The Fantasy season is getting more and more intriguing and less and less certain with more and more data. Injuries are impacting touches and targets as well as players contributions while more practice time and games are turning young players into experienced ones. Veterans are starting to confirm whether they are “booms” or “busts,” while youngsters are starting to prove they are Fantasy-relevant.
Surprises on the Bullseyes
We are seven weeks into the Fantasy football season and nobody is surprised that Antonio Brown is leading the league in targets – and by a lot (84) – but there are plenty of surprises to be found among the receivers quarterbacks are looking to this season. Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (65) is tied for fourth-most in targets with DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald. Pierre Garcon is seventh (63) and Devin Funchess (52) is 15th.
Touches and targets are the best indicators of potential production and Garcon is a cheap trade target as the number one wide receiver on one of football’s worst teams. Funchess is likely to be slightly more expensive, but he is still a high target/low-cost opportunity. On the flip side of that coin, Jordy Nelson has only been targeted 42 times (fewer than Los Angeles Rams rookie WR3 Cooper Kupp and San Francisco 49ers WR Marquis Goodwin) for only 303 receiving yards, and now he has a replacement level quarterback who looked lost last week. It’s hard not to sell Nelson, who could drop all the way to flex consideration or possibly be benched in shallower leagues if things are to become as bleak as they looked in Week 7. Dez Bryant ranks 38th in receiving yards but eighth in targets and touchdowns. If you can take advantage of the name and the scores, it would be a good idea to move on from Bryant.
Josh Doctson, WR Washington Redskins – Doctson is noteworthy more for the comments made by head coach Jay Gruden off the field than anything he has done on it in 2017. Terrell Pryor Sr. has been a free agent bust after showing he had the chops to be a top target in 2016 for the “troubled” Cleveland Browns. Gruden made it clear that he wants Doctson to be a focus of the vertical passing game going forward, and with a Top 10 quarterback like Kirk Cousins throwing to him, it makes him a must-claim free agent; but color me skeptical. It appears that there are going to be opportunities for Doctson, but look for a trend to hang your hat on after Week 8 before you insert him into your lineup.
O.J. Howard, TE Tampa Bay Buccaneers – There is a lot of ability to dream on with Howard, but he has had two good games and is the second-best option at his own position on his own team to Cameron Brate. If you’re in a deep two-tight end league, then Howard is a viable play. But “Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled” by Howard, who can catch and has found the red zone on three occasions, because he has only been targeted 18 times.
Kenny Stills, WR Miami Dolphins – Stills scored in three games with Matt Moore at quarterback in 2016 and now he has scored in back to back games this season. The Week 8 downside is that the Ravens allow the second-fewest points to wide receivers (22.2). The evidence is more than a fluke and it is more than bordering on a trend. Moore to Stills is somewhat of a thing. He is a discounted option who could be a steal in DFS tournaments.
Brett Hundley, QB Green Bay Packers – Hundley threw three interceptions after replacing the injured Aaron Rodgers in the first game he appeared in, and completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes (12 of 25 for 87 yards) in the first game he started. The Packers are loaded with potential in the passing game, but rather than Hundley benefiting from it, it is looking more like the receivers will all suffer due to him. Aaron Jones owners, be glad you held tight because the load could be heavy, and the Fantasy points could be high if Week 7 is any indication.
Jordan Reed, TE Washington Redskins – Reed had 64 receiving yards and eight receptions on ten targets with two touchdowns; by far, his best game of the season. Sell now, if anyone will take him.
Mark Ingram, RB New Orleans Saints – Since Adrian Peterson left town, Ingram has had back to back 100-plus yard rushing games and three touchdowns. His last two games have been his best rushing the ball, but he has had at least four receptions and 70 yards from scrimmage in all but one game. Ingram has always been a true dual-threat and for at least two weeks, he has looked like a Fantasy stud on the rise. He is a safe trade target because of his pass catching ability, and he has significant upside to be a Top 10 running back going forward because of this increase in opportunities in the running attack.
Aaron Jones, RB Green Bay Packers – Jones has had at least 13 rushing attempts in four straight weeks, and he has three rushing touchdowns and two 100-plus yard games rushing the rock. With Brett Hundley under center and the Packers intention to use Jones as at least a committee member, and possibly their number one rusher, it is looking more and more like Jones is going to receive the opportunities he needs to be a legitimate RB2. He out-carried Ty Montgomery 30-14 in Weeks 6 and 7. I am skeptical about buying in with such a small sample size, but a trend is building for Jones in the Bay.
Jarvis Landry, WR Miami Dolphins – Entering the 2017 draft season, there were concerns about drafting Landry because of his lack of touchdowns and the expected emergence of DeVante Parker. Well, Landry is second in the NFL in targets, and he has a touchdown in three consecutive games. Landry doesn’t have the highest ceiling, but his targets and receptions make him as safe a play as you are going to find, and consistency is worth a lot come playoff time. He is a target, not a sell high.
Chris Thompson, RB Washington Redskins – Thompson has only had one game of 40 rushing yards or more (77 yards on three rushing attempts in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Rams), only one game of nine carries or more and only two rushing touchdowns, yet he has scored 15 Fantasy points or more in five of six games. When you combine 23 receptions and three receiving touchdowns with even a small rushing contribution, then you have yourself a Top 15 Fantasy running back. It’s difficult to trust him week in and week out, but Thompson makes plays and contributes Fantasy numbers. He has more 100-yard receiving games (2) than Brandin Cooks, Dez Bryant, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, and Julio Jones. He leads running backs in receiving yards (366) and has more than Jarvis Landry, that guy Dez Bryant again, Amari Cooper, Alshon Jeffery, and Jordy Nelson. I have been the biggest critic of scat backs that live and die in the passing game, Tarik Cohen being the symbol of my disdain, but Thompson is the Washington player to own going forward.