John Ross, WR, CIN - Tyler Boyd stole Ross’s thunder early in the season, and Ross pulled up lame on the long touchdown we have been waiting for. Even without Tyler Eifert, all of the elements for a diverse and dangerous pass offense are there in Cincinnati, and Ross should get the highest value targets as the deep threat. Now that he’s been hurt again, the pattern of disappointment is probably overshadowing his top ten draft pedigree and the displays of what made him coveted in dynasty leagues.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Jarvis Landry, WR, David Njoku, TE, CLE - The initial rush of Baker Mayfield taking over has worn off and Landry’s numbers have actually dipped with Mayfield as the starter. He is still leading the Browns in red zone passing looks. Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Kansas City are up next in very positive passing matchups, including prime breakout game candidates for Njoku against the Steelers and Bucs, and Mayfield against any of these defenses that struggle to defend the pass and encourage opponents to throw in what usually end up being high scoring games.
Chester Rogers, Ryan Grant, WR, Erik Swoope, TE, IND - Rogers and Grant make another appearance as likely sources of very cheap consistent PPR production in a pass-heavy offense, and Rogers is particularly enticing as the best depth threat, only a drop away from a much bigger Week 5. Swoope is a new addition with his basketball background and outstanding ball skills that flashed in limited Week 5 action with Eric Ebron ailing entering Week 6 and Jack Doyle at least a week away from returning. Swoope could end up being a more reliable version of Ebron.
Spencer Ware, RB, Chris Conley, WR, KC, Josh Reynolds, WR, Gerald Everett, TE, Malcolm Brown, RB, LAR - These aren’t specific recommendations as much as they are reminders that as we go through the bye week gauntlet and you end up with an extra roster spot, think offenses as much as much as players. All of these names are one injury away from a key role in one of the best offenses in the league. Ware is a proven commodity, the players in front of Conley, Reynolds, and Everett have all already suffered injuries this year, and Brown is the handcuff to the most valuable running back role so far this year.
Kenyan Drake, RB, MIA - Adam Gase may get fired before he comes to his senses, and Drake may not return value in redraft leagues this year. The top end talent we saw in December last year is still there even if Gase doesn’t want to take advantage of his abilities. A new coach or team could turn Drake into what he was last year and what we hoped he’d be this year. Another game with flashes like Week 5 and the buy low window will be closed.
Dion Lewis, RB, TEN - Other parts of the Titans offense could be listed here - as they were last week - basically as a bet on Matt LaFleur and Marcus Mariota to get this figured out sooner than later. The offensive line suffered another injury when Taylor Lewan went down, but if the injury isn’t serious, the line could be intact again soon. In the meantime, Lewis’s talents as a receiver are still going underused, and he represents the easiest path to get the offense on track if the downfield passing and power running games are still stalling out. Lewis is much better than his stats this year to date indicate, it’s just up to the coaches to set him up better for success.
Ito Smith, RB, ATL - Devonta Freeman’s latest injury is keeping Smith’s redraft value alive, but it’s his dynasty value that is more enticing right now. Tevin Coleman is a trade candidate, well was until Freeman’s new injury, and Smith’s performance should influence the Falcons to not overpay for his services in free agency next year. It’s not outlandish to think the Falcons could part ways with Freeman after next season and leave Smith as their lead back in 2020. Get in ahead of the curve.
Taylor Gabriel, WR, CHI - Gabriel had a huge Week 4 that just happened to coincide with the best offensive game of the year by far for the Bears. Allen Robinson is going to get matched up with Xavien Howard this week, so his momentum will continue and he, not Tarik Cohen could end up being in the Tyreek Hill role. He’s available for pennies despite having a solid PPR floor before his breakout.
Melvin Gordon III, RB, LAC - By no means is this a recommendation to sell Gordon under market value, but if Gordon is drawing Alvin Kamara/Todd Gurley level prices in redraft or dynasty leagues, it might not be a bad time to see if you can get his value at a high point. He has been one of the few elite fantasy running backs and passing game involvement has surpassed even the most optimistic projections. The Chargers haven’t committed to Gordon long term, so his dynasty value may never be higher than it is right now.
Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, RB, PHI - The Eagles may trade for a back, or they may just stick with their committee. Either way, it is going to be tough to find predictable consistent value in the Eagles backfield from these two even though there is a short-term value spike going into this week.
Robby Anderson, WR, NYJ - Anderson was quiet early in the Jets offense, but Week 5 saw an awakening that reminded us how easy it is for him to get free deep and make perfect plays on the ball in flight. Sam Darnold has the arm, poise, and play-extending ability to keep Anderson’s vertical game a weekly part of the offense and make September, not Week 5, seem like the fluke in 2018.
James Conner, RB, PIT - Hopefully no one would sell Conner in dynasty leagues at this point with the strong possibility that he takes over this backfield for good next year, but he also has more legs in redraft leagues than you might think. The Steelers easily could employ a committee with Conner and Bell after Bell returns, and Bell could get hurt after a football layoff. This backfield has produced enough to support two every week starts a la the Saints or Patriots, and Conner’s performance is giving the Steelers no reason to bench him when Bell returns. There’s also the chance that Bell changes his mind about returning to the team yet again. If Conner is being sold with no longer the starter from Week 8 on discount, he could be worth the price and more.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, DET - Johnson is yet to have that signature game to announce his arrival, but it is coming. In dynasty leagues he’ll cost a lot as he has looked every bit the part of a future workhorse in all aspects of the game, but you might be able to get him for what will look very reasonable soon. Be willing to part with a 2019 first plus for him.
Tre’Quan Smith, WR, NO - Smith’s big Week 5 might be chalked up to Washington secondary breakdowns, but they were a strong defense before they came into New Orleans. Some might think it was just a blip because Ted Ginn Jr should be back after the bye, but Smith brought that role to life in a way that Ginn hasn’t in a year plus with the Saints. For the last two years, a second-day draft pick Saints rookie has helped us win leagues, and Smith might make it three. Try to get him in redraft leagues while there is still doubt about whether what we saw Monday night was a sign of things to come.
Amari Cooper, WR, OAK - Cooper might have a sell high window coming after the bye with the Colts and 49ers on the schedule, but the Chargers, Cardinals, Ravens and likelihood of more frustration lay ahead. Cooper has little value in redraft leagues, but he still has a lot of value in dynasty leagues. That might not be true for much longer with the Raiders becoming a weaker and weaker situation for fostering wide receiver value with two rookie tackles and a quarterback who is no longer looking like a strong long term answer for his franchise.