The Must Stash: Week 8
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 20% 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 Chase Edmonds (79% on Yahoo, 69% on ESPN) or Ty Johnson (74% Yahoo, 64% 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.
Not a great week from the recommended week 7 stashes. Allen Lazard was one of the few Packers who failed to get into the endzone on Aaron Rodgers’s 5-touchdown day. Zay Jones wasn’t even active for the Raiders, a shock given that he’d been with the team nearly two weeks and Tyrell Williams was unable to play. Jones was a longshot anyway and you can give up on him now. Darius Slayton was out-produced by Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler. Javon Wims caught a garbage-time touchdown on his only target. The one bright spot was Jakobi Meyers, but his future is now murky with the Patriots’ addition of Mohamed Sanu via trade.
It’s a reminder that it’s difficult for skill players to play their way into a starting role in the middle of the season. Almost all the change comes due to injury and that’s not something you can easily predict. The hot waiver pickups of this week, Ty Johnson and Chase Edmonds, became relevant when the starting running backs for their teams got injured.
That’s why in typical redraft leagues, I only like to hold 4 wide receivers. 2nd or 3rd options like the aforementioned Sanu or guys like Keke Coutee and Ted Ginn just don’t offer enough upside for your 2 wide receiver spots. You should be filling your roster with handcuff running backs and talented backups for the inevitable injuries.
But every league is different. If you’re in a 3 WR league, a league with extra flex spots, or a dynasty league, the sleeper wide receivers can provide depth and provide value in the trade market. That last spot on your bench should always be under a microscope and you should lead your league in transactions that look meaningless on the surface but give you a slight bump in value. With that, here are the week 8 stashes:
Jaylen Samuels, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (14% on Yahoo, 12% on ESPN)
Benny Snell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (11% on Yahoo, 7% on ESPN)
So Kerryon Johnson got placed on injured reserve earlier this week, leaving fantasy owners wondering what the next major running back injury will be. Sometimes the best way to predict injuries is to assume that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” With James Conner, we’ve had plenty of smoke. He was on the injury report in week 2 with a knee injury. He was back on the injury report in week 5 with an ankle injury. Now, even after a week off to heal, he’s listed as questionable for Monday night’s game with a quad injury he sustained in the Steelers’ Week 6 win over the Chargers. I’m not rooting for an injury, I’m just being realistic: the more that Conner tries to play through this collection of lower-body injuries, the more likely he is to suffer a more serious injury and require a lengthy absence.
If Conner is out of the picture, the Steelers would split time between Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell. Snell is the better stash option in the short-term. When Conner left the game against the Chargers, Snell filled in with 17 carries for 75 yards, mostly in mop-up duty. If Conner is unable to play on Monday, Snell would suddenly become a borderline RB1 with a juicy matchup against the Dolphins. He’s definitely worth stashing if you’re a Conner owner. He’s also a bargaining chip you could use against the Conner owner if Conner ends up being ruled out prior to Monday.
The longer-term option here is Samuels, who I’ve said going back to the preseason is the most talented and versatile running back on the Steelers’ roster. Samuels missed the week 6 game with a minor knee procedure and is unlikely to play on Monday, but he stated that he feels close to 100% and expects to get back on the field in week 9. The Steelers were beginning to see the light with Samuels prior to his knee injury, using him as a wildcat quarterback and playing him at the same time as Conner at times. He was a huge part of their week 4 win against the Bengals, which essentially saved their season. It appears Samuels may be getting healthy right as Conner breaks down. I think it’s only a matter of time before Samuels is the lead back of this team and their best asset for fantasy.
Deandre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders (1% on Yahoo, 1% on ESPN)
Here’s another opportunity to get ahead of a potential injury. Josh Jacobs missed practice on Thursday and its beginning to look like he may miss Sunday’s game against the Texans. Jacobs being inactive would mean an uptick in the workload of Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington, but Washington would likely take on the role of the “main carry” running back. Much like the situation with Snell and Conner, if Jacobs gets ruled out and you have Washington on your roster, you may be able to use Washington in a trade with a desperate owner or plug Washington into your lineup as an RB2.
I also think it’s fair to question Jacobs’s durability for the rest of the season. Rookie running backs often talk about hitting the “rookie wall” toward the end of the season, right around the point where they’re used to getting a month off to prepare for a bowl game. It’s the reason why coaches often use young running backs in a timeshare when they first enter the league and why you often see them suffer injuries early in their careers. In addition to being a rookie, Jacobs wasn’t even a full-time player in college, he split time with Damien Harris at Alabama. With 109 carries this year, Jacobs is about to eclipse his season-high of 120 carries in college. The Raiders are asking a lot of him right now, and while he’s exceeded expectations up to this point, I’m not sure his body will hold up into the fantasy playoffs.
