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Fantasy football: Undrafted players who have become big contributors by midseason

Three of the top 15 RBs through eight weeks were widely available on the waiver wire before the season began two months ago.

James Conner has picked up right where holdout

James Conner has picked up right where holdout Le'Veon Bell left off as a top-five RB. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Joe Sargent

All the fantasy football draft prep in the world can't guarantee managers will know which unsung players will break out.

That's where the waiver wire comes in. Keen-eyed managers who are fortunate enough to add deep sleepers often are rewarded with victories.

Through eight weeks — about halfway through the NFL season and the majority of the way through the average fantasy reguar season — now is a good time to pay homage to players who went largely undrafted and have become reliable contributors.

Without further ado, here is the midseason all-undrafted team:

QB: Andy Dalton

The Bengals quarterback isn't setting the world on fire. But, as the 14th-best quarterback in terms of points scored, Dalton has proved to be more useful than the likes of Russell Wilson (Seahawks), who was the fifth QB off the board, according to ESPN average draft position (ADP); and Matthew Stafford (Lions), 11th in ADP.

The final QB taken, according to ESPN ADP, was Mitchell Trubisky (Bears) and he has rewarded patient fantasy managers with the seventh-most QB points this season. He deserves recognition, too.

RB: James Conner

What a different world it was two months ago. Back then, everyone just assumed Le'Veon Bell would end his holdout in short order and return to the Steelers' backfield as his usual powerhouse self. Just about nobody drafted Conner, his understudy.

While Bell continues to bide his time for the long-term contract he desires, Conner has been just about as good as the man for whom he's filling in. He ranks fourth in PPR at his position and has been a real fantasy game-changer.

RB: TJ Yeldon

Most fantasy managers were undeterred by Leonard Fournette's missed time as a rookie in 2017, so Jaguars backup Yeldon went ignored. Big mistake.

In PPR formats, Yeldon's value in the passing game made him a surefire source of weekly production, with double-digit scoring in all but one game. He ranks eighth in scoring at his position. Meanwhile, Fournette was a nonfactor in the two games he was healthy enough to play.

RB: Phillip Lindsay

The Broncos running back went undrafted, both in fantasy and in this past NFL Draft. That hasn't deterred him from enjoying a standout rookie campaign.

Lindsay has as many PPR points as Kenyan Drake (Dolphins), who was a top-20 RB in drafts. Both are tied for 15th at the position through eight weeks. And the Denver runner, whose only single-digit game came when he was ejected in the second quarter of Week 3, is gaining steam of late.

WR: Tyler Boyd

After star A.J. Green, it was John Ross who garnered the most attention from the Bengals WR corps. Nobody saw Boyd coming.

Green and Boyd are neck-and-neck in PPR scoring entering their Week 9 bye, with Boyd ranking 12th in points, ahead of studs like Julio Jones (Falcons). He's boom or bust, but his five 20-plus scoring days make him worth the risk.

WR: Dede Westbrook

The Jags receiver isn't a must-start, but at the midway point he is 33rd at the position in PPR leagues. That puts him at roughly a WR3 level, meaning he should be owned in more than his current 29.5 percent of ESPN leagues. More often than not, he has produced double-digit scoring. That's pretty great for someone ignored on draft day.

TE: Vance McDonald

The 14th-best tight end to this point, McDonald hasn't approached his monster 21.2-point effort in Week 3. However, he appears to have the trust of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as a reliable target and has been useful most weeks. Not bad for a guy who was widely available on waivers to start the year.


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