Have you ever watched a game and a player just jumps off the screen at you? I’m not talking about one play or amazing grab, I mean the player consistently makes you say, “Wow!”
That was exactly my reaction when I saw Donte Moncrief catch and run up the sideline. The kid just seems to have the ability to fly, but he uses that speed to create separation while also displaying a nice ability to go up and get the ball.
But the real question is, how many of you started him last week? Not a lot. How many even owned him prior to last week? Perhaps the best question would be how many Fantasy owners even heard of the rookie before his breakout game? Whatever you say, I’ll take the under.
But that is why Fantasy Football is such a fun game. Moncrief went from an unheard of rookie riding the Colts’ bench to waiver wire gold in just one week. Being ready to jump on a player and scouting players with the potential to break out will help keep you one step ahead of your competition. That’s where I come in.
Welcome to another edition of The Watch List, where most of the players listed are calling the waiver wire home, but have the chance to break out and could be the next big thing. Scouting these players will keep you one step ahead of your league mates.
Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins, Quarterback) Wednesday was the first time that RG III practiced in full since dislocating his ankle. Later in the day, it was reported that Griffin will be at the helm this Sunday for the Redskins when they travel to take on the Vikings. It could not come at a better time for Fantasy owners with six teams on bye this week; however, expectations need to be tempered a bit. In the one game in which he was healthy, RG III completed 29-of-37 pass attempts for 267 yards, zero touchdowns and he only rushed for two yards. Granted, that was against a tough Houston Texans defensive line. Consistency will be an issue and it is very likely he will still be getting back into the swing of things this Sunday, but the upside is there.
Scout Level: Scout in all leagues, particularly if your QB has yet to have his bye. Romo owners should keep a close eye on RGIII as well.
Bilal Powell (New York Jets, Running Back) Chris Johnson was asked who he thinks should be the Jets QB and his response, “I don’t be in the game, so I don’t know.” There’s always great stuff from CJ0K. However, the reason for his comment was Powell’s reemergence as a factor in the Jets’ running game. Powell played 22 snaps on Sunday against the Bills, more than Johnson’s 16 but less than Ivory’s 39. Granted, the Jets did get blown out but they were within striking distance till the fourth quarter and yet, Johnson only got three carries and two receptions. It could just be a one-week thing, but if the unhappy Johnson continues to see his role reduced, Powell could emerge as a touchdown dependent flex option in deeper formats. He certainly looked better, taking advantage of his four carries and rushing for 28 yards and a TD.
Scout Level: Owners in 14-team leagues should monitor this situation closely.
Christine Michael (Seattle Seahawks, Running Back) Michael is viewed as the running back of the future in Seattle, but that transition could begin this season. It has been reported that the Seahawks have grown tired of Marshawn Lynch’s ways, and will part with him after this season. If that is the case, they may opt to give Michael more carries. While he only had four carries for 12 yards, it is encouraging that he had more than Robert Turbin, who had just two carries. Michael is still the team’s third RB in terms of snaps, as Lynch played 40 of the 61 offensive snaps and Turbin was on the field for 14, compared to Michael’s nine. Still, it is possible that the Seahawks look to get their young RB more work to make the transition next season easier. He is a great stash for those in keeper or dynasty formats if available.
Scout Level: A speculative scout, worth monitoring in deeper formats.
Donte Moncrief (Indianapolis Colts, Wide Receiver) I can’t open the article with him, and then not include him on the list. Let me start out by saying that Moncrief is now owned in most of my leagues, and I am not opposed if you take a break from reading to run to your waiver wire to add him. The reason he’s a player to scout is because a majority of Fantasy owners don’t feel as strongly as I do. Moncrief is only owned in 26 percent of CBS Sports leagues and fewer than three percent of NFL.com leagues. That number is way too low for a guy who just caught seven balls for 113 yards and a touchdown in his first NFL start. The reason it is so low is likely the impending return of Reggie Wayne; the logic being that Moncrief will be sent back to the bench in favor of Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, and Hakeem Nicks. While Moncrief did play 40-snaps, significantly less than both Hilton and Nicks, he led the Colts with 12 targets against the Steelers and should still see time once Wayne returns. He brings something to the table that neither Nicks nor Wayne can bring – speed. Using that speed, he can create separation, add yards after the catch and stretch the field, all things that Wayne and Nicks struggle to do. With Wayne getting up there in age and Nicks set to walk after the season, Moncrief is the WR of the future there. If he should get worked into the offense, don’t be surprised if he continues to steal time away from Nicks. Luck targeting him 12 times shows a great deal of comfort and confidence in the young WR.
