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3 Rookies to Draft in Best Ball Before the NFL Draft

With best ball drafts well underway and the NFL draft just over a week away, we’re likely going to get a price increase on rookies as their opportunities become clear. So as you’re wrapping up your drafts, here are a few late-round options who could become a steal in a matter of weeks.

Using the Fanball Dashboard and FFPC Dashboard apps, I’m going to look at three WRs who provide unique traits that could be beneficial in year one of their careers. 

Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State (Fanball ADP: 212, FFPC ADP: 265)

Despite producing NFL prospects like Devin SmithCurtis Samuel, and Michael Thomas, an Urban Meyer-led Ohio State team had never produced a 1,000 yard receiver until his final season with the team. Parris Campbell broke the streak that dated back to 2002, a decade before Meyer took over as head coach, with 1,063 receiving yards.

Campbell’s 4.31-second forty might mislead scouts into projecting Campbell as a field stretching player, but that speed is more a facet of his play-making ability and versatility on shorter plays. Campbell’s most notable play of his 2018 campaign was a 78 yard touchdown reception in the regular season finale. And while it did demonstrate big play ability, the glorified hand-off which was originally ruled a rushing touchdown, showed that his true strength is in yards after catch rather than deep route running.

But this isn’t a negative when paired with his usage in kick returns and a rising draft stock. Averaging more than 30 yards per kick return adds to Campbell’s growing list of proof that he can create in the open field. And following his strong draft process, with particular emphasis on his combine, he’s now being projected as a Day two prospect.
Parris Campbell ADP
Campbell has steadily seen his ADP rise throughout the offseason, and if he’s drafted in Round 2, Campbell’s price will inevitably rise. While it’s risky, Campbell’s unique traits and high investment cost for a team should earn him playing time. Drafting Campbell now will likely prove cheaper than waiting for clarity when his price subsequently spikes.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford (Fanball ADP: 225, FFPC ADP: 301)

Touchdowns are the goal for upside WR options late in best ball drafts. And touchdowns are J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s specialty.  Ending his college career with 28 receiving TDs, Arcega-Whiteside had back-to-back seasons with at least a 40 percent share of receiving touchdowns for Stanford. With this level of dominance as a scorer, it provides clarity for him finishing with back-to-back breakout qualifying seasons.
Arcega-Whiteside is being projected as a Day 2 selection in the NFL draft in part because of his unique size and skill. His ADP on Fanball has remained relatively flat, but at 6 feet 2 inches, 225 pounds, and with his track record for scoring, his ADP is going to rise post-draft, even if only as a specialist selection. If the opportunity breaks right, he could become a strong red-zone threat and become starter-worthy.

Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia (Fanball ADP: NA, FFPC ADP: 309)

This one is the epitome of a flier with high weekly upside and a bottomless floor. Hardman has never received the hype of his teammate, Riley Ridley, but he has proven field-stretching ability that could provide a boost to any best ball roster.

Hardman scored seven receiving touchdowns during his final season with Georgia. Of those seven, five were on plays over 30 yards and he also added a 70-yard punt-return score. In 2017, he had three more scores over 30 yards, including a 35-yard rushing score. With such a high percentage of his 14 career touchdowns coming in big plays, he’s demonstrated a clear upside that could prove beneficial in the best ball format.

No Georgia receiver accounted for 20 percent or more of the market share of receiving yards, but at 17 percent, Hardman ranks second on the team, a mere 16 yards behind Ridley who’s being projected on Day 2. With a career average of 16.0 yards per reception paired with his 4.33-second forty, Hardman is a big play waiting to happen. As an widely undrafted player, he’s a near-free option to pick up in the last round of drafts and could provide two or three big plays needed to make him roster-worthy.

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