Fantasy Football Stock Watch: NFL Week 4
Howard Bender takes a look at the rising and falling value of a number of NFL players you'll want to keep tabs on heading into Week 4 of the fantasy football season.
In fantasy football, we buy and sell players like they are simple commodities on an exchange. We like to buy low and sell sigh, but first need to take a moment to ascertain their true value. Some players may see their stock increasing but it is nothing more than a temporary spike in value. Others may look like you should try to obtain them on the cheap, but are they even worth the effort? Let’s take a look at the fantasy football commodities exchange and see whose value is changing and what we can expect from them long-term.
Baker Mayfield , QB CLE – There is no denying that he saved the day in Cleveland on Thursday night, but was that more him or was it an outright collapse of the Jets? How about a little of both? Mayfield is going to have his growing pains like any rookie, but he does have some pretty sweet weapons at his disposal. If the backfield can continue to be supportive, then Mayfield should do just fine in finding Jarvis Landry , Antonio Callaway and tight end David Njoku . Just be wary of rookie mistakes and don’t consider him for anything more than a one-week plug-in during the bye weeks.
Josh Allen , QB BUF – If Mayfield saved Cleveland, then what did Allen do for the Bills this week? Wow. Last week was all about how VonTae Davis walked out on the team at halftime and, instead of folding under the flag of “we suck,” Allen helped put this team on his shoulders, walked into Minnesota and smacked the Vikings right in the mouth. He only passed for 196 yards and one touchdown, but he showed some serious balls by running in two scores of his own. Had Kelvin Benjamin not dropped a couple of easy passes, Allen would have done more damage. Again, like Mayfield, he will hit his bumps in the road, but there is definite talent to be had. Let’s see how he fares in Week 4 when the Packers are more prepared for him.
Josh Rosen , QB ARI – His stock is rising simply because he was brought into the game in Week 3 and was already named the starter for Week 4. That doesn’t mean he should be high on your list of potential free agent quarterbacks. The offensive line is still pretty tragic and now we’re hearing about rifts between coaches and players. We knew the new regime would have some growing pains, but this team is pretty bad right now. Rosen is going to learn the ropes the hard way and it’s going to take him some time before he has any legitimate fantasy value. Dynasty league owners should be happy as he’ll get the experience needed to maybe shine next year, but now is not his time.
Carlos Hyde , RB CLE – It’s not just his fantasy stock on the rise, it’s his life stock as well. Hyde celebrated his birthday last wee Thursday with 98 yards and two touchdowns against the Jets and then headed back over to the hospital where his wife was in labor and getting ready to give birth to his new baby boy. The Hyde’s welcomed their son to the world the next day and with his birth comes the rebirth of the Browns. With Baker Mayfield now under center and giving the Browns passing game additional legitimacy, Hyde should start to see the running room open up more. Duke Johnson has seemingly taken a back seat in the backfield pecking order and Nick Chubb looks lost out there. The Browns gave Hyde a three-year deal during the offseason and it finally looks like they’re about to start getting their money’s worth.
Chris Carson , RB SEA – To say that Carson was embarrassed last week after his coach told the media he was “gassed” after doing special teams work would be an understatement. We thought, perhaps, the tide was turning in favor of Rashaad Penny getting more of a full-complement of carries but against Dallas on Sunday, things could not have been further from the truth. Pete Carroll pounded the rock early and often with Carson and when the Seahawks grabbed an early lead, he refused to take his foot off the gas with his running back. Carson finished the day with 32 carries for 124 yards and he also chipped in a pair of catches for 22 yards as well. Penny, on the other hand, saw just three carries and no catches. Now this certainly isn’t a lock as to what we can expect in the future and there’s no question that some of this came at the expense of a relatively weak run defense, but if Carroll is going to use Carson as his No. 1 back and we can expect a reasonable amount of volume from him (32 carries was a lot), his value should continue to ascend.
