Going into week six, we’re nearly half way home through the fantasy regular season. Injuries are starting to pile up and depth on your fantasy teams are of the utmost importance.
The days of “tricking” other fantasy owners are just about numbered. There is so much information at everyone’s disposal that in order to get yourself an edge over your competition, you have to think more creatively and differently than the rest of your league.
As bye weeks start to pile in, matchups become much more important and we still have a long ways to go. Opportunity is the key and we have to find ways to exploit where opportunity will be given to guys that may not have the highest value at this time and vice versa.
Here are some buy low/sell high candidates moving forward as well as deep adds to stash on your bench:
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore
As a whole, Jackson has been one of the more disappointing fantasy players to start off the season. Just a year ago, he was the 2nd unanimous MVP in NFL history and seemed to be an auto 30+ points weekly in our fantasy lineups. This year, not so much. He’s not running nearly as much; in 2019, he averaged 11.7 rushes a game and that mark is at a mere 8.2 a game with just 2 rushes vs. Cincinnati last week. Here’s the reality: OC Greg Roman is trying to force the issue and become more efficient in the pass game while being conservative with Jackson’s legs when they can. This mentality won’t last: they’re in the thick of an AFC North race where Pittsburgh (4-0) and Cleveland (4-1) are legitimate challengers to their throne. Don’t be scared by their schedule in the upcoming weeks against Pitt, Indy, Tennessee, and New England – the Ravens will fall back on the legs of Lamar to save them in these tight games.
Cam Newton, New England
According to FantasyPros, the Patriots have the easy remaining schedule for their QBs moving forward. Cam was sidelined in their week 4 matchup against KC due to COVID as their bye was moved up to last week. Going into the season, we questioned what Cam’s fit in Josh McDaniels offense would look like. And it looked terrorizing for the first three weeks he could play: he had two multi-TD games out the gate.
But what was more encouraging when he nearly threw for 400 yards on Sunday Night in week 2 against the Seahawks. This is still a deficient WR corps but don’t be surprised if Bill Belichick has a trick up his sleeve at the deadline for a veteran like AJ Green or Kenny Stills. QBs that can run are the biggest separator in fantasy and besides Lamar, Cam does it at the highest level – get him while his name is under the radar.
Sell High: N/A
The top 5 QBs (get well, Dak) through the first five weeks: Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, and Aaron Rodgers have all been fantasy superstars in the early part of the year. I expect Cam and Lamar to join this elite group but none of these guys are worth selling without yielding a ridiculous return. Although QBs are arguably the least important position fantasy-wise between RBs, WRs, and TEs, there’s something to be said about all of these guys that can pour in 30+ any week. Come playoff time, those points should be put on a premium and it’s not worth getting cute and “selling high.”
Derek Carr, Vegas
Recency bias, here I come: look, I haven’t been the biggest Derek Carr fan since he arrived in the league. The guy has gaudy passing efficiency numbers (if you don’t believe me, he’s 16th all-time in passer rating, right on the heels of Montana at 15), but his biggest criticism has been his inability and tentativeness to throw the deep ball. Well, he put those criticisms to rest for at least a week. Per NextGenStats, Carr was 4-6 for 219 yards on pass attempts that traveled 20+ air yards. Could it have been a one-week gameplan deal? Absolutely, the Chiefs bring a ton of pressure, and the Raiders answer could’ve been to push the ball down the field. But if you scratch below the surface, you’d realize this is a completely different offense with rookie speedstar, Henry Ruggs. The 1st rounder had his best game with 118 yards with a touchdown, but more importantly, the Raiders moved to 3-0 with Ruggs in the lineup (0-2 without him). Even if Ruggs doesn’t contribute (which he really didn’t until that Chiefs game), he strikes fear into opposing defenses as an elusive deep threat opening up voids underneath for TE Darren Waller, WR Hunter Renfrow, and the running game for Josh Jacobs. Once defenses choose to bring that extra safety down and take that stuff away, insert Ruggs. Carr is a speculative add at this point but he’s only rostered in 22% of ESPN leagues, his upside is one of a top 8 QB and his floor has proven to be a QB2 over the years. Get him if you can.
