The Must Stash: Week 4

Tom Schweitzer (@QBLTom) recommends five deep sleepers to stash on your bench prior to Week 3's games.

Every Friday I will list 5 players who I think if things go their way, will wind up in those waiver articles the following Tuesday. You don’t have to stash all of them – it depends on who you have on your roster, the depth of your benches, the scoring system of your league, etc. But these are guys that should at least be on your radar. 

Stashing players is only something that can occur in deeper leagues with large benches, so to make this information worthwhile I will only be recommending guys that are under 15% owned on both Yahoo and ESPN, and in many cases, you’ll see percentages in the single digits. If you’re in a league where guys like Jaylen Samuels (46% on Yahoo, 30% on ESPN) or D.J. Chark (33% Yahoo, 36% on ESPN) are on the waiver wire, you’re either in a league too shallow for stashing or you should go pick those guys up right away.

 

Week 3 is in the books, and it appears I got duped by Sean Payton. Taysom Hill only took 4 snaps at QB and wasn’t anywhere close to taking Teddy Bridgewater’s job. Oh well, not every stash works out. Cut bait and move on. Justice Hill and Devin Smith didn’t do much either. Demetrius Harris caught a TD, but it was his only catch on 2 targets.

My big miss of Week 3? I don’t think there was one. Darrell Williams had a larger-than-expected role for the Chiefs, but he likely returns to obscurity once Damien Williams is healthy. His value is only as a McCoy/Damien handcuff. Other than Williams, we didn’t see anyone come out of nowhere and have a big game. What we did see, though, was some under-radar-injuries and ineffective play that may have opened the door for some backup running backs to take on a larger role. On to the week 4 stashes:

C.J. Prosise, RB, Seattle Seahawks (1 % on Yahoo, 1% on ESPN)

I wasn’t a fan of Chris Carson for fantasy coming into the year. I saw him as a decent running back, good enough to get carries in a timeshare, not talented enough to command 250+ touches in a good offense. I think we saw the best of Carson in 2018, logging his first 1,000 yard rushing season at any level above high school. In 2019, we may be seeing the worst. Carson hasn’t exceeded 60 yards rushing in any game, is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, and has been a fantasy dud since a two touchdown game in Week 1. Carson has also fumbled in all three games, something that’s sure to get under head coach Pete Carroll’s skin.

I thought Rashaad Penny would be the guy to unseat Carson as the Seahawks #1 option in the ground game and that change looked to be underway after Penny’s impressive 37-yard rushing TD in Week 2, but Penny pulled a hamstring in practice before last week’s game and will be sidelined for an indeterminate amount of time. Enter C.J. Prosise, the Seahawks’ third round pick from 2016. Prosise out-snapped Carson in last week’s game and caught five passes during the Seattle’s desperate attempt to come back from a 27-7 deficit. Prosise is talented and has been efficient in his limited opportunities to play, he just hasn’t been able to stay on the field.

I would bet against Prosise staying healthy in the long term, but he’s healthier than Penny for right now, making him arguably the Seahawks’ most dynamic option at RB at the moment. If the first three weeks are any indication, Seattle’s defense has taken a significant step down, meaning we may see more shootouts as we did in Week 3 and more passing game opportunities for Seattle running backs. Don’t be surprised to see Prosise take on the passing down role for Seattle running backs and continue to log a significant amount of snaps.

Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots (9 % on Yahoo, 4% on ESPN)

The preseason rumors of Sony Michel’s increased role in the passing game were greatly overstated. He hasn’t caught a pass for the Patriots this year and has only been targeted once. That was all fine in 2018 because Sony was so effective running the ball, but so far this year he’s put up an abysmal 2.4 yards per carry on 45 attempts. If he’s not effective at the one thing he’s supposed to be good at, I don’t see what he offers the Patriots and I’m not sure how long they’ll put up with it. Rex Burkhead and James White have clear and defined roles. The player whose role could increase is rookie Damien Harris.

