This week, we'll begin our panel discussion focused on a pair of teams about to face each other this weekend. Next, we'll examine a variety of players who could be worth monitoring next month. And to end our roundtable, we'll share which fantasy developments shocked us during this opening month.
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Potential Fantasy party crashers
Matt Waldman: List a quarterback outside the top 15, a running back outside the top 36, a wide receiver outside the top 48, and a tight end outside the top 15 who will finish the year as no worse than a QB1, RB2, WR2, and TE1, respectively.
Daniel Simpkins: Russell Wilson
currently sits at quarterback 22 in points per reception formats. He’s had a slow start, but as Matt documented here
, Wilson always seems to save his best performances for late in the year. If you are a contending team, I would work on buying low on him. I won a league last year by acquiring Wilson before the trade deadline and starting him over Brees, who had cooled off.
The Patriots are struggling this season, and Tom Brady
’s stats have suffered for it. But the addition of Josh Gordon
(assuming he keeps his head on straight) and the return of Julian Edelman
should give Brady plenty of opportunities to rebound. The additional weapons should also free up coverage rotating toward Rob Gronkowski
, allowing him to become the dominant guy that we’ve been expecting but haven’t seen.
Jason Wood: Cam Newton
(18th), Tom Brady
(19th), Russell Wilson
(20th), and Alex Smith
(26th) are all outside the top 15 currently, and all four are quite likely to have QB1 numbers by season's end. Smith is the riskiest because of his new team and the uncertainty around Jay Gruden's system. But can you imagine a scenario where Brady, Wilson, and Newton don't rebound? They were all top-5 consensus picks at the position.
There are bigger names outside the top 12 than Matthew Stafford
, but considering his durability (seven straight years of 16 games played), I feel confident saying he will finish as a #1 quarterback. The fact that he is not currently inside the top 12 is really no fault of his own, but rather due to an explosion of passing yards at the position. Eventually, this will normalize, and Stafford's current average of 23.5 points per game will continue, making him a safe bet to finish as a top 12 option by years end.
At quarterback, there is a pair of very obvious candidates: Tom Brady
(QB19) and Russell Wilson
(QB20). Despite the explosion in passing efficiency across the league, Brady hasn’t thrown for more than 277 yards in any game through four weeks. Expect that to change in Week 5 against Indianapolis. I don’t expect Brady to live up to his top-5 quarterback ADP but he should move up into the top-12 as some of the other quarterbacks cool off from hot starts. Wilson has had a tough early schedule (road games at Denver, Chicago, and Arizona) and was forced to navigate most of it without his top target, Doug Baldwin
. With Baldwin back and the schedule getting much easier in coming weeks, Wilson should also get back to being a top-12 quarterback.
Justin Howe: Cam Newton
and the Panthers are playing a lot of turtle-ball thus far, with most of his production coming on check-downs to Christian McCaffrey
. But he’s still Cam Newton
, with a live arm capable of striking downfield and holding up nicely in shootouts (sometimes even creating them). With intriguing weaponry and static rushing production far beyond the field, Newton is a strong buy for fantasy teams looking to cash in on Patrick Mahomes II
’ red-hot start.
Waldman: Daniel mentioned my analysis with Wilson, so you know where I stand. Justin, lead off the running back choices for us.
Before long, Nick Chubb
will be the lead back in Cleveland. He may cede some time with Carlos Hyde
, but he’s shown the toughness and the violent tenacity to always maximize his opportunities. Chubb has turned 10 rushes into 146 yards thus far, and as the Browns’ retooled line continues to gel and improve, I think he’ll be the productive face of this attack by midseason. Hyde looks like just another guy, and he’s not moving the chains the way a Hue Jackson offense would like.
Hindery: Sony Michel
has a great chance to finish as a top-24 running back. Injuries to Rex Burkhead
and Jeremy Hill
have opened the door for Michel to have a huge workload moving forward. He ran the ball 25 times in Week 4 and is the go-to guy in short yardage and down around the goal line.
I'm with Dan. Due to the combination of an injury, this being his rookie season and a crowded depth chart, Michel is currently the 44th ranked running back in PPR formats. Heading into week five, he is now healthy and has a clear path to a big role in the Patriots offense with Rex Burkhead
on IR. Michel brings an explosive element to the Patriots backfield and given their need for playmakers I fully expect him to see 15+ touches per week, which in New England's offense is enough to guarantee him a spot as a No.2 running back.
The running back position is far more difficult to forecast as the drop off from the top handful of running backs is so severe, there isn't all that much difference between being a low-end RB2 and being waiver wire fodder. In PPR formats, I'm inclined to bet on a trio of runners: Michel (RB40), Leonard Fournette
(RB68), and Aaron Jones
(RB54). All three are low ranked because of missed time, and that should normalize. Fournette, who is the most proven talent of the three, is the riskiest because of his hamstring re-aggravation. Michel and Jones are on the field after missing early games and have immediately become key fixtures.
There’s surprisingly a couple of good options in this well – more than I expected really. The obvious one is Dalvin Cook
who has stumbled out of the block in Minnesota and has been a huge disappointment, even when he isn’t missing time due to injury. The Vikings are sputtering a bit but assuming they can settle down and get back to the grinding wins that they had last season, Cook should be able to get back on track and return to the fantasy running back everyone hoped he would be.
I also like the Nick Chubb
call. Cleveland started the season thinking they’d bring on their younger guys slowly, but the demands of the season and the excitement of Baker Mayfield
seems to have them accelerating that timetable. Chubb could become the de facto lead back within the next week or two.
Chubb is my choice here. He’s ranked as the 46th running back in points per reception leagues currently. His strong play in the Raiders game may help to open the eyes of the coaching staff to what Chubb is capable of doing. Sorry, but Carlos Hyde
, as talented as he is, doesn’t have the ability to be as dynamic as Chubb in either the pass or the run game. Hopefully, the coaching staff will be rational and make the switch sooner rather than later.
