Undrafted Players Worthy of a Bench Spot
Two weeks into the Fantasy Football season, you usually have a pretty good idea of what a player is or has the potential to be. Whether a player has already had a breakout game, or looks to be in a position to, lots of undrafted players will end up contributing to Fantasy teams throughout the season.
These aren’t the undrafted players that become obvious pick ups due to one big game or one big injury, a la Tarik Cohen or Javorius Allen. These are undrafted players that continue to be overlooked for one reason or another, but have established their roles and are trending in the right direction.
[caption id="attachment_258816" align="alignright" width="398"] Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has plus matchups and lots of new weapons to work with over the next few weeks. Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire[/caption]
Despite their low ownership percentages, each of these mostly undrafted players is well worth an add for Week 3 and beyond.
Fly High With Flacco
After missing much of training camp with a back injury, Joe Flacco went undrafted in close to 90 percent of 12-team leagues. He didn’t show much promise in Week 1, but seemed to shake off the rust, going 25-of-34 for 217 yards and two touchdowns in Week 2 against the Browns.
With lots of new weapons at his disposal, Flacco connected with Ben Watson on a team-high eight receptions (eight targets), and Danny Woodhead replacement Allen for another five (six targets). He’s already in sync with No. 1 wideout Jeremy Maclin, throwing touchdowns his way in Week 1 and Week 2, and just wait until he gets on the same page with Mike Wallace and/or Breshad Perriman, connecting on just one of seven combined targets for seven yards on Sunday.
With Flacco averaging just 169 yards per game -- well below his career average of 235.6 YPG -- look for him to make up that gap with games against the Jaguars, Steelers, Raiders, and Bears over the next four weeks. Expect a run of two-plus touchdown outings with an uptick in yardage, giving him streaming appeal in 12-team formats.
Go Get Gang Green’s Top Target
Not many Fantasy owners used a pick on Jermaine Kearse on draft day.
But, just two weeks into his Jets tenure, the wideout has now led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards in both Week 1 and Week 2, racking up 11 catches on 14 targets for 123 yards and two touchdowns. I was unlucky enough to catch the injury bug in Week 1, and picked up and started Kearse for his two-touchdown game Week 2 versus the Raiders (for proof, check out @GameDayFacts on Twitter).
While the veteran played second, third and even fourth fiddle during his time in Seattle, he’s the de facto No. 1 option for Gang Green and clearly has the trust of quarterback Josh McCown. With the Jets facing a Miami defense that gave up more than 300 yards in their season debut Sunday, Kearse should again be on the receiving end of lots of passes this weekend.
And being the focal point of an offense that will have no choice but to pass while playing from behind isn’t a bad place to be – just ask Blake Bortles owners about garbage time. This all adds up to Kearse slotting in as a solid WR3, worth a speculative add in PPR leagues, as long as McCown remains under center for the Jets.
Cash In On Cards Big-Play Threat
Dating back to Week 13 of last season, J.J. Nelson has caught a touchdown in all but one game. That’s six out of seven games, including two this season, where the wide receiver caught 10 of 13 targets for 163 yards along with the aforementioned two touchdowns.
After writing about Nelson as a keeper option in deeper leagues following his late-season outburst last year, it looks like his explosive playmaking skills are paying dividends for the Cardinals so far this season. While averaging more than 20 yards per catch over the past two seasons combined, Nelson keeps producing while slowly creeping up the Cards depth chart.
Just a few weeks back he went undrafted, but with Nelson now in line for more snaps and more targets, he’s looking like a high-upside WR3 and/or flex option, especially with John Brown expected to miss more time.
Giants Tight End Becoming Go-To Option
Evan Engram has clearly been the best player on the Giants offense through his first two career games. As the team’s lone bright spot, the rookie tight end has caught eight passes on 12 targets while racking up 93 yards and the team’s only touchdown through two contests.
While many seem to think the return of Odell Beckham Jr. to full strength will be a bad thing for Engram. In reality, it should open up seams downfield where the Ole Miss product can showcase his 4.42 speed. That speed will make for plenty of mismatches and Eli Manning has made tight ends with a lot less talent into usable Fantasy tight ends during his career (think Kevin Boss and Larry Donnell).
Look for Engram to remain a key cog in the Giants offense and a near must-add in 12-team leagues heading into a Week 3 matchup with an Eagles team that has given up 13 catches, 139 yards and a TD to opposing tight ends so far this season.
Vereen Makes PPR Value Plan
Another Giant who has been putting up solid numbers, but doesn’t seem to be moving the ownership percentage dial is Shane Vereen. The third-down back has put up back-to-back games where he has led the team in targets and running backs in touches. After grabbing nine of 10 targets for 52 yards in Week 1, Vereen rushed six times for 28 yards along with three catches for 27 yards in Week 2.
As long as the Giants offensive line continues to struggle — and it will — Vereen should be the back to own in the Giants backfield moving forward. Plus, the G-men face an Eagles defense in Week 3 that has given up seven receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown to receiving backs over the first two weeks, putting Vereen in a spot to lead the backfield in touches and yards again this Sunday.
And if the past is any indication of the future, in his first year with the Giants when he played 16 games, the third-down back snagged 59 receptions on 81 targets for 495 yards and four TDs. I’d expect similar numbers this season, making Vereen a startable option in deep PPR leagues.
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