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Lies, Damned Lies, and Fantasy Football Statistics (Week 7)

The more data we get as the season goes on, the better equipped we are to interpret matchups and make informed decisions. Then Week 6 comes along and blows it all to hell.

The unpredictability of sports is what keeps us intrigued, as frustrating as it may be at times. Numbers are supposedly to be black and white, with no inherent bias. That may be true, but it doesn't mean that we can't misinterpret them.

Not all advanced metrics are meaningful and some can be downright deceptive. My aim here is to point out potential outliers that could steer you wrong when making key lineup decisions for Week 7 and beyond.

 

Target Share

The very talented (and lovely) Phil Clark publishes his FSWA-award-nominated series on WR Snap Counts and Target Trends on RotoBaller each week. A major component of fantasy value for receivers, tight ends, and running backs alike is target totals. By recognizing trends and major risers or fallers, we can identify players to add, drop, start, and sit based on matchups.

Of course, this is where I reveal that even target share can be misleading at times. "Owning" a large market share of your team's passing targets doesn't always translate to production, especially on a bad offense. Thinking of one in particular where the gang wears green...

Conversely, players who are more efficient with the targets they see or may have a lower rate based on a high-volume passing attack could be undervalued. Let's look at both sides of the coin in this week's editions of "Stats That Lie."

 

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

26.4% Team Target Share

It's no surprise that Hollywood Brown is third in the league in total air yards and AY%. He is the field stretcher for a run-first offense that exploits the secondary when they least expect it. It might be surprising to see that he is ninth in TGT%. At first blush, the reaction is that he garners that market share because the Ravens don't have a deep receiving corps and limit their passes to Brown, Mark Andrews, and the running backs. This is true to an extent but Brown's 42 total targets rank 18th among all wide receivers.

Brown is known as a boom-or-bust player in fantasy but his target totals have been steady and he is among the leaders in that area. He hasn't seen fewer than six targets in a game this season, even as the Ravens rank in the top-five in total rush attempts once again.

Here's the deceptive part: his 61.9% catch rate ranks 133rd among all skill players. The targets will be there, but he isn't always going to come down with them. That's by no means an indictment on him as a player, it's a byproduct of how he is used in this offense. Brown does have seven receptions of 20 yards or more, so the boom aspect is still there while the bust has been mostly mitigated.

Brown isn't as risky as you may imagine, nor will he have the potential to be a top-1o fantasy receiver as some posited in the preseason. He is simply a volatile WR3 with a high weekly ceiling. If you happen to play in a league that rewards PP1D (points per first down), you'd be glad to know that Brown is tied for 19th in that department. More leagues should play PP1D instead of PPR, don't you think?

 

Travis Fulgham, Philadelphia Eagles

26.0% Team Target Share

I'm almost afraid to touch this one because anything short of calling Fulgham this year's breakout performer doesn't go over well in the fantasy community. This particular stat is also very telling yet misleading at the same time.

Fulgham was non-existent in terms of fantasy relevance for the first year of his NFL career and the first three weeks of 2020 as well. He caught two passes for 57 yards and a touchdown in San Francisco but only saw two targets that game. Then came Pittsburgh where we ALL discovered his name. Fulgham didn't just have big yardage, he caught 10 of the 13 targets thrown his way. He followed up with six receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown, making it three straight games with a score. His 10 targets that day made 23 in a two-week span and 26 over his three weeks on the active roster.

While that target total ranks far down the list, his extraordinary target share over the small sample places him 11th among all wide receivers, ahead of Odell Beckham, Cooper Kupp, and DK Metcalf. With an average of 10.9 yards per target, this could indeed be indicative of a breakout season but perspective is needed.

Fulgham has achieved his target share due to two huge games. One down week might tank that. As of this writing, the Eagles haven't played on Thursday Night but once again I am being realistic in suppressing expectations. The Giants have only allowed one 100-yard receiver all year (CeeDee Lamb) and no other WR has even reached 75 yards, thanks mainly to James Bradberry. With no other options to distract from Fulgham, he'll draw plenty of attention from Bradberry and others. I am ready to buy into Fulgham as a streaming option even if Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson ever return but it's with the understanding that his target share will eventually even out.

 

Emmanuel Sanders, New Orleans Saints

21.3% Team Target Share

It was a slow start in the Big Easy for Sanders but the last couple of games before the bye reaped great rewards for fantasy managers. Sanders caught six of nine targets for 93 yards in Week 4 and outdid that with 12 catches on 14 targets for 122 yards in Week 5. Steadily trending upward, the return of Michael Thomas comes at an inopportune time. That is, if it's coming at all.

The team's franchise wideout is now questionable again after aggravating a hamstring that could be related to his existing ankle injury. Don't forget about his mysterious suspension that came on the eve of his supposed return too.


If Thomas doesn't go in Week 7 or beyond, Sanders seems like an obvious start. Otherwise, it's a tricky proposition.

His value has been buoyed by the target volume but a decline, especially a substantial one that could happen when Thomas returns, could make him unplayable outside of very deep PPR leagues. For what it's worth, Thomas had the second-highest target share among all WR in 2019 at 34.5%. The only player who topped that was... Emmanuel Sanders at 43.8%. Of course, that was with Denver and San Francisco, so circumstances have changed.

Targets are indeed the lifeblood of a receiver's fantasy value but we do need to see them convert into yardage and touchdowns. Sanders' 39.9% Air Yard Share is even higher than his target share but his 9.0 aDoT is middle-of-the-pack and his air yard total is barely higher than guys like Zach Pascal and Jeff Smith (see below).

Sanders is worth a shot in Week 7 based on the uncertainty surrounding Thomas but GMs should know that the Panthers allow the lowest points per reception to WR relative to the opponent's average. Here's a chance to share the very latest #DFBeersReport courtesy of Mike Beers on Twitter.

The Saints' next two opponents are Chicago and Tampa Bay which allow the third and 11th-fewest fantasy PPR to the receiver position. This is a good time to exploring trading Sanders away if possible.

 

Jeff Smith, New York Jets

21.2% Team Target Share

I'll admit to being excited for a minute about the potential of a fantasy sleeper on a forgotten team (or a team we wish we could forget) like the Jets. By Week 4, they were rolling out Braxton Berrios and Chris Hogan as starting wideouts due to the sheer volume of injuries. In stepped Jeff Smith, an undrafted second-year player out of Boston College with 4.4 speed and apparent doppelganger to Travis Fulgham in terms of career trajectory.

He was inactive for three weeks, suddenly burst onto the scene with seven catches and 81 yards in Week 4 on nine targets, then saw 11 targets the following week, catching only three for 23 yards sadly. Was Smith the playmaker this team sorely needed? Apparently not, as he fell to four targets in Week 6 with Breshad Perriman back in action. Despite the ball being thrown his way a ton, he only averaged 4.7 yards per target.

Jamison Crowder is already second in the league in target share, so with Perriman on the field again and Denzel Mims looking ready to return this weekend, Smith is a distant fourth in pecking order for a team that ranks last in passing yardage. He could be a deep dynasty stash for 2021 if Crowder is traded and/or Perriman signs elsewhere but he would need Trevor Lawrence on the team in order to jump back to relevance.

 

Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders

11.2% Team Target Share

The first WR picked in this year's draft, Ruggs hasn't gotten the chance to full showcase what he can do yet. He missed two games, exited early in two others and the Raiders have already had their bye. Since we're looking at target rate rather than total targets, that shouldn't matter if he was a major part of the offense in those couple of games, much like Fulgham.

Ruggs hasn't been targeted much when he's actually on the field but he doesn't need to be. Unlike a slot receiver who depends on volume, Ruggs is content to take one pass and turn it into a 72-yard touchdown. He has quickly shown exactly what Mike Mayock envisioned when drafting him with his blazing 4.2 speed. A mere 11 targets has resulted in 177 yards.


Simply put, his target share doesn't matter if he's hyper-efficient on deep balls and can outrun the defense at every step. When a player averaged 16.1 yards per target, it doesn't take very many to be productive. If Ruggs stays healthy, he has boom potential any given week regardless of opponent and may be considered a midseason trade target.

 

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

15.2% Team Target Share

Here is another rookie, albeit one who has yet to explode on the scene to the level of Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb or Chase Claypool. Shenault had been steady but not especially fantasy relevant until last week's dud. He had been on a steady climb in terms of targets and receptions until he laid an egg in a great matchup with Detroit.

image taken from RotoWire

His steady snap count totals and occasional involvement as a runner are good signs. The red flag isn't his one-week drop in target share, it's the complete lack of involvement in the red zone.

As far as his low Target%, it has to do with the fact that the Jags are passing so much to so many players. After six games, they are fourth in total pass attempts at nearly 43 per game. D.J. Chark absorbs most of those when healthy and Keelan Cole is actually the team leader with 38 targets. Shenault is right up there with 36.

Shenault has yet to provide a huge play or a breakout game but he should continue to grow as the season progresses. He can provide a steady floor in PPR leagues but is nearly useless in standard leagues without any touchdowns. He has seen just as many targets this year as Emmanuel Sanders, so being higher on the veteran than the rookie would reek of recency bias. Maybe reverse ageism too.



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Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

Week 6 was like the 2020 of fantasy football weeks. All those great matchups meant nothing, those studs let you down, and your bench likely went crazy. The good news is that we didn't have any season-ending injuries to running backs or games canceled due to COVID, so in retrospect maybe we shouldn't complain.

The waiver wire will be more important in 2020 than any previous season, especially after waivers clear in most leagues. Use the players suggested here for your early-week claims but keep the rest in mind for later in the week if necessary and check our NFL news feed for the latest injury updates.

As always, the options listed at each position below are listed in order of priority to help you plan your claims accordingly. Players listed include only those rostered in approximately 50% or fewer Yahoo leagues. For a deeper look at each position, check out our separate weekly waiver wire columns at QB, RB, WR, and TE.

 

Quarterbacks - Waiver Wire Options

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers - 54% rostered

Herbert's availability is limited in competitive leagues but he may have been dropped out of necessity with the unexpected bye in Week 6. He should be the top option regardless of matchup but when you add in the fact that their opponent is Jacksonville, a bottom-10 pass defense, he becomes an automatic start and top QB pickup.

Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys - 32% rostered

The Boys play on Monday night, so we've yet to see how he fares in his first start filling in for Dak Prescott. He should be viewed as a high-end QB2 most weeks; the upcoming matchup with Washington in Week 7 doesn't change that. For a deeper look at Dalton's projected value in Dallas, read here.

Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers - 45% rostered

Bridgewater had his worst day as a Panther in Week 6 as the Bears limited him to 216 passing yards. He went without a touchdown and was picked off twice. The matchup can be blamed, as the 5-1 Bears are now statistically the toughest defense to opposing quarterbacks. He should bounce back in New Orleans, facing his former team. The Saints allow the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders - 23% rostered

Coming off a bye, Carr gets to face a Buccaneers Defense that just made Aaron Rodgers look like an AAF outcast. Carr has been on a roll, throwing multiple touchdowns in each of the last four games with a 10-1 TD-INT rate in that span. Carr put up solid numbers against the Patriots and Chiefs, both good pass defenses, so he's safe to play in Superflex formats or as a streamer in deep leagues.

Others to consider: Daniel Jones, New York Giants (31% rostered); Kyle Allen, Washington Football Team (3% rostered)

 

Running Backs - Waiver Wire Options

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers - 45% rostered

When we last saw the Bolts in action, Jackson was getting more touches than Joshua Kelley and saw the key snaps in the fourth quarter and on passing downs. It's still likely to be a two-man committee but Jackson has a better rushing average and should have the higher floor based on his pass-catching ability. The Chargers will face Jacksonville in Week 7 which makes him very flex-worthy.

Boston Scott, Philadelphia Eagles - 13% rostered

Because the Eagles needed more injuries... Miles Sanders left with a knee injury in the second half without returning. He has already been declared out for Thursday Night Football, which means Boston Scott becomes the RB1 as he was in Week 1. That was a huge letdown game for him, seeing as how he collected 54 total yards and caught only two passes. It contributed to an upset loss to Washington, their only victory of the season so far. Scott has shown nothing of value this season, averaging 3.3 yards per carry and one reception per game. Those in a bind might have no choice to pivot here, unfortunately.

D'Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns - 26% rostered

Those who added Johnson as soon as Nick Chubb went on IR have been massively disappointed. He was invisible in Week 6, running three times for three yards and dropping an easy screen pass that couldn't inspire confidence in the coaching staff. He gets a pass to some extent because the past two games, Cleveland has faced the Colts and Steelers, who were No. 2 and No. 4 respectively as far as limiting fantasy points to running backs. This coming week brings Cincinnati, a far better matchup. He doesn't need to be flexed but can be if needed.

Jeremy McNichols, Tennessee Titans - 1% rostered

Rookie Darrynton Evans has been placed on IR, so McNichols is officially the insurance policy for all of Derrick Henry's fantasy managers. He won't get much run but if, God forbid, something should happen to Henry, he becomes the hottest waiver wire pickup around. McNichols looked sharp in spare duty this week, rushing five times for 51 yards. He has no stand-alone value as of right now.

La'Mical Perine, New York Jets - 18% rostered

In a logical world, the rookie would have a golden opportunity to showcase his skills and take over a significant portion of the backfield work now that RB1 Le'Veon Bell has been released. Unfortunately, we live in a world where Adam Gase is still the head coach of the Jets, he hates all running backs (and good players), so Perine saw fewer touches and snaps than 37-year-old Frank Gore. It didn't matter that the game was out of hand in the first quarter and no reason not to see what Perine could do with an extended workload. Only consider Perine once there are real rumblings that Gase might be on his way out.

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens - 3% rostered

The bye week comes at a perfect time for the Ravens but not so much for fantasy managers. Mark Ingram left early with an ankle injury and didn't return, which could clear up this situation and turn it into a two-man split between J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards rather than a three-man RBBC. With an extra week to rest, it should be back to status quo which means none of the three are more than desperation RB3 plays any given week. Too bad because Edwards saw most of the carries in this game and could be a reliable starter, especially in standard leagues. For now, he's just a speculative add for Week 8.

JaMycal Hasty, San Francisco 49ers - 1% rostered

Another Raheem Mostert injury forced Hasty into action on Sunday night. Had Jeff Wilson been active, Hasty might not have seen the field. He wasn't overly impressive, gathering 37 yards on nine carries with nothing in the passing game. Monitor the injury report to see if Mostert and/or Wilson are pegged to miss more time before making a claim for Hasty.

Others to consider: Frank Gore, New York Jets (31% rostered); Duke Johnson, Houston Texans (25% rostered); Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers (15% rostered); J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team (11% rostered)

 

Wide Receivers - Waiver Wire Options

Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers - 49% rostered

I know, he's not available in your league. If you read this column last week and didn't add him, you're clearly not taking my advice anyway. He's technically (inexplicably) under half-rostered across Yahoo leagues, so it provides me an opportunity to expand on his involvement in this offense. In Week 6, Claypool tied for the team lead in receptions (four), led the team in yardage (74), and was second in targets (four). Not outstanding numbers but add in a rushing touchdown and you have the makings of a solid day considering the Steelers didn't really need to pass throughout the second half. He's not just a must-add anywhere he's available, he is entering must-start territory.

Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers - 45% rostered

After a quiet start to the season that included a zero in Week 4, Williams came up huge in Week 5 with 109 yards and two touchdowns. Keenan Allen is expected back for the upcoming matchup with the Jaguars but there will be plenty of targets to go around and a favorable matchup to boot.

Travis Fulgham, Philadelphia Eagles - 31% rostered

While Fulgham predictably didn't put up the type of game he did last week, he came away with 75 yards on six catches and a jump-ball touchdown that saved his fantasy day. The most encouraging stat is his 10 targets which tied Zach Ertz for the team lead. Ertz won't be on the field for another 3-4 weeks due to an ankle injury suffered in-game. It's hard to tell whether DeSean Jackson or Alshon Jeffery has a realistic shot at returning but it's reasonable to assume they won't see much action even if they do take the field. Fulgham is flex-worthy in the right circumstances as long as you don't expect a monster game each time out. The Giants have only allowed one 100-yard receiver this season, which was CeeDee Lamb in Week 5. No other WR has reached 75 yards against them. Add now and use as needed to patch holes in your lineup.

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos - 10% rostered

Make that back-to-back 100-yard games for Patrick, who is easily outproducing first-round pick Jerry Jeudy. Patrick went for 113 yards in a tough matchup with the Patriots while Jeudy had just 32 yards. In fact, no other wide receiver even registered a catch for Denver. Patrick is the lead target on this team and a WR3 candidate in standard leagues.

Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders - 47% rostered

The week off should help Ruggs get closer to full health but the matchup with Tampa Bay makes him a stash rather than a streamer. Tampa's defense is for real and CB Jamel Dean has become a breakout star in his second season. Ruggs can be added wherever WR depth is needed but don't count on much in the short term.

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars - 46% rostered

His steady, predictable climb in target share took an unpredictable nosedive in Week 6. Shenault was targeted seven times but took a backseat to Keelan Cole (nine targets) and D.J. Chark (14 targets) and was even less productive, catching three passes for 10 yards. Chalk it up to a bad game and keep him on the streaming radar.

Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars - 29% rostered

The biggest beneficiary of D.J. Chark being less than healthy was Cole, who went for 143 yards on six catches. This was his first true "boom" game of the year. Cole's previous high was 58 yards back in Week 2. He won't go off most weeks but he's getting the touchdowns that Shenault isn't and could be a factor if Chark still isn't 100%.

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons - 29% rostered

For the first time in four games, Gage caught more than two passes and went over 30 yards in a game. In fact, his 65-yard total in Week 6 is more than the previous three games combined. Maybe a coaching change is what Atlanta needed to get going. The matchup remains favorable again, as the Detroit Lions come to town.

Breshad Perriman, New York Jets - 8% rostered

He's back and looks good, even if his team is hard to watch. Perriman finished second on the team in targets with eight, behind only Jamison Crowder. Four catches for 62 yards isn't game-breaking but once Sam Darnold returns, there is enough big-play ability to make Perriman relevant.

Marcus Johnson, Indianapolis Colts - 0% rostered

This week's "who went off?" award goes to Johnson, who finished with five receptions for 108 yards. He wasn't on the active roster for the first three weeks of the season and has now done something no other Colts receiver had done yet - go for 100 yards in a game. They have a bye in Week 7 so don't get too excited. Stash him in deep leagues if you have the space but don't get your hopes up for consistent production. This is still a run-first offense.

Others to consider: Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals (39% rostered); Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins (25% rostered); James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers (10% rostered)

 

Tight Ends - Waiver Wire Options

Darren Fells, Houston Texans - 5% rostered

With Jordan Akins out the past two games, Fells has scored in each and contributed 57 and 85 yards respectively. That'll play at tight end, especially for those who have been without Noah Fant and now may be without Zach Ertz. The Packers had been one of the tougher defenses versus the tight end but they didn't stop much of anything against Tampa Bay, including Gronk. Fells has the edge over Firkser because he has been more consistent both this season and over the last couple of seasons.

Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans - 0% rostered

Jonnu Smith was this year's breakout performer at tight end, going for 221 yards and five TD in the first four games. Seeing him leave early in Week 6 with an ankle injury is frustrating enough but especially after witnessing what his replacement did. Somehow, Firkser went for eight receptions and 113 yards with a touchdown, making him the top-scoring fantasy TE of the week so far. He had a grand total of 498 yards in his two-and-a-half-year career thus far, so it's hard to imagine that he suddenly becomes this year's version of Tyler Higbee. Still, this offense is clicking on all cylinders and Firkser makes a smart streamer if Smith, currently listed as questionable for Week 7, doesn't suit up.

Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings - 9% rostered

The bye week for Minnesota makes this a stash only recommendation but one that should get some attention for the remainder of the year. Smith was a complete non-factor for the first month, catching a total of two passes for 14 yards over the first four games. Forget that ever happened - Smith has four receptions in each of the last two games, going over 50 yards each time. Just like it took a couple of weeks for Gary Kubiak to figure out how to use Justin Jefferson, he seems to now have figured out how to use his young tight end. Smith is a talented receiver on an offense bereft of WR depth which makes him fantasy relevant in good matchups the rest of the way.

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team - 15% rostered

After a hiatus, Thomas re-emerged onto the scene with 42 yards and a touchdown in Week 6. He also played on 63 snaps with the next-closest tight end, Jeremy Sprinkle, in on just 11 snaps. Thomas' upside with Kyle Allen isn't much higher than it was with Dwayne Haskins, nor is he suddenly a desirable weekly option. He is streamable in Week 7 since his opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, is one of the least effective at defending the tight end.

Richard Rodgers, Philadelphia Eagles - 0% rostered

It's unclear what Zach Ertz did to anger the gods but his disappointing season has gotten worse. He left the game against Baltimore early with an ankle injury and will be out for at least three weeks. Although it was Jason Croom getting the touchdown in his place, it was his only catch of the day and it came on the only offensive snap in which he appeared. The veteran Rodgers caught three passes for 31 yards and will see the majority of TE snaps and targets for the time being. There isn't much upside but he can be used as an Ertz replacement if no better options are available.

Adam Shaheen, Miami Dolphins - 0% rostered

Is Shaheen the new Gesicki? No, because Mike Gesicki is still there and is pretty good when the ball is actually thrown his way. Shaheen has a touchdown catch in consecutive games, though, so he is at least a factor in this offense that is thin at the receiver position. The Fins are off next week so just keep him in the back of your mind in case you need a desperation streamer or Gesicki finds a way to get hurt on his week off.

Others to consider: Greg Olsen, Seattle Seahawks (21% rostered); Drew Sample, Cincinnati Bengals (4% rostered)

 

Team Defense - Waiver Wire Options

Philadelphia Eagles Defense - 30% rostered

The past two games have been miserable for Philly's defense, which explains their low rostered rate. The Ravens scored 30 a week after the Steelers put up 38 on this unit. They shouldn't have as much trouble with the Giants, who remain one of the lowest-scoring offenses in the NFL. One thing that has been consistent with the Philadelphia defense has been sacks. They came into Week 6 third in sacks and now have 21 on the season. Daniel Jones has no problem taking a sack, or turning the ball over for that matter. For leagues that reward sacks more so than turnovers, this is the unit to target.

Cincinnati Bengals Defense - 3% rostered

For leagues where turnovers matter most, this embattled Cincy DST could come through. The Bengals have picked off a pass in five straight games and will get the Browns in Week 7. If Baker Mayfield is healthy enough to play, that might be a good thing for the defense. He was picked twice by the Steelers and didn't look right all game, clearly bothered by his rib injury.



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Dynasty Trade Targets for Rebuilding Teams

Maybe 2020 isn't going the way you planned. That could go for a lot of us in a lot of ways but this specifically refers to fantasy football.

Maybe your dynasty team that once looked like a strong contender is sitting at the bottom of the standings with one lonely win or none at all. You hate to throw in the towel before the season is half-done but sometimes you know a playoff run isn't in the books, especially if your powerhouse team consisted of Saquon Barkley, Austin Ekeler, Chris Godwin, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Zach Ertz. Things aren't looking much better the rest of the way so it's time to act.

The key to winning in dynasty is to constantly look forward and build value as much as possible. If your present roster isn't helping you win in the present, do what is needed to help you win in the future. Here are some players to target in trade talks that could break out in 2021 and have greater projected value.

 

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT)

The supposed WR1 for Pittsburgh is looking more like their WR3. Rookie Chase Claypool has emerged and Diontae Johnson, if he ever gets healthy, will get just as many looks. In fact, the Steelers' top four WRs and TE Eric Ebron are all within four targets of one another on the season so far. This is looking like a true WRBC.

Coming off a career-low six yards on two receptions (not including the first game of his career where he wasn't targeted), fantasy GMs are raging. Should we be mad at Smith-Schuster for underperforming or the Steelers for underutilizing him? Our Antonio Losada gave a great detailed answer to this question but for our purposes here, it doesn't necessarily matter.

The fact is that Smith-Schuster isn't helping fantasy teams and the notion he is being phased out of the offense in favor of Claypool presents a trade opportunity. The manager who rosters Smith-Schuster that is in win-now mode may be willing to part with him for a more reliable starter. It may be tough to accept trading away someone like Julio Jones or Adam Thielen in exchange for an underperforming wideout but it makes sense. Both those receivers are past the age of 30 while Smith-Schuster is just 23. Both the Falcons and Vikings are 1-5 and could be rebuilding sooner than expected.

The final, unexpected component to this analysis is the fact that I don't expect Smith-Schuster to remain in Pittsburgh next season. He is set to hit free agency in 2021 and the Steelers simply may not want to pay up for his services. This is why they drafted Claypool a year after drafting Johnson. This franchise has a history of successfully developing wide receivers and not paying for them. The one exception was Antonio Brown and that ultimately ended badly. If Smith-Schuster gets paid to be the top dog on a team with cap room like the Colts or Patriots, he may see that target share shoot back up again. His value hasn't hit bottom yet but another disappointing performance or two may be the catalyst to make an offer.