Waldman: My choices (as if you really needed me to say it...) are the former Bulldogs backfield. Wood, kick off the receives for us.
Wood: Julian Edelman
is the obvious answer because he's returning fro a 4-game suspension. Among players outside the top 48 but active this year, I'll agitate for Taywan Taylor
(WR57), Keke Coutee
(WR86), Christian Kirk
(WR59), and Alshon Jeffery
(WR75). Jeffery returned a week ago and was a borderline WR1, he's a no-brainer. The other three are young receivers with opportunities to break out as target hogs this season.
Hindery: Devin Funchess
stands out as a player who is off to a slow start but could put up bigger numbers moving forward. Each of Carolina’s first three opponents (Dallas, Cincinnati, and Atlanta) play defenses designed to funnel targets short and to the middle of the field. Future opponents, including the Giants in Week 5, play schemes which will force Cam Newton
to lean more heavily on this top receiver.
Howe: It’s early yet, but I’m seeing yearlong flex value for Coutee. That passing game is just too concentrated on the top two receivers; a dynamic slot man like Coutee could easily draw 6-10 targets a week.
To find a wide receiver outside the top 48 who will finish as a No.2 option is not easy, so my thought process was to look at upside over consistency. With that in mind, my choice is Antonio Callaway
. Callaway has consistently gotten behind opposing secondaries, and the only thing holding him back was Tyrod Taylor
unable to deliver the ball where it needed to be. Baker Mayfield
has already shown that won't be as much of a problem, so I expect Callaway to make a lot of big plays. Sure, he will have some down weeks, but you aren't making it to No.2 receiver status without a couple 25+ point weeks, and he is clearly capable of making the plays needed to get there.
Grant: Chester Rogers
might not make it to WR1 from a fantasy perspective, but he should be on your waiver wire short list this week after his 8 receptions for 85 yards against the Texans last week. T.Y. Hilton
is banged up and the Colts are going to need another receiver to pick up the slack. Rogers has been lost in a sea of pass catches, but as injuries start to mount, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to show he belongs in the starting lineup. If he can stay healthy, he’s a guy you may want to consider adding to your fantasy roster now.
Waldman: Coutee is my pick for many of the reasons Justin highlighted about targets based on his role in an offense that uses him as a check-down option, extension of the ground game, factor in the triple option, and his potential as a vertical option from the slot. Will, share your option at tight end as we conclude this part of our discussion.
This is a tough one since it seems the only tight ends who are consistently scoring at the big names you drafted for that type of production. One interesting pick outside the top 15 though is David Njoku
. In keeping with the ‘start the young guys’ in Cleveland, Njoku should see his stats start to pick up as the offense adjusts to having Baker Mayfield
under center. Njoku is too big and has too much talent to be kept out of the end zone this long, and his lack of touchdowns has killed his fantasy value. If he starts to become the red zone threat he should be, he’s going to post some big games down the stretch.
Simpkins: Austin Hooper
is sitting just outside the top 15 currently, but I believe there’s a good chance he’ll be in the top 10 before the year is through. Injury attrition makes that more of a possibility, but I believed in Hooper making the grade without a slew of injuries at the position. The targets went different directions during the last two games, but there will be times when Hooper gets more emphasis in the game plan. Hooper is going to have big games and games in which he gives you little to nothing, but that’s just the nature of the position outside of the top guys like Rob Gronkowski
and Travis Kelce
I like Hooper here. He's still not firmly at the front of Matt Ryan
's red zone Rolodex but his card has been moved higher in the pecking order. He's been incrementally better each year and the attention that Calvin Ridley
should demand within a week or two could create some big opportunities for Hooper.
Tight end has been an abomination through the first month, and the bar for finishing as TE1 projects as historically low. The two most interesting bounce-back candidates are Cameron Brate
(TE26) and David Njoku
(TE22). Brate was a forgotten man with Fitzmagic but was more productive than O.J. Howard
last season. With Howard's injury, Brate is back to prominence. Njoku may turn out to be a tease, but he parlayed a great preseason into a lot of breakout lists in the preseason. I still have hope for him.
I agree Jackson, the tight end position is really shallow this season, which makes it entirely possible that the No.12 tight end and the No.25 tight end finish within 15 points of one another. If I had to choose one guy who I thought will finish inside the top 12, I'd pick Evan Engram
. More than anything, Engram is really talented and he plays on an offense that will be throwing frequently. The problem is he is currently the No.4 option. As the season progresses, I see Engram taking away some of Sterling Shepard
and Saquon Barkley
's targets, which should be enough to make him a No.1 tight end by season's end.
Njoku is off to a slow start but has shown some flashes since Baker Mayfield
took over. In 6 quarters with Mayfield, Njoku has 7 catches for 88 yards. The Browns badly need someone other than Jarvis Landry
to step up in the passing game and Njoku is as likely a candidate as anyone.
he easy and sarcastic answer is Vernon Davis
, as we all brace for Jordan Reed
’s injuries. But I’m keeping an eye on Ravens rookie Mark Andrews
, who’s already showcasing big ability down the seams. Joe Flacco
has always favored his tight ends, and Andrews is already drawing notable snaps and targets. A few solid games down the stretch could cement Andrews’ standing in this weak tight end year.
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Waldman: Let's engage in some bye-sell and patience plays for dynasty leagues.
- LIst one player at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end that you're buying and selling.
- Name a player at any of the positions above that dynasty players should exercise at least 1-2 years of patience because the dividends will be worth it.
Thanks, Matt. At quarterback, Andrew Luck
is a player I have been buying for the past few months. There are still many doubters regarding his recovery but I have faith he will return to his pre-injury form sooner than later. Plus, Luck is such a smart and hard-working player, I trust his ability to be successful even if he loses a couple MPH on his fastball.