Calvin Ridley , WR ATL – Wow. Just wow. Now THAT was a rookie performance for the ages. Ridley hauled in seven of his eight targets for a total of 146 yards and three touchdowns. He will easily be the most highly sought-after commodity on the waiver wire this week and people are going to break the bank trying to acquire him. Would they be right? We’re leaning towards a yes here. Listen, with Julio Jones suffering a calf injury in Week 2, Ridley was leaned on a little more and had a solid game. Then he spent the entire week with Matt Ryan at practice as Julio was sidelined. They worked on everything together from routes to improvisation in the secondary to timing patterns. The results are what you see from Week 3. Beautiful. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here as Julio is still the main man in Atlanta and when he’s healthy, he’s dominating the targets. However, Ridley has certainly shown enough between college, the preseason and the first three weeks of the regular season to warrant consideration over Mohamed Sanu and any other wideout on the team. If the Falcons can get Ridley and Julio on the outside regularly, this pass attack could be insane.
Tyler Boyd , WR CIN – He had his coming-out party in Week 2 when he made six grabs for 91 yards and a touchdown. Then Marvin Lewis came out and praised him to the extent of saying he was the new No. 2 in this offense and not John Ross (yes, his stock is already on the decline). True to his word, Lewis and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, fired up one heck of a game plan this week and Boyd was certainly a fixture they planned around. In the end, with 132 yards and another touchdown, a star was born and the Bengals passing game looks fierce. He’ll continue to work out of the slot and we should expect to see some nice mismatches in coverage. If you’re not grabbing Ridley off waivers, you best be grabbing Boyd.
Jordy Nelson , WR OAK – Looks like someone jumped into their Delorean, gunned it to 88 and recaptured some old magic from his Green Bay days, huh? Nelson looked fantastic as he racked up 173 yards and really did most of his damage after the catch. Now the question remains…can he do it again? Derek Carr is looking like a more efficient quarterback, so for that, I’m willing to give Jordy another look. Amari Cooper is supposed to be the team’s No. 1 and as a result, like we saw in the game against Miami, he’s going to draw the top cover corner which leaves Nelson matched-up pretty well. It seems unlikely that Nelson is on your waiver wire, so no need to run out and break the bank. However, I would keep him on a watch list and see how he fares over the next couple of games.
Dallas Goedert , TE PHI – It looks like the Eagles are really going to start rolling out more 2-TE sets, at least while they wait for their receiving corps to get healthy again. If that’s the case, then Goedert is going to have some decent fantasy value over the next few games. The injury to Mike Wallace probably helps extend his opportunity even when Alshon Jeffery comes back, so it’s more than just a one or two-week value. Now the question remains as to how the red zone looks will be distributed. You have to figure Carson Wentz is going to want to find Zach Ertz , his security blanket for 2017, but so will the defenders. If the secondary focuses on Ertz and Jeffery, then Goedert may have some sneaky value. He may not pick up a ton of yards, but if he can find the end zone a little more often, he’s a steal.
Rhett Ellison , TE NYG – He’s an obvious guy to watch now that Evan Engram is being considered week-to-week with an MCL sprain, but don’t expect him to see the same kind of target volume Engram saw. He’ll still get a few looks and could be an interesting low-cost option if he sees red zone targets, but, in truth, it’s probably Sterling Shepard who benefits the most from Engram’s injury. He’ll probably pick up a share of the targets along with Ellison and he’s definitely the more-reliable pass-catcher here. Both get a bump, but if you’re making roster moves, make sure you’re targeting the right guy.
Andrew Luck , QB IND – Some people say it’s no big deal while others say Jacoby Brissett coming in at the end of Sunday’s game to throw the 40-plus yard Hail Mary is a sign that Luck’s shoulder is nowhere near where it should be. Before the injury, Luck was averaging more than 12 yards per throw. Since he’s been back, that number is between six and seven. He’s probably not losing a ton of value right now, but if he doesn’t turn out some better performances overall, he’s going to be relegated to bye-week replacement. Be wary of those telling you he’s fine. He is definitely not fine.
Blake Bortles , QB JAC – As great as Bortles was down the stretch last year, we got a real nice reminder this pas week that he is still a very limited player and relying on him as your top quarterback in fantasy is a mistake. This performance against Tennessee was a disgrace and while he may turn around and throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns next week (doubtful), he’s just not someone you can trust. Probably not his receivers either.
