Now that we are officially past the halfway point of the fantasy season (assuming your league finishes up in Week 16), it’s time to take serious inventory of your roster and determine what it could take to orchestrate a strong finish in the second half. Your current record/ place in the standings will undoubtedly be the first part of the decision-making process. Teams that are in good-to-great playoff positioning would benefit from a focus on roster depth (stash high-upside youngsters and high-value RB handcuffs) and the rest of season schedule. Things can go south quickly, so it’s wise to prepare for the worst by adding depth pieces to back up your key staters.
In terms of the rest of season schedule, I fully recognize that the consensus opinion on “good” vs “bad” matchups can and likely will change. However, there are some outliers on the high and low ends that can be used to identify players with favorable late-season schedules. If fading playoff odds have cornered you into “win now” mode earlier than expected, long-term decisions take the back seat to any roster moves that will help in win the current week. Acquiring win-now contributors takes precedence over building a dream team for the playoffs. Week 9’s RB/WR/TE streamers have both short and long-term appeal, making them worthy adds for all teams, regardless of how things look in the standings right now.
* Players marked with an asterisk below can also be found in the priority waiver wire adds article referenced at the end. All players below are under 65%-rostered as of 11/04/20.
Matt Breida (RB, Miami Dolphins)
Before getting into Matt Breida’s fantasy prospects, there are a couple “check if available” RBs to consider who, like Breida, need to be owned in all leagues: Justin Jackson (75% ESPN/ 61% Yahoo) and J.K Dobbins (55% ESPN/ 70% Yahoo). Jackson, Dobbins, and Breida all profile as safe Flex plays with RB2 upside over the next few weeks. With late-Tuesday news that Dolphins starter Myles Gaskin (sprained MCL) would be out multiple weeks, there’s a decent chance that Breida flew under the radar during this week’s waiver run in your league (currently 33%-rostered ESPN/ 26% Yahoo). Whether you need a starting RB in your lineup immediately or have the rare luxury to shore up your RB depth, Breida needs to be owned in all leagues while Gaskin is inactive. I wouldn’t count on Breida’s questionable durability holding up as a true lead back, but I do expect a mixture of rushing and receiving work somewhere in the neighborhood of 15+ touches. Breida doesn’t require a massive amount of touches to be successful, as he’s been an efficient runner (career 4.9 yards-per-carry) and has the speed to break long runs when he finds a seam (registered fastest ball-carrier speed in 2019). I see him as a safe Flex with RB2 upside while he remains atop the Miami RB depth chart.
Zack Moss (RB, Buffalo Bills)
While Breida is this week’s best short-term fill-in, Moss is among the top options who can help you out for the long haul. He had his best game of the season, by far, in Week 8 (14 carries for 81 yards and two TDs) and I’m not saying fantasy managers should automatically expect that level of production the rest of the way; It was a wet and windy game where the Bills ran 38 times and passed just 18. However, I do think their Week 8 contest indicated that Buffalo’s backfield will be a near-even split for the foreseeable future, which is “arrow-down” for Devin Singletary managers and “arrow-up” for Moss managers who are hoping that he will continue to earn double-digit touches. It can be frustrating to roster RBs who are in full-fledged committees, but if you have to pick one, I tend to give the advantage to whoever is receiving valuable short-yardage and goal-line work. I expect Moss to assume that role. The worst-case scenario for Moss in Week 9 is if the Bills are playing catch-up (vs Seattle) and they lean on Singletary, who is the preferred pass-catcher of the two. In the end, Moss is a fine Flex play with rest of season RB2 upside if he can gain a bigger chunk of the backfield split.
Other names to consider (in order): J.K Dobbins (priority add if available; 55% ESPN/ 70% Yahoo), Justin Jackson (top add if available; 75% ESPN/ 61% Yahoo), Damien Harris, JaMycal Hasty, Gus Edwards, Phillip Lindsay, Deejay Dallas (if no Chris Carson/ Carlos Hyde), Dexter Williams, Wayne Gallman, ), Latavius Murray (high-end handcuff), Josh Kelley, Lamical Perine, Adrian Peterson, James White, Jordan Wilkins, Cam Akers (bye, stash), Alexander Mattison (high-end handcuff)
Mike Williams (WR, Los Angeles Chargers)
Just like the RB section above, there are a few “check if available” players who would make fine WR streamers over the next few weeks: Brandon Aiyuk (67% ESPN/ 82% Yahoo), Sterling Shepard (61% ESPN/ 44% Yahoo), and Marvin Jones Jr (73% ESPN/ 55% Yahoo). Aiyuk, Shepard, and Jones Jr all profile as Flex plays with WR2 upside if they can find paydirt. This week’s featured WRs are a slight step below the previously mentioned trio as WR3/ Flex options. Mike Williams has the talent and QB play necessary to make him a reliable WR2, but currently sits around 55%-rostered due to wildly inconsistent results this season. We could contribute some of his early struggles to battling through injuries, but he also registered a dud as recently as Week 7. In the six games where Williams has been active this year, he has three stinkers (one or two catches and less than 17 yards in each) and three good-to-great performances (four-plus catches and 69-plus yards in each, along with three TDs). Bottom line, there will always be risk associated with streaming-tier players, so it’s wise to go after talents like Williams who offer a high ceiling with adept downfield abilities.
