Most fantasy players have started their research and have an idea about what they want to do in the first few rounds of their drafts. Everyone knows the top tiers by now, and the good owners probably know who they like to target in the middle rounds as well. It’s time to go deeper. The late rounds (11+) can be the difference in hitting a home run that produces all year for your team or striking out on the wrong flyer while you watch the opponent circle the bases.
The last few rounds before selecting DST and K are generally used for a few specific purposes. This is where you’ll see handcuffs taken as insurance to starting RBs, high upside rookies with an uncertain role drafted for potential, or positions like QB or TE that savvy owners have been patiently waiting for to target their low-cost value pick. What’s rare, however, is a known talent that slides this late, but can still turn into a potential league winner. Landing a player who ends the season as a WR2 in the 12th round is as sweet as it gets. Picks like these are how to survive injuries and busts even if the waiver wire isn’t kind to you.
MARVIN JONES – WR (DET)
Marvin Jones lit the league on fire in the first month of 2016, averaging over 120 receiving yards per game, before crashing back down to reality. So, what happened after that? Well, it wasn’t as random as it may have seemed. It’s a collection of variables. The downfall began after back to back injuries in week 4 and 5 (hamstring, foot). Those injuries nagged Jones throughout the season. Around that same time is when the Lions’ coaching staff came to the realization that their defense wasn’t capable of stopping opposing offenses reliably enough to continue playing at a quick pace on offense. Jim Bob Cooter changed the game-plan to adjust for the struggling defense. Slowing the tempo and controlling the clock meant fewer offensive plays in general and especially fewer deep shots for Jones.
The Lions have added pieces to the defense in an effort to remedy that problem. They’ve also added two high caliber starters to the offensive line. This should provide Stafford more time to find targets down the field, Jones’ forte. These upgrades should boost stats for Jones, but his progression as a pro is real as well. In the past 3 active seasons for Jones his yards have increased from 712 to 816 to 930. He’s only 26 and he’s playing a role suited well for him. His current ADP is 136 (WR49). Drafting him in the 11th Rd is not only safe considering his track record, but also provides you the high ceiling if he continues to improve. All signs point up here.
QUINCY ENUNWA – WR (NYJ)
Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker have departed, and Enunwa is left to lead a receiving corps of relative unknowns. This isn’t completely foreign to him as he was a focal part of the Jets offense in several games last season as it was. He tallied six games at 8 or more fantasy points and finished with a line of 58/857/4. That’s not too shabby for a guy who started the season as their third option. His jump to the top of the depth chart should come with a reasonable spike in targets. He had 106 last year, and I’d expect that number to end up north of 130 this season.
Let’s face it. The Jets aren’t going to be highly competitive this year, and garbage time points count the same as any other points. They’ll be forced to throw, and the options around him don’t demand attention from the QB, regardless of who that ends up being. At 6’2’’ 225lbs, Enunwa has the size to make a difference in the red zone, and has a surprising ability to create yards after the catch. His 6.3 YAC average last season was near the top of the league. He’s being drafted late in the 11th Rd (142, WR51). Your risk here is low, as with Jones, but the potential to lock up a WR that ends up in the top 20 is certainly there. He comes with no buyer’s remorse.
A quick note… Currently John Brown and Terrance West are both being drafted with ADPs north of 120. I don’t expect that to hold for long after recent news related to Brown’s health and camp showing along with the report on Kenneth Dixon missing the season. When the data catches up to real life these players will both be going somewhere between the 5th and 7th rounds. However, if you happen to be drafting soon, this is something you may be able to take advantage of. Don’t be afraid to “reach” on these two earlier than they’re projected to go.
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