Overlooked during Ben Roethlisberger’s strafing of the Colts’ secondary last Sunday was the fact that Andrew Luck and Donte Moncrief gave Fantasy owners a glimpse of the future, one that we like a lot.
Reggie Wayne’s sore elbow allowed Moncrief to take the stage in the midst of one the NFL’s best air duels in recent memory. With the Colts trailing 35-10 in the second quarter, Luck began to find his mark against the Steelers’ pass defense, with Moncrief becoming the featured wideout. The rookie from Mississippi, who entered the game with just nine catches and 11 targets, delivered a 7-113-1 line with 12 targets, including a pair of catches that put his 6’2”, 221-pound frame on display.
Moncrief is owned in just three percent of polled standard leagues, but you should become one of the many flocking to his upside. Wayne’s status is up in the air for Monday night’s game against the Giants, which makes Moncrief an intriguing option. At the very least, he’s put disappointing Hakeem Nicks on the fast track to retirement; there’s no way Moncrief remains the fourth WR on the roster. Even as the wideout behind T.Y.Hilton and Wayne, Moncrief has significant value as Indy’s WR3. The Colts will continue to air it out the rest of the way, and if Wayne’s elbow continues to be an issue, Moncrief’s path to stardom will clear another hurdle.
While Mike Evans and Sammy Watkins garnered the attention as the season started, Moncrief is the latest rookie wideout who has emerged as a Fantasy-viable option. Kelvin Benjamin has been consistent most of the season, Jordan Matthews has shown flashes of brilliance (the final play of last Sunday’s loss at the Cardinals notwithstanding), along with the recent surge of Martavis Bryant and Odell Beckham, Jr. Moncrief takes a back seat to no one on this list, and when you consider he has one the game’s best young QBs tossing to him in an up tempo offense, Moncrief’s future is limitless.
Remember last Sunday, for the birth of a potential WR1 was discovered among the Bumblebee Man-like uniforms of the Steelers.
This week’s list features a couple of waiver wire reheats, guys who I touched on earlier in the season, yet remain very available and/or now have better opportunities:
Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Ravens: Having served as his “campaign manager” for most of the season, my faith in Taliaferro never wavered despite a three-game stretch in which he only had 11 carries. He reemerged during last Sunday’s loss at the Bengals, scoring twice while gaining 27 yards on seven carries. Again, it must be stated that Justin Forsett has never been the lead back for an entire season and the Ravens will play in least four more games in which inclement weather could be a factor. Taliaferro has scored all four of his touchdowns in the red zone, making him a goal line vulture at the very least. I still think he becomes the Ravens’ lead back by season’s end, and with ten percent of polled standard leagues owning him, now is the time to strike and grab Taliaferro, who could be huge down the stretch.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots: We all know Tom Brady loves Rob Gronkowski, but he’s also developed something of a liking to LaFell, who has targeted 26 times during the Pats’ current four-game offensive crime wave. The two shared more feelings last Sunday, as LaFell caught all 11 of his targets for 124 yards and a score. He’s not a burner, but at 6’3, 210, LaFell offers a big wideout who has benefited from the attention Gronk receives. He’s owned in a decent enough 38 percent of polled leagues, yet this may be the last week you can grab a WR2 caliber performer, especially one who’s on Brady’s Fave Five (I know, old T-Mobile take).
Jonas Gray, RB, Patriots: His 17-86-0 line last week raised hopes that Gray will become involved in a timeshare with Shane Vereen. Yet, keep in mind he was shut out inside the red zone. Owned in seven percent of polled leagues, Gray offers a lot of intrigue but doesn’t quite get my waiver wire seal of approval. Pay close attention to how The Hoodie handles goal line responsibilities the next couple of weeks; if Gray redeems himself, his value will take a climb. If not, expect Vereen to continue netting the bulk of the touches out of the backfield.
Kenny Britt, WR, Rams: The loss of Brian Quick leaves a huge void in the Rams’ receiving corps, which means Britt gets another (and perhaps last) opportunity to show his wares. He’s only caught 16 of his 31 targets, yet the talent that once made him a first round pick is still lying in there. Britt is owned in a mere six percent of polled leagues, but a bushel of targets awaits someone in St. Louis, who is sixth in the league in passing yards. Neither Tavon Austin nor Stedman Bailey has shown the penchant to stand in the gap, leaving Britt to rise up to the occasion.
Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers: Oh, how we wished the Buccaneers had put us out of our Doug Martin misery and sent him away on Tuesday. Oh….so close. Either way, both he and Bobby Rainey are going to have to part the waves, as Sims will get his chance at some point later in the season. The Bucs are 1-6 and on the fast track to the Marcus Mariota/Jameis Winston Sweepstakes, which means Lovie Smith is going to want to get the future started sooner than later. Sims has missed this season with an ankle injury, but once he hits the active roster, his dual-threat skills are going to intrigue owners. His value will be stronger in PPR formats, so keep that in mind. He’s more for keeper/dynasty players, but I think he’ll have value in one-and-done leagues as well. Sims is owned in eight percent of leagues, so get on board before the secret comes out.
Zach Mettenberger, QB, Titans: We touched on Mettenberger when news first came out that the Titans were going to give him the reins. He looked like a sixth-rounder at times during last Sunday’s loss against the Texans (yeah, that J.J. Watt celebration’s going to stick with him at times), but look at the 20 completions for 28 attempts for 237 yards and two scores (and no turnovers) in the second half, and you see the reason why I like him in extremely deep leagues and two-QB formats. Ken Whisenhunt wants to throw the ball, and with two young wideouts in Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright, Metteberger’s value gets more intriguing. On a bye this week, Mettenberger is owned in just two percent of polled standard leagues, yet remains a good speculation buy for an owner willing to roll the dice.