This week, Brad Evans has identified eight intriguing fantasy football players, and a defense, likely to be available on the waiver wire in fantasy leagues.
Teddy Bridgewater (QB) Minnesota Vikings
Smooth as a baby’s bottom. That’s how the rookie quarterback played in his first NFL start. On draft day, his value plummeted largely due to concerns about his small hands, arm strength and decision-making, but those doubts are in the past. Before exiting with an ankle injury, Bridgewater was brilliant against an Atlanta defense that had played fairly well entering the week. His progressions were impeccable, rhythm virtually undisturbed and throws were frequently on point and on time. He started the game a perfect 7-for-7, favoring receiver Jarius Wright from start to finish. The poised youngster also titillated with his legs, taking advantage of open space when the Falcons dropped back in coverage, evident in his 13-yard TD run. Overall, he finished with 344 combined yards (317 passing, 27 rushing) with a rushing touchdown. Most absurd, he notched 10.6 yards per attempt. For owners flummoxed by their QB play, Bridgewater could cure your ills, provided his tender ankle doesn't derail him. If he again shines this week against an unforgiving Packers secondary on the road, he could very well be a top-15 passer rest of season.
FAAB Bid: $10 ($100 budget)
Bishop Sankey (RB) Tennessee Titans
Every fantasy player from the novice to "expert" knew it was only a matter of time before the more-talented rookie gained the upper-hand over smoldering pile of awful Shonn Greene. The veteran, who’s looked slow and generally inept through four games, may play second-fiddle the remainder of the year. Sankey offers more versatility, explosiveness and overall usability. Seeing much of his action late in a lopsided loss at Indianapolis, Sankey totaled 57 yards on just eight touches. He also scored his first regular season TD. With favorable matchups against Cleveland (5.23 yards per carry allowed to RBs) and Jacksonville (most fantasy points allowed to RBs) over the next two weeks, now is the time for Sankey to shine. Greene may still dominate short-yardage carries, but it’s no stretch to think the rookie tallies borderline RB2 numbers the rest of season in 12-team PPR leagues.
FAAB Bid: $22
Jerick McKinnon (RB) Minnesota Vikigns
Freak. Superhuman. Otherworldly. These were adjectives many NFL scouts attached to the converted QB during the combine. He crushed the bench, excelled in the shuttle and blazed a 4.41 40-yard dash. Sick. Still rough around the edges, many expected the rusher to get his reps in practice and learn from the sidelines. However, Adrian Peterson’s indefinite absence opened the door for the rookie. Splitting reps with physically inferior Matt Asiata over the past couple weeks, McKinnon exploded onto the scene in Week 4. His darting 55-yard scamper, a highlight-reel run in which he jetted to the second level, exhibited excellent vision and showed off quality cutting ability. On the afternoon, he totaled 135 yards on 18 carries. Asiata will continue to act as the hammer near the goal line and is a superior receiver, but McKinnon should earn more opportunities moving forward. He’s an upside FLEX option in challenging formats this week against a Gren Bay D that’s surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to RBs this year.
FAAB Bid: $17
Justin Forsett (RB) Baltimore Ravens
Even with Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro in the mix, the Ravens’ roulette wheel stopped on No. 29 last Sunday. Though ‘Zo played an admirable game, it was the crafty veteran who once again impressed. Forsett slipped tackles, motored often into the second level and finished with a dazzling 97 combined yards and a TD on a team-high 17 touches. It’s hard to project exactly what the carries distribution in Baltimore will be. The "hot hand’ will ultimately determine who will contribute, a potentially maddening fantasy situation, but when thrust into the lineup, Forsett has and will likely continue to answer the call. Gifted a trio of exploitable matchups over the next three weeks (at Ind, at TB, Atl), he’s a FLEXY sexy option in 10-team PPR leagues and deeper. If dropped, reacquire.
