There are few better feelings in dynasty football then hitting on a late round flier. Hitting on a flier can be that final piece that pushes your team over the top and make you a contender for years to come. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to figure out which late round guys will pay off. The recipe for a late round pick to become a fantasy stud includes being talented, having opportunity and having upside when given the opportunity. Based on these characteristics, I’ve found 4 late round players that you should be buying or drafting that can potentially become quality fantasy players in 2019 and beyond.
WR Antonio Calloway, Cleveland Browns (July ADP: 162 Overall, WR 75)
Antonio Calloway is one of my favorite late round fliers this year. There is no doubt that Calloway is extremely talented, but due to multiple off-the-field issues and being suspended for the whole 2017 season, Calloway dropped to the 4th round in the 2017 draft. If this wasn’t bad enough, Calloway got drafted to the Cleveland Browns, which seem to be loaded at the wide receiver position. Perceived to be below Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman on the depth chart, it is hard to see a scenario where Calloway is fantasy relevant in 2018. However, with reports of the Browns trying to trade Coleman and Gordon becoming a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) after the 2018 season, there is a realistic shot of Calloway becoming the WR 2 in Cleveland for 2019 and beyond. If Calloway can get the opportunity and he can stay out of trouble, his talent should show, which could cause him to become a top 30 wide receiver.
WR Taywan Taylor, Tennessee Titans (July ADP: 180 Overall, WR 80)
When Taywan Taylor was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft, he quickly became one of the dynasty community’s favorite late round rookie picks. Over shadowed by 5th overall pick Corey Davis, Taylor was slipping to the 3rd round or later in almost every rookie draft, and his value hasn’t seen much of an increase since. Although Taylor saw limited work and production in 2017, there are a couple of signs that say Taylor could find some major value as early as next season. One reason is the Tennessee Titans decision to enter the 21st century and bring in Matt LaFleur as the Offensive Coordinator. LaFleur spent last season as the Los Angeles Rams OC, where he helped lead the Rams to become one of the top offenses in the league. There is a ton of hope that Lafleur can bring over what he learned under Sean McVay and help develop this offense under Marcus Mariota. Another reason to be hopeful for Taylor is the fact that Rishard Matthews is scheduled to be an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) after the 2018 season. If Matthews were to walk and sign somewhere else after 2018, Taylor would be primed to become 2nd in the pecking order for receptions. If all of that weren’t enough for you, according to playerprofiler.com, Taylor’s SPARQ metrics are comparable to Doug Baldwin, one of the top receivers in the league.
RB Ito Smith, Atlanta Falcons (July ADP: 192 Overall, RB 61)
Before being picked in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Ito Smith was very productive at Southern Mississippi. Along with 3 straight 1000+ yard rushing seasons, Smith put up at least 40 receptions and 390 receiving yards in each of his last 3 seasons. Being a smaller back (5’9”, 200 lbs.), Smith profiles to primarily be a 3rd down back in the NFL. Luckily for fantasy owners, Smith landed in Atlanta, who has shown that they incorporate running backs into their passing game. Unfortunately, Smith is currently behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman on the 2018 depth chart. But as you probably have heard, Coleman is set to be an UFA after the 2018 season. If Coleman were to leave Atlanta, which most of us expect, then Smith could find himself in a huge role in the Atlanta offense alongside Devonta Freeman.
RB James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers (July ADP: 202 Overall, RB 67)
There is no doubt that James Conner is one of the best stories to enter the NFL in a long time. After being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2015, Conner battled back to play a full 2016 season at Pitt. In 13 games, Conner accumulated 1092 rushing yards, 302 receiving yards and 20 total touchdowns. This stellar production led to Conner being picked in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Currently slated as Le’Veon Bell’s backup, it is hard to see a scenario in which Conner produces any fantasy relevance in 2018. The promising thing for Conner is that Bell is scheduled to become a UFA in 2018. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, Bell and the Steelers failed to come to an agreement on a contract extension, which means that Bell will most likely be on a different team in 2019. Now, I am not going to sit here and tell you that James Conner is going to become the next Le’Veon Bell. However, Conner is a very powerful runner that has shown he can produce in the rushing game and help out in the passing game. If Conner is given the opportunity to be a starter, he could have top 24 upside in 2019 and beyond.
* All ADP is based on www.dynastyleaguefootball.com July ADP
** All stats are curtesy of www.sports-reference.com
*** All contract information is curtesy of www.spotrac.com