Jerry Jeudy (WR, Denver Broncos)
When it comes to rookies who were high NFL draft picks (and subsequently drafted in fantasy leagues), there tends to be a shift this time of year. Unless the rookie has flashed enough potential to stay rostered, they have likely been dropped by fantasy managers who were either forced to drop them due to bye weeks/ injuries or simply lost patience. Jeudy is a guy who fits the profile: high draft pick (15th overall), universally drafted in fantasy leagues, and hasn’t consistently produced Flex-or-better numbers. I say all of that to say I think now is the time to get Jeudy on your team if he’s available. He has just one touchdown on the season and has yet to eclipse 73 receiving yards, but my suggestion comes from a belief in the talent, the targets (seven-plus in four of seven games), and the notion that the Broncos offense will begin to jell with improved health and familiarity. Denver’s Week 9 matchup in Atlanta presents a prime opportunity for Jeudy to set the tone for a strong finish to the season. I see him as a Flex this week and the rest of the season.
Other names to consider (in order): Brandon Aiyuk (priority add, 67% ESPN/ 82% Yahoo), Sterling Shepard (priority add, 61% ESPN/ 44% Yahoo), Marvin Jones Jr (priority add, 73% ESPN/ 55% Yahoo), Christian Kirk, Allen Lazard (stash), Jalen Reagor (bye, stash), Corey Davis, Emmanuel Sanders, Michael Gallup, John Brown, Cole Beasley, Henry Ruggs III, Rashard Higgins, Nelson Agholor, Mecole Hardman, Laviska Shenault Jr, Randall Cobb, Anthony Miller, Curtis Samuel, Demarcus Robinson, Michael Pittman Jr (stash)
Robert Tonyan (TE, Green Bay Packers)
This one is a slight bending of the “under 65%-rostered” criteria as Tonyan is currently 54%-rostered in ESPN leagues and 68% in Yahoo. However, I don’t often get the chance to discuss tight ends with the potential to be a starter in your lineup for the remainder of the season. The Packers declined to acquire any pass-catchers in the recent trade deadline, which to me shows faith in the options they have on the roster currently. Outside of do-it-all stud Davante Adams, only Allen Lazard (returning from IR), and to a lesser degree, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, stand in the way of Tonyan receiving crisp throws from Aaron Rodgers. Tonyan is currently second on the team in both receiving yards (309) and receiving TDs (five), so we know Rodgers trusts him and, more importantly, will need him to produce while Green Bay tries to make up for the absence of a running game (top two RBs inactive in Week 9). Tonyan has four-plus targets in four of seven games this season, his quarterback is awesome, and he’s already past his bye week. He projects to be a mid-level to back-end TE1 this week and is likely to remain there all season.
Other names to consider (in order): Dallas Goedert (bye, priority add if available), Eric Ebron, Jordan Reed, Jimmy Graham, Austin Hooper (injured, two-week stash), Trey Burton, Irv Smith Jr, Mike Gesicki, Dalton Schultz, Logan Thomas
Accountability is everything, so here’s a quick look back at last week’s recommendations
JaMycal Hasty (RB, San Francisco 49ers): Despite racking up just 31 total yards on 13 touches (one catch), Hasty allowed fantasy managers to breathe a sigh of relief after converting a short touchdown plunge. Tevin Coleman was activated off IR and was involved early on before exiting the game (reaggravated knee injury). With the 49ers operating on a short week (Thurs vs GB), I see Hasty continuing as the primary option while Jerick McKinnon provides change-of-pace duties in the San Francisco backfield. Given the matchup, Hasty is a Flex with RB2 upside for at least one more week.
Carlos Hyde/ Deejay Dallas (RB, Seattle Seahawks): There was a reason I exercised extreme caution in Hyde’s write-up last week as he was ultimately ruled inactive on Sunday, leaving Deejay Dallas as the last man standing. Dallas was inefficient, but still produced a healthy amount of fantasy points with 23 combined touches (five catches) for 58 total yards, including one score on the ground and one through the air. While neither of these players are must-holds, we know that “Seahawks RB1” is a useful role for fantasy, so it may be wise to keep one or both on your roster until Chris Carson proves his health in recovery from a foot sprain.
Sterling Shepard (WR, New York Giants): Shepard fulfilled his projection perfectly, collecting eight catches on 10 targets for 74 scoreless yards on Monday Night Football. Expect him to continue turning in this solid floor, especially in PPR leagues, as Shepard profiles as a WR3/ Flex rest of season.
Cole Beasley (WR, Buffalo Bills): Hopefully, you were keeping an eye on weather reports heading into Week 8. Beasley caught two of two targets (24 yards) in a wet, wind-whipped game where Josh Allen attempted just 18 passes. This doesn’t move me off of considering Beasley as a WR3/ low-end Flex in PPR leagues, but this is a good reminder to consider weather in start-sit decisions when there is a possibility of heavy wind and/or rain.
Richard Rodgers (TE, Philadelphia Eagles): It was an oversight in last week’s article to not mention the possibility of Dallas Goedert returning to the lineup from injured reserve. I wrongly assumed that the Eagles would keep him out until after their Week 9 bye, but instead he was activated off IR last Saturday and played over 84% of offensive snaps, rendering Rodgers useless (zero targets). Rodgers is an easy drop with Goedert now back for Philadelphia.
Make sure to check out Myles Nelson’s priority waiver wire adds article every Tuesday for more insights on who you should be submitting claims for heading into each Wednesday. Good luck in Week 9!
(Photo by Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire)