Finding value in players that are either forgotten about or ones that have been given up on can give you an advantage when working toward that ever elusive fantasy championship. I am qualifying these gems as late round to undrafted players that can either produce immediately for fantasy or as someone who can or will have value at some point in 2019. Upside is some of these players greatest strengths and I will be running down a varied amount of outcomes that these players could have over the course of 2019 so without further ado lets dive into the potential AFC fantasy gems! (All ADP is based on 12 team Half PPR league current ADP.)
Buffalo Bills: WR Cole Beasley Undrafted
Cole Beasley moved on from the Cowboys and signed a new multi year contract with the Bills. Beasley has always had at least minimal value in PPR formats, but his move to the Bills has dropped him out of the minds of fantasy players and that could be a mistake. While the risk of him being irrelevant remains, Beasley could very well lead the team in targets and receptions. QB Josh Allen has been know to throw the ball deep, but the team is going to push him to take the easy route more often and with the low amount of talent that the Bills had last season at WR, Beasley is a big upgrade for Allen as a target in the middle of the field. He could easily be a volume WR3/4 if things go right for him and while the possibility for him to be nearly unusable remains, Beasley has some real upside especially for a player that is currently being undrafted.
Miami Dolphins: RB Kalen Ballage 14.01
The drum for Ballage is one that I will continue to beat throughout the offseason. The real possibility remains for him to be the starting 2 down and goaline back for the new look Dolphins. I think the team being in rebuild mode is a positive for the year 2 back as the Dolphins will more than likely want to see more of him as they decide whether or not to move forward with him in there future plans or not and with Drake having the strangle hold on 3rd down passing work the team will have to give Ballage the ball in non passing situations where he could thrive and be the carry leader for the team. In terms of value, Ballage could be anything from a back end RB2 and flex play to nothing more than a handcuff, but the fact remains that he will have at the very least minimal per game value as Drake has never been a true workhorse back and is an injury risk when on the field.
New England Patriots: TE Matt LaCosse Undrafted
Many may not even know who LaCosse is and that is warranted as he has not done anything in the past that would warrant attention. However, he is currently slotted in as the number 1 TE for the Tom Brady led Patriots with veteran TE Ben Watson serving a 4 game suspension. Now, this gives him some plausible value for the first 4 games of the season. If he can find a way to earn Brady’s trust through these 4 games and find success, then he could remain the starter after Watson’s suspension is up and have starting value for fantasy. The Patriots offense is going to look a lot different this season, but Brady has transitioned into a short yardage passer for the most part and LaCosse has the real chance at being the 3rd target that Brady looks for if he hits his stride with his new team. At worst he of course becomes an obvious fade if he struggles and loses his TE1 status on the team to Watson after the 4 week suspension, but I would not be surprised if we are all talking about LaCosse being a waiver wire pick up early in the season.
New York Jets: WR Jamison Crowder Undrafted
This one shocks me a bit. Jamison Crowder was viewed as a solid PPR option and one of the top 5 best slot receivers in the NFL before the Redskins imploded last season on offense. This resulted in the team heading into full rebuild and letting Crowder walk where he lands in a much more favorable situation in New York. Now, he has a real shot at being the most targeted WR on his team and he gets an up and coming QB in Sam Darnold who had success when targeting the slot in his rookie season last year. Now he gets an upgraded WR and Crowder will have some good PPR value. This could be fantasy drafters taking the hate to far after his down season last year, but Crowder deserves attention in PPR formats and he has the shot to have a true bounce back season after last year. At worst he is a solid depth piece for your rosters and if he is left undrafted in your league there is a good chance he is taken off the wire early.
Baltimore Ravens: TE Mark Andrews 14.01
Mark Andrews fared well last season as the starting TE for the Ravens and he is now the most familiar target not named Willie Snead for QB Lamar Jackson. The reviews have already started coming out of camp and they are nothing but positive for the second year TE. At best he is going to be the top target for Jackson and that gives him major upside especially at a position that is so devoid of talent. At worst he is a victim of the low volume pass offense that the Ravens will be imploring in 2019 and there is the chance that fellow second year TE Haden Hurst eats into his target share enough to cap his upside. I would lean on the side that Andrews is the pass catcher to own out of all the Ravens and he will be a back end TE1 is all things go his way.
