The world of Fantasy Football is a strange place. Who would have guessed that Tre Mason, a regular on the (healthy) inactive list, would debut on Monday Night Football, play only 12 percent of the snaps and lead the Rams in rushing (more on that later). But that is exactly what happened, and that unpredictability can be mind numbingly frustrating, but it’s also a big reason we all love Fantasy Football.
That leads me to my grand introduction… Welcome to another edition of The Watch List, where I can’t predict the future but can point out players that are likely calling the waiver wire home and are worth scouting to stay one step ahead of your league mates, as they could be the next hot commodity on the waiver wire.
Teddy Bridgewater (Minnesota Vikings, Quarterback) It was just a few short weeks ago everyone was clamoring over Bridgewater, and he found himself amongst the most added list. Well Teddy, in case you were wondering, missing a game and then throwing three interceptions, zero touchdowns and not breaking 200 passing yards is enough to see your ownership plummet. However, judging him based on one bad game against the league’s toughest defense (YPG wise at least) is unfair. The Lions rank first against the pass, only allowing 197 yards-per-game, and second against the rush, which alone is enough to neutralize the young QB. This week, Bridgewater will take on the Bills, who are the best defense against the rush, but rank 26th against the pass and recently ended any and all worries about Tom Brady, allowing him to throw for 361 yards and four touchdowns. The Bills allow the 14th most points to QB’s (not great, but a lot better than the Lions, who allow the least) and with the Vikings likely playing from behind (I mean, when are they not?), Bridgewater will likely air it out.
Scout Level: Should be scouted in 14-team leagues or deeper, and especially in two-QB leagues.
Tre Mason (St. Louis Rams, Running Back) I told you there’d be more on him later. Now, there is a chance that the Zac Stacy owner in your league ran out and grabbed Mason already. That’s fine, but that owner likely already has Benny Cunningham as well, and do you want to waste three roster spots for one team’s RBs? I like Mason more for the owner that is desperate for a RB and has hopes of catching lightning in a bottle. Mason has a good opportunity to steal some, or even a majority of the carries, since Stacy has been, well, awful. He’s averaging 3.9 yards per carry, and has one touchdown. His longest run of the season is for 16 yards. You know how many attempts it took Mason to beat that? One. His first carry went for 24 yards, and while he only had five carries on the night, he finished with 40 yards. Compare that to Cunningham’s 21 yards on seven carries or Stacy’s 17 yards on eight carries and it’s easy to see that Mason is the most electrifying running back in a backfield full of plodders. It could take some time, but don’t be surprised if Mason comes out of nowhere and runs away with the job. It would really be Zack Stacy getting Zac Stacy’d.
Scout Level: Scout in all leagues.
Denard Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars, Running Back) Not sure if Storm Johnson (photo provided by Pat Mayo) season is over in Jacksonville, but the fact that they had him on a 10 carry count, downgrades the severity of it to perhaps thunderstorm levels. In a crowded backfield, it could be hard to ever trust Robinson, especially since he likely will never see goal line carries. But he did receive five carries for 22-yards last week, and more importantly, he played 39 percent of the snaps for the Jags. Compare that to the fact that Johnson only played 26 percent and it’s easy to see that he is on the field mostly when he gets a carry. The Jags are often playing from behind and Robinson is their best pass-catching back. The Jags should look to get the ball to Robinson in space or let him run to the outside to see if he can turn the corner.
Scout Level: Should be scouted in deep 12-team leagues until it is seen if he receives a more significant workload.
Jarvis Landry (Miami Dolphins, Wide Receiver) According to South Florida Sun-Sentinel Dolphins beat writer Omar Kelly, Landry has received 25 targets on the season, and only Mike Wallace (39) and Hartline (28) have more. However, the changing of the guard in Miami could be underway, as Hartline was only targeted twice on Sunday for zero grabs, while Landry was targeted eight times for six receptions, 75 yards and a touchdown, on 75 percent of the snaps. It is anticipated that the second round pick out of LSU will continue to play a larger role in the offense. Teams are likely to dare Ryan Tannehill to throw more, and with Hartline disappointing, Landry has a great opportunity to step in and steal snaps opposite Wallace.
Scout Level: Scout in 12-team leagues or deeper.
