How quickly things can change in the NFL.
What if I told you back in July that Devonta Freeman would be the No. 1 fantasy RB through the first 5 weeks of the season? Or that Travis Benjamin would have more fantasy points than Randall Cobb, Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, and Odell Beckham Jr? Or that Chris Johnson, Doug Martin, and the aforementioned Devonta Freeman would be tied for the second most rushing yards in the league? Or that Gary Barnidge, not Jimmy Graham, would be a top-3 TE.
Things don’t always go as planned in fantasy football, but now is the time to make your adjustments. I once started off 0-5 and ran the table the rest of the way to the Championship. It CAN be done. This piece will guide you through the wide receivers to target as well as avoid headed into week 6.
In search of that Talent + Opportunity sweet spot, where does Willie Snead fit in? Both everywhere and nowhere. On PlayerProfiler.com, Snead’s SPARQ-x is 89.5 (3rd-percentile). No workout metric from 40-time to Burst Score to Agility Score rises above the 20th percentile. This is an unathletic player. However, Snead’s 39.4-percent (75th-percentile) College Dominator Rating indicates that, like a mini-Keenan Allen, he wins on the football field with polished route running, body control, and strength and concentration at the catch point.
Even before his week 5 141-yard explosion, Snead had already quietly become Drew Brees‘ primary option in read progressions crowding out targets that were projected to be directed at Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston before the season started. Despite a bad shoulder, Brees still has the throwing ability to elevate the players around him.
Recommendation: Willie Snead has improbably become a high floor WR3 in Fantasy Land. STRONG BUY
Week 5 represented the very definition of the revenge game narrative game for Andre Johnson. Indianapolis clearly went into the game focused on force feeding the old man against his old team and division rival. He practiced against Houston defenders for years. The performance did make some rational sense as Johnson is still savvy enough to know tendencies of his former teammates. Per Toby Keith:
“I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.”
Johnson still lacks his trademark explosion, and Andrew Luck has been unwilling to utilize Johnson on short routes like Matt Hasselbeck. With three game breaking speedsters at his disposal, Luck will likely feed T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett upon his return.
Recommendation: If you cut Andre Johnson and are experiencing seller’s remorse, just chill. Andre Johnson is not a thing. STRONG SELL
Tavon Austin has failed to live up to his top-10 draft stock. Is that because Austin isn’t talented? No.
Tavon Austin is a phenomenal gadget player with big play ability evidenced by 4.34 speed and eye-test supported agilty. The Rams have finally figured out how to deploy Austin in conjunction with Todd Gurley into juicy one-on-one situations. Nick Foles is not an elite QB by any means, but he does have one skill: the deep ball. “Boom-bust” is often a prejorative in fantasy football, but in Tavon Austin’s case, it encapsulates his value.
Recommendation: Tavon Austin has value solely based on his ability to win you your week if/when he pops. BUY
What is PlayerProfiler.com sorely missing? Answer: cliché-soaked anecdotal analysis.
Here we go… Jamison Crowder is making his hay in the absence of DeSean Jackson. Crowder is a very polished route runner and has some of the quickest breaks I have seen. Very few defenders have the ability to sink their hips at the end of the stem like Crowder, making him very difficult to cover. Crowder has also shown adeptness at getting off press coverage at the NFL level with an excellent stutter step off the line and a fiestyness at the route release point.
Unfortunately for Jamison Crowder enthusiasts, DeSean Jackson is poised to return to the starting lineup. DeSean Jackson is not Brandin Cooks, Pierre Garçon is not Marquess Colston, and Jamison Crowder is not Willie Snead. While Jamison Crowder has been an effective chain mover in the absence of Jackson and Jordan Reed, Kirk Cousins lacks the downfield passing chops to support three fantasy relevant wide receivers week-to-week.
Recommendation: As long as DeSean Jackson remains out, Jamison Crowder remains a nice PPR flex option. HOLD
Two receptions for two touchdowns should soften even the most ardent Jaelen Strong critics. The best part about the case for adding Strong in fantasy is the resurrection of Brian Hoyer. It is impossible to predict how much Bill O’Brien appreciates Strong’s ability to score touchdowns. Will he be relegated to the bench once Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington return?
We can’t be sure. Jaelen Strong‘s athleticism, however, is indisputably evidenced by his 124.9 (94th-percentile) SPARQ-x score.
From Martavis Bryant to Donte Moncrief, even the most athletic rookies are often inactive early in the season — there is more to the position than running routes and catching footballs. An option route, for instance, requires wide receivers to read defenses along with the quarterback before deciding which direction to break. Given the complexity of NFL defenses, these nuances are difficult to master. For example, Rueben Randle struggled with the finer points of the position for three years, resulting in several interceptions fro Manning, before breaking through with a 73.1-percent catch rate through five games this season.
Recommendation: Jaelen Strong‘s upside is worthy of a bench slot in all league formats. BUY
Week 5 was the perfect storm for Marquess Wilson. Both Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were inactive making Wilson the Bears’ defactor No. 1 WR. He delivered with 6 receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown versus the worst secondary in the league. If Wilson were the real deal, he would have established a more significant role before week 5.
Recommendation: pass on Marquess Wilson and look elsewhere for value. SELL
Dorial Green-Beckham and DeVante Parker
After week 3’s thrilling loss to the Colts, Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt talked with the media about how he was going to integrate Dorial Green-Beckham into the offense more. DGB was not targeted in Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills. Miami is coming off a bye this week. Will the firing of Joe Philbin spark a change in offensive personnel?
Nobody know when these franchises will wake up from their respective risk-averse stupors. Until then, we sit, and we wait.
Recommendation: Continue to stashing Dorial Green-Beckham and DeVante Parker in hopes their coaches stop being irrational risk averse and start trying to score points. HOLD
Random Eagles Receivers
Weeks 1 and 2 played out just as Jordan Matthews owners had hoped it would as Sam Bradford peppered him with low depth targets both games. Philadelphia has since opened up the offense as Bradford went from ~2 deep passes (20-plus yards) a game to ~7 deep passes per game. Josh Huff, Miles Austin, and Riley Cooper each scored touchdowns over the last couple of weeks. After Matthews, Philadelphia seems to spread the ball around randomly to WRs No. 2-5. In Week 5, nine different Eagles recorded a reception. Who is the Eagles’ true No. 2 WR? No. 3 WR? No. 4 WR? No. 5 WR? Nobody knows.
Recommendation: Avoid Philadelphia wide receivers not named Jordan Matthews. WHO CARES
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