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Faceoff: Late-round Fliers

The Footballguys staff looks for potential in the late rounds

Name a player you will be taking a late-round flier on. Why?

Jeff Haseley: One player I have been targeting late in drafts is Julian Edelman. The release of Donald Jones further solidifies my thinking that Edelman will see increased involvement this year. After all, he's the only Patriots wide receiver on the roster who caught a pass from Tom Brady last year. He knows the offense well, especially out of the slot, where Wes Welker roamed. What about Danny Amendola? Don't be surprised if New England lines him out wide at times giving Edelman free range in the slot. I would be shocked if his ADP doesn't rise, possibly dramatically, as we progress into August and September.

Jason Wood: This question is a bit open ended since the size of the league will change my answer accordingly.

At tight end, I've been rostering the likes of James Casey and Taylor Thompson in DEEP leagues (14-teamers with at least 22 roster spots) but wouldn't advocate drafting either in conventional 10- or 12-team leagues. Moving up the tight end chain a bit, I'm intrigued in the last rounds to add Coby Fleener (his college OC is now calling plays in Indianapolis) and Marcedes Lewis in Jacksonville. Why someone would target the likes of Scott Chandler or Delanie Walker but not Lewis is beyond me. Lewis has been a top 10 fantasy tight end, and the Jaguars remain in desperate need of receivers particularly in the red zone.

At running back, I'm finding Latavius Murray an intriguing end game add. I'm not a Darren McFadden fan and have to think that Murray stands an even chance with Rashad Jennings to earn the role in McFadden's place if (when) DMC gets hurt. I'm also seeing myself roster Shonn Greene as my RB5 or RB6 on many teams. Look, I'm no Greene apologist but he WAS RB15 last year and the Titans are built to run the ball this year. If Chris Johnson gets hurt, Greene becomes a credible fantasy starter at the very worst.

At wide receiver the position is so deep that it's a matter of your own personal fliers. Guys that I may like are completely off other's radars (and vice versa). Rod Streater comes to mind, who was surprisingly effective late in his rookie season and could start with a strong camp. An even deeper play is Tandon Doss. Doss has done nothing thus far in his career, but I don't see why he doesn't stand an even chance to earn a major role in Baltimore this year with the other cast of unproven youngsters and uninspiring journeymen. If you're looking for someone a little higher up the rankings, I would highlight Rueben Randle. Randle is a Nicks or Cruz injury away from being an every week fantasy starter -- he's that talented.

Chad Parsons: I find Rueben Randle in round 12/13 intriguing. He will function as an upside injury play behind Nicks and Cruz, both of whom have had injuries in their short NFL tenure. Randle flashed when on the field as a rookie and in my opinion would be a top-36 weekly starter if Nicks or Cruz misses time.

A little later, Coby Fleener is a worthwhile target at tight end in the Round 15 range. I like him as an upside play for teams that forgo drafting one until this point in the draft. Rookie tight ends historically do very little, which falls in line with Fleener's lackluster 2012 campaign. Now, Fleener enters his second season and is paired with one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. I will give Fleener a mulligan for 2012 and, on a passing offense in transition with an aging Reggie Wayne as the only locked in target-heavy player, bet on the Stanford tight end with one of my final draft picks this year.

Stephen Holloway: At running back, I like to draft Joseph Randle, who currently has an ADP of RB52 (ppr) and 144 overall. I think that he has a similar skill set to DeMarco Murray and that the Cowboys will use them both on everything in the play book. When you combine that with Murray's inability to remain healthy, it increases the likelihood that the rookie Randle can handle a large load if (when) Murray is out.

At wide receiver, I am going to be watching the Patriot's training camp closely to identify the wide receiver that winds up starting on the outside. Aaron Dobson, the second round pick out of Marshall could really surprise and have a nice role. Granted that the Patriots have not had much success drafting wide receivers lately, that could keep Dobson's price low, even if he plays well in the pre-season. Brady will definitely produce some passing production, so there is a definite opportunity there.

Andy Hicks: There are so many players that would fit this description and just as Jason said it depends on the league format and roster sizes. Of course it also depends on how my draft is going. In some leagues I could have wide receiver sorted by Round 12, others I'll be scrambling late for cover.

At running back I'd be looking at Daniel Thomas. Everyone is convinced Lamar Miller is the man, and there is no doubt he would be the favourite, but Miller has 51 career carries and hardly has a high pedigree. The coaching staff will go with whoever looks the best and a healthy Daniel Thomas has as good a chance as Miller. He is receiving some first team reps and it is now on Thomas to demonstrate the ability which saw him drafted in round 2 and he has flashed occasionally so far in the NFL.

