Fantasy Football is finally back! Whether you rejoiced in victory or suffered in defeat, it is important to keep a close eye on players around the league, particularly those that are unowned and can be a factor on your team down the stretch. That is where the Watch List comes into play. For those who don’t know, the article focuses on players that are unowned in the majority of leagues, but that Fantasy owners should keep a close eye on.
Quarterback: Marcus Mariota
All aboard the hype train! Mariota dazzled on Sunday in his matchup against fellow rookie, Jameis Winston, throwing for 209 yards and four touchdowns. Mariota only needed to throw 16 times (13 completions) to reach put those numbers up. He sat out the fourth quarter with the game was out of hand. He showed the ability to move around the pocket well and handle any pressure the defense
threw at him. While his ownership may have jumped this week, there is reason to limit expectations and keep a close eye on Mariota. Last year, the Bucs’ defense allowed the fifth-most passing yards per game (255) and the ninth-most passing touchdowns (28). Mariota should have a tougher task against the Browns this week. Owners would be advised to keep a close eye on him, and those in two-quarterback or 14-team leagues can pull the trigger and add him. Others are advised to keep a close eye on him and be ready to add him following another strong performance.
Running Back: David Johnson
Andre Ellington went down early in the fourth quarter last week against the Saints. From that point on, Chris Johnson had seven carries while David Johnson had zero. Ellington is expected to miss two to three weeks. Chris Johnson is expected to handle the job as the lead back right away, and should be the guy you use if you need to plug in a starter this week. But I am a believer that talent will always rise to the top, and I think David Johnson is better at this point than Chris Johnson and perhaps even Ellington. Chris averaged 3.7 yards per carry last week against the Saints, while David did not get a carry. He did, however, catch a pass that went for 55 yards and a touchdown. That flashes the electric ability he possesses. He should see more touches this week, and if he continues to flash that potential he should be in for more and more snaps, even after oft-injured Ellington returns. Owners should monitor this situation closely.
Wide Receiver: Percy Harvin
Harvin led all Bills in targets last week. Granted, he only had five, but that’s more than 25 percent of the targets since Tyrod Taylor only threw 19 times. Other Bills wide receivers struggled to create a connection with Taylor, as Sammy Watkins had three targets and zero catches, while Robert Woods had two targets and catches. Harvin made the most of his five targets and showcased his speed as he got behind the defense and was able to haul in a 51-yard touchdown. He finished with five catches, 79 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed one time for nine yards, and owners should expect that number to increase as the season goes on. The Bills showed a heavy focus on the run game, and getting Harvin into the mix is a great way to shake things up and remain unpredictable. Everyone knows how electric Harvin can be; he has just struggled to stay on the field, which led to some chemistry issues. He looked comfortable in the Bills offense, and if he is able to stay on the field he could become Taylor’s go to guy. Owners should keep a very close eye on him; do not hesitate to take a flier.
Tight End: Jordan Reed
Reed led all Redskins receivers in targets (11) and receptions (7). Cousins aired out the ball 31 times last week, meaning that over a third of the time he looked Reed’s way. With DeSean Jackson out at least the next three weeks, Reed could blossom into Cousins’ go-to option. We all know about the freakish athleticism he possesses; he’s just struggled to remain healthy and put it all together. Now with a quarterback who trusts his tight end, this could be a career year for Reed. It may seem like I’m overreacting after just one game, but many had Reed pegged as last year’s breakout tight end. A season riddled with injury may have ruined that and caused many to put him on the back burner, but it is possible that breakout will occur this year. Keep a very close eye on him and do not hesitate to add him.
Defenses are one area I’d like to focus on this week. I am a big believer in streaming DSTs week to week, so I will offer my stream of the week out of the DSTs that are likely available in your league. The Saints will be at home this week against a Bucs team that looked lost last week, and is led by rookie quarterback, Jameis Winston. Winston not only struggled and threw two interceptions last week, but he struggled to avoid pressure in the pocket and looked to have slow feet; he even tripped over himself leading to a sack. It was a rough debut for the rookie, but it likely won’t be getting any easier this week in the Superdome. Throw the Saints out there with confidence this week.
Who to Watch on Thursday:
There was one player I touted all offseason as a great late round flier. Those who follow me know where I am going, but for those who don’t, it is Ronnie Hillman. My thinking was that if anything happens to C.J. Anderson, then Hillman will jump up into the RB1 discussion. Well, even though it appears Anderson will play tonight, reports indicate that he will share touches with Hillman. We saw that last week, as both had 12 carries. In fact, Hillman rushed for more yards and averaged an extra yard-per-carry. It will be interesting to see how the carries are divided tonight, and if Hillman has another stronger performance than Anderson, he could work his way into the mix full-time. Hillman can be used as a flex in deeper leagues tonight, and owners should not hesitate to pick him up if he is available.
If you have any other questions make sure to follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.