I am buying. Mitchell Trubisky
. If you’d have asked me this question two weeks ago, I’d have been selling Trubisky. He has looked pretty bad at points this season, but watching him against Tampa Bay last week, I started to believe. No, I don’t think he’s going to be the next Drew Brees
– but maybe Matt Nagy has the coaching skills to bring him up a few notches. Trubisky made good decisions and had some solid throws that required good accuracy and touch. Anyone can hit a wide-open Trey Burton
down the sidelines, but the touchdown pass he threw to Allen Robinson
later in the first quarter was a great pass against a well-defended receiver. He wasn’t making those throws in week one against the Packers. Trubisky is trending upward and I’m ready to get on board.
I'm selling Dak Prescott
. It breaks my heart to write this, but until the Cowboys have even ONE legitimate pass catcher, Prescott isn’t going to be in my starting lineup. The success of the Cowboys (and Jason Garrett) will rise and fall with Eziekel Elliott this season and Prescott’s stats are going to suffer for it. Less than 200 yards passing a game so far? That’s terrible production. 125 of Prescott’s 750 yards passing have gone to Elliott out of the backfield. He’ll be a starter every week, but he won’t do anything other than preventing you from getting a zero.
I think the buy window is still open slightly for Marcus Mariota
. The ulnar nerve injury is improving, but his propensity to get hurt again scares people away. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if he can stay healthy a full 16 games each season, but the points upside he gives me when healthy is worth paying for. He’s one of the few quarterbacks in the league that has designed runs built into his weekly game plan and his passing prospects are greatly improved with the emergence of Taywan Taylor
and Corey Davis
. If I can get Mariota for a mid-to-late second or less, I’m making that deal all day.
I’m always looking to flip guys who have just had a ceiling performance for resources that would normally be unattainable. The quarterback who fits that bill for me is Mitchell Trubisky
. Folks see the six touchdowns and don’t explore the “why” behind it. In this case, he was playing arguably the worst defense in the league and they were blowing assignments all day. Trubisky has some fundamental flaws to his game, and though he’ll have performances like this one, I want to try to sell him for a future first. I’ll package him with another non-essential player if I need to if it will make the sale.
Wood: Chad Kelly
(Buying) and Deshaun Watson
(Selling). It's hard to talk about quarterbacks in dynasty because the position is at an all-time low given the prodigious output thus far. I'm buying Kelly because Case Keenum
is turning back into a pumpkin and the Broncos offense can be high-octane with the right quarterback under center. I'm selling Watson because he's strung together a few good games statistically but the film hasn't been as impressive. I'd rather part ways with him now before he gets hurt again; which I think will happen given his style and the Texans offensive line.
While the most obvious answer here should be Patrick Mahomes II
, I'm also buying on Jared Goff
. I was interested to see whether last year was a fluke or a result of the Rams creative play calling, but after watching Goff slice up the Vikings defense, it was clear that he is playing at the top of his game and has the skill position weapons to be a force at the quarterback position.
Selling might be a strong word here, but I am also not buying Mitchell Trubisky
's breakout based on the six-touchdown game against a terrible secondary. The first three games saw Trubisky missing throw after throw, so I want to see more from him before I'd consider buying or holding onto Trubisky.
The obvious answer is Patrick Mahomes II
, but his value is too bloated right now. Rather, I’d be interested in floating offers for Sam Darnold
while his value is in the toilet. Darnold looks overwhelmed right now, for sure, but he’s the youngest NFL starter of the Super Bowl era. He may never pan out, but he’s talented enough to, and he can be had for below market value at the moment.
Quite frankly, I’d be entertaining offers for Deshaun Watson
– not with an eye to give him away, but to gauge league-wide interest and look for a steal. Watson has been spectacular thus far, but a lot of it has been stat-stuffing production late in games. I didn’t love his profile coming out of Clemson, with ho-hum athleticism and one of the worst-measured arms in combine history. Watson’s ball isn’t particularly sharp or accurate, and he relies a lot on his fantastic wideouts to make plays. Should DeAndre Hopkins
or Will Fuller V
fade from the picture, Watson’s outlook will sag markedly. So, if I can swap him for a Ronald Jones type right now, I’m thinking about it.
Waldman: In addition to the players I've rated as buys for 2-3 years (Mahomes-Kelly-Goff), I'm going to see if anyone is selling Watson. If the offer is right, I'll take him. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein has a weekly radio program in his hometown of Houston and has his dad on the air to share his thoughts on the Texan's games. In case you don't know about Larry Zierlein, he's a 38-year veteran of major college football and the NFL as an offensive line coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals.
In his report on the Texans-Colts game, he noted that Watson is making strides in the pre-snap chess game that are especially encouraging because he's spotting hard-to-detect blitz looks and making line adjustments to account for them. That's next-level football. While his velocity is weaker than the average NFL quarterback, his distance throwing and touch is superior to most and the Texans leverage it by using a lot of routes that fit perfectly with his talents.
The Texans also have the personnel — especially with Coutee in the fold — to maximize Watson's type of arm talent. The offensive line isn't great, Lamar Miller
isn't notably special, and Watson is still learning but I'm a believer. Unless you can cash-in on Watson and get a combo of Goff and another promising player, I'm buying opportunities to have Watson on my teams.
B.J., lead off our running back discussion.
VanderWoude: After last week's impressive performance, it will probably be much harder to acquire Michel without getting the worse end of the deal, but it is certainly worth a try. Michel is in a great spot on an offense that should only get better as the year goes on, and he should be the bell-cow for the Patriots for the next three-plus seasons.
