Roundtable Week 11

This week's panel topics: Green Bay and Washington's backfields, a game of "Worth A Look? Or, Move Along, Nothing To See," and the staff's stretch-run candidates. 

The only thing we can expect from the 2017 NFL season is the unexpected. Week 10 brought us more fantasy-relevant changes. Let's unpack those developments and try to get ahead of the game for the benefit of our readers: 

Let's roll...
 

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Washington's backfield

Matt Waldman: Rob Kelley and suffered an injury that could cost him at least a month.  Kelly’s absence will leave Washington with Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine.

Thompson led Washington in snaps among the RB corps after Kelly left the field, but Washington was behind in this game. At the same time, Perine ran well inside, outside, and as a receiver out of the backfield when inserted into the contest. 

  • Does Thompson earn an increased role? 
  • Does Kelley's injury change Thompson's fantasy value regardless of your view of his future usage? 
  • Are you willing to take a chance on Perine, whose ball security landed him on the bench multiple times this year? 
  • What kind of investment would you make in Perine if you need a running back and he's a free agent in your leagues?
  • Are you holding Kelley or cutting bait? [Editor's Note: This question was posed to the panel prior to Kelley's IR designation]
Weigh-in...
 
Justin Howe: We’ve already seen Thompson’s increased role. Thompson’s never taken more than 48 snaps in an NFL game, and he’s averaged 41.4 over the last 5 weeks, by far the most he’s ever seen over a comparable span.
 
Not to beat a dead horse, and not to downplay Thompson’s breakout 2017 – he’s been truly Sprolesian in every way, and he’s the team’s highest-floor and highest-ceiling option. But given his build and skill set, I’d be shocked to see him ascend beyond an upside of 12-15 projectable touches. That’s a fine mark, and sufficient for him to produce as an RB2, but I don’t think his count numbers have much upward mobility. Even if Perine were to also go down, Thompson would continue to share the ground game with a free agent signee.
 
Perine is definitely among the stronger waiver claims of the week, and if I’ve saved most of my FAAB budget for a late-season move like this one, I’d consider cashing in for 40 to 60 percent of my remaining dollars — Can’t take ‘em with you, after all, and Perine certainly looks capable of providing Kelley-quality production.
 
It’s a low bar, for sure, but the moderate upgrade in talent could turn Kelley’s 10-carry, 20-yard specialty into more 15-65 lines. He’s an even sexier play when we see his upcoming schedule, which features a handful of exploitable matchups over the next month.
 
I’m moving on from Kelley yesterday. He simply doesn’t have the athletic chops to create anything on the NFL level, and the team has seen throughout the season that it can absolutely manufacture his ho-hum efficiency with higher-ceiling options. Thompson and Perine are the near-future of this backfield and barring a truly epic Perine faceplant, I’m not sure we’ll see Kelley notch more than a handful of carries before season’s end. 
 
Andy Hicks: Chris Thompson doesn't have the size to see more rushing attempts. The only time he saw more than 10 carries this year was a 16-carry, 33-yard effort against the 49ers. They need other backs to do the grunt work while they attempt to utilize him in the best way, put him in space.
 
His fantasy value shouldn't change. Rob Kelley was keeping opposing defenses honest, but he was hardly going to be a major part of opposition schemes. That won't change with Perine or whomever else is used and Thompson's role shouldn't change at all.

I have not liked, at all, what I have seen from Samaje Perine this year. He is slow, makes poor decisions running the ball and fumbling. Rob Kelley has played him off the park and isn't exactly a world-beater. As the only other back who is fit, Perine will see carries, but he is doing nothing with them. Anything he does will be a result of the line, which has been banged up all year. 
 
Byron Marshall has just been signed off the Eagles practice squad, but he won't be ready to do much this week. He can't be worse than Perine, so add him if you have depth. 
 
Perine will see carries this week so has worth and may get a rushing touchdown. Yards, not so much. 
 
Given that Washington is considering putting Kelley on IR, I would say he isn't worth keeping. He hasn't been able to stay fit this year. 
 
John Mamula: The Redskins have little to no interest in giving Thompson an increased role in the offense. They seem convinced that his body can not withstand more than a 12-15 touch workload. 
 
Kelley's injury does not change Thompson's fantasy value. Kelley's touches will now go to Perine or a different Redskins running back. 
 
