I think it’s safe to say that Brian Hoyer, now a weekly streaming candidate for the foreseeable future, is the first success story of this series.
Brian Hoyer is the kind of player that this series was started in an attempt to find. He was available in virtually every league after waivers were processed, and is still only owned in 24.89-percent of MFL redraft leagues. Despite having low perceived upside, the situation he found himself in made him the kind of player who you were going to want to roster in case he became something more than what he was at the time. Despite displaying efficiency that ranks him 26th among qualified QBs, he’s recorded two 300-yard passing performances. While throwing four TDs to zero picks and leading the Bears to their first win of the season against Detroit in Week 4. Suddenly, Jay Cutler is no longer guaranteed the starting job when he returns from his thumb injury. With Chicago’s defense still being bad, and with the Bears having the sixth-most favorable upcoming schedule for fantasy QBs per Player Profiler, Hoyer may soon make the jump from weekly streaming candidate to weekly starter for potential championship-winning fantasy teams.
The players who are about to experience a windfall of opportunity, no matter how low their upside seems to be, usually make for the best post-waiver pickups. The NFL season is so short and subject to randomness that the events that happen in one game can dramatically alter the direction that a player’s season can go. The players highlighted in this week’s piece are all expected to see, or continue to see, a big uptick in opportunity. All of these players have the kinds of traits that can help them turn these short-term opportunities int0 long-term ones if enough breaks their way. Like Brian Hoyer, these are the kinds of players that a series like this is written to find.
Recapping Previous Weeks
This is where we’ll check in on players previously written about for this series. They’ll be monitored until they break 50-percent ownership in MFL leagues. You obviously won’t be able to stash every one of these players. The players you may pick and choose to stash will be dependent on your league rules, roster construction and the state of your team in general.
QB: We already covered Brian Hoyer in the intro. While Josh McCown‘s (9.48-percent) injury timetable remains uncertain, he should still be stashed. Cody Kessler (8.98-percent) has played about as well as can be reasonably asked for. But he hasn’t run away with the job and would probably benefit from the Browns continuing to splice in Terrelle Pryor at QB every so often. The proverbial sledding is likely to get tougher this week against New England, but Kessler remains a hold. I’d like to see what he can do if he gets the chance to play with Corey Coleman.
RB: Although Lance Dunbar (8.99-percent) has quietly and slowly been integrated into the Dallas offense more with each passing week, he’s likely to miss Week 5 with a knee injury. Dexter McCluster (16.03-percent) only played nine snaps for the second straight week, but saw three targets, two catches, a carry and some goal-line work. He and his 98th-percentile College Target Share are no threat to Melvin Gordon‘s workhorse status, but they aren’t going away either. Bobby Rainey (12.90-percent) out-snapped Orleans Darkwa (44.96-percent) 28-23 against the Vikings in Week 4, while tying Odell Beckham with nine targets to lead the team. While Dunbar and McCluster are worth keeping an eye on, they can be cut if you need the bench space. Rainey is worth holding onto as even when Rashad Jennings returns, he should continue to be Eli Manning‘s check-down option and has the requisite athleticism to excel in that role. Especially in tough match-ups like this week’s tilt against Green Bay.
WR: Eddie Royal has finally crested 50-percent ownership, but is a game-time decision for Week 5 and his ownership may dip below 50-percent if he misses this week. If that happens, pick him up and stash him with Kevin White being on I.R. Adam Thielen (4.74-percent) hasn’t lit the world on fire, but his 76.5-percent Catch Rate does rank seventh in the league and he’s seen two red zone targets over the last two games. He isn’t a recommended stash with the Vikings being on bye in Week 6, but he’s worth keeping an eye on in case Stefon Diggs‘ groin injury causes him to miss time after the team returns in Week 7. It’s safe to say that Adam Humphries (29.36-percent), second on the Bucs in targets (29), catches (19) and yards (205), has overtaken Vincent Jackson as the team’s number two receiver. He’s the ideal kind of player to plug in during the bye weeks, and he could help owners in a pinch this week with Charles Sims not likely to be active to steal targets.
TE: Brent Celek (5.30-percent) will likely have some fantasy-relevant games this year, like he always does. But with Zach Ertz due back this week from his rib injury, Celek would only be startable in games that Ertz misses. Jack Doyle (39.38-percent) continues to be more productive and efficient than Dwayne Allen, while Austin Seferian-Jenkins (43.86-percent) is likely to debut for the Jets this week. Celek doesn’t need to be rostered in any leagues at the moment, but the other two do.
All listed players are owned in less than 50-percent of MFL redraft leagues.
