We like to call them "lottery tickets". Just like buying a Powerball ticket, the potential for a big return is there and the cost to enter is low. The hope is that the pick will pay off down the road in the form of drafting a future starter for your team. These are the players that we're targeting late in our drafts.
George Pickens, WR - PIT
If you've been paying attention to any of the preseason hype, you've seen George Pickens and been wowed by his talent. Whether he's hurdling defenders, shoving them down off the line, or hauling in touchdowns like a pro, there may not be a better late round target than Pickens. We have some concerns over the QB play in Pittsburgh, his consistency, and just how the target share will shake out amongst Pickens, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool, but with a 15th-round ADP, Pickens could be this year's top lottery pick. He's a great late-round pick in redraft leagues and should be near the top of your list for dynasty.
Dameon Pierce, RB - HOU
We fully expect the Texans to slowly acclimate Pierce to the NFL. He'll be part of a committee including veterans Rex Burkhead and Marlon Mack, but Burkhead is 32 years old and averaged just 3.5 yards for the Texans last year. Mack may only be 26 years old, but he has yet to play a full season. In fact, he has only played in seven games over the last two seasons. Neither of these guys is the long-term solution for Houston. Pierce is much more dynamic, great at pass blocking, solid as a receiver, and could be the next workhorse for the Texans. He has every opportunity to be fantasy relevant at some point this season. He's the 42nd running back coming off the boards so grab him with one of your last picks and stash him until he climbs atop the depth chart.
Albert Okwuegbunam, TE - DEN
With WR Tim Patrick lost for the season, a very favorable schedule, and Noah Fant dealt to Seattle, the opportunity for Albert Okwuegbunam to break out is here. He's been lining up all over the place during camp and the preseason so his usage will vary in interesting ways. He also has veteran QB Russell Wilson lining up under center this year. He's got good hands, and as ESPN has noted "the 2020 fourth-round pick has flashed in 18 career games; his 7.2 RAC ranks first and his 80% catch rate third among 51 tight ends with 50-plus targets over the last two seasons". We don't expect rookie Greg Dulcich to factor too much into Okwuegbunam's playing time. With an ADP stretching into the 14th round, Okwuegbunam is an ideal TE backup target with TE1 upside.
Jalen Tolbert, WR - DAL
Injuries are a fact of the NFL and sometimes a player will benefit by getting a chance to shine while others are recovering. That's the situation for Jalen Tolbert. James Washington will miss up to 10 weeks with a fractured foot and Michael Gallup is likely out until the end of September. That leaves some room for Tolbert to step up. He could be the WR2 alongside CeeDee Lamb at least for the start of the season. If he can earn the confidence of the coaching staff, he may also earn playing time when Washington and Gallup return. There's plenty of upside here for a guy available in the 14th and 15th rounds.
Rondale Moore, WR - ARI
As a rookie, Rondale Moore saw plenty of action as he was on the field for 37% of Arizona's snaps last year. The Cardinals primarily used him as a gadget-type player with short screens and pitches, but early reports out of camp indicate that he could fill that Christian Kirk-type role now that Kirk has gone to Jacksonville. He'll need to carve out a role here because the receiving corp in Arizona is crowded with talent. DeAndre Hopkins (serving a 6-game suspension), Hollywood Brown, A.J. Green, and Zach Ertz will all command attention and targets, but the price tag on Moore is acceptable as you can frequently nab him in the 13th/14th round.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR - KC
While not technically a late round lottery ticket, JuJu Smith-Schuster has been a favorite target of ours in drafts so far. He's going in the seventh and eighth rounds depending upon format. One has to wonder what his ADP would be if he weren't such a fragile player. He only played in five games last season averaging a career-low in fantasy points per game. We're aware of the downside, but the upside to JuJu is undeniable. He has a favorable schedule, is likely to be the WR1 in a Patrick Mahomes offense, will compete for those targets vacated by Tyreek Hill, and is motivated to prove himself after getting a one-year, prove-it deal with the Chiefs. The talent is there and the environment couldn't be more conducive to fantasy success. As your WR3/Flex, JuJu could very well move into WR2 territory and help deliver a fantasy playoff berth.
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