A key to winning consistently in fantasy football is using advanced stats and metrics to identify potential breakouts before they happen. Stashing players that would become hot adds with a big game before others have a chance to acquire them is a winning strategy in any format. Pinpointing these kinds of hits with any consistent success is inherently difficult. Entering any given week, these widely available players have enough obstacles to overcome on the path to consistent fantasy relevancy to keep the general public off of them. Still, with 10 regular season weeks remaining, there’s plenty of free meat to pick from the proverbial fantasy football bone.
Teams with one or two losses can begin stashing backups to running backs in ideal fantasy situations as injury insurance. Reggie Bonnafon, Alexander Mattison and Chase Edmonds (who should be rostered by all Underworld readers by now) all fit this description and can be added wherever and whenever applicable.
Quarterback Grab Bag
Last week, we suggested preemptively stashing Ryan Finley in case the winless Bengals decide to make a quarterback change. It will eventually happen as long as the Bengals continue to fall further out of playoff contention. A loss to the Rams in London would send them to 0-8 entering the bye. The team would seriously have to consider moving on from Andy Dalton at that point. Heading into a 2020 draft loaded with potential franchise quarterbacks to choose from, it would behoove Cincinnati to see if the player they traded up for in this year’s draft is their quarterback of the future.
Though the Chargers are 2-5, Philip Rivers isn’t in any imminent danger of being benched like fellow 2004 NFL Draft classmate Eli Manning. If his offensive line and protection continues to deteriorate, he will be in danger of suffering a similar fate as fellow classmate Ben Roethlisberger. Though the 37-year old Rivers has been known to play through pain, those in superflex or dynasty leagues need to think about stashing Tyrod Taylor. A proven fantasy commodity, Taylor would take over a team with a 15th-ranked +2.31 Supporting Cast Efficiency rating. He would also offer Konami Code appeal given his rushing ability.
Running Back Lottery Tickets
Longtime Underworld favorite Brian Hill saw his first playing time of the season against the Rams in Week 7. While he didn’t enter the game until both Ito Smith and Devonta Freeman exited, Smith suffered a scary looking concussion and will be out for at least this week. While Hill likely won’t command a huge Opportunity Share with Freeman healthy, it’s worth noting that Smith owns a 75.2 (No. 19 among qualified running backs) Run Blocking Efficiency rating. Part of that may be explained by his 36.4-percent Juke Rate, a much higher number than Freeman’s 51st-ranked 13.5-percent mark. Last season, Hill’s Juke Rate was 38.1-percent. How he’s used with Freeman will determine whether we should hold him through Atlanta’s Week 9 bye. How quickly Smith recovers from his concussion will also be key.
Anyone who has read any article that PlayerProfiler has published this week likely either already owns Ty Johnson or plans on rostering him in DFS. For those who didn’t have the funds to win the bid, or the waiver wire positioning to snag him, J.D. McKissic makes for a decent consolation prize. McKissic popped for a short time in the pass-catching back role for the Seahawks in 2017. No surprise given his 30.6-percent (99th-percentile) College Target Share. In Kerryon Johnson‘s absence, we still don’t know exactly how Detroit plans on deploying their running backs. They may also be in the trade market for a player such as Kenyan Drake. McKissic is worth stashing in case he becomes the primary third-down and/or checkdown option in the Lions offense.
With injuries mounting in the Philadelphia backfield, Boston Scott has seen his first work of the season over the last two games. One more injury would thrust him into a two-man committee with either Jordan Howard or Miles Sanders. He has the skill-set to be able to effectively replace either back. Given how well Howard and Sanders have played in their roles, and the upside associated with playing in the Eagles offense, Scott would be an ideal stash candidate if one were to miss time.
Wide Receiver Dart Throws
The Broncos trading Emmanuel Sanders to San Francisco has opened the door for DaeSean Hamilton to become a fantasy football factor down the stretch. Despite being a low floor option, with one career game over 50 yards, he’s coming into a massive opportunity spike. Much like he did last year after Sanders went down with a torn Achilles. The important factor to watch will be whether the team keeps Hamilton primarily in the slot without Sanders around. A move to the outside would mean a projected matchup against PlayerProfiler’s No. 137-ranked cornerback in Rock Ya-Sin. It would also mean we would need to pay attention to who would fill that slot role.
Check out DaeSean Hamilton on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:
With the Falcons trading Mohamed Sanu to the Patriots, Justin Hardy is about to see a big opportunity increase. Sanu played 77.0-percent of his snaps from the slot. Though Hardy owns a low 17.3-percent (No. 161) Snap Share, his 24.6-percent slot rate is higher than that of both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Hardy’s 10.84 (90th-percentile) Agility Score will bode well for his ascension to Atlanta’s slot receiver role. An upcoming matchup with Seattle’s Jamar Taylor, PlayerProfiler’s No. 103-ranked cornerback, makes Hardy a worthwhile desperation streamer.
The wide receiver position has been mainly used as a decoy in Arizona this season. KeeSean Johnson, Trent Sherfield and Damiere Byrd have been neither productive or efficient. At some point, the Cardinals have to start involving Andy Isabella in the gameplan. His 4.31 (100th-percentile) speed adds a crucial element that has been missing in this offense. Though Byrd has comparable 4.32 (99th-percentile) speed, their vastly differing College Dominator Ratings show that Isabella is the better player in a vacuum. He’s much more likely to break off a big play from the outside. Once the team realizes this, the offense may begin to really open up.
Bench Stash Tight End Roulette
It’s been rough sledding for those who weren’t fortunate enough to come away from their drafts with an elite tight end or a late round breakout such as Mark Andrews or Darren Waller. Those who need a Week 8 plug-and-play with potential long-term viability can do worse than a tight end who is tethered to, and familiar with, Jameis Winston. O.J. Howard‘s nightmare season continued with a mid-week hamstring injury that will sideline him for at least this week’s game. Cameron Brate, a proven option with two top-10 finishes on his 2019 resume, will step into a more featured role. You know what to do.
While Waller continues to smash, we can’t ignore Foster Moreau‘s emergence. Waller has been both insanely productive and efficient, Moreau holds higher marks than him in Production Premium, Target Premium, Fantasy Points per Route and Fantasy Points per Target. They also share an equal 112.1 (No. 6) QB Rating when Targeted. The lack of receiving weapons in Oakland has contributed to Moreau’s three consecutive finishes among the top-13 fantasy tight ends. Though he hasn’t yet broken a 50-percent Snap Share, he has a role that should continue providing usable fantasy weeks. He’s a must-add in dynasty and a potential gold mine if anything happens to Waller.