David Montgomery, Chicago
The quick and easy answer is that just about every skill player’s fantasy value went up after Nick Foles took over for Mitch Trubisky:
Montgomery’s upside was always in question but after Tarik Cohen went down, Montgomery assumed all the catches out of Chicago’s backfield; he has a relatively high floor for a presumptive RB2. His last two weeks he didn’t top 30 rushing yards against two of the league’s top rushing defenses in Indy and Tampa and still topped double digits in PPR formats both weeks. He’s not sexy but he produces.
Kenyan Drake, Arizona
There has been a lot of Kenyan Drake slander the past two weeks and it’s understandable why. If you selected Drake, you selected him at a premium. He was a consensus early to mid 2nd rounder; some of you may have even taken him late round one. We’re starting to realize he might not be that dude but if we temper expectations, this guy can still help you win a league. Think I’m being dramatic? There are four running backs through five weeks that have rushed for 60+ yards in four out of five games: Aaron Jones, Josh Jacobs, Kareem Hunt, and you guessed it, Drake. Yes, he doesn’t catch the ball like these other guys. He hardly even gets targeted at all and that’s okay. Through five weeks, he has the 6th most rushing attempts. Yes, he’s been very inefficient, yes, he looks slow (putting on weight to be that workhorse), but as fantasy owners, we’re oftentimes too emotional. For the owners that invested so much into Drake, it feels like his production almost backstabbed and devastated them. Cash in on the opportunity to buy him low. Let owners think Chase Edmonds will be cutting into his work, because he very well may, but Edmonds does not have the mold of an everyday back like Drake. He is their change of pace, passing catcher back. Get Drake while you can, there’s just too much opportunity that comes his way to pass up.
JK Dobbins, Ravens
There was a lot of buzz going into the season for the Ohio State product and rightfully so. His downhill running style paired with this nasty Ravens OL seemed like a match made in heaven. It’s been a curious start; we knew the Ravens were a committee going into the season (more so than other squads). But his usage has been a little confusing to say the least; week 1 Dobbins reached the endzone twice and has seen his workload go down ever since. Through five games, Dobbins only has 25 touches but what he’s done with those touches is pretty ridiculous: 126 rushing yards, 73 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. That equates to 40.9 fantasy points, but look, right now that does nothing for you. This is pure speculation but in fantasy, talent usually rules over all.
As the weather gets colder and the Ravens get into stiffer competition, they’ll need to lean on the run and Dobbins is clearly their best option. The upside for a full workload with Dobbins is one of an RB1, he’s worth shopping for if you’re willing to be patient and stash on the end of your bench for a few more weeks.
D’Andre Swift, Lions
It’s tough with Swift because he’s clearly in a situation with incompetent coaches. They had spent the 43rd and 35th overall selections in the 2018 and 2020 drafts on Kerryon Johnson and Swift, respectively and have rode out 35 year-old Adrian Peterson. I love AP but these coaches know they’re on the chopping block and are going with the safe option in AP rather than experiment/groom these young guys. Despite all this, Swift has still scored in the double digits in 3 out of his first 4 games in PPR formats. We saw what QB Matthew Stafford has done with pass-catchers Jahvid Best, Reggie Bush, and Theo Riddick in the past and Swift has more talent than all of them. It’s unfortunate because we may never really see Swift fully unleashed unless Patricia and his staff get fired midseason or if AP misses time, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take for a really cheap price at the moment.
Cam Akers, Rams
I’m not as excited about Akers as I am about Swift and Dobbins, just because he hasn’t shown us as much. However, his college production and measurables are undeniable especially when we stack them up against teammates Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown. Head coach Sean McVay said we’d be seeing more of Akers Sunday night against San Fran after he played his best game in his young career against Washington, so we’ll see how he does with more opportunity. He’s only 58% owned in ESPN leagues so it’s possible he’s a free agent in your league, but with the same line of thinking as the first two guys: I expect his talent to find his way atop of the depth chart as Darrell Henderson is starting to come back down to earth after his early season success. Oh, and the Rams OL have been one of the bigger surprises in the early part of the season as they are 7th in adjusted line yards in the run game. What was once viewed as a huge deficiency in 2019 has turned into a strength and Akers could be a huge beneficiary later in the season.
