Fantasy Football Stock Watch








Who's Rising, Falling, and Why


 Below, find all the news and moves that truly impact the fantasy football value needle, with no stone left unturned. We ground each breakdown in our Fantasy Stock Formula, analyzing which factor(s) have seen a change (Talent, Opportunity, Surrounding Talent, Coaching Scheme, Risk, and Upside) to identify Risers, Fallers, Penny Stocks, and Value Holes. All caught up? Return to the homepage.


Adam Thielen Tops 100 Yards for 6th Straight Week, Remains Fantasy’s Ultimate WR1
After bursting onto the scene in 2017 and finishing top 10 in the league in receptions and receiving yards, Adam Thielen has one-upped himself in 2018. He leads the NFL in both categories this season and has surpassed 100 yards in each of his first 6 games so far, averaging almost 10 receptions per game in the process. He's clearly developed the same type of chemistry with Kirk Cousins that he had with Case Keenum, and he's on pace for a historic year through 6 weeks. Oh, that 100 yards in each of his first 6 games thing? Yeah, nobody in the Super Bowl era has ever done that. Pretty incredible, especially considering this guy was an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State just a few years ago. Thielen has quickly become one of the most dynamic WRs in football, not only racking up a ton of receptions from the slot but turning them into big yards. Along with leading the league in receptions and yards he's also tied with Antonio Brown for the league lead with 66 targets, and there are absolutely no signs anywhere that his usage will drop one iota anytime in the near future. Head coach Mike Zimmer (obviously) has nothing but positive reviews for Thielen to this point in the year. He told the media after the game he doesn't ever think there's a ball that Thielen can't come down with, and added: “That’s how he is in practice every day. Adam has a great heart, he’s a really tough kid. He comes over to me and talks to me during the game about stuff that’s going on, and it’s always about, ‘These guys can’t guard me,’ and all the stuff like that.” Thielen's historic streak should continue at least another 2 weeks, as the Vikings play the Jets in Week 7, who have allowed the most yards to opposing slot receivers in the league in 2018, and the Saints in Week 8, who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing receivers. He's a 100% matchup-proof starter for the rest of the season, and if you drafted him anywhere near his 2018 ADP of 34, give yourself a few pats on the back for that one.
Jameis Winston Torches Falcons, Confirms Fantasy QB1 Upside
Heading into Week 6, our man RedSocker had Jameis Winston as his #1 streaming option as he made his first start of the season against an Atlanta defense that's been riddled with injuries and has allowed the third most points to opposing QBs in 2018. The Bucs may have lost to the Falcons on Sunday, but Winston did his part for fantasy owners, throwing for almost 400 yards and 3 TDs and leading all QBs with 30.9 points. He nearly lost his starting job altogether earlier this season, but moving forward could very well become an every-week starter. The Bucs now lead the league in fantasy points per game from their starting QB, and while Ryan Fitzpatrick did more to accomplish that than Winston has, it still bodes well for Jameis moving forward. He was the leading QB in fantasy over the last 5 weeks of 2017, and in this pass-happy offense should continue to put up strong numbers even if the team isn't winning games. Dirk Koetter and OC Todd Monken aren't afraid to let Winston throw the ball deep, and that's his specialty; in his career, Winston has attempted a deep pass (20+ yards) on 12.6% of his pass attempts, and on these attempts his passer rating is just under 90. The schedule moving forward is a mixed bag for Winston, as next week brings the Browns, who've allowed the 6th-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs. Week 8 gives him a matchup with Cincinnati, who's allowed the 7th-most points to quarterbacks, and after that comes Carolina, who's right in the middle of the league at #15 against QBs. But matchups aside, this offense is built for a QB like Jameis Winston, and his bevy of talented wideouts could propel Winston into QB1 territory.
New No.2: Saquon Barkley Continues Proving His Elite RB1 Worth, Despite Awful Team
Giants RB Saquon Barkley continues to transcend his nightmare overall offense and perform as a "Cheatcode RB1." Against the Eagles, Barkley rushed for a season-high 130 yards on only 13 carries (10 YPC), while also leading the Giants in all receiving categories with 12 targets and 9 catches for 99 yards (second time this season). Barkley's now scored over 60 FPs in his past two games, and has yet to dip below 17 on the season. He is the ultimate floor-ceiling combination, and Barkley now trails only Todd Gurley on my ROS Big Board. As predicted, Pat "Bellcow Breeder" Shurmur has used Barkley as a true every-down workhorse. The horse leads all RBs in receptions (40) and yardage (373), while currently sitting at second in rushing (though he's had one more contest). Though Barkley will occasionally try to "do too much" and lose yardage, his homerun ability is indisputable.  In this contest alone he logged a 50 yard TD run and 55 yard catch, a week after a 57 yard receiving score. He's insanely elusive and has incredible long-speed for a man of his size (6'0", 233 lbs), and can break tackles with the best of them. Indeed, we lobbied Barkley as a locked-in Top-5 pick multiple times. But even still, he's surpassing our sky-high expectations. The Individual Talent and Usage are perfect, and Barkley's superseding the awful overall line and play of Eli Manning. He's truly special.
Emerging Alpha? Alshon Jeffery, Carson Wentz Clicking as Both Round into Form
For the second time in three weeks, Alshon Jeffery topped 20 FPs and played a true Alpha WR1 role. He hauled in 8-of-12 targets for 74 yards and 2 scores, both coming in the Red Zone. Jeffery was almost always Carson Wentz's first look on broken plays, and the two are completely synced. Wentz himself looks back to 100%, completing 26-of-36 throws (72%) for 276 yards and 3 scores. He's now topped 20 FPs in three straight contests, and can be safely inserted back into lineups as a rock-solid QB1.  In 2017, Jeffery never topped 7 receptions, and logged 20 FPs just twice. In 2018, in just three contests, he's already hauled in 8 balls on two separate occasions, and gone over 20 in both. With 29 targets over his first three games, Jeffery appears to be emerging as a true Target Hog. He's risen to the WR18 in my ROS Big Board, with room to rise into the Top-10 if this continues. Doug Pederson's offense has typically spread the ball around, but the early evidence is pointing to a target vacuum. Steady volume from an elite signal caller would net Jeffery consistent Top-10 WR outputs, but his disappearance in Week 5 is a reminder of the low floor. Meanwhile, Wentz should immediately rank in the Top 10 QBs moving forward. He's back to full health, moving around fantastically in the pocket to buy extra times for his wideouts. Equally important, Pederson remains incredibly pass-heavy within the 20s, which gives Wentz a 2-3 TD floor, and 4+ ceiling each week.  He's up to the QB9 on my ROS Rankings, with room to continue rising.
Odell Beckham’s Fantasy Value Being Tanked by Awful Eli Manning
The misery continues! After finally emerging for an explosive 27 FPs in Week 5, Odell regressed to catch just 6-of-10 passes for a scoreless 44 yards, watching his Giants' fall to 1-5 in a Week 6 loss to the Eagles. More concerning, Beckham was frequently jawing his teammates, coaches, and *gasp* water coolers, and continues to mentally check himself out due to awful surrounding play from Eli Manning.  Matched up with the generous Eagles CB Jalen Mills, Beckham seemed ready to finally take off in 2018 and begin reaching his limitless ceiling. Unfortunately, disgusting Eli had other designs. He underthrew any pathetic deep ball shots, missed him on wide open intermediate looks, and is just incapable of accuracy on any throw beyond 10 yards. Indeed, Beckham's upcoming schedule is incredibly soft, with 4 of his next 6 matchups versus bottom-10 defenses against WRs. Still, genuinely advocating to Buy Low into Beckham is tough as long as Eli is under center. He failed to take advantage of juicy matchups versus New Orleans (worst-ranked versus WRs) and now the Eagles. Plus, his continued sideline antics and off-field distractions are only hurting his appeal among the coaching staff and his teammates. Even if they wanted to grease the squeaky wheel, Eli is incapable, which should keep Beckham checked out often. Of course, Beckham's upside will always exist with his limitless talent, and if you have a deep bench and the flexibility to absorb the low floor, he's worth a stab. But don't overextend expecting the OBJ of old, at least without a QB change
Corey Clement Stakes Claim to No.1 RB Duties in Eagles Explosive Offense
Despite being on a "pitch count" and coming off the bench, Eagles RB Corey Clement outgained and outplayed "starter" Wendell Smallwood. Clement racked up 69 total yards and a score on just 14 touches (3 rec.), as compared to a paltry 51 scoreless yards for Smallwood on 19 looks (2.68 per touch). Considering this lower touch ratio was by design as Clement was being eased in from his quad injury, his volume and fantasy outputs should only further ascend in the coming weeks. Importantly, Clement emerged from this one unscathed, and should see his workload increase here on out. He looked far more explosive, and carried over his Red Zone presence from last year with a 1 yard scoring plunge. This overall offense is rounding into form as Carson Wentz gains health, so Clement's RZ role will be imperative. He's a quality FLEX, at minimum, moving forward. The high-end RB2 upside is real. Meanwhile, Smallwood has to fall considerably in Season Long Rankings. He'll remain a piece of this backfield, but likely more of a 10-15 touch guy between-the-20s, ceding the more valuable receiving and GL work to Clement (and eventually Sproles). This caps Smallwood's ultimate ceiling and makes him tough to trust outside of desperate Bye Week situations.
Workhorse Reborn: David Johnson Scores Twice, Logs 20 Touches for Second Straight Week
Despite missing virtually all of 2017 with a wrist injury, David Johnson was still a top target of fantasy owners heading into this season. Those owners were then discouraged to start the year as his touches consistently weren't where they should be for a player with such talent. Johnson failed to surpass 16 touches in a game from Weeks 1-3 but has now topped 20 in 2 straight weeks, including Sunday's win over SF in which he rushed 18 times for 55 yards and 2 scores and caught 2 of 3 targets for 16 yards. Despite his shortcomings to this point, Johnson is still RB8 on The Wolf's Rest of Season Big Board While Johnson has yet to show the big-play ability that made him 2016's Fantasy MVP, he's still just 26 years old and the definition of a dual-threat back. Johnson is fantasy's RB10 through 5 weeks, putting up over 360 total yards and 5 total TDs through 5 weeks. We were terrified about Johnson's workload as recently as Week 2, but clearly the team is making it a priority to make DJ a more prevalent part of their offensive attack. Johnson has played 2 full seasons in the NFL and has finished at RB7 and RB1 in those two years. He also sat out a full season after a September injury that typically requires a 2-3 month recovery; clearly, he prioritized his long-term health over rushing back to contribute to a lost season. So while there's a chance he never returns to his glory days of 2016, all signs point to another stellar season for DJ as long as Arizona feeds him properly.
Even Though Mark Ingram Proved to be a ‘League Winning Move’ in his Debut, Buy-Low on Alvin Kamara
Some thought Mark Ingram would take a step back from his excellent 2017 campaign. Some thought Ingram would be rusty in his return. Some thought Alvin Kamara would suddenly become a three-down back and Ingram would take a backseat. Some even thought Ingram could be dealt in the offseason. And some thought drafting Mark Ingram would be a 'League Winning Move.' After Monday night's 53-yard, two touchdown performance on the ground, the latter looks pretty good right now. Ingram, last year's RB6 in fantasy, totaled 21.30 fantasy points in his return -- while Kamara was limited to 6.90 points on only six carries. Do we think Ingram is going to throttle Kamara's value? No. Last year proved that the two can co-exist. Ingram's debut showed that he is going to handle goal line duties and get the carries between the 20s. On the other side, even though Kamara was only held to three receptions, the thorough domination on the scoreboard made the game script flip to an Ingram-heavy attack. If the Kamara owner in your league is a small-brained, quick conclusion maker, then you should throw him a buy-low offer for the electric running back. We all know the Saints' defense sucks and they'll be in a handful of shootouts this year, meaning Kamara will still get his touches and targets that could go to the house at any moment. This game taught us that yes, drafting Ingram was a 'League Winning Move' and yes, you can take advantage of a short-sighted Kamara owner.
Tre’Quan Smith Breaks Out on Monday Night Football, Shows True Penny Stock Potential
Back in August we had our friend of the program, and New Orleans Advocate writer Nick Underhill on The Fantasy Fullback Dive to gain some inside info on the Saints' explosive offensive attack. While we were high on Cameron Meredith for the WR2 job across from Michael Thomas, Underhill couldn't stop gushing about rookie wideout, Tre'Quan Smith. After dominating the preseason, it took a few weeks and a Ted Ginn knee injury for Smith to get his chance to crack the starting lineup -- and he took advantage of his opportunity. Smith had a monster game with three catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns, including the 62-yard touchdown that etched Drew Brees' name into the NFL record book.  "I knew I had to step up," Smith said. "I knew my teammates counted on me and they believed in me and they trusted me. So this week I've been telling myself it was my time to shine. You're up, don't make any mistakes." With Ginn out of the lineup, Smith made the most of his snaps. He played 44-of-66 offensive snaps (67 percent) and found the end zone twice on those three receptions. He showed off his smarts on the record-breaking 62-yard touchdown reception when he slowed down in the soft spot of the Redskins' zone coverage and then out-raced the defense to the end zone. Smith is still only 4 percent owned, which makes sense considering he'll likely be back behind Ginn once he returns. However, he could get some more action after the bye week since he showed his potential in Week 5. Will Sean Payton script up ways to get the rookie more involved? Time will only tell.
Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin Disappearing, RBs Rising in Run-Centric Attack
A year after averaging 34.7 pass attempts per game, the Seahawks now average over 10 less (24.3) under new Seahawks OC Brian Schottenheimer. The former Jets OC has a run-centric history, and has certainly kept true on his promise to "emphasize the run game," as the 'Hawks currently rank just 29th in the league in throws. Amidst this switch, Russell Wilson hasn't topped 300 yards, and has been held under 20 FPs all but once while tanking to the QB20. Meanwhile, Doug Baldwin has netted 7.2 FPs on the year, and drew just 1 target the entire game. He's currently a complete non factor, and needs to be benched until he regains a consistent role. In contrast, RB Chris Carson topped 100 yards and 19 FPs for the second straight active week, while Mike Davis also impressed with 68 and a score. In a near even split (Carson 20 touches, Davis 14), both backs are flex factors in positive game scripts.  Who could've seen this coming?! Well, in labeling Wilson my "Overpriced QB" in our Draft Guide, I wrote: "Also working against Wilson is his team’s desire to return to their run-heavy roots. As explained by beat writer Bob Condotta, “What Carroll would like is to get the pass-to-run percentage more where it was in 2013 or 2014 (47.29 and 48.56 respectively) than where it was last year (59.38).” Wilson finished as the QB8 and QB9 in each of those seasons -- nothing awful, but nothing worth a Top 50 selection, especially at such a deep position... I’d much rather wait 5-6 Rounds and pair up the floor of Philip Rivers and ceiling of Patrick Mahomes, all while being afforded an extra 5 or so RB and WR stabs in the process." Thus far, the Seahawks are even more run-heavy than I imagined. They need to protect their abysmal pass-defense, and right now Davis and Carson are allowing this to happen. At some point, these defensive woes will catch up and Wilson will need to chuck. But for now, all Seahawks should be benched outside of the backfield.
Calvin Ridley’s Low Snap Totals Catch-Up, Disappears in Week 5
Calvin Ridley caught 4-of-5 targets for 38 yards in the Falcons' Week 5 loss to the Steelers. It was Ridley's first game without a score since Week 1. Ridley, who leads the Falcons in red zone looks, did draw a target from the Steelers' 21-yard line. He'll remain a solid WR3 for next week's matchup with the Bucs' awful defense. It was inevitable to happen, but Calvin Ridley finally regressed from the Everest like high mountain he sat atop the past few weeks in the fantasy landscape. Ridley had 6 touchdowns over his last three games with the Falcons and had become a red zone nightmare for opposing defenses. He was picking up the massive slack left by Julio Jones in the touchdown department as the Falcons thrived down in the red zone. What was cautionary about Ridley's expectations though was his low snap count compared to Falcons receivers. Ridley had registered 46,35,42 and 38 offensive snaps through Week 4 which was the third most on the team behind both Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu. Simply, the amount of production coming from Ridley was going to be unsustainable with the lack of snaps he was seeing. Even in a juicy matchup against Pittsburgh, Jones and Sanu dominated in targets with nine and seven respectively to Ridley's five. We'd expect Ridley's numbers to start falling back to Earth and regressing to the mean. Although, a matchup with the Tampa Bay Bucs is juicy enough to keep his stock up a little longer.
Keke Coutee Remains Highly Used, Scores in Follow-up to Record-Setting Debut
Keke Coutee caught 6-of-7 passes for 51 yards and a touchdown in Week 5 against Dallas on Sunday Night Football. Coutee scored Houston's only touchdown on a goal-line shovel pass. He briefly left in the second quarter to get check for a concussion after taking a huge hit, but was cleared to return. Coutee proved his blowup debut wasn't a fluke, but it's going to be hard for him to have week-to-week consistency. He'll be a WR3/FLEX for Week 6 against Buffalo. Seemingly out of nowhere, a third receiving star in Houston was born. Rookie Keke Coutee (pronounced cutie, lol) followed up his massive debut with another strong performance as the Texans WR3. Coutee and Will Fuller were both questionable for the contest, but both ended up playing high snap counts. Coutee was out there for 57 of the Texans 80 offensive plays and ended up with more targets than Fuller. Houston had primarily worked with two receivers so far thus season, with little-to-no production from a third receiver, tight end, or even a running back in the passing game. Coutee's emergence and presence looks to be sustainable, and a big part of what Houston will utilize going forward. As Fuller focuses on the deep routes over the top of the defense and Hopkins working all over the field, Coutee figures to handle to short routes for Deshaun Watson when the big plays aren't there. The staggering chemistry seems to already be there with Watson, and Coutee is likely to bring Fuller's stock down a bit taking away from his target total.
Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman Locked Into Disgusting 3-Headed Committee With Creature Ito Smith
Holy shit, this is disgusting. ESPN's Josina Anderson reported before the Falcons' Week 5 matchup with the Steelers that Devonta Freeman would be injected into a three-headed committee with both Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith, but we didn't see it unfolding like it actually did. Freeman "led" the Falcons with eight carries for a measly 32 yards, while Coleman added 15 useless yards on seven carries. To make matters worse, Ito Smith got a goal line carry and scored on one of his three carries that totaled a pathetic five yards. In what should have been a cake matchup for both Freeman and Coleman, they both failed to separate from one another and it looks like we're headed for a fantasy disaster in Atlanta. Now, one could point to the scoreboard for the main reason as to why Sark was fine with the committee. They were quickly down 13-0 and establishing a run game wouldn't have been ideal. However, they cut it to a three point game at the half and could have slowed things down to begin the second half against that soft Pittsburgh defense. Moving forward, it's going to be tough to trust Freeman or Coleman -- especially if Ito Smith is going to be a goal line vulture. The Falcons have a plus-matchup ahead in what should be a high scoring affair with the Bucs shitty defense, so it will be okay to give the two running backs another chance. But if they falter against Tampa, we don't like their chances moving forward. If you have a sucker in your league and could potentially sell either one, it wouldn't hurt to throw out an offer to get something in return. Either way, Anderson was spot on in her pregame report of a three-headed, puke inducing committee -- and it really sucks.
Greg Olsen Expected to Return Week 6; Boom-or-Bust Fantasy Impact Awaits
It's déjà vu all over again for Panthers tight end Greg Olsen. Coming off a disappointing 2017 campaign where he battled through a fractured foot for seven games, Olsen is set to return this week after re-fracturing his foot in the team's 2018 opener against the Cowboys. Ron Rivera hinted that his top tight end was on track to return Week 6, and Olsen confirmed his coach's words today that he's expecting to play this week. Still available in 32 percent of leagues, the tight end stated that his foot is practically being held together by the screw that was inserted into his foot last season, and that he would need surgery after the season. “Wednesday will be a big day,” Olsen told the media on Monday. “Running on the side, running on air, routes by yourself, even though you are going hard, cutting and doing all that, you’ve got to get other people on the field guarding you, making it tough.” Saying that your foot is basically being held together by a screw isn't the most optimistic description that his fantasy owners want to hear, but we assume that you have a decent tight end option by now if you stashed Olsen on your bench. We aren't doctors here at the RSJ, but anyone with a brain knows that foot injuries are tricky and one misstep can result in a flare up, so we don't have much confidence in Olsen. Let's take this player on a week-by-week basis from here on out. Who knows, maybe his foot healed better this season and he rounds back into his true form, but it's hard to put a ton of confidence into Olsen at this point.
Eric Ebron Cements Top-5 Fantasy Tight End Status for Remainder of Season
We told you in the preseason that if Eric Ebron were to finally put it all together, it would happen under Frank Reich. After five weeks, that take has came to fruition. Through those five weeks, Ebron has the third most .5 PPR points at the tight end position and thoroughly dominated Devin McCourty and the Patriots secondary to the tune of nine receptions, 105 yards and two touchdowns on a whopping 15 targets. In his last three games, the athletic freak has put together 19 receptions, 178 yards and three touchdowns on 36 targets. With Jack Doyle out of the lineup, Ebron was able to build a nice rapport with Andrew Luck and has developed into his favorite target -- right up there with T.Y. Hilton.  He is certainly taking advantage of the Colts' fragile offensive weapons. With both Hilton and Doyle on the shelf, Ebron has most definitely taken advantage of being Luck's top target. Some may think that Ebron will take a step back in production once Doyle returns, but that's just incorrect. As we explained back in August, Doyle will lineup more on the line of scrimmage and do more blocking than the former Lions' TE. Ebron will still lineup in the slot and make plays against safeties and linebackers in the passing game. Doyle's injury actually forced Luck to build that quick rapport with Ebron, and the return of Doyle will make little-to-no impact on Ebron's fantasy output -- outside of a few red zone scores. If you took a late-round flier on this preseason penny stock, you're in very good shape.
Matt Breida Suffers Mid-Ankle Sprain, Likely to Miss 1-2 Games
After rumbling to 61 yards and a score in the first quarter, Matt Breida was forced out of Sunday's contest versus the Cardinals. Thankfully, what looked like a potential season-ender is not nearly as serious, as MRI's revealed "more of a mid-ankle sprain" than a high ankle ailment. Though he hasn't even been ruled out for Week 6, Breida seems likely for at least a one game absence. Long-term, Breida's now piled up a shoulder, knee, and ankle ailment in just five weeks. This raises durability question marks, and makes it unlikely Breida ever secures a true workhorse role. Unfortunately, this volume cap severely limits his fantasy ceiling, as Breida has been one of the most effective per-touch backs in the NFL. He's run far less tentatively in 2018, showing impeccable vision for Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme, and bursting through the hole and arm tackles in equal measure. In fact, entering Sunday as the third-leading rusher in the NFL, Breida seemed ready to explode for a 20+ carry, 150+ yard, 2+ TD day before going down, with over 60 total yards and a score in under a quarter of action. For the immediate, Alfred Morris (42% owned) has to be added wherever dropped. He rumbled for a bleh 61 yards on 18 carries (3.4 YPC), but also flashed more receiving ability than we're accustomed to, with 3 catches for 30 yards. Morris would be a solid bet at 80+ total yards and a TD against a soft Packers front-seven. Plus, with Breida's constant injury woes, Morris is a necessary handcuff for the remainder of 2018.  
Eased In? Joe Mixon Immediately Slides Into Workhorse Role, Unquestioned RB1
Despite rumblings of a lightened workload in his return from knee surgery, Joe Mixon operated as a true workhorse versus Miami. The sophomore stud looked fully healthy while playing on 78% of the snaps, logging a season-high 25 total touches (3 rec.) for 115 yards and a score. Meanwhile, backup Mark Walton handled a robust 2 catches for 3 yards, laying to bed any "conditioning questions" surrounding Mixon. Moving forward, lock this workhorse into lineups as a matchup-proof RB1. Mixon has now touched the ball at least 22 times in all three of his 2018 contests, while topping 19 FPs in 2 of 3 contests. Marvin Lewis has expressed his preference for a workhorse, suggesting 22+ carries and 4+ catches as his ideal Mixon Workload. Granted, these comments came before Giovani Bernard's explosion as a starter. But Bill Lazor's offense, which has surged as predicted and now ranks 4th in the league with 30.6 Points per game, features plenty of no-huddle and operates best with one featured guy. Mixon seems destined for 20+ weekly touches, is game-flow proof thanks to his increased receiving usage, and has been one of the most dangerous players in space. This is a recipe for high-end RB1 outputs every week, and anyone not ranking Mixon alongside the elite horses should be preyed upon for a Buy Low. He'd be a fringe first rounder if drafting today.
Jay Ajayi Tears ACL; Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement Waiver Wire Must-Adds
Not a minute after publishing a Stock Down report on Jay Ajayi, news broke that the  Eagles RB tore his ACL and will be done for 2018. Though Ajayi's usage may have been inconsistent, he remained a key-cog at the stripe for this high-powered attack, scoring 3 TDs through his first two active games, while also leading the team in carries. In his absence, Wendell Smallwood (4% owned) and Corey Clement (23%) project to see steady volume increases. Both are priority Week 6 Waiver Wire Adds, particularly to see if one can emerge as the lead-RB at the stripe.  Of course, who that will be is an enormous question mark. Clement led Eagles RBs with 6 TDs in 2017, and seems the natural favorite. Yet, Smallwood has played surprisingly well in his limited action, converting a GL carry in Week 3 while hauling in a score in Week 6. If I was a betting man, I'd side on Smallwood as the main beneficiary here. He's averaging a robust 6.0 YPC. He's been balling, and should have the inside track to early volume with Clement still nursing a quad injury. This backfield will remain tough to project each week, as Doug Pederson has always loved committees. But with Carson Wentz rounding into form, a GL favorite would still carry high weekly value. Stash both if possible, and target Smallwood first if you have room for only one.
D’Onta Foreman a Week 6 Waiver Wire Must-Add with Looming Return
Texans RB D'Onta Foreman remains "on track" to return off the PUP in Week 7 after recovering from an Achilles Tear. Once back, Foreman could be on the fast track to a starting RB role in one of the league's most explosive attacks; starter Lamar Miller has been both ineffective and dinged up throughout 2018, and Alfred Blue is nothing more than a placeholder. The bulldozing Foreman would immediately drip in high TD-upside, and could eventually be a featured back. His ownership has spiked from just 4% owned to 20% in the last week, but Foreman remains a must-stash wherever else available. The former Doak Walker Award winner as the nation's best back, Foreman is a mauling runner at 6'0" and 233 lbs. He has surprising speed and agility for a back his size, and was excellent in short-yardage at Texas. At times, Foreman goes down a bit easier than you'd like, and he displays questionable vision. Still, he's a thoroughbred who can shoulder massive workloads and sustain production. This is key, because volume in one of the league's most explosive attacks will likely be up for grabs upon his return. Before going down in Week 11, Foreman was off to his best professional day and en route to stealing this gig, taking 10 carries for 65 yards and 2 scores, in addition to another 3 catches for 15 yards. Deshaun Watson seems to be back to his insane 2017 form, which should mean plenty of scoring opportunities for whoever's under-center. Where Miller has failed to capitalize, Foreman could thrive. Stash and pray.
Jay Ajayi’s Dreadful Inconsistency Continues, Fantasy Bench Fodder
Through five-weeks, it's clear: Eagles RB Jay Ajayi has been one of our early 2018 whiffs. Sunday's contest versus the Vikings was the low point, as Ajayi rushed eight times for 29 yards, added a five-yard reception, and fumbled at the goalline. Most concerningly, Ajayi has failed to impress even with Corey Clement and Darren Sproles absent. Instead, in Doug Pederson's committee-obsessed system, Ajayi has been locked into a timeshare with *PUKE* Wendell Smallwood, who outgained Ajayi 71-34, and logged all RB receiving work. He's falling into desperate FLEX territory.  On the year, Ajayi's hit double-digit half-PPR points just once and failed to top 81 yards. Much of his value is derived from GL usage, but Pederson's been completely unpredictable with who he uses at the stripe, and still remains pass-heavy in this area. Moreover, Ajayi is also dealing with a back fracture and apparently now a knee injury. Unable to stay healthy on these limited touches, Ajayi's usage seems highly unlikely to suddenly spike now. He still drips in high-TD upside each week, but with sputtering usage and yardage totals, Ajayi's ceiling and floor have both proven far lower than we had hoped. He will plummet down The Wolf's next Season Long Big Board.
David Njoku Foreshadows Breakout w/ Season-High in Targets, Catches and Yards
Browns TE David Njoku flashed his stretch-run upside Sunday, hauling in 6-of-11 targets for 69 yards in the Browns win over the Ravens. All three of the catches, yards, and targets are season highs, and foreshadow the massive upside Njoku now brings with Baker Mayfield under center. Njoku once again suffered two drops, but is settling in nicely as the clear No.2 option behind Jarvis Landry. With a cakewalk ROS schedule (detailed below), Njoku should be considered a Top-7 option from here on out. Njoku's finding new life with the improved accuracy of Mayfield, as the freakish athlete has now caught 11-of-18 targets for 111 yards in his past two weeks. This is unsurprising, as Mayfield relentlessly targeted tight ends over the middle in Oklahoma. Njoku's steady statistical ascension could truly explode in the near future, as he features by far the easiest ROS schedule among tight ends. In fact, in 10 weeks, Njoku will face a Bottom-8 team versus the position. The only two ranked higher -- the Chargers and Falcons -- both project as shootout style contests as well. With Rashard Higgins out for at least two games with an MCL sprain and Antonio Callaway on the decline, Njoku should continue seeing steady volume. A 2-TD explosion is on the horizon.
Robby Anderson Explodes as Sam Darnold Loses Training Wheels; Week 6 Waiver Wire Priority Add
Hello, Robby Anderson. The speedy wideout joined 2018 and finally displayed a solid rapport with Sam Darnold, who seemed to (uncoincidentally) have his training wheels removed and attempt the long ball far more often Sunday. In the process, Anderson hauled in 3-of-5 targets for 123 yards and 2 TDs as the Jets  surprisingly trounced the Broncos. Just 35% owned in Yahoo Leagues, Anderson should be Week 6's top Waiver Wire addition. He'll be a potential week-swinging flex for Bye Weeks, with the upside for every-week status if he and Darnold continue honing this rapport. After just 8 catches, 108 yards, and 1 score through four weeks, Anderson looked like a 2018 lost cause. However, with previous passing-game engine Quincy Enunwa nursing a hand injury and failing to log a catch Sunday on 5 targets, Anderson exploded and could reemerge as a season-changer as fast as his 4.34 Forty. Entering Sunday, Darnold ranked towards the league-bottom with just 3.8 deep attempts per game. Clearly, the team wanted to test that strong arm against Denver, and Anderson validated their faith. Recall not long ago, Anderson was praised by his WRs coach as "a more complete" player who was "ready to explode" in Year 3. He showed league-changing upside from Weeks 7-13 last year, averaging over 20 PPR FPs per game. If he and Darnold can continue getting on the same page, Anderson has the ability for many more week changers. Ensure you add him if an impatient owner understandably dropped him last week.
Declining Alex Collins is Out-Snapped, Out-Touched, and Out-Produced by (awful) Buck Allen
Despite flashing far more ability, Alex Collins continues to frustratingly rot in a committee with the awful Buck Allen -- one that doesn't typically swing in Collins' favor either. In fact, Week 4 is the only time Collins logged more snaps than Allen. This unfavorable ratio had never been more pronounced than versus the Browns, where Allen logged 57% of the snaps compared to 31% for Collins. Allen received 14 touches to Collins 13, including 6 of 7 RB receptions, and outgained him 78 to 66.  Puke. Despite finishing 2017 as PFF's top-graded rusher, avoiding any draft-day competition, and having Kenneth DIxon miss most of 2018 with injury, Collins has shockingly remained stuck in an RBBC. Even with Allen averaging 2.8 YPC and just 6.8 Yards-per-Catch, HC John Harbaugh insists on using a shared backfield, saying, "A fresh running back is a good thing. We need to spread the load." On the season, the siphoned GL and receiving work have Allen ahead of Collins in FPs, as Allen is the RB18 with 46.4, compared to the RB25 with 40.8 for Collins. Normally, I'd recommend Buying Low considering the talent discrepancy, but the misusage seems unlikely to change under Harbaugh. Plus, Dixon will return in Week 11 to only complicate matters further. Both remain uninspiring flex-plays, but Collins' once high-end RB2 upside has all but evaporated.
Phillip Lindsay Cementing Hold on Broncos Lead Back Role, Royce Freeman Falling Fast
Shocking Broncos lead rusher Philip Lindsay continues to strengthen his grasp on the team's lead back role, as he once again out-touched (15-8) and out-gained (81 - 47) Royce Freeman versus the Jets. In fact, outside of his Week 3 ejections, Lindsay has been more used and more productive in every single 2018 contest. The UDFA out of Colorado now leads all rookie RBs in rushing, and is a rock-steady FLEX moving forward. Meanwhile Freeman, who hasn't topped 8 touches in a full-game with Lindsay since Week 1 despite promises for more work, needs to be benched for the foreseeable future.  Freeman hasn't necessarily been bad -- the rumbling tailback has averaged 5.1 YPC. He simply isn't seeing the usage with Lindsay playing that much better. Despite not being invited to the Combine, Lindsay has been remarkable thus far. His feet fire like a toy-soldier, and his 4.38 wheels definitely translates into game-speed. Few thought he'd break tackles and evade defenders as effectively with the competition jump, but he's been equally dynamic on the NFL field. Consider him a solid RB2 and FLEX moving forward. Concerning for both: Devontae Booker continues to linger like a mosquito, sucking receiving value away from both backs (5-59 line Sunday). Unfortunately, he feels unlikely to vanish, which caps all the ceilings of everyone here.. This backfield could flip on its own head at any moment, making Freeman a hold despite the current inconsistency. But for now, it's the Lindsay show.
Kareem Hunt’s Usage Expands in Week 4, RB1 Floor Steadying
After tallying just 1 reception and never topping 20 touches through 2018's first three weeks, Kareem Hunt finally became more involved all-around versus the Broncos. He totaled 175 yards and a score on 22 touches (3 catches), and was far more active throughout. The performance sent him skyrocketing from the RB20 in FPs to now the RB6. He's now totaled 4 TDs in his past 3 games, and seems firmly back on path to his usual RB1 self. First-round investors can breath out a sigh of relief. One of the main appeals to Hunt is Andy Reid's constant usage of RBs in the passing-game. So when this element disappeared early in 2018, minor-panic seemed appropriate. So while three receptions is nothing to throw a party over -- especially with Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey logging 14+ catches every other week -- the increased total is calming. Hunt averaged over 3 catches per game en route to 53 receptions in his rookie season. Entering 2018, Reid hinted at an expanded receiving role for Hunt: "We thought we had a decent number of plays for Kareem last year, [but] we probably need to increase the pass part of that a little bit more and expand on his role in the pass game." While that's clearly yet to come to fruition, he's at least taking the right steps. Moreover, Hunt's erased Spencer Ware "Vulture Concerns" by scoring three TDs from within the 10 yard line, where his 10 carries rank 5th in the league. Thus, as a multidimensional, 15-20+ touch back with GL work on lock, in the league's most explosive offense, Hunt's RB1 value feels very firm. He received the appropriate bump back into my Top-12 on the Season Long Big Board.
“Comfortable as Ever” Josh Gordon Earning Tom Brady’s Trust, Limitless Fantasy Ceiling
Welcome to New England and Tom Brady's "Trust Tree," Josh Gordon. In a sight of pure beauty, Brady heaved a 34 yard bomb downfield, and Gordon went up over two defenders to rip it down for the score (Brady's Career 500th). The Patriots haven't had this type of threat since Randy Moss, and Brady's willingness to chuck up this prayer speaks volumes on his faith in his new weapon. By forging trust, this one play could spark a huge run for this pairing as Gordon's role continues to grow and evolve in this suddenly-loaded attack. Entering the Brady Circle of Trust is no small feat, especially in only two games. Many talents, whether Chad Ochocinco or Joey Galloway, never were welcomed, and even eventual stalwarts like Danny Amendola and Wes Welker took longer to forge their rapport. Thus, Brady's early faith in Gordon is huge: “That tells you the kind of confidence I have in a really short period of time,” Brady said. “He’s earned it and happy to see him make that play.” More importantly, Gordon's enthusiasm is equally as vibrant as his QBs: “To catch any pass from Tom is amazing, let alone some history-making catch,” Gordon said. “Hopefully, he’s got a lot more left in him – I’m pretty sure he does – so I’m looking forward to that. The next history point to make for him, I hope to be a part of it.” Hope isn't something Gordon found much of in Cleveland, and perhaps this environment overhaul is exactly what he needs to get both his football career, and life, back on track. Thus far, his comfort level is sky high, which is even more important than the on-field play: "I'm loving it, I'm enjoying it. The guys have been great. It's a real home environment. I feel as comfortable as ever." Gordon's ability has never been the question -- that's the mental side. With his comfort level and motivation high, his physical gifts should only flourish further: "I have no doubt I'm going to take advantage of this opportunity... I'm more than blessed, I'm extremely grateful to be put in this scenario. I think the only thing right for me to do is to take full advantage of it Yes, his immediate floor remains low: Gordon played only 20-of-71 snaps (28%) and netted just four targets. Often, he'll find himself behind James White, Julian Edelman, and Rob Gronkowski for weekly looks, especially while still learning the playbook (didn't play in any no-huddle situations). But the long-term ceiling is limitless. This is especially true with Gordon's early, rapid progress in his new home, when there was always a chance he wouldn't log a snap here. His rise to 69 overall ranking on my Season Long Big Board captures this Low-Floor, Enormous Ceiling balance.
James White a Rock-Solid Fantasy RB1… and not just in PPR
Fresh off catching 10-of-14 targets for 77 yards and a TD versus the Colts, Patriots RB James White continues to dominate in real-life and fantasy. Especially considering this outburst came even with Julian Edelman back, White's locked up perhaps the highest-volume, highest floor role in this New England juggernaut. Since Week 4 -- the first after Tom "God" Brady called for more White, and the offense's first without Rex Burkhead -- White has logged an insane 24 targets, hauling in 18 of them for 145 yards and 2 scores (plus another 44 + TD on the ground). This equates to 45.9 FPs in this short-span, one that fellow RB Sony Michel has also dominated, and none of it feels unsustainable.  Though I was +24 spots higher on James White than the experts and raved about him as a "Penny Stock" this Summer, I was far too low still. Originally, I expected just a 4-Week rental during Edelman's absence, but his continued usage and massive production suggest this is only the beginning. White hasn't dipped below 11.9 FPs (versus JAX), and clearly comes with both a high-floor and high-ceiling. Simply put: there's no one else I'd rather own in New England... Rob Gronkowski included. He's a true season-changer for his Round 10+ Price Tag, and White is an early favorite for the Top Draft Day Bargain Roto Award. White is a true RB1 in all formats, and has risen all the way to No.25 on my latest Season Long Big Board.
4-0 (or 3-1) in Fantasy? Buy Low on Le’Veon Bell Immediately
Finally, Le'veon Bell's holdout has a real expiration date. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Bell plans to report to the team following their Week 7 Bye. Though owners who didn't handcuff James Conner may be in too deep of a hole by then, anyone else still in contention will be receiving a fantasy steroid injection upon Bell's return. This is, afterall, the consensus preseason No.1 or 2 pick and highest used player in the entire league (406 touches in 2017?!). He'll be coming in fresher than anyone else on the field, and hungrier than ever to prove his worth and finally land that massive pay-day.  Thus, if Bell's owner is in rough shape, he'd be the ideal fantasy football "Buy Low" for owners currently sitting pretty that have either (or both of) the depth or record to eat these last two weeks. Though the draft and waiver wire management are two crucial backbones to fantasy, Buying Low and Selling High is equally important, though often far more overlooked. In Bell, already-rich owners can become even richer for their stretch runs by receiving an elite, "Cheatcode" Top-3 Weekly RB for far less than he should go. Think - anyone who burnt a top-five pick in Bell, and didn't receive the high-RB2 cushion of Conner, is likely sitting in your league's basement. They will absolutely need to "Win Now," and would take a RB duo or RB-WR pairing for this elite commodity. For comparison, on a 4-0 squad, I just traded away Mark Ingram and Chris Thompson for Bell. Down the stretch, I'll be pairing Ezekiel Elliott and Bell, which should yield me 50+ FPs from just my top-two RBs alone. With the two-game gap in mind, Bell rises to No.18 on my Season Long Big Board. As for Conner: enjoy the next two weeks (especially a gem matchup this week versus Atlanta), thank him for his services, and send him to the bench upon Week 8 -- there's too much handcuff value to cut outright. Sure, there's still a slight chance Bell is traded, but Conner is likely nothing more than a valuable insurance policy come Week 8.
Streamer in Seattle: Nick Vannett Possesses High Fantasy Upside With Will Dissly on IR
Before the season we bought into the king of preseason puff, Pete Carroll, about his optimism regarding tight end Nick Vannett. They let Jimmy Graham walk and Ed Dickson will be out until Week 8. Then, Week 1 happened. A legitimate creature named Will Dissly burst onto the scene with a 105 yard and one touchdown performance. He then followed it up with another 42 yards and a score. But, Dissly went down last week with one of the more brutal injuries in football, a torn patella tendon, so it looks like former Buckeye Nick Vannett will finally get his chance to cash in on Russell Wilson's red zone tight end targets.  All signs and statistics are favoring strong future streaming weeks for Vannett. As we know, Graham led the league in both red zone targets (26), red zone touchdowns (10) and targets inside the 10-yard line (16). Not only does Wilson pepper his tight ends in the red zone, but the position is averaging seven total targets per game. After Dissly went down after only eight snaps in Week 4, Vannett played 83-percent of Seattle's snaps. He also ran a pass route on 26 of Wilson's 32 dropbacks. Known as more of a blocker, but more than capable of a pass-catcher at Ohio State, Vannett possesses the size and skill to be a legit red zone threat in this offense. Now is his time to shine.
Steelers WR Ryan Switzer is a Fantasy PPR Penny Stock You Need to Keep an Eye on
Ryan Switzer was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cowboys, before he was packaged in a deal to Jon Gruden's Raiders this offseason. Just four weeks later, he was once again dealt to the Steelers, where he has flourished over his most recent two games. After catching his first touchdown reception against the Bucs on Monday Night Football, he followed it up by catching all seven of his targets against the Ravens on Sunday night. Out of his 21 offensive snaps against Baltimore, he had eight touches. Also, Mike Tomlin subbed out James Conner 13 times last week, and all of those snaps were given to Switzer, rather than backup RBs Stevan Ridley or Jaylen Samuels. Although he may not be used much when Le'Veon Bell comes back, he's a solid Hail Mary and a cheap DFS option over the next few weeks. Oh, wow. A white guy from the Boston area is telling you to take a flier on a 5-foot-8 white wide receiver. How original? Well, Switzer is a straight up baller. He's North Carolina's all-time reception and receiving yardage leader. Not to mention he was a 2x All-American and 3x All-ACC player. In Pittsburgh, Switzer has has been targeted or touched the ball on 35.4-percent of his snaps, which is an even higher percentage than Conner (34.1-percent). The former Tar Heel is only 1-percent owned (and $3k on DraftKings), and he could make noise against the Falcons' decimated defense this week.
Andrew Luck’s Arm Shows Signs of Life, Launches 464 Yards + 4 TDs
Entering Week 4, Andrew Luck's arm strength was being called into question, and appropriately so: He had been held under 180 passing yards for two straight weeks. His YPA had dropped from 6.0 to 5.8 to 4.1 in consecutive weeks. He was pulled on a Hail Mary attempt for Jacoby Brissett -- talk about the warning sign of all warning signs. Exit Week 4, and these concerns should be laid to rest. Days after insisting he "can make all the throws" with a "full arsenal," Luck put the money where his mouth was, throwing a whopping 62 attempts for 464 yards -- both career highs -- while tossing 4 TDs in the process. In general, Luck was far more willing and accurate pushing the ball downfield. After erasing his arm question marks, Luck's well on his path towards a QB1 Return. That path may hit a speed bump in Week 5, however. The Patriots are fresh off their best defensive effort, and Luck's arm has to be sore following such heavy usage, and on a short week. Even more concerning, TY Hilton is unlikely to play with a hamstring ailment, leaving Luck with a "Weapons Cabinet" headlined by Ryan Grant, Chester RogersEric Ebron, and Nyhiem Hines (lol). Still, owners have to be encouraged with this massive rebound.
Lamar Miller: Banged Up, Ineffective, and Losing Work (Fantasy Football 2018)
Per usual, Lamar Miller fully underwhelmed on Sunday, posting a bleh 15 carries for a meh 49 yards despite the juicy spot versus the awful Colts. He wasn't targeted a single time in the passing game, as new-addition Penny Stock WR Keke Coutee was peppered 15 times in the short-to-intermediate layer. Additionally concerning for his volume, Miller only narrowly outcarried creature Alfred Blue 15-12. As the cherry atop this pile of shit, Miller is reportedly "a little banged up," and could be questionable for Sunday Night's contest versus the Cowboys. Puke. Miller ranks 7th in the NFL in carries (58), inside an offense that's netted the 6th most total yards... and has ridden this prime volume to a meager RB34 performance thus far. Moreover, Miller ranks 5th in Red Zone carries, yet has scored exactly 0 TDs. We knew he himself sucked... but we figured he could at least sustain some value considering the explosiveness around him. He was the RB8 in this same set-up last year, afterall. Yet, Miller's already playing hampered, and struggling to find any space behind a league-worst offensive line. Even with Deshaun Watson rounding into form, Miller's own lack of talent is proving to be too much to overcome. Thus, with declining rushing AND receiving work, a growing list of injuries, and continued ineffectiveness, Miller is trending towards benchable, despite one of the higher volume floors at the position. If anything, take a peak at D'Onta Foreman (5% owned), who'll come off the PUP in just 2 weeks, and could immediately emerge as the starter.
Keke, Do You Love Me? Keke Coutee is a Prime Week 5 Waiver Wire Option After 15 Target Debut
Will Fuller just can't stay on the field, and it's opened things up for rookie Keke Coutee, who led the Texans in targets against the Colts with a whopping 15. Coutee, a fourth round rookie from Texas Tech, stepped up in both Bruce Ellington's (placed on IR) and Fuller's absences with 11 receptions and 109 yards on those 15 targets. Fuller, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury since training camp, could be brought back slowly, which will make Coutee a popular waiver wire option this week. What's even more wild about Coutee's incredible debut is that he set a modern NFL record for most receptions in a debut. Yep, Keke will be in the NFL record books. Coming from Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid system, the former Red Raider is no stranger to a high target total. Couttee totaled 1,429 yards and 10 touchdowns on 93 receptions during his final year in Lubbock, and can really do it all. He can take the top off of the defense using his 4.43 speed and can quickly separate out of the slot -- which was why he was compared to John Brown from NFL.com's Lance Zierlein. Target this guy on your waiver wire, because he has a legit chance to be peppered by Deshaun Watson, and will face limited defensive coverage with DeAndre Hopkins by his side.
James White’s Stat Sheet Stuffing Day Leads to Consistent Fantasy Flex Status
James White caught 8-of-10 targets for 68 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots' Week 4 win over the Dolphins, adding eight carries for 44 yards and an additional score. The carries, rushing yards and receptions were all new season highs. With Rex Burkhead (neck) on injured reserve, White's fantasy production will be more bankable. He is a legitimate FLEX option in every format of fantasy. Before this week's game against the Dolphins, quarterback Tom Brady said the team needed to feature James White more within the offense. They did just that and boy did he deliver. A Patriots team that's lacking weapons needed someone to step up and White did so in dramatic fashion. He had a great day on the ground including a long touchdown run featuring a great cut back that broke a Dolphins players ankles. He was also the target hog for Brady on a receiving core depleted of usual talent. The trust Brady has in White is undeniable and a huge factor in why he's been so involved thus far. The return of Julian Edelman is going to take away some targets from White, but he's far ahead of the likes of Patterson, Dorsett, Gordon and even Hogan for Brady's trust and target share. As mentioned earlier, the loss of Burkhead really threw White into a larger role for the team. The Patriots showed that they want to use Michel as their ground and pound back, feeding him a ton of carries. White comes in to change the pace, and for RB receiving work. Michel had no catches in yesterdays game, so he's rather one dimensional at the moment. And as far as game flow goes, White will always be a big part of the offense in close or trailing games, so don't think he'll be stuck on the sidelines for long periods of time.
T.Y. Hilton (Hamstring) Will Sit vs Patriots; Nyheim Hines Potential Explosion Looming
Just as Andrew Luck actually looked like an NFL quarterback again, his No. 1 target will be placed on the shelf for at least a week. T.Y. Hilton was forced to leave Week 4's contest against the Texans due to a hamstring injury and Frank Reich has unsurprisingly already declared Hilton out for Thursday night's game against the Patriots. Luck ended up shredding the Texans' porous secondary and had another chance to build on his progress, but he'll be without his most productive receiver -- making Nyheim Hines a legit blow-up candidate. Hilton and Luck have always had great chemistry, and the two were just shaking off the rust (114 yds on 4 catches) before Hilton exited the game. Luck had targeted his No. 1 wideout 10-plus times in each of the first three games, but will have to spread the ball out on Thursday night. Ryan Grant and two creatures named Chester Rodgers and Zach Pacsal will "anchor" the receiving corps, while Eric Ebron and Nyheim Hines will also factor in heavily as pass-catchers. Hines is coming off of a 9-63-2 game against the Texans where he was targeted 11 times -- and is only owned in 15 percent of leagues. If you're looking for a potential blow-up Flex option this week, Luck will likely be checking down to Hines early and often against the slow Patriots' linebackers.
Tyler Boyd Continues Dominating with 11 Catch, 100-Yard Effort
Tyler Boyd hauled in 11-of-15 targets for 100 yards in the Bengals' Week 4 win over the Falcons. An established factor in Cincinnati's offense at this point, Boyd was one of Andy Dalton's favorite target all game, but he was spectacular on the game-winning touchdown drive, converting a third down and two fourth downs. He now has two 100-yard games in a row after zero in his first 28. With Dalton playing great and Tyler Eifert out for the year, Boyd should return at worst WR3 value the rest of the way. For those of you lucky enough to scoop up Tyler Boyd, you'll be getting a reliable fantasy receiver for the rest of your season. Dalton and the Bengals offense desperately needed a WR2 to step up alongside AJ Green in Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor's offense. Boyd has been that guy with 36 targets for a 26-349-2 stat line. He's already bested his 2017 numbers in just four games, and has completely earned Dalton's trust in tight situations. Averaging 31.5 points per game, Cincinnati has turned their offensive production around under Lazor, and Boyd is quickly moving up the pecking order in the offense. While Green has been the big play guy, Boyd has shown to be that consistent weapon over the middle, and on short to medium routes with higher volume.
Kenyan Drake Useless in Blow-Up Spot vs Patriots
Following a dominant and play-making preseason from Kenyan Drake, he's been rendered useless so far during the regular season. Unable to shake Frank Gore's corpse, the former 'Bama back was firmly in Adam Gase's dog house, registering only four touches in what should have been a blow-up spot against the Patriots defense. Gase told us repeatedly in the preseason that the speedy running back would be used in multiple ways, and would "bust out," but he has taken a complete 180 when it comes to Drake's usage. Out of all of the preseason "coach speak" this might be the most egregious of all.  Last week we highlighted Drake as a "stock down," but also a potential buy-low candidate. He was about to face a defense that looked slow as molasses through the first three weeks and one that he carved up last season. What makes matters worse is that the Dolphins were behind on the scoreboard the entire afternoon, which should have given Drake the chance to rack up some garbage time receptions and maybe a score at the end of the game -- which went to Gore instead. It's not like Gore really did much, as the Dolphins only ran a high school-esque 49 plays, but it's just mind blowing that Drake has entered Jay Ajayi territory under Gase -- which is frightening. There must be something going on behind the scenes or in the locker room. Although we told you to buy-low on Drake last week, it might be a good idea to just stay away at this point.
Leonard Fournette’s Hamstring Flares, 1st Round Bust Falling Fast
We're only four weeks into the 2018 season, but it looks like the brittle Leonard Fournette is an early candidate for a 2018 Roto for 'Bust of the Year.' After missing two games with a hamstring injury (surprise, surprise), Fournette's hamstring flared up on him again during Week 4's game against the Jets. Adam Schefter announced on Twitter when he said: "Jaguars' HC Doug Marrone said he doesn't know how much time Leonard Fournette will miss with his latest hamstring injury. Was two full games before, and it figures to be at least that this time." With TJ Yeldon (50% owned) highlighting our "Stash" portion of our weekly waiver wire piece, he should have already been handcuffed -- if not, he could still be out there. We wrote in the preseason that he slimmed down to better condition his body for a three-down workhorse role, and in the preseason, he actually looked primed to dominate. Through about 1.5 total games, Fournette has given his livid fantasy owners just a lowly 13.00 .5 PPR points and two likely losses. We were originally off of the former LSU star, calling him "one of the biggest risks in fantasy football," before being fooled by his body transformation. As of right now, the best case scenario would be for Marrone to put him on the shelf for a couple of weeks to get healthy and 100-percent for the fantasy stretch run -- if you're not already out of contention with your first round pick giving you nothing.
Sony Michel Emerges as Clear-Cut Lead RB in Resurgent Juggernaut
After missing Week 1 and turning in 2 duds against Jacksonville and Detroit, Sony Michel finally looked like a 1st-round pick against the Dolphins. After 24 carries combined in 2 weeks he totaled 25 on Sunday, racking up 112 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Michel got off to a hot start, running for 36 yards on his first 4 carries, so the Patriots rode the hot hand, mixing in James White but leaning heavily on Michel in the running game. With Rex Burkhead now on IR alongside Jeremy Hill and White remaining primarily a pass-catching back, Michel is carving out a lucrative role on an offense that looks to be righting the ship at the quarter mark of the season. Michel missed a great deal of time in training camp and the preseason recovering from a knee injury, so Sunday was likely the first time he felt fully comfortable in the Patriots offense. It's clearly not a simple system - ask Chad Ochocinco - but Week 4 was wildly optimistic for the outlook of the remainder of Michel's rookie year. James White agreed with this sentiment after Sunday's win over the Dolphins, saying, "Sony is a good football player. I'm excited to see him go out there and prove it. He didn't get to play in the preseason, so I think the more he gets out there the better and better he will get and the more confidence he will play with." If Michel's production and role in New England's offense remains anywhere near this level, he's at worst a mid-level RB2 for the remainder of the season. He's still yet to establish any role catching passes out of the backfield with just 2 catches on the year, so his PPR potential is limited, but as the primary runner in a strong offense that'll only get stronger with Josh Gordon's growth and Julian Edelman's return, he's a great option moving forward.
The Bears Put Up 48 Points… and Jordan Howard Totals 2.5 in Fantasy
On a day where his team exploded for 48 Points and 438 yards, Bears RB Jordan Howard racked up... a pathetic 25 yards. Despite a seemingly perfect game flow with a huge lead to bleed, Howard tallied just 11 touches, as compared to 20 for backfield mate Tarik Cohen. Even worse, Cohen severely outplayed Howard, racking up an impressive 174 total yards and 1 score on his looks. The whole offense clearly benefitted from Cohen's versatility and receiving ability, which has Howard's future usage in question moving forward.  This was about as dreadful as can be for Howard. He's been little more than a plodder in recent action, failing to top 2.5 YPC for three straight weeks. This included a cream-puff matchup versus Arizona's league-worst run defense that just surrendered 124 total yards and 2 scores to freakin' Mike Davis. Perhaps Matt Nagy has seen enough, as Howard's usage dropped dramatically in favor of Cohen, who only justified his role expanding with a dominant performance. Unless you find an eager buyer, Howard would be a recommended hold because this has to be rock-bottom, and you'd be selling damn low. Hell, I might toss out a few bids in case his owner is panicking with the Bears on Bye.  Still, his value is extremely shaky moving forward, and he's set for a serious fall down the Season Long Big Board this week.
“Explosive” Aaron Jones Severely Outplaying Jamaal Williams, Workhorse Upside Exists
Packers RB Aaron Jones had a stellar second outing, racking up 82 total yards and a score on just 12 touches. More importantly, his score came at the stripe, where many expected Jones to lose carries to the bigger Jamaal Williams. Meanwhile, Williams The Plodder (droppable in leagues) took his 11 carries for a paltry 27 yards versus the Bills. On just 17 carries, Jones has racked up 107 yards (6.3 YPC) and 1 TD while forcing 8 missed tackles, while Williams has turned 47 carries into just 162 yards (3.4 YPC), scored 0 TDs, and forced exactly 0 missed tackles. Needless to say, anyone with eyeballs can see Jones adds a whole other dimension to this offense, and should see his volume increase moving forward. Jones has so severely outplayed his backfield mates that the Packers have to be considering racketing up his workload. He did lead the team with 29 snaps, but Williams drew the start and wasn't far behind with 28. Meanwhile, Ty Montgomery continued to monopolize third-down looks and logged 20 snaps himself. The explosive back's endless ceiling feels capped until Mike McCarthy wakes up and hands the reins over. Granted, McCarthy did hint at this workhorse possibility over the summer, saying: "We're going to go running back by committee...But if one of them would emerge as that full-time guy then you have to have that ability to ... adjust to that." Jones has also caught the ever-important eye of No.12, as Aaron Rodgers praised the back and different element he brings: “When you bring (Jones) back on the field, you kind of forget when he’s out the kind of dynamic abilities he can bring to a game with his running style," said Rodgers. "He’s a different type of runner than we’ve had here. “He’s very similar to Ryan Grant, I think, who we had for years with his slashing style. He’s probably a little more elusive in the open field than Ryan was and maybe slightly greater top-end speed. We’ve got to find ways to get him the ball.” Meanwhile, OC Joe Philbin recently praised Jones' "explosiveness" and ability to "make things happen on his own." With his QB and play-caller in his corner, Jones' volume could spike. Even in a timeshare, he drips in weekly upside. But in a featured role? Jones would be an RB1. He'll shoot up the Season Long Big Boardboth for his immediate usability and long-term upside.
Tarik Cohen Explodes as Bears’ Backfield Engine, Whole Offense Thrives
Roto Street Journal favorite Tarik Cohen finally earned some love in Week 4 while the Bears throttled the Buccaneers 48-10. More importantly, this offensive explosion "coincidentally" came the first game Cohen out-touched presumed workhorse back Jordan Howard, 20 to 11. The explosive sophomore rode the volume increase to insane stats: 174 total yards and 1 score. Cohen averaged just over 4 yards a carry on 13 rushes (compared to Howard's abysmal 2.5), but his real value was in the receiving game—he led the team with 8 targets, 7 receptions, and 121 yards, plus a 9-yard receiving TD. With the potential to take over the lion's share of work after the Bears' Bye, Cohen's arrow is shooting straight up. Clearly one of the most explosive players in the NFL, it had been a bit of a mystery as to why Cohen has not been receiving more opportunities in the Bears’ offense. He was relentlessly hyped all summer as a "movable chess piece" that was busy learning every single position, yet never exceeded 8 touches prior to Sunday's explosion. Now that he has gotten the chance to shine (and has done just that), it seems highly likely that Cohen will emerge as a more consistent contributor for Chicago. Yes, this outpour came against a historically bad Buccaneers' pass-defense. But Mitch Trubisky finally pumped the ball deep and Matt Nagy's complex, but explosive scheme finally appears to be settling in. If you were thinking about dropping Cohen leading into Week 4, pump the brakes—this guy could still end up being the steal of the draft for some savvy, patient owners. He will skyrocket up The Wolf's latest Rest of Season Big Board.
Golden Tate Reminds Us Of His Under-Appreciated WR1 Upside
Golden Tate is off to a scorching hot in 2018, hauling in 28 passes and 3 TDs through 4 games. Sunday's loss to Dallas was his best game yet, catching 8 passes for 132 yards and 2 TDs, good for 33.2 PPR points. Shockingly, this was Tate's first 100-yard multi-TD game, but it's appearing that it certainly won't be his last. Tate has finally seemed to surpass Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, Jr. as Matthew Stafford's lucrative favorite option, garnering 44 targets through 4 games compared to Golladay's 32 and Jones' 29.  Tate is not only getting tons of chances to make plays, but the Lions clearly trust him to make big plays in big situations. Driving down the field trailing late in the 4th, Tate was targeted numerous times, including a big 35-yard gain and the eventual drive-ending 38-yard score with 2:17 remaining. Through 4 weeks he's 6th among WR in YAC and has already forced 8 missed tackles, using his elusiveness and strength to elude would-be tacklers and pickup huge chunks of yardage seemingly every drive. On top of boasting some of the best touchdown celebrations we've seen this year, Tate is on pace for a career year in terms of yardage and touchdowns. He'll be an unrestricted free agent and seemed less than thrilled that Detroit made the decision not to extend his deal in the offseason, so if you currently own this stud, keep riding that contract year bubble.
Corey Davis Flashes WR1, Target Hog Upside as Marcus Mariota’s Health Improves
Leading to Sunday versus the Eagles, Titans WR Corey Davis had steadily lead the team in targets each week, but the production failed to match the volume. This all changed on Sunday, with Davis hauling in 9-of-15 targets for a whopping 161 yards and a game-winning TD. Unsurprisingly huge: Marcus Mariota looked back to health for the first time this season, chucking for 344 yards and 2 TDs on 43 attempts (while adding 46 and a TD on the ground). Plus, new OC Matt LaFleur's downfield, screen-heavy attack finally appeared to finally click after three stagnant weeks. With a perfect blend of "Individual Talent," "Usage," and now "Surrounding Talent" and "Coaching Scheme" all meshing, Davis drips in genuine WR1 Upside from here on out. Yes, Davis feasted on struggling Eagles CB Jalen Mills (had allowed 75% catch rate, 2 TDs, and 147.7 passer rating before getting dismantled by Davis). Still, this performance was absolutely massive for Davis' ROS outlook. On the year, Davis leads the league with a 33% target share, and this feels fully sustainable: Matt LaFleur hails from the Kyle Shanahan tree of peppering "Alpha Target Hog" X-Receivers, while the removal of both Delanie Walker (injury) and Rishard Matthews (released) opened up massive target voids. With this volume coming in a creative attack and with an ascending Mariota, Davis could truly explode for Top-10 numbers here on out. He should be considered no less than a High-Upside No.2 option, and will be among the largest risers on this week's Rest of Season Big Board.
Titans WR Taywan Taylor’s Usage Could Skyrocket After Rishard Matthews’ Leaves

