Now that we’re getting into the bye weeks and more fantasy are without star players due to byes or injuries or contemplating benching players due to the lack of consistent production, roster movement is taking place – whether it’s via the waiver wire or through trades.
There are a lot of players – some more quietly than others – that are carving out nice little fantasy niches for themselves that can be included as part of a bigger deal that could end up doing some serious business for you at some point during the season.
For the most part, these aren’t guys you want to start every week, but they can do damage – and have on a pretty consistent basis.
These are The Shop’s Sweet 16 guys you should give a little more attention to and, if possible, add them to your stable because they may end up winning you games down the line.
Devante Adams – With all the attention on Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, Adams has quietly become an end zone favorite of Aaron Rodgers. While he has just one game with more than 50 yards, he has scored a touchdown in three of four games and, if anything happens to either Nelson or Cobb, his stock jumps.
Martellus Bennett – Gronk gets all the attention and publicity, but nobody has more receiving yards (314) or touchdowns (4) than Bennett. Despite playing with three different QBs, he has two 100-yard games and one three-TD game – all coming from different quarterbacks.
Sammie Coates – Ben Roethlisberger develops stars and, while Coates didn’t hit the end zone until last week, he has taken over the Martavis Bryant role of deep threat. He has 19 catches and is averaging 22 yards a pop. Despite having half the receptions Antonio Brown has, he has just 26 fewer yards.
Tevin Coleman – Devonta Freeman is the clearly the main running back in Atlanta, but, Coleman has scored five touchdown and has two games with 95 or more receiving yards. He’s a borderline start as things already sit, but if Freeman was to get injured, Coleman could be huge.
Michael Crabtree – He leads the Raiders in receptions (29) and touchdowns (5). Amari Cooper is the star, but Crabby gets his too.
Isaiah Crowell – New England stuffed him on Sunday, but, through five games, he is on pace to run for 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns. When you look at it from that perspective, he isn’t as bad as his team would make it appear.
Quincy Enunwa – The Jets only throw to their wide receivers and nobody has caught more passes than Enunwa. He has four or more in every game and has worked his way into the good graces of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Jordan Howard – Who needs Jeremy Langford? In two games without Jeremy Langford, Howard has ran 39 times for 229 yards and has a receiving touchdown. You don’t want to pin you weekly hopes on him, but those who have needed to have been rewarded.
Brian Hoyer – You don’t have to like the Bears (I don’t), but Hoyer is putting up starting fantasy numbers. In three starts with Jay Cutler out, he has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and has two TD passes in each game. A lot of fantasy owners would jump at that kind of week-to-week production.
Dak Prescott – In five games, he hasn’t thrown for less than 227 yards in any game and, in his last three games, has four TD passes and two TD runs. If they open up the offense to him, he could post good enough numbers to keep Tony Romo watching instead of playing.
Theo Riddick – Known primarily as a receiver, with Ameer Abdullah out, Riddick is what passes for a starting running back in Detroit and he has scored four touchdowns in five games. He has more value in PPR leagues, but he gets the job done and gets in the end zone.
Kyle Rudolph – He has quickly become one of Sam Bradford’s go-to targets. He doesn’t post eye-popping numbers, but, as dead as the tight end position is for fantasy guys, anyone who can consistently get targeted in the red zone is a plus.
Willie Snead – In his two healthy games before the bye week, he caught 14 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Any Saint other than Drew Brees is a dice roll, but he and Snead have a groove thing. But, that same can be said for rookie Michael Thomas.
Matthew Stafford – You don’t have to like M-Staff or the Lions, but the numbers don’t lie. Through five games, he has thrown three touchdowns in three of those and has topped 340 yards in two of those three. He may not win a ton of games, but Detroit’s defense is so bad that he will get his opportunities.
Carson Wentz – The kid has thrown two TD passes in three of his first four games, is completing more passes every game and is averaging better than 250 a contest. He isn’t an every-week guy, but could be a solid fill-in.
Terrance West – I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of the Ravens offense, much less their confusing running back situation. But, in the two games they let West be their primary back, he has rushed 32 times for 208 yards and a touchdown. He’s not a guy you want to start, but the combination of bye weeks and injuries makes him an interesting prospect in a pinch.
None of these guys will make or break a roster, but, when you need points due to injuries or bye weeks, they could be the difference between winning and losing.
- You have to take your hats off to the Minnesota Vikings. In the span of a month, they lost their quarterback, their Hall of Fame running back and their left tackle from the offense and have had a revolving door on the O-line due to injuries. Yet, they’re they only unbeaten team left in the NFL. Who knew?
- The Cowboys may want to tape the brakes on Tony Romo’s return. Dak Prescott has played well enough to keep the starting job, regardless of what Jerry Jones says about the job being Romo’s when he’s healthy. Prescott is the future. Romo is the past and he should cash his checks and be ready if Prescott gets hurt. If not, he should be Drew Bledsoe 2.0, who gave way to Tom Brady and the Patriots never looked back.
- Jordy Nelson is only averaging 60 yards a game, but has scored five touchdowns in four games – hitting pay dirt at least once in every game.
