Tomorrow’s Newspaper: Jonnu Smith and waiver wire prescience for week 10

by Ray Marzarella ·

We are a month into the season, and I’m faced with my greatest dilemma: Stash Marquez Valdes-Scantling or continue to hold Chris Hogan? Though I had just dubbed MVS the Robby Anderson of the NFC North, I did not have the foresight to punt Hogan even as his golden situation was falling apart around him with Julian Edelman returning and Josh Gordon arriving. Since that fateful poor decision, MVS has finished with double digit points and WR3 numbers or better in four straight games and will have a prominent rest-of-season role in a golden fantasy points-scoring situation. Hogan, on the other hand, has shockingly unusable in fantasy football this season, despite a strong advanced stats, metrics, and analytics player profile coming into the 2018 season.

Chris Hogan‘s 2018 season will go down as a case study in holding on to early round draft picks for too long. The process behind identifying Hogan as a 2018 breakout was sound, even if the results were not what we hoped. The potential for Josh Gordon to bust as a Patriot and/or Julian Edelman to not be the same player post-suspension was always there. Holding a player too long for fear of missing production in the event of a post-cut breakout is a problem that all fantasy owners encounter at various points. It’s up to us to learn how to trust our process, fade the draft capital and know when it’s time to cut ties with a pre-season favorite. Otherwise you could end up (ironically) having to rely on Randall Cobb as your WR2 in a must-win match-up (not that I would know).

Also, for the love of God, check to see if you can stash Lamar Jackson if you haven’t already. Otherwise, we’re no longer friends.

Josh Adams, RB, Eagles

The Eagles have remained committed to treating their backfield as a committee throughout the 2018 season. Jay Ajayi, Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement have all had usable fantasy weeks. But as we often see in these instances, these guys have been cannibalizing each other’s value. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t watch for players in these situations who could potentially separate themselves from the pack. Especially when they play for an offense that we know can be potent. Before the team’s Week 9 bye, Josh Adams staked his claim to being that guy.

Josh Adams Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

He won’t be categorized as a potential target magnet, but Josh Adams possesses many of the same qualities that drew us to players like Wendell Smallwood as prospects. Namely size (213-pounds) to go along with above average speed and pass-catching chops. His 6.9 (93rd-percentile) College YPC tells us that he can deliver explosive plays on the football field.  It’s not uncommon to see players with upper-percentile college yards per carry become Danny Woodhead or Duke Johnson-like forces in NFL passing games, even if (like Adams) they’re more like Reggie Bush and Giovani Bernard and don’t have elite College Dominator Ratings. That kind of upside makes Adams well worth stashing as we head into the closing portion of the fantasy season. Although Smallwood’s proven pass-catching upside at the NFL level currently makes him this backfield’s best fantasy bet.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Seahawks

Like Josh Adams, Rashaad Penny possesses the size, explosiveness and pass-catching ability to become a fantasy football difference maker. Entering Week 10 ranked 68th among RBs with 4.4 Fantasy Points per Game, it’s safe to say that Penny’s rookie season hasn’t gone as planned. A first-round NFL draft pick, chosen by a Seahawks team with more glaring needs, his 22.9-percent (No. 62) Opportunity Share has been a huge disappointment. While both Chris Carson and Mike Davis have shined at points, with four RB1 weeks between them, neither has been a consistent difference-maker. Davis remains the ideal stash and play for as long as Carson remains sidelined. But given Seattle’s run-heavy nature and favorable rest-of-season schedule, Penny needs to be stashed where possible in case he eventually receives his chance to be the lead back.

Rashaad Penny Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The question has never been whether Rashaad Penny could thrive as the lead dog in Seattle’s backfield. His advanced stats, metrics and analytics profile suggests that he could. The question has always been whether he’s going to receive that chance in 2018. With Mike Davis playing well once Chris Carson went down last week, it would’ve been hard for the team to justify giving Penny significant snaps. All of these factors make him more of a deep league stash than a Week 10 dart throw. But considering that you needed to take him in the early rounds of drafts over the summer, I’ll gladly pick him up for free now in case his fortunes change.

