Late Round Fliers
Tick tock tick tock, that is what you are feeling inside your head when you get to the end of your fantasy drafts. Sometimes fantasy managers panic at the end of their drafts as most of their ranked players are scratched off their draft list and you start wondering who in the hell am I going to draft now. Sure you can play it safe and take a kicker or a defense to round out your teams but if you think outside the box you can do what I do and just take a chance and draft some extra late-round fliers. After the top defenses and kickers are gone, the remaining options are all the same and you can just pick up someone who has a good match-up in Week 1 right before the season starts and then go from there.
For me late-round fliers could be considered sleepers per se, but if we’re being honest here is there anyone considered a sleeper anymore? With all the great outlets and content out there if you are paying attention the names of who to draft and when to draft them are there for the taking. What I wanted to do here is just illustrate some options for you as your fantasy drafts start winding down. Fantasy Pros Consensus ADP was used for this article. It consists of PPR ADP from ESPN, Sleeper, and RT Sports to give a nice average to go by. All these players have an ADP of the 14th round or higher. Which is basically the last three-plus rounds of your standard 12-team PPR leagues.
Now it’s time to crack yourself open a nice cold adult beverage kick back and get ready for some late-round fliers!
Derek Carr, Quarterback - Saints ADP 164
After last year’s debacle in Las Vegas, many fantasy managers have turned their back on Derek Carr, and rightfully so. Carr had four straight 4,000-plus passing yards seasons, only to get swept away by head coach Josh McDaniels offense. Now that the veteran quarterback has a new area code to call home, he is ready to make believers of fantasy managers again. During training camp, he has built tremendous chemistry with rising star Chris Olave and the offense in general. If you decide to wait on drafting a quarterback, Carr is excellent to have as a backup or starter in two-quarterback leagues. If Michael Thomas can somehow regain his Pro Bowl form then look out. Carr is going in the mid-14th round in single quarterback leagues, making him an intriguing value at that junction of the draft.
Bryce Young, Quarterback - Panthers ADP 170.8
The number one pick of the NFL Draft has already been named the undisputed starter for the Panthers since the beginning of camp. If Bryce Young had a better supporting cast he would have a higher ADP heading into the heart of draft season. Young lit up the Nation over the last two seasons with the Crimson Tide. He racked up 8,200 yards passing and 79 touchdowns during that span. Although the receiving core isn’t top-shelf talent there are some pieces that will allow Young to produce throughout the season. Veterans Adam Theilen, D.J. Chark, and Hayden Hurst should be consistent options for the rookie. If promising third-year receiver Terrance Marshall Jr. can return from his back injury he could be a nice surprise this season. The Panthers’ defense will be ranked in the bottom half of the league, welcoming the game script for more passing attempts from Young. For now, Young can be selected in the 14/15 turn.
Brock Purdy, Quarterback - 49ers ADP 173
Now that head coach Kyle Shannahan has proclaimed that Brock Purdy will be the Week 1 starter for the 49ers, look for his ADP to slightly rise over the next couple of weeks. Let me have the free money in the late rounds, with the man who will be throwing to Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and of yeah Christian McCaffrey coming out of the backfield when needed.
Kyler Murray, Quarterback - Cardinals ADP 181
In the 15/16 turn, you can draft Kyler Murray for free. The veteran quarterback will be on the PUP list to start the season, meaning you get to stash Murray on the IR until he returns. When healthy we all know what Murray can do so having a pocket ace for the second half of the season could pay huge dividends in deeper leagues, especially in two-quarterback/super-flex leagues
Sam Howell, Quarterback - Commanders ADP 227.5
It’s been well documented that the offensive weaponry (Terrace McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Curtis Samuels, and Antonio Gibson just to name a few) Sam Howell has at his disposal in Washington. Howell is going undrafted in shallower leagues with his ADP being in the 19th round. Talk about a late-round quarterback. Throw in the fact that Eric Beinemy is calling plays and this offense is starting to boil in time for the start of the season.
Jaylen Warren, Running Back - Steelers ADP 185
Najaee Harris is the RB1 for the Steelers heading into the season as he should be, but don’t be alarmed if by the end of the season, Jaylen Warren eats more into his touches than he did last season. Last year as a rookie Warren rushed the ball 77 times for 379 yards and three touchdowns. This year I can easily see his rushing attempts creep up to the 100 rushing attempt mark. What makes Warren more enticing to draft in the late rounds is his ability in the receiving game. In 2022 Warren had 33 receptions for 214 yards, while Harris had 53 receptions for 229 yards and three touchdowns. Both running backs will be implemented into the offense but should Harris suffer an injury, Warren could explode into RB2 range for fantasy managers comee this fall. Warren should be drafted in all league formats.