K Johnson (Buying) and Carlos Hyde
(Selling). I was excited for Johnson in the preseason, but in the leagues that I didn't land him, I'm trying to get him now before his price skyrockets. Hyde has been terrific, which is why he's a sell high. Nick Chubb
is the future of the Browns backfield and another explosive game or two could turn this into a committee. Right now Hyde is a "safe" high-end RB2 in a season where running back productivity is a myth; he'll fetch more this week than he'll ever fetch again, in my opinion.
Grant: Nick Chubb
. As I mentioned above, the Browns are turning toward the future and Chubb is their future at running back. Carlos Hyde
and Duke Johnson Jr
Jr. will steal a few carries here or there but Chubb is their guy of the future and you can expect him to finish as Cleveland’s top running back this season.
I'm selling Kenyan Drake
. Being completely honest, I was never a big fan of Drake, to begin with, but he did have some value going into this season and there was a reasonable chance he’d be able to push Frank Gore
out of the starting lineup after a few weeks. That isn’t happening. In fact, it’s going the other way and Gore is actually getting more work than Drake. With Kalen Ballage
waiting in the wings to take his shot, Drake’s days look numbered to me. He’ll most likely hang on in Miami, but I see him as being their No.2 back for the foreseeable future.
If there is a very disappointed Dalvin Cook
owner, I’m doing what I can to try to buy. He’s had the knee injury and is now dealing with a hamstring injury. He’ll unfairly get the “injury prone” label if he hasn’t already. The offensive line is also banged up, which caps his ceiling for this year. Looking at the big picture, I believe Cook will be fine and is a good talent. You might be able to get a disheartened owner to part with him for a late first.
I don’t have him anywhere, but I would sell Nyheim Hines
high. The Colts backfield has modeled itself after Philadelphia's, which gives us no certainty about how things will be dispersed once Indianapolis has Marlon Mack
and Robert Turbin
back in the rotation.
I’m buying hard on Nick Chubb
, who looks worlds more explosive and dynamic than Carlos Hyde
. While Hyde keeps spinning his wheels in mud, Chubb is erupting before our eyes. Of course, his value is a bit high this week after last Sunday’s clinic. But another week or two of fewer than five carries could convince his dynasty players he’s an afterthought, and leave them itchy for some short-term returns. If I could swap, say, Nyheim Hines
for Chubb and a throw-in, I’d do it today.
Daniel is spot-on in that Hines is a sell right now. This PPR production is nice, but Hines is a diminutive fumbler with no real experience as a lead back. Your fellow fantasy players likely have his value a bit inflated right now as he’s putting up unexpected numbers, but it’s hard to like his long-term prognosis as an RB2. There are not many paths to a reliable, long-term role, and I wouldn’t pass up on offers so I can cling to the hopes he becomes Darren Sproles
I am also buying Kerryon Johnson
. There are some similarities between the start of Johnson’s rookie season and what we saw from Joe Mixon
early last year when he was stuck sharing snaps with Jeremy Hill
and Giovani Bernard
. LeGarrette Blount
is stealing early-down work and Theo Riddick
is stealing third-down snaps from Johnson. It is hard for him to get into any sort of rhythm in a three-way committee. However, longer-term, I believe in Johnson’s talent and think eventually Detroit will decide to feature him in a three-down role.
Melvin Gordon III
’s value feels like it might be at an all-time high. He has been very good early this season and the injuries at wide receiver and tight end have allowed for both Gordon and Austin Ekeler
to be heavily involved as pass catchers. Longer-term, there are going to be a lot of mouths to feed in this Chargers offense with Keenan Allen
, Hunter Henry
, Mike Williams
, and Austin Ekeler
all deserving of touches. I don’t see Gordon keeping up his current pace as a pass-catcher (on pace for 96 receptions) and his production to date is inflated. I have seen talk of people moving Gordon for Le’Veon Bell and a 1st rounder. If you can get a player of Bell’s caliber and the first rounder on top to move Gordon, now is the time to pull the trigger.
Chubb, Johnson, and Michel are easy buys for me. If Chris Warren or Justin Jackson
are sitting on any taxi squads or injured reserve spots, I'd try to buy-low on these two as throw-ins to larger deals. I believe in their talents and the potential for them to emerge in 2-3 seasons as contributors of note.
Justin, who are your receivers of note?
Everyone wants Kenny Golladay
, of course, but I’m willing to break the bank for him. I’d deal someone like D.J. Moore
for Golladay and a throw-in, as I think he’ll be a weekly fantasy WR2 no later than next season’s opener. Golladay is obviously a high-upside monster, with fantastic size, speed, and catch radius. He’s a weekly threat to catch a long touchdown, much like teammate Marvin Jones Jr
has always been. But Golladay is already elbowing Jones and Golden Tate
aside and drawing real volume (eight targets a game). He’s not merely a prospect: he’s here, and he’s spectacular.
Without question, I wouldn’t merely sell my Robby Anderson
shares – I’d burn them to save space in my garage. Anderson is a one-trick guy who’s yet to draw much attention from Sam Darnold
. The rookie signal-caller is mired in a sanitized, low-to-no-impact zone that won’t be looking downfield much at all this season. By the time 2019 rolls around, this receiving corps should be retooled to fit Darnold’s skill set, and Anderson will likely be just another guy there.
Hindery: Amari Cooper
still retains huge dynasty value and is coming off of his biggest fantasy game in years. However, he still doesn’t seem to know which route he is supposed to run far too often and Derek Carr
is clearly frustrated with the amount of misreads Cooper is still having in his fourth season. If I could get someone like Will Fuller V
and a draft pick for Cooper, I would sell off of his big Week 4.
AJ Green isn't going anywhere, but that is not necessarily a bad thing for Tyler Boyd
. Boyd benefits from defenses that shade their safeties over to help on Green, and he is a terror with the ball in his hands after the catch. He has shown that he can thrive in the slot and has thoroughly outplayed John Ross
at every turn.