Case Keenum , QB DEN – Is the magic wearing out? Are we seeing the washed-up journeyman instead of the guy who saved Minnesota last year? Maybe. I still believe in Keenum overall and feel like he’ll be just fine in Denver moving forward. They’ve got work to do, but losing Phillip Lindsay last week and facing an underrated Baltimore secondary had more of an impact than most expected. To me, he’s a nice buy-low. If you own Patrick Mahomes , I’d ask Keenum’s owners for him in return if you can get a better RB or WR in the deal.
Jamaal Williams , RB GB – Williams had his opportunity to shine through the first two and a half weeks of the season and he failed miserably. His yards per carry average stunk and he wasn’t doing much in the way of providing ground support to an offense in dire need of a stronger running game. Aaron Jones is back from his suspension and not only did he see one more carry than Williams, but he also out-ran him. Head coach Mike McCarthy hasn’t said anything yet, but the handwriting is definitely on the wall. Williams is on his way out and Jones is on his way in. Adjust your personal depth charts accordingly.
Kenyan Drake , RB MIA – After 54 yards and a touchdown everyone loved the Drake. Then after this week – five carries for three yards – everyone hates the Drake. You know who apparently really hates the Drake? Adam Gase. You’ve got to be kidding me. How do you abandon the run so quickly? How do you park this guy ion the bench in favor of Frank Gore and a bunch of gimmick plays? Until Gase pulls his head out of his ass and starts giving the Drake at least 15 carries per game, he’s going to have such minimal value, especially for what you were expecting. The stock is definitely falling and it’s all about the coach.
Marquise Goodwin , WR SF – The loss of Jimmy Garoppolo is going to have a negative effect on the fantasy value of Goodwin moving forward. We’d like to throw our support towards C.J. Beathard , but after watching his mistakes last season and knowing that he hasn’t gotten a ton of work in this offense, we just can’t rely on him. That hurts the value of Goodwin as well as Pierre Garcon . Such a bummer, especially where Goodwin was being drafted by the end of August.
Amari Cooper , WR OAK – This guy just can’t seem to pout it together with any kind of consistency. Of course, he’s also drawing the toughest cornerback match-ups each week, so now it looks like he’s going to be the most over-drafted decoy in the game. He’s still not sitting with the most reliable hands either, so as he continues to falter, his value is going to head south. He’ll probably bust out one of those 200-yard games again to fool people into thinking he’s worth something, but overall, he’s not going to produce the numbers you were looking to get.
Larry Fitzgerald , WR ARI – Who knows? Maybe putting Josh Rosen under center will help Fitzgerald’s overall value. One can hope, right? Of course, my great-granddaddy always used to say, “you can hope in one hand and crap in the other and see which fills up first.” I’m not ready to tell you to drop him just yet, but he should be nothing more than a bench-stash for you right now. We’ll give Rosen a couple of games and see what happens, but we’re keeping our expectations low.
Trey Burton , TE CHI – Well Matt Nagy sure isn’t using Burton like he used to use Travis Kelce back in Kansas City and it’s crushing his fantasy value. Granted, Mitchell Trubisky is a little limited right now and the Bears focus is their defensive game, but an average of just five targets per game with maybe one red zone look each time isn’t going to cut it. We’re willing to wait out Trubisky’s growing pains and stash Burton on the bench, but our patience at this trashy position wears thin.
Mike Gesicki , TE MIA – I heard from a reliable source inside the Dolphins organization that they were working on additional plays strictly for Gesicki this week. Well, three targets just aren’t going to cut it. Yes, he caught all three and yes, he picked up 31 yards, but if this guy is going to have strong value, then Adam Gase needs to get him more heavily involved in the attack. Until you start seeing something more, and yes, we’re going to be dealing with Gase a lot on stuff like this, you can consider Gesicki droppable. Given the coach, it seems unlikely that you can afford to wait on him as a bench stash. That spot will be much better served with some other depth play.