- NFL training camp is in full swing
- There’s plenty of news to know that can help you win your fantasy league
- Read below for 4 fantasy football sleepers currently going undrafted
It’s nearly impossible to stay up to date on all the latest news from NFL training camps. But you can learn a lot from this time of year, if you can navigate your way through all the crap. I’m not putting much stock into a video of a player making a great play or a report that a player is “in the best shape of his life”, but you can find some fantasy football sleepers by reading through the tealeaves.
In this case we’ll talk about four players that are in a good place to start the season with the first time offense. As well as a legitimate role that could return significant fantasy value if you invest in them in your fantasy football drafts. The best fantasy football draft strategy has to include some high upside wide receivers in the late rounds.
Rookie Jalen Tolbert Emerging as Clear #2 WR
The Cowboys are set to rely on a bevvy of youth at the wide receiver position in 2022. The media has been all over owner Jerry Jones and head coach Mike McCarthy about the potential of adding a veteran through free agency. Those rumours were put to bed this week when Jones said they were plenty satisfied with what they have at the position right now.
With Michael Gallup on the shelf and expected to miss the early part of the season, third round pick Jalen Tolbert is the favorite to be the beneficiary. Even when Galllup does return Tolbert has a clear path to being the slot wide receiver in this offense. He stuck out in camp too, working pretty well exclusively with the 1st team offense.
Dak to Jalen Tolbert pic.twitter.com/EREOrqrqQm
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 2, 2022
The fantasy value that comes with being a consistent option in the Cowboys offense can’t be overlooked. CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper were top-27 wide receivers last season and even Gallup averaged 10.2 fantasy points per game. Dallas led the league in points per game with 30.2, had the 5th most passing plays per game and 2nd most plays per game last season.
Tolbert a run away target for me at the end of my draft, his stock is certainly going to rise as we get closer to the season. Right now he is the WR66 and undrafted in pretty much every format. He’s in a high volume offense with a significant amount of targets up for grabs, I wouldn’t want to miss out on this guy.
Isaiah McKenzie Claiming Slot WR Role in Buffalo
All the talk this offseason in Buffalo has been about Gabriel Davis, how could you not be looking his way in fantasy after a 4 touchdown performance to close the season? Davis looks to be the guy out wide, but it’s Isaiah McKenzie that’s caught my eye in training camp.
If you look at the last few seasons it’s been Cole Beasley in the slot that’s provided secondary fantasy value. With his departure that role has been up for grabs, McKenzie is competing with Jamison Crowder and Khalil Shakir for that role. Crowder just resumed practicing this week, so McKenzie has had the chance to build on his rapport with QB Josh Allen.
McKenzie has seized the opportunity, being a standout in camp and earning rave reviews from coaches and teammates. What excites me most about McKenzie’s fantasy value is how explosive he can be after the catch. McKenzie’s 4.40 speed from the slot has the chance to give him Beasley’s volume (115 targets in 2021) combined with a better chance to break big plays.
When it comes to Tolbert, his path to fantasy relevance is much easier for the casual player. But I think McKenzie will be overlooked by your league mates as they get googly eyed for Davis in the 6th round. I’d much prefer McKenzie as I can draft him without any risk.
Alec Pierce Thrown into the Fire at Colts Camp
This is one that will likely be overlooked by every single one of your fellow fantasy football managers. But for you, reading this article 5 weeks from the NFL season, you can be the beneficiary. The Colts drafted Pierce in the second round out of Cincinnati and he’s been with the starters from day 1 of training camp.
With the volume Jonathan Taylor saw last season, you may not feel comfortable looking at the potential #2 receiving option in the Colts offense. But the team trading for Matt Ryan should give us more optimism with what they could do in the air. The team hasn’t had a consistent second option for a few years, with TY Hilton and Parris Campbell constantly being sidelined.
Pierce has a strikingly similar profile to teammate Michael Pittman, for that reason it surprised me that they took him on draft day. His length at 6’3 makes him great in contested catch situations and a good catch radius. But he’s also sneaky fast, running a 4.41 40-time and a 95th percentile speed score from PlayerProfiler.
There may not be enough upside with Pierce to draft him in 2022 but he’s certainly someone to keep an eye on in the early parts of the season. If you’re in a deeper league though I think he’s worth a flyer.
Will Rodgers Give the Rookies a Chance?
Life without Davante Adams has begun in Green Bay and there are a number of young bodies looking to get the attention of Aaron Rodgers. The Packers went to the draft for two of them in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. They also bring back Amari Rogers after a bit of a rough start to his NFL career in 2021.
Christian Watson is yet to practice since training camp started, he had a knee procedure back in June and isn’t ready to return. Doubs has been making a lot of plays in camp, Rodgers even made mention of his play so far, but he’s been back and forth with the 1st and 2nd team. It seems clear through the first week and a half of camp that one spot is up for grabs as the second man out wide.
#Packers rookie WR Christian Watson said his knee started feeling sore running and cutting on routes late in OTAs. He thought about playing through it, but ultimately he and the team decided on surgery. Watson had no timeline for when he’d be off PUP, but says it’s “day by day.”
— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) July 28, 2022
What makes that noteworthy is the two guys that seem to be locks as starters. Those two players would be Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb. As much as the athletic profile is appealing with Watson I’m starting to feel more inclined to look at Randall Cobb as a late round pick. This offense tends to lean on it’s veterans more often then not.
Cobb is not a player that can give you high upside but in the Packers offense he’s got the chance to give you a safe floor week in and week out. As long as Rodgers is at QB this is still going to be a top-10 scoring offense in the NFL.