With Rookie drafts getting underway it’s time to start looking at who you’re going to be selecting to help put your team over the top and get you on your way to bringing home that fantasy football championship. Everyone knows Ja’Marr Chase, Kyle Pitts, Javonte Williams, and all the other top prospects are some of the most sought after players heading into 2021, but if we just listed those guys we wouldn't be giving you any league winning advice, just reiterating what everyone already has at the top of their rankings.
What I’m about to tell you are the names of guys that you can get at the end of your drafts that may not make an impact in year 1, because let's be honest, are you really expecting the rookie you take 34th overall to lead you to glory? No, but you want them to have the potential to be a staple in your lineup for years to come.
5. Jaelon Darden, WR - Buccaneers
Starting off we’re heading down to Tampa Bay, and looking at the defending champs 4th round pick, WR Jaelon Darden. Darden racked up 1,190 yards & 19 touchdowns at North Texas last season, a little undersized, however Darden has the speed, and twitch that make him a threat to take it to the house at any time.
I know what you’re thinking “Tampa Bay has the best wide receiver corps in the NFL, what is this guy thinking?” and you're exactly right, But Antonio Brown, and Chris Godwin are both on 1 year contracts, and Scotty Miller has 2 years remaining. The Bucs are going to need someone to step up over the next couple of seasons, and they wouldn’t have traded up for Darden if they didn't think he had potential.
4. Chris Evans, RB - Bengals
Secondly, we got Chris Evans, no, not Captain America, I’m talking about the Bengals rookie running back from Michigan. Evans was a 6th round pick by the Bengals and has been turning heads at camp with his physical characteristics, and ability in the passing game. With Giovani Bernard in Tampa Bay, Evans can quickly take over the void Gio left behind. Joe Mixon is at no risk of losing his job, and has 3 down potential, but when drafting a rookie running back you're most likely grabbing a handcuff.
I don’t see Samaje Perine as a threat, his career YPC is less than 4.0 and he is pretty much invisible in the passing game. Evans’ ceiling is Cincinnati’s RB2 and sporadic passing down back, grabbing Evans late could pay dividends because we all know how valuable running backs with pass catching ability can be in PPR formats.
3. Seth Williams, WR - Broncos
Next, someone who fell on draft day, and might be falling off people's radars, Seth Williams. The Broncos added Seth Williams in the 6th round to an already crowded receiver room, however the Broncos have an abundance of high profile free agents next year including wide receivers Courtland Sutton, and Tim Patrick.
Like I stated earlier, some of these guys aren’t going to be league winners in year 1, but the potential with Williams is there. His contested catch ability has been catching the eye of Broncos coaches, and could play a big factor in helping him make the 53 man roster.
2. D’Wayne Eskridge, WR - Seahawks
Fourth, D’Wayne Eskridge out of Seattle. Eskridge burst onto the scene late last March, climbing up draft boards largely thanks to his mix of speed, and route running fluidity. The Seahawks boast one of the league's top wide receiver duos in DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett, but after that it's pretty much a dark abyss.
Eskridge is already listed as #3 on the depth chart and will get his fair share of opportunities. The Seahawks need to find their identity on offense, are they a pass heavy team? A run heavy team? A balanced team? Nobody really knows what their plan of attack is, after adding some beef to the offensive line, and now with Eskridge alongside DK & Lockett, the Seahawks offense should see some major improvement in 2021.
1. Josh Palmer, WR - Chargers
Lastly, my favourite late round rookie, and someone I would go to war for to draft is Los Angeles Chargers rookie wide receiver Josh Palmer. The Chargers selected Palmer in the 3rd round adding to what is an already scary looking offense. I love Palmer for a couple reasons, 1 being where he landed. The Chargers had to be one of the most optimal landing spots for a rookie wide receiver this year, you have a record setting quarterback, Justin Herbert who is only going to get better in year 2 with the additions around him, minimal competition for a starting job after Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams. Tyron Johnson, and Jalen Guyton showed flashes last year but shouldn’t be much worry, and Mike Williams is in a contract year, and with his inconsistency to stay healthy, whether or not he gets a new contract in LA is in question.
Secondly Palmer has that mix of size, speed, and strength you don't see in everyone, his ability to make plays downfield really separated him apart from a lot of wide receivers last season. Palmer is a guy I’ve targeted late in all my rookie drafts, and I encourage you to as well.