It’s often said that you don’t win your best ball contests in the early rounds, especially late ones. While we still need to hit on the early rounds, it’s entirely true that good late-round picks can propel a roster, just ask anyone who drafted Zay Jones last year. In this article, we’ll make the case for five late-round wide receiver dart throws that have the potential to deliver a bullseye right when it matters.
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Fantasy Football Draft Dart Throws
Here are some late fliers worth taking in upcoming fantasy football drafts.
Rondale Moore (ARI) 131.5
The Cardinals are widely expected to be a mess in 2023, and there aren’t too many people who are going to try and argue that opinion is incorrect, but at a certain point, we have to consider whether the offensive pieces we can count on have become a value. DeAndre Hopkins has been released, and the wide receiver room is made up of Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore, Michael Wilson, and Greg Dortch. It’s easy to think of Moore as a slot receiver because so much of his production can occur near the line of scrimmage, with an astonishingly low average depth of target of 1.4 yards in his rookie season. Moore did play on 39 percent of 2-WR sets during games he was active last year, and new head coach Jonathan Gannon has talked several times about wanting to get Moore involved more vertically. If Moore plays on 2-WR sets consistently and is out there when Kyler Murray is healthy, it could make for a fun end of the year, with the Cardinals defense looking like they’ll put the offense in plenty of pass-heavy scripts.
Rondale Moore played on 39% of the Cardinals' 2-WR set snaps last year when active (more than I remembered), and I think this new offense will increase his aDOT.
Hard to really break out in Arizona, but things are aligning for his best year by a wide margin.
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) June 6, 2023
Nico Collins (HOU) 135.2
The Texans passing offense regressed plenty in 2022, and with Brandin Cooks unhappy and not looking like himself while John Metchie battled leukemia, it left a lot of opportunity for others to grasp. Nico Collins was expected to emerge but struggled through injuries and only played nine full games, scoring an average of 9.7 PPR points. What makes him an ideal candidate for this list, however, is that he was on pace for almost 120 targets when healthy, and from week 10 to week 13, he had two games with 10 targets. Now that Cooks is no longer with the team and the Texans have upgraded massively at quarterback, Collins should have plenty of opportunity once more to potentially lead this team in targets.
Van Jefferson (LAR) 146.2
There’s a theme to this article so far, and it has typically been around offenses that are perceived as being potentially bad in this upcoming season. The Rams are somewhat of an enigma, with their defense looking heavily depleted, but it’s possible their offense should take a step forward after last year’s misery, which was heavily brought about because of a depleted offensive line and injuries that Matthew Stafford carried throughout the offseason and into the season. Behind Cooper Kupp the Rams have added very little, with Van Jefferson mainly facing competition from Demarcus Robinson and possibly rookie Puka Nacua. Jefferson was a top 36 wide receiver in 40 percent of his appearances last season, including games where Baker Mayfield and John Wolford were the starting quarterback. With the Rams defense expected to be bad and plenty of question marks about the state of the running game, sprinkling in some Van Jefferson and Matthew Stafford stacks is a low-cost and reasonable upside bet to make.
Sounds like Van Jefferson is fully past his knee issues from last season
He was a solid WR5/6 type for best ball in 2021 — with six top-30 scoring weeks https://t.co/63CJ9Y7xfH
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) June 15, 2023
Last year perhaps some of us expected a little too much from Marquez Valdes-Scantling after several years of him never quite making the leap in Green Bay. Valdes-Scantling didn’t deliver on his ADP of 95 last year, but now he’s routinely available 60 picks later and is still attached to the best quarterback in the league in Patrick Mahomes. Valdes-Scantling led the Chiefs wide receivers in routes run (532) and deep targets (18), with no other receiver seeing more than 10. During the Conference Championship, when the Chiefs needed a player to step up, it was Valdes-Scantling who did so, catching six of his eight targets for 116 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs need a player to step into the slot role that became vacant when JuJu Smith-Schuster departed, and while they might need to figure out which receiver can do that, Valdes-Scantling will likely continue to stay on the field as the vertical playmaker. It’s not always pretty with MVS, but the potential of a huge spike week always lurks, and that can’t be said for all receivers in this range.
— NFL (@NFL) June 13, 2023
Tyquan Thornton (NE) 161.2
It was a slow start to Tyquan Thornton’s rookie campaign, with him missing the first four games due to an injury and then the Patriots easing him back in upon his return. Thornton suffered from the effects of an offense run by Matt Patricia and Joe Judge in what looked like an awful move at the time and looks even worse in hindsight. Thornton flashed with a top eight weekly finish in Week 6 and a top 16 finish in Week 16 when DeVante Parker missed time. As long as the Patriots don’t add a receiver whose name rhymes with MeAndre Shopkins, Thornton’s route to consistent usage is only blocked by Parker, Smith-Schuster, and Kendrick Bourne.