Todd Gurley, Atlanta
The resurgence has been a nice story for Gurley but it just isn’t sustainable. Gurley has already seen 5 touchdowns on just 79 carries this season. If he were to keep up this pace, he’d have the same production as his best season as a pro in 2018 where he had a career high 17 TDs on 256 rushes (on pace for 17 TDs on 253 carries). Over the last few years, Gurley has proven to be injury prone with lingering knee issues, sell him now as he is a borderline top 10 RB in scoring. This team is not/will not be in the business of winning games by fantasy playoff time; Gurley is a UFA by the end of the year, and they will look to sprinkle in more of backup Brian Hill who is more efficient (5.3 yards per carry) with his touches.
Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay
Another nice surprise has been Tampa running back Ronald Jones. Jones saw some success with over 1000 total yards from scrimmage in 2019. Nevertheless, Rojo has played his best football in his young career in the absence of RB Leonard Fournette with a combined 217 yards on 37 carries the past 2 weeks. He looks fast, is displaying solid vision, and is breaking tackles at ease at the second level. He’s made considerable strides since his rookie year and on his own, he looks great. But his situation is a total crapshoot. The personnel moves they made didn’t show any vote of confidence in Jones this offseason. They drafted Ke”shawn Vaughn in the third round (who has seen more snaps the past two weeks), signed Lesean McCoy and scooped up Leonard Fournette as soon as he was made available. Because of the absences of Fournette and McCoy, Rojo has seen so much work the past two weeks but this is a backfield to steer clear of. Sell Jones as the RB2 he is for now while you can as these guys are slated to come back.
D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland
Johnson has seen work these past two weeks after the injury of Nick Chubb. Chubb is expected to be out for the next five weeks. Although Johnson followed up his 95-yard performance versus Dallas with only 32 yards against Indy, there are some encouraging signs. He saw an uptick in snaps from 17 to 22, and only saw 1 special team snap last week. Indianapolis has one of the best run defenses in all of football; Browns starting running back Kareem Hunt only averaged 3.6 yards per carry against the same front. After a tough matchup against Pittsburgh, Cleveland faces Cincinnati, Las Vegas, and Houston, three favorable matchups. Johnson should be a must own seeing that he is only one snap away from being a starter in an offense with the best running block unit.
Tony Pollard, Dallas
Only owned in 22% of ESPN leagues, Pollard should be stashed on your bench if you have the room to do so. With QB Dak Prescott suffering a season-ending injury, expect Dallas to go back to being more of a run-first operation. Pollard is a nice change of pace option behind Zeke. He can catch the ball and if anything were to happen to Zeke, he instantly becomes an RB1.
Jeremy McNichols, Tennessee
Along the same lines of Zeke in Dallas, McNichols doesn’t hold that much value by himself. It seems like Derrick Henry is indestructible and he very well might be but McNichols gets thrusted into top 20 RB territory in that offense without King Henry.
DeVante Parker, Miami
One of the guys who is currently seeing greener pastures after having to play under offensive guru Adam Gase’s tutelage, Parker never saw more than 750 yards under Gase. Yet, he has slowly developed into one of the more underrated receivers in the game. Since week 7 of 2019, Parker has the most receiving yards in the NFL:
All he’s done is consistently produce and it’s time to be treating him like the high end WR2 that he is.
Tyler Boyd/Tee Higgins, Cincinnati
I value Boyd more than Higgins but chances are you could get Higgins for much cheaper. In 2020, Boyd has 23 receptions from the slot, the highest mark in the NFL. Boyd is that middle of the field option that is their chain mover, and security blanket for Burrow. In five games this season, Boyd has caught at least four passes in each contest. His consistency at the WR position is more valuable because there is so much variance at the wide receiver position. Since week two, Higgins has averaged 14.7 points per game in PPR formats. He should be treated like a potential weekly flex option but is treated like an end of the bench stash.
Jamison Crowder, NYJ
Crowder is just a hilarious fantasy player. He somehow is the WR3 in points per game on the Jets. He really is their only option and since the Jets are no strangers to garbage time, the Jets can just chuck it around to Crowder. However, my fear with Crowder comes from his injury history as he is dealing with a soft tissue injury at the moment (hamstring) while their top two outside receivers are coming back. Offseason acquisition Breshad Perriman and 2nd rounder Denzel Mims are expected to be back in the lineup for the Jets and that will instantly take volume away from Crowder. Those two receivers aren’t dominant, but they’re certainly better than Chris Hogan and Jeff Smith. Oh, and there’s no way Gase lasts this year. If Gase gets fired and OC Dowell Loggains assumes play-calling duties, expect more creativity and a less one-dimensional passing attack.
