After the NFL draft ended, and the people of Philadelphia booed Roger Goodell for the final time (at least to his face), the process of adding players who had not heard their names called by the NFL teams began.
There are players who no doubt should have been drafted and have caught on as UDFAs, but quite frankly it looks like a hell of a lot of things would have to happen for them to make any noise this season. Artavis Scott, for example, would have more chance of getting a front row seat for a Taylor Swift concert on the day of the gig than he has of supplanting Tyrell Williams, Keenan Allen, Dontrelle Inman, Travis Benjamin AND Mike Williams.
Sometimes thinks work out quite well though. Recent UDFA stars include Doug Baldwin, Arian Foster and of course Tony Romo. While hard work and talent are, of course, essential, sometimes opportunity is just as important. So which players landed in the best spots to try and become fantasy relevant?
COREY CLEMENT, RB Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles did address running back in the draft, selecting Donnel Pumphrey in the fourth round. I looked at this move in some depth here, but aside from Pumphrey the main competition for carries this season for the Eagles seem to be second year man Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles. Ryan Mathews is not coming back, folks. Clement rushed for 3092 yards at Wisconsin, with 36 touchdowns. He was the 49th ranked prospect according to the RotoViz Rookie Scouting Index, coming in tied at RB15…with Pumphrey. We weren’t quite as high on him, as we had him at RB21 in our predraft rankings.
Clement doesn’t exactly overwhelm the senses when one considers his possible range of outcomes. But his production in 2016, coming on less than half the overall carries for the Badgers, makes him intriguing. The lead RB in Doug Pederson’s offenses, in his years as an OC and HC, have averaged just over 14 carries a game. The Eagles did attempt the 10th most rushes in the NFL last season, with no one back contributing more carries than the 155 Mathews managed. The volume is there for Clement. The Eagles showed in the offseason that this team is going to go through Carson Wentz, but a RB that can keep drives alive and assist in the redzone couldn’t hurt. Just 56 percent of the Eagles red zone possessions resulted in TDs last season, “good” for 27th in the league. As much as I love Pumphrey, he is not going to be an early down battering ram. Clement might be, but even if he makes the roster he’s going to be in something of an RBBC situation. With Mathews set to leave, the Eagles have some red zone carries going spare. Clement could be the man to step in.
ISHAMEL ZAMORA, WR Oakland Raiders
Ishmael Zamora played two seasons at one of those colleges that seem to produce wonderfully productive players – only for them to fall flat when they arrive in the pros -namely Baylor, and only caught 72 passes in these two years. 63 of them came in 2016, for a middling 809 yards. The notable statistic is the eight touchdown grabs he managed in this time. He didn’t break into the top 89 players in the Rookie Scouting Index, although he was listed at WR22 in the RotoViz Pre Draft rankings.
We’ve been waiting a long time in the fantasy community for the second coming of Maurice Purify, and I’m glad that Zamora has a shot at emulating the great man. On paper, he looks a long shot to break into one of the better offenses in football, considering the Raiders success in 2016.
No team converted more red zone possessions into touchdowns than the Raiders, converting on 79 percent of their trips to the opposition twenty. A big part of this was the play of Seth Roberts, who caught nine of his 21 targets for four touchdowns in 2016. Roberts, a former UDFA himself, boasts a catch radius that scored in the 55th percentile per Player Profiler. Zamora, at 6-2 is two inches taller than Roberts and scored in the 90th percentile in the same metric. The Raiders only used 11 personnel inside the red zone on 32 percent of their trips last season, scoring on 50 percent of their pass plays. Zamora, with his height and catch radius, offers a tantalising upgrade over Roberts. Still, Roberts could only manage WR72 in PPR last season, so if Zamora is able to surpass him on the depth chart, he’s probably no more than a best ball dart throw in 2017.