Fantasy Football 2021: Hidden Gems to Target Late in the Draft

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Hidden Gems to Target Late in the Draft

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Fantasy football hidden gems are rare but can offer league-altering impacts when they hit.

    A year ago, Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson was one of those. His average draft position (ADP) at Fantasy Football Calculator was outside the top 100 as the 44th back selected, yet he went on to finish as a top-13 producer at his position. 

    Like last year, projecting depth charts leads to some interesting, Gibson-esque hidden-gem candidates. Below, we'll highlight those options with an ADP outside of the top 85, placing them roughly in the seventh round of 12-team leagues. 

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    It's going to sound a little weird to highlight 33-year-old Ryan Tannehill as a hidden gem.

    But an ADP of 8.07 as the 12th quarterback off the board sells him short. He finished seventh at his position in scoring last year despite a run-heavy offense by way of a 65.5 completion percentage with 3,819 passing yards and 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions. 

    While the offense lost wideouts Corey Davis and Adam Humphries and tight end Jonnu Smith this offseason, it also happened to add Julio Jones. Derrick Henry remains the centerpiece of the offense, but it's hard to see him getting another 378 carries too. 

    At this stage of his career, Tannehill has fallen a bit into the underrated category if he's hardly being drafted above Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence, let alone behind Jalen Hurts.

Curtis Samuel, WR, Washington Football Team

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    Fantasy managers apparently aren't liking Curtis Samuel's outlook with the Washington Football Team.

    Samuel, one of the league's most versatile weapons, has a 12.04 ADP as the 147th overall player off the board and 52nd wideout. That, despite finishing as the No. 24 wideout in scoring a season ago thanks to 851 receiving yards, three touchdowns and 200 rushing yards with an additional two scores. 

    There's no reason to think Samuel won't see the same opportunities if not more with Washington. He was stuck in an iffy Carolina offense last year that only mustered 16 touchdowns through the air, whereas in Washington he'll get to roam while defenses worry about No. 1 wideout Terry McLaurin. 

    In what projects as a better situation, Samuel has the ability to outplay his current ADP by about 25 spots on the positional chart. Most don't have his unique ability to line up at wideout spots or in the backfield.

Corey Davis, WR, New York Jets

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Similar story for New York Jets wideout Corey Davis—he's in new surroundings, but it's no reason to tank his value. 

    He missed two games last year with Tennessee yet landed as the 30th scorer at his position. This year he's almost missing the top 150 outright with an ADP of 12.06, which makes him the 54th wideout off the board. 

    While Davis will have to deal with a rookie quarterback in Zach Wilsonwho has looked great in the preseasonhis numbers from last year (984 yards, five scores) are realistic for 2021. He wasn't even the top option in a run-based attack, as A.J. Brown inhaled 11 touchdowns and Jonnu Smith eight more. 

    In New York, Davis is the clear-cut No. 1. Wilson might be a rookie, but that just means big volume as he seeks out Davis as a safety valve, which should lead to similar if not better positional scoring in 2021.

Russell Gage, WR, Atlanta Falcons

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Russell Gage quietly finished as a top-40 scorer at his position last year on a bad Atlanta Falcons team that lost Julio Jones this offseason. 

    It writes itself.

    Fantasy managers still seem asleep on the Gage front, though, as he's sitting with a 14.02 ADP, making him the 62nd wideout off the board and nearly falling out of the top 200 overall. 

    Odd for a player who got 109 targets and scored four times last year and this summer has received praise from Falcons head coach Arthur Smith as a guy who will play multiple spots in the offense. 

    While the Falcons did add tight end Kyle Pitts fourth overall in the draft, he alone isn't going to replace Jones. Gage doesn't have major competition as the No. 2 wideout behind Calvin Ridley, and Matt Ryan returns a year removed from attempting an NFL-high 626 passes. 

Marquez Callaway, WR, New Orleans Saints

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    Marquez Callaway feels like the only healthy receiver on the New Orleans Saints right now, and he's spent the summer making the most of the opportunity.

    Callaway caught three passes for 61 yards in the Saints' first preseason game versus the Baltimore Ravens, and The Athletic's Katherine Terrell noted he's "by far the go-to man" for both Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill.

    Not a bad start for a wideout with a 13.07 ADP as the 59th player off the board at his position (178th overall). He's set up for a lion's share of the targets in the base offense with Michael Thomas and Tre'Quan Smith injured and Deonte Harris' status uncertain (possible suspension).

    And yes, some of this loses its luster with Drew Brees gone. But odds are Winston earns the starting gig, and it's a little easy to forget he threw for 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns during his last stint as a starter back in 2019. Callaway sits primed to feast, especially early in the season before others get back from injuries. 

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Keep an eye on New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson. 

    Stevenson, a fourth-round rookie out of Oklahoma, isn't a guarantee to surpass Damien Harris and Sony Michel on the depth chart—and trying to predict Bill Belichick's actions at running back is nigh-impossible. 

    But Stevenson has been an absolute bully in the preseason. In the team's first exhibition, he ran for 127 yards and two scores on 10 carries. In the second, he had 66 yards and two more scores on a 4.4 average. 

    That plus ESPN's Mike Reiss writing back in May that Stevenson could threaten Michel for No. 2 running back duties makes his 13.12 ADP (193 overall, 66th RB) appealing.

    Given what he's shown at the pro level already, there's a chance Belichick leans heavily on the rookie right away, which would make him one of the best values in fantasy outright.