Each week in ‘Is It Legit?’, we’ll take a look at noteworthy performances from unexpected sources, and decide whether those performances should inspire fantasy managers to change their future outlook for those players.
While it can be tempting to rush to the waiver wire to take a flier on the previous week’s biggest standouts, it can also be prudent to exercise caution before throwing those players directly into your lineup if their past fantasy-relevant efforts aren’t likely to be repeated. That’s the aim of this column: to sort through the numbers and determine, based on talent and expected opportunity, whether and to what extent certain players should be trusted in lineups for the foreseeable future.
Let’s give it a shot and dive right into our batch of players from Week 2:
Daniel Jones (QB – NYG)
Week 3 line: 23 for 36, 336 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 4 carries for 28 yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 2 fumbles, 34.24 fantasy points
(Rostered in 54% of Yahoo leagues after Wednesday morning waivers processed)
The Giants may have found their next franchise quarterback.
It’s hard not to be excited about rookie gun-slinger Daniel Jones after the inspired performance he put on in Week 3 to lead the Giants to a comeback win over the Buccaneers. Even after losing arguably the best offensive weapon in the sport to an ankle injury, Jones fed his non-Saquon Barkley targets and used his wheels when he most needed them in order to rush for a pair of touchdowns, including the go-ahead score late in the fourth.
The decision to bench Eli Manning for Jones had seemed obvious from the start of the season, and after a pair of lackluster losses for New York to open 2019, head coach Pat Shurmur managed to convince ownership to make the switch. The Giants’ move to draft Jones sixth overall this past spring was met with nearly universal derision–Jones was projected to land much lower in the first round or perhaps outside of it (New York also possessed Pick No. 17). But after his first game, it seems like Danny Dimes might have the ‘it factor’ working for him. It would be great for the Giants if he would help them be competitive this season, but we don’t really care about that here; what does it mean for fantasy?
Potentially, some pretty good things. Jones displayed the ability to use his athleticism to tuck it and run near the goal line, which is a great boost for a quarterback’s fantasy value. Given the injury to Saquon Barkley, it’s likely that the vast majority of touchdowns in the Giants offense will come from Jones’ arm or his legs (unless the Giants sign the human bowling ball, CJ Anderson. In deeper leagues. By the way, I’d take a flier on Anderson for at least a couple days to see if he signs somewhere favorable, like New York). Jones was also pretty efficient throwing the football, favoring Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard as his favorite targets in Week 3.
That he racked up over 300 yards on just 23 completions, maintaining a solid completion percentage, is a good sign. Sure, he got the Bucs porous defense, but he did everything he was supposed to do against it. Losing Barkley as a check-down machine will hurt the offense as a whole going forward, but the Giants do get safety blanket Golden Tate back from suspension soon. There’s a lot to like about Jones as a potential breakout candidate.
Verdict: LEGIT. In a first-quarter of the season that has already seen two household names lost to injury (Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger) with other big names from draft season vastly under-performing early (Aaron Rodgers and Baker Mayfield), it’s conceivable that some fantasy players are scrambling at the QB position. I, myself, lost Roethlisberger in my main league and rolled with Andy Dalton in Week 3. While the Red Rifle has been a consistent scorer in Zac Taylor’s pass-friendly offense early this season, it’s hard to imagine him putting up a game like Jones just did in his debut. If you’re looking to play it conservatively, Dalton is bound to have a decent weekly floor–probably a floor higher than Jones’, considering we’ve only seen him once. And Jones is bound to make mistakes going forward. He’s going to turn the ball over and make decisions at times that remind you of his inexperience. But if I’m already in dire straits at QB, I’m snagging Jones and firing him up in Week 5 against Washington’s non-descript defense. I dropped Dalton for Jones in a 14-team league, hoping to chase the rookie’s upside this week, and if you’re in a similar situation, I’d at least recommend stashing Jones as a second quarterback on your roster until we see how this all plays out. Unless my quarterback situation is ‘Lamar Jackson-with-Dak Prescott-as-a-backup’ good, I’m not letting Jones linger in the free-agent pool this week.
