Do you have the same problem I do? Every offseason, I’ll fall in love with a handful of sleepers, draft a couple of them, and watch one or all of them ball out for my team. Then, I’ll come back the following season to find that their ADPs have rightfully soared from the previous year. At that point, it becomes nearly impossible to draft them again.
Such is life in redraft leagues.
That’s where the allure of dynasty leagues comes into play. They allow you to keep your favorite players for another season. Gone are the days of spending high draft picks on your former bench players! Speaking of bench players, these five late-rounders have a chance to be the next big thing in dynasty leagues. Before we dive into it, I’ll admit I wasn’t confident enough in any eligible running backs at their current prices. Najee Harris is a fantastic dynasty pick, but he’ll cost you a second-round pick at least. Other dynasty favorites like Travis Etienne and Michael Carter are also being drafted at solid prices. These five guys are getting almost completely overlooked, so snatch them up now and reap the benefits in the upcoming seasons.
Van Jefferson (WR - LAR)
A personal favorite of mine, I watched Jefferson up close at the University of Florida. He’s too talented to stay on the bench. Despite minimal production in his rookie season, the former second-round pick played in every game. Heading into 2021, Jefferson may have a larger role with Josh Reynolds in Tennessee. His departure leaves 81 targets up for grabs, and undersized rookie Tutu Atwell doesn’t fit that role as well as Jefferson. Although the Rams did bring in DeSean Jackson, can we really bet on him to consistently see the field? Besides, his contract is up after the season. Oh, and let’s not forget the offensive potential the Rams have with Matthew Stafford at quarterback. With Jared Goff under center, L.A. was still 12th in pass attempts last season. Now that Cam Akers is out for the season, there’s an even better chance Sean McVay opts to sling the ball at league-high rates. Even if Jefferson doesn’t cement himself as the Rams’ WR3, he has the long-term potential to take that role and then some. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jefferson is the team’s top receiver in two years.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR - GB)
It feels like the Packers have been searching for a legit WR2 since the Stone Age. Well, that time may have finally come. Matt Schneidman of The Athletic reported last week that if Valdes-Scantling keeps up his good work from training camp, he’ll be the team’s clear-cut WR2. That sound you hear is music to Aaron Rodgers’ ears. Can you blame him? He spent all of 2020 force-feeding Davante Adams the ball—he had the fourth-most targets among all wide receivers. In fact, Adams more than doubled Valdez-Scantling’s target count, and he tripled Allen Lazard’s target count. We shouldn’t expect Adams to reel in a whopping 149 targets again, especially if Valdes-Scantling finally comes into his own. Not only does this make him a great value this season, but it could set him up to take over Adams’ role if he were to leave after the season. Don’t worry Packers fans, I’m not saying Adams will leave Green Bay when his contract ends this offseason. But the possibility is still there, which should make Valdes-Scantling look even juicier in the eyes of dynasty players. Take a flier on him before it’s too late.
Josh Palmer (WR - LAC)
I’ve spent a good amount of time on Palmer this offseason, as evidenced by my tweet thread from earlier in the summer.
I explained how pivotal the WR3 could be in the Chargers’ offense, especially with new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi in town. Honestly, whichever wideout earns the WR3 job should have good dynasty value. For the role he’ll likely have this season, he could have an even bigger one next season. Mike Williams is in a contract year and we’ve yet to see him be a consistent threat. As long as Justin Herbert plays as he did in his rookie season, every wide receiver on the roster gets a boost. I like Palmer mostly due to the third-round draft capital spent on him, but I can see Tyron Johnson taking this job, too. Keep an eye on which young Chargers wide receiver emerges. His dynasty stock could skyrocket—my money’s on Palmer.
Cole Kmet (TE - CHI)
I don’t need to be the first to tell you this, but late-round tight ends are an utter dart throw. The George Kittles and the Darren Wallers of the world don’t pop up often. No, I don’t think Kmet is the next superstar tight end. We’ve only seen him play one season, although he did flash some promise toward the end of it. The stats aren’t the prettiest; he eclipsed 10 fantasy points just once. However, in the final six games, Kmet led the Bears’ offensive skill players in snaps and he saw the third-most targets. Those are encouraging numbers. It seems the only obstacle in Kmet’s way is Jimmy Graham. The 35-year-old tight end saw his usage dip as Kmet’s went up. If Andy Dalton—I mean—Justin Fields plays well, a rejuvenated passing offense could be just what Kmet needs to reach the next level. It helps that Graham’s contract ends after the season, too. Kmet has a legit path to becoming fantasy-relevant, just not right away. He’s better off as a true sleeper in dynasty.
Pat Freiermuth (TE - PIT)
While the football community swoons over Kyle Pitts, let’s remember how infamously underwhelming rookie tight ends tend to be. In the last decade, Evan Engram was the only rookie tight end to eclipse 600 receiving yards. To put that into perspective, 12 tight ends reached that mark last season. Now that I’ve rained on the parade of rookie tight ends, may I interest you in one? I don’t expect Freiermuth to see enough action to warrant a roster spot in redraft, but he may be worth a stash in your dynasty league. Eric Ebron wasn’t the greatest tight end in 2020, yet he did see 91 targets—fourth behind the Steelers’ young trio of wideouts. I suspect Mike Tomlin wants to get back to the good ol’ days where Pittsburgh regularly featured their tight ends—call it a hunch. Why else would they select Freiermuth in the second round? You may need a bit more patience with him, but Freiermuth is worthy of a bottom-of-the-roster spot on your dynasty squad.
Did I miss someone? Let me know on Twitter @ZachCohenFB!