Each year, there is a smattering of players who seemingly emerge from nowhere to save your fantasy football season. Some of these prospective league champions are entirely unpredictable, while others are currently underrated NFL players. These ten players don’t get the credit they deserve in both fantasy football and actual football, based on their average draft position and general standing in the league.
10 Underrated NFL Tight Ends for the 2017 Fantasy Football Season
Hayden Hurst is not a standout, but he has proven to be a dependable depth option in virtually every passing offense. Now, he has a clear path to a larger burden because Carolina’s receiving corps is objectively poor. Rookie quarterbacks like Bryce Young have a tendency to use tight ends as safety blankets, which is good news for Hurst, and that utilization should increase as Terrace Marshall and an elderly Adam Thielen won’t get open very often.
It is easy to see why Derek Carr believes you should draft Juwan Johnson in fantasy football. Every fantasy football season features one or two surprising tight ends, and Juwan Johnson could be this year’s surprise performer. The tight end has a clear path to becoming the second option in the offense because he positions up wide, doesn’t block excessively, and possesses exceptional speed for his position. Juwan Johnson stands out as one of the league’s most underrated players in an NFL landscape where only three to five tight ends are worthy of starting consideration.
Throughout his professional career, J.K. Dobbins has endured injuries, but he has always performed well when on the field. Injuries are notoriously difficult to predict, so it would be unwise to presume he will be injured again this year. Saquon Barkley fell to the latter half of the second round in the majority of 2017 fantasy football selections due to this line of reasoning. Dobbins is an effective carrier in and of himself, shares the backfield with Lamar Jackson, and should see more targets with Todd Monken calling the plays. Overall, this is the ideal formula for one of the NFL’s most underrated athletes to finally gain the respect he deserves.
Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery have shared carries with remarkable effectiveness. The former sixth-round selection should take over as Chicago’s primary running back now that Montgomery has moved to Detroit. Playing with Justin Fields should open up numerous rushing lanes, as opposing defenses will have to account for the possibility of Fields breaking free. Khalil Herbert should beat out D’Onta Foreman and Roschon Johnson for the starting position, despite the fact that he may not catch many passes.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Sean Tucker is significantly more accomplished than the average undrafted player. Tucker was passed over in the draft due to injury concerns, but he is now recovered and taking first-team repetitions in practice. Rashaad White is presently slated to be Tampa Bay’s primary running back, but he was one of the league’s least effective runners in 2017. Tucker should secure the starting position by midseason if he remains healthy and performs to his full potential.
Keenan Allen may not be the most intriguing name on the list of the NFL’s most underrated players, as elderly veterans are not nearly as intriguing as unproven youth. However, according to all available advanced metrics, Keenan Allen has a few more productive years left in him. The former third-round pick concluded 2017 with a 27.8% target rate, a 28.4% target share, 2.35 yards per route run, and a PFF grade of 84.8. Allen should receive superior targets and more scoring opportunities now that Kellen Moore serves as his NFL-caliber offensive coordinator.
In 2022, Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson were the top two freshman wide receivers, but Jahan Dotson could join them in 2023. The first-round pick showed great promise as a rookie, accumulating 35 receptions for 523 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games despite overcoming injuries and numerous quarterback changes. Due to Terry McLaurin’s injury, Dotson should be the primary option in Washington’s passing game, and he could easily surpass 1,000 receiving yards.
Diontae Johnson concluded the 2022 season with a target share of 27% and an air yardage share of 32.3%. Despite this optimal usage, Johnson remains one of the most underrated players in the league, despite these near-elite numbers. All of this stems from the fact that he did not score a touchdown during the 2022 season.
Obviously, this is not ideal, but it is not particularly indicative of future performance. Historically, touchdown totals fluctuate from season to season, whereas target share and air yardage share are far more predictable. Diontae Johnson should conclude the season as a low-end WR1 or a high-end WR2 if he catches more touchdown passes than a more experienced Kenny Pickett.
As a novice quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kenny Pickett started slowly but gained fire as the season progressed. From Week 12 on, Pickett was the second-best quarterback in the league by PFF’s metrics, and he appears to have picked up exactly where he left off last year. Even though it’s only the preseason, Pickett’s strong start to 2022 and remarkable preseason performances cannot be overlooked. Perhaps he won’t produce Patrick Mahomes-like numbers, but he should be a competent real- and fantasy football starter.
Typically, you should not place too much trust in a quarterback selected in the fifth round. Sam Howell, however, is an exception to the rule. The North Carolina product would have been a first-round pick had he entered the draft a year earlier, and his early NFL film indicates that his 2021 season was an anomaly caused by poor supporting cast play.
Howell performed admirably in the final game of the 2022 season and lit up the preseason, edging out Jacoby Brissett for the starting quarterback position. The sky is the limit for one of the NFL’s most underrated players, who is now assured of a starting position and has a strong supporting ensemble in Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samuel.