Welcome to Week 5 of The Docket, a weekly column that will highlight rule and policy issues effecting players as well as offer strategy and advice on a select few players that you should be targeting or avoiding.
This is where we look at select players who are on the verge of an upgrade or downgrade.
Lamar Miller (RB, Mia) – The firing of HC coach Joe Philbin this week can only be good for the Dolphins skill players, especially Lamar Miller. The Dolphins are one of the few teams yet to score a rushing touchdown and have called pass plays on an absurd 74% percent of their snaps. For some reason Philbin thought he had Tom Brady at quarterback and even Brady doesn’t throw that much. New HC Dan Campbell is sure to switch things up and get Miller more than the pathetic nine carries per game he has so far received. The bye couldn’t come at a better time and expect better days for Miller as their offensive line also gets healthy. A better-run game should also open the passing game, so expect better days for their receivers as well.
Willie Snead IV (WR, NO) – Snead’s snap count has doubled since Week One while Brandon Coleman’s has more than halved. Snead played in all three-wide sets and was behind only Brandin Cooks for targets last week, playing 48-of-73 snaps compared to 41 for Marques Colston and only 19 for Brandon Coleman. If you haven’t jumped ship, the time is now. Snead's 10.9 yards per target also ranks 7th best of all receivers with at least 15 or more targets. The Saints look like they may have found the juice they need on offense with Snead, Cooks and C.J. Spiller coming alive. Wouldn’t be surprised if Snead was this years Charles Johnson, another player originally released by the Browns.
Carlos Hyde (RB, SF) – I love Hyde the player, but this team stinks. After Hyde exploded for 26-168-2 Week One I thought I made a major blunder on preaching caution with him in the pre-season, but that call seems to be the correct call. Since that time he has only 36 carries for 114 yards and 0 TDs. The main problem is that teams don’t respect Colin Kaepernick at all and are daring him to beat them with his arm. In turn that means stacked boxes for Hyde and needing to play catch-up each week. With the return of Reggie Bush, your window to sell high has all but closed. I’m not saying Hyde won’t have some more big games, but they are going to be far and few between. He’s a must hold in dynasty, but after his next big game, you may want to trade.
Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans (WR, TB) - Jameis Winston isn’t playing well enough to consistently support both of these guys putting up points each week. Right now, Jackson seems to be the better play and he leads the league in redzone targets. This past week Jackson caught 10-of-15 targets for 147 yards and a touchdown while Evans caught 3-of-8 targets for 32 yards in Tampa Bay's Week 4 loss to the Panthers. It is also important to note that shut-down-corner Josh Norman did not shadow Evans he just didn’t get open. Both players will be a bit boom or bust and are better relied upon as WR3s with WR1 weekly upside depending on the matchup.
Joseph Randle (RB, Dal) - His time to capture workhorse duties in this offense is coming to an end. Since his first quarter explosion two week ago, Randle has just four second-half carries over the past two weeks. This past week he went 11/26/1 and his touchdown came on a goal line leap where he nearly fumbled. Randle headed to the bench after that and has played less than 45% of the Cowboys snaps this year. With Lance Dunbar lost for the season, the dawn of the Christine Michael age is coming; this team needs his juice and size badly.
Duke Johnson Jr (RB, Clev) – Johnson is slowly coming on, especially in PPR leagues. He logged more than 60% of the teams snaps last week despite Crowell running well and more importantly, he even received a fourth quarter goal line carry. He finished with 9/85/1 on 10 targets and added 8/31 rushing against the Chargers, scoring on a 34-yard bomb. He’s at worst a PPR flex play going forward and should be monitored for more.
Tavon Austin (WR, StL) – Austin now has four touchdowns in four games and he is scoring them in a multitude of ways: 2 receiving, 1 rushing and 1 return. This past week he went 6/96/2 as the emergence of Todd Gurley has opened up this whole offense. While Austin is worth a pickup, just keep in mind that the Rams are last in the league in total offensive plays and have run a whopping 116 plays fewer than the Houston Texans, who lead the league. Still, the team seems dedicated to getting Austin invovled every week and we are finally starting to see flashes of the dynamic player we saw coming out of West Virgina three years ago.
