Every Monday, The Xpert Eye sifts through the yardage, TD and target numbers to figure out which players are going to be drawing the attention of Fantasy Football team owners heading for the waiver wire to tweak their teams. Of course, even if some great performances happened over the weekend, there is no guarantee that the players involved will go on to perform well again. Therein lies the point of this column; we seek to filter out the noise and point you towards the players you should truly consider adding to your team. This was the week we saw two more rookie quarterbacks get their shot at the big time. Now, only Johnny Football remains among the rookie QB class that were expected to play this season. We also got a very good look at Robert Griffin’s understudy, who put up a spectacular performance, albeit against a very poor secondary. Is he worth adding to your Fantasy Football team(s)? Read on and find out…
Kirk Cousins (QB, Redskins) – Hmmm. He put up 427 yards and three TDs with one interception against the Eagles this week. Do you get the feeling that RGIII might not have a job when he gets healthy? The ‘Skins have a layup next week with the Giants, then two tough matchups against Seattle and Arizona, but that’s followed by four weeks of very soft opponents. Even better, if Cousins keeps the job he’ll face the Eagles again during what will likely be your Fantasy league’s Championship game (Week 16). Cousins is worth adding for that potential matchup alone.
Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Vikings) – You had to know that Bridgewater was going to play as soon as possible to deflect attention from the whole Peterson thing, right? Matt Cassel has several broken bones in his foot, which means the Teddy Bridgewater era has begun for the Vikings. He can’t be any worse than Cassel and just might have enough upside to be worth starting in two-QB leagues and maybe even as a bye week replacement. If you’re relying on Jake Locker, Ryan Tannehill or Alex Smith now, Bridgewater could have more upside than you’ll ever see from those guys.
Blake Bortles (QB, Jaguars) – He’s already been named the starter for Week 4 and the offense certainly woke up once he entered the game on Sunday. Again, if you’re currently relying on one of the lower ranked QBs in your deep or two-QB league, Bortles could have enough upside to be worth a roster spot and could end up being a worthwhile play at some point. Henne won’t be back unless Bortles completely bombs out, which doesn’t seem likely.
Bishop Sankey (RB, Titans) – The RB situation on the Titans is definitely changing, as we’re starting to see Sankey used more often and Shonn Greene slowly losing touches. However, it’s going to take a while for this to play out and it could still be several weeks before Sankey takes over the majority of the touches. Still, he’s worth stashing away for the Titans’ soft matchups late in the season. Just don’t expect Sankey to be starting for you over the next six to eight weeks.
Lorenzo Taliaferro (RB, Ravens) – There’s no arguing about Taliaferro’s game on Sunday; he rushed for 91 yards on 18 carries (5.05 YPC) and scored a touchdown. However, John Harbaugh made it clear that Bernard Pierce will be the featured back when he gets healthy, which means Taliaferro goes back to change of pace status and fighting for touches with Justin Forsett, who seems to be a Harbaugh favorite. Don’t empty the FAAB stores for him, but if you can get him on the cheap, he might be worth stashing. I just don’t see him starting for you in 12-team leagues any time soon.
Isaiah Crowell (RB, Browns) – Crowell and Terrance West have pretty much split the touches but the former has clearly done more with his. Crowell rushed for 55 yards on 11 carries this week and added another touchdown to his stat sheet to give him three for the season. Ben Tate will get his job back but Crowell now looks like the better long term play. If he’s still floating around in your league you’ve got to add him now.
Alfred Blue (RB, Texans) – Arian Foster was an injury worry during the preseason but seemed to assuage everyone’s anxieties after a couple of strong games. Clearly, we all should have listened to those worries in the first place. Blue is the handcuff to own, but I wouldn’t break the bank to get him. The Texans’ late season schedule isn’t great and unless Foster is injured enough to go on IR, Blue isn’t going to start for your Fantasy team.
Stevie Johnson (WR, 49ers) – The 49ers offense hasn’t been very impressive so far and Colin Kaepernick has not been the dynamic QB everyone thought he might be. Johnson has some upside, though, and he’s seen increased targets each week over the first three games. I wouldn’t expect many big yardage games and Johnson is probably fourth in line for red zone targets behind Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. At best, Johnson is a WR4 with the occasional WR3 game a possibility.
Eddie Royal (WR, Chargers) – It seems that every season there are a few games in which Royal piles up a bunch of yards and catches a few touchdowns. Last season, he had five TDs after two games played but only caught three more TD passes over the next 14 games. That alone makes him difficult to recommend. However, Royal is a veteran player who is obviously trusted by Philip Rivers in key situations, especially when other trusted players are not on the field. Danny Woodhead suffered a high ankle sprain and possibly a fractured fibula, which could mean his season is over. That could open up further opportunities for Royal in the passing game, which would make him a worthy addition as a flex option.
John Brown (WR, Cardinals) – It’s good to be John Brown. He plays in an offense with two high-powered WRs that draw most of the defensive attention away from him, and he see’s regular targets, including at least one in the red zone, in every game. If you only go after one wide receiver this week, Brown is probably the one to target.
Miles Austin (WR, Browns) – Austin has settled into his role as the veteran receiver for a rather young Browns offense. As such, he’s received a fair number of targets, mostly between the twenties, and he’s caught two short passes for TDs, both over-the-middle slants when he was wide open. Such will be Austin’s job this season; help move the chains between the twenties and get open on short pass plays in the end zone. There’s enough here for a potential flex play but not much else.
Owen Daniels (TE, Ravens) – It was sad to see Dennis Pitta go down with another hip injury, and there’s a good chance we may have seen the last of him. Daniels had a good run with the Texans a few years back, but the injuries piled up to the point that Houston gave up on him. Daniels knows the Kubiak playbook and should inherit Pitta’s touches going forward. The main question is whether he can stay healthy. He could finish as a Top-12 TE but don’t expect much more than that.
Garrett Graham (TE, Texans) – If Garrett Graham were a better pass catcher, I’d say go after him right away. However, he had just a 55 percent catch rate; second lowest among all TEs that caught at least 25 passes last season. The TEs have received eight targets from Ryan Fitzpatrick this season, which pales compared to the 55 that have gone to the WRs thus far, and therein lies the problem with Graham; he just isn’t targeted enough to be worthwhile for Fantasy and I don’t expect that to change much unless there is an injury to a key receiver.
Ladarius Green (TE, Chargers) – Several RotoExperts have been saying that Green is going to be “the man” at some point this season, but not until Antonio Gates goes down with the inevitable injury. Well, it hasn’t happened yet, (the injury, that is) so I’m thinking that Green’s six targets on Sunday (vs. only one for Gates) is an aberration. So, I’m sticking with the conventional wisdom, Green won’t be worthwhile until Gates goes down. So don’t go running to the wire based on one week of decent targets; Gates still has plenty left in the tank.
Dwayne Allen (TE, Colts) – Allen is a talented receiver and there is little doubt he is better than Coby Fleener, who holds a slight edge over him in targets to TEs so far. We still believe that Allen will end up being the TE1 for the Colts but we also have no idea when that might happen. If Allen was dropped in your league, add him on spec because there’s tons of Fantasy goodness to be had here. Andrew Luck will start throwing to the 6’3” Allen in the red zone at some point and then you can thank me.