And yes, I am willing to take a chance on Perine due to opportunity. The Redskins spent a fourth-round pick on Perine and will surely give him at least one more opportunity. 
 
At this point of the season, if you truly need a running back, Perine is worth spending the bulk of your free agent dollars. I would spend around 90 percent of my remaining dollars on him. With only a few weeks left until the fantasy playoffs, you are unlikely to find another running back in a better situation. 
 
I am cutting bait on Kelley as he has officially been placed on IR. He also has little value to me in dynasty leagues moving forward.
 
Jeff Haseley: I think Washington would make a mistake if they did not utilize Chris Thompson more in the offense, due to the Kelley injury. Having said that, a drastic increase in carries is not the best solution, unless he's able to deliver when called upon. I would estimate an increase of 3-5 carries per game from Thompson and see how he does. 
 
If anything, I think the Kelley injury improves Thompson's value. I envision an increase in touches, which can only help his fantasy stock. 

I am absolutely taking a shot on Perine. I'm sure he has been coached in several areas ranging from ball security to rushing strategies. I'd like to see him be more patient as a runner and not get ahead of his blockers. If he can solve those two big issues, it will go a long way to preserving and gaining fantasy appeal. 

I would try to find room to add Perine to my roster. At this point of the season, especially at running back, players can come out of nowhere and lead you to the playoffs or bring you a championship. If Perine falters, it's an easy decision to cut bait. 

Based on the news of Kelley being out a month or maybe longer, I would probably elect to drop him in re-draft leagues. You can always have the chance to add him later on if needed. I don't see him as a player someone would go out of their way to acquire for at least another few weeks, depending on who he progresses with his injury. 

Dan Hindery: I agree with John that Thompson is basically locked into his role. Jay Gruden has explicitly stated in the past that he doesn’t think Thompson would hold up under a heavy workload. However, it is worth wondering if when it gets late in the season, and the games are truly must-win, Thompson gets fed a few extra touches.

The main beneficiary of Kelley’s injury is Perine. He should lead the team in carries down the stretch and get most of the goal line work. 

I am willing to take a chance on Perine. I trust him to fix his fumbling issue and Washington has enough invested in Perine to show some patience even if he makes a rookie mistake or two.

If I was desperate at RB2, I would be aggressive in making a move for Perine. There just isn’t much time left in the season, so there’s little reason to hoard blind-bidding dollars in Week 11. If I wasn’t desperate at running back, then I wouldn’t press too hard for Perine. Even in a best-case scenario, he’s likely only a middling RB2 option and not a major difference-maker.

Kelley is an easy cut at this point.

Adam Harstad: The general consensus seems to be that Thompson lacks "size". I don't know about that — he's bigger than Warrick Dunn, who had 15,000 career yards from scrimmage — but I do know that Washington by all indications likes him in the role he's currently in, so I don't see them rocking that boat too much.

Long-term, I'm bearish on Thompson no matter what. He's talented, but as a regression maven, I believe Thompson's currently been living on some crazy-unsustainable production rates. I think he retains fantasy value, but more fringe-starter value than difference-maker value.

"Known unknowns" like Perine are exactly the types of players you should be taking a chance on at this stage of the season. Somebody is going to come out of nowhere to win some leagues this year. I can't say for sure Perine isn't that guy, so I'm happy to roster him to find out. As for what I'd pay to acquire him off the street... if you still have FAAB at this stage of the game, what are you saving it for?

B.J. VAnderWoude: The Washington coaching staff has commented that they do think Thompson could wear down with a bigger workload. With that said, I think the quality of his touches will increase slightly due to the fact that Washington will not have both Kelley and Perine to use in the red zone.  Even if Thompson's role does not increase in volume, it will at least stay stable which is more than enough considering he was most likely picked up off waivers and has been a great return on investment. 

Thompson has done so much of his damage through big plays, any fluctuation in his touches greatly diminishes his chance of putting up a big week. At the very least, he is much less likely to get lost in the game plan now, I think his value has increased slightly. 

Perine is worth a look if you are desperate, but he's not someone that I see becoming a flex option. He's averaging 3.2 yards per carry and will not see many passes come his way. His value is directly tied to scoring touchdowns. 

I would make a minimal investment, although I do see the value in spending more if you really needed a No. 3 running back. 

