Trending and NoteWorthy: Illusions, Risers and Must-Start Performers
We are in a crucial stretch of the Fantasy football season. Owners at 4-5, 5-4 and even 6-3 in some leagues, see themselves in Week 10 must-win games, while teams at 7-2 or better are booking Fantasy playoff tickets, talking smack on the message boards and looking for desperate owners to exploit in trades.
Now is the time to be ahead of the curve. Who an owner claims or cuts, starts or sits has to be decided based on 2018 results, not distorted by reputation or influenced by past glory. Draft day ADPs are irrelevant in November. The wrong call can cost owners the playoffs at this juncture of the season. Knowing who is hot and who is not is more important than ever now.
Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/RB New England Patriots
2018 Season Stats:
16 Targets – 12 Receptions – 121 Receiving Yards – Two TDs
28 Rushing Attempts – 135 Rushing Yards – One TD
This probably doesn’t need to be said, but “Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled” by Cordarrelle Patterson in leagues where he has earned running back qualification. He has 16 targets, 28 rushing attempts, 40 total touches, 256 total yards from scrimmage, three touchdowns and 50 Fantasy points in Yahoo Leagues. He isn’t relevant as a RB or a WR and he wouldn’t even be relevant as a tight end with Sony Michel’s return to the Patriots backfield.
In his last four games, Patterson has two receptions and since Sony Michel was injured in Week Seven against the Chicago Bears, he has one. His targets were limited when Michel was playing and his targets and receptions have dropped while he has been out. Michel is expected to return this week against Tennessee and Patterson will return, with his RB qualification, to being Fantasy irrelevant again as a Patriots wide receiver only.
Maurice Harris, WR Washington Redskins
Week Nine Stats:
12 Targets – 10 Receptions – 124 Receiving Yards
I originally had Harris characterized as “Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled,” until research showed that he was targeted nine times in Week Eight prior to his Week Nine, 12-target, 12-catch, 124-yard coming-out party.
I am not ready to call him a must-own, but consecutive weeks of nine and 12 targets makes him “NoteWorthy,” rather than an “out-and-out fraud in relevant clothing.” Monitor Harris and if you’re desperate due to byes or injuries, he has earned consideration.
Duke Johnson Jr., RB Cleveland Brown
Week Nine Stats:
Nine Targets – Nine Receptions – 78 Receiving Yards – Two TDs
One Rushing Attempt – Eight Yards
93 Targets – 74 Receptions – 693 Yards – Three TDs
82 Rushing Attempts – 348 Yards – Four TDs
With game planning and play calling in the hands of new minds Johnson was finally relevant in Week Nine.
With Hue Jackson and Todd Haley running the roster and calling the plays, Johnson had at least five rushing attempts in a game only once and not more than four receptions or a touchdown in a single game. The first game after they were fired, Johnson was targeted nine times, caught nine passes and scored two touchdowns.
In 2017, Johnson had 74 receptions, 1,041 total yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns. For a running back with fewer than 85 rushing attempts, that is remarkably relevant. His one-game sample size in new circumstances along with the departure of Carlos Hyde suggests that Johnson will be a larger piece of the play calling pie going forward and it makes sense. It will ease the pressure on Baker Mayfield and he has the skill set to contribute more than he had prior to the coaching changes. We saw it in 2017 and in Week Nine.
Johnson hasn’t earned must-start status on the field yet, but he is a must-own and must-start in yearly leagues this week in a friendly matchup against a Falcons defense that ranks third worst in Fantasy Points Allowed to running backs (30.8 points per game). Daily Fantasy players should be slightly less bullish. The Falcons have allowed eight rushing touchdowns, but only two receiving touchdowns to running backs. That makes Nick Chubb a more tantalizing DFS play than Johnson, who isn’t a run threat in the red zone.
Adam Humphries, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Four-Game Sample Size:
31 Targets – 22 Receptions – 277 Yards – Two TDs
Humphries has outscored Brandin Cooks, Tyler Boyd and Odell Beckham Jr. and has been targeted more than Tyreek Hill, Michael Thomas (in three games) and fellow Bucs receivers DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin in the last four games.
