WATCH: VALUE ALERT – CAMERON MEREDITH
As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each season and week of DFS, different factors are always going to change the landscape. “Next Man Up” is a series that examines players who are now being propelled into a starting role (thus creating a larger opportunity for that player), whether it be via injury, suspension or simply a change to the depth chart.
The fantasy world was fortunate to avoid any serious injuries in Week 5, although it’s worth monitoring Eddie Lacy’s (ankle) status entering Week 6. If he’s unable to go, trusty backup RB James Starks would get the nod.
However, Week 5 did provide us with some clarity when it comes to Chicago’s WR usage.
Injuries have derailed former No. 7 overall pick Kevin White’s season once again. After missing his entire rookie season with a leg injury, White went down with an foot injury in Week 4 that will keep him on IR until at least Week 13 (and potentially the remainder of the season).
The big question was how the Bears’ WR core would look without him. White was actually Brian Hoyer’s favorite target — seeing 23 passes thrown his way in less than two games together. Following three games in a row with 300+ yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions, it appears Hoyer will remain the starter in Chicago.
Typical stud Alshon Jeffery, who’s dealing with injuries of his own, hasn’t been himself yet this season either. The banged up WR hasn’t topped 100 yards since Week 1, has yet to see more than seven targets in a game and still hasn’t found the end zone this season.
After White went down in Week 4, it was unknown Cameron Meredith that led the receivers in snaps (granted it was for less than half a game). Some were bold enough to roster the 2015 undrafted free agent signing, but the majority of us needed some confirmation that he’d remain involved. After all, Jeffery seemed poised to breakout at some point and Eddie Royal was coming off a 7/111/1 performance in Week 4.
We got our answers in Week 5 — Meredith is the real deal.
Next Man Up: Cameron Meredith
Per Adam Levitan, Meredith’s been on the field for a team leading 80 out of 85 snaps since White’s injury, and has been targeted 15 times (second to Royal’s 16). Needless to say, those are encouraging numbers.
The hierarchy was clear in Week 5 vs. the Colts. Meredith stepped right into White’s role and was extremely successful. Here’s the WR breakdown from Week 5:
Jeffery: 5 catches, 6 targets, 77 yards.
Royal: 7 catches, 9 targets, 43 yards.
Meredith: 9 catches, 12 targets, 130 yards, 1 TD (1 rush for 6 yards).
TE Zach Miller: 8 targets, 7 catches, 73 yards.
Meredith found himself wide open on his touchdown grab on Sunday, and no doubt will receive more attention after his breakout game. But given where Chicago’s passing game is at the moment, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Meredith continue to lead Chicago’s pass catchers in opportunities going forward.
Given his immediate chemistry with Hoyer, Meredith’s a hot add in any season-long fantasy league, and looks like a heck of a bargain for just $4,100 on DK when the Bears host the Jags in Week 6. It feels like Meredith should maintain fantasy relevance for all of 2016, even if White does take the field in Week 13.
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Julian Edlow and Peter Jennings are promoters at DraftKings and also an avid fans and users (usernames: jedlow and CSURAM88) and may sometimes play on their personal accounts in the games that they offer advice on. Although they have expressed their personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and they may also deploy different players and strategies than what they recommend above.