- We openly mocked the Buffalo Bills when their horrible defense got them off to a 0-2 start and Rex Ryan didn’t fire his obese brother, he fired the offensive coordinator. Since then, Buffalo has rattled off three straight wins, including Arizona and at New England and Los Angeles. Suddenly, Buffalo looks like the team we thought they were before the season started.
- While they still appear to be doing it with smoke and mirrors, the Raiders are 4-1, despite giving up 450 yards a game. You don’t have to like how they’re doing it, but the league doesn’t take away wins once they’re in the books. The reality is that, if the Raiders go 6-5 the rest of the way, they’re in the playoffs.
The Razor’s Edge
10. Raggedy Andy – It isn’t Andrew Luck’s fault that his defense is allowing 30 points and there looks to be no end in sight. When you allow a ratty Chicago team to put up almost 400 yards passing with a backup QB and allow a backup running back to pop off 118 yards on just 16 carries, you have serious problems. Worst of all is that it has forced Andrew Luck to throw a lot more than he should. He has already been sacked 20 times and has taken just as many big hits. It seems like only a matter of time before Luck finds himself on the shelf again because this team is brutal.
9. Déjà Lou – Jeff Fisher may be the most overrated coach in the league. He was looking for his first four-game winning streak in his tenure with the Rams, but his didn’t happen. Both the Rams and Bills scored five times, but Los Angeles got one touchdown and four field goals and the vaunted Rams defense gave up four touchdowns and one field goal. As long as Head Case Keenum is your quarterback and Todd Gurley is averaging less than three yards a carry, these guys will look a lot like the same Rams that stunk up St. Louis for the last 15 years.
8. Hurricane Matthew Blew Less Than the Dolphins – Miami has won just one game this season and that was a six-point nail-biter over hapless Cleveland. Tennessee isn’t much better and the home fans watched the home boys get waxed by the Titans, who ran 41 times for 235 yards and got lit up by Marcus Mariota for three TD passes and one TD run. They’re 0-1 on their four-game homestand and have Pittsburgh and Buffalo coming in next. At least if they could have blamed Hurricane Matthew for their problems, they could have an excuse. For all the money they’ve spent to improve, things are going south in South Beach.
7. Chips Ahoy – There are rumors circulating that 49ers coach Chip Kelly is a hot prospect to return to the college game. Anyone who has been a fan of the Eagles or 49ers wonders why and would be willing to let that search start now because Kelly’s brand of offense just doesn’t cut it in the NFL and, like last year, after a dominating Monday night performance in Week 1, it all goes downhill from there.
6. Bungle In the Jungle – The Cincinnati Bengals have had as much sustained success as any team in the AFC this side of New England. While they don’t make deep playoff runs, they put themselves in position to do so. Through five games, Cincinnati has just two wins – over the hapless Jets and Dolphins. They have scored more than 23 points in any game and have allowed 24 or more in all three of their losses. In Sunday’s loss to Dallas, they allowed a rookie running back to average nine yards a carry and score two touchdowns and a rookie quarterback to post a passer rating of 117.9. You don’t win games with that formula.
5. Road Worriers – The Houston Texans are likely going to win the AFC South, but not because they’re that good, simply because everyone else in the division sucks. The Texans are 3-0 at home, but, in their two road games, they got crushed by New England (with their third-string quarterback) 27-0 and trailed 31-6 to Minnesota after being completed throttled by the Vikings defense. The Texans are good enough to make the playoffs – or should I say better than the other slugs in the division – but the only way the hometown team will be at the Super Bowl is watching from the owner’s box.
4. Escape From New York – When the Jets put 37 points on Buffalo in Week 2, it looked like they were picking up where they left off in 2015. Their next three games were against playoff teams – Kansas City, Seattle and Pittsburgh – and they have proved they don’t belong in that class. They have been outscored 82-33 in that span at, at 1-4, look like a floating corpse in the East River. Their wiggle room for making a playoff run is all but gone just five weeks into the season.
3. Quoth Marc Trestman, Never More – The Ravens special teams allowed Washington to slink away with a 16-10 win Sunday, as a short punt led to Washington’s only offensive touchdown and an 85-yard punt return led to their other TD. So, what did the Ravens do? Instead of firing their special teams coach, they fired their offensive coordinator. John Harbaugh was a special teams coach, so he knows who lost the game for Baltimore and it wasn’t Trestman. Maybe if they didn’t have four pedestrian running backs, his play-calling wouldn’t viewed as harshly.
2. Laces Out, Drew! – Things couldn’t have gone much worse for San Diego punter Drew Kaser. He had only one punt in Sunday’s game with Oakland and it went 16 yards, setting the Raiders up on the San Diego 32-yard line for a short-field score to give the Raiders a 10-point lead. After the Chargers rallied for the chance to tie the game, Kaser appeared to try to dribble the football when putting it down. He may have had to walk home from Oakland because nobody wanted him on the bus to the airport or the plane on the way back to San Diego.
1. You Don’t Bring Me Flowers – The best thing the New York Giants have going for them is that they don’t play in the NFC North. In the span of seven days, the whole country saw Eli Manning look like a junior high school quarterback scared of his own shadow. The only person in that span that left tackle Erick Flowers was able to move was a reporter after the abysmal showing against Green Bay. The good news for the Giants is that they only have to play Minnesota and Green Bay once.