Taywan Taylor (WR - TEN, 3% owned)

Taylor has already been a featured "Penny Stock" after his 4 catch, 95 yard, 2 TD eruption in Preseason Week 2. With Rishard Matthews walking away from the Titans this week, Taylor may finally see the usage to truly erupt. He's logged just 34% of snaps thus far, but could see this number skyrocket, affording the explosive weapon more chances to flash his game-changing ability. In our Matt LaFleur breakdown, we raved about Taylor’s limitless ceiling in the new OC’s screen-heavy, vertical-based attack. This was flashed on his 18-yard catch-and-run TD where he made numerous men miss on his way to the end zone. Indeed, Taylor's at the mercy of Marcus Mariota's injured arm. This could ultimately play into his favor, with LaFleur dialing up the shorter catch-and-run opportunities in which Taylor thrives. Taylor was extremely explosive in college, with a game very similar to Robert Woods who thrived under LaFleur last season. He has stuttering quicks and is dangerous on the short routes out of the slot, yet can plant-and-go vertically as well. Now, more than ever, LaFleur could undoubtedly capitalize on this versatility, as Taylor thrived on bubble screens, jet sweeps, and designed short YAC plays — all staples in this creative attack. Moving forward, Taylor could provide a handful of week-winning swings, with season-changing upside if he can carve out a meaningful weekly target share -- perfectly plausible with the Tennessee Target Totem Pole more wide-open than ever before.
Eagles Rookie TE Dallas Goedert Dominates in Carson Wentz’s Return
In Carson Wentz's 2018 return, rookie TE Dallas Goedert was both highly involved and highly effective. Despite narrowly trailing fellow seam-stretcher Zach Ertz in targets (10-7), Goedert tied him with a team-leading 73 yards while leading the team with 7 receptions and hauling in Wentz's only score. At only 13% owned, Goedert could be a massive addition for those needing bench improvement. With TE paper-thin, Goedert is usable for the TE-desperate as long as Jeffery's inactive, and would be a weekly Top-5 option if Ertz misses time.  In his first game back, Wentz often looked to Goedert when pressured and on the run, while showing immense trust in his new weapon by throwing to him in tight, contested windows and on third-downs. A specimen at 6'5", 256 lbs with the speed to work all three levels of the field, Goedert led all draft-eligible TEs in PFF's yards per route run (2.94). Moreover, he's a former basketball player who has incredible ball skills and body control to go up and over defenders, while excelling at using his massive frame to "box out" defenders. He was used as a moveable chess piece in college, logging 33% of his snaps in the slot or out wide, and has been deployed similarly by Doug Pederson to begin his career. Recall - the Eagles traded up ahead of the TE-needy Cowboys to take Goedert, highlighting how much they covet him. He flashed all preseason, racking up a 9-149-TD stat line while being labeled by beat writers as an "immediate red-zone threat." Though he may struggle to find this much weekly volume, especially when Alshon Jeffery returns, Goedert's play and usage in Wentz's return were both extremely encouraging. At such a thin position, Goedert is usable for the TE-desperate as long as Jeffery's inactive, and would be a weekly Top-5 option if Ertz misses time.
Tyreek-Lite: Dolphins WR Jakeem Grant’s Huge Fantasy Football Stash Upside
Dolphins third-year WR Jakeem Grant has been a play-making machine to begin 2018. In the first three weeks, Grant's housed a 102 yard Kickoff Return, sliced through the defense on an impressive 18 yard shovel-pass TD, and gone deep for a 52 yard score. Despite the minimal touches, Grant's 30.5 FPs rank him as the WR40 -- ahead of Demaryius Thomas, Michael Crabtree, and Allen RobinsonHe could explode with increased usage, making him a huge-upside fantasy football stash. With explosive speed and creative usage, Grant often draws Tyreek Hill comparisons -- and not just because he used to catch passes from Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech. Grant's 4.38 speed translates onto the field, where he operates seemingly at another gear than nearly everyone else. He can both blow past coverage for the deep ball, and rip off huge gains when afforded space, making him a near-perfect fit for Adam Gase's YAC-centric offense. As already flashed with Grant in 2018,  Gase loves utilizing screens, creative runs, shovel passes, and short routes to get his playmakers in space and let them do their thing. Recall - following a Week 7 injury to Jeremy Maclin, Hill became a ~40% snap player... and rode this to WR6 Value the rest of way. Hill ultimately scored 12 TDs on the season, and became a Stretch Run Hero for many owners. After breaking open the contest with Oakland, Grant could follow a similar trajectory and see his usage begin creeping up. Either way, it's only a matter time -- whether if it's because he's making weekly highlight reel plays, or Devante Parker's vagina never heals.  At only 10% owned, Grant seems like dynamite well-worth sitting on.
Adam Thielen Continues to Dominate, Notches 100-Plus Yards in 4th Consecutive Game
Adam Thielen joined rare company on Thursday night when he recorded his fourth straight 100-plus yard receiving game after carving up the Rams' scary defense to the tune of 135 yards and a score on 8 receptions. Thielen put his name in the same breath with two of the better receivers ever in both Isaac Bruce (2004) and Randy Moss (2007), as the only three wideouts to eclipse 100 yards receiving in his first four games of the season. The NFL leader in targets (a whopping 56), has formed a lethal one-two punch with Stefon Diggs, which has leap frogged Thielen up to No. 18 overall on our Rest of Season Big Board. Kirk Cousins does an excellent job of spreading the ball out to the two playmakers, and both are fantasy studs on a weekly basis. After Diggs' monster preseason and early rapport with Cousins, we weren't as high on Thielen as most. In fact, we even stated that Diggs would outscore the white receiver. Although the team is surprisingly only 2-2, all we care about is fantasy points at the RSJ, and that's what Cousins and the his receivers are putting up on a weekly basis. “It’s what I thought when I met Adam and Stef [Diggs] in April,” Cousins said. “We threw on the field and I said, ‘These guys can play.’ ” Coming off a 422 yard, 2 touchdown game against the league's scariest defense, Kirk Cousins will continue to look Thielen's way to ignite the Vikings' offense.
Jared Goff Bends Over the Vikings Defense, Shoots up our Rest of Season Fantasy Big Board
Back in August, we did a [very] small series called, 'League Winning Moves.' Although the series was kind of thrown together at the last minute, one of the highlights was to "Draft Jared Goff." If you followed that advice and grabbed Goff in the very late rounds, you would have scored no less than 17 points from your quarterback during the first four weeks of the season, and would have already locked in 39-plus points on Thursday Night to kick off Week 4 with a bang. Goff throttled one of the better defenses in the league to the tune of 465 yards and 5 touchdowns on 26-of-33 passing. Yes, the dude almost had as many touchdowns, as incompletions.  Back in August, Goff's ADP was hovering around 114 overall, which was the 16th QB off the board. Now, he's the QB1 (has played one more game than the competition, obviously) and has thrown 11 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions. In fact, he's easily our highest-rising quarterback on our Rest of Season Big Board, up to 63 overall, right behind Kirk Cousins (61) and the GOAT, Tom Brady (62). The blend of Goff's No. 1 overall talent, mixed with Sean McVay's gigantic coaching brain and a set of weapons that's borderline unfair to the rest of the league, the sky is the absolute limit for Goff. He'll battle our guy Patrick Mahomes for 2018 Fantasy MVP honors, while breaking scoreboards in the process. Jared Goff is shaping up to be a legitimate league winning move.
Workhorse Christian McCaffrey Continues Flashing Fantasy RB1 Upside
The Carolina Panthers have ran 201 plays on offense through 3 weeks, and Christian McCaffrey has been on the field for 187 of them (93%). He's been the focal point of the entire offense, and currently comes in at 3rd in the league in rush yards and 5th in receptions. He's a PPR wet dream, he's clearly head and shoulders above C.J. Anderson in Carolina's backfield, and he's The Wolf's RB7 in his Rest of Season Rankings This comes off a performance against the Bengals Sunday in which McCaffrey racked up 184 yards on 28 carries and was on the field for 100% of the team's offensive snaps. He's fantasy's RB6 so far in 2018, and after a Week 4 bye he should continue his current tear. There were concerns about McCaffrey heading into the season, primarily departures and injuries on the Panthers offensive line, but his insane workload and production have alleviated those concerns to this point. McCaffrey's RB1 status is still not guaranteed, as head coach Ron Rivera loved pairing him with Jonathan Stewart in the past and could still do so with C.J. Anderson, but McCaffrey's performance through 3 weeks should have owners feeling satisfied. Averaging over 90 rushing yards per game and leading all RBs in receptions can do that.
Sammy Watkins Is Carving Out Consistency in the NFL’s Most Explosive Offense
The Chiefs are the highest scoring offense in football, putting up 118 points through 3 games. The offense spreads out touches like no other team in football, so the majority of KC's skill players are having strong starts. That includes recent signee Sammy Watkins, who's 34th among WRs in PPR scoring in 2018. Watkins has had a role in the offense, both through the air and on the ground (51 yards on 3 carries) and caught his first TD as a Chief on Sunday against San Francisco.  His outlook wasn't particularly bright as recently as late August, but Watkins has been a pleasant surprise in Kansas City's firepower offense. With Patrick Mahomes' success throwing the ball, the Chiefs top 4 fantasy scorers are all pass-catchers, with Watkins at 4 followed by Kareem Hunt's disappointing start. The team committed $30 million in guaranteed money over 3 years to bring Watkins in, and they seem committed to providing him a consistent workload. Now all this being said, we know what tends to happen to Andy Reid's Chiefs: September goes great, they're looking like contenders, and once the weather cools off so does the scoring. In 2017 they averaged 31 points per game in September; this number dropped to 28.6 in October and plummeted to 12 in November. Watkins is currently a strong WR3/Flex option even with a primetime matchup in Denver coming up, and as long as KC's offense stays hot, so will he.
Kenyan Drake Unable to Shake Gore’s Corpse; Still Intriguing Fantasy Buy Low
Though a vastly superior talent, Kenyan Drake cannot seem to shake free from a committee with the corpse of Frank Gore. Drake's finished with serviceable 8.1 an 15.0 FPs in the first two weeks, but disappeared for just 2.0 in Week 3. With odd game flow, Drake logged just 5 rushes for a paltry three yards, while adding two catches for 7 more yards. Gore, who drew the "start," was equally unimpressive, with 12 yards on 6 carries. Still, the ageless one is clearly a major part of this offense, which lowers the weekly floor of Drake.  Drake made our original "Overpriced Avoids" list, yet earned his way off with a highly impressive preseason in which he racked up 149 total yards on 20 touches (5 catches). In fact, Drake's always flashed when provided the opportunity, posting the most yards after contact per attempt (4.29) ever recorded by PFF, and scoring as the RB4 when given 20+ touches. Even still, HC Adam Gase appears reluctant to give him the featured role. Though Drake has the talent to still put up big numbers on just 12-15 touches, his ceiling and floor are a lot lower if Gore continues to vulture volume. Both backs benefit from Ryan Tannehill's impressive start to the season, and Drake is an intriguing "Buy Low" following this dud. He spanked the Patriots for 193 yards on 30 touches last year, and New England just got spanked by the Lions and Kerryon Johnson on the ground. Even amidst the frustration, Drake feels likely to turn this around, beginning this week.
Tyler Lockett Filling in Admirably as Seahawks’ WR1, Every-Week Fantasy Starter
Tyler Lockett has filled the void left by Doug Baldwin nicely.  In last week's 24-13 shellacking of the Cowboys, the Seahawks ran the ball down their throats.  That still didn't stop Lockett from making his presence felt in the passing game, catching four passes for 77 yards and a touchdown.   Lockett made the most of his six targets by sneaking through the Cowboys' secondary for a 52-yard visit to pay dirt.  As long as Baldwin remains out of the Seahawks' lineup, Lockett carries mid-to-high WR2 value with low-end WR1 upside.  Lockett is the clear target leader, commanding 28.7% of the teams targeted air yards for the season.  Lockett has averaged 16.3 yards per reception on 4.0 receptions per game, both career highs.  The Seahawks offense has looked stagnant and has struggled mightily to protect quarterback Russell Wilson.  Regardless, with a dynamic play maker like Wilson and a likely pass-friendly game script during most of the games this season, Lockett offers a decent floor and a high ceiling.  Lockett is primed to explode and carries major 'boom' upside. Now is a perfect time to buy as owners might be looking to sell him high with a matchup against Cardinals star cornerback Patrick Peterson looming next week.
Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and all Rams WRs Continue Exploding in Year 2 of Sean McCavy
Ranking fourth in the league with 34.0 PPG, the Rams remain an offensive juggernaut in Sean McVay's second season. Most recently, Jared Goff carved up the Chargers "improved D," completing 29-of-36 for 354 yards and 3 scores with one interception. Meanwhile, RB Todd Gurley continued justifying his locked-in No.1 Overall Pick status, racking up 156 total yards and a score on 28 touches (5 rec); Gurley trails only Alvin Kamara among RBs and WRs in fantasy points.  The WRs also joined the fun, with all three hitting double-digit half PPR FPs; Robert Woods led the way, receiving 10-of-11 targets for 104 yards and 2 TDs.  Simply put: the Rams haven't regressed one bit. The team went from worst to first (28.9 PPG) in scoring in McVay's first year as HC, and seem destined to again push for the league lead in points once more. Most shockingly, though we predicted mind-numbing unreliability, Woods, Brandin Cooks, and Cooper Kupp have all been consistent. Through three weeks, only Woods has dipped below 9.3 half ppr FPs, and only one time. Cooks has maintained the verticality while finding stability, topping 5 receptions and 80 yards in seven straight weeks (though failing to find he end zone). Meanwhile, Kupp has remained a scoring beast and popular slot target, while Woods leads the team in targets and air yards. All-in-all, despite having many mouths to satisfy, McVay's offense has remained explosive enough to ensure all parties are fed. Bump up the Rams WRs and Goff, while keeping Gurley locked into the top overall spot, for season long rankings.
Replacing Evan Engram on the Waiver Wire, who is Week-to-Week With an MCL Sprain
The Giants offense showed signs of having a pulse in their Week 3 victory against the Texans, but unfortunately they lost their studly tight end, Evan Engram to a sprained MCL. Luckily for Engram, it looks like he caught a break with the severity of the sprain. A mild MCL sprain typically lasts one-to-two weeks, a moderate sprain is two-to-four weeks and anything worse is likely four-to-six weeks. If you own Engram, you probably don't have a backup tight end and you'll need some help. I mean, that's why you're here, right?  Even though Giants backup tight end Rhett Ellison found the end zone in Engram's absence, the talent isn't there to band-aid your hole at that position. With the tight end spot hit-or-miss after the very few big names, you're going to have to stream or hope you get lucky. In this week's Start, Stash and Stream, our guy RedSocker45 listed off guys such as the Under Armour mannequin, Ben Watson as a possible starting option. Then Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Eagles rookie Dallas Goedert as potential stashes, and Jesse JamesAustin Hooper and Mr. Glass Tyler Eifert as possible streaming options. If you happen to be playing in a league with your grandparents, Jack "The Beanstalk" Doyle is 53% owned. And even though he's not a tight end, expect Sterling Shepard (56% owned) to benefit most and take a chunk of Engram's targets from Eli Manning.
Amari “Houdini” Cooper Disappears Once Again, Unstartable Fantasy WR
Though we expected Amari Cooper to finally find consistency under "WR1 Whisperer" Jon Gruden, he's been as maddening as ever to begin 2018. Through three weeks, Cooper has sandwiched a meaty 10 catch, 116 yard Week 2 gem in between two week-ruining, vomit-inducing disappearing efforts: 1-of-3 for 9 yards in Week 1 versus the Rams, as well as a 2-of-5, 17 yard clunker against the Dolphins. With just equal amounts of week-winning upside and week-losing downside, Cooper seems bench bound until he flashes enough consistency to trust... which may be never. "The main vein of our massing game." "The focal point and headliner of our offense." "A young Tim Brown we'll move around a lot." How many disturbing lies are you going to squeak through those tightly pursed lips, Gruden? For a "main vein," Cooper seems bound to provide cardiac arrest in 2018. Though he has all the natural ability in the world, Cooper's long plagued owners with unreliability. Last year, Cooper topped double digit FPs (half PPR) in just 5 of 14 games, including 5 games under 10 yards. Moreover, despite topping 1,000 yards in each of the two seasons prior, Cooper never has had more than 8 games of double-digit half PPR fantasy points in a single season. Simply put, Cooper is truly Fantasy Football's Houdini. He always has been, and despite seemingly a shot to buck the trend under Gruden, Cooper seems destined to always be. Granted, his owner is probably infuriated, so if you can "Buy Low" for a sack of plodders, take a stab. The rest of the schedule is loaded with cream puffs, and Cooper encouragingly has found plenty more slot usage. Still, he's more likely to remain a headache than turn it around, so don't sacrifice too much.
Aaron Jones Returns, but Ty Montgomery Leads Packers RBs in Touches and Production
Following a two-game ban for marijuana, Packers RB Aaron Jones made his 2018 debut. Similar to last year, he flashed by far the most rushing explosiveness, taking six carries for 42 yards (7.0 YPC) while also adding a five yard catch. Nonetheless, Ty Montgomery was the team's most productive back, totaling 64 yards on 10 touches (6 receptions). Just to complicate matters, Jamaal Williams started and led the team with 30 snaps, as compared to 20 for Montgomery and 16 for Jones, gaining 45 total yards on 7 touches (2 receptions). For now, this appears to be a true three-headed nightmare. Williams is the least talented and least attractive option, and easily cuttable in fantasy. He did nothing prior to Jones' return, so why would he suddenly improve now? Meanwhile, Jones brings the most talent, and is the most attractive bench stash. Though he's unlikely to reach his ceiling trapped in such a crowded cast, Jones is the one RB here who could become a season-changer. He should be universally owned and stashed in the off-chance Williams goes down or Mike McCarthy hands the reigns over. Montgomery, only 16% owned, deserves to be on benches as well. this contest marked his highest involvement by far, as Montgomery led the team in receptions and ranked third in receiving. In particular Randall Cobb struggled mightily, and Montgomery seems like a natural fit to eat into his workload. In short, this backfield remains a nightmare... but one well-worth staking some claim into.
Adam Thielen an NFL-Leading Target Vacuum Amidst Vikings’ Struggles, Fantasy WR1
Amidst a shocking, puke-worthy throttling by the Buffalo Bills, Vikings WR Adam Thielen hauled in an absurd 14-of-19 targets for 105 yards. Thielen's now seen at least 12 targets in three straight games, and leads the NFL with 44 looks thus far. Though we originally feared Stefon Diggs would surpass Thielen as the passing-game engine, the slot dynamo has clearly held strong; Diggs disappeared even in catch-up mode, hauling in only 4-of-10 targets for 17 yards. Thielen's 32 receptions and 338 yards currently trail only Michael Thomas, and he's shaping up as a highly reliable weekly WR1.  Though Diggs still brings the scoring "sizzle" to the Vikings passing game, it's Thielen who's bringing the steady, every-week steak. He continues to dominate out of the slot, where he led the NFL in 2017 target-share, which he currently owns for 2018 as well far. Kirk Cousins did lock onto Jamison Crowder last year, targeting him on 24% of Washington's third downs (slightly below Thielen's 32%) -- and Thielen is far more dominant of a talent. Indeed, both Diggs and Thielen are Fantasy WR1s. Yet, whereas Diggs' early preseason dominance suggested he'd ascend to the top of this target totem pole, Thielen has once again proven to be the most consistent weapon. With a more reliable floor and a similar ceiling, Thielen should surpass Diggs, albeit just slightly, on Season Long Big Boards.
Kerryon Johnson Cracks 100 Yards, Earning Lions Workhorse Duties
Kerryon Johnson is the first Lions' running back to rush for 100 yards since the great Reggie Bush in 2013. He continued to have the hot hand over LeGarrette Blount, though both ended up with 16 carries. The more talented Johnson has separated himself from Blount through the first three games, and should emerge as the lead back moving forward. He's on the FLEX radar against the Cowboys in Week 4. Despite the equal number of carries Kerryon Johnson had with Blount, anyone with a pair of eyes who watched the game could clearly see that Johnson brings far much more to the table to Detroit's offense in the workhorse role. He was fluid running the ball through gaping holes, and was a nice check down option for Stafford in the passing game. The second round pick out of Auburn clearly has the skills to be a weapon in the Lions' offense. His total touches and yards per carry have increased every game, it would only make sense for Johnson to be used more often than the likes of Blount and Riddick. Both those two are pretty one dimensional, whereas Johnson has the ability to play both roles on the field. Johnson is averaging 5.6 ypc, and looks like the RB this Detroit offense has been looking for after many years now. With increased usage, Johnson is working his way into solidifying flex appeal for fantasy rosters, and could work his way into RB2 territory.
Sony Michel Underwhelms vs Lions but is the Clear Leader of the Patriots Backfield
Sony Michel's first crack at the Patriots lead-back job was certainly underwhelming from a production standpoint, but Josh McDaniels gave him a heavy workload during the Patriots debacle in Detroit. The rookie running back carried the ball 14 times for a measly 50 yards and was targeted three times in the passing game, hauling in one reception and dropping the two other targets. With Rex Burkhead failing to make an impact and unable to consistently stay on the field, along with James White getting limited playing time, it's clear the Patriots want to see what they have in the former Bulldog. Although Michel didn't do much with ample opportunity, one could chalk it up to the entire team looking like shit against their former defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia. It was clear Patricia had his guys coached up and ready to go, as it looked like the Lions' defense knew what was coming on almost every play. Their defensive line was in the Patriots backfield all night and Michel didn't have much space to make plays. What's most concerning though, was his lack of quickness and burst that made him so special at Georgia. Through two games, his talent has looked pretty pedestrian for a running back chosen in the first round;. But, let's give him the benefit of the doubt and allow him to get going (he missed just about all of the preseason with a knee injury) before we smash the panic button. The usage in the Patriots offense is what's important right now.
Kenny Golladay Continues Proving Fantasy WR2 Worth, Scores Again
Kenny Golladay continued to start over Golden Tate in two-wide sets. He scored the Lions' first touchdown of the game, extending the ball across the goal-line on a play where he was tackled at the one-yard line. Golladay has at least 100 yards or a touchdown in every game this season. He's a locked-in WR2 for Week 4's matchup with the Cowboys. The standout performer from the 2017 preseason has started to deliver on the promising potential we saw last year. As mentioned above, Golladay has been on the field more as he's been out-snapping Golden Tate and working his way into the team's offense more and more. There's no denying Golladay's skill, as his size made him a red zone nightmare for defenses when he was taking over in the preseason. Now he's showing a complete package to the tune of 7-114-0, 6-89-1, 6-53-1 through the Lions' first three games of the 2018 season. Golladay is currently second in receptions and yardage (by one yard) behind Tate, but is tied for the team lead with two touchdown grabs. The Detroit offense figures to once again be a pass heavy offense, and Golladay is looking like he's trending up and going to be more involved as the season goes on. If you were someone who spent a draft pick on him, you're setting up to have a very valuable receiver for the foreseeable future.
Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara Breaking Records Amidst Defensive Woes
The Saints defensive woes continue, and Fantasy Owners should rejoice at the ungodly, record-setting stats this will produce. In fact, Drew Brees broke the NFL record for completions in Sunday's shootout versus Atlanta, going 39-of-49 for 396 yards and 3 TDs, all while adding 2 Rushing Scores for over 40 FPs. Brees trails only fellow record-setter Patrick Mahomes in FPs on the year (89.72), and, even at 40, seems bound to return to his silly "Cheat Code" stats while trading blows with opponents each week.  Meanwhile, fantasy's top-scoring WR Michael Thomas continues to redefine "Target Hog" while setting his own records. The third-year monster hauled in all 10 of his targets for his third straight 10+ reception day, and his 38 catches through three weeks is the most in NFL history. He's hauled in an insane 95% of his 40 targets, and is on pace for 203 receptions on 213 targets. Though this pace is obviously unsustainable, Thomas feels likely to maintain his No.1 WR pace amidst the defensive regression. Not to be outdone, backfield dynamo Alvin Kamara drew a whopping, NFL RB-record 20 targets, hauling in 15 of them for 124 yards, while adding 66 more yards on the ground. Kamara simply refuses to go down on first contact, and is the engine of the league's highest scoring attack. If drafting today, Kamara would be worth the second overall pick in all reception-based formats, and Top 4 across all leagues. He's on pace for 203 targets and 160 receptions, and will continue to dominate even when Mark Ingram returns. This outpour, of course, is fueled by the Saints' massive defensive regression. In 2017, New Orleans' annually awful defense took a massive step forward, going from 31st in Points Allowed per Game (28.4) to 14th (21.2). In the process, Brees' dipped under 32 TDs for the first time since 2008 (10 seasons), and the Saints ranked outside the Top-5 in Passing Yardage for just the second time in Brees and Sean Payton's decade together. If the first three weeks and the Saints last-ranked defense (34.3 PPG) are any indication, thenBrees, alongside Thomas and Kamara, will send this passing game right back to the tops in the NFL. They have plenty of more records to chase, after all.
Jimmy Garoppolo Suffers Season-Ending Torn ACL, 49ers Fantasy Weapons Plummet
In Week 3's most devastating injury, 49ers franchise-QB Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending torn ACL that will shelve him for all of 2018. Approaching his season-high for yards and TDs, Garoppolo tore his ACL while planting to stay in bounds on a fourth-quarter scramble. Though gut-wrenching for 49ers and general NFL fans,  Garoppolo himself shouldn't be overly difficult to replace for fantasy owners as just the QB18 through three-weeks. More concerning, however, is the negative trickle-down effect his injury will have on the entire offense, especially the pass-catching options. Insert CJ Beathard into the starting lineup, and insert vomit into Marquise Goodwin and George Kittle owners mouths. Though Beathard's now been groomed in the creative Kyle Shanahan attack for two seasons, he averaged a meager 238 passing yards and threw just 4 TDs to 6 INTs across six games in 2017. A massive leap forward feels incredibly unlikely. Thus, Goodwin, Kittle, and Pierre Garcon all take massive season-long value hits. All three remain holds to see if Beathard develops a special, "lock-in" rapport with any one guy. But all need to be benched until further notice. In the run-game, NFL leading-rusher Matt Breida also seems like a necessary downgrade facing more stacked-boxes and seeing less scoring chances. Yet, I won't bump him down too aggressively. The team needs him now more than ever, and, in what's otherwise looking like a lost season, perhaps Shanahan and the 49ers will want to see what they have in Breida, and thus ride him 'til the wheels fall off. Breida seems far more comfortable in Year 2 after playing tentative as a rookie, and has hit the hole with equal amounts of vision and anger all of 2018. In addition to his NFL-best 274 rushing yards, Breida also leads the league in both 20+ yard runs (6) and YPC (8.6). He's an intriguing Buy-Low stab if his owner is panicking amidst Garoppolo's injury.
Falcons WR Calvin Ridley Explodes, Top Waiver Wire Add of Week 4
Falcons rookie WR Calvin Ridley put on a show in a Sunday shootout loss against the Saints, hauling in 7-of-8 targets for 146 yards and 3 TDs. Afforded softer coverage alongside Julio Jones, Ridley absolutely feasted. Though this 37 FP masterpiece will likely be his best performance of 2018, Ridley is in line for quality weekly outputs in this glorious set up. Owned in under 50% of leagues, Ridley should be the top Waiver Wire priority in Week 2, well-worth massive FAAB shares and a No.1 Priority. As if a Saturday afternoon at Alabama, Ridley was seemingly wide-open all afternoon, and dominated at every layer of the field. Though the Saints' horrifically-regressing secondary helped, Ridley seems unlikely to e a one-week wonder thanks to a fantasy goldmine set-up: 1) Weaker, mostly single coverage next to Julio 2) Brewing chemistry and trust with Matt Ryan, in all downs and distances (and especially in the Red Zone) 3) A decimated defense that'll often create shoot-out scenarios After a concerning 0-catch debut, Ridley was promised to be more involved by HC Dan Quinn, and he's delivered. Ridley's seen 13 targets over the past two weeks, and scored the most FPs of any WR in this span. Ridley's already topped Julio's TD total from 2018, and is now tied with Michael Thomas and Davante Adams for the NFL lead in Red Zone scores (3), despite seeing less than half of their looks. Simply put: Ridley has the individual talent and surrounding situation to match MT's insane rookie year (92-1137-9). Though Tyler Boyd isn't a bad fallback option , Ridley is the clear-cut top Waiver Wire add of Week 4, and is truly capable of changing seasons. Break the FAAB bank for the Top WR Penny Stock of 2018.
Adrian Peterson Continues Turning Back the Fantasy Clocks, Demolishes Packers
Adrian Peterson, now fifth in the NFL at 33 years old, is defying Father Time and all fantasy expectations after another dominant effort Sunday. With the Redskins nursing a lead, Peterson rumbled for 120 yards and 2 TDs on just 19 carries (6.3 YPC - highest since 2015), ripping chunk gains even when the defense knew a run was coming. Especially in games with the Redskins leading, AP should be treated as a high-end RB2 with weekly RB1 upside.  Granted, not everything was rainbows and ponies, as AP did suffer an ankle injury and was seen in a boot on Monday. With a perfectly timed Bye, however, AP is expected to be ready well in time for Week 5, where he'll get a juicy "Revenge" matchup versus a New Orleans team that kicked him to the curb last season. The Redskins line has been paving massive holes all season, and AP is rifling through with his trademark spryness of yesteryear. This is especially true at the stripe, where Peterson was exploding laterally in the hole to shake defenders. Despite the strong effort, the reborn star feels he his day could've been even bigger, commenting: “Should have been 160, 170 yards,” he said. “I left too many yards out on the field.” He's a major risk to breakdown at any point under such heavy workloads, but for now, ride this steed until the wheels fall off.
Bengals WR Tyler Boyd Dominates Again, Priority Waiver Wire Add
Third year Bengals WR Tyler Boyd has been flatout dominant for two straight weeks, most recently hauling in 6-of-7 targets for a career-high 132 yards and a score against the Panthers. This follows up a 6-of-9, 91 yard + TD effort in Week 2, and gives Boyd over 40 FPs in these past two weeks -- trailing only fellow breakout Calvin Ridley and Adam Thielen during this span. Boyd appears locked into the No.2 spot of a rapidly rising passing attack, and gives vibes of an every-week WR3, particularly with AJ Green banged up. Prior to this week's contest, QB Andy Dalton heaped praise onto Boyd, calling him "so good" while praising his versatility and route-running: He understands running routes. He’s versatile. You can move him around. He’s had a lot of production in the slot and we’ve been able to move him around too.” Boyd proved worthy of the hype and more on Sunday. All season, he's been a near every down player while dominating the slot-share in 3-WR sets. He consistently finds the soft spots of the defense, makes tacklers miss after the catch, and has gained the Red Rifles trust. With the Bengals offense clicking in Year 2 under Bill Lazor, Boyd should be a reliable WR3 most weeks. Plus, if AJ Green's groin injury lingers, Boyd could be a high-end WR2 in a cake-walk date with Atlanta's decimated defense. At only 17% owned, Boyd needs to be among Week 3's highest priority Waiver Wire adds.
Showtime: The Electric Baker Mayfield Will be a Hot Week 4 Waiver Wire Option After his Thursday Night Heroics
Tyrod Taylor looked horrendous through a quarter and a half against the Jets, completing just 4-of-14 of his throws. Hue Jackson decided to be a man for once (although Taylor technically went out with a concussion) and put in the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick, Baker Mayfield. Baker led the Browns to their first victory in 635 days when he erased a 14 point deficit.  Mayfield looked as electric as he did at Oklahoma by eluding the pass rush on numerous occasions and throwing darts all over the field. Mayfield completed 17-of-23 passes (three drops) for 201 yards, and even caught a two-point conversion on the Browns’ version of the 'Philly Special.’ Although he only put up 9.84 fantasy points, his potential was evident right away. With Mayfield under center, the offense looked revitalized and energized. Once Hue gets his head out of his ass and officially names him the starter, you can expect a 'Stock Up' for the fantasy-relevant players in this offense. Carlos Hyde finally found some running lanes, Jarvis Landry (15 targets) and Antonio Callaway (10 targets) were peppered on the perimeter and tight end David Njoku built a nice rapport with Mayfield during the preseason. Baker is currently owned in only 11% of leagues and will be one of the hottest waiver pickups this week. Assuming you have a decent QB1, he's a solid QB2 right now to stash with legit QB1 upside once Haley fully trusts the QB in all situations — not just when they’re down by 14 and he's put into a two-minute offense, which is basically what he ran in college. Get your popcorn ready. It's Baker time.
Getting Vertical: Will Fuller Brings the Boom, Raises Deshaun Watson’s Ceiling
After missing Week 1 with a hamstring injury, Will Fuller came back in a huge way in Week 2, turning 9 targets into 8 catches for 113 yards and a TD. Fuller has a knack for finding the end zone with 8 touchdowns in his last 11 games, and his presence seems to have a calming effect on Deshaun Watson. After a 50% completion rate and just 176 yards in Week 1, Watson bumped his numbers up to 69% and 310 yards against the Titans. As long as both are on the field together along with DeAndre Hopkins, all will see an uptick in fantasy value moving forward.  If you want to get a better idea of the rapport these two have together, look no further than this tweet from Evan Silva. Meanwhile, in 6 games after Watson's injury last year, Fuller totaled just 144 yards and 0 TDs. But it appears that Fuller and Watson will continue to complement each other and raise each other's fantasy values provided they're on the field together. And the rest of the team is noticing, like DeAndre Hopkins, who said Fuller's presence on the field "helps us out a lot. You saw he made some plays downfield, and he brought some confidence." That confidence will only continue to skyrocket if these two continue the success they've had, and they'll now get to showcase it at home against the 0-2 Giants. With a strong young QB and a teammate in Hopkins that defenses simply can't ignore, Fuller's presence in Houston's offense is hugely important. Watson is The Wolf's QB5 this week, while Fuller comes in at WR23.
Matt Breida Begins Takeover of Kyle Shanahan’s Invaluable Backfield Gig
Despite operating in a timeshare with Alfred Morris, Matt Breida looked truly special in the 49ers win over Detroit. He totaled 159 yards on just 14 touches, out-gaining Morris by 79 yards despite seeing two fewer touches. This included an incredible 66 yard TD sprint where he gashed the defense on an outside zone before cutting back and following his blockers to the promised land. Though this backfield should remain a committee in the near-term, Breida now leads the league in rushing (184 yards). His stellar play should help him cement featured work in this Fantasy Goldmine scheme sooner than later. Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme is heralded for its ability to facilitate monstrous rushing outputs and fantasy performances every year. In fact, he's yielded three-straight Top-10 RBs, and five of his last six have been Top-15. Prior to his ACL tearJerick McKinnon was expected to reap these benefits, but Breida now appears the next man up. The key traits for his runners are vision and patience, and, after struggling in both areas as a rookie, Breida excelled here all afternoon while carving up the Lions. He looked like a true difference maker, grading out as PFF's Top RB of Week 2 while averaging an elite 5.0 Yards after contact. Meanwhile, Morris looked his plodding self. Shanahan craves mismatches and explosiveness, and Breida is the only RB on this roster who brings both to the table. Expect his "Usage" to continue climbing following this performance, with a chance to emerge as a weekly RB1 if he can secure 20+ weekly carries.  
Workhorse of Yesteryear: David Johnson’s Usage Highly Concerning
For the second straight week, Cardinals RB David Johnson severely underwhelmed, posting 48 rushing yards on 13 carries (3.69 YPC) while hauling in one three yard catch on a paltry two targets (5.3 Half FPs). Yes, this abysmal effort came against the Rams frightening defense. Still, Johnson's lack of usage, both from creativity and volume standpoints, is far more concerning than the lack of production.   Back in February, we expressed our concern over the loss of Bruce Arians and the transition to new OC Mike McCoy for DJ's value, with the talented back falling all the way to No.7 on The Wolf's "Way Too Early Big Board." In fact, in our McCoy Breakdown, we noted: "he's cracked the top-15 in yardage just twice, including a year with Tim Tebow, while ranking in the bottom 20 for four of nine seasons. Moreover, his teams have never scored more than 13 total rushing TDs, and have never ranked higher than 12th in Rushing TDs, ranking 22nd or worse in five of nine seasons." But we eventually succumbed to DJ's own talent, and figured not even McCoy could screw this up. If Week's 1 and 2 are any indication, we should've trusted our guts. Johnson has now touched the ball a meager 14 times in his first two weeks, as compared to over 23 touches per game under Arians. Beyond the volume, Johnson's being used far less creatively. In the receiving game, Johnson's seeing his usage drop dramatically. Per Graham Barfield: In his historic 2016 season, Johnson averaged 31.1 routes run per game, an 19% target share, and he saw 38.1 air yards per game. This year, DJ has averaged just 16.5 routes run per game, an 18% target share, and only 8.5 air yards per game. Last year, he was split out as a wide receiver (in the slot or out wide) on 26% of his routes run. This year, Johnson has been split off from formation as a receiver on just 9% of his routes. He's barely passed the line of scrimmage on any of these routes run, as compared to the various wheels and deep locks garnered under Arians. Johnson's also being force fed up the middle in the run-game, versus any outside runs that capitalize upon his athleticism. Betting on Talent is often the correct call, but here, Johnson could be running in Fantasy Quicksand all year.
Zach Ertz Reaffirms Target Hog Status, Value Booming With Return of Carson Wentz
The Eagles trotted out Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to run the team's offense over the first two weeks. While Foles and the offense has been average at best, what remains constant is the high usage of elite tight end Zach Ertz. In the two contests thus far, Ertz had 24 targets for a 16-142-0 stat line. He's benefited by the injury to leading receiving Alshon Jeffery, which has given him more targets and action in the Eagles offense. While his usage numbers are likely to continue as such an important piece to the team's offense, the Week 3 return of Carson Wentz has Ertz trending up for the foreseeable future. 2017 was a breakout year for Ertz thanks mostly to the MVP caliber season put forth by Wentz. What separated his 2017 numbers from years past was his touchdown numbers, going from a previous career high of four, to eight. Ertz proves to be a red zone weapon for a team that was down in that area a lot. Now with Wentz back, Jeffery still on the sideline, and receiver Mike Wallace likely done for a long period of time with an ankle injury, Ertz finds himself as one of the few remaining dependable targets for Wentz -- alongside Nelson Agholor. The team has two solid matchups against the Colts and Titans in Weeks 3 and 4, before running into some tough sledding versus the Vikings. The high target numbers is all you can ask for at a position like tight end. Add in his red zone usage, and you get the bonus points that make him one of fantasy football's truly elite tight ends.
TY Hilton Fitting Perfectly in Frank Reich’s Scheme: Reaffirms WR1 Value
This preseason, Colts WR TY Hilton was one of the most questioned receivers in all of fantasy. After the Colts played without franchise QB Andrew Luck for all of 2017, Hilton and the offense's numbers took drastic hits into mediocrity. Now with a healthy shoulder, Luck returned for 2018, but questions remained for Hilton and the Colts. Just how healthy is Luck? Can he still make the deep throws? What about new head coach Frank Reich? How will his scheme fit Hilton's play style? I think it's safe to say that after two weeks, TY Hilton is showing that he's going to be just fine in 2018. If you drafted Hilton this year in the third or fourth round, you're feeling pretty confident in what you have. So far against the Bengals and Redskins, Hilton has racked up 22 targets for a 12-129-2 season stat line. He leads the team in every receiving category but touchdowns -- in which he's tied with Eric Ebron. The addition of Reich to this team has changed the way Hilton has been used thus far. Traditionally, we saw Hilton make his worth on deep balls and catching long touchdowns. Kind of a boom or bust guy. Now in Reich's West Coast Offense, Hilton is being used more in quick hitters to help utilize his speed after the catch. This does wonders for his YAC, as defenders simply keep up with his speed, and even opens up the deep ball more for him. The more you work the short and intermediate routes, the defense creeps up, allowing you to drop bombs for Hilton over the top. It also helps that aside from the two tight ends, the only threat to Hilton for consistent targets is receiver Ryan Grant. You should be buying Hilton right now.
Believe in Fitzmagic? Ryan Fitzpatrick McGregor Dominates Again
I'm not believing what my eyes currently see. Buccaneers QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is SHREDDING defenses to the tune of back-to-back 400 yard, 4 touchdown games. What's more impressive, is it's come against two NFC playoff teams in the Saints and Eagles. Last year, we had enormous hope for this Tampa Bay offense thanks to the abundance of weapons and a promising young QB in Jameis Winston ready to make the jump. That didn't happen. Winston was then suspended the first three games, allowing Fitzpatrick to step in as the starter. By the looks of it, he's not giving the job back anytime soon as he enters QB1 territory. Yes, I know that's as crazy as it sounds. Week 3 represents the last week of Winston's suspension, so we know Fitzmagic will be starting this contest. What makes it even better, is the matchup is at home against the 0-1-1 Steelers. In case you live under a rock, the Steelers just faced off against RSJ sensation Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Mahomes threw for 326 yards and 6 (yes, 6!) touchdowns against this awful Steelers defense. The Steelers even struggled with containing the Browns offense in Week 1's monsoon, so you'd have to imagine that Fitzpatrick and his arsenal full of pass catchers are ready to put their steel rods in the arched over behinds of Pittsburgh's defense. He should firmly be in the QB1 discussion (maybe No. 1 overall?!) in Week 3 on Monday Night Football. Fitzpatrick can't afford to have a down Week 3 knowing the return of Winston is looming over the team.
Both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen Explode, Eat Equal Chunks of Vikings Aerial Pie
All offseason the debate between whether Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen would dominate targets.  The obvious answer staring everyone in the face should have been, both!  Sunday, in a thrilling tie with the Packers, both Diggs and Thielen went bananas as each eclipsed 100 yards and found the end zone.  With a shiny new gunslinger at quarterback, both of these receivers stocks have never been higher. New Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins may have struggled some in his first game with his new team, but his second game showed just how dangerous and unstoppable this offense can be.  Diggs provides excellent pass catching ability and silky smooth route running, creating an insane average of three yards of separation per pass.  Thielen creates 2.8 yards of separation per pass and features a 72% catch rate, whereas Diggs records a catch rate around 63%.  Through the first two weeks, Cousins is fourth in the league in pass attempts and is completing 65.5% of his passes.  Diggs and Thielen both drip with talent and have the usage to back it up.  Both of these receivers stocks are soaring and both have league winning upside for their price tags. New OC John DeFilippo is using them as creatively as predicted, and his explosive aerial attack is highly concentrated on these two weapons. If possible, target either of these receivers in trade talks heading into this week. Regardless, their fantasy stocks are going through the roof.
Antonio Callaway Shines Without Josh Gordon, Should be a High Week 3 Waiver Wire Priority
Multiple bombshells were dropped on Saturday when the Browns declared Josh Gordon OUT, out of nowhere, then later when Adam Schefter tweeted out that they were going to cut the pain in the ass wideout on Monday. We were confused and we were shocked that Hue Jackson's balls finally dropped. He stopped enabling the uber-talented, yet extremely troubled wide receiver and finally decided to move on. In typical Cleveland fashion though, they exiled one troubled wideout (read that analysis here) for another immensely talented, yet pain in the ass receiver, Antonio Callaway. Callaway didn't breakout for a crazy WR1 game or anything, but he put up a respectable 3-81-1 on four targets, which was highlighted by an incredible game-tying grab in the back of the end zone. So, how the hell did this talent fall all the way to the fourth round of this year's draft? Well, he might be an even bigger clown than Gordon. He ran a 4.41 40, jumped 34 inches and broad jumped 121 inches at the combine, yet he barely touched the field at Florida. He was hit with a sexual assault trial during his freshman and sophomore years but told the jury he was "so stoned" and didn't want to have sex with the woman. Then he was hit with a weed possession. Then, he didn't play all last season due to a credit card fraud scheme. Hopefully this guy gets his act together because he's insanely talented and barring a Dez Bryant signing, he'll be Tyrod Taylor's No. 2 target for the remainder of this season. Callaway is currently available in a whopping 96 percent of Yahoo drafts and needs to be rostered this week.
Royce Freeman Slips Deeper Into the Committee Hole as Creature Phillip Lindsay Shines
Our nightmares of the creature named Phillip Lindsay has all of a sudden become a reality. Although one could chalk this up to the Broncos being down on the scoreboard for 99 percent of the afternoon, both Lindsay AND Devontae Booker out-snapped Royce Freeman. Lindsay handled 28 snaps on the day, while Booker registered 22. On the other hand, Freeman was on the field for only 16 snaps. Not good for Freeman owners who were banking on this guy as their third (or second) running back in their stable. Hand up. I've been wrong so far. But what's been most alarming when you dive into the nerdy advanced stats, is that Lindsay hasn't just been a passing down specialist. Out of his 54 snaps on the season, 29 of those came on running plays, while 18 came on passing plays where he ran a route -- both Lindsay and Freeman have played five snaps as a pass protector. To make matters worse, Freeman's 45 total snaps have been broken down into 23 rushing plays and 16 receiving snaps. It's been Booker who has been more of the receiving specialist with 30 of his 41 total snaps coming as a route runner. Sorry to go full nerd on you guys, but Lindsay out-snapping Freeman as an actual runner is problematic -- not to mention that Lindsay broke an NFL rookie record for becoming the first undrafted rookie to total 100-plus total yards through the first two weeks. The former Oregon Duck should get goal line carries and carries between the 20s as we move forward, but he's a fringe FLEX option right now. Hopefully we'll wake up soon and it'll all just be a nightmare, and not a 16 game reality.
Carson Wentz Medically Cleared, Will Start Week 3 vs Colts
After tearing his ACL and LCL in his left knee during last year's high-flying Week 14 matchup against the Rams, Carson Wentz has been medically cleared by the Eagles and will start Week 3 against the Colts. After a sluggish two week start for the Eagles offense, the team and the fantasy owners who own Eagles' players (outside of Nelson Agholor) will be happy to see him back on the field. Nick Foles' few game load has officially been blown and we welcome Wentz back with opened arms. Wentz is coming off a terrific sophomore campaign where he got the Eagles off to an 11-2 start before being placed on IR. He completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 3,296 yards, 33 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in those 13 games. Due to his questionable timetable of return, Wentz entered the season as our QB8 -- which was actually +5 against the ECR. With us being higher on both Deshaun Watson and Wentz, it's clear we aren't too worried about ACL recovery in 2018 -- although Watson's slow start has proven us wrong so far. So, what does this mean for the Eagles' offense? Well, with just about every pass-catcher on the shelf, it's going to be the Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz show until Alshon Jeffery returns. Both Agholor and Ertz have been target hogs during the first two games (both have 16 catches a piece), but have combined for only one score. With Wentz under center, expect the offense to run more smoothly and have longer and more consistent drives that will result in six. If you drafted poorly and didn't pair Wentz with a Patrick Mahomes or Philip Rivers, then you should feel comfortable with rolling the dice against the Colts this week. Doug Peterson wouldn't roll him out there when they have a capable backup if he wasn't 100 percent. Come back Wednesday for The Wolf's Week 3 Rankings. P.S. If you're one of the 8 percent of leagues that has Wentz on the Waiver Wire, you should probably do something about that.
Bengals Bell-Cow Joe Mixon Expected to Miss 2 Weeks With Knee Injury; Gio Bernard a Must-Add Fantasy Option
Through the first two games of the season, the Bengals were treating Joe Mixon like a workhorse, giving the sophomore back 44 touches. Mixon responded with 236 yards and a score, and looked like a RB1 in the process. After exiting Thursday night's game not once, but twice with a knee injury, we all knew something had to be wrong. On Friday night, Schefty confirmed this when he tweeted Mixon was undergoing a slight cleanup surgery to have a small particle fixed up that was dislodged, and he would likely be out two weeks. Enter a name we're all familiar with, Gio Bernard, to take over for the Bengals' bell-cow. The third down specialist is available in 74 percent of Yahoo leagues and should carry the majority of the load in Mixon's absence. According to CBS Fantasy, Bernard has been extremely productive when given the touches. In the last eight games where he received 20-plus touches, he's put up double-digit fantasy points. The Bengals have a tough matchup on the road against Carolina next week, but then have a favorable matchup against the Falcons, who can't cover any running back, and then have the Dolphins at home if Mixon were to sit an extra week. Although Mark Walton, a talented rookie out of The U, is expected to be active and could get some touches between the tackles, he shouldn't hinder much of Gio's proven fantasy value. Barring more injuries this weekend, Gio looks like the must-add waiver option for Week 3.
Ryan Tannehill Has “A Lot of Trust” in Kenny Stills, Will Expand Route Tree After Impressive Week 1
Highlighted in our Game Day Guide as a must-target Penny Stock, Kenny Stills made us look smart when he went off Week 1 for 106 yards and two touchdowns on four receptions. Both Adam Gase and his quarterback Ryan Tannehill praised their speedster, saying "there's a lot of trust there" between Stills and his quarterback. The trust has expanded so much that Stills might be asked to run a more advanced route tree, which will make him less of a boom-or-bust option. What's best about Stills' performance, is that even though he roasted Malcolm Butler on a deep ball, he scored his first touchdown from the slot on a quick out pattern. He's always going to utilize his deep speed, but for him to be more effective and less touchdown-dependent from a fantasy basis, the usage from the slot should get him more short and intermediate targets. "There’s [going to be] more underneath and there’s [going to be] more as far as receptions per game go, to where maybe instead of four catches for 100 yards, it might end up being like seven or eight catches, where there might be a couple of shorter throws in there," Tannehill said -- basically confirming an expanded route tree for Stills. With a limited number of weapons on the Dolphins offense, Stills is the perfect WR3/ Flex option from here on out.
Stash Ian Thomas Since Greg Olsen Fractured His Foot Again
Stop me if you've heard this before... Greg Olsen hurt his foot on Sunday. It's a re-fracture of his right foot, the same one that gave him so much trouble last season, and although he'll remain on the 53-man roster and thinks avoiding surgery is possible, he'll be out for at least a couple months. In his place steps Ian Thomas, a rookie 4th-rounder out of Indiana who had previously been deemed the "biggest surprise" of Panthers training camp. Thomas played just 2 seasons at Indiana after attending 2 years of community college, and after serving as primarily a blocking TE his junior year, he hauled in 25 passes for 376 yards and 5 TDs in his senior season. His stock rose significantly after Senior Bowl practices and an impressive showing at the combine, and he was already a candidate to possibly steal some targets from Olsen at some point this season. Now, with Olsen out indefinitely, he's primed to assume the top role. Panthers beat writers were gushing about Thomas in camp, praising his ability to consistently find open lanes in the secondary and pull down intermediate-length passes. He's about the same size as Olsen at 6'4" and 250 pounds, and head coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday that Thomas is "pretty well-prepared" to replace Olsen while he recovers. Scouts all seem to agree that Thomas is raw and definitely a work-in-progress, but the strength and the talent are there, and now the opportunity is there, too. Thomas is currently owned in just 4% of Yahoo leagues, and especially if you lost Olsen or Delanie Walker this week, could be a perfectly viable stash option at the increasingly thin tight end position.
Jimmy Graham Disappears While WRs Flourish… Typical Green Bay Offense
Jimmy Graham's Preseason Week 2 score duped me. Prior to this one catch, I was significantly lower than Graham on the "Expert Consensus Rankings" due to Green Bay's historic lack of TE Usage. However, I fell prey to the "6'7 Red Zone Monster & QB who puts the ball wherever he wants" Narrative... and it may have been a mistake. Though early, Graham hauled in a team-low 8 of Rodgers 286 yards (3%) while watching Randall Cobb (9-142-TD), Davante Adams (5-88-TD), and Geronimo Allison (5-69-TD) all explode. While he does indeed carry monstrous TD upside still, Graham is once again appearing like a score-or-bust option -- typical of Mike McCarthy's scheme. So much for Rodgers' praise of Graham: "If they see it how I see it, they’re probably going to get the ball." The stud QB has always preferred peppering his wideouts, and this was clearly the case in his heroic 24-23 comeback versus the Bears. Rodgers had previously said he expected to use Graham beyond the Red Zone, which could still be the case. But this effort wasn't promising. Meanwhile, Cobb was flatout dominant in the intermediate game. He racked up YAC all night, including the game-winning 75 yard TD, and seems to be a major cog in this attack. Once a "widely available" trade target, Cobb is looking like a major fantasy steal for owners who invested beyond Round 9. Adams also flashed his game-changing breakaway speed and Red Zone abilities, and seems likely to be pay off his WR1 price tag as long as Rodgers is under center. Even Allison has some real potential as the third option, as Green Bay's top-three WRs consistently have topped 80+ targets. This much pie from the league's best QB is well worth a Waiver Wire stab. All meaning to say, if Week One is any indication, Rodgers' chemistry remains far stronger with his WRs than TEs. Don't overreact and sell Graham for nothing, but the cause for concern is very high.
Jonnu Smith a Waiver Wire Fantasy Sleeper After Delanie Walker’s Injury
This Sunday in the never-ending battle versus Miami, Delanie Walker suffered a brutal, season-ending broken ankle that came with ligament damage. Though this is a tough blow for both the Titans and Walker's fantasy owners, there is one silver lining: athletic back-up TE Jonnu Smith will now have a chance to shine in Walker's absence. He becomes a must-target on the Waiver Wire for any fantasy football owners who lost Walker, Greg Olsen, or just want to take a depth stab at fantasy's thinnest position. When not being doused in boiling water, Jonnu Smith flashed some real upside at FIU. He led the nation in TE receiving in 2014 (61-710-8), before injuries and these "other mishaps" derailed his promising junior and senior seasons. Still, Smith put out plenty of quality tape, especially as a pass-catcher, with the scouting report reading: "Flashes an electric burst up the field and into his routes. Seam buster with ability to race over top of the linebacker and into a throwing window quickly. Plays fast. Talented, competitive runner after the catch. Mashes the gas and can run away from linebackers. Loose hips with slick lateral side step after the catch. Has ability to work on all three levels." The negatives include poor blocking and inconsistent hands, but only one of those is a concern for fantasy owners. New OC Matt LaFleur's offense is predicated on quick-strikes to generate YAC opportunities, which is exactly where Smith thrives. His "NFL Comparison" was, coincidentally, Delanie Walker, and Smith now has a massive chance to fill those shoes. Marcus Mariota did suffer an elbow injury, so QB Play could be a concern for Smith moving forward. Moreover, Smith is wholly unproven and much more of a "stash" type of Waiver Wire pick up. If you're scrambling for a starter, we'd definitely recommend pairing him with a higher-floor option like Ben Watson (NO - TE, 39%). Still, Smith's upside is monumental. If you have luggage and want a late pluck on the Week 1 Wire, give the new starting TE a long look.
Melvin Gordon Peppered in Pass Game, Confirms “Cheatcode” Fantasy RB Status
Anthony Lynn promised more receiving work for Melvin Gordon in 2018, and certainly kept his word in Week 1 versus the Chiefs. In true "Cheatcode" fashion, Gordon racked up an absurd 9 receptions for 102 yards, while also piling up 64 yards on the ground -- good for a 23.4 half PPR day without even touching the end zone. If redrafting today, Gordon would warrant legitimate Top-Five overall pick status, and seems bound for monstrous outputs each week .If redrafting today, Gordon would warrant legitimate Top-Five overall pick status, and seems bound for monstrous outputs each week. With a gaping target void over the middle following Hunter Henry's injury, Philip Rivers turned to his backs to pick up the slack. Gordon and Austin Ekeler combined for 189 receiving yards, and seem destined for prominent passing game volume each week. Gordon broke plenty of tackles and looked equally dangerous up the middle or getting to the outside. As PFF's Scott Barrett points out, targets are worth 2.74 times as much as a carry in PPR leagues, and Gordon seems destined for a huge bump here. While his talent may fall below the Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley, and David Johnson's, Gordon could see more work than any back in the NFL this year. This alone gives him "Cheatcode" upside, and should make owners who took him over target hogs like Odell Beckham or Julio Jones, or similar-priced RBs like Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey very happy.
Chris Thompson and Adrian Peterson Form Deadly 1-2 Fantasy Punch for Redskins
Despite suggesting he'd be less than 100 percent until November, Redskins RB Chris Thompson looked every bit of his explosive self to begin 2018. The RB12 in PPR points per game, Thompson once again burst past defenders as both a runner and receiver while racking up 128 total yards and a score on 11 touches. This included a team high in targets (7) and receptions (6), as Thompson displayed immediate chemistry with Alex "Check Down" Smith.  Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson continued his comeback from the crypt, hauling the ball 26 times for 96 yards while bursting free for 70 yards in the receiving game on 2 catches. Though he's a risk to wear down fast at 33-years old, Peterson looks rideable until the wheels fall off, especially in games the Redskins are favored. As predicted in our Preseason Wrap-up Guide, Thompson once again looks likely to be among fantasy's top bargains in 2018. He got open at will in this one, and Smith was laser-locked onto him the entire game. Consider him a quality RB2 from here on out as a gameflow-proof back with a high floor, high ceiling each week thanks to his immense versatility. He remains a long-term hold. Peterson, meanwhile, showed plenty of juice in his old legs. He tallied his 100th career rushing TD and seems the unquestioned early-down horse, with Samaje Perine nowhere to be found and Robert Kelley tallying just 3 carries. Indeed, Peterson benefited from an early lead, and is a major risk to disappear on weeks the Redskins are playing from behind. Moreover, he's unlikely to sustain for 16 weeks at his age, and seems like a classic sell-high. Perhaps wait a week, however, as he faces the baby poo-soft Colts next week and should once again approach 100 and a score.
The Broncos Injected a Creature Named Phillip Lindsay Into Royce Freeman’s Backfield
Broncos HC Vance Joseph said throughout camp that his backfield would "use two-to-three main backs." But after Royce Freeman stood out over the bust that is Devontae Booker, we thought the coast would be clear and we would have ourselves a rookie with legit RB1 upside. We thought wrong. Joseph stood by his word and inserted a versatile creature named Phillip Lindsay into Devontae Booker's role and gave the undrafted rookie 17 touches compared to Freeman's 15. Not ideal for Freeman owners. The 5-foot-8 speedster (4.38 40 at his Pro Day) rushed for 3,775 yards and 36 touchdowns on the ground, while snagging 117 receptions during his time at Colorado. The highly productive, yet undrafted runner showed off that same skill-set against the Seahawks when he carried the ball 15 times for 71 yards and then grabbed two balls for 31 yards and a score. On the other hand, Freeman looked very solid when he replicated the same 15 carry, 71 yard statline. Luckily for Freeman owners, it looks like these two could actually make quite the thunder and lightning combo. Freeman has the ability to be a three-down, 238 lb monster, but keeping him fresh throughout his rookie season might not be the worst thing after all. I still expect the former Oregon Duck to lead this backfield in carries and touchdowns, but he'll lose receptions to this waiver wire creature. Freeman continues to be a solid FLEX option, with Lindsay a must-add PPR option who possesses some pretty decent upside.
Deshaun Watson Looked Rusty in Week 1 Dud, Slides Down Rankings
The Deshaun Watson hype train was chugging along all offseason long as fantasy owners eagerly awaited his return from a torn ACL that cut his rookie season short. Watson was ranked 5th in ESPN's Preseason QB rankings and Yahoo had him 4th, but nobody was higher on him than our very own Wolf, who had him as his QB1 all offseason and was his QB3 for Week 1 against the Patriots. The results were... ugly. Watson completed just 17-of-34 attempts for a measly 176 yards, 1 TD, and 1 bad end zone INT.  Beyond his shoddy performance, Watson showed some signs that he may not be the fantasy savior we were expecting in his sophomore season. He looked a bit unsure moving on his surgically-repaired knee, taking off to run 8 times but only totaling 40 yards rushing, and he missed open receivers on more than one occasion. New England also didn't make life easy on him, putting him under duress on 23 of his 42 dropbacks, which is the highest pressure rate any QB has faced in the past 2 seasons. It's obviously too early to write Watson off as a total bust, and the impending return of Will Fuller V will certainly open things up a bit more downfield, but Sunday's performance certainly isn't what Watson owners were hoping for. Especially with the Texans facing the Jaguars twice this season (PFF's 2nd ranked pass rush) and a late-season matchup with the Eagles (PFF's #1 pass rush), the young QB will need to get used to being under pressure behind one of the league's worst offensive lines. Watson blamed his poor day on low energy and "overthinking little things" and assured that he'll turn things around in the coming weeks. But, if you used a high draft pick on the young QB, it may be beneficial to begin scouring the waiver wire for potential streaming options while he shakes off the rust.
LeSean McCoy and Bills Offense Disturbingly Bad in Week 1
Inept doesn't begin to describe just how bad the Buffalo Bills were to open 2018. The team mustered 3 hapless points, 10 overall first downs, and just 153 total yards while getting absolutely pummeled by the Baltimore Ravens. LeSean McCoy sank with this burning ship, taking 7 carries for 22 yards while adding one reception for -1 yards. Though the matchup was tough and the Bills can't be this bad every week, McCoy and the rest of this offense seem bound to underwhelm even more than the already-low expectations. As a high-mileage 30 year old, on a bad offense, behind a depleted offensive line, with piles of nagging injuries racked up over the years, McCoy entered 2018 with plenty of red flags. Still, many took the plunge at his Round 4+ ADP, as he still looked plenty shifty in 2017 and averaged the second most RB touches per game behind only Le'Veon Bell. Unfortunately, this is a glaring reminder that fantasy value does NOT boil down to just "Individual Talent" and "Usage," as so many experts would lead you to believe. Rather, "Coaching Scheme," "Surrounding Talent," "Risk," and "Upside" all need to be factored in, and McCoy could not grade any poorer in these categories. While injury is the only way McCoy's value can get any lower, no one can confidently recommend him as a "Buy Low." Perhaps the strong-armed Josh Allen will spark a hint of life into this offense, so if you can acquire him for a bag of chips, go for it. Otherwise, keep McCoy on the bench until we see any reason to play him.
George Kittle Getting Vertical, Skyrocketing Fantasy Upside
George Kittle's 5 catches and 90 yards against a tough Vikings defense were highly impressive. But these stats barely reflect the massive, season-changing upside he flashed in this contest. Coming off a shoulder injury, Kittle played 80% of the 49ers snaps, leading the team in targets (9), receptions, and yardage in the process. He ran a route on 33 of Jimmy Garoppolo's 38 dropbacks, as compared to Garrett Celek's meager 5. Meanwhile Kittle could've easily topped 200 yards and scored multiple TDs, as he dropped a surefire 80 yard TD, was overthrown while streaking open downfield for at least 30+ yards, and was missed while wide open on a four-yard end zone route.  Kittle's 4.52 forty is unfair for his 6'4", 247 lbs frame, and Kyle Shanahan sent him streaking in this one. Kittle averaged 13.1 yards per target, which just barely trailed Rob Gronkowski (13.4) for the position lead in Week One. Especially after Delanie Walker's season-ending ankle injury and Greg Olsen re-injuring his surgically repaired foot, Kittle is staring at a clear path to a Top-5 TE season. He's among Week 1's fastest risers, and should be heavily targeted in case his owners don't recognize just how much production was left on the field. Marquise Goodwin's questionable status only furthers Kittle's target-hog upside in Week 2.
Jordan Howard Receives Workhorse Treatment in Ascending Bears Offense, Verge of “Cheatcode” Status
Matt Nagy promised to use Jordan Howard as an "every-down back," and he kept his word in Week 1. Howard logged 50 of the team's 70 snaps (71%), received 15 of 20 carries (75%), saw 5 of 9 RB targets (55%). He ran more routes and saw more targets than Tarik Cohen, and, more importantly, Howard hauled in all five of his looks after topping RBs in drops. This included a number of difficult catches in stride, and though he didn't find the end zone, Howard racked up 107 total yards while looking like the offensive centerpiece of a clearly ascending Bears' attack.  Howard was also brilliant as a runner, often turning seemingly negative runs into chunk yardage with his trademark vision and power on some nasty cut backs. We preached about Howard's upside returning to a more shotgun-based offense, and his glove-like fit was evident here. With this extensive, more creative usage, Howard seems bound for his best season yet. This is especially true in Nagy's new, creative attack. Though they stalled after halftime, the Bears flashed some serious innovation, running a bevy of unique option runs, and moving the ball with ease on the Packers in the first half. Howard is among the league's most efficient short yardage runners, and the TDs are bound to follow in this ascending overall offense. Mitch Trubisky won't be without growing pains -- this was evident in a painfully stagnant second half -- but he also flashed some real upside as a runner and gunslinger throughout the game. The more comfortable he grows, the better this offense will click, and Howard's arrow is pointing right up with the entire unit.
Corey Davis Poised for Target Hog Duties With Delanie Walker Done for Season
There wasn't much to be excited about regarding the Titans dud of a season debut against the Dolphins. Corey Davis was certainly a silver lining to the clouds that loomed in Miami all day.  Davis was targeted 13 times against the Dolphins and managed to corral six of them for 62 yards.  Davis appears to be the lead pass-catcher in Matt LeFleur's potentially explosive offense, especially now that all-pro tight end Delanie Walker is done for the season with a dislocated ankle.  Davis may have only caught six of his 13 targets, but that's not entirely on him. Marcus Mariota injured his elbow and sat out most of the second half -- not to mention the weather certainly played a factor.  Mariota and Davis had a clear connection early on, as Davis had a quick four receptions. Davis was tackled inside the five and Mariota barely missed him on his other red zone target. His red zone targets should only increase with Mariota's No. 1 red zone option now done for the season. Davis is the clear target hog in this offense and provides a real nice floor with an explosive ceiling.  With the bump in red zone targets that Davis is likely to command, he oozes with upside. With the combination of poor weather and long delays, the Titans' offense struggled to gather a rhythm throughout the afternoon -- making Davis a perfect buy-low candidate.
Relax: Christian McCaffrey Underwhelms, Still Flashes Signs of Workhorse Upside
Yes, Christian McCaffrey's 10 carries compared to CJ Anderson's 7 seems like a cause for concern. If his owner is panicking, then use these stats and the RotoWorld note "McCaffrey isn't being used like the bell-cow coach Ron Rivera promised he'd be" to your advantage and buy low. McCaffrey still played on 86% of the Panthers snaps versus Dallas, the highest single-game percentage of his career. Moreover, he also outsnapped Anderson 8 to 4 in the Red Zone. He led the team in receptions (6) and yardage (45), while also gaining a steady 50 yards on his 10 carries, and should remain the engine of this offense. Most negative: McCaffrey fumbled a ball in the five yard-line, and saw only one of the Panthers' next seven red zone carries. Hopefully, and what I'm betting on: this is just a slap on the wrist, as McCaffrey ceded exactly 0 snaps or carries in the red zone to Anderson this entire preseason. He also only fumbled five times on 731 collegiate touches, and just twice on his 197 totes last year, suggesting this isn't a major long-term concern. He also played well, and is the current leader in PFF's Missed Tackles per Touch (via @ScottBarrettDFB) Thus, take a strong "Hold" if you own McCaffrey, and test the trade waters if his owner seems to be panicking a bit. He logged the third highest snap percentage of any back in Week One, and the usage seems bound to skyrocket. Hell, he carried the ball ten times in the first quarter of Dress Rehearsal week alone. This 13 FP effort was McCaffrey's floor.
Slot Slut: Emmanuel Sanders Dominant Preseason Play Carries Over Into Week 1, Massive Fantasy Upside
We've been ringing the Emmanuel Sanders Fantasy Alarm since he began dominating preseason slot snaps and Case "Slot Slut" Keenum's target share. On Week 1, narrative became reality as Sanders again logged 51% of his snaps out of the slot, and dominated once more. He logged team highs in targets (11), receptions (10), and yards (135) while also scoring on a beautiful 43-yard catch-and-run... out of the slot. As we explored all Preseason, Keenum relentlessly targeted Adam Thielen out of the slot in Minnesota. The Vikings WR's 25% slot target share led all WRs in 2017 (per PFF), and Thielen's 32% third-down target share trailed only Keenan Allen and tied DeAndre Hopkins. Meanwhile, we noted how Sanders accounted for 6 of Keenum’s 10 third down targets (60%), and 15 of 34 total throws (44%) — both tops among any WRs this preseason by a mile. This trend was no fluke, as Sanders was the dominant target hog to begin regular season play. Following injury marred 2017 in which he ran only 27% of his routes from the slot, Sanders' rebound is well underway. The "Surrounding Talent" upgrade was easy to note entering 2018, as Keenum's 95.4 QB Rating while targeting WRs last year was 11th best, compared to Trevor Siemian's 59.2 (second worst). Though the new-QB wasn't without his warts (3 interceptions), he dropped some dimes while racking up 329 yards and 3 TDs, and is clearly miles ahead of anything Sanders has played with since Peyton Manning. After three straight 1,000+ yard seasons prior to 2017, Sanders seems bound to return to form, perhaps beyond anything yet in his career.
Joe Mixon Strong Week 1 Impresses Marvin Lewis; Clear Bengals Bell Cow
Joe Mixon was one of the biggest Week 1 winners with his 22 touch, 149 yard breakout game against the Colts. Marvin Lewis was so impressed by Mixon's performance that he said he believes Mixon can average 25 touches per game. Mixon screams workhorse running back in this offense and is climbing up our rankings as a result.  Last season, the biggest knock on Mixon was his inefficiency as a runner. That appeared to head in the right direction at the end of last season, as Mixon averaged 5.01 yards per carry in his final four games. The turnaround appears to continue so far in 2018, as Mixon ran the ball 17 times for 95 yards (5.6 YPC) and a touchdown. What's more important is Mixon's usage rate out of the backfield. Fellow running back Gio Bernard only touched the ball twice, as Mixon commanded the rest (92 percent of touches). The former Sooner was on the field for 78 percent of the snaps, with 24 of those snaps coming in the passing game as a potential target.  Mixon's receiving role is secure in this offense, even with an explosive back, such as Bernard behind him.  Mixon might just be scratching the surface of his ceiling and could be on precipice of achieving fantasy "cheat code" status.
Dion Lewis Clear Best Fit for Matt LaFleur’s Scheme; Derrick Henry Plummeting in Fantasy
After failingly trying to establish Derrick Henry with the game's first 8 RB touches, the Titans turned the backfield reigns over to newcomer Dion Lewis. The diminutive dynamo didn't disappoint, netting 110 total yards and a TD on 21 touches (5 receptions), compared to just 31 yards on 11 touches (1 reception) for Henry. On the game, Lewis out-snapped Henry 70% to 30%, including all 14 third-downs and, most shockingly, 6 of the 8 Red Zone snaps. As the clear best fit for new OC Matt LaFleur's scheme, and with a massive target void in Delanie Walker's absence, Lewis skyrockets to high-end RB2 status. Meanwhile, Henry only touched the ball 3 times after the team's first two drives, and without a clear role -- especially with the loss of Red Zone work -- he's plummeting into unstartable territory.  If you hear the light playing of "Taps" in the distance and the sound of muffled cries, it's likely coming from fantasy owners at Henry's 2018 funeral. Outside of Lewis' admittedly sketchy injury history (played in only 14 of 32 games prior to last year), Henry's fantasy value feels quite hopeless after this one. You can't say you weren't warned -- in our Matt LaFleur breakdown, we noted how Lewis was the vastly superior fit for the new OC's goal of "merging the pass and run games."  In fact, we wrote, "If anyone were to flat-out steal this job, it'd be Lewis -- his versatility would is better-suited to create the unpredictability and fast-pace LaFleur craves." We just didn't expect this as early as Week One. Marcus Mariota's questionable status after an elbow injury is definitely concerning for this entire overall offense. Still, Lewis looks primed for a 60-70% usage rate behind one of the league's most athletic lines and amidst one of the screen-heaviest schemes. He could genuinely be an RB1 when all's said and done, and I'll be targeting him aggressively in trade talks for any owners still viewing this as a committee. And if you can get anything for the name value Henry provides, please do so. Immediately.
Le’Veon Bell, Who? James Conner is the Next DeAngelo Williams
With 'selfish' Le'Veon Bell holding out into the regular season, he's learning quickly that he's replaceable in the Steelers offense. After a beastly 36 touch, 192 yard and two touchdown performance, James Conner proved his teammate Maurkice Pouncey correct when he said, “A star is born every year in the NFL." Back in 2015 when DeAngelo Williams put up over 900 yards and 11 touchdowns, it showed that it might be the scheme and usage in Pittsburgh, and not solely the elite talent that Bell possesses. As long as Bell is sitting on his couch, Conner will continue to put up numbers. Playing in a driving rainstorm in the ruckus 'Dawg Pound,' Conner's 31 carries was one less carry than he had all of last season. He also played an iron man-esque 78-of-85 offensive snaps and had 100 percent of his team's carries. It's safe to say that the Steelers wanted to throw the second-year back into the fire during his first legit NFL action -- and he responded. Since 2015, Bell's primary backup (when starting) has basically replicated his statline and fantasy output. Bell has averaged 23.3 FPPG, while his replacement has averaged 22.0 FFPG. The best part (besides his obscene haircut) was how excited his teammates were for him when he scored his first career touchdown. Pouncey and Ramon Foster, the two linemen who were very vocal against Bell's holdout, went bananas when he reached the end zone. It's clear that not only the coaching staff, but the whole team is all-in on James Conner -- and you should be too. As long as he's on the field, he's a top-ten running back with top-five upside every single week.
Patrick Mahomes is the Real Fantasy Football Deal, Deadly Rapport with Tyreek Hill Continues
If the Roto Street Journal had one "Poster Boy" for 2018, it'd be Patrick Mahomes. He made The Wolf look far smarter than he actually is by completing 15-of-27 throws for 256 yards and 4 TDs and 0 INTs, all while adding 21 yards on the ground. More importantly, Mahomes and Tyreek Hill maintained their scorching Preseason Rapport, as the pair hooked up for a 7-of-8, 169 yard, 2 TD line, while Hill also added a 91 yard punt return. These numbers are even gaudier when compared to "WR Competition" Sammy Watkins, who hauled in 3-of-5 targets for a meager 21 yards. Hopefully you read our Preseason Wrap Up. Including preseason, Hill has been in on 104 first team snaps as compared to 118 for Watkins. Yet, the production differential is staggering: Hill: 21 receptions on 24 targets (87.5%) for 352 yds and 3 TDs Watkins: 3 catches on 12 targets (25%) for 35 yds, 0 TDs and 1 INT Simply put, Hill is a dominant WR1 who fell to Round 3 in drafts for needless volume concerns. This 2018 chemistry and usage is even better than last year, where Hill shocked the world (other than us) and finished as the No.4 WR in Standard Leagues. He could threaten for No.1 overall status, and would deserve Round 1 consideration if drafting today. Meanwhile, Mahomes, the engine of this attack, looked as deadly as predicted. He flashed the cannon arm on his 59-yard TD bomb to Hill. He bought extra time in the pocket all night. He benefited from the cheap points that come from Andy Reid's love for shovel passes in the Red Zone. Plus, Mahomes was used plenty on designed runs and QB-options. RotoWorld apparently hasn't subscribed fully yet, suggesting he "could rapidly become an every-week QB1." We've locked him into this status this since January, and Mahomes only validated our faith. Mahomes could genuinely threaten for elite Top-5 status considering his natural talent, the creative play-calling, and this explosive weaponry. My QB9 entering the year, Mahomes rises to my QB5 in my "Rest of Season Rankings," with Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees as the only clear options to go before him.
Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas May Be Unstoppable in Fantasy as Saints D Regresses
Despite a promising 2017, the Saints Defense took a major step backwards against... the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Bucs. New Orleans shockingly lost 48-40 in a thrilling shootout, surrendering 529 total yards in the process. With the defensive regression, Drew Brees and the passing game were leaned upon heavily, and encouragingly exploded. Brees went 37/45 (82%!) for 439 yards and 3 scores yet somehow lost. In the process, Mike Thomas redefined "Target Hog," hauling in an absurd 16-of-17 looks for 180 yards and 1 TD, while Alvin Kamara looked every bit his "Cheatcode" self, totaling 141 yards, 3 TDs, and 9 receptions.  If these defensive woes aren't corrected fast, Brees, Kamara, Thomas and this passing game will explode like the Saints of yesteryear. Keep in mind, the Saints are notoriously slow-starters on defense. They've allowed 529, 555, and 486 yards in their past three home openers, and were demolished during an 0-2 start last year. Moreover, they supposedly upgraded their d-line and could easily rebound. But if they don't? Look out. Before last season, the Saints passing game had to always lug their dead weight defense every season. In fact, the Saints ranked Top-5 in Passing Attempts in 9 of 10 seasons under Sean Payton, and had always finished in the Top-5 in passing yardage. Moreover, Brees hadn't dipped below 32 passing TDs since 2008. A revamped rushing attack and strong defense changed this last year, and the Saints would like to maintain this balance... but may be forced to alter those plans. Fitzpatrick may be the worst QB they face all year, and he just tore them limb-by-limb. As such, Thomas will be an absolute monster worthy of No.1 Fantasy Consideration. 16 receptions on 17 targets is insanity, both from a volume and efficiency standpoint. Meanwhile, Kamara will remain an absolute monster. He was in on 81% of the Saints' snaps, which trailed only James Conner (92%) and Ezekiel Elliott (92%), while his previous career high was 64.8%. Yes, Mark Ingram's absence obviously played a role, but Kamara's usage feels unlikely to change if the team is in constant catch-up mode. Even better - Kamara ran 18 routes while line up at WR, and 37 total routes -- 17 more than Tyreek Hill (via @ScottBarrett). He's truly unstoppable with such varied, unique usage. While the Saints' passing game has always been legendary, it's also never been so concentrated to two weapons. Thomas and Kamara are already Round 1 studs, but will be true season-winners if these defensive deficiencies aren't fixed.
Matt Ryan Targeted Julio Jones 19 Times vs Eagles, But Still a Mess in Red Zone
It was clear against the Eagles that Matt Ryan will be targeting stud WR Julio Jones heavily throughout the 2018 season. Although he didn't find the end zone (surprise, surprise), Jones corralled 10 of 19 targets for 169 yards -- which totaled a game-high 23 fantasy points (.5 PPR) on the night. If Thursday night's opener was any indication of what the Falcons' offense will look like this year, Julio Jones' owners will be very happy. Although Julio dominated between the 20s, Ryan and Jones could once again not get on the same page in the red zone. Ryan was abysmal in that area, going 1-9 with an interception and 0-3 (INT) when targeting Jones in the red zone. Dating back the last two seasons, Ryan is 1-20 when targeting his Alpha Target Hog in the red area. How does that even happen? Being optimistic, Jones had a great night and his stock should be on the rise as he gets a few extra days of rest before they get the Panthers at home next weekend. Jones' night would have been even better if the NFL could figure out their own catch rule, as the refs overturned a clear 51-yard reception. He could have had a vintage Julio 200-yard game in Week 1 against one of the league's best defenses! It's clear offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and Matt Ryan are going to try to get the ball into their playmaker's hands (on pace for an absurd 304 targets) -- now let's get him in the end zone.
Shots Fired: ‘Selfish’ Le’Veon Bell Continues Holdout, James Conner Poised to Start Week 1
We did not see this coming. Le'Veon Bell has extended his hold out into Week 1 and his teammates are not happy with him -- to say the least. But as we know in this league, if you aren't going to show up (especially as a RB), the team will plug in the next guy and the show will go on. Maurkice Pouncey said it best when he described the situation: "A star is born every year in the NFL. Did anyone know Kareem Hunt would be an All-Pro before last season? If James Conner didn't have cancer, he'd have been a first round pick. Just watch him." As of right now, The Wolf has given Conner an extensive boost in his Week 1 Rankings, up to his RB13 (+24 vs the ECR). While dropping Bell down to 27 overall on his Big Board and completely off of his Week 1 Rankings. In most hold out situations, the player will skip training camp while they're disgruntled, then show up once game checks are on the line. But, it looks like Bell's hold out is for real. In an interview with NFL Live, Bell's agent said, "he's going to do the things necessary to protect his value long-term." This not only sounded like he's going to skip out on Week 1, but he could hold out for the foreseeable future -- possibly up to Week 10. “Why play hide and seek? Why let your agent say this? Just man up and tell us what you’re going to do," Pouncey responded. Obviously Bell is extremely hard to trust right now and Conner needs to be added on all formats (currently 61% owned on Yahoo). The former Pitt Panther is a three-down back who doesn't possess elite athleticism, but will go hard on every snap. Conner was named to PFF's All-Preseason Team after he racked up 100 yds and a TD on 19 carries. The Steelers have three favorable matchups to start the season with the Browns, Chiefs and Bucs.
Antonio Gates Returns to Chargers, Immediately Deserves Top-12 Fantasy Football TE Consideration
On the eve of the 2018 Fantasy Season, Antonio Gates has returned to the Chargers. Despite being 38-year olds and a shell of his former self, the move gives owners who punted TE an immediate No.1 option, and creates enormous late-round value for those still to draft. The scheme familiarity and Philip Rivers love for targeting his TEs, especially in the Red Zone, gives Gates immense 2018 upside -- especially with Hunter Henry unfortunately done for the season. In two games without Henry last year (Weeks 16-17), Gates caught 10 balls for 127 yards a score -- good enough for the most FPs among TEs in that span. Moreover, in his last season without Henry (2015 - 11 GP), Gates was on pace for 81 catches, 916 yards, and 7 TDs. This would've produced 174.1 FPs (1/2 PPR) and trailed only Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce in 2017, while ranking 4th in PPG (11.0) behind those two + Zach Ertz. Though his own Individual Ability may be sapped, the opportunity remains ripe for fantasy production. Henry and Gates combined would have been the TE3 last year. Meanwhile, per ESPN, Rivers ranks 2nd in targets, 2nd in TDs, and 4th in yards when targeting tight ends the last three years. Last year, Gates and Henry combined for 51.4% of Rivers' looks inside the 10, and now Gates should see the vast majority of looks in here. Simply put, though he himself is marginal, Gates is now in the TE Goldmine he's always benefited from. This creates very ripe Top-12 Upside, which is exactly where Gates lands on my latest Big Board.
Alfred Morris and Matt Breida Fantasy Football “Must-Adds” Following Jerick McKinnon’s
49ers RB Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL making a cut on the final play of Saturday's practice, and will now miss all of 2018. This is a devastating blow to both the 49ers, who made McKinnon the fourth-highest paid RB in the league, as well as fantasy owners who burned a third or even second rounder to secure his huge upside. The team will now turn to the newly-signed Alfred Morris and sophomore Matt Breida to shoulder the backfield load in a committee. While neither come with McKinnon's Top-10 ceiling, they are both immediate must-adds in leagues that have already drafted, and should shoot up Big Boards for those who haven't yet. Kyle Shanahan's scheme creates enormous upside no matter who's on the field (three straight Top-10 RBs, five of last six Top-15) and either back could explode in 2018. But who to target? Likely to shoulder the heavier part of the rushing load, Morris is the RB fantasy owners should turn to first. He benefits from long-term familiarity and a terrific feel for Shanahan's outside zone-blocking scheme after two years together in Washington; Shanahan handpicked Morris in 2012 as a late-round rookie, and the bruiser rumbled for a whopping 335 carries, 1,613 yards, and 13 TDs. This was followed by a less beastly, but still impressive 276 carries, 1,275 yards, and 7 TDs in 2013. In his 49ers debut, Morris looked to have plenty of juice even at 29-years old. He took 17 carries for a bruising 84 yards (4.94 YPC), and should be fresh after serving as a backup in Dallas the last two years. Simply put, Morris is a bell-cow style back who gets better the more he's fed, and is now in line for 15-20 weekly carries in his ideal blocking scheme, including goalline work in an above-average offense. This gives him real 8-10 TD upside to go alongside his 800-1,000 yard ceiling. He's risen to 70 overall and RB28 in my latest rankings. Meanwhile, long-slated for the “Tevin Coleman-role,” Brieda brings game-changing 4.39 speed and strong vision to the table. He was already slated for 8-10 weekly looks with McKinnon healthy, and should see this number get a slight increase now in his absence. He’s the higher-ceiling RB target here, as Breida mirrors McKinnon’s freakish athleticism more closely, and already showed well with 465 yards on 105 rushes last year (4.4 YPC). If Morris wears down or isn’t offering much early on, the team could turn to Breida for extensive work, and he has the rushing skill-set to do serious damage -- sending him to 108 overall and RB38 in my rankings, just behind James White.  Both Morris and Breida have capped ceilings, however, due to a lack of pass-catching ability, which is crucial for true three-down work in Shanahan’s scheme. Morris averages under 12 receptions a game, while Breida graded out as PFF's 45th best pass-catching back with a subpar 51.0 receiving grade. Regardless, expect the 49ers to roll out a committee backfield that still comes with immense fantasy upside thanks to Shanahan’s wildly successful ZBZ, with Morris the preferred target around Round 6, and Breida still sexy in Round 9-10. For a more in-depth breakdown, check out our Featured Piece here.  
Ronald Jones’ Preseason Performance Was Pathetic; Peyton Barber Cements Bucs RB1 Job
I haven't completely thrown in the towel on my (pre-draft) RB4 of the rookie class, but I can admit that I have been wrong about Ronald Jones so far. To quote his coach Dirk Koetter, his preseason performance "wasn't pretty." At all. The former Trojan finished his four game preseason stretch with 22 yards on 28 CARRIES (0.8 yards per carry)! How the hell is that even possible? He wasn't able to fall forward to gain a yard a few more times? Currently The Wolf's 126th overall player (-20 vs ECR, -37 ADP), and falling, Jones is nothing more than a late-round flier who can be stashed at the end of your bench.  The Bucs' offensive line won't be confused with the healthy Cowboys' line or even the Eagles' terrific line, but for a player who possesses Jones' elite explosion and home-run hitting ability, his longest carry of the preseason was a measly and pathetic FIVE YARDS. It's mind-boggling. "Again, when you have bad running plays, rarely is it one guy's fault. Sometimes it is, but rarely. It's a combination of things," Koetter explained. "I know from Ronald's standpoint, it's not at all from lack of effort, or from him not knowing what he's doing. Okay? So I know there's been a little undercurrent out there about him not knowing the playbook and I want to make sure I'm real clear on that. That is not an issue.'' Koetter, like the rest of us, seemed baffled by Jones' debut, "I saw it in practice. But we weren't able to get it going during the game for whatever reason. I don't have a good answer for you." But what's even more baffling is Peyton Barber's current ADP, which is 103 overall. Per usual, we are ahead of the curve, ranking him 20 spots higher and featuring him in our Draft Day Guide. Barber might not be the most talented back in the league, but he'll get the job done when necessary.
A Recovering Alshon Jeffery Will Miss “At Least” First 2 Games of Eagles Season
ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that WR Alshon Jeffery is going to miss "at least" the first two games of the season.  Jeffery is coming off surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and the Eagles don't see any benefit to rushing him back.  Schefter continues to report that Jeffery is expected to be activated off the PUP list this weekend and that he "could" return by Week 3.   Jeffery is coming off a big bounce back season after struggling through injuries, mixed with inconsistent production with the Bears. In fact, Jeffery finished the season as the WR21 in PPR scoring despite reportedly playing the entire season with his shoulder issue. This news is making Jeffery's stock value take a bit of a tumble.  Prior to this news, Jeffery was being drafted as the WR27 in PPR scoring.  This seems to be a little rich given he only finished six spots higher last season despite playing all 16 games.  In his absence, speedy slot receiver Nelson Agholor and deep ball burner Mike Wallace should both receive more opportunity in this offense. It was also speculated on Tuesday that the Eagles might mix in more two-TE sets with Zach Ertz and rookie Dallas Goedert. With a current ADP of 67, I'd recommend looking elsewhere for a WR2.  Jeffery owners would be best served to just stay put and wait for him to return.
Doug Baldwin “Will Never Be 100%” in 2018, Fantasy Risk Growing
Just as Doug Baldwin began climbing the rankings with beat writers reporting he was “close to a full return," this unfortunate news broke. In a post-practice interview, Baldwin said his injured knee “will never be 100 percent this season.” Moreover, he estimated he’s around 80-85 percent healthy and something he’ll be dealing with throughout the season. Though his upside remains monumental, his risk has certainly grown. This injury lingering was our biggest fear when the injury news broke. Indeed, Baldwin’s upside remains sky-high because he’s a talented, gutsy player who’s fought through injuries before. More importantly, he’s staring at a massive target void. Fellow pass-catchers Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson departed for Green Bay and Washington respectively, which opened up oodles of targets (175, 32% target share), especially in the Red Zone (37 of 73, over 50% tgts). On this roster, Baldwin is the only weapon with established red zone chemistry with Wilson. Recall: Baldwin finished 2015 (his last without Graham) with 14 total TDs, including an NFL-record 12 over an eight week span to close out the season. Baldwin logged 15 of his 17 RZ Targets in this span, hauling in 9 looks that included 6 RZ TDs, trailed only Antonio Brown among WRs for scoring. Thus, the ceiling is humongous… but the risk is now much higher too. Baldwin’s finished as the WR11, WR8, and WR10 despite never topping 125 targets in his last three campaigns, and if his knee can hold up, he’s set for the most volume of his career. But that’s now a major if, making him a major dice roll in Round 3.  
Jamaal Williams “Poised To Have A Big Year” With Packers, Solid Buy-Low Candidate
Jamaal Williams is by all accounts the week one starter for the Green Bay Packers.  Any starting running back in an Aaron Rodgers lead offense has major value and high upside, and Williams is no exception. Last season the Packers averaged 24.1 rushes per game and McCarthy has a long track record of featuring one back.  Head coach Mike McCarthy clearly has a lot of faith in Williams to be able to deliver. When asked, McCarthy said, "I think we'll be talking about him at the end of the season as a second-year player that's made the jump." McCarthy saw Williams as a more reliable, consistent back capable of being a true bell cow.  Last season Williams didn't make many big plays but displayed consistent production, adequate catching out of the backfield, and good pass protection.  With fellow running back Aaron Jones suspended the first two weeks for a substance abuse violation Williams is going to get a ton of work.  Last season Williams averaged a 3.6 yards per carry but did produce four touchdowns on the ground and two in the passing game.  At his current ADP of 78, Williams is an absolute steal.  We have him ranked a little lower at 81 but as the season gets closer look for his stock and his price tag to rise.  Williams is an excellent buy low candidate now before he gets too expensive.
Sony Michel Returns to Patriots Practice, Hopefully Ready For Week 1
Sony Michel has finally returned to practice.  Michel has yet to be cleared for full duty and remains practicing on a limited basis. Patriots RB coach Ivan Fears said Michel hasn't been "totally freed up for us to do everything with him." Fears went on to praise what he has seen of Michel when he said that Michel has been "what we expected him to be." Fears also said he expects Michel to "come back ready to go." As it stands Michel has a legitimate chance to suit up week one which is great news for his fantasy outlook.  Head coach Bill Belichick doesn't have a history of babying his players if they're active.  If Michel is indeed rolled out there week one, look for the Patriots to utilize him like they would normally.  Look for Michel to receive a split of the backfield with fellow running back Rex Burkhead.  Michel has an ADP of 71 but we are a little more concerned about the risk surround his knee issues, so we have him ranked 80 overall.  This news certainly helps Michel's fantasy outlook and will likely provide his stock with a little boost, but it also throws a wrench into the always tough Patriots backfield.  Michel might be worth buy low consideration and is worth a steal in the eighth round.
Chris Godwin Continues to Take Advantage of Every Opportunity, Firmly on Penny Stock Radar
There's an elite-athletic wide receiver down in Tampa who is ready to take the next step and fill the outside role across from Mike Evans -- and it's not DeSean Jackson. It's former Penn State and second-year wide receiver, Chris Godwin. "Last year I was a little bit under the radar, and I'm fine with that,'' Godwin said. "It allowed me to prepare as if I'm a starter, so you saw when I got my opportunities, I was able to take advantage.'' And thus far this preseason, he has more than taken advantage, posting a 14-155-2 statline. With DeSean Jackson moving to the slot and Godwin taking advantage of every chance he's been given, he will be the starter across from Mike Evans. During the Bucs dress rehearsal, the starters were given 35 snaps against the Lions. Godwin had one less snap (24) than the leader (Adam Humphries) and six more than Jackson. He finished with 27 yards on three receptions from Jameis Winston, highlighted by an incredible, Randy Moss-like catch over shut-down corner Darius Slay. This contested catch was no fluke though, as wide receiver expert Matt Harmon charted a 85.7 percent contested catch rate for Godwin in college, which was the second-best percentage over the last three seasons. This should not be a surprise to anyone though, as Godwin was prolific at Penn State, totaling 2,421 yards and 18 touchdowns on 154 receptions. Not only did Godwin rip up the Big Ten, but he also dominated the NFL Combine. According to DraftKings, the elite NFL wide receivers stack up like this: they're at least 6-foot-0, at least 205 pounds, sub-4.50 speed, at least 35-inch vertical and at least 120-inch broad jump. The only player who checked off each box in the 2017 rookie WR class? Chris Godwin. The Bucs WR is currently tending upward as our WR54. Add him to your Penny Stock list.
Alfred Morris Rumbles in 49ers Debut and Return to Kyle Shanahan’s Scheme (Fantasy Football Sleeper)
Newly acquired Alfred Morris looked like his old bulldozing, workhorse self versus the Colts, taking 17 carries for 84 yards (4.94 YPC) in his first 49ers start. Morris is likely to play behind both Jerick McKinnon and Matt Brieda, who both sat with respective knee and shoulder injuries. Still, he's dominated in Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme before, and would carries huge upside in the case McKinnon and/or Brieda's injuries linger. Moreover, Morris brings a different "power element" to this backfield as compared to the quicker McKinnon and Brieda. He could certainly carve out a short yardage / goalline hammer standalone role, in addition to his value as one of the highest upside handcuffs in the game. In 2012 as a late-round rookie handpicked by Shanahan, Morris supplanted the nominal starter after a studly preseason. That season, he rumbled for a whopping 335 carries, 1,613 yards, and 13 TDs. This was followed by a less beastly, but still impressive 276 carries, 1,275 yards, and 7 TDs in 2013. Indeed, those are light years ago, but Morris looked plenty fresh in spot-start duty with the Cowboys, ranking No. 7 of 47 RBs in Football Outsiders' Rushing Success Rate last season, and No. 4 of 53 in PFF's yards after contact per attempt. Shanahan, who again isn't afraid for last-second backfield switches (as Morris himself proved in Washington), was highly complimentary of his new-back's performance: “I was real pleased with how Alf ran the ball...We could start seeing it during the week of practice, he was running the ball well and our O-line was blocking well. I was very excited how it carried over to the game... I was real happy with that group as a whole.” Currently undrafted, Morris' handcuff value alone makes him worth a late round "Penny Stock" dart throw. With the ability to carve out a standalone short yardage role amidst a crew of smaller backs, combined with his past dominance under Shanahan, the upside is far higher than most would think. Meanwhile, McKinnon's risk continues growing, as a potential GL Vulture has now emerged behind him, as well as someone capable of shouldering the load if he falters.
Rex Burkhead “Focal Point” of Patriots Juggernaut, Fantasy’s Ultimate Risk / Reward
Indeed, Rex Burkhead's "slight knee tear" is extremely  concerning, especially after his struggles staying on the field last season. Yet, the Atlantic's Jeff Howe reminded us just how much reward is attached to this risk, suggesting the Patriots are simply being "overcautious" with Burkhead to preserve him as the offensive "focal point."  Originally one of our "Must Buy Bargains" in our Preseason Kickoff, Burkhead's price has steadily risen  (ADP = 72, ECR = 60) in light of Sony Michel's knee surgery. Surprisingly, this price has remained steady despite the reports on his knee tear, and his rumored "centerpiece" role should do nothing but increase this. Deservedly so. Burkhead's upside is astronomical, especially if he's as featured as these reports suggest. Given his versatility, combined with gaping holes in the Patriots WR corps, Burkhead should indeed see heavy volume for as long as he holds up. Most valuable, Burkhead is dominant in short yardage situation. He notched 8 TDs in only 10 contests (13 TD pace), 7 of which came in the 6 weeks following New England's Week 9 Bye (Weeks 10-15, RB9 in this span). Burkhead was tied for third in the league in touches inside of the 5-yard line over this eight game run, handling seven of the 10 backfield carries in that area of the field for the Patriots. He was also highly effective with those touches, converting five for touchdowns. Yet, this "focal point" role may be more based on his receiving ability. Burkhead ran a pass route on 55.4 percent of his snaps, which ranked as the 10th highest rate at his position. Moreover, he was targeted on 33.3 percent his routes, which ranked tied for third behind only Tarik Cohen and Alvin Kamara. Bald-n-sexy may be even more involved as a pass-catcher with far more "Aerial Pie" available in New England than ever before.  Thus, I fully buy these "focal point" reports. For as long as Burkhead holds up, I expect him to yield Top-15 weekly stats. The major question is: how long can a "slightly torn" knee withstand an NFL punishment, especially on a back who's already struggled staying on the field? Regardless, pairing Burkhead in the 6th with Sony Michel in the 9th is an incredible fantasy investing strategy, as if/when Rex goes down, you'll have the likely next man-up.
Slimmer Leonard Fournette Continues Flashing 3-Down Ability, Set to Explode
For the second straight week, a slimmed-down Leonard Fournette flashed both his high-TD and newfound receiving upside. Facing the Falcons, Fournette took 10 carries for 57 yards and a score, while also racking up 3 catches for 18 yards. Most importantly, he's been in on 9 of the team's last 13 third downs (69%), racking up 5 catches for 35 yards in that span. Between the weight loss, the added receiving work, and an improved line, all of Fournette's fantasy stars are aligning for a massive sophomore campaign that builds upon his impressive rookie debut.  Up to 137 total yards (4.9 per touch) and 2 scores on the preseason, Fournette's shaping up to be a true difference maker. Shedding pounds has often helped RBs make major leaps, especially in the pass-game. Just last year Carlos Hyde dropped 15 and saw his receiving spike from 27 rec and 163 yds to 59 rec and 350 yds, while Le’veon Bell ascended to the elite in his sophomore campaign after losing 20 lbs (45 rec + 399 yds to 83 rec + 854 yds). Based on his preseason receiving usage, Fournette seems bound for an additional 20+ catches, especially after the team just lost a top target in Marquise Lee. After topping double-digit points in 11 of 13 games played, expected Fournette's floor to be even safer with this improved usage and line. Health is the only real risk here -- admittedly, fairly large considering Fournett'es troublesome history with ankle and foot ailments. Still, the Talented sophomore seems primed for yet another leap forward after a top-10 campaign (despite missing 3 games) that saw him average 17+ FPs per contest. With health, Fournette could truly push for Ezekiel Elliott style numbers, and rises up to No.8 (above Melvin Gordon) on my latest Big Board.
Kenyan Drake Continues Impressive Preseason Play, Ensuring Heavy Usage Despite “Committee”
Though the Dolphins continue hyping up Frank Gore's corpse and a committee backfield approach, Kenyan Drake's dominant Preseason play may force them to reconsider. Most recently, the former 'Bama back racked up 68 total yards on just 5 touches versus Baltimore, and has now taken 15 preseason carries for 102 yards (6.8 YPC), while racking up 5 catches and 47 yards in the receiving game. Dating back to last season's epic stretch run, Drake  has consistently flashed more than enough "Individual Talent" to supersede his glaring "Surrounding Talent" and "Usage" question marks. He comes with enormous upside as an RB2. Constantly overshadowed at Alabama, Drake has never been a true "Bell Cow." Following Damien Williams' Week 12 injury, however, Drake flashed his workhorse potential, shouldering 20+ touches for three straight weeks (13-15) and scoring as the RB4 in this span. His 444 rushing yards during this final five weeks led the league. More importantly, he posted the most yards after contact per attempt (4.29) ever recorded by PFF -- highly necessary, considering his line graded as the worst run-blocking in the league.  This preseason, Drake's again flashed the ability to transcend what appears to be a "Fantasy Wasteland" situation. He continues escaping congested situations with his insane ability to first make tacklers miss and then zip up the field in a hurry. He's been used on a multitude of pass-routes, from deep flies and wheels, to screens and short hitches. Plus, maybe the Dolphins offense isn't quite the Dumpster Fire we expect. Returning QB Ryan Tannehill went 11-of-16 for 115 and a TD while leading consecutive scoring drives in the preseason dress rehearsal, and finishes the preseason at 29-of-39 (74%), 247, and a TD with 0 turnovers. The Dolphins have acquired the right YAC WRs to execute Adam Gase's screen-heavy attack, and the results are promising. All-in-all, after being one of our "Overpriced" Players to begin the Preseason, Drake's forcing us to reconsider. Even if Gore's worked in, Drake's averaging 7.5 yards a touch and should do plenty of damage even if just on 15ish weekly looks. And that's just the floor. In Drake’s favor, Gase has historically ridden a true workhorse and facilitated monstrous backfield production, even if he claims to never want to ride a single guy for 25 carries a game. From 2013-2016, Gase facilitated four straight RB1 campaigns: Knowshon Moreno finished as the 2013 RB4 with 1586 Yards from Scrimmage (YFS) to pair with 13 total TDs CJ Anderson racked up nearly 1200 yards and 10 total TDs in only seven 2014 starts Matt Forte tallied 1287 YFS and 7 TDs in just 13 games in 2015 Jay Ajayi hit 1423 YFS and 8  TDs in 12 2016 starts. Thus, Drake's floor feels fairly secure thanks to his efficiency and ability to make plays amidst a horrid situation. The ceiling is also astronomical if Father Time finally catches Gore, or Gase realizes just how special Drake is and returns to his workhorse ways.
Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, Donte Moncrief and ASJ now have Clearer Path to Targets
8/27 Update: Marquise Lee has been placed on Injured Reserve Potential No.1 Jaguars WR Marquise Lee was carted off the field Saturday night, and the injury appears serious. Though unfortunate for Lee, this makes a cloudy "Aerial Pie" just a little clearer with one less mouth to feed. Keelan Cole, last year's leading receiver as an UDFA, seems likely to benefit the most, though athletic and explosive freaks like Dede Westbrook, Donte Moncrief, and Austin Seferian Jenkins all stand for a target bump and increased consistency as well. Already a "Penny Stock" in our 2018 Preseason Kickoff GuideCole is now even more attractive with a 15+ Round ADP. He hasn't been lighting the stat-sheet on fire this preseason, but he's dominated first-team snaps. On 53 pass plays, Cole has logged 42 (78%), as compared to 31 for Moncrief (58%) and 26 for Westbrook (49%).  A year after topping the team with 748 yards and 3 TDs, Cole seems destined to step into the clear No.1 role now with his main competition removed. Plus, after (shockingly) ranking 5th in Total Offensive Points in 2017 (26.1 PPG), the Jaguars are reportedly ready to hit the gas pedal even further in Year 2 of OC Nathaniel Hackett's attack. Blake Bortles is reportedly now “fully pain-free,” and feels as though he is now “owning the offense” in his second season, allowing him to think less and play freer. Consequently,  Hackett is promising  a "more aggressive" Year 2 attack as he now feels a “you can trust that Blake is going to make the right decision more consistently.” This is perfect for Cole, as well as Moncrief, Westbrook, and ASJ, who can all  streak down the field with the best of them. Cole is my favorite of the bunch, especially after flatout dominant run to close 2017 (eerily similar to 2017 breakout Adam Thielen). In the last four weeks of 2017, Cole went 3-49-1 TD (Wk 13 v IND), 3-99-1 TD (Wk 14 v SEA), 7-186-1 TD (Wk 15 v HOU), and 6-108 (Wk 16), finishing as the No.2 WR in all of fantasy in this time span. Still, any of the bunch is worth a stab, as they all drip in ability and fall to the last rounds of fantasy drafts, and any one of them could emerge as the passing-game's main vein. 
Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill Clearly Pat Mahomes’ Top Target, Set to Explode Even Further
As has been abundantly clear this preseason, Tyreek Hill remains the Chiefs' top WR and has, by far, the best rapport with new QB Patrick Mahomes. During "Dress Rehearsal" Week versus the Bears, Hill hauled in all 8 of his targets for 88 yards, dominating at every layer of the field as the clear engine of this passing attack. On the Preseason, Hill has caught all of his team-high 14 targets (33% of Mahomes throws) for 183 yards and 1 TD. By stark contrast, "competition" Sammy Watkins has seen 7 looks, hauling in just 1 for 15 yards with one drop and one going for an interception. If Watkins can be credited with one positive, he's kept Hill's ADP (28) and ECR (30) in the third round -- a major bargain, considering he's 22 overall on my own Big Board, above Mike Evans. Hill seems to be even more involved in his third season, running the entire route tree and shaking free far more often than any other pass-catcher. He'll undoubtedly benefit from Mahomes' cannon arm and ability to buy time in the pocket, as was glaringly evident on Week 2's 69-yard TD bomb. With a stronger arm under center and an expanded underneath role, Hill's set to build upon his 75 - 1,183 - 7 TD line and WR4 (STD) finish last season. Thank Watkins as you steal Hill in Round 3 of every draft.
Eric Ebron is Building a Connection With Andrew Luck, Snags Touchdown on 5 Targets
It just so happens after our episode of The Fantasy Fullback Dive with Eliot Crist, where he called Colts TE Eric Ebron one of his most undervalued tight ends -- he caught all five of his targets for 54 yards and a score during their dress-rehearsal game. Ebron has been building a rapport with Andrew Luck and has potentially overtaken Jack "The Beanstalk" Doyle as Luck's primary tight end.  Ebron's pass-catching potential and athleticism have never been the question mark with the talented tight end, it's been his lack of consistency, his dropped passes and lack of focus or effort that has made him a semi-bust. New HC Frank Reich's tight end heavy scheme could be just the thing that revives Ebron's career and untaps his full potential. Coming from the Eagles who utilized Zach Ertz and Trey Burton to their full potentials, it's safe to say Ebron will be used all over the formation by Reich. He'll be lined up in the slot or even split out as a receiver, while Doyle is on the line of scrimmage. Colts TE coach Tom Manning “had tapes of Zach Ertz last year, Antonio Gates (in San Diego) and (Trey) Burton over there in Philadelphia,” OC Nick Sirianni recalled. “He had so many little stats and tapes put together. (It was) about treating (Ebron) the right way. He is a phenomenal talent so we would be foolish not to want him on our team.” Ebron has been a disappointment thus far in his career, but if he's going to blow up anywhere, it's under Reich.
The Electric Tre’Quan Smith Continues to Dazzle, Drips High-Upside Penny Stock Potential
When Saints insider Nick Underhill joined The Fantasy Fullback Dive last week, he couldn't stop gushing about rookie wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith. Underhill described him as a player who, "runs the whole route tree, he can get deep, he can make contested catches." Those attributes were on display Saturday night when he caught all four of his targets for 39 yards and a touchdown. Through his first three preseason games, the rookie has totaled an impressive 11-147-1 statline that has the fantasy community circling him on their respective Penny Stock lists.  Although Smith is currently playing behind veteran Ted Ginn and will likely start off the season behind free agent acquisition (and RSJ favorite) Cam Meredith, Smith has a legit chance to win the No. 2 WR job behind the studly Mike Thomas. Underhill really stressed the fact that Tre'Quan has been making highlight plays throughout camp, and even though he hasn't been consistent since day one of camp, his potential is limitless and he could easily win that spot. Since the starters will likely sit during Preseason Week 4, Smith has to continue to make plays in practice and ball out in the finale with the backups. Underhill stated that "Tre'Quan and Cam [Meredith] are in direct competition together." Meaning if Meredith can't get out of the tub, Smith will get his chance to shine as the second notch of the Saints 'Target Totem Pole.' Listen to the full interview with Underhill, here.
Buccaneers RB Peyton Barber Continues Impressing in Starting Role, Fantasy Football Bargain
Once again, Buccaneers RB Peyton Barber started and played admirably, taking 5 carries for 34 yards (6.8 YPC) and a TD as the clear-cut No.1 back versus Detroit. He's now averaged over 5 YPC in all three preseason contests while scoring in two, and is firmly entrenched as the top dog in this backfield.  As he's always done when given the opportunity, Barber ripped through tackles and found tight creases all night -- especially on his beautiful 14 yard TD score. He logged 8 straight snaps with the first team before being put on ice for the night (and likely rest of preseason), and has now played 33 of 51 first team snaps (65%). The struggling Ronald Jones then relieved him for Ryan Fitzpatrick's second and final drive, yet once again struggled mightily. Outside of a nice 37-yard reception, Jones was stuffed all night, mustering just 7 yards on 6 carries. He's firmly below Barber on this depth chart. Last week, HC Dirk Koetter labeled Barber the clear starter, which was once again validated during the Dress Rehearsal. The coach went as far as suggesting a workhorse role for Barber, stating, “He’s got his eye on the prize and right where it should be. He’s doing everything he should be doing right now, and I think if we went out there and gave it to Peyton 20 times, we’d like what he does.” Barber thrives with volume. When given the opportunity last year (Weeks 13-17), Barber averaged 15.6 carries per game (4.3 YPC) and 2.4 receptions (6.9 YPR).  Extrapolate this over 16 games, and Barber would finish with 250/1,037/6 Receiving 38/265/1, or 210 PPR points which would've been a Top-12 Fantasy Season.  He's looked even better this preseason. His ADP continues to climb, but still around Round 10, he's a bonafide steal.
Adrian Peterson Rises from the Fantasy Graveyard in Excellent Redskins Debut
Just four days after joining the Redskins, Adrian Peterson looked right at home in his 2018 debut. The 33-year old looked fresh and spry while racking up 11 carries for 56 yard on 14 of 25 first-team snaps (56%). This backfield is wide-open following Derrius Guice's season-ending ACL tear, and Peterson showed far more upside than plodding mates Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine. Perhaps now the favorite for early-down work, AP suddenly becomes a highly-intriguing "Penny Stock."  Entering the contest, the Redskins reportedly wanted "to see if AP can still be explosive by how he hits the hole. Or how he handles having consecutive carries." Consider both boxes checked off emphatically, as Peterson hit the hole hard all night, and displayed excellent vision on a few runs which he bounced outside and turned no-gainers into 10+ yards. His last carry was the exclamation point, as the Redskins turned to Peterson on a 4th-and-inches that appeared dead in the hole, but he displayed his trademark jump-cut to get outside and gain 15 yards. Considering the slugs AP's competing with, just this quick showing might be all HC Jay Gruden needs to see to hand over early down work. Post-game, Gruden raved: "I saw a big guy running pretty hard," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "The thing I liked about some of his runs is, he looked like he had a gains of 1 yard and fell forward for 3. I thought [the first run] was a 3-yard gain, and all of a sudden it's second-and-3. I was impressed with Adrian the way he ran." Overall, AP seems on the path to significant work behind PFF's 12th best line, and inside an offense that should move the ball well under Alex Smith. Even if it wasn't pretty, AP showed the ability to shoulder a heavy workload in Arizona last year, including 26 - 134 - 2 TD and 37 - 159 efforts (mixed in with three games under 2.0 YPC). If he holds up and can gain a stranglehold on the early-down work, AP could certainly carve out flex value, making him well-worth a 9th or 10th round stab.
Ring the Bell Cow: Christian McCaffrey set to Explode in 2018
For the third straight game this preseason, Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey operated as a pure "Bell Cow" RB. McCaffrey logged 10 carries in the first quarter alone, and finished the night with 12 carries for 48 yards, in addition to 2 receptions for 16. He received a GL carry and converted, which was overturned on a hold. On the preseason, McCaffrey has played on 59-of-66 first team snaps (89%), as compared to 7-of-66 for CJ Anderson. (11%) This includes every inside-10 snap, and confirms what was abundantly clear: McCaffrey will be a true workhorse in 2018. In roughly 2.5 quarters of action, McCaffrey finishes the preseason with 221 total yards (151 rushing), 2 TDs, and 21 touches (8 catches). Simply put, after being labeled calling “Overpriced” in our Preseason Kickoff GuideMcCaffrey's far-and-away the biggest riser of this Preseason, now landing in the First Round (12th overall) of my latest Big Board. After touching the ball only 12.3 times per game as a rookie, McCaffrey seems likely to double this total in his sophomore campaign, particularly as a rusher (only 117 carries last year).  OC Norv Turner has a long history of riding a bell-cow, and called it “realistic” for McCaffrey to receive 25-30 touches a game — something HC Ron Rivera called “ideal.” Turner fed a similarly built 5’10, 220 lb LaDainian Tomlinson enormous workloads, and McCaffrey reportedly added 8-10 lbs of muscle this offseason in anticipation of more volume. Though this massive volume spike once seemed laughable, the preseason rates strongly suggest this will continue all year. With immense "Individual Talent" and quality "Usage" in his favor, McCaffrey seems bound to explode. His line has been decimated with injury, and he is a bit small for this type of Bell Cow treatment. Still, McCaffrey was a true horse at Stanford and held up perfectly to massive usage, and Turner will be able to constantly get McCaffrey into space. Along with Jordan Howard, McCaffrey's a Round 2 RB that seems bound to yield First Round value.
Emmanuel Sanders Continues Confirming Target Hog Status, Fantasy WR3 Steal
During "Dress Rehearsal Week" versus the Redskins, Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders continued proving he'll be Case Keenum's "Target Hog" in 2018. The talented WR again led the team with up a 8 looks, 4 catches, and 61 yards, while adding a 27 yard TD run in which he broke roughly 1,000 tackles. In fact, Sanders accounted for 75 straight yards on said drive, and appears to be the passing-game engine of this offense. Moreover, Sanders' slot usage continues growing. Last night, he ran 74% of his routes out of the slot, raising his rate to 64%, as compared to 28% last season. This is HUGE, as Case Keenum LOVED peppering Adam Thielen out of the slot last year,  especially on third-downs. Here, Thielen trailed only Keenan Allen and tied DeAndre Hopkins with 32% of his team’s targets. Thus far, Sanders has accounted for 6 of Keenum's 10 third down targets (60%), and 15 of 34 total throws (44%) -- both tops among any WRs this preseason by a mile. Considering Thielen's massive 91 catch, 1,276 yard breakout,  Sanders' upside is enormous. In general, Sanders is an underrated "Individual Talented" who's being grossly overlooked because an ankle-injury sapped him last year. Nevermind the "Surrounding Talent" upgrade. Not only is Keenum a slot-lover, he's just a much better overall QB than anything the Broncos trotted out last year. In fact, Keenum’s QB Rating on throws to wide receivers was 95.4 (11th-best of 36). Trevor Siemian’s was 59.2 (second-worst). Between the newfound slot role, the increased usage that'll come from this, and the enormous QB-gain, Sanders could genuinely blow-up in 2018 (and is just a season removed from three-straight 1,000 yard seasons). The fact he goes after Demaryius Thomas at all, nevermind almost 50 picks later, is mind-boggling. Scoop up Sanders everywhere at his 91 ADP -- this "Unsexy Upside" is real, and enormous.
Jordan Howard Will “Stay on the Field for Third Down” and Fits Nagy’s Shotgun Scheme to Perfection
After coaching Kareem Hunt to a 2017 Rushing Title, new Bears HC Matt Nagy has insisted the running game will remain a staple to his 2018 attack: “We do believe in the run — trust me,” Nagy said. “And 24 (Howard) and 29 (Cohen) and the rest of the guys understand the significance of it." Howard's already been a beastly runner since joining the league,  as he holds the Bears' record for most rushing yards through a player's first two seasons (2,435 yards, 4.6 YPC). Still, he's set up for his best season yet in a more creative, run-centric attack that features more shotgun runs and fits his style of play far better. This is only emphasized with Nagy insisting they'll "keep him on the field on third down,"  making Howard the ideal Round 2 RB (especially if you go WR in Round 1). As the above report details, Nagy's attack will transition from John Fox's heavy outside zone-running, to more inside zone, often run out of the shotgun; over 45 percent of Kareem Hunt’s carries came from this formation under Nagy, and the shotgun-based inside zone was a staple of OC Mark Helfrich at Oregon. This is perfect, as Howard's excelled up the gut and especially out of the shotgun formation, averaging 6.5 YPC on runs from the shotgun as compared to 4.3 YPC when the quarterback was under center. In fact, Howard's best fantasy output of 2017 was a 147-yard and 2 TD monster vs. the Bengals in Week 14. Here, he racked up 97 of his yards (65%) and both TDs on just 10 shot gun carries (43%). Howard has superb vision, which flourishes even further when he can time his cuts and blocks out of a shotgun formation. Howard credits this success to familiarity from his college days, where he ran inside zone nearly exclusively from the shotgun formation: "A lot of the run schemes that we're doing I did in college,” Howard said. “And some of the run schemes we did last year (we’re still doing), so it’s pretty similar to me. It’s not hard to pick up. The offensive line (has) been doing a great job of taking (to) Harry (Hiestand)’s coaching.” Beyond the improved rushing attack -- already a strength of Howard's -- the talented back will benefit from more receiving game usage. He's been arguably the worst pass-catching back in the league, with 14 drops in his first two seasons, but has worked diligently at the jugs and on the side of every practice to improve. Nagy has called him a "three down back" on multiple occasions, and with the explosive Tarik Cohen lining up everywhere, the two seem likely to share the field even on third downs. Howard's already been a fantasy RB1 in back-to-back seasons while trapped in a John Fox scheme with no surrounding talent... aka fantasy hell. Now, with a better-fitting rushing scheme, more receiving work, and vastly improved "Surrounding Talent" that'll help generate more scoring chances (where Howard dominates), Howard's set to explode for monstrous RB1 totals... for a late Round 2 price. This is the type of "Steal" that can win leagues.
The Stefon Diggs-Kirk Cousins Rapport is Real; Targeted 8 Times in Dress Rehearsal
We told you so. The Stefon Diggs - Kirk Cousins connection is real and he is the receiver to target in this offense. During the Vikings dress rehearsal game against the Seahawks, Diggs was targeted a team-high eight times on Cousins' 28 first half attempts. Cousins and Diggs made sweet music together throughout the preseason, connecting on 7-of-12 targets for 86 yards and a touchdown.  Although Adam Thielen grabbed four balls on six targets against the Seahawks, those four catches were his first of the season. Thielen could continue to be a very good PPR option, but it's clear that Cousins prefers Diggs over Thielen when it comes to downfield throws, the red-zone and overall targets. The most dazzling display of the Diggs-Cousins came on this unbelievable 26-yard back shoulder completion on the sideline. Diggs' body control, ability to find the football and route running ability makes him one of the toughest covers in the league and that play was the greatest example of those elite attributes. For Cousins to have the trust in his receiver to even attempt this throw shows how much confidence he has in his receiver. The only negative came at the end of the half when Diggs came across the middle and got leveled (cleanly) by the beastly KJ Wright. Luckily, Diggs shook off the cobwebs and should have no lasting affects. Since day one, we have been higher on Diggs than Thielen, and it's time for the rest of the sheep to catch up.
Ezekiel Elliott’s Offensive Line is Apparently Made of Glass; Lowering Zeke’s Surrounding Talent Score
When Ezekiel Elliott was selected by the Cowboys, he landed in the most perfect spot that any rookie running back could ask for. There were multiple times during his rookie year where he would get to the second level without getting touched -- mostly due to his dominating offensive line. But after I talked The Wolf into bumping Elliott up to his RB2, his beastly offensive line decided to fall apart -- at the same damn time.  They first lost All-Pro guard Zach Martin when he hyperextended his left knee and got a bone bruise when he was undercut by Dre Kirkpatrick during the preseason Week 2 game. As of right now it doesn't seem likely that Martin will suit up for the opener. Then, matters got worse when All-Pro center Travis Frederick left the team when he was suffering from something called Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is an auto-immune disease that attacks the nerves. Frederick's absence might be the biggest loss for Elliott, who does the majority of his damage up the gut where Frederick road grades. As of right now, the All-Pro center is out indefinitely with no time-table to return. So not only are those two All-Pros out, but both tackles have also been banged up. La'el Collins was seen limping at practice on Thursday and then had his ankle heavily taped when he was spotted by a reporter. Then there's the all important Tyron Smith, who missed practice due to a reoccurring back issue that he's been fighting. Let's not forget what an utter disaster that offensive line was without him  last season. Let's hope these guys get back on the field ASAP, because we don't want Zeke running behind this. As of now, Zeke fell back to The Wolf's RB4. This situation could harm him a bit, but landing Elliott at No. 4 overall isn't the worst thing that could happen to you.  
Cheapest Bellcow: Lamar Miller labeled “a three down back” in Texans Explosive Offense
Though he's a pedestrian "Individual Talent,"  Texans RB Lamar Miller is again slated for heavy "Usage" inside of a now-juggernaut offense. According to HC Bill O'Brien, Miller is “what we call a three-down back. We feel like he can play on first, second and third down. He’s a very good pass protector, blitz pickup guy. He’s really good at that." With a massive workload confirmed, Miller projects as an insane bargain at his 5th Round asking price.  As explored earlier this offseason, Miller's output since joining the Texans doesn't warrant his annual massive workload. He's finished 11th in total touches in back-to-back seasons, including the 8th most carries over this span, yet finished as the PPR RB16 and RB19 respectively. This is due to awful inefficiency, as Miller's averaged a meager 3.88 YPC, caught only 34 passes a year, and been perhaps the least elusive back in the entire league, forcing a pathetic 44 missed tackles over 506 carries (puke-worthy 8.7%). Yet, he faces minimal competition for work, has his coach's ringing endorsement, and is set to see this work inside an excellent offense, as long as Deshaun Watson remains healthy. In fact, Miller ranked as the RB8 over Watson's six starts, averaging nearly 15 FPs per game as compared to under 10 without him. The volume should remain in 2018, as O'Brien continued heaping on the praise: "Very good runner, good receiver out of the backfield, very smart player. He and Deshaun have a real good chemistry back there in the backfield, and he’s a good guy to have back there. Great work ethic...He comes every day. I can’t remember a time where he’s missed practice." Thus, even if the Individual Talent is missing, Miller will benefit from a tremendous combination of Usage,  Surrounding Talent and a creative, run-heavy Offensive Scheme. Plus, he's slimmed down to 217, back to the weight of his Miami days where Miller actually was efficient and explosive. If he can recapture this form while seeing this heavy volume, Miller's RB1 ceiling is incredibly real. At a 5th round price, Miller is the ideal RB2 target if you go WR-Heavy early on. He'd be excellent to pair with Mark Ingram, allowing you to stay happily afloat before your true RB1 arrives. The only risk seems to be D'Onta Foreman, who's a bruiser when healthy but remains on the PUP list. The line is also awful, but the lanes are often open with such explosive outside threats streaking downfield. Thus, steal Miller while you can, and ride the wheels off of him.
Smooth Kenny Golladay Playing Over Golden Tate in Lions 2-WR Sets
During Preseason Week 2 against the Giants, Matthew Stafford was behind center with Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay split out-wide. A healthy Golden Tate was standing on the sidelines, waiting for the Lions to call in a three-wide receiver personnel grouping. According to MLive.com, the Lions only ran two-receiver formations on 18.1 percent of their play calls last season, but it looks like this is something that new head coach Matt Patricia wants to change -- with Golladay in the game over Tate. "Sometimes in those two-wide-receiver sets, you can dictate a little bit defensively what they're going to be in and you want to try to look at those packages and how they do against those sort of coverages, or fronts or the run game against that sort of look," Patricia explained. Should fantasy owners expect Golladay playing in these sets over Tate? "The receivers are rotated based on however the play count is, but there is with the personnel itself. That is something we're trying to look at," the coach added. Golladay is an intriguing player because of his size (6-foot-4, 218 lbs) and his ability to win the jump ball. After making fantasy owners look way smarter than they are when he scored twice in his first NFL game, Golladay only recorded 28 receptions during the season and missed five games. Although his 17-yards per catch were eye-opening, he needs to be more than just a practice all-star to really make a fantasy impact. The Wolf is relatively lower on Golladay than the rest of the industry, as he's his WR56 (-5 vs ECR).
James Washington Showing Out In Preseason, Adds Another Explosive Weapon For Steelers
James Washington is "getting better everyday." At least that's what Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger says about his newest weapon. Washington comes from a very pass-friendly offense at Oklahoma State where fellow teammate Mason Rudolph held the reigns. Since being drafted, Washington has impressed everybody from his quarterback to his head coach, Mike Tomlin.  Back in June, Tomlin was quoted as saying he was impressed with how great of shape Washington was in. Washington has all the upside you want rookies to have and he fits into the old 'Martavis Bryant role' like a glove. Washington really made his presence felt at the expense of the Packers in their Week 2 preseason matchup. His stat line reflects how he sweats upside and has major big play opportunity with the surrounding talent around him. Washington caught five of the seven passes thrown his way for 114 yards and two touchdowns.  That stat line brings back flashes of Bryant's heyday before the wheels fell off the bus.  With an ADP around 209, you're practically stealing since you can claim Washington off of waivers.  Now is definitely the time to put him on your 'Penny Stock' radar while the sheep are still sleeping on Washington. His stock is on the rise and I have full confidence in that trend continuing.
Despite Hot Start In Chiefs Minicamp, Sammy Watkins’ Value Is Slipping
Sammy Watkins' presence has not been felt so far this preseason.  Watkins has received a whopping zero targets in his two games so far.  While it was Watkins turning heads in OTAs and minicamp, it has been fellow wideout Tyreek Hill that has been standing out in preseason. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said he isn't worried about Watkins' role in the offense. "Training camp is all about finding your rhythm, making sure we get in sync together," Bieniemy said regarding Watkins and Patrick Mahomes. He also added that Watkins has been doing a heck of a job when its all said and done.   While that vote of confidence certainly bodes well for Watkins' role on the team, his lack of work thus far this preseason heeds caution.  Some analysts were suggesting that, given Hill's "boom or bust" production so far, Watkins might in fact be the wide out to own in this offense.  Both players skill-sets compliment Mahomes' cannon arm and pristine arm talent beautifully. Watkins has all the talent and opportunity to be a stud fantasy receiver in this high octane offense.  However, most of the volume is clearly going to favor Hill, while Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt need to eat too. It's time to sell Watkins while you can or at least proceed with caution. Watkins is slipping down the Big Board, currently checking in at WR35.
Pete Carroll: Both Doug Baldwin and Rashaad Penny Will be Ready for Week 1
Two of the Seahawks most volatile fantasy options are expected to play in the regular season opener at Denver. Doug Baldwin has been dealing with a mystery knee ailment that has kept him out of the entirety of the preseason, but Pete Carroll went on the record to say Baldwin has been "progressing as hoped" and he will "for sure" be ready for Week 1. On the other hand, rookie RB Rashaad Penny had a brutal start to his NFL career before fracturing his finger at practice, yet Carroll also said he "will be ready" for the opener.  Leading a very sparse receiver corps, we thought Baldwin had a chance to be the the ultimate 'Target Hog' for Russell Wilson. Then, he showed up to camp with a sore knee, which then resulted in quite the tumble down our Big Board -- all the way down to WR18 (-7 vs the ECR). If Baldwin continues his conditioning and starts to practice at 100 percent, he'll get a decent bump up in the rankings. The mysterious knee injury that hasn't been announced to the public should make you hesitate, but keep an eye on how coddled he is at practice. That'll give you a clue about the severity of the injury. Then we have Penny, the former Aztec who has taken the ultimate fall down our rankings. His talent and draft position alone had him relatively high off the bat, but the resurgence and utter domination by Chris Carson has completely throttled Penny's value. In Penny's lone preseason action, he got manhandled in pass protection and averaged a measly and pathetic 2 yards per carry. Penny was in pads on Tuesday and could even play in the preseason finale. Bookmark our Big Board and Stock Watch to keep track of their respective recoveries. 
Ronald Jones Continues Plummeting as Peyton Barber’s Starting Grip Strengthens
Ronald Jones was already on our "Overpriced Avoids" list to enter the preseason, yet continues losing fantasy value, and fast. He's played firmly behind starter Peyton Barber for two straight weeks, and has even begun ceding snaps to *puke* Jacquizz Rodgers. Even worse, in the time he's earned, Jones has been a disaster, netting more carries (12) than total yards (11), while dropping both of his two targets. A quick look at the Bucs preseason first-team backfield snap counts are about all you should need to see here: Peyton Barber: 25-of-34 (73.5%) - Jacquizz Rodgers: 6-of-34 (17.6%) - Ronald Jones: 3-of-34 (8.8%). Failing to make plays and struggling in pass-protection during practice, Jones has fallen completely out of the starting picture as of now. Not only has Jones been buried on the depth chart, he's been vastly outplayed by Barber. On 10 carries, Barbers gone for 53 yards (5.3 YPC) and a score, while also hauling in 3 receptions. As mentioned earlier, Jones has averaged under 1 yard per carry, and dropped both his passing game looks. Thus, while Jones does carry the longer-term ceiling and more overall explosiveness, this simply isn't translating onto the NFL field at the moment. Barber is far more productive, and unsurprisingly the clear starter in HC Dirk Koetter's eyes. The coach went as far as suggesting a workhorse role for Barber, stating, "He's got his eye on the prize and right where it should be. He's doing everything he should be doing right now, and I think if we went out there and gave it to Peyton 20 times, we'd like what he does." Thus, the fact Barber is even drafted after Jones, nevermind over 70 spots later, is absurdity. The starter carries a 134 overall, RB46 Price Tag as compared to the 61 overall, RB26 asking price for the struggling rookie. These price tags should begin balancing out as people wake up, but Barber still projects to be a massive bargain, while Jones looks like a severe reach. Side with the starter, production, and price here.
Nyheim Hines Fumbling Away Shot at “Penny Stock” Fantasy Value
Colts RB Nyheim Hines generated plenty of "Penny Stock" buzz as a potential do-it-all "chess piece" after promising play all OTAs.  He's falling fast, however, due to serious fumbling issues and poor overall play this preseason. Hines has coughed the ball up four times in only two preseason games, while also only mustering 19 yards on 7 carries (2.7 YPC) and struggling in pass protection.  Already in a crowded stable of backs, Hines seems to quickly be falling out of favor in Indianapolis after his horrid preseason start. He worked behind Christine Michael, Jordan WIlkins, and Josh Ferguson in this contest, and only cemented his spot below them all with another horrendous showing. Keep in mind, this awful play is coming against third and fourth stringers, and Hines seems to be far away from any fantasy relevance this season. Granted, he did blaze the fastest 40 of this entire RB class, and was an excellent playmaker against stiff college competition. Moreover, he was one of the most exciting Colts players before the pads came on, and could potentially breathe life into his value if he's able to let this talent shine through -- the Colts had major designs for him prior to these blunders, afterall. But football isn't played in helmets and shorts. Hines' inability to produce anything positive against weak competition doesn't bode well for his immediate or long-term potential. He's no longer a recommended "Penny Stock" target as once stated in our Preseason Kickoff Guide. 
Emmanuel Sanders Dominating Slot Work and Case Keenum’s Target Share
The Broncos will obviously be trotting out a new 2018 QB in Case Keenum. If the early preseason is any indication, Keenum has a clear favorite target here: Emmanuel Sanders. Though the stats are nothing crazy (3-27), the "Usage" has been abundant. Sanders has been targeted on 7 of Keenum's 16 attempts (all Week 2), and his 43.8% target share is the highest of any first-team WR thus far this preseason. Considering Sanders' newfound slot usage and Keenum's history peppering this spot, the WRs target uptick is no mere coincidence.  To be specific: Sanders has run 53% of his routes from the slot this Preseason, according to Pro Football Focus. This is a significant increase from his 27% slot usage in 2018, and flashy rookie WR Courtland Sutton has played strictly outside and only in 3-WR sets. This is significant, considering Keenum's success peppering Vikings' slot WR Adam Thielen in 2017. Thielen experienced a massive breakout, hauling in 91 receptions for 1,276 yards -- 27 more catches than the more-talented Stefon Diggs. In particular, Keenum locked into the slot and Thielen on third-downs, where Thielen trailed only Keenan Allen and tied DeAndre Hopkins with 32% of his team's targets. In three first-team drives, the Broncos had six third down opportunites. Sanders was targeted on 3 of 6 chances, and accounted for 2 of the team's 3 successful third downs. He also drew two-straight deep targets with his team needing 18 yards -- and Keenum barely missed on what would've gone for a long score. Though he's coming off a dreadful 2017, Sanders fought through an ankle injury the entire second half, and horrendous QB-play all season. Both are fixed up, and Sanders is just a year removed from three-straight 1,000+ yard seasons. Between his newfound slot-usage and Keenum's affinity for targeting the position, expect Sanders to return to form. His 91 ADP is a steal, and Sanders is likely to outscore fellow WR Demaryius Thomas, who goes nearly 50 picks sooner. Capitalize.
A Healthy John Brown Standing Out With Ravens, Perfect Fit With Joe Flacco
John Brown has been showing out at camp so far and Baltimore is buzzing.  Quarterback Joe Flacco credits Brown with the improved downfield success.  Brown has been largely ineffective the last two seasons while dealing with complications from his sickle cell trait.  Head coach John Harbaugh has said that Brown has "been better than expected." Harbaugh went on to say that Brown "has been a complete receiver for us."  This is obviously high praise and worth monitoring going forward. While this may be coach speak attempting to hype up morale surrounding the Ravens offense, Brown is a perfect fit with Flacco's talents.  Flacco has one of the strongest arms in the league and one of the prettiest deep balls in recent memory.  When healthy, Brown has been nothing short of an electrifying playmaker, the very thing the Ravens were missing last season.  Brown has a career average of 14.5 yards per reception and runs an eye blurring, 4.34 40. Brown is dangerous in the open field, along the sidelines, and in the slot with his mix of speed, burst, and agility.  While there is still much to prove about whether or not he can stay on the field, all signs point to a big bounce back for Brown in 2018. His stock is on the rise and is worth buying as a Penny Stock. "Smokey" Brown is currently our WR54 (+11 vs ECR). For more on John Brown as the ultimate "Penny Stock," click here.
Taywan Taylor A Perfect Fit in Matt LaFleur’s Screen-Heavy Attack, Fantasy Penny Stock Perfection
In our Matt LaFleur breakdown, we raved about Taywan Taylor's limitless ceiling in the new OC's screen-heavy, vertical-based attack. This was fully on display in a 4-catch, 95 yard, 2 TD monster against the Bucs. As a rookie, Taylor's mammoth upside rotted in a "Exotic Smashmouth"-plagued rookie year. Following massive "Usage" and "Coaching Scheme" upgrades, Taylor comes with far more fantasy upside in his sophomore campaign. Back in our early-June Coaching Carousel, The Wolf was already sniffing out Taylor's massive upside. He wrote Taylor "was extremely explosive in college, with a game very similar to Robert Woods who thrived with LaFleur last season. Taylor has stuttering quicks and is dangerous on the short routes out of the slot, yet can plant-and-go vertically as well. LaFleur will undoubtedly capitalize on this versatility, as Taylor thrived on bubble screens, jet sweeps, and designed short YAC plays -- all staples in this creative attack. Even if he's currently going undrafted, Taylor should absolutely be on your radar." Taylor's prime fit and dangerous screen ability were glaringly evident on his 47-yard catch and run score. The Titans' uber-talented and athletic line got out front in a hurry, and Taylor read his blocks to perfection. He knifed through the congestion before busting into the open-field where no one will catch him and his blazing speed. On his final drive of the night, Taylor logged 16 and 29 yard receptions, before capping his night off with a 3-yard slant score. Largely undrafted entering Saturday's contest, Taylor will unfortunately now be a far more popular "Penny Stock," but for good reason. He's an explosive "Individual Talent" who'll be utilized far more often and properly in LaFleur's creative, aggressive scheme. Expect a handful of week-winning swings, with season-changing upside if he can carve out a meaningful weekly target share.
49ers WR Marquise Goodwin Continues Flashing Target Hog Upside, Ideal Fantasy WR3
On the same week he was labeled "clearly Jimmy Garoppolo's favorite target," Marquise Goodwin flashed why. In a lone quarter of action, Goodwin racked up a team-high three targets, catching them all for a game-high 61 yards. Goodwin was originally labeled a "Must Buy Bargain" in our Preseason Kickoff Guide, and he continues flashing why. Him and Garoppolo are clearly in sync, which was especially evident on a 40 yard hook-up deep down the sideline. Their rapport has been evident ever since Jimmy G took over as starter. During these weeks (13-17), Goodwin was the PPR WR8 in fantasy. This stretch included an 8 catch, 99 yard game versus Chicago and a 10 catch, 114 yard game against Tennessee, and Goodwin ultimately racked up 29 catches for 384 yards -- a 93 catch, 1,229 yard pace. Most impressive, however, was that none of these 29 catches went for more than 20 yards…. So much for just a “deep ball artist.”  Instead, Goodwin was destroying people underneath given all the space he was afforded at the line thanks to his speed, while proving highly capable of a full route tree. Don't forget to consider HC Kyle Shanahan. He has a lengthy track record of peppering No.1 “Alpha X Receivers," is well-aware of just how dangerous Goodwin is, and plans to capitalize: “When you can beat man coverage like that on almost any route we give you, and he’s catching it consistently, we’re excited about his year,” Shanahan said. “And (we) expect him to get a lot of opportunities."  Though his ADP has steadily been climbing as the Hype Train builds (up to 78 from 100 just 2 weeks ago), Goodwin's still seems likely to exceed his price tag. He's refined his Olympic Speed into a dangerous all-around ability. He'll be heavily utilized. And he has a dangerous rapport with a talented QB. These ingredients could combine for high-end WR2 production.
Bears TE Trey Burton Filling Nagy’s Kelce Role to Perfection, Rising Fantasy Floor
Earlier this offseason, fantasy owners salivated when Trey Burton was pegged for the Travis Kelce "U" role. Saturday's contest versus the Broncos illustrated just how valuable this could be. Burton was used all over the field and on a variety of route combinations, ultimately hauling n 4-of-5 targets for 45 yards and a TD.  Burton's "Usage" this preseason has been extremely encouraging. He's been on the field for  92% of Chicago's first-team pass plays, while accounting for a team-leading 6 of Trubisksy's 18 throws (33%). Moreover, Burton's been split out in the slot on 47% of his routes, nearly-mirroring Kelce's 50% slot usage from 2017.

Keep in mind, Nagy’s very first personnel conversation with GM Ryan Pace revolved around finding his next Kelce. This is a crucial cog of this attack, in which Kelce racked up a TE-leading 122 targets.“It’s an important role,” Nagy said. “It’s easy to create some plays for."

Burton was far and away Nagy's top choice for this job, which makes perfect sense considering the former Eagles' insane athleticism. At 6'3", 235 lbs, Burton is a physical freak, logging 2014 Combine bests in the 40 (4.62), the 3-cone (7.14) and the 20-yd shuttle (4.32). Nagy's well aware of this athletic upside, stating:

"And when you have a guy that has the size that Trey has and the speed that he has, it’s about mismatches. That’s one of the things that I learned through coach Reid is getting mismatches throughout, and that’s what Trey does."

The early results suggest a perfect fit. Carrying a 99 ADP and 93 ECR, Burton seems likely to bring a high-yardage floor to an otherwise uncertain position in this price range. This makes him a steal, and a Must-Target if you miss out on a more established Top-6 option. He's risen into the 70s on my Big Board.

For more on Matt Nagy's impact on the entire Bears' offense, click here.

Josh Gordon Returns, Drips in Fantasy Football Upside Despite Needing to Clear More Hurdles
Browns, Fantasy, and General Football Fans rejoice – Josh Gordon is back! On Saturday, the uber-talented, but oft-troubled Gordon returned to the Browns after missing the opening two weeks of camp. In a candid note, Gordon says he “took the time needed to ensure my overall mental and physical health.” Now in peak-shape, with a clear head (for the first time), and as much ability as any WR in the game, Gordon’s path back to WR1 Dominance can officially begin. This is especially true considering the “Surrounding Talent” and “Coaching Scheme” upgrades he and all Browns’ WRs received this offseason. Gordon is an imposing 6’3″ and 225 lbs glider who can dominate at every level of the field. He now will gain immense value from playing under Todd Haley, a known WR-whisperer who's made monsters out of both elites like Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Brown, as well as slugs like Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston. This is a coach who'll preach the intricacies and squeeze the absolute upmost potential out of Gordon. More importantly, Gordon will be catching balls from the best QB of his career, by a mile — whether Tyrod Taylor or eventually Baker Mayfield (who, after practicing with “Flash” in OTAs, noted: “I’ve never seen anybody like him, bar none…He’s definitely gifted.”) Yes, he's only played in 10 games in the four seasons since his dominant 2013. But how can you forget the dominance of that 2013 season? Gordon led the league with 1,646 yards, in only 14 GP, with the 7th-lowest QB rating passer delivering the mail. While playing drunk. His 22.4 fantasy points per game, at only the age of 22, ranks top-20 among wide receivers all-time. Now, Gordon will have his clearest mind to complement his ridiculous ability. He'll have the ultimate play-caller and WR developer in Haley. And he'll be hauling in balls from his most talented pass-catcher yet. Simply put, the ceiling is limitless. To reach it, Gordon still has some hurdles to clear. After this last disappearing act, Gordon’s availability cannot be taken for granted. If his mental demons return, Gordon could need to leave the team at any point or, even worse, regress to his old habits. He also still reportedly needs to meet “certain conditions” of the NFL’s Substance Abuse Program. Indeed, Gordon hasn’t hit the finish line, but Gordon’s made tremendous progress on the right path. For more on Gordon's return and how it impacts this whole offense, click here.
Falcons Rookie WR Calvin Ridley Involved Early and Often as Emerging Penny Stock
With Julio Jones sitting, Calvin Ridley flashed his potential while operating as the clear top WR for the Falcons. The Alabama wideout hauled in 3-of-5 looks for a team-high 49 yards and a score, including a 36-yard bomb from Matt Ryan. In general, the Falcons moved the ball with ease, and seem ready for a rebound in Year 2 under Steve Sarkisian. Ridley was quiet in his Falcons debut, but was heavily involved against the Chiefs. At 6'1" with a 4.43 Forty, Ridley can be a mismatch terror -- especially while facing second coverage opposite of Julio Jones. Teammates can't stop raving about Ridley, both in his approach and ability: “C-Rid always looks good,” receiver Marvin Hall said. “He has a motor. I’m so excited for him and it’s just the beginning of something special. He’s very humble, he acts like he’s been here before.” “It’s hard to say he’s a rookie,” linebacker De'Vondre Campbell said of Ridley. “He came in really polished, he looked like a vet from the beginning. He has a ridiculous stride, he covers a lot of ground really quick. He’s a mismatch problem. We have a really good receiving corps. On almost any other receiving corps in the league, he’d definitely be a No. 1 receiver. He’s going to be able create mismatches and dominate.” With immense ability and a juicy opportunity, Ridley drips in upside at his 114 price tag. This is especially true if Ryan and the entire Falcons bounceback in their second season under Sarkisian. On that note, expect Ryan to be an incredibly high-floor, sneakily high-ceiling QB2 option that's a perfect late-round complement to a Patrick Mahomes start.
Browns’ Carlos Hyde Steam Rolls Bills as Clear-Cut No.1 Running Back
Carlos Hyde was the clear-cut early down rusher for the Browns, and looked damn strong in the role. He turned 9 carries into 64 yards (7.1 YPC) and 1 TD, and is firmly above Nick Chubb on the Browns depth chart. Though Duke Johnson rotated in on passing situations, Hyde will clearly be involved behind a top-half line and in an offense that should generate plenty of scoring chances. He's shaping up to be a steal at his 80th overall Price Point.  In other news, the Bills look like they'll again be a goldmine for opposing running backs -- all of Cleveland's backs churned tonight. But none were more impressive than Hyde, who stiff-armed and churned his way to beastly gains all night. This was especially true on the opening drive, with Hyde serving as the offensive engine and ripping 5 carries for 41 yards and a drive-capping TD. The Browns offensive line was bullying the Bills' front seven, and Hyde displayed his usual strong vision and powerful balance throughout his four series with the first team offense. Moreover, Chubb didn't touch the field with the ones. If a negative is to be found, it's Duke Johnson's heavy involvement -- though this was always expected. As long as Hyde can maintain the early-down and goalline role here, he's bound to exceed his 7-8th round price tag. This offense is set to explode, and the bulldozing Hyde has always been a beast at the stripe, creating real 10+ TD upside.
Deep Love: Patrick Mahomes Ropes a 69-yard Bomb to Tyreek Hill, Rapport Growing
If Roto Street had to pick a poster-boy QB, Patrick Mahomes would be the no-brainer. On Friday versus the Falcons, he flashed why: an effortless 69 yard bomb that led a streaking Tyreek Hill right into the end zone -- the longest . Meanwhile, Hill was easily Mahomes' top target, validating the week's earlier reports of their brewing chemistry, and reaffirming his WR1 Value. The only QB listed on my "Must Buy" Bargain List (part of the Preseason Kickoff Guide), my love for Mahomes is no secret. This game flashed exactly why: Mahomes consistently sought the big play (even to a fault), benefited from excellent YAC from his receivers, and flashed his mobility in and outside the pocket. Meanwhile, Hill blew past the defense with ease, and flashing the instant 20+ point swing a Hill-Mahomes "Pig Roast" could bring. Hills's tied with Travis Kelce for a team-leading 6 targets on Mahomes' 18 throws, as compared to a whopping 0 for Sammy Watkins, and seems to easily be the preferred WR option here in KC. Even with the mistakes (1 horrendous pick), Mahomes is due to explode as the engine of this juggernaut. Between speedy deep threats outside, seam busters inside, and excellent YAC backs, this offense is truly indefensible, especially when the man under center has perhaps the top arm in the NFL. There will be growing pains, but Andy Reid is a QB-whisperer and will mold Mahomes' unlimited potential. Plus, the defense looks like a sieve, which should keep games in shoot-out mode. Simply put, I was already all-in on Mahomes and the Chiefs, and feel nothing but validated after this performance.
Christian McCaffrey to be True Workhorse, Limitless Fantasy Ceiling
No one has seen their fantasy value rise more over two weeks of Preseason Action than Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey. A week after (surprisingly) receiving and executing a 2-yard TD plunge, McCaffrey turned a 2nd-and-1 blast up the gut into a 70 yard TD burst. This flashed a gear we rarely saw in 2017, with McCaffrey's longest regular season run (40 yards) and reception (37) far below. Between the added volume, power, and burst, McCaffrey enters 2018 as a potential "Fantasy Cheatcode."  Not a bad turnaround for someone I was calling "Overpriced" in our Preseason Kickoff Guide just two weeks ago. While I try to stick to my guns, ignoring glaring evidence that I was wrong would be foolish. This is even easier to do when I've always loved McCaffrey's "Individual Talent." I simply didn't believe the "Volume" would be there to return his value. If these 2 weeks are any indication, I'm dead wrong. Though the flashy run will catch headlines, the "Workhorse Usage" is even more important: McCaffrey was the only RB to touch the field over the Panthers' first five drives, which spanned 16 plays. Of these, three plays didn't get off (2 Sacks + 1 Cam Newton fumble). On these 13 executed plays, McCaffrey touched or was targeted 10 times (77% of plays). By comparison sake, he averaged only 12.3 touches per game in his rookie season. Moreover, OC Norv Turner fed a similarly built 5'10, 220 lb LaDainian Tomlinson enormous workloads; McCaffrey reportedly added 8-10 lbs of muscle this offseason in anticipation of more volume. Turner has a long history of riding a bell-cow, and called it "realistic" for McCaffrey to receive 25-30 touches a game -- something HC Ron Rivera called "ideal." Though this once seemed hyperbolic, Turner's past history and McCaffrey's early preseason workloads both suggest this heavy "Usage" isn't just coachspeak. McCaffrey could threaten for Top-5 RB status if he receives this volume, and, more importantly, holds up. Even still, CJ Anderson (who didn't touch the field until midway through the 2nd Quarter) presents a solid 12th Round Insurance Policy -- he'd likely operate in a true three-down fashion. McCaffrey's now a fringe first-rounder in my eyes.
Jerick McKinnon Set to Miss Entire Preseason, Fantasy Risk Rising
Though his upside remains limitless, Jerick McKinnon's "Risk" increases, as the 49ers new tailback will be out of action until Week 1, per GM John Lynch. He's been sidelined with a calf strain, but is tentatively expected to be full-go come September.  Ugh. Once up as high as No.12 overall on my Big Board, McKinnon's stock continues falling as his injury concerns continue growing. On the positive front, the team clearly knows what they have and value it, as McKinnon will be on bubble-wrap to allow a return to full health instead of risking further injury. Still, in his absence, both the newly-signed Alfred Morris and the versatile and talented Jeremy McNichols will have a shot at securing a larger workload. Keep in mind, dating back to Steve Slaton's days, as well as with Morris in Washington, Kyle Shanahan is not opposed to a complete overhaul of his backfield if a better option presents itself, which creates obvious risk for the remainder of the preseason. Still, considering McKinnon netted the league's fourth largest RB contract (and will only trail Le'Veon Bell in 2018 annual salary), my original expectation was, and shakily still is, that he'll  be the unquestioned workhorse in Kyle Shanahan's gold-mine zone blocking scheme. McKinnon parallels very favorably to Devontae Freeman, who amassed 265 carries and 97 targets in 2015 (362 opportunities), and 227 carries and 65 targets in 2016 (292 opportunities) — 64 more chances than McKinnon’s career high of 218. Freeman was a bonafide RB1 with this work, amassing over 1,500 yards from scrimmage in both seasons (1,634 and 1,541 total yards), along with 14 + 13 TDs, and 73 + 54 receptions respectively. With freakish athleticism and dangerous receiving ability, McKinnon seemed destined for these totals -- and still could reach them. In fact, Shanahan's lead backs have finished Top-10 for three straight years, and Top-15 in 5 of the last 6, so the upside is still real. But McKinnon's lack of extensive workloads in the past, plus the missed time to full acclimate himself and also allow others to shine, is worrisome. Let's see how the others fare in McKinnon's absence before reacting too aggressively. Still, he cannot be selected over higher-floor second round products any longer, and takes a decent fall down the Big Board. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Chris Hogan Flashes Target-Hog Upside Inside Explosive Patriots Scheme
In Tom Brady's 2018 debut, Chris Hogan was far-and-away his top WR target. Hogan hauled in 5-of-7 looks for 25 yards and a score, which came on a nice double move out of the slot. Keep in mind -- Julian Edelman DID play, though Rob Gronkowski sat out. According to The Atlantic's Jeff Howe, Hogan has been on the receiving end of 21 of Brady's team drill completions, the highest on the team. Should this carry over into 2018, particularly during Edelman's four-game absence, and Hogan will be a major fantasy steal around his 60ish ADP. With over 251 targets available from last season, New England's aerial pie is extremely open. This is especially true with Edelman absent for the first quarter of the season. As such, Hogan has reportedly stepped up and seems to be emerging as a true Target Hog for Brady. Keep in mind: Hogan already ranked second in the team behind Gronkowski in Red Zone targets over the past two years since joining the Pats, and now over 20 RZ looks have been vacated. He seems likely to continue dominating in close, but could also see an expanded role all over the field. Hogan averaged 13.6 FPPG when healthy last year, and was the WR7 through the season's first 8 weeks before getting injured. He has WR1 upside, at minimum for the season's first four weeks, and can be had at a WR3 price -- a steal for a potential target monster in a juggernaut attack. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
JuJu Smith Schuster Scores in Back-to-Back Weeks, Monster Season Brewing?
JuJu Smith-Schuster scored for the second week in a row, this time on a four-yard slant versus the Packers. The week prior, he highpointed a ball over the coverage before outrunning the defense for a 71-yard score. Indeed, Smith-Schuster is benefiting from Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown's absences, as he'll undoubtedly rank below them on the Steelers' Target Totem Pole. Still, he's picking up right where he left off: making incredible plays at every level of the field. By any metric, JuJu's 58-917-7 TD rookie debut was a smashing success. He finished as the 11th overall WR in Fantasy Points Per Game (14.8), despite seeing only 79 targets. He posted Pro Football Focus' highest QB-pass catcher passer rating (134.8). And, perhaps most importantly after Martavis Bryant's trade, JuJu's target share was an insane 32.3% whenever Bryant was out of the lineup -- as compared to 13.3% target share with both active. Encouragingly, with scores in back-to-back preseason games, JuJu's picking up right where he left off -- a 9 - 143 - TD effort against Cleveland. Though others worry about his volume behind two studs, JuJu's efficiency is off the charts, especially when he's lined up against weaker, single-coverage -- especially since he spends much of his time destroying the slot (led all NFL receivers with 2.15 yards per route out of the slot, according to Pro Football Focus). Yes, rookie James Washington has been highly impressive (5-114-2TDs last night), yet, if anything, he helps left the lid for JuJu and the rest of this offense. Reporters suggested JuJu was hungrier than ever in practices, and that's reflecting in game-action. Expect him to continue surging in Year 2, and be a major bargain at his 41 overall ADP. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Rex Burkhead Dealing with “Slight Knee Tear,” Fantasy Risk is Growing
According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, Patriots RB Rex Burkhead is dealing with a "slight tear" in his knee. Granted, Howe also added "there's a good chance he could have played through his minor injury," but the team, "Knowing his value to the offense... have opted to take an extremely cautious path this week." Nonetheless, Burkhead, who missed six games last season, including Weeks 15-17 due to a knee strain, is growing into a riskier fantasy pick, despite his monumental upside. Just over a week ago, Burkhead made my "Top Fantasy Football Bargains" list in our Preseason Kickoff Guide. Indeed, everything from his enormous TD upside (8 TDs in only 10 games last season), to his high-end versatility and receiving ability, still make him a potential fantasy monster inside New England's juggernaut attack. However, considering his injury-ridden 2017, a lingering knee ailment now creates an equal amount of risk to match the reward. While on the field, Burkhead seems likely to match his RB12 PPG output from last season. The question now becomes: how long will he last? Moreover, will the team want to keep using him in goalline situations, where contact is highest? Or will they try to preserve him and utilize him more in a pass-catching role, particularly with an effective hammer like Jeremy Hill behind him? Thus, Burkhead falls a hefty 21 spots in my rankings to 71 overall. He's now more in-line with his ADP (73) and ECR (64) than far ahead. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Jimmy Graham and Aaron Rodgers Brewing Chemistry and Creating Monumental TD Upside
Though Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Graham only logged one series together, they already flashed a Red Zone rapport worth noting. Graham scored on a beautiful 8 yard route where he faked an out route, before slanting quick to the inside where a Rodgers' dime awaited him. At a massive 6'7" with proven Red Zone chops, Graham has humongous scoring upside in an offense that should visit inside the 20 quite often. Originally, the historic lack of TE usage / production in Green Bay had me shying away from Graham. However, with Jordy Nelson gone and an unproven WR depth chart, this aerial pie is far more open than any in Green Bay's past. And Graham is an entirely different athlete than the team's had, possibly. Rodgers is well-aware of Graham's mismatch potential, noting “He’s a big target; he catches the ball with his hands...You know, we haven’t had a guy like that around here in a while. Jimmy, he’s got a great feel for coverages, getting open, he uses his body really well, runs good routes, and he’s a matchup issue." More importantly, however, is the chemistry brewing between the two. In fact, Rodgers likened it to the departed Jordy Nelson, stating, ““The guy understands the game as well as just about anybody we’ve had around here. The same category as a John Kuhn, Jordy Nelson... Those guys who really understand the game, who see it through the quarterback’s eyes and want to be right all the time...they understand if they see it how I see it, they're probably going to get the ball. "I’m really pleased with him, he’s played great. It was nice to be on the same page,” Rodgers said. Between Rodgers' ability to put the ball wherever he pleases, and Graham's ability to use his massive frame and athleticism in the Red Zone (led the league in RZ targets and scores last season), the TD upside here is mammoth. I'm changing my tune on Graham, and sending him flying up my Big Board and TE rankings. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Forgotten James White Presents Enormous Fantasy Football “Penny Stock” Value
James White has been largely slept on in Fantasy Football (157 ADP, 149 ECR) thus far. Perhaps drafters will wake up after White tallied 91 total yards and 1 TD on 10 touches (6 receptions) against the Eagles.  More importantly, White played on 26 of Tom Brady's 39 snaps (67%), suggesting he'll remain a key cog in this offensive juggernaut.  Yes, Rex Burkhead did not suit up (and is reportedly dealing with a "slight knee tear). Still, White's heavy snap total, usage, and production should serve as a glaring reminder of how crucial he can be to this explosive attack. Amidst a completely depleted receiving corps, White is a rare reliable and familiar target for Brady. Expect him to vacuum targets, at least throughout Julian Edelman's suspension; White's one of the only Patriots pass-catchers with established history dominating in the short-to-intermediate range, and might even inherit some slot snaps. This was abundantly clear from the first drive, where White was the offensive engine, as White logged the game's first five touches, and totaled 6 of the 8 looks for 44 total yards on the drive. Over the past two seasons, White has ranked 10th (56) and 3rd (60) in RB receptions, and is now staring at the most vacant aerial pie of his Patriots career. He was the RB19 in fantasy points per opportunity in ’17, and should see more volume than ever before in a wide open backfield and pass-catching corps. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Adam Shaheen Taking Full Advantage of Preseason Workload, Thriving in Nagy’s Offense
Bears tight end Adam Shaheen has been a clear standout throughout camp and the first week of preseason.  In fact, Shaheen was Pro Football Focus' second highest graded Week 1 tight end.  Shaheen has certainly earned the respect of head coach Matt Nagy.  Nagy recently said that Shaheen will be a "big part of this offense," after his tight end caught three passes for 53 yards.  Nagy continued to say they're trying to "fine tune some of his route-running skills and what he does versus specific coverages."   Reading between the lines of what Nagy is saying, Shaheen clearly has some more polish to put in his game.  However, Nagy clearly has a lot of faith in his young developing tight end and appears willing to put the time in to his development.  Shaheen has clearly earned some more reps as the regular season approaches.  Last season, the 6-foot-6, 270 lb tight end caught 12 balls for 127 yards and three touchdowns.  Unfortunately, Shaheen will be the second-most targeted tight end  on the team, behind Trey Burton. Thus, his fantasy value is heavily capped.  Shaheen will still be a red zone weapon for the Bears and Nagy, but as far as fantasy relevance goes, he can only be viewed as a late-round 'Penny Stock.' The upside exists, as Nagy loves peppering tight ends with targets (full breakdown of Nagy's offense linked here). For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Chris Carson Continues to Rise as Rashaad Penny is Sidelined 3-4 Weeks With Broken Finger
The hits keep comin' for Seahawks first round pick, Rashaad Penny. After a terrible NFL debut against the Colts where he averaged 2 yards per carry and got bullied in pass protection, Penny injured his hand during Monday's practice and broke his finger in the process. The San Diego State product will be out three-to-four weeks and his Week 1 status is now in question. Penny has taken a nose-dive down The Wolf's Big Board, down to RB30 -- and this was before the news of this injury. So, what does this mean? It means Chris Carson, who has risen up to The Wolf's RB36, will continue to rise. Carson's name was buzzy before and throughout camp, and he's backed it up on the field. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry last week against the Colts and has been the man during training camp. Add in this set-back to Penny, and Carson has basically locked up the early-down duties. RotoWorld's Evan Silva brought up a good point: Penny struggled in pass-protection during the preseason game, and now with his hand and finger injury, he won't be able to practice this deficiency while sidelined. Not being able to be trusted in the passing game will keep your ass glued to the bench -- especially as a rookie running back. Carson will now "battle" Mike Davis for early-down duties, while the oft-injured CJ Prosise should handle third down. Bookmark our Big Board to see how high Carson will rise and when you should start to target him in your draft. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Patrick Mahomes Peppering Tyreek Hill, Proving WR1 Alpha-Status Over Sammy Watkins
Back in OTAs it seemed like Sammy Watkins was Patrick Mahomes preferred target. Andy Reid was "moving him all over the place" and he was showing off his elite athleticism and sticky hands -- in shorts. Now with the pads strapped and training camp well underway, it looks like Tyreek Hill has separated himself from Watkins. “The ball at Chiefs training camp has gone more to one starting wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, than the other, Sammy Watkins," said ESPN's Adam Teicher. Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy doesn't seem too worried about Mahomes and Watkins' lack of immediate chemistry. “Camp is all about finding your rhythm, making sure we get in sync together,’’ Bieniemy said. “When it’s all said and done, Sammy is doing a heck of a job. He’s doing a great job. He’s accepted the challenge because we’re not just playing him at one position He’s accepted the challenge of learning all three across the board. We want versatile football players.’’ But not only has Mahomes favored Hill during practice, he also caught two balls to Watkins' zero in one less snap during their first preseason game. Hills' blazing speed and Mahomes' rocket arm is a match-made in fantasy football heaven, and it looks like after a slow start, the two are clicking. Don't follow the sheep into thinking Hill is going to falter -- he's going to be just fine. The Wolf has Hill as his WR11 (+3 vs ECR). For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Texans TE Jordan Akins Sneakily Carries Monstrous TD Upside
Though currently listed third on the Texans TE depth chart, third-round rookie Jordan Akins offers some very real TD upside in this juggernaut offense. The 6'4, 250-lb UCF product set a Houston Preseason Record by scoring twice in his NFL debut, first from 6-yards out and then once more from the 14 yard line.  On his first 6 yard score, Akins displayed impressive body control to drag his feet while securing the ball as he fell to the ground. On his next TD, Akins got upfield in a hurry and used his massive frame to gain separation. As a converted wideout, Akins may not be the best blocker, but he is quick and decisive in his cuts, and gets off the line fast -- all on display in this Preseason Opener. Keep in mind: Akins is an older rookie at 26 years old, having spent time playing minor league baseball before joining Central Florida. As such, he received a mere 7th Round Grade from NFL.com, but clearly Bill O'Brien and the Texans loved him. In fact, the Houston Chronicle suggests, "Akins got Bill O'Brien's attention at the Senior Bowl, where the Texans' staff coached him and got to see him up close and personal... he impressed the coaches in OTAs and training camp before getting off to the fast start at Arrowhead Stadium." Best of all, Akins' impressive and rapid growth has caught QB Deshaun Watson's eye: "It gives us an extra weapon on the field," Watson said. "We can go into a game with two tight ends, one tight end, and we have a lot of guys that can perform and go out there and run routes and make plays. So, he did a good job the other night of doing his job right and capitalized when his opportunity was there." Currently Undrafted, keep Akins in the back of your mind when waiting on TEs. This offense averaged over 40 points per game when all the pieces were fully healthy, and a player with his size and athleticism in the Red Zone will drip in immense TD upside. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Seahawks TE Nick Vannett Could Vacuum up Russell Wilson’s Red Zone Targets
With Jimmy Graham catching passes from Aaron Rodgers and Luke Willson no longer in the picture, second-year tight end Nick Vannett could begin the season as the Seahawks' starting tight end. The former Buckeye started off on the right foot when he caught a touchdown pass from Russell Wilson and added another catch for 15-yards during his preseason debut vs the Colts, all while drawing 3 of Russel Wilson's 5 targets. Vannett may not be as explosive or as athletic as Graham (who is?), but he has 'Penny Stock' potential as Russell Wilson's TE1.  Some may shake their head when they see Vannett's name as a Penny Stock, but if you look at Graham's 2017 red zone stats, you'll see why there's some potential here. Graham led the NFL in both red zone targets (26), red zone touchdowns (10) and targets inside the 10-yd line (16). He was also second in the NFL behind Jarvis Landry with eight touchdowns inside the 10. After battling a back injury, the 6-foot-6, 261 lb TE is finally at 100 percent and as healthy as he's been since he entered the league. “Nicky’s had a really good camp,” Pete Carroll said. “He’s a really good catcher, he knows the system the best of any of our guys, he’s real versatile, and he’s a good competitive kid for us.” With blocking tight end Ed Dickson on the shelf, Vannett is only separating himself from the pack as the team's every-down tight end -- which should place him firmly on your 'Penny Stock' watch-list. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Tyrod Taylor Impressive in Browns Debut, Strengthening Grip on Starting Role
Tyrod Taylor was incredible in his Browns debut, going 5/5 for 99 yards and 1 TD in two drives of action. Taylor's been consistently praised and labeled the clear-cut starter by HC Hue Jackson, and flashed why on Thursday night. Though Baker Mayfield was also impressive (11/20, 212 yards, 2 TDs), Taylor's grip on this starting job was only strengthened. Unless this is your first visit to the Roto Street Journal, you're well aware we've been incredibly high on Taylor all offseason. He was our Featured QB Penny Stock in our Preseason Kickoff Guideand is thus far validating all the praise with stellar play. Most encouragingly, the normally conservative Taylor was slinging deep early and often under new, aggressive play-caller Todd Haley, completing three gorgeous long balls on the night. The first was an in-stride strike 32 yards down the field and right over the defender to No.1 Target Jarvis Landry. Next, Taylor showed perfect placement on a 21 yard back shoulder dime to Rashard Higgins, David Njoku before capping off his night by hitting a streaking down the seams for a 36-yard TD. Taylor also flashed his trademark ball-security, taking a slide on a 3rd-and-7 that clearly was going nowhere instead of up a prayer as a Deshone Kizer may have last year. With mismatch weapons all over the formation and a mind like Haley who can squeeze out every drop of production, Taylor will offer Top-5 Weekly Upside, yet falls to 203 and QB28 in early drafts (123 and QB17 on my Big Board, and rising). He is the epitome of why you need to wait on a QB, and finally provides a stable QB in Cleveland for the first time in nearly a decade. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Michael Gallup Flashing Ability, Ascending Cowboys’ Wide-Open Target Totem Pole
In a massively vacant Dallas "aerial pie," rookie WR Michael Gallup made the greatest Preseason Week 1 impact. The explosive wideout hauled in his lone target -- a beautiful 30-yard score from Dak Prescott. Gallup also lead the Cowboys in first team time, as he was on the field for 8 of Prescott's 10 snaps, as compared to six for Allen Hurns, five for Terrance Williams, and three for Tavon Austin -- none of who received a single target from Dak. 272 targets (56% of 2017 total), and 2,645 air yards (68.6%) were opened up in Dallas following Dez Bryant's release and Jason Witten's retirement, with no clear favorite to claim the Lion's Share. Though it's early and Cole Beasley sat out this game, Gallup took a major step in the right direction. He's often compared to Stefon Diggs for his savvy route running and ability to go-up for the ball, and Gallup certainly snuck past the defense in this one. In an offense that has reportedly "struggled to move the ball downfield" throughout camp, Gallup has provided the rare bright spots. The talented rookie has reportedly built "a good rapport" with Prescott while "finding ways to generate space," and both were certainly on display Thursday night. Moreover, OC Scott Linehan red zone ability has "talked up Gallup's " and "catch radius" as something that can "replace some of what the team lost in the offseason." Bringing the most diverse pass-catching skillset, and with a clear path to the top of Dallas' Target Totem Pole, Gallup offers excellent value at his 142 overall, WR54 ADP and 166, WR65 ECR. He's risen above Hurns, and to 135 overall, on my latest Big Board. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Royce Freeman Scores TD, Most Impressive Broncos RB in Preseason Opener
Though he didn't start, rookie RB Royce Freeman was Denver's best back by a mile during his NFL debut, notching 38 yards and a TD on just 4 carries (9.5 YPC). He saw some time with the ones, and never went under 4 yards on a single carry, which included a highly-impressive 23 yard score. On the score, Freeman displayed some excellent vision and acceleration. First, he found a clean cut back lane with the play-side congested, before bouncing to the outside and scampering around the entire defense into the end zone. He showed well in pass-protection as well, and brings rare three-down ability for his massive 234 pound frame. Meanwhile, "starter" Devontae Booker was his usual unimpressive self, notching just 7 yards on 2 carries. In fact, over 253 career carries, Booker's tallied just one run over 20 yards. Freeman needed just four carries to tie his accomplishments. Still, Freeman's own talent was never the main question here -- that's his role and usage. HC Vance Joseph has already said the team will “use 2-3 ‘main’ backs” each week. This suggests a definite committee no matter who emerges atop the depth chart -- nevermind that the top spot currently belongs to Booker, with in-tune beat writers projecting him to open as the “Week 1 starter,” and this backfield featuring “a heavy dosage of Booker” regardless of depth chart labels. Should he continue this impressive preseason play, however, Freeman may force them to change their tune. If he does indeed secure the main gig, Freeman would be running behind an "improved offensive line" now featuring the stable Jared Veldheer at RT, and in an offense that should progress with Case Keenum now under center. He gets a slight +11 bump up my Big Board for now, but remains below the ECR and ADP until this RBBC situation clears up. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Marshawn Lynch Looking Faster than Ever, Primed for “Beast Mode” Season
Though negated by a penalty, Marshawn Lynch ripped a 60-yard TD run and flashed his underappreciated fantasy upside during the Raiders' Preseason Opener. On the play, we saw two crucial developments: A) Lynch is in incredible shape. B) The Raiders are returning to a power-gap blocking scheme under Jon Gruden. Combined, both could make Lynch the Fantasy RB1 most envisioned last season, but at a far discounted price (70 ADP). Though 32-years old and coming off a (by his standards) sluggish 2017, Lynch is a sneakily massive rebound candidate under new HC Jon Gruden. For one, Gruden hasn't hid his love for The Beast, nor his intentions to ride him:

“I said to him, ‘I need Marshawn Lynch,” Gruden told Sports Illustrated in February. ‘I don’t need this part-time Lynch. I need full-time Lynch... We don’t need another back, we need a feature back... I’m counting on him being a big part of our football team.”

Meanwhile, Lynch's family and friends reported the back "loves Gruden" and answered the above challenge by working himself into "the best condition I’ve seen him in in a long time." This was full on display during his 60-yard TD run, as Lynch looked faster than he has in years, perhaps even ever.

There's some very real unsexy upside here. For one, Lynch openly admits he wasn't in game-shape until midseason last year. When finally in peak form, following the team's bye and during their final 8 weeks, Lynch rushed for 625 of 891 yards (70%), as well as 5 of 7 TDs (71%). A Pro-Bowl level 1250 yds and 10 TDs pace. Already looking in phenomenal shape, Lynch should avoid the slow start and pick up right where he left off... mauling people.