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Green Bay's Backfield

Waldman:  Aaron Jones’ injury could also cost him a month. It leaves Green Bay with fellow rookie Jamaal Williams and, eventually, Ty Montgomery, who is listed as day-to-day with an injury that Jene Bramel speculates is related to his early-season rib fractures.

The Packers drafted Williams ahead of Jones and had a strong start to camp thanks in part to his prowess as a pass protector. However, injuries slowed Williams’ progress and he appeared to lack the juice Jones displayed when Jones earned his shot last month.

This weekend, I watched Williams and saw a player whose burst appeared better than previous weeks, and he made several tough runs where he broke at least one, if not multiple tackles. 

  • Is Williams worth a roster spot? What kind of upside do you see for him this year?
  • What kind of investment would you make in Williams if you need a running back and he's a free agent in your league?
  • What do you make of Montgomery once he's healthy enough to return to the field? 
  • Are you holding Jones or cutting bait? 
Let's give this the same treatment as we did with Washington's backfield. 
 
VanderWoude: Williams is definitely worth a roster spot at this point in the season. Williams has similar upside to Aaron Jones, so the best case scenario looks like a low-end No. 2 running back with a 20-plus-point game sprinkled in. 

Williams is worth a significant investment because he will step into the No. 1 running back role in Green Bay.  You are investing in the opportunity more than the player, but Williams was taken ahead of Jones in this past year's draft, so there is certainly some talent there. 

Once Montgomery can return he should step right back into his role as an every week flex play. He has not been involved in the passing game as much after Hundley took over, but that should start to even out once he's back to full health. 

Jones will miss the rest of the fantasy regular season, which makes him very tough to hold onto unless you have a really deep roster at running back. 
 
Harstad: Like I said about Perine, "known unknowns" are the guys you want at the end of your roster right now, and Williams very much fits that mold. I prefer Perine simply because I don't think Williams has as much of a role when Montgomery is healthy as Perine has when Thompson is healthy, but both are very much worthy fliers. As for what to spend... again, if you still have FAAB, what are you saving it for? Your league doesn't give you extra points for having some unused at the end of the year.
 
I actually like Montgomery as a player, and I don't get why this has become such a minority opinion. He's good. There's a reason Green Bay made him its featured back to start this year. People are letting injuries cloud their memory of a pretty good player in a pretty good situation. I think he's a solid RB2 going forward.
 
Hindery: Williams is worth speculative add, but his upside is entirely dependent upon whether Montgomery re-aggravates his rib injury. Mike McCarthy said on Wednesday that he is hopeful that Montgomery would be able to return for Week 11’s matchup with Baltimore.
 
In games where Montgomery is active, it would be really hard to play Williams. If Williams is ruled out, Williams would profile as a low-end RB2. The Packers offense without Aaron Rodgers is pedestrian and Williams isn’t the type of elite talent who is likely to greatly outperform his situation.

I would not be aggressive pursuing Williams. The risk (that Montgomery plays and makes Williams worthless from a fantasy perspective) outweighs the reward (a low-end RB2 option only if Montgomery is out). 

Montgomery is a talented player with receiving skills and big-play ability. If healthy, he’s an RB2 even in the limited Green Bay offense with Brett Hundley at the helm. The touches and targets are there for Montgomery to be a top-20 option if he’s healthy.

I’d cut bait with Jones. He won’t be back until the fantasy playoffs at the earliest. The Packers play two of the league’s best performing run defenses, Carolina and Minnesota, in Weeks 15 and 16. Even if Jones does make it back, he’s not an exciting option at all in those matchups. 
 
Haseley: Like Perine, if you have the room, take a crack at Williams. I do think Ty Montgomery will eventually return to his role once fully healthy. Until then, Williams could be a nice stopgap. 

I wouldn't go over 15% of blind bid money to acquire Williams. You can probably get him for less than that. 

Once Montgomery is healthy, he likely will resume his lead back role, provided Jamaal Williams doesn't rise in value. 

Like Rob Kelley, I think dropping Jones is the right move. You can always attempt to acquire him again if needed. The roster spot itself is worth more than the possibility that Jones could return to form and receive a similar carry share. There's a lot of risks involved, that would be eliminated by adding someone else to your roster. 
 
