To end the pre-season ADP series in 2016 we will observe some underappreciated fantasy assets who were passed over in drafts this summer. Past alumni of this list include: Odell Beckham, CJ Anderson, Travis Kelce, Matt Jones, Tyrod Taylor, Kirk Cousins and Blake Bortles — some of them league-winners. Now that your draft is over, the real game begins. Keep these names in mind if they are available on your league’s waiver wire.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Yahoo ADP: n/a
Things can flip in an instant in the NFL and there is no better example than the Cowboys. Dak Prescott has looked like a seasoned veteran running the offense in extended preseason action, and everyone seems to be buying the rookie darling. Prescott shockingly has a higher ADP than guys like Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston and Matthew Stafford in ESPN and Yahoo leagues. Meanwhile, Romo’s stock has fallen off the map. He lasted just a few snaps before his latest injury, but he was not placed injured reserve. So, there’s a chance the pro-bowler could be under center again before week 8.
Paxton Lynch, Denver Broncos
Yahoo ADP: n/a
The Rams and Eagles spent heavily in April, moving up to draft quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz No. 1 and 2, respectively. Now it looks like two other rookie signal callers, Dak Prescott and Paxton Lynch, have a chance to be more valuable early in their careers. Goff is currently third on the depth chart in Los Angeles and Wentz is already banged up, but will still be thrown to the wolves on a bad team in Philly following the trade of Sam Bradford to Minnesota. Lynch has looked better than both in exhibition games and will be allowed to slowly integrate into a well-oiled offense by mid-season. His Roethlisberger-esque tools could help your fantasy squad during bye weeks down the stretch.
Watch list: Joe Flacco, Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick
Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens
Dixon, who ranks last among running backs regularly drafted in ESPN leagues and is unranked by Yahoo ADP, is my favorite stash for the 2016 season. The rookie looked like the same do-it-all back in Baltimore’s third preseason game as he did throughout his career at Louisiana Tech. Unfortunately, Dixon came down with an MCL injury just as he was on the cusp of earning a major week 1 role. He is scheduled to return in week 3 or 4 and should leapfrog Javorious Allen and Terrence West soon after that. Not only does Dixon posses the highest upside as a runner in Baltimore’s backfield, he has the skill set to thrive as a receiver under notorious RB-targeting offensive coordinator Mark Trestman.
Shaun Draughn, San Francisco 49ers
49ers offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins was the running backs coach in Detroit in 2015 when the Lions led the league in RB receptions. Who ranked second, you ask? Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles. Draughn doesn’t pose a threat to Carlos Hyde as the No. 1 back in San Francisco, and even if the latter gets hurt, Mike Davis might get a share of the early down work. Draughn’s value is as a sneaky PPR monster in the mold of Detroit’s Theo Riddick — a guy Modkins compared him to earlier in the off-season.
Watch list: Dion Lewis, DJ Foster, Rob Kelley, Johnathan Williams, Jordan Howard, Tyler Ervin, Malcolm Brown
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Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans
It’s uncommon for a No. 1 receiver to be sitting on the waiver wire before week 1, but Matthews is that guy in many leagues. His only competition for targets are rookie WR Tajae Sharpe and TE Delanie Walker. A free agent acquisition for Tennessee, Matthews was on a 1,000-yard pace in Miami last year before his season ended early due to injury.
Braxton Miller, Houston Texans
I want to highlight one of the deeper sleepers here. There are some higher profile rookies on the watch list below, but Miller deserves some ink. The former Ohio State QB has made strides as a receiver and been heavily targeted out of the slot in Bill O’Brien’s offense. In fact, now that the Texans have moved on from Cecil Shorts, there’s a good chance Miller gets more looks than first-rounder Will Fuller. Miller has the perfect skill set to thrive underneath, gaining yards after the catch with his superior open field running ability.
Watch list: Dorial Green-Beckham, Terrelle Pryor, Quinton Patton, Josh Doctson, Laquon Treadwell, Tajae Sharpe, Eli Rogers
Clive Walford, Oakland Raiders
Walford has a little helium as the season approaches, but he’s still available in a ton of leagues. The second-year TE is one the verge of a breakout and should be a nice compliment to the young passing game developing in Oakland with QB Derrick Carr and WR Amari Cooper.
Watch list: Vance McDonald, Jordan Cameron, Cameron Brate, Hunter Henry, Tyler Higbee