Five Fantasy Football Relevant Fantasy Football Undrafted Free Agents
Around 25% of the players in the NFL at the current time are undrafted free agents. That means that some of your favorite players never got their name called in the three days of the NFL draft but instead had to sign in the NFL as a priority free agent. There are a handful of players in 2019 who signed with NFL teams that have the ability to impact the fantasy football landscape right away. While UDFA running backs are generally the players we think of as having an impact right away, there are a few undrafted free agent wide receivers who I think can make their teams and play this season.
Greg Dortch, Wide Receiver, New York Jets
Dortch was one of the most productive players in NCAA football the last two seasons. As Anthony Amico detailed, Dortch is very comparable to Jamison Crowder, who the New York Jets signed in free agency. The parallels between the two as quick, highly productive but undersized college players makes me think that the Jets view Dortch as an insurance policy for Crowder. Sam Darnold has been at his best when throwing to the short and intermediate areas of the field and peppered Quincy Enunwa and Jermaine Kearse with those targets in 2019. While Dortch is not a lock to make the team, my presumption would be that he can contribute on special teams and bide his time while waiting for a shot at playing time on offense. An injury to Jamison Crowder (or Enunwa) would make Dortch a prime candidate for a healthy market share from Sam Darnold.
Emanuel Hall, Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears
If I could pick one undrafted free agent to make a roster, it would probably be Emanuel Hall on the Bears. The Bears wasted a draft pick on the overrated, under-producing, unathletic Riley Ridley but were able to sign Hall in priority free agency. Hall was expected by some to be even a Day Two NFL draft selection but slipped down draft boards due to medical concerns. However, after averaging over 20 yards per reception at Missouri and posting one of the faster 40 times at the NFL combine, Hall seems like a genuine NFL deep threat. With Taylor Gabriel aging and the rest of the wide receiver corps lacking in long speed, Hall was a really ideal target for Ryan Pace and the Bears. If Emanuel Hall is healthy, I expect that he will make the team and play as a situational deep threat as soon as this season.
James Williams, Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs
Everyone knew that the Chiefs were going to add running backs during the draft. Spencer Ware left the team in the offseason, and Carlos Hyde is barely a functional NFL player. Damien Williams is firmly entrenched as the RB1 for the Chiefs but there is room for competition between Hyde, Darwin Thompson and yes, James Williams. Williams caught an absurd 83 passes as the primary running back in Washington State’s Air Raid which is the perfect skill set to the bring the Chiefs offense. While he isn’t an outstanding athlete, most scouts had a draftable grade on him and as long as he can play some special teams, I would expect that Williams will make the Chiefs final roster.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Wide Receiver, New Orleans Saints
Before Humphrey ran at the 2019 NFL combine, I was prepared to rank him inside my top-10 wide receivers in the class. However, Lil’Jordan Humphrey had a truly bad combine and took himself out of the running to be drafted. However, he landed in just about the perfect spot for his skillset. Humphrey profiles as the new #BigSlot wide receiver who can be put on the move to create separation and make contested catches in the intermediate areas of the field. The Saints love to rotate through tertiary wide receivers until they find players who can stick for a few years. My sense would be that Humphrey is in competition against TommyLee Louis and Keith Kirkwood and that if he plays well enough in training camp, he would make the 53 as the Saints sixth pass catcher (one of the few teams that always has six guys active).
David Sills V, Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills
Oddly enough, the Buffalo Bills don’t have one player that has the “go up and get it” playing style. Zay Jones, John Brown, Robert Foster, Cole Beasley… these are all water bug, quick and shifty style players. David Sills was a touchdown producer at West Virginia after flaming out as a quarterback prospect. Sills position switch allowed him to understand a lot of the nuances at the position and his larger frame allowed him to be the primary pass-catching touchdown scorer for Will Grier. Sills is probably a longer shot to make the roster than most UDFA wide receivers because the Bills do have a fair number of receivers on their roster already and I can’t imagine Sills returning kicks. However, if he does make the Bills roster, his role seems clear. Play on the outside in redzone/third-down packages and run the intermediate 10-15 yard routes that defensive backs can erase Brown/Jones/Foster on.
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