Every season there are many consensus opinions for dynasty rookie drafts. Most of the players who are consistent contributors to your fantasy teams were at one point early picks in dynasty rookie drafts, but also every year there are players who slip through the cracks in the drafting process. These are who I project will be some of the Darius Slayton or the Preston Williams type of players who turned a few FAAB dollars into a mid second round value in trades, or locked in a spot on your roster. This article isn’t to say that you should be valuing that 6th round wide receiver who’s getting some hype in training camp (if it even happens this year) over guys like Bryan Edwards or Zack Moss. For every Darius Slayton or Preston Williams there’s many more Darwin Thompson’s who had an ADP in the 1st round of rookie drafts at one point last year which amounted to nothing. These are just some of the guys I’m targeting in the 4th or 5th round of my rookie drafts or allocating a decent amount of FAAB dollars to. I’m not necessarily saying all these guys will become fantasy relevant to the casual player sometime in the near future, but these are six guys who I’m keeping on my watch list in my leagues.
*Note- All ADPs I used are from Sleeper rookie ADPs.
James Proche – Round 6, Pick 201, Ravens, WR
James Proche is a guy I’m getting all the shares of I can have after all the day one and day two guys are gone. The Ravens wide receiver room after Marquise Brown is a mess. On both ESPN and Ourlads.com, Willie Snead and Miles Boykin are listed as the next two on the depth chart. Yes, the Ravens also drafted Devin Duvernay in round three who will likely get more chances out of the gate, especially if there is no training camp, but Proche is a stud who only dropped nine out of his 457 targets in his entire college career. Right now his Sleeper ADP is in the 50s below many UDFAs who are in much more crowded situations. He had over 1,200 yards from scrimmage as a Junior and Senior in college, and if I had to choose one sixth rounder of any position to lock into my team for this year it would be Proche.
Quintez Cephus – Round 5, Pick 166, Lions, WR
Now I just said that Proche would be my player of choice from the 6th round, Quintez Cephus would be that guy for me in the 5th round. Cephus has been hurt more by Jonathan Taylor than possibly anyone else. Cephus, who Jeff Okudah said is the toughest guy he’s faced in his life, disappointed at the combine. However, many sources who follow Wisconsin football confidently say that Cephus would have been a 3rd rounder if he’d had more consistent play from his quarterback. Like Proche’s case, there’s not much ahead of Cephus preventing him from stepping into the WR2 or WR3 role as early as 2021. Detroit won’t have a single wide receiver besides Cephus on contract for 2021, so the upside on him is much higher than the rest of the guys with ADPs in the mid to late 40s.
Michael Warren – UDFA, Eagles, RB
Michael Warren is a hulking 5’11 and 222 pound running back who signed with the Eagles immediately after the draft ended following many rumors that he was a day three target for them. We all know by now that Doug Pederson loves his RBBCs, and that he would like a goal-line back to replace Jordan Howard. I could see a scenario where Warren makes the roster. He could slot in right away as the fourth or fifth running back. The eagles running back room currently consists of Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Corey Clement, and Elijah Holyfield. There are also a few veteran free agents that the Eagles could bring in such as Carlos Hyde, Devonta Free, or Lamar Miller. Assuming he sticks, all it would take is a couple injuries to catapult Warren into a meaningful role. In such a scenario, I could see him vulturing some production away from Miles Sanders and company.
Salvon Ahmed – UDFA, 49ers, RB
Ahmed is a guy who seemed like he was going to be a definite day three pick before he ran a 4.62 40 yard dash at the combine, and proceeded to tumble down draft boards. He ended up going undrafted, and was signed by the running back machine that is the San Francisco 49ers. There’s two things that lead me to believe that Ahmed could possibly be fantasy relevant at some point in the near future. The first is obviously that if Ahmed makes the 53 man roster, any 49ers running back can be very valuable at any time. The second reason is that Ahmed is listed at 5’11 and 196 pounds while Matt Breida, who was recently traded to the Dolphins after being a major part of the RB group in San Francisco the last few seasons, is listed at 5’11 and 195 pounds on NFL.com. Now, I’m not saying that Ahmed will basically be what Breida was for the 49ers last year, but they look very similar on tape, and Ahmed could be used in a similar role that Breida was last year despite the bad forty time.
Zack Baun – Round 3, Pick 74, Saints, LB
Baun is the one guy on this list who probably isn’t considered a deep sleeper as he was the 7th linebacker drafted this year and many people are probably aware of him. The main thing leading me to Baun as someone to watch this year is the price the Saints paid to get him. They gave up their 2021 3rd rounder to move up 14 spots from pick 88 to pick 74 getting only a 7th rounder in return. They literally gave up a pick that could possibly be a higher pick next year than the one they used on him this year to move up. Baun was mostly mocked in the late 1st or early 2nd and the Saints likely had a 2nd round grade on him justifying their move up. Baun was also the 2nd place finisher of all FBS linebackers with 12.5 sacks in 2019, and there has been some talk about him playing some time at defensive end which could change his position eligibility, thus making him more valuable as a linebacker in a DE slot. The reasons I outlined before combined with the shaky outside linebacker group for the Saints with AJ Klein leaving in free agency leads me to believe that Baun will have relevance in semi-deep IDP leagues by the end of 2020 and for many years into the future.
Bradlee Anae – Round 5, Pick 179, Cowboys, DL
Anae, who went to the Cowboys with the last pick in the 5th round, is someone who I see as more of a depth pick for this year with an eye to the future. Anae is someone who if given the chance can produce sacks when given the opportunity. He is aggressive getting to the quarterback. In year one, Anae should serve in a rotational role alongside Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith behind starters Tyrone Crawford and Demarcus Lawrence. It’s also worth noting that Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith are currently suspended indefinitely by the NFL, although they are expected to be reinstated given the recent CBA changes. Furthermore, Gregory, Smith and Crawford are unrestricted free agents after the 2020 season, and the Cowboys likely will have little cap space to sign more than one of them if they sign Dak Prescott to an extension. This could create a very plausible situation where Anae is starting on the other side of Demarcus Lawrence on the edge for the Cowboys by 2021.