- Valuable players go undrafted every year in fantasy football
- Amon-Ra St. Brown and Elijah Mitchell helped fantasy managers win their league in 2021
- Read below for a player at each position being undrafted that you should pay attention to
Every single year undrafted sleepers make a significant impact on the fantasy season. Just last season, Elijah Mitchell who was nowhere close to being in draft consideration last season finished as the RB26. The biggest example of this was Amon-Ra St. Brown who catapulted many fantasy teams into championships. He was actually the player who appeared most on fantasy football championship rosters in 2021, at 23% right above Cooper Kupp. Both of these rookies were able to make instant impacts that heavily affected the fantasy season.
Additionally, players like Cordarrelle Patterson and Hunter Renfrow took their opportunities last season and became fantasy relevant seemingly out of nowhere. So, who are this year’s players that are currently going undrafted who could become fantasy relevant before we know it? Here are five players, one at every position, whose opportunity and ability could be lining up to create fantasy football diamonds in the rough. I am using FantasyPros ADP, and am only taking players being drafted after pick 168, which is the standard number in 12-team fantasy formats.
QB: Jameis Winston – New Orleans Saints
ADP: 178.8 (QB22)
Winston missed ten games in 2021 due to ACL and MCL injuries. Before that, he was actually on pace to finish as the QB14. He is now being drafted as the QB22, despite being surrounded with talent in New Orleans. The Saints added Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry in the offseason to add to their loaded WR core. Olave was one of the best receivers in this draft class and the Saints agreed, trading up to pick No. 11 to get him. Landry has had a quiet past few seasons but is someone who has over 7,000 career receiving yards and has not even turned 30 yet.
Speaking of receivers who have yet to turn 30, the Saints will finally get Michael Thomas back healthy again. MT is one of the best receivers in the NFL when healthy and in his last healthy season, he won OPOY, putting up 149 receptions and 1725 yards. That doesn’t even mention running back Alvin Kamara, who has an argument to be the best receiving back in the NFL. Kamara averages 95.2 targets a season since he entered the league in 2017, which leads all NFL running backs.
Let’s not forget that Jameis is still only 28 years old, and just last season had the league’s sixth-highest passer rating (102.8), and the lowest turnover-worthy rate of his career (3%). The former Florida State Seminole also led all QBs last season in fantasy points per dropback (0.64). The last time Jameis was a part of an offense this loaded with talent he had 5,000 passing yards and 33 touchdowns, finishing as the QB3.
RB: Kenneth Gainwell – Philadelphia Eagles
ADP: 169.3 (RB52)
Kenneth Gainwell is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the NFL and the stats from last season back that up. Out of 51 RBs targeted over 30 times, he ranked 11th in yards per route run (1.53), right behind Austin Ekeler (1.55) and right above Aaron Jones (1.52). He also ranked second in target per route run rate at 25.4%. The former Memphis Tiger, is also a great pass-blocker, earning PFF’s seventh-highest pass-blocking grade.
#Eagles Lane Johnson on RB Kenneth Gainwell: "He's really coming into his own this year. He's making a statement here in camp."
— Josh Tolentino (@JCTSports) August 7, 2022
Gainwell will serve as the Eagles’ main back on passing-downs which alone could cause him to outperform his ADP. But he will also chip in on the ground as a change-of-pace complement to Miles Sanders. The Eagles leader in red-zone touches from last season, Jordan Howard, with 24 is no longer on the team. Gainwell could take a lot of those touches as he had five touchdowns from inside the 20-yard line last season. Find our 2022 Fantasy Football Running Back rankings here.
WR: Jameson Williams – Detroit Lions
ADP: 174.7 (WR63)
Jameson Williams will start the season on the NFI list but is expected to hit the field sometime around October. Without injury concerns Williams may be a top 50 fantasy WR, but nonetheless, he is someone who is currently going undrafted that I think is in for a big season once he gets healthy. Williams is a premier deep threat and in his one season at Alabama he had 79 receptions for 1572 yards and 15 TDs, finishing the season as a Biletnikoff award finalist. Furthermore, he averaged ridiculous 20 yards per reception, which was second in CFB for receivers with over 45 receptions.
The former Alabama All-American will also be one of the fastest WRs in the NFL from day one. Last season Tyreek Hill clocked a maximum in-game speed of 21 MPH and Jamo clocked a high of 23 MPH. If Jameson Williams can return from his injury within a reasonable timeline he could be a steal for fantasy football managers near the end of their drafts. Find where he ranks in our 2022 fantasy football wide reciever rankings.
I know a team may have to wait to see him on the field because of his January ACL tear, but this Jameson Williams stat is just absurd:
The *average* length of his 15 receiving TDs last season: 47.6 yards.
There isn't a better big play threat in this draft. pic.twitter.com/8KJsCGgWC5
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 25, 2022
TE: Albert Ogwuegbunam – Denver Broncos
ADP: 175.8 (TE18)
Albert O will finally have a chance to be the No. 1 TE entering his third season. He has always been someone who stood out in the advanced and in-depth stats but was always stuck being Noah Fant. With Fant now being shipped out to Seattle and 9 time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson coming to Denver, Ogwuegbunam is in for a huge breakout season. The addition of Russell Wilson will be huge for Albert O this season as he takes over as the starting TE.
He has always been a guy who stood out in the advanced stats even when he was getting minimal snaps. Last season he had the third-highest target rate per route run (23%), and the fifth highest yards per route run (1.94). The former Missouri standout is also a freak athlete who stands at 6″6 and 258 Lbs. His 4.49 40-yard dash ranks in the 99th percentile and his 129.6-speed score is in the 100th percentile. Additionally, with Tim Patrick suffering a season-ending ACL tear in training camp Albert O can be the third receiving option in this offense, behind Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. As new Broncos QB, Russell Wilson says, “Broncos Country. Let’s Ride.”
FLEX: Jalen Tolbert – Dallas Cowboys
ADP: 198.2 (WR67)
Jalen Tolbert has been touted by many as one of the most underrated players in fantasy football drafts this season, and for good cause. The Cowboys enter next season incredibly thin at receiver. Their leading receiver, CeeDee Lamb is back, but in the offseason, they lost their number two receiver, Amari Cooper, and their third receiver, Cedrick Wilson Jr.
Furthermore, the two receivers expected to step up this season and fill their spots, Michael Gallup and James Washington, are both hurt to start the season. Gallup suffered a torn ACL near the end of last season and is expected to miss at least four games at the start of next season. Washington, on the other hand, suffered a foot fracture at practice and is expecting to miss 6-10 weeks. The only healthy receiver on the Cowboys roster to have caught a pass from Dak Prescott is sixth-year WR, Noah Brown who only has 39 career receptions.
The runway is clear for Tolbert to start as the Cowboy’s WR2 from the get-go. Tolbert dominated at South Alabama where he ranked in the 96th percentile in college dominator and the 95th percentile in target share (33.4%). Throughout his college career, he amassed 178 receptions, 3,140 yards, and 22 touchdowns. He also led the country in targets (99), catches (38), and receiving yards (1,402) on targets of 20-plus air yards.
When asked to provide a scouting report on the South Alabama product, Cowboys offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore, said, “He’s awesome. I think he’s going to be a really good addition for us.” Additionally, Tolbert will get to put his immense talent to use in an offense that ranked 1st in both yards and TDs last season, so even when Gallup and Washington come back from injury he should still be able to provide great value.