Champions aren’t made at the draft, but late-round picks can mean the difference between making the playoffs and looking in from the outside. These players may not be household names, or they may have recently underperformed, but depending on the circumstance they represent great bargains that may put your team over the edge.
Note: We use Fantasy Football Calculator to determine average draft position (ADP), looking at 12-team leagues. The ADP for each player will change as the season approaches.
Robert Griffin III, Cleveland Browns (ADP: 167)
The Browns have been on the receiving end of jokes and jeers for years, but at long last it appears that the stars have aligned, and the Browns have worked their way into fantasy relevance. The man in charge of this offense is RG3, and he is once again healthy and ready to terrorize his opponents with his dual-threat skill set.
RG3 will have a talented receiving corps consisting of Terrelle Pryor, Gary Barnidge and Josh Gordon (after Week 4) to leverage, as well as the 21st-easiest schedule in the league. In addition, the coaching staff has taken a huge step forward offensively with the offseason acquisition of Hue Jackson. It’s impossible to not allow injury fears to linger after RG3’s time in Washington, but the system, schedule and coaching staff in place all point to a return to form for RG3. A true bargain with massive upside, if he can stay healthy, at the QB position.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (ADP: 164)
Tannehill has been hyped every year since joining the league, but it looks like he’s finally ready to take the next step forward. Adam Gase is an offensive-minded coach, and the offseason addition of Laremy Tunsil should give Tannehill more time in the pocket to make long passes. In terms of targets, Tannehill has never had a more talented group of receivers to work with — between the development of Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker as well as the presence of Kenny Stills, Tannehill has never been in a better situation.
An "X factor" for this offense is Jordan Cameron, who is also a talented target that has been woefully underutilized in the past. In the preseason he has already been targeted in the red zone, which is an early sign that the Dolphins are willing to use Cameron to his full potential. This will hopefully translate into passing touchdowns in the regular season, leading to increased fantasy value. In the first three preseason games the rapport between Tannehill and all of his receivers has been on display, and even more encouraging is that Tannehill looks composed and confident in the pocket.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (ADP:144)
Ryan was once touted as a top-five fantasy quarterback, but has somehow fallen from grace in a short period of time. Last year Ryan threw for only 21 touchdowns, the lowest total he’s thrown since 2009. However, the main contributor to this decline isn’t a fault of Ryan, but rather the emergence of Devonta Freeman as a touchdown machine, scoring 11 touchdowns last season. In fact, Ryan’s pass attempt numbers remained fairly constant over the past few years, and his completion percentage actually increased slightly last year.
These factors all point to Ryan not declining as a quarterback, but rather Ryan’s "decline" is a result of an offense that went with the player most likely to score touchdowns. The Atlanta run game is unlikely to repeat its 2015 performance, opening the door for Ryan to reclaim some of his fantasy scoring prowess that we’ve come to expect over the years. The receiving corps of Atlanta has been anchored by Julio Jones for years, and the addition of Mohamed Sanu will undoubtedly bolster the passing game for Ryan.