The sports world is mostly focused on MLB, NBA and NHL right now since all three sports are close to returning, or have returned. However, it’s always fantasy football season in dynasty leagues. Since most dynasty leagues are deeper than a normal seasonal league, it’s even more important to have depth. That’s where late round gems for dynasty football come into play.
For our purposes, we’ll be using fantasyfootballcalculator.com and their dynasty tab for ADP references. We’ll also be looking at picks past 100 overall in an effort to build your depth for any upcoming draft.
Sam Darnold, New York Jets – ADP of 134th
Is it nice to own a Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson and feel like you’re set for the next decade? Sure, but those players carry a very exorbitant cost. The stats are not eye-popping to be sure yet. He’s started 26 games and has a 59.9% completion rate and has yet to throw for 6,000 yards. He also has the unfortunate luck of playing under Adam Gase. Ask Ryan Tannehill, Kenyan Drake and DeVante Parker how that is.
All of these things might lead you to steer clear, but Darnold just turned 23 years old and has 26 games of experience. Joe Burrow is also 23 years old. It’s been a rocky first two seasons that’s included a bout with mono, but I’m not closing the door yet. The Jets beefed up the offensive line (he’s been sacked 63 times already), drafted a wide receiver high in Denzel Mims and there were signs of progression in 2019.
Darnold improved his completion rate, TD%, cut his INT % and raised his average yards per game. These are all signs you should want from a super young quarterback, especially surrounded by questionable talent and coaching. I’m taking the discount right now because Gase won’t survive much longer in New York without a step forward. If the team takes a step, Darnold is at the center. It’s a win-win.
Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions – ADP of 142nd
Some may be quick to point out the past two years, Stafford has had serious back issues. Sure, that is duly noted but at just 32 years old, this is not a primary concern for me. What is of concern was just how well Stafford was playing in the eight games he played in 2019. He was on pace for right about 5,000 yards, 38 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. He was fourth among quarterbacks on a points per game basis last season at 20.8, ahead of Russell Wilson, Mahomes and Drew Brees.
Stafford’s yards per attempt went through the roof last year at 8.6 compared to his career average of 7.2. It doesn’t hurt to have a receiving corps built around Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson. Last year also marked the first season Stafford has missed any games since 2010. I’m happy to look at the positives from last year, and happily welcome in D’Andre Swift at running back. Stafford is simply too cheap right now. Even if the injuries concern you, quarterback is about as deep as it has ever been.
Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings – ADP of 115th
I’m of the opinion that Mattison is at the least one of the top three handcuff running backs in the league, if not THE handcuff to own. Mattison only touched to ball 110 times in 2019 but looked excellent doing it, racking up 548 total yards on those touches. He only scored once but remember he’s playing behind Dalvin Cook. Mattison only had two attempts inside the five yard line. With Cook being a potential holdout, Mattison could be in line for a monster role soon.
Now, even if the Vikings come to terms with Cook doesn’t mean the door is shut on Mattison. Of the 48 games Cook could have started in three seasons, he’s only started 28. Health has unfortunately been an issue for the young back. If that rears its ugly head again, Mattison is primed to go.
I’m always willing to take chances with a talented back in a Gary Kubiak coached running game. Kubiak has been a coach or involved for 23 years. Including last season when Minnesota finished eighth in yards per game, his rushing offense has finished inside the top 10 in yards 15 times. That’s the kind of coaching you want behind your lottery ticket running back.
Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts, ADP N/A
For some reason, fantasyfootballcalculator.com doesn’t have Mack inside the top 47 backs. Kind of the definition of a late round for dynasty, right?That’s not accurate in drafts that I’ve done, but fantasypros.com has him as the 43rd running back which is a bit more accurate. This might turn into a longer play since the Colts drafted Jonathan Taylor as a top 40 pick, but I’m perfectly fine with that.
