Examining Some UDFA Preseason Risers: Are They Worth It?

Peter Lawrence

The NFL Hall of Fame Game came and went, and now we have had even more preseason action.

Since the NFL Draft, some players have already been released, others have fallen victim to injury, and training camp news has fantasy Twitter arguing who the next late-round stars might be.

Here are three interesting players who have been generating buzz on social media…

Jakobi Meyers, WR NE

New England spent a first-round pick on Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry. However, a former quarterback convert from North Carolina State has been garnering all the attention.

Meyers came to NC State from Arabia Mountain High School in Georgia playing quarterback. A knee injury derailed his freshman season and the coaching staff moved him to receiver.

He played in 13 games as a sophomore and clicked with Ryan Finley in 2017 and 2018, producing 92 receptions for 1,047 receiving yards and four touchdowns. A slow 4.63-second 40-yard dash hurt his draft stock at the NFL Scouting Combine.

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Stats from The Football Database

Meyers was signed as an undrafted free agent this season by New England. He’s been making noise in camp, being labeled a Tom Brady favorite, as Julian Edelman is dealing with a finger injury, and being called the stud of joint practice with the Detroit Lions. All of this also comes with Tom Brady saying: “He’s done a great job, and he’s taken advantage of his opportunities” while running with the first-team offense.

On Thursday night, he proved it all to be true in game action, as he recorded six catches, 69 yards and two touchdowns.

The team depth chart lists him as the fourth-string wide receiver currently but very little stands in his way to making the team. There is Demaryius Thomas, still recovering from a torn Achilles late last December, journeyman Dontrelle Inman, and former Washington receiver Maurice Harris, who has also gotten some positive buzz out of camp.

Looking at July Dynasty startup ADP, Meyers doesn’t show up even in the latest of picks. He stands a chance to make the team as there is a long lineage of the team bringing in undrafted free agents and turn them into producers. Meyers is worth a taxi squad spot and a very late-round draft spot. Don’t expect much though.

Damarea Crockett, RB HOU

With D’Onta Foreman being released, the interest in the running back position in Houston spiked. Duke Johnson‘s arrival from Cleveland filled a void, but behind starter Lamar Miller, Crockett still has a chance to fill in nicely.

Crockett was a three-star recruit coming out of Little Rock Arkansas, and the 31st ranked running back in the 2016 recruiting class. Originally he committed to Boise State but flipped to Missouri after an official visit.

Crockett started strong for Missouri producing early as a freshman, but he dealt with a marijuana-related arrest and was suspended for the final game of his freshman year. A shoulder injury cost Crockett a majority of his junior season, but he came back and produced his final junior season which included a collegiate-best 12 receptions out of the backfield.

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Stats from Sports-Reference.com

Coming in at 5-11 and 225-pounds, it was reported that he ran an unofficial 4.40-second 40-yard dash at the Missouri ProDay and posted a 37-inch vertical jump. Crockett has already impressed at training camp and is likely what made Houston’s decision to move on from Foreman easier. Crockett was an early producer out of college which is good for his overall profile, and he managed 24 yards and a powerful touchdown in his preseason debut on Thursday night.

Johnson has arrived, but Miller is in the final year of his contract and will be a 29-year-old running back if the team brings him back. July DLF ADP also shows that little interest existed in Crockett among fantasy players before Foreman was released. Like Meyers, Crockett was not even being drafted in DLF rookie drafts. Crockett is worth a back-of-the-roster stash but ultimately, the 2020 rookie class will likely bring the running back of the future to Houston.

Bruce Anderson and Dare Ogunbowale, RBs TB

Anderson played football and track in high school but was lightly recruited coming out of Florida in 2015 and is not listed in 247sports rankings. At 5-11 and 210 pounds, he was not invited to Scouting Combine. At the NDSU pro day, he ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash, with 22 reps on the bench press and a 31-inch vertical jump.

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Stats from FCS Football

He was listed by Bucs Nation as an undrafted free agent to watch coming into training camp. With last year’s second-round pick Ronald Jones being a healthy game-day inactive, and receiving such little work at the year’s end, he needs a strong camp to impress the new staff. Peyton Barber took control of the position last season but was unimpressive.

Journeyman Dare Ogunbowale also has impressed the head coach during training camp. This will be the third team he has been with since coming into the league in 2017. Coming in as an undrafted free agent player, he has primarily been a practice squad player. He returned several kicks on special teams last season but is yet to get a carry as a running back. Coming out of Wisconsin, he received limited work outside of his junior year. His role as a returner could also help him land a roster spot.

Anderson is the only player to show up in July startup ADP and rookie draft ADP. Both are listed behind Jones and Barber on the depth chart but Anderson is the one I would spend even late-round draft capital on.

Overall thoughts

Anderson is likely the only player I might intentionally target in my drafts. I am unimpressed with Ronald Jones (as were his coaches) and Peyton Barber is consistent but unimpressive.

In dynasty leagues, all of these players are not worth cutting veteran producers for as they may be afterthoughts with their teams targeting runners in 2020. However, they are worth a shot if you have an open roster spot.

peter lawrence