Return of the Mack: Pick up Marlon Mack on the fantasy football waiver wire

by Matthew M. Stevens ·

Shiny new toys that break a week after Christmas disappoint kids year after year. Shiny new fantasy players who bust a week after plucking them off waivers disappoint owners week after week. To avoid that conundrum successful owners must be able to distinguish waiver wire wannabes from season-altering skill players.

After Week 6, Albert Wilson (6-155-2), Tyrell Williams (3-118-2) and Frank Gore (15 rush attempts, 101 yards) fit in the wannabe category.

Return of the Mack

The Colts, ranked No. 29 in the league in rushing heading into Week 6, welcomed Marlon Mack back from a hamstring injury with open arms. He handled the bulk of the carries, rushing 12 times for 89 yards (7.4 YPC), the most by a Colt this season. The second-year back averaged 6.0 yards per carry and commanded an equally impressive 10.9-percent target share at the college level, indicating an all-purpose skill set. Beyond his college résumé, Mack’s upper percentile Speed Score and Burst Score at 5-11, 213-pounds demonstrates the requisite size-adjusted athleticism to be an NFL bell cow back.

Marlon Mack Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Mack’s passing-game prowess has the potential to match his rushing production. He saw a 10.9-percent College Target Share, and averaged more than 10 yards per reception last season while catching 21 passes for 225 yards and a TD. However, he faces competition for targets from Nyheim Hines (31 receptions, 185 yards, two TDs) in Indy’s running back committee. Robert Turbin returned in Week 6 but was re-injured, and Jordan Wilkins recorded eight touches and lost a fumble.

Ito Smith Backfield Takeover

The Falcons backfield looks primed for a big shakeup. Atlanta placed Devonta Freeman on injured reserve Tuesday with a groin injury. His status for the rest of the season is in doubt. Tevin Coleman failed to impress in averaging 3.4 True Yards Per Carry and 2.2 receptions per game. His 57.2-percent Opportunity Share favors production but his -6.2 Production Premium raises red flags.

Enter rookie Ito Smith, the fourth-round pick out of Southern Miss who’s scored a touchdown in each of his past three games. His +9.0 Production Premium suggests bigger moments are ahead, and his 16 red zone touches rank in the top 20 and outpace Coleman by six. Smith’s Week 7 matchup against the Giants, who give up an average of 27.7 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, will be his breakout game.

Frank Gore, Zombie Running Back

Frank Gore rushed for over 100 yards in Week 6 and has been statistically solid all season. Fantasy owners will point to his top-20 ranking in True Yards Per Carry (4.6), Evaded Tackles (20) and Juke Rate (30.3-percent) But his 44.1-percent Opportunity Share underscores his timeshare with Kenyon Drake. Gore’s lack of receiving production highlights his limitations as a one-trick pony. His 7.6 fantasy points per game average and -19.6 Production Premium don’t generate confidence. At age 35 in his 14th NFL season, Gore can’t keep his current pace up. He draws the Lions, who allow 31.3 fantasy points to opposing RBs, in Week 7.

Real Deal Taylor Gabriel

Taylor Gabriel (5-110-0) looks the part of a league-winner. The Bears’ depth chart lists Allen Robinson as the No. 1 receiver, but the stats show that it’s Gabriel.

Check out Taylor Gabriel on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Player Rankings:

Gabriel leads the team in receptions (27) and receiving yards (303) and has scored twice. More importantly, Gabriel outshines Robinson in yards after the catch (94 to 50), yards per target (8.9 to 7.4) and fantasy points per game (14.6 to 12.8). He’s also faster than Robinson and gets crazy separation: Gabriel’s 2.18 Target Separation is head and shoulders above Robinson’s (1.05). Yet Robinson is owned in every league and Gabriel is widely available.

Albert Wilson & Tyrell Williams Breakouts

Albert Wilson has feasted with 320 yards after the catch but can’t sustain that pace with his 69.7-percent snap share. At 5-9 his small stature deters from his red zone targets (one this season). In each of his previous four seasons with Kansas City, Wilson never had more than 554 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Factor in Miami’s mediocre offense and shaky quarterback play, and Wilson’s flaws become obvious.

In Tyrell Williams‘ case, it’s hard for him to stay fantasy relevant considering his target share is a measly 11.9-percent. He hasn’t seen more than five targets in any game this season. Take away Week 6’s performance and his fantasy points per game average drops to 8.16.