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Under-The-Radar Route Runners


The wide receiver position is deep with talent. There are a lot of players who are flying under the radar. Some of these pass catchers are going to provide more fantasy production than expected. While looking at some data from PFF.com, we are going to observe some wide receivers who could exceed expectations in 2020.

A lot of these players are either vastly efficient and just didn’t get the right volume to develop into a top tier fantasy asset or they received a large workload but weren’t able to convert the extra workload into fantasy production.

Let’s take a look at some potential under-the-radar gems:

 

Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs wanted to add more speed to their wide-open, high-volume, pass-happy offense when they drafted Hardman in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. At the combine he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash, equating to a 74th percentile size-adjusted speed score. The raw speed combined with Kansas City’s scheme intrigued a lot of fantasy gamers last off-season.

From a pure counting stat perspective, Hardman produced just 26 receptions for 538 yards and six touchdowns, posting 50 yards or more in just four games and zero contests with five or more receptions.

Truthfully, rookies don’t usually breakout year-one. They shouldn’t be placed on a pedestal. We just need to see them flash some of their talent and prove how they can win on the field at the NFL level. Those clues will provide an inclination as to why we should buy-in during the second or even third year of their career.

There are some indicators that we can hitch our wagon to for this season. According to PFF, Hardman averaged 2.71 yards per route out of the slot last year, ranking second-most in the league in this category, trailing just Michael Thomas. He also established a 153.3 quarterback rating when targeted.

With limited opportunities last year, Hardman was able to generate production by creating yards after the catch. As a matter of fact, 55.01 percent of his production came from yards after the catch with spikes in weeks three, eight, and ten. This is something to note, considering he’s entering his second season in a high volume passing offense, which means opportunity and game script could allow him to see an increase in targets leading to more opportunities to burn defenses with his speed.

In the four games when Tyreek Hill was out of the lineup, Hardman did his best work, accumulating 12.18 PPR fantasy points per game, compared to the 5.73 fantasy points per game with Hill in the lineup. This raises a question, does he need one of the team’s main target hogs, Hill or Travis Kelce, to be out of the lineup in order to see enough workload to be fantasy viable? Or is he going to gradually assert himself as a key piece to the offense as he develops?

Another off-season with the team will certainly help. He can start by building a stronger rapport with Patrick Mahomes, who PFF gave an 86.4 passing grade last season.

We are seeing the 22-year-old get selected in the 17th round of drafts with a 133.3 ADP. Being a young, talented wide receiver playing in one of the most explosive offenses in the history of the NFL isn’t being accounted for in his overall price tag. Hardman is a late-round flier who could pay huge dividends if he takes a step forward in his development or if he sees an increased role on offense due to injury.

 

Marvin Jones Jr., Detroit Lions

After his 2019 season was cut short due to an ankle injury, Jones is ready to dial in and contribute for the Lions. If his receiving volume from last year carries over to the 2020 season, then he could be a big surprises for fantasy owners. Per PFF, 44.4 percent of his targets went for 20 yards or more, and he was also very efficient when targeted, registering a 105.7 quarterback rating when looked to.

Jones makes his money over the middle with 52.22 percent of his targets going between the numbers of the field. Even with Kenny Golladay soaking up some passing volume, Jones still managed to see a 19 percent target share and a 26 percent air yard share.

The encouraging part about the team’s passing volume is Matthew Stafford’s deep passing rate. Per PFF, 19.2 percent of his pass attempts went for 20 yards or more. If he would have played a full 16-game season, he would have been the only quarterback in the league with over 100 deep ball attempts. The league leader was Jameis Winston with 99 attempts compared to Stafford’s pace of 112 deep ball looks.

Air yards is another way to gauge a wide receiver’s workload within the offense. Stafford’s love for the deep ball translated to Jones seeing a lot of targets downfield. He had four games with 115 or more air yards and never had less than 50 air yards in a game. If he continues to see a bevy of deep balls on a weekly basis, then he will easily compete for WR2 territory in fantasy.

