Welcome to this week's episode of As the NFL Turns. Serial antihero Josh Gordon lands in a new locale, Super Bowl hero Nick Foles returns to the Jaguars lineup, young and lesser-known wide receivers show fantasy potential, and the line between a good quarterback in fantasy and reality is blurred.
With this in mind, let's examine what we think about these topics as we head into Week 10:
- Wide Receiver Roulette
- Fantasy vs. Reality: Quarterback Edition
- All Things Josh Gordon
- All Things Nick Foles
Wide REceiver Roulette
Matt Waldman: Which likely free agents are the best options for roster consideration?
- Laquon Treadwell
- Keelan Cole
- Hunter Renfrow
- Andy Isabella
- Chester Rogers
- Breshad Perriman
- Deon Cain
- Adam Humphries
- Josh Reynolds
- Bisi Johnson
- Josh Doctson
- Albert Wilson
- Jakeem Grant
- Allen Hurns
Who makes your list of notables?
Jeff Pasquino: Josh Reynolds has always caught my eye with the Rams. With Brandin Cooks out indefinitely, Reynolds becomes an instant starter for Los Angeles. Here's what I wrote back in the preseason when I mentioned Reynolds as a sleeper:
No team in the NFL uses 11-personnel (3 wide receivers, one tight end, and one running back) more than the Los Angeles Rams. In 2018, three wideouts were on the field for the Rams over 90% of the offensive plays – more than 10% more than any other team. The result of this personnel grouping and a high-octane offense made Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp fantasy starters every week for the first half of 2018. When Kupp went down, Reynolds stepped right in as the fourth wideout, playing over 60 snaps in five of the last six regular-season games and seeing five or more targets in five of those same six contests. Quite simply, no other NFL player is the understudy for three Top 50 players on the ADP list. Reynolds will be a hot waiver wire player if anything happens to a starting Rams’ wide receiver, so he makes for a low risk, high-upside late-round pick.
Reynolds became a starter last year when Cooper Kupp was injured mid-season, and he was a WR3/flex option for the rest of the year (WR35 in non-PPR, WR37 in PPR in Weeks 11-17 in 2018, which also included a bye). He's a solid pickup and can be started in good matchups in all formats.
Hunter Renfrow is my other choice. The Raiders are in the hunt in the AFC, and the offense is clicking with Derek Carr getting more and more confident (8:1 TD:INT over the past three games and 280+ yards passing in each contest). Defenses are starting to try to take away TE Darren Waller and WR1 Tyrell Williams, which opens things up for Renfrow. The offense has more balance with Josh Jacobs rounding out the ground game, and Renfrow is making the most of his targets and snaps (105 plays the last three weeks, 12-156-2 on 14 targets over that span). Renfrow has been WR18 in standard scoring and WR21 in PPR scoring over the past three weeks, making him a solid pickup and fantasy starter candidate.
Adam Harstad: If a guy's on the street, that means for one reason or another you and your league mates haven't thought he's going to be productive. There are a couple of reasons that could be. Maybe you think he's a bad player, maybe you think he's in a bad offense, maybe you think he can't stay healthy. But for one reason or another everyone believes he's not going to produce.
The key, then, is to ask yourself for each player why you think he won't be productive, and then estimate how likely you are to be wrong about that. Maybe I think both Laquon Treadwell and Andy Isabella simply aren't very good receivers at this point (both have struggled even to get on the field this year).
If I'm wrong about them, though, it's much more likely I'm wrong about Isabella. Despite being a former first-round pick who is midway through his fourth season, Treadwell still has fewer than 600 career receiving yards. There's a huge amount of evidence that he just doesn't have what it takes to be a productive fantasy receiver. Isabella may be a young guy with one good play to his name, but again, everyone available on waivers is only there because we think they aren't going to produce this year. Isabella doesn't have the history of disappointment that Treadwell has, so I'd rather roll the dice on him.
Looking at the list, here are the guys I'd be most interested in. I've briefly mentioned why they're probably on waivers, and also why we might be wrong about that.
- Hunter Renfrow: A free agent because we think his offense isn't any good, but actually it's been pretty great to this point.
- Albert Wilson: Has shown flashes of productivity in the past but struggles to stay healthy. Maybe he can maintain a clean bill of health for the next eight weeks, though.
- Josh Reynolds: A free agent because he's buried on the Rams' receiver depth chart, but Cooks is likely to miss time and the other guys haven't exactly been iron men, either.
As an anti-pick: Breshad Perriman's touchdown was a fluke play where he wasn't even the intended target and Tampa Bay could get an extra compensatory pick next year if they cut him. Let him stay on waivers.
Jason Wood: Here are the receivers I think should be picked up in every 14-team league:
- Hunter Renfrow -- The Raiders offense has been far better than I expected, and with Tyrell Williams battling injuries on and off, Renfrow's role should remain steady, at worst. Renfrow has been targeted at least three times in every game and has 10 catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the last two weeks. He could be a rock-solid WR3, particularly during the next few bye weeks.