Mack is an unrestricted free agent after this season and while I don’t think he’s in line for some giant payday, a new home could be a boon. In just 14 games played last year, Mack rolled up over 1,090 yards on the ground and scored eight times. A fair criticism could be he is fairly one-dimensional, with just 52 career receptions. Any back in this range is going to have warts, that’s why they’re being drafted here.
Another factor in loving Mack at his price is the lack of preseason games this season. With the effects of COVID-19 being front and center, rookies are not going to have live game reps until the season starts. Incumbent veterans like Mack might be more important than you think starting off 2020. If Taylor doesn’t take over right away, Mack is a massive bargain right now.
Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears – ADP of 123rd
It can seem counterintuitive to target players on the Bears offense after last season, but here we are. Miller saw a decrease in his touchdowns to just two in 2019 but otherwise took a step forward. His snap count jumped form 53.5% to 64.2%, his targets, receptions and yards per game all went up. That was with frankly disastrous quarterback play last year.
This year the Bears have brought in Nick Foles and regardless of who is under center, Miller should get better QB play. It’s either Foles (who is competent at worst, above average when he’s on) or Mitchell Trubisky raised his game. Miller has the luxury of Allen Robinson drawing the bulk of the coverage and doing his damage in the slot. Chicago actually finished 13th in passing attempts per game last year and if Miller gets another 85 targets or more, he can be a WR3/Flex player on a weekly basis this season.
Emmanuel Sanders, New Orleans Saints – ADP of 136th
Late round gems for dynasty don’t have to be young. The oldest skill position player on this list, Sanders is a guy I just can’t quit. I’ll admit, I thought the torn Achilles would end his career for fantasy relevance. All he did coming off that injury was rack up 97 targets, 66 receptions and 869 yards for the Broncos and 49ers last season. Now he finds himself in a dynamite passing game with one of the best quarterbacks to play in Brees.
Just because he’s a little older doesn’t mean Sanders can’t get it done in this situation. In 2019, Michael Thomas, Jared Cook and Alvin Kamara accounted for roughly 63% of the targets. The second receiver was a mix of TreQuan Smith and Ted Ginn. Respectfully, Sanders is better than both of them. They had a 14% combined target share so if Sanders can shave 4-6% from the big three, he’s going to be a massive weapon this year. A top 30 finish isn’t crazy.
Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins – ADP of 128th
One of the only reasons I picked 100 as my cutoff for late round gems was so I can talk up Mike GOATsicki, who might be my favorite late TE target. The young tight end out of Penn State is an athletic monster, checking in at 6-6 and 250 pounds. He played 461 of his 705 snaps from the slot last year, which is exactly what you want. He’s too fast for a linebacker and too big for the majority of safeties.
The results showed last year as well. His targets took a massive jump form 32 to 89 and his receptions went from just 22 to 51. The yards per reception also saw a big jump from 9.2 to 11.2, along with Gesicki finding the end zone for the first five times in his career. Preston Williams coming back should help open up this offense even more and Gesicki is going to find more room to rumble. With a young potential star at QB in Tua Tagovailoa in the fold, I’m over the moon for Gesicki and have many shares.
Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans – ADP of 130th
I usually fall back to Smith if someone snipes me on Gesicki. What can I say, I’m a sucker for athletic freaks at the tight end position. Smith has progressed in every one of his three seasons so far, capping last year off with a career high 35 receptions and 439 yards. That’s not special in and of itself, but the Titans may have their QB of the present in Ryan Tannehill. Smith was sporadic last year but Tennessee needs someone behind A.J. Brown to take the role as a complimentary receiver.
That could well be the 6-3, 248 pound Smith who flashed significant upside. He had six games last year over 50 yards receiving or scoring a TD. Again, not blowing you away but it’s about progression and getting in before the blow up happens. Remember, this was with splitting some time with Melanie Walker and on just a 10% share of the targets. There is a ton of room to grow for Smith and we can get in ahead of the curve.
Thank you for reading as always. Feel free to tweet me @bucn4life with any and all questions, check out the NFL page on WinDailySports.com and let’s chat in the WinDaily Discord as well!
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