If you don’t believe in UFOs, ask my uncle Frank to tell you about the time he saw one out fishing off the coast of New Jersey late one night. Swears it happened. With many fantasy drafts days away, it’s time to look for value at the end of yours. Here is a Usually Free Option (UFO) from every team. I consider ‘free’ to be anyone with an ADP in the twelfth round or later. Some are late round flyers, others are players to watch as waivers approach, but it is entirely likely there are league changers on this list.
Arizona Cardinals: WR JJ Nelson. John Brown is still having health issues so expect the Cards to limit his role. Nelson has basically the same skill set, same height, and a hair faster 40 time. There’s targets from Michael Floyd’s departure to be spread out, as well.
Atlanta Falcons: TE Austin Hooper. Hoop came on as his rookie year progressed and Matt Ryan gained confidence in him. He makes for an excellent late round tight end who should score some touchdowns. His value is likely tied to the Falcon offense repeating last year’s efficiency.
Baltimore Ravens: TE Maxx Williams. Maxx, the extra ‘x’ is for xtreme, was a second round pick just two years ago and regarded as one of the best TEs in that draft. He lost 2016 to a knee injury, but is in camp and avoided the PUP list. The Ravens are desperate at TE, so if he can stay healthy there’s no one to hold off target-wise besides old man Ben Watson.
Buffalo Bills: TE Charles Clay. An above average athlete for a tight end, he’s flirted with top ten TE value the last few years but injuries have left his production inconsistent. After trading Sammy Watkins and Anquan Boldin’s retirement, there’s both targets and touchdowns to be spread around. I always like to wait on TE, so he’s an option if you do.
Carolina Panthers: WR Curtis Samuel. The signal I get from the Panther’s offseason is a desire to improve efficiency and emphasize short routes. CMC is the posterboy for this, but Samuel provides plenty of YAC ability out of the slot, too.
Chicago Bears: WR Kevin White. I can’t blame owners for staying away from the snakebit WR, but he is a rare blend of size and speed. The Bears will likely give him plenty of targets to see what they have in the former first round pick.
Cincinnati Bengals: RB Gio Bernard. It’s a crowded backfield for the Bengals, but Bernard had already began transitioning to a pass catching specialist. A bad offensive line will likely lead to a good amount of 3rd and longs, getting Bernard into space where’s he’s at his best. His role is more secure than Jeremy Hill’s. I look at him as a poor man’s Danny Woodhead.
Cleveland Browns: QB DeShone Kizer. Brock Osweiler is not an NFL starter. I think the Browns still go to Cody Kessler before Kizer, but Kessler couldn’t stay on the field last year. That leaves plenty of snaps for a talented if raw rookie. Really just a best ball play.
Dallas Cowboys: TE Rico Gathers. At some point age has to catch up to Jason Witten. Gathers isn’t guaranteed to be the primary TE should that happen but he’s shown his big play ability thus preseason and would get targets. He may even get some red zone targets in two TE sets.
Denver Broncos: WR Carlos Henderson. On the shelf after thumb surgery, he may yet win the slot job. The rookie has wheels, makes tacklers miss, and will be playing with a QB who isn’t suited to throw downfield. Did someone say crossing route?
Detroit Lions: TE Cole Wick. Kenny Golladay has left the realm of UFOs, so I’m highlighting Wick. He’d be the primary pass catching TE should Eric Ebron miss time, again. He’s a big target at 6’6″ and was just starting to see some meaningful snaps last year before hitting the IR. He impressed the Lions last offseason enough to win the TE2 job.
Green Bay Packers: RB Aaron Jones. I’ve hitched my wagon to Jamal Williams all preseason, but his hype train is gaining steam. If Ty Montgomery struggles to stay healthy Jones has the athleticism to step into a good amount of his role. There’s also a chance he gets a shot at the primary runner role if Williams falters.
Houston Texans: RB D’Onta Foreman. No glitzy 40 time or ‘next Le’Veon’ chatter here, but the man can pound the rock. If/when Lamar Miller goes down he’s going to get a great opportunity. Forget Alfred Blue, he’s just not a very good RB. Foreman is my darkhorse to be the seasons top rookie RB.
Indianapolis Colts: WR Kamar Aiken. Not a flashy WR, just a dependable possession receiver. He’s buried on their depth chart, but everyone ahead of him has missed significant time with injury before. Interesting if Luck can’t go in the first part of the season and a lesser armed QB takes over, as well.
Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Allen Hurns. People have forgotten Hurst, as Marquise Lee moved ahead of him last year. Lee has missed time most seasons and is out 4-6 weeks right now. Should the Jags defense fail to improve, he could be garbage time gold again.