FAAB Bid: $15
Davante Adams (WR) Green Bay Packers
On the surface, the rookie failed to move the meter in Week 4. Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson smashed a weakened Bears secondary. On the day, Adams was targeted four times catching two passes for 19 yards. But underneath the surface, his otherwise forgettable Week 4 lends encouragement. With Jarrett Boykin sidelined by myriad injuries he logged 37 of 52 snaps. Because Green Bay has employed the most three-wideout sets in the league, he should see a steady diet of plays moving forward. As the season wears on and he gains experience, his fantasy profile should grow. With exploitable matchups against Minnesota (Week 5), at Miami (Week 6) and at New Orleans (Week 8) upcoming, Adams is a receiver to stash.
FAAB Bid: $9
Eddie Royal (WR) San Diego Chargers
The veteran wideout is a cone firework personified. Just after lighting, he’s bright, vivid and offers plenty fantasy flash. However, his colorful numbers typically fizzle quickly. Last year, he shot out of the gate. His first two games (10 catches, 114 yards, five TDs) accounted for 36.5 percent of his entire 2013 fantasy output. Once again sizzling early in the season, he’s scored four times over the past two weeks. If he’s still sipping pina coladas in the free-agent pool, cast a line. Just don’t overspend. With Malcom Floyd, Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates to throw to, Philip Rivers will continue to spread it around, often ignoring the slot man. When also considering Mike McCoy’s run-often nature (52-to-48 pass-to-run split), it’s easy to predict only modest production for Royal the rest of season. Still with friendly matchups against the Jets, Raiders and Chiefs on the docket, he’s an addable commodity in 12-team leagues.
FAAB Bid: $12
Jarius Wright (WR) Minnesota Vikings
Throughout training camp and the preseason, Bridgewater and Wright worked almost exclusively with one another on the second-team. Their high comfort level and familiarity with one another was clearly on display in the rookie QB’s first start. Wright, whether underneath on short crosses or deep down the sidelines, was the center of Bridgewater’s attention. In total, the pair hooked up on eight receptions (on 10 targets) for 132 yards. The matchup was favorable, but don’t believe Wright’s contributions were an aberration. With defenses keying on Cordarrelle Patterson, which has practically turned the receiver into a decoy, and Kyle Rudolph sidelined, the Arkansas product could entice appreciable targets in the near term. Snatch him up if you are in dire need of depth at WR.
FAAB Bid: $12
Eric Ebron (TE) Detroit Lions
It's extremely rare for a first-year tight end to offer consistent week-to-week production. Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Gates all took their rookie lumps. However, inexperienced TEs are occasionally useful, as Jordan Reed proved last year. Ebron appears to be entering that territory. The UNC product, who took on a bigger offensive role Week 4 vs. the Jets with Joseph Fauria out of commission, didn't disappoint. On four targets, he caught three passes for 36 yards, including a 16-yard TD strike on a seam route. Like many modern tight ends, Ebron is an excellent combination of size, speed and athleticism. Despite his tremendous upside, his route tree remains limited and he's battled occasional bouts of the dropsies. Still, he's an interesting plug 'n play option next week vs. a Bills secondary that's struggled mightily in coverage. Another top-15 line is possible.
FAAB Bid: $6
Detroit Lions Defense/Special Teams
After the Lions lost Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson to season-ending injuries a couple weeks ago, most immediately dubbed the unit "vulnerable." Teams were expected to dissect it vertically. However, starting DBs Rashean Mathis and Darius Slay have refused to come unhinged. The duo has surrendered a combined 75.8 QB rating, 52.1 catch percentage and 6.44 passing yards per attempt. Add their sterling execution with an aggressive pass rush anchored by Ndamukong Suh (10 team sacks so far) and the Lions have the makings of a ferocious defense. This week Buffalo, a team that's accounted for three turnovers, comes to town. Because of Detroit's stingy interior play, the run-often Bills will likely be forced to lean on newly installed QB Kyle Orton to move the chains. Considering how poorly Geno Smith performed in a similar situation last week, it's entirely possible multiple turnovers are logged by Orton. Stream with confidence.
FAAB Bid: $4
ADDITIONAL PICKUPS: Blake Bortles, Jax, QB, Eli Manning, NYG, QB, Kyle Orton, Buf, QB, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Bal, RB, Louis Murphy, TB, WR, Travis Kelce, KC, TE
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