Keelan Cole, WR, JAX - Cole has struggled with drops and fumbles and the Jaguars pass offense was flatlining heading into their bye. He still has the highest ceiling of any Jaguars receiver, he flashed immense skill and speed at his best in his first year and a half, and has room to grow as a 25-year-old UDFA. This is a great time to get him as a throw-in in a rebuilding deal.
Ian Thomas, TE, CAR - With Greg Olsen back and looking good, Thomas has retreated into the background. The Panthers are building an offense that might rival the Chiefs and Rams soon and Thomas has the speed and hands to be a very difficult matchup in future years. Olsen’s foot could come apart at any moment, so Thomas isn’t just an investment for the future.
Robby Anderson, WR, NYJ - Anderson had one flash of the deep speed and ball tracking that made him a budding fantasy star last year, and then he got hurt and the Jets offense went into the gutter. Anderson appears to have put his off-field issues behind him, and he should be in line to grow with Sam Darnold, who has the arm and play-extending ability to always keep Anderson’s big play ability in play.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, TB - Fitzpatrick could get benched at any time, but if you need a quarterback, he’s your guy. It’s rare that a quarterback with weekly top five upside is available on the waiver wire or very cheap in trades, but that’s where we are. Jameis Winston’s fifth-year option gets guaranteed if he gets hurt, so once the Bucs playoff hopes are over or Dirk Koetter gets fired, there’s no reason to start Winston no matter how many times Fitzpatrick turns the ball over. Even when he was struggling vs. the Bears, he was still hitting big plays downfield.
Joe Flacco, QB, John Brown, WR, Michael Crabtree, WR, BAL - The Ravens are coming off of a down week at Carolina, so it’s a perfect time to buy from this passing game. After their bye, they face Cincinnati, Oakland, Atlanta, Kansas City, Tampa, and the Chargers. It doesn’t get much better than that for second half passing schedules.
Nyheim Hines, RB, IND - The Colts running game is on track with the return of Jack Doyle, and Hines’ burst, quickness, and creativity were on display with actual holes to run through against the Raiders. Marlon Mack hasn’t been very durable this year, and Hines is next in line for a very valuable role if Mack goes down again. His arrow is still pointing up for dynasty as this offense led by Andrew Luck can support two fantasy relevant running backs if they are involved in the passing game.
Elijah McGuire, RB, NYJ - McGuire had some very impressive plays last year, even showing some long speed and the Jets were slating him for a role in the backfield this year before a foot injury delayed the beginning of his season. He should be back this week and since his injury, Bilal Powell has gone down with a neck injury, opening up more playing time for him. This is more of long-term dynasty stash, but McGuire could flash right away in limited work and up his dynasty profile.
Vance McDonald, TE, PIT - McDonald has been a goo fantasy play at a thin position in three of the last five games and posted a 3-47 in one of his down games in a romp over Cleveland last week when he only got three targets. He’s under the radar as an every week fantasy tight end, and he is the de facto #3 downfield receiver for the Steelers with James Washington still developing. He has been regularly breaking tackles and threatening to make more big plays like the one that ended Chris Conte’s season in Week 3. He’ll have another big week soon.
Devin Funchess, WR, CAR - The Panthers most impressive offensive week of the year coincided with a down week for Funchess, but it wasn’t his fault. The passing game was put on mothballs in the second half. Funchess is still on track for a career high in targets as he heads into free agency as a 24-year-old with his best football ahead of him. If he stays in Carolina, he’s in a great offense, and if he leaves, he’ll go to a team that is coveting him and possibly giving him an even larger role.
David Johnson, RB, ARI - This is still a good time to grab Johnson on his bye after what looked like a ho-hum Week 8. He ran more outside the tackles and had his highest receiving yards total on the year. The bye should be a good chance for the team to solidify the approach that made Johnson an uberstud in 2016, and if his team is 4-4 or worse in redraft, they might feel urgency to get a back that on on the other side of their bye.
Zach Ertz, TE, PHI - Ertz and Golden Tate both make their living in the middle of the field by presenting a high percentage target, so it just makes sense that Tate will cut into Ertz’s production. Dallas Goedert is also still coming on to take some of the tight end share, and Ertz’s numbers are heavily inflated by some huge volume games when Carson Wentz was still knocking off rust from his injury layoff. Ertz is good, but he’s not the most valuable tight end. Cash him in if you have recoup a premium price.
Matt Ryan, QB, ATL - Ryan’s numbers have the look of an elite fantasy quarterback, but can he keep it up? This week vs. Washington on the road presents a very imposing matchup and the Falcons struggled on the road against a beatable Steelers defense earlier this year. He fattened up on his NFC South opponents and the Bengals earlier this year, but the second half matchup against Tampa is in Week 16, Ryan still has road matchups against Cleveland and Green Bay in potential cold weather games, and the Panthers improving defense is up in Week 16.
Latavius Murray, RB, MIN - This one could backfire if Dalvin Cook gets hurt again after the bye, but Murray’s value isn’t likely to be higher and unless Cook makes a surprise return after some limited practices, Murray gets a potentially explosive start against the Lions this week. Get something while you can.
Cam Newton, QB, CAR - Newton is piloting an offense that is turning the corner and the unique talents of it receiver group well, including running back Christian McCaffrey. Norv Turner has done a tremendous job harnessing the array of talents, and the Panthers second half schedule still has two matchups with Tampa and a Week 16 date with Atlanta. Newton could easily be the #1 fantasy quarterback from here on out and that’s saying something considering the spike in top quarterback output this year.
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