Mamula: Williams is worth a roster spot in deep leagues. However, I see very little upside in this offense without Aaron Rodgers. Under Brett Hundley, the Packers offense will fail to sustain drives more often than not and Williams opportunities for touchdowns will be limited. 

If I was desperate for a running back, I would spend around 20 to 30 percent of my remaining free agent dollars on Williams. However, I would prioritize Samaje Perine higher on my list of running backs to target. 
 
Once healthy, Montgomery will be locked into around 15-20 touches. Again, without Aaron Rodgers, Montgomery's upside is limited with the Packers offense as opposing defenses will be able to focus more on the running back. 
 
I am cutting bait on Jones. His MCL injury is reported to keep him out for 3-6 weeks. I do not see the team rushing him back this season.
 

Hicks: Williams is worth a roster spot in deeper leagues, but the Packers haven't run the ball with any consistency this year and with Rodgers out, opposing defenses aren't afraid of the passing game. His upside is a bottom-end RB2 if he continues on from the form he showed against Chicago. 

I wouldn't go crazy trying to obtain Williams, but if he is there and I have space, sure, let's see what he can do this week. 

Ty Montgomery is another back who is struggling to stay fit this year. I'm not sure if he wants to get back on the field until his ribs are sorted. If the Packers can win a couple of games, maybe he comes back sooner than otherwise would be the case. 

If you have the depth, you can hold onto Jones, but if you need the spot cut him loose. He has shown the most of any back on this roster, but at best may be back for week 15. 

Howe: It’s funny: in my draft preparation, I viewed Jones as an intriguing fourth- or fifth-round sleeper and Williams as a barely-draftable camp body without an NFL future. After following them closely through the preseason, I came away impressed by Williams’ well-roundedness and turned off by Jones’ inability to earn snaps above the third team, and I essentially switched my outlooks for them.
 
Now, I’m not a huge fan of either – both appear flawed as prospects to some degree – but am close to writing off Williams altogether. He’s an exceptionally limited athlete, one who showed little speed or agility at the combine and has looked to be trapped in cement as a pro. I don’t think pass protection chops are as valued quite as much as the fantasy community would like to believe, and I seriously doubt the Packers are committed much, if at all, to giving Williams a clear shot at the job when other options are healthy.
 
Of course, if I’m still in the playoff hunt yet short on dependable RB volume, I’ll value Williams more. Barring a surprise rally from Mays, Williams should lock into 12-20 weekly touches for at least the next week or two, and I’d be silly to turn my nose up at it based on principle. I just wouldn’t invest much into it. If I’m truly starved for RB starters (yet somehow still in contention) and forced to choose between Williams and a shot-in-the-dark type like, say, Mike Tolbert, then I’ll bid up to 10% of my FAAB budget. If I have at least three flex-worthy running backs rostered and no bye issues, though, I’ll likely submit no more than a token (3-5%) bid and move on. There’s just not an attractive ceiling or floor in play there.
 
If I owned Jones anywhere, I’d be looking to hold on until more definitive news (like an aggravation or a speedy return to practice) came in. He looks like the only real source of upside in this poor, desolate backfield.
 
Montgomery doesn’t look like much of a stash to me. Without a high-octane offense providing sexy volume and touchdown opportunity, he blends poorly into the RB3/flex landscape. He wasn’t even an efficient producer early in the year when he was a fantasy darling with Aaron Rodgers under center. Montgomery opened 2017 as a major opportunity hog, leading all NFL backs in snaps over the first 3 weeks, but produced a ho-hum 0.30 PPR points per snap. That’s Ameer Abdullah/Isaiah Crowell production, but without the health, job security, or general upside. He’s an easy pass for me; I’m glad I sold high on him after Week 3. (I paired him with Martavis Bryant to land Davante Adams and Melvin Gordon III in my primary league.)
 

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Worth A Look? Or, Nothing To See, Move Along?

Waldman: The following players are seeing a recent increase in playing time. Which of these players are worth a look, if not a consideration for your roster?

Choose at least one from each position – at least three total – and explain why these players are either worth a look or fantasy owners should move along.  

Mamula: Dontrelle Inman is the name on the list that intrigues me most. Inman's first game with the Bears was impressive as he played a team-high 57 offensive snaps and finished with 6 receptions on 8 targets for 88 yards. Perhaps he has developed an instant chemistry with Mitchell Trubisky. Inman is worth a pick-up to see if the production continues. 
 