Cincinnati Bengals: TE Tyler Eifert Undrafted
While no one in the fantasy space wants to here this, Tyler Eifert is a value once again in 2019. While it has been a very long time since we have seen it and he may be the biggest fantasy injury risk at the TE position not named Jordan Reed, Eifert looks to be an undrafted player that could end up finishing top 12 at his position if all things go right. The main thing for Eifert is staying on the field and with him being worked back into the offense slowly it may take a few weeks before he is a fantasy asset. However, the team drafted Drew Sample to allow Eifert to focus on running routes allowing him to block less to keep him healthy longer and allowing him to do what he does best and that is catch passes and score Touchdowns. At best, Eifert has true TE1 upside while at worst he is injured once again and properly forgotten about.
Cleveland Browns: RB Duke Johnson 14.06
While nothing but negative things have been coming out about Johnson over this offseason, it is important to remember that none of them are about his on the field talents. He wants to be traded and rightfully so after the team went out and signed Kareem Hunt to eventually take over his pass down work and he feels he can be used more properly elsewhere. The team will not budge and have denied every trade request meaning they will use Johnson until Hunt makes his return from his lengthy suspension. Until then, Johnson will operate as the main pass catching back for the Browns and that offers upside on such a high powered offense. While last season he did not amount to much fantasy value, he has upside heading into 2019. He could ball out as he will be looking for a new team sooner rather than later and he will be fighting for every chance to be on the field . Having a determined player on your roster can create good fantasy value and Johnson will carry upside until deep into the season.
Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Donte Moncrief 13.01
Moncrief is now playing on his 3rd team in as many years and while that could be seen as a downside for the player he has moved on to a much better situation than the one he was in last season. He was able to flash in Jacksonville enough to get him a 2 year contract with the Steelers who are looking to replace the massive hole left by the departure of WR Antonio Brown. Many want second year WR James Washington to be the beneficiary of the vacant targets, but all reports have pointed to Moncrief having a lot of success throughout camp and is seem by many as the number 2 receiver for the team heading into the season. With that said, now Moncrief can truly have a breakout season on the pass heavy offense. WR Juju Smith-Shuster is going to lead the team in targets, but Moncrief could realistically see near or over 100 in total and that will lead to WR3 territory with upside for more if he gets into the endzone enough. He is the perfect late round target if your looking for upside.
Houston Texans: TE Kahale Warring Undrafted
The Texans are a team that is hard to find real value on as most of the key players are being taken in the 10th round or higher. That leads me to offer you rookie TE Kahale Warring. Warring is sliding into what is seemingly the starting role in his rookie season and with the Texans high powered offense that gives him a good deal of upside. The converted basketball player was a 3rd round pick by the Texans in April and the team has longed for a good pass catcher at the position for years now. Warring is not someone you have to draft by any stretch, but he is a good name to remember especially at a position where fantasy producer seem to come out of no where at times.
Indianapolis Colts: RB Nyheim Hines 12.11
I could have went with Parris Campbell here, but I went with the year 2 pass catching back in Hines instead. Hines offers some minimal per game value as the Colts pass catcher and while he may have to fight for carries with Mack either on or off the field, he could very well lead the position in targets and receptions by seasons end for the Colts. This gives him good PPR upside and with that comes flex value which looks like his ceiling barring injury to Mack and potentially Spencer Ware. I pick Hines over Campbell here based purely on Hines having a higher fantasy floor with Campbell having to fight for targets with T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess, Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle, and Hines himself.
Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Nick Foles Undrafted
The Philly legend himself has cashed in a massive contract to be the starter for the Jags for the foreseeable future. Foles has not been the greatsest for fantasy in the past and people seem to be off of him moving to a worse offensive situation. He has upside however, as the team has supplied him with former coach John DeFilippo to run the offense while allowing him to lead a team like he truly wants to. He can easily be one of the better streamers throughout the season and while a QB1 finish seems far and away from being a possibility, Foles can give you great weeks in the right matchup and he is a great option for those in 2 QB leagues and superflex’s. Foles will either thrive in his new home or go down in flames.
Tennessee Titans: WR Adam Humphries 14.07
Many have backed off of Humphries after his breakout season with the Bucs as he has moved to what is seen as a worse situation. While that may be true, Humphries could thrive in his new home as the leading slot WR for the team. Marcus Mariota has been surrounded with sure handed targets throughout the offseason to give him the best chance to succeed and Humphries could thrive with the short yardage throwing Mariota leading the way. The competition for targets is high in Tennessee, but Humphries has dealt with that before in Tampa Bay and proved last season that he can be a fantasy asset even with the deck stacked against him. He has flex appeal and has upside especially in PPR formats.
Denver Broncos: TE Noah Fant 13.10
I could have went with Deshaun Hamilton here, but I am going with Fant as he has a clearer path to guaranteed targets and is in a position that needs some talent for fantasy. Fant is going to see a healthy amount of work for a rookie TE and while it is tough for them to make a fantasy impact, Fant is in a special situation where he can realistically be the number 2 target for the team. Number 1 WR Emmanuel Sanders is dealing with recovering from a torn ACL so only Courland Sutton stands in his way in terms of middle of the field targets for him to see. Even with Sanders back Fant excelled more as a pass catcher than a blocker and the team has been looking for a receiving threat at the TE position for years. The high draft capital spent on Fant suggests he will see work early and often in his rookie season. Fant has true TE1 upside possibly even more than collage teammate T.J. Hockenson who is now with the Lions and at worst he will be a streaming option when he has favorable matchups.
Kansas City Chiefs: Carlos Hyde 9.04
The Chiefs were the toughest team to find late round value with and while it came down to Hyde and rookie WR Mecole Hardman, I picked Hyde here based purely on what he could be if he were to get the starting job. The Chiefs proved last season that they can put anyone in the backfield and have them succeed for fantasy. While that is not a knock on starter Damien Williams it is a great example. Williams had done nothing of note in his career before starting for the Chiefs last season after Kareem Hunt was cut so just thing of what a proven RB like Carlos Hyde could do if given the opportunity. Hyde is purely a top handcuff with Williams on the field, but if Williams were to go down at all Hyde would slot in as a high end RB2 with RB1 upside. I would rather take the shot on that than the unknown of Hardman at his inflated price.
Los Angeles Chargers: RB Justin Jackson Undrafted
There is not a lot of value to be had in the Chargers high powered offense similarly to the Chiefs, but Justin Jackson seems to be forgotten about in terms of handcuff territory. Many seem to have forgotten that Austin Ekeler did not fare well when Melvin Gordon went down and he eventually surrendered the rushing role to Jackson who had success. The team has made no moves in the offseason to change the situation so if Gordon were to go down than Jackson would have flex appeal immediately. His per game value may be non-existent, but he should be seen as the main handcuff for Gordon over Ekeler.
Oakland Raiders: QB Derek Carr 14.06
We have to be realistic when it come to Derek Carr in 2019. While he has struggled in recent years, he will now have the best target he has ever had in WR Antonio Brown and that gives him true upside in 2019. The team also added burner WR Tyrell Williams and have a large amount of youth backing him and Brown up creating a competition for targets. While he may have lost safety blanket TE Jared Cook he gained a great player out of the backfield in rookie RB Josh Jacobs and that should help take off some of the pressure and it should allow him to have another competent short yardage target. While this looks to be Carr’s last chance before the team looks elsewhere for a QB, it also looks like his best chance to succeed and bounce back to his near MVP form from years ago.
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By Ryan Larrison, Contributor, Fantasy Football for the People