Harris has yet to touch the ball in the NFL, but the Patriots thought highly enough to pick him in the third round. He was inactive for the first two games, and that may be an indication that he’s far from having a significant role or even in Bill Belichick’s doghouse. This also may be a case where Bill Belichick is saving the rookie from a full year’s workload in order to save him for the second half of the season. We’ve seen this sort of strategy from the Patriots before. Think back as recently as 2017, when Dion Lewis was barely involved for the first five to six weeks and Mike Gillislee (remember him?) was taking the bulk of the carries. Starting in Week 5, Lewis’s role slowly started to increase and by end of the year, he was winning people fantasy leagues. I’m not saying that’s going to happen with Harris, but I think it’s enough of a possibility that Harris might be worth a gamble.

Ty Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions (2 % on Yahoo, 3% on ESPN)

Ty Johnson nearly made this list last week after C.J. Anderson was surprisingly cut by the Lions, leaving Ty as the backup to Kerryon Johnson. Kerryon has yet to eclipse 50 yards in a game this season, and while I don’t think his job is in danger, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it scaled back a bit. Ty Johnson (4.45 40 time) has breakaway speed in a way that Kerryon (4.57 40 time) does not. He’s the type of guy who can take one carry or one screen pass and turn it into a long TD, the type of thing that the Lions offense could use. Ty received five touches last week and only managed to turn it into five yards, so we’ll likely see a low touch count again in Week 4, but if he’s able to break a big play on one of those touches there’s a good chance his usage increases going forward.

There’s also the question of who will get the passing down work among Lions running backs. In limited snaps, Ty has received almost as many targets (4) as Kerryon has (6) with a much larger workload. It’s possibly the Lions see Ty as a possible heir to the Theo Riddick role from years past.

Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons (15% on Yahoo, 9% on ESPN)

Ito Smith’s ownership percentages dropped this week after he logged only one carry in Atlanta’s loss to the Colts. It wasn’t due to a change in the gameplan, though. Ito left the game early with a concussion. Smith’s status for Week 4 is unclear, but if he’s cleared to play I believe he’ll return to his previous role as the lower end of a 60/40 split with Devonta Freeman. I’ve never been a big fan of Freeman as a talent so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt, but Freeman looks older and slower than ever this year. I would not be surprised if he’s out of the NFL after his current contract is up. He’s also had concussion issues (and injury issues in general) of his own, likely why Atlanta has tried to keep his snap share around 60%.

The Falcons offense needs to improve, and their schedule should help them do that. Eight of their next ten games are indoor and many of the matchups are favorable. The Falcons lead running back is going to continue to have value, regardless of who it is. Freeman owners especially should be looking to scoop up Ito during this ownership lull, and anyone else with the roster space should consider stashing Ito in the event he can take the Falcons’ #1 job.

Preston Williams, WR, Miami Dolphins (2% on Yahoo, 3% on ESPN)

Last but not least, we have our weekly Preston Williams update! Week 3 was another small step forward for Williams, as he received 12 targets, five more than any other Dolphin. It’s safe to say that he’s the Dolphins’ #1 receiver at this point. That’s good news. The bad news? Williams only converted four of his targets into receptions. His timing with new QB Josh Rosen was off at times and Williams also failed to haul in a couple of good throws, including a potential 25-yard touchdown which he initially caught but lost control of as he went to the ground. Williams was close to putting up six catches for 100 yards and a TD, and I’m willing to blame his poor production on bad luck more than poor play on his part.

The other issue? We still don’t know exactly how bad the Dolphins are, though at this point it’s clear they’re somewhere between the worst team in the league and the worst team of all time. The interesting test is going to be their upcoming matchups against fellow NFL bottom-feeders, Week 5 at home against Washington and Week 8 at home against the Jets. The Dolphins may finally be able to score (or at least exceed 10 points) in those games and Williams may be a startable option given the number of teams on a bye week at that time. I’m continuing to hold Williams as that fourth or fifth receiver on my roster in lieu of lower-upside options in the 20%-40% ownership range like Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison, and Mohamed Sanu.

 


 

That’s it for Week 4. Feel free to weigh in and tell me who I missed.

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