 

Rashaad Penny (RB, SEA)

Remember when Penny was going to usurp Chris Carson's role as lead back in Seattle? Carson has proven to be better and more resilient than he ever got credit for. He's also had a penchant for getting banged up and will be a free agent entering 2021. As a Pete Carroll favorite, it's hard to imagine the Seahawks letting him walk but it might not be his call. The team has been burned before by signing Shaun Alexander and Marshawn Lynch to big deals, only to see them flame out less than two years later. Running backs just don't get paid like they used to - the recent Le'Veon Bell fiasco serves as another warning to NFL GMs.

Regardless of Carson's future, Penny should be back to contribute late in 2020 and could get back to what he was doing before his injury. In 2019, Penny was averaging 5.7 yards per carry and provided a nice complement to Carson. Even as the RB2 on his own team, Penny was flex-worthy in fantasy and a high-end insurance policy for the times Carson would be out of action.

The best-case scenario is that Penny takes over as the team's lead back in 2021. The worst case is that he doesn't fully heal from ACL surgery and lacks the same explosiveness. It's a calculated risk but one that shouldn't cost much to take on.

 

A.J. Dillon (RB, GB)

Similar to the Penny situation, Green Bay could be a team in transition for 2021, especially if the season ends on a sour note. Aaron Jones is a stud, especially for fantasy purposes, but he's also a free agent as is Jamaal Williams. One would imagine they drafted Dillon for this exact reason, to replace one or both of them.

The selection of Jordan Love to succeed Aaron Rodgers may not make an impact next season but the RB situation is more likely to change. Dillon has played sparingly this season, rushing only 13 times for 65 yards so far. He has only taken more than two carries in a game at the tail end of two blowouts. This isn't concerning for dynasty managers, it's encouraging. He will enter his second season with fresh legs and fully healthy. Wear and tear was a minor concern after taking 845 rush attempts in college.

Dillon was labeled a combine warrior after running a 4.53 40 time. This is outstanding for someone his size (247 lbs), resulting in an adjusted speed score in the 97th percentile. He might have been a fantasy favorite if he landed in a better situation. Instead, we will have to wait until next year to see what he can do in a part-time, if not a full-time role. Teams in need of startable players or in win-now mode have no use for Dillon so try to extract him from their clutches while you can.

 

Quintez Cephus (WR, DET)

I mentioned Cephus as a last-minute preseason stash for dynasty leagues due to the Kenny Golladay injury that kept him out of Week 1. Sure enough, Cephus was targeted a whopping 10 times in the opener, although he only caught three for 43 yards. He followed up with three catches for 54 yards in Week 2 and then disappeared from the offense once Golladay returned. It may take another injury for him to have any relevance this season but we're looking ahead here.

Detroit's top three receivers, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola, are all due for free agency in 2021. Golladay is likely to get paid while it wouldn't be surprising if Jones was set free. He is now 30 years old and appears past his prime based on a slow start. He's averaging a career-low 10.4 yards per reception and 6.1 yards per target while his 58.3% catch rate is 10 points lower than last year. He wasn't able to lift up this passing game while Golladay was out, proving how much more valuable one is than the other. Amendola should be an afterthought as this team gets younger at receiver again.

Cephus fell to the fifth round of the NFL Draft due to disappointing measurables, including a 4.73 40 time. He then became a preseason darling based on outstanding training camp performance. The sky may not be the limit here but Cephus could thrive with a QB like Matthew Stafford funneling passes his way.

 

Collin Johnson (WR, JAX)

Filling out your roster with upside can be an overlooked aspect of rebuilding a franchise. Those players at the end of your bench may seem disposable but in deeper dynasty leagues, you may not find any worthy waiver wire pickups during the season or be able to pull off a trade that satisfies your needs. If your WR6 has the upside to perform as a WR3 in the right context, that is the type of player hold onto. Not stashing Josh Gordon for the fifth straight year.

Johnson was a fifth-round pick out of Texas that landed on the outskirts of a deep receiving corps for a bad team. As the season began, he was behind D.J. Chark, Keelan Cole, Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook, and fellow rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. on the depth chart. Things are slowly changing in his favor and could take off in 2021.

It's clear Chark is the top target and Shenault has been what the team hoped for. Beyond that, only Cole has delivered value. Westbrook has been a healthy scratch multiple times. Conley has been his usual modestly productive self but the last two games he's only seen two targets in each. Johnson saw four targets in Week 5 alone before being blanked in Week 6. The Jags are already using his 6'6" frame in the red zone area since they don't have any other big-bodied receivers.

Considering that Westbrook and Conley are free agents next year, Johnson should surely take their place. Cole is also set to walk but it remains to be seen whether they retain his services. If Johnson proves capable down the stretch, they could easily save the cash by keeping him to replace Cole.

 

David Njoku (TE, CLE)

The tight end position is a tough one to glean dynasty value from. There are the elites who are off the market like Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Mark Andrews, the reliable holds like Darren Waller, Hunter Henry, and Austin Hooper, and the young rising stars who you won't get at a discount like Mike Gesicki, Noah Fant, T.J. Hockenson, and Jonnu Smith. Then there's everyone else who isn't especially fantasy-relevant, especially in dynasty.

Njoku fit the rising star mold before 2019 began as a third-year player in an offense that was due to take off. Not only did Cleveland fall flat but an IR stint wiped out Njoku's season. The signing of Austin Hooper didn't sit well with him, leading to a trade demand in the offseason that was later rescinded. Now, it's back.


Since being activated from IR, Njoku has caught one pass in each of the last two games while Hooper has caught five passes in each and led the team in targets. Njoku wants out again and may get his wish before the November 3 deadline. If he lands with a team that could utilize him right away, he could deliver low-end TE1 production right away and become a solid starter heading into next year or an immediately trade-worthy asset.

 

Irv Smith Jr. (TE, MIN)

Smith was a popular preseason sleeper heading into his second year. He was drafted for one reason - to catch the ball. At 6'2", 242 lbs, Smith isn't out there to block. He was taken in the second round to be a field stretcher and offensive weapon after posting 710 receiving yards his junior year at Alabama.

Over the first month of 2020, he did neither. Smith graded out as the second-worst TE, 63rd out of 64, performing terribly as both a blocker and a receiver. It's understandable, as he was barely being used. Smith saw a total of six targets in the first four games and went without a catch in Weeks 3-4. Then, a light bulb clicked in Gary Kubiak's head and he realized that using Smith as a third receiver might not be a bad idea.

Since then, Smith has back-to-back games with four receptions and five targets, going over 50 yards in each. He hasn't hit paydirt yet but that might benefit the dynasty GM seeking a deal for a discounted TE salary. Smith has been dropped all over redraft leagues and even in some shallower dynasty leagues. The peak time to target him was two weeks ago, obviously, but with Minnesota's bye coming up the window is still open. Offer up a hot name like Robert Tonyan or a third-round pick to get the conversation started.

 

Sam Darnold (QB, NYJ)

"One man's trash is another man's treasure." To say that the Jets players are underachieving is putting it kindly. This team is a raging dumpster fire that Adam Gase keeps pouring hot grease on. Even if ownership insists on keeping Gase around until the season ends, whether it be to fulfill the tanking process to secure QB Trevor Lawrence or to stubbornly refusing to admit their mistake in hiring him, there is still hidden value to be unearthed here.

Although Breshad Perriman makes for a nice WR4 that can be had for a draft pick, the real value is with Darnold. His career arc has been rife with mediocrity and injuries/illnesses. We may never know what might have been of his first three seasons if he could have stayed on the field and had a competent coach during his critical developmental stage. As it stands, he currently has a 59.8% completion rate, 39-32 TD-INT rate, and has been On Target for just under 75% of his passes. By contrast, third-year quarterback Josh Allen, whose accuracy was always a question mark, has an 83.2% OnTgt% this season. Rookie Justin Herbert has a 78.8% OnTgt% in his first four career starts. Darnold has been put in tough positions his whole NFL career with a struggling offensive line, no running game, and incompetent play-calling. If any or all of those factors change, we could see the talent that made him the third overall pick in the 2018 draft.

The understandable concern with Darnold in dynasty is the fact that the Jets are on track to have the top pick in the NFL Draft, which would undoubtedly be Trevor Lawrence unless they trade it away. It's too soon to speculate on the final standings or what the team would do with its pick but Darnold ending up with another team a la Jameis Winston might not be the worst thing in the world for his future value. In Superflex leagues, he can be had for practically nothing at this point and is worth a future draft pick. The time to move is now while he remains sidelined. You never know, if Gase gets fired and Darnold returns next week, this offense could suddenly catch fire! Probably not though.



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Wide Receiver Rankings & Start/Sit Advice - Week 6

Pierre Camus (@Roto_Chef) breaks down his weekly wide receiver rankings to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 6 of the 2020 NFL season. Who should you start or sit among those in WR3/4 or Flex consideration?

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Week 6 WR Start/Sit

Pierre looks at wide receiver matchups to help fantasy football GMs decide who to put into lineups this week.

Players discussed in this episode:

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Running Back Rankings & Start/Sit Advice - Week 6

Pierre Camus (@Roto_Chef) breaks down his weekly running back rankings to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 6 of the 2020 NFL season. Who should you start or sit among those in RB3/4 or Flex consideration?

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Week 6 RB Start/Sit

Pierre looks at running back matchups to help fantasy football GMs decide who to put into lineups this week.

Players discussed in this episode:

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Week 6 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

More delays, postponed games, and schedule changes. Get used to the new normal. We should be thankful that we at least have an NFL season that has gone mostly according to plan, other than every good running back being injured.

The waiver wire will be more important in 2020 than any previous season, especially after waivers clear in most leagues. Use the players suggested here for your early-week claims but keep the rest in mind for later in the week if necessary and check our NFL news feed for the latest injury updates.

As always, the options listed at each position below are listed in order of priority to help you plan your claims accordingly. Players listed include only those rostered in approximately 50% or fewer Yahoo leagues. For a deeper look at each position, check out our separate weekly waiver wire columns at QB, RB, WR, and TE.

 

Quarterbacks - Waiver Wire Options

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings - 32% rostered

Cousins didn't torch Seattle like other QBs have done this year but he could have his best game yet in Week 6. He plays Atlanta in Week 6 and might have to do it without his main RB (see below). The Falcons are officially a dumpster fire at 0-5 and their pass defense is a large part of the problem. They just allowed Teddy Bridgewater to throw for 313 yards and two touchdowns. Every QB they've faced has gone over 300 yards and that includes the Nick Foles/Mitch Trubisky Frankenquarterback combo in Week 3. Even with a new coach, it doesn't make Atlanta any more formidable. Start Cousins if at all possible this week.

Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys - 1% rostered

The outlook for Dallas' offense has changed for the worst reason imaginable. Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome injury that led to immediate foot surgery Sunday night, ruling him out for the remainder of the season. That makes the offseason signing of veteran Andy Dalton look like a brilliant move since he'll be in command of a high-octane offense for a team now desperate to reach .500 and push for the playoffs. Regardless of what you thought of Dalton in Cincy, he now has Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb to throw to, along with Ezekiel Elliott to dump the ball off to when pressure gets to him. Without the rushing ability of Prescott, Dalton projects as a low-end QB1 in good matchups and a fringe starter in tougher ones. Arizona's pass defense has been mediocre this year, so Dalton can be used as a straight-up Prescott replacement.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins - 20% rostered

The FitzMagic happened at the most unexpected time in San Francisco. Facing last year's NFC champion and top-ranked defense on the road, he threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns. In other words, it was the top-five fantasy he should have had last week but didn't. While he seems intent on fooling fantasy managers by bucking expectations, he shouldn't have a hard time generating points against the Jets. The Dolphins' readjusted schedule has them facing the defense that looks better on paper because they've faced subpar QBs like Brett Rypien and Nick Mullens (and Philip Rivers at this point). Fitzpatrick is always streamable but especially so in Week 6.

Nick Foles, Chicago Bears - 10% rostered

Your boring, desperation streamer for deep leagues this week is Foles. His value stems from the matchup with Carolina, which should keep his floor fairly high. They've improved over the weeks defensively, limiting Matt Ryan to 226 yards with no touchdowns on Sunday. Still, Foles isn't prone to disastrous games and should be a safe replacement for this newly heavy bye week.

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers - 48% rostered

After a shamefully-low rostered rate early in the week, Herbert was added by a lot of teams late once we saw another game canceled and the status of the Buffalo-Tennessee game in doubt. On paper, the matchup with New Orleans is favorable too and he took advantage. The Chargers were supposed to get the Jets next week but the COVID chaos has moved that game to Week 11 instead, which means the Chargers have their bye in Week 6. Herbert is simply a backup to stash if available.

Others to consider: Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (46% rostered); Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (40% rostered)

 

Running Backs - Waiver Wire Options

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings - 40% rostered

This is why you keep handcuffs insurance policies on your bench. Dalvin Cook was on his way to another great game in Week 5 before exiting with a groin injury. That led to a big dose of Alexander Mattison. He responded with his best Cook impersonation, running 20 times for 112 yards and chipping in another 24 receiving yards. Cook's MRI on Monday inspired confidence from coach Mike Zimmer, who said it was "clean." He could conceivably be back in action for Week 6, but the team may not rush him back. If he is forced to miss even one game, Mattison becomes an instant must-add. He's averaging a stout 4.6 yards per carry over his first two seasons and would become the new workhorse for a team that ranks in the top five in total rush attempts so far.

Damien Harris, New England Patriots - 52% rostered

There's not a great chance Harris is available in your league but the ranks are thin at RB this week so it's worth mentioning. The Pats' schedule has been in flux but it appears they will play their game vs Denver in Week 6. This isn't a smash spot as the Broncos have actually limited damage to running backs fairly well. We also have no idea if Cam Newton will be back and if so, whether that's a positive or negative. His presence obviously makes the offense much better but he also steals carries and goal-line carries from the backfield. Harris is a risky RB3 based on the upcoming matchup but should be a solid low-end RB2 the rest of the way, making him an instant add in 12+ team leagues unless you happen to be stacked at running back.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers - 42% rostered

It was thought that Joshua Kelley would serve as the lead back on Monday Night Football but Jackson saw just as many touches. Neither were particuarly effective but it was a tough matchup with the Saints Defense, who has limited running backs in 2020. He hasn't shown much with his touches this year but averaged 5.1 yards per carry over his first two seasons and has breakaway speed in the open field. Pay attention to the snap counts going forward and consider him as a backup if you employ the #AllBenchRB philosophy.

D'Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns - 44% rostered

I stick by last week's recommendation of Johnson as the top RB because it was also stated that he should be on benches in Week 5. The Colts Defense is the best at limiting fantasy points to running backs and did an adequate job considering Darius Leonard was out. It's not any easier in Week 6 unfortunately, with a road game against the Steelers. After that, you can plug him in versus Cincinnati and Las Vegas, two of the worst run defenses out there, and start reaping the rewards.

J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team - 6% rostered

Antonio Gibson is irrationally adored by many a fantasy manager but McKissic continues to get the bulk of the receiving work out of the backfield. In Week 5, they nearly matched each other in total yardage; Gibson combined for 51 scrimmage yards and McKissic had 49. The 6-5 edge in receptions for McKissic and lack of touchdowns for Gibson evens them out. It's not as if they will have equal value going forward but the difference isn't as great as people think.

Others to considerDuke Johnson, Houston Texans (29% rostered); Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers (15% rostered); Mike Boone, Minnesota Vikings (0% rostered)

 

Wide Receivers - Waiver Wire Options

Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers - 14% rostered

If Justin Jefferson's Week 3 performance (7-175-1) was a breakout game, then what do we call Claypool's Week 5? He exploded onto the scene with a four-touchdown game, catching seven passes for 110 yards and three scores. His other TD came on a two-yard run. He would have had another touchdown if not for a penalty that had it called back. A big impetus for his sudden involvement is the fact Diontae Johnson exited the game early again, this time with a back issue. Between a concussion, toe issue, and now back injury, Johnson has been absent for much of the season, so Claypool is a good bet to keep seeing snaps.

It was interesting to hear the broadcast team discuss OC Randy Fichtner touting Claypool's "availability" in practice each week, which also harkens to JuJu Smith-Schuster missing each Wednesday. This doesn't mean Claypool will be the WR1 in Pittsburgh but he will be targeted regularly in a high-octane offense and warrants a claim in all leagues.

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars - 34% rostered

If you believe that football statistics come in predictable patterns, Shenault will have seven receptions next week.

image from Yahoo!

 

 

 

 

 

Spoiler: this isn't how the NFL works and we have no idea what Shenault will do next week. We do know that his target share keeps ramping up and he can provide a high floor in full PPR leagues. The Detroit Lions are a fantasy-friendly defense too, allowing the fifth-most points per game to wide receivers. Shenault is a solid WR3 who belongs on more rosters.

Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans - 44% rostered

After being blanked last game, Cooks went off for a league-high 161 receiving yards on eight receptions. That makes two games over 95 yards and three games under 25 yards for Cooks this year. Good luck figuring out when he's going to pop. This was a plus matchup with Jacksonville and Cooks took advantage. That said, the Texans will likely continue to rely on the pass and Cooks will have his moments.

Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins - 22% rostered

Just when he entered drop territory in most fantasy leagues, Williams came alive in San Francisco. Much like his QB, Williams did what he was supposed to do last week against Seattle. Williams turned four catches into 106 yards with a touchdown and actually looked healthy. He is back on the waiver wire radar and is definitely stream-worthy against the Jets.

Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals - 34% rostered

It was reassuring to see Kirk become involved in the passing game again, catching five balls for 78 yards in a win over the Jets. It wasn't just the Nuk show, as Kirk tied DeAndre Hopkins for the team lead with seven targets. It was a laugher over the Jets but the next week's matchup could actually be better, as the Cowboys' secondary gives up more points to WRs. Kirk remains a volatile option but his ceiling is always enticing.

Travis Fulgham, Philadelphia Eagles - 0% rostered

Your DFS tournament winner in Week 5 was the seventh receiving option for the Eagles heading into 2020. With their top three WRs sidelined as they have been since Week 1, Fulgham has gotten his chance and you could say the made the most of it. Fulgham caught 10 of 12 targets for 152 yards and a touchdown in a true breakout game against the Steelers. Just to jog your memory, Fulgham was a sixth-round pick by Detroit after coming out of Old Dominion. He came into Week 5 with two NFL receptions.

Before you empty the wallet to make Fulgham your top waiver priority, a couple of things to keep in mind. Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson could both return in Week 6, which obviously hurts Fulgham's target share. Second, the Eagles have done this before. Greg Ward caught eight passes on 11 targets for 84 yards in Week 3, Dallas Goedert caught eight of nine targets for 101 yards in Week 1. Doug Pederson has shown he will feed a guy in any given game, especially when the run game isn't working. Not to take anything away from Fulgham but he won't be a primary focus of this offense each week and will be a boom-bust flex option, not a league winner.

Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders - 43% rostered

Ruggs' 118-yard outburst didn't help many fantasy teams since he was rostered in less than half of all leagues and started in only 5% of Yahoo leagues. He did get our attention again after his opening-week touchdown. Ruggs is doing exactly what Mike Mayock envisioned when he made him the top receiver selected in the 2020 NFL Draft - stretching the field, hitting on big plays. The health issues make him hard to trust but the ceiling is sky-high on any given week. Don't count on Ruggs in Week 6, as the Raiders are scheduled for their bye week.

Jeff Smith, New York Jets - 1% rostered

I went into detail on Smith last week and the Jets are on a bye so this isn't a player to add right now anyway. I'll just throw this out there: despite catching only three passes for 23 yards, he was targeted 11 times. Smith could be considered the team's top target after Jamison Crowder right now, for what that's worth.

Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles - 18% rostered

Those searching for a midseason lotto ticket or in deep-enough leagues may consider stashing Jeffery. It's not sure whether he'll play this week or how effective he will be, so expect little to nothing and you won't be disappointed.

Jalen Guyton, Los Angeles Chargers - 2% rostered

Mike Williams returns, Keenan Allen goes out. It doesn't appear to be a serious injury but regardless, Guyton has carved out a role as deep threat and bomb-catcher. He caught a 72-yard bomb for a score last week and a 49-yard pass in Week 5. He won't catch more than two passes for you but if it goes for a long score, that's a decent flex play in times of desperation.

Cedrick Wilson Jr., Dallas Cowboys - 2% rostered

Although Wilson doesn't truly have standalone value, it's worth mentioning that he is still getting utilized as the fourth receiver in Dallas' pass-heavy attack. He also occasionally throws touchdown passes to Dak Prescott too, although sadly we can't count on that happening again. Wilson may be forgotten if the team narrows its options with Dalton behind center so save Wilson for the deepest of leagues only.

Others to consider: Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs (40% rostered); Golden Tate, New York Giants (35% rostered); Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers (34% rostered); Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals (33% rostered)

 

Tight Ends - Waiver Wire Options

Jimmy Graham, Chicago Bears - 40% rostered

He isn't the most exciting add, but Graham is 12th in receiving yards among tight ends and has four touchdowns. That makes him TE4 in standard leagues, believe it or not. He's more of a high-end TE2 in PPR leagues and streamable in most circumstances. A matchup with Carolina is just OK but he can serve as a replacement for Darren Waller managers.

Darren Fells, Houston Texans - 2% rostered

It wasn't a high-volume game for Fells but he did come through for those few who streamed him. Fells caught a 44-yard touchdown pass early in the game, serving as the main tight end with Jordan Akins out due to an ankle injury. He is lesser version of Graham in the sense that his value is higher in standard than PPR leagues and isn't assured the same level of targets. Fells caught seven touchdowns in 2019, so we know Watson will look his way in the red zone. That should count for something.

Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings - 6% rostered

Finally, signs of life from the second-year TE. Smith was supposed to step up as the main pass-catching tight end in 2020 but he's taken a serious step backward. Smith entered Week 5 grading out as the second-worst tight end (63 out of 64) according to PFF, while teammate Kyle Rudolph was 13th. It was reassuring to see Smith grab four passes for 64 yards on Sunday night while Rudolph caught just one for 10 yards. If you're in desperation territory for a tight end this week, Smith at least faces the Falcons who, besides being god-awful in every way this season, had been the worst defense against the tight end before Week 5.

Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts - 36% rostered

In a choice matchup, MAC Daddy pulled a disappearing act. The entire Colts offense struggled but for Alie-Cox to give his managers a big zero was a shock after his recent emergence. He can be used in a pinch again but then has a bye after Week 6 so it might be time to find a better short-term option.

Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 2% rostered

With no O.J. Howard and Rob Gronkowski still serving as a blocker first, Brate caught five passes for 44 yards in Week 4. It's unclear whether Chris Godwin will return or whether Mike Evans or Scotty Miller are 100% but Brate is touchdown-dependent for value anyway.

Others to consider: Drew Sample, Cincinnati Bengals (4% rostered)

 

Team Defense - Waiver Wire Options

Miami Dolphins Defense - 2% rostered

I said this defense wasn't as bad as people think and it proved true in a surprising victory over the 49ers. Blame the ankle all you want, but the Fins forced Jimmy Garoppolo out of the game after picking him off twice. Now that the schedule has changed for several teams, we'll get the first Dolphins-Jets showdown of 2020. With Joe Flacco likely to start again, we could see another five-sack, three-turnover day or something comparable.

Minnesota Vikings Defense - 29% rostered

It used to be that the Falcons offense meant an automatic sit for opposing defenses. They've only scored 16 points in consecutive weeks and there seems to be a feeling that this team might have given up on the season. The Vikes have underachieved on defense all year but could find an elixir in Atlanta.

Washington Football Team Defense - 7% rostered

The Rams simply trounced Washington in Week 5, marking four straight games the defense has allowed 30+ points. The Giants were averaging 11 points per game until they put up 34 in Dallas. Daniel Jones is still turnover prone and this could be a low-scoring game based on both team's low pace of play.



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Lies, Damned Lies, and Fantasy Football Statistics (Week 6)

Are five games enough to start reading into ROS player values based on performance? Unlike baseball, where certain statistics can start to become reliable or "sticky" after a certain at-bat or innings-pitched threshold, it's never the case in football. It's a game where big individual plays make all the difference and only 16 games make up an entire season. Wait long enough to parse through the data and the season is over before you can do anything with it.

What about those teams who've been forced to early bye weeks and only played four times or those with unexpected schedule changes that forced them to play on Tuesday or extend their time between games? The answer: it's 2020 so accept it and move on.

A one-game sample in which a game flow goes completely off script can skew things dramatically on both sides. Outlier games (Travis Fulgham anyone?) can make a player look far more effective than his true value would indicate. On the other hand, some players might be underachieving based on unfavorable schedules. Not all advanced metrics are meaningful and some can be downright deceptive. My aim here is to point out those potential outliers that could steer you wrong when making key lineup decisions for Week 6 and beyond.

 

Yards per Carry

One of the first ways a running back gets evaluated is by how much yardage he produces on average when touching the ball. We know opportunity is everything in fantasy, but more touches only mean more yardage if a player can do something with the ball. Just ask those who added Joshua Kelley off waivers.

Context matters, of course. Le'Veon Bell averaged 3.2 yards per carry last year but not many players could do better in that offense. That's the reason several teams were scrambling to acquire his services as soon as he was released.

Here's a look at the 2019 RB leaders for yards per rush attempt:

image taken from NFL NextGenStats

Here's the current list for 2020 after Week 5:

image taken from NFL NextGenStats

So, apparently, Raheem Mostert is for real. While we also see the list littered with the best players at the position, some odds ones stand out.

When you see backups like Gus Edwards, Tony Pollard, Alexander Mattison, and Matt Breida on last year's list (and again for Edwards and Mattison this year), it might make you wonder why they don't get more touches. In the case of Pollard and Mattison, they have an elite RB ahead of them on the depth chart. Breida can't stay healthy and Edwards is limited in many other ways outside of running the ball straight ahead.

What you don't see on these charts is that Derrick Henry is now averaging 3.7, Kenyan Drake also 3.7, Josh Jacobs is at 3.6, and Christian McCaffrey 3.8 Y/A in 2020, all in the bottom 10 among backs with at least 30 carries. It's almost like this figure can change from year to year!

There are many reasons for this but it varies so the best idea as always is to take it on a player-by-player basis. Let's dive into some running backs whose rushing average might be deceptive at this point in the season, for better or worse.

Rankings listed below are based on running backs who are on pace for at least 100 rush attempts this season.

 

Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles

5.1 Y/A - 7th among RB

I won't hate on Sanders here because there is no denying his talent. He was my favorite RB of the 2019 draft class and should be a solid RB2 for the next few years. The problem is the Eagles offense as a whole.

Sanders ranks seventh in rushing average among qualified RBs and is 12th in the NFL in total rushing yards. Savvy readers may remember that 74 of his 316 yards, or 23%, came on one play in Pittsburgh last week. Otherwise, he totaled six yards on his other 10 carries. The Steelers Defense is great at stopping the run, but there's more at play here.

Philadelphia has seen its offensive line decimated by injuries. Starters Brandon Brooks, Andre Dillard, and Jason Peters are all on IR or PUP. Lane Johnson is questionable as he battles an ankle injury. This will make for tough sledding, making it necessary for Sanders to create big plays on his own. Those home run plays won't always be there.

Sanders isn't the type of player you ever want to bench when healthy but he won't deliver big numbers each week and could be considered a candidate to trade coming off his two-TD performance if you can fetch a WR1 or more consistent RB in his stead (see Mixon, Joe below).

 

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

3.7 Y/A - 37th among RB

Any GM who selected Mixon with a first-round pick has likely considered trading him away at some point this year. He's not close to sniffing four yards a carry and has scored fewer than 16 fantasy points in four of his five games so far (full PPR). In half-PPR and standard scoring leagues, he's been far less valuable. While he ranks right around RB11 for the year, nearly all of that production came in his Week 4 outburst against the lowly Jaguars Defense.

Was Mixon overvalued? Not fitting in with the new Joe Burrow-led Bengals? Quite the opposite. If anything, we can ignore his rushing average for two reasons.

First, schedule matters. It's easy to use that excuse, but in this case, it's true. In his four duds, Mixon faced the Chargers, Browns, Eagles, and Ravens. Those teams currently rank sixth, 10th, 12th, and third in limiting fantasy points to running backs. Looking strictly at rushing average, they allow the 16th, sixth, fourth, and 13th-most yards per carry. The Bengals did not win any of those games, so game script definitely played a role as well.

Second, Mixon could stay under four yards per carry all year long and still finish as a top-10 fantasy RB. His involvement as a receiver keeps him valuable in any given matchup but is also increasing as of late. In the first three contests, Giovani Bernard was targeted 15 times compared to nine for Mixon. In the last two games, Bernard has seen a total of two targets while Mixon has 14. Bernard is nursing a groin injury, so expect Mixon to be the third-down back for the foreseeable future.

Going against the top-ranked defense in Indianapolis this weekend, Mixon will probably have another poor day on the ground. he can make up for it through the air and then should be off and running once the schedule softens considerably in the second half with defenses of the Cowboys, Giants, Texans, and Dolphins lined up.

 

Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers

5.5 Y/A - 6th among RB

First, the obvious. McKinnon's average is inflated by the Jets game where he broke off a 55-yard run and then another 16-yarder for a score. He turned three carries into a delightful fantasy game without needing to catch a single pass. He's also broken off a few more runs with double-digit yardage attached since then. The problem is that's all he brings to the table, so without the big play he can easily flop like last week against Miami.

The bigger problem is the lack of usage that could get lower as the season progresses. Even with Raheem Mostert sidelined for three games, McKinnon is averaging 38.6 rushing yards per game on seven attempts. He wasn't expected to carry the ball a ton, maybe 10-12 times a game, but it was even less than we imagined. His prowess as a pass-catcher would provide the fantasy floor but Week 4 was the only game where McKinnon caught more than three passes.

Between carries and catches, the most touches per game McKinnon has ever received was 13.5 as a Viking back in 2016. If he wasn't even at that threshold before Mostert returned, there's no way it approaches that going forward. If we imagine that Tevin Coleman returns at some point midseason and the Niners can figure out their QB situation to utilize the pass more, McKinnon becomes a desperation flex the rest of 2020.

 

Antonio Gibson, Washington Football

3.9 Y/A - 34th among RB

We saw Gibson struggle to get anything going whatsoever in Week 5 as the Rams stifled him. Gibson finished with 27 rushing yards on 11 carries, marking the third straight game he couldn't even reach the 50-yard plateau on the ground. Maybe he isn't cut out to handle the load as an NFL running back after all.

Or, and hear me out here, he's on a bad offensive unit shuffling ineffective quarterbacks and hasn't gotten enough usage to make the most of his skillset. Dwayne Haskins was unceremoniously yanked as the starting QB after four modest games, so it was a mixture of Kyle Allen and Alex Smith in Week 5. This came in a game where the Rams jumped out to a 20-7 lead midway through the second quarter and never let Washington back in it.

Washington has now lost four straight games, all by 14 points or more. Negative game script plus inconsistent quarterback play is not the recipe for a successful running game. The reason Gibson hasn't seen more than 13 carries in a game yet has nothing to do with the team's faith in him. They just can't afford to chew up clock when they are constantly behind on the scoreboard.

The main reason his subpar rushing average is misleading, however, has to do with the accumulated total that doesn't show how effective he was, when given the chance, on a weekly basis. he averaged four Y/A or more in his first three games; his average sank mainly due to last week.

image taken from Pro-Football-Reference

Rather than rushing production, notice the more important stats related to his target share and red-zone rushes.

image taken from RotoWire

Gibson is up there near the leaders in broken tackle rate at 20%, placing him in the 84th percentile. We know he is elusive with the ball in his hands. With a strong 49.5% team share of rush attempts and heavy involvement in the red-zone (11 touches, tied for team lead), Gibson should deliver eventually. Of course, eventually could mean 2021...



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2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock.

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET, and every weekend morning from 6-8 am ET as well. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Explain Yourself!

Pierre and Nick look at the biggest variations in ADP for the TGFBI 2EarlyMocks and identify the most notable reaches and value picks.



Thanks for listening to today's episode! Be sure to tune in throughout the week, and to also follow RotoBaller on Twitter, YouTube and iTunes for the latest fantasy news and analysis.

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Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it.

Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the 60-game sample size filled with seven-inning doubleheaders to see what we can glean from it.

In this space, I'll take a look the leaderboard for Barrels to point out some surprising results in order to determine whether there might be carryover into 2021.

 

2020 Barrel Leaderboard

image taken from BaseballSavant

 

Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, SD)

"El Niño" was supposed to be an asset due to his speed, with 20-20 or even 20-30 potential over a full season. He wasn't supposed to become one of the best power hitters in the game, especially in his second MLB season at age 21.

Tatis was the easy leader in total barrels, smashing 32 of them for a league-best 12.5% Barrel/Plate Appearance rate. Only Miguel Sano had a higher rate of Barrels per Batted Ball Event. A hard-hit rate and exit velocity in the 100th percentile? Sure, why not.

The best part of it all is that, unlike a pure slugger like Sano, he maintained a healthy 12.8% K-BB% along with a .298 xBA. Oh, the speed was still there too. His 11 steals was sixth in the majors in this brief campaign.

In the earliest of early 2021 mock drafts, I've seen Tatis go first overall and it's hard to argue against. Mike Trout doesn't run anymore and having an elite shortstop might be more valuable than Ronald Acuna or Mookie Betts in the outfield. Some might predict regression in the power categories for Tatis but I'm not betting against him.

 

Corey Seager (SS, LAD)

This one is surprising but not really. Seager was the top prospect in baseball before winning Rookie of the Year in 2016. He launched 26 homers that year along with a 44% hard-hit rate and an excellent xslash line of .308/.385/.528. He followed up with similar numbers in 2017 and another All-Star appearance before succumbing to injury. Seager took only 101 at-bats in 2018 and then, despite an Opening Day homer, got off to a slow start in 2019. He hit one lonely homer in all of April, finishing with a .326 SLG that month. He recovered to post decent numbers but found himself more valuable in points leagues as he hit 44 doubles, the most in the National League, while his HR total dropped to 19.

Due to the diminishing power returns, Seager wasn't considered a starting-caliber shortstop by fantasy managers entering 2020. His NFBC ADP ahead of the actual start of the season was 133 overall, placing him as SS17. That allowed managers to take advantage of a discounted cost for his services including this author, who was smart lucky enough to draft him in TGFBI.

Once he settled in at the second spot in a stacked Dodgers lineup behind Mookie Betts, there was no looking back for Seager in 2020. He finished the abbreviated season third in xBA (.330) behind only Freddie Freeman and Juan Soto, fourth in xSLG (.653) behind Bryce Harper and the aforementioned MVP candidates. Of course, he also finished second in Barrel rate per PA at 12.1%. For someone not considered an elite power hitter, Seager showed that when healthy, he can be among the best.

 

Teoscar Hernandez (OF, TOR)

A victory lap of sorts is tempting here, as I've been touting Hernandez's Statcast numbers since 2018 when he first got regular playing time in Toronto. That year, he ranked ninth with a 9.4 Brls/PA% that was higher than Nelson Cruz and Giancarlo Stanton. In 2019, his Barrel rate fell down to 6.7, ranking 74th among qualified batters. Although the power was still there with 26 HR on the season, his .230 average following the previous year's .239 made him a fringe starter in roto leagues.

2020 was a classic prime-age breakout, as his power was buoyed by a .295 xBA that led to a 59-point jump in batting average. How did his expected average go from the bottom 4% to the top 8% in the matter of a year? Small sample syndrome?

His plate discipline certainly didn't improve. His walk rate went down and his chase rate increased from 25.1% to a career-worst 30.9%. His tendency to swing-and-miss didn't get better but his bat speed might have.

The key difference in his profile is how he hit the fastball in 2020 compared to years past. His expected slash line against fastballs in 2019: .255/.371/.546. His expected slash in 2020: .372/.496/.832.

image taken from BaseballSavant

Those who think Hernandez came out of nowhere haven't been paying attention. His spot in the heart of a young lineup full of thunder reaffirms his status as a top-100 player next draft season.

 

Brandon Lowe (2B, TB)

This analysis only applies to regular-season stats, so let's just pretend this postseason isn't happening. Lowe was among the leaders in Barrel%, xSLG, and even xwOBACON in 2020. He also cut his strikeout rate down by 8.7% to 25.9%, closer to league average. The Rays are becoming a more homer-friendly club with Lowe pacing the way. In fact, he led the team with 14 HR, 37 RBI, and 36 R. The pressure of the postseason may have gotten the best of him but Lowe is just 26 and should continue to be a power bat at second base for years to come.

 

Byron Buxton (OF, MIN)

A regular on the Sprint Speed leaderboard, where he ranks in the 99th percentile, Buxton finally made consistent noise with the barrel of his bat. While Twins sluggers like Mitch Garver and Max Kepler had a letdown season, Buxton could finally be living up to his lofty expectations. It feels as if he's been a fledgling prospect for years but Buxton is also just 26.

After years of posting sub-.400 xSLG numbers, he reached .441 in 2019 and broke through in 2020 with a .551 xSLG that ranked 19th among qualifiers. The most notable difference is his newfound ability to hit the breaking ball.

image taken from BaseballSavant

The most surprising aspect of his "breakout" year was that he didn't actually improve his poor plate discipline and tendency to chase, he doubled down on it. Buxton's chase rate jumped to 48.9% which is a full 20 points higher than league average! He also got far more aggressive, swinging on 51% of first pitches, a figure that has risen every year he has been in the majors. Fortunately, Buxton's increased swings have come with increased contact both in and out of the zone. And when he hit the ball, he hit it hard as 47.9% Hard% tells us.

The other thing that stands out in his profile more so than usual is the walk rate, or lack thereof. Over 135 plate appearances in 2020, he walked a grand total of two times. That would equate to 1.5% for those counting at home. On one hand, it's frightening to consider entrusting your fantasy fortunes to someone who is hacking away at every pitch like a ballplayer in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. On the other hand, a five-tool prospect who's figured out how to hit the ball as hard as anyone and runs faster than everyone in the game that happens to be on a loaded lineup is hard to pass up on draft day.



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Running Back Rankings & Start/Sit Advice - Week 5

Pierre Camus (@Roto_Chef) breaks down his weekly running back rankings to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 5 of the 2020 NFL season. Who should you start or sit among those in RB3/4 or Flex consideration?

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Week 5 RB Start/Sit

Pierre looks at running back matchups to help fantasy football GMs decide who to put into lineups this week.

Players discussed in this episode:

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Wide Receiver Rankings & Start/Sit Advice - Week 5

Pierre Camus (@Roto_Chef) breaks down his weekly wide receiver rankings to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 5 of the 2020 NFL season. Who should you start or sit among those in WR3/4 or Flex consideration?

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Week 5 WR Start/Sit

Pierre looks at wide receiver matchups to help fantasy football GMs decide who to put into lineups this week.

Players discussed in this episode:

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Fantasy Football Statistics

Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to enjoy NFL football without referring to or even understanding statistics. Just ask the 76% of Americans who watch the Super Bowl each year without having watched a single NFL game the entire season prior to that day. Nearly 35% of those viewers can't name a single player on either team.

I made up those percentages, by the way. They sound believable, though. For all I know, they could even be true. That's not the point, however. Statistics can be used, misused, or downright fabricated for a variety of purposes which we won't touch upon in this space.

A one-game sample in which the running game doesn't work, the quarterback has accuracy issues, or a key injury to a wideout affects the play-calling can skew things dramatically. But what if, a quarter of the way into the season, things are still skewed? Not all advanced metrics are meaningful and some can be downright deceptive. My aim here is to point out those potential outliers that could steer you wrong when making key lineup decisions.

 

Now We Can't Even Trust Numbers???

Those of us who not only watch the NFL religiously but play fantasy football in highly competitive leagues will look at the statistical component of the game as essential. Some even find watching the games themselves largely useless.


Addison, a former RotoBaller and very smart man, would also go on to state, "But statistics do tell the truth if you can accurately interpret the data. I think that’s one thing a lot of people hate about analytics is that I can frame three different stories from one number."

We know this to be true, yet it continues to happen because personal biases, whether intentional or subconscious, will always exist. Let's remove those biases regarding "good" or "bad" teams, and dive deeper below the surface for some real statistical analysis.

 

Defense vs Position Stats

One of the starting points (emphasis on starting, not end-all-be-all) for my weekly positional rankings is to analyze Defensive Ranking versus Position. This information is widely available and can show specifically where a defensive unit is vulnerable or impenetrable.

It goes without saying that Seattle is bleeding points to quarterbacks and wide receivers each week. You may not realize they've allowed 1,345 yards to WRs in four games which is 500 yards more than the next closest team (Cleveland). That means just the wide receivers on an opposing offense are averaging 336 yards per game. The worst defense in this regard for 2019 was Tampa Bay, which allowed 198.5 yards per game to WRs. So if you were streaming receivers against Tampa last year, should you be falling over yourself to grab every receiver who plays Seattle this year, including this week? More than likely, you should realize that Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson are the only Vikings WRs with more than four catches this year. Sorry, but those Bisi Johnson and Chad Beebe shares in your DFS tourney will be wasted flex spots.

Conversely, don't assume that any defense outside of the most elite can't give up big games to quality players.

Here's a fun example: After Week 1, Jerick McKinnon was involved in the offense, scored a touchdown, and was one of the hottest waiver wire pickups I recommended. I also had the audacity to suggest he would be a smart flex play in a plus matchup against the Jets in Week 2 since, well, it's the Jets. Believe it or not, that didn't go over so well with some users on Reddit.

I received a direct line of inquiry based on this suggestion, the first comment of which read, "The narrative that the Jets are a good RB matchup is just false and undermines the analysis in this article." That's right, everything in the whole article was trash because of the failure to recognize how dominant the Jets run defense was! Better yet was the notion that nobody can run on the Jets because "thats literally the only thing that jets are good at... lol."

It's true that in Week 1 the Jets limited Buffalo to 98 total rushing yards and 57 of those came from Josh Allen scrambles. The running backs, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, combined for 41 yards on 18 carries. The Jets, for a brief shining moment, had a top-10 defense vs the RB and I failed to recognize it. To be fair, they actually ranked eighth in limited fantasy points to RBs in 2019, so it seemed logical. This is where the statistics couldn't be counted on. Jamal Adams isn't there anymore, C.J. Mosley and Patrick Onwuasor are on IR, and Adam Gase is, for whatever reason, still the coach. It wasn't going to last.

Aside from the sweet redemption of seeing the Jet torch the Jets for 77 yards and a touchdown in that game, it proved the larger point that you can't always trust the stats alone. Here are some early rankings for defenses that I don't quite trust yet.

 

Washington vs RBs

The Football Team from the nation's capital isn't in a great spot, sitting at 1-3 and ready to try out Kyle Allen as the starting QB. The offense, particularly the passing game, has been the main issue but it's not as if the defense has been much better. Washington has given up at least 30 points in three straight games since their opening-week upset over Philly.

However, a glance at the ranks for Defense vs. Position reveals that Washington is allowing the 11th-fewest PPG to RB, just behind Tampa Bay and impressive units like Buffalo, Baltimore, and New England. This is where things get tricky.

image taken from RotoWire.com

In Week 1, Miles Sanders didn't play so they only had to contend with Boston Scott and Corey Clement. Holding Kenyan Drake to 86 rushing yards in Week 2 looks far less impressive now considering that is his season-high. The Browns ran all over the place in Week 3 and then Lamar Jackson had his way with the Washington Football Team Defense last week. So, while they only allowed 88 yards to RBs, they allowed 144 total rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground. For a team constantly facing negative gamescript, it would seem that starting running backs against this unit is a no-brainer going forward. Maybe this is the week Cam Akers arrives...

 

Dolphins vs QBs

Unpopular opinion - the Miami defense isn't terrible. I'm not saying it's good, just not one of the worst units in the league as many think. Statistically, this opinion is hard to justify as they have allowed 27.1 fantasy PPG to quarterbacks, the fourth-highest average, 24.6 fantasy PPG to running backs, which is eighth-most, and 27.7 fantasy PPG to wide receivers, good (bad) for sixth-most. This isn't a case to excuse their defense completely but we should think twice before lumping them in with the worst of the worst.

Against quarterbacks specifically, the reason Miami has done poorly is that they've faced some of the best talent so far - Cam Newton's renaissance game in the opener, the start of Josh Allen's breakout in Week 2, and then watching Russell Wilson cook in Week 4. They were torched twice but limited Gardner Minshew to his worst game with 275 yards, zero TD and one INT. Newton had a great fantasy day but did all his damage on the ground. He only threw for 155 and no TD.

image taken from RotoWire.com

The biggest factor has been the absence of Byron Jones at cornerback, who was a key free-agent acquisition. He missed the last two games with a groin issue but should be back in Week 5. Xavien Howard remains a top-20 CB with Pro Bowl upside, as we saw in 2018. This unit will be put to the test on days where Ryan Fitzpatrick has turnover issues but they aren't an automatic defense to exploit for mediocre offenses like the Broncos and Chargers in Week 6 and 7. By the time the Jets arrive in Week 10 and 12 with the bye in between, you may even consider streaming this DST.

 

PPR Allowed Above Average

This is a great chance to introduce the weekly #DFBeersReport by Mike Beers (@beerswater). Now that we have a four-game sample, at least from most teams, there is a starting point to compare how teams are performing defensively relative to the offensive norms at each position.

The title is mostly self-explanatory but here's the gist of it:


Now, let's look into the data to see what useful information we can cull for Week 5 and beyond.

 

Atlanta vs WRs

By this point, it's obvious you want to start every receiver possible against Seattle. But what about Atlanta's porous and injury-riddled secondary? In trying to keep away from the debate about how Dan Quinn still inexplicably has a job, let's focus on the data.

This has a Groundhog Day kind of feel to it, as the Falcons always seem to have serious injuries in the secondary and give up a lot through the air. They allowed the sixth-most passing yards in 2018, 11th-most in 2019, and second-most so far this year at 341.5 yards per game.

We see them at the top of the list for QB and TE, so stream accordingly this year if that's how you roll at those positions. But how can they be firmly in the red at -13.3 for WR?? This is definitely misleading, seeing as how the Falcons have allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers than all but nine teams.

The key is the opponent's average combined with some unique circumstances. Atlanta has allowed five 90+ yard games to WRs already: DK Metcalf (4-95-1), Tyler Lockett (8-92-0), Amari Cooper (6-100-0), CeeDee Lamb (6-106-0), Allen Robinson II (10-123-1). Those are all fantasy studs who have put up better performances in other weeks, so compared to their averages it actually makes Atlanta's defense look less horrific.

If Davante Adams or Allen Lazard had played in Week 4, we would be staring at six or seven such games and probably four 100+ yard WR games in four weeks. Instead, Jamaal Williams collected 95 receiving yards as did a second-string TE.

It also just so happens that Atlanta has been so terrible against tight ends that it makes the wide receivers slightly less impactful in comparison. Both Dalton Schultz and Robert Tonyan performed like All-Pros when facing the Falcons. Jimmy Graham went for 60 yards and two touchdowns in Atlanta and that came with both Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles at QB in the same game.

Both primary receivers should be ranked highly in a week where Atlanta is the opponent. Don't forget to play whoever is at tight end too.

 

Buffalo vs WRs

Small sample size alert: this stat is likely skewed by one specific game against a division rival. Buffalo now fancies itself an offensive juggernaut but we know the defense is the heart and soul of a Sean McDermott team and the Bills still have one of the best units in the AFC. Specifically, Tre'Davious White is one of the best in the biz and third-year man Levi Wallace grades out as a top-20 CB. Yet, they are 15th in overall team defense and allowing the eighth-most passing yards after a quarter of the season. What gives?

Part of this can be attributed to the high-octane offense that has made it necessary for opponents to pass more often to play catch up. Defensively, the Bills face the sixth-highest pace of play at 25.46 seconds between snaps. That puts pressure on the defense and forces them to face more situations where an opponent will eat up yardage. Whether that remains the case depends on how much you believe in Josh Allen's early-season performance.

The most important reason is the schedule, however. During their 4-0 start, Buffalo has had the pleasure of facing the Jets, Dolphins, Rams, and Raiders. The Rams are legitimately good, as are their receivers. The Dolphins are legitimately not, yet the combo of DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Isaiah Ford, and Jakeem Grant combined for 157 receiving yards in Week 2. That's not overwhelming but it's more than that WR corps achieved in Week 1 (126) or Week 3 (109). They then faced Seattle in Week 4, so you know how that turned out...

Similarly, the 133 yards gained by Raiders receivers against the Bills isn't much but it's pretty good for that bunch considering they don't have a single WR who's reached 200 total yards and only two who've reached the 100-yard mark after four games (Hunter Renfrow and Nelson Agholor).

This Buffalo secondary is good, their linebackers are back healthy, and the game flow should slow down enough eventually against tougher opponents coming up on the schedule. You aren't playing Tennessee receivers this week for other reasons but don't feel too confident streaming the likes of Sammy Watkins, N'Keal Harry or whoever the Jets trot out there in the coming weeks.



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Early 2021 Mock Draft ADP Risers & Fallers: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock.

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

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Never Too Early!

Pierre and Nick review early ADP results based on the RotoBaller Way Too Early Expert Mock.

Players discussed:



Thanks for listening to today's episode! Be sure to tune in throughout the week, and to also follow RotoBaller on Twitter, YouTube and iTunes for the latest fantasy news and analysis.

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Week 5 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

The bye weeks officially begin, although a couple of teams have already taken theirs prematurely due to COVID. Hopefully, no other games are delayed but we know to always be prepared for unexpected changes to the schedule.

The waiver wire will be more important in 2020 than any previous season, especially after waivers clear in most leagues. Use the players suggested here for your early-week claims but keep the rest in mind for later in the week if necessary and check our NFL news feed for the latest injury updates.

As always, the options listed at each position below are listed in order of priority to help you plan your claims accordingly. Players listed will be approximately 40% rostered or lower in Yahoo leagues. For a deeper look at each position, check out our separate weekly waiver wire columns at QB, RB, WR, and TE.

 

Quarterbacks - Waiver Wire Options

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers - 16% rostered

What a start to a career Herbert is having. Despite taking the L to Tom Brady (no shame there), Herbert fell 10 yards shy of throwing for 300 or more in each of his first three starts. Instead, he settled for 290 yards along with three touchdowns. This came without Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler, who was carted off the field in the first half. If Ekeler is out for an extended period of time, the rookie QB may have to shoulder even more of the load. Herbert should be added in all 12+ team leagues and can be streamed for those needing to replace Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, or Matthew Stafford in Week 5.

Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers - 19% rostered

This Panthers offense is doing just fine without Christian McCaffrey, as it turns out. They've won consecutive games, scoring 21 and 31 points respectively. Bridgewater isn't putting up huge numbers on a weekly basis but he is coming off his best fantasy day as a Panther. He threw for 276 yards with two TD and one INT, also running for 32 yards and a touchdown. The reason to add Teddy B this week isn't so much his productivity in Week 4 but his matchup in Week 5 against the Falcons. Until further notice, stream any QB playing in Atlanta. The Falcons are allowing a league-worst 13 passing touchdowns and 37.5 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts - 21% rostered

Week 4 was a terrible matchup against the Bears and proved to be unfavorable for Rivers' statline; he finished with 190 passing yards and one TD. In Week 5, Rivers gets to face the Cleveland Browns, who rank as the third-worst pass defense in the league, allowing 331 passing yards and three TD per game. It's not a guarantee Rivers can reach those totals but it should be a safe floor as far as streaming options go.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins - 36% rostered

The Seahawks' porous defense early this season along with a projected game script that should have favored the passing game didn't result in the fantasy game many predicted. The Dolphins kept the game close until the very end and the Hawks defended the pass well. In the previous two games, Fitzpatrick went for two TD with zero INT but it was flipped this game, as Seattle picked him off twice and he failed to reach the end zone, at least through the air. A rushing touchdown saved his fantasy day but it was far from a top-10 QB day. A road game with the Niners keeps him outside streaming range so only add him in two-QB or Superflex leagues.

Brett Rypien, Denver Broncos - 2% rostered

This will not be a glowing endorsement of the undrafted rookie just because he led his team to victory Thursday night. It was against the freaking Jets. It also doesn't matter that he's the nephew of former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien. He was a solid starter for five seasons but finished with a 115-88 TD-INT rate so it's not like we're talking about the Son of Jorel. Rypien was efficient early but finished with three interceptions. Again, this came against the Jets who had one INT coming into this game which came off Nick Mullens. Rypien also won't be the starter too long as Drew Lock will return in a couple of weeks. Rypien can be added in Superflex or two-QB leagues simply because he is a starting QB for the moment but don't throw him into your lineup against the Patriots for any reason.

Others to consider: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (29% rostered)

 

Running Backs - Waiver Wire Options

D'Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns - 1% rostered

Johnson should be the most-added running back this week now that it appears Nick Chubb will miss six weeks due to an MCL injury. Kareem Hunt instantly becomes a top-10 fantasy RB, if not higher. Johnson is the biggest beneficiary, though. He goes from complete non-factor to must-add in a Browns offense that has been very effective running the ball. Proof lies in the fact Johnson collected 95 yards on 13 carries in relief of Chubb in Week 4. The matchup with Indianapolis and their top-ranked defense is terrible timing for those looking for an instant replacement for Chubb or Ekeler but this could be a long-term add worth investing in.

Damien Harris, New England Patriots - 26% rostered

Seeing as how this is a Pats RB and we've been down this road before, let's try to temper our excitement. Harris looked great in the preseason and then flashed on Monday night in his first game off the IR list. Harris put up a c-note by going for 100 rushing yards on just 17 carries in Kansas City. This might be more impressive considering Cam Newton was out, the team was shuffling between backup QBs who couldn't move the ball and they were losing throughout the game. Positive game script or a weak opponent have nothing to do with his performance. The only downside is that this is technically a five-man backfield with Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, and J.J. Taylor already in the mix and showing various forms of effectiveness at some point. Harris is a must-add where available but he can't be trusted as a weekly RB2 just yet.

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals - 34% rostered

Normally, Edmonds would be reserved for the "insurance policy" section along with Mattison, Williams, and others without standalone value. This week, however, non-Drake owners in deep PPR leagues might want to take a look. Kenyan Drake had his worst performance in what should have been a smash spot versus Carolina. The Panthers' defense still ranks fourth-worst against running backs but Drake managed just 35 yards on 13 carries and wasn't targeted at all. He's averaging 3.8 yards per carry and has a total of five receptions for 20 yards total in four games. Aside from his bust-worthy performance, Drake left in the fourth quarter of Week 4 with a chest injury. It has been reported that he simply had the wind knocked out of him, but it could still create an excuse for increased playing time for Edmonds, who has been more efficient with his sparse touches. He caught five of six targets for 24 yards and a TD against Carolina and should be involved enough in the passing game to retain a high floor.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers - 6% rostered

Austin Ekeler's Grade 2 hamstring injury will keep him shelved for several weeks, so Jackson gets his shot to contribute. He's done nothing when on the field for limited time, carrying eight times for 13 yards. This doesn't jive with his career 5.1 yards per carry average, so it could be that a preseason quad injury is still hampering him. He's not a high-end pickup since Joshua Kelley has looked better and will be the lead back but desperate times call for desperate waiver wire additions.

Anthony McFarland Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers - 2% rostered

Don't forget about the Steelers' rookie who may take over the RB2 role ahead of Benny Snell Jr. Pittsburgh had their bye week earlier than expected due to COVID running rampant on their original Week 4 opponent Tennessee. They are scheduled to face the Eagles in Week 5. McFarland is an insurance policy for James Conner and deep-league stash only.

Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 6% rostered

A small segment of the fantasy population cheered loudly when Vaughn took the field and then scored his first NFL touchdown. The rest of us will quickly point out it took three injuries to Bucs running backs for him to take an offensive snap and he only saw five touches (three carries for four yards, two catches for 22 yards). He didn't look special and won't be a factor unless Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy both miss the next game. His mention here does not equal an endorsement but

Others to consider: Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings (37% rostered); Brian Hill, Atlanta Falcons (27% rostered); Duke Johnson, Houston Texans (18% rostered); Frank Gore, New York Jets (17% rostered); Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (18% rostered)

 

Wide Receivers - Waiver Wire Options

Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 16% rostered

The Scooter is back. After a letdown in Week 2, Miller has gone for 83 yards in consecutive games and scored his first touchdown in Week 4. Chris Godwin won't play in Week 5 and O.J. Howard is gone for the season with an Achilles injury. Miller seems assured of a high target share, especially if Mike Evans' ankle flares up during the game.

Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders - 42% rostered

With Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards out, Renfrow again received the majority of the WR targets from Derek Carr. He caught five passes for 57 yards against Buffalo a week after catching six passes for 84 yards against New England. There's a good chance the Raiders will have to pass frequently in Kansas City next week, so Renfrow could have WR3 appeal in full PPR leagues.

Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals - 33% rostered

The signing of DeAndre Hopkins has severely eaten into Kirk's third-year breakout potential. He's been a forgotten man and then had a groin injury to deal with. His return in Week 4 resulted in a short touchdown but not much else, as he wound up with 19 yards. The remedy might be a matchup with the Jets, who just made Tim Patrick look like a star. Kirk isn't a surefire WR3 due to his volatile usage but the boom potential is certainly there.

Olamide Zaccheaus, Atlanta Falcons - 2% rostered

Julio Jones was supposed to be healthy enough to be a near full-go in Week 4. He wasn't. Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage should have benefited when he left the game early. They didn't. Instead, undrafted Olamide Zaccheaus made his presence felt in Atlanta's offense for a second straight week. This time, he caught eight passes for 86 yards, both team highs. The fact that Ridley came away with donuts on his statline shows that he might not be healthy either after being listed as questionable with a hamstring issue of his own. Zaccheaus belongs on the streaming radar even if Ridley and Jones suit up again, as was the case last week.

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos - 1% rostered

If you watched Thursday night's stinkfest between the Broncos and Jets, you saw Tim Patrick do his best Courtland Sutton impression by catching six passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. Rookie KJ Hamler stood to be the breakout receiver in his stead but he left the game with a hamstring injury and may not play in the coming week. That would make Patrick a very tempting pickup except that he'll be facing the Patriots secondary in Week 5 instead of the Jets.

Jeff Smith, New York Jets - 0% rostered

No, that wasn't Devin Smith catching passes from Sam Darnold. It was 2019 undrafted free agent Jeff Smith out of Boston College. The barrage of injuries to the receiving corps led to an opportunity that Smith firmly seized in Week 4. He was targeted nine times and caught seven of those for 81 yards, working behind only Jamison Crowder. If that becomes a trend going forward, Smith could have sneaky value. His upside is certainly greater than Chris Hogan and it doesn't appear as if Breshad Perriman is returning soon. Smith was off the radar after missing the first three weeks with his own injury issue (shoulder) but his immediate impact and impressive measurables might be worth considering.

image from PlayerProfiler.com

Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills - 2% rostered

The Bills' passing offense is officially good enough to support four wide receivers. That is not a misprint. Even with John Brown playing the whole game in his return from a calf injury, Davis caught an early touchdown and has looked sharp despite his rookie status. He serves more as an insurance policy than a streamer right now.

David Moore, Seattle Seahawks - 1% rostered

Anybody catching passes from Russell Wilson is bound to blow up at some point. Week 4 marks the second time Moore has reached the end zone this season and the third time he's caught exactly three passes. It's not much of a ceiling but the occasional game with 10+ fantasy points can serve as streaming material during bye weeks. The Seahawks play a burnable Vikings Defense next.

Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints - 27% rostered

Smith seems to do his best work when nobody expects it and then disappears when we think he's finally developing into a reliable receiver. The two-TD outburst in Detroit was nice but he will be hard to trust in Week 5 when facing the Chargers. The Saints have their bye the following week and Michael Thomas should return for the next contest, so Smith's appeal comes as a short-term streamer for desperate teams only.

Isaiah Ford, Miami Dolphins - 1% rostered

Preston Williams just hasn't come along as hoped, seeing no more than two receptions in a game this year. Ford was second on the team in targets (10) in Week 4, although he only came down with four of those for 48 yards. Ford could emerge as the WR2 before long. On a team that will have its share of days playing from behind, following the targets could result in productive Sundays on occasion.

Others to consider: Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs (36% rostered); Golden Tate, New York Giants (35% rostered); Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals (33% rostered); Laviska Shenault Jr. (29% rostered); Greg Ward, Philadelphia Eagles (19% rostered); Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills (25% rostered); Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears (1% rostered)

 

Tight Ends - Waiver Wire Options

Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers - 25% rostered

The loss of Allen Lazard and consecutive games missed by Davante Adams provided a window of opportunity for another Packers receiver to emerge. It wasn't a wide receiver or second-year tight end Jace Sternberger who took advantage, but third-year UDFA out of Indiana State (yes, they have a football program) Robert Tonyan who smashed the window into pieces and climbed through the entryway. He scored three times on MNF along with six receptions for 98 yards. He now has five TD in the past three games with at least one score in each. Needless to say, this would be your top TE target on waivers except that Green Bay has a bye in Week 5 so he won't help the streaming crowd. If you can stash him as your backup, do so anyway.

Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts - 33% rostered

MAC saw just two targets in Week 4, mainly due to the return of Trey Burton along with Jack Doyle at TE. This Indy offense is also making an effort to be more diverse, which means that it might be hard to trust any single option in the passing game. Case in point, 10 different players were targeted in the win over Chicago, with nine catching at least one pass and nobody catching more than three passes. MAC may not be a breakout performer in 2020 but he has scored an early touchdown in back-to-back games and appears to have Rivers' attention in the red zone. The Browns allow the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends, so Alie-Cox is a strong streaming option this week.

Drew Sample, Cincinnati Bengals - 3% rostered

Sample nearly came down with a touchdown that instead resulted in an interception as Myles Jack took a jump ball out of his hands. It was a great defensive play more so than a blunder by Sample and it proves that he still has fantasy value with the way he's being used. Sample was viewed as a blocking TE coming out of college but he now has 15 targets over the past three games since C.J. Uzomah tore his Achilles. He also has no competition at his position on a team that is throwing the ball 44 times per game. There will be ups and downs but Sample's floor remains relatively high at a volatile position.

Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 0% rostered

Brate found the end zone for his only catch of the day in Week 4. The three-yard reception also happened to be his first-ever from Tom Brady. This would be meaningless if not for an injury that could keep O.J. Howard out for the rest of 2020 in what appears to be a torn Achilles. Brate will be touchdown-dependent as usual but the same can be said for most tight ends on the waiver wire.

Donald Parham Jr., Los Angeles Chargers - 0% rostered

Since I've already touted D'Ernest Johnson, let's continue the XFL ex-pat theme with one more. Parham caught his first and only NFL pass for a touchdown in Carolina, which has undoubtedly led to a lot of Google searches by intrigued fantasy managers. He's got a longer road to go toward regular fantasy relevance but Justin Herbert is the real deal and has shown he doesn't care what your name is - he'll throw it to you if you're open. With Mike Williams injured, why not utilize the 6'8" tight end with a catch radius in the 92nd percentile and burst score in the 94th percentile?

Others to consider: Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team (26% rostered); Greg Olsen, Seattle Seahawks (22% rostered); Darren Fells, Houston Texans (1% rostered)

 

Team Defense - Waiver Wire Options

Arizona Cardinals Defense - 50% rostered

Streaming against the Jets didn't pay off big in Week 4 and may not again in Week 5. The Cards have a whopping three forced turnovers in four games. If there is one thing this defense does well it's sacking the quarterback. They didn't register a QB takedown in Week 4 but Sam Darnold has been sacked 12 times, an average of three per game, and barely has thrown more TD than INT in his career (39-32). Arizona is a relatively safe DST in leagues where turnovers aren't heavily weighted.

Dallas Cowboys Defense - 25% rostered

This defense is just bleeding points to the opposition, allowing 36 per game through the first quarter of the season. This comes on the heels of a 49-38 loss to Cleveland. There is a small handful of opponents that justify streaming the Dallas defense and the New York Giants happen to be one. Through four games, the Giants are scoring 11.75 points per game. Their season total of 47 is less than the Browns put up this week alone. Daniel Jones has a 2-5 TD-INT ratio and looks lost, so even this version of the Cowboy defense can be utilized if necessary.



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Be sure to also check out all of our other daily fantasy football articles and analysis to help you set those winning lineups, including this new RotoBaller YouTube video:

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2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis Radio RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles Video

Wide Receiver Rankings & Start/Sit Advice - Week 4

Pierre Camus (@Roto_Chef) breaks down his weekly wide receiver rankings to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 4 of the 2020 NFL season. Who should you start or sit among those in WR3/4 or Flex consideration?

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Week 4 WR Start/Sit

Pierre looks at wide receiver matchups to help fantasy football GMs decide who to put into lineups this week.

Players discussed in this episode:

DeAndre Hopkins
Julio Jones
Odell Beckham Jr.
Julian Edelman
DeVante Parker
Terry McLaurin
Justin Jefferson
TY Hilton
Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Hunter Renfrow
Randall Cobb

Thanks for listening to today's episode! Be sure to tune in throughout the week, and to also follow RotoBaller on Twitter, YouTube and iTunes for the latest fantasy news and analysis. We are your secret weapon...

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Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis Radio RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles Video

Running Back Rankings & Start/Sit Advice - Week 4

Pierre Camus (@Roto_Chef) breaks down his weekly running back rankings to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 4 of the 2020 NFL season. Who should you start or sit among those in RB3/4 or Flex consideration?

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Week 4 RB Start/Sit

Pierre looks at running back matchups to help fantasy football GMs decide who to put into lineups this week.

Players discussed in this episode:

Kenyan Drake
James Robinson
Joe Mixon
Chris Carson
Josh Jacobs
Darrell Henderson
Mike Davis
Devin Singletary
Ronald Jones
Myles Gaskin
James White
Carlos Hyde

Thanks for listening to today's episode! Be sure to tune in throughout the week, and to also follow RotoBaller on Twitter, YouTube and iTunes for the latest fantasy news and analysis. We are your secret weapon...

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2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice 2020 Fantasy Baseball Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Baseball Projections & ADP Analysis 2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers Editor Note MLB Analysis Radio RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles Video

2020 Expectations vs Reality (Hits and Misses): WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut share the players they were the most right and wrong about in 2020 by comparing their preseason rankings to actual performance.

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET, and every weekend morning from 6-8 am ET as well. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Don't Forget the Asterisks*

Pierre and Nick humblebrag and eat crow on fantasy baseball finishes that didn't line up with expectations for 2020.

Players and topics discussed:

Thanks for listening to today's episode! Be sure to tune in throughout the week, and to also follow RotoBaller on Twitter, YouTube and iTunes for the latest fantasy news and analysis.

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Week 4 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

This is the week the rookie receivers emerged in 2020. Justin Jefferson exploded for 7-175-1 and finally gives the Vikings a viable option behind Adam Thielen. Brandon Aiyuk looks like he could be the answer to San Francisco's WR injury woes by living up to his first-round status. Gabriel Davis took advantage of John Brown's injury to make the Bills' passing offense somehow more dynamic. Tee Higgins scored twice and did what A.J. Green hasn't been able to do - catch his targets.

The wide receiver list runs deep this week. The running back list, not so much. Naturally, the options available in your particular league(s) may vary.

As usual, the options listed at each position below are listed in order of priority to help you plan your claims accordingly. Players listed will be under approximately 40% rostered across Yahoo leagues. For a deeper look at each position, check out our separate weekly waiver wire columns at QB, RB, WR, and TE.

 

Quarterbacks - Waiver Wire Options

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers - 21% rostered

Herbert became the third rookie QB to throw for 300 or more yards in his first two NFL starts. He finished with 330 yards, one TD, and one INT. Although he couldn't lead the Bolts to a comeback victory, he showed some moxie in his second NFL start, converting third downs in the fourth quarter and avoiding mistakes. A matchup at Tampa Bay in Week 4 isn't as favorable on paper but Herbert has shown he could be a solid QB2 in Superflex formats.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins - 7% rostered

FitzMagic won the battle of the facial hair and the game over Gardner Minshew on Thursday night. His final stats weren't great from a fantasy standpoint but that was due to game script. After jumping up big in the first half, the Dolphins barely passed in the second half. After a terrible Week 1 in New England, Fitzpatrick has thrown two TD with no INT in each of the last two games. There's a good chance he'll have to air it out much more against Seattle in Week 4, so there could be enough volume and/or garbage time stats to make him streamable.

Nick Foles, Chicago Bears - 3% rostered

We've seen this act before. Foles takes over as the starting QB for a desperate team and leads a miraculous comeback win. We've also seen the Falcons blow huge second-half leads over and over, which makes it slightly less impressive. Still, Foles threw three touchdowns in just under one half of football and is the starter in Chicago, at least for now. The problem is the schedule - he faces the Colts' #1 pass defense in Week 4 followed by the Bucs' sixth-ranked defense vs the QB. He can be considered in two-QB leagues but won't crack the top-16 in my weekly rankings.

Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers - 17% rostered

The Panthers without CMC are going to have to rely on Bridgewater's arm and try to slow the game down. They did just that, finding a way to win despite running 51 offensive plays and scoring one touchdown. Bridgewater was efficient (22/28 passes completed) and didn't turn it over, but he was far less effective from a fantasy perspective than a real-life one. A road matchup with the Chargers wasn't the best spot but a home tilt with Arizona is bound to be easier and could force them to air it out more.

Others to considerPhilip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts (24% rostered); Nick Mullens, San Francisco 49ers (1% rostered)

 

Running Backs - Waiver Wire Options

Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins - 47% rostered

Gaskin is closer to 50% than 40%, which is the usual cut-off for being mentioned in this article. Every league is different, however, and there are so few quality RB options that he should be considered the top target right now. Gaskin seems to be asserting himself as the lead back in Miami. He saw 22 rush attempts whereas Jordan Howard and Matt Breida saw three apiece. Last year's leading Dolphins rusher, Ryan Fitzpatrick also carried the ball seven times FWIW. This is an RBBC you'd like to avoid if possible but those desperate at RB should prefer Gaskin over any other option under 50% rostered.

Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers - 22% rostered

We knew we'd see a decent share of Wilson in the run game based on the fact Jerick McKinnon is not a workhorse and there is basically nobody behind him on the depth chart other than UDFA JaMycal Hasty. It was a nice surprise for those who added Wilson last week to see him grab three receptions for 54 yards and a score. Don't bother looking at the rushing stats (12 carries, 15 yards). He averages less than four yards per carry for his brief career and is never going to be more than a short-yardage grinder. That said, he will score his share of touchdowns given his size advantage over McKinnon which keeps him fantasy-relevant.

Carlos Hyde, Seattle Seahawks - 18% rostered

There is nothing exciting about adding Hyde onto a fantasy roster but Chris Carson left the game with Dallas early and may be forced to miss time. If so, Hyde is the lead back and a potential streamer in a plus matchup with Miami on tap.

Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots - 10% rostered

If you started Burkhead in your DraftKings tournament for Week 3, congrats. This is the occasional outburst that happens from Burkhead but ultimately means little for his usage going forward. Sony Michel had his best game in a while rushing for 111 yards on nine attempts but it doesn't make him a fantasy RB2 all of a sudden. If nothing else, Burkhead deserves attention for that first touchdown where he was temporarily possessed by Barry Sanders circa '94. We can't ignore the seven receptions but that will go away once James White returns next week.

Anthony McFarland Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers - 1% rostered

It was nice to see McFarland handle the ball during the regular season and he didn't disappoint, averaging seven yards per carry on six attempts (do the math). By contrast, Benny Snell Jr. turned seven carries into 11 yards. It doesn't mean McFarland is suddenly the RB2 in Pittsburgh but he could have value in the future were James Conner to get dinged up again.

Darrynton Evans, Tennessee Titans - 3% rostered

This is an excuse to mention that one of my deep preseason sleepers finally took the field after nursing a bum hammy. Evans took just three carries but should work his way into more usage as he gains the staff's trust and gets more practice time in. Those who roster Henry should consider him an insurance policy worth considering in deep-enough leagues.

Others to consider: Chris Thompson, Jacksonville Jaguars (22% rostered); Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers (11% rostered); Frank Gore, New York Jets (17% rostered); Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (4% rostered)

 

Wide Receivers - Waiver Wire Options

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings - 29% rostered

It took a couple of weeks but the rookie finally has become the WR2 that Minnesota desperately needed. Besides the 71-yard touchdown pass that made his fantasy day, Jefferson led the Vikes with nine targets, seven receptions, and 175 yards. This offense won't suddenly be pass-first because it's obvious that keeping the ball in Dalvin Cook's hands is far better than Kirk Cousins. It does appear that Jefferson can be trusted as a solid WR4/flex at least going forward with upside for far more, as we've finally seen.

Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins - 30% rostered

It's been a predictably slow start for Williams and the Fins. They faced the Patriots Defense in Week 1 followed by the Bills Defense in Week 2 before finally getting an easy win over Jacksonville. Williams has a total of five receptions and 74 yards over those three games but he did find the end zone last week. Don't forget, he's recovering from ACL surgery last year so he should keep working into shape as the season progresses. His 57% snap share last week was a result of the big lead in the second half that allowed the team to rest him. He should continue to be on the field 80% of the time or more as he was the first two seasons and is the clear WR2 for a team that may need to pass a ton in Week 4 vs Seattle.

Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers - 27% rostered

Somebody has to step up in San Fran and it looks like their first-round pick might be paying off finally. Aiyuk was held back by an injury in Week 1 and was lightly involved in Week 2. In Week 3, he caught five passes and carried the ball three times, one of which went for his first NFL touchdown on an end-around for 19 yards. Aiyuk wasn't just used more than last week, he was the most-targeted receiver and led the team with 70 receiving yards. It's rumored that Deebo Samuel could return in Week 5, which hurts his stock, so don't invest too deeply in redraft.

Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills - 9% rostered

You want a piece of this Buffalo passing offense in 2020 apparently. Josh Allen's numbers will come down closer to the Earth's surface eventually but for now, Beasley is worth a look each week. Beasley has been a steady contributor with at least six targets in each of the team's first three games. His receptions and yardage have gone up each week, culminating in a 100-yard effort in Week 3. The Raiders have been tough on opposing receivers so far and just limited Julian Edelman to two catches for 23 yards, so Beasley isn't so much a streamer for this week as a long-term add.

Braxton Berrios, New York Jets -1% rostered

Functioning as the top target for the Jets doesn't scream "must-add" but opportunity usually translates into fantasy value. Berrios wasn't expected to suit up in this one based on an ankle injury but he did and finished with a team-high 64 yards. He has 10 catches over the past two games and has reached the end zone in each. The fact that they play again this Thursday means the availability of Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman remains very much in question. Berrios is an intriguing streamer for PPR leagues.

Randall Cobb, Houston Texans - 6% rostered

Even with Will Fuller on the field all game, Cobb put in his best game as a Texan with four catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. His yardage has ramped up each week and he looks to be gaining trust as Deshaun Watson's slot receiver. Cobb will have his share of duds but upcoming matchups with Minnesota and Jacksonville look promising.

Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals - 4% rostered

It didn't take long for Higgins to have his coming-out party as a pro. While Tyler Boyd was the clear top receiver for Joe Burrow in Week 3, Higgins was second with nine targets, pulling down five for 40 yards. Not great but two of those came in the end zone and went for his first two NFL touchdowns. The fact that John Ross was inactive for this game as a healthy scratch and Auden Tate is requesting a trade makes it clear Higgins is part of the team's plans right now.

K.J. Hamler, Denver Broncos - 12% rostered

The speedy rookie didn't pay off in Week 3, catching three balls for 30 yards. Tim Patrick found the end zone but Hamler was targeted more and should be a more reliable receiver going forward. A contest with the Jets next week is a great chance to rebound, so don't dismiss him based on this week's letdown.

Greg Ward, Philadelphia Eagles - 0% rostered

By default, Ward is the leading receiver for the Eagles with Alshon Jeffery and Jalen Reagor out. Dallas Goedert also left early in Week 3, leaving Ward to a team-high 11 targets. He came down with eight for 72 yards and a touchdown. This offense is still shaky and the upcoming schedule is brutal (SF, PIT, BAL) so keep Ward in mind in deep leagues of 14 teams or more only.

Andy Isabella, Arizona Cardinals - 1% rostered

No Christian Kirk meant more Andy Isabella in Week 3. Rather than playing the role of deep threat, the 5'9" receiver was used in the red zone. It worked, as Kyler Murray hit him twice for short touchdowns. Isabella won't be used this way every week, nor will he face Detroit's banged-up secondary. This is a dynamic pass offense and Kirk's groin injury could linger, so keep Isabella on the radar for deep leagues.

Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills - 0% rostered

How bad do you want a piece of Buffalo's passing offense? Davis, a fourth-round pick out of UCF, also had a nice game with four receptions for 81 yards in Week 3. This won't be a weekly occurrence but if John Brown's calf injury lingers or Stefon Diggs gets dinged up then Davis has weekly WR3 upside. Monitor Brown's status before making a claim for Davis.

Cedrick Wilson Jr., Dallas Cowboys - 0% rostered

A mention here does not equal an endorsement. It's doubtful the Cowboys even expected Wilson to be involved in the gameplan for Week 3 but after falling behind by two touchdowns in the third quarter, he was worked in the mix as the fourth receiver and left wide open. This won't do much for Wilson's fantasy stock this season but it could mean something for CeeDee Lamb if Wilson cuts into his targets even a little.

Kalif Raymond, Tennessee Titans - 0% rostered

Similar to Wilson, Raymond came out of nowhere to put up a big game (three receptions, 118 yards). Once A.J. Brown comes back, which could be as soon as next week, Raymond won't see much action.

Others to consider: Golden Tate, New York Giants (39% rostered); Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs (30% rostered); Laviska Shenault Jr. (29% rostered); Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers (25% rostered); Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (16% rostered); James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers (11% rostered); Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills (8% rostered)

 

Tight Ends - Waiver Wire Options

Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers - 27% rostered

Ebron has arrived in this offense, which could be a scary thing. He caught a total of four passes the first two weeks but came down with five for 52 yards and a TD against Houston. Most notably, he tied for the team lead in targets and receptions with James Washington. It won't be often that those two lead the way among the Steelers receiving corps but if Diontae Johnson is in the concussion protocol long enough, that could benefit both players again. A matchup with Tennessee next week is very promising as they've allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends after three games.

Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts - 9% rostered

Starting tight end Jack Doyle was back in action but Alie-Cox doesn't care. He caught an early touchdown and then broke out for a 46-yard reception. This could be the TE connection we expected Philip Rivers to develop, just with a player we didn't expect. This could be a third-year breakout combined with a former basketball player turned TE success story. You can't just ignore that...

Jimmy Graham, Chicago Bears - 8% rostered

It's a new day in Chicago as Nick Foles is the quarterback. Of course, Graham's first touchdown against Atlanta came from Mitch Trubisky as did his touchdown in Week 1. The tight end will be targeted in the red zone frequently in Matt Nagy's offense, so Graham looks to have regular streaming value in standard leagues and is a boom-bust proposition in PPR.

Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys - 31% rostered

Last week it was the Schultz show, this week Cedrick Wilson, who I won't be recommending as a waiver wire add. Are the Cowboys just experimenting on offense or trying to use the element of surprise? Schultz still came away with four catches for 48 yards in their comeback attempt over Seattle. While his target share is promising, there is a strong chance Dallas won't need to pass the ball 45+ times against the likes of the Browns or Giants.

Drew Sample, Cincinnati Bengals - 9% rostered

Hope you didn't spend too much on him last week. Sample came down with one reception for one yard in Philadelphia after catching seven the week before. Tyler Boyd feasted all day while Sample was ignored. The good news is that next week's opponent, Jacksonville, has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends so far.

Ross Dwelley, San Francisco 49ers - 1% rostered

Jordan Reed's injury-prone tag will not escape him because he just can't escape injury. Reed nearly came down with a touchdown but couldn't keep both feet inbounds and wound up tweaking his ankle. He departed the game which led third-string TE Ross Dwelley to see action. Many of our readers may remember Dwelley as a midseason streaming option when George Kittle was out from Week 10-11 in 2019, especially when he caught two touchdowns versus Arizona. Even if Kittle doesn't come back next week as expected, Dwelley remains a desperation streamer.

Others to consider: Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team (33% rostered); Chris Herndon, New York Jets (32% rostered); Greg Olsen, Seattle Seahawks (22% rostered)

 

Team Defense - Waiver Wire Options

Seattle Seahawks Defense - 30% rostered

Although the Hawks gave up 31 points to Dallas and have allowed at least 24 points in each game so far, they are getting their share of turnovers. Seattle forced Dak Prescott to throw two picks and have six turnovers in three games. Not overly impressive but at home against Miami this coming weekend, another two turnovers at least should be in the works.

Denver Broncos Defense - 35% rostered

They play the Jets in Week 4. Stream away with confidence.

New York Jets Defense - 6% rostered

They play the Broncos in Week 4. Stream with semi-confidence.



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Evaluating Early Air Yard Data - Week 3

Air yards are becoming a more commonly used statistic for fantasy football purposes. Popularized by Josh Hermsmeyer, who developed metrics like RACR (receiver air conversion ratio) and WOPR (weighted opportunity rating), it is a useful way to dig deeper into receiver performance beyond just targets, receptions, and yards gained.

Statistics like Mike Clay's aDoT (average depth of target) are helpful in explaining how a receiver has primarily been used, whether mostly on shorter routes like most slot receivers or as a field-stretcher at the Z position. In future weeks, we'll dive into those advanced statistics once the sample size is larger.

For now, let's evaluate some of the early leaders in total air yards and team air yard share in order to determine which WR options might be undervalued or ready to regress. Data is taken from Addmorefunds and is current as of September 23.

 

Air Yards Leaders Worth Noting

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

Those looking for solace in the wake of Green's three-catch Thursday night performance could point to the fact he was targeted a whopping 13 times, bringing his total to 22 in two games. Of course, the fact he wasn't able to connect on the majority of those targets can also be a cause for concern. Seeing as how nobody expected Green to jump back up to fantasy WR1 status this year anyway, it should be viewed more as a positive. Plus, there's the fact he looks to be healthy and Joe Burrow is the real deal.

Not only is Green getting targeted a ton, though, but he is also by far the leader in total air yards with 338. The next closest is DeSean Jackson with 282 and only five receivers are within 100 yards of his total! The Bengals are slowly working Tee Higgins into the mix and Tyler Boyd is a capable receiver too but that shouldn't matter. The Bengals appear ready to let Burrow sling it, as evidenced by his 61 attempts in Week 2, so there will be plenty of targets to go around. Buy into Green as a solid WR2 for the time being.

Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers

Has Mike Williams been playing this season? It would be easy to forget since he showed up on the injury report before Week 1 and wasn't expected to play, therefore taking a seat on most fantasy benches. He did come out to catch four passes for 69 yards before laying an egg with two catches for 14 yards in Week 2. His numbers aren't impressive but it is worth noting that he has 211 air yards, which is equal to Calvin Ridley and more than DK Metcalf after two games. Just slightly different results.

Williams' four-reception opener should have been higher, as he was targeted nine times, including several down the field. That's because Tyrod Taylor was behind center slinging it deep. He ranks second in Intended Air Yards per attempt at 11.2 although his Completed Air Yards per attempt is far lower at 4.3 (16th). If Justin Herbert is still the starter this week as it seems and for the remainder of the season, does that hurt Williams? It sure could. It's too early to tell what a Herbert-led offense will fully look like but it's safe to say Williams won't see the same volume of deep passes like he did with Philip Rivers last year or in one game with Taylor.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers

A Week 1 blowout against a Minnesota team that suddenly doesn't know how to play defense led to a 96-yard day on four receptions for MVS. Much of the damage came on a 45-yard touchdown pass but it wasn't all he contributed. Fast forward a week and the Pack again put up 40+ points with Valdes-Scantling catching three of seven targets for 64 yards. One of those went for 41 yards, again accounting for much of his yardage.

At this point, it's obvious what he is in this offense - the deep threat and fly guy who will try to beat DBs down the field while all the attention is given to Davante Adams and/or Aaron Jones. So far, it's working. Although a 53.8% catch rate isn't impressive (neither is a 50% career Comp%), that statistic doesn't necessarily correlate with fantasy production. Several of last year's receiving yard leaders were under a 60% catch rate because their yards per reception average was so high.

This isn't to say that Valdes-Scantling will be a top-20 receiver or is in the same neighborhood as Mike Evans or Kenny Golladay. The point is that a steady share of targets can lead to enough big plays to make him flex-worthy in the right matchups. It's hard to fathom Green Bay's passing offense clicking this well all year long but Aaron Rodgers has an obvious reason to be motivated.

Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals

What's disappointing about Kirk is the 12.86% target share. When you have a guy like DeAndre Hopkins gobbling up all the passes (25 targets in two games), it's easy to see a decline. Larry Fitzgerald is also very much still alive with 12 targets to trump Kirk's 11. This offense isn't spreading the ball around as much as promised but Kirk still isn't benefiting, at least not yet.

The encouraging sign is that Kliff Kingsbury is trying to take advantage of Kirk's speed on downfield routes while Fitz works underneath as usual and Nuk owns the perimeter. Kirk is second among all receivers with a 20.1 aDoT, behind Marvin Hall Jr. This will lead to a boom-or-bust output for Kirk most weeks where he will have to exploit good matchups. San Francisco was not a good matchup in Week 1 and Washington's defense allowed Kyler Murray to beat them with his legs rather than his arm. A tussle with Detroit could be a good spot to flex Kirk if you are willing to take the risk but his air yard total will only help those not in full PPR leagues.

 

Air Yard % Leaders Worth Noting

Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

The fact that Thielen is one of two receivers who has over 50% of his team's air yards so far makes a lot of sense. It's telling that the team didn't replace Stefon Diggs with another receiver outside of rookie Justin Jefferson and has little depth at the position. Bisi Johnson is the only other wide receiver to catch a pass this year for the Vikes. It's been the Thielen show, as he put up a monster 6-110-2 line in the opener before catching three of eight targets in their second contest. Unfortunately, despite the heavy attention he's getting from Kirk Cousins, we could see more games like Week 2 going forward.

If Thielen is going to consistently draw the other team's top corner and defenses don't have to respect the other targets, it will be tough to imagine his continuing to put up big receiving numbers. Plus, Minnesota is going to stay with the running game as often as possible in a trend that began last year. Thielen still has WR2 upside but his output will largely be dependent on game script unlike most alpha receivers. The upcoming contest with Tennessee might be low-scoring but the Vikes then face Houston, Seattle, and Atlanta which are all plus-plus WR matchups. If he is a dud in Week 3, consider throwing out lowball offers for him.

Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

Small sample alert: Edelman's huge Sunday night game in Seattle (eight receptions for 179 yards) accounts for most of his production. Much like Thielen, he is guaranteed a high target share but not necessarily a high weekly volume because of the run-first nature of his offense. It is intriguing to see Edelman used down the field so much in his first tour with a new non-Brady quarterback, though. N'Keal Harry seems to be the short-yardage receiver who is simply catching screen passes and staying near the line of scrimmage.

Edelman ranks ninth in total air yards with 233 after amassing 172 in Week 2 alone. His AY% didn't shoot up very much though, as it was 49% after the opener and now is at 52.24%, good for second among all receivers and just 0.15% behind the leader in Thielen. It would be a pleasant surprise for those who settled for Edelman as a low-end WR2 if he continues this type of usage but there are no guarantees. Still, it's a promising start so Edelman can be started with more confidence than previously though.

Kendrick Bourne, San Francisco 49ers

This one is easy - no Brandon Aiyuk in Week 1, no George Kittle in Week 2, no Deebo Samuel at all so far. The Niners' de facto WR1 has been Bourne because he's practically the only one healthy. No, Dante Pettis still doesn't count.

Although he currently ranks 10th in team air yard share at 37%, that number is sure to drop precipitously even if Samuel doesn't return soon. Last year, Bourne came away with a 12.7% AY%. The fact that Nick Mullens is now at QB and the running game is also a big question mark doesn't bode well for the offense as a whole. He is very streamable in Week 3 based on the matchup with the Jets and the fact that there is still a questionable designation for Kittle.

Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers

Based on last year's 21.75% air yard share and 18% target share, Johnson's current 32.6% AY% and 31.9% TGT% are signs of an expected step forward in his second season. Having Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback was obviously going to help his situation. What was unknown prior to the start of the season is how the targets would be distributed with a healthy JuJu Smith-Schuster on the field, Chase Claypool and Eric Ebron added to the mix, and James Conner back to tote the rock. It's gone surprisingly to Johnson's favor by a wide margin.

Johnson is getting the most targets but he isn't the top fantasy producer among Steelers receivers because he has zero red-zone targets as opposed to two end-zone targets for Smith-Schuster which both resulted in touchdowns. Johnson has one more catch and 32 more yards than Smith-Schuster so far; it appears both can function as fantasy WR2 types harmoniously. They've had an easy start to the season by facing the Giants and Broncos, so we'll see how consistent this passing game can be once things tighten up. Johnson is also battling a toe injury, so keep an eye on that.

Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams

The most surprising name on here is second-round pick Van Jefferson, who looks to be replacing Josh Reynolds as the WR3 in L.A. You'd figure the team didn't spend that high a pick on someone they didn't have plans for and it's not as if Cooper Kupp or Robert Woods are going anywhere. The increased implementation of 12 personnel has been a talking point all offseason but Gerald Everett has been banged up and Jefferson has gotten on the field for 42% of the team's offensive snaps compared to Everett's 38% If Jefferson starts eating into Reynolds' snaps more just as he's already done with targets, a slow increase in production could follow.

The value of the WR3 on this offense was nullified last year by Brandin Cooks' concussion and subsequent ineffectiveness upon return. This year, we're seeing something closer to the Rams of 2018, at least initially. Jefferson is deeper on the fantasy radar for redraft leagues but someone who bears monitoring and should be an instant add should something unfortunate happen to either Kupp or Woods.



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Week 3 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

After an abbreviated preseason with no games and irregular training routines, many expected to see a slew of injuries in the first week of action. Instead, it was Week 2 that inflicted devastating news to several NFL players and franchises, particularly running backs. In the fantasy world, the impact will be felt drastically for those who roster Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, or Raheem Mostert. News of Courtland Sutton tearing up his knee too just pours salt (with a hint of lime) on the wound.

Keep in mind that some of these options may not seem appealing at first glance, but think about last week's list that included Gardner Minshew, Joshua Kelley, Russell Gage, and Dalton Schultz among others. It's better to be ahead of the game than wait a week too late.

This season, waiver-wire options at each position will be listed in order of priority so you can plan accordingly based on your league's availability. Players listed here will be under approximately 40% rostered across Yahoo leagues. For a deeper look at each position, check out our separate weekly waiver wire columns at QB, RB, WR, and TE.

 

Quarterbacks - Waiver Wire Options

Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars - 32% rostered

That makes back-to-back games with three touchdown passes to start the year. In Week 3, Minshew faces a Dolphins unit that just gave up over 400 passing yards to Josh Allen. This seems like the type of matchup where you might even consider streaming Minshew over your regular QB. Deshaun Watson is on the road against the Steelers and Jared Goff faces Buffalo on the road, so Minshew could be a better alternative.

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers - 2% rostered

So the Herbert era begins. There was no indication the rookie would make his debut in Week 2 but a chest injury to Tyrod Taylor unexpectedly kept him from playing. Herbert got to face the defending champs and nearly led his team to a win before falling in overtime. His final numbers were impressive: 311 passing yards, one TD, one INT. He also chipped in 18 rushing yards and a touchdown. He made some impressive plays but also looked like a rookie when he threw a red-zone interception into triple coverage and then miscommunicated on a handoff inside the five-yard line later. All told, it was a great start and makes him an intriguing backup QB in fantasy leagues, especially with Carolina on deck.

Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears - 7% rostered

I realize most fantasy managers will never accept Trubisky as an option at any time, regardless of how he performs. For those interested in his actual performance and stat-based arguments for players, he's thrown five TD in two games. He may not be worth adding or starting in single-QB leagues most weeks but getting to face Atlanta is just too good to ignore. The Falcons have given up 300+ passing yards in consecutive games to start the season and might just have the worst secondary in the league. Trubisky isn't Dak or Russ but he could easily match what he did against Detroit.

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts - 27% rostered

Only the plus matchup at home with the Jets keeps Rivers on the streaming radar. Rivers has been uneven in his first two contests as a Colt, throwing just one touchdown pass in each. He piled up yardage Week 1 and did little in Week 2, both a result of game script. While the Colts shouldn't need to pass much to earn a victory, the Jets are a funnel defense and should give up enough to make Rivers a consideration in two-QB or very deep leagues.

Nick Mullens, San Francisco 49ers - 1% rostered

It's not as if the San Fran passing game was a hot commodity to begin with, seeing as how they were missing their top two targets, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel. A backup QB taking over would normally be a sign to stay away completely but this is a unique situation. Mullens started half the 2018 season and put up a couple of big games along with some mediocre ones. If Raheem Mostert is out, the team could lean on its passing game more in Week 3 where they face the stumbling Giants. Don't get cute in single-QB leagues by adding him unnecessarily - Minshew and Herbert both have more upside.

Others to considerRyan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins (4% rostered)

 

Running Backs - Waiver Wire Options

Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers - 39% rostered

I'm not sure what people are waiting for at this point. While many fantasy managers ran out to add Benny Snell Jr., who ran the ball three times this week, Kelley has only been added in one-third of leagues. He is splitting time almost evenly with Austin Ekeler and led the way with 23 rush attempts in Week 2. The difference in the passing game isn't even that great - Kelley saw three targets to Ekeler's four and fell six yards shy of his yardage total in the air (55-49). Kelley has a guaranteed role on an offense that has new legs with rookie Justin Herbert under center. There's no reason he belongs on waivers anywhere.

Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers - 22% rostered

Even with all the injuries San Francisco has suffered on offense, McKinnon touched the ball just three times in Week 2. That's all he needed for a good fantasy day, as one of those carries went for 55 yards and another was a 16-yard touchdown. Raheem Mostert looked to be in line for a huge day after his 80-yard TD early but he left with a knee injury. It's too early to speculate but word is that is is a mild MCL sprain. If that's the case, he won't miss a ton of time but a couple of weeks on the shelf would require a replacement. While McKinnon can't be considered a must-add, he's shown that he has a role in this offense and can be a boom flex play regardless of matchup. Even if Mostert just misses Week 3 versus the Giants, the Jet is a strong streaming candidate against a weak defense.

Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers - 1% rostered

The injury to McCaffrey has been revealed as a high-ankle sprain that will cost him 4-6 weeks. That means Davis has immediate flex value, even if another free agent is added. He had some solid games in Seattle back in 2017-2018 before disappointing in Chicago last year. Davis can be effective in multiple ways, which he already showed by plodding for a one-yard touchdown and catching eight passes for 74 yards on Sunday despite limited usage. Davis won't come close to replacing McCaffrey's value but he is worth an add for all who already have McCaffrey and could bring streaming value to others as well.

Devonta Freeman, Free Agent - 10% rostered

Reportedly, Freeman has been looking for the right opportunity to sign with a team where the situation will allow him a bigger role.


He may have just found it in the Big Apple. It's reported that he is already set to workout for the Giants. Saquon Barkley's devastating injury that appears to be an ACL tear would leave a huge hole in the backfield. A vet like Freeman makes all the sense in the world here. He disappointed last year with 3.6 yards per carry but he was coming off an injury himself and remained a major part of the passing game with 59 receptions. He's 28 years old, which is far from done in the NFL, even for a running back.

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams - 30% rostered

One of the better performers under half-rostered in fantasy was Henderson, who ran 12 times for 81 yards and a TD while adding 40 yards through the air. This seems like the type of game we were waiting for, but don't blow your FAB on Henderson just yet. He got so much run because Cam Akers left early in the game with a rib injury. Malcolm Brown apparently injured a finger too, while game script favored the Rams being able to run the ball in the second half. If you are looking to replace Barkley or Mostert, Henderson is a consideration, but don't expect him to suddenly become a workhorse.

Dion Lewis, New York Giants - 1% rostered

As the backup to Barkley, Lewis stepped in to carry the load once the franchise back departed the game. Lewis found the end zone on a short run but only managed 20 rushing yards on 10 carries. He did chip in four receptions for 36 yards. If the G-Men sign a player like Freeman, Lewis' value doesn't rise and he remains irrelevant in fantasy. If the team decides to stay the course or Barkley's injury doesn't turn out to be season-ending after all, Lewis could be a bench stash.

Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins - 14% rostered

It appears Gaskin will retain a role as the "lead" running back in Miami, at least for now. He tied with Matt Breida for the team lead in rush attempts with seven and gained nine more yards on those attempts. He also caught six passes, which was one more than DeVante Parker, and has 10 catches in two games. The upside is limited since Jordan Howard is getting all the goal-line work and Breida is joining the mix but Gaskin could deliver a few points for full PPR-league owners in Thursday's tilt with the Jags. Generally speaking, you're best avoiding this entire backfield if possible though.

Frank Gore, New York Jets - 14% rostered

You know what you're getting with Gore at this point in his career and on this anemic offense. He delivered as expected with 63 yards on 21 carries and no score. It was a tough matchup with the 49ers Defense, so maybe he can fare better against one of his former teams in Indianapolis next week. He can only be considered in non-PPR leagues.

Others to consider: Boston Scott, Philadelphia Eagles (35% rostered); Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers (6% rostered); Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens (1% rostered)

 

Wide Receivers - Waiver Wire Options

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons - 21% rostered

If you thought last week's outburst was an outlier, think again. Gage was heavily involved and saw more targets (nine) than any Falcon other than Calvin Ridley (10). Gage now has 15 receptions for 160 yards in two games. Julio Jones was obviously limited by the hamstring injury that appeared on the injury report this week, which worked in Gage's favor as well. Regardless, Gage should be scooped up in all PPR leagues because this year's Atlanta squad will be in a lot of shootouts based on the strength of their passing game and horrible, horrible pass defense.

Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs - 36% rostered

The second-year receiver was dropped in many leagues after a Week 1 dud where Sammy Watkins went off. The tables are turning, however, as Watkins left with a concussion and Hardman now looks to take on a bigger role in the coming week. His involvement already kicked up in the second half of Sunday's win, even if his final numbers (two catches, 30 yards, one two-point conversion) don't indicate so. Hardman might see more action this coming week and is too talented to overlook.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers - 36% rostered

MVS was a pickup consideration last week after a nice Week 1 with 96 yards and a touchdown. Now that Davante Adams has a hamstring injury that held him out for the end of the game, Valdes-Scantling becomes more interesting. We know the Packers have no depth at receiver, so he might see his already-decent target rate jump up to make him more than simply a deep threat.

Golden Tate, New York Giants - 36% rostered

As soon as the Giants looked to have their full complement of skill players back, they lost their franchise RB and then Sterling Shepard exited with a toe injury. It's too early to tell whether Shepard will miss time, but it appears Tate's preseason sleeper status as an undervalued receiver is about to be put to the test.

Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars - 3% rostered

Apparently Cole has a secure role in this offense as long as Dede Westbrook is out. How long that lasts, who can say? Cole tied with Chris Conley for the team lead with seven targets and led the team with six receptions in Week 2. The Jags are spreading the ball around to multiple receivers and Westbrook could eat into Cole's snaps soon enough, so it's hard to trust Cole on a weekly basis going forward. Given the short week and the matchup with Miami, Cole might still be a factor.

K.J. Hamler, Denver Broncos - 1% rostered

Denver had already lost starting QB Drew Lock for the foreseeable future with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder that could cost him 2-6 weeks. The news got far worse when it was revealed Monday morning that stud third-year wideout Courtland Sutton tore his ACL. The dynamic duo of Sutton and Jerry Jeudy now becomes Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. The 5'9" speedster was meant to be a field stretcher freed up by the bigger receivers underneath. Instead, he may see a lot more action across the field. He missed Week 1 but in Week 2 tied fellow rookie Jeudy with seven targets. It would be more palatable if Jeff Driskel weren't behind center but Hamler is worth a look in 14+ team leagues.

Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts - 15% rostered

Two of the Colts' main targets went down in Week 2, with Jack Doyle ruled out pre-game and Parris Campbell going down in the first quarter. It sounds like Campbell avoided the worst, as an NFL Network report claims he did not tear his ACL. Still, being carted off with a knee injury isn't promising for a quick return. Pittman saw his snap count and targets jump from his debut, catching four passes for 37 yards. If Philip Rivers decides to utilize his size in the red zone, Pittman could become a weapon. Although a matchup with the Jets in Week 3 is tempting, it's too soon to view Pittman as more than a stash.

Braxton Berrios/Chris Hogan, New York Jets - 1% rostered

You don't want a piece of the Jets offense unless you are in desperation mode. If that's the case after two games, then it'll take more than a waiver wire add to turn things around. That said, Berrios and Hogan each caught six of eight targets in Week 2 with Jamison Crowder sitting out and Breshad Perriman injuring his ankle mid-game.

Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles - 35% rostered

Even if the Eagles' passing offense isn't clicking, their rookie WR is trending up. Reagor caught four passes in Week 2 for 41 yards, finishing as their second-leading wide receiver. He's a player to monitor in deep leagues but the Eagles have a tough upcoming schedule after Cincy so there's no need to rush out and add him just yet.

Damiere Byrd, New England Patriots - 2% rostered

In Week 1, Byrd was on the field non-stop but didn't register a catch. In Week 2, Byrd caught six of nine targets for 72 yards. The WR3 in New England's offense didn't sound like a promising role during the offseason but Cam Newton looks like Superman once again, so Byrd has some appeal in PPR leagues as long as he retains that role.

Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears - 2% rostered

Many are hoping fifth-round pick Mooney gets more involved in the offense as a third receiver ahead of Javon Wims. He's caught three passes in each of the first two games but for minimal yardage. If Anthony Miller can get blanked in a plus matchup then there's little chance Mooney will be on the fantasy radar real soon without an injury or that highly-rumored trade of Allen Robinson that probably won't happen. Unless Mooney is now moving up the depth chart and we just didn't see it coming...


Others to consider: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (20% rostered); Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers (31% rostered); Laviska Shenault Jr. (17% rostered); Bryan Edwards, Las Vegas Raiders (13% rostered); James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers (13% rostered); Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints (12% rostered); Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills (8% rostered); Quintez Cephus, Detroit Lions (2% rostered)

 

Tight Ends - Waiver Wire Options

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team - 32% rostered

Week 1 was no fluke. Thomas saw more targets than any player in Washington after Terry McLaurin. He only caught four of those nine looks but was targeted multiple times in the red zone including an end-zone pass that nearly turned into a score. Opportunity is everything and it appears Thomas has just that. He should be added and streamed in Week 3 against the Browns, who have been gashed by tight ends this year, including Drew Sample.

Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys - 2% rostered

I didn't give a glowing endorsement of Schultz last week but felt he was worth mentioning once Blake Jarwin went out. Maybe we should all have been more optimistic. Nine receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown are the type of numbers we expected from Michael Gallup but it was Schultz who suddenly became the apple of Dak Prescott's eye. Of course, the Cowboys won't play Atlanta each week and may not face that negative of a game script again for a while. Still, Schultz must have inspired confidence in his quarterback and he is part of a high-scoring offense. Consider him a top waiver add at the position if Logan Thomas isn't available.

Drew Sample, Cincinnati Bengals - 1% rostered

Roll your eyes all you want. With C.J. Uzomah tearing his Achilles and no depth at tight end, Sample will serve as a short-yardage safety blanket for Joe Burrow. He was targeted nine times on Thursday night after Uzomah had caught a touchdown pass already. The yardage totals won't be high but a few touchdowns could be in play. By no means is Sample a must-add or a weekly starter yet; he does bear monitoring and can serve as a TE2 for those looking for injury replacements.

Jordan Reed, San Francisco 49ers - 7% rostered

Those who pounced on Reed to replace George Kittle this week were wise to do so. He led the Niners with seven receptions and eight targets, scoring twice in the process. While the idea of vintage, healthy Jordan Reed sounds great, there are two big problems. 1) Kittle is probably coming back next week, so Reed's snap count will drop precipitously. 2) Jimmy Garoppolo injured his ankle, so it could be backup Nick Mullens behind center. Reed has proven to be a great insurance policy for Kittle but doesn't have standalone value otherwise.

Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts - 1% rostered

Finally, the Mo Alie-Cox breakout game that nobody asked for. With Jack Doyle out and Trey Burton yet to suit up this season, the third-string TE stepped up in a big way. The main catalyst for his huge day might have been slot receiver Parris Campbell getting injured in the first quarter. Alie-Cox might not ever see this level of production again, especially if Doyle returns soon, but we know Rivers like his tight ends. Oh, and they play the Jets in Week 3.

Jordan Akins, Houston Texans - 2% rostered

The Texans continue to use both Akins and Fells in a TE rotation but the loss of Kahale Warring for the season (single tear rolls down cheek) ensures a solid role in an offense with a top-flight signal caller. Akins has delivered 12 fantasy points each of the first two games and promises to be a solid, if unspectacular TE2 the rest of the way.

Others to consider: Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers (34% rostered); O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30% rostered); Greg Olsen, Seattle Seahawks (30% rostered); Darren Fells, Houston Texans (1% rostered); Dan Arnold, Arizona Cardinals (1% rostered)

 

Team Defense - Waiver Wire Options

Indianapolis Colts Defense - 40% rostered

They play the Jets next week, end of story. Actually, I should add that after a disappointing opener in which they forced zero turnovers, the Colts intercepted Kirk Cousins three times and have picked up seven sacks on the year. If your league weighs points against more heavily than turnovers, Indy should be your top streaming choice.

Los Angeles Chargers Defense - 30% rostered

The fantasy points weren't there in Week 2 but the fact that this unit limited the Chiefs to 23 points in OT and almost came away with a win is impressive enough. A Week 3 tilt with Carolina is good enough to consider after Teddy Bridgewater threw two INT today. If Christian McCaffrey were to miss this contest, their appeal grows even greater.

Washington Football Team Defense - 16% rostered

The offense is still a work in progress but the front line of the defense is legit. Washington has 11 sacks over the first two games along with four forced turnovers. Although Cleveland's offense looked better in Week 2, Baker Mayfield is usually good for a pick or two and the sack total should remain high.



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Statcast Hitter Leaderboard: Rolling xSLG Risers

The final Statcast numbers for 2020 will undoubtedly reap some interesting data. Small sample sizes abound, so throw in scheduling quirks, numerous injuries, seven-inning doubleheaders and a universal DH and you have the recipe for statistical outliers galore.

Fantasy baseball season has one glorious week remaining, so the best use of this space would be to find players that can help through the waiver wire as streamers based on Statcast.

Here are some hot hitters who can help based on their rolling xSLG over the past 50 plate appearances. Players listed will be below the 50% rostered threshold in Yahoo fantasy leagues.

 

50 PA Rolling xSLG Leaders

Slugging itself isn't an advanced statistic but expected statistics dig into the details of a player's batted-ball data. The players below have seen an exponential spike in expected slugging and, not surprisingly, performance as well.

All statistics  taken from BaseballSavant and are current as of September 21, 2020.

 

Kole Calhoun (OF, ARI)

.734 xSLG (+.355) in last 50 PA

Over the last two weeks, Calhoun has transformed from one of the worst regulars in baseball to one of the hottest sluggers. On September 6, Calhoun was coming off a six-game hitless streak that dropped his slash line to .186/.321/.419. Since then, he's slashing .372/.431/.930 with seven HR, 16 RBI, 11 R in the last 12 games. He's pulling the ball at a 64% clip and hitting it hard 59% of the time, so naturally it's leaving the yard quite frequently.

Calhoun has been prone to massive swings in production recently. Most notably, in 2018 he started the year batting .157 with two homers over the first three months and then clubbed 16 HR the next three months. This is a matter of ignoring the season-long stats (and the ballclub) in order to take advantage of a player on the rise.

 

Daniel Vogelbach (1B, MIL)

.596 xSLG (+.271) in last 50 PA

The Smoak Monster dissipated early in September, clearing the air for former Mariner Daniel Vogelbach to take over first base duties. He's not exactly playing like pre-All Star break Vogelbach from last year - he's better.

Over the past two weeks, Vogelbach is hitting .417 with three HR, 10 RBI in 36 at-bats with Milwaukee. By contrast, he was batting .094 with two HR, four RBI in 53 at-bats before Seattle traded him to Toronto, where he basically did not play before getting DFA'd. One thing is for sure, Vogelbach is also a streaky hitter, for better or worse. Right now, it's as good as it can get.


For roto managers, the appeal here is obviously the promise of more home runs over the coming days. The Brewers have to contend with the trio of Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Trevor Bauer over their next three games, which could be tough sledding even during a hot streak. A five-game set with the Cardinals wraps things up and could make for a slightly better time.

 

Nate Lowe (1B, TB)

.463 xSLG (+.245) in last 50 PA

If you're like me, you dropped Lowe in dynasty back at the beginning of the season when he didn't make the active roster and then refused to pick him back up again until it was too late. In redraft, most have been hesitant to even begin with Lowe until now. The Rays love jerking players in and out of the lineup, regardless of performance. Plus, Lowe really didn't do much until 9/11 when he smashed a pair of homers in a beating handed down to Boston. He's only gone yard one more time since but he is reaching base and driving in runs, so it's not as if he's a one-trick pony.

Lowe's raw power is graded at 65, so the potential has always been there. He's not selling out for power, which is a positive sign. Over his 47 at-bats in 2020, he's posting a low 18.7% FB% with a slightly above-average 40.7% Pull%. The 33.3% LD% is a welcome sight, although it would be nice to see him trade off some of those liners for long flies that could results in yardwork. With regular playing time down the stretch, he'll get a chance to showcase his power and might be worth streaming.

 

Darin Ruf (1B/OF, SF)

.662 xSLG (+.195) in last 50 PA

Former Phillies first baseman Ruf hadn't cracked a Major League roster since 2016. Injuries cleared a path for him to make an impact down the stretch and he is taking advantage. Since September began, he has four homers, three doubles, and a .400 average in 30 AB. Based on his career stats and the fact he's now 34 years old, we know this means nothing other than the fact he is enjoying a hot streak as a fill-in for a team falling out of the playoff picture. For fantasy purposes, if he's hot, he's worth a look.

All of the Giants' remaining games will be at home, first to face the Rockies and then the Padres. This is great news, as Ruf is slugging 474 points higher at Oracle Park where he's hit four of his five home runs this year. Facing Colorado is a plus but San Diego is a tougher test. Give Ruf a chance in the early portion of the week then be ready to pull the plug if necessary.

 

Austin Hays (OF, BAL)

.446 xSLG (+.185) in last 50 PA

Hays might have the least pure power of the names on this list but he may also have the highest overall ceiling. Hays was a top-25 overall prospect before 2018 and had a promising September in 2019. He started the season as the regular center fielder in 2020 but a rib fracture cost him a month. Now, he's trying to finish strong once again.

Over the past week, Hays is slashing .333/.379/.481 with a solo shot to his credit. Baltimore will keep him in the lineup every day to see if he can retain the CF job heading into 2021. A plus schedule finds them visiting Boston with its league-worst 5.80 ERA before traveling to Buffalo to face the Blue Jays where their "home park" has the highest run factor and second-highest HR factor in the majors. Hays is a better option in points league but don't be surprised if he leaves the yard another time or two as well.



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Must-Add Category Streamers for the Final Stretch

Sadly, just 10 days of baseball remain in the MLB regular season and the fantasy season. At least the commissioner was nice enough to let everyone into the postseason, so there'll be plenty more ball games on the tube to watch.

Unfortunately, fantasy leagues don't work that way. You're in the last leg of the playoffs right now or you are in a roto league fighting to gain ground at the final stretch or clinging onto a lead. Either way, you can't simply stand pat and hope your players finish strong. You need to target areas of need and fight for every ounce of help you can get, just as you've done for the first 50 games. As someone who is battling to stay within the top-10 overall of The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational (TGFBI) and hoping to finish top-five, I've made several of these waiver claims already while ditching players like Austin Meadows along the way.

Most RotoBallers are in competitive leagues or are already one step ahead of the competition, so these hitters may not all be available on the waiver wire. That's why I will provide several options to cover each potential category of need. Here are my top recommendations to help gain ground during the last week of 2020 fantasy baseball.

 

Home Runs

Clint Frazier (OF, NYY) - 38% rostered

My preseason call that he was a preseason dynasty buy-low is finally being vindicated! Randy Dobnak also qualifies as a half-year success, assuming you traded him away midseason. Still waiting on the other guys, but keep an eye on Taylor Trammell in 2021. Anyway, Frazier just needed ABs and now he's getting them. Frazier should stick in the lineup thanks to a 90th percentile hard-hit rate where he can keep clubbing away against the Red Sox, Jays, and Marlins.

DJ Stewart (OF, BAL) - 30% rostered

All he does is hit home runs. Not literally but pretty close. Stewart has 14 hits this year and seven of them have cleared the fence. That 41.2% HR/FB is going to plummet at some point but it's hard to convince me he won't go deep at least once or twice more over the next eight games. He doesn't get the comforts of Camden but facing the Red Sox staff and traveling to Buffalo's minor-league digs still bode well.

Christian Arroyo (2B/3B, BOS) - 1% rostered

Make it four homers in the past week for Arroyo, who is suddenly the regular second baseman for Boston. Not known as a power hitter, Arroyo is simply on a hot streak and we should be here for it. Arroyo was a first-round pick and high-end prospect for the Giants back in 2017 before struggling to a .192/.244/.304 slash line in his rookie season. He wasn't given a long leash as the team dealt him to Tampa for Evan Longoria the following season. He never stuck there and didn't even crack the lineup in Cleveland before apparently finding a place where he feels at home. His 40-grade power doesn't bring promise for the long-term, but we're talking one week here and his bat is full of thunder right now.

 

Stolen Bases

Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, BOS) - 12% rostered

Bradley is riding a modest six-game hitting streak which in no way reminds anyone of 2016. His future with the franchise may be coming to an end, which may be motivating him to showcase his remaining skills to potential suitors in free agency. He's also using his wheels, stealing three bases in the past week. Normally not a big threat to run, Bradley may be that unexpected cheap source of speed you seek.

Leody Taveras (OF, TEX) - 2% rostered

His manager has stated Taveras could be the starting center fielder in 2021. That endorsement shows what the club thinks of their #5 prospect and reinforces the fact he'll get steady playing time through season's end. Taveras has top-tier sprint speed in the 98th percentile, just one-tenth behind Fernando Tatis Jr. He hasn't run a ton but does have four steals without being caught. The Rangers are fourth in SB per game and attempts, so speed-seekers might prioritize Taveras over the veterans on this list.

Robbie Grossman (OF, OAK) - 17% rostered

For some reason, Grossman is running again. He stole two bases in game two of the season, waited 10 games before swiping another couple over three games, then went through another drought. Now, he's got three steals in the last three games. Why couldn't Ramon Laureano at least do that? Tab Grossman in deeper leagues and cross your fingers in hopes that he keeps running.

 

R + RBI

Jared Walsh (1B, LAA) - 40% rostered

A name that nobody knew before two weeks ago but can't be ignored any longer. Walsh is a 27-year-old rookie who didn't make much noise in the minors until 2019 when he broke out in a big way with 36 HR, 86 RBI, and a .326 average that earned him a cup of coffee. He scuffled mightily, striking out 40% of the time and was not in the team's immediate plans for 2020. Fast forward to September 2 and Walsh is suddenly one of the hottest hitters around, batting .323 and slugging .738 with seven HR and 19 RBI over a two-week span. This has earned him a move up to the second spot of the lineup, ahead of the man known as the best player in baseball. The average may regress but buy into the power, at least for the short-term.

Jurickson Profar (2B/OF, SD) - 25% rostered

After a terrible start to the year, Profar is closing strong. He has five multi-hit performances in the team's last nine contests while swiping two bags and taking Dustin May deep. Those are nice bonuses, but it's the runs and RBI that we can count on most. Profar had his five-game run-scoring streak snapped tonight but even at the bottom of the lineup has the chance to cross the plate or drive one in each game. Profar does provide the occasional homer and steal and nearly qualifies as a modest five-category contributor in deep leagues but his 13 R+RBI in the last 14 days qualify him as a streamer to add.

Jesus Aguilar (1B, MIA) - 20% rostered

One would assume Aguilar belongs in the homer club but that hasn't been his jam this year. Instead, Aguilar has used a solid .341 OBP to become a run-scoring force. Aguilar is tied with Jared Walsh and others for the sixth-most runs scored over the last 14 days with 13 R. Nine RBI is nothing to sneeze at either.

 

Average

Miguel Rojas (3B/SS, MIA) - 11% rostered

I was adamant enough about this pick, I decided to Tweet about it. That's when you know it's serious. Also, I'm a lifelong Marlins fan.


That may not convince many fantasy managers but it shouldn't be overlooked that Rojas has been swinging a hot bat all year long and is in the lineup nearly every single day, even during doubleheaders.

Alec Bohm (3B, PHI) - 38% rostered

All the kid has done since getting called up is rake. Bohm hasn't slumped and is maintaining a .317/.368/.496 slash line over his first 136 plate appearances. Since the calendar turned to September, he's only gone hitless in four out of 19 games while putting up eight multi-hit games during the same span. The power is still developing but Bohm is a safe CI play for the remainder of his rookie year.

Ke'Bryan Hayes (3B, PIT) - 8% rostered

My podmate Nick isn't sold on Hayes as an offensive threat long-term. I'm not convinced the power will ever come around to the point where he can become a weekly fixture at 3B. What we both agree on is that Hayes is smacking the ball at a clip that is pretty damn impressive. A 64.7% hard-hit rate is almost unheard of. Official Hard% league-leader Fernando Tatis Jr. is at 63.9% followed by Miguel Sano at 59%. It has led to an also never-seen-before 35.3% line drive rate for Hayes. It doesn't matter that those will be impossible to replicate next season, he just needs to keep it up for one more week.

 

ERA/WHIP

Brady Singer (SP, KC) - 28% rostered

First things first - add Singer if he's available. He rightfully could slot in all of these sections, other than saves of course. Singer has lowered his WHIP to 1.18 after blanking each of his last two opponents, allowing a total of three hits and three walks over the last 14 innings. Singer has also lasted at least five innings in nine of his 10 starts, so the wins might follow as well.

JT Brubaker (SP, PIT) - 2% rostered

There haven't been many rays of hope in the Steel City this summer but Brubaker may qualify as a modest one. Like most widely-available pitchers on bad teams that comprise these lists, Brubaker is off the radar because his season-long ratios (4.79 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) aren't impressive. Those are almost as misleading as Jack Flaherty's 5.52 ERA that nearly doubled due to one nightmarish game. His blip versus the White Sox aside, Brubaker had allowed a total of four ER over his other previous three starts. The Cubs and Indians are on deck, neither of which should scare you away from streaming him.

Spencer Turnbull (SP, DET) - 31% rostered

You'll have to move quickly on this in daily transaction leagues since Turnbull faces the Indians on Saturday evening. Cleveland can't buy a win these days (until they faced the Tigers) and he then gets to face Kansas City, who is bound to cool down by then. His overall Statcast numbers are unappealing but he's been excellent at home, posting a 2.01 ERA, 1.16 WHIP in four starts. The best bet is to stream Turnbull once and then drop him.

Adrian Morejon (SP/RP, SD) - 2% rostered

Openers and middle relievers can only help a fantasy roster so much but an effective one can at least stabilize ratios while providing a modest strikeout boost. Morejon has been Drew Pomeranz Lite for the Friars in his rookie campaign. He holds a 2.84 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and has 17 K in 12 2/3 IP. Morejon projects as a starter in 2021 once he is further removed from his shoulder injury, but for now, he'll have to dazzle with his 96 MPH sinker in relief.

 

Strikeouts

Tarik Skubal (SP, DET) - 10% rostered

The other top pitching prospect in Detroit, Skubal hasn't fared much better than Casey Mize. The upside is that he's done better against upcoming opponents and will get two more turns to prove himself before the year is over. The first comes on the road against Minnesota, which would seem like a must-avoid, followed by the Royals. Those are hot offenses but so far in 18 IP Skubal has a 2.64 ERA against those two. There is certainly risk with any young pitcher but we know he has the upside to dominate at times too.

Trevor Rogers (SP, MIA) - 6% rostered

Sixto Sanchez is getting the attention but Rogers is the homegrown pitching prospect Miami fans have been waiting to see since before the J.T. Realmuto trade brought Sanchez over. The matchups aren't ideal, as he'll go on the road to face Atlanta and then likely end his rookie campaign at Yankee Stadium. Although his xBA is in the 88th percentile and xERA in the 82nd percentile, Rogers has been uneven in his last two outings and isn't a safe bet to go deep into a game with Miami's playoff hopes on the line. God, I've waited so long to say that...

Tanner Houck (SP, BOS) - 3% rostered

The MLB debut for Houck was a big success. He tossed five scoreless frames, allowing two hits to the Marlins while striking out seven. He gets the Yankees next and could be in line for a road tilt in Atlanta in the final weekend. Houck was a first-round pick in 2017 and rates as Boston's #6 prospect, so the chance for a strong finish is certainly there. He hasn't had the healthiest walk rate in the minors, however, and was only in the strike zone 40.7% of the time in his first start. For that reason, he's a recommended add for strikeouts but not a guarantee to keep the scoreless stretch going too long.

Freddy Peralta (SP/RP, MIL) - 14% rostered

The move to the bullpen was the best thing for Peralta. His ratios have stayed fairly low all year, he cleared a spot for the revelation that is Corbin Burnes, and Peralta has been a useful fireman in the middle innings without the pressure of starting or closing. The innings are sporadic, so there is risk that he doesn't contribute as much as another starting pitcher but you can't ignore a guy with a whiff rate in the 98th percentile.

 

Wins

Framber Valdez (SP, HOU) - 60% rostered

There's a smaller chance (40% to be exact) that Valdez is available in your league, at least on Yahoo, but he bears mentioning. Many managers rage-dropped Valdez after consecutive disastrous starts in Los Angeles against the Angels and Dodgers respectively that tanked his ERA. The strikeouts were still there and Valdez has been eating innings all year long. Until the Sep. 12 outing in L.A., he had gone at least six innings in each of his starts since his first of the year. He settled back down in a big way by limiting the Rangers to one ER and striking out 11 a day ago. If he's out there and nobody noticed, grab him immediately.

Kyle Freeland (SP, COL) - 34% rostered

We might not get back the Freeland from the first half of the season when he was among the league leaders in quality starts and the Rockies were a playoff contender but the schedule begs a second look. I realize he only has two wins on the year but he won't be facing the Dodgers or Padres anymore; Freeland gets the Giants and Diamondbacks, both of which are winnable games. He continues to last six innings on a regular basis, having done so in three straight despite not notching a victory.