It is not that Marvin Jones Jr
has regressed or his level of play has slipped as much as it is that Kenny Golladay
has proven to be more of a threat on the outside, and he has quickly gained Matthew Stafford
's trust. With Golden Tate
feasting on short and intermediate routes, and Golladay making plays down the field, I don't see this offense being able to sustain three receivers from week to week. Jones seems to be the odd man out.
I want to buy Mike Williams
if it’s still possible. I believe in him as a talent and you can see the development from last year to this one if you have watched him play over the last several weeks. I expect that he’ll get more consistent on a weekly basis as he becomes a bigger part of the offense. You may be able to get him on the cheap after the dud he put up this last week. I’m willing to give up any second-round rookie pick to get him on my team.
I want to sell Geronimo Allison
while his dynasty stock is at an all-time high. Allison is an average talent in a great situation. If I’m not a contending team, I’m looking to get a second and a player if selling to a contending team.
Wood: Keke Coutee
(Buying) and Robert Woods
(Selling). Coutee was shockingly cheap in waivers this week (in redraft leagues) which says a lot of people see his 15-target game as a fluke. It wasn't. He's immensely talented and a preseason injury robbed him of a blistering start. But he had a pitch-perfect debut last weekend and Will Fuller V
is hurt, again. Coutee is the kind of buy where the owner thinks he's selling high, but you're actually still buying at a steep discount. Woods has been terrific, and the Rams seem capable of supporting three fantasy-relevant receivers. However, I still think Woods is the odd man out in 2019 and beyond, as the Rams have to re-sign other key players. So sell now before he's cast aside and goes to another team in a less supportive situation.
I love your buy and hate your sell recommendations, Wood, because I love both players and hate that you're probably right about Woods leaving for a worse climate. With that in mind, it's a good time to buy-low on Josh Reynolds
. My No.2 talent of the 2017 receiver class, Reynolds has flashed as a vertical threat, rebounder in the red zone, and tough-guy at the catch-point against contact.
He could potentially replace Woods and at the price that you can land him, you're not losing must if he's not the future and you have to regroup with another receiver. Buy Coutee, buy Reynolds, and (sigh) take Wood's sell-high on Woods seriously.
Not sure how ‘under the radar’ Calvin Ridley
has been in dynasty leagues, but 250 yards and 6 touchdowns over the last 3 weeks has him squarely in the ‘buy-now’ column. Ridley and Mohamed Sanu
still split the scraps left over from Julio Jones
but Ridley is the fantasy darling of the team with his red zone production.
Will Fuller V
V has all the talent, but if he can’t stay healthy, he doesn’t help the Texans and he won’t help your fantasy team. Coutee looked good last week and with Fuller missing more time due to injury, Coutee is going to get a chance to push him down the depth chart permanently. Even if Fuller can return to become the No.2 guy in Houston, his inability to stay healthy has me fading him now in dynasty leagues.
Waldman: Daniel, finish this off once again with tight end recommendations.
I’m buying on Jonnu Smith
at a basement cost if I find a general manager who has lost faith. Smith is still very young and though he’s struggled with consistency so far, he’s also shown flashes of what he could be. He has had to block more with Delanie Walker
being out, but the fact he’s playing nearly 100 percent of the snaps each week is heartening to me from a long-term view. The offense should start to open up now that Marcus Mariota
can make all the throws again and I expect Smith’s workload to steadily increase. A third-round pick might just land Smith from a disgusted general manager.
I’m selling Jared Cook
for a second if I can. I just don’t believe in him being able to put together a full season of TE1 production - not because of the Raiders offense, but because of his long track record of inconsistency and drops that creep in at critical moments.
With or without Jimmy Garappolo, I like Kittle’s future. He is consistent, and a solid target. C.J. Beathard
is going to lean on him the rest of this season and it will cement him in as the starting tight end for the 49ers.
Sell Tyler Eifert
because he just can’t stay healthy. That’s the sad reality. You can’t continue to use a guy for a couple games a season and then spend the rest of the time carrying dead weight hoping he will get healthy or be good ‘next year’. After six seasons, It’s time to cut the cord. His best years are well behind him.
There were a lot of skeptics this year on Trey Burton
, but all he's done is make the most of every opportunity he's been given. He only has 11 catches through four games, but the potential is there, and his stats will only get better with time as he and Trubisky begin to get more comfortable with one another.
Again, selling here may be a strong word because the tight end position is so shallow, but I think it is safe to say at this point that Austin Hooper
is never going to be more than a bye week fill in with inconsistent stats, at best. He is solely dependent on touchdowns, and he doesn't score often enough to offset his bad weeks. There are plenty of other young tight ends to take a shot on, especially ones whose upside is much higher than Hooper.
I am selling Eric Ebron
. He is putting up good numbers based upon the volume he is seeing in Indianapolis while Jack Doyle
is sidelined. However, he still looks more raw athlete than a technician in his fifth season. Long-term, I am not buying Ebron as an impact player and am looking to sell high.
It may never happen for Tyler Eifert
, who suffered another season-ending injury in Week 4. However, he was looking dominant on the field the last few weeks. When healthy, Eifert is one of the biggest mismatches at the tight end position in the NFL. Still just 28-years old, Eifert is eventually going to put together a healthy season and finish as a top-5 fantasy tight end.
Howe: David Njoku
doesn’t come with much of a discount, I’m sure. But I’d still float offers to his disappointed dynasty players. Njoku has taken a small but noticeable step forward with Baker Mayfield
under center. In fact, he and Antonio Callaway
represent the only real downfield explosiveness in Cleveland at the moment. Njoku should see more and more work down the seams every week, with an accurate quarterback feeding him the ball. You don’t need a fantasy oracle to tell you to covet the freakishly gifted Njoku in dynasty leagues – but you might be surprised at how low he’s valued in your league right now, so the time is right to try.
