So, it is “lucky” week 13. That means we have 12 weeks in the books, only five remaining. There is probably not a whole lot more you can learn this season. More importantly, I am having a hard time coming up with new topics. I love strategy, but coming up with something new to cover for 17 weeks is going to be tough. Luckily, I am not out of ideas yet. I thought this week we would take a look at a few receivers who have had good games recently, and see if there is a way to determine if a player is “breaking out” or just had a good game — or two.
We will start with a guy who is obviously in the break out category: Odell Beckham Jr. I doubt you will find anyone who would call Beckham a fluke now, and probably not many who did not think he would eventually become a good receiver — he was after all the 12th pick in the draft. Still, while Beckham did have three touchdowns in his first three games, he only had 10 receptions and 15 targets in those games so he was not an immediate stud. Then came the Giants bye week. After that bye, all Beckham did was average almost eight receptions for 126 yards per game over his next four games. It is obvious now that Beckham had broken out by week ten, but by that time, it was too late to get him in season long leagues, and his price was already pretty high in daily leagues. Keep Beckham in mind while we discuss our next player.
Hey look, it is another rookie! Jarvis Landry was not a first round pick like Beckham, but he was an early pick — 63rd overall. Unlike Beckham, he was not expected to make an immediate impact. Miami already had Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline as starters. Landry did not do all that much the first few weeks — he did not reach even ten fantasy-points in his first four games. Something seems to have clicked in the last four games however, as he has topped 12 fantasy-points in each of his last four games, while seeing eight targets per game in that span. As with Beckham, now it is easy to see that Landry has stepped up to a new level of production, our issue is exactly when we could have known that. So, let’s look at one more “break out” player to see if we can find a common theme to help us in the future.
Unlike our first two players, Anquan Boldin is not a rookie, far from it. He is also not an unknown player, he has been a fantasy stud in the past. He was not expected to be bad this season or anything, he was just not expected to be San Francisco’s best wide receiver, which he has been. Boldin had a solid first game this season, and has had at least six targets in every game, so it is not like he is suddenly good. He has been solid all season; his “break out” the last four games — excluding Thanksgiving — is largely based upon the three touchdown receptions in his last four games. Unlike the two rookies, Boldin has been a solid option all season, he just happens to have had some big games lately.
So, that gives up three players to look at as “break outs”. What we are looking for are common threads that we can use to find future break out players. It might seem like a tough task, but it is actually pretty simple. Talent and opportunity are the common threads here. All three of these receivers are talented. They can get open either through speed, skill, guile or all three. They are also on teams that needed a wide receiver to step up. Using that criteria, let’s look at some receivers who had good games in week 12 to see if we might be able to find guys who could end up being good daily fantasy value the next couple of weeks.
Stedman Bailey, St. Louis — Bailey managed 21.9 fantasy-points against San Diego Sunday. There is some opportunity for him with the Rams, but we just do not know if he is talented enough yet. Worth watching, but not likely to break out.
Charles Johnson, Minnesota — At first glance I want to dismiss Johnson. He is already 28 and on his third team. But, he is big and fast — 6’2″, 215 pounds and runs a 4.39 40. He is not a sure thing as a break-out, but is a pretty nice play against a bad Carolina pass defense in week 13.
Cole Beasley, Dallas — Nothing to see here. Beasley usually has one good game per season, but is not likely to break out — he has gotten only 23 targets all season — excluding the Thanksgiving game.
You might be wondering why I am writing about break out candidate in a daily fantasy strategy column. It is simple, if you can catch a break out player early, you are going to find someone who can help you make money. It takes pricing a couple of weeks to catch up to production. For receivers, you want to look for guys on teams that have a void at wide receiver first of all, then look for guys who can actually take advantage of that void. You need both. Guys like Kembrell Thompkins have been given opportunities, but did not have the skills to sustain success — Thompkins has great hands but cannot get open. Cody Latimer has the talent to be a very good receiver, but is not going to have the opportunity or Denver this season, they have too many other options. Not everyone who has both the opportunity and talent will break out right away, but if they meat both criteria they might, and also might help you win some money.