KJ Hamler Week 3 Fantasy Football Waiver Plug-In Play Following Courtland Sutton Injury - Roto Street Journal
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KJ Hamler Week 3 Fantasy Football Waiver Plug-In Play Following Courtland Sutton Injury

The Broncos lost their star X-receiver Courtland Sutton in Week 2 with a torn ACL and Sutton’s misfortune opens the door of opportunity to the Broncos’ electric second-round draft pick K.J. Hamler. A volume-secured Hamler provides both immediate (DFS!) and long-term stash value in 12-plus fantasy football redraft leagues.

It may be too late to grab Hamler off the waiver wire in sharper leagues. However, in those where he’s still available – a whopping 91% of Yahoo Leagues – make sure to channel your inner Hamburglar and rob your competition of another lottery ticket by nabbing Hamler.

Historically, rookie WRs are tough to trust (especially if they aren’t a consensus first-rounder), as the position can be a difficult to learn. Still, the advancements in the way coaches increasingly tailor offenses to their weapons (rather than the archaic methodology of forcing players to adapt to a system their players may not excel in) have created more instances of successful rookie wide receiver campaigns regardless of NFL Draft position (e.g., See Deebo Samuel, Diontae Johnson, A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin from 2019).

It is clear you don’t need to be an Amari Cooper or Jerry Jeudy to find fantasy football success in rookie seasons, and I don’t see why K.J. Hamler can’t be another success to add to the list.

K.J. Who?

The Denver Broncos selected Hamler in the 2020 NFL Draft with a second-round pick despite his absence from this year’s NFL Combine. Hamler profiles as a small-statured, speedy, and explosive slot receiver with only two seasons of college production under his belt. Per PlayerProfiler, Hamler’s 19.2 Breakout Age scored 87th percentile, and all three of his college production metrics graded higher than the 50th percentile. His PlayerProfiler player comparison was DeSean Jackson, which makes sense when considering reports of Hamler running a 4.27 during the pre-combine process and just watching him fly on tape. I’m not a tape guru, but Greg Cosell from FantasyPoints sure is. Here are some things he had to say about Hamler:

  • “Outstanding route quickness along with excellent stop-and-start quickness with elite short-area acceleration”
  • “Showed some alignment versatility, lining up in different splits and running a variety of routes”
  • “Showed the run-after-catch quickness, burst, and creativity to take short throws to the house”
  • “There is no question he brings explosiveness to the slot”
  • “One question will be his ability to work in traffic”

Despite a preseason hamstring injury that forced Hamler to miss Week 1, Hamler showcased his touted athleticism and receiving prowess by leading the Broncos wide receivers in routes run (32), targets (tied with Jerry Jeudy at 7), and air yards (116). He even added one carry for 9 yards! Hamler finished tied for fourth on the team with 57 scrimmage yards and 3 receptions. I would also like to mention that he received all of his opportunity and production with no Drew Lock (who unexpectedly left the game due to a shoulder injury) against an elite Pittsburgh Steelers defense. It is always promising to see a rookie have a productive first game where they also showcase many of the traits that define their strengths.

Short-Term Outlook

But what can Hamler do for your fantasy teams now? Consider the following:

  1. No Sutton = More playing time and target opportunity for Hamler
  2. Game-time decision for Jeudy that could mean either no Jeudy or a limited Jeudy = More playing time and target opportunity for Hamler
  3. No Drew Lock, but Jeff Driskel wasn’t shy to take downfield shots with a hefty aDOT of 13.2 yards in Week 2
  4. A projected negative game script (+5.5 per Caesars Sportsbook @ 9/25) against a stout Tampa Bay Buccaneers team = More target opportunity for Hamler stemming from more Broncos dropbacks

I grade Hamler as a very viable WR3/FLEX that will initially cause queasiness due to his inexperience and the Broncos offense’s potential inefficiency. Find peace in that his promising debut, explosiveness, versatility, and lack of opportunity competition offer both a higher floor than you think and an inherent ceiling due to Hamler’s ability to create big plays from short-yardage catches and vertical routes.

For those DFS grinders, Hamler is arguably the best option in his price range on both main sites Fanduel and DraftKings. I only say “arguably”, because sophomore speedster Cardinal Andy Isabella looks great too.

Long-Term Outlook

Hamler is a worthy stash even if he doesn’t make your starting lineup in Week 3. The Broncos must believe in Hamler if they invested a second-round draft pick on him despite already having a star X-receiver in Sutton, and spending a first-rounder on Jerry Jeudy. The Broncos also selected Hamler over two athletic freaks in Denzel Mims and Chase Claypool.

Sutton’s absence officially grants Hamler the opportunity to showcase that speed and explosiveness. He is an unknown WR3/FLEX who presents “boom” potential every week moving forward so long as we project a borderline full-time role (which we currently do). His ample slot experience also provides us that floor we covet when seeking consistency in our start/sit decisions.

Long story short: K.J. Hamler carries the draft capital, the talent, the rare athleticism you simply cannot teach, and the opportunity to reasonably make a serious impact this season. Don’t lose out on this valuable addition to your roster while he’s virtually free.

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