Scout Level: Be ready to add him in all formats, and worth a stash now if you have a roster spot. Should be owned in keeper and dynasty formats.
Riley Cooper (Philadelphia Eagles, Wide Receiver) It is easy to forget that Cooper had 47 receptions, 835 yards and eight touchdowns last year. He has virtually become an afterthought on the Fantasy gridiron, but had a strong showing against the Cardinals. He was targeted nine times (still less than Jeremy Maclin’s 16 and Jordan Matthews’ 11) and was second on the team in receiving, hauling in five balls for 88 yards. He will always play second fiddle to Maclin, who takes a Gatorade bath like a champ, but could be Fantasy relevant again if he sees close to nine targets a week.
Scout Level: Worth monitoring in 12-team leagues. Could be a solid bye week replacement.
John Brown (Arizona Cardinals, Wide Receiver) Would you guess that Brown was targeted 10 times against the Eagles? Larry Fitzgerald also received 10 targets, but then there is a big drop off after that. Michael Floyd was only targeted four times in that game, and only seven times in the previous two weeks. Brown was able to haul in five balls for 119 yards and a touchdown, averaging 23.8 yards per catch. He put up the numbers that many, including me, thought Floyd would. Floyd has been dealing with a groin injury, which could be the reason for his limited production as of late, but as long as he is struggling Brown will receive his opportunities. Just make sure you add the right J. Brown to your watch list, as the Cardinals also have a wide receiver named Jaron Brown.
Scout Level: Consistency will be an issue, but he should be scouted in 12-team leagues, as he is one more big game away from being the next waiver wire darling.
Mychal Rivera (Oakland Raiders, Tight End) Rivera’s big game seemingly came out of nowhere on Sunday. However, it was the third game in which he has received five or more targets this season. The issue has been that he hasn’t been able to do much with those targets. But this week he had seven receptions for 83 yards. Rivera may lack some size (6’3”, 245 pounds) for a tight end and is not necessarily fast (4.81 40-yard dash), but he made some key catches against the Browns this past week. If he continues to gain the trust of rookie QB Derek Carr, he could see consistent targets. Plus, the Raiders need someone to step up in the red zone.
Scout Level: Leave this one for deeper leagues, but Rivera could become a solid TE 2 going forward.
Who to scout on Thursday Night Football?
Carolina Running Backs: Yes, by that I mean Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Last week against Seattle, Chris Ogbonnaya and Darrin Reaves each only got one carry, compared to 16 for Stewart, leaving them out of the mix. So it seemed as though there was a Panthers RB that we could maybe begin to trust. Not so fast. Just like that Williams returns, and some news outlets are reporting he will start on Thursday night. It is very likely that these two take carries away from each other, with neither of them seeing more than 15 touches nor worthy of a Fantasy start. I mean, why would it be any different now than the past few years? Here are some fun facts on the Panthers RB’s. Stewart has not rushed for over 100 yards since December 19th….. 2010! In fact, since the start of 2010 season, he has rushed for over 100 yards just twice. DeAngelo Williams most recently rushed for 100 yards on September 22nd, 2013. Since 2010, he has rushed for over 100-yards just three times. In fact, he did it once in 2011, once in 2012 and once in 2013, so maybe he has one good game in him this year. That being said, it makes it hard to trust either of these two as long as the other is healthy.
Scout Level: It is worth monitoring how the Panthers plan to use these RBs, since Stewart has done well with Williams hurt. Either can go down at a moment’s notice, but as long as both are healthy, they should only be scouted in deeper formats.
Have a question? Ask me on Twitter @MichaelFFlorio.