. If anyone in the league could turn Bray into a successful quarterback in the NFL, I'd put my money on Reid.
Bray's almost a lock to open up the year as the team's emergency quarterback and there's very little chance he'll see the field once the preseason is over. That being said, if Reid works his magic, Bray has the arm to be a very successful NFL quarterback.
Jeff Pasquino: Some good names mentioned already, and I love the Lattimore name drop most, but any rookie wide receiver could fit this bill. i'd look for a rookie buried on the depth chart this year (especially one trapped on the "cannot play because his school graduates late" list, like Robert Woods in Buffalo or Quinton Patton in San Francisco).
One wide receiver I would like to mention is Justin Hunter in Tennessee. Hunter will replace Nate Washington last year and be a starting wideout for the Titans, and he will be ready to go even if Kenny Britt holds onto his WR1 role for Tennessee. Hunter may not get much love this year, but in 2014 I expect him to be a starter with big upside for the Titans.
Will Grant: I'm going to break away from choosing a rookie and talk about a veteran that just might turn into a nice pick-up: Toby Gerhart.
With Adrian Peterson at the top of everyone's list, Gerhart is almost an after-thought now in most leagues. Yet he's in a contract year and the Vikings have talked about moving him via trade multiple times this off-season. Gerhart's fumbling problem is definitely a concern, but this guy was #51 overall in the 2010 draft and could assume a much bigger role on any time that doesn't have a stud like Adrian Peterson on it. I'm not saying that you need to run out and give up a 1st round draft pick for him next year, but his value is about as low as it can go now, and if he ends up on another team, he's going to get a shot to be a starter.