This is where we highlight players that are looking particularly good.
Allen Hurns (WR, Jax) - Hurns had 11 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown this past weekend and now has at least 60 receiving yards in every game this season. While he isn’t the sexiest option, he has become a reliable WR3 with a bit of upside since Blake Bortles loves taking deep shots to him each week on a team that should be playing from behind often. While not a special player, there is no denying that Hurns seems to always produce in plus matchups.
Leonard Hankerson (WR, Atl) – I’ve written about Hankerson every week in this column and hopefully you picked him up. He is clearly ahead of Roddy White at this point and finished with 6/103/1 on 8 targets in Week 4 against the Texans. While Julio Jones can be a major target hog in this offense, Hankerson should catch a decent number of balls each week.
Charles Clay (TE, Buf) - Clay has been very involved in this offense all season and has established himself as QB Tyrod Taylor’s safety blanket. He posted 9/111 on 13 targets in Week Four and had a touchdown called back due to a very questionable illegal block. Over the first four weeks he has finished as the TE20, TE15, TE4 and TE3, so he is an ascending player, especially with Sammy Watkins still banged up.
Jeremy Maclin (WR, KC) – Maclin is this years king of garbage time and went 11/148 this past week. He is dominating targets in this offense, averaging 22% of the Chief’s targets through the first four weeks. If you have him, keep using him and he is starting to make a great an under-owned DFS play as well.
THOUGHTS FROM THE BENCH
Here is where we highlight situations or strategies that are worth monitoring.
Jordan Matthews (WR, Phi) – Despite dropping a few easy passes and not getting much separation last week, Matthews is dominating targets, hauling in 25 balls so far this year with Nelson Agholor in second places with a measly 7. While Matthews only posted 3/50 on 8 targets this past week, Sam Bradford just missed him on a long touchdown pass and he is still his go to guy. See if you are able to pry him away from a freaked out owner.
Handcuffs – For those carrying handcuffs, you should note that Charcandrick West has seemingly passed Knile Davis for handcuff duties behind Jamaal Charles in Kansas City, while Ahmad Bradshaw may be signed soon to backup Frank Gore in Indy.
Oakland Tight Ends – The Raiders continue to get torched by tight ends. It would seemingly be Owen Daniels turn this week, but I think Demaryius Thomas could actually be the biggest beneficiary of their porous defense in that area of the field. Look for Thomas to have a monster game this week.
DFS – Plays of the Week:
Avoiding some of the obvious choices (Le'Veon Bell, etc …), here are some DFS players that I like more than usual this week:
Sam Bradford (I think he keeps it going against a weak Saints defense at home)
Justin Forsett (They need to give him the ball since they don’t have much else)
Benny Cunningham (Playing from behind, he is a sneaky tournament play)
Dion Lewis (Should be heavily used as usual)
Legarrette Blount (May have only 30 yards, but possibly 3 TDs. Tournament play only)
C.J. Spiller (Tournament play long shot, but they could really use him)
Chris Thompson (High over under of 48 and after leading the backfield in snaps in Week 3 with 52, Thompson played the second most (34) this past week. Atlanta has also allowed 42 receptions to opposing running backs, most in the league)
Kendall Wright (The Bills have allowed six top-24 wide receivers so far, tied with the Chiefs for the most in the league. Three have been primarily slot options in Julian Edelman, Jarvis Landry and Dwayne Harris)
John Brown (he’s got to hit some week right?)
Demaryius Thomas (must play, you know how Raiders are bad against the TE? Well I think DT gets those numbers plus more this week)
Odell Beckham Jr Jr.
Antonio Gates (With Stevie Johnson banged up, he could score a few TDs)
Travis Kelce (He’s due)
Delanie Walker (Wins where the Bills have given up the most production)
Song of the Week –This week I present, Run The Jewels, who put out one of 2015’s best albums. They return this week with a one-off single for Adult Swim. Check out “Rubble Kings” below:
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