By: Zach Haugen @zhaugenfootball
Best Late Week Free Agency Pickups (Week 6)
Every year fantasy leagues are won, not at the draft, but by savvy owners that pick up the right guys at the right time. When these players break out, it takes their team to another level. Sure, there is luck involved. It is difficult to predict who is going to come out of nowhere. That is the reason they can come out of nowhere. The key is taking the chance on the right kind of players. If you throw enough darts in the general direction of the board, one of them is likely to stick.
So what is the right kind of player? The NFL is a hard game to dominate on a small sample size. Likely these players will have to be in a good opportunity to see volume. It isn’t all about volume though. You also want to target talent. Not just talent in the player you are picking up, but it can be helpful for the player to be surrounded by talent that can prop them up into a good situation. It’s also nice to nab these guys before you have to pay big bucks for them on waivers. So it can be helpful to look for players with advantageous matchups in the upcoming weekend that would allow them to break out. So if you have the following guys on your waivers, and you are looking for an end of bench stash, feel free to pick them up and cross your fingers.
Alex Collins (Yahoo-32% owned ESPN-30% owned)
So, Alex Collins is averaging 7.1 yards per carry this season, and he looks flat out explosive when you watch him play. Perplexingly, they Ravens refuse to give him more touches, despite how great he has looked. He has zero catches and zero touchdowns on the season and hasn’t topped 12 carries. It’s unlikely he ever becomes a 3 down workhorse for the Ravens, but his touches have been slowly trending up, and if he gets 12-15 touches a week that’s more than enough to roster him with how he has been playing, and maybe even enough to start him. Terrance West is battling an injury bug and will miss this week again. Pick up Collins while you still can.
Matt Breida (Yahoo-17% owned ESPN-23% owned)
I am not one to buy into coach speak. So I am not under any impression that Breida is now the starting running back after last week. Carlos Hyde has been great this season, and should be the lead back. But it’s tough to find running backs these days, so anyone with a chance to take over a backfield needs to be rostered. Not only does Breida have a chance to start seeing more work next to Hyde, he also has nice upside given the fact that Hyde historically seems to be made of glass. If you need an end of bench stash, Breida is a great lottery ticket to hold in that Shanahan offense.
A.J. Derby (Yahoo-3% owned ESPN- 1% owned)
Derby doesn’t have a long track record of sustained success, and he isn’t in the most potent passing attack in the NFL. But he is coming off a game where he had 75 yards on 6 targets and a touchdown. And his bye week last week has made literally everyone forget that. He is also a solid prospect with a great combination of size and athleticism, and his 26 years of age puts him prime in the middle of tight end break out years. To top it all off he plays the Giants this week, who have given up the most points to tight ends for it feels like the last decade. In a tough tight end market, Derby is still risky, but has enough upside that he should be owned in far more than 3% of leagues.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Yahoo-58% owned ESPN- 60% owned)
Jenkins was a highly touted tight end prospect that flashed early in his career. Unfortunately, off-field issues stopped him from reaching his potential. That’s also what led to him being suspended for the first two games of the year. But from all accounts this offseason, he has turned his life around and dedicated himself to football. There were multiple reports that he was the best player on the field this offseason for the Jets, although that probably doesn’t mean much. Still, they need somebody to catch passes, and Jenkins has been doing it. In his 3 weeks he has averaged 5 catches per game, with at least 4 every week. He also added a touchdown last week. The yards haven’t really been there, but his volume and potential red zone usage put him on the TE1 map every week. He is more highly owned than most of the guys on this list, but I think it is still too low.
Taylor Gabriel (Yahoo-25% owned ESPN- 19% owned)
Gabriel isn’t very likely to see double digit targets, as Matt Ryan likes to spread the ball around and he shares an offense with Julio Jones. But Gabriel has shown that he doesn’t need a ton of targets to be a usable fantasy asset. He can easily break 1-2 big plays a game with only a handful of opportunities, and he may just get those opportunities this weekend with Mohamed Sanu sitting out and Julio Jones not quite at full health. He is a risky play, but Gabriel’s upside on this offense and his potential opportunity right now make him worth rostering.
John Brown (Yahoo-39% owned ESPN- 45% owned)
John Brown was one of the most popular post hype sleeper picks this year. We saw in 2015 what he was capable of when healthy and it was a thing of beauty. But ever since then he has been unable to stay healthy and at full strength. But while he might not be 100% he was taken off the injury report on Friday, and finally got in the end zone last week. In the 3 games he has played this year Brown has seen 9, 7, and 7 targets and that is likely to continue with the Cardinals being one of the more pass heavy offenses in the NFL. Although we will have to wait and see how they plan to use Peterson. Regardless, we know what a healthy John Brown is capable of in this offense, and he should at least be owned in most leagues.
Josh Doctson (Yahoo-6% owned ESPN-12% owned)
Rotoworld released a blurb that many people in the Redskin’s organization expect Doctson to take a big step forward in upcoming weeks. Terrelle Pryor has struggled with lead WR duties so far, and Doctson came down with a magnificent 52 yards touchdown reception in week 3. A quiet week 4 followed by a bye week have left Doctson all but forgotten. I would caution you that him taking a step forward doesn’t mean much since he has 5 career receptions over two years, but his upside is still worth a stash in very deep leagues to see just how much his utilization increases over the next couple of weeks.
Latavius Murray (Yahoo-54% owned ESPN- 71% owned)
I generally don’t like to include players with this high of ownership for this article. Especially ones that I don’t believe are that great of players. I think Murray is an average running back with some solid short yardage ability. But it just feels like people have totally abandoned him and jumped aboard the Jerrick McKinnon hype train. I just don’t think that the Vikings paid big time money to Murray and traded up in the second round for Dalvin Cook if they saw McKinnon as a workhorse back. Murray showed in Oakland that he can be a productive fantasy running back, and with Cook out for the year, I still think he can be an asset. If you can get Murray for basically free than I think you should do so.