It’s one of fantasy football’s most dangerous traps. The running back who rises from relative obscurity to post a monster week when least expected. Even the most diligent fantasy gamers can fall into the small-sample-size trap of blowing a high priority waiver claim, or too much of their FAAB budget, on an unknown commodity with one productive game on his professional resume. Those who have the foresight and/or bench space to stash these players on their benches based on their advanced stats, metrics and analytics profiles before they break out have less to worry about if they don’t hit. The best time to invest heavily in these kinds of players is when you know they will have rest-of-season viability.
For a little while, Gus Edwards was trending towards being a player the Tomorrow’s Newspaper series whiffed on. His first, and only, fantasy RB1 performance came after Baltimore’s Week 10 bye with a new starting QB under center. But with no injuries to players around him guaranteeing a lengthy stay in the team’s RB1 chair regardless of performance, he was always a risky player to prioritize on the waiver wire. Kenneth Dixon, with two TDs in three games played this year and two targets to Edwards’ one in eight games, now appears to be the Ravens RB to own for the playoff stretch. And most could’ve had him for free before kickoff last week. Making him the latest big winner in the 2018 Tomorrow’s Newspaper series.
Looking Ahead to 2019
With the 2018 fantasy football season drawing near its conclusion, the focus of Tomorrow’s Newspaper will shift towards dynasty leagues. There isn’t much time left for an end-of-bench stash player to pay off in redraft leagues. Everyone you’ve been stashing should either be in your starting lineup or have a way to get there if one of your starters goes down. If you’ve been fortunate enough to stash some of our more recent hits like Damien Williams, Kenneth Dixon or Ian Thomas, you should be feeling pretty good about your depth. And now for something completely different: a focus shift towards 2019.
Boston Scott, RB, Eagles
Boston Scott was a favorite of the Underworld community even before he was drafted to the Valhalla of RB fantasy production. And with Mark Ingram serving a four-game suspension to start this year, the number two spot behind Alvin Kamara was wide open. We spent months trying to figure out who would play the Ingram role, touting various players from Scott to Jonathan Williams. The beneficiary ended up being Mike Gillislee, signed on September 2nd. And it didn’t end up mattering, as he scored zero touchdowns. With Scott being out of everyone’s minds, and now a Philadelphia Eagle, now is the time for dynasty owners with sufficient bench or taxi squad space to stash him.
With Boston Scott having been signed off of the Saints’ practice squad less than a week ago, the odds that he helps win you a fantasy championship this year are next to nonexistent. But a player with his kind of athletic profile should always be stashed when they end up on an analytics-based team like the Eagles. A sixth-round draft pick with a lower percentile College Target Share, he has a lot to overcome if he wants to end up being a consistent fantasy contributor. Josh Adams also had a lot to overcome, but injuries paved the way for him to become a starter by this point in his rookie season. The thought of what Scott would’ve been able to accomplish had he received the chances that Adams has over the last few weeks should have you rushing to the waivers to stash him in advance of next year. Even if Philadelphia’s backfield doesn’t get killed by the injury bug again, Scott has the kind of talent profile that can keep him relevant.
Zach Zenner, RB, Lions
Zach Zenner was never meant to be the RB of the future in Detroit. He’s hung around the Lions as an undrafted free agent since arriving in 2015. Despite having a stellar athletic profile and an upper-percentile College Dominator Rating (at a small school, granted), the team drafted Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. A knee injury suffered in Week 11 will cost Johnson his fourth straight game this week. Zenner had the best game of all the Detroit backs last week, and has some rest-of-season viability. But this stash is more about next year with Detroit’s offense being as banged up as they are right now.
The state of Detroit’s offense, which has suffered through injury and ineffectiveness since the Golden Tate trade, doesn’t make Zach Zenner a confident bench stash for the rest of this season. But it’s fair to wonder exactly how serious Kerryon Johnson‘s knee injury is, and whether it will hinder him into next year as we saw happen with Devonta Freeman this year. That situation would give Zenner some end-of-draft viability heading into 2019 redraft leagues. But that’s assuming he re-signs with Detroit. Though he could benefit from playing with a Lions team that is clearly trying to improve its run game, a fresh start on an RB-needy team could give him the chance to let his athletic and production profile shine through.
Deon Cain, WR, Colts
The 2018 Tomorrow’s Newspaper series has had a number of themes. One of the more constant ones was the search for Andrew Luck‘s number two receiver. The days of fantasy gamers not being ready to trust Luck to return to his QB1 form seem like a distant memory. All this despite the fact that we’re still looking for this secondary wide receiver option to emerge. Eric Ebron took full control of the secondary passing game option role behind T.Y. Hilton. But none of Chester Rogers, Ryan Grant, Dontrelle Inman or Daurice Fountain have been able to seize control of a consistent fantasy point-scoring role.
The one player who hasn’t received a chance to shine as a secondary WR option for Andrew Luck is sixth-round rookie Deon Cain, who tore his ACL in the preseason. Reports coming out of the summer were that Cain was standing out as the star of training camp. And his injury happened early enough in the preseason that, barring any setbacks, he should make a full recovery in advance of next year. He’ll have the whole offseason and preseason to work with Luck and try to become a consistent role player heading into 2019. If he can make more of an impact than his predecessors in the team’s WR2 role, he could become 2019 Tyler Boyd.
Mark Andrews, TE, Ravens
The Lamar Jackson era in Baltimore began a little earlier than most of us were expecting. While we were fully aware that 2019 would be his time, the fact that he’s seeing NFL starts in his rookie season will be a huge benefit for him as we enter next year. Especially since a popular narrative is that he hasn’t impressed much as a passer. A whole offseason as the team’s locked in starting QB could go a long way towards helping him improve that part of his game. In that scenario, dynasty owners will want to get their hands on as many of his weapons as possible.
With two rookie-year TD grabs and a 74-yard reception to his name, Mark Andrews has shown flashes of his potential. While we’d like to see a better Agility Score, he meets the thresholds for height and weight that we look for in our TE stashes (having 84th-percentile speed doesn’t hurt his cause either). As misinformed dynasty owners are led to Hayden Hurst and his first-round draft capital, take advantage and stash the more exciting prospect. Both could end up with fantasy-viable roles if Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense take a big enough step forward in 2019. If I had to bet on one, I’d bet on the converted WR with a number of positive efficiency metrics as a first-year TE at the NFL level.