Kansas City Chiefs: CJ Spiller. Total long shot, but when Jamaal Charles went down in 2015 Andy Reid threw us all for a loop making Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West top waiver priorities. If there’s anything left in the tank Spiller could do the same given an injury to Ware. Reid also tends to bring rookies along slowly in the case of Kareem Hunt.
LA Chargers: WR Travis Benjamin. One of 2015’s fantasy darlings, he was ineffective in 2016 due to a bum knee. He’s still a guy they paid to be a deep threat and is currently healthy. The Bolts are rife with WRs but none share his skill set. I’d anticipate at least a few shots to him deep each game, more if they’re trailing.
LA Rams: TE Gerald Everett. He’s a little raw, but doesn’t his athleticism remind you Jordan Reed? He’s probably the TE2 for the Rams, but starter Tyler Higbee is facing a suspension for an assault conviction. That may be all Everett needs to run away with the job.
Miami Dolphins: WR Kenny Stills. Did you know Stills scored 9 TDs last year, tied for sixth most receiving touchdowns. Gase seems to love him and they resigned him to a 4 year/$32 MIL deal this off-season. You don’t do that unless you have plans for the guy. Cutler has his flaws, but the arm to go deep.
Minnesota Vikings: WR Laquon Treadwell. He’s the third receiver on a team that wants to run the so there’s hurdles to clear here, but he was considered the most complete WR in last years draft. With a year in the league under his belt maybe the light flicks on for him.
New England Patriots: TE Dwayne Allen. I’ll resist the urge to say Rex Burkehead and troll Gillislee owners (a favorite past time of mine). Allen is a specimen, with strong hands, and an excellent blocker. That will help keep him on the field as the Pats are no stragers to two TE sets. Even if Gronk plays the full season, I can see Allen just cracking TE10 due to TDs.
New Orleans Saints: WR Brandon Coleman. I guess it’s just my natural distrust of Ted Ginn, but I don’t see Sean Payton having much patience for the one trick pony. Coleman was poised to breakout his rookie year in 2015, but was passed by Willie Snead and hasn’t had much opportunity since. He’s big (6’6″), fast (4.56 40), and in a volume offense (650+ pass attempts every year since forever). Plus the saints find a new WR every year to pull into the spotlight.
NY Giants: WR Sterling Shepard. The signing of Brandon Marshall doesn’t mean much for the slot receiver, who’s a specialist underneath. Victor Cruz received a surprising 72 targets last year, as well. I’d be more than happy with Sterling as a flex alternate.
NY Jets: WR Marquess Wilson. There has to be someone that emerges as a pass catcher for the Jets. Wilson has the body of a dominant receiver he just hasn’t been able to stay on the field. Granted, this is a total dice roll.
Oakland Raiders: RB Jalen Richard. I’d chose Richard as the Raider handcuff to own, given his involvement in the passing game. The staff also seemed to trust him slighty more than Deandre Washington last season.
Philadelphia Eagles: WR Mack Hollins. Mack is aptly named, dude is built. Watch his TD against the Packers and you’ll see he uses that size in combination with 4.53 speed. The Birds have plenty of field stretchers so he could make a living catching passes underneath in the early going.
Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Knile Davis. James Conner is the assumed back-up, but he’s a plodder and needs time at this level. Davis is a vet with good athleticism, though a 3.2 career YPC is uninspiring. He could certainly become a vulture if the Steelers look to lighten Bell’s load.
San Francisco 49ers: QB Brian Hoyer. I’m high on Joe Williams, but he’s a stash that may take all year. Kyle Shannahan won’t ask Hoyer to do too much and take high percentage throws to a guy that’s made a living running those routes in Pierre Garcon. You could do worse as a QB2 or bye week fill in.
Seattle Seahawks: WR Paul Richardson. He’s quietly winning the Seahawks WR2 job. He showed some chemistry with Russell Wilson in last year’s playoffs and any receiver on Seattle is a busted play TD threat.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Chris Godwin. All he did at Penn State was make plays. The ability to do that in Tampa’s explosive offense with Jameis Winston his QB makes him an intriguing prospect.
Tennesee Titans: WR Taywan Taylor. This one would take a host of injuries to payoff, but there’s playmaking talent here and the Titans want to take some deep shots this year.
Washington Shitty Names: WR Josh Doctson. Doctson is a deep ball specialist, but not much else is similar between he and the recently departed DeSean Jackson. He’s much more beastly and fights for balls. If the Washington offense has to throw it as much as last season he will produce.
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