2017 Late Round Fliers for Fantasy Football Drafts (Premium Content)

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A good fantasy football player has a specific plan of attack for the later rounds of a draft. These aren't throwaway picks. Or at least, they don't have to be if you study up and have an idea about which players have a good chance of breaking out.

In a redraft or best ball setting, we don't need to worry much about long-term issues, so players we might forego in dynasty are back on our radar.

Here are 10 late-round fliers to target in your drafts.

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Quarterback

Sam Bradford, QB22
Current ADP: 169

Sam Bradford is nobody's idea of exciting. That's okay, we're here to win, not look good. The "late round QB" strategy has been validated many times over, and Bradford fits the bill. He's the last of the QBs that's assured of being a full-season starter. Given everything that happened to the Vikings last year (losing Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, and Norv Turner among other things), Bradford had a fine season that included an NFL record completion percentage of 71.6%. This year Minnesota has beefed up their offensive line and RB corps, to go along with the promising pass-catching trio of Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph. Bradford cleared 20 fantasy points in five of 15 fantasy regular seasons, and I expect that number will improve with a bit more stability around him.

Also considered: Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco

Taylor has his legs, a hopefully healthy Sammy Watkins, and promising rookie Zay Jones, along with a new offensive coordinator. Flacco has gained Jeremy Maclin to go along with Mike Wallace.

 

Running Back

Darren Sproles, RB47
ADP: 143

Last year, Sproles finished as PPR RB24. Why is he going off the board so much later this year? The Eagles have swapped Ryan Mathews, a capable receiving back, for LeGarrette Blount, who can't catch a cold. If anything, Sproles' receiving role should be even more clearly defined this year. Perhaps Wendell Smallwood earns a little more work, but those targets could come from Mathews' vacated share without affecting Sproles at all. I understand that Sproles is quickly getting up there in age, but a 23 spot reduction in ADP is too much. Even an RB3 season would be a handsome return on investment.

Jonathan Williams, RB52
ADP: 158

I don't often handcuff my own running backs in redraft, but I'm not opposed to handcuffing someone else's. Jonathan Williams has two pathways to relevance. First, Mike Gillislee is gone. Gillislee was RB40 last year. If Williams can replace Gillislee, then he's got situational usefulness. Second, there's nobody else capable of replacing LeSean McCoy, if he were to miss time. Buffalo is expected to be a very run-heavy offense once again, and McCoy earned one of the league's largest workloads last year. If he goes down, Williams is a candidate to be a league-winner, at a 13th round price.

Chris Thompson, RB58
ADP: 176

Thompson won't be a league winner, but he should be a consistent pass catcher. He cleared eight points 11 times in 15 fantasy regular season games last year and should have a similar role this year. He's a good bye-week or injury fill-in. Rookie Samaje Perine won't threaten for targets in the passing game whatsoever, so Thompson's role should be safe.

Charles Sims, RB60
ADP: 188

Jeremy McNichols is just a later-round rookie coming off an injury, and Doug Martin is suspended to begin the season. In a part-time role much of the past two seasons, Sims has averaged double-digit points per game. Now he gets a chance to earn a larger role, at least to begin the season. Regardless of whether or not Martin or McNichols eventually replace him on rushing downs, he should maintain a healthy involvement as a receiver. On a per-game basis, he earns a similar number of targets and receptions as players like Giovani Bernard, Duke Johnson, and Darren Sproles. I'll take the receiving floor with the early-season upside gladly at this price.

Also considered: Shane Vereen, Giovani Bernard

Both are returning from injury to more crowded backfields. Both are also accomplished receivers who could quickly take back their former roles if any younger, less-experienced players in front of them falter.

 

Wide Receiver

Robert Woods, WR62
ADP: 151

Another not-so-sexy player, but one that's got a really clear path to exceeding his ADP. Tavon Austin isn't an outside receiver, and nobody else on the roster has Woods experience on the outside. He's an easy bet to lead the team in targets (something Austin has done only once in four seasons). Somewhere around 10 to 12 PPR points per game is feasible, which would make him a low-end WR3 or WR4. He doesn't possess the highest ceiling, but definitely someone that's usable when injuries or bye weeks hit.

Cole Beasley, WR66
ADP: 166

Beasley already was a WR3 last year, and nothing has changed about his situation - except that Dak Prescott has a year of experience and Dallas is projected to win fewer games than they did last year, meaning they could pass a bit more. Given his recent history, there's also a decent chance Dez Bryant is dinged up at some point, giving Beasley the chance to earn some more work. Beasley should have a safe if unexciting floor, with the upside to be a mid-range WR3.

Zay Jones, WR67
ADP: 167

Jones is a rookie, so there's more risk involved, but also potentially more upside. Buffalo's passing game will revolve around Sammy Watkins. After that? It's all about Zay Jones. Ninety-plus targets is a real possibility, with upside if Buffalo either passes more than they have in recent seasons, or Watkins misses time. If both happen, Jones could clear 120 targets.

Also considered: Robby Anderson and Chris Conley

I wrote up Conley in my dynasty sleepers article (available to Premium subscribers), but he's got a reasonable chance of earning a large number of targets. Ditto Robby Anderson, who should be the No. 2 option in the Jets offense.

 

Tight End

Jesse James, TE24
ADP: 188

Heath Miller is gone, and so is Ladarius Green. Before his retirement, Miller had five consecutive seasons with more than 70 targets and 500 yards. There's a lot of competition for targets this year, but if James can keep improving, he's got a chance to be a good streaming option as a red zone target for Big Ben.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE29
ADP: 212

Seferian-Jenkins came close to being out of the league. He's still got a suspension to deal with at the start of the season. I still don't want him in dynasty, but in a redraft, I'm willing to take a chance. He's reportedly lost weight and re-committed to training. Reports from OTAs have been promising. Plus, the Jets have a huge opportunity in the passing game. Minus Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, the Jets have nothing but unproven players. ASJ has more in the way of a draft pedigree than any of them and could find himself the focal point of the offense if things work out right.

Also considered:

Antonio Gates and Cameron Brate

Hunter Henry's rookie season was great, but how repeatable is it? Gates nearly doubled him in targets and could still be heavily involved. Brate was last year's TE7 and as good as O.J. Howard is, he's still a rookie. Brate could be a TE1 again this year.