NFL Draft's unclaimed fantasy opportunities
The NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror and there are still a surprising number of unclaimed opportunities left over. When we last checked on 2015’s unaccounted-for handoffs and PFF-charted targets, free agent signings had slowed, but the draft was on the horizon to round out rosters and roles.
Yet, not all of depth chart cracks have been filled – or at least some proposed solutions are hard to get fully on board with. On the other hand, several players previously assumed to be covered over by highly-drafted rookies are still perched atop depth charts in offenses stocked with opportunity.
Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins
Let’s get him out of the way first, as Ajayi has been written about often, both before and after the draft. Miami has 226 unaccounted-for handoffs from 2015, and Ajayi remains in position to take the lion’s share of them, on top of the 49 he handled as a rookie. The Dolphins added Kenyan Drake, but he fits a more complementary, pass-catching role. Early indications were Miami wanted to import a back to run ahead of Ajayi, but new head coach Adam Gase appears to be warming up. Their actions during the draft — or more accurately, their inaction — spoke loudly.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have 148 unaccounted-for targets, and while they wisely focused on their 29th-graded defense and league-worst offensive line, they added little in the way of pass catchers. Hunter Henry is behind Antonio Gates, and San Diego loves their three-wide sets. Imported speedster Travis Benjamin will assume Malcolm Floyd’s downfield role and a handful more than his 68 targets. That leaves a ton of short-to-intermediate-range volume for Allen, Gates, and Stevie Johnson. Philip Rivers’ aDOT (7.7) ranked 32nd last year, as did his deep ball rate (8.9) – a category in which he hasn’t finished top-10 since 2009. Allen was on a seemingly unsustainable 172-target pace through eight games when he was hurt, but don’t be shocked if he picks right up where he left off.
Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy and was named 2013 Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman