We are getting closer and closer to must-win Fantasy weeks, which means owners need to be bold and heartless in their start and sit decisions. You need to cut the chord on lost causes and embrace those players who lack sizzle but are contributing to wins. The best way to do that is to look at the trends and if the sample is there, trust it and adjust your rankings accordingly. At this point, you aren’t crazy for benching a fading star or starting a rising, previously unknown player.
This week’s column addresses the four-week trends in Fantasy football.
Surprise Four-Week Trends
Josh McCown, QB New York Jets
In the last month, McCown has 10 touchdowns (eight passing and two rushing) while ranking eighth in passing yards to make him the third leading scorer in Fantasy. McCown faces a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that ranks sixth-worst against quarterbacks, yet he’s being priced as the 10th most expensive quarterback at Fantasydraft.com. He should rank as a Top 5 play in all formats and start over some much more highly thought of quarterbacks this week.
Marvin Jones Jr, WR Detroit Lions
Jones is tied for third in wide receiver scoring while being fourth in receiving yards over the last month and that was with teammate Golden Tate ranking sixth right alongside him. It’s a little early to conclude that Jones has officially become Stafford’s top target, but the trend is heading strongly in that direction.
Golden Tate, WR Detroit Lions
Tate ranked sixth in receiving yards over the last month. The Lions’ struggles in the rushing game guarantee a lot of yards through the air and in Tate’s case, after the catch. Targets and totals like these make Tate a meaty opportunity in trade discussions. Unfortunately, if you’re a DFS player the sites are on to the trend, ranking Tate as the ninth-most expensive wide receiver on the FantasyDraft.com Sunday slate.
Tedd Ginn Jr, WR New Orleans Saints
Ginn Jr has been the sixth-leading wide receiver in Fantasy scoring and third in receiving yards with seventeen receptions and only 20 targets over the previous four games. Ginn Jr. has always been a big play threat whose lack of targets makes him a risky Week 10 play against a Buffalo Bills defense that has been stout against the wide receiver position in 2017. His DFS price tag ($9,800 on FantasyDraft.com) is fair but not overly enticing.
Robby Anderson, WR New York Jets
With the rise of Josh McCown over the last month, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to see Anderson tied for eighth in WR scoring; but it is the Jets and, so it was. Over those four games, he was targeted 28 times and had three touchdowns on his way to being the Jets best receiver. He is owned in 73 percent of leagues, but while he is on the rise he should probably be owned in all leagues.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR Pittsburgh Pirates
A great name and a popular Fantasy story over the last few weeks, Smith-Schuster was twelfth in scoring with 12 receptions on 16 targets in only three games. With Martavis Bryant returning to the field and a relatively small number of targets, I’m not ready to completely condemn Smith-Schuster as a “Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled” guy, but it’s close. Own him, but don’t be bragging on the message boards just yet.
Demaryius Thomas, WR Denver Broncos
Thomas isn’t having a great year, but he was third in targets over the last month on a team that has struggled to be competitive in recent weeks. His $10,700 DFS price tag is in the same neighborhood as T.Y. Hilton, Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin and Robert Woods, making him more expensive with less upside than the options surrounding him.
Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, RB New Orleans Saints
Ingram and Kamara are second and third in running back scoring over the last month while sharing the same backfield and flashing similar skill sets. Ingram is rushing a bit more while Kamara is more of the passing game guy, but both are doing it in both facets of the Fantasy game. Ingram is slightly more valuable because he is more of the touchdown guy and the goal line option, but Kamara is more explosive and has a higher ceiling. What has been so impressive is that since Adrian Peterson was shipped out they have both been RB2 must-start performers while sharing the workload. I avoid them in DFS because I don’t know which one to pick any given week, but in yearly leagues, they are both must-start plays regardless of the matchup.
Carlos Hyde, RB San Francisco 49ers
Hyde has been shorted of his due respects for years and after ranking eighth in running back scoring and third in receptions for such a bad team over the last month, I thought Fantasy owners needed to be reassured that this guy produces. It’s not easy to feel confident in Hyde because of the cold shoulder he receives from fans and Fantasy analysts, but the yards from scrimmage and the DFS price tag ($13,000 as the sixth most expensive RB on FantasyDraft.com) should rebuke any doubts. All that being said, he is too expensive in DFS to feel like you’re getting “value,” but the lack of sizzle makes Hyde a trade target in yearly leagues.
Jordan Howard, RB Chicago Bears
With the collapse of Tarik Cohen (which makes me feel SOOOO vindicated because of how strongly I was against the consensus opinion on him) it shouldn’t be a surprise that Howard was fourth in rushing attempts in only three games over the last month. The Bears passing game is awful, making Howard’s future outlook even better. Touches and targets are the foundation for success and the lack of sizzle are the ingredients that make a good player a great buy low. Target Howard as we get closer to cold and snowy Chicago Sundays.
Matt Forte, RB New York Jets
Forte was once a Top 5 pick who went to New York and fell off the Fantasy radar, but he was tenth in Fantasy scoring, sixth in receiving yards and fifth in targets among running backs last month. The Jets offense has become Fantasy relevant across the board from Josh McCown to Robby Anderson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins and now Matt Forte. We aren’t talking about the best of the beasts here, but they can be that extra juice at the back end of a winning roster.
Jack Doyle, TE Indianapolis Colts
The big recent news was not fake but just bad, and that was about the future of Andrew Luck. What Fantasy owners should be focused on is that Doyle led tight ends in scoring, receptions and targets, while ranking second in receiving yards over the recent four-week scoring period. He is priced as the fourth most expensive tight end in DFS but it is a long fall from Rob Gronkowski ($12,800) and Evan Engram ($12,000) to Doyles $9,200 sticker price. With all of the injuries and the exorbitant price for the top two, it’s hard to argue against Doyle as the best combination of production and price at the tight end position right now.
Benjamin Watson, TE Baltimore Ravens
Watson has never realized his full physical potential as an NFL tight end, but he was fourth in targets and third in receptions over the past month and that’s worth noting. I have been high on Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Watson has been essentially the same player while being owned in only 13 percent of Yahoo leagues over the last month. If you need a fill in or you have missed the boat all season at the position, Watson is still there for you to claim a potential upgrade.