Phillip Dorsett II (WR – NE)
Week 3 line: 6 receptions (7 targets) for 53 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 carries for 12 yards, 18.50 PPR points
(Rostered in 48% of Yahoo leagues after Wednesday morning waivers processed)
It looks like Phillip Dorsett might have some staying power. He didn’t appear in this column after a strong Week 1 because the Patriots had already agreed to a contract with Antonio Brown before that slate of games were played. Now that Brown, whose bizarre behavior landed him outside my top 200 draft rankings this season, has been cut by New England, it’s time to get Dorsett on a fantasy football roster in every virtually every league.
In his third year with the Patriots, Dorsett appears to have a level of trust with Tom Brady, hauling in three touchdowns in the two games he’s played without AB to contend with for targets. Dorsett’s got a lot working in his favor. For one, he’s seemingly locked into three-wide sets for a team run by one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. Another element to consider: that Brady-led offense has struggled to run the ball efficiently this season, managing just 3.2 yards per tote (28th of 32 in NFL).
Verdict: LEGIT. The Patriots offense goes through Brady. With no Brown, no Rob Gronkowski, a banged-up Julian Edelman (left Sunday with a rib injury) and a potentially compromised Josh Gordon (he was in and out of the game multiple times working with the medical staff Sunday), things set up nicely for Dorsett to have a solid fantasy season as a WR3 or flex play. Still unowned in over half of Yahoo leagues, you should pick him up now and feel comfortable sticking him into lineups when the bye week blues start to set in over the coming weeks.
Taylor Gabriel (WR – CHI)
Week 3 line: 6 receptions (7 targets) for 7 yards and 3 touchdowns, 1 carry for 7 yards, 32.20 PPR points
(Rostered in 9% of Yahoo leagues after Wednesday morning waivers processed)
Mitchell Trubisky came to life in Week 3 and the main beneficiary was speedster Taylor Gabriel, who torched the Redskins defense for three scores, including a dazzling catch in the front corner of the end zone that required replay review to be ruled a touchdown.
Gabriel had just three total receptions across the first two weeks of the season before Week 3’s explosion. Exploding for random big games after weeks of futility has kind of been his thing throughout his career, but it’s interesting to note that Gabriel was the standout in the first game of the year that Trubisky looked even remotely competent. With Gabriel’s speed and apparent comfort with Trubisky as a check-down option and deep threat, it would make sense for Matt Nagy to scheme for Gabriel more frequently. That is, if he’s in the lineup.
Even if Gabriel were healthy, he would be a risky start this week against the Vikings, but as it is, Gabriel is questionable for Week 4 after suffering a concussion late in Monday night’s win. That designation, combined with his career-long volatility, combined to leave Gabriel as a free agent in over 90% of Yahoo leagues Wednesday morning despite notching more than 30 points just two days ago.
Verdict: NOT LEGIT, but keep an eye on him. No, Gabriel’s not a recommended play for the immediate future on a short week due to the concussion he sustained Monday. His ceiling is attractive, obviously, but his weekly floor isn’t even paved; it’s dirt. But the reality is, even household names aren’t always as reliable as it feels like they ought to be when you plug them into your lineup each week. Guys that were drafted to be reliable scorers such as Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams have underwhelmed with multiple single-digit performances already this season; from that perspective, Gabriel would make a good weekly dart throw for when the bye weeks roll around. In lieu of a high-floor, low-ceiling play like Cole Beasley, if rolling the dice is your style, Gabriel could be a lot of fun if you pick your spots correctly. For now, he’s viewed as a match-up dependent flex during heavier bye weeks, but it would only take one more noteworthy performance for him to become a red-hot waiver add. If you’ve got space, consider a one-week stash to see how it pans out.
(Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire)