We’re in the double-digits, Fam! That means 7 more weeks of genius tinkering. Of course, the most dedicated and passionate managers find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While some weeks your roster may allow for snoozing on sleepers, it’s always beneficial to keep tabs on emerging trends and players. This weekly column is for those who understand the satisfaction of digging deep.
All of the listed players are rostered in under 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks … but that’s what makes them so intriguing.
The midseason chaos continued to run rampant last week — Eno Benjamin curiously drew just 1 target and Russell Gage posted his second bagel in three weeks — but there were some solid outcomes. Deonte Harris cleared 80 yards (WR29) and Gerald Everett converted all eight of his looks for over 60 yards (TE7).
Let’s keep the good juju coming into Week 11!
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers (33% rostered, $26)
After 2 TDs in two snaps, it’s easy to forget about Cam Newton’s 2020 in New England and hard not to get excited about his return to Carolina.
SuperCam seemed to fly away last year, though injuries, a COVID bout and a dearth of surrounding talent could explain away his disappearing act. What didn’t vanish, though, were his rushing scores. Newton stomped his way into the end zone a stunning 12 times (second only to the 14 he logged as a rookie) with the Pats. Those points buoyed his fantasy numbers enough to make him the QB15 overall at season’s end.
Matt Rhule told the media that Newton would be receiving the bulk of the first-team reps in practice this week, indicating that the 32-year-old will start on Sunday. It’s fitting that a player with so much charisma would face his old coach in his new-again home. The Washington Football Team will be without Chase Young (ACL) and Montez Sweat (jaw), two of the team’s biggest defensive stars. Jack Del Rio’s No. 29 ranked pass defense (DVOA) has allowed the most fantasy points — and the seventh-most rushing yards (24.3/gm) — to opposing QBs.
I’ll take the OVER on 2.5 TDs for Newton this Sunday.
Elijah Moore, WR, New York Jets (55% rostered, $17)
Moore was one of the buzziest players heading into last April’s NFL draft. His landing spot, however, squelched much of the excitement surrounding his electric skill set. He was buried behind Jamison Crowder on the depth chart and attached to a green QB.
But talent eventually shows up.
Moore became more involved and began to venture beyond the slot after New York’s Week 6 bye. He demonstrated his sticky mitts and wild efficiency (only two drops in 2020 at Ole Miss) in Week 8, converting all six of his targets. The rookie followed that up by showcasing his 98th percentile agility (10.67) in Week 9, clearing 80 yards and finding the end zone twice. Moore proved to be matchup-proof in Week 10 when he connected with his fourth QB of the season (Week 11 starter, Joe Flacco) for a 15-yard score versus the best passing defense in the league.
The Florida native will be tested again in Week 10 when he takes on a Dolphins defense that’s gotten healthier and seems to have returned to 2020 form. If Miami employs man coverage — like we saw last Thursday — I still like Moore to surge. Byron Jones allowed 8 receptions on 10 targets for over 100 yards (mostly to Rashod Bateman) in Week 10. Moore could be in for another 70+ yard outing on Sunday. He’s inside my top-40 WRs for the week.
Jeff Wilson, RB, San Francisco 49ers (29% rostered, $14)
On the active roster since 2018, Wilson is no stranger to stepping in and stepping up. He’s done it for Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert. That’s why #FantasyTwitter expected to see more from the North Texas product with JaMycal Hasty (ankle) sidelined last Monday night.
But patience is a virtue and rust is real.
Wilson’s 10 carries weren’t nothing — they were a warm-up for Week 11. Elijah Mitchell has a broken finger that Kyle Shanahan is hoping the rookie can play through. Even if Mitchell were limited, Wilson has the downhill dukes and familiarity with the offense to keep Eli fresh. Wilson recorded 8 goal-line carries (RB14) over 12 games in 2020. His odds of logging a few more are favorable in Week 11. The 49ers are 6.5-point favorites facing a Jaguars defense that’s allowed the fourth-most (9) rushing scores to opposing RBs. FF: 67 scrimmage yards and 1 TD
Cole Kmet, TE, Chicago Bears (21% rostered, $15)
Poco y poco. That’s been Cole Kmet’s 2021 fantasy vibe thus far. The second-year tight end is coming off his best game of the season (90.7 PFF grade, TE2) and is planning to build on his six-catch, 87-yard effort in Week 9.
Kmet has seen no fewer than six looks for three consecutive games (6.6/gm). He’s run an average of 22.6 routes per game over that time. His connection with Justin Fields in the red zone is real, too. The Chicago native has been looked to by the rookie QB in the red area four times between Weeks 8 and 9. He’s got a solid shot of finally hitting pay dirt versus the Ravens on Sunday. Baltimore is giving up the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends and has allowed 6 scores to the position. FF: 5-58-1
Adam Trautman, TE, New Orleans Saints (6% rostered, $10)
Saints Nation has not been pleased with Adam Trautman. His 2021 experience has been fraught with struggles and mistakes. Still, the team’s third-round pick from a year ago has averaged 6.3 looks per game since Trevor Siemian took over in Week 8. Trautman has run an average of 28.3 routes per game (more than Mark Andrews, who has recorded 27.1/gm) and drawn four red-zone looks over that time.
While the practice has not resulted in fantastic production, this week’s matchup should help push Trautman into fantasy relevance. Philly has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Albert O. and Noah Fant combined for 136 yards versus the Eagles last Sunday. Given Trautman’s volume, involvement, and coverage, he’s a worthy stream in Week 11.
Bonus TE: Ryan Griffin, New York Jets (1% rostered, $10)
One catch for 21 yards is less than inspiring. However, understanding the Bills boast the best passing defense in the NFL — one that has allowed an average of 3.5 catches per week to opposing TEs on a schedule that includes Travis Kelce and Mike Gesicki (twice) — helps contextualize Ryan Griffin’s down effort in Week 10. Griffin was more involved the previous week, drawing a hearty seven looks in the team’s loss to Indy.
He’s managing a robust snap share (47 in Week 9 and 52 in Week 10) while also running a ton of routes (28 in Week 9 and 33 in Week 10). That kind of involvement could turn into production when facing a Dolphins defense that’s been tested by tight ends. Miami has allowed the second-most receptions (26) in three games over the last four weeks. Ryan Griffin is not Kyle Pitts or Mark Andrews, but given Joe Flacco’s history of targeting tight ends (and running backs — ‘sup, Michael Carter) he could band-aid your TE-needy squad this weekend.
Dig deep with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF