Tomorrow’s Newspaper: Cody Kessler and Week 5 Waiver Wire Prescience

by Ray Marzarella ·

It doesn’t matter how the fantasy points are accrued.  All that matters to begin with is that they are accrued.

While it may have taken Brian Hoyer a while to get going against Dallas, and while he’s been decidedly less-than-efficient in relief of Jay Cutler, he still came away with 19 fantasy points in Week 3 without throwing an INT.  This may say more about the sorry state of the Dallas defense than anything else, but all we care about in this context are the points.  Cutler’s thumb injury has him listed as doubtful to play in Week 4.  So Hoyer should continue to benefit from game script, as well as a favorable schedule.  With defenses on Chicago’s upcoming schedule allowing a league-leading 2.16 fantasy points above the mean against opposing QBs, and an upcoming Week 4 tilt against a Lions unit that’s been struggling, Hoyer can be started by QB-needy fantasy squads.

Brian Hoyer represents the kind of player that’s become the focal point of these pieces.  They’re not the kinds of player anyone should’ve been running to the waiver wire to put a claim or a bid on this week.  But they’re the kinds of player that can prove to be extremely useful as the season progresses, who you’re going to want to beat your opponents to in case they become something more than what they currently are.  In the case of Hoyer, the longer Jay Cutler is out with his thumb injury, the longer it gives you another starting QB to play match-ups with.

Recapping Previous Weeks

This is where we’ll check in on players previously written about for this series.  They’ll be monitored until they break 50-percent ownership in MFL leagues.  You obviously won’t be able to stash every one of these players.  The players you may pick and choose to stash will be dependent on your league rules, roster construction and the state of your team in general.

QB: The shoulder injury suffered by Josh McCown (10.37-percent) in Week 2 is only expected to sideline him for 2-4 weeks.  And unless Cody Kessler runs away with the job over the next few games, the Browns should be McCown’s team upon his return.  Given their teams respective QB situations, he and Brian Hoyer (9.56-percent) should continue to be stashed where possible.

RB: His six snaps played in Week 3 were again only one less than Alfred Morris, but Lance Dunbar (8.97-percent) was able to vulture a one-yard rushing score on his only carry against the Bears.  Still working his way back from last year’s gruesome knee injury, there won’t be many more games where Dunbar won’t receive any passing game targets.  His four targets this year are only one less than Ezekiel Eliott, so we can presume that he’s going to be the primary passing down back when fully healthy.  While Dexter McCluster (20.92-percent) only played nine snaps in his Chargers debut, he did see three targets which included one in the endzone.  Week 3 showed us that Melvin Gordon will be a workhorse, but McCluster’s 98th-percentile College Target Share ensures us that he’ll be involved in the passing game.

WR: While Kevin White has wet-farted his way to 27.1 fantasy points on 27 targets, Eddie Royal (25.42-percent) has been one of the most efficient receivers in the league (not just in Chicago, in the entire league) with 30 points on only 15 targets.  If White continues to squander his chances, Royal should see more action and should continue to display the efficiency that has become a calling card for his career as of late.  The statistics recorded by Adam Thielen (4.42-percent) so far this year haven’t jumped off the page.  But his play has kept first round pick Laquon Treadwell and presumed starting slot receiver Jarius Wright off the field, while rendering the snakebitten Charles Johnson useless.  Baba Booey Sam Bradford is playing too well for Thielen to stay quiet forever.  The inevitable big game may come on Monday night against a Giants team that has serious problems defending the middle of the field.

TE: Brent Celek (5.57-percent) out-produced Trey Burton in relief of Zach Ertz against Pittsburgh in Week 3, but the Eagles are on bye this week and Ertz is expected back from his rib injury in Week 5.  If he’s out again, both Celek and Burton will make for great dart throw plays against a Detroit team that’s hemorrhaged fantasy points to the TE position this year.  Jack Doyle (38.85-percent) currently has top-10 numbers in every relevant efficiency metric, and better numbers than Dwayne Allen in all of them.  He’s also outscored Allen in all three games this season.  They each have 15 targets, but Doyle has the higher Hog Rate.  I know it’s only been three games, but I suppose it’s no longer a stretch to say that Doyle is the better player and fantasy option for the Colts at this point.  Especially as they continue to run more two-TE sets with Donte Moncrief out.

All listed players are owned in less than 50-percent of MFL redraft leagues.

Cody Kessler, QB, Cleveland Browns (7.95-percent owned)

While higher-owned weekly starters like Trevor Siemien (46.45-percent) offer more upside currently, he was also one of the five most added players in advance of Week 4 in MFL leagues.  In focusing on the more underappreciated players who could have more fantasy utility than the average fantasy gamer thinks, we turn our attention to Cody Kessler.  While he may not even be the best QB on his own team, Terrelle Pryor offers too much upside at the receiver position for the Browns to convert him back to QB on a full-time basis.  Especially given Corey Coleman‘s injury and Josh Gordon entering rehab.  Though Josh McCown is expected back from his shoulder injury before too long, Kessler is still worth an add in case McCown suffers a setback or re-injures his shoulder.

