The Must Stash: Week 9
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 Jaylen Samuels (63% on Yahoo, 35% on ESPN) or Dallas Goedert (25% Yahoo, 37% 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 8 is in the books, and I mostly struck out on my stash recommendations. Ricky Seals-Jones and Daesean Hamilton both failed to catch a pass. Josh Jacobs was able to suit up, which meant Deandre Washington had a limited role. Dolphins #1 wide receiver and unofficial mascot of this column Preston Williams looked like he was on his way to a big night with 4 receptions for 42 yards in the first half, but got shut in the 2nd half as the Dolphins went into full tank mode.
But, if you were able to stash Jaylen Samuels, you may have struck gold (at least for one week). Benny Snell and James Conner both suffered injuries on Monday night. Snell will miss two to three weeks and Conner has yet to practice, leaving Samuels as the healthiest back of the bunch. Samuels was already the most talented of the three in my opinion, so I think we could see him put up RB1 numbers if he’s the only guy getting touches.
Moving on to week 9, I’m not including Preston Williams this week. His ownership is close to 15% in Yahoo and ESPN anyway, and I’m not sure how much higher it should get. I still think he has a bright future, possibly even as the Dolphins #1 wide receiver for years to come. His ceiling for this year is just too low. The Dolphins played 3 quarters of real football on Monday, but when the 4th quarter hit, their offensive gameplan suddenly shifted away from Williams and toward Mark Walton. Walton took 6 of the 11 touches for the Dolphins in the 4th (not including Fitzpatrick scrambles), which amounted to 36 total yards. Not bad on the surface, but these were mostly delayed handoffs and dump passes against a prevent defense. In a moment where the Dolphins needed to be aggressive to get back into the game, they were happy to feed their mediocre running back and burned clock. Williams will continue to be usable as a guy who can get you 12 points in PPR leagues, so still worth owning in deep leagues. This week’s list will (mostly) feature guys with higher upside:
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8% on Yahoo, 3% on ESPN)
I probably should have included Cameron Brate on last week’s list when O.J. Howard missed practice on Thursday. Howard is looking doubtful to play again this weekend, leaving Brate as the top tight end option in a possible shootout against the Seahawks. Brate has always been solid when he’s been on the field, he’s just had the misfortune of sharing Tight End duties with two high draft picks over the course of his career (with Howard and Austin Seferian-Jenkins). Since 2016, Brate is averaging 5.5 targets for 3.6 receptions, 42.5 yards, and 0.5 touchdowns in games where he’s on the field over for over 60% of the snaps, which is TE1 production in fantasy.
A high snap count is all but guaranteed for Brate this weekend and there’s a chance it may continue for the remainder of the year. We don’t know the severity of Howard’s hamstring injury, but soft-tissue injuries like that have a tendency to linger. Howard seems to be in Bruce Arians’s doghouse and was reported to be in trade discussions near the deadline, so it seems his time in Tampa might be limited. It’s also pretty clear at this point that Jameis Winston prefers Brate in the passing game over Howard, whether you’re using the eye test or looking at the numbers. Howard has out-snapped Brate 398 to 195 for the season but Brate has been targeted more often. In his first start of the year last week, Brate was targeted 6 times, more targets than Howard has received in any game this season. With Brate, you could be stashing the starting TE for the Buccaneers for the remainder of the season and to begin 2020.
Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots (11% on Yahoo, 23% on ESPN)
I’m keeping an eye on the Patriots backfield, wondering how long the Patriots stick with Sony Michel as their primary ball-carrier. I rarely ever see him make a guy miss, make a nice cut, or outrun anybody. His 3.3 yards per carry tell a similar story and he’s still rarely used in the pass game. We’ve seen the Patriots lean on mediocre grinders like this before, most recently Legarrette Blount and Mike Gillislee, and then by the end of the year Dion Lewis is taking the majority of the work and winning fantasy leagues. I think we might see the same thing this year, with Michel surrendering the starting job to either Rex Burkhead or Damien Harris. Burkhead has returned from a foot sprain that cost him 3 games, just in time for the tough part of the Patriots’ schedule. A win over the Ravens would give New England a stranglehold on the #1 seed in the AFC, so don’t be surprised to see Burkhead worked more heavily in this game along with the always-reliable James White. I’ll also be checking for Damien Harris to be active, the darkhorse to take over this backfield during the fantasy playoffs.
Zach Pascal, WR, Indianapolis Colts (7% on Yahoo, 2% on ESPN)
After weeks of uncertainty and multiple players lost to injury, we might finally have a clear picture of who the Colts’ #2 receiver is. Two weeks ago Zach Pascal recorded 6 receptions for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns. Then last week, he was on the field for 92% of the snaps, by far his largest snap count of the season. I think if Pascal had put up big numbers for the 2nd straight week, he’d be a hot waiver pickup right now, but he and the rest of the Colts passing game got shut down by the Broncos’ defense.
The Colts have another tough matchup in Pittsburgh this week, but the schedule opens up nicely after that. From week 10 to 16, 6 of their 7 games will be played indoor and 5 of 7 games are against teams in the bottom half of the league in terms of pass yards allowed. On top of that, T.Y. Hilton is back on the injury report, this time with a calf injury. The playing time is there, the schedule is there, and he plays for an efficient offense with a good offensive line. I think Pascal could be a surprise WR2 in the 2nd half of the fantasy season.
Allen Lazard, WR, Green Bay Packers (11% on Yahoo, 6% on ESPN)
Allen Lazard’s ownership has dropped back down under 15% just two weeks after being one of the top waiver-wire pickups. I’m not ready to give up quite yet. Lazard has led all Packers receivers for two straight weeks. Two weeks ago against Oakland, he dropped a pass along the sidelines for what would have been a 20+ yard gain. Then last week against the Chiefs Lazard was ruled down at the one-yard line on a 9-yard catch and run. A Packers challenge would have likely led to the play being overturned for a Lazard touchdown, but the Packers opted to forgo the challenge and punch it in with Jamaal Williams. The point is, Lazard was very close to putting up higher numbers in both weeks. The dropped pass is his fault, but no reason to suggest he’s got a “hands” issue.
Davante Adams’s return may cut into Lazard’s playing time, but it’s worth noting that Lazard has played 38% of his snaps from the slot, the role usually occupied by Geronimo Allison. I’m all for using a larger receiver in the slot like the Cardinals do with Larry Fitzgerald and the Saints did with Marques Colston several years ago, but Allison just isn’t athletic or skilled enough to fill that role. Allison has been one of the least efficient receivers in the league by just about any advanced metric you want to look at. His best attribute is supposed to be his hands, but he’s already had 3 dropped passes on just 32 targets. Lazard would be a nice replacement for Allison because he offers athleticism to go with his size, and the mere possibility of that happening makes him a nice stash in deeper leagues.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, New York Jets (12% on Yahoo, 7% on ESPN)
I know, I know, he’s a washed-up receiver for the Jets, but hear me out. The Jets play three wide receiver sets 72% of the time. Since Sam Darnold returned, Thomas has been one of those three receivers along with Robby Anderson and Jameson Crowder. There’s no reason why this should change. The Jets’ primary concern right now should be developing Darnold, and that means putting competent, veteran receivers on the field for him to target. The Jets schedule is incredibly easy down the stretch, with two games against the Dolphins and matchups against the Giants, Raiders, and Bengals. If you’re in the type of league where Anderson and Crowder are both owned, you wouldn’t be crazy to pick up Thomas if you need receiver depth.
That’s it for week 9. Feel free to weigh in and tell me who I missed.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)