Tank Bigsby, Running Back - Jaguars ADP 185
Many fantasy managers will draft Travis Etienne in the earlier round this season, especially in PPR leagues, but I’d rather wait much later and draft Tank Bigsby in the later rounds. Etienne has a consensus ADP of 31.3, going in front of D.K. Metcalf, Breece Hall, Jahmyr Gibbs, and Joe Mixon who are more appealing in my opinion. Bigsby comes into the NFL after three seasons at Auburn. There the rookie compiled 2,903 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns on 540 attempts and had 62 receptions for 448 yards. Bigsby will push for a close to 50/50 timeshare and be the goal-line back for the Jaguars this year. The rookie running back’s ADP will rise from its current 16th round, so be sure to grab him in the later rounds.
Roschon Johnson, Running Back - Bears ADP 196.7
From Bijan Robinson’s shadow comes Roschon Johnson. Both rookie running backs out of the University of Texas put a pounding on opponents over the last few years. Although Robinson is a special talent and got most of the glory, Johnson had an excellent collegiate career as well. Johnson rushed 392 times for 2,190 yards and 23 touchdowns, while also bringing in 56 receptions for 420 yards and three touchdowns. Khalil Herbert will be the first Bears running back drafted and D’Onta Foreman is there as well but I rather take a flier pick like Johnson late in my drafts to see how this timeshare shakes out.
Tyjae Spears, Running Back - Titans ADP 215.7
King Derrick Henry has started to break down over the last couple of seasons, so if you are looking for a flyer with possible RB2 potential Tyjae Spears is you man. Spears broke out in his final season at Tulane with 1,581 yards and 19 touchdowns on 229 carries. Should Henry go down with an injury Spears will be in line for major usage in this run-first offense.
Deeper League Fliers
Duece Vaughn, Running Back - Cowboys ADP 215.3
Duece Vaughn showed why he was drafted by the Cowboys this Spring in their first pre-season game even though he may be small in stature. Vaughn could be lighting in the bottle for fantasy managers that take a flier pick on him in the later rounds.
Zamir White, Running Back - Raiders ADP 235
If Josh Jacobs continue to hold out into the season, say hello to Mr. Zamir White in the late rounds of your drafts. Do you know what happens when players hold out, they tend to suffer soft tissue injuries on occasion. White is a very flier-friendly option if Jacobs is still out when you partake in your draft in the next couple of weeks.
Ty Chandler, Running Back - Vikings ADP 224.5
Now that Dalvin Cook officially has a new place to call home, Alexander Mattison has been drafted as an RB2 since he is in line to get the majority of the touches. But if you are in a deeper league look to draft Ty Chandler, especially in PPR leagues. The running back has tremendous receiving skills, has 4.3 speed, and will be part of this offense. Mattison is nursing a leg injury as well, and that may give Chandler more chance to shine in training camp.
Deneric Prince, Running Back - Chiefs ADP 302.5
The undrafted rookie free agent signing could be the kick returner for the Chiefs heading into the season. Deneric Prince is probably more of a dynasty stash at this point but if you are in a deeper league he is someone to consider. Prince had a game to remember in his final season with Tulsa. Against the University of South Florida, he rushed 26 times for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Any piece of the Chiefs' offense is always a potential diamond in the rough.
Elijah Dotson, Running Back - Chargers ADP 317
Who in the blue hell is Elijah Dotson? Well, let me tell you he is currently the fourth-string running back that lit Week 1 of the pre-season on fire with his six rushes for 92 yards and two touchdowns. I know it’s just pre-season, but the very next day the Chargers waived Larry Rountree III. So that has to say something right? Dotson is a definite dynasty stash and deeper league flier to ponder taking in the late rounds of your upcoming fantasy drafts.
Romeo Doubs, Wide Receiver - Packers ADP 178
Chris Watson has been getting all the love from fantasy managers so far this draft season with his 56.5 ADP. However, one of the talks of camp is how Romeo Doubs and Jordan Love have been showing great chemistry with each other. With Watson garnering most of the opposing defenses’ attention, Doubs should have lighter coverage on his side, allowing him to build on his rookie season. Although he was hampered by some slight injuries and was third on the totem pole in terms of targets, Doubs still produced 42 receptions for 425 yards and three touchdowns. Now with Allen Lazard out of the picture, there are an additional 100 targets up for grabs and Doubs may make a push to a 1,000 yards season. Not bad for a late-round flier right?
Nathaniel “Tank” Dell, Wide Receiver - Texans ADP 213.8
The one wide receiver that I have seen shooting up ADP has to be Nathaniel “Tank” Dell. All throughout camp, it seems like every day there is something positive coming out of Texans’ camp about Dell. The drum beats are getting louder about his chemistry with C.J. Stroud. Nick Collins and John Metchie will start off the season as the likely top two target-getters for Houston, but don’t be surprised if Dell is right there with them. Over his last two collegiate seasons at the University of Houston, Dell compiled 199 receptions for 2,727 yards and 29 touchdowns. Dell is the epitome of what this article is about. Taking a chance on a player that has a chance to pay huge dividends for fantasy managers this season.
