Halfway through the NFL season is when dynasty owners decide whether or not their team is capable of making a run at the championship, or if committing towards building for the future is the more logical approach. Regardless of team philosophy at this point in the season, it is always a great time to target players from other owners’ rosters who may see a rise in value towards the end of this season or into the next. These players may be buried on their NFL team’s depth chart and likely stuck behind either an aging veteran or a player in which the team has invested more capital. Despite being overlooked, some of these players possess tremendous upside and have a great opportunity at either producing or seeing a huge boost in value in the near future. Introducing: Buried Treasure.
A.J. McCarron, QB – Cincinnati Bengals
6’3” 215 lbs. / Age: 27
Coming out of Alabama, A.J. McCarron slipped to the 5th round in the 2014 NFL draft and the Bengals were presented with an opportunity to select a potential trade asset that could be cashed in sometime down the road. He is under contract through the 2018 season and will then become an unrestricted free agent. Andy Dalton isn’t expected to leave anytime soon so it would make sense for the Bengals to deal McCarron to the highest bidder, to a team in need of a starting quarterback. McCarron was nearly acquired by the Browns during this year’s trade deadline, but the deal was not completed due to a mishap within Cleveland’s front office. Whether or not McCarron finds himself in Cleveland in the future, he should still find an opportunity to be an NFL starter before long. Expect teams such as the Steelers, Jaguars, or Broncos to be potential suitors as well.
Bottom Line: For all superflex leagues, explore the possibility of buying McCarron for a couple of 3rd round picks in hopes of him being dealt this upcoming offseason.
Kyle Sloter, QB – Minnesota Vikings
6’5” 220 lbs. / Age: 23
Kyle Sloter is a rookie out of Northern Colorado buried on the Vikings’ crowded quarterback depth chart. He has the gunslinger mentality with good arm strength and intriguing play-making ability. He is a long shot to have a chance at starting in the near future, but he has the talent to make a run should a player ahead of him on the depth chart go down at any point with an injury. At the end of this season, any combination of Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, and Case Keenum could walk in free agency, leaving Sloter as the only signal caller left on the roster. Yes, they will likely keep one of the aforementioned quarterbacks or sign another, but don’t completely discard Sloter.
Bottom Line: If he isn’t on your waiver wire, he could be soon. For league’s taxi squads, Sloter is an excellent hold in superflex leagues.
Tevin Coleman, RB – Atlanta Falcons
6’1” 210 lbs. / Age: 24
Tevin Coleman is clearly the number two option in the Atlanta running game behind the newly extended and richer, Devonta Freeman. Though he is stuck behind Freeman, Coleman has produced extremely well in a somewhat limited role. In his first two seasons in 2015 and 2016, he averaged 4.4 and 4.5 yards per carry, respectively. So far in 2017, he has averaged 5.4 yards per carry while catching two passes per game at a 12 yards per catch rate. He is on pace for only 133 carries and 34 catches this season, but should an injury strike Freeman, Coleman would be the bell cow in an electric offense. He is due to become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2019 season and if he maintains his extremely efficient numbers, 250 carries could result in 1,350 yards for the one-cut, get-downfield running back. Coleman has all the talent in the world to be a lead back, and whether the opportunity to be that occurs due to injury, trade, or free agency in the future, he would most definitely assume that role.
Bottom Line: Acquiring Coleman is an all-around smart transaction. Not only could he pay extreme dividends in the future, but he will contribute to your team immediately as an every week RB2. Throw out an offer for an early 2nd and some change. And you might be able to cash in.
Carlos Henderson, WR – Denver Broncos
5’11” 199 lbs. / Age: 22
The Broncos made Carlos Henderson their 3rd round pick in the 2017 NFL draft but never had the chance to see him in action due to a torn ligament he sustained in his thumb before the regular season began. Coming out of Louisiana Tech, Henderson was one of the most explosive receivers in the entire class, averaging 19.6 yards per carry throughout his collegiate career. With abilities to win down the field and transition from catching to running more quickly than any other receiver in his class, Henderson has potential WR2 upside if given the opportunity to contribute as a second option in his team’s offense. Denver is in need of a third wide receiver, and Henderson is likely that player.
Bottom Line: Offer a 3rd round pick for Henderson and reap the rewards next season.
Chad Hansen, WR – New York Jets
6’2” 202 lbs. / Age: 22
Chad Hansen is a 4th round pick out of California who can win deep, contested balls with his massive catch radius and excellent tracking ability. He averaged just over nine receptions per game while finishing with 11 touchdowns during his final season with the Golden Bears. As a result of the horrendous quarterback situation and somewhat crowded receiver depth chart in New York, Hansen was never expected to contribute heavily as a rookie this season. With a hint of Marvin Jones to his game, expect Hansen to prove himself during training camp and preseason next offseason, and prove himself worthy of a legitimate role in the Jets’ offense next season.
Bottom Line: Hansen is likely attainable for a 4th round pick or less. He is one of my favorite upside stashes to hold through 2019.
Noah Brown, WR – Dallas Cowboys
6’2” 225 lbs. / Age: 21
After his junior, and final, season at Ohio State, Noah Brown’s draft stock dropping into the 7th round of the 2017 NFL Draft was likely a result of him missing his entire sophomore season with a broken leg. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan praised Brown for being an “all-around receiver” coming out of training camp this offseason, hinting that Brown is certainly liked in the wide receiver room. So far, he has seen limited playing time this season with the Cowboys but it’s to be expected that his playing time will gradually increase the more he develops into a reliable red zone target for Dak Prescott and company. Terrance Williams will eventually be gone, leaving the role opposite Dez Bryant available for Brown’s taking.
Bottom Line: Buy Brown for whatever it takes, which should not exceed anything more than a 4th round pick, and thank me later for when he becomes a top 25 NFL wide receiver no later than 2019.
Jonnu Smith, TE – Tennessee Titans
6’3” 248 lbs / Age: 22
Jonnu Smith flew under the radar during the entire 2017 draft process but was taken in the 3rd round by the Tennessee Titans in hopes of him being the heir apparent to the 33-year-old Delanie Walker. Only seven games into his NFL career, Smith has averaged at least one reception in five of those games and has registered a pair of touchdowns. Tennessee has made it obvious they want Smith more involved in the passing game by designing multiple tight end screen concepts that show off his strength and athleticism. Once his knowledge of the playbook and blocking schemes come together, Smith looks to transition into Delanie Walker 2.0 for Marcus Mariota during the unforeseeable future.
Bottom Line: Smith is likely going to be somewhat difficult to acquire, but he is bursting with upside and appears to be locked into a future role within the Titans offense. He is a great throw-in player as a piece in a blockbuster-like deal, but as for his stand-alone value, somewhere around an early 3rd round rookie draft pick with a little something extra on top should get the job done.