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The Desperados: A Roster of Rookie Deep Sleepers

In my never-ending quest to bring attention to players worth stashing on the end of your bench, I’m bringing you not one, not two, but SEVEN. An entire starting roster of rookie players going incredibly late in drafts with the potential to break out and make you look like a genius.

By Duncan Smith

In my never-ending quest to bring attention to players worth stashing on the end of your bench, I’m bringing you not one, not two, but SEVEN. An entire starting roster of rookie players going incredibly late in drafts with the potential to break out and make you look like a genius.

I considered calling them “The Benchwarmers” or “The Expendables,” but both of those names are already movies (apparently), so here we have “The Guys with a Potential Path to Relevance and One Guy Who Needs a Lot to Go His Way.”

On second thought, let’s call them “The Desperados.”

I’ve got a simple format here, 1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, 1Flex, I’m not covering kickers because, well, go out and get either Harrison Butker or Younghoe Koo and forget about the position for the next few years.

QB1: Cole McDonald

We start at QB with the University of Hawaii product Cole McDonald. He was drafted with the 224th pick by Tennessee. There seems to be a lack of consensus around McDonald. Some scouting reports cite his big arm ability, some claim he doesn’t have that deep of a throw. It has confused his skill set and potential, but what we do know is that he is in a good position with the Titans. While Ryan Tannehill did (incredibly?) well last season, he’s not the Titans’ shirt-selling, Super Bowl-winning franchise QB, and neither is Logan Woodside. They’re not going to get one of next year’s top QB prospects either. McDonald has the opportunity to develop behind Tannehill and be ready to go if Tennessee decides to get out from under Tannehill’s $118 million four year contract.

RB1: Deejay Dallas

At RB, I’m starting with Deejay Dallas, selected 144th overall by Seattle. There are a few players I could have talked about here, [tips my hat at Eno Benjamin], but Deejay is in a great situation with the Seahawks. Dallas is a converted WRiver giving him three-down upside. He’s relatively new to being an RB, but incumbents Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are both injury-prone (sorry, Kyle). If Dallas can take his opportunities on third downs and passing plays, or when either of the two ahead of him get injured, he could quite quickly move his way up the depth chart and see a healthy volume of snaps by the end of the season.

RB2: Lynn Bowden, Jr.

Our RB2 is Lynn Bowden Jr. This guy has done it all, played QB, WR, RB, and, most recently, was a DEA target. Bowden Jr, selected in the third round by Vegas, is not being valued anywhere near his ceiling. He’s an explosive option in Gruden’s Raiders rebuild. He has played nearly every position on offense (in one season), and you know what? I’m off to buy him everywhere before the price goes crazy.

WR1: Darnell Mooney

We start our WR corps with Chicago’s Darnell Mooney. This man is electric in the open field. He can shake and shimmy and jump up for those deep balls in the end zone. The downside? He is undersized and has had drop issues. However, his biggest problem might be Matt Nagy and the “will he, won’t he” drama of who is under centre each week. But if Mooney has the opportunity to flash in year one, he could easily find himself carving out a substantial role.

WR2: Antonio Gandy-Golden

At WR2, we have the man with maybe the best name in the world, Mr. Antonio Gandy-Golden. Selected by Washington in the 4th round, he is a big-bodied receiver (6ft 4in, 223lbs) with a phenomenal catch radius. He’s not afraid to make incredible leaps in the end zone and come down with the rock. There are concerns that he hasn’t had to play against big elite NFL level cornerbacks yet, he’s never worked with an extensive route tree playbook, and Washington has a long way to go to prove they’re the right place for any player. But at his ADP, he’s certainly worth grabbing and seeing what happens.

TE1: Cole Kmet

This year’s class of tight ends has a distinctly low-key feel about them after the hype of last year’s crop. What does this mean for us? Well, it means we can get an absolute steal at the position in 43rd overall pick Cole Kmet. Like Darnell Mooney, Kmet finds himself in the Windy City, and also like Mooney, he has to deal with Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky. Kmet is a big man with great athletic ability. While he needs to work on his blocking, he isn’t horrible at it. He can work in the run and passing game, meaning he has three-down potential. With a rookie TE, half of the battle is seeing enough snaps for fantasy relevance.

Flex: Jason Huntley

Finally, at Flex, we get my “one guy who needs a lot to go his way,” the Detroit Lions’ RB Jason Huntley. He is well down the depth chart, although he is currently projected above one-dimensional runner Bo Scarbrough and sitting just behind Ty Johnson, who failed to show much of anything with his chances last year. This leaves an often injured and potentially out of favour Kerryon Johnson between Huntley and RB2 on the team behind fellow rookie D’Andre Swift. Huntley is a smaller guy but he is also a speedster with the ability to break tackles. He may rise to prominence playing special teams, but that could soon lead to meaningful snaps in the backfield if he continues to show that Philip Lindsay type skill.

So, there we have it, that’s my team of rookie sleepers, some a bit deeper than others, but all should be available for a reasonable offer in a trade or available around the back end of both startups and rookie drafts. The value on a lot of these guys is rising, so if you want them, get them now while you still can.

Duncan Smith – Dynasty/IDP
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