Leveraging the NFL’s most volatile players for fantasy football in Week 9

by Matthew M. Stevens ·

Unlocking the potential of weekly player volatility in fantasy football gives gamers a competitive edge. Using matchup, volume and usage data combined with advanced stats, metrics, and analytics to pinpoint the best matchups will yield the best ROI from volatile players. A key metric on PlayerProfiler.com, Weekly Volatility measures a player’s week-to-week fantasy point scoring oscillation. Throughout the season, this article will track fantasy football’s most – and least – volatile players and provide insight on how to deploy them. The focus will be on those players who make ideal buy-low and sell-high targets, and those whose low ownership percentages make them speculative waiver wire and free-agent adds.

Christian Kirk oozes upside despite TD drought

Christian Kirk offers stretch-run upside in the form of a stable floor combined with dependable volume in a pass-heavy offense, and he makes a perfect buy-low target for those with playoff aspirations. That he posted a primetime dud on Thursday Night Football against the 49ers makes acquiring him even easier.

The focus of this article to date centered on players with the highest Weekly Volatility due to their unpredictability and ease to acquire. With the fantasy season passing the halfway point, it’s time to explore players who offer buy-low potential despite stable floors. In redraft, there’s nothing wrong with stability. Kirk needs to be 100-percent owned in those leagues, but he’s not because public perception clouds his obvious upside.

Despite owning a 24.9-percent (No. 16 among qualified wide receivers) Target Share through Week 8 on an offense that ranks No. 7 with 40.0 pass plays per game, Kirk has failed to reach the end zone this season. That didn’t change on Thursday when he was bottled up by San Francisco’s stifling defense. His lack of touchdown production means he hasn’t dished out a ceiling game yet. He still averaged 13.6 Fantasy Points Per Game prior to Week 9, and hadn’t previously recorded fewer than eight fantasy points. He carries a 4.8 (No. 79) Weekly Volatility mark of 4.8, which further reinforces his stability. Players earning a score of 8.0 or more are considered volatile. For comparison, Will Fuller‘s mark of 17.8 led all qualified wide receivers  with Mike Evans (17.7) right behind him.


After sitting out with an ankle injury in Weeks 5-7, Kirk returned to a hero’s target share (11) in Week 8. He also led the team with five targets against the 49ers in a wild game that saw Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson both score their first NFL touchdowns. That should dispel the perception that Larry Fitzgerald remains Arizona’s top wide receiver. That’s not a knock on Fitzgerald, rather a nod to the team’s confidence in Kirk’s ability. While casual gamers still see Fitzgerald in the lead role, their numbers in the six games that he and Kirk have played together this season tell a different story:

Given Kirk’s stable floor, his locked-in volume and impending positive TD regression, he’s an ideal target for teams seeking an edge for the playoffs.

Time to cash out on Mecole Hardman

Mecole Hardman‘s snap percentage bottomed out to a season-low of 16.1 in Week 8, when he ran a mere four routes and saw two targets. Yet he still caught his fourth touchdown of the season and had 55 receiving yards. It’s clear that with Tyreek Hill back on the throne and a healthy Sammy Watkins soaking up snaps, Hardman’s piece of the pie in Kansas City takes a major hit.

Here is a breakdown of how the Chiefs utilized their pass-catchers in Week 8:

  • Tyreek Hill: 91.1-percent Snap Share, 33 routes run (6-76-0 on nine targets)
  • Travis Kelce: 100-percent Snap Share, 30 routes run (4-63-1 on eight targets)
  • Sammy Watkins: 89.3-percent Snap Share, 33 routes run (5-45-0 on eight targets)
  • Demarcus Robinson: 66.1-percent Snap Share, 21 routes run (2-6-0 on two targets)
  • Mecole Hardman: 16.1-percent Snap Share, four routes run (2-55-1 on two targets)

Mecole Hardman Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

To date, an unsustainable touchdown pace has kept Hardman afloat. He’s scored four (No. 4) TDs despite seeing 32 targets and catching 20 of them. That’s one score for every five receptions. Mike Evans, who’s tied for the league lead with six TDs, needed 67 targets to get there. Capitalize on Hardman’s recent production now and sell high in redraft. He carries name recognition, plays for a potent Chiefs offense and found paydirt in the past two games. Casual gamers won’t recognize the tell-tale signs of a downturn in production, so take advantage of that if possible.

Double down on Phillip Dorsett

A healthy Phillip Dorsett returned from a hamstring injury in Week 7 and gave the Patriots an immediate boost, catching 3-of-4 targets for 46 yards and a score. He enjoyed an 87.3-percent Snap Share in his first game back and he played 90.5-percent of the snaps last week, which marked a season-high. With Josh Gordon released by the team off injured reserve, Dorsett figures to soak up more of Tom Brady‘s targets despite the addition Mohamed Sanu. With his 4.33 (99th-percentile) speed, it only takes one play for Dorsett to make his week. All four of his TDs have come on plays of 25 yards or longer, his longest going for 58 yards.

Check out Phillip Dorsett on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:

No stranger to Weekly Volatility, Dorsett’s mark of 8.4 reminds gamers of his boom-or-bust tendency. He reached 25 fantasy points in Week 1, 18 in Week 3 and 13 in Week 7. He’s also posted three games with fewer than 10 fantasy points. Knowing his tendency for a volatile play, a look at the calendar reveals upcoming opportunities for him to boom.

After the New England’s Week 10 bye, Dorsett enjoys prime matchups against Philadelphia in Week 11, Houston in Week 13 and Cincinnati in Week 15. The Texans (18) and the Eagles (16) rank in the top-10 for most passing TDs allowed, and the Bengals rank No. 31 in defensive DVOA. Dorsett’s ownership percentage on the major platforms has dropped to under 50-percent.