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Notable UDFAs to Watch in Dynasty


Last year, no one was talking about Phillip Lindsay even as late as August. With Royce Freeman drafted by the Broncos and dominating a lot of the dynasty rookie draft discussion, Lindsay flew so under the radar that he went undrafted in our staff league's rookie draft.

Lindsay went on to rush for 1,000 yards, make the Pro Bowl, and establish himself as the Broncos' top rusher.

Every year, undrafted free agents make some kind of impact. With the expanded roster size of dynasty leagues, you should definitely be keeping an eye on the UDFA market, so here are some UDFAs to watch for in dynasty.

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Karan Higdon (RB, Houston Texans)

As a Houston Texans fan and a player of fantasy football, I know more than anyone that Lamar Miller's time as a viable option is nearing its end. Miller's finished outside the top-10 in fantasy points by running backs for three years in a row and while the 2017 season showed that he could be a top back with Deshaun Watson under center, that didn't really play out as expected in 2018.

Miller is in the final year of his contract and the Texans will very likely move on after this season. Their top backup, D'Onta Foreman, returned late last season from an Achilles tear suffered back in 2017 and didn't look like a guy who could be a lead back for this team moving forward. Houston didn't address the situation in free agency or in this year's NFL Draft, so...what are they going to do? Trade for Le'Veon Bell? Sign someone next offseason? Maybe! But they also signed Michigan running back Karan Higdon as an UDFA, and he's already got a great shot to be the number-three guy heading into the season, if not better.

Higdon's going to have question marks when it comes to short yardage usage, but he's an explosive runner with good vision who should be able to get to the second level. My one concern is that, since he's a smaller back, you'd probably want him to be effective in the passing game, but he caught just seven passes last year for the Wolverines. He'll need to do more than that to have a future with the Texans, but with his ability to hit holes and rack up big chunks of yardage, there should be space for him in a Texans offense that should be more explosive this year.

 

Keelan Doss (WR, Oakland Raiders)

How different is the receiving situation in Oakland this year? Below, you'll find a chart listing all the players on this current Raiders team that was on this team last year and how many times they were targeted:

Player Position 2018 Targets
Jalen Richard RB 81
Marcell Ateman WR 31
Doug Martin RB 24
Derek Carrier TE 12
Dwayne Harris WR 6
Keith Smith FB 6
Keon Hatcher WR 2
Deandre Washington RB 1

So, aside from Richard, there's not really anyone who played a big role last year on this team.

The Raiders did bring in some veterans, including one of the NFL's best wideouts in Antonio Brown. They also signed J.J. Nelson and Tyrell Williams, plus they drafted Hunter Renfrow in the fifth round. This is a receiving corps in flux, which suggests to me that a player like Doss has a shot of at least making the final roster.

Doss was able to play inside and outside in college, and that versatility can come in handy as he tries to earn snaps on this team. He's got good speed once he gets moving and should be able to use his 6'3'' frame to grab contested balls. Played at the FCS level, so expect some trouble transitioning to the size and speed of NFL secondaries, but as a dynasty stash who can be useful by his second or third year once he has figured some things out about getting open at this level? He's got the chance to be a very solid player.

 

Jalen Guyton (WR, Dallas Cowboys)

Homer alert: Guyton and I both attended the University of North Texas at the same time, so I've seen plenty of him play. Guyton ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at UNT's Pro Day, and he potentially gives the Cowboys a guy who can take the top off of defenses:

Now, while Dak Prescott isn't known for his deep ball and connected on just 33 percent of his deep throws last year, that's not to say Guyton won't get opportunities to get downfield work.

I live in the Dallas area and listen to a lot of sports radio, which means I've heard a lot of optimism about what Kellen Moore, a former Cowboys quarterback, will bring to the team as their new offensive coordinator. This city hated Scott Linehan. They hated how predictable the offense was under him and they hated the way he used certain players. Linehan -- fairly or not -- received a lot of the blame for this offense sometimes getting really, really anemic.

If that changes under Moore, it'll mean only good things for a passing attack that found its stride late in the year, and Guyton's got a chance to benefit from that. He just has to make the team and show he's more than just a really fast dude.

 

Jazz Ferguson (WR, Seattle Seahawks)

Doug Baldwin's retirement leaves a big opening in Seattle, and Ferguson will have a chance to make the final roster and contribute in the passing game.

Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, Jaron Brown, David Moore, Amara Darboh...that list gets bleak pretty fast, doesn't it? Seattle's lack of depth at receiver is one of the big reasons why Ferguson can stick with this team. His main competition for one of the last roster spots should be one of his fellow rookie receivers, Gary Jennings and John Ursua, but even though those two were actually drafted, that doesn't mean they're locks to make it over Ferguson.

Another reason? He's a strong, physical receiver who can provide Seattle with a useful red zone target, but he can also be used as a deep threat for Russell Wilson. There's a little bit of fellow Seahawks rookie D.K. Metcalf in Ferguson, so Seattle pretty clearly has a type they were looking to add this offseason. Ferguson's no guarantee to be a future fantasy-relevant player, but he's a big-bodied, strong player with good speed, so if you're making end-of-bench dynasty decisions based on talent and measurables, you'll like Jazz.

 

Tyree Jackson (QB, Buffalo Bills)

Because I felt I should highlight a quarterback in this piece, I'll briefly mention Jackson, mainly because the new Bills quarterback reminds me a lot of current Bills quarterback Josh Allen. He's got a big arm. He's mobile and has the size to use that mobility to gain tough yardage. Like Allen, he's also fairly inaccurate and needs to work on his pocket presence. But the Bills had an offense last year that allowed Allen to be a sneakily effective fantasy QB, so of all the undrafted rookie quarterbacks, I'll take the one with a similar game to Allen on the same team as him.

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