I play in a $200 salary auction keeper league, so finding low-cost, high-long-term gems at the end of drafts is always something that’s high on my radar. This year, like most, there were a number of players who were interesting late round pickups. We were in the bench-filling phase of our draft, and Ja’Marr Chase was still there, who went for a mere $6. Shortly before that, DeVonta Smith went for $10.
But there was one player on the board that I had my eye on - and not just because of who he plays for - Jaylen Waddle. The speedy Alabama wideout has as much playmaking upside as any rookie, and he’s kind of been the forgotten man among draft pundits, with an average draft position way behind Chase, Smith, and Kyle Pitts. So I was hoping no one would nominate him for auction, and he’d continue to fall.
As such, I had saved about $30 in reserve (spent WAAAAAAY too much on Najee Harris and Pitts), while most everyone else except for one or two people was in the teens, so I was in position to pick who I wanted for my bench. I finally decided I had waited long enough, so I nominated Waddle, thinking the bidding would at least go up to around where Smith was. Someone bid $2, then I got back on top at $3.
And that was it.
So yeah, Craig, that’s swell and all, but why are you telling us about your fantasy draft that no one cares about? Because I might have just gotten the steal of the draft for $3 on a $200 salary. And you should make sure you get him too when you draft, especially if you’re in a keeper or dynasty league.
Don’t take my word for it - ESPN’s Field Yates is highest on Waddle for a breakout season this year among all rookie wide receivers. And it’s not hard to see why. The opportunity will be there early for him to have an early impact due to his versatility and the strong connection he already has with his former Bama teammate Tua Tagovailoa. Yes, Chase has two excellent WRs alongside him in Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, but neither one is going to take the top off a defense for him - it will be Chase having to do that himself.
In Miami, Waddle has Will Fuller alongside him that will draw plenty of attention deep. Waddle himself has obvious deep threat skills, but he will be able to work with a good bit more space from the slot thanks to what Fuller can do, as well as DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki drawing attention.
In other words, while yes, there will be plenty of very capable pass catchers in Miami to worry about as far as target share, teams will have a very hard time game planning to limit Waddle because of all the weapons, as well as the versatility of skills of said pass catchers, so the opportunity to shine will be there. This seems like a perfect storm setting up for Waddle to have a strong rookie campaign....and one that could help Tagovailoa shed the public questions about his ability to be the guy in Miami - or anywhere else.
The bottom line: if you’re drafting over the next week, take that flier on Waddle late. I have a feeling you’ll be glad you did.