By: Zach Haugen @zhaugenfootball
Late Week Free Agency Pickups – Week 4
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 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. You also want 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.
Devin Funchess (Yahoo-24% owned ESPN-11% owned) – I have never been the biggest Funchess believer, but he has shown the ability to find the end zone using his large frame. The problem has always been a lack of total volume. In his third year of action now, and with Greg Olsen on IR, Funchess is going to need to step up and may finally start to see some of that needed volume. He saw 16 targets over the last two weeks, with 8 catches. This week he plays the Patriots, who have been absolutely torched by the pass this year, which leads to a prime breakout candidate opportunity for the oversized wide receiver.
Matt Breida (Yahoo-7% owned ESPN- 1% owned) – Carlos Hyde was 6th in fantasy points scored coming into this week and has thrived under Shanahan. But Hyde is seemingly made of glass and hasn’t been able to play a full season once. His hip is still apparently bothering him. I would still expect him to play, but if he doesn’t, or if he aggravates the injury, Breida is the next man up. He looked good in the preseason, and if he takes over Hyde’s 3 down role in this Shanahan system he could become a very hot waiver wire pickup.
Sterling Shepard (Yahoo-54% owned ESPN- 49% owned) – With Odell back to full health last week, Eli looked semi competent last week. He succeeded mostly by getting the ball out of his hands fast and letting his playmakers make plays. Sterling Shepard is a playmaker, and looks to have more juice in his legs than Brandon Marshall. Shepard has 2 games of 7 catches already this year and exploded last week for 133 yards and a touchdown. Yet he is still only 50% owned in both major platforms. As a slot receiver in a quick pass up tempo offense, Shepard will certainly continue to prove his fantasy relevance throughout the year.
Brandon Oliver (Yahoo-5% owned ESPN- 1% owned) – Melvin Gordon got banged up last week, which he has a history of doing. Oliver stepped into a workhorse role receiving 8 carries and 4 catches in about half the game. He was pretty inefficient totaling 34 yards on those 12 touches, but has proven to be a versatile back when utilized, and would be in a great position as a workhorse back who catches passes on a good offense. He is a worthwhile stash until we see that Gordon is at full health.
Ryan Griffin (Yahoo-11% owned ESPN- 2% owned) – Houston likes to use their tight end, and tight ends have a history of being heavily utilized by rookie quarterbacks. On top of that, Watson actually looked like a capable NFL quarterback last week. Fiedorowicz is on IR with concussion issues, and Ryan Griffin is on IR. In the two games in 2016 and 2017 that Griffin has been the lead tight end he has had 8 catches for 85 yards and then 5 catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. He has a decent matchup this week against the Titans and should be a solid streaming option until Fiedorowicz returns.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Yahoo-6% owned ESPN- 1% 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 the talent to do it. There were reports that he was to out of shape to play much of a role this past weekend, but he tied for the team lead in targets his first week. Ultimately, you probably shouldn’t expect a monster game this week, but he is more than a worthwhile stash if you need tight end help, and a decent desperation TE play this week.
Paul Richardson (Yahoo-23% owned ESPN- 4% owned) – Richardson was a player I loved coming out of the draft. He had solid explosion and athleticism, to combine with high-end college production. The start to his NFL career has been a bit up and down but he has flashed some high end potential. There are quite a few mouths to feed in Seattle for a team that likes to run the ball. But Richardson has over 5 targets every game, and is the only Seahawks pass catcher with more than 1 touchdown. This week he plays the Colts who have been a wealth of points for wide receivers. Doug Baldwin is also playing injured. If the targets are there again this week for Richardson, he could have a big game and be a hot waiver wire add.
Jaron Brown (Yahoo-5% owned ESPN- 4% owned) – JJ Nelson is getting a lot of attention in fantasy football, and rightfully so. The speedster has been a touchdown machine and fantasy producer dating back to the last few games of 2016. He has out produced Larry Fitzgerald. But Jaron Brown is the one who has been getting starter snaps, and saw a healthy dose of targets with 11 in week 2 and 6 last week, including one of the highest air yard market shares in the NFL. Carson Palmer hasn’t looked great this year, but when given time to throw he can still get the ball to his receivers. If Brown continues to see high volume, I think he will be seen as a fantasy asset, and become a hot pickup on waiver wires this week.
Josh Doctson (Yahoo-9% owned ESPN-35% owned) – Rotoworld released a blurb that many people in the Redskin’s organization expect Doctson to take a big step forward in upcoming weeks. Terelle Pryor has struggled with lead WR duties so far, and Doctson came down with a magnificent 52 yards touchdown reception last week. It makes sense why there is so much hype. I would caution you that him taking a step forward doesn’t mean much since he has 3 career receptions over two years, but his upside is still worth a stash to see just how much his utilization increases over the next couple of weeks.
Wayne Gallman (Yahoo-1% owned ESPN- 0% owned) – This one is digging deep considering he is 0% owned on both platforms and hasn’t even been active for an NFL game yet, but I think there is an outside shot it pays off. Darkwa is out with injury. Shane Vereen looks like he will play banged up. Paul Perkins is bad at football right now. Wayne Gallman was a good productive college running back at one of the best programs in the country at Clemson. He isn’t a superstar athlete, but is strong, runs very yard, and takes the yardage that is given him. I think this is exactly what the Giants need. If Perkins continues to struggle it’s possible they give Gallman a look as the early down back in a capable offense. In leagues with depleted running back markets, I think he is at least a name to monitor.
Josh Gordon (Yahoo-7% owned ESPN- 1% owned) – This is just an added bonus pick. There are rumors that Gordon got out of rehab a week ago and applied for reinstatement. From everything we know about the NFL, this could be a lengthy complicated process before Gordon sees the field. Still, if he does see the field, it could be a fantasy goldmine. He was one of the most dominant receivers in the game last time we saw him, and the Browns badly need a wide receiver with Corey Coleman sent to the IR. Gordon likely won’t see the field soon, and even if he does, he will likely have a lot of rust. But if you are in a really deep league with a lot of bench spots it could be worth the stash and monitor this upcoming week.