I’ve always found it easy to root for the underdog. When I’m filling out my NCAA March Madness bracket, and know nothing about either team’s players or potential in the tournament, I will take the underdog every day of the week and twice on Sunday. When Halloween comes around I’ll proudly back candy corn while the rest of the world decries it. I’ve paid money to see Nickelback in concert more than once. After all, you don’t become a connoisseur of kickers bif you can’t root for the little guy.

As the daughter of a single mother, I watched life throw her regular punches. And I also watched as she took those punches on the chin and refused to go down. I didn’t fully understand her resilience when I was a child. Now, as a single mother myself, I’m writing my own underdog story. Thus, I feel it is my duty to stand up for the fantasy football underdogs who aren’t getting the respect they deserve. 

A Duval Dart Throw

While he may have struggled to catch the ball while a member of the Giants, new Jaguars TE Evan Engram certainly caught a bad rap for dropped passes.  He may be the only pass-catcher in the NFL for whom the fantasy community has collectively decided that drops do matter.  However, Engram has a fresh start on a new team with a shot at redemption.

With no clear-cut No. 1 wideout on the roster, Engram could at least find himself as the second-favorite target for QB Trevor Lawrence, which is the No. 1 thing I target when looking for TE success in fantasy, especially at a TE20 ADP.

An Essentially Free QB With Potentially Massive ROI

Drew Lock rode out of Denver this offseason and landed in Seattle, where he is gunning for the starting job. I know I’m yelling into the void here, but I’ve always maintained that Lock wasn’t given the chance he deserved in Denver. (This is a column about underdogs, don’t forget!)

It is easy to forget Lock had the deck stacked against him almost from the jump. In 2019, Lock’s rookie season, a thumb sprain held him on the sidelines until Week 13. He lost his No. 1 wideout, Courtland Sutton, to an ACL/MCL tear in Week 2 of 2020. And in 2021 his head coach was far more concerned with what I call “playing not to lose” and started journeyman QB Teddy Bridgewater instead.

While it is a small sample size, the best stretch of Lock’s fantasy production came in 2020 from Weeks 7 thru 17 when he averaged 17.89 PPG. That total was good enough to make him the QB11 in FPPG for QBs that played at least 10 games in that same stretch. If Lock wins the Week 1 job, or takes over for a struggling Geno Smith, his free ADP could bring your squad massive ROI.

Thielen Lucky About A Certain WR

It feels like no matter what Vikings WR Adam Thielen does he’ll always be an underdog in fantasy football drafts. As an undrafted wide receiver out of Minnesota State, a Division II Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference school, he was always going to have to prove himself. Now he’s a seasoned veteran with the following fantasy finishes since 2017:

  • 2017: WR8 
  • 2018: WR7
  • 2019: WR12 (Weeks 1-7 pre-injury)
  • 2020: WR10
  • 2021: WR7 (Weeks 1-12 pre-injury)

He’s a trusted target for Kirk Cousins in the red zone, and the highly-concentrated Vikings offense means Thielen and WR Justin Jefferson both have the potential to finish as top-12 fantasy wideouts.

A Late-Round Steal from The Steel City

Former Oklahoma State RB Jaylen Warren signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent following the 2022 NFL Draft and immediately put himself on HC Mike Tomlin’s radar. As an Oklahoma State fan myself, I knew Warren would shine when given the chance.

Since the preseason started, the word from Steelers camp is that Warren has supplanted veteran RBs Benny Snell Jr. and Anthony McFarland Jr. as the RB2 in Pittsburgh. If those reports are correct, Warren becomes a great fantasy value and handcuff to bellcow back Najee Harris.

Those are my guys. Each one of them an underdog – just like me, my mom, and Chad Kroeger. And we don’t care what the odds say (except the Vegas odds that still suggest Adam Thielen will score a bunch of touchdowns, we agree with those). We’re going to keep getting up every morning, grabbing our lunch pail, punching that clock, and proving the haters wrong. Because that’s what underdogs do. 

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