Late-round gems could surprise, but don't count on itPosted: Monday April 28, 2003 4:00 PM
Updated: Monday April 28, 2003 11:08 PM
By James Quintong, SI.com
I already went over some of the early round picks who could be worth a spot on your fantasy roster this fall. However, as many like to tell us, the second day of the draft provides plenty of starters, and even a number of star players.
In recent years, among the low-round or undrafted players to make a fantasy impact in their rookie season include Mike Anderson, Darrell Jackson, Dominic Rhodes and Terrell Davis. Even Chris Weinke and Gus Frerotte became starting quarterbacks despite being drafted in later rounds.
Injuries definitely open the door for these players to rise up the depth charts and eventually into a starting job. The Denver and Indianapolis running games have shown that in recent years. However, some of these players come into camp with a big chip on their shoulder and prove during that time they deserve a starting job in the NFL.
We'll again look at some players who could make an immediate fantasy impact based on the current personnel situation on their respective teams as well as players who could be groomed for the future. Some of the late-round picks are probably major longshots for either this year or even keeper leagues, so we'll stay away from them.
The camps will be critical times for these players. Some will play their way up. Some will fall into a starting job if there's a major injury. Give it time, but keep these guys in mind.
College stars like Chris Simms, Kliff Kingsbury and Ken Dorsey will be holding clipboards this season while competing for a No. 2 or 3 job. They could fall backwards into a job depending on injuries, but don't count on it. Simms has a great tutor in Jon Gruden, but there are a bunch of former NFL starters ahead of him on the depth chart. Kingsbury put up huge yards at Texas Tech, but he'll be buried on the New England bench, although so was Tom Brady once upon a time. The arm strength dropped Dorsey to the seventh round, and don't expect a lot from him in San Francisco, not with a solid backup in Tim Rattay still there.
Seneca Wallace is a very intriguing prospect with Seattle. He was a Heisman candidate early last year before plummeting back to earth with a bunch of bad losses at the end of the season. Still, he has been compared favorably to Michael Vick, although all of his skills are probably just slightly below that of the Falcons' rising star. He's in an interesting situation with the Seahawks. While Matt Hasselbeck really turned it on at the end of last season, his consistency is still a factor. He could supplant Trent Dilfer as the No. 2 QB as well as see some time in trick plays like Antwaan Randle-El (although that stuff doesn't get fantasy owners too excited).
Brian St. Pierre is likely destined to be the No. 3 QB in Pittsburgh, but when the guys ahead of you are Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch, you never know what to expect. Besides, did anyone expect Maddox to see any playing time at this point last year? St. Pierre was inconsistent while at Boston College, but at times he showed the talent to be a solid NFL signal-caller. Don't act as surprised as other NFL followers will when St. Pierre gets his shot.
There's also that Drew Henson situation to consider. Henson hasn't helped fantasy baseball owners yet, and he probably won't do fantasy football players any good for a while. The Texans do have an interesting prospect on their hands, although remember that Tom Brady outplayed him at Michigan even when they tried to hand Henson the starting job. Henson is probably better than a couple of other QBs who returned to football after a stint in baseball (Chris Weinke, Josh Booty, Chad Hutchinson), but there's the rust and supporting talent factor at play if and when he wants to come back to the gridiron.
If you watch a lot of college football, the second day is often when you question the NFL scouting system. A lot of quality players who were stars the year before end up getting picked in the later rounds long after some no-names and small-school guys. You definitely saw that in the running back class as there were a number of guys who could step in right away to be productive players get stuck as backups. Still, the right situation could vault them into a starting job sooner rather than later.
Onterrio Smith was a multidimensional threat while at Oregon, but for now, he'll be playing behind the speedy Michael Bennett, who shined in the second half last season, in Minnesota. Lee Suggs dropped to the fourth round, partly because of injuries, but he looks to be a great backup to William Green in Cleveland, especially if the Browns deal Jamel White. Chris Brown, who had a nose for the end zone in Colorado, also is in a good situation in Tennessee behind Eddie George, who could use a solid backup. Brown could play himself into a starting in a couple of years if all works out for him.
A couple of players worth watching in camp, but probably not worth a fantasy pick in the near future, are Houston's Domanick Davis and Denver's Quentin Griffin. Davis will likely get thrown in the crowded but uninspiring running back derby with the Texans and could get his share of snaps because of his versatility. Griffin, a tiny but productive back at Oklahoma, has third-down back written all over him. He'll be fun to watch depending on how the Broncos use him, even if he won't have much fantasy value.
As I've mentioned before, it's hard to get really excited about rookie wide receivers since they take a while to develop. And if you can't get worked up over early-round wideouts, what does that say about the second-day receivers?
Still, for this year, you may want to watch for a couple of the Rams' picks, Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald. Both are small but gutsy receivers could fill those slot/No. 3 and 4 roles on the team and get their share of catches and touchdowns like Ricky Proehl and Az Hakim have in recent years. On St. Louis, even a No. 3 or 4 wideout has some value.
The 49ers also picked up a couple of playmakers who could show some flashes this year and definitely in the future, depending on what happens with Terrell Owens and Tai Streets down the line. Brandon Lloyd was a far more productive and dangerous Big Ten receiver than first-round pick Bryant Johnson and could develop into a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. Arnaz Battle is still developing as a wide receiver after starting his Notre Dame career as a quarterback. Down the line, he could also be an intriguing prospect. Remember, Battle wore the famed No. 3 at Notre Dame, just like Joe Montana.
James Quintong is Fantasy Sports Producer at SI.com.