Brett Anderson (SP, MIL) - 8% rostered

If strikeouts are absolutely no concern or you need to dig deeper down the wire for valuable streamers, Anderson is your guy. The Brewers are still fighting for a playoff spot and will need to get by Kansas City and St. Louis in the coming week. Anderson just pitched six solid frames versus the Cards and earned a win, his third of the past month. Again, the strikeouts aren't happening; his 14.3% K% is right in line with the past five years. He's a crafty lefty who will outperform expectations and hopefully earn some Ws along the way.

Freddy Peralta (SP/RP, MIL) - 14% rostered

Wait, what? No, there's not a glitch in the Matrix. Peralta could net you a win or two in relief just as he's done twice in the past five days. The Brew Crew is still in the hunt for a playoff berth because they play in the NL Central and, well, it's 2020. Peralta might see higher-leverage usage down the stretch so plug him in and hope for a W while you pile up the Ks.

 

Saves

Matt Barnes (RP, BOS) - 36% rostered

Adding a Red Sox reliever, or any player for that matter, is a painful proposition. That said, saves are always a precious commodity and the hardest to find late in the season. If you find yourself in need of a couple more to secure your place in the standings, Barnes should be the top choice. He has shut the door five times in the last two weeks and has now gone four straight outings without allowing an earned run. That's good enough to earn him streaming rights if you are looking for a boost in this category.

Stefan Crichton (RP, ARI) - 18% rostered

Once Archie Bradley was dealt, the closer for the D-Backs was... well, nobody really because they weren't winning any close games. But now it's obvious that the 28-year-old has the job locked down, as he's recorded three saves in the past five games. The ratios (2.66 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) aren't bad and he's striking out almost a batter per inning, so there isn't a compromise here either. In a category easier to make gains late than any other, it's shocking he isn't being added more frequently. Be proactive and make a claim now.

Sam Selman (RP, SF) - 0% rostered

Who? Why, it's Sam Selman, San Francisco stretch stash for saves! It looked like Tony Watson would be the boring option at the back-end of this bullpen but Selman came on to secure his first Major League save against the Mariners in their last contest and could get another look. It's not as if this is a future closer-in-waiting though. Selman is 29 and never sniffed the ninth inning of a close game before. Still, he wasn't randomly plucked from the 'pen. Selman's Statcast numbers warrant a closer look, at least for 10 more days.

Bryan Garcia (RP, DET) - 4% rostered

Garcia looks like he may be the closer now that Joe Jimenez and Gregory Soto have both lost the job. How many saves you are going to get from whoever is pitching the ninth in Detroit is questionable, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Garcia is a deep-league save-only option if the above closers are taken.



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Finish Strong in 2020 (Adds, Drops, Streamers): WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut discuss which hot hitters and two-start streamers to add for the final week of the season, as well as big-name players to drop.

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET, and every weekend morning from 6-8 am ET as well. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

It's Not How You Start...

Pierre and Nick tell fantasy baseball managers how to finish strong in 2020 by making the right roster moves.

Players and topics discussed:



Thanks for listening to today's episode! Be sure to tune in throughout the week, and to also follow RotoBaller on Twitter, YouTube and iTunes for the latest fantasy news and analysis.

Win Big with RotoBaller in 2020!

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Tight End Start/Sit Advice - Week 2

Pierre Camus (@Roto_Chef) and Chris Mangano (@ChrisMangano) break down the tight end position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season. Who should you start or sit among those in starting consideration at TE?

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Week 2 TE Start/Sit

Pierre reviews tight ends with tough matchups or lower ownership that might be worth benching or putting into your lineup this week.

Players discussed in this episode:

Jared Cook
Hayden Hurst
Austin Hooper
Jack Doyle
Dallas Goedert
Logan Thomas

Boom & Bust Picks of the Week!


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Wide Receiver Start/Sit Advice - Week 2

Pierre Camus (@Roto_Chef) and Chris Mangano (@ChrisMangano) break down the wide receiver position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season. Who should you start or sit among those in WR3/4 or Flex consideration?

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Week 2 WR Start/Sit

Pierre and Chris review wide receivers with tough matchups or lower ownership that might be worth benching or putting into your lineup this week.

Players discussed in this episode:

Tre'Quan Smith
Anthony Miller
Robby Anderson
Jamison Crowder
Darius Slayton
CeeDee Lamb
Christian Kirk
DeVante Parker
Scotty Miller

plus Boom & Bust picks of the Week!


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Running Back Start/Sit Advice - Week 2

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the running back position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit among those in RB3 or flex consideration.

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Week 2 RB Start/Sit

Pierre and Chris discuss running backs with tough matchups or lower ownership that might be worth benching or putting into your lineup this week.

Players discussed in this episode:

Benny Snell Jr.
James Conner
Cam Akers
Malcolm Brown
Devin Singletary
Zack Moss
Ronald Jones
Leonard Fournette
Antonio Gibson
Boston Scott
J.K. Dobbins

plus Boom & Bust Picks of the Week!


Thanks for listening to today's episode! Be sure to tune in throughout the week, and to also follow RotoBaller on Twitter, YouTube and iTunes for the latest fantasy news and analysis. We are your secret weapon...

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Week 2 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

It was satisfying enough to see a full slate of regular-season NFL games being played on Sunday. Then, the level of play exceeded expectations, as we weren't subjected to sloppy play and didn't see a slew of injuries.

For fantasy purposes, it was great to see a lot of high-scoring games. The stars did their thing and some rookies wasted no time impressing us. That said, there were also a couple of duds and some players who may need replacing.

This season, waiver wire options at each position will be listed in order of priority so you can plan accordingly based on your league's availability. Players listed here will be under approximately 40% rostered across Yahoo leagues. For a deeper look at each position, check out our separate weekly waiver wire columns at QB, RB, WR, and TE.

 

Quarterbacks - Waiver Wire Options

Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears - 3% rostered

That's right, in 2020 it's only right that Trubisky is the top waiver option at QB. For those that missed it, after a rough first half in Detroit, Trubisky finished with three touchdowns and an opening-week win. His impressive fourth-quarter comeback shows promise of what he can do when motivated but it's the matchup that makes him the top choice of all passer pickups. Trubisky draws the New York Giants, who allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to QBs in 2019.

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts - 32% rostered

Rivers as a Colt looked pretty much like Rivers as a Bolt. He piled up passing yardage (363) but threw two INT and got much of his production due to sheer volume in a losing effort. All Pro guard Quenton Nelson has been dealing with a back issue so Rivers may not have gotten the type of protection we expected but his lack of mobility will continue to hamper his production. Week 2 brings a home tilt with the Vikings, who were just shredded by nemesis Aaron Rodgers. Rivers still has the upside to be a QB2 or Superflex starter but isn't the best streaming option out there.

Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars - 25% rostered

Minshew will be a popular streamer all season, as his team situation and stat totals won't every make him a weekly set-and-forget QB but he is likely to continue exceeding expectations. He started off by pulling an upset over the Colts and tossing three touchdown passes. Still, don't overlook the fact he only threw for 173 yards and the upcoming Week 2 matchup on the road at Tennessee will be a tough one. If you need a safe QB2 for the early half of the season because Tom Brady or Baker Mayfield has you nervous, Minshew does have a nice schedule from Week 3-6 until the Jags' bye in Week 7.

Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles Chargers - 4% rostered

It was far from a great start to the season for Taylor, who failed to reach the end zone and barely completed half his passes on the day against the Bengals. That said, he took care of the football and played well enough to stave off Justin Herbert by leading the team to victory. It should be a far more high-scoring affair next week when they take on the Chiefs. The promise of garbage time production is great, so prefer Taylor over someone with a better statline like Minshew (below) based on the defensive matchup.

Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers - 22% rostered

Teddy Two Gloves didn't earn a W for his rookie head coach in his first game as a Panther but that was mostly due to a terrible defense. Bridgewater threw for 270 yards and a touchdown and didn't turn the ball over. As long as Christian McCaffrey scores the bulk of the touchdowns, as he will continue to do, Bridgewater is relegated to a bye-week filler and fantasy backup.

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders - 18% rostered

Much like his Week 1 opponent, Teddy Bridgewater, Carr is a safe but boring fantasy pick because his TD upside will always be capped. Josh Jacobs found the end zone three times and will be the top option any time the team is in the red zone. Losing Henry Ruggs doesn't help his outlook either. Carr gets a MNF matchup with the Saints in Week 2. New Orleans limited Tom Brady and his dynamic receivers for the most part so it's not encouraging for a player like Carr.

Others to consider: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (34% rostered); Dwayne Haskins, Washington Football (5% rostered)

 

Running Backs - Waiver Wire Options

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts - 18% rostered

Watching Hines, who was supposed to be the RB3, pass-catching specialist, and forgotten man in the Indy backfield, score twice and see 15 touches must have been nauseating for those who took Jonathan Taylor in the third or fourth round. If Marlon Mack has torn his Achilles as has been reported, Hines becomes a must-add. Taylor will earn more carries as the season goes on, but it's clear Frank Reich trusts Hines in the red zone as well as on passing downs. Make him your top priority this week at running back, especially in full PPR.

Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers - 12% rostered

In non-PPR leagues, Kelley might hold as much appeal as Hines. There had been rumblings among beat writers that the Chargers would like something close to a 60-40 split in the backfield between Ekeler and another back; we just didn't know if it would be Kelley or Jackson and whether the team would hold true to that. Kelley took 12 carries to Ekeler's 19 and saw the goal-line carries so it appears that his role will, in fact, be solid. Justin Jackson has been battling injury but he did suit up and didn't do much with two rush attempts. Meanwhile, Kelley has impressed throughout the preseason and showed off in Week 1 by running for 60 yards and a touchdown. There's a reason I drafted Kelley in three-fourths of my redraft leagues, after all.

Benny Snell Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers - 18% rostered

It didn't take long for the injury bug to bite James Conner and it was Snell who was the sole beneficiary. Conner exited early Monday Night with an ankle injury, so Snell took 19 carries for 113 yards and looked quicker than last year in handling the full workload. Jaylen Samuels saw just one rush attempt and Anthony McFarland Jr. didn't touch the ball. If Conner misses Week 2, Snell is a high-priority RB add. Even if Conner is healthy, between his history of injuries and Snell's strong play, this could be a two-man split going forward.

Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams - 25% rostered

As a Cam Akers truther/stan, it was infuriating to see Brown get the ball at the goal-line and punch it in twice. The veteran does deserve credit though, as he piled up 79 rushing yards and 31 receiving yards too. It appears this is a two-man committee for now, which gives Brown fantasy relevance in 12-team leagues and deeper. He will be a risky start in Week 2 against the Eagles, who are always tough against the run and limited Washington to 80 rushing yards on the day.

Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers - 11% rostered

We had to see it to believe it. Now, it's time to believe. After two years off the field nursing injuries, McKinnon was back on the field. He turned three carries and three receptions into 44 yards and a touchdown. That's not a heavy workload but there is a good chance it ramps up as the year progresses. The fact that the Niners visit the Jets next week is reason enough to consider flexing him in PPR leagues.

Peyton Barber, Washington Football Team - 3% rostered

Barber is to the waiver wire what broccoli is to your dinner plate. You don't really like it but it's in your best interest, whether you admit it or not. Barber played the role of vulture quite well, scoring twice while getting way more carries than he deserved. He only produced 29 yards on 17 attempts but Ron Rivera kept feeding him the ball, especially in the red zone. Antonio Gibson is the sexier name but Barber seems to have the trust of the coaching staff and will continue to be part of the backfield for the foreseeable future as long as Bryce Love is inactive and working back into shape.

Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs - 20% rostered

Williams got a fair amount of touches on Thursday night with seven carries and two receptions but it's pretty obvious he is no threat to Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Even in the dynamic Chiefs offense, Williams continues to average three yards a pop as he did last year. He is far more valuable to Andy Reid in real-life than he is to fantasy rosters. He remains a high-end insurance policy and TD vulture threat, especially if CEH can't get across the goal-line as it happened in Week 1, but he is simply a bench stash in standard leagues.

Devontae Booker, Las Vegas Raiders - 0% rostered

If Jerick McKinnon can be a thing again, why not Booker? He is the backup to Josh Jacobs, saw three targets to Jalen Richard's one, and even got touches in the red zone that almost resulted in a score. He doesn't really have stand-alone value but now looks like a smart insurance policy for those who have Jacobs and can afford to stash him.

Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins - 0% rostered

The first real shock to emerge as a waiver wire candidate is Gaskin, who many failed to remember was still on the Miami roster. The team added very capable backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida this offseason, then promptly gave Gaskin the majority of touches. He wasn't bad either, rushing nine times for 40 yards and catching all four of his targets for 26 yards. There isn't a lot of juice in this offense so even if he was guaranteed 20 touches a game, it would make him a marginal flex option. Gaskin could be stashed in leagues with 14 or more teams but can't be started against Buffalo next week.

Frank Gore, New York Jets - 4% rostered

To the shock of nobody who read this column last week or has followed Adam Gase's coaching career, Gore saw just as many touches as Le'Veon Bell in Week 1. Now that Bell has an injury to his hamstring, which apparently is not alright after all, Gore could see upwards of 15 carries in Week 2. You still don't want to start him in a matchup with San Fran but standard or very deep-league GMs who are desperate could do worse.

Others to consider: Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys (37% rostered); Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers (6% rostered); Carlos Hyde, Seattle Seahawks (19% rostered); Darrynton Evans, Tennessee Titans (4% rostered); Brian Hill, Atlanta Falcons (4% rostered); Corey Clement, Philadelphia Eagles (2% rostered)

 

Wide Receivers - Waiver Wire Options

Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers - 32% rostered

Despite moving away from the Jets and being lured to the Panthers with a two-year, $20 million deal, many fantasy managers were skeptical of his value. He would compete with D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel for targets on a team already leaning on its running back for 40% of the offense. In his first game with Carolina, Anderson outgained them all with 115 yards on six receptions. Much of that came on a 75-yard bomb that went for a score in the fourth quarter but he saw one fewer target than Moore and the same as Samuel. Moore only caught four of his nine targets while Samuel was mostly targeted on short-to-intermediate routes. With a new QB and head coach in town, last year's target shares become meaningless. This doesn't mean Anderson is officially the WR1 in Carolina but he definitely belongs on fantasy rosters based on this strong start.

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons - 1% rostered

Knowing that Gage would be the starting slot receiver for an offense that led the league in pass attempts last year, you'd think he would have been drafted somewhere in fantasy leagues outside of best ball. Shout out to the one percent of fantasy GMs who saw this coming. Gage came away with 112 yards but most importantly, his nine receptions and 12 targets were the same as both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Atlanta was playing from behind much of the day, forcing Matt Ryan to pass 54 times. Get used to that with Atlanta's inferior secondary and tough schedule that brings a road game with Dallas next week. Add Gage wherever possible.

Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 6% rostered

Don't say I didn't warn you. Miller was just behind Chris Godwin as Tom Brady's favorite target in his Tampa Bay premiere. Miller finished with five receptions on six targets for 73 yards, whereas Godwin had six receptions, seven targets, and 79 yards. This isn't to say Miller will finish the year with similar numbers to Godwin or that Mike Evans won't be more of a factor once his hamstring fully heals. It does indicate that Miller has Brady's trust and should be picked up in full PPR leagues all over the place.

Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins - 38% rostered

The final numbers were ugly but we expected that going into Week 1. Williams was playing his first game since ACL surgery last year and went up against the Patriots Defense. Ignore the two catches for 41 yards; focus on the team-leading seven targets and the fact he was on the field for most of the game with no other receiver stepping up in any way. Another tough draw with Buffalo in Week 2 should keep Williams on fantasy benches but he certainly belongs on fantasy rosters.

Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts - 22% rostered

Campbell tied with T.Y. Hilton for the team lead with nine targets but came away with more catches (six) and yards (71). It's a promising start for the receiver that could become the Indy version of Keenan Allen for Rivers. Campbell picked up many of the targets Jack Doyle was expected to see and that trend could continue.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers - 7% rostered

Looks like Aaron Rodgers meant what he said about MVS improving this offseason. On a day where Rodgers looked like his old self, Valdes-Scantling looked like his best self. He caught four passes for 96 yards and made a tough touchdown grab as well. He will need to string together multiple games of productivity before we can fully buy into him as a fantasy starter but a contest with Detroit next week is a great opportunity.

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars - 12% rostered

The rookie made an immediate impact, catching three balls for 37 yards and a TD. He was also used out of the backfield as was reported via Twitter, rushing twice for 10 yards. Shenault is the type of player that will serve as a Swiss Army knife for this offense and can reach the end zone in a hurry. Volume isn't guaranteed, so the ceiling is somewhat limited on a weekly basis. Still, he can serve as a bye-week or injury fill-in regardless of matchup since his usage is hard to predict for opposing defenses.

N'Keal Harry, New England Patriots - 35% rostered

Harry held a questionable designation all week but was able to play with no restrictions. He showed much better than last year, catching all but one of his six targets. Unfortunately, he only averaged 7.8 yards per catch and didn't stretch the field at all. If he develops chemistry with Cam Newton as the weeks progress, we could have a fantasy WR3 on our hands. For now, he is still a stash-and-see.

Breshad Perriman, New York Jets - 18% rostered

It's hard to stomach having any Jets on a fantasy roster these days but Perriman still has the most upside of all. A 27-17 final score in Week 1 was a bit misleading, seeing as how the Jets scored a meaningless last-minute touchdown and benefited from a pair of Josh Allen fumbles. The Jets will be playing from behind often, which means a high projected air yard total for Perriman. He can be a boom-bust flex option in good matchups, although Week 2 vs San Fran is not one of those.

Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints - 10% rostered

When you hear the term "high-ankle sprain" you should know it's never a quick fix. The Saints finally admitted that Michael Thomas will be out a few weeks, so Smith has a chance to make something of his NFL career in his third season. The team didn't draft a receiver, only adding veteran free agent Emmanuel Sanders, so they will give Smith every chance to prove his worth. Smith has been largely invisible his first two seasons. He only broke the 50-yard mark once in 2019 and that came in Week 17 with 56 yards. He is an early-season waiver wire lotto ticket but not someone to bid high on or insert into starting lineups.

Steven Sims, Washington Football - 7% rostered

Sims wasn't among the favorite receivers for Dwayne Haskins this week, catching three passes and being out-targeted by the likes of Dontrelle Inman and Logan Thomas. He doesn't necessarily need high volume to be productive, however, as he's shown big-play ability with the ball in his hands. He's a dice roll next week against Arizona but the matchup with slot corner Byron Murphy is hard to ignore.

Kendrick Bourne, San Francisco 49ers - 13% rostered

Although Bourne wasn't highly involved in Week 1, the same could be said for all San Francisco wide receivers. His fortunes could be better in Week 2 based on the matchup with the Jets although he is mostly dependent on touchdown potential for a big fantasy day.

Danny Amendola, Detroit Lions - 2% rostered

The absence of Kenny Golladay led to a fairly productive day for Amendola. He caught five of seven passes for 81 yards, making him the leading receiver in Detroit for the time being. If Golladay returns for Week 2, Amendola doesn't belong in starting lineups but is still a bench option in deeper leagues and a decent insurance policy.

Bryan Edwards, Las Vegas Raiders - 24% rostered

It was a quiet debut for Edwards who caught his lone target for nine yards. Better days will be ahead but his low usage compared to Henry Ruggs puts him on the backburner for now.

Others to consider: Randall Cobb, Houston Texans (8% rostered); Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (23% rostered); Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers (31% rostered); Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders (21% rostered); James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers (12% rostered); Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills (8% rostered); Bisi Johnson, Minnesota Vikings (1% rostered); Willie Snead IV, Baltimore Ravens (1% rostered)

 

Tight Ends - Waiver Wire Options

O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 17% rostered

It is with great trepidation that I place Howard at the top of this list. His sky-high potential has been known since he entered the league but he managed to decline in his third season when he should have broken out. In a year where Tampa Bay passed for a league-high 4,845 yards and was third with 33 passing touchdowns, he scored just once and saw his yardage total go down from the previous year when he only played 10 games. Naturally, he teases us again by scoring a touchdown and catching more passes than Gronk. Take a chance here if you have the stomach.

Jimmy Graham, Chicago Bears - 6% rostered

He scored a touchdown in his Chicago debut and came within a yard of another. That puts Graham back on the fantasy radar for a 10th season. Next week's opponent is the Giants, who weren't great against the tight end (or anybody for that matter) on defense last year.

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts - 27% rostered

Honestly, Doyle's Week 1 output was disappointing based on expectations. He had no competition for snaps with Trey Burton sidelined, a passer that loves the TE, and a choice matchup with Jacksonville. Three receptions for 49 yards doesn't hack it in fantasy. The situation remains promising so those in need of a tight end should still consider Doyle for the immediate future.

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team - 5% rostered

The former QB who is with his fourth team in five years was the sixth-leading scorer at tight end in Week 1. He was second on Washington behind Terry McLaurin in receptions but actually led the way with eight targets. Thomas shouldn't be overlooked based on his sketchy track record as a pro. He's landed in a great situation based on opportunity, since there is little WR depth.

Greg Olsen, Seattle Seahawks - 26% rostered

Plenty of receivers got involved for Seattle in Week 1 and Olsen was one of them, catching four passes for 24 yards and a TD. He was on the field more than Will Dissly and saw twice the targets. Dissly can be ignored for the time being while Olsen is a stream-worthy option.

Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys - 1% rostered

Blake Jarwin's hopes for a TE1 season as the successor to Jason Witten are gone. It appears he suffered a torn ACL on a non-contact play and will miss the rest of 2020. That leaves Schultz, a former fourth-round pick, as the primary TE in Dallas. This gives him the chance to become fantasy-relevant in a strong passing offense but don't necessarily expect a third-year breakout. Despite being active for all 16 games last year, Schultz caught all of one pass for six yards. He didn't look too impressive in his 2020 debut either, committing a dumb penalty and dropping a pass.

Others to consider: Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers (39% rostered); C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals (1% rostered); Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings (13% rostered); Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers (15% rostered)

 

Team Defense - Waiver Wire Options

Arizona Cardinals Defense2% rostered

The Cards may give up their share of points on defense but are usually good for some sacks. They took down Jimmy Garoppolo three times in Week 1 but couldn't force any turnovers. They could have better fortune when they face Washington in Week 2.

Miami Dolphins Defense - 1% rostered

We're talking deep-league streamers here and there aren't many with choice matchups this coming week. The Bills are solid offensively but Josh Allen is usually good for a pair of turnovers.



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Statcast Starting Pitcher Leaders - wOBA Underachievers

The last days of the baseball season are almost upon us. Those who are still here reading up on advanced sabermetrics are undoubtedly scouring for the best information to make a final push to win their fantasy leagues (thanks to Rotoballer!) or are simply baseball junkies. Either way, I'm glad you're here.

As usual, this space will be used to identify starting pitchers widely available on the waiver wire that might be hidden gems or undervalued based on Statcast metrics.

This week, the focus is on wOBA-xwOBA to find the biggest underachievers and potential ratio risers. Listing a player doesn't imply a waiver wire pickup recommendation. Read each player blurb to make a determination based on the information provided. Good luck down the stretch!

 

Trevor Rogers, Miami Marlins

.082 wOBA-xwOBA

Another pitching prospect coming through the pipeline, Rogers was on the radar before Sixto Sanchez ever joined the fray. Rogers was the team's first-round pick in 2017 and has the chance to establish himself as part of one of the best young rotations in the game.

His first three outings were rock solid, as he stretched up to six full innings and held a 3.00 ERA and 1.20 WHIP after striking out 10 Rays en route to a quality start. Then Philadelphia happened. Rogers got blown up and lost the trust of fantasy managers as a result. In that game alone, he gave up seven batted balls over 102 MPH, five of which went for extra bases.

While Rogers was certainly off in that game, his overall luck should be much better as he is the top underachiever in wOBA-xwOBA among starters. He kept his xBA under .200 in each of the first three starts and ranks among the leaders in that category. More importantly, his K% ranks in the 85th percentile with 26 K in 18 1/3 innings.

Rogers is rostered in just 8% of Yahoo leagues but will face the Boston Red Sox next followed by the Nationals and Yankees. Not many starters are guaranteed three more turns the rest of the way, so that works in his favor as well. Even if you don't roll with him vs New York, he has a great chance to succeed in his next two outings.

 

Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals

.068 wOBA-xwOBA

Small sample size has come into play all year and that is especially the case with Martinez. He was activated off the IL less than a week ago after spending a month on the shelf. Stuff has never been the issue with C-Mart, it has been command and health.

His two starts since returning haven't been promising, although neither was his first one before getting injured. Martinez has allowed seven runs on 13 hits over the last 7 2/3 IP. The good news: he only walked three batters and punched out 11.

