After BC Steele and I finished our podcast this week about undrafted free agents, I decided I would try to breakdown my five favorites undrafted free agents in word form for those who can’t listen to or just don’t want to listen to our podcast. I strongly suggest listening the podcast. While we joke around a lot, there are typically good pieces of information and strategy that can certainly make you more profitable in both your season long and daily fantasy leagues.
Here are my five favorite undrafted free agent signings:
D.J. FOSTER – RB/WR – ARIZONA STATE – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Foster is a 5’10” 193 lb. hybrid running back and wide receiver. I personally don’t believe that statement in the least. After four years of watching him at Arizona State, I can resoundingly say he is a running back who can catch the ball out of the backfield. Foster’s big year came in 2014, where he ran the ball 194 for 1,081 yards and 9 touchdowns, and also caught 62 passes for 688 yards and three scores. This was all with him coming out of the backfield – although on occasion, he would line up in the slot [not altogether uncommon in some formations in college football].
In 2015, with Demario Richard and Kallen Ballage looking like a capable duo in the backfield, and lead receiver Jalaen Strong leaving for the NFL, the decision was made to move Foster to full time receiver. That didn’t really happen though, as he still handled the ball 55 times on the ground, but a large decrease from what he saw the year prior. Foster finished third on the team in receiving, behind transfer Devin Lucien and Tim White, and also third in receiving touchdowns, behind the aforementioned players.
From the perspective of many fans, Foster’s 2015 campaign was a complete and total letdown. There was a major hope that it would be a huge year for he and the team, and it just didn’t pan out that way. This left him in a position where he just was not on anyone’s radar for the draft.
In steps Bill Belichick. There possibly couldn’t have been a better landing spot nor coach for a talented player like Foster. Belichick is well known for getting the most out of his players, and he is ending up in a great position with a talented offense around him. There is certainly an opportunity for him to make an impact in the backfield, even immediately. I know there is a certain love affair with Dion Lewis after his showing early last year, but he has been around awhile and it injury prone. If you have a dynasty draft coming up soon, I would really, really think about taking Foster.
KEYARRIS GARRETT – WR – TULSA – CAROLINA PANTHERS
Garrett isn’t a name that probably resounds with many football fans, pro and college alike, much due to playing for a small school. Regardless of this, Garrett is an extremely talented receiver, as evidenced by his monster 2015 campaign which saw him grab 96 passes for 1,588 yards and 8 touchdowns. He has prototypical receiver measurable, standing at 6’4” and weighing 221 lbs.
What stood out to me while watching him at Tulsa was his ability to create plays for himself. He has exceptional control of his body and his hands, and was able to pull in catches that it was almost uncertain that he would not be able to make. He played alongside with another immensely talented wide receiver in Kevan Lucas, and an up and coming one in Joshua Atkinson, and was still able to absolutely dominate the offense. It is fair to note that Lucas was injured toward the end of the season.
Carolina may have been the best spot for him to end up. Aside from Benjamin, I am convinced that Garrett could end up beating them out for production. Ted Ginn had a career year last year, but his career stats do not indicate that it is likely to continue. I would definitely wait to see how things progress into the summer, but he is one of my favorites to stick with the team and produce this year.
JOSH FERGUSON – RB – ILLINOIS – INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Ferguson actually didn’t do anything overwhelmingly special at Illinois. During his time there, he never eclipsed 150 carried or 800 yards, and never broke double digit touchdowns on the ground. He seemingly always shared the load with another player, which definitely kept him from being in the national limelight. Still, there are a number of things I think he can bring to the Colts.
First thing is opportunity. The Colts are getting ready to put 33 year old Frank Gore on the field as their starting tailback. I don’t have a dislike of Frank Gore, but age is a big concern at this point. He can’t carry the load on his own, and the guys behind him unquestionably leave a lot to be desired. Shockingly, the Colts didn’t draft a back this year, so they must feel content with what they have.
Ferguson fits this offense well. With Andrew Luck back and presumed healthy, behind what should definitely be an improved offensive line, the focus should be on the passing attack. The running back will play a part, but the actual rushing could be diminished. This is exactly how Ferguson played at Illinois. He can move the chains if need be, but he can block and more importantly in an offense like this, can catch out of the backfield. I would not be surprised to see him make it onto the final roster, and be one of those guys that has a big preseason.
MITCH MATHEWS – WR – BYU – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
I know, right? I am excited about a receiver on the Kansas City Chiefs. Mathews is a tall lanky receiver at 6’6” and 205 lbs. that will absolutely need to put on weight to make it long term in the NFL. Still, he has all the measurable that you want to see in a wide receiver, and actually did it on the field as well. He isn’t the Christian Hackenberg type of prospect where he has all the intangibles – Mathews has all the tangibles, as well.
Jeremy Maclin is absolutely a great receiver and is going to remain the top target on this team as long as he is there. The rest of the receivers, including the two they drafted though have a lot of question marks to me. I am a believer in Tyreek Hill, but he doesn’t profile to be the same type of receiver – in fact, he probably profiles more as a pass catching back like he was in 2014 at Oklahoma State.
I don’t think that the Chiefs are going to be ramping up their passing game in 2016, but I do think it is possible that Mathews has the talent to make the team, and if he does, it is a fair bet that we could see him lining up for some snaps in the regular season.
JAY LEE – WR – BAYLOR – DETROIT LIONS
Ahhhh. Baylor. I love talking about Baylor because it is one of my favorite parts of college football. This year will be no different, but it will be a much different look without Coleman and Jay Lee. I will fully admit, I was a bit surprised when I saw that Jay Lee was not drafted.
Standing at 6’1” and 214 pounds, Lee put up the biggest year of his college career in 2015, catching 38 passes for 758 yards and 8 touchdowns. All this, while playing as the THIRD wide receiver on the team, which also had a tremendous three-headed monster of a running back committee.
It’s pretty obvious that the Lions are not going to be the same without Calvin Johnson catching passes. The only real move they made was grabbing Marvin Jones in the offseason. Golden State cannot handle the load himself, and will be rendered somewhat useless without the dynamic Johnson to pull the coverage to him that allowed Tate to have success.
The receiving unit of the Lions is one of the worst in the NFL in my opinion, but Lee could fill a really big hole. It won’t be a MEGATRON sized hole, but it can certainly be a hole that allows him to see production immediately in 2016.