Cody Kessler-Quarterback-Cleveland Browns

Cody Kessler Advanced Metrics Profile

Considered a draft day reach by some, Player Profiler has called Cody Kessler a Kirk Cousins clone of sorts.  Granted he didn’t set the world on fire in his first career start against Miami in Week 3, nor was he expected to with no Josh Gordon or Corey Coleman.  With QB-turned-WR Terrelle Pryor as his most effective offensive weapon, a 63.3-percent Completion Percentage and 7.4 Yards per Attempt are more-than-reasonable numbers.  Keep in mind Kessler was widely considered to be nowhere near ready to play in an NFL game.  He may not have the job much longer, which makes him more of a speculative stash.  The inevitable return of Coleman and the 11th-most favorable upcoming strength of schedule for fantasy QBs will bode well for either he or Josh McCown, who hasn’t exactly been a pillar of health over a career that has never seen him play 16 games in a season.  A tough Week 5 draw against New England awaits, but it’s reasonable to suggest that the Browns will be passing a lot in that game.  And more pass attempts equals more chances to accrue points.

Bobby Rainey, RB, New York Giants (4.64-percent owned)

Rashad Jennings can’t block or catch with a bum hand, which puts his status for Monday night in jeopardy.  Shane Vereen can’t play at all while he’s sidelined with a torn triceps.  Orleans Darkwa was a hot waiver pickup this week as the likely starter on Monday night, who played well in relief of Jennings against Washington.  And while he’s a capable pass-catcher in his own right, we can’t discount the possibility that the perpetually underrated Bobby Rainey could end up as the primary pass-catching back for the Giants.

Bobby Rainey-Running Back-New York Giants

Bobby Rainey Advanced Metrics Profile

The workout metric that most closely correlates with passing game success is Agility Score, and Bobby Rainey has one of the best in the Player Profiler database.  Rainey put this agility on display in catching 80 passes in four years at Western Kentucky, and he also has a 33-catch season on his professional resume.  Even though he only played eight snaps in Week 3 with Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa shouldering the majority of the workload, Rainey was able to parlay them into two targets.  One went for a 24-yard reception and the other came in the endzone.  While we have to consider that rookie Paul Perkins will finally see some offensive snaps, he doesn’t offer as much upside as the veteran Rainey.  And with the Vikings likely to shut down whoever the primary ball carrier may be on Monday night, Rainey is being set up nicely to have a nice fantasy performance as a pass-catcher.  And if he can somehow put up the kinds of fantasy point totals he was putting up in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, you’ll want to be stashing him before he becomes a hot waiver add.

Adam Humphries, WR, Tampa Bay Bucs (24.86-percent owned)

A common mantra that’s preached at Player Profiler is that a player’s talent profile matters much more at the WR position than it does at RB, where opportunity is king.  But a funny thing is happening in Tampa Bay after three weeks of action.  We live in a world where Adam Humphries, with his 2nd-percentile College Dominator Rating and 0th-percentile College YPR, is outproducing Vincent Jackson, with his 99th-percentile College Dominator Rating and 81st-percentile College YPR.  Humphries hasn’t been efficient, sporting the 47th-best Production Premium (-1.5) and 39th-best Target Premium (negative 1.9-percent) among receivers, but his Catch Rate is an NFL 17th-best 72-percent.  But Hump Daddy has been elite compared to Jackson.  VJAX currently holds the 79th-ranked Production Premium (-42.9), 77th-best Target Premium (negative 50.9-percent) and 76th-best Catch Rate (40.9-percent).  Interestingly enough, Jackson’s Snap Share is increasing while his Target Share is going down.  While the opposite is true of Humphries, whose Snap Share is decreasing while his Target Share is going up.

Adam Humphries 2016 Game Logs

Adam Humphries 2016 Game Logs

Vincent Jackson 2016 Game Logs

Vincent Jackson 2016 Game Logs

If this doesn’t show us that Vincent Jackson is pretty much cooked, I don’t know what does.  Jameis Winston is well on his way to become the league’s next truly prolific passer, but we’re seeing that Jackson’s time as a consistently elite fantasy contributor seems to have passed.  Talents like Winston have a way of elevating the talent around them, which seems to be precisely what we’re seeing with Adam Humphries.  Not having an Austin Seferian-Jenkins level talent at TE to take away looks doesn’t hurt Humphries either.  He’s exactly the kind of player you’re going to want to be plugging in during bye weeks.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, New York Jets (46.30-percent owned)

Though his ownership numbers are cutting it close to the arbitrary benchmark of 50-percent, there are still too many people who are sleeping on Stone Cold Steve Austin Seferian-Jenkins.  While it’s going to be hard to convince people to run to the waiver wire to acquire a player who was recently released following a DUI arrest, it appears that it could be a while before any official discipline is imposed on him by the NFL.  Which gives him a chance to be a fantasy contributor sooner rather than later.

[Austin Seferian-Jenkins]-Tight End-New York Jets

Austin Seferian-Jenkins Advanced Metrics Profile

On a New York Jets team with zero catches from the TE position so far in 2016, who just lost Eric Decker for an unknown amount of time, Austin Seferian-Jenkins has a clear path towards fantasy viability at a position that has been all over the place in 2016.  He may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but he’s a precocious talent who we’ve spilled lots of virtual ink over.  If Brandon Marshall really can keep him on the straight and narrow, it may not be long before ASJ becomes a weekly fantasy starter.