Jalen Guyton, LAC
The University of North Texas product is seeing some serious burn for LA and is contributing as a solid deep threat. He was a UDFA last season and was let go by Dallas. The Chargers picked him up and he has already shown good chemistry with rookie sensation Justin Herbert. 4.3 guys don’t grow on trees and Guyton is one of them:
He’s averaging 29 yards per catch on the season and has shown an ability to track the deep ball early. His snap count has increased each week as he logged 92% of their offensive snaps in their last game against the Saints. With Keenan Allen currently sidelined and Mike Williams being injury prone, Guyton’s speed combined with Herbert’s arm strength/ability to deliver the ball down the field has a lot of potential worth stashing.
Olamide Zaccheaus, Atlanta
Similar to Guyton, Zaccheaus could see some serious work with the other receivers he’s around. Yes, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are both superstars but each have been hampered with injuries consistently. Even if just one of them is sidelined, this elevates Zaccheaus to a top 30 WR just because of the offense they are in. Ridley/Jones will always attract a ton of attention. When Julio Jones was sidelined in weeks 3 and 4, Zaccheaus saw 12 catches for 127 yards combined. Oh, and he saw 97% in their last matchup versus Carolina.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia
Look, there are really five tight ends that you can count on in a week-to-week basis: Kittle, Kelce, Andrews, Waller, and I’ll include Jonnu Smith for now. Ertz was a consistent fantasy staple as a top 3 or 4 option. He never presented the game-breaking ability of a Kittle or Kelce but always had an extremely high floor. Well, that has suddenly disappeared in the early part of the season. He has caught for 18 yards or less in 3 of the 5 games while combining for 15 yards the past two weeks. However, I’m willing to gamble on a proven commodity like Ertz to at least partially redeem himself as guys like Jalen Reagor, DeSean Jackson, and Dallas Goedert come back and take pressure/attention away from Ertz.
Austin Hooper, Cleveland
Head coach Kevin Stefanski has always been a huge proponent of 11 and 12 personnel where one to two tight ends are on the field at all times. His ground and pound, downhill nature is a tight end’s dream. This means a ton of play actions and safety valve concepts that QB Baker Mayfield can eat up in this offense. Hooper was underwhelming his first few weeks but has caught 5 passes in each of his last two games. He has a much higher floor than other low-end TE1’s because of the scheme and fit within this Cleveland offense.
Tyler Higbee, LAR
It’s very realistic that you missed your window but there may be 15-20 tight ends I’d rather have than Higbee. In week 2, the Western Kentucky product exploded for 3 touchdowns against the Eagles. And many pundits believed he could enter that Kittle/Kelce conversation the way he ended his 2019 season: in his last four games, Higbee became the first tight end in modern NFL history to record 7 or more catches and 100 or more yards in four straight weeks. He saw over 70% of his fantasy production in the last month of the year. An extremely small sample size to go off, it’s looking more and more like a flash in the pan by the week. This offense is a run heavy operation this season, and it seems like McVay is more interested in getting TE2 Gerald Everett involved as a pass catcher (and he’s a better receiver than Higbee anyways). Higbee is 29th in routes run by tight ends so far and this offense is a weekly nightmare.
Robert Tonyan, Green Bay
Tonyan introduced himself to the world when he erupted for 3 TDs on Monday night football in week 4 against Atlanta. But really, you should’ve been paying attention before that. He’s a 6’4, 240 lb. TE who is a legit 4.6 runner. He has 5 TDs through 4 games and has at the very least earned the trust of QB Aaron Rodgers. Yes, superstar WR Davante Adams is slated to come back this week but I don’t care. Allen Lazard is still out indefinitely so there is a huge window of opportunity for Tonyan to be that clear-cut 2nd option in this potent, high-octane offense. He has much more upside than any other TE2 at the moment. He’s worth weekly starts/stashing on your bench until we can really evaluate just how involved he is in this GB passing attack moving forward.
/ 14 hours ago
Ah! The legendary days of former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson are funny...