His hard-hit rate currently sits at 54.8% which, aside from being mind-bogglingly high, is unsustainable. A far lower xwOBA than wOBA, a low walk rate, and the inevitable regression in exit velocity are factors that conspire to make him a decent streamer the rest of the season.

His velocity is down nearly three MPH on the fastball and sinker, which are certainly reasons to be wary. If he can work his arm back into shape and get his sinker to start sinking back to typical rates, he will be worth adding. Given the fact he may face the Pirates next time out, it may not matter - add him anyway.

 

Matthew Boyd, Detroit Tigers

.036 wOBA-xwOBA

The 2020 version of Boyd is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Once thought to be a great draft sleeper, Boyd burst that bubble quickly. He reached a 10.24 ERA after his fourth start by allowing four ER in his first two outings and then seven ER in each of the next two. Much of that came via the long ball, as he allowed five taters in the first four games. So much for pitcher-friendly Comerica Park.

It appeared he was turning things around in late August, allowing eight earned runs and 17 hits over a 21-inning stretch while holding batters to a .213 average and whiffing 29. Those four starts made us believe he was back...

Boyd was blown up by the Brewers and promptly dropped by thousands of fantasy managers who were ready to ride him down the stretch. Can Boyd bounce back for the final weeks of the season?

His overall Statcast profile is ugly but his season-long .366 xwOBA ranks in the upper half of all pitchers with at least 25 plate appearances against. He is underachieving compared to his unsightly .402 wOBA but it's been far from consistent. One look at his rolling xwOBA could be dizzying.

Can Boyd even be remotely trusted during these crucial final days? He faces the Royals next, who rank 21st in OPS and 25th in OBP. This is a team currently on a six-game winning streak though, buoyed by the recent return of Salvador Perez. Boyd can provide strikeouts and a chance for a solid start but the risk is high.

 

Zach Eflin, Philadelphia Phillies

.041 wOBA-xwOBA

Eflin's name keeps popping up in this column, particularly three weeks ago as one of the leaders in CSW% (called strikes + whiffs). Fellow Phillies starter Spencer Howard also makes the cut but he was highlighted more recently and, as a rookie, is harder to trust down the stretch in fantasy playoffs.

Between the excellent 22.6% K-BB% and .298 xwOBA, Eflin really ought to be doing much better yet his ERA still sits at 5.01. Statcast believes it should be nearly a run and a half lower with a 3.5 xERA, mainly because his wOBA and BAA are 50 points higher than expected.

Eflin hardly puts batters on through shaky command but his insistence on throwing strikes can lead to opponents stringing together hits in bunches, which is why he has only one quality start on the season. His next start comes against the Mets, who have put up huge offensive numbers in the past week. But hey, what goes up must come down, right?

Eflin is a risky start next week but may be more palatable in his final start, likely to be against a Nationals team that should miss the postseason a year after winning it all.



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After the Draft: Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

Fantasy football draft season is nearly over, as most teams have been formed in the days prior to opening kickoff. All those draft picks looked great at the time, but sometimes adjustments need to be made earlier than expected. Injuries, surprising roster cuts, depth chart shifts, and bad matchups can conspire to make players expendable before they've seen the field.

Whatever the reason, fantasy GMs may be looking to add players ahead of Week 1. For that reason, we present the top options at each position with analysis of their respective values, both immediate and long-term.

All rostered percentages are taken from Yahoo and players are listed in descending order. For a deeper look at each position, check out our Week 1 RB waiver wire piece, WR waiver advice, and Team Defense Streamers.

 

Quarterbacks - Waiver Wire Options

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts - 32% rostered

It was a tough season for Rivers as he threw nearly as many INT (20) and TD (23). He moves to a new team and no longer has Keenan Allen as a safety blanket. He does have a much better offensive line to protect him and arguably a deeper set of skill players. It's hard to gauge how the run-pass split will work in Indy but chances are there will be more emphasis on the running game initially. They may not need to pass very often to take care of the Jags, so keep Rivers in mind for Superflex only.

Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers - 24% rostered

The season opener doesn't just mark Bridgewater's Carolina debut, it's the first game for head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady. There could be some growing pains or time needed to make adjustments. Then again, it's a choice matchup as the Raiders allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2019 and didn't make major upgrades to the defense other than acquiring safety Jeff Heath earlier in the preseason and trading for linebacker Raekwon McMillan days ago. Bridgewater can't be on the radar for anyone outside of two-QB or superflex leagues just yet.

Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars - 12% rostered

If you heeded the advice of the Bud Light ad on your Twitter feed (or was it Miller Lite?) then you are starting your No. 1 overall pick without a doubt. Otherwise, you're going to keep him benched as a safe but boring backup QB on a team that could be tanking for Trevor Lawrence.

Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears - 3% rostered

Laugh if you will but Trubisky is the starting QB for Chicago and has a prime chance to get his career back on track in Week 1 versus Detroit. The Lions gave up the third-most fantasy points to QBs last year and have been one of Trubisky's favorite opponents over his career; he averages 271.8 passing yards per game and owns an 11-4 TD-INT ratio in five games against Detroit. Those numbers aren't enough to make him add-worthy but he does have another nice matchup in Week 2 against the Giants.

Others to consider: Drew Lock, Denver Broncos (24% rostered)

 

Running Backs - Waiver Wire Options

Chris Thompson, Jacksonville Jaguars - 37% rostered

Leonard Fournette is out, so Jay Gruden's guy is all but guaranteed to have a major role in this offense. It won't be a great offense but that actually works in his favor if the team is behind frequently and needs to pass more often. Thompson's major issue has been health, not performance. If he is on the field for enough snaps, he can be a source of points for fantasy teams.

Devonta Freeman, Free Agent - 23% rostered

As of this writing, Freeman is still unsigned. He has visited Jacksonville and could throw off the projected value for three other players on this list. For now, Freeman is a speculative stash only; even if he does sign before opening kickoff, he can't be counted on to see many snaps or be effective after missing all of the preseason activities while searching for a team.

Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs - 20% rostered

As the RB2 in KC, Williams now becomes a high-end insurance policy for Clyde Edwards-Helaire after DeAndre Washington was released. He could also play the role of TD vulture as the bigger back. He's not a big bruiser at 5'11" and 224 lbs but that gives him quite the advantage over Edwards-Helaire, who stands at 5'7" and 207 lbs. His role will more to frustrate CEH owners than anything but those in standard leagues might count on a score from Williams.

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts - 20% rostered

It seems everyone is expecting Jonathan Taylor to break out and win Rookie of the Year in his first NFL contest. Not only is that premature, it's unrealistic. Taylor had a hard time catching passes during the preseason and will not have a big role as a receiver initially as he acclimates to the league and gains the trust of the coaching staff. That role belongs to Hines, who has caught 107 passes his first two seasons. He also gets to face Jacksonville in Week 1, which allowed the ninth-most receiving yards to running backs last year.

Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers - 12% rostered

I am predicting a big comeback season for McKinnon, so he is a player I prefer over nearly all the other options listed here at running back. He won't get more than a handful of rush attempts but should see several targets and move around the field, possibly in the slot at times. In a Kyle Shanahan offense, his usage bodes well for fantasy production, especially in a Week 1 matchup with Arizona. These two teams combined to score 115 points in two games last year.

Bryce Love, Washington Football - 12% rostered

Some predicted Love wouldn't make the final cutdown but he remains in Washington while Adrian Peterson was released instead. If you believe he can recapture his college form and seize the chance to earn touches for a team in need of a new face in its backfield, take a chance on him breaking out. If you firmly believe it's Antonio Gibson szn or don't think Love can make much of a pro career after missing all of his rookie year recovering from ACL surgery, then look elsewhere on this list.

Devine Ozigbo, Jacksonville Jaguars - 12% rostered

Once fourth in line for backfield touches and far from sure to make the final roster, the former UDFA may not be the starting running back in Jacksonville. That is if they don't sign Devonta Freeman (above). He has all the physical attributes you look for in an early-down back and opportunity is currently in his favor, but he won't help at all in the receptions department and he's playing for a team sure to be a bottom dweller. He is a far better play in standard leagues based on touchdown upside than anything.

Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers - 10% rostered

It's shocking to see Kelley being ignored in the majority of fantasy leagues. True, he hasn't taken an NFL snap yet and Austin Ekeler is the clear RB1 for the Bolts. But Justin Jackson is hurt and Kelley could see a fair amount of work in Week 1. He's drawn rave reviews all preseason and could see more snaps than expected as the team won't overload Ekeler. Kelley may not pick up all of Melvin Gordon's offensive snaps but it will be enough that he has a chance to shine.

Darrynton Evans, Tennessee Titans - 5% rostered

Injecting a bit of personal bias into this recommendation, Evans is an RB stash to grab now before the word gets out. He's questionable heading into Week 1, won't see much action even if he does play, and didn't show out with a great training camp. Doesn't matter. The Titans invested a third-round pick in him to be the backup and he is the only other running back that the team is going to carry on its 53-man roster. He will have a significant role sooner or later. It's better to be early on FAB bids for running backs than to miss out.

Frank Gore, New York Jets - 5% rostered

That's right, he's still in the league and will somehow wind up getting as many touches as Le'Veon Bell while negating the value of rookie Lamical Perine. The upside is limited and it's doubtful Gore can ever raise his rushing average past four yards per carry again, but he's a running back who will get touches and that's worth something in 14+ team leagues.

James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars - 4% rostered

The starting running back for the Jags will wind up being the other nobody drafts. Leonard Fournette has been released, Ryquell Armstead is on the COVID list, and Chris Thompson is going to stick in a pass-catching role. That means rookie James Robinson will split carries with Devine Ozigbo in Week 1. Robinson has been drawing the praise from his head coach though and he is barely rostered in fantasy leagues while everyone was scrambling to pickup Armstead last week.

Others to consider: Benny Snell Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers (13% rostered); Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams (7% rostered); J.D. McKissic, Washington Football (1% rostered);

 

Wide Receivers - Waiver Wire Options

Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins - 38% rostered

Don't start Williams in Week 1. Those with an extra roster spot or looking for upside at WR as the season progresses can grab Williams if available but don't expect much right away. Williams is recovering from ACL surgery and may be on a snap count to start the season. Regardless, he has a terrible matchup on the road against the Patriots in the season opener. He won't get Stephon Gilmore, but Jason McCourty isn't much better of a matchup. While this will look like a better add in a couple of weeks, it might be a good time to grab him while available.

N'Keal Harry, New England Patriots - 35% rostered

We have no idea if Harry will take a step forward in year two or show chemistry with Cam Newton. The physical tools are there, as is the opportunity. If you seek pure upside without any guarantee of production, Harry is worth a shot.

Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers - 32% rostered

It's natural to be skeptical of Anderson given his history of getting hurt and inconsistent play along with a new team situation. That said, the Panthers added him for a reason and Curtis Samuel has reportedly had a tough training camp. Anderson could be the clear WR2 in Carolina. While that isn't enough to warrant starting status on fantasy teams, they did upgrade their QB situation with solid but unspectacular Teddy Bridgewater. Anderson is boom-bust for the moment but has plenty of upside given his speed and deep-threat ability.

Breshad Perriman, New York Jets - 26% rostered

Perriman is one of the few starting X receivers that is widely available for fantasy purposes but then again, it's the Jets. Perriman is a less reliable version of Harry except that he finally has some NFL production to boast of. He averaged five catches, 101 yards, and a touchdown per game over the last five contests of 2019. That would be amazing production on par with the top receivers in the league. Problem is that happened in Tampa with Jameis Winston slinging the rock. Perriman is also dealing with knee swelling that leaves him questionable for Week 1. This is purely a stash but one that could pay off long-term.

Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts - 20% rostered

All signs have been positive toward projecting a second-year leap for Campbell after an injury-riddled rookie season. Philip Rivers may not be what he used to be, but he still helped Keenan Allen to 104 receptions and nearly 1,200 yards in 2019. Campbell isn't Allen but he will play a similar role as a slot receiver most of the time. He gets the benefit of playing Jacksonville in Week 1, so a nice output could be in store.

Bryan Edwards, Las Vegas Raiders - 17% rostered

One of the biggest risers over the past week, Edwards was announced as the starting X receiver for the Raiders and then Tyrell Williams was placed on IR. The target share could be significant from the jump, especially against a Panthers team that allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to WRs last year.

Randall Cobb, Houston Texans - 11% rostered

The season opener between Houston and Kansas City has a projected over/under of 54.5 which means a shootout is expected. The Texans clearly plan to spread the ball around to multiple receivers and backs now that they've moved DeAndre Hopkins and added Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks. Cobb was playable at times last year, posting 828 yards and five games over 70 yards. He's a low-end WR4 that can be flexed if necessary.

Josh Gordon, Seattle Seahawks - 10% rostered

It's 2020 and we're still talking about Gordon as a roster stash in hopes he gets reinstated. It would be optimistic to think that Seattle wouldn't sign him if they didn't believe he would be reinstated but we know better. If you are in a deep-enough league or are fine at WR and just need a lotto ticket, take a shot. Don't drop anyone of consequence in favor of Gordon just yet.

Steven Sims, Washington Football - 5% rostered

Those who paid attention to this and our WR waiver wire columns late last season already know about Sims. He scored four touchdowns over the past three weeks of 2019 with at least five receptions in each game. The chemistry appeared to be there with Dwayne Haskins, who was named starting QB. There is little competition for targets, so Sims should be busy enough to get attention in full PPR leagues.

Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 1% owned

With elite receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, not to mention his favorite TE in Rob Gronkowski to throw to, Miller doesn't seem like a high-upside play. Never underestimate a speedy slot receiver in Tom Brady's presence, though. Wait and see what his target share looks like in the opener or make a pre-emptive claim on him if you have a spot open.

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons - 1% rostered

Gage also suffers from overwhelming talent around him in the receiver room but his presence in a high-volume passing offense can't be ignored. Atlanta led the league in pass attempts last year by a wide margin, so there will be enough passes thrown his way to pique the interest of PPR GMs.

Others to consider: Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers (34% rostered); Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (22% rostered); Hunter Renfrox, Las Vegas Raiders (21% rostered); James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers (15% rostered); Kenny Stills, Houston Texans (5% rostered); Josh Reynolds, Los Angeles Rams (2% rostered)

 

Tight Ends - Waiver Wire Options

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts - 32% rostered

We know Philip Rivers has no problem throwing to the tight end. Jack Doyle is a proven commodity and now has no competition at his position with Trey Burton slated to miss at least two weeks with a calf strain. Doyle wasn't a major factor last year at 28 receiving yards per game but should see a larger target share in addition to the upgrade at QB.

Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers - 31% rostered

Some fantasy GMs swore off Ebron years ago. Some didn't do so until last year when he became one of the biggest fantasy flops at tight end. He dropped from 13 TD in 2018 to three in 2019, a logical regression we should have seen coming. Will a new team inject new life into his value? If you believe the beat writers covering the Steelers, Ebron is going to line up all over the field and beat linebackers downfield with ease. Since you likely aren't playing in a two-TE league, Ebron is merely a backup right now anyway. He's worth a roster spot because of his big-play ability and role on a strong pass offense.

Greg Olsen, Seattle Seahawks - 30% rostered

The tight end in Seattle's offense will get plenty of chances to produce stats. The question is how many snaps Olsen will see in relation to Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister who return from last season. Despite the fact he has the most decorated NFL career of any tight end on this list, he may not be the strongest play.

Tyler Eifert, Jacksonville Jaguars - 14% rostered

Bad teams can be fantasy relevant too. The loss of Josh Oliver for the season puts Eifert in line for a busy season after signing a two-year deal. The injury-prone tag will stick with him, fair or not, but he is a talented receiver who will be one of the top options for Gardner Minshew.

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings - 11% rostered

It's debatable whether Rudolph or Smith will see more action as a receiver but it was Rudolph who finished as a top-15 fantasy TE last year. Smith was a rookie, so it's natural to expect him to take a bigger role but Rudolph's size advantage still makes him a better red-zone target and the safer choice.

Dan Arnold, Arizona Cardinals - 1% rostered

This is The King's special, so any credit for a Week 1 breakout goes to Scott Engel. Arnold only got a 10.4% target share last year and the Niners, aside from being one of the best defenses in the NFL, were one of the stingiest against the tight end. So don't expect much but keep an eye on Arnold's involvement as the weeks go on to see if becomes a glorified wide receiver at the TE position.

Others to consider: Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings (16% rostered); Jace Sternberger, Green Bay Packers (7% rostered); Jimmy Graham, Chicago Bears (6% rostered); Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills (4% rostered); Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams (3% rostered)

 

Team Defense - Waiver Wire Options

Tennessee Titans Defense - 35% rostered

Truthfully, this should be the first and only DST waiver claim for those needing a Week 1 streamer. The Titans didn't stand out particularly last year on defense but were a solid, fringe weekly starter. Even before the addition of Jadveon Clowney, this unit had the promise to be a top-10 fantasy producer and more than a streamer based on the growth of its young players and some key additions such as Vic Beasley and draft pick Kristian Fulton. A road game isn't ideal but Drew Lock isn't likely to light up the scoreboard and Melvin Gordon is banged up.

Washington Football Team Defense - 5% rostered

Nobody wants to be starting Washington's defense if they can help it but this is one of the few teams below 50% rostered that isn't on the road or facing a juggernaut on offense. The Eagles are a good team for sure, but between Miles Sanders' questionable tag and the ridiculous amount of injuries at wide receiver, it may be a lackluster showing on the scoreboard. Who knows, maybe Chase Young puts on a show in his NFL debut.

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Deep Dynasty Sleepers to Add Before It's Too Late

All the top rookies have found a home on dynasty rosters long ago and the unexpected training camp risers like James Robinson have been snatched up from waivers ahead of Week 1. A quick look at the waiver wire in leagues with deep rosters is pretty bare. For example, a recent search for the best RB options available in our RotoBaller Analyst Dynasty League on Fleaflicker yielded J.J. Taylor and Devontae Booker. I won't recommend you add either of those two like I was forced to.

Below, I'll list some players with rising value that could be available in a deeper dynasty league and should be picked up now, before it's too late.

Here are my favorite sleepers to consider stashing in dynasty ahead of the 2020 fantasy football season.

 

Quintez Cephus (WR, DET)

This name went from deep sleeper to must-have commodity from the time I began drafting this to the time I hit "Submit." The Lions are a team thin on WR depth so there is a chance for a young player to emerge. The doubtful tag placed on Kenny Golladay ahead of Week 1 just speeds things up a bit.


A fifth-round pick out of Wisconsin, Cephus didn't see a ton of volume while playing on a traditionally run-heavy Big 10 team. They also had a guy named Jonathan Taylor carrying the offense out of the backfield. Cephus doesn't stand out in terms of measurables or stature, but has drawn praise for his route-running and run-after-catch ability. PFF named him as a top preseason rookie standout along with other players you may recognize such as Joe Burrow, Antonio Gibson, and Bryan Edwards.


On another team, Cephus might be a practice squad player to develop. In Detroit, he now has a chance to shine early in his career with the benefit of gunslinger Matthew Stafford throwing his way. In a perfect world, he could have been stashed before the season opener but even if he isn't involved much with Golladay out, he is still someone to watch.

 

Jason Huntley (RB, PHI)

First thing to know about Huntley: he's fast. Let's get the obligatory PlayerProfiler image out of the way now.

This is a little misleading because he wasn't invited to the NFL Combine and actually ran a 4.37 40 at New Mexico State's Pro Day. That would be faster than any running back that did attend the Combine, including Jonathan Taylor. His 131" broad jump also would have ranked first.

Huntley was drafted by Detroit, which seemed like a fairly good landing spot even after the selection of D'Andre Swift. Then the team promptly released him in favor of 95-year-old Adrian Peterson, which is a very Matt Patricia move. That works in Huntley's favor because he was claimed by the Eagles right away.

Miles Sanders is the present and future for the Philly backfield. He's just one player though and we know Doug Pederson has always used multiple backs. Sanders is already battling a hamstring injury that will keep him out of Week 1 so the Eagles' backfield depth is about to get tested.

Boston Scott is the RB2 and clearly the player to pick up if not rostered already. Corey Clement is the boring vet who will play a fair amount of snaps but not move the needle very far for fantasy purposes. If looking for a home run play or deep sleeper, check out Huntley, who not only has speed to burn but is an excellent pass-catcher and kick returner, having caught 126 passes while racking up 1,521 return yards the last three years in college. Pederson will find ways to get him on the field sooner than later.

 

Joe Reed/K.J. Hill (WR, LAC)

Hopefully, they weren't both selected in your rookie draft because the Chargers receivers have the best path to immediate value on this list. Mike Williams is banged up with a shoulder issue that could linger beyond Week 1. There is also precious little veteran depth in the Chargers' receiver room which means we could even see a fair amount of targets headed to rookie Joe Reed on the outside or KJ Hill in the slot.

Reed was a fifth-round selection out of Virginia who is the superior athlete while Hill was part of a stacked Ohio State offense and could prove more NFL-ready. Hill's production was steady but unspectacular throughout college with a target share under 20% each year. Reed stepped up in 2019 with a 22% target share but wasn't on the most dynamic offense.

The Chargers offense in 2020 may not be explosive between Tyrod Taylor and rookie Justin Herbert at QB while the backfield is still unsettled behind Austin Ekeler. There will be growing pains but if Herbert is everything the franchise expects, either or both of these receivers could benefit.

 

Raymond Calais (RB, LAR)

I'm old enough to remember when Ronald Jones II was the starting running back in Tampa Bay and Ke'Shawn Vaughn was the rookie set to challenge him for touches. Now, Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy have been signed, Vaughn has been relegated to special teams duty and Jones' dynasty value has dropped like a brick. That left Raymond Calais on the practice squad where he was promptly claimed by the Rams, breathing a little life back into his fantasy value.

The Rams are set with Cam Akers as their top RB (trust me on this) with Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson mixing into what could be a committee early on. That won't last long, as both Brown and Henderson have been subpar production-wise. Looking long-term, as dynasty owners ought to do, Brown may not be on the roster next year and the team could move on from Henderson if he doesn't show anything.

Calais is an undersized back who will rely on his speed. His 4.42 40 time is his main asset and he wasn't much of a receiver in college so there's no pretense that he will be more than a change-of-pace back. The upside is limited but if he can develop into a Dion Lewis type with the chance for touches as a backup, there could be fantasy value.

 

Jaeden Graham (TE, ATL)

Austin Hooper is gone, so Hayden Hurst, former first-round pick of the Ravens, inherits those targets. But what if it's Jaeden Graham instead?

Fantasy managers should recall that Hooper was the TE1 over the first 10 weeks of the 2019 season until his injury. During Weeks 11-13, Graham took his place and caught seven passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. Not amazing but as a rookie UDFA out of Yale suddenly forced into action, it wasn't too shabby. As a second-year player who has more familiarity with Matt Ryan than Hurst, it's not inconceivable that he sees the field a fair amount in 2020.

Looking at the most surface of stats, size and speed, Graham compares favorably to Hooper. The big difference is pedigree, as Hooper played at Stanford with Kevin Hogan and Christian McCaffrey while Graham played at Yale.

Don't get me wrong, he won't leapfrog Hurst on the depth chart but between Hurst's injury history and the chance he doesn't gel with his new QB, Graham is waiting in the wings. A lot of fantasy managers are convinced Hurst is this year's breakout TE (wrong: it's Noah Fant or Mike Gesicki) but he could just as easily be Coby Fleener from 2016 when everyone was convinced he would be a Pro Bowler in New Orleans. Hurst is a player you still want to roster but Graham is a stash nobody is paying attention to.

 

Jacob Eason (QB, IND)

There aren't many times a dynasty manager would stash a QB outside of Superflex leagues. There are also deep-enough leagues where you can find yourself looking to hold onto a potential starter for next year.

Philip Rivers is the QB in 2020 but it's on a one-year contract and he's 38 years old. If the team doesn't make a deep playoff run with him at the helm, there's no reason to imagine him as a Colt in 2021. This isn't a team tanking for Trevor or likely to have a top-10 pick, so that leaves the team with the undesirable option of seeking a free--agent quarterback or developing one that wasn't a high draft pick. They may already have one waiting in Eason, who was a fourth-rounder this year.

Eason had an uneven NCAA career marked by a transfer from Georgia to Washington. He finished with a 39/16 TD/INT rate and completed just under 60% of his passes. There's a reason he was a top prospect coming into college, though. He has a big frame at 6'6" and a big arm. His 59 MPH throw velocity ranked in the 90th percentile. If anything, his issue has been overthrowing or rocketing passes through his receiver's arms. An NFL coaching staff and strong mentor could help him hone those physical tools and improve his accuracy.

Eason can spend the season learning under a veteran and has the luxury of developing the old-school way - sitting on the sidelines and soaking it all in.



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