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:
Frank Gore (RB – BUF)
Week 2 line: 19 carries for 68 yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 2 receptions (2 targets) for 15 yards, 16.30 PPR points
(Rostered in 10% of Yahoo leagues)
Trust me, you’re not as surprised to be reading Frank Gore‘s name in this column in 2019 as I am surprised to be including it. It’s been years since I’ve considered scooping Gore up off the waiver wire, never eager to stash his single-digit weekly scoring output on my bench. His upside? Maybe as a sad and unfortunate FLEX play during a rough bye week for your roster? That’s always been my view, anyway.
But as I consistently tout, opportunity is king in fantasy football. And not only did Gore receive ample opportunity for fantasy relevance in Week 2 when he fell into the end zone during Buffalo’s win over the Giants, but it’s also possible that he’ll continue to see a lot of run in Week 3 given some uncertainty surrounding the immediate health of Devin Singletary.
The rookie runner has a much brighter fantasy outlook than Gore, but if the former can’t play this Sunday, Gore could see north of 20 touches against a Bengals defense that was absolutely shredded by San Francisco’s stable of running backs in Week 2.
Again, it’s all about opportunity. Gore could have a lot of it this week.
VERDICT: LEGIT-ISH. Look, unless I’ve got an equally boring running back like Jordan Howard or Mike Davis that I can cut to add Gore, I’m not going to lose my mind over him this week. That being said, if I’m the Singletary owner or I’m looking for a plug-and-play at an RB slot this week, I think you could do worse than Gore. He’s not a guy I’m looking to stash; if you’re adding him, it’s because you’re looking to play him in Week 3. If injuries have you in a pinch, you could do worse than Gore this week (but monitor the status of Singletary, he’s still the RB to own in Buffalo).
Nelson Agholor (WR – PHI)
Week 2 line: 8 receptions (11 targets) for 107 yards, 1 touchdown, 24.70 PPR points
(Rostered in 16% of Yahoo leagues)
Nelson Agholor is another player I’ve had no problem ignoring over the years as a fantasy temptation. He’s always been talented, but his occasional issues with drops and the fact that he’s always buried in the skill-player pecking order in Philadelphia keeps me away from Agholor in my leagues. Basically, if the breakout for the fifth-year wideout were ever going to happen, it would have by this point.
And while I still feel this way in terms of Agholor’s long-term outlook, I do believe there’s some value to be extracted in the immediate future.
That’s because DeSean Jackson is expected to miss at least a couple weeks with an abdominal issue, while Alshon Jeffery could meet the same fate due to a calf strain. The Eagles play two games in 10 days between Weeks 3 and 4, complicating matters for the recovery of their banged-up receiving corps.
Both Jackson and Jeffery exited quite early in the Eagles SNF loss to the Falcons in Week 2, allowing Agholor to establish himself alongside Zach Ertz as a prime target for Carson Wentz in the passing game. It wasn’t a perfect night for Agholor, as he dropped a sure touchdown late in the Eagles comeback effort:
Nelson Agholor had 8 catches for 107 and a TD. But what’s going to get remembered, and rightfully so, is this brutal drop with the game on the line
— Dominic Rembert (@mr_dante) September 16, 2019
That’s kind of what he does. But as long as Wentz is healthy, the volume in the passing game should be stable for the Eagles, especially considering the slow start to the season for the Philly rushing attack.
VERDICT: LEGIT BY DEFAULT. Carson Wentz is going to throw the ball, so somebody might as well catch it. It’s hard to envision even a player as inconsistent as Agholor screwing up what should be a golden opportunity for a heavy target share in Week 3 against the Lions. In all likelihood, the Eagles will play it safe with the injuries to Jackson and Jeffery, meaning Agholor could also be in line for solid WR3 value when Philadelphia heads to Green Bay for Thursday Night Football in Week 4. As was the case with Gore, I’m not stashing Agholor, I don’t love his long-range value, but he should be startable the next couple weeks. Not exactly a glowing endorsement, but it feels honest.
