Dynasty Deep Stash – Makai Polk
By Tim Lazenby
In dynasty fantasy football every player in the league is in the discussion to bring about success. While there are certainties like the top players at the position, there are also breakout players and sleepers to keep an eye on. Well, below them there are an assortment of deep stash players to cross your fingers and just hope they succeed. As many of these players are essentially “free” in drafts or can be thrown in as part of trades with relative ease, finding these deep stashes can be very lucrative if you know where to look. One such player is Makai Polk of the Baltimore Ravens.
Heading into the 2022 NFL Entry Draft, many players were holding draft parties knowing full well their names would be called. There were other players wondering how far past day one they would have to wait to don their new colors with their new NFL teams. And despite all the talent, drive and determination, some players simply wouldn’t be drafted at all. Being left alone after the draft would have them entering the uncertain land of the UDFA.
I’ll admit I was somewhat surprised that Makai Polk was left as an undrafted free agent after the draft. While he wasn’t the only surprise for me and I knew there was a chance no one would take a shot on him, it was still shocking to see 262 players chosen before Polk. I am fully aware that there wasn’t a lot of hype behind the Mississippi State product, but I still believed. Before I delve any further, let’s go over the numbers.
Tale of the Tape
6’3” 195 lbs
Hands – 9.48”
Arm – 32.2”
Wing – 77.7”
40 time – 4.59
Vertical – 31.0
Shuttle – 4.36
Let’s face it: Makai Polk had a bad combine if you look at the numbers for the drills. Of 32 wide receivers who ran the 40 yard dash, he finished 26th. Among the 34 wide receivers who attempted the vertical jump, Makai finished 32nd. Finally, among the 13 wide receivers who attempted the shuttle, Makai finished 7th. The combine truthers came out of the woodworks against Polk and any other player who performed poorly in these circumstances.
And while these numbers look appalling, especially the 40 time that everyone and their mom cares so much about, I’m here to tell you it’s not everything. Did you know that Antonio Brown (4.56), for example, ran at a very similar time? Legends Larry Fitzgerald (4.63), Anquan Boldin (4.71) and arguably the greatest of all time, Jerry Rice (4.71) were all way slower at the 40 than Makai Polk. While I don’t think Polk is a surefire bet to meet their numbers, it’s still important to know. I’m not saying that the 40 yard dash and other spectacles are useless, but they should be treated more like evidence than proof of a player’s skill on the football field.
I’ve preached for years now that I don’t care that much about combine numbers. I watch it as often as I can, but it’s more for entertainment. I care far more about watching how players do in football situations like actually running routes and catching balls. On the positive side, Polk measured well when it comes to size. We all know that smaller players can succeed for sure, but it’s certainly not hurting a player’s chances if they are larger. Makai Polk measured among the bigger players in all his physical aspects, notably being in the top ten in wingspan. I just love a receiver with reach.
Long before the draft, Makai Polk began his college career at California. And although he wasn’t bad, he certainly didn’t stand out. After playing only 12 games in two seasons, it was clear that a change of pace was in order. Despite the Pac-12 being a typically easier division, Polk’s time in California did not show what he was capable of. In a large twist, going to a tougher SEC division, he actually excelled at Mississippi State. Here are his final numbers in college.
13 games, 105 receptions, 1046 yards, 9 touchdowns
And in case you don’t know how good that is, he broke his school’s single season records in receptions and yards. His receptions were also the best in the entire SEC division, arguably the top division in all of college football. What he accomplished is even more impressive considering the scheme he played in. His coach had designed the plays to be short and sweet, so we never really got to see how good Polk could be if his quarterback would just uncork the ball and throw it up for Polk.
There’s much to be said about the fact that I am not a professional scout, coach or manager as much as I like to believe I am. While I often have to just accept what grade the big boys give to players, there are circumstances where my football “spidey-sense” just has to override it all. I simply cannot see a world in which Makai Polk doesn’t eventually land his opportunity with all the size and talent that he has. A bad combine derailed his chances at being drafted, but let’s not forget what has happened after the draft.
Polk now heads to Baltimore where the situation is just about as good as it can get. While it’s true that the Ravens are among the league’s top rushing offenses, the Ravens’ quarterbacks still threw the ball 611 times last season. With Marquise Brown now gone, his 146 targets are up for grabs. Add to that the fact that Baltimore has one of the most inexperienced receiving corps in the league, it’s all looking up for Makai as long as he can work his way into the lineup. With Rashod Bateman as the top option at wide receiver, I can’t think of a better landing spot.
I’m not telling you to spend a top pick on Polk or trade your elite talent to acquire him. I am saying, however, that there isn’t a better player who costs you pretty much nothing. In dynasty, where you have deeper benches to fill and time to wait, do the right thing for your team and get Makai Polk on your roster.
Follow me on Twitter @NFLazenby
Tim Lazenby joined Dynasty Pros, after writing for a few years elsewhere, and is passionate about all things fantasy football. Tim has been playing fantasy sports for over twenty years now and takes his love of the game to every article he writes. Although he’s played a variety of fantasy football, he is especially in love with dynasty football. If you ask him for advice, whether you’re just joining or you’ve been playing for years, he wants nothing more than to help you succeed, than to keep that fantasy gold to himself. A lover of the game and ultimate competitor, Tim is just trying to spread the good news of fantasy football to all.