Preston Parker: (New York Giants, Wide Receiver) With the devastating injury to Victor Cruz, it is expected that Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. will play larger roles in the offense. While that is true, it must be noted that the Giants often run three wide receiver sets, and Parker is the most likely to receive a bump in playing time due to the Cruz injury. Parker didn’t do much damage while Beckham was out, but will receive a second shot now. He will have preseason standout Corey Washington and newly signed Kevin Ogletree chomping at the bit to steal his job, so he will have to produce now to stay on the field.
Scout Level: Scout in 14-team leagues for now; his opportunity makes him scout worthy, but he will be hard to trust weekly.
Cordarrelle Patterson (Minnesota Vikings, Wide Receiver) Before you start to think I must play in eight team leagues where Patterson would be widely available, this is a different kind of scout. Patterson’s ownership has dipped, meaning some owners have completely given up, and if they haven’t, this could be the week to exploit them. Patterson is getting awfully close to being just another bust that finds himself on the waiver wire, but if he’s going to get going any week, it’s this one. While he only had two grabs for 15 yards last week, he was targeted a season high eight times. Also, playing against a stout Bills D-line, the Vikings could get creative and elect to give their best athlete the ball in space, or give him a hand off or two and see if he can turn the corner. Yes, an issue of his has been getting open; even his coach said so. But, the Bills have allowed six plays of 40 or more yards, tied for the third most in the league, and if there’s anyone on the Vikings capable of making such a play, it’s Patterson.
Scout Level: Buy him for pennies on the dollar, and if he has a big game this week, sell him on pure upside. He is too inconsistent to trust week to week.
Scott Chandler (Buffalo Bills, Tight End) Chandler has received 15 targets over the past two week with Kyle Orton at the helm, compared to just 12 in the first four games with E.J. Manuel. Last week, his best game yet, he hauled in six balls for 105 yards, and while he is still searching for his first touchdown in 2014, he has proven to be a reliable red zone target in the past. At a tight end position that has been so inconsistent this year, targets are what owners should be searching for, and as long as Orton is throwing Chandler’s way the production should come.
Scout Level: Scout in all leagues if you are in need of a TE.
Josh Hill (New Orleans Saints, Tight End) Hill has performed nicely as the secondary tight end in New Orleans, hauling in two touchdowns and 112 yards in limited action this season. With Graham out, the hope is that Hill will fill in and ease the blow for those that lost their first round pick for the time being. However, it has yet to be seen how Hill will handle the increased work load. He has not been targeted more than three times this season, and here’s a fun fact; he has caught all seven of his targets this season. But what that tells us is that he has often been viewed as an afterthought by opposing defenses. However, being the main tight end in a Drew Brees-run offense is never a bad thing.
Scout Level: Scout in all leagues if you are in need of a TE for the time being.
Cowboys DST The Cowboys defense has been surprisingly good in real football, but they haven’t been able to pile up many points on the Fantasy gridiron, and that’s what matters most. This week, they will get the Giants, who recently got shut out by the Eagles. Without their two top offensive weapons, Victor Cruz and Rashaad Jennings, the Giants will once again struggle to score points. The Cowboys may not be able to shut them out, but with the Giants allowing eight sacks last week, it’s a safe bet the Cowboys will pick up some Fantasy points this week.
Scout Level: Reality success could finally lead to Fantasy success. Nice option for those in DFS.
Who to scout on Thursday Night Football?
James White (New England Patriots, Running Back) Shane Vereen has now played in 32 regular season games. Want to take a guess what his career high in carries is? Fourteen. How about how many games he has double-digit carries? Five. He is a back better used in the passing game, and while he could see double-digit carries tonight, he will likely not see much more than 10. With the reports of awful weather for tonight’s game, it is expected that both teams will run often. If so, Brandon Bolden, a favorite on the waiver wire this week, and rookie James White could see a larger amount of carries than originally expected. Bolden has done well in limited roles in the past, but take away his 137 yard game against Buffalo in 2012, and his highest rushing yardage game is 58 yards. The Patriots likely know what they have in Bolden already, and could look to get the rookie some carries to see what they have, especially if they jump out to an early lead.
Scout Level: Scout in 12-team leagues. Keep an eye out to see if he runs better than Bolden, as he could step into the Ridley role.
Any questions, hit me up on Twitter @MichaelFFlorio.