10 Guys You HAVE to Draft 10th Round or Later
To me there are three keys to building and maintaining a successful fantasy football team for the season:
- Knowing Your League: if you don’t know your scoring, rosters, ability to trade, or waivers then you’ve lost before you begun
- Working Waivers: finding players before your competition that will have a lasting impact on the season; not being afraid to be aggressive when need be
- Drafting: be flexible and go with the draft, mocks don’t ever dictate what your real draft will turn out like; also, and more importantly, the ability to draft deep – champions are made in the late round not with your first few picks
Those three steps are all of equal importance but today we are focusing on number three, mainly the use of drafting deep.
Every one knows who they are taking in the first few rounds; the sexy names like Antonio Brown, Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, Julio Jones, etc. However, it’s about drafting deep and finding those gems in the later rounds to really give you depth, have trade bait, fillers for potential injuries to top-tier performers, and guys maybe other players in your league won’t be as focused on. So let your competition take their kicker and defense early, let them start trying to get cute by snatching up useless handcuffs, let them think after the first 7 or 8 rounds they can mail it in because you know how important it is to draft until the very end! Here are 10 guys I absolutely love in the 10th round or later that I’m trying to get on all my squads this season!
- Philip Rivers QB LAC – Round 10, pick 5: Rivers could quite arguably be the most under appreciated fantasy quarterback of our time, and possibly ever! The dude puts up numbers every single year and every single year he’s one of the last QBs off draft boards and sometimes is able to be scooped up off the waiver wire. Nah, not this year my man, I got you. In the last 10 seasons Rivers’ has thrown for over 4,000 yards nine times (4,200+ eight of those seasons). he’s thrown for at least 26 touchdowns each of those 10 years and gone for 30 or more passing scores five times, and has only had seasons of more than 15 picks three times while being at 13 or fewer interceptions in six of those seasons. Since 2008 here is how Rivers finished among quarterbacks: 3rd, 7th, 5th, 9th, 21st, 4th, 12th, 12th, 11th, and 7th. That’s QB1 numbers in 9 of the last 10 years. Also in the last two seasons only 10 quarterbacks have thrown 50 combined touchdowns, and only three has tossed at least 60 and who has thrown the most touchdown passes that span? Tom Brady? Drew Brees? Aaron Rodgers? No, no, and no, it’s your boy Philip Rivers at 61! I (almost) always wait on my quarterback and this year I’m waiting for Mr. Rivers and dominating my competition at other positions and still going to have a QB I’m confident in each and every single week I roll him out in my starting line up.
- Corey Clement RB PHI – Round 10, pick 7: Clement wasn’t a big name known outside the City of Brotherly Love before his big day against the Patriots in the Eagles Super Bowl win in February when he racked up 108 yards from scrimmage and an unbelievable score, but this year will be different. Yes, Darren Sproles is returning but coming off an injury at age 35 it’s hard to believe he will have much to offer. The only other hurdle in Clement’s way is Jay Ajayi, and I hate to say he’s a “hurdle” as Ajayi is a more suitable 1st, 2nd, and short-yardage back, but in the Eagles attack they love that quick pass out of the backfield and that is Clement’s bread-and-butter! While he only had 6 games of 6+ points last year in the 14 he appeared in, expect his usage to go way, way up in 2018. If you are subscribing to the zero running back approach than Clement could be gold as you rotate backs throughout the season and he could be even bigger than that as the year goes on. I think he will be as I’m not a big believer in Ajayi being able to shoulder the load all alone.
- Giovani Bernard RB CIN – Round 10, pick 11: Jeremy Hill is gone which leaves second-year back Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard as the guys to carry the Bengals backfield in 2018. We all know Mixon is the guy that will be starting and getting the touches Hill left behind as he has more power and early-down ability than Bernard but don’t sleep on Gio this year. Last year Mixon posted 6 games of double-digit points, just one over 13 points and just two games of 10+ in the final eight weeks of the season. Bernard, on the other hand, had 7 games of double-digits, three over 13, and he hit the 10-point mark in his final five games of the year and missed his 6th in the final eight by .2 points. Bernard has averaged double-digit points in four of his five NFL seasons with the only time he didn’t (2017) he posted over 9 per contest. Let your league mates waste a 2nd round pick on Mixon (currently going round 2, pick 12) and scoop up Bernard a full 8 rounds later!
- Calvin Ridley WR ATL – Round 10, pick 12: Ridley might not have been the first wide out off the board in this year’s NFL draft, but the guy might be the most NFL-ready and best at the position when it’s all said and done years from now; and when it comes to instant impact I still trust Ridley over any other rookie receiver. The Falcons offense is quite explosive with weapons like Devonta Freeman, Austin Hooper, Mohamed Sanu, Tevin Coleman, and most importantly Julio Jones. Jones is one of the best in the game and will always draw team’s top corners not to mention double coverage, sometimes triple give the situation. With defenses having to worry about Julio, two talented pass-catching backs, an up-and-coming tight end, and a solid WR2 in Sanu, why not snag Ridley; a guy who averaged 75 grabs for 927 yards and 6 scores a season. This could be the second coming of Roddy White paired up with Julio Jones … both of whom (Jones and Ridley) attended Alabama for their collegiate days.
