As with any fantasy football season, the year is filled with a slew of players and hopeful waiver wire picks that tend to keep owners guessing. Maybe they had a strong debut but with a soft match-up. How are they going to fare against stiffer competition? Maybe they were already on someone’s roster but got dropped. Why should they be relevant now? Maybe they haven’t even stepped into the limelight yet and you want just how they’re expected to perform. Whatever the situation may be, you want to know if this dog will hunt. There are a variety of reasons as to why a particular player isn’t siting on someone’s roster right now, but to continue to ask why they’re available isn’t the right question. Who cares why they’re available? Maybe the league has short benches and the owner couldn’t stash them. Maybe no one heard of him. Maybe the owners in the league are a bunch of idiots. Again, who cares? The right question to ask is, “Why should I pick them up right now?”
Well, today we’re going to look at a few of the names that are the most common throughout the emails in my inbox right now. Some are new to rosters, some aren’t. But again, we’re not concerned with what happened yesterday. We want to know what’s going to happen tomorrow. So here are my thoughts on some of the more popular names on the fantasy radar.
Keenan Allen, WR SD – Well what’s not to love about this kid, amirite? The Chargers have had some tough injuries at the wide receiver position this year and in their search for a new No. 1, they suddenly realized that they already had him in-house. Allen was pretty quiet through the first few weeks of the season but when they finally gave him more than just a handful of targets, he took off. Two straight 100-plus yard performances, three straight with 80 or more. Kick in a pair of touchdowns and now you’ve got yourself a football player. If Philip Rivers continues to feed Allen the ball, which he should, then the rookie from Cal should be an outstanding fantasy play. He looks even better when you see the upcoming schedule that is littered with pushover pass defenses like Jacksonville, Washington, Denver (twice!), Oakland and the Giants. Something tells me this kid is going to be on a number of “saved my fantasy season” lists.
Brandon Jacobs, RB NYG – If anyone had Jacobs on their fantasy radar before the season opened, then please, share with me the secrets and the knowledge that I lack because no way did I see this one coming. The big, bruising back basically took a year off last season as he fought with the powers that be in San Francisco, but has come back to rescue Big Blue from the doldrums. OK, so he’s not turning things completely around in New York but he’s already having a fantasy impact and could continue to do so if he stays healthy and keeps his head right. With David Wilson hurt and the running back cupboard bare, the Giants turned to Jacobs to carry the load for them on the ground. With his first start of the season, he rumbled to 106 yards with two touchdowns and suddenly became fantasy relevant for the first time in a long time. He’s got a bit of a hamstring injury right now, and the team worked out…wait for it…Peyton Hillis ::holds for laughter:: to be on the safe side, but Jacobs is still good to go for his cushy match-up with the Vikings on Monday night. You can’t expect that he’s going to be lighting up the fantasy scoreboard each and every week, but there’s no reason to believe that he won’t shine in some of the softer match-ups.
Ryan Mathews, RB SD – Just when everyone had lost all hope and yes, dropped him like a sack of yesterday’s newspapers, Mathews turns around and posts in his 100-yard game in what seems like forever. It was a season-high for him and while he didn’t find the endzone, he at least had himself his first respectable day since October 7, 2012 when he rushed for 80 yards and scored his only touchdown of the year. Now obviously it’s tough to even think about trusting this guy in your lineup right now, but given the current state of the running back position, he is a must-add if someone dumped him in your league. Looking ahead, his match-ups don’t exactly scream “start me right freakin’ now!” but he’ll definitely be worth monitoring moving forward. If he can show you just a little bit of consistency, then you’ll all finally stop bugging me with start/sit questions involving such disasters as Jacquizz Rodgers and Chris Ogbonnaya.
Harry Douglas, WR ATL – I touched on Douglas back when Julio Jones first went down with the broken screw in his foot and we learned he would be lost for the season. My opinion hasn’t changed as the only thing that Falcons have done is practice over their bye week. With Jones gone and Roddy White still trying to find his way this season, Douglas, who’s been with the team long enough to be able to jump right in, should see some good target numbers and step up as a legitimate No. 2 wideout. The Falcons are so set on him becoming a big-time receiver that they’ve pulled him from the punt return team so that he is able to focus solely on the receiving aspect of his game. Hard to imagine everyone in your league let him slip through the bye week, but if he’s available, grab him now.
Kris Durham, WR DET – Now that we’vve all agreed that Ryan Broyles is the worst sleeper call of the century, we can all move on and take a look at Durham here. With Broyles not panning out and Nate Burleson still on the mend, the Lions have turned to Durham to act as their No.2 wideout. He’s seen 21 targets in the last two games, made 11 catches (not the greatest catch rate, by any means) and tallied 113 yards and one touchdown. But can he continue to produce the way the Lions need him to? Listen, he’s no Megatron, that’s for sure. Hell, he’s not even Starscream. But he makes for a decent possession receiver and with most of the defensive attention falling onto Calviin Johnson, Durham should see plenty of one-on-one opportunities. Use him while you can, because who knows how long this will last.
Zac Stacy, RB STL – Considering how nightmarish the running back situation is this year, it astounds me that Stacy could still be available in your league. The job in St. Louis belongs to him and he’s a talented enough back to maintain it, unlike his predecessor Daryl Richardson. Stacy has started two games now and rushed for 78 and 79 yards. Not the most amazing beginning, but solid enough to earn him addition touches throughout the game. But what I love most about Stacy is the yards he gains after first contact. From the moment a defender hits him and tries to bring him down, Stacy still forces his way to an additional three yards per carry. Only Adrian Peterson and Ben Tate have a better per carry average after first contact and even then, it’s not by much. He’s got three tough match-ups coming his way with Carolina, Seattle and Tennessee, but after that, everything is cream cheese. Look for a big showing during Week 10 and then again in Week 12.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at email@example.com.
IDP Report Week 8
In the Trenches: Fantasy Football Preview of Thursday's Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 8 NFL Weather Report 2013
Post Week 7: Fantasy Football Pass Targets
In the Trenches: Murphy's Law Kicks Owners in the Fantasy Footballs
2013 Fantasy Football Weekly Recaps: Week 7
In the Trenches: NFL Week 7 Fantasy Starts & Sits By the Numbers
IDP Report Week 7
Week 7 NFL Weather Report
In the Trenches: Last-Minute Fantasy Look at Seattle vs Arizona
Post Week 6: Fantasy Football Pass Targets
2013 Fantasy Football Injury Report: Jimmy Graham, DeMarco Murray & More
In The Trenches: Week 7 Matchups
2013 Fantasy Football Weekly Rankings: Week 7
In the Trenches: Fantasy Football's Busted Backs
In The Trenches: The Tight End Position
2013 Fantasy Football Weekly Recaps: Week 6
In The Trenches: Last-Minute Fantasy Football Start/Sit Thoughts for NFL Week 6
2013 Fantasy Football Injury Report: Julio Jones, Cecil Shorts & More
IDP Report Week 6