Alex Erickson, WR, Bengals

Like Maurice Harris a few weeks back, Alex Erickson is not the kind of player we’re usually looking to stash. The unsexy player whose team, supporting cast and/or prospect profile doesn’t matter as much as his projected opportunity. But as last week showed, even a blind Maurice Harris can find a 10-catch, 124-yard nut every so often. A.J. Green‘s injury opens up a massive target void that can’t only be filled by Tyler Boyd (we think). Erickson could reap the rewards as early as this week against the Saints, simply by being the next man up.

Alex Erickson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

There’s something to be said for the fact that Alex Erickson is the third Bengals receiver to be featured in this series this season. It’s not likely that this stash will strike gold like the pre-Week 1 stash of Tyler Boyd. But he’s at least already been more productive than Josh Malone. Erickson has topped out at WR80 this season, and hasn’t seen more than four targets in any game, making him the definition of a long shot to deliver usable fantasy results to our starting lineups. The best we can hope for is that he shows enough to warrant end-of-bench consideration while A.J. Green remains out, and then that we start him in what could end up being his one blowup game. At least he’s on the right team to be able to pull it off.

Jonnu Smith, TE, Titans

David Njoku, Rob Gronkowski, George Kittle and Travis Kelce are all on bye over the next two weeks. An already barren tight end landscape will be next to impossible to traverse if you haven’t prepared adequately. Here’s hoping that one of these next three players hit to the point of becoming usable in the bye weeks. Of the three, Jonnu Smith is the one who could pay dividends the earliest. He’s an Underworld favorite with the momentum of scoring his first TD of the year, and a plus match-up, working in his favor.

Despite Delanie Walker‘s Week 1 injury opening up a tremendous opportunity, Jonnu Smith wasn’t a lock to produce right away. The allure of spending a top waiver claim, or a large chunk of your FAAB budget, on a player who oozes with potential is understandable (again, not that this happened to me). It’s easy to ignore the little voice telling you that the tight end learning curve is steep at the NFL level. Making waiver claims or spending FAAB money based on fear of missing out on a player with more potential than current-day production is another problem that affects even the best fantasy gamers. But now that he’s finally showing signs of life and no one seems to care, it makes infinitely more sense to stash him for free. If he’s starting to put it all together, he has the profile of a tight end who can be both a real life and fantasy difference-maker down the stretch.

Adam Shaheen, TE, Bears

For as exciting as he’s been at times this season, we can’t yet be sure that Trey Burton is the answer at the TE position in Chicago. Sure he’s managed to carve out a role as an offensive weapon in the new-look Bears offense. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s overpaid, undersized and has to deal with the return of Allen Robinson this week. He will also eventually have to deal with the return of last year’s second round pick Adam Shaheen. While he’s still on injured reserve, he can rejoin the team at any point and is nearing a return to practice. Which means he’s nearing a return to in-game action. Which means it’s time to start thinking about stashing him in deeper leagues.

Adam Shaheen Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

All Adam Shaheen has done at the NFL level is produce. A mega-producer at Ashland, which we promise is a real school, he has all the makings of your typical LRTE Roulette superstar. And unlike Jonnu Smith, Shaheen displayed great rookie year efficiency with three TDs on 12 receptions in six games. He looks strikingly similar to perennial community favorite Dion Sims, whose role he should be able to overtake handily upon his return. Don’t be surprised when Shaheen begins to vulture Trey Burton TDs in the latter half of the 2018 fantasy campaign.

Michael Roberts, TE, Lions

Michael Roberts has long been an intriguing prospect. A 16-TD scorer in his final year at Toledo, he seemed like a natural replacement for Eric Ebron. The signings of Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo, combined with August reports that Roberts was on the roster bubble, further muddied the Detroit TE waters. Fast forward to Week 10. Willson and Toilolo are now afterthoughts. And Roberts could be set to take on a bigger-than-anticipated role increase in the wake of Golden Tate being traded to Philadelphia.

Michael Roberts Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

In Detroit’s first game since trading Golden Tate, Michael Roberts logged season highs in snaps, routes and targets. Detroit hasn’t been shy recently in announcing its intentions to be a run-based, vertical passing offense. That said, they still need reliable chain movers. And what’s more reliable than a 6-4, 270-pound TE with above-average agility? One with a proven knack for scoring TDs at both the college and professional level? Until you can find me a better answer, you may as well go pick up and stash Roberts before he has another multi-score game.