Paxton Lynch, QB, Denver Broncos (26.79-percent owned)With Trevor Siemien (48.26-percent) ruled out for Week 5 with his shoulder injury, Paxton Lynch falls into the ideal situation for his first NFL start. He’s going up against a Falcons defense that allows more fantasy points above the mean to QBs than any other defense in the league. The play of the Denver defense has let the team be able to better hide Siemian’s weaknesses. As a result, the undrafted free agent from Northwestern with no college production to speak of has put up top-10 numbers in every relevant efficiency metric. His 67.3-percent Completion Percentage ranks eighth among QBs. Siemien has only put up 14.3 fantasy points per game (25th in the league), but Lynch should be able to best that mark for as long as he starts being that he offers more as a runner. Like Brian Hoyer, he’s an ideal stash with the potential to become a full-time starter for fantasy teams as the weeks progress.
Zach Zenner, RB, Detroit Lions (16.65-percent owned)
On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be too much to like about the prospects of stashing Zach Zenner. He’s behind Theo Riddick in the run game pecking order, whose Opportunity Share has been increasing in each week since Ameer Abdullah‘s injury. He’s running behind Player Profiler’s 32nd-ranked offensive line. And in a game where promising rookie Dwayne Washington (49.43-percent) was injured in the second quarter, Zenner only logged three carries and one target. But in a world where opportunity is the most important factor in determining fantasy success for RBs, Zenner is a player who should absolutely be stashed.Though Theo Riddick‘s Snap Share and Opportunity Share both rank in the top 24 among RBs, the fact that he’s only averaging 3.1 yards per carry leaves the door open for Zach Zenner to start siphoning early down work. Riddick leading the position in targets (26) and receptions (20) also adds credence to that argument. Zenner has a history of elite college production and the requisite athleticism to suggest that he can have some success behind a subpar offensive line. A tough upcoming match-up against the Eagles suggests that he won’t pay off right away. But in the best-case-scenario event that Zenner becomes Detroit’s primary early-down pounder and has a good game this week, you’re going to want to beat the waiver rush to acquire him.
Chris Conley, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (25.08-percent owned)
A common mantra that’s preached at Player Profiler is that a player’s talent profile matters much more at the WR position than it does at RB, where opportunity is king. In the case of Chris Conley, we’re seeing a talented player who’s receiving more opportunity than he was expected to at this point in the season. Led by Alex Smith, the Kansas City passing attack is averaging an NFL third-best 45.2 pass plays per game. And with Smith’s upcoming fantasy strength of schedule being the most favorable among starting QBs per Player Profiler metrics, Conley is sure to see a boon in his fantasy production given his 94-percent Snap Share over the first four games (34th among WRs).Alex Smith isn’t the only skill position player on the Chiefs with a generous upcoming fantasy schedule. Though the Player Profiler schedule strength metrics peg Kansas City with the 14th-most favorable schedule among WRs, they include consecutive games against the Raiders and Saints immediately following this week’s bye. Both teams who have let up big fantasy point totals to Philip Rivers and his wide receivers this season. And that’s with San Diego averaging only 38 pass plays per game (18th in the league). Chris Conley is also a better athlete than any of the Chargers receivers, and his team is averaging over seven more pass plays per game. Neither he or Jeremy Maclin have been extremely efficient this year. But if anything were to happen to Maclin, Conley would be in the position to be a league winner. He’s a waiver target seemingly every week here at Player Profiler. If he’s available or another owner has to cut him for bye week depth, stash him while the Chiefs are on bye and before anyone has the chance to do so during the next waiver period.
Will Tye, TE, New York Giants (32.48-percent owned)
A late-round tight end roulette candidate heading into the 2016 season, Will Tye‘s growth has been stymied by having to split in-game reps evenly with Larry Donnell. With Donnell sidelined after suffering a concussion, Tye will take over as the full-time TE for the Giants. Though most of his production to this point in the year came in Week 4 after Donnell went down, it’s still nice to see that Tye became such a big part of the offense when that happened. After not breaking a 56.2-percent Snap Share in the first three weeks, Tye hit 82.5-percent against Minnesota.We like for our TE targets to be full-time players, or close to it. If Will Tye is on the field in all of the high-leverage fantasy point-scoring situations, he’s going to eventually start recording double digit games. Much like he did in six of the final seven games in 2015 while filling in for an injured Larry Donnell. It helps Tye’s case that his Body Mass Index (BMI) is among the highest among all NFL offensive skill position players. Given the physical fragility rate of the position, and the number of games collectively missed by TEs each season, having a high BMI is paramount to being able to stay on the field. Victor Cruz looks like he’s fully healthy, but Tye will still see his looks as TEs have a strong history of fantasy production with Eli Manning under center. Tye can be added and started this week in a plus match-up against Green Bay. And there’s a strong chance he could end up as the starting TE on your fantasy team for the rest of the season.