- Patrick Mahomes QB KC – Round 11, pick 7: Like I said about Rivers, I’ma big fan of waiting on my quarterback and Mahomes is a guy that can be waited on and could produce big days for your squad. While it is technically his second season, it will be his first on the field but the guy has plenty of weapons around him to make the transition smooth as butter. When you can target Travis Kelce across the middle, Kareem Hunt out of the backfield, or take chances deep to Tyreek Hill (Mahomes has a cannon! expect him and Hill to be hooking up on some nice scores often) it definitely makes the transition on the field much easier than a rookie like Sam Darnold in New York. But since we don’t have much to go off in his first NFL season let’s look back at Mahomes’ career at Texas Tech. His sophomore and junior years he threw for 4,653 and 5,052 yards respectively while tossing 77 combined touchdowns (better than 35 each year) to just 25 picks (no more than 15 in a year). He also has some wheels as he rushed for 456 and 285 yards and 10 and 12 scores in those two years. He could be the steal of the draft at the quarterback position in 2018! Don’t get sucked into that defense or kicker run others in your league will and snatch up Mahomes; whether it’s for your starter in a rotation or a back up with huge upside, trust me, you will thank me later.
- Rishard Matthews WR TEN – Round 12, pick 9: While sophomore Corey Davis is the talk of the Titans receiving corps for 2018, let’s not forget about Matthews – who is still listed as the teams WR1 for the record. Entering his third season in Nashville, Matthews has gone for double-digit points in 18 of 30 games played with Tennessee and he’s gone for at least 7 points in 24 of those 30 games. Impressive, no? How about the fact that Matthews is the only Titans player to record at least 110 catches, 1,600 yards, and 12 touchdowns the last two seasons combined. Davis is the future at the position for the Titans, but Matthews is coming off the board almost 7 full rounds after Corey! And while Rishard has never had a 1,000-yard season, if he stays healthy then 2018 could be his year. Plus he’s averaged at least 11PPG each of his last three seasons, so take a chance on him late as a bench player/flex to start and get ready to slide him into that WR2 spot when the time is right!
- Mike Gesicki TE MIA – Round 13, pick 11: Much like quarterbacks I prefer to wait on my tight end unless I can snag one of the elite guys (Kelce, Ertz, Graham) at a reasonable spot, but since they tend to be over-drafted I’m perfectly fine waiting and building a small platoon at the position. This year there are plenty of guys you can snag later and use week-to-week and one of them is rookie Mike Gesicki down in Miami. With the loss of Jarvis Landry this offseason, Tannehill and the Dolphins offense has n average fo 142 targets per season to replace and Gesicki is an excellent candidate to take a big chunk of those looks. While being the main man at the position at Penn State the last two seasons, Gesicki posted 105 grabs for 1,242 yards and 14 scores; which equates to just shy of 12PPG in the fantasy world. Last year rookie Evan Engram became just the third rookie tight end to catch at least 60 passes for at least 700 yards and I’ll go out on a limb and say Gesicki does the same thing this season with the Fish as he quickly becomes Tannehill’s new favorite target.
- Austin Ekeler RB LAC – Round 14, pick 6: We all know Melvin Gordon runs the Chargers backfield but last season we saw Ekeler get more involved, especially in the pass game. He caught 27 of his 35 targets while racking up 539 yards from scrimmage and 5 scores. He averaged better than 8PPG and was able to post double-digit points in 5 of the 13 games he played in. In three NFL seasons Gordon has missed at least two games in two of the three, and even if he stays on the field all year (like he did in 2017) Ekeler still has plenty of value. With no more Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry out for the year with a torn ACL, the tight end situation is beyond sketchy in Los Angeles and Ekeler could be the biggest benefactor from it. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him line up in the slot from time-to-time or in some two-back sets with Gordon. But come on, for a pick in one of your final rounds it makes a ton of sense to stash a guy like Ekeler on your bench and if he catches fire then you got lightning in a bottle!
- Keelan Cole WR JAX – Round 14, pick 7: How in God’s name is Cole going so damn late? And if you skip on him then shame on you! I know Blake Bortles isn’t the best quarterback in the world but he still needs to throw to someone. We saw some big years out of the brothers Allen (Robinson and Hurns) with Bortles and with both Allen’s gone to Chicago and Dallas respectively, someone has to step up and lead the Jags young receding corps. Cole is listed as the WR3 in Jacksonville and that is the biggest reason he isn’t getting the love he deserves because last season he stepped it up late! In the final five weeks of the year he had no fewer than 5 points in a game and went for double-digits four of those five games. Between weeks 13 and 16 he had at least a touchdown or 100-yards each week! He scored 85 of his 132 fantasy points last year in those final five games; or 65%! Let the fools in your league take Marqise Lee and Dede Westbrook (whom I personally like more than Lee as well but that’s a story for another day) and wait until round 14 to get the best pass-catcher the Jags have to offer!
- Ricky Seals-Jones TE ARZ – Round 14, pick 8: Like I said with Gesicki, if I’m not getting an elite tight end I’m drafting a pair of guys I can use based on match up with upside and Seals-Jones is another one of those ends. In Arizona there is a terrible offensive line which means Sam Bradford will have to get the ball out of his hands fast and there are three guys to trust in the offense with those quick passes; Larry Fitzgerald (whom I think will take a step back this year), David Johnson, and RSJ. The Cards lost their second banana at wide out in John Brown, and their third banana in Jaron Brown. In the short pass game it’s going to be those three guys I mentioned, and to make Seals-Jones even more attractive is rookie QB Josh Rosen. We all know Bradford won’t play the full season; hell, we will be lucky if he’s still in there after the Cardinals bye in week 9. And we all know a rookie quarterback’s best friend is a big tight end security blanket. In the 8 games he played last year, RSJ was targeted at least 5 times in four different games, while he went for 6+ points three times and hit double-digit points twice. He’s going to take a big step forward in 2018 with more opportunity and a rookie QB; snag up Seals-Jones late and watch his ceiling keep growing as the year progresses.