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Erickson: Favorite late-round dart-throws for 2021 best ball leagues

Sep 26, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Louisville Cardinals running back Javian Hawkins (10) runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Unearthing fantasy football breakouts, sleepers and late-round dart-throws is one of the most fun parts of our fake game, but the process has changed over the last few years with so much information at our disposal.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find any legitimate player being overlooked, so we have to dig extremely deep to find late-round fantasy gems that have the potential to be worthwhile fantasy assets on best ball rostersAfter all, the strategy with the last pick in the 18th, 19th or 20th round should be centered around drafting a player who won’t be rostered in most leagues.

Again, all of the late-round picks are dart-throws — I just prefer my dart-throws to be less rostered so that if they do hit, my team will benefit the most. 

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We saw that play out last season with Mike Davis and James Robinson — two running backs who were off the radar entirely in 95% of best ball leagues yet ended up pushing rosters over the top because they were productive and virtually non-rostered across the board. 

For these reasons, it's time to take a look at some players with ADPs outside the top 200 who could prove useful for 2021 best ball leagues if things fall their way. 

RB JAVIAN HAWKINS, ATLANTA FALCONS | ADP: RB59

Louisville’s Javian Hawkins surprisingly went undrafted after an extremely productive college career. He posted a solid 25% dominator rating over his career and a 30% rating in his second season as a starter. He’s always been a home-run hitter, but apparently NFL teams were concerned about his smaller stature (5-foot-8 and 183 pounds). 

Hawkins ended up signing with the Falcons as a UDFA — a great landing spot given the circumstances. Mike Davis is the entrenched RB1 in the backfield, but the RB room is pretty bare-bones behind him with the likes of Qadree Ollison (2019 fifth-rounder), Tony James-Brooks (2019 UDFA) and Caleb Huntley (2021 UDFA).

Hawkins also offers the one ability Davis does not possess: explosiveness. The former Panther posted the league’s third-lowest breakaway run percentage (15%) in 2020 (min. 150 carries). 

Arthur Smith’s offenses relied heavily on zone concepts in Tennessee, and that also plays into Hawkins’ strengths. He rushed for nearly 800 yards (fourth-best in the class) from strictly zone concepts last season. 

Many other rookie RBs are buried on depth charts, but Hawkins looks like he has a solid chance of ascending to RB2 status. Look for him to impress big time in the preseason. He’s got talent and reportedly fell in the draft because of off-field issues.

We saw Davis’ production fall off toward the end of the 2020 season, and he missed the Week 17 finale. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this backfield potentially turn into a one-two punch between Davis and Hawkins as the season progresses. 

Not to mention that the Falcons have a brutal start to the season for their RBs. Three of their first five matchups are against defenses that ranked top-10 versus RBs in 2020. Four of these teams also ranked top-11 in PFF run-defense grade.

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