As a follow up to my sleepers to target in a deep rookie draft, I wanted to focus now on potential gems that were undrafted free agents (UDFA) who have now signed with an NFL team. The fact these players went undrafted means they are long shots to even make a roster, much less become fantasy relevant. However, it’s not impossible. Famously, James Robinson went from UDFA to fantasy RB1 by week 3 in 2020.
Here I will profile five players I like to at least have a shot at cracking a roster and getting on the field this season. For deep league managers in devy or campus2canton formats, your rookie draft gets thin in a hurry. Scouring the UDFAs for useful pieces is key. The following players are worth a stash on your taxi squad this fall.
Austin Trammell, WR, Atlanta
The slick receiver from Rice University checks almost all the boxes for what I like in an undrafted free agent sleeper. He’s from a small school, dominated his WR room early in his career, was used on running plays, and returned kicks and punts. All these things point to a dynamic and versatile player.
Trammell has reasonable size, measuring a solid 5’11” and 181 pounds. He impressed at his Pro Day, showing above-average athleticism with a 40” vertical, 10’4” broad, 6.75 3-cone, and 4.13 20-yard shuttle. Perhaps most shocking was the strength he displayed. He put up 26 reps on the bench press, a remarkable 12 reps more than the average WR prospect!
Most undrafted players need to cut their teeth on special teams to make the initial roster, so the fact he has ample experience there is promising. He profiles as a slot receiver in the NFL, and I think he can be a surprise for the Falcons. Despite his UDFA status, Trammell is a priority add for me; even over some sixth and seventh-round draft picks in leagues where that type of player is rostered.
Isaiah McKoy, WR, Pittsburgh
McKoy was one of my earliest sleepers that I came across around March 2020, as he had a monster break out in 2019 as a sophomore for Kent State. First or second-year breakouts always pique my interest. Although, doing it in Group of 5 conferences is much less projectable to the NFL. Nevertheless, he was excellent over his final two years, with a dominator rating of over 30% (accounting for 30% of his team’s receiving yards and touchdowns). He then left school early after three years which typically is a positive indicator, but unfortunately, he went undrafted.
McKoy’s draft stock took a hit because of a poor Pro Day, barely cracking the 25th percentile on most metrics. I don’t value athletic testing very much for receivers, but meeting a minimum threshold is probably important. However, his early production stands on its own. I would be happy to stash him on a taxi squad to see if he rises the depth chart in his first few seasons.
JaQuan Hardy, RB, Dallas
If a team had signed him without two good options in the backfield, I would be more excited about his immediate future. Unfortunately, Dallas is one of the few places the running back depth chart is set. Nevertheless, UDFAs often will be cut and signed by other teams, so we can hope to follow Hardy to another roster. Coming out of D-II Tiffin College, Hardy blew up as a sophomore in 2017 with over 1,000 yards in only 11 games. After missing almost all of 2018 with a knee injury, he finished fourth in D-II in 2019 with 1,554 yards while averaging 7.6 yards per carry. He also caught at least ten passes in each of his three full seasons.
He tested with above-average athleticism at his pro day and has an NFL-ready build at 5’10” 225 pounds. His film shows good jump cut ability with burst and short-area quickness. With his stature, he can gain extra yards after contact as well. As you can imagine, the long speed is questionable, but there are reasons he went undrafted. Still, I like what he can do, and if given an opportunity, I think he could carve out a role.
Deon Jackson, RB, Indianapolis
Going undrafted out of a Power 5 school is usually not a great sign. I will typically take chances on more unknown players who may have missed some radars due to exposure. Playing in the ACC, Jackson certainly did not go unnoticed.
He was the dominant player in the Duke backfield during his sophomore and junior years and contributed to the receiving game catching 47 balls over those two seasons. As a running back, his 10% receiving market share over those seasons is excellent. Additionally, he returned kicks as a sophomore which I look for in these deep targets.
His 2020 was a disaster by all accounts, and I was completely uninterested until I saw his athletic testing numbers. He measured in with feature back size at 5’11” and 218 pounds. He registered an eye-popping 4.42 forty and 123” broad jump showing terrific explosion. His agility lacked with subpar numbers in the 3-cone and 20-yard short shuttle. But we can’t be too choosey when mining for undrafted free agents.
Quentin Morris, TE, Bills
Simply betting on athleticism at TE here, Morris is a converted WR who was a major part of the offense from his sophomore year on at Bowling Green. Standing 6’2” and weighing 242 pounds, he clocked in with a sub- 4.6 forty-yard dash and above average 34” vertical jump at his pro day. Another hyper-athletic project, Dawson Knox, has started to come on for Buffalo, but Morris brings much more collegiate production to the table.
I think Morris will continue to learn the TE position at the NFL level but envision him as a mismatch TE2 with upside for more. At tight end in fantasy, I always will bet on athletic weapons rather than glorified linemen.