Tyjae Spears (RB53, 15th Round)
Spears is the perfect complement to Derrick Henry, and it’s his dual-threat ability out of the backfield that’s going to buy him more time on the field.
Not only is he an extremely talented runner (he was 22nd out of 146 backs with 100 carries in 2022 in yards per attempt and 21st in yards after contact), but he’s also an elite pass catcher (he was PFF’s 2nd-highest graded running back in overall receiving grade).
With Derrick Henry allegedly getting closer and closer to the RB production cliff, investing a late round pick in a guy who figures to see the field on passing downs and that profiles as a three-down handcuff to Henry is a no brainer. He’s been impressive in OTA’s according to multiple reports, and with Hassan Haskins picking up a domestic violence charge within the last week and a half, the path to become the clear RB2 in Tennessee is wide open for Spears.
Spears won’t be competing for your RB2 or even RB3 spot this season, especially not early on, but he can grow into a serviceable flex player if the Titans decide they want to tap the brakes with Henry’s usage at all in 2023.
Josh Downs (WR88, 18th Round)
What does Josh Downs have going for him in Indianapolis? Well, he’s a certified slot guy with a knack for demanding targets from there – and it just so happens that the Colts vacated their top slot guy in Parris Campbell this offseason, who garnered 85 targets in 2022. He’s also an excellent separator and should have no trouble producing once he assumes his position as the slot receiver.
The problem for Downs will be getting to that point. First, he’ll have to go through another slot ace in Isaiah McKenzie – somebody he could realistically end up splitting time with if he’s not able to separate during camp. Then, assuming he can get there, he’ll then have to deal with a rookie quarterback in Anthony Richardson, and he isn’t exactly known for his accuracy.
The cards will have to fall exactly right for Downs to unlock his upside, but that’s pretty much the way it goes when you’re drafting in the 18th round. And if those two conditions are met at any point in the season, Downs will have the chance to be a strong weekly contributor as a WR3 or flex.
Tank Dell (WR92, 18th Round)
Texans HC DeMeco Ryans has said that Tank Dell has been getting open plenty in offseason training so far, so that’s just about exactly what you’d want to hear for a guy that’s going to have a little work to do before he can be a solid fantasy contributor on the Texans offense.
C.J. Stroud apparently also went out of his way to get the Texans to keep Dell in Houston, and they spent a second round pick on him. So the draft capital is there, the situation is there, and the need at slot receiver is there – and that’s exactly where Dell is at his best running from.
He was supremely productive in his last two years at Houston – he put up an absurd 199 receptions on 291 targets for over 2700 yards and 29 touchdowns. His separation is going to be what allows him to produce in the NFL, and he’ll live or die by that at his size. But in the 18th round, you can’t go wrong taking Dell because the upside, as he demonstrated in college, is massive.