Doug Martin RB, TB - The muscle hamster was finally let out of the cage in week 5 in a meeting with the New England Patriots. After serving a 3 game suspension for PED’s, The Douggernaut made a nice impression on the coaching staff and fans by running angry and with extreme determination. Dougie Fresh, (alright, I think those are all of his nicknames. I’m done now.), only carried the ball 13 times Thursday night but made the most of them with his 5.7 ypc giving him 74 yards. Jacquizz Rodgers, who started in his place during the suspension, only carried the ball three times so any thought of a timeshare was immediately put to rest. In an offense so desperate for a balanced attack to capitalize on play action passes, Martin should be able to get the opportunity to finish the season as a top 15 back from here on out.
Marlon Mack RB, IND – In my week three stock watch article I talked about Mack and the fact that he has big time ability and with the direction of the team as a whole, should be in line for an increased role. Well in week five he made me proud! Frank Gore outpaced Mack 14-9 in carries but was outproduced as the latter had 10.1 ypc and out gained Gore 91-48 on the ground. This is the result of the explosiveness that the Colts saw in him when they decided to take him in the 4th round of the 2017 draft. Gore is simply not explosive anymore and coupled with his teams desire to add around oft-injured Andrew Luck, it could force the team to continue to increase Mack’s role in the offense to see what they have for the future. Now I understand that this is only one game of production, however he’s been battling a shoulder injury which has held him back a little from producing early on. Look for Mack, who is available in 96.7% of ESPN leagues, to gain confidence in what could be a timeshare for now and push to be the starting running back in late 2017.
Cam Newton QB, CAR – I told you a story in which Mack proved me right above, now I’ll tell you one about how Cam Newton proved me wrong. Cam looked atrocious averaging 188.6 passing yards through three games with only two TD’s and one more on the ground while throwing 4 picks. Since then, and since the Cam Newton diss track, all he’s done is throw for 671 yards and 6 touchdowns and rush for 44 yards and a touchdown in two games. After the performance in New England, I dismissed it as a great day against a bad defense, repeating it against a tough Detroit defense on the other hand is much more impressive. He’s spreading the ball around and hasn’t been as hesitant to run which has led to producing at a high level. Cam, when healthy and at the top of his game, is a fantasy superstar. Cam’s stock is certainly on the rise but I’m still skeptical that he can keep it up. However, if this is indeed a turn back to his elite fantasy production of old, look out.
Nelson Agholor WR, PHI – Carson Wentz looks REALLY good. Alshon Jeffrey has only caught 20 of the 38 targets he’s received through the first five games. They haven’t looked in sync to this point and up and coming QB seems more interested in spreading the ball to all of his receivers rather than force feed it to Alshon like Cutler did. Agholor has almost as many catches (16) on 15 fewer targets and has 1 more touchdown than Jeffrey with 3. The “boom or bust” wideout has carved out a consistent role in the offense and Wentz seems to trust him. Agholor has insane speed and his potential in this offense could be through the roof. He’s currently available in 80.5% of ESPN leagues and with his target share, I’m looking to add now.
Amari Cooper WR, OAK – Cooper has a case of the dropsies, and Crabtree is soaking up all the red zone opportunities, no matter who the quarterback is. I’m deeply concerned about Cooper. Through 5 games the Alabama product is averaging 2.6 catches and 23.6 yards per game with one touchdown. He leads the NFL in drops and Carr doesn’t even look his way inside the 20 yard line. His ADP certainly calls for some angry fantasy owners as he was drafted in the first 3-4 rounds along with teammate Marshawn Lynch, who has also widely disappointed. The only hope here is that Carr comes back and makes a concentrated effort to get Cooper back on track. Amari is greatly skilled and Oakland needs him badly if they want to compete in the AFC, but in a division with the secondaries of Denver and Kansas City, it won’t be easy.
Tyrod Taylor QB, BUF – The dual threat quarterback in Buffalo has produced a solid floor this season scoring 10 or more points in every game this season except for week 5. Unfortunately for him, I don’t think he has the help to get his ceiling off of the floor. Taylor has yet to throw for 225 yards and doesn’t have a rushing touchdown in 2017, not exactly dual threat upside. Week five didn’t help his cause as his top target Charles Clay injured his knee and was carted off the field. Buffalo also shipped his playmaking counterpart in wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Rams prior to week one, leaving Tyrod with a sub par receiving corps. Taylor will likely get you 8-12 points every week, but as Qb18 heading into this week, I know I’ll be looking somewhere else for upside.
