By: Zach Haugen @zhaugenfootball
Best Late Week Free Agency Pickups – Week 9
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. It is especially hard to find those guys later in the season when teams begin to solidify game plans. But 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 workload. 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.
Curtis Samuel (Yahoo-5% owned ESPN-3% owned)Curtis Samuel hasn’t done much for fantasy this season. He has 7 total catches on 14 targets for 47 yards and zero touchdowns. So he obviously isn’t a must pick up in any league. But if you want a lottery ticket on your bench, Samuel isn’t a bad add this week. The Panthers traded away their number 1 wide receiver this week before the trade deadline, leaving very little behind in that receiving corp. They are probably more likely to rely on McCaffrey and eventually Greg Olsen when he returns, but you would have to think they also want to see what they have in Samuel. Samuel was a phenomenal athlete who had solid college production at Ohio State and is a big play threat in both the pass and run game. They Panthers gave up top 40 draft capital to get him, and it would serve them well to see what they can get out of that investment.
Corey Davis (Yahoo-42% owned ESPN-30% owned)Injuries have held Corey Davis back during his rookie year, but don’t let that distract you from the fact, that he was a top 5 pick in this year’s draft, and is playing with a rising start in Marcus Mariota. In the one game Corey Davis has played so far he saw double digit targets and caught 6 passes for 69 yards. In his absence, no Titans receiver has stepped up into a lead role which should leave the door open for Davis to become the number 1 receiver on the team. I wouldn’t be throwing Davis into your lineup just yet. He will likely take a couple weeks to get back up to speed, the Titans have enough weapons that they can spread out the targets, and they have a tough matchup this weekend against the Ravens. But he is the future of this team, and I expect them to look to get him rolling to finish out the year. Pick him up while you can. He is the rare late year waiver pickup with potential to be a weekly starter.
Vernon Davis (Yahoo-47% owned ESPN- 53% owned)Before last week’s 2 catch clunker, Davis finished with at least 58 yards receiving in 4 straight games. Not only is Jordan Reed expected to miss this week, but the Redskins leading receiver from last game (Jamison Crowder) is expected to miss as well. The redskins need healthy targets, and Davis has proven that when called upon to take up a bigger role in the offense, he has been up to the task. He has a tough matchup this week against the Seahawks, but he should still be considered a top 15 tight end as long as Reed is out.
Marlon Mack (Yahoo-50% owned ESPN- 36% owned)I am not the biggest believer in Marlon Mack as a between the tackles runner. He has been pretty dependent on the big play, and I am not convinced he is an every down back. Plus the Colts offense isn’t good, and their line is awful. I just don’t see Mack as the league winner he is being touted as. But I still don’t understand his ownership. He is starting to out snap Frank Gore, and is clearly much more explosive than Gore at this point in their careers. The Colts were even allegedly shopping Gore this last week before the trade deadline. Mack turned 14 touches last week into 63 yards and a touchdown. Even if he never takes over this backfield, Mack should be owned in every league as a running back that is trending up, versatile, and is a big play threat waiting to break one every play.
Dion Lewis (Yahoo-54% owned ESPN- 39% 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 4 weeks while getting goal line carries along the way. On the season, Lewis is averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and has shown the ability in the past to be an effective cog in this Patriot’s machine. Last week he had 17 touches. Any running back seeing 17 touches in the Patriots offense should be in starting lineups, yet Lewis inexplicably is on waivers in over half of leagues. Yes, he has a bye this week, but he should be picked up in every league.
Josh Doctson (Yahoo-30% owned ESPN-23% owned)I will admit that Doctson being on this list almost every week this year is probably not a good sign. But Terelle Pryor has officially been benched, and Doctson has come down with a few magnificent catches this year, including a few touchdowns. He keeps giving you just enough hope to keep the dream alive. His snaps are rising, and the hope is that the targets will come along with it. He is clearly seen as a red zone asset, but should remain on benches until the targets start to rise.
Danny Woodhead (Yahoo-27% owned ESPN- 25% owned)Danny Woodhead is a small, 32 year old, pass catching running back coming off an injury. There are plenty of reasons to keep him on the waiver wire. But the truth is that the Ravens need him badly, and the running back market for fantasy purposes right now is barren. Woodhead had 3 catches in 1 drive as a Raven before getting hurt. Alex Collins has played well as a bruiser, but the team could still use a weapon to catch short passes out of the backfield as a safety blanket for Flacco. Woodhead fills that role perfectly, and has a chance to be an rb2 in ppr leagues once he comes back.
DeDe Westbrook (Yahoo-30% owned ESPN- 4% owned)Westbrook is a mid-round rookie wide receiver who hasn’t played a snap all year and is on a clearly run first offense. So this add is not for shallow leagues, but it could pay dividends. Marquise Lee and Allen Hurns have played fine this year, but they could use a true big play threat, and that is exactly what Westbrook is. In 3 preseason games, the Heisman finalist had 13 catches for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns. That’s 22.2 yards per catch. Westbrook isn’t necessarily a must add, but he is a fun end of bench lottery ticket that is worth an add in any competitive league.
Tyler Kroft (Yahoo-39% owned ESPN- 38% owned)If you want upside, don’t start Tyler Kroft. He hasn’t seen more than 7 targets yet this year, and is averaging 9 yards per catch. If you need somebody to fill in for you for a week or two though, Kroft could be a nice option. He has seen at least 4 catches each of the last 4 weeks, and has 3 touchdowns over that time. This week the Bengals play a pass defense in the Jaguars that has been the best in the league. The elite corners on the outside should funnel targets to Kroft in the middle of the field. If the wheels completely fall off for the Bengals this week, Kroft will be a bust. But I would bet he gets between 4-6 catches, and receives a red zone target. That’s all you can ask for in a streaming tight end.