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Late-Round Lottery Tickets: Undervalued Veterans


In the previous article focusing on late-round gems worth uncovering, we looked at rookies and young players with expanding roles for 2020. This time, we'll pivot to the veterans who are being overlooked or undervalued for various reasons. I refer to these players as lotto tickets.

The beauty of taking such players late in the draft is that if they do not pan out, it did not cost much to draft them and they can easily be cut in exchange for a waiver wire pick. However, if they do pan out, you acquired a weekly starter for pennies on the dollar. Last year, two lottery ticket selections that paid off tremendously were Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (2019 ADP outside top-300) and Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (2019 ADP TE22). Both of these players probably went undrafted or were taken with the last pick by owners last season, and McLaurin finished as WR29 and Waller as TE2.

Fantasy managers could have spent a bunch of their free-agent acquisition budget (FAAB) to acquire these studs, or they could have spent nothing and drafted them with their last pick. Be the latter.

 

Finding a Golden Ticket

There are several factors to look for when trying to find successful lottery tickets. I've previously discussed players in a new situation and rookies that could have a starting role early on.

The next scenario to look for in selecting lottery tickets is players returning from an injury that the fantasy community has forgotten about. While Allen Robinson II was not a lottery ticket pick, he is the perfect example of this situation (ADP WR32, WR7 finish), two years removed from ACL surgery. This also applied to Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown (ADP WR55, WR22 finish).

The last scenario to look for is players who have incredible talent but have been a disappointment thus far in their career. The prime example of this is Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (ADP WR61, WR11 finish). Parker was drafted 14th overall by the Dolphins in 2015 and never lived up to his potential. Granted, Adam Gase is probably responsible for most of it, but Parker never translated to the football field after being the most impressive player in training camp for four years in a row. However, in 2020 he got a new head coach and a gunslinger quarterback to get him the rock, and he reclaimed his college form finishing as the WR2 over the final eight games of the season.

So who is going to be this year's Parker?

 

Players Returning From Injury

Cam Newton (QB, NE)

Cam Newton has finished as a top-eight quarterback or better in fantasy points per game in seven of his first eight seasons. Now, he has the privilege of working under the greatest head coach of all-time in Bill Belichick, and one of the most creative play-callers in the league in Josh McDaniels.

In the post-Tom Brady era, the Patriots are likely going to become a run-first offense with Newton under center. After all, the team used its franchise tag on guard Joe Thuney and spent two third-round picks on tight ends. All signs point to a heavy rushing attack in New England, and Newton should be one of the main beneficiaries. He has plenty of weapons in Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry, Mohammed Sanu, and James White out of the backfield, and his rushing upside will provide his owners with a three-to-four point rushing floor each week.

He is a ridiculous value right now with an ADP of QB28, but he possesses top-five potential. If fantasy owners wait on a quarterback in their draft, Newton has the most upside by far, and he has a gigantic chip on his shoulder after the Carolina Panthers decided to move on. He has something to prove, and that is going to mean great things for his fantasy owners.

Jerick McKinnon (RB, SF)

Jerick McKinnon is one of the most gifted athletes to step foot on a football field this century. The only problem is that he has not played a single snap of regular season football for the 49ers in his two years with the team.

Stats from playerprofiler.com

Head coach Kyle Shanahan is a wizard when it comes to designing run plays, and he chose McKinnon to be an integral part of his scheme when McKinnon signed a contract for four years worth up to $36.9M in 2018. Now he is finally healthy, and the former pass-catching running back Matt Breida has signed with the Miami Dolphins, so the door for McKinnon to contribute is wide open.

If anyone can take advantage of McKinnon's elite speed and athleticism, it is Shanahan. McKinnon is currently being drafted as RB70 in ADP, but he possesses top-36 upside in PPR leagues if he were to play a full 16 games.

Chris Herndon (TE, NYJ)

New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon was drafted as one of the most popular sleepers heading into 2019, but his season was lost due to suspension and injury. As a result, he has slipped through the cracks of fantasy drafts this summer and has mostly been forgotten about. However, as a rookie, Herndon posted an impressive 502 yards and four touchdowns on only 39 receptions (12.9 yards per reception) and showed to have nice chemistry with quarterback Sam Darnold. Head coach Adam Gase loves Herndon and has previously referred to him as a unicorn, and the Jets are desperate for playmakers, so a breakout from Herndon seems to make sense.

His ADP currently sits at TE22, but he could easily finish inside the top-10 if he stays healthy for 16 games. He is the perfect lottery ticket for owners who punt on a tight end in their drafts, or those who are looking for the next Darren Waller.

 

Forgotten Studs

Corey Davis (WR, TEN)

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis is the most likely candidate to be this year's DeVante Parker. He was an absolute stud at Western Michigan and was drafted fifth overall in 2017, but he has failed to live up to expectations so far in his NFL career. In fact, he has been downright terrible except for a handful of big games.

Davis is 6'3" and built like a prototypical WR1, and he has all the skills to dominate in the NFL. This year, he will finally have some adequate quarterback play for the first time in his career. Ryan Tannehill is leaps and bounds ahead of Marcus Mariota as a passer, and the breakout of A.J. Brown should have defenses focused on him, leaving Davis to feast on the defense's second-best cornerback. If that wasn't enough, it is a contract year for Davis so he has all the motivation he needs to go out and put up his best season as a pro.

His ADP is WR78 so he can be drafted with your last pick, and if he does not produce early then owners can cut him without having given up any draft capital to see if he finally hits this year.