For wide receivers, as usual there are many ways to go depending on which direction you need to travel. If I had to pick one guy, then it would be a guy who is position to see a lot of targets and have little competition. San Diego, Pittsburgh, Detroit, New England, Cincinnati, the 49ers and the Jets are among the teams I like the best in this regard and rookies are in the box seat in a lot of these places. You have to read, watch and listen to what comes out of camps regarding these guys as there will be value. The one guy I'll be watching the most is Quinton Patton who stands a good chance to see significant playing time. Like all, he needs to develop quickly in training camp, but he has only A.J Jenkins to realistically beat out and Jenkins is on the Robert Meachem learning curve as far as NFL success goes.

At tight end, Fred Davis appeals to me. He has frequently flashed and performed to the ability of a TE1 and due to injury now sits there available very late in most drafts. The Redskins really have no stand out wide receiver with the exception of Pierre Garcon who has injury concerns of his own. Davis has top 6 tight end ability for the price of a backup tight end.

Heath Cummings: I've targeted Travis Kelce at the end of several drafts so far. But if he wins the starting job as I expect him to, you won't be able to get him there for much longer. Kelce has a chance to become Alex Smith's second option in the passing game behind Dwayne Bowe. As one of the few guys on the roster that Reid himself brought in, I expect him to be given every chance to make an impact on offense.

At running back, I think too many people are sleeping on Felix Jones. I fully expect Chip Kelly to use two running backs extensively which means Jones is just one injury (to either LeSean McCoy or Bryce Brown) from being a significant part of what should be a very high volume offense. In most leagues you can wait until the very last round to draft Jones.

Ryan Hester: I had been targeting Sidney Rice and Golden Tate before we got news of Percy Harvin's injury and placement on the PUP list. The starter opposite Harvin in an up-and-coming offense would have been a valuable commodity so I had been grabbing either or both of the candidates.

Now that Harvin is in jeopardy of missing games (or even the whole season), these players become even better targets. If it is announced that Harvin will miss the season before your draft, these guys will obviously rise. Currently at 133 on our standard league composite ADP, Rice would become a middle-round pick instead of a late-round pick. But Tate - currently coming off the board at 180 - would still be someone likely to go in the 12th round or later.

I've also been targeting another pair of teammates going in the 12th round. That tandem is Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery of the Chicago Bears. If Marc Trestman's offense is even half as good as many are saying it has the potential to be, these guys will put up some nice numbers. Rumors of wanting to "spread the wealth" and distribute Brandon Marshall's high target load around the team suggest good things for both of these players.

If you like waiting on tight end or want a decent late-round player to utilize in a committee approach depending on matchups, I like Fred Davis and Dustin Keller (currently listed at 164 and 168, respectively, in our ADP list). Davis is in an explosive offense and has a skill set indicative of a TE1. Keller gets the offensive upgrade from the New York Jets to the Miami Dolphins and will have Mike Wallace clearing out safeties from the middle of the field with nearly every route he runs.

Jeff Pasquino: Plenty of good names mentioned already, highlighted by Edelman, Kelce and Joseph Randle. A late wide receiver I do like is Markus Wheaton, and his ADP is about 240 or so (Round 20 of a 12-teamer). Pairing him with Emmanuel Sanders gives you a strong option for WR2 in Pittsburgh. With questions at tight end (I do not believe in Heath Miller this year for any kind of good recovery) and youth / inexperience at tailback with LeVeon Bell, I think the Steelers will go with three wideouts and throw quite often.

I think overall you have to go with running back, wide receiver, and tight end options, so I will throw out a couple more names. Kelce is about the end of my list, but now I have to add tight end James Casey in Philadelphia in light of the loss of Jeremy Maclin for the year. Tandon Doss may get more love, as will Ed Dickson in Baltimore with Dennis Pitta severely injured. A running back that might not be considered by many (as he is the third option) in Carolina is Mike Tolbert. If Jonathan Stewart is sidelined for long, Tolbert could be stealing touchdowns for the Panthers, and he has feature tailback upside if DeAngelo Williams also gets banged up.

Matt Waldman: Casey and Kelce also make my list. I'll add receivers, Andre Roberts, Marvin Jones, Dexter McCluster, and Kenbrell Thompkins and runner Chad Spann.

Greg Cosell made a salient point about the Cardinals offense, which is projection will be a priority. The interpretation for how this will be executed is up for debate. My view is that the tight end will be used less in the receiving game than many people anticipate. Sure, Palmer liked his tight end at Oakland, but he had young, inconsistent, mistake-prone receivers. This won't be the case in Arizona and a player getting overlooked in lieu of the Michael Floyd breakout campaign among beat writers and fantasy analysts is Roberts. I think we'll see a lot of 11 personnel (1 back, 1 tight end, 3 receivers) sets where the back and tight end pass protect and it means the slot guy gets to work the zones in the middle of the field. Fitzgerald will get moved around the formation so he'll often occupy the slot to get a mismatch. However, there will be enough targets coming Roberts' way as the first or second option post-snap when Palmer reads the coverage is trying to take away Fitzgerald. Roberts is one of those receivers who is a natural for the slot, but can stretch the field when paired with a quarterback of Palmer's down-field, tight-windows acumen. If Palmer manages top-10 fantasy production, then three receivers will have top-20 production.

