WATCH: PRICE CHECK – WEEK 8
Let’s take an early look at a few players in the expensive and inexpensive price ranges and begin to decide who is most likely to return value to our fantasy lineups. With six teams on bye this weekend, our choices are a bit limited, and we have to make every one of them count.
Aaron Rodgers ($7,500) – Rodgers might not have the weapons he had before, and he might not even look entirely like the MVP-caliber signal-caller we’ve seen in years past, but the volume is there. With at least 42 attempts in each of his last three games, there is basically unlimited upside for someone with his accuracy if it all comes together. This matchup with the Falcons on the turf in Atlanta could lend itself to plenty of scoring by both of these offenses, making both QBs worth consideration in my opinioin.
Andrew Luck ($6,800) – Completing 27-of-39 passing for 353 yards and three touchdowns is the sort of game we really have all just been waiting for from Luck, and what we expect from him every week, regardless of opponent or game plan. Basically, if you are looking just at statistics, Andrew Luck probably isn’t a top-six or -seven QB option every week, but we all know what the upside is, and it is defined by that gorgeous touchdown through to T.Y. Hilton on Sunday. A player who can make that throw can put up points on anyone and at home against the Chiefs, you should see him taking plenty of shots downfield Sunday.
Jameis Winston ($5,700) – Winston has now recorded 20+ fantasy points in three of his six games this year, including a solid game Sunday against San Francisco. Completing 70 percent of his passes for almost 270 yards, he carved up a weak San Francisco defense and put 34 points on the board. There have been injuries to Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin, but Winston has been finding Jacquizz Rodgers out of the backfield and has been using this opportunity to pepper Mike Evans with even more targets than normal – never a bad thing for a reasonably accurate QB with a stud WR on the outside.
David Johnson ($7,500) – With Ezekiel Elliott facing a tough matchup and Le’Veon Bell on bye, Johnson is looking like the highest usage back in Week 8. He came away from Sunday night’s overtime game with 33 carries and another 10 catches (on 13 targets). This is not a team that is stretching the field with consistent shots downfield, likely what fantasy fans were thinking coming into the year with Brown, Fitz and Floyd all there and Palmer calling the shots. Palmer seems more comfortable checking down and hitting a wide-open Johnson out of the backfield. Twenty-plus fantasy points from Johnson in a game that ended as a 6-6 tie really tells the whole story.
Devonta Freeman ($6,500) – This is a note to pay attention to the Tevin Coleman injury this week. Both backs in Atlanta have been serviceable in an RB2 mode for weeks, and if Freeman is going to see his workload increase suddenly, there is no reason to think his production doesn’t take a direct-line route upwards. The line is playing well and the passing game is keeping teams honest, but the scheme in Atlanta is to dominate the ball with its RBs. Both guys can hit a hole up the middle, take it around the outside, and do work in the passing attack. With the success the team has had so far, I wouldn’t expect the coaching staff to deviate from that plan just because it can’t bring in a pair of fresh legs quite as frequently.
Knile Davis ($3,400) – He didn’t do anything last week, but it’s hard to imagine the Packers deciding to rely on Ty Montgomery as their primary player out of the backfield for too much longer. Montgomery can help with some speed plays and an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but you don’t take advantage of a matchup with a weak run defense like Atlanta’s by throwing a converted wide receiver at it. If Davis has had enough time to get incorporated, he could see his usage spike up dramatically this weekend, so this is a chance to get on board before his price and usage both spike as well.
Mike Evans ($8,100) – See Winston, Jameis. These two players have a great schedule the rest of the way, and Evans is a target monster, making him a top-end play week in and week out. Even if you don’t trust Winston, he certainly has the arm strength and accuracy (if not the decision-making) to make a star out of a target-heavy receiver such as Evans (five straight games now with double-digit targets, averaging more than 13 per week).
Michael Thomas ($5,000) – He now has 26 catches in his last four games, a touchdown in three of those and is coming off a 130-yard outing. He seems to have slid into the Colston role that Brees fed for so long and could end up as the most reliable option in this passing attack. Thomas has produced on the road and in New Orleans, and he has the kind of skill-set to make a difference no matter what approach Brees and Payton are deploying for a particular matchup. In a spread attack, Thomas creates mismatches with his size, and in a road game where the Saints might be looking to feature Ingram and the running game, Thomas can still provide the kind of safety valve they’ll need to keep the chains moving.
Jamison Crowder ($4,600) – Crowder is an inside receiver who could benefit from Jordan Reed continuing to miss games. He had seven catches on nine targets Sunday, and he is someone that Cousins seems to look for consistently when the first option isn’t there – much like he did with Reed. With a matchup against a Cincy team that has allowed QBs to complete their passes at a very high clip, you could see another efficient performance from Crowder, making him an excellent play in a PPR format in my opinion, who could end up as a top-20 player if he manages to score.
Jimmy Graham ($6,100) – Sunday marked four straight games with at least eight targets and five catches, making him a key component of this Seattle offense until further notice. It seemed clear that Wilson trusted him against Arizona, going his way in key situations often, including third downs and in close. It’s these kinds of patterns that show Graham could get some opportunities for explosive games when Wilson and the rest of the offense starts clicking.
Vernon Davis ($2,900) – Yes, that Vernon Davis. Another Redskins receiver with boosted value by the absence of Jordan Reed (looking like maybe at least another 2-3 weeks at this point), Davis apparently is going to be a factor. And an affordable factor at that. He had a touchdown in Week 6 and caught all six of his targets in Week 7, which exhibits more upside than the other tight ends in this price range, making Davis an interesting option – especially in tournament play.
Minnesota Vikings ($4,100) – If you can fit them into your lineup, there is no denying the potential of the Vikings to be both the highest floor and highest ceiling defense on the board against the Bears on Monday night. After losing to the Eagles, Minnesota is going to be amped up for this divisional contest, and, at the very least, should be able to keep the Bears largely off the scoreboard.
Arizona Cardinals ($2,700) – Despite not causing a single turnover and only getting to Russell Wilson once, the Cardinals managed to hold the Seahawks to a 6-6 draw by surrendering just 257 yards of offense over the course of 75 minutes. Coming in against a Carolina team that has struggled to move the ball consistently, Arizona’s athletic D-line should help in getting after Cam while still keeping contain, a good start when you’re looking to stop this Panther’s team.
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