With Jones falling to the middle of the eighth round in traditional PPR drafts, his ADP of 89.3 becomes a major draft value. He will be a WR4 on most fantasy squads and could provide WR2 upside as long as he stays healthy. Jones is a buy at his current price point.

 

James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers

Washington sneakily showed some promise last season as the team’s deep threat as the year progressed. With three-straight 1,000-yard seasons at Oklahoma State, many thought Washington was on the path to being considered a bust before he started flashing some of his talent in 2019.

According to PFF, he averaged 1.76 yards per route run and 33.8 percent of his targets went for 20 yards or more. He saw a big increase in targets compared to his rookie season which allowed him to catch 44 passes for 735 yards and three touchdowns. If he didn’t have to deal with the erratic quarterback play from Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges, he might have been able to have a more significant breakout.

Washington finished the last six weeks of the season with four games of 100 air yards or more. Once he started to get more run with the offense, he was used more as a deep option in the team’s passing attack which allowed him to see a 15.4 average depth per target. If a wide receiver is consistently seeing deep targets, then the odds increase that he’s going to eventually blow up the box score.

On average, he is being drafted around the middle of the 19th round in seasonal leagues. Depending on league size, he might be going undrafted. The former Biletnikoff award winner is a very talented player who could take a step forward with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger this season. At his current price tag, he’s a no-loss proposition.

 

Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers

The Panthers offense is going to be vastly different compared to last year. They signed Teddy Bridgewater to be the team’s starting quarterback and hired former LSU offensive coordinator Joe Brady to run the offense. If the play calling resembles anything he did at LSU, then we are going to be in store for a high tempo offense that will boost fantasy production for multiple players in the offense.

Robby Anderson also signed with the team this off-season. He brings good size-adjusted speed which will allow him to stretch the field. The addition of Anderson could open things up for the offense as his added speed means teams will need to account for not only Anderson but D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Christian McCaffrey out of the backfield.

Samuel finished the season ranked 10th among all wide receivers with 27 deep targets. Unfortunately, he was unable to convert the deep ball attempts to production with just 163 yards on those attempts. Kyle Allen was the main issue. He completed just 11 percent of his deep ball attempts and would regularly overthrow his targets.

Samuel was an air yards wizard in 2019 with eight games with over 100 air yards. He had a 14.9 average depth of target and a 30 percent share of the team’s total air yards. If Carolina hosted better quarterback play, Samuel would’ve been more efficient instead of posting just .97 yards per route run.

We might see Samuel spread his wings and soar if Bridgewater can build a rapport with him. If Brady can get him involved in the offense and take advantage of his deep speed, then we could see a boost in his production. With him being a late 15th round pick in seasonal leagues, he’s a dart throw who could deliver a large return on the investment.

 

Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys

Gallup finished his second season with the Cowboys catching 66 passes for 1,107 yards and six touchdowns and was the WR24 in PPR last year. He had seven top-25 weeks and three WR1 weeks. Even with him sharing the field with Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott, he was still very productive as a fantasy player.

From a route running perspective, Gallup was one of the most efficient wide receivers in the league. He ranked tenth among wide receivers with 2.16 yards per route run and maintained this rate of efficiency while lining up on the outside on 86.5 percent of his snaps. However, per PFF, he led all NFL wide receiver who received 80 targets or more with 13 drops and a 16.5 percent drop rate.

The Cowboys spent their first-round pick on Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. He is considered one of the best wide receivers to come out of the draft in recent years. Lamb led all draft-eligible wide receivers with 3.99 yards per route run and he was second among all collegiate wide receivers with 26 forced missed tackles. Also consider that his ability to gain yardage after the catch is unprecedented, as he averaged 11.02 yards after the catch while at Oklahoma.

His skill set will benefit the Cowboys offense. It will also create more competition for targets for Gallup and the rest of the receiving corps. If anything, they should both be considered values in fantasy. Gallup is currently being selected in the middle of the eighth round of drafts with a 78.7 ADP and Lamb is falling to the middle of the tenth round with a 118.7 ADP.

It might be a good idea to diversify between the two receivers if you are drafting for multiple leagues. They are both highly efficient pass catchers who could provide value in fantasy this season.



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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