By: Zach Haugen @zhaugenfootball
Best Late Week Free Agency Pickups – Week 7
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.
Chris Ivory (Yahoo-23% owned ESPN-26% owned) The Jaguars have held true to the offseason declaration to become a run first team. They currently lead the NFL with 201 rush attempts in 6 games, in an attempt to hid Blake Bortles. This has meant that despite the huge workload for Leonard Fournette, Ivory has been getting 8-10 touches a game. Fournette has a history of foot and ankle injuries, including one that has led to limited practice all week this week. In this run heavy offense, Ivory could be an extremely valuable asset if any of these Fournette injuries lead to missed time. He also has some desperation standalone value as is with his 8-10 touches a game.
Eric Decker (Yahoo-53% owned ESPN-59% owned) Decker had a disappointing start to the year, but was still getting a consistent 5-6 targets. Mariota is shaping back into form, and Corey Davis continues to miss valuable time in his rookie year. This week the Titans play the Browns who have been a bit of a funnel defense with a decent run defense, and an atrocious pass defense. Decker should see 8-10 targets this week, and I predict he finally finds the endzone this week. Not only should he be much more highly owned, he is a decent start this week.
George Kittle (Yahoo-18% owned ESPN- 13% owned) I am not one to start rookie tight ends in fantasy, in fact I was very against it this offseason. But guys like Evan Engram and George Kittle are trying hard to prove me wrong. Kittle has benefited from the QB change to his old college teammate CJ Beathard. In the last two games, he has seen 9 and 8 targets, which is more than needed for fantasy relevance in a tight end. His matchup vs the Cowboys is not scary, and until proven otherwise, I think Kittle could return back end TE1 numbers, and is owned in under 20% of leagues.
Tyrod Taylor (Yahoo-56% owned ESPN- 57% owned) Taylor hasn’t had any big fantasy days yet this year, but has provided a decent baseline from his rushing, despite facing one of the hardest early seasons schedule for any passer. Coming off a bye and facing one of the most beat up vulnerable defenses in the NFL (Tampa Bay), Taylor is in a great breakout position. He has a beautiful stretch of games coming up that include Oakland, NYJ, and New Orleans in the 3 games following Tampa. Pick him up now and stream him confidently for the next month.
Jamaal Charles (Yahoo-30% owned ESPN- 29% owned) Charles has not been very usable in fantasy this year, as he is yet to top 10 touches in a game, but he has been his very efficient self, averaging 5.1 yards per carry like every year of his historic career. The last couple weeks he has seen his carries drop from 9 or 10 to 5, which isn’t a good sign. But the Broncos have publically stated they want to get Charles more touches. That doesn’t mean he is suddenly going to become a workhorse, but I think the expectation is that he should bounce back to seeing 10 touches a game which makes him very roster worthy. CJ Anderson also has a history of injuries, so Charles could become a valuable asset were anything to happen to Anderson in this run heavy offense.
Dion Lewis (Yahoo-26% owned ESPN- 19% owned) I will be the first person to admit that you probably don’t want to start any of the Patriot’s running backs, because nobody has any idea what Belichick has planned for them. But Dion Lewis has seen his touches trending up and has led the team in rushing each of the last 2 weeks while getting goal line carries along the way. On the small sample of this season, Lewis is averaging 5 yards per carry, and has shown the ability in the past to be an effective cog in this Patriot’s machine. He is worth a speculative add, and even a desperation play this week.
Josh Doctson (Yahoo-11% owned ESPN-13% owned) A few weeks back, 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 has come down with a few magnificent catches this year, including a couple touchdowns. I would caution you that him taking a step forward doesn’t mean much since he has 6 career receptions, 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.
Jordan Matthews (Yahoo-27% owned ESPN- 24% owned) Look, I get why Jordan Matthews has such low ownership. He hasn’t topped 5 targets or 3 catches yet this year, and the Bills seem to pass the ball 10 times a game to their wide receivers. But the Bills need pass catchers badly, and Jordan Matthews is the only one on the team with a history of pass catching production. His slow start can be partly blamed on a preseason injury that didn’t allow him to get the necessary practice time to get acclimated to a new offense so late in the process. Matthews is expected to return this week, and the timing is great. The Bills have an extremely vulnerable schedule for the next month, and Matthews should be starting to settle into this offense and generate rapport with Taylor. He is worth a speculative add for wide receiver needy teams down the stretch.