- Josh Reynolds -- Reynolds is easily the best No. 4 receiver in football, but he struggles for relevance because Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, and Robert Woods are all No. 1-caliber players. With Cooks out with (another) concussion, Reynolds will step into a high-target role. There will still be volatility because he's competing for targets with Woods and Kupp, not to mention Gerald Everett's emergence. But Reynolds belongs in the tier of boom-or-bust WR3s for as long as Cooks is out.
- Bisi Johnson -- Bisi Johnson outplayed Chad Beebe in training camp, but still had to bide his time for a role. That door is now wide open for Johnson to keep the No. 3 job no matter what Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen do from here. But while Thielen is hurt, Johnson is a touchdown-dependent fantasy WR3.
- Albert Wilson -- Albert Wilson hasn't carved out a role on a terrible Dolphins team, so he's a high-risk proposition. But with Preston Williams on IR, if not now, when?
Unless you have multiple flex spots and large lineups in smaller leagues, most of these receivers should stay on waivers, at least in 10- and 12-team leagues. Now, if you're in a 14-teamer or a dynasty set-up, the story changes.
Drew Davenport: Chester Rogers, Hunter Renfrow, and Albert Wilson are the ones that jump out at me. For one reason or another, I'm not confident in most of the rest of the names on the list. I think in most instances we know who they are and aren't going to materially be much different in their opportunities this year.
Chester Rogers is probably my favorite from this list for the next few weeks. He's had flashes in the past when given the opportunity to play and now Parris Campbell is banged up. Deon Cain has clearly fallen behind the others for playing time (just 30% snap share) and Rogers is the most likely beneficiary of the Campbell injury. Games against the Dolphins, Jaguars, Texans, and the Buccaneers in Week 14 are on tap. Rogers should be able to have some success.
Albert Wilson is an intriguing option, but his "hit rate" will be a lot lower. In other words, I'd absolutely take a chance on him, but recognize that he hasn't been able to establish himself this year and it's risky. The good part of rostering Wilson is that you should know pretty quickly if you should hold or drop him. At this point I'm still chasing the upside we saw last year.
Hunter Renfrow is clearly someone that isn't going to go away. I think he's going to suffer from bouts of disappearing in this offense, but Tyrell Williams is drawing the attention and despite being 3rd in wide receiver snap share Renfrow continues to see plenty of opportunities. It doesn't seem like he has the big ceiling some fantasy owners covet, but he should continue to deliver much-needed points during the big bye weeks coming the next three weeks.
Chad Parsons: I have minimal faith in any of the options for the rest of the season timeframe. Josh Reynolds has the best combination of offense quality and some track record of producing when any of the 'big 3' Rams receivers misses time. With Brandin Cooks out, Reynolds will be a decent WR3-Flex for lineup decisions with upside from there.
I was a big fan of Andy Isabella coming out of UMass with his athleticism and production combination but his slow start—without elite competition for snaps beyond Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk—is a worrisome start, plus Arizona not playing as many 4WR sets as they did early in the season. If choosing a non-Reynolds option to stream in the near-term, any of the Miami options are intriguing with Preston Williams out and comeback-mode volume in play every week.
Dan Hindery: Hunter Renfrow is my favorite target from this list. He is slowly but surely emerging as Derek Carr’s go-to option in key spots. When the Raiders went for it on fourth down from midfield last week, the play was designed to go to Renfrow. He has also been the first read on many important third downs in recent weeks. Jon Gruden mentioned after Sunday’s win against the Lions that teams are starting to shade coverage towards Darren Waller to try to force the Raiders to beat them “with their left hand.” Gruden noted that they are feeling more and more confident in their ability to do that, noting Renfrow’s emergence as one of the big reasons they don’t feel like they have to force it to Waller if defenses are overplaying him.
Josh Reynolds is also intriguing as he should step into a very similar role to the one Brandin Cooks had occupied. The concussion recovery for Cooks seems like more of a long-term deal than typical. Reynolds could have a nice long run as the Rams No. 3 wide receiver. It is a role in which he has a solid shot at putting up WR3 numbers.
There are enough open targets in Miami after the season-ending injury to Preston Williams for someone to emerge as a flex-worthy play as the No. 2 wide receiver. Albert Wilson is probably the most talented of the potential Williams replacements but he hasn’t seemed quite right in his return from a hip injury. Jakeem Grant was signed to a 4-year extension prior to the season and is the guy Miami’s current leadership is most invested in. That could weigh in his favor when they decide who they want to feature the rest of the way. I wouldn’t want to count on any of the Miami wide receivers on this list right away. However, Wilson and Grant make for decent speculative additions if you have the space to stash a guy and see how this playing time battle plays out over the next few weeks.