Beyond his physical form, Lynch also benefited from the team's midseason switch from a zone-based attack to a power-heavy blocking scheme. In this misfitted zone-blocking scheme, PFF had the offensive line allowing the RB’s only 1.42 yards before contact collectively. In 2016 with power-blocking, the Raiders O-line allowed 1.9 yards before contact. This is fantastic news, as Gruden has historically deployed a power-blocking scheme -- ideal for the absolute bruisers along the Raiders line. Moreover, new o-line coach Tom Cable worked with Lynch in Seattle, and, despite a history in zone schemes, Cable fully understands the concepts and assignments in which Lynch thrives. This one play displayed the gap-blocks and multiple blockers that Lynch has run wild with before. He rises  For more on Gruden's new-look offense, click here.

For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.

Rashaad Penny Sinking Deeper into Committee Hole, while Chris Carson’s Value Surges
Entering Preseason action, Chris Carson -- who was singled out by Pete Carroll as the offseason star and has been operating as the Seahawks’ lead guy in early camp -- had been labeled “the favorite to start” Week 1. Though many speculated this was mere motivational coachspeak, Thursday's contest versus Indianapolis suggests otherwise. Carson started and severely outplayed Rashaad Penny, leading the team with 26 rushing yards on just 4 carries (6.5 YPC). Meanwhile, Penny took 8 carries for just 16 yards (2.0 YPC), all while playing deep into the 3rd Quarter (and rotating with *PUKE* Mike Davis *PUKE AGAIN*) Perhaps all this Carson "puff" is really more than just noise. Thus far, he's been the backfield star at camp, labeled the Week 1 starter, and received such treatment in the Seahawks opener -- where Carson was clearly the best back on the field. Moreover, when the pressure was highest on a 4th-and-1, the team went to Carson, who moved the chains. While I acknowledge the team traded up to secure Penny in Round 1, the "Draft Capital" argument is growing weaker by the day. He was labeled one of my Most Overpriced Players in our Preseason Kickoff Guide, and his value seems to only be declining. Even worse, though he didn't play Thursday, CJ Prosise has been operating as the 3rd-down back in camp, and OC Brian Schottenheimer has already announced his committee-preference, noting it takes "more than one [running back], for sure" to run effectively. Thus, Penny's Usage waters appear very murky. This is doubly concerning considering the line is horrendous here -- rankings 30th in PFF’s most recent Line Grades update.  Plus, the Seahawks’ defense has been decimated, meaning the team will rarely be milking the clock and often playing from behind -- not great for Penny, who’s struggled mightily in pass-protection throughout his college career. Penny's ADP currently hovers in the same tier as Jay Ajayi, and Alex Collins, but has far less “Usage” and “Surrounding Talent” clarity to justify this. I’m passing on Penny at this price. Meanwhile, backfield-mate Carson offers far more intrigue at his 117 ADP Price Point. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Stefon Diggs and Kirk Cousins Flash Dangerous Rapport; WR1 Upside is Very Real
Though the starters only played one drive, Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs were deadly in-sync to kick off 2018. Cousins went 4/4 for 42 yards and 1 TD -- with Diggs hauling in 3 of the completions for 35 yards and the score. New OC John DeFilippo's offense looked as explosive as can be, and Diggs appears primed for a Target Hog role in this juggernaut. Barring health, Diggs seems locked-in for a WR1 season. Though overreacting to Preseason Box Scores is sheepish, spotting rapport is necessary-- especially between a new QB-WR duo. The Cousins-Diggs connection was in midseason form, especially on a beautiful 28-yard reception; here, Diggs destroyed the coverage with a pristine double-move, and Cousins tossed a dime down the sideline, over the defender's shoulder and right into Diggs' outstretched arms. Just two failed rushes later, and the pair connected once more for the 1-yard TD after Diggs shielded the defender with his body on a deadly slant.

Post-game, Cousins suggested this chemistry is nothing new, while hinting he'll deliver weekly target baths:

"[Diggs] makes plays," Cousins said. "He makes plays and gives you the motivation to give him the ball more and more. To trust him and throw him open and make the contested catch. Once again tonight, he proved me right." We've long been recommending Diggs over last-year's breakout star Adam Thielen, and this early showing only further validates our case. With some Antonio Brown-lite to his game, Diggs has always been a strong "Individual Talent." Now, this should fully flourish thanks to the "Surrounding Talent" upgrade in Cousins, and a "Coaching Scheme" boost in DeFilippo -- an aggressive play-caller who's a master in the Red Zone (perfect, considering Diggs was PFF's top-graded WR in contested situations). Health is an admitted question mark, as Diggs has missed time each year and played banged up through others. Still, with every other factor on the Fantasy Stock Formula grading out to perfection, Diggs seems ready for the WR1 Elite Leap. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Peyton Barber Reaffirms his Insane Penny Stock Value, While Ronald Jones Tumbles in Debut
With a mind-numbingly disrespectful 183 ADP, Peyton Barber continues to fly completely under fantasy radars. Perhaps the Preseason Opener will awaken this sleeping fantasy community, as Barber played 13/14 first team snaps (including the first 13 in a row) Meanwhile, the only time he was removed was on the last snap of the first offense, a third-and-long that resulted in Ronald Jones dropping a pass. Barber's grip on the starting role has only been strengthened, and a No.1 RB should NEVER fall this late.  Barber was not only the exclusive first team back here, but also easily the most impressive. On only 4 attempts, Barber managed 21 yards (5.1 YPC) and a TD, while also tying for the team target lead with 2 looks, which he ultimately turned into a sad -1 yards. Still, the role and usage highly suggest Barber is firmly entrenched atop this depth chart, and needs to start being treated as such. Meanwhile, Ronald Jones mustered up just 9 yards on 8 carries -- though he did score an impressive run at the stripe. Though there's no reason to panic on Jones quite yet, as coaches often make rookies earn their roles, the alarms should at least be humming. The situation as a whole isn't appealing behind an atrocious offensive line, making Jones even more overpriced at his 54 overall ADP with even less role clarity now. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Nick Chubb Firmly Behind Carlos Hyde, Looks Sluggish in NFL Debut
Nick Chubb's NFL debut was one to forget, with the Georgia product netting a paltry 15 yards on his 11 carries, including a long run of only 4 yards. Contrastingly, Carlos Hyde played exclusively with the ones before getting the "starters-on-ice" treatment after just three snaps. Though only one preseason game, Chubb's unimpressive debut could further the gap between he and Hyde for the early-down role.  Our own CJay has long maintained that Chubb is no-good, and the rookie back did nothing to disprove this on Thursday. Yes, Cleveland's second-string line absolutely blew, with Chubb getting hit behind the LOS on 11-of-15 carries (73%). In fact, he was actually credited with 26 yards after contact by Pro Football Focus despite rushing for only 11 total yards. Still, the firm placement behind Hyde is even more worrisome than the lack of production, particularly in a rushing attack that plans to "ride a hot hand" this year.  Unless Chubb begins flashing in camp and sees some legitimate time with the ones in coming weeks, I'm assuming he is firmly behind Hyde, and have ranked them as such. Hyde has risen 8 spots to No.83 overall, while Chubb plummets nearly 20 whole spots down the Big Board. This situation remains fluid and could flip at any moment, thus remaining a "Must Monitor," but tally an early W for Team Hyde. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
Alex Collins Continues Cementing Case for Workhorse Duties
Through both his own impressive play and injuries around him, Alex Collins is putting a stranglehold on a workhorse role for Baltimore. Kenneth Dixon has already suffered his second injury of the preseason, which has Ravens writers placing him on the early roster bubble. Meanwhile, Collins looked as impressive as ever in his Preseason Debut, rumbling for 26 yards on just 2 carries (while also having an 8 yarder negated by penalty). Simply put, Collins has continually thrived when provided the opportunity, and appears set for the most work of his early career. Earlier this offseason, after the Ravens added zero RBs to their stable, we labeled Dixon's return as the "only possible roadblock" between Collins and another high-end RB2 campaign. Consider this obstacle all but removed at this point, which locks Collins into a potentially massive 2018 workload. The Ravens shockingly scored the 9th most points in 2017, largely in-part to Collins' impressive play, and now seem primed to be even more effective with improved WR weaponry and a more-motivated Joe Flacco having "far and away" his best camp yet. Collins already flashed high-end TD upside, scoring 6 times in the team's final 7 weeks, and may find himself at the stripe far more often in 2018. In fact, from Week 8 on after Collins truly secured the early-down back role, he ranked as the PPR RB8 in Fantasy. Moreover, his Pro Football Focus rushing grade was 89.7, the best mark in the entire league. The tape matched all the "Advance Analytics," with Collins knifing through defenses with equal power and elusiveness, and feet that fired at a mile a minute despite his sturdy, large frame. Clearly, a quality "Individual Talent" is locked into serious "Usage" in a team with ascending "Surrounding Talent" and an ideal "Coaching Scheme" with OC Greg Roman's run-obsessed attack. All the Fantasy Value Indicators grade out highly here, suggesting Collins could be a major RB-steal at his 40 overall ADP. For more news and analysis, visit and bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch.
David Njoku Flashes Enormous TD Upside in Preseason Debut
The freakishly athletic David Njoku flashed his enormous ceiling during the Browns Preseason Opener, terrorizing the seams for 2 catches, 46 yards, and 2 TDs. Though new OC Todd Haley has never historically used TEs, he's also never had an athlete of this caliber at the position. The upgraded "Scheme" and "Usage" scores, as well as a promising overall offensive performance from the Browns, have Njoku's stock steadily rising. He's firmly on the TE1 radar.

At 6'4" and 246 lbs with a 4.64 forty and combine-leading vertical and broad jumps, Njoku drips in raw ability. Still, questions of whether he could be refined and utilized properly have always existed... but may be put to rest soon. In his sophomore debut, Njoku flashed it all. On his first score, Njoku blew past the linebackers in coverage, and then outran the entire defense for a 36-yard TD. Next, he outleaped the defenders draped over him and highpointed a beautiful score. Clearly, Haley and the team recognize the insane athleticism at their disposal, and are thus far using it to perfection. Yes, this was against a Giants team that has been histroically bad at defending tight ends the past two seasons, but it's still an impressive performance nonetheless. Currently sporting a 132 Overall ADP, Njoku needs to skyrocket up Big Boards everywhere. He's risen from 128 to 105 on mine, and could continue climbing further if Josh Gordon's holdout seems likely to linger.

Jeremy Hill Drips in Penny Stock Upside as a Potential TD Monster
Jeremy Hill was highly impressive in his Patriots debut, rumbling for 51 yards and a TD on 11 carries while looking far more slim and spry in the process. Given Sony Michel's knee surgery may open up some highly valuable New England "Ground Pie," Hill needs to immediately enter fantasy radars.  Though the Patriots have indeed earned their reputation for backfield unpredictability, one thing is certain: the team will score plenty of rushing TDs. In fact, over the past 3 seasons, the Patriots are tied atop the league with the Saints with 75 RB carries inside the 5-yard line. The sluggish LeGarrette Blount rode this volume to an absurd 18 TDs just two seasons ago, while Rex Burkhead tallied 8 TDs in only 10 games (including 7 TDs in just six weeks following the team's Week 9 Bye).  Indeed, Burkhead remains on the team, and has been highly productive at the stripe. However, if Sony Michel's surgery requires a lengthy recovery and Burkhead is forced into the early-down "Dion Lewis" style role, this massive GL share may just open up. The Patriots love using backfield roles, and Hill would appear to be the early frontrunner for the No.3 job. He apparently entered the preseason battling Mike Gillislee for a roster spot, and considering the former Bills' sluggish 43 yards on 14 carries, Hill gained a definite leg up last night. Moreover, Hill's always been strong at the stripe -- of his 31 career rushing touchdowns (including two in the playoffs), 25 have come from 9 yards or closer, and 22 have come from 4 yards or closer. And let's not forget, Burkhead was forced off the field for two separate stretches in 2017. Largely undrafted with a 286 ADP, Hill needs to be on your late-round fantasy radar.
Christian McCaffrey Flashes Goal Line Chops, Workhorse Role Suggested
Though we originally listed Christian McCaffrey among our Most Overpriced Players in the 2018 Preseason Kickoff Guide, we may need to reconsider. The sophomore back wasn't pulled from the field during the Panthers two opening drives, which was especially noteworthy at the goal-line. Here, he powered through a congested pile for a 2-yard score, all while suggesting he may indeed get a workhorse treatment.  All offseason we've laughed at reports that it's "realistic" that McCaffrey could receive 25-30 touches a week. Between the return of Greg Olsen and addition of DJ Moore to eat into his receiving work, plus CJ Anderson's arrival to gobble up short yardage and early-down rushing, we've been expecting McCaffrey's weekly workload to hover right around his 12 touches per game from last season. If Thursday's Preseason opener is any indication, however, we may need to reconsider. McCaffrey didn't leave the field with the first team offense, most noteworthy when he was handed a 2-yard carry at the stripe and plowed through with ease. McCaffrey was again heavily involved as a WR, hauling in an 11-yard screen and 18-yard crossing pattern. Contrastingly, CJ Anderson didn't enter the game until most starters were resting, and also played deep into the fourth quarter. Though you should never overreact to one 2-yard carry, this one could mean a whole lot for McCaffrey moving forward. His 18 overall ADP is still too rich for our blood -- espeically with the Panthers losing two starting linemen already this camp -- but he rises 5 spots from 39 to 34 on the newest Big Board. 
AJ Green, Joe Mixon, Andy Dalton Rising as Bengals Clicking Under Bill Lazor in Year 2
Though we entered 2018 down on the Bengals offense as a whole, the unit looked downright explosive in their Preseason Opener. The first-team offense posted two 1st Quarter TDs while moving the ball with ease, ultimately winning a 30-27 contest against the Bears. After taking over the as OC in Week 3 last season, Bill Lazor seems fully settled in and is putting his stamp on the attack -- and the results showed. AJ Green, Joe Mixon, and even Penny Stocks John Ross and Andy Dalton all rise with the "Coaching Scheme" and "Surrounding Talent" boosts, especially along the line. On Thursday, the Bengals flashed creativity, aggressiveness, and pace we haven't seen out of Cincinnati in quite some time. Bill Lazor, who coached alongside Chip Kelly as his QBs coach, seems to finally have found his play-calling groove, as does Dalton within the scheme, as the Red Rifle went 6/8, 103 yds, 2 TDs while tossing an INT on a slip from John Ross (116.7 Passer Rating). With the OC and QB clicking, this offense seems primed for a sturdy leap forward in 2018, as do the two key cogs inside it in AJ Green and Joe Mixon, who both looked flatout dominant. Green racked up 48 yards on 2 catches, including an impressive galloping catch-and-run, as well as another impressive contested grab at his back shoulder. Him and Dalton appeared to be in midseason form. Meanwhile, Mixon scored on an electrifying 24-yard reception. Here, he was split out wide and broke two tackles -- one with a slippery stiff arm, the other with a dazzling spin move. Behind a revamped line and in a better overall scheme, the Bengals players are all on the rise -- Mixon a solid whole tier and 6 spots up to 29 overall, now as an elite RB2. For more on this game, and emerging Penny Stocks, click here.
Kelvin Benjamin Flashes Target Hog Upside, Rising Fast
A target-hog seems to be brewing in Buffalo, as Kelvin Benjamin dominated against his former team to open up the Bills' first preseason drive. He finished the night with 4 receptions, 59 yards, and a TD in under a quarter of play, looking like an "Alpha X" Target ready to be unleashed. His "Usage" and "Surrounding Talent" scores receive a healthy boost, as well as "Coaching Scheme" after the Bills flashed overall aggressiveness on offense. Though Benjamin's final stats were highly impressive, the manner in which he compiled them was equally imposing. On the Bills' opening drive, QB Nathan Peterman went 7/7 for 65 Yds + 1 TD, and Benjamin accounted for the vast majority of his looks and production. After opening with a 10-yard completion, Peterman looked to Benjamin on his next three passes, which the monstrous target hauled in for 31 total yards -- including a 14 yard pick-up on a 3rd-and-7.  After a few dink-and-dunks and a missed deep ball to other targets, Peterman returned to his man, lobbing a beautiful fade ball to hit Benjamin right in the bread-basket and in stride for the score. This gorgeous 28-yard TD capped off a highly impressive opening drive, and suggested the Bills might not be the dumpster fire offense we'd previously expected. Encouragingly, five of Petermans' first eight throws traveled 10+ yards, and the Bills continued attacking vertically all game, especially when cannon-armed Josh Allen entered the game. If this offense can maintain the momentum and remains aggressive, expect Benjamin to flourish, especially if he continues receiving Target Showers like last night. Already, Benjamin rises from 110 to 82 overall (+28 spots) on the Big Board, with room to continue climbing if this dominance continues.
BRUTAL: Derrius Guice Tears ACL, Season Done Before it Begins
In the first brutal blow of the 2018 Preseason, Redskins rookie RB Derrius Guice has torn his ACL, according to Ian Rappoport. Originally thought to be just an MCL Sprain, Guice will now miss the entire season, devastatingly opening up a massive hole in the Redskins Backfield. Unfortunately, this becomes a must-monitor situation. Early in Training Camp, Guice had been, by far, the fastest riser on my Big Board. From excelling both physically and, more importantly, mentally in early Training Camp, to inheriting a more defined 3-down role with Chris Thompson still on the mend, Guice had flown up to No.23 overall, above even Devontae Freeman.  Unfortunately, that has all come crashing down, as Guice's rookie year ends before it could begin. The Redskins return to Square One with this backfield, although Chris Thompson recently said he wouldn't be fully recovered from his broken fibula until November. Thus, the team will likely be forced to again turn to their sluggish plodders Rob Kelley and/or Samaje Perine. Kelley was listed atop the first official Week 1 Depth Chart, and now seems likely to stay there. He has reportedly slimmed down to 221 lbs, as compared to the 249 he weighed when drafted, and has been working on his pass-catching. But we've seen what he can bring, and it's not pretty. Expect the Redskins to remain highly airborne in 2018, with perhaps the biggest sneak beneficiaries here being the pass-catching corps (Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed, Paul Richardson, and Alex Smith). Thompson's health is also now even more crucial to monitor, as he may once again receive the Lion's Share of work that he rode to the 11th most RB PPG in 2017. Lastly, potentially more "exciting"options like Kapri Bibbs or Byron Marshall now need to be on radars... but let's just hope the team makes some sort of backfield moves. Regardless, this one is a true heartbreaker, and an unfortunate reminder to never draft before Week 3 of the Preseason has passed.
Cooper Kupp “Unstoppable” Out of Slot; Has “Special” Rapport With Jared Goff
Cooper Kupp has taken a backseat to all the Brandin Cooks hoopla coming out of Rams camp, but it looks like he has further developed his connection with Jared Goff and could lead the Rams in targets and red zone targets again. This is coming off of Jason La Canfora's report where he said Goff and Kupp have shown they have "something special going on" during Rams-Ravens joint practices. La Canfora went on to say that Kupp was Goff's go-to guy and that the chemistry was obvious during 11-on-11s. The Ravens lined up a multitude of corners and even hybrid linebackers on the receiver -- but none were able to man-up on the wideout. As of today, The Wolf is relatively low on Kupp, who is his WR45 and nine spots lower on both the ECR and his current ADP. Although Kupp may not be the flashiest receiver on the Rams' flashy offense, he looks like he might be the one to target. With Cooks taking the top off the defense, it shouldn't surprise anyone if Kupp once again leads the Rams in both targets and red zone targets. Let's see if this report will make The Wolf respect Sean McVay's No. 1 wide receiver a bit more.
Corey Coleman Traded to the Bills to Grab a Slice of Buffalo’s Aerial Pie
With the 'bust' label almost officially placed on Corey Coleman, the former first round pick from 2016 was dealt to the receiver-needy Buffalo Bills, which could give him a chance to shine with new (even more disgusting) scenery. With the head of the 'Tub Club' (Kelvin Benjamin) ahead of him on the depth chart, Coleman has a chance to become a target hog in an offense that is in dire need of perimeter talent.  Talent has never been the issue with the former Baylor Bear. It's been his strange ability to break his hand twice during his first two seasons that's really held him back. Coleman is a freak athlete, as he ran a 4.37 40 at his Pro Day, coupled with a 40.5 inch vertical at the combine. If any of the three stooges on Buffalo's quarterback depth chart can put together a decent season, Coleman could overtake Benjamin as the target hog in this offense. As of right now, The Wolf has Benjamin ranked as his WR44 and Coleman bumped up all the way up to WR59 (149 overall), which is +55(!) on the overall ECR. Clearly the targets will be up for grabs in this putrid offense, now it's time for one of these fragile, under-performing wide outs to take advantage of this juice situation.
Doug Baldwin Could Miss all Preseason With Knee Soreness
Doug Baldwin has been prescribed rest for most of, if not all of the preseason after coming into camp with a sore knee.  Adam Schefter is reporting that doctors are unsure of when or how Baldwin injured his knee, but the injury has lingered for a little while.  It's possible that Baldwin aggravated the injury while trying to push through some offseason workouts.   Before this news broke, we were incredibly high on Baldwin and were expecting him to post big numbers again this season.  In fact, the last three seasons with Russell Wilson, Baldwin is averaging around 115 targets.  Those targets have resulted in an average of 82 catches for 1062 yards and nearly 10 touchdowns.  Given the cleaning house that the Seahawks have been doing on offense Baldwin was going to get peppered with targets. Baldwin and Wilson have been together for so long that the two likely don't need many reps to get back in sync.  Regardless, the hush-hush nature of the normally chatty Pete Carroll is enough to raise some eyebrows.  As such, Baldwin's ADP has fallen from around 20 to 31.  We have him a little lower.  We have Baldwin ranked at a very fluid 40, which will easily rise or fall depending on the knee situation.  Fantasy owners should take caution with Baldwin going forward; as the language surrounding the injury is very concerning. Listen to ESPN's Field Yates breakdown this injury on The Fantasy Fullback Dive.
Derrius Guice Dominating With the First Team, Expected to get “Plenty Of Touches”
Derrius Guice has been turning heads in Redskins training camp.  Guice has always been known as a violent runner, dating back to his days at LSU, but now that he's in the NFL, he's starting to learn that he cannot be violent on every touch. With the recent news that Chris Thompson doesn't believe he will be back to 100% until November, Guice just inherited a lot of opportunity.  It's no secret that head coach Jay Gruden loves him.  Gruden even described Guice as "strong, strong, strong strong."  Yes, four "strongs."   With the likely increase in usage, Guice is going to be given every opportunity to showcase all of his talents.  Guice's running style has been compared to Marshawn Lynch and his former teammate at LSU, Leonard Fournette.  In college, Guice's numbers were eye-popping to say the least -- averaging 6.5 YPC through three seasons.  Only Bo Jackson averaged more YPC in the SEC than Guice. I see no sign that his game won't translate to the NFL after seeing how quickly he's acclimated in camp.  Guice's burst through the line, paired with his silky smooth cutting ability, underrated hands, and increased opportunity have led to his fantasy stock experiencing a major spike.  Guice's ADP is currently around 36 overall, but we have him ranked eight slots higher at 28th overall.  There's no reason Guice's stock won't keep increasing, and now might be the time to buy him before his value spikes even higher.
Dalvin Cook Sheds Knee Brace at Vikings Camp, Says he is “Ahead of Schedule”
Few players lit the fantasy football world on fire last season like Dalvin Cook. Unfortunately, a torn ACL in Week 4 flicked out his flame early.  However, now that Vikings training camp has started, Cook has been going 100% without a brace. When asked how his knee felt, Cook even said he is "ahead of schedule" in his rehab.  Last season, Cook came out swinging! He set the Vikings rookie debut rushing record after racking up 127 yards on 22 attempts. In fact, Cook was on pace for a blistering, patriotic 1,776 yards from scrimmage, putting him in the same tier as fellow rookie Kareem Hunt. The Florida State product was averaging 4.8 YPC and was an active part of the passing game as well. Given the increase in usage Cook was getting -- averaging 20 carries in his final two games before going down -- it is reasonable to expect that rate to hold, if not increase. Cook doesn't seem to be shying away from any workload. "I'm ready to deliver it," he said.  The running back seems to feel very little concern about his health and the team showed faith by letting back-up running back Jerick McKinnon walk in the off-season. Given Cook's clean bill of health and likely increase in opportunity, look for his fantasy stock to take a slight uptick going forward. Cook currently has an ADP around 1.12 to 2.01, which is right where we have him ranked.
Will Fuller Added 15-20 lbs to his Beanpole Stature to Increase Durability
Although we are told during training camp that every player is suddenly in 'the best shape of his life,' Will Fuller's added muscle mass might actually mean something. Fuller is now weighing in at an Incredible Hulk-like 185 lbs, which is an increase of 15-20 lbs from 2017. I'm no math expert, but that means Fuller was playing in the NFL at 165 or 170 lbs -- which is borderline insane. The added muscle should make him more durable, which has been an issue for the speedster, as he's only played in 24 of his first 32 games.  With Deshaun Watson throwing the rock, Fuller was on an insane pace last season. Once he returned in Week 5 from his broken collarbone, the Notre Dame product recorded all seven of his touchdown receptions with Watson under center -- in only four games. With DeAndre Hopkins commanding at least the eyes of two defenders at all times, Fuller is the perfect compliment to take the top off the defense for the rest of the offense. Don't you worry, though. Fuller is just as fast and explosive as he's ever been. In fact, he was recently clocked at 4.28 in the 40-yard dash. "Just another coat, so I can take those hits and I can be more versatile," Fuller said. "That's something you have to keep working on with your speed as you're gaining weight. I'm not fat now, so I'm still fast." As you've noticed, we are all-in on the Texans offense, and especially Fuller. We have him at 63 overall (WR27), which is a crazy 26 spots above his current ECR.
With D’Onta Foreman’s Health in Question, Target Lamar Miller
Texans GM Brian Gaine spoke about D'Onta Foreman's recovery from his Achilles injury on Thursday and said this about his running back: "Work in progress right now, recovering from this injury," Gaine said. "He's improving, but time will tell whether he's available to us when we kick off." With Foreman currently on the PUP list for the foreseeable future, Lamar Miller looks like the locked-in RB1 in Houston.  If Foreman sits through training camp (which is likely) and is placed on the reserved/PUP list, he would be forced to sit out the first six games. As of right now, Miller's ADP is hovering around 53 overall, which seems about right (we have him at 50 overall). If you're able to snag Miller as your RB2, you can pair him with Foreman, whose ADP is at 127 overall (we have him at 113). We fully expect a healthy Foreman to eventually overtake the blah talent that is Lamar Miller, so it would be key to use a late-round pick on the former Longhorn. The Wolf touched on this very situation back in May and found a nugget: With Deshaun Watson as his starting QB, Miller scored the 8th most RB points during those six games. For a very cheap price, you can handcuff these two backs together and receive RB1 numbers in return.
Looking to be More Durable, Leonard Fournette Slimmed Down To a Ripped 223 lbs
Jacksonville workhorse Leonard Fournette reportedly entered training camp at a shredded 223 lbs -- 15 down from last season and reportedly his lightest since high school. Though all "best shape of his life" reports warrant eye rolls, shedding pounds has often helped RBs make major leaps, especially in the pass-game. Just last year Carlos Hyde dropped 15 and saw his receiving spike from 27 rec and 163 yds  to 59 rec and 350 yds, while Le'veon Bell ascended to the elite in his sophomore campaign after losing 20 lbs (45 rec + 399 yds to 83 rec + 854 yds).  Last season Fournette was an absolute beast... most of the time.  Known for his angry running and break away speed, Fournette didn't look in shape for the entire year.  During his first six games, Fournette averaged around 4.4 YPC.  During his last seven, some of the tread seemed to fall off his tires as he only averaged around 3.1 YPC.  This drop off can also be attributed to him spraining his ankle during his sixth game, and carrying less weight can only help his durability and improve his conditioning.  With a little less weight holding him back, look for Fournette to become more explosive and more durable down the stretch. Between the line upgrades with Andrew Norwell, coach Doug Marrone promising more third down work, and Fournette trimming himself down, there's real top-five upside if he can maintain health.
Jets WRs Coach: Robby Anderson set “to explode” with more complete role
After posting 63 catches, 941 yards, and 7 TDs in his sophomore campaign (good for a WR18 PPR finish in fantasy), Robby Anderson is set to "explode and become a more complete player" in Year 3, according to his WRs coach. This piece is largely the type of puff to ignore, as it is purely a coach speak without any substantial action (i.e. running more slot routes, being targeted on nearly every throw) to back up the claim. Still, it provides a convenient chance to remind owners how undervalued Anderson has become, likely in light of his offseason woes. Yes, the man made a moronic decision to tell a cop, "I'm going to fuck your wife and nut in her eye." But fantasy-wise? So long as he plays, I could care less... in fact, I may have acquired some new ammunition for the group chat. In real-life, this awful display of immaturity hasn't yet yielded a suspension of any kind, and thus far Anderson's been back at work grinding to become "more complete." He already was among the top burners in the league, amassing the sixth most receptions of 20+ yards over the past two seasons (27 total), and more short-area finesse can only help his output. Thus, his 102 overall, WR42 ADP is embarrassing. When Josh McCown was healthy (Wk 1-13), Anderson was the WR14 in PPR leagues and WR8 in Standard. The pair caught particular fire from Weeks 7-13, where Anderson averaged over 20 PPR FPs per game and was the WR5 in PPR leagues (and trailed only Antonio Brown in standard formats). Simply put, Anderson has dominated, and can be had in Round 10 and beyond. Whether he misses a game or two early on, this type of steal needs to be capitalized on.  
Saints WR Cameron Meredith Hopes to be Cleared for Training Camp
After leading the 2016 Bears in receptions (66), receiving yards (888 yards) and receiving touchdowns (4), Cameron Meredith's 2017 season was cut-short with brutal ACL and MCL tears in his left knee. After the Bears were idiots and let Meredith walk on a very slim offer sheet, the Saints now have an talented WR2 who's ready to explode behind Mike Thomas. Although Meredith continues to recover from his knee injury, he's hopes to be cleared for training camp. “On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s almost a 10…I haven’t had a setback along the recovery process,” Meredith said about his recovery. “I’m gaining strength day by day, month by month. I’m excited to see how soon I can get back…But the main objective for me is to do as much as I can with the trainers to get ready for the season. My goal is to try and get back to training camp. As long as there aren’t any setbacks or anything like that, it shouldn’t be a problem.” As of now, we are much higher on Meredith than most experts. We have him as our WR35, which is a crazy 21 spots higher than his current ECR and 14 spots higher than his current ADP. If Meredith is able to participate throughout camp and develop a rapport with Drew Brees, he will not only keep defenders' eyes off Mike Thomas, but he has the talent to be a legitimate fantasy weapon on his own.
Possible Le’Veon Bell Holdout Cements Todd Gurley as No.1 Overall Fantasy Pick
Unable to reach a long-term deal before Monday's 4pm deadline, Le'Veon Bell could be a major holdout risk in 2018. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on SiriusXM NFL Radio  "it's possible Le'Veon Bell sits out the first half of the year if he doesn't get a long-term deal done" --  a theory that'll now be put to the test. Bell has since hinted he won't hold out in the regular season, stating his "desire always has been to retire a Steeler... trust me, 2018 will be my best season to date." But the "Risk" still exists, unlike with Todd Gurley, who now becomes an even stronger candidate to go No.1 overall in fantasy drafts. I've been advocating Gurley as the No.1 pick all offseason, and Bell's potential holdout only furthers my case. Though Bell seems unlikely to holdout half the year and forfeit $7 million (or $856,000 a week), especially after his comments on the situation, he's still a near-lock to skip Training Camp. Last season, Bell started incredibly slow while gaining his "game legs" and getting in a rhythm with his backs, scoring only 13.9 FPs and ranking as the RB26 through two weeks. Of course, this is Le'Veon Bell, and he went on to notch an absurd 406 touches and finish as the clear RB2... but why sacrifice those early "acclimating" weeks if Gurley is also a "Cheatcode Workhorse" as an incredible and highly used talent in an explosive overall offense? Hell, our lead editor CJay has Ezekiel Elliott as his No.1 overall pick, a case that gained some real legitimacy today. There's rumbling Bell's holdout would be an act of preservation for his 2019 payday, and his touches could easily be a point of contention even if he suits up all 16. All-in-all, this will likely amount to a slower 2018 start followed by more of the same Bell we know and love. But the risk for far worse now exists.
Cowboys TE Blake Jarwin Emerging as a “Regular Red Zone Target” and Viable Fantasy Penny Stock
Little-known sophomore TE Blake Jarwin has been reportedly dominating in Dallas this offseason, quickly emerging as a "regular target" for Dak Prescott "up the middle and particularly in red zone situations." With over 50% of the team's 2017 target total up for grabs (249 looks), Jarwin appears to be in the driver's seat for Jason Witten's pass-catching role, giving him real "Penny Stock" upside. A 2017 UDFA out of Oklahoma State, Jarwin rotted on the Cowboys' practice squad all last year until October, when Dallas promoted him to the regular roster to block the Eagles from stealing him. This move was an early display of some long-term interest, and thus far Jarwin hasn't disappointed. Early this offseason the Dallas' Morning News' Jon Machota reported, "No tight end on the roster has received more praise recently from executive vice president Stephen Jones. Meanwhile, Cowboys reporter Marcus Mosher the clear TE1 tweeted Blake Jarwin operated as throughout OTAs and minicamp, also adding fantasy-darling Rico Gathers "barely gets any snaps in practice" (some reports even have Gathers actually trying tackle). The only Dallas-rostered TE to catch an NFL pass is Geoff Swaim, an unathletic lumberer who's posted nine catches for 94 yards in three seasons... meaning the opportunity is certainly ripe here. Jarwin is currently undrafted, and will likely remain so, but still deserves a spot on your "Monitor List" or bottom of the bench in deeper leagues with a real chance to top Dallas in receiving TDs. 
LeSean McCoy’s Fantasy Football Value Trending Downward Amidst Domestic Violence Allegations
When the brutal picture and allegations against LeSean McCoy were posted on Instagram Tuesday afternoon, us at the Roto Street Journal were horrified. But let's make one thing clear before we dive into meaningless fantasy football analysis: we hope LeSean McCoy's ex-girlfriend recovers from her injuries because we are 100-percent an anti-domestic violence website. We also hope that the several other horrible allegations are not true. But if they are, we would expect McCoy to be banished from the league and for him to get thrown to the wolves -- literally.   Before the allegations, we were already down on McCoy (our RB14). He is 30 years old -- the age where running backs fall off the cliff -- and he happens to play in a very shitty offense. Barring suspension, he's expected to receive a ton of touches, but his health has been clean the past two seasons and his chances of finally breaking down this season are pretty high. His surrounding talent is disastrous and his quarterback could end up being Josh AllenAJ McCarron or Nathan Peterman. Yuck. For the sake of this Stock Watch, let's say he (somehow) avoids any discipline from the NFL. McCoy is a player that needs to be avoided at all cost. Let one of your leaguemates draft Shady, while you take someone like Jerick McKinnon.
Jordan Howard Plans to Improve Pass-Catching as he Begins to Feel the Heat From Tarik Cohen
Jordan Howard is starting to feel the heat from Tarik Cohen, as his current talents as a pass-catcher won't be good enough to be an every-down back in Matt Nagy's offense. Howard, who has dropped 14 passes during his two seasons, claims he's planning on improving his pass-catching for this season. It shouldn't be a surprise that after Cohen had been "lining up everywhere" during OTAs -- utilizing his hands and route-running abilities -- that Howard now plans to improve as a receiver. Although Cohen flashed during his rookie season, Howard never felt a real push from the electric back due to John Fox's inability to utilize Cohen's elite talent. Now with the creative Nagy calling the shots, Cohen's snaps and touches will be on the rise in 2018. Howard has most certainly done the job as a ball carrier, eclipsing 1,000 yards during each of his first two seasons, but his snaps could be in danger due to Cohen's explosive skill-set. Will Howard be able to stay on the field in Nagy's offense? Or will he strictly be a goal-line/ short-yardage back? If he's able to fix his pass-catching issue that he says "started back in high school," that would definitely protect his place as our RB13.
Sammy Watkins Moving “All Over the Place,” Refining Craft Under Andy Reid
Throughout OTAs Sammy Watkins reportedly moved "all over the place," made dazzling plays, and refined his craft under Andy Reid. In sum, he fits in KC seamlessly, especially considering his blazing speed and excellent ball-tracking skills will be married to Patrick Mahomes' cannon arm. The two have reportedly been clicking, meaning Watkins may deserve more fantasy football attention. "He made some catches sometimes that I don't know how they're possible," Mahomes said, describing Watkins' playmaking. Meanwhile, Reid discussed the way he's using formations to free up Watkins: "We were moving him everywhere," Reid said. "He hasn't had to do that in his career." Instead of being left at X (often where the other team's best corner hovers), Watkins has moved to the slot where he's "getting more opportunities on linebackers [and] safeties." The increased and varied usage, and tutelage of Reid, has Watkins more motivated than ever, who said, "I've been my best this year with just getting in shape and learning the offense," Watkins said."He's helped me in this short amount of time with just being a compete receiver, not just being a, 'Oh, he just runs go-routes. I've got to learn the whole route tree." The fantasy questions here don't hinge on "Coaching Scheme," or "Talent." The issue is truly "Usage" in such a crowded offense (Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill) that spreads the ball around, plus the obvious "Risk" with Watkins' durability and consistency woes. His late 6th ADP feels right, though I prefer Chris Hogan and Will Fuller in that range.
T.Y. Hilton Fitting Frank Reich’s Scheme Perfectly, Adding Dangerous Verticality
Colts HC Frank Reich and OC Nick Sirianni have reportedly been thrilled with how well T.Y. Hilton has fit into their "quicker-strike" offense thus far.  The star wideout is doing his part, reportedly "buying all in" and "giving his all," while both coaches add more deep-ball concepts this "West Coast" attack. My earlier worries about Hilton's "scheme fit" seem likely to wind up obsolete. For one, Sirianni and Reich are installing plenty of vertical, "chunk-play" concepts into the offense to fit their top talent, with beat writers noting: "As was evidenced from watching practices in the spring, that deep ball, which Hilton has excelled with, isn’t going to be extinct." In fact, Sirianni believes the quicker-strike attack should help Hilton shake free down the field more easily. "'As you emphasize the quicker throws, the deeper ones come,' Sirianni says. 'If you look at Frank (Reich) and I’s past together, our teams have been high in completion percentage, but they’ve also been high in plus-20 yard gains, plus-16 yard gains. So those plays still come... the defensive back is thinking, ‘Shoot, he can get behind me.’ So it softens him up for those plus-16 yards. It really is no secret, it’s speed.'" Off the field, Hilton has worked out harder than ever before while cutting fast food completely out of his life (making him 1 of 100,000 players currently "in the best shape of (his) life.") He's "immersed" himself in the new offense, and, according to Sirianni, "he is hungry to learn and he’s obsessed with getting better." Hilton faces minimal competition for targets, and has topped 1,300 yards in his past two seasons with Andrew Luck. Expect a return to WR1 status, at a late third round price.
Jay Ajayi “definitely that No.1 guy” entering camp, more volume coming
With a full offseason with the Eagles under his belt, Jay Ajayi is "definitely going into camp as the No. 1 guy," according to HC Doug Pederson. RBs coach Duce Staley has expressed similar sentiment, noting, "Jay is excited about being able to go out there and dominate and being able to be that guy." Clearly, Ajayi seems headed for a "Usage" uptick, which could facilitate a RB1 bounceback given the Surrounding Talent and Coaching Scheme here. Even post-camp and entering the 2017 regular season, Pederson declined to name a starting RB. Thus, the HC giving Ajayi the nod so early is the ultimate display of confidence -- and sign Ajayi should expected his usage to rise significantly. This will remain a committee -- Pederson noted as much with Corey Clement and Darren Sproles -- but Ajayi seems headed for a larger, more consistent workload inside 2017's second highest-scoring offense (29.0 PPG), especially at the goal line. Staley was impressed with how hard Ajayi prepared this offseson (contract year motivation, perhaps?), and believes this will translate into a more "workhorse" style role: "Just him being focused, coming in, knowing he's the guy, knowing he's the guy that's going to step up there and just put everything on his back and ride with him." With LeGerratte Blount removed and his coaches' blessings, Ajayi seems set for heavy, valuable volume, behind the league’s best offensive line, amidst an incredibly explosive and creatively called attack. This makes Ajayi a steal in the early 40s.
Allen Hurns the “Clear-Cut” No. 1 WR in Widely-Open Dallas Passing Game
249 targets -- over 50% of Dallas' 2017 total -- are up for grabs after team-leaders Dez Bryant (132), Jason Witten (87), as well as Brice Butler (23) and Ryan Switzer (7) all departed. Based on early OTAs, newcomer and former Jags WR Allen Hurns is reportedly the early favorite to inherit the lion's share of looks after serving as the team's "clear-cut" No.1 WR throughout the spring. Though third-round rookie Michael Gallup was our original pick to inherit the largest slice of Dallas' open aerial pie, Hurns, fresh off a strong OTAs showing, actually appears set for the healthiest portion of targets. Though Hurns has missed 11 games over his past two seasons, failing to top 500 yards in either year, he's not far off from a monster 64 catches, 1031 yards, and 10 TDs (2015) when he was playing second-fiddle to Allen Robinson. In Dallas, he appears to have established early chemistry with Dak Prescott while emerging as the top-guy from the uninspiring cast of other weapons (Gallup, Terrance WilliamsCole Beasley) -- even if the third-year QB doesn't believe the team needs a true "go-to" guy: "I don't know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver," Prescott recently told Pro Football Talk. "It's about getting the ball out, spreading the ball around, keeping the defense on its toes." Though this offense will surely funnel through Ezekiel Elliott and the run game, at least one wideout will see 100+ targets, regardless of Prescott's comments -- and that guy appears to be Hurns. With Hurns' 120 overall price tag the steepest price on their pass-catchers, all Cowboys WRs are in play as value picks, especially the former Jag.
Tyrod Taylor Distancing Self from Baker Mayfield, Regains Late-Round QB1 Appeal
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield "did not look ready to compete" with Tyrod Taylor for the Browns' starting quarterback job at OTAs and minicamp. Taylor is also reportedly meshing well with his new teammates, being labeled by OC Todd Haley as the "clear leader of this team." Taylor ultimately seems to have gained some serious leash on the starting gig -- at least through the Week 11 bye, if not the entire season -- giving him the controls to a potential sneaky juggernaut.  Despite being the most "pro-ready" QB option, Mayfield is reportedly falling fast behind Taylor, who's contrastingly excelling early on in Cleveland. In fact, one AFC Scout predicts Taylor's leash will extend not only through all of 2018, but years beyond. Considering this gig comes with the benefits of Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry on the outside, a strong offensive line for protection, and a powerful stable of RBs, Taylor's QB1 potential feels far more stable with this higher starting floor. Moreover, his new QB coach -- Ken Zampese -- thinks Tyrod's ceiling is only just starting to be realized: "Tyrod's just hitting his stride. This is his fourth year starting in the NFL. He's just coming into his own and this is just the tip of the iceberg. We haven't seen the best from him.'' Taylor has excellent traits with a strong arm, excellent decision-making, and mobility for Todd Haley -- one of the games brightest offensive minds -- to play with. Expect some fireworks, and an insane return on Taylor's QB27, 196 overall price.
Rex Burkhead Favorite for Goal-Line Work in TD-Generating Offense
According to ESPN Beat Writer Mike Reiss, Rex Burkhead is the "early favorite" to emerge as New England's goalline back. With the Patriots scoring 16 Rush TDs in 2017 (6th in league) and 19 in 2016 (5th), while scoring the 2nd most total backfield fantasy points in back-to-back seasons, this job carries enormous weight. Despite playing in only 10 games and beginning 2017 behind Mike Gillislee, Burkhead finished with 8 total TDs (5 rushing, 3 receiving) -- nearly one per contest. He displayed surprising power, and an uncanny ability to get behind his blockers and fall forward through the narrowest of creases. With the Patriots adding Sony Michel at No.31, as well as the bruising Jeremy Hill in free agency, many expected Burkhead's job to be in jeopardy -- not the case, according to insider Reiss. Moreover, Burkhead took "the majority of first-team reps" in OTAs, which is unsurprising given Michel's rookie status, but still noteworthy. Meanwhile, RBs coach Ivan Fears  called Burkhead  "something special," someone "you sort of build on." Even with only prime Red Zone real estate in one of the league's highest-scoring attacks, Burkhead is a bonafide steal at RB37 (95 overall). Yet, with the versatility to truly inherit Dion Lewis' starting role if Michel falters (or has ball-security woes following 12 collegiate fumbles), Burkhead's ceiling is enormous, and only emphasizes this insane value.
A “More Aggressive” Blake Bortles Offers Genuine ‘Unsexy Upside’ in Year 2 of Offense
According to Jaguars OC Nathaniel Hackett, Blake Bortles progression in his second year of the offense will allow him "to be a lot more aggressive." Bortles, who feels he is playing far more freely and now "owning the offense," still possesses a cannon arm and drips in sneaky upside as the current QB25 (190th overall). Perhaps the name Bortles just sounds ugly, because year-in and year-out the gunslinger goes largely undrafted in fantasy football, despite finishing as the QB4, QB9, and QB13 over his past three seasons. He's always had the deep arm, completing a league-high 72 passes of 20+ yards in that QB4 season. Now more comfortable in Hackett's offense in Year 2, Bortles is reportedly playing without thinking and allowing Hackett to be more aggressive in his play-calling. "We’re in a great situation, because a very good line, and we have very good running backs, which will allow us to run the ball," Hackett said. "Now it’s going to allow us to be a lot more aggressive because you can trust that Blake is going to make the right decision more consistently."  While you gain no "ohhs" and "ahhs," Bortles has a sneaky high floor and a completely ignored ceiling, making him a worthy last-round investment for the QB-needy.
Deshaun Watson looking healthy, to “play the same way as before”
Despite coming off a torn ACL, Deshaun Watson is looking close to 100% healthy and has no plans to change his style of play in 2018 -- and the Texans won't try to reign him in. This is huge news, as Watson should be deployed in the same manner that made him a bonafide "cheatcode" during his seven games in 2017, and justifies our No.1 QB ranking. In only seven games last season, Watson completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,699 yards, with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions while rushing for 269 yards and two scores (3883 Pass Yd, 43 TDs, 614 Rush Yd, 5 TD pace). He was easily the top-scorer in fantasy during this span, and seemed to be only trending upwards after a 469 total yard, 4 TD thriller against a still-healthy Seattle secondary. Following an ACL surgery, Watson reportedly looked fully healthy in OTAs, "launching a series of accurate rainbow spirals from a variety of angles ... The only real evidence remaining from a torn anterior cruciate ligament... a brace on his right knee." He also won't hesitate his dual-threat ways in 2018, and the the coaching staff won't try to reign him in, making a repeat of "Cheatcode Status" very possible:  “Injuries are going to happen,” said Watson, “I’ve dealt with this injury before as a freshman. And I played the same way I did the year before. There’s no point in switching up the routine.... I do what I do. I don’t want to change anything that got me here.”
Marlon Mack Set for Clearer Role Amidst Robert Turbin’s Four-Game Suspension, Still RBBC
Robert Turbin has been suspended four-games for PEDs, removing one of many mouths to feed in this Colts' backfield. Marlon Mack's stranglehold on early-down work, and his chance to distance himself from the pack, seems far stronger now; however, the backfield is expected to remain a committee under Frank Reich.  Though Mack is incredibly explosive (led the league in 20+ yard runs as a rookie) and has an even clearer path to touches now, he also struggled heavily in pass-protection and inside running. Considering Frank Reich's lengthy history with RBBCs,  Mack's "Usage" uptick is unlikely to be enormous. In fact, when discussing his backfield, RBs coach Tom Rathman noted, “We’re going to play a lot of running backs. You’re not going to have a bell cow, so to speak, a guy that’s going to carry the load. We’ve got a lot of different styles and I think anytime you have a lot of different styles, you want to try to utilize that." Thus, Mack might now offer more fantasy appeal, especially consider Turbin seemed locked-in for goalline work. Still, rookies Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins will be worked in heavily, making Mack an avoid for me, especially with Tarik Cohen and Julian Edelman carrying similar price tags. Follow the links for more on Frank Reich and the entire Colts attack, as well as all of 2018's New Coaches and Offenses.
Tarik Cohen “Lining Up Everywhere… Learning Every Position” in Bears’ OTAs
Tarik Cohen may have gone criminally underutilized under John Fox last season, but the opposite appears to be true for his 2018 fortunes. His "Usage" Score is set to skyrocket under the creative and aggressive Matt Nagy, who reportedly lined Cohen up all over the field during OTAs, while the shifty, explosive tailback has spent time learning every position possible. Despite ranking as PFF's top "Breakaway Threat" after over 50% his  runs went for 15+ yards, Cohen received only 87 carries and 140 total touches. These numbers should skyrocket under Nagy, who's "giddy" about all the ways he can maximize Cohen's explosiveness and versatility, stating, "We’ll have some fun with him.” OTAs provided glimpses of this increased usage, where Cohen was "arguably... busier learning coach Matt Nagy’s offense than anybody except quarterback Mitch Trubisky." The sophomore back was reportedly "all over the field — running inside and outside, coming out of the backfield on pass plays, pass-protecting and lining up as a wide receiver." Cohen perfectly fits the "Reid" mold as an elite receiver (Nagy stating - "You may look like you can run routes, but can you really run routes? He’s able to run routes") -ideal, considering backfield mate Jordan Howard is among the worst receiving backs in the league. Finally free from Fox's shackles, and now under the perfect coach to capitalize on his skillset, Cohen's 77th ADP is going to look foolish come the end of 2018.