O.J. Howard (TE, TB)

Stats provided by Playerprofiler.com

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard is a freak of nature. He is 6'6" and 251 lbs, and he runs a 4.51 40-yard dash (97th percentile). He was the undisputed TE1 coming out of the 2017 draft class, and the Bucs took him with the 19th pick. Until last season, Howard was dominant whenever he was targeted. He finished fifth in PPR points per game (12.1) in 2018 despite only playing in 10 games, and graded out higher than Travis Kelce per Pro Football Focus.

He was an undisputed top-five fantasy tight end heading into the 2019 season, but he was a total dumpster fire and finished as the TE28. As a result, his ADP heading into 2020 is a juicy TE24. He has the size and the talent to dominate opposing linebackers and defensive backs, and now he has Tom Brady throwing him the ball, who some might say has had some success throwing to his tight ends in the past. The risk is virtually nothing, but the reward could be substantial.

 

Depth Chart Issues

Damien Harris (RB, NE)

New England Patriots running back Damien Harris was drafted in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft, one year after the team spent a first-round pick on Sony Michel. The pick suggests that the Pats are not comfortable with Michel as it's featured running back of the future, and Michel's performance thus far seems to justify those concerns.

Harris is a big-bodied, one-cut, downhill runner with a knack for chunk plays and tough yards. He was part of an all-star backfield at Alabama, and Harris still managed to churn out two 1,000-yard seasons and averaged 6.7 yards per carry over his last three seasons. The Patriots have committed to a run-first offense evidenced by the team's placement of its franchise tag on guard Joe Thuney, and the signing of Cam Newton at quarterback. The Pats also signed Lamar Miller once it came out that Michel might miss the first six weeks of the season due to his foot surgery back in May, but Miller has not stepped foot on a field in over a year.

It is a real possibility that Harris is the best running back for the Patriots this season, and his ADP currently sits at an insanely low RB60, so fantasy owners would be wise to throw a dart on him at the end of their drafts. Click here for an in-depth analysis of Harris.

DeAndre Washington (RB, KC)

DeAndre Washington has always played a reserve role on offense, and this year will be no different, but now he's on the high flying Kansas City Chiefs, and he has a history with the team's half-billion-dollar quarterback. Running back Damien Williams has opted out of the 2020 season which has left rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrell Williams, Darwin Thompson, and Washington as the Chief's entire backfield. Edwards-Helaire should handle the bulk of the touches, but he is especially poor at pass protection, an area where Washington excels. Edwards-Helaire will not see much time on third-downs if he can't protect Patrick Mahomes, so it is a real possibility that Washington sees meaningful snaps this season.

He has also shown that he can produce when given opportunities, scoring at least 18 PPR points in each of his three starts last season in place of an injured Josh Jacobs. If that wasn't enough, he played with Mahomes at Texas Tech so there is already familiarity between the two. It is a long shot that Washington becomes a valuable fantasy asset this season, but with an ADP of RB76, he costs less than the lint in your pocket, and the path to relevance is certainly there.

James Washington (WR, PIT)

James Washington led the Pittsburgh Steelers in receiving yards last season and no one is talking about it. JuJu Smith-Schuster is still being drafted in the third round, and Diontae Johnson is a favorite mid-round target for a ton of fantasy owners, but Washington sits alone way down at WR74 in ADP. No one seems to remember that he routinely made difficult contested catches (1.2 yards of target separation), averaged 16.7 yards per reception, and did so with Mason Rudolph and a guy named Duck as his quarterbacks.

Washington should be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's favorite downfield target, and his athleticism and ball skills make him a viable third-year breakout candidate. drafting guys like Washington with one of your last picks is a championship-winning move.

Randall Cobb (WR, HOU)

Houston Texans wide receiver Randall Cobb could be a major part of the offense this season for the simple reason that the team does not have any alpha receivers on its roster. Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller IV, and Kenny Stills are basically the same receivers, specializing in speed and deep routes, and there is not a viable tight end on the roster worthy of a heavy target volume, which leaves Cobb all alone in the middle of the field to soak up targets. 100 targets and 70 receptions are well within his range of outcomes, and there is no player better suited to be quarterback Deshaun Watson's safety blanket this season.

Watson himself knows his other three receivers are one-trick ponies, and if you read between the lines you will see a ton of mid-level targets for Cobb because go-routes don't always work. Cobb's ADP is WR72, but he possesses top-30 upside in PPR leagues for the low low price of absolutely nothing.



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Six weeks of NFL football are behind us, aside from a pair of Monday games, including a late afternoon game between the Bills and the Chiefs. In terms of wide receiver production this week, we didn't have the huge breakouts like we had in Week 5. Chase Claypool didn't score four touchdowns. In fact, only... Read More


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Dissecting Contact Quality In Search Of Fantasy Bargains

Of the 1,015 hitters sampled(1) between 2015 and 2019, there were only 14 instances of hitters making more productive contact against pitches outside of the strike zone than against pitches inside of the strike zone based on xwOBAcon. Based on the same sample, the average hitter was a whopping .116 points better against pitches inside... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 23rd, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 23rd, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Lineup Order Risers and Fallers: AL West 2020 Review

It’s the offseason and there are about to be a bunch of moving parts. This allows for speculation in terms of players gaining or losing playing time, moving up or down a batting order and much more. The idea here is to highlight some lineup situations for each team and some potential winners or losers... Read More


2021 1st & 2nd Year Players with James Anderson - Benched with Bubba (Episode 317)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More