Hunter Henry: He’s scored in three straight games and has averaged 72.5 yards over his past four (a season’s pace of 1,160), which is highly impressive for a rookie playing a position that usually takes a while to learn. Of some concern is Antonio Gates ran more routes than Henry last week (22 to 19), but the rookie is seeing far more snaps, and Gates has admitted he’s still playing injured, something that’s likely to be an issue all season for the 36-year-old. San Diego has a shaky defense and can’t run the ball, so they figure to be passing quite a bit with no clear No. 1 receiver. Henry sure looks like the real deal, so he should be treated as a top-10 tight end right now, at minimum. He’s a must-start Week 7 against a Falcons defense that’s allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends this year.
Jay Ajayi: Facing a run defense that had been playing well as touchdown underdogs during a game in which Arian Foster returned to action, Ajayi was likely on most fantasy benches Week 6, when he busted out for 204 rushing yards (the most in a game this season) and two touchdowns. His late 62-yard TD run to put the game away was especially impressive. It could be chalked up as a fluke, but Ajayi has scored four touchdowns over the last four games and is up to 5.7 YPC on the year. Moreover, Foster has admitted he’s still nowhere near 100 percent, and this Dolphins team should see what they have in their young back anyway. The running back landscape is as thin as ever in fantasy terms, making Ajayi the easy top waiver wire add this week and suddenly an RB2 option moving forward.
Matt Ryan: After getting 8.6 YPA with four touchdowns while playing in Denver and in Seattle over the past two weeks, Ryan’s strong start to the season can no longer be written off as a fluke or ignored based on a small sample. He’s been the league’s MVP during year two in Kyle Shanahan’s system and is on pace to finish with 5,533 passing yards with a 40:8 TD:INT ratio. Ryan’s schedule gets far more favorable moving forward after playing four of his last five games on the road, and it would be a major upset if he doesn’t finish 2016 as a top-three fantasy QB.
James White: In the two games since Tom Brady has returned, White has totaled 155 yards and two scores. While touchdowns will likely be harder to come by moving forward, he’s the lead passing down back looking at a half dozen targets per game in arguably the NFL’s best offense. Dion Lewis remains without a timetable to return from his latest knee surgery, and White is still available in more than 40% of Yahoo leagues.
Marcus Mariota: After totaling just four scores over the first four games of the season, Mariota has racked up seven TDs over the last two contests and most intriguingly, the second-year QB has run for 124 yards over that span. The Titans are without any sort of playmaker at receiver, and the team is still likely to be among the bottom in pass attempts, but Mariota’s career YPA is now 7.5, which is more than respectable for someone with just 18 starts under his belt with arguably the league’s worst wide receivers to throw to. A recent easy schedule has certainly helped, but he gets another favorable matchup Week 7 at home against Indy, and if Mariota continues to run like he’s capable of, he’ll soon enter the QB1 mix.
Aaron Rodgers. He currently sports career-lows in YPA (6.5), completion percentage (60.2) and passer rating (88.4). He hasn’t thrown for 300 yards in a game since Week 9 last season and didn’t record a TD pass in the second half of a game this year until late last week in a home game that’s outcome had already been decided. One of the league’s best quarterbacks to ever play is somehow getting 5.5 YPA on throws on first down this season. He already has five fumbles and is missing throws he’d previously make in his sleep. There’s no longer any excuse of missing Jordy Nelson (although to be fair, Nelson hasn’t looked like his past self) or Randall Cobb playing at less than full strength, and the Packers’ schedule hasn’t been especially difficult either. It’s baffling, but Rodgers is more of a matchups play than a must start right now.
Antonio Brown: There’s just no way around it; the injury to Ben Roethlisberger hurts Brown’s value. Brown has never caught a touchdown in his career from anyone other than Big Ben, and the move to Landry Jones is a massive downgrade. Brown is talented enough to remain a must start in fantasy leagues, but he’s no longer a surefire WR1, let alone the No. 1 overall player like he was drafted as in most leagues. Hopefully Roethlisberger’s recovery is a quick one.
Jeremy Maclin: He’s on pace to finish with 938 yards and three touchdowns and was targeted just three times last week against an Oakland defense that came in allowing the most fantasy points to wide receivers. Things will likely improve – and he’s a must start this week at home against the Saints – but Kansas City’s offense is really killing fantasy owners. There are 93 receivers who’ve seen a target inside the 10-yard line this season. Maclin isn’t one of them.
Sterling Shepard: After recording a TD catch or gaining 100 yards in each of his first three games of his career, Shepard has totaled just 69 yards with no scores over his past three. The targets have remained healthy, however, as he’s seen 22 over that span in which he’s slumped. The rookie will likely get it going again, and Odell Beckham’s breakout game should help free up coverage moving forward.
Mark Ingram: The two most likely scenarios involving Ingram this season were him being extremely productive or him suffering yet another injury, so it comes as a surprise he’s been a huge disappointment while remaining on the field. His 3.9 YPC is a career low, and he’s seeing fewer targets in the passing game compared to last year. Moreover, Ingram has always been among the leaders in goal-line carries every year, yet he’s somehow been given just one rushing attempt inside the 10-yard line this season, even losing a short TD run to tight end Coby Fleener last week. John Kuhn already has three goal-line touchdown runs as well, so this is a troubling theme emerging.