Follow the links for more on Cohen, Nagy, and all of 2018's New Coaches and Offenses.

Evan Engram to Ascend Into Elite Tight End Territory Under Pat Shurmur
Similar to his wideouts, Pat Shurmur's track record with tight ends feels pretty consistent: when he's had talent, he's put it in position to succeed. Over his last four campaigns, Shurmur has targeted his tight ends at least 80 times, including an insane 132 targets for Kyle Rudolph just two seasons ago. He loves the play action ball and sending his tight ends streaking down the seams, while also crafting up tight end screens.Rookie tight ends notoriously translate slowly to the NFL, so Evan Engram's 722 yards, 6 TDs and TE5 fantasy campaign emphasizes his immense talent. Again, Shurmur crafts opportunities for his playmakers, and Engram will certainly be towards the top of his priority list. He's a true matchup nightmare with a blazing 4.42 forty at 6'3", 234 lbs and butter smooth route running.

He'll see immense red zone volume and have plenty of space underneath, as Beckham's return should only further shake Engram free. Not to mention the addition of Saquon Barkley. “You look at teams with a solid running game and great running back, it opens the doors for a lot of things in the passing game,” Engram said. “Especially in the middle of the field. And that’s where the tight ends usually get a lot of their production. So it’s exciting. I’m excited to see him come in and make the transition.”

Expect Shurmur to capitalize upon these physical gifts, while Engram takes the usual sophomore leap himself.

He may struggle for the volume to reach Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz territory, as Engram will be below Beckham, Barkley, and likely Shepard most weeks on the target totem pole. Still, the quality of these looks will be sky-high, and Engram should approach or surpass double-digit scores with similar yardage and reception totals.

Stefon Diggs To Explode and Outscore Adam Thielen in 2018

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs could not be more perfect for new OC John DeFilippo's system. DeFilippo wants receivers who can run the entire route tree from every single position. Both wideouts are dangerous on every pattern,  vast experience both outside and in the slot. The creative, mismatch possibilities are truly endless here.

Just look at their history: Stefon Diggs was the primary slot man in 2016, racking up 43 catches and 478 yards inside; a year later, Adam Thielen logged the most slot snaps, and did the most damage here with 592 yards on 46 receptions. Both have the finesse and pristine route-running to dominate inside.

Yet, they also are equally dangerous out-wide. Both have excellent top-end speed, and can blow by defenders who bite on their dangerous double moves. From 2015-17 on throws of 20 yards or more, Thielen posted a 51.4 reception percentage on 35 targets. Diggs notched a 43.5 reception percentage on 46 targets, with five of his touchdowns coming on such deep routes.

Even more, Diggs in particular can dominate in one-on-one situations. In fact, Diggs was PFF's highest graded WR in contested situations last year.

This mirrors DeFilippo's evaluation of Diggs, who was not only "shocked" by his pristine route running, but also added, "More of the tape study of what I had of the Vikings was when I got here, the tape doesn’t do that justice,” he said. “His ball skills are fantastic. The way he tracks the football in the air.”

This is crucial praise from DeFilippo. When you dig into his red zone philosophies and tendencies, he's gushes about giving his players chances to win those one-on-one balls:

"Red zone football is about matchups,” DeFilippo said. “It’s who can beat who, one-on-one. Can a back beat a safety one-on-one in the hole? Can a receiver beat a DB one-on-one, in a two-yard space, where you’re telling him he has two yards to work from the back of the end line to go up and get a football?

"I’ve been on a team where we had a bunch of 5-foot-8 receiver [in Cleveland}, and it made life really, really hard, and our 6-foot-5 tight end [Gary Barnidge] broke Ozzie Newsome’s record for touchdowns in the red zone. So, does having guys that are bigger, like [Stefon] Diggs and [Adam] Thielen and [Laquon] Treadwell and [Kyle} Rudolph help? Heck yeah."

Expect Diggs' contested skills to be called upon heavily in the Red Zone. According to "all accounts," Diggs "has shown up to OTAs and the offseason program looking quicker and stronger as he works to develop a bond with a new quarterback in Cousins." I like his chances at topping 10+ TDs for the first time in his career.

Health remains an issue -- he's missed time in all three of his professional seasons, and often seems to have something nagging to play through. Yet, if he can get this under control, Diggs is set up for his first 1,000 yard and double-digit TD season of his career. He's never played with a coach who can maximize his skill set, or a signal caller who can deliver the mail, quite like DeFilippo and Cousins. Despite Thielen's massive 2017 breakout, I think Diggs is the highest scorer here.

Though Thielen would be hard-pressed to top his Pro-Bowl level 91 receptions and 1276 yards from last season (especially if Diggs can stay healthy), he could stand for an uptick in his 4 TDs -- especially under Red Zone maestro DeFilippo. Thus, I expect him to remain a low-end WR1, with the upside to even surpass last year's explosion if Diggs' health woes get in the way.

All-in-all, both WRs will be playing with the best QB, and potential best play-caller of their young careers (granted, Shurmur is a beast). Expect a career season from Diggs (health-permitting), and continued success from Thielen, making both prime Round 3 targets -- ideally as high-end WR2s, yet passable WR1s if you've gone RB-RB for a stable of horses.

To learn more about what to expect out of John DeFilippo's offense in 2018, check out our Vikings Team Preview.

Is Bears Rookie WR Anthony Miller 2018’s Cooper Kupp?

Even with the added weaponry for Mitch Trubisky, the Bears couldn't pass up on Memphis WR Anthony Miller with the 51st pick of the draft. Unsurprisingly, Matt Nagy has only spoken glowingly about his rookie toy. Slated for a potential starting role in the slot, Miller has a chance to make an immediate impact in Nagy's offense.

“You want to be able to see throughout their pro days, the combine, what they put on tape — any time you can see a route that relates to what you do as an offense, you kind of tag that and say, ‘OK. Hey, there it is. I found one," Nagy said, "And so with Anthony, you see a guy that at the top of his route, he likes to stick the top of the route and it’s sharp, so what that does is it sets the angle for the quarterback."

"And you don’t see that from every wide receiver. There’s a violent move for him to be able to set angles, whether it’s a slant route, a post route, an out route, et cetera, he’s aggressive with it and I think that fits his style of play.”

Nagy may just make Miller the 2018 Cooper Kupp. The new HC has a clear vision for the role and route tree he'll ask of Miller, and early predictions have Miller "earmarked for the slot." Taylor Gabriel may blow up more often, but Miller could be the more consistent and reliable PPR product, and both are worthy late round Penny Stocks.

Chris Hogan and Jordan Matthews Rise With Julian Edelman Facing Suspension
After missing the entire 2017 season, Tom Brady and the Patriots will be without Julian Edelman for the first four games of the 2018 season after Edelman got popped with a four-game PED suspension. With our WR21 in timeout, it will not only be 'next man up' for the Patriots, but it also opens up larger roles for the other Patriots pass-catchers -- primarily Chris Hogan and free agent signee Jordan Matthews.  The Patriots just can't stay out of the news and that continued on Thursday afternoon when Field Yates dropped yet another bomb on Foxboro when he tweeted out that Edelman had a four game suspension looming (it's under appeal) for PED use. Looking at the Patriots wide receiver corps, there are a household names who will make an impact, a few who could make an impact and a few who will be cut during camp. Chris Hogan (our WR35) is a guy who we were higher on last season than most and was actually a solid fantasy option before injuring his shoulder mid-season. Once Brandin Cooks exited the Super Bowl, Hogan returned to his natural position and scorched the Eagles secondary to the tune of 128 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. Outside of Rob Gronkowski and James White, Brady has the most chemistry with Hogan and will look his way early and often through the first four games. He's the clear winner here. With Danny Amendola taking his talents to South Beach, the rest of the receiving depth chart is pretty questionable. Malcolm Mitchell is someone who flourished as a rookie and quickly gained Brady's trust, but he missed all of last season and has yet to get out of the trainer's room during OTAs or mini camp. If Mitchell can regain form, he'll be one with fantasy appeal across from Hogan. In the slot, the Patriots signed the talented, yet inconsistent Jordan Matthews -- who now drips in Penny Stock appeal. Matthews is a bigger slot guy, standing at 6-foot-3, 212 lbs and would give Brady a different look from that position. Matthews had back-to-back eight touchdown seasons in 2014 and 2015, and has caught 67-plus balls in three of his four seasons. If he can get on the same page as Brady during training camp, then he'll be the guy to handcuff to Edelman. Other young slot guys to keep an eye on during camp would be rookie stud Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron -- a player who the Patriots stashed on their practice squad last season and has garnered some positive attention lately. As for Kenny BrittPhillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson... it's tough to expect much fantasy-wise from either three, as they're all boom-or-bust players who won't get targeted much from Brady. Rex BurkheadJames White and Sony Michel will also get target increases, but per usual it will be tough to guess which one will get that week's share. The Wolf hasn't updated his rankings yet to reflect the suspension, but bookmark our Stock Watch to see who Brady has developed a connection with at camp.
Vikings OC John DeFilippo Wants Dalvin Cook to ‘Line up Anywhere’
New Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has started to move Dalvin Cook around the line of scrimmage and especially out wide as a receiver in order to make things easier for the Vikings offense. Cook will look to build on his three-and-a-half game rookie campaign where he showed legitimate RB1 potential. If DeFilippo can turn Cook into an all-around back, his ceiling is limitless. With Cook participating in full team drills on Tuesday, his hype train started to rev up. But after the internet caught wind of DeFilippo's comments, one could say the train is well on its way. DeFilippo came from a similar scheme in Philadelphia, so there won't be much of a change from last year's offense which was led by Pat Shurmur. DeFilippo stated, "we're calling the run game pretty much the same." Which will make for an easy transition for his sophomore stud running back. He will add a few new wrinkles that should get Cook into a more favorable position to make plays. "The thing we've tried to work with Dalvin coming in here is getting him outside the numbers a little bit, and getting him out wide, and getting him comfortable out there. Because we want our skill guys, our best players, and all of our players, to be able to lineup anywhere." In his four games played last season, Cook recorded 11 receptions on 16 targets. If he stayed on that pace for a full 16 game slate, he would have totaled 44 receptions on 64 targets. It seems as though DeFilippo wants his talented running back to be targeted more in the pass game, which will then make life easier for Kirk Cousins. When a running back is split out wide, it exposes the defensive calls and shows the quarterback whether the defense is in man or zone. Another wrinkle that DeFilippo wants to carry over from his time with Doug Pederson is the Eagles' no-huddle scheme. If they can keep Cook on the field against a tired defense that can't get the proper sub-packages in, it will make life even easier for the running back. As of now, Cook is ranked as our RB9, right behind Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette -- two players who he could easily leap over during the summer.
Titans WR Corey Davis Flashing Dominant WR1 Form in OTAs
Corey Davis has been an early star of Titans OTAs, reportedly "catching the ball with ease," "long-striding all over the practice field," and "turning up the field" with fiery acceleration. He's also putting in extra time with Marcus Mariota and at the JUGs machine, clearly committing to his WR1 path. While dominating in shorts shouldn't be overvalued, Davis is healthy and flashing the "Talent" that made him the No.5 overall pick and potential passing-game centerpiece. Injuries, inconsistency, and a weak scheme all led to a disappointing debut for Davis in 2017. And while only early June, many of these ailments seem headed for a massive healing in his sophomore season. Flashing full health, Davis has been the receiving focal point early on, flying around the field and especially dominant in the intermediate game and after the catch. Of course, we've seen plenty of "shorts and helmets" all stars that never pan out, and Davis' track record on the actual NFL field is spotty, at best. Yet, his only flash of brilliance was his most recent -- a flat out dominant 98 yard, 2 TD Wildcard performance in which Davis made leaping grabs, one-handed snares, and looked all the parts of a No.1 threat. Now unshackled from "Exotic Smashmouth," we could see many repeat performances in 2018. Davis profiles as a near perfect fit for new OC Matt Lafleur's expected scheme. Lafleur has been groomed under two of the brightest young minds in Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, who's respective '16 Falcons and '17 Rams both led the league in points. Both play callers feature a bevy of intermediate, YAC creating concepts that churn a defense down, before attacking deep for the explosion plays. Davis is a 6'3" route-running technician in his break points and releases in college, was dominant after the catch, and has a fast game-speed at every level -- his NCAA record 5,285 receiving yards didn't happen by accident.  If Robert Woods can be the top-scoring fantasy WR for lengthy stretches, Davis should be licking his chops. He's Woods on steroids, and faces far less competition for looks. Actually maintaining his health once the pads come on will be the greatest obstacle for Davis to overcome. If he can do so, Davis has the Individual Talent, Usage, Scheme, and Surrounding Talent all now on his side -- a recipe for dominant WR1 stats. He truly is capable of an 85 catch, 1,000 yard, 8 TD season, which makes his 85th Overall ADP an insane value.
Colts RB Nyheim Hines Continues to be ‘All Over the Field’ at OTAs
With Marlon Mack still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, the Colts backfield is muddy and up for grabs. Enter Nyheim Hines, who has the ability to not only lineup in the backfield, but also in the slot and outwide. If Hines continues to ascend, he has a chance to stand out against mediocre competition, which then puts him on the Penny Stock map. A few weeks ago on The Fantasy Fullback Dive, we dissected the incoming rookie class with Mike 'The Hitman' Wright of The Fantasy Footballers. When asked about who would be the "next Alvin Kamara" he quickly shot down the notion that any rookie would make a Kamara-like impact. However, he did mention Hines as a relative unknown rookie running back who could make a fantasy difference in 2018. Fast forward to OTAs and it looks like Hines is already turning heads, as Colts.com described Day 4 of OTAs: "With Mack out, the running back position is certainly fluid. It was veteran Robert Turbin getting early snaps with the top unit on Wednesday, but Nyheim Hines (who was all over the field again, like last week), Christine Michael and Josh Ferguson were also getting plenty of reps with the ones, too. Jordan Wilkins got a few snaps here and there, as well." One would have to assume that with that quote, the Colts are lining Hines up everywhere and are testing out his plus-receiving talents. Hines fits the mold of a player who would excel in Frank Reich's system, which is a "multiple attack, up-tempo offense." Could the rookie snag 50 balls in this offense? Most definitely. Keep an eye on how Hines is being used throughout training camp, as he might be the unknown rookie who explodes.
Hunter Henry, Our TE4, Suffers Season-Ending Torn ACL
The gates have been shut on Hunter Henry's breakout season, as he tore his ACL in his right knee when he was running untouched at OTAs on Tuesday afternoon. When the Chargers shut down the thought of bringing back Antonio Gates, we sky-rocketed Henry to our TE4 -- this is a devastating loss to the 2018 fantasy season. Will the door now be open for an Antonio Gates reunion? We were all-in on the thought of Henry as a top-five tight end in fantasy this season. The Wolf, a long-time Henry truther, even said he was in for an "Ertz-ian leap" in 2018. Unfortunately, that will be no more. Henry's absence may open the door for an Antonio Gates return in 2018. The 37-year old tight end still showed a pulse at the end of the 2017 season when he racked up 10 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown during the final two games. If he were to be re-signed, he would have to compete with the nobodies that are Virgil GreenSean CulkinBen Johnson and Cole Hunt. Even if Gates returns, it's tough to expect much from a 37-year old corpse. One would believe that the targets that would have gone to Henry will now go to the likes of Keenan AllenTyrell WilliamsMelvin GordonMike Williams  and Travis Benjamin. It's also a possibility that the Chargers could venture into the trade market for a tight end. Either way, this is a massive blow to an already thin fantasy positional group. Keep The Wolf in your prayers this week.
David Johnson Looks Fully Healthy and Like Old Self in OTAs; Sets Lofty 2018 Goals

David Johnson put on a show in the first day of OTAs, confirming his health and talent remain fully in tact following last year’s season-ending wrist dislocation. Despite Bruce Arians’ departure, Johnson was reportedly still lining up at WR and frequently motioning out of the backfield in practice, suggesting he’ll maintain his target-hog receiving “Usage” in addition to his bell cow back status.

Johnson entered 2018 with some mild concerns over both his health and his role outside of Bruce Arians’ workhorse-obsessed scheme. If the first day of OTAs was any indication, both worries should be assuaged, as Johnson looked as explosive as ever while moving all over the formation:

“I don’t want to get too excited,” new HC Steve Wilks gushed, “but David Johnson, he looked outstanding today. It’s good to have him back there, just flying around. The things that he’s doing right now, it’s pretty exciting.”

Players also took notice, too. “Penny Stock” candidate Ricky Seals-Jones noted, “He’s a different cat, man…the moves David can do are different.”

With his health and usage now firmer, Johnson will continue climbing up 2018 rankings. Last year’s Consensus No.1 is just one season removed from over 2,100 total yards and 20 TDs, and his lofty goals remain 1,000+ yards rushing AND 1,000 yards receiving for 2018. Sam Bradford is a dump off aficionado, and this enormous ambitions aren’t impossible.

Moreover, Johnson's expressed excitement over some subtle offensive tweaks, like running behind a fullback -- which suggests a high-volume run-game is coming under defensive-minded Wilks. In fact, Wilks already said as much at the 2018 Combine, stating: "We want to be productive, number one, in running the football," Wilks told reporters Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "This is a pass-happy league," Wilks emphasized several times. "It's my philosophy as a head coach -- I believe in establishing the run. And that's what we're going to do... As a defensive coordinator, there’s nothing more demoralizing to a team than being able to run the ball... When you look at some of the premier running backs in the National Football League, we have one right here in (David) Johnson.” He'll also benefit from new RB Coach Kirby Wilson, who has coached some of the best out of Curtis Martin, Emmitt Smith, and Adrian Peterson. According to DJ, Wilson is already "always in my ear" and preaching the little intracicies to take his game to the next level. All great news for Johnson.  Despite falling to 5-6 in drafts, he's in position to score the most FPs in 2018, making the 6th pick an amazing place to draft.
Vance McDonald Oozes Penny Stock Potential in the Steelers’ Offense
On paper, Vance McDonald has all the attributes to be one of the top tight ends in the league. However, he showed absolutely nothing on the field during his first season with the Steelers -- until the AFC Divisional Round. If he can build off his final game of the season, McDonald may fulfill his potential and become a viable fantasy option in the Steelers explosive offense. During his 10 regular season games, McDonald registered a useless 14 receptions, 188 yards and one touchdown. He was unable to click with Ben Roethlisberger and was nothing more than an afterthought in one of the league's most explosive offenses. Then, the playoffs happened. McDonald lit up the nasty Jaguars defense to the tune of 112 yards and 10 receptions on 16(!) TARGETS. That is not a typo. For him to have gained Big Ben's trust during a playoff game against the top defense in the NFL shows his potential for the 2018 season. We all know Roethlisberger loved to pepper Heath Miller, so if McDonald becomes more than just a benefit of a certain scheme, it would not hurt to use a late-round flier on the 6-foot-4, 267 lb tight end. Add McDonald to the list of Penny Stock tight ends with Rico Gathers and Ricky Seals-Jones.
Peyton Barber Little More than Late Round Flier After Ronald Jones’ Arrival
With the blink of an eye, Peyton Barber’s stay atop the Buccaneers depth chart may have just disappeared, as the team selected the Ronald Jones in the early second round. Though Bucs GM Jason Licht maintains Barber will remain involved, Jones’ far superior talent should eventually win out and render Barber useless by midseason. 

Despite finishing strong over 2017’s final five weeks (and even leading the team in rushing), Barber’s grip on the Buccaneers starting role never felt real. This was fully realized after Tampa Bay sank the 38th overall pick into explosive rookie Ronald Jones; while Tampa Bay Times’ Greg Auman expects the two backs to “share the load initially,” with Jones gaining usage as he also gains trust by proving himself in key intricacies like pass-protection. In a best case, Jones develops slowly while Barber continues to thrive… but even then, he’ll be behind an ineffective line. More likely, he provides unusable, plodding early season volume and fades into nothingness by midseason. There’s higher upside stabs that can be made. 

Chris Carson’s Fantasy Value Tanks After Seahawks Select “3-Down” RB Rashaad Penny
Chris Carson’s expected Volume and overall fantasy football value have vanished after the Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny and immediately labeled him their three-down back.

Though I was never a huge Carson enthusiast, he entered the draft as the clear king atop the mountain-of-shit that was the Seahawks RB depth chart.   After all, the Seahawks backfield completely floundered after Carson suffered a broken leg in Week 4, with the team's leading rusher posted a monstrous 240 yards and the team notching exactly 1 RB rushing TD in 2017. Given this abysmal output, Carson — who posted two double digit outputs in only three featured games — appeared the clear frontrunner for volume in a Russell Wilson offense.

Now, that chance is completely erased. The Seahawks reportedly LOVE Penny, to the point they were willing to reach up at 18 for him before a trade partner emerged. Moreover, Pete Carroll has said the team will treat Penny as a true “three down back,” leaving nothing but scraps and handcuff-only upside for Carson — we’ve set Penny’s over / under touch total at 300, and I’m banging the over. Consequently, Carson goes from an intriguing mid round prospect to a draft day afterthought, save the deepest leagues.

Martavis Bryant has Opportunity to Reach Full Potential with Raiders
Hidden amongst the chaos of the draft was a trade between the Steelers and Raiders that sent Martavis Bryant to Oakland in exchange for a third-round pick. Bryant, who now enters his fourth season at the young and ripe age of 26, figures to be a low-cost, high upside proposition. Around these parts we call that Penny Stock. For those unfamiliar, Bryant is virtually a poor man’s Josh Gordon, which is still pretty damn good. Through his first two seasons, the former Clemson Tiger scored at a ridiculous rate, managing 15 touchdowns in just 21 games.  During that time, Bryant averaged 62.5 yards and 3.6 catches per game. That equates to a 17.2 yards per catch average, which would have tied for third in the league last year. If we apply Bryant’s production from his first two seasons to a full 16 game slate, we wind up with 1,000 yards, 11 touchdowns and 57 receptions. Those numbers would have placed Bryant as the fourteenth-highest scoring receiver for PPR formats in 2017, sandwiching him between Doug Baldwin and Davante Adams. With such a robust start to his career, the pass-catcher’s future appeared bright. Unfortunately, the only thing higher than Bryant’s ceiling was Bryant himself. A litany of failed drug tests resulted in a season long suspension which Bryant served in 2016. When he returned in 2017, things never seemed to click. Bryant averaged 40.2 yards and 3.3 catches per game, and accumulated just 12.1 yards per catch. What’s worse is the man who was once a touchdown machine, reached the endzone only three times in fifteen games. Bryant made his frustrations public last season, scrutinizing the coaching staff for how they used him and making it known he wanted out of Pittsburgh. Eventually, his wish was granted. In Oakland, Bryant has the chance for a fresh start. He joins quarterback Derek Carr, who made both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree top 15 fantasy receivers (PPR & Standard) in 2016. Crabtree, who signed with Baltimore this offseason, averaged 8.5 targets per game in his three seasons with the Black & Silver, leaving Bryant with plenty of opportunity to make an impact. It is entirely possible that Bryant will never live up to the potential he illustrated in 2014 and 2015. For all we know his days of being a big-play receiver could be up in smoke. But when you’re searching for that sleeper in the back end of your fantasy drafts, remember what Martavis 'Big-Blunt' Bryant was once, and could still be capable of.
Christian McCaffrey Falls as CJ Anderson Fits in Nicely With Panthers
After we prematurely blew our load when the Panthers passed on a running back in the draft, Carolina signed the always solid CJ Anderson to handle early-down duties. This means Christian McCaffrey took a tumble down our Big Board from RB13, to RB18. When the Panthers decided to part ways with the lifeless corpse that is Jonathan Stewart, we could not have been happier. McCaffrey was set to be the bell-cow in Norv Turner's offense that turned LaDanian Tomlinson into a first ballot Fantasy Hall of Famer. Then, those dreams were dashed when Carolina added the consistent CJ Anderson -- a talent upgrade over Stewart. McCaffrey was looking at the potential of 275-plus touches in his sophomore year, which would have dripped him in serious RB1 upside. Now, Anderson will be the guy who will likely tote the rock on the early downs, while McCaffrey will see his typical passing game volume. Make no mistake about it, the second year back will still get 100-plus touches on the ground and over 100 targets through the air, but his RB1 upside has all but evaporated. As for Anderson, this is a pretty solid fit. He's coming off a 1,000-yard season in Denver where he averaged over four-yards per carry on a bad football team. Although Cam Newton will score on the goal line, Anderson should get six-plus touchdowns. He's not the sexiest of running backs, but he does need to be rostered as a RB3/ Flex option.  As of now, Anderson is our RB34, right in the area of Tarik Cohen and Tevin Coleman.
Lamar Miller Faces Minimal Competition in Juicy Fantasy Spot
Even if we feel Lamar Miller is a pedestrian Talent, he's once again staring at serious Volume in what projects to be a juggernaut offense, assuming Deshaun Watson returns to full health. This is especially true after the team bypassed any rookie RBs from one of the deepest classes in years. Miller's done nothing to suggest he warrants serious usage since joining the Texans. His YPC has been a meager 3.88, he's caught only 34 passes a year, and he's been perhaps the least elusive back in the entire league, forcing a meager 44 missed tackles over 506 carries (a pathetic 8.7%). Amidst these struggles, he's still received the 8th most carries over the past two seasons, and (unfortunately) is again set up to keep heavily adding to this total in 2018. Whether he likes it or not, The Wolf must reevaluate his 83rd overall ranking (-35 from ECR) on sheer opportunity and situation alone. Earlier this offseason, sophomore bulldozer D'Onta Foreman appeared destined to push for a starting role, but the latest reports suggest he's a candidate for the PUP. Meanwhile, the Texans only offseason backfield move was re-signing Alfred Blue -- equally plod-worthy. Thus, Miller sees a healthy rise. On the positive front, he was able to ride the Deshaun Watson explosion to RB1 fantasy value, scoring the 8th most RB points over the rookie QBs six starts. Additionally, Miller's shown well as a receiver, tallying a 120.1 wide receiver rating on non-screen RB passes according to PFF. Even if the Individual Talent is missing, Miller benefits from a tremendous combination of Usage,  Surrounding Talent and a creative, run-heavy Offensive Scheme. Thus, Miller remains a quality RB2... until Foreman can finally return and steal this valuable throne.
Gross Isaiah Crowell Now Leading Candidate for TDs in Jets’ RB Value Hole
After four seasons of ranking between RB14 and RB30 in Cleveland, Isaiah Crowell was signed by the Jets to a three-year deal. It doesn't come without competition from Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, Thomas Rawls and Trenton Cannon, but Crowell still finds himself in a great spot for carries on what could be an improved offensive attack. The Wolf isn't particularly excited, listing Crowell as his RB40 heading into 2018 -- 3 spots ahead of Powell and 14 ahead of Rawls.  Isaiah Crowell is always an interesting fantasy piece to keep an eye on. He was considered one of the lone bright spots on a dismal Cleveland offense during his time there, but even with ample opportunity he was never able to step up and really lead the offense. Nobody else in the Jets backfield has ever been able to do so, either, so they gave him 12 million over three years to see if he can change that narrative and top 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. And especially with the Jets' impending QB situation, the running back position is an important one. Following the 2018 NFL Draft, the Jets currently have 5 QBs on their roster -- Josh McCownTeddy BridgewaterChristian Hackenberg and 2nd overall pick Sam Darnold. McCown started 13 games for New York last season but turns 39 in July. Bridgewater threw for over 3,200 yards in an 11-5 Vikings season in 2015, but missed virtually two full seasons after a gruesome leg injury. Hackenberg has looked terrible in the preseason and has never thrown a regular season pass. Darnold complicates the situation as a rookie who the team used a very high pick on, but is unlikely to see the field this year, as he is more of a project. Whoever's under center for the Jets in 2018, they'll need some help from the backfield. Powell has started 30 games over seven seasons for the Jets but never topped 200 carries in a season, and Rawls showed glimpses of greatness in Seattle, yet he could never stay on the field due to lack of production and injuries. While Crowell never made the leap in Cleveland, he's coming off a two-season stretch where he rushed for over 1,800 yards and started all 32 games. The Jets had PFF's 30th ranked offensive line last season and did nothing to address it during the draft or free agency, so Crowell will have his work cut out for him -- coming from Cleveland's very solid OL. Provided he proves his worth in the preseason, Crowell should be at least a 175-750-6 kinda guy, likely making a solid FLEX play in strong matchups.
Alvin Kamara and the Saints Passing Game Shoot to the Moon Following Mark Ingram’s 4 Game Suspension
One head of the Saints' two-headed rushing attack will be stuck on the sidelines for the first four games of next season, when Mark Ingram was suspended on Tuesday afternoon for failing a PED test. This suspension will officially give the uber-talented Alvin Kamara the chance to put a stranglehold on the starting job, which bumped up Kamara to No. 6 overall on The Wolf's updated Big Board. Although NFL Network's Ian Rapoport stated that the Saints were going to feature Kamara anyway, the NFL's reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year will face limited competition for carries while Ingram is away from the team for the foreseeable future. During his rookie season, Kamara burst onto the scene with 1,554 total yards and 13 total touchdowns on 201 touches. The rookie put up those ridiculous numbers while competing with Ingram's 288 touches. Not only will Kamara benefit from Ingram's suspension, but Drew BreesMike Thomas, Cam Meredith and the rest of the Saints passing game will also benefit from a fantasy standpoint. Even though Kamara is explosive as a runner, he's arguably more dangerous in the passing game. Look for the Saints to turn back the clock for a vintage Sean Payton-Drew Brees aerial attack with their bruiser out of the lineup. One name to keep an eye on is Saints rookie running back Boston Scott, who our friend of the program, Nick Underhill, tweeted about on Tuesday night. Scott is a 5-foot-7, 195 lb scat-back with elite athleticism and could get a shot on third down during those first four games. As of Tuesday night, Kamara bumped up to No.6 overall (RB5), while Thomas nudged up to No. 15 overall (WR4). Brees took the biggest jump from QB12 to QB5. Even though he's in a contract year, Ingram fell all the way to RB23.
Kenyan Drake to Build Upon Late Season Surge With Minimal RB Competition
Kenyan Drake appears set to build upon his massive 2017 fantasy finish after the Dolphins added minimal threatening competition for 2018 Volume. The ageless Frank Gore + fourth round rookie Kalen Ballage will steal some volume, but Drake should be the main weapon here, a role in which he thrived to close out last season. Drake has rarely received heavy volume in his college or pro career, failing to eclipse 100 carries in a single season until last year. Yet, whenever afforded the opportunities, he's flourished. Drake looked flat out elite for stretches of his late season surge, which included PFF's highest-graded RB game during Week 13 versus the Broncos. The advanced analytics support this, as Drake posted the most yards after contact per attempt (4.29) ever recorded by PFF. Now, he appears primed for the most Volume, by far, in his career. While Adam Gase may have claimed the the team doesn't want a single back getting 25 carries a game at this year's Combine, his history suggests otherwise: from 2013-2016, Gase facilitated four straight RB1 campaigns: Knowshon Moreno finished as the 2013 RB4 with 1586 Yards from Scrimmage (YFS) to pair with 13 total TDs; CJ Anderson racked up nearly 1200 yards and 10 total TDs in only seven 2014 starts; Matt Forte tallied 1287 YFS and 7 TDs in just 13 games in 2015, while Jay Ajayi hit 1423 YFS and 8  TDs in 12 2016 starts. Clearly, Gase has consistently ridden workhorses and has cited an affinity for every-down backs to avoid substitutions and keep defenses imbalanced.  Moreover, in that same Combine quote, Gase noted how impressed he was with Drake's ability to shoulder heavy workloads, stating: "Kenyan has done a better job of taking care of his body...A couple of those games where he had 20-plus carries. He’s walking in and acting like he didn’t play a game the night before. So I think youth plays a part in that a little bit. He’s put together well." Not only has Drake proven himself plenty capable to be Gase's next horse, he'll face minimal competition to secure this invaluable role. The Dolphins' only backfield additions have been a 35-year old Frank Gore and a fourth-round pick in Kalen Ballage.  Admittedly, the ageless Gore and his hard-nosed, workman approach do worry me a bit; Gase could fall in love with his veteran presence and unexpectedly feed him instead. Still, Gore has already embraced a mentoring role for Drake, and might only help the speedy back reach new heights. No one rushed for more yards than Drake over 2017's final five weeks. Gase's workhorse history and the current state of the Dolphins will give him every opportunity to build upon this for a massive 2018.
Jay Ajayi’s RB1 Rebound More Likely With No Rookie Competition
Though the Eagles had been frequently linked to RBs pre-draft, Jay Ajayi exits unscathed. Thus, his Volume as the early-down RB and likely short yardage ace is further cemented, and he continues climbing up the Big Board Ajayi's already been a featured riser on the Stock Watch after LeGarrette Blount left for Detroit. The 2018 NFL Draft sees his fantasy football value ascend even further, with no competition added for his early-down, short yardage role. Ajayi's path to 20+ touches in 2017’s highest scoring offense (29.0 PPG) just became all-but locked up, giving him a humongous ceiling that many sheep will be unwilling to acknowledge following his bust-filled disaster in 2017. Yes, Darren Sproles is now returning, but he's not a realistic threat for short yardage work, and is more likely to eat into Corey Clement's volume. As a reminder, in a far more congested backfield, Ajayi averaged 75.3 total yards from scrimmage in his 10 games with the Eagles — a 1205 yard pace in a 16 game season, which would’ve ranked 15th among RBs last year. He’s set for heavy, valuable volume, behind the league’s best offensive line, amidst an incredibly explosive and creatively called attack that features the traps and misdirections which Ajayi thrives. Fantasy Wolves know when to forgive double down, and a discounted Ajayi screams insane, cheap upside.
Aaron Jones in Prime Position to Lead Packers Backfield Post-Draft

Aaron Jones sees his Opportunity Score stabilized after the Packers avoided any backfield moves this offseason.  Indeed, Jamaal Williams lingers and rode heavy volume to strong fantasy outputs to close 2017, but Jones is a far more talented runner who drips in fantasy upside now. 

Most will call the Packers backfield a Training Camp battle to monitor, but the tape and stats all point to one man: Aaron Jones.

According to PFF, Green Bay backs led the NFL with 2.04 yards before contact on carries in 2017 thanks to superb line play.  Yet somehow, almost miraculously, the team averaged only 3.62 yards per carry. In fact, nearly every RB on the roster was under 4.0 YPC, including Jamaal Williams (3.6) and Ty Montgomery (3.8).

Everyone, that is, except Jones.

In fact, Jones and his 5.5 YPC led the NFL in terms of Individual YPC versus Team YPC Differential. Moreover, Jones ripped a 15+ yard run on every 10.1 carries... while Williams had one 15+ on all 153 of his totes. Jones' six runs of 20+ yards were more than LeVeon Bell, Leonard Fournette, and even Alvin Kamara, on a third (or even quarter, compared to Bell) of the attempts.

Simply put, the guy is incredibly explosive. As soon as Montgomery suffered his destined injury in Week 4, it was Jones, not Williams, was who got called on first. Jones certainly didn't disappoint, racking up 49 total yards + 1 TD (Wk 4), 134 tot. yds + 1 TD (Wk 5), 41 yards (Wk 6 dud), and 138 tot. yds + 1 TD (Wk 7) over his four-game starting stretch, enough to finish as the RB5 in that span.

Unfortunately, the injury imp bit, and a hampered Jones was a non-factor the rest of the season while Williams slugged his way to strong fantasy production thanks to insane volume.

Still, Jones flashed by far the most upside here. Despite a clear path to lead back duties in an Aaron Rodgers attack, Jones is insultingly going as the 86th overall pick and RB36. Let others believe this is a committee and competition, and go with the guy who'll be dominating come midseason.

