There are some basic rules I like to follow when searching for players to stash on my fantasy football benches based on their advanced stats, metrics and analytics profiles. I like to target players on good teams (makes sense, right?). It helps when they fit a role that has been known to produce copious amounts of fantasy points (splash-play Saints WR Tre’Quan Smith nods in agreement). And if a they don’t play for a good team, they need to be in a good fantasy point-scoring situation (hence all the Bengals and 49ers receivers). Players who are efficient in small samples and about to inherit a larger offensive role are also popular targets. With the bye week-heavy portion of the year dying down, we can also focus on stashing players with favorable rest-of-season schedules (the reason why I continue to hold D.J. Moore despite him only having one usable fantasy week).
None of these are hard and fast rules, but they’re good guidelines to follow when making tough roster decisions. Although, no matter how many positive indicators a player may have in his favor, they don’t always work out. Sometimes for reasons beyond our control. But as long as we keep using good process to identify low-risk, high-reward moves to make before kickoff, we’ll end up with some Tyler Boyd/Marquez Valdes-Scantling-level hits along the way. Granted it’s a lot harder to find those kinds of players later in the year. But it’s still worth it to try when all you need at this point is for one of these players to catch fire for a few weeks in a row.
DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Broncos
Fourth-round rookie DaeSean Hamilton is about to see his first on-field action since Week 7. And word out of Denver is that his role in the offense is set to expand. Which makes sense on the surface given the team’s recent trade of Demaryius Thomas. While Courtland Sutton was the biggest beneficiary of that move, it wouldn’t have been made had Hamilton not been ready to contribute. Though Tim Patrick is slightly intriguing, he doesn’t offer anywhere near as much upside as Hamilton.
DaeSean Hamilton is used to competing for targets with talented players, as he did with Saquon Barkley, Chris Godwin and Mike Gesicki at Penn State. Though that led to a muted College Dominator Rating, more important to me is a 19.5 (79th-percentile) Breakout Age. Considering that he broke out as early as he did despite competing with those players offers a glimpse into his ceiling. And on a Denver team averaging nearly 40 passes a game with a gunslinger QB in Case Keenum, he has a chance to break out in the second half of the fantasy season.
Keith Kirkwood, WR, Saints
Tre’Quan Smith, Cameron Meredith and Austin Carr have all been included in this article at some point throughout the season. The reasoning should be fairly obvious, especially if you read the opening paragraph. You generally want to target wide receivers who stand to catch passes from Drew Brees. The Saints have been desperately trying to add depth to their wide receiver group, having signed the remains of both Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall in the last two weeks. But with Bryant out and Marshall likely not ready to contribute, the next man up is a deep league-worthy stash in Keith Kirkwood.
Keith Kirkwood doesn’t look like the world’s most exciting player on the surface. He’s an undrafted rookie from Temple who has great speed for his size, but an awful Breakout Age and not a lot of college production to speak of. When Drew Brees is your QB, that tends to matter less than factors like his 107.1 Athleticism Score (the average among WRs is 99.94. Thank you, Data Analysis Tool). He’s obviously not meant to be started in Week 11, but he offers enough upside to warrant deep league and dynasty stash consideration for a little bit in case he carves out a role for himself.
Kendrick Bourne, WR, 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers have been slaughtered by injuries throughout the 2018 season. It would help explain how George Kittle, with 775 receiving yards, is 436 yards ahead of his next closest teammate in that category. Marquise Goodwin‘s 339 yards in eight games is good for 62nd among WRs. On a team with two wins, this can’t be that much of a surprise. But when a player looks like he’s starting to make strides towards becoming the favored option on a team that projects to pass a lot, it stands to pay attention to them.
Like Keith Kirkwood before him, Kendrick Bourne was as far away from the radar of fantasy gamers as could be imagined before the season began. An injury to Pierre Garcon gave Bourne the chance to start in Week 10 against the Giants. He had a quiet game on that occasion, but he has been efficient when called upon and already has a WR2 week on his 2018 resume. If Garcon can’t get healthy in time for the juiciest possible Week 12 match-up against the Bucs, Bourne would be thrust into a great situation. You may be able to get away with stashing him next week if Garcon is ruled out, but deep leaguers with the bench room to spare may not want to take the chance.
T.J. Jones, WR, Lions
Sometimes we need to wait for a player to show enough during a game to receive an extended opportunity the next week. Other times, we just need all of his teammates to be injured and/or traded. Golden Tate has been shipped to Philadelphia for some reason, while Marvin Jones has already been ruled out for Week 11. Kenny Golladay is going to feast, but other wide receivers need to see the field and see opportunities to contribute. Enter T.J. Jones.
T.J. Jones can’t be considered a one-for-one Marvin Jones replacement. Rookie Brandon Powell and recent signee Bruce Ellington could eat into the production that is being left behind. But being the veteran of the group, T.J. is the best bet to return any sort of value while Marvin is sidelined. T.J. is a great example of what to do when a player meets none of the criteria laid out in the article opening. Chase the targets, chase the opportunity and hope for the best if you’re forced to play him in a deep-league pinch.
Luke Willson, TE, Lions
Aside from Marvin Jones, Michael Roberts has also already been ruled out for Week 11. A stash candidate just one short week ago, a shoulder injury will keep him out of a game against Carolina that represents the best possible match-up for opposing TEs. As a result, it’s time to turn back to a player we’ve been waiting to see break out for years. If Luke Willson can’t put up a usable fantasy week in literally the best situation imaginable, it will finally be time to give up the ghost (maybe).
If someone is a Late Round Tight End Roulette candidate who is about to see their role increase, you can bookmark their place in this article. Luke Willson is a player who has been covered over and over and over again. At this point, I consider myself an unabashed truther. I can’t possibly tell you anything about him that you don’t already know. He’s absolutely in play for those who need a streamer to get them through a Gronk, Kittle or Njoku-less week.