It took an injury to get Mike Gesicki
beyond A.J. Derby
as the team’s pass-catching tight end, and in his debut, he drew just two targets. Of course, it’s early to sell a rookie, but I hated Gesicki’s high profile as a prospect – his measurements were great, but he moved so slowly in and out of breaks at Penn State that I likened him far more to Jesse James
than Travis Kelce
. The only way I’d have held any interest was if he burst out of the gates as one of Ryan Tannehill
’s guys, but he clearly hasn’t.
Waldman: I like the Kittle recommendation; he's getting it done regardless of the quarterback under center in San Francisco. While I am still exercising patience with Hooper, I understand the argument for selling him and it's a real possibility.
Who has patience plays? Josh Reynolds
heads up my list for the reasons stated earlier. What about the rest of you?
Simpkins: Derrius Guice
is that player for me. I went out of my way to acquire him in several dynasty leagues after the ACL injury because he’s still an immense talent. I kept thinking I was watching Marshawn Lynch
when I saw him in college and limited preseason work. The fact the injury happened so early this year will be an advantage for his recovery. I have no doubt we’ll be talking about him as a top back next year.
I foreshadowed this pick a bit, but Kalen Ballage
is a guy worth a ‘buy and hold’. As I pointed out above, the Miami running backs are going nowhere, and Ballage might be the guy who comes out on top. He was ‘only’ a 4th round pick this year, but he’ll have time to watch from the sidelines and learn his blocking assignments like the back of his hand. Gore is nowhere near the future in Miami, and with Kenyan Drake
looking pedestrian, Ballage is a guy worth holding till next year to see where he fits in the offense.
It is clear that Kerryon Johnson
has the talent and versatility to be a #1 running back, but it is also clear that the Lions are in no hurry to make that happens. All Johnson can do is bide his time while Blount gets older and Riddick becomes, even more, one dimensional, but in time, perhaps as early as next season, he will be the focal point of Detroit's rushing attack and reward owners for being patient with his dynasty potential.
I certainly hope no one’s giving up on Aaron Jones
yet. It’s true that the Green Bay backfield is crowded, but Jones is far and away the most gifted and explosive back in that room. He’s now averaging a cool 5.66 yards per carry as a pro, and 6.29 here in 2018. Jamaal Williams
proves every week that he’s a talent only a coach could love; he boasts almost no special athleticism and struggles to create anything on his own. Jones, on the other hand, was a college workhorse who showed well at his combine, and he’s meshed nicely with this offense already. He’ll need to vanquish a few demons on that depth chart, but that could happen as soon as 2019 when Ty Montgomery
will almost certainly walk. As Aaron Rodgers
enters his golden NFL years, the dynamic Jones looks like an ideal back to supplement the passing game.
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"I Wish" (Fantasy Drafts in Hindsight)
Waldman: Looking back at your drafts, list a player you wished you drafted who you didn't genuinely consider and list a player you wish you hadn't drafted who you never considered avoiding.
I wish I would not have been so high on Leonard Fournette
. By the end of training camp, you needed to spend a late first round pick to get Forunette. He has great talent and he looked like a legitimate top 10 fantasy running back. A few injuries later and his performance is a huge disappointment compared to what it cost me to acquire him. Injuries happen and if he heals properly, he could surprise in the second half of the season. But it’s practically impossible for him to prove 1st round value right now.
I wish I had been higher on Jared Cook
. He wasn’t anywhere on my radar going into the season and I don’t think I ended up with him on any of my rosters. I just didn’t value him high enough for me to acquire him. Seeing how he’s performed over the first four weeks, he should have been drafted with the top tight ends.
It sure would be nice to have more than one redraft share of Corey Davis
. Of course, had I foreseen Delanie Walker
’s injury and the collapse of Rishard Matthews
as a Titan, I would’ve prioritized him higher, but I won’t make excuses. I just don’t like Marcus Mariota
’s outlook outside of pass-heavy game scripts, so even with a strong workload, I still wouldn’t have projected Davis into the stars. I expected too many of his 10-target games to end with just 4-5 low-impact catches. I haven’t been doomed by not chasing Davis, but I do have a roster or two that would love his clear-cut No. 1 status right now.
I didn’t see a thing wrong with targeting Jamison Crowder
in Round 7 or 8 of PPR drafts. With Alex Smith
in town, it was easy to project the sanitized, small-ball offense we’re seeing in Washington. I’d just assumed slot machine Crowder would be leading the charge. Crowder is small and somewhat limited, but he plays big and is underrated in traffic. Instead, though, Smith has locked onto his backs and tight ends, a trend I should’ve seen carrying over from his time in Kansas City. Jordan Reed
is no Travis Kelce
, but he’s a great security blanket with open-field ability, and Chris Thompson
has been the team’s most explosive weapon thus far. I feel like I got lost trying to balance narratives with Crowder and missed out on guys like Corey Davis
in the process.
Hindery: Jared Cook
was not a player I was targeting at all in best ball drafts. It is already clear that was a major mistake. Amari Cooper
is still hit or miss, and Cook is emerging as the No.1 target in a productive Oakland Raiders offense. He looks like a top-five tight end going forward.
I wish I had taken less of Leonard Fournette
in best-ball drafts. This is the third straight year (going back to college at LSU) in which Fournette has missed a large portion of the season. It is always tough to predict injuries but I should have used the past problems for Fournette as a tie-breaker in favor of Melvin Gordon III
, who has proven his durability at the NFL level.
Like Dan, Cook never made it onto my draft sheet as a potential option at tight end. It is really frustrating considering how weak the position is, and how late Cook was going in drafts, but I had yet to see anything that would point to him breaking out at this point in his career. He has been wildly inconsistent, and there is still time for that trend to continue, but he looks like a player that is thriving with a high volume of targets.
