A late Target is a term describing a retail store open after 10 PM. A deep sleeper is a term you and your cousin Melinda use to describe your fat old uncle Bart. Neither are relevant in the realm of fantasy football, unless you and Melina decide to invite uncle Bart to the home decor section one night but end up staying past close because Bart got lost walking from the bedposts to the nightstands. That’s why any term can have an alternate meaning, such as a player to go after late in a fantasy football draft, or a player literally no one is in on except for a select few enlightened souls. For the most part, we all have preconceived notions regarding the players at the top of fantasy football drafts. Donkey Teeth will continue to target sexy upside with reckless abandon. I’ll continue to have nothing to do with Joe Mixon and receive thundering boos from the Reddit militia. And you, dear readers, will be no different. It’s when we get late into drafts that we start to lose our way and look for high-upside fliers, and far too often I see my peers wasting draft capital as the rounds creep deeper into the double digits. This week, I’ll break down one late target and deep sleeper at running back, wide receiver and tight end — and leave it up to you who to go after and include in your 2021 late-round draft strategy.
Late Target: Tarik Cohen – RB 37. RB23. RB37. Those are Cohen’s half-PPR finishes among running backs from 2017-19, yet he’s going off the board as RB54 — three spots later than his expert consensus ranking (ECR) of 51. I understand Cohen is still “weeks away” from being fully recovered from his 2020 ACL injury, and that David Montgomery is going to command the bulk of early-down work. That said, Cohen will have a consistent role in the Bears offense once he’s healthy and provides the type of dynamic, play-making ability that Matt Nagy will need to reinsert into his offense if he’s going to keep his job. Once Cohen is back, he’s a top-36 running back in my book — which makes him an excellent late-round target with his current ADP of RB54. Chances are that price will continue to drop until a promising injury report surfaces out of Chicago.
Deep Sleeper: Salvon Ahmed – “Salvon Ahmed is not a lock to make the Miami Dolphins roster.” That’s one of the first headlines you’ll find upon Googling Ahmed’s name, or Binging it, or Asking Jeeves. Let’s get one thing straight. While Ahmed making the roster is not 100% certain, it’s a lock in the same sense as ordering at McDonald’s and receiving what you wanted. The expected outcome is simple and straightforward, but we still need to worry about some buffoon screwing it all up. Luckily for us, Brian Flores has proven himself as more than capable as an NFL head coach, so we shouldn’t be one medium fry short on the logic here. While Ahmed may have signed with the Dolphins as nothing more than an undrafted free agent last year, starter Myles Gaskin was merely a seventh-round draft pick in 2019, meaning there isn’t much of a gap between the two backs as far as the team’s level of investment. On top of that, Ahmed has been more efficient on the ground, with 4.3 career YPC to Gaskin’s 4.0 YPC. Due to Gaskin’s heavy workload last year, Ahmed only saw double-digit touches on three occasions (Weeks 10, 11, and 15), but averaged 14.4 FPPG in those games. What’s funny? That’s EXACTLY what Gaskin averaged over the course of the full season in which he received 11+ touches in every game he was active. Even when Gaskin returned from injury to start in weeks 16-17 last year, Ahmed remained involved, and he’s going to have a bigger role in this offense than where he’s being drafted — which is not at all, depending on the depth of your league. With an ADP of RB70, Ahmed’s ECR is 12 spots higher at RB58. There’s a solid chance he outperforms both rankings and is worth a deep stash for no cost at all.
Late Target: Rashod Bateman – Could there possibly have been a more perfect landing spot for Bateman than Baltimore? Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, Marquise Brown, and now Bateman — what an electrifying core of skill position players to build a playbook around. Something tells me Bateman is going to thrive in this offense from the get-go, whether it’s because of the weapons around him, or because of his advanced maturity, or his feel for route-running — it’s hard to hone in on just one spot. While we all expect this offense to be run-heavy, that factor coupled with Hollywood stretching the field combine to make Bateman a late-round steal as the go-to possession receiver on one of the NFL’s most exciting offenses. Bateman should cost you little to nothing with an ADP of WR58 and comes with legitimate WR2 upside.
Deep Sleeper: Travis Fulgham – Rewind to week 8 of the 2020 fantasy football season. Fulgham was fresh off of a 16.8 half-PPR showing with six catches on seven targets for 78 yards and a touchdown, marking his fourth touchdown grab in five weeks and fourth-straight game of five-plus receptions for 70+ yards. During those five weeks, Fulgham was the top receiver in fantasy football, averaging 16.4 half-PPR points per game. The problem? He averaged just 1.9 FPPG from there on out, partly due to the return of Alshon Jeffery in week 9. Jeffery is now out of the picture, but the Eagles drafted Devonta Smith with the 10th overall pick this past offseason and 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor remains ahead of Fulgham on the depth chart. Still, I’m not putting very much stock into a sophomore breakout for Reagor, and there have been some early reports about him being blown up by the coaching staff in training camp. Meanwhile, Fulgham is going undrafted with an ADP of WR100, and he’s worth a watch list add or late pick in super deep leagues if roster space allows. Those who end up with a week WR core on draft day would be wise to keep Fulgham on their radar.
Late Target: Jonnu Smith – In my RazzBowl draft, Hunter Henry went off the board as TE7 in the eighth round. I ultimately grabbed Jonnu as TE11 in the 11th round. Quick refresher: the Patriots signed the free-agent Smith to a four-year, $50 million contract this past offseason. They gave Henry three years and $37.4 million. Maybe I’m splitting hairs here, but where’s the love for Jonnu with an ADP and ECR of TE14? Smith was TE10 last year and showed flashes of being able to break into the top six-to-eight at the position. He is among the best tight ends in the NFL in terms of YAC the past three seasons, and Bill Belicheck has long been singing Smith’s praises from afar. Factor in the likelihood of New England utilizing a heavy dosage of two tight end sets in 2021, as we’ve seen frequently in the past, and there’s more room for Smith to finish inside the top-eight at the position than most realize. With an ADP of TE14, that’s the type of upside you’re looking for. I’ll be drafting Jonnu as my TE1 in multiple leagues this year and Belichuckling the entire way home.
Deep Sleeper: Mo Alie-Cox – Where else can you get a nine-foot-tall behemoth with arms as long as the poking device from Friends for free other than a fantasy football draft room? Alie-Cox’s inclusion is less about Mo, and mo’ about *insert Colts tight end here*. I’m sure Alie-Cox (ADP: 33, ECR: 39) and Jack Doyle (ADP: 37, ECR: 32) will both see a healthy amount of snaps, but both are being drafted outside of the top 30 tight ends (AKA undrafted) and knowing Frank Reich and Carson Wentz, there’s bound to be a top 10-15 tight end on this roster. Alie-Cox, with all his physical glory and being ranked lower than Doyle by the ‘perts,’ is the deep sleeper by default here, but I’m okay with either as a late tight end flier or back-up man in a best-ball format. And while we’re on the subject of Mo, can you imagine if he married a woman named Allie Cox? And then she also decided to take her maiden name as her middle name for tax purposes? Allie Cox Alie-Cox. Now THAT would be something.
That’s all for this week, Razzball fam! As always, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.