Fantasy fallout: Keep calm, add Kerryon (and other trade targets)
Fantasy fallout: Keep calm, add Kerryon (and other trade targets)
Six weeks into the NFL season, it’s hard to find a true “sleeper” anymore. Either the secret is out or the player has been so sleepy that you can’t really trust him going forward.
But if your team needs a boost, here are some recommended trade targets, courtesy of ESPN’s NFL Nation reporters, who might still be available at bargain rates.
RB Kerryon Johnson, WR Kenny Golladay: ESPN Detroit Lions reporter Michael Rothstein has been making a strong pitch for both of Detroit’s dynamic young playmakers, and he expects their rise to continue after the team’s Week 6 bye.
“Both are only going to see more work and touches as the season goes on, particularly Johnson,” Rothstein said. “They are the clear future in Detroit.”
Johnson, a rookie second-round pick out of Auburn, has averaged only 12.6 touches per game — and veteran running back LeGarrette Blount vultured two short-yardage touchdowns from him in Week 5. But Johnson is averaging 5.7 yards per carry (third among NFL running backs with at least 35 carries). And his role has steadily increased.
Johnson had 18 touches in Week 3, when he became the first Lion to rush for more than 100 yards in a game since 2013. And he had 14 touches this past Sunday before a minor ankle injury sidelined him in the fourth quarter.
As for Golladay, his breakout has already begun. The second-year pro ranks 11th in the NFL with 428 receiving yards on 27 catches, with three touchdowns, despite being in a crowded receiving corps with established veterans Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. And he had another diving 46-yard TD catch called back in Week 5 because of a penalty.
Rothstein wrote about how Golladay and quarterback Matthew Stafford have been building a better rapport this year after the receiver missed part of last season with a hamstring injury. And he expects Golladay to get even more red zone looks in the future because of his size (6-foot-4, 213 pounds) and his freakish leaping ability and catch radius.
RB Sony Michel: It might be too late to get the New England Patriots rookie at a discount after he has rushed for 210 yards and two touchdowns on 43 carries over the past two weeks. Be warned that he has been limited in practice this week after dealing with a knee injury in the preseason. But ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss wrote that it’s Michel’s time to shine because of his impressive play and because of season-ending injuries to other runners in New England.
Of course, James White is still a terrific pass-catching option in New England and has great fantasy value in PPR leagues. But as Reiss wrote, the Patriots’ backfield picture is now clearer than usual after unpredictable rotations have frustrated fantasy owners for years.
Olsen still an elite option?
Matthew Berry, Field Yates and Stephania Bell detail Greg Olsen’s possible Week 6 return and what to expect from the Panthers’ tight end.
TE Greg Olsen: Get the Carolina Panthers tight end while you still can. He officially is listed as questionable, but coach Ron Rivera said the three-time Pro Bowler is on target to return from a fractured foot this week. And though you might want to keep him on your bench while he works through the rust, Panthers reporter David Newton expects him to find that old familiar groove with quarterback Cam Newton sooner rather than later.
Olsen went through this same process last season, when he first broke his foot. And he started slowly. But he had two games with more than 100 yards, 12 targets and a touchdown over his final four games — including the playoffs.
Also, this has been a shorter and easier rehab process, since the screw that was surgically implanted last year kept the bone from completely breaking again. Olsen didn’t require surgery this time around. And he said that this time he has “the benefit of I kind of now know what to expect. I know what it’s supposed to feel like and not supposed to feel like. I’m ahead of where I was this time last year.”
RB Kenyan Drake: We wrote about Drake at the top of last week’s Fantasy fallout, but he’s worth mentioning again here because Miami Dolphins reporter Cameron Wolfe still expects more regression to the mean after his disappointing start to the season.
Last week, Dolphins RB Frank Gore had twice as many carries as Drake (12 to 6). But Drake played 15 more snaps than Gore (41 to 26). And Drake caught seven passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, while Gore caught zero. Wolfe wrote that he expects the timeshare to continue, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners, because the Dolphins believe Gore’s consistency keeps the offense on schedule, whereas Drake has bigger hits and bigger misses. But Drake’s involvement in the passing game should keep him heavily involved.
“[Coach Adam] Gase said the RB split last week was his ideal way to use them, except for getting away from the run in the second half,” Wolfe said. “I honestly think Drake is a 15-touch-per-game back on average going forward, with the potential to have more.”
Wolfe also gave a nod to the Dolphins’ defense as an underrated play going forward. The unit leads the NFL with 10 interceptions despite being put in so many bad situations.
Berry lists Week 6 RB loves and hates
Matthew Berry plays love-hate for Week 6 which includes opinions on Kenyan Drake and Chris Carson.
Deeper sleepers: New York Jets reporter Rich Cimini isn’t quite ready to give a full buy-low endorsement to receiver Robby Anderson. But he also said Anderson’s long-awaited breakout in Week 5 (TD catches of 76 and 35 yards) was no fluke after Anderson and rookie quarterback Sam Darnold have been working hard to build a chemistry that didn’t develop instantly on the field this summer.
