Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: 10 Late Round Boom or Bust Picks to Gamble on

Ryan KennedyAnalyst IIAugust 23, 2011

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: 10 Late Round Boom or Bust Picks to Gamble on

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    Most fantasy football teams are built the same. Stud quarterback, solid running backs if not one true stud and a solid wide receiver/tight end combo. Most of that can be completed by the sixth round if done properly. The way fantasy football championships are won are in the late rounds and waiver wires.

    Players that were able to draft Arian Foster or Peyton Hillis likely won their league due to the big yardage those guys had on the ground and their ability to find the end zone.

    The problem with late round picks is their tendency to be hit or miss. You are leveraging your chances of winning on someone who is a backup, on a terrible team or in some cases, constantly injured.

    These are those guys. The weak, weary and the unproven. You might win because of one of these guys but you might also come in dead last because you banked on a backup leading you to victory. You have been warned.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills

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    Reports coming out of Buffalo are that Fred Jackson is upset that Spiller is getting a fair amount of time with the first team. That can only mean that Spiller is showing his potential or Jackson is having a poor preseason. It’s likely the former.

    Spiller has game breaking speed and catches the ball out of the backfield well, giving Buffalo its first real running back since Thurman Thomas.

    Unfortunately for Spiller’s ADP, fantasy football players tend to think poorly upon the Buffalo Bills offensive prospects, and with good reason.  That doesn’t mean that things can’t change. Spiller might not lead the Bills to an AFC East title but he should add some points as a late round pick.

Greg Little, WR, Cleveland Browns

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    Getting production out of a rookie wide receiver is like getting water from a stone. It’s just not going to happen. Something feels different about Greg Little though.

    Little is a big wideout, not tall, big. He will be tough to catch in the open field and even tougher for corners to take down. He will get tons of yards after catches and will probably get a good opportunity with the West Coast offense in a PPR league.

    The downside to banking too much on Little is that he is a rookie and West Coast offenses tend to not have big number wide receivers. With Little competing for the No. 1 wideout spot in Cleveland, he might be worth taking a look at with a late round pick.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

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    Matthew Stafford should have been a draft day lock for fantasy owners. A big armed, accurate passer with a HUGE receiver in Calvin Johnson and an emerging offense surrounding him, Stafford has the tools available. Stafford can’t stay on the field, which poses a problem when trying to win your league.

    Stafford will probably go in the later rounds unless someone is a Detroit Lions fan in your league. There is no reason to start him over a Josh Freeman or Sam Bradford until he can prove he can stay on the field.

    If Stafford does stay on the field and injury free and you have Kevin Kolb, Jay Cutler or Joe Flacco, quarterbacks who may have off games towards the end of the year, Stafford would certainly be a great fill in.

Colt McCoy, QB, Cleveland Browns

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    Two Cleveland Browns on a value list, is this the Twilight Zone? Colt McCoy showed he has what it takes to hang in the NFL after he was drafted in the third round and certainly has continued to build on that in the offseason and preseason.

    McCoy is a solid backup quarterback but the Browns run the West Coast offense so he won’t put up huge passing yards unless teams are giving up yards after catches to his receivers.

    McCoy did put up three touchdowns in a preseason effort against the Detroit Lions and with a solid running game and a potentially game changing rookie in Greg Little, there is definite boom potential. Then again, it is Cleveland, so there is definite bust potential, too.

Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England Patriots

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    The Patriots and more specifically, Bill Belichick, do not care about your fantasy football team. In fact, it seems like sometimes he avoids using players just because it will hurt your team. 

    If by themselves or on any other team, Gronkowski or Hernandez would be starting tight ends and likely top five scoring options. In New England, players are to be avoided for fantasy purposes specifically because the offense works by relying on multiple options.

    That doesn’t mean that these two should be avoided, especially if you can handcuff them together. Gronkowski has the higher value of the two but Hernandez might see more time of the field as he sometimes lines up as a receiver.

    Either way, these two are solid number two option and the ultimate boom or bust duo as either one could go off on any week and be silent the next.

Steve Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Steve Smith is coming off microfracture surgery so he won’t be ready for the start of the season, but much like Terrell Owens and Sidney Rice last year, he might be worth drafting just to have him later in the year, especially if you are deep at the receiver spot.

    Smith is a Pro Bowl caliber receiver who will end up working out of the slot when he gets back, likely being behind Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. Smith should be comfortable in that role especially as he gets used to being back on the field.

    Smith might not be the same this year so there is bust potential but in the Eagles offense, he should be able to have a breakout game or two.

Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers

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    Greg Olsen is shooting up draft charts due to the well known fact that he will be used heavily in the Carolina Panthers offense under Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski. It’s unlikely he is one of the chosen few tight ends that get drafted in the first half of the draft because there is such depth at the position.

    Unlike tight ends in the past in Carolina, Olsen will be used heavily but that might not mean a whole bunch with Jimmy Clausen or Cam Newton behind center. Neither has looked to be stellar and the offense has sputtered under both.

    With Newton the likely starter, Olsen will certainly be a release valve for him but that doesn’t mean that they will be quality looks. If he is featured and the quarterbacks in Carolina become functional, Olsen could be a steal. If Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen can’t get their act together, it won’t matter who is catching passes.

Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins

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    Reggie Bush has been the butt of plenty of fantasy jokes. Heralded out of USC as the ultimate utility back, Bush never quite made the impact that the New Orleans Saints envisioned when they drafted him.

    The Saints found ways around Bush by utilizing their other weapons but Bush felt he could be an every down player. He will find out in Miami if that is the case. In his preseason game against Carolina (true it was Carolina), Bush looked every bit the part of a full time running back.

    There are still those who will be hesitant to draft Bush until the last few rounds, if at all, but those who do might find significant value in a re-energized Reggie Bush.

Terrell Owens, WR, Unsigned

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    Someone will take flyer on Terrell Owens once the injury bug takes out a starting wide receiver.  Last season, in 14 games, Owens nearly amassed 1,000 yards and had nine touchdowns. That production happened in Cincinnati. Imagine what could happen on a good team.

    Owens will likely miss the first two weeks at minimum so there is a downside to drafting him. Owens is a fast healer for those of us who remember his recovery from a broken leg to play in the Super Bowl. So there is very minimal chance that he is out for an extended period.

    There is also the chance that no one signs him but players who can play usually find someone to pick them up.

    Owens is all upside once he hits the field. The only downside to drafting him is that, there is a chance, a small chance, he doesn’t lace them up this year.

Tim Tebow, QB, Denver Broncos

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    Yes, he is the third string quarterback. Yes, Kyle Orton is durable. Yes, John Fox doesn’t have the fascination with him that Josh McDaniels did but…

    He’s Tim Tebow!

    Someone you know will have someone take Tebow in a draft. It will likely be a waste of a pick not because Tebow can’t play but because he is buried so deep on his own depth chart that it would be ridiculous to draft him.

    Even with that said, someone you know will know someone who drafted him and if Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn get struck by a bus, they will look like a genius.