At the WR position, I am also mildly interested in Bruce Ellington as long as Will Fuller V is inactive. 
 
Austin Ekeler is worth a look moving forward.  As soon as the 3-6 Chargers pick up a couple more losses, they may start to reduce Melvin Gordon III's offensive snaps and touches. Ekeler looks to be more of a factor in PPR leagues with his smaller 5-10, 200-lb. frame. 
 
I have little to no interest with the tight ends on this list. If I had to choose, I would select Stephen Anderson because he seems to have the most involvement with his corresponding teams' offense. 

Haseley: I was on the Chester Rogers bandwagon at the beginning of the year, but he didn't make the jump to the lineup until recently. Kamar Aiken's hamstring injury opens the door for more playing time and so far Rogers has not disappointed. I'd take a flier on him. 
 
I think we'll see an increase in usage as a change of pace back for Los Angeles with occasional big plays, but this is very much Melvin Gordon III's role. Ekeler could have some value in PPR leagues, but intermittent at best. 

The injury to Zach Miller opened the door of opportunity for Adam Shaheen, who saw his snap counts increase last week from 19 to 31. Chicago isn't a dominant passing team though, so my expectations aren't that high for an immediate fantasy impact. 

Hindery: Ekeler is worth a look in PPR leagues for teams in need of running back depth. He has had double-digit touches and at least one touchdown in 2-of-3 games. Ekeler is a player who has impressed since he showed up in camp. He was a standout in OTAs and throughout training camp. Ekeler then went out in the final preseason game and cemented his spot on the roster with 108 yards and a number of flashy plays.

Ekeler has seen his number of snaps grow slowly but steadily as the season has gone on. He has emerged as the clear No. 2 back for the Chargers and head coach Anthony Lynn seems to want to limit Melvin Gordon III to under 70 percent of the snaps, which means Ekeler should continue to see at least 20 snaps per game. For an explosive playmaker who is heavily involved in the passing game, that workload should be enough for Ekeler to have “what the heck Flex” value. Plus, if Gordon was to get injured, Ekeler could be a major fantasy asset down the stretch.

King has emerged as the No. 3 target in the Giants passing offense and is playing plenty of snaps. The speedy receiver out of Georgia also has some speed and raw talent. However, this Giants offense is nowhere near potent enough to support three fantasy-relevant pass catchers and Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard are clearly well ahead of King in the pecking order. King’s best asset is arguably his deep speed but the Giants offensive line, especially with Justin Pugh injured, is in no shape to allow Eli Manning the time required to let deep routes develop. 

Like King, Anderson has an intriguing skill set. He is a smooth athlete and plays as a more of a hybrid TE/WR than due to his mediocre ability as a blocker. Anderson would have potentially had an opening to step into a bigger role, but C.J. Fiedorowicz is back from injury. Fiedorowicz is a favorite of Bill O’Brien and Tom Savage, making him the Houston tight end with the best shot at achieving fantasy value down the stretch of the season.

Harstad: Let's stick with my "known unknowns" theme. Shaheen is a highly-drafted rookie thrust into a larger role. Ellington is a veteran who has put together a lot of impressive tape and is now thrust into a larger role. Ekeler is a flashy rookie backing up a starter with a lengthy injury history on a team that loves to feature true workhorse RBs. If you asked me if any of these guys were potential league-winners, those are the three names that I'd have the hardest time saying definitely not to.

Most of the rest are "known knowns". They could surprise us, but we have a pretty decent feel for who they are, which makes them less appealing as lottery tickets.

VanderWoude: It seems as though the Bears were bringing Shaheen along slowly, as his blocking is not yet up to the point of being a starter.  Dion Sims health is the real question here, as he will be the starter (better blocker, bigger contract) once he's ready and his injury does not appear to be serious. Shaheen is a natural pass catcher and runs tight routes, but the Bears are a running team and it would be hard for Shaheen to see enough of a workload to justify picking him up over other tight ends on the waiver wire. 

I agree with Adam that Ellington is the receiver most likely to become a spot starter for your team. He will take on the #2 role in Houston, which despite DeAndre Hopkins being targeted an insane amount each week, still has some value on a team that likes to throw the ball. Bill O'Brien also commented this past week that Ellington deserves to see a bigger role.