Marvin Jones is one of my favorite young receivers. He has the speed to get deep, excellent hands, and polished routes. Anyone who tells you that Jones is a raw player with a lot of promise has missed what I've studied and presented about the second-year receiver's game. He'll be splitting time with Mohammed Sanu and take over for A.J. Green as the primary outside option if Green gets hurt. It was Jones who was slated for starter opportunities over Sanu last year but he got hurt in practice leading to his first start and it opened Sanu's window to shine. Sanu will get the red zone love while Jones will operate between the 20s. I'll take my chances on a player that I believe has a complete game as a receiver.

I've written about Kenbrell Thompkins at Footballguys and he's done nothing but impress in Patriots camp. He's not the biggest athlete and he wont win any metrics analysis awards, but his routes are crisp, he's a fluid athlete, and he adjusts well to the football. In New England's system, it's paramount to be at the right place at the right time. Thompkins went from future prisoner to football player quicker than most and the reason is he has been putting in the work since he entered junior college. He has made the position his craft and when a young person displays discipline and focus, he can learn fast. Don't be shocked if he earns a seat at the offensive table this year.

McCluster is a perennial favorite of Bloom and me. I'm giving him one more year in a new system to shine. I think Andy Reid has the mentality and offense to use McCluster in an expanded role. We'll see if the slipper fits.

And last but not least, I'm taking Spann in deeper leagues. Some of you will probably take this with a grain of salt because I have stayed in touch with Spann for the past three years after initially interviewing him for the RSP blog after studying his game and evaluating him as a top-five back in the 2011 draft class. However, the fact that I'm rooting for him aside, Spann has been working out with the likes of Matt Forte for a couple of years and each stop he's made - Indianapolis, Tampa Bay, and Pittsburgh, he has impressed, but circumstances prevented him from earning an extended opportunity. You can read about the details in the link above, but the common praise he's earned is that he has a good burst, more speed than the team initial thought, and he's versatile.

Spann impressed the Jets in a mini camp tryout in May and he told me then that the team said they'd sign him in training camp. "They told me it was a matter of when not if'," Spann told me in a private message via Twitter in May. Spann explained that the Jets' plan was to bring him in after they cut some of the receiving corps. However, Mike Goodson's exit from camp and Ivory's hamstring injury opened the door for Spann's invite. When all's said and done, it's important to have this perspective about Spann: I believe in Spann's ability, but as a small school, UDFA, his opportunity to contribute requires several more factors that are out of his control compared to a draft pick (injury and significantly poor play from players above him on the depth chart). At the same time, Spann will have to stay healthy because unlike a draft pick or priority free agent signed in the spring and injury could get him cut. In addition, injuries to other players that require a need at those positions could get Spann cut even if he does well enough to make the team otherwise.

This is why Spann is a deep league gamble for me, but one I believe can reap dividend due to Ivory's injury history, Goodson's arrest and exit from camp, Bilal Powell's mediocre play, and Joe McKnight simply not being as skilled a runner as those three or Spann.

Will Grant: I think Ryan has it right in looking at Seattle receivers now that Percy Harvin could miss some time. I think Sidney Rice got a bump from fantasy owners, but I think Golden Tate has just as much potential to be a solid receiver, and should post similar stats to Rice by the time the season is over.

I love Matt's pick of Dexter McCluster and I usually find a way to have him on my roster, either with a late round pick or a quick FA pick-up. With a quarterback and offensive line upgrade in Kansas City this season, McCluster just might be worth picking up.

I think people are overlooking Stephen Hill this season because of the carnival that the Jets offense has become. Yet Hill showed some real potential last season, and if he can stay healthy, I like him a lot more than the other options at WR in New York right now.

Likewise, I think Ryan Broyles has the potential to have a late season impact. He's ahead of schedule in recovering from his ACL tear and he has the skills to beat out Nate Burleson as the starter opposite Calvin Johnson. Even if Broyles begins the season as the #3 receiver, expect him to move into the #2 slot by mid season and given the fact that the Lions are going to throw a lot, Broyles has nice upside potential.


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Quick Guide: Dynasty Strategy - August 28
Finding the Most Desirable Rookie RB - August 28
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Is It Okay to Take Jimmy Graham in the Top 6? - August 24
Discussing RB Handcuffs - August 24
Discussing Defense and Kicker Strategy - August 24