If I could turn back time...I would have never drafted Demaryius Thomas
in the early fourth round. His stats aren't as disappointing as his play, but they are still rather depressing. This is especially true when you watch the Broncos play and see Emannuel Sanders popping off the screen every time he touches the ball, instead of Thomas looking like he's playing in three inches of mud when he is running. This is mostly a case of draft capital, as Thomas hasn't torpedoed my teams (yet), but looking back, there were plenty of options at wide receiver that could have made a big difference on my team, but instead, I am stuck with the mediocrity that Thomas has become.
Where to begin? I have massive remorse this year, more than most. The obvious answer is Patrick Mahomes II
. I had him in a high-upside QB2 tier with the likes of Dak Prescott
, Alex Smith
, Jameis Winston
, and Andy Dalton
. In terms of players that I wish I'd avoided, Jerick McKinnon
and Le'Veon Bell are atop the list. I ended up rostering Bell quite a bit as word of his hold out dropped his ADP over the final week of the preseason. And McKinnon was my No. 1 target in the third round of many drafts.
I wish I had taken Cooper Kupp
. I was avoiding him at his average draft position because I thought that there would not be enough balls to go around for Brandin Cooks
, Robert Woods
, and Kupp. The pass offense really took a quantum leap forward that I was not expecting.
I really wish I had avoided the New York Jets backfield situation altogether. Having to choose between Crowell and Powell each week is difficult enough, but then there is the added problem of figuring out if they are going to even do enough to be worth a start. Most weeks, the answer is no.
I wish I took Alvin Kamara
ahead of David Johnson
. It was the pro move but I often got stuck in the early-draft position rut and automatically considered Johnson, Kamara is so much safer a prospect due to his surrounding talent. Aim for the target, not the bull's eyes early in the draft. I forgot that and I regret it a bit.
I wish I avoided Paul Richardson Jr
. I avoided him more than most might expect, considering how much love I have for his game. However, I wish I avoided him altogether because I don't trust Alex Smith
to deliver the volume commensurate of Richardson's skill.
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Patrick Mahomes II and Kareem Hunt put the Chiefs offense on their backs and pulled off a come from behind victory against a tough Broncos defense in Denver (A quick side note: In five starts, Mahomes has more wins against Denver than legendary Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson.).
Jacksonville controlled the New York Jets with a mix of its ground game and a steady dose of crossing routes to Dede Westbrook. Two weeks ago, it bombed the Patriots with Keelan Cole.
Answer the following questions about this exciting game:
- How do you think this game will play out for each offense and defense? Predict a score.
- Which players will have the best fantasy production for each side?
- Which players will struggle the most for each side?
Let the breakdowns commence.
VanderWoude: This is the perfect game for Patrick Mahomes II to show off his versatility and rack up rushing yards when the Jaguars get too aggressive with blitzing. Mahomes will have a big game, and so will Kelce, although I see it more as a high volume of catches than yards.
On the Jaguars side of the ball, I see Dede Westbrook having a big game, as his speed will give the Chiefs secondary fits. With Blake Bortles, it all comes down to how aggressive the Jaguars are at the beginning of the game. If he comes out throwing, I see him having a big game (300+ passing yards, multiple touchdowns), however, if the Jaguars open up with a conservative attack, and Bortles doesn't start throwing until they are down two touchdowns, I think the Chiefs will bait him into several big mistakes. Bortles can be really good when the threat of play-action is there, but if you take that away, he becomes overly aggressive and is prone to mistakes.
I think this is the first real chance we've seen this season of an elite offense having its way with an elite defense. As good as the Jaguars are on defense, I don't see how many they can match up with the Chiefs speed on the outside, Kelce in the middle of the field, and Hunt breaking off big plays when the Jaguars focus too much attention in the secondary.
I have the Chiefs winning 28-20.
Hindery: On a short week after a physical rivalry game in Denver, this is a tough spot for Kansas City. The Chiefs are very tough to beat at home and are three-point favorites but I see Jacksonville pulling the upset 24-20. Denver gave up 187 total yards and 3 touchdowns to Denver's backs and T.J. Yeldon should have a big game for the Jaguars in relief of Leonard Fournette. Jacksonville has the athletes to match up in coverage against both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
Howe: When it comes to top producers in this game, honestly, pick a Jaguar. This Kansas City defense is atrocious across the board, particularly against the run, where running backs are averaging a silly 6.46 yards per rush in the matchup. But with Leonard Fournette out, I’m most interested in the Jaguars wideouts, who are diverse in skill and looking at favorable matchups. The Chiefs; shaky-at-best cover men are routinely worked over on the outside, and the Eric Berry-less safeties don’t provide much help in the deep zones.
Thus far, they’ve allowed long receptions to the likes of Mike Williams, Jesse James, George Kittle, Kendrick Bourne, and Courtland Sutton. The lesson is that oversized, physical receivers with ball skills have a nice route to success, especially against left cornerback Steven Nelson. That’s especially good news for 6’2” and 220-pound Donte Moncrief, who broke out last week with 109 yards and an impressive deep-ball touchdown.
The Jacksonville secondary remains packed to the gills with talent, but it’s mostly the scheme that squashes so many opponents’ deep balls. As a result, it’s hard to project much success for Tyreek Hill. The deep threat faces a truly imposing task, and he’ll spend the day trying to escape Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye down the field. Dating back to last season, no NFL team has allowed fewer completions of 20 yards or more, even though they face some of the league’s premier deep threats in the AFC South.
It’s early in the week, but I’m comfortable anticipating a 27-19 Jacksonville win. This Jaguars defense isn’t merely talented or hard-nosed; it’s dominant. Patrick Mahomes II did a fantastic job last Monday night of navigating the Broncos’ pass rush, but this is a different animal.
