Who are some of your favorite players to buy-low before Sunday?
It's a common question asked time and time again in Tuesday's Waivers Q&A. But with five weeks of usage, injury splits, and irrational coaching decisions under our belts, a few names have finally jumped off the page as players who should have produced by now given their surrounding circumstances.
With that in mind, the following list includes those I'm high on down the stretch, a few I would look to sell right now, and one I'm willing to go above and beyond for prior to Sunday.
Player, Team — PPR Ranking, Fantasy Points Per Game
Myles Gaskin, Dolphins — RB16, 13.7
Gaskin enters Sunday with 21 touches in two of his last three games and, more importantly, the sixth-highest target share (14.9%) among running backs. Whereas his ceiling in Miami’s backfield was previously capped, Gaskin quietly handled a season-high five touches inside the 10-yard line (and the team’s only carry inside the five) in Sunday’s domination over the Niners, leveraging Jordan Howard’s surprising healthy scratch into his first touchdown of the year. With 59% of Miami’s backfield touches and, suddenly, red zone usage all to himself, Gaskin is projected to close the year with one of the highest floors at his position.
Darrell Henderson, Rams — RB19, 13.2
There is some risk here since either Malcolm Brown or Cam Akers could be deployed over Henderson in any given week without notice. But Henderson most recently handled 10 of Los Angeles’ first 11 backfield touches to help build a 20-7 lead over Washington before ceding 17 of the next 25 to Brown and Akers down the stretch. Even if this were a three-headed committee, the lead dog, Henderson, has quietly handled 54% of this backfield’s carries, 53.5% of its touches, and 13-of-18 touches inside the 10 since Week 2. Worst-case scenario is that Henderson eventually becomes a usage-based RB2 since Akers, who ran a single route on Sunday, has a long way to go to rival Brown’s receiving role (at least 16 routes in every game) and Henderson's usage on the ground.
Matthew Stafford, Lions — QB22, 18.3
Was Stafford’s season-highs in air yards per attempt (11) and shots 20-plus yards downfield (12.9%) in Week 4 a product of Detroit’s offense finally being healthy or an anomaly? I’m not sure it matters with the Jaguars, Falcons, Vikings, Washington Football Team, Panthers and Texans on deck through November. Reminder Stafford, who's currently averaging 18.3 fantasy points per game, previously averaged 20.8 in year one under OC Darrell Bevell.
Why offer a loaf of bread when a single slice will do? Adding Johnson at this very moment is the same approach that allowed us to poach James Conner, who has stacked 17.1 fantasy points per game since Week 2, following his island game injury and ensuing overreaction in fantasy circles. And much like Conner’s situation then, nothing has changed for Johnson’s outlook; we’re only two (partial) games removed from watching Ben Roethlisberger hone in on Johnson for a team-high 31.9% target share then admitting he wants to try and “build his connection with Diontae” further. Even if Chase Claypool is here to stay (and I would imagine he is), Johnson could easily return and stroll right back into his previous role as the team’s WR1 … and all for pennies on the dollar. Johnson's worst-case scenario is becoming the WR3 for an offense averaging the 10th-highest pass play rate in neutral game script.
David Montgomery, Bears — RB18, 13.4
Montgomery averaged 2.3 targets on 57% of Chicago’s snaps in 19 career games alongside Tarik Cohen (torn ACL). In his last two without Cohen, however, Montgomery’s opportunity has skyrocketed with 83% of the team’s snaps and 14 targets, including a career-high tally in back-to-back games. Fantasy players concerned with his poor yards per carry the past two weeks (2.8) are wasting time looking at all the wrong things; Montgomery actually out-scored Ronald Jones, who rushed for 106 yards and 6.2 YPC in Week 5, due to the former’s 10 points added solely through the air. (Punching in the the team’s only carry inside the five-yard line didn’t hurt.) Note that three of Montgomery’s next four opponents rank top-eight in fantasy points per game and/or raw receptions permitted to opposing running backs.
Marquise Brown, Ravens — WR30, 12
Brown hasn’t topped 100 yards since Baltimore’s season opener but it’s not for the team’s lack of trying; he currently ranks 12th among all receivers in target share (26.8%), fifth in air yards (603), and remains tied for fourth in end zone targets (5). In fact, Hollywood’s catchable ball rate (68.5%) is prodigious since he’s also averaging the fifth-most air yards per target (16.9) this year. So what does this mean? In short, Brown is seeing a heaping of accurate targets both downfield and in money territory and yet (count the red flags) he’s only scored a single touchdown and currently ranks as fantasy’s WR30 behind Cole Beasley and Keelan Cole. You know what to do.
