Fantasy football championships are like tables and the draft, lineup decisions, and transactions are those potential supports. You don't need all four legs to hoist that table high; you may only need one really strong, well-placed leg. However, you should create as many as you can for that table because that thick tree trunk of a leg you built from the draft could get irreparably damaged early and be useless for the rest of the season.
It's why it's important to learn players who won't be drafted and monitor their preseason performance and place on the depth chart before your draft so you can make informed, decisive and flexible adjustments before your competition. While we all know fantasy football has a healthy element of luck, many people mistake waiver wire gems as more fortunate than skillful. And that may be the case in competitive leagues, but even in the most hardcore formats, preparation creates a winning edge.
This week, the Gut Check does some advanced scouting of 50 players that will likely be on most waiver wires after drafts (12-team, PPR formats) with the potential to recharge your team. All of these candidates have ADPs no higher than the 18th round. This list is in reverse order of potential impact. Monitor their progress in camp, their spot on depth charts, and if disaster strikes, you'll have a plan.
Note: If your draft format is 15-18 rounds, I'll be posting an article devoted to late-round options soon.
The Forgotten 50: Top Fantasy Free agent Candidates with an ADP of ROUND 18 or later
I'll count them down and group them into tiers for easy classification.
Potential Bye-Week Role Players
If thrust into a contributing role, these options can deliver worthwhile production based on quality matchups for desperate fantasy owners during bye-weeks. These players have the ability, but the odds are low of everything coming together this year.
50. WR Trent Taylor: Exceptional players expand the boundaries of a role. Slot receivers are often a fool's errand for fantasy owners but when a player can do things that blur the lines between his title and his role, there's potential value. Taylor, a rookie slot receiver from Louisiana Tech caught my eye last fall because his skill after the catch and tracking of perimeter targets were a little beyond the norm for a college slot player of his stature.
One of my scout contacts told me that the night before the first practice of the Senior Bowl that Taylor was one of the most sought after players for team interviews. According to early reports from 49ers OTAs, Taylor has repeatedly impressed. I'm a Bruce Ellington fan, but new regimes like to bring in their guys. I don't expect much from the San Francisco defense this year, which means there could be a lot of garbage time throwing to open targets under soft zones.
49. Brandon Wilds: Before suffering an ankle injury that led to an injury settlement, I thought Wilds was the best preseason performer among Atlanta's running backs last year. He's runs with better functional agility and power than Tevin Coleman and it makes him a nice fit for a zone scheme but quick and rugged enough to perform from shotgun or gap runs. Wilds earned an active roster spot with the Jets at the end of last season and a slice of playing time. Because New York is an open casting call mode, don't be surprised if Wilds earns an active roster spot if he performs like he did last summer.