We’re at the point of the NFL offseason when things are eerily quiet. The draft and free agency are in the rearview mirror, and rookie mini camps and OTAs don’t typically generate much buzz. It’s unlikely the NFL landscape changes drastically over the coming weeks, but that doesn’t mean May should be considered a dead period for fantasy football.

 

One of the keys to success in dynasty is winning on the edges. With little movement going on in the NFL right now, it’s the perfect time to focus on the less exciting portion of your roster – the very bottom. To help improve the end of your bench, I’ve created a list of seven players who you may want to acquire before their hype builds as we get closer to Week 1.

KJ Hamler, WR Denver Broncos

The addition of Russell Wilson is a very clear upgrade for Denver’s passing attack. The common narrative is that his presence will be a massive boon for Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and even Albert Okwuegbunam’s fantasy value. While the excitement around these three is justified, Wilson could also provide opportunity for one of Denver’s lesser-known receivers.  

Just two years ago, KJ Hamler was drafted in the second round by the Broncos. He’s largely viewed as Denver’s WR4, but his path to targets may be less daunting than you initially thought. Entering year three, it’s not unreasonable to think Hamler can beat out Tim Patrick for the WR3 spot in Denver. The two have completely opposite skill sets, and if Wilson and the new coaching staff prefer Hamler’s speed to Patrick’s size, the former could see meaningful snaps sooner rather than later. Throw in the fact that both Sutton and Jeudy suffered injuries last year, and there’s a real chance Hamler jumps up even further in the pecking order in what should be a productive passing attack.

Donald Parham, TE Los Angeles Chargers

Everyone wants a piece of the Justin Herbert-led Chargers passing attack, but acquiring Herbert, Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler or Mike Williams won’t be cheap. One name who won’t cost much is Donald Parham. 

Parham is entering his third season in the NFL, which is typically when tight ends start to break out. The 6’8” tight end has yet to earn enough snaps to be considered fantasy relevant, but his massive catch radius makes him a friendly target for Herbert in the red zone. Despite being a backup who hasn’t seen many snaps, Parham has already snagged six touchdowns over his first two seasons. 

Entering 2022, Jared Cook is out of the picture, and there’s an opportunity for Parham to beat out free agent signing Gerald Everett for the #1 TE spot in Los Angeles. If that happens, it’s not unreasonable to think he can find himself on the receiving end of quite a few Justin Herbert touchdown passes this year. 

Jake Funk, RB Los Angeles Rams

While Cam Akers is the darling of many fantasy football analysts, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that he wasn’t the same player after returning from his Achilles injury. Both Sony Michel and Darrell Henderson posted solid numbers in Akers’ absence, but their production was more a result of opportunity than impressive individual performance. If Akers struggles to return to form after an offseason of rehab, the opportunity presented to Michel and Henderson could go elsewhere in 2022.

Enter Jake Funk

Funk was an impressive runner at the University of Maryland, but back-to-back ACL injuries caused him to fall to the seventh round in the 2021 draft. It typically takes two years for a player to fully return from an ACL injury, and entering year two, there’s a scenario where backfield snaps are up for grabs and a healthy Funk capitalizes on the opportunity. Michel hasn’t re-signed with the team, and the only competition the Rams have brought in is fifth-round rookie Kyren Williams. If Akers is no longer the guy, Funk has as good a shot as anyone at earning some touches in the fantasy-friendly Los Angeles backfield.

 

Jordan Love, QB Green Bay Packers

Following Aaron Rodgers’ contract extension, the odds of Jordan Love becoming fantasy relevant anytime soon took a massive nose dive. Instead of viewing this as a death sentence for Love, QB-needy teams in Superflex leagues should view this as a buying opportunity. Love’s cost is cheaper than ever before, and crazier things have happened in the NFL than a former first-round QB getting a second chance with a new team.

There are still a few NFL teams out there in need of a quarterback upgrade. Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo are the two names atop the trade block, but there may be teams out there who prefer Love (and his $3 million cap hit) should he become available. The most likely scenario in 2022 is Love’s situation doesn’t change and he’s holding a clipboard in Green Bay come September. However, this doesn’t mean the odds of him starting elsewhere in 2022 are zero, and the outside chance he gets an opportunity means he’s worth a dart throw.

John Brown, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chris Godwin’s coming off an ACL injury, Antonio Brown likely won’t play another snap in the NFL ever again and targets are up for grabs in Tampa Bay. The Bucs signed Russell Gage in free agency, and the veteran receiver is the early favorite to demand some of those vacant targets. Gage is far from a sure thing, though, and there’s likely going to be some competition in the Bucs WR room this offseason.

There are numerous candidates who could usurp Gage as the next man up in Tampa Bay, but Brown is the only one who’s posted fantasy-relevant seasons in the past. He’s a downfield presence who could fill the void Antonio Brown left in this offense. It’s unlikely (John) Brown turns into anything more than the #3 option in the Bucs passing attack, but that’s a valuable role in a Tom Brady-led offense.

Kene Nwangwu, RB Minnesota Vikings

Despite already having an elite running back in Dalvin Cook and a top-tier handcuff in Alexander Mattison, the Vikings spent a fourth-round pick on Kene Nwangwu in 2021. The rookie didn’t see many snaps at running back in year one, but he showed some explosiveness in the return game that raised a few eyebrows.

Beating out Cook and Mattison on the depth chart will be tough, but a new coaching staff in Minnesota means the Vikings won’t have a predetermined depth chart working against Nwangwu. It’s unlikely he beats out Cook for the RB1 spot, but we can’t ignore the fact that the Vikings incumbent starter will be 27 this season. Cook’s age means both the Vikings brass and fantasy managers need to consider what life in the Minnesota backfield might look like in a post-Cook world. Throw in the fact that Mattison is a pending free agent next season, and there’s a path for Nwangwu to walk into the RB1 spot in 2023 even if he’s unable to usurp Cook or Mattison in 2022.

 

Tylan Wallace, WR Baltimore Ravens

Trading away Marquise Brown and his 145 targets in 2021 opens up a world of opportunity for the remaining pass-catchers in Baltimore. The primary beneficiary will likely be 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman, but more than one player can benefit from Brown’s departure.

Even if Bateman and TE Mark Andrews gobble up most of the market share in the Ravens passing game, Lamar Jackson’s development in 2021 indicates he may be able to support a #3 option. Tylan Wallace was “the other” receiver the Ravens drafted in 2021, and the former fourth-round selection should have every opportunity to earn the #2 receiver spot alongside Bateman this year. 

Even if the return of their top two running backs leads to a more run-centric approach in 2022, the Ravens offense has proven capable of generating explosive plays at a high rate. If Wallace can lock down the WR2 role in Baltimore, he’ll have the opportunity to be on the receiving end of a few of those explosive plays. He likely doesn’t possess the upside of a #2 WR in a more pass-happy offense, but there are worse things to take a flier on than a guy with a path to snaps in a high-octane offense.