Kerryon Johnson Might Not See a Lions’ Share of Carries in Committee-Plagued Detroit
Kerryon Johnson put up some serious numbers at Auburn, but there are numerous factors as to why we need to pump the breaks on him as a fantasy football stud with the Lions.  A 1,585 yard and 20 touchdown season in the rugged SEC is nothing to gloss over when it comes to breaking down Kerryon Johnson as a prospect. However, the way in which he got to that total yardage is the real question mark. When you pop the tape in, the first thing you'll notice is his size (6-feet, 230 lbs) and his patience at the line of scrimmage -- it's borderline Le'Veon Bell-like. Then you'll think you're watching an old Big Ten game, where it's three-yards and a cloud of dust. Johnson's lack of explosiveness (only nine rushes of 20-plus yards and three rushes of 30-plus yards on 285 carries) at the collegiate level is borderline frightening for his NFL future. Sure, the SEC has a few good defenses, but they've softened up lately outside of Alabama and Georgia. Even though the Lions' lackluster RB depth chart gives the appearance of a "Value Hole," the situation could be ugly. Matt Patricia now roams the sidelines there and we all know how much his mentor Bill Belichick, a notorious committee lover, cared about your fantasy teams. Patricia signed LeGarrette Blount in free agency to vulture touchdowns from the likes of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick.  A backfield of Johnson, Blount, Riddick and possibly Abdullah? Moreover, during the Lions’ Day 2 post-draft press conference, GM Bob Quinn said, " Ameer (Abdullah) is here, he was here this week, we’re gonna let all those guys compete. This isn’t a one-back league. We’re not a one-back team. It’s a running-back-by-committee league. We’ll probably have three of them active every week, and every one of them is going to have a role in our offense.” When asked specifically of usage, he added, “He runs a lot between the guards, but I think we’ll use him more to run outside…” Puke. Let your leaguemates take the oft-injured running back earlier than they should, while you can target one of the other rookie backs.
Tyrod Taylor’s Stock Plummets and Risk Skyrockets with Baker Mayfield Breathing Down His Neck
After entering the NFL Draft as The Wolf's QB11, Tyrod Taylor takes a massive plummet down our rankings after the team selected Baker Mayfield. Yes, the Browns were always expected to take a QB at No.1 Overall. But Mayfield is by far the most "pro-ready" (and, in my opinion, the clear top QB of this class), thus shortening Taylor's leash and increasing his Risk substantially.  Ugh. Tyrod Taylor was shaping up toe be one of my favorite late-round QB targets of 2018... and then the Browns decided to be smart for once and took Baker Mayfield. Now, Taylor still has plenty of ammunition to craft QB1 value for as long as he starts: He's mobile and brings elite athleticism to the position, spins a beautiful deep ball, and is surprisingly careful with the ball. Moreover, any season with marginal weaponry (2015 & 2016), he finished as the QB8 in points per game, and was able to finish above Marcus Mariota, Matt Ryan, and Derek Carr last season with... puke Zay Jones as his top target. All this despite playing in incredibly vanilla schemes. With the change of scenery, Taylor has among the league's most stacked casts, featuring Josh Gordon (potential top-five talent), Jarvis Landry (arguably the top slot weapon in the game), Corey Coleman, (an athletic freak not far removed from receiving awards as the top college wideout), Duke Johnson (among the top receiving backs in the game) and first round TE David Njoku (potential mismatch nightmare). Plus, Todd Haley is as bright an offensive mind this game has seen this decade. But again, none of this matters if he's not on the field (and Mayfield's the one reaping all these benefits). The team remains adamant Taylor will open 2018 as the starter.  But Mayfield's accuracy and leadership intangibles made him the most threatening of the rookie QBs to Taylor's starting gig, and the over/under on his games played has taken a severe hit. While Taylor will be a quality fantasy play for however long he lasts, hisexpiration date now feels a whole lot sooner, making him little more than a few week QB1 rental worth little more than a late round flier.
Ricky Seals-Jones Ready for an “Expanded Role” and Breakout Season
After catching 12 balls for 201 yards and three touchdowns during a five game span last season, Ricky Seals-Jones is ready for an "expanded role" in the Cardinals offense and could be a valuable, early season Penny Stock. Cardinals beat writer Mike Jurecki caught up with the 6-foot-5, 243 lb former wide receiver on Wednesday. Seals-Jones told Jurecki that he likes the new offense and is really impressed with new OC Mike McCoy's knowledge and intelligence. With Jermaine Gresham on the shelf with a torn Achilles and likely to miss at least Week 1, Seals-Jones will go into offseason workouts as the starter and he expects an expanded role this season. McCoy will have a positive impact on RSJ, as he coached both Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry in San Diego. Although Gates was on the back-nine with McCoy calling the shots, he was still peppered in the passing game. We may be a little biased because of his initials (RSJ), but Cardinals GM Steve Keim also had some positive words to say about his tight end at the owners meetings. "Ricky showed last year he could become a mismatch in the passing game athletically. Suddenness, his ability to create mismatches whether it is in motioning out of the slot, motioning out of the backfield. He is a guy to me that is just now scratching the surface. He’s a player we are excited about moving forward." Will RSJ be able to establish himself early and put Gresham out to pasture? We sure hope so.
Alex Collins’ Fantasy Value Rising After Ravens Avoid RBs in 2018 Draft
Despite lukewarm endorsements from John Harbaugh earlier this offseason, Alex Collins (RB - BAL) now remains in the driver's seat for early down duties in Greg Roman's run-obsessed attack, as the Ravens didn't take a single back in the 2018 Draft. This should preserve the high-upside RB2 value Collins delivered to Waiver Wolves during 2017's second half... if he can clear one final hurdle. Perhaps Collins is one of those, "you had to own him to understand him" type of players. Otherwise, I can't understand why he's falling so far under fantasy radars. From Week 8 on, when Collins truly secured the early-down back role, he ranked as the PPR RB8 in Fantasy. Moreover, his Pro Football Focus rushing grade was 89.7, the best mark in the entire league. In fact, according to PFF, "only his relative struggles as a receiver kept him from leading all running backs in overall grades." The tape matched all the stats, with Collins knifing through defenses with equal power and elusiveness, and feet that fired at a mile a minute despite his sturdy, large frame. Moreover, Collins benefits tremendously from receiving this featured work in Greg Roman's run-centric attack that features plenty of creative pulling concepts. Yet, he's ranked as a fringe fourth rounder according to the "experts." Truly, the only roadblock would be Kenneth Dixon's return. The team reportedly remains high on Dixon, who admittedly flashed well in his few healthy contests. Yet, Dixon's durability is a major question mark, and Collins flashed far more as a rusher than anything Dixon put on tape in 2016. All-in-all, Collins' Volume now appears far more cemented in the same role that yielded low-end RB1 outputs. Thus, his ranking as a low-end RB2 is criminal, and true wolves will feast upon this sheepish nonsense.
Rico Gathers Should be on Your Fantasy Football Radar With Jason Witten Retiring
Jason Witten formerly announced his retirement on Thursday to join the Monday Night Football booth. Get to know the name of Rico Gathers, who has the potential to be a Penny Stock in 2018. The 24-year-old former basketball player from Baylor is a freak athlete who did not play a down of football in college -- yet was drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Gathers stands at 6-foot-6, 273 lbs and could be the next great basketball-to-football tight end in the NFL. Although he has yet to play a regular season game for the Cowboys, he racked up 106 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions during last year's preseason contests. Unfortunately, he took a brutal helmet-to-helmet collision in training camp that sidelined him for the entire regular season. But instead of the Cowboys cutting the raw, unfinished project, they held onto him for the season. That shows the confidence that they have in the former hoops star. It looked like the Cowboys were lined up to draft Dallas Goedert (our TE1), but the rival Eagles jumped ahead of them at the last second to grab the stud tight end. Dallas didn't select a tight end in the draft until the fourth round, where they selected an all-around tight end from Stanford, Dalton Schultz. Schultz is more of a move tight end who is known for his blocking, meaning Gathers should be the guy that Dak Prescott targets. Keep an eye on Gathers throughout training camp, as he drips in fantasy potential Someone has to step up in the absence of both Dez Bryant and Witten, who combined to have a 45.1-percent target share in 2017.
Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin Lack Appeal, yet Could Succeed Behind Dominant OL
The Oakland Raiders signed Doug Martin this offseason to join Marshawn Lynch in the Bay Area. With the Raiders surprisingly staying away from a runner in the draft, Lynch and Martin will battle it out in training camp to see who gets the majority of carries behind that mauling offensive line. Last year when Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement there was plenty of hype surrounding Beast Mode and his possible explosion behind Oakland's solid offensive line. That didn't happen. Much like the big expectations on Oakland's offense as a whole. Lynch failed to put up over 1,000 yards as his total carries dropped to a near career-low 207 attempts. He began the year on a four-game suspension and struggled to really get anything going upon his return as he was phased out of the offense for the likes of Peyton Barber. A new location in Oakland could very well help him bounce back into relevancy as we had enormous hopes for Martin last preseason. Starting with Derek Carr, the surrounding cast in Oakland is a positive. They have some talent at receiver with Amari CooperJordy Nelson and Seth Roberts, along with a solid tight end in Jared Cook. However, it's the offensive line that is the greatest asset in Oakland, where they ranked 8th in PFF's offensive line rankings. Gruden wants to turn back the clock and he found two elder statesmen to do just that. This committee has a chance to be putrid, but if one of them wins the job outright, there could be some potential here.
The Falcons Offense Will be More Explosive With Calvin Ridley
The Falcons added another dynamic weapon to their offense when they drafted Alabama's Calvin Ridley in the first round. Ridley's elite slot play will raise his teammates' fantasy stock and he will be one of the few rookie receivers to make a fantasy impact this season.  Ridley entered the draft process as the consensus No. 1 wide receiver. Then a bunch of #DraftTwitter nerds decided that his measurables, his final year of production and his age (he's nine months younger than soon-to-be fifth year veteran Brandin Cooks) were detriments to his potential fantasy success. That's incredibly stupid. The 6-foot-1, 189 lb WR is an elite route runner who made things look easy in Alabama's run-first offense. His plus-attributes and his experience will make him an instant impact player with the Falcons. Ridley is going to make Matt Ryan's stock rise a bit, since he will be added to the arsenal of weapons that include Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper. Since he's a polished senior citizen, he's the most NFL-ready receiver in the class, which is why he's going to make an instant impact. Players from Nick Saban's program have recently busted in the NFL since they're worked down to the bone at Alabama, but the receivers (Jones and Amari Cooper) both made early impacts. With Jones taking the heat off Ridley, the rookie should catch a ton of balls this season from Matt Ryan.
Gates Opened: Hunter Henry Now Poised to Jump Into the Elite
An epic, if not game-changing, 15-year run is coming to a close. According to Adam Schefter, the Chargers have informed Antonio Gates they do not intend to re-sign him, despite Gates' open desire to continue playing.  From a fantasy lens, this indicates the team's upmost confidence in perhaps their next stalwart TE: Hunter Henry. The Talent, Scheme, and Surrounding Talent were already firm with the third-year Razorback. Now, a hefty spike in Usage will help buoy Henry's floor and also raise his ceiling, priming him for an Ertz-ian leap in 2018. The Wolf's long been a Hunter-Truther. In fact, the copious amount of steam we poured into the 2017 Henry Hype Train made Henry's 7th most PPG feel... underwhelming. But we're prepared to shove the chips right back in and Double Down on the 6'5" athletic freak, especially with a Volume Surge about to send his fantasy upside to new heights. You see, the Talent has long been clear. Since joining the league, Henry has flashed size, smooth routes, athleticism and soft hands parelelling the position's elite. The efficiency stats over this span support this as, according to PFF, Henry has ranked first in fantasy points per target, second in yards per target, and third in yards per route run. More impressively, as Scott Barrett points out, "Henry finished 2017 with the seventh most fantasy PPPG in 2017, and has hit at least 70 receiving yards or scored a touchdown in 17 of his 25 targeted games (68 percent). For perspective, that’s better than Rob Gronkowski over the same timeframe. He also ranked behind only Gronkowski in PFF grade last season." All of this, despite logging only 44% of the Chargers' tight end targets, as compared to 54% for the rotting corpse of Gates. With the Gates Roadblock removed, Henry's share should swing closer to 70%, if not higher. All the stats suggest he's going to produce, it'll just be far more often in 2018. Especially considering Philip Rivers' notorious love for targeting seam-stretchers, especially in the red zone -- not long ago, Henry led NFL TEs with 8 TDs as a rookie. In summary, Henry's set for a major Usage increase. Given the talent, efficiency, and rapport with a QB who'll pepper him, Henry has a real chance to jump into the “Kelce/Ertz" tier in 2018.
Christian McCaffrey Cemented for Heavy Volume Post-NFL Draft
Set for target hog and now bellcow duties in Norv Turner's scheme, Christian McCaffrey's Usage score and fantasy value increase dramatically with the team foregoing any RBs in the 2018 NFL Draft.  We already knew McCaffrey was going to see heavy passing game volume after leading the NFL in RB Targets as a rookie last year while finishing as the PPR RB10. Moreover, Norv Turner's always funneled passing game looks to his RBs underneath, with backs accounting for 30.8% of Turner's historic target share -- right on par with Sean Payton's usage of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in 2018. Yet, following the departure of Jonathan Stewart and the Panthers' (shocking) avoidance of any RB help in the draft, McCaffrey now feels destined to shoulder an even heavier rushing workload than we would have anticipated, raising his fantasy ceiling to enormous heights. As detailed by The Wolf in his previous Norv Turner breakdown, the veteran coach has historically ridden a workhorse, with six RBs have leading the league in rushing under him. Though not built like a 25+ carry back, McCaffrey seems destined for at least 15+ totes, in addition to 6-8 weekly targets, now contending with only Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne for looks. This increased rushing volume should be enormous, especially if McCaffrey fits as well in this scheme as future NFL Hall of Famer LaDanian Tomlinson, who feasted under Turner for many years in San Diego, expects: "The thing I'm excited about seeing is how Norv is going to use him in the run game. Norv is going to get him on the perimeter. He's going to call the things that Christian does well - getting him on the edge, getting him into space. So you'll see a lot of those toss plays, you will see the misdirection plays...to me, Christian will be the guy, the premier player in that offense." These comments were made prior to the backfield purging. Now, the team has little choice but to make McCaffrey the premier player, and he should thrive. Yes, Artis-Payne will likely inherit some of the "big back" power carries, and offers some legitimate TD and Penny Stock upside in his own right. This is especially true after CMac averaged a meager 3.7 YPC and minimal 2.1 yards after contact. Yet, he may have been misused, and this backfield is clearly McCaffrey's now. His RB1 upside is extremely real.
Mike Gesicki’s Elite Skill-Set Makes him a Legit Fantasy Football Option with the Dolphins
The Dolphins landed the most athletic tight end in recent memory in Penn State's Mike Gesicki. While Gesicki's blocking is a complete zero, he's basically an oversized slot receiver who will be a prime target for Ryan Tannehill. The 6-foot-6, 247 lb freak of nature landed in one of the few value holes at his position in the league. Gesicki is an incredible athlete, as he posted the top vertical (41.5 inches), the top broad jump (129 inches) and tied the fastest 40 (4.54 seconds) at the tight end position. With no competition on the depth chart, Gesicki could come in right away and be one of Ryan Tannehill's top targets. The departure of Jarvis Landry opens up 150-plus targets from the slot, where Gesicki will do most of his damage. The former Nittany Lion is useless as an in-line blocker, which is why he'll draw comparisons to Evan Engram and Aaron Hernandez, but just like Engram and Hernandez, he'll be a weapon in the seams and especially in the red zone. The former basketball star excels in jump-ball situations, which will make Tannehill's life easier without Landry. Until last season, the tight end position has always been maximized by Adam Gase. Gase put Julius Thomas on the map in Denver when he posted back-to-back 12 touchdown seasons. Gesicki's skill-set will instantly put him on the fantasy football map in 2018, and most likely into the top-12 of The Wolf's tight end rankings.
Royce Freeman Set for Bell-Cow Status With Broncos
With the 71st overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected their future workhorse, Royce Freeman. The former Oregon Duck had been an every-down back for his team since the day he stepped foot on campus, which should not change with the Broncos. Amassing an incredible 947 carries during his four years at Oregon, Freeman has the experience and skill-set to make an immediate impact with the Broncos. With the departure of 1,000 CJ Anderson, a value hole was created and the Broncos filled it with Freeman. Standing at a massive 6-feet, 229 lbs, he's built to carry a three-down load. "I want to be out there on first down and second down and third down," Freeman said. "That's part of my asset as the running back." Indeed, Freeman was productive as a receiver in college, but GM John Elway seems to be envisioning an early-down role, saying “He’s the bell-cow type for first and second down… He’s the guy we needed – we needed a thumper – and he’s that kind of runner. He’ll be great in short yardage and can also break a long run or two.” Still, Freeman should have no problem surpassing the far less talented Devontae Booker for this role. Even though he is built like a Mack truck, he's incredible quick and nimble for his size. He registered the third fastest three-cone drill at his position at the combine (6.90 sec), providing that he has the potential to be a three-down back. He also caught 79 balls for 814 yards at Oregon. He was the most productive rusher in this class (5,621 yards and 60 touchdowns on the ground), which should translate to the next level. The Broncos filled their value hole with the most experienced workhorse in this draft class.
Ronald Jones II Lands in a Fantasy Football Value Hole with Buccaneers
Southern California's Ronald Jones II was selected by one of the most running back-needy teams in the league, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with pick No. 38. Jones' insertion into Tampa checks the majority of the boxes of our Fantasy Stock Formula, highlighted by Talent, Opportunity, Surrounding Talent and Upside.  With Doug Martin making us look awfully bad last season, as he was a complete zero in an offense that dripped in potential, the team smartly moved on from the volatile running back, leaving a gaping value hole that was waiting to be filled. Jones was added to a running back room that features a handful of castoffs and meh players, such as Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber, and should have no issue winning that job. I wrote a film breakdown on Jones and called him the "most underrated running back in the nation" and I'm standing my ground on that. Jones' film was only rivaled by Saquon Barkley's and one could argue that it was more consistent than Barkley's. Over his last two seasons at SC, Jones totaled 2,632 yards and a whopping 31 touchdowns. His best attributes are his vision and ability to read his blocks, his elite acceleration and his ball security (two fumbles on 591 carries). Unfortunately, his acceleration and speed was unable to be shown at the combine, as he came up lame with a hamstring injury during his 40-yard dash. With Sam Darnold looking to push the ball downfield, Jones was not utilized as a pass-catcher as much as we hoped, but he's more than capable to catch dump offs and swing passes. Overall, Jones is a dynamic runner who so-called 'experts' were down on for some reason. Fortunately, Jones' landing spot will make him a day-one impact player with upside to make one of the biggest splashes as a rookie at his position.
Derrius Guice Falls into Perfect Fantasy Football Situation with Redskins
Once thought as the lock to be the second running back selected in the NFL Draft, Derrius Guice fell all the way to pick No. 59 to the Washington Redskins. Luckily for fantasy football owners, Guice landed in a very positive situation, as he will have a high usage score in the Redskins backfield. Have you ever bombed a job interview? Have you ever bombed 31 job interviews? That must have been the case with expected first-round running back, Derrius Guice. The latest uber-talented rusher from LSU was widely expected to be chosen within the first 32 picks. Unspecified concerns regarding his character prevented a team from committing to him until Washington pulled the trigger with pick 59. How good is Guice? According to Pro Football Focus, Guice was brought down on first contact only 60% of the time, which is top five in the PFF era amongst backs with 300 or more carries. When healthy in 2016, Guice averaged 7.6 yards per carry while filling in for Leonard Fournette, including 3.97 yards after contact. The man has been compared to Marshawn Lynch, running violently and bringing loads of attitude. The 20 year-old possess plenty of breakaway speed as well, running a 4.49 40 yard dash while weighing 224 lbs at the combine. So how will he fit in Washington’s offense? Guice figures to be Jay Gruden’s lead back, dominating touches on first and second down while relinquishing third-down duties to electric veteran, Chris Thompson. Samajae Perine (3.4 YPC) and Rob Kelley (3.1 YPC) proved extremely ineffective in 2017, combining  for 237 carries in total. As long as he can stay out of trouble, Guice should easily win the starting job, and will be inline for over 200 carries as a rookie. What’s more exciting is the former Tiger projects as the goal line back in a Washington offense that is expected to be solid at worst. Guice should already be considered a mid-round fantasy pick given his skill-set and situation. By the time August rolls around, you might have to burn a third or second-rounder in order to land the rookie. Fantasy Name: Guice Guice Baby
JuJu Smith-Schuster Set to Explode After Martavis Bryant’s Departure
The Steelers announced during the first round of the NFL Draft that they were sending malcontent wide receiver, Martavis Bryant, to the Raiders in exchange for a third round pick. With Antonio Brown as the clear WR1, the departure of Bryant opens up more targets -- potentially downfield -- for JuJu Smith-Schuster.  Smith-Schuster was a waiver wire hero who finished 11th overall in fantasy points per game with 14.8 and he wasn't really relevant until Bryant cemented his place into Mike Tomlin's dog house. In fact, 59-percent of JuJu's 922 receiving yards came in four of his 15 games played (including his one postseason game). Ben Roethlisberger will look his way even more since him and Smith-Schuster posted the highest QB-pass catcher passer rating as a combo at 134.8. Even better, his target share was at a crazy 32.3-percent without Bryant in the lineup, compared to a measly 13.3-percent with both Bryant and Brown active -- when he was the third receiver. As of right now (before the post-draft rankings update), Wolf has JuJu as his WR19, which is seven spots higher than his ECR (26). But with Bryant no longer in the picture and a rookie in James Washington now taking over the vertical role, Smith-Schuster may get more looks deep and he will now cement himself as the clear WR2 for Roethlisberger. JuJu is about to shoot up The Wolf's rankings and expect an enormous leap from his already impressive rookie season.
Pete Carroll: Rashaad Penny “will be a three-down back for us”
The Seattle Seahawks selected Rashaad Penny with the 27th pick of the 2018 draft, and HC Pete Carroll is already thrusting him into a three-down workhorse role. Despite a lackluster line, Penny's high projected Usage and otherwise Surrounding Talent create enormous fantasy football upside for the explosive back. Many are labeling Penny as a major Day One reach. Yet, despite trading down, the Seahawks were reportedly prepared to draft Penny with the 18th overall pick -- highlighting just how strongly they believe in him. Carroll's post-draft comments further confirm the team's enamored with Penny, and plan to make him a usage monster: “I don’t mind telling you, this pick fired me up,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said , via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “He’ll be a three-down back for us. The guy can do everything.He’s such an exciting player. He’s so versatile and so dynamic. We know that every time he gets his hands on the football he could score a touchdown. That’s in the running game and the passing game. He’s very gifted.” Short, stocky, with blazing fast feet, long speed and a physical, slashing run style, Penny fits the Carroll running back mold to a tee. He faces minimal competition for bellcow duties, with Seattle's lead RB rushing for 240 yards, and the team notching just 1 RB TD in 2017. For comparison's sake, Penny ran for 2,248 yards and 23 TDs last year. The line remains putrid, but new RT DJ Fluker is a mauling addition, and Duane Brown remains one of the higher-level LTs in the game. Meanwhile, any offense with Russell Wilson under center will move the rock and generate scoring opportunities, and Penny has a real chance to be the offensive centerpiece here.   With 25+ weekly touches in a top-15 offense, Penny appears ready to duke it out with Sony Michel for the No.2 Pick in Rookie-Only drafts. Quality RB2 stats feels like the floor on usage alone, while his RB1 upside is very real.
Rex Burkhead’s Fantasy Football Value Nosedives with Sony Michel’s Arrival
Once the heir apparent to the scoring-stacked New England backfield, Rex Burkhead now appears a distant No.2 on the depth chart. This drop in Usage sends his Fantasy Stock Score tumbling.  You won't find a bigger truther on Burkhead than The Wolf, but even he's pumping the brakes following Sony Michel's electric addition to this backfield. The Patriots invested the 31st overall pick in Michel, despite glaring defensive needs, suggesting they view the rookie as a genuine difference maker and critical offensive weapon. Moreover and unlike Dion Lewis, Michel's build and downhill running style make him a highly qualified for goalline work. Thus, now contending with Michel, Jeremy Hill, and Mike Gillislee, Burkhead's chances at remaining the short yardage guy grow even slimmer, despite his nose for the endzone. Despite averaging the fourth most fantasy points per touch in 2017, Burkhead now seems destined for a clear second fiddle and special teams role. Michel comes with some injury red flags, and Burkhead has the goalline chops to still threaten 8-10 scores beyond his obvious handcuff appeal. Still, Sexy Rexy's fantasy appeal drops significantly from a clearcut RB2 to a high-end bench stash.
Sony Michel Drips in Fantasy Football Upside with Patriots
Despite glaring defensive needs, the New England Patriots selected Georgia RB Sony Michel with the 31st pick of the 2018 Draft. This suggests the team views him as a true game changer and critical offensive cog, creating enormous fantasy football upside given Michel's high Talent, Coaching Scheme, and Surrounding Talent scores. The 5'11", 214 lb Michel often draws Alvin Kamara comparisons, and for good reason. Our favorite draft guru Dane Brugler's scouting report on Michel mirrored Kamara's skillset: "Elusive in tight quarters due to his start/stop footwork…shows burst in/out of his cuts…quickly scans and gets north-south…excellent timing and initial acceleration through the hole…deceiving run strength to maintain his balance while tacklers slide off him." Imagine what Belichick and Josh McDaneils can do with their own Kamara-esque dynamo. Though I love Dion Lewis, the Patriots have lacked a back that genuinely threatens a homerun on every touch for quite a while. Michel possesses the skillset to crib a run or catch from any down and distance, and will bring an electric jolt to an already explosive offense. He brings similar versatility as Lewis, and should inherit his 13-16 weekly touches, while adding more size and pop around the goalline to be a genuine TD machine (New England rushed for 16 TDs in 2017 (6th most), and 19 in 2016 (5th most)). Also similar to Kamara, Michel's consistently operated as a committee back and isn't likely to approach "bellcow" status. Still, while the quantity of volume won't wow, the quality of said looks will be sky high. Thanks to a beautiful combination of high Coaching Scheme and Surrounding Talent scores, Michel will constantly be fed favorable looks to maximize his tantalizing skillset. He averaged a scintillating 7.9 YPC last season, and should top 5.0 behind a rebolstered offensive line (now featuring Michel's own LT Isaiah Wynn) and with the looming presence of the GOAT Tom Brady keeping defenses honest and scoring chances plentiful. We can't pretend Michel's without risk, however. As mentioned, the Patriots have often been unpredictable in RB usage given their (correct) approach in scheming based on opponent. More frightening, Michel comes with some ball-security concerns. Indeed, he only fumbled twice as a senior and this is a coachable fix, but Stevan Ridley fumbled away his low-end RB1 Fantasy Role not long ago; Bill Belichick will not hesitate to put Michel into his prison-tight dog house if he can't sure this up. If nothing else, it sends a major message, and no one likes to do that more than The Hooded One. All-in-all, though, the Patriots bypassed some key needs to add the dynamic Michel. They clearly hold him in the highest regard and have a clear vision for his future, and that plan likely involves enormous fantasy upside. With the talent to pull away and establish a 18-20 touch role in a juggernaut offense, Michel carries a very real RB1 ceiling. Admittedly, however, he also carries cavernous floor should he fumble away this prime opportunity and/or become committee-trapped. Still, this is the type of upside worth investing in, especially if you love building a stable of workhorses like myself.
Josh Rosen Falling to Cardinals Bodes Well for his Fantasy Football Future
Once thought as the No. 1 quarterback in the draft, Josh Rosen fell all the way to pick No. 10, where the Cardinals jumped ahead of the Dolphins to grab their franchise quarterback. Once he takes the reigns from Sam Bradford, Rosen will be able to lean on David Johnson, creating a potentially deadly one-two punch in the desert.  My No. 1 ranked quarterback before the draft, Rosen is the most NFL-ready of the bunch. He'll start off the season behind Sam Bradford, but we all know that Bradford won't be able to last a full season. Although Rosen was visibly pissed off by free falling, he could not have landed in a better situation. The UCLA product stayed on the west coast and will play in a dome for half the season. Next, he'll get a positive Surrounding Talent score since he'll be able to learn behind Sam Bradford, and is surrounded by elite talents such as the great Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. Lastly, Rosen will be injected into Mike McCoy's unstoppable passing attack that has posted top 10 in yardage in six of the last nine seasons. Sure, McCoy did well with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, but he also got Kyle Orton to have his best two seasons under his guidance. We'll see Rosen at some point this year and he has a chance to make some noise as a rookie.
New 49ers OT Mike McGlinchey Boosts Jerick McKinnon and Jimmy Garoppolo
Both Jerick McKinnon and Jimmy Garoppolo receive healthy Surrounding Talent boosts with the addition of athletic-freak T Mike McGlinchey. If one question lingered for a 49ers offense that's burgeoning under Kyle Shanahan, it was a lackluster offensive line.  The unit ranked was graded 20th by PFF in 2017, despite averaging the seventh-highest in yards before contact for runners (1.86). The glaring hole was RT Trent Brown, who struggled mightily, especially in run-blocking, and McGlinchey is going to fill this to perfection. NFL.com's Lance Zierlien described McGlinchey as a "very fluid athlete with background as tight end" with "natural movements and able to make cross-face and cut-off blocks." This fits Shanahan's Zone Blocking Scheme to perfection, as this requires blockers who can move and seal off "zones," both at the point of attack and down the field. Thus, Jerick McKinnon sees a healthy boost, with lanes to be even more open, and a freakish athlete who'll dominate downfield in the screen game. Meanwhile, Jimmy Garoppolo now has his protection bookended by two beastly tackles in McGlinchey and Joe Staley. More time is nothing but a positive, for both Garoppolo as well as surrounding weapons like Marquise Goodwin and George Kittle. All-in-all, the rising 49ers are plugging their most gaping holes, and all fantasy ships are rising with less leakage.      
New Giants Workhorse Saquon Barkley Deserves Top-Five Overall Consideration in Fantasy Football Drafts
Saquon Barkley lands in the ideal spot for his fantasy football value with the New York Giants. His Talent is generational. Pat Shurmur is a bellcow breeder. This offense drips in explosive potential. All the fantasy stars have aligned for a Top Five overall season for Barkley.  Running Backs don't get more "complete' than Barkley, who's not unfairly compared to a "Bigger Barry Sanders." He's incredibly versatile, legitimately on par with Le'Veon Bell and David Johnson in terms of butter-smooth route running despite a monstrous 230+ lb frame. Speaking of size, Barkley's powerful enough to get the tough yards, yet shifty and elusive enough to win in space.  He can hit the home run or burst through the pile for a tough TD. Simply put, he does it all. And no one can squeeze more from a versatile back than new HC Pat Shurmur. From Steven Jackson, to LeSean McCoy, to what Dalvin Cook was becoming (and even *gag* Trent Richardson), Shurmur has ridden a three-down workhorse whenever able. According to PFF's Scott Barrett, Shurmur's RB1s have averaged 308.7 carries per season (83.9% of team's share) + 61.3 targets -- insane overall volume, especially in a committee-plagued era. The Bellcow Enthusiast might have his most versatile threat yet. Lastly, the offensive situation may be perfect. Behind an aging Eli Manning, the Giants are ready to hand the offensive reigns over to a 25+ weekly carry bellcow; prior to the draft, Todd McShay noted as much, stating: "I've heard very strongly that there are important people in the building who believe in Saquon Barkley and being a physical, run-first team. Barkley can be the face of the team for the next 10 years." The New York post noted, "the Giants view Saquon Barkley as a near-perfect prospect... a better player than Ezekiel Elliott." Yet, Manning still has enough juice to keep this offense and the explosive Surrounding Talent churning. The Giants have an explosive stable of receiving weapons, obviously highlighted by Odell Beckham Jr., and rounded out by blossoming freaks Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. This unit should move the ball with ease, creating consistently long and sustained drives, in addition to plenty of scoring opportunities. Boxes can't be stuffed, and Barkley should find oodles of space underneath to flourish in the receiving game. The Giants line is mediocre and the only "negative" here; still, Nate Solder's addition should certainly help. Simply put, Barkley couldn't have landed in a juicier situation for his fantasy football value. His insane combination of Talent, Usage, Surrounding Talent, Coaching Scheme and Upside make him well worth a Top-Five overall selection.
The Browns Select Baker Mayfield, Whose Fantasy Football Stock is Now on Hold
The Browns selected Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, potentially dismantling his 2018 fantasy football stock. With Tyrod Taylor already named the starting quarterback for the 2018 season by Hue Jackson, Mayfield is a strange selection here. Mayfield is NFL-ready, while a guy like Sam Darnold would have benefited from a year behind Taylor to further develop. Barring an injury to Taylor, Mayfield will be fantasy irrelevant in 2018. But for 2019 and beyond, an offensive core of Mayfield, Carlos Hyde/Duke Johnson (if re-signed), Josh Gordon (if re-signed), Jarvis Landry and David Njoku could be very special. The Browns are building an explosive, fantasy-relevant offense and now they have the face of their franchise, along with some elite talent around him. Another reason to love the fit would be the Browns' incredible offensive line, which caters to Mayfield's mobility inside and outside of the pocket. He'll be able to scan the field from a clean pocket, instead of getting murdered behind a bad offensive line, ala Andrew Luck with the Colts. Love the player and love the pick for the future of the franchise, but we'll likely be without Mayfield's magic for his entire rookie season, which is too bad.
Rob Gronkowski Says He’ll Play for Patriots in 2018
After a roller coaster of an offseason, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced via Instagram that he will indeed return to the team for the 2018 season.  The news shouldn't come to a complete shock to fans, but after his childish antics at a recent promotional event at Gillette Stadium on Saturday where he basically disrespected and mocked the team, Gronkowski took to Instagram on Tuesday evening to write, "I met with coach today and informed him I will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats. I have been working out, staying in shape and feel great. Looking forward to another championship run. #bandsamakeherdance" This all started after the Super Bowl where an emotional Gronkowski hinted at potential retirement, which then led to rumors of him joining the WWE or even acting in Hollywood. But with Tom Brady's agent, Don Yee announcing yesterday that Brady is committed to the team for the near future, it would've be tough to imagine Gronk walking away from his quarterback and his teammates. Even with the losses of Dion Lewis, Brandin Cooks and Nate Solder, the Patriots return the majority of their potent offense. Gronk is currently The Wolf's TE1, while Brady is currently his QB4.
Adam Schefter: Tom Brady Still Has Not Committed to Play in 2018
Adam Schefter dropped a doozy of a tweet Wednesday morning when he stated, "Patriots’ QB Tom Brady still has not committed to playing in 2018, even though people who know him believe he will back coming season, league sources told ESPN." Although Schefter followed up his tweet with this, "My money would be on him playing football for the foreseeable future, but what goes on away from the football field, I don't know." A source told Schefter. "I don't know." It's still sketchy that this is coming out at this point of the offseason -- especially after missing the first few days of OTA's. One would think that Brady would make a decision by next Thursday's draft so the Patriots could find his immediate successor, but who knows at this point. The Patriots have been connected to just about every top quarterback in this draft, including Baker MayfieldJosh RosenLamar Jackson and Kyle Lauletta -- and they have the draft capital to move up into the first half of the first round. Bill Belichick needs to clean up the Alex Guerrero situation and make his quarterback happy for the foreseeable future, especially since he traded Jimmy Garoppolo for pennies on the dollar. Will the Patriots really enter the 2018 season without the greatest quarterback and tight end of all time? It should be an interesting next few weeks.
Bill Belichick to Cordarelle Patterson: “We’ll make you the player you should be”
Though his name will force most fantasy owners to swallow back puke, Cordarelle Patterson has some very real Penny Stock upside now in New England. This is especially true after Brandin Cooks' departure opened up some deep-ball "Opportunity." Moreover, Bill Belichick hinted at an expanded role for Patterson: “I don’t know what you’ve been through in the past, but basically, we get the job done here,” Patterson says Belichick told the wide receiver. “We’re gonna make you the player that you should be.” Now, this doesn't guarantee a major offensive role quite yet. The player does not mean wide receiverIn fact, it more likely means "Special Teams Ace" and package specialist -- perhaps even more RB-mismatch -- than WR. But there's certainly a well of explosive athleticism and open field vision to tap into here, and Belichick doesn't acquire someone without a specific role in mind. If anyone can unlock his upside and use him properly, it'd be him and Josh McDaniels (who Patterson told: "Just put me on the field. It will take care of itself...That’s something I’ve been doing my whole life, making plays, playmaker.") Of course, carving out any consistent usage and thus fantasy value would require Patterson to fully grasp perhaps the most complex playbook in the league.  Thus, Patterson seems destined for a part timer role... but part time usage is far better than full-time when it's the right designs. 8-10 weekly looks would yield some week-swinging booms to flex spots. Patterson's consistently flashed in the screen and slant game, and a simple package of plays designed to get him in space feels likely. Hell, I would be far from shocked if he lined up in the backfield for at least 4-5 snaps a contest, if not more. Let's not forget the Surrounding Talent upgrade: Tom Brady is far and away the most talented signal caller Patterson has ever played with (and ever will). Penny Stocks are all about shooting for the ceilings, and Patterson shockingly drips in upside for those willing to see it. We have a combination of insane raw talent, improved usage, and enormous surrounding talent score boosts. Will Patterson be a fantasy season changer in 2018? Most likely, no. But he could be an occasional game changer, with the slightest chance to be a true monster, making this a $2 lottery ticket worth scratching. If nothing else, New England D/ST gains some upside.... oh, just sit back and enjoy the highlights.
Dez Bryant Cut by Cowboys; Where Will he Land?
We've heard rumbles for what seemed like months, and finally the Cowboys decided to cut their volatile wide receiver, Dez Bryant.  Since being cut, Bryant has gone off on Twitter, saying "If I didn’t have my edge I got it now... I’m sorry they got to feel me it’s personal... it’s very personal." He also retweeted a writer's tweet saying that Bryant is going to look to play in the NFC East to get revenge against the Cowboys twice a year. The Cowboys wide receiver depth chart is currently headlined by Allen HurnsTerrance Williams and Cole Beasley, while a player such as Noah Brown could be a potential Penny Stock. But with the NFL Draft just under two weeks away, expect the Cowboys to address their putrid receiver group by targeting one in the first round. Some names to keep an eye on are Maryland's DJ Moore and SMU's Courtland Sutton. Check back to read our analysis once Bryant signs with a team.
New Saints WR Cameron Meredith’s Stock Rises Alongside Drew Brees
Now a member of the Saints, Cameron Meredith's "Surrounding Talent" and "Coaching Scheme" Scores receive monster boosts and send his Fantasy Football Stock Score soaring after the Bears blunder his contract.  Though a preseason torn ACL and MCL robbed Meredith of a likely breakout in 2017, the 6'3" monster lands in a prime position to realize his full ceiling with the Saints. For starters, Meredith already flashed blow-up potential when last on the field, despite having to fight through fantasy quicksand. Yes, Meredith still logged double-digit PPR FPs in 7/13 games (including 19 FPs in five of those contests (and 22+ in three (26+ in two)))... while catching passes from Matt Barkley in a John Fox offense (go puke and return). Those outputs aren't achievable in that God awful set-up without some real talent. Now, Meredith exits Fantasy Purgatory for perhaps Fantasy Heaven, landing in the prolific Drew Brees and Sean Payton attack. Yes, the Saints passing offense regressed statistically last year, as Brees was held under 32 TDs for the first time in 10 seasons. Let me repeat: Over the last decade, Brees has thrown 32+ TDs in 9 of 10 seasons. Sure, he's older, and indeed, the dominant rushing attack will remain a staple. But I'll bet on 90% any day of the week, especially when Meredith -- a wiry, athletic, proven red zone threat -- is brought into the mix. Earlier this offseason, Payton had told reports WR was a "must" add position, and he landed the sneaky most talented guy after Allen Robinson. Expect Brees to return to his 30+ TD wizardry, with Meredith on the receiving end of 8+.
The Grass Won’t be Greener for Jordy Nelson with the Raiders
Jordy Nelson's Coaching Scheme, Usage and Surrounding Talent scores to take a hit playing second fiddle in a downgraded passing game. New Oakland Raiders WR Jordy Nelson will see a decrease in three major categories while in his new digs in the Bay Area. No longer acting as his former boy toy's security blanket in Aaron Rodgers, Nelson will thrust into Derek Carr's offense, which struggled mightily compared to 2016. Nelson seems to be a fill in for the departed Michael Crabtree -- which might seem good at first, before diving into the stats. With new Head Coach Jon Gruden at the helm, this means potential great things for Amari Cooper. As The Wolf pointed out in prior articles about Gruden's hire, his West Coast scheme likes to stretch the defense and get the ball in his best player makers' hands. WR1s in Gruden's offenses have flourished in the past as he "funnels looks and production to his top target." He's ALWAYS produced a 1,000 yard receiver and only once had under 122 looks. You think that's going to be the 32 year old Nelson? Nah, me neither. He's surely not the WR1 we all knew and loved in Green Bay, and now he's slowly dwindling away to WR2 status on his team as his career starts to fade.
Chris Hogan Benefits Most from the Brandin Cooks Trade
With Brandin Cooks' 114 targets up for grabs, Chris Hogan's Opportunity Score rises and he should be in for a big 2018. After Tom Brady was able to throw for 500 yards without Brandin Cooks during the Super Bowl, the writing was on the wall for Cooks -- not to mention he was entering a contract year. Chris Hogan's role changed with the arrival of Cooks and then he was able to settle down in Cooks' role once Malcolm Jenkins put Cooks out to pasture. Hogan registered six receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown on eight targets as the team's intermediate and deep threat in the Super Bowl, and he should find himself in that position next season. Not only does Brady trust Hogan in clutch situations, but he also trusts him deep. In 2016, Hogan was tied with DeSean Jackson with a 17.9 yards per reception average. We expect a monster season for Hogan in the 65-850-8 range.
Leonard Fournette and Andrew Norwell will Steamroll Opposing Defenses
Leonard Fournette's Surrounding Talent Score will increase with the addition of the road grader that is Andrew Norwell.  Though linemen often are overlooked by fantasy owners, Andrew Norwell‘s (PFF's No. 3 ranked guard) signing may go down as one of 2018’s most crucial. Granted, the only player we truly care about here is Leonard Fournette, but Norwell will stabilize the only glaring weakness on an otherwise punishing run-blocking line, allowing Fournette to run even more freely in his sophomore campaign. Fournette's health is admittedly a huge concern. Yet, Norwell’s presence all but guarantees weekly RB1 production for as long as Fournette lasts. Hopefully, it’s all 16 and a masterpiece. To read more about this beastly combo, click here.
OJ Howard’s Stock Tumbles After Bucs Re-Up Cameron Brate
With the Bucs spending a first rounder on OJ Howard and Cameron Brate set to hit free agency, the future as clear for the former Crimson Tide tight end... or so we thought.    After finishing his rookie season on a high note, it looked like OJ Howard was set to take the reigns as the clear TE 1 in Tampa Bay; that was until the Bucs re-signed the always solid Cameron Brate. Howard dripped in TE1 upside with a high talent score, but it will be tough for Howard to fulfill high fantasy football expectations. Now, Tampa Bay will mostly run two tight end sets, with Brate vulturing Howard’s potential touchdown production. Before the Bucs re-signed Brate, Howard was slated as The Wolf’s TE12 in his “Too Early” Big Board. But with Brate returning, those dreams have been laid to rest, as he is currently slotted at TE19.   To be more depressed about this, click here.
Kirk Cousins lands in ideal spot with Minnesota, set for career bests
Now in Minnesota, Kirk Cousins' "Surrounding Talent" and "Coaching Scheme" scores both receive healthy boosts, setting the stage for a Top Five QB finish. With a strong and accurate arm, magnetic leadership qualities, and strong durability, Cousins has all the makings of a potential franchise QB. He’s now in the perfect spot to prove this in Minnesota. The Vikings drip in offensive firepower: Adam Thielen is among the league’s smoothest route runners, is deceptively fast down the field, and consistently finds the soft spots on a defense. Meanwhile, Stefon Diggs has flashed elite traits in all three seasons, at times putting the entire passing attack on his back for 10+ reception games. He’s a gym rat and pure lover of the game, thus working on his craft nonstop. Meanwhile, Kyle Rudolph is enormous yet can fly down the seams, while Dalvin Cook is dangerously explosive in the receiving game out of the backfield. Additionally, new OC John DeFilippo, is appropriately praised for his incredible work with Carson Wentz and Nick Foles in 2017. Not that Cousins’ game leaves a ton to be desired, but if DeFilippo can squeeze historic postseason runs out of Foles, he certainly could take Cousins to another level. The Vikings were already one of the league’s top offenses in 2017, ranking 10th in total yardage and 11th in scoring. Both Kirk Cousins and new OC John DeFilippo are capable of sending this unit towards the top five. To read a more in-depth breaking of all things Vikings, click here.    
Rex Burkhead Set for Dion Lewis Role, Maybe More?
Rex Burkhead is the ultimate Bill Belichick-type player who does everything asked of him -- whether it be on special teams or in a specific role. In this case, Burkhead did everything asked of him during his first season, and could be awarded the lead back role in year two.   With Dion Lewis no longer in New England, Mike Gillislee in the dog house and James White securing his third down duties, Burkhead brings the type of versatility that Belichick adores from his first and second down back. He can run the ball effectively and is a plus-receiver out of the backfield, which keeps the opposing defense off-guard. It's up to debate if Burkhead can carry a 16 game load -- as he's never been asked to do so -- but he'll definitely be given the chance after re-signing in New England to the tune of a 3-year, $9.75 million deal. The Patriots will potentially add a running back in the draft, but it's Burkhead's job to lose right now.   To learn more about Burkhead's potential role, click here.  
Jay Ajayi’s Path to an RB1 Bounce Back has been laid
Jay Ajayi's "Opportunity" score sees a dramatic increase with LeGarrette Blount headed to Detroit. Understandably, many owners who rode The Jay Pain Train in 2017 will steer far clear of Ajayi in 2018. However, True Wolves must have a short-term memory, or otherwise be blinded to the tremendous upside Ajayi (and other rebound candidates) offer in 2018. With Blount's disgusting presence removed, Ajayi's path to 20+ touches in 2017’s highest scoring offense (29.0 PPG) just became a whole lot clearer, especially at the goalline. Even when Blount was around, Ajayi averaged 75.3 total yards from scrimmage in his 10 games with the Eagles — a 1205 yard pace in a 16 game season, which would’ve ranked 15th among RBs last year. At minimum, this pace should be sustained while increasing Ajayi’s TD upside substantially. He’s set for heavy, valuable volume, behind the league’s best offensive line, amidst an incredibly explosive and creatively called attack. This is the ultimate RB1 recipe, and the bitter taste of Ajayi’s bust-filled 2017 is creating one of the best 2018 fantasy football investing opportunities. Despite being brutally burned last season, I’m hammering the “Double Down” bet here and going all-in on Ajayi yet again -- especially at his 44th Experts Consensus Ranking. For a more detailed breakdown of Ajayi's soaring ceiling, click here.
Tyrod Taylor set for QB1 Stats with Cleveland’s Stacked Cast, Explosive Scheme
Traded to Cleveland, Tyrod Taylor receives major "Surrounding Talent" and "Coaching Scheme" upgrades following the Browns' wild offseason. With minimal firepower to play with, Taylor has largely delivered the QB1 goods in Buffalo; in both 2015 and 2016, he was the QB8 in points per game with a banged up Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods as his top targets. Instead of Zay Jones and a limping Jordan Matthews, TyGod will now  sling to Josh Gordon (potential top-five talent), Jarvis Landry (arguably the top slot weapon in the game) and Corey Coleman, (an athletic freak not far removed from receiving awards as the top collegiate wideout). Meanwhile, Duke Johnson ranks among the top receiving backs in the game, and last year’s first round TE David Njoku still drips in the raw athleticism to develop into a nightmare matchup. Beyond just the skill positions, Taylor also lands behind one of the NFL’s top lines. Moreover, he leaves behind Buffalo's vanilla schemes for the always explosive Todd Haley. Though Haley has never worked with a QB of Tyrod's mobility, the new OC is adamant in crafting offenses around his players’ strengths. Expect plenty of rollouts, bootlegs, and designed runs. Moreover, Haley loves attacking teams vertically, which fits into Tyrod’s abilities to buy time in the pocket, as well as drop dimes deep. We have the perfect marriage of an underrated talent, meshing with a proven play caller, and joining now-loaded weapons cabinet. The only risk is losing the job to an highly-touted rookie -- admittedly a real concern -- but I firmly believe TyGod will do just this... and yield QB1 numbers for his games played regardless.   For more surrounding Tyrod Taylor and all of Cleveland's new toys, click here
Mitch Trubisky’s Weapons Cabinet now stacked; Ideal Late Round QB2 Penny Stock
After enormous "Surrounding Talent" and "Coaching Scheme" upgrades, Mitch Trubisky's path to a Jared Goff-esque breakout is very real.   

Allen RobinsonTaylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton, oh my! Talk about a Surrounding Talent upgrade — Trubisky's weapons cabinet, once headlined by (puke) Kendall Wright, now features a bevy of athletic field stretchers. This is ideal, as the creative, aggressive, and vertically-minded Matt Nagy replaces the infuriatingly conservative John Fox, also landing Trubisky a healthy “Coaching Scheme” score boost. A vertical cast + a vertical coach = perfection for the strong-armed Trubisky, who was graded third by PFF on 20+ yard passes. Jared Goff followed very similar upgrades in Sean McVay and his bolstered weaponry to a QB1 breakout, and Trubisky’s own arm is all that stands between him and a similar explosion.

The “Shanahan” Effect: Jerick McKinnon now a Bonafide RB1 

With his "Opportunity" and "Coaching Scheme" scores skyrocketing as the expected 49ers Featured Back, Jerick McKinnon now drips in RB1 upside.

 Kyle Shanahan’s “Zone Blocking” run game has facilitated monster RB1 seasons whenever the talent fits the scheme... and even when it doesn't (cough, Carlos Hyde, cough). In fact, five of Shanahan's last 6 lead backs have been Top 15 fantasy producers, including monster outputs most recently from Devonta Freeman and Alfred Morris, while "stalwarts" like Steve Slaton have notched over 1,500 total yards and 10 TDs in this offense. McKinnon is set to be the next featured monster, according to Shanahan's mouth (and the 49ers wallet).  McKinnon is now the league’s fourth richest back thanks to a monster 4-year, $30 million deal -- not "complementary" money by any means. Moreover, Shanahan has done nothing but heap praise since signing the versatile back: “I got lost watching his film, there’s so much I liked,”; “He’s an issue for teams,”; “He’s good on third down... and also first and second.” Apparently, Shanahan has found his next horse, which is a fantasy football bet I'll always hammer. All signs point to a monster 1,500+ total yard, 8-10 TD, 50+ reception season. For more on the Shanahan’s Zone Blocking Scheme and McKinnon’s fit in it, click here.

   
Derrick Henry’s Stock Takes a Hit with Dion Lewis Addition
The Titans went out and signed Dion Lewis in free agency who fits new OC Matt LeFleur's offense — which is predicated on merging the running and passing game — like a glove; plummeting Derrick Henry's Opportunity and Usage Score. Derrick Henry went from a legit RB1 who would have warranted a late-first, early-second round pick, to a player who’s currently ranked amongst the likes of Kenyan DrakeCarlos HydeAlex Collins and Rex Burkhead. Sure, things will likely change once training camp rolls around and we get some clarity on how the two backs will be utilized, but it’s extremely difficult to be optimistic about Henry right now. The former Crimson Tide bruiser may be in-line for a double-digit touchdown season, yet the chances of him fulfilling our lofty fantasy dreams are slim. Dion Lewis carries the better fantasy outlook of the two right now and frankly, it might not be debatable. To read more in-depth on this brutal RBBC situation, click here.
Doug Baldwin’s Target Share and WR1 Upside Skyrocketing
Doug Baldwin has far less competition for Russell Wilson’s attention in 2018, and his “Opportunity” score consequently sees a healthy boost. Fellow pass-catchers Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson have landed in Green Bay and Washington respectively, which opens up oodles of targets (175, 32% target share), especially in the Red Zone (37/73, over 50% tgts). As currently built, Baldwin is the only weapon with established red zone chemistry with Wilson. Recall: Baldwin finished 2015 (his last without Graham) with 14 total TDs, including an NFL-record 12 over an eight week span to close out the season. He trailed only Antonio Brown among WRs for scoring during this span, and is sneakily set up for a similar explosion in 2018. In his last three campaigns, Baldwin’s finished as the WR11, WR8, and WR10 despite never topping 125 targets. As the clear cut target hog for one of the league’s best signal-caller, Baldwin is now in a prime position to exceed all those finishes with his finest campaign yet. Read more about Baldwin’s insane upside here.
Trey Burton is a Mismatch Nightmare in the Bears Offense
Bears head coach Matt Nagy will utilize Trey Burton in the all-important "U" position in his offense. Even with limited production in Philadelphia, the Bears signed Trey Burton to a four-year, $32 million contract to fill a very important position in Matt Nagy's offense. Burton will be utilized mostly in the slot in the "U" position, the same position where Nagy helped Travis Kelce lead all tight ends in yards from the slot in 2017. Burton's size will make him a serious mismatch for smaller defensive backs and his speed will make him very difficult for linebackers to handle. With a high score in Coaching Scheme department of our Fantasy Football Stock Formula, Burton drips in TE 1 upside heading into 2018. Learn more about Nagy's offense and Trey Burton.
Patrick Mahomes enormous upside continues growing with Sammy Watkins added
Mahomes' already-elite "Surrounding Talent" score continues climbing with deep-ball extraordinaire Sammy Watkins joining his stacked weapons cabinet. This offense already oozed in enormous fantasy football upside. Now, the combination of Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt creates arguably the most explosive juggernaut in the league, and Mahomes will be at the center of it all. Andy Reid, one of the brightest offensive minds in the game, will have limitless ways of attacking and stretching a defense, especially considering Mahomes' cannon arm. His usually more horizontal-based West Coast offense was already becoming far more vertical under Hill, and the big plays will only grow with Watkins, who tracks the deep ball as well as any in the league. With lesser natural ability and weapons, Alex Smith was able to finish as 2017’s No.2 fantasy QB in this setup. Even more is in place for Mahomes to repeat this feat, with genuine upside for a Deshaun Watson / Carson Wentz type of impact Read more about Sammy Watkins' impact on this entire offense here