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8 Final Round Targets (Fantasy Football)

Aug 25, 2021

Deep sleepers are the type of players you should target at the end of your draft. These are athletes who are typically less known in casual leagues, but have a high chance at delivering some value compared to their average draft position (ADP). This is arguably a better strategy than taking a kicker with your last pick. Why? Because that player could gain value if the starter ahead of them gets injured in the preseason, they could move up the depth chart before the season begins, or the coach could hint that they are in store for a bigger role than anyone thought.

Whoever you grab at the end may not have the upside to win you a title on their own, but they can come through as a reliable starter or flex option that can make a difference when you call upon them to deliver. Finding enough of these final-round gems is how leagues are won. So who are the top late-round targets, you ask? Our featured pundits are here to tackle that question for you. Read on to see who they’re aiming for with their last pick.

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Q1. Who is one WR that you plan to target in all drafts as a final-round flier and why?

Marquez Callaway (NO) 
“Preseason impulses can get the better of rationality sometimes, but the hottest receiver in August has everyone buzzing. After two games, Callaway has 165 yards and two touchdowns. To keep my hype emotions in check, I decided to watch the film of his biggest game of 2020 — Week 7, Panthers at Saints — eight receptions on 10 targets for 75 yards. Callaway had a touchdown negated by an unfortunate pick play caused by Tre’Quan Smith. He had a stretch of five straight targets from Drew Brees. What I saw in the film was what the Saints’ coaches must have seen in the offseason. Callaway finds space; he finds separation. How his skill got this unnoticed before is unusual. If Callaway finishes strong against the Cardinals, prepare to reach earlier than the last round if the ADP doesn’t catch up.”
– Richard Savill (Fantasy Six Pack)

“Call me a prisoner of the moment, but Marquez Callaway significantly climbed up my rankings after catching all five of his targets for 104 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints’ second preseason game against the Jaguars. The 23-year-old snagged a 43-yard touchdown with defenders draped all over him and a 29-yard score two series later. He stole the show and showed an excellent connection with Jameis Winston. Temper expectations if Taysom Hill somehow wins the starting quarterback job, but if Winston keeps performing at a high level and ultimately wins the job, Callaway could have value as a rock-solid WR3 with upside in all formats.”
– Jacob W. Dunne (New Life Fantasy)

Marquez Callaway put on a show this week and he is now the default WR1 in that Saints offense. While I like Russel Gage in that same area, he’s not going to see the same target share. Rashod Bateman is also in that range, but he’s not healthy. Give me Callaway and let’s see if he can do it when it counts. Worst case, you cut him and add Bateman after Week 2.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Russell Gage (ATL) 
“Falcons receiver Russell Gage’s Week 1 explosion of 114 receiving yards seemed to be the start of a breakout season. Unfortunately, only twice over the course of the other 15 games did Gage surpass 75 yards, both coming within the last month of the season. What he did do was play 68% of team receiver snaps, only trailing star Calvin Ridley‘s 73%. Perennial star Julio Jone left the Falcons over two months ago, and Gage is still being seen as the third fiddle in the receiving corps. While rookie sensation Kyle Pitts may have a reason for it, Pitts is still slated to play tight end. In two-receiver sets, Gage is set to start opposite Ridley. This alignment will be somewhat new as Gage played 561 snaps from the slot to 167 on the outside in 2020. Snag this receiver late in your drafts, one in an offense that has three straight seasons of 600 pass attempts or more.”
– Matthew McCarthy (Gridiron Ratings)

Emmanuel Sanders (BUF)
“I may never quit Sanders. I get that he wasn’t exactly elite last season, though he did finish 43rd among WRs in half-PPR formats in just 14 games. But he totaled 1.99 yards per route run, which is pretty exceptional considering his age, and he still has good burst off the line. He’s in an outstanding offense with the Bills on a team that had basically chased him down to sign him for two seasons. There’s plenty to like here and he’s totally free in drafts.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Bryan Edwards (LV) 
“I love a heap of late-round WRs this year, but one that most people seem to be ignoring is Edwards. He’s positioning himself as the Raiders’ WR1, and while that has a little less value with Darren Waller on the field, he still has the opportunity to give you WR3 numbers for a late-round price. If Waller gets injured though, he could easily do even better.”
– Ben Wasley (The Fantasy First Down)

Q2. Who is one RB that you plan to target in all drafts as a final-round flier and why?

Kenneth Gainwell (PHI) 
“Gainwell is someone I want at the end of all my fantasy benches heading into 2021. The 22-year-old’s playmaking ability has been on full display during his first two preseason games, rushing for 35 yards on seven carries to go along with 39 receiving yards on five catches. He’s also been lining him up in the slot and out wide in addition to the backfield, so it’s safe to say Philadelphia has big plans for the fifth-round rookie. Gainwell has a realistic shot to securing the third-down role for the Eagles and could be the primary pass-catching back if Miles Sanders continues to struggle with drops.”
– Jacob W. Dunne (New Life Fantasy)

Kenneth Gainwell is a long-term investment in redraft leagues. He may not get a ton of opportunity right away, but I think he will continue to grow his role in this Eagles offense over time and could be a useful flex option in the latter part of the season. The RB depth chart in Philly is scattershot, which means there’s a path for playing time.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Rashaad Penny (SEA) 
“Penny is a fantastic late-round selection, especially now that he appears to be past his thigh injury. Fantasy managers go crazy trying to find perfect insurance policy running backs, so why not Penny? He’s in a good offense, playing behind an oft-injured starter, needing to play well to secure a contract, on a team that spent significant draft capital to acquire him. Don’t forget that with as good as Chris Carson is, Penny had essentially carved out a role for himself at the end of the 2019 season before suffering a season-ending injury. His upside is as high as anyone going in that range.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Rashaad Penny remains a frustrating back with untapped fantasy capital. He is a natural cuff to Chris Carson and owners of Carson who are so inclined to retain Penny in a handcuff capacity do themselves no roster harm. While he has perhaps more or less similar standalone value to say, Alexander Mattison or Latavius Murray, the run-first offensive environment of the Seahawks cannot but help give Penny equal upside potential.”
– Richard Savill (Fantasy Six Pack)

Damien Williams (CHI) 
“In 2020, Chicago starting running back David Montgomery played 71% of all RB snaps, the highest percent in football. That was partially because of the lack of any depth in the running back room for Chicago. In the offseason, this was rectified with Damien Williams, the one-time Chiefs back who abstained from playing in the 2020 season. Williams has never handled a large workload (432 career touches) and should be used primarily to supplant either Montogmery or receiving back Tarik Cohen. The ability to be inserted into either role makes him an intriguing flier, with both Montgomery and Cohen banged up at varying times this offseason. Williams could pick up Montgomery’s heavy snaps role, or Cohen’s 88 targets per year as the receiving back. Williams should be a last-round lottery ticket in drafts this year.”
– Matthew McCarthy (Gridiron Ratings)

Chuba Hubbard (CAR) 
“Hubbard is a great late-round flier. Mike Davis showed last year the value of a Panthers running back and Christian McCaffrey isn’t bulletproof. There’s a good chance Hubbard ends up on waivers once the bye weeks hit, but he’s worth the dart throw for the first five weeks of the season.”
– Ben Wasley (The Fantasy First Down)

Thank you to all the experts for naming their top final-round targets. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more great advice. Also, please check out our latest podcast episode below.

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