Deeper League Fliers
Marvin Mim Jr., Wide Receivers - Broncos ADP 236.7
Another rookie that has been impressive during camp is Marvin Mim Jr. He suffered a hamstring injury earlier in camp and that slowed down his progress a bit. Now fully cleared he has started to show off his talent and illustrate some of his NFL Combine attributes (4.38 40-yard dash, 39.5-inch vertical, 129-inch broad jump). Although there are plenty of weapons in Denver, the unfortunate news of Tim Patrick being lost for the season makes Mims a player to consider drafting in deeper leagues.
Wan’Dale Robinson, Wide Receiver - Giants ADP 245
The main reason why I mention an injured Wan’Dale Robinson as a late-round pick for drafts is that he very talented receiver and due to him being on the PUP list you can just stash him on your IR until he is ready for return to the line-up. Prior to his injury last season, Robinson formed a great connection with Daniel Jones and he was starting to break out in this offense. What’s great about drafting and stashing Robinson, is that right after the draft it opens up a spot on your roster to add someone else to your fantasy squad.
Puka Nacua, Wide Receiver - Rams ADP 345.5
After Cooper Kupp, the wide-receiving options for the Rams are nothing to write home about (Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, and Ben Skowronek). Although tight end Tyler Higbee will be the second most targeted option in this offense, the door is wide open for Puka Nacua to make a splash in this offense. Nacua was a dynamo in the BYU Cougars offense over the last two seasons. Not only was he a weapon in the receiving game with his 91 receptions for 1,430 yards and 11 touchdowns, but he was also productive on the ground with 39 rushing attempts for 357 yards and another five touchdowns. If you are looking to roll the dice on a player late in your drafts look no further Nacua, as he will be an intricate part of this offense.
Richie James Jr., Wide Receiver - Chiefs ADP 300.3
With Kadarius Toney nursing another injury, it has opened the door for Richie James Jr. to make some news in camp. James is a really good receiver and has caught the eye of Patrick Mahomes during the offseason. The veteran wideout has been on a few teams over his career but like I mentioned above, you always want to have a piece of the Chiefs offense if you can.
Sam LaPorta, Tight End - Lions ADP 172.3
Ever since being drafted by Detroit in April, Sam LaPorta has done nothing but impress in Lions camp. This selection was one that had to be made after the Lions dealt T.J. Hockenson to the Vikings last season. LaPorta was drafted out of Iowa aka “Tight End University” as they have developed quite a list of stud tight ends over the last several years (George Kittle, Hockenson, Dallas Clark, Noah Fant, just to name a few). What gives LaPorta the most chance of being productive early in the offense is the fact that the Lions' WR2 Jameson Williams will be suspended for the first six weeks of the season. I know tight ends don’t normally make huge impacts during their rookie season but hey if you waited on drafting a tight end, add one that has potential and see what happens.
Mike Gesicki, Tight End - Patriots ADP 191.8
Mike Gesicki is one of the most athletic tight ends in the game. After being heavily targeted the three previous seasons, Gesicki was an afterthought in the Dolphins' offense last season. That’s what happens when you have Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle on your team. Now that he has a new place to call home Gesicki has a chance to regain his form with the Patriots in offensive coordinator Jim O’Brien’s offense, which is tight end friendly. The only thing to monitor with this late-round option is that Gesicki suffered a mild shoulder dislocation so that may slow down his progress in the offense but they do expect him to be ready for Week 1. Now if he should miss an extended period of time look to add Hunter Henry as he will catapult up in ADP and be a fine option in deeper leagues. Monitor Gesicki's injury status when heading into your drafts.
Deeper League Fliers
Zach Ertz, Tight End - Cardinals ADP 205
Well well well, look who we have down here, the forgotten tight end Zach Ertz. Whenever Ertz has been healthy over the last decade, he was TE1 for fantasy managers. Due to his 2022 season-ending Achilles injury, Ertz’s ADP has been at the bottom of the barrel over the last few weeks. Now that he has been cleared to play his ADP has started to rise. The veteran tight end may not be what he used to be but the Cardinals will be down early and often giving them the game script to play from behind. There is not much-proven talent behind Marquise Brown in this offense, so if want to take a chance on a tight end late in your draft that has a chance to be heavily involved look no further than old reliable.
Irv Smith Jr. Tight End - Bengals ADP 209.8
Oh Irv Smith Jr., will you finally stay healthy this year? Smith is one of the most talented tight ends in the league but cannot seem to stay off the injury report. If he could stay healthy this season Smith has a golden opportunity to be part of the Bengals' dynamic offense.
What late-round fliers are you targeting in your drafts this season? If you would like to discuss this further you can reach meet on Twitter @smooth1074.