Bilal Powell RB, NYJ - Before I start, I just want to take a second and try to fathom that the New York Jets are currently on a 3 game winning streak... okay I’m ready. After blowing up against the Jaguars in week 4 with 190 total yards and a touchdown, Powell was out carried 11-2 by Elijah McGuire. McGuire only managed to gain 20 yards with those touches but for me there’s a bigger issue here. The Jets love McGuire. A week after getting 25 touches, Powell was only given 6. It was said after the game that Powell had a calf injury, which would lighten up my stance here a little bit if I was confident at all in starting Powell to begin with. With forte making his way back and McGuire seemingly getting more and more touches, I don’t like where Powell is heading, especially if this calf injury lingers. Also, he plays for the Jets…
Martavis Bryant WR, PIT – I’m not 100 percent sure on this, but I’m pretty sure it was our own FA expert Brandon Marianne Lee (follow her on twitter @BrandonHerFFB, she’s great!), who advised against drafting Martavis at his 65 ADP above players like Diggs, Thielen and Garcon. I for one did not listen, and that my friends is the last time that happens. I’m looking at a supremely gifted receiver in an offense that suits his skills as a down field guy, a golden opportunity to work as a number two receiver with all of the attention on Antonio Brown, and almost guaranteed single coverage every play. The results thus far have been extremely underwhelming averaging 3 catches and almost 41 yards per game and only one touchdown. In fact, he’s been so underwhelming that JuJu Smith-Schuster has found a way to almost equal Bryant’s target share in this offense and has mirrored Bryant’s production. With Big Ben and the Steelers offense struggling so far in 2017 and JuJu creeping up on him I think it may be time to abandon ship when it comes to Martavis Bryant.
Stock to Watch
Nick O’Leary TE, BUF – I don’t know what it is with me and the tight end position. Truthfully, it irritates me to the point where I don’t even draft them any more. Injuries, lack of major roles, and lack of elite talent steer me away from them entirely. My new plan, and you all should follow suit, is to follow Howard Bender @rotobuzzguy aka “The Tight End Whisperer”,subscribe to the NFL playbook pro and pick up whoever he recommends that week. Okay I got a little off track there, This pick comes down to volume and opportunity for me. Charles Clay hurt his knee in week five as stated in the Tyrod portion of this section and we’re still waiting for word on the extent of it but he led all Bills in targets heading into week 5, proving that Taylor loves to utilize tight ends. Even after Clay’s injury, Tyrod got O’Leary heavily involved connecting on 5 of 6 targets for 54 yards. Clay and O’Leary also have extremely similar abilities being solid yet unspectacular so while the ceiling won’t ever be very high, the floor will be around what we saw in week five from the Taylor, O’Leary combination. If you are streaming or looking for someone to get you by, the FSU product could be a nice addition if Clay misses extended time.
Roger Lewis and Travis Rudolph WR, NYG – Odell Beckham Jr? Most likely done for the season. Brandon Marshall? Sprained ankle. Sterling Shepard? Sprained ankle. Dwayne Harris? Done for the year. The top four wideouts on the Giants roster all hurt in the same game, devastating for a team that is already 0-5. Who’s left? Ochocinco? T.O.? I’m kidding, Roger Lewis and Travis Rudolph look to be the immediate beneficiaries of this extremely unfortunate and quite ridiculous turn of events in the Meadowlands. Even then, with the next three weeks being a trip to Denver and a home game against Seattle and then a bye week, I don’t see any Giants being fantasy relevant until a week 9 home game against the Rams. The Giants will have to throw a lot all season to try and salvage anything from 2017 and if these two wide receivers are the guys in New York, they could produce solid PPR numbers as maybe a bye week fill in for deep leagues. The Giants are in serious trouble and Eli will go down swinging, so I see deep sleeper potential here for Lewis and Rudolph. Ugh, maybe they should give Ochocinco and T.O. a call!