Deciding between Ekeler and Yeldon is more about preference than anything else. Do you need to take a shot on a player like Ekeler who can be your potential #2 running back, or do you want to take a shot on a player like Yeldon that has every week value as a high #4, low-end #3 running back?  Ekeler has the higher upside because of the massive volume he would see as the Chargers #1 running back (if Gordon were to miss time, which he has five missed games in his first two years in the league. Yeldon could potentially be played at the flex spot even with Fournette healthy, so it really depends on what you need for your team. Both players are must own guys at this point in the season. 

Hicks:  I like Keelan Cole as a prospect, but the Jaguars want Blake Bortles to thrown the ball less, not more. With Allen Hurns out, he has WR2 upside and if Jacksonville falls behind maybe more. He is my No. 1 choice from this list.

Melvin Gordon III is hardly inspiring with his running this year and Ekeler is likely to see more action as a receiver, but he is a good add at this time of the year. I like Dontrelle Inman on the Chargers, but he got squeezed out of the roster after filling in admirably for a couple of years. In Chicago, he has a chance to make a more long-term impact.

Get him if you can.  With Will Fuller V out, maybe Ellington has a nice game or 2. Not the worst to consider, but there are more likely to be better free agent choices available. 

Howe: Ellington was a draft favorite of mine several years ago, and I’ve followed him closely ever since. In San Francisco, he was annually a big part of the team’s preseason plans, only to inevitably lose the season or huge chunks of it to injury. So I’m excited to see him seizing his opportunity in Houston. Ellington has drawn 7-plus targets in 3 of his 8 games, and he’s topped 40 yards 3 times as well, scoring twice along the way. Will Fuller V will miss at least a week with cracked ribs, and Ellington could be a solid volume play against the Cardinals’ shaky slot coverage.
 
Ekeler is intriguing because of the truly absurd workload the Chargers have given Melvin Gordon III for so long. It’s never seemed sustainable, and Ekeler is, by a moonlight mile, the highest-upside rotational option the Chargers have had behind Gordon. He’s proving himself capable of the things Kenjon Barner and Andre Williams simply couldn’t, which locks him in (if unpredictably) to 5-12 touches a week. And he’s the first clear-cut handcuff to Gordon we’ve seen since Danny Woodhead’s early 2016 injury.
 
Derby is a mildly interesting prospect based on opportunity. He’s a fairly explosive athlete, but not a polished or experienced receiver, and likely not a guy who will force his way into the Broncos’ plans. Rather, he carries a chance to occasionally benefit from the game flow and/or lockdown coverage on the team’s ball-dominant wideouts. He’s posted 3 fantasy usable games thus far, scoring 17.5, 11.6, and 10.1 PPR points, and he’s locked into his role, however small. The appeal here isn’t imminent nor eruptive, but there’s streaming value in late-season matchups with Oakland, Indianapolis, and Washington. 

 

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Stretch-Run Candidates

Waldman: Give us four current non-starters (guys recuperating from injury or only earn 3-5 targets and/or touches per week) who you’re considering for your rosters because you like their potential as productive players if they earn more playing time in December.

For example, James Conner could earn more playing time if Pittsburgh wraps up the division in a few weeks and Weeks 14-15 have no bearing on their playoff position. Or, Danny Woodhead’s return could jumpstart your playoff run if he returns to his projected role in Baltimore. 

Howe: This may be cheating, but Jay Ajayi could absolutely dominate the Eagles backfield fresh out of the bye. But at the moment, that backfield is a mess to many. It seems clear as a bell to me. Ajayi is an extraordinary talent upgrade on the one-speed, one-dimension LeGarrette Blount, and Corey Clement is an underwhelming prospect. Ajayi has mega-boom potential behind an elite front line.

The vacuum that is the Browns passing game should actually perk up noticeably once Corey Coleman fully returns, likely this week. Coleman developed a noticeable preseason rapport with DeShone Kizer, who hasn’t looked good throwing to anyone else. The two connected 5 times for 53 yards and 1 touchdown in Week 1, with Coleman repeatedly beating the Steelers’ Joe Haden on intermediate routes. That kind of work could be the lifeblood of this unit going forward, and Coleman – who’s still an explosive, touchdown-loving, 23-year-old prospect – can spin it into fantasy gold.
 