He has been the 13th most targeted and 12th highest scoring Fantasy wide receiver over that span and he has seven and eight receptions since Ryan Fitzpatrick was re-inserted as the Bucs quarterback in the middle of Week Eight and as the starter in Week Nine.
The current “Trends” suggest Humphries will be “FitzMagic’s” number two go-to-guy in an offense that always plays from behind and ranks fifth in passing attempts (41.6) and first in passing yards per game (356.6). Owners keep asking about Chris Godwin, but its Humphries that’s got Fitzpatrick’s attention and he is owned in only 12% of Yahoo leagues. He has to be owned and in most cases, started.
Aaron Jones, RB Green Bay Packers
26 Rushing Attempts – 161 Yards – One TD
Mike McCarthy’s handling of his backfield, and the Packers offense on the whole, has been a head-scratcher and especially frustrating for Jones’ owners. He is averaging 6.0 Yards per carry and has yet to provide a game where he was given more than 14 rushing attempts.
Jones is explosive when given the opportunity. Unfortunately, he isn’t receiving the chances at levels that Fantasy owners can utilize and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry in 2017 as well, and still only rushed the ball 81 times in 12 games. Jones has to be owned, while it’s difficult to recommend him in yearly or DFS formats due to his lack of touches and overall absence from the passing game. All owners can do is wait, hope, and bench him. He symbolizes the reason I have a “Noteworthy” section in my weekly column.
Dion Lewis, RB Tennessee Titans
Week Seven Stats:
13 Rushing Attempts – 91 Yards
Six Targets – Six Receptions – 64 Yards
Week Nine Stats:
19 Rushing Attempts – 62 Yards
Four Targets – Four Receptions – 60 Yards – One TD
Lewis’ season has trended up in recent weeks after a relatively pedestrian start. He has produced 120 or more total yards from scrimmage in back-to-back weeks, including a receiving touchdown in Week Nine.
Lewis’ one limitation is his lack of touchdowns this season. His only touchdowns were a rushing score in Week One and a receiving touchdown in Week Nine. Lewis’ total yards from scrimmage and receptions elevate his floor regardless of the limitations on his ceiling and he faces a New England Patriots defense that has allowed 57 receptions, 538 receiving yards and five touchdowns to running backs. Lewis can be a red zone weapon, but the question is whether the Titans choose to use him or not. Mike Vrabel knows the Patriots lack of speed at linebacker makes Lewis a red zone mismatch this week. I can see 150 total yards and two touchdowns this week. He is a must-start in all formats, including DFS.
Andy Dalton, QB Cincinnati Bengals
51 Fantasy Points – 657 Passing Yards – Five TDs
Dalton ranked 25th among quarterbacks in Fantasy scoring over the last four weeks and what’s more disturbing than how low his scoring has been, is who he struggled to perform against. He faced three of the six worst defenses in Fantasy Points Allowed to quarterbacks (Steelers/Chiefs/Buccaneers). Dalton did not throw for more than two touchdowns or 280 yards in any of those games against any of those passer-friendly defenses.
He started the season throwing 11 touchdowns in his first four games, including 337 and 352 passing yards against Carolina and Atlanta. If owners haven’t jumped off the Dalton ship yet, it’s time to realize that it’s long past time and do so now.
Bonus Boyd Info
With A.J. Green out for two weeks with a foot injury, owners should be dropping Dalton while DFS players should be loving some Tyler Boyd.
Tyler Boyd, WR Cincinnati Bengals
Week Eight Stats:
10 Targets – Nine Receptions – 138 Yards – One TD
Boyd has three touchdowns in his last three games and caught nine balls for 138 yards against the Buccaneers in Week Eight. He faces a Saints defense that ranks worst in the NFL in Fantasy Points Allowed (52.8 points per game), receiving yards allowed (1,924) and receiving touchdowns allowed (15). He is a must-start DFS play this week even with a relatively lofty price tag for a player that hasn’t established himself as a household name yet. Don’t let the sticker shock you, he is a Lamborghini convertible on the Autobahn this week against the Saints.