Jonathan Taylor, Colts — RB13, 14.3
Taylor’s 32 touches in Weeks 3 and 4, merely nine more than Nyheim Hines (23) and 12 more than Jordan Wilkins (20) in that stint, are a moot point since Indianapolis benched its starters in the fourth quarter of both contests. In a competitive game script against Cleveland, though, coach Frank Reich eliminated Wilkins’ role entirely (two snaps), feeding Taylor for three-week highs in snaps (31, 55%) and touch rate (70%) — the latter being his highest mark since he was taken out for a spin in his first career start in Week 2 (73.6%). With Wilkins (calf, DNP) downgraded mid-week and Bengals DT D.J. Reader, Pro Football Focus’ No. 38 interior defender against the run, on injured reserve, Sunday is likely the last chance for fantasy players to low-ball their leaguemates to acquire Taylor, his inexplicable broken tackle rate (3.3%) be damned.
Editor’s Note: Unlock the brand new League Sync! Keep track of all your Yahoo! teams in one place and use our Trade Analyzer, Free Agent Finder, Lineup Adviser and custom projections to make all the right roster decisions! Get all of our Season Tools, League Sync AND DFS Tools for as low as $7.99/month!
CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys — WR11, 17.6
Lamb admittedly wouldn't be here if Dak Prescott were still under center. But the latter's absence suddenly pits rookie's monopoly of team-highs in red zone (9) and end zone (4) targets in jeopardy. Amari Cooper meanwhile leads the Cowboys with a 24% target share, trailing only Allen Robinson (57) in raw targets (55) throughout the league, yet remains tied with Michael Gallup with a single end zone look. There is clearly a chance the odds shift in Cooper's favor down the stretch as Andy Dalton is unlikely to continue supporting three wide receivers (and a tight end) in Prescott's stead. Lamb simply garners the most in return for any deal among this group despite having equal odds of falling off.
Todd Gurley, Falcons — RB11, 15.9
Gurley has admittedly run immaculate in Atlanta’s last three games, avoiding 18 tackles on 50 touches (36%) while averaging a league-high 4.77 yards after contact per attempt among 50 qualifiers in that stint. His route rate (51.2%) and target share (14.2%) also peaked on Matt Ryan’s 39 dropbacks in Week 5. But while Gurley’s RB18 and two-touchdown performance in Weeks 3 and 4 provided reasonable expectations for the rest of the year, the Panthers’ atrocious run defense placed the 26-year-old veteran on a pedestal (18/150/1) that we should allow others to admire. With OC Dirk Koetter surviving the organization’s sweeping changes, it remains relevant that the Falcons are passing the ball at the league’s highest rate in neutral game script and ninth-highest rate when trailing.
Mike Evans, Buccaneers — WR12, 17
Perhaps Evans re-upped on Degree for Men: Touchdown during Prime Day, but odds are the warehouse was out of stock after he averaged a receiving score for every 5.8 targets and 3.6 catches (!!!) through the team’s first five games. With Chris Godwin set to return, note that Evans’ target share has plummeted from 22% in three games without the former this year to 11% in the two games both have been available. It doesn't help Evans that the Buccaneers will have every receiver available for the first time all year on Sunday.
Ronald Jones, Buccaneers — RB21, 12.9
Jones has commanded 46 of Tampa Bay’s 55 backfield touches in the team’s last two games without Leonard Fournette (ankle) and LeSean McCoy (ankle). With both expected to return on Sunday, there’s no better time than the present to part with Jones before coach Bruce Arians reverts RoJo’s usage to that of Weeks 2 and 3 (24-of-57 touches, 43.3%) when all were healthy. Fantasy players should also expect Jones’ trending target share (14.4% since Week 3) and ceiling to dip now that Justin Watson, Scotty Miller and Chris Godwin have all been cleared.
Robert Tonyan, Packers — TE4, 15.1
As always at the tight end position, suggestions are a case-by-case basis and depend entirely on depth since there are so few viable options to go around. There is still reason to ship Tonyan (currently being valued at his highest point) for a stronger option elsewhere since the 26-year-old totaled three targets and a 4.2% target share in Green Bay’s first two games before experiencing boosted marks of 11 and 17.3% the past two weeks without Davante Adams (hamstring). Meanwhile Aaron Jones has supported a 14% target share no matter who has been available. This is simply a bet on the weak link of the trio falling off — of course, Aaron Rodgers is more than capable of supporting three viable pieces with the Buccaneers, Vikings, injury-riddled 49ers and Jaguars up next.
Davante Adams, Packers — WR44, 24.1
It’s probably not too late to send a fair offer for Adams, who accrued 17 targets in his only full game this year. In fact, since Adams returned from a toe injury in Week 9, he’s seen double-digit targets in 10-of-11 contests and dipped below a 30% target share in only three. Still averaging the most fantasy points per game among wideouts, Adams returns following an extended rest with no hindrance to his quest of capturing the No. 1 overall spot at his position.