Dede Westbrook could be primed for big things right out of the gate. His dazzling 2016 season at Oklahoma (80 receptions, 1,625 yards from scrimmage, 17 touchdowns) has been all but forgotten by fantasy owners. So has his electric preseason, which saw him rack up 288 yards and 3 touchdowns in 3 games. Marqise Lee is healthy and making a strong case as the Jaguars’ WR1, but Allen Hurns is nursing what could be a multi-week ankle injury on the other side, and Westbrook offers far more dynamism. The team had soured on Hurns this offseason anyway, and Westbrook could easily average 40 snaps and 5-7 targets going forward. With his “Poor Man’s Will Fuller V” profile, that could be enough to make fantasy noise down the stretch.
 
Waldman: In my opinion, he's a poor man's T.Y. Hilton or even a poor man's Marvin Harrison. Will Fuller V is a lower-middle-class Westbrook with an overrated profile by comparison....
 
Howe: We'll see, Matt. One player where you took the words out of my mouth is Conner. Thanks to some positive injury luck, I’ve held him in every season-long league in which I drafted him, primed to potentially benefit from a late-season surge as the Steelers roll. Leagues that play in Week 17 would love to plug in Bell’s 90 percent backfield usage into a still-favored matchup with the Browns.
 
Haseley: The injury to Curtis Samuel will allow another player to make an impact in the passing game. Damiere Byrd is currently on IR (arm) with eligibility to return in Week 13. He has good speed and has flashed big-play ability in the preseason. Once healthy, he could see himself immediately involved in the offense. 

We can't lose sight of David Johnson returning in what would be a big boost to any roster that has him. My expectations are not high when he returns, simply due to the time off he missed. It's difficult to automatically assume his production will mirror what it was in the past, but even if he's back and producing decent numbers for one game in Weeks 14, 15 or 16, it will be worthwhile for owners who kept him or picked him up. 

Danny Woodhead figures to be a key piece to the Ravens offensive plans once he returns. His presence in your lineup, especially in PPR leagues, could be a big lift come playoff time and possibly sooner. 

Indications suggest Alfred Morris will be the running back Dallas turns to in Ezekiel Elliott's absence, however, Jason Garrett will go with the player who performs best. Rod Smith could be that player and is worth consideration as a waiver pickup. 

Kenny Golladay has returned to the active lineup after dealing with a nagging hamstring injury that shelved him in the first half of the season. His height, athleticism, and range will get him snaps and opportunities on the field. If he can regain the form he had in the preseason, he could wind up being a potential flex option for the playoff push. 

VAnderWoude: If you haven't picked up Greg Olsen yet, it is either too late or you are very lucky and should run to the waiver wire right this instant. The tight end position is shallow this year, and there are not many every week starters that inspire trust. Not only does Olsen fill that void and give you a big advantage over every team that doesn't include Rob Gronkowski Travis Kelce or Evan Engram, but Olsen's role should only increase with Kelvin Benjamin in Buffalo. 

Danny Woodhead is an interesting option because Buck Allen has managed to carve out a sizeable role as a pass-catching back (five games with five or more catches while averaging 11.7 carries per game) and Alex Collins is averaging 5.6 yards per carry on 93 attempts (14 carries per game over his last four games).  With the Ravens passing game in the state that it is (atrocious), the Ravens could very well give their running backs 35-40 touches a week. Joe Flacco is averaging 172 passing yards per game on 32 attempts, so the Ravens really might end up as the only team in fantasy history with three potential starters at running back each week. If you need help at running back, Woodhead is a good place to start. 

After last week's big game, Marquise Goodwin will be a hot pick up this week despite the fact that has only three catches in his first two games as the 49ers #1 wide receiver. The good news is those three catches went for 151 yards and a touchdown. As long as CJ Beathard is willing to take shots to Goodwin, there's a good chance he could break out as an every week flex play for the rest of the season. Goodwin is able to just blow by his defenders and gets behind the defense at least once every week. He's not a savvy route-runner by any means, but he does have surprisingly good hands and has impressed me by making tough catches down the field. 
 
Harstad: If they get cut and you have roster space, David Johnson is a potential league-winner in the championship game. You mentioned Danny Woodhead, and Chris Carson is another guy who is going to be out for a while but who could potentially swoop in during the fantasy playoffs and win a game or two for his owners.

