Leveraging the NFL’s most volatile players for fantasy football upside

by Matthew M. Stevens ·

Unlocking the potential of weekly player volatility in fantasy football gives gamers a competitive edge. Using matchup, volume and usage data combined with advanced stats, metrics and analytics to pinpoint the best matchups will yield the best ROI from volatile players. A key metric on PlayerProfiler.com, Weekly Volatility measures a player’s week-to-week fantasy point scoring oscillation. Throughout the season, this article will track fantasy football’s most volatile players and provide insight on how to deploy them. The focus will be on those highly volatile players who make ideal buy-low and sell-high targets, and those whose low ownership percentages make them speculative waiver wire and free-agent adds.

Robby Anderson – Bargain Basement WR1

With Sam Darnold set to return from his bout with mono, Robby Anderson’s fantasy football outlook subsequently returns from the grave. A true boom-or-bust, field stretching archetype, Anderson boasts 4.41 (92nd-percentile among wide receivers) speed with the ability to beat defenses over the top. To this point, he has failed to reignite after a solid 2018 campaign where he recorded a 29.7-percent (No. 10) Dominator Rating and led the Jets in all receiving categories. He scored high marks with a 16.4 (No. 9) Average Target Distance and 1,529 (No. 11) yards of total Target Distance, while catching six touchdowns and posting three top-five wide receiver fantasy finishes. He’s played 100-percent of the snaps this season and is the clear No. 1 option for the Jets.

His success last season centered around Darnold, who hasn’t played since Week 1. Fast forward to Anderson’s current nightmare. He dealt with a severe quarterback downgrade, first to Trevor Siemian – who was knocked out of Week 2 with an injury – and then to Luke Falk, the third-stringer who had never played a meaningful NFL snap before. Falk’s 7.7 Total QBR ranks dead last among qualified players, according to Pro Football Reference. Falk has played a big role in Anderson’s struggles so far this season and is the main reason he hasn’t yet found the end zone, failing to throw a TD pass in three starts.

Check out Robby Anderson on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:

Anderson also ranks among the most volatile WRs over the past two seasons. His Weekly Volatility marks of 8.2 in 2017 and 9.1 in 2018 ranked No. 19 and No. 11, respectively. His tendency to boom or bust, coupled with his lack of production this season, led to his ownership percentage dropping into the low 60s on Yahoo and ESPN per FantasyPros. He should be owned in all formats in advance of the Jets’ Week 6 matchup against the Cowboys, and if he’s unavailable on the wire then try to acquire him on the cheap. His impending breakout game looms large, though it might have to wait one more week (and in the buy-low game, that’s not bad).

PlayerProfiler’s strength of schedule metric ranks the Cowboys (-5.97) among the toughest matchups for WRs. Numbers below -2.00 indicate a difficult matchup. Individually, Anderson figures to line up the most against cornerback Byron Jones and his +60.3 (No. 7) Coverage Rating. Anderson’s chances for a blowup game figure to be limited by a strong Cowboys secondary and Darnold’s return after a moderate layoff. All of these factors point to Anderson as the best buy-low player of the week.

Derrick Henry booms louder than most RBs

When Derrick Henry notches a blowup game, he does it with a savage style. At 6-3, 247-pounds with a 30.9 BMI, Henry boasts impressive size-adjusted athleticism in the form of a 116.3 (97th-percentile) Speed Score. Simply put, he’s a violent runner. Flashback to 2018 Week 14 against Jacksonville, when Henry shook the world with four TDs and 238 yards on 13 carries. He finished with 47.8 fantasy points, making him the top overall producer that week. His brutal stiff arm on A.J. Bouye put an exclamation point on his first big game. He followed that up with 30.2 fantasy points the next week and took over the lead role he failed to claim in his first three NFL seasons.

While he’s retained that bellcow status in 2019, he hasn’t posted a signature game since Week 1, but rest assured one is in the works. Weekly Volatility metrics from last season reveal that Henry profiles as an extremely volatile player. In fact, no running back recorded a higher degree of volatility than Henry (11.7). His company included Alvin Kamara (10.7), Nick Chubb (10.5) and James Conner (10.5).


Henry has displayed efficiency across the first five games and remains locked into a workhorse role, evidenced by his 78.1-percent (No. 6) Opportunity Share. He ranks in the top-10 with 387 (No. 7) rush yards, five (No. 5) total TDs and six (No. 3) Breakaway Runs. He has done all that despite seeing a 40.8-percent (No. 1) Stacked Front Carry Rate. From a fantasy perspective, he’s due to make it rain. Following a top-5 finish with 28.9 points in Week 1, Henry’s production regressed to the mean.

So when does the boom week come? For Henry, the time is now. His Week 6 matchup against Denver looks ripe for the demolishing. The Broncos have allowed five rush TDs across the first five weeks and also let Leonard Fournette rush for 225 yards. Their defensive line ranks No. 27 in run blocking per Football Outsiders. Henry beats stacked fronts against bad teams. That’s it. Fire him up in cash games and see about making a play for him in redraft ahead of his next blowup game.