As we reach the halfway point of the NFL season this week, fantasy lineups are starting to round into form. This is the time to target some under-the-radar studs to make a playoff push.
It’s also time to look ahead to the fantasy playoffs, and find some diamonds in the rough with tasty matchups in the last few weeks of the regular season. Guys whose current trade price does not capture their true rest-of-season (and Week 15-17) value.
I know one guy I’m pushing for in almost every league – Arizona Cardinals speedster Marquise Brown.
2023 FANTASY PRODUCTION THUS FAR
Hollywood is the poster child for flying under the radar this season. He sits at WR22 this year, but was a name thrown around as a possible real-life trade candidate at last week’s deadline.
It’s impressive to see this type of production, considering the subpar QB play Brown has seen this season. He has a 62% chance of scoring at least 16 PPR points/week, and that’s with only four touchdowns on the season.
That’s strong consistency, especially factoring in his Target Quality Rating ranks 84th, and his Catchable Target Rate (62.3%) ranks 85th (via PlayerProfiler). Joshua Dobbs has slightly exceeded expectations… but he still isn’t good.
A guy like Brown is a touchdown in Week 1 from the top-12 conversation, but he’s not in ANY conversation in fantasy media. That needs to change.
Image via Fantasy Life’s Utilization Hub
As Arizona’s alpha, it’s plain to see that Brown is the focal point of their passing attack. He ranks 12th in total targets (69%), 17th in target share (27%), and his near-40% of a team’s air yards is absurd.
Brown has elite usage numbers, sitting in the top 5 of air yards and deep targets, and in the top 12 for red zone targets. He ranks 13th in expected fantasy points per game (19.0), but subpar QB play is keeping him from reaching his ceiling.
In fact, Brown is also doing all of this fantasy damage on a 53% catch rate, good for 212th (including TEs and RBs), according to the NFELO app. With five games with nine or more targets so far, Brown is as close to a lock to continue producing as anyone, at a fraction of the price of other WR2s.
On top of his current pace, the Cardinals have their (current) franchise QB Kyler Murray primed to return in the following weeks.
REST OF SEASON FANTASY OUTLOOK WITH KYLER
If anyone should be excited about the return of Kyler Murray, it’s Marquise Brown. The pair only played together for six games after joining his college teammate last season following a trade during the NFL Draft.
In those six games, Brown eclipsed nine targets in all but one, racking up 486 yards and three scores on 64 targets. That is a staggering 181 targets, 122 receptions, 1377 yards, and eight scores if extrapolated over 17 games, good for 307.7 PPR points.
If both were healthy and continued this pace, Brown would have finished as WR5, and been the 13th overall player in the league. These numbers speak for themselves.
Brown’s Alpha-WR role seems highly unlikely to change. When combined with an actual NFL QB throwing him the rock, and Brown’s expectedly-elite fantasy may actually become a reality.
That’s especially true when you factor in Brown’s:
STRONG ROS STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
At first glance, the next few weeks of Arizona’s schedule look tough for their receiving core. Their next four games are all against top 11 defenses vs WRs, but the horizon looks insanely juicy.
Week 14 byes are never pretty, but the surrounding games should be an all-out aerial attack.
Pittsburgh (4th worst), San Fransisco (5th), Chicago (15th), and Philadelphia (WORST) Weeks 13-17 look like Swiss cheese. In fact, via FFToolBox, the Cardinals have the second-easiest fantasy playoff schedule, behind only the Seahawks.
Look at these points allowed to the position for all 3 playoff matchups: 39.1, 36.0, 46.3. INSANE!
Murray’s health should be no question at that point, and he should be primed up after shaking off whatever rust he has.
Now is the time to target Marquise Brown in any league you’re in. Send off those trade requests, and double, even triple text your buddies to hammer out a deal.
In a bleak RB market, I’ve seen Brown move for peanuts (Justice Hill and Darrell Henderson). His perceived value is far from the league-winner he could be for you during the most important time of the year: the fantasy playoffs.
Buy Brown now, and come back to thank me for the 2023 Titles he helps bring as one of the need-to-have-him stretch run league-winners.