Theo Riddick might be a hair above the cutoff you're looking for here, but he's averaged just 6.2 touches per game since week 3, and he has the potential to be a surprise contributor down the stretch. If his passing-game involvement gets back over 5 receptions per game like it's been the past two years, that's a lot of free points right there.

Finishing up on my "known unknowns" theme, Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross were all top 10 picks in last year's draft, and all three have disappointed to this point largely because of injuries. But if someone was going to come out of nowhere and set the league on fire over the second half of the year, you'd have to think they're pretty high up on the list of possibilities given what we've seen from rookie receivers in recent years.
 
Hindery: Golladay could make an impact down the stretch. Matthew Stafford and the Lions passing offense has been on fire in recent weeks, scoring at least 22 fantasy points in three straight games. Golladay should quickly develop into the team’s top deep threat and top target in the red zone. He won’t need to see a heavy workload in terms of snaps and targets to make a fantasy impact due to his big-play ability and nose for the end zone. 
 
In PPR leagues, Woodhead has been a consistent fantasy asset whenever healthy for a number of years. He will instantly jump back to RB2 status in PPR leagues once we see that he is fully healthy. Baltimore likes to throw to running backs and that is especially true of the 2017 team, which is sorely lacking in reliable receiving options. 
 
The Browns wide receivers have struggled mightily. Coleman would instantly step in as the top option in the passing game when he returns to health. Cleveland also has an incentive to feed Coleman targets to try to figure out what they have with him as they head into a huge offseason with a bevy of draft assets and cap space. 
 
It might take a few weeks, but we could see Westbrook come off of IR and quickly emerge as the Jaguars No. 2 WR. It sounds like Allen Hurns’ ankle injury is fairly severe and could keep him out of action for a while. The Jaguars don’t have much left at wide receiver behind Marqise Lee. Westbrook still needs to learn to get off of press coverage better, but he proved to be a dynamic playmaker in preseason action. His speed will play well in the Jacksonville offense that forces the opposition to commit extra bodies to defending the run. 
 
Mamula: I agree 100 percent with Justin's analysis of Jay Ajayi. I am trying to trade for Ajayi in all leagues regardless of my RB status as I feel he will be very productive down the stretch with the Eagles. 

David Johnson is the other running back that I am targeting if another owner will package him in a trade, Johnson may even be available on your waiver wire. As Dr. Jene Bramel mentioned in his Monday Injury Rounds article, there is a chance that Johnson could return to action with a functional split within the next 2-4 weeks.

As previously mentioned in our first topic, I am very high on Samaje Perine moving forward. While he has disappointed thus far, he has a legitimate opportunity for locked-in touches with Rob Kelley being placed on I.R.

At the WR position, Martavis Bryant is back in the Steelers "good-graces" and may have an impact — especially with a favorable schedule down the stretch. Many will dismiss Bryant's lackluster 3 receptions for 42 yards against the Colts in Week 10. However, Ben Roethlisberger looked to Bryant for a successful two-point conversion and also in crunch-time. With less than a minute left in the game, Bryant picked up a key 19-yard reception to help set up the game-winning field goal. Bryant will have at least one deep touchdown before the end of the season.
 
Hicks: I would be heavily considering the following guys...

Keelan Cole: With Allen Hurns out, he gets a chance for more targets and has done well with his limited opportunities. He is well liked on the roster and I can see big things coming here. 
 
Byron Marshall: With Rob Kelley likely to be out for awhile, Chris Thompson kept in his current role and Samaje Perine playing poorly, the just signed Byron Marshall appeals as a nice long shot. The Eagles were packed with runners, so he should get a better chance here. He had some opportunities late last year in Philadelphia and looked better than anything Washington can put up. 
 
Woodhead has to be mentioned. The Ravens have been uninspiring and Woodhead will be capable of giving them a short-term spark. At his age and with his injury history I wouldn't expect much long term, but for December he is a good option. 
 
As Justin mentioned, Coleman is a name to watch. He has looked good at the start of both 2016 and 2017 before getting injured. If fully fit, he is capable of performing to the level his first-round pick would just justify. If Josh Gordon comes back as well, Browns fans may finally have something to smile about

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