Fantasy football legends are not born and fantasy football leagues are not won in the early rounds of drafts. The difference between the title teams and the middle-of-the-road teams are the draft picks made in the late rounds.
When a 15th-round pick turns into a 1,000-yard rusher and your 16th-rounder turns into a 1,000-yard receiver, it is what puts a fantasy squad over the top. And there are always sleepers lurking in the late rounds just waiting to be drafted.
Look no further than last year when guys like Oakland’s Michael Bush, Dallas’ DeMarco Murray, Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown and many others had super seasons without being selected in the early or middle rounds of most fantasy drafts. There are fantasy diamonds out there. You just have to dig for them.
Here are eight late-round fliers you must take a chance on this season:
John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals (QB)
Kevin Kolb is only 50-50 to win the Arizona quarterback contest, and even if he does he is probably 20-80 to keep the job or stay healthy the entire season. This makes Skelton a must-have whether you draft Kolb or you don’t.
And when Skelton does play he will have Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd to throw to, which is pretty darn exciting.
Andrew Luck will need a receiver he can count on when he needs a third-down completion or a touchdown, and sadly it does not look like Austin Collie will be that guy after he suffered another concussion this past weekend.
Wayne had 75 receptions for 960 yards in 2011 despite having Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky as his quarterbacks and Pierre Garcon stealing his targets. With Luck throwing to him, and without many other receivers around him, Wayne should be able to fend off Father Time and have a 1,000-yard season.
Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars (RB)
The Maurice Jones-Drew holdout is dragging on longer than a Phish song. Longtime backup Jennings could be starting Week 1 if MJD does not sign soon, and since Jones-Drew is more of an injury risk because he will have an abbreviated camp, Jennings has to be a late-round handcuff if you draft Jones-Drew in the early rounds.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons (RB)
Will this be the year Michael Turner does not carry the ball 800 times? Could be since Turner is 30 years old and Atlanta is employing a different system under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
Rodgers is lightning quick and a great change of pace from Turner, so definitely expect him to be more involved in the rushing attack.
Mike Goodson, Oakland Raiders (RB)
Fantasy owners know Darren McFadden is as reliable as Lindsay Lohan is when she has a court date. Goodson will probably start a couple games during the course of the season, so if he can cut out the fumbles and injuries that haunted him in Carolina he could roll up some 100-yard games when McFadden tweaks his hamstring or sprains his toe.
Titus Young, Detroit Lions (WR)
The hot-tempered super sophomore seems primed to build on his solid rookie campaign. With Calvin Johnson attracting defenders like he is wearing Axe it should open up the field for the fleet-footed Young to rack up 900 yards and eight touchdowns if his head is on straight.
Jon Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs (WR)
Baldwin is already on the path to an improved fantasy season just because he has not gotten his jaw broken by a teammate during training camp. The former first-rounder has size, strength, speed and hands.
All Baldwin needs is some seasoning and he should overtake Steve Breaston for KC’s No. 2 WR position and turn into a fantastic fantasy find.
Bernard Scott, Cincinnati Bengals (RB)
How can anyone trust BenJarvus Green-Ellis to still be a decent fantasy option without Tom Brady and his terrific tight ends keeping opposing front sevens honest? Scott is faster, possesses better pass-catching skills and has more big-play ability than “The Law Firm.”
Look for Scott to finally get his chance to prove whether he is worthy or worthless.