The path to fantasy relevance for an undrafted rookie is...how do I put this tactfully...a dookie-filled obstacle course. Draft capital matters. A lot. So you're essentially hoping for injuries at the top of the depth chart or a wildly impressive training camp to get these guys on the field. But it does happen.
Just last year, undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay beat out 3rd round pick Royce Freeman on his way to an RB13 finish. Corey Clement and Josh Adams have both seen fantasy relevance in the Eagles backfield. Adam Humphries, Robby Anderson, Geronimo Allison, Keelan Cole, and Robert Foster have been startable wide receivers over the last couple of years.
There are undrafted guys out there who can provide a boost to your fantasy team. And since NFL teams overlooked them on draft day, the managers in your league will likely do the same. Don't do that. Keep these undrafted free agent signees on your radar.
Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Tampa Bay
How much confidence you have in Jameis Winston to turn his play around under Bruce Arians will determine how much value you think Fitzgerald has as a backup QB. But even supposing Winston plays lights out and keeps the starting gig, Fitzgerald's college resume might get him on the field regardless.
Fitzgerald ran for at least 980 yards in each his last 3 college seasons. The dude had 3,607 rushing yards and 601 rushing attempts at Mississippi State. That's roughly the same stat line as Ronald Jones had in college, and he's an actual running back.
Speaking of whom, if Jones and/or Peyton Barber continue their lackluster showings in the backfield, it's not unreasonable to think Fitzgerald could walk into a decent amount of touches straight away.
Brett Rypien, QB, Denver
Knowing the Broncos history of botching their rookie vs. veteran quarterback competitions, it's feasible that neither Joe Flacco nor Drew Lock will end up starting by the end of 2019. And if that happens, it will be just Bretty Rypien and Kevin Hogan left standing. That alone gives the undrafted QB a little bit of sparkle.
Rypien put up solid stats at Boise State, and has those oft-cited "intangibles" coaches look for in a leader. When Flacco's arm dies, and Lock goes the way of Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian, it could very well be Rypien's turn to provide mediocre production under center.
James Williams, RB, Kansas City
Are you a Damien Williams believer? Or do you think Carlos Hyde is the answer? It's possible both camps end up disappointed sooner than later as James "Boobie" Williams eventually steals the job.
Williams is a receiving specialist, so it's possible he sees some work immediately in that regard. Kansas City needs new receiving weapons with Tyreek Hill likely getting cut from the team -- or at the very least suspended for a large chunk of time -- and Williams could provide a nice boost.
Alex Barnes, RB, Tennessee
Barnes was one of the few undrafted rookie running backs that felt like he SHOULD have been drafted, possibly even in the middle rounds. But the NFL has been shifting away from bigger backs like Barnes lately, making him a tough sell with a lot of coaching staffs.
Enter the Titans, who currently employee one of the biggest backs in the game. Derrick Henry is the definition of an old school bruiser, making Barnes his ideal handcuff.
Karan Higdon, RB, Texans
The Texans have some question marks in their backfield, and yet, they opted not to draft a running back. Lamar Miller and D'onta Foreman don't inspire a ton of confidence, so a quality depth piece like Higdon could prove valuable in the long run.
Higdon was an aggressive, tackle-breaking runner at Michigan. That kind of fire seems desperately needed in Houston's backfield, so if he does well as a spell back initially, the coaches might be forced to get him onto the field quite a bit more.
Emanuel Hall, WR, Chicago
A deep vertical threat who could be what Kevin White was supposed to be. Hall was originally thought to be a Round 3-4 consideration, but fell off draft boards due to some medical concerns and attitude issues. We've seen plenty of receivers with an immense amount of raw talent flame out in the NFL because of those same things, so it's scary to put too much confidence in Hall.
Still, he has a pretty easy path to playing time, as Chicago's receiving corp looks pretty unsettled. Outside of Allen Robinson -- who's been extremely hot and cold the last few years -- the Bears don't have much money invested in any of their pass catchers. Gabriel and Anthony Miller figure to compete for the No. 2 spot this year, but Hall has a great chance to get in some work as their 4th.
Preston Williams, WR, Miami
Preston Williams had a rough showing at his pro day, which likely dumped him off most team's draft boards. But his college production is nothing to sneeze at, and he has the physical traits that are so coveted in the NFL. Williams is a natural pass-catcher and has a knack for contested catches.
More importantly, any one of the Dolphins primary wide receivers could be jettisoned tomorrow and it wouldn't surprise me. If that receiver were Davante Parker, Williams could step in and be at least as mediocre as Parker out of the gate.
Jaylen Smith, WR, Baltimore
The Ravens knew they had to add some pass-catching weapons for Lamar Jackson if the sophomore QB was to improve. So they spent a 1st round pick on Marquise Brown, the first receiver off the board. Then they doubled down with Miles Boykin in the 3rd round. Both of those receivers are clearly perceived to be more talented than Jaylen Smith.
But with a shaky, awestruck quarterback like Jackson, it's not about which receiver is the most talented. It's about which receiver makes him feel more comfortable. And Smith has the inside track there, as he and Jackson hooked up for 980 yards and 7 touchdowns in their final year together at Louisville.