Tomorrow’s Newspaper: Luke Willson and Waiver Wire Prescience for Week 7

by Ray Marzarella ·

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 11 regular season weeks remaining, there’s plenty of free meat to pick from the proverbial fantasy football bone.

Ryan Finley, QB, Bengals

To this point in the 2019 season, 43 different quarterbacks have started games. Ryan Tannehill, taking over for Marcus Mariota this week, will be the 44th. Matt Moore, who will take over for the injured Patrick Mahomes in Week 8, will be the 45th. Dwayne Haskins‘ time will come. Given the turnover we’ve already seen at the position, we have to assume that the 0-6 Cincinnati Bengals will start thinking about making a change of their own if their fortunes don’t turn around soon. The Bengals traded up in the 2019 NFL Draft to make NC State’s Ryan Finley the second pick of Day 3. His college efficiency metrics and low Breakout Age leave a bit to be desired. That said, he does have a decent SPARQ-x score, functional athleticism and an above-average College QBR.

Ryan Finley Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Heading into a 2020 draft loaded with potential franchise quarterbacks to choose from, it makes no sense for Cincinnati to roll with Andy Dalton all season. Especially if they continue to lose and inch their way closer to a top-five pick. Those in superflex leagues should stash Finley now in advance of Dalton’s inevitable benching. This is the same strategy that we employed last year to snag Lamar Jackson. Granted Finley wouldn’t be entering a great situation given the team’s injury woes. Though this offense has enough pieces for him to put up useful fantasy production.

Running Back Lottery Tickets

Teams with one or two losses can begin stashing backups to the running backs in the best 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. Another low key insurance policy to add to the list is Ty Montgomery. There will be plenty of fantasy value in this Jets offense once November hits and they enter a six-game stretch that sees them face Washington, Oakland, Cincinnati, the Giants and Miami twice. Le’Veon Bell owns an 86.1-percent (No. 3 among qualified running backs) Opportunity Share, and Montgomery would receive the brunt of the work in the event of injury.

Check out Ty Montgomery on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:

Those in deeper leagues that need a more obscure long-term stash can turn to Mark Walton. Stashing players on the sinking ship (sinking tank?) that is the Miami Dolphins is a dangerous game given their ineptitude. With the Kenyan Drake trade rumors becoming louder by the day, there’s reason to believe Walton will soon have his shot at leading the backfield. He’s already begun to see more work than Kalen Ballage, and his role in the offense has grown every week. An 8.9-percent (66th-percentile) College Target Share will ensure that he doesn’t end up a victim of Game Script, and it has already shown up in the box score with six targets against Washington last week.

Wide Receiver Dart Throws

Bye weeks and injuries take more of a toll on fantasy teams by the week. Those that need wide receiver help must locate the free square plug-and-play options. There’s one such player that stands out among the rest this week, and that’s The Lazard King. The importance of Aaron Rodgers lobbying for Allen Lazard to enter the game last week in a spot where an offensive spark was needed can’t be understated. With Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling all projected to sit again this week, Lazard (and Jake Kumerow) can be confidently started in a plum draw against the Raiders.

Teams with winning records, who haven’t been murked by the injury bug, can focus more-so on stashing wide receivers with longer term upside. Not many receivers fit this bill better than N’Keal Harry. He isn’t eligible to be activated from injured reserve until after Week 8. Still, the fact that he’s already returned to practice is a great sign. The Patriots shouldn’t rush their first round pick back into action before their Week 10 bye. Though he’s worth the stash in the event that Josh Gordon‘s knee injury keeps him out longer than expected and/or Phillip Dorsett‘s hamstring injury continues to linger.

There’s one more wide receiver we should all be throwing a dart at this week. His name is Robert Foster (his name is Robert Foster. His name is Robert Foster). Buffalo trading away the efficiency black hole that is Zay Jones has opened the door for Foster to work his way back into the offense. Duke Williams impressed in his Week 5 NFL debut, and should continue to see his chances. Either way, it’s hard to ignore the league-leading efficiency that Foster displayed in the deep threat role last year. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that resident deep threat and starter John Brown has been nursing a groin injury. You know what to do.

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 7 plug-and-play with potential long-term viability can do worse than a tight end who is tethered to, and familiar with, Russell Wilson. Luke Willson, who I’ve spilled more virtual ink on for this website than I’d care to admit, may not have any truthers left aside from myself and Denny Carter. Nevertheless, the season-ending injury to Will Dissly will give Willson, a perennial Late Round Tight End candidate, the chance to finally break out in his age-29 season. The Seattle passing game has finally been unlocked. Meaning there’s room for Willson to become a major contributor down the stretch.

A preseason hamstring strain has sidelined third round rookie tight end Josh Oliver to this point in the year, but he’s expected to make his NFL debut this week. With James O’Shaughnessy out for the year and Geoff Swaim concussed, the tight end depth chart in Jacksonville is wide open. We’d like to see him have a better Agility Score and Breakout Age, though he had to deal with having four different offensive coordinators and three different position coaches in four years at San Jose State. His top-end speed and prototypical size will be a good fit for Gardner Minshew and this mustache-led Jacksonville offense. A big game in his NFL debut would be a great sign for his value going forward. The 0-6 Cincinnati Bengals may provide the perfect launchpad.