Demarcus Robinson (WR – KC)
Week 2 line: 6 receptions (6 targets) for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns, 35.2 PPR points
(Rostered in 9% of Yahoo leagues)
Demarcus Robinson came out of nowhere as the most productive Chiefs pass-catcher on Sunday, pairing with Patrick Mahomes for a gaudy stat line in Kansas City’s win over the Raiders. A veteran in his fourth NFL season, Robinson’s breakout was a bit surprising, considering he’s been involved in the KC offense for multiple years prior without ever recording a 100-year outing. Given his presence in the league’s most dynamic offense, Robinson needs to be rostered after what he did Sunday, but his reliability for your lineup shouldn’t be considered automatic.
While it’s enticing to get as many pieces of the Chiefs high-flying offense as possible, it’s important to bear in mind the risks associated with treating Robinson or Mecole Hardman as a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ option for fantasy, even with Tyreek Hill expected out of the lineup for a few more weeks.
For one, we know that Patrick Mahomes likes to spread the ball among his targets. In Week 1, it was Sammy Watkins reaping the benefits of Mahomes’ magic touch, with Robinson drawing just two targets. Watkins didn’t disappear this past week, hauling in six of his team-leading 13 targets. Robinson simple out-produced Watkins because he found the end zone twice. He still trailed both Watkins and Travis Kelce in targets.
Verdict: NOT LEGIT. For the upside he could provide in a given week, it’s hard to argue against trotting Robinson out as a flex play again next week. And he’s more than worth a bench stash if you aren’t thrilled with the potential that exists currently on your bench. All that said, I’m not convinced that Robinson’s outlook is better than that of Hardman, whose strong Sunday would have been even more noteworthy had a 74-yard touchdown not been called back on a holding penalty. If I’ve been stashing upside like Hardman, John Ross, Terry McLaurin, Malcolm Brown, etc. on my bench, I’m hesitant to drop any of them in order to chase Robinson’s standout performance. So far, the Chiefs haven’t placed Tyreek Hill on IR, which means his return should be in the offing. When it arrives, Robinson won’t be a consistently reliable option for your lineup.
Deebo Samuel (WR – SF)
Week 2 line: 5 receptions (7 targets) for 87 yards and 1 touchdown, 2 carries for 7 yards, 20.40 PPR points
(Rostered in 15% of Yahoo leagues)
Finally, a guy for whom I am comfortable offering a ringing endorsement based on his skills. And that’s not to say I’m not enthused regarding the expected opportunity share for Deebo Samuel going forward, either. He had already surpassed Dante Pettis in San Francisco’s wide receiver pecking order in Week 1, but in Week 2, Samuel flashed and took advantage of his tremendous usage by Kyle Shanahan.
#49ers WR Deebo Samuel shined today. He led the Niners in targets, receptions, and yards.
7 Targets, 5 Receptions, 87 Yards, TD
2 Rushes, 7 Yards
Beautiful play-calling by Kyle Shanahan. This is exactly how Deebo should be used.
Week 2 Deebo Highlights🎥: pic.twitter.com/1aJk5rq8dL
— Steve Frederick (@_SteveFrederick) September 16, 2019
Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo should be tickled pink to further integrate Samuel as a central figure in the 49ers offense in the coming weeks. It seems extremely likely that San Francisco will consistently design plays to get the ball into his hands, which would be
Verdict: LEGIT. If my team has notched a couple wins and avoided the injury bug early, Samuel is the kind of guy I’m targeting heavily for a bench stash, as his value is only going to rise throughout the course of the season. If my team has struggled early and has been hampered by injuries to wide receivers like DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Michael Gallup and others, Samuel is the kind of player I’d consider staking my season on in the waiver wars. The upside is tremendous. Pick him up, slot him in your lineup, and see if he doesn’t turn into a possible league-winner and Rookie of the Year candidate.