The bye weeks are here. For the next several weeks, fantasy gamers will be forced into making start/sit decisions that will feel questionable. We said earlier in the year that those early season stats are great, but these likely won’t be the same players that propel teams to championships. Rosters that only weeks ago were chock full of potential and upside are now winning weeks on the backs of Chase Edmonds and Jake Kumerow. These are the players to target based on their advanced stats and metrics profiles.
Brian Hill, RB, Falcons
After Ito Smith left Atlanta’s Week 7 game, picking up an injury and possibly a second concussion on the season, Brian Hill stepped forward into the Falcon’s running back rotation. He will still be behind Devonta Freeman in the pecking order for snaps.
After Freeman earned a disqualification for swinging at Aaron Donald, and more surprisingly living to talk about it, Hill carried the ball five times and was targeted twice in Sunday’s action. Though he has only seen action on special teams to this point in the season, his 103.1 (73rd-percentile among qualified running backs) Speed Score makes him an interesting candidate to roster. The Falcons running game needs a fresh face with the potential to break a long run.
Ty Johnson, RB, Lions
Since cutting C.J. Anderson and banishing Theo Riddick to Denver, Ty Johnson has been one step away from an opportunity. With Kerryon Johnson’s Week 7 injury expected to sideline him for a few weeks, the rookie’s time has come. Unlike Brian Hill, Johnson has seen offensive snaps this season. In his limited opportunity, he has been elusive. His 35.3-percent Juke Rate outshines Kerryon’s 20.8-percent (No. 35) mark. The desire to run the ball is in Matt Patricia’s DNA, evidenced by Detroit’s 28.6 (No. 9) team run plays per game. However, their total of team rushing yards from scrimmage ranks only 16th entering the week. To be relevant, Johnson will need to also draw passing game work, something he has not built his reputation on. He needs to be added and can surprise, but isn’t an all-in waiver target.
Chase Edmonds, RB, Cardinals
Chase Edmonds has long been touted by his own team as a player who would be able to fill David Johnson‘s shoes if need be. Though still largely unproven, he has at least worked his way to a place where the Cardinals are comfortable running him out in a bell-cow sized role while allowing Johnson to heal up. Entering the week, Edmonds averaged 7.4 (No. 1) Yards Per Touch and owned a +44.9 (No. 3) Production Premium.
If Edmonds continues to have that level of success, his role will be difficult for the team to leave behind even when Johnson is completely rehabilitated. In the last three weeks, since playing the Bengals, the Cardinals have been in more positive game scripts and their rushing volume has followed. In those weeks, the team has rushed a minimum of 29 times per contest. That volume means both players have a chance to be relevant on a weekly basis, and either of them has RB1 upside in the absence of the other.
Mark Walton, RB, Dolphins
Mark Walton has made an impression on the Miami coaching staff and was given the starter’s share of the carries on Sunday. He was not effective in the passing game, with one catch for negative eight yards. He plays for the team that ranks 32nd in points scored and 31st in yards from scrimmage.
It would be optimistic to expect even RB2 production in that context, especially if Kalen Ballage continues to trot onto the field for the odd three yard touchdown. But in deeper, dynasty or keeper leagues, he may become more interesting if Dolphins are able to climb out of the NFL’s cellar.
Green Bay Pass Catchers
Jake Kumerow, Allen Lazard and anyone who has hands and plays for the Packers should be added from waivers until Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison have lost their questionable tags. In Week 7, no Green Bay pass catcher had more than a 16-percent Target Share, and yet five players scored more than 13 PPR fantasy points. The Packers will not be playing the Raiders every week, but their Week 8 matchup against the Chiefs isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Alex Erickson, WR, Bengals
It’s a special season when Andy Dalton and the winless Bengals have delivered five top-twelve wide receiver weeks through seven games. In Week 7, Alex Erickson tied Tyler Boyd for the team lead with 14 targets, which he turned into 137 receiving yards. Because of the low average depth of target role Erickson played in, most of his production came after the catch. That usage lines up with Erickson’s college career, where he posted 13.4 (31st-percentile) yards per reception.
The Bengals have proven that Cincinnati is a viable place to play wide receiver. If Dalton’s 79.5-percent (No. 24) Protection Rate doesn’t improve, the Bengals may choose to cope with that by throwing short to the duo of Erickson and Boyd. In the meantime, we have no indication that A.J. Green is approaching a return and may instead be traded. Someone in this Bengals receiving core will have an opportunity to plant their flag beside Boyd and become a fantasy staple.
Zach Pascal, WR, Colts
To Zach Pascal’s credit, he has had big games before, although not on this scale. Pascal had two 17-point games in 2018. He has only been active since Week 3, which speaks to the team’s opinion of him, but trails only T.Y. Hilton on the team in targets since then.
Check out Zach Pascal on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:
Pascal is a Mohamed Sanu-type of player in that he will stick on the roster. He will go out and be serviceable, and he will have boom weeks, but he will eventually be usurped by someone with more draft capital, athleticism or both. In the meantime, Pascal clearly has boom potential and may be the perfect zero cost fill-in for bye weeks.
Olabisi Johnson, WR, Vikings
Olabisi Johnson was busy on Sunday. After the departure of Adam Thielen, he was targeted eight times. Stefon Diggs unsurprisingly did more with the eight targets he also received, but it’s not entirely fair to hold any rookie to that standard. Earning eight targets in a contest during his rookie year is an accomplishment in itself, and it signals that the Vikings want to involve him in their plans going forward. If Thielen has to miss time, Johnson is capable of picking up the short to intermediate volume that keeps the offense on schedule. He is an interesting stash and more appropriate for deep leagues.
Miles Boykin, WR, Ravens
Two catches on two receptions probably doesn’t have too many people running to the waiver wire, but Lamar Jackson completed only nine passes against Seattle in Week 7. Miles Boykin was efficient with the opportunity he was given, and demands more going forward. The Ravens are in need of pass catching options, especially while Marquise Brown is sidelined.
Boykin’s athleticism is positively eye-popping, and he is now paired with Jackson on an up-and-coming offense. What his physical talents translate to in the NFL is still unclear, but players with this profile have high ceilings and should be stashed at the end of fantasy benches.
Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles
Dallas Goedert has arrived to help fantasy gamers rebound from the loss of Will Dissly. Carson Wentz only targeted him four times, but Goedert still ranked third on the week among tight ends in Target Distance coming into Monday night. He was as efficient with those four targets as anyone should ask him to be.
Goedert not only caught all four targets, but also doubled up the Target Distance with yards after the catch. He is merely a serviceable option for fantasy teams for now, but he is attached to a prolific pass attack that needs pass catching talent. His Snap Share and Target Share are both trending upwards. He is an attractive combination of current production and future upside.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Titans
Jonnu Smith is an exciting prospect who has been on the dynasty radar since he was picked in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The truthers have patiently waited for the situation that is currently unfolding. While Delanie Walker deals with an ankle injury, the Titans will be in need of someone to fill his shoes.
With recent changes at quarterback, all of the Tennessee pass catchers receive fresh starts. Smith hauled in all three of his Week 7 targets and was second on the team in receiving yards. He has already been flirting with starting snaps, hitting the 50-percent mark in four of seven games thus far. In Week 8, the Titans face a Tampa Bay team that has allowed five tight ends to score double-digit PPR fantasy points.