Calais Campbell leads an attack that’s both athletic and powerful, and the Jaguars are adept at closing a quarterback’s movement lanes and turning step-ups into sacks. With a shortened week to prepare for the league’s best defense, Mahomes may be behind the game here. I love his and his receivers’ abilities to create splash plays, but the Jaguars generally don’t stand for that foolishness. This week, the Chiefs’ big plays should be scaled down to a handful of toughly contested 11-yard gains that ultimately don’t produce many touchdowns.
Grant: From Kansas City, the ‘usual suspects’ are the guys to have. Patrick Mahomes II II and Travis Kelce should both have decent games. Kareem Hunt should also see a ton of action as they try to control the clock and keep Jacksonville off the field. I mentioned Blake Bortles as a nice sleeper this week in DFS facing a Kansas City team that’s giving up over 325 yards a game through the air. That should also bode well for Keelan Cole and DeDe Westbrook. With Fournette on the bench again due to injury. T.J. Yeldon should also have some decent stats.
Honorable mention goes to Austin Seferian-Jenkins
. While he’s never had more than 3 receptions in any games this year, the Chiefs have given up big games to opposing tight ends, including Jessie James in Week 2 (138 yards and a touchdown), George Kittle
the following week (5 receptions for 79 yards) and the Denver tight ends racked up 5 receptions for 74 yards on Monday Night. Don’t be surprised if ASJ posts his best numbers so far this week.
A high volume may be on Kareem Hunt’s side, but Jacksonville is giving up less than 100 yards per game on the ground and has only allowed 1 rushing touchdown. If you have him, you have to start him – but I wouldn’t expect him to post the same numbers as he did against Denver.
Donte Moncrief had a nice game last week, but the three weeks before that he was a fantasy non-factor. Everyone can’t do well on Jacksonville this week and if I have to pick a guy who will be ‘odd man out’ – I would put my money on Moncrief returning to the non-factor.
Kansas City has got to be tired. They’ve played three road games in four weeks and finished with a tough Monday night game in Denver. The trip home is certainly welcome, but they get Jacksonville as their present. I think they have a decent chance to come out flat this week. Jacksonville unloaded on a Jets team that has been struggling all season, but the week before they lost a baseball game to the Titans 9-6. I do think their offensive hot-streak continues against the weak Chiefs and this game has the potential to be a shoot-out. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Jacksonville pulls off the upset 27 – 24.
Simpkins: The Chiefs offense will face what is probably its biggest test to date. As the Titans proved, the Jacksonville defense is mortal, but they probably will limit Mahomes quite a bit. Potentially not having Sammy Watkins after a hamstring injury also handicaps what the Chiefs can do to stretch this defense.
The Jaguars offense should have its way with this defensive unit that struggled to tackle on Monday night. Even missing Fournette, T.J. Yeldon is more than capable of gashing this defense both on the ground and in the passing game. Cole and Westbrook should also have pretty good days for fantasy purposes.
I predict we’ll see Mahomes throw his first interception of the year. My final score prediction for this game is 23-17 in favor of the Jaguars.
Waldman: I agree Mahomes will throw his first interception this week — I'll even say two (one that will bounce off a receiver's mitts in the middle of the field). Mahomes has bit slightly behind receivers in the middle of the field, and Telvin Smith Sr and Myles Jack are excellent coverage linebackers with the hands to capitalize in even the smallest deviation from pinpoint accuracy that the Jaguars' disruptive front can generate.
Still, I like Tyreek Hill this week because he's more than a deep threat and I expect to see Mahomes finding Hill on crossing routes slants and corner routes where timing and touch can beat the Jaguars' linebackers and safeties. I see this has a high-volume reception week for Hill slightly lower potential for field-flipping plays. Receivers that are skilled after the catch do well against Jacksonville, including Odell Beckham Jr, Jr. and Quincy Enunwa. Hill fits here.
These linebackers make tight end production practically non-existent. Jacob Hollister's 3-35-0 performance in Week 2 was nearly double the yardage production of the seven tight ends who've seen targets against this defense. I love Travis Kelce but I respect Smith and Jack.
Kareem Hunt will have at least a respectable fantasy output thanks to his use in the receiving game and the likelihood that the Chiefs will throw more screen passes to him, Hunt, and Sammy Watkins to slow the Jaguars pass rush. It's a creative screen game so as long as Watkins is healthy enough to play, he'll earn some of that "space running back" output he had against the Steelers and 49ers. I would not bench Mahomes unless you have a hot quarterback like Jared Goff.
The Chiefs struggle against slot receivers and that's the strength of this Jaguars passing game. Dede Westbrook riddled the Jets with crossing routes from the slot last week and it should continue against Kansas City. Keelan Cole often earns deep looks from the slot. Expect these two to have good weekends while Donte Moncrief returns to earth — his opponent was asleep on the go route he caught for the long touchdown last week.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Niles Paul, or James O'Shaughnessy all have the potential for a big play against this defense that has given up 138 yards and a score to Jesse James, 79 yards to George Kittle and 57 yards to Jeff Heuerman. The problem is figuring out which tight end earns the big play. Jenkins hasn't exceeded three catches in any game and last week each tight end earned two catches. Paul has been targeted on some intermediate and deep routes near the end zone that could have resulted in a nice afternoon.
If you're absolutely desperate for a tight end, consider Paul based on the target types he's earned and not the result. If Yeldon starts, ride him. If Forunette tries to gut it out, he's a huge gamble I'm not taking.
Overall, I expect an exciting game with the Chiefs pulling it out 28-27 in a nailbiter where Mahomes overcomes the early mistakes and drops the Patomic Bomb on the North Florida Kitty Cats.
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