Cleveland Browns reporter Pat McManamon said third-year receiver Rashard Higgins is worth picking up when he returns from an MCL sprain that is expected to sideline him for two to four weeks. McManamon recommended Higgins earlier this year because of the rapport he had developed with rookie QB Baker Mayfield in the summer. And sure enough, Higgins had worked his way into the Browns’ No. 2 receiver role and had three catches for 66 yards and a touchdown before suffering the injury in Week 5.
Denver Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold and Pittsburgh Steelers reporter Jeremy Fowler each mentioned a rookie receiver with untapped potential: Denver’s Courtland Sutton and Pittsburgh’s James Washington.
As ESPN’s New Orleans Saints reporter, I could lump rookie receiver Tre’Quan Smith in with that group. But I’m only cautiously optimistic, because Smith’s breakout game in Week 5 (three catches, 111 yards, two TDs) came with veteran Ted Ginn Jr. out with a knee injury. When Ginn was healthy in Weeks 1-4, Smith had just one total catch for 18 yards, and Ginn could be back after the Saints’ Week 5 bye. Still, the Saints can’t ignore Smith’s big-play potential, so he is at least a good stash if more injuries pop up in New Orleans.
If you’re in a two-quarterback league or need some bye-week help, Arizona Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss likes the potential he has seen from rookie QB Josh Rosen, who sparked a sagging offense with a 75-yard touchdown pass early in Arizona’s first win of the season against San Francisco in Week 5. Weinfuss also wrote about how Rosen has become a favorite among teammates, who say “he’s not weird.” And even more important for fantasy purposes, there is a chance he could help boost the stock of early disappointments David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.
New Orleans Saints: I’m planning to do a more in-depth post on the renewed timeshare between running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram early in Week 6. But the CliffsNotes version is that you shouldn’t panic over Kamara’s small role in Week 5 (six carries, three catches, no touchdowns). The Saints took advantage of Ingram’s fresh legs to give Kamara a breather after he had taken on a monster workload during Ingram’s four-game suspension to start the season. And the way the game played out (a 43-19 rout over the Washington Redskins) allowed the Saints to run out the clock and keep Kamara on ice. If the Saints ever need to throw the ball more in a closer game, Kamara will get a lot more work. I still expect Kamara to be a slight 1A to Ingram’s 1B, with the touchdown opportunities about even. But be prepared for the occasional quiet day for either one of them, depending on how certain games play out.
Seattle Seahawks: Seattle finally found its run game and leads the NFL with 473 rushing yards over the past three weeks. But as Seahawks reporter Brady Henderson broke down, rookie first-round draft pick Rashaad Penny has not been a part of it. Penny didn’t play a single offensive snap in Week 5, though coach Pete Carroll suggested opportunities could still come down the road.
Chicago Bears: Likewise, Bears coach Matt Nagy stressed he still envisions running back Jordan Howard being a “big part of this offense,” after he had a season-low 11 carries for 25 yards in Week 4, as Bears reporter Jeff Dickerson wrote.
Atlanta Falcons: To nobody’s surprise, the Falcons are insisting that they intend to get receiver Julio Jones more opportunities than they did in Week 5, as Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure wrote. Jones didn’t have a catch until the fourth quarter (before finishing with five for 62 yards). According to ESPN Stats & Information, it was just the third time in his career and the first time since 2012 that Jones didn’t have a catch in the first three quarters.
New England Patriots: Although New England’s RB picture is a little clearer, its receiving corps is only getting more crowded with the addition of Josh Gordon and the return of Julian Edelman over the past two weeks. While that might be annoying for fantasy purposes, it’s good for the Patriots’ offense, as Reiss wrote.
Denver Broncos: Denver’s rookie RB timeshare of Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay has been frustrating for Freeman’s fantasy owners. But Legwold wrote that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Freeman’s role should increase — and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said it’s time to “take the training wheels off” both of them.
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have been battling a disturbing trend of slow starts. No one is blaming it on Rodgers’ recovery from a knee injury. But if that’s not the problem, then what is? pondered Packers reporter Rob Demovsky.
Minnesota Vikings: Who knew Adam Thielen‘s breakout 2017 season was just a warm-up act? As Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin wrote, Thielen became the first player in the Super Bowl era to have 100 or more receiving yards in each of his team’s first five games.
Pittsburgh Steelers: As Fowler wrote, Ben Roethlisberger said running back James Conner “has done some amazing things and deserves to be on the field” even when Le’Veon Bell returns from his contract holdout.
Indianapolis Colts: Colts reporter Mike Wells wrote: “Remember when there were questions about whether quarterback Andrew Luck could be effective again after missing last season because of his injured right shoulder? Consider them answered.” Luck is on pace to shatter the NFL single-season records for completions (471 by Drew Brees in 2016) and attempts (727 by Matthew Stafford in 2012).
Baltimore Ravens: QB Joe Flacco is also making a run at that attempts record, as Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley wrote. But Baltimore’s run game has been less prolific. And coach John Harbaugh acknowledged the obvious this week when he suggested the team will likely use a committee approach with RBs Alex Collins, Buck Allen and maybe even De’Lance Turner.
October 13, 2018 at 06:12AM