When I decide on my dart throws in the late stages of fantasy drafts, I often frame it this way: who’s going to be the hottest waiver wire pickup in the first few weeks?
This could mean a guy who is one injury away from playing a major role on offense, or it could be a veteran who’s been forgotten amidst all the rookie derangement.
Here are three of my favorite dark horses available in the late stages of fantasy drafts.1
The 25-year old former second rounder had his breakout in 2016, averaging 13.5 yards per catch on the way to a WR42 finish. His 160 PPR points tied him with Marvin Jones, who is going in the early ninth round of fantasy drafts this year. Marqise Lee, however, has become an afterthought; he’s being drafted as the WR70, usually lasting until at least the 15th round, and often available even later.
Considering the Jaguars added only fourth-round-WR Dede Westbrook in the draft, Lee’s role should remain intact for 2017. In fact, despite the doom and gloom surrounding the Jaguars passing game, he may be in an even better spot to succeed.
Check out the change in Lee’s receiving role midway through the 2016 season.
Before Lee’s main competition for targets, Allen Hurns, was hit with a hamstring injury in Week 12, Lee was being fed air yards at a rate better than the average of the top-24 WRs.
Given Hurns’ diminished role even before his injury, it’s possible Jacksonville had already started to sour on the former UDFA. His offseason has done little to appease any apprehensions. Hurns has been practicing with the team, but he didn’t even suit up for a preseason game until Week 3, where he played with the second-string offense. There are also reports the Jaguars are looking to trade him.
If Hurns is hurt or out of favor, Lee has a solid chance at matching or surpassing his 851 yards from last year, which would make him a screaming value at his WR70 price. He’s also one Allen Robinson injury away from a huge role.
I’ll put this disclaimer up front – this pick is for best-ball leagues only. I don’t recommend trying to guess which weeks Marquise Goodwin will score, but score he should.
Like Hurns, Goodwin is a No. 2 WR on an NFL offense, and he’s basically free right now.
At 5-foot-9 and with world-class speed, the former Olympic long jumper is a one-trick, deep-threat pony. But it’s one he’s well suited to, and we’ve seen this kind of player succeed in a Kyle Shanahan offense before.
Those are all the No.2 WRs in a Shanahan offense over the past three seasons.
A 5-foot-8 Taylor Gabriel put up 629 yards as a No.2 in Cleveland. Gabriel is fast (4.39 40-yard dash) but not Goodwin fast (4.27). And though he’s a different athlete than Goodwin, Mohamed Sanu hit 653 yards as the No. 2 WR in Atlanta in 2016. Goodwin himself managed 431 yards on 29 catches (14.9 yards per reception) on a run-heavy Buffalo team in 2016.
While the 49ers will no doubt attempt to be balanced on offense, they project to be trailing in a lot of games, and they have a quarterback who has never been afraid to be aggressive.
Goodwin doesn’t have the upside that Marqise Lee has, but he does have enough to tilt a few weeks in your favor as a freebie in best ball leagues.
As the current No. 3 WR on a terrible Jets team, ArDarius Stewart is probably not a guy you even need to draft right now. But as a third-round rookie on a team bereft of any real receiving talent, and one likely to face a lot of negative game scripts, he’s someone who could quickly rise to a prominent role.
Let’s look at what the two guys in front of him on the depth chart have done in the NFL.
That’s it. Robby Anderson looked serviceable as a rookie in 2016, putting up 117 PPR points. The Jets current No. 2 WR, Jalin Marshall, has 162 receiving yards to his name and is also suspended for the first four games of 2017. That suspension should open the door for Stewart to show he belongs in the starting lineup.
Can he contribute at the NFL level? While his closest comparables don’t scream sleeper, the three players our Box Score Scout sees as the most similar to Stewart have all experienced success at this level.
Though it was with the second-team offense, Stewart flashed in the Jets Week 3 preseason game, putting up 82 yards and two TDs.
The fact that the Jets thought enough of Stewart to spend a third-round pick tells us they won’t be afraid to give him an opportunity this season. The fact that one of the WRs blocking his way is suspended tells us they don’t have much choice.
If you think he’s worth a flier, strike now before everyone else figures it out.
- For our purposes, we’ll consider a dart throw a 15th-round ADP or worse for WRs. (back)