Deandre Washington was a 5th round draft pick and therefore has never really gotten a chance to do much in the NFL. He’s been stuck in this backup role, first behind Latavius Murray, then Marshawn Lynch, and now Jacobs. The fact that he’s been able to make the team year-after-year and survive a change in management is a good sign. He’s one of those guys that always looks explosive in the limited work he gets, but its hard to tell whether he’d be able to maintain that energy with a full workload. I tend to think he’s a league-average running back, but I think that would work in this offense. Football Outsiders currently has the Raiders offensive line as the 4th best run-blocking unit in the league, so a guy like Washington could step in and deliver the same type of production we’ve seen from Josh Jacobs so far.
DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Denver Broncos (7% on Yahoo, 9% on ESPN)
I’m surprised by the lack of interest in Daesean Hamilton after Emmanuel Sanders was dealt to the 49ers earlier this week. Courtland Sutton will retain his role as Joe Flacco’s primary target, but the only other receiver on the team that has played significant snaps this year is Hamilton. I expect him to step directly into the role that Sanders occupied and receive roughly the same number of targets. How effective can he be in that role? It’s easy to forget that we saw a preview of this at the end of last year. When Emmanuel Sanders tore his Achilles at the end of last season, Hamilton started four games in his place and averaged 6.3 receptions for 45.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns. The low yards per catch aren’t that encouraging, but the catch counts offer a nice floor, especially in PPR leagues. Hamilton is locked into the #2 role for the rest of the year – the possession receiver working in tandem with the downfield threat in Sutton. You should value him as a poor man’s Emmanuel Sanders, something worth owning in deeper and/or PPR leagues.
Preston Williams, WR, Miami Dolphins (12% on Yahoo, 9% on ESPN)
I left Preston Williams off the list last week because he put a bit of a dud in the week 6 matchup against Washington, Josh Rosen’s last start. I was beginning to question whether Williams (or any Dolphin) was worth anyone’s time. I also wanted to see how the targets were distributed with Ryan Fitzpatrick back as the starting QB and Albert Wilson back from his injury. The results were encouraging: Williams was targeted 8 times and caught 6 passes for 82 yards. But more importantly, there’s a pattern emerging with Williams and the Dolphins quarterbacks. Rosen and Fitzpatrick have now played roughly the same amount of snaps for Miami (Rosen 197 and Fitzpatrick 188). Here is Williams’s production with each QB:
With Rosen: 22 targets, 7 receptions, 89 yards, 0 TD’s
With Fitzpatrick: 22 targets, 16 receptions, 225 yards, 1 TD
It shouldn’t shock anyone to see a receiver be more productive with the competent veteran Fitzpatrick versus the inexperienced and raw Rosen, but I’m surprised by how big the difference is. When Rosen replaced Fitzpatrick in week 3 I think most of us thought that it wouldn’t have much of an impact on anything for fantasy, but the more we see of these QB’s, I think they need to consider the dropoff from Fitzpatrick to Rosen to be significant. This is like Juju Smith-Schuster’s value with Mason Rudolph instead of Ben Roethlisberger or Robby Anderson’s value with Luke Falk instead of Sam Darnold. I think I may have been correct about Williams all along. He is a wide receiver worth owning in fantasy, just with the caveat that he needs his starting quarterback out there with him.
Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cleveland Browns (4% on Yahoo, 3% on ESPN)
If there’s been one bright spot in the Browns struggling offense the last few weeks its… well, its Nick Chubb. But if there’s a second bright spot, it’s Ricky Seals-Jones. Believe it or not, Jones is the only Brown to catch a touchdown in the last 3 games. For the first time last week, RSJ led Browns tight ends in snaps and Baker Mayfield seems to be looking his direction more and more often.
Freddie Kitchens wants to run 3 wide-receiver sets and throw the ball downfield, but the Browns just don’t have the offensive line to accommodate that type of system and they don’t have a good 3rd receiver anyway. It seems painfully obvious at this point that their play design needs to feature more short passes and/or they need to play more two tight end sets to help with the pass protection. The one week they committed to having two tight ends on the field, week 4, they blew out the Ravens in Baltimore.
The Browns play the Patriots in New England this week. Bill Belichick is famous for taking away the opponent’s biggest threat, meaning that his defense will probably focus a lot of their attention on Chubb and Odell Beckham Jr. It would not shock me if Ricky Seals-Jones is the beneficiary of this gameplan and gets open for some big plays. Just imagine the excitement for a guy like RSJ if he has a nice game in primetime against the best defense in the league. Tight Ends continue to be hard to come by, and just when some of us thought we solved our tight end problem, Will Dissly tears his Achilles. If you’re TE desperate, take a flyer on RSJ.
That’s it for week 8. Feel free to weigh in and tell me who I missed.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)