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Bounce-back Candidates

Fri Aug 16 10:05am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Dalton could surprise this year


For the most part, winning your fantasy league means taking a few chances. You can win by playing it safe but playing it safe isn't going to work most of the time. So thinking outside the box a little is a good way to put your team over the top.

One way to think outside the box is to look at some bounce-back candidates. These are guys that underperformed last year or the previous few years, but seem primed for a better season. They are important players to grab because these players carry less value come draft day. Bounce-back players can become great values for fantasy teams as the season progresses. Here are a few of our favorite bounce-back candidates for the coming season. You might want to target some of them come draft day. 

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions. Stafford had a season to forget last year, finishing 20th overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. He was a top-10 fantasy quarterback three straight seasons before last year, though. The Lions had injury issues last year and made some trades for the future, so things were stacked against him as the season progressed. He can get back to his big ways this year and is a good buy-low candidate for fantasy teams. The track record of success is certainly there for Stafford.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals. The Bengals were a bit of a mess last year, but Dalton was producing. He missed the five games because of injury but if he plays a full year, he has 31 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards. New head coach Zac Taylor is an offensive minded coach that should be a plus for the offense and Dalton. This offense could be a lot better with Taylor running the show. Don’t discount Dalton to have one of his better seasons as a pro.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans. Mariota struggled with injury last year, posting pretty poor numbers throughout the season. He did have a career best 69 percent completion percentage, though, which is encouraging. He is over his arm issues now and has some new weapons to work with offensively. The Titans have assembled a lot of talent at receiver, which is a big plus for Mariota. He also gets back a healthy Delanie Walker. Mariota has the potential to have a career season.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars. Fournette was a bust last year. Many had high hopes for him to be an elite No. 1 back but injury issues and ineffectiveness while on the field marred his season. He is back healthy this year, though, and seems to have a chip on his shoulder. Remember, he had nearly 1,400 total yards as a rookie. He also has little competition for touches, which bodes well for his production. Fournette is setup for a big year three in Jacksonville.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings. Cook has played 15 games in two seasons. He has been a disappointment to date but showed flashes last year. He had 920 yards in 11 games and averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Cook just needs to stay healthy. If that happens, the sky is the limit for him, especially in this offense. He can be an elite fantasy back. His stock might never be this low again. Grab him while you can.

DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins. Parker had another disappointing season last year, getting just 309 yards in 11 games. He was in the dog house much of the year and didn’t get the playing time as expected. He is the most talented receiver on the roster, though, and a new coaching staff should be a plus for him. He can work his way into good graces with the new staff and be the top target in the passing game. Parker certainly has the talent to be a big-time NFL player. He is worth the risk at a very reasonable price. He could lead this offense in targets.

Ted Ginn, WR, Saints. Ginn missed most of last year with injury, playing just five games. He had three of five games with 50-plus yards, though, and caught six passes for 102 yards in the playoffs. Ginn has a chance to be the No. 2 receiver in this offense. And even if he isn't starting, he will have a role. He knows the offense and had three straight seasons with 700-plus yards before last year. 

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles. Jackson was erratic last year with the Bucs. He started really fast but struggled most of the rest of the season. He even missed some time because of injury. He gets a fresh start with his old team this year, heading back to the Eagles. He will start in this offense and should be the top big-play threat for the team. Jackson had his best years with the Eagles, so don’t be surprised for a big rebound season. He is always capable of the big game. 

Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins. Reed didn’t play a full season once again, missing three games because of injury. He did have 54 receptions, though, which was a nice rebound from the previous year. He is a big part of this offense and should see plenty of targets. HIs big issue continues to be his health. But if on the field, Reed will produce. He could even lead this team in targets. The Redskins lack top options in the passing game. Reed will get plenty of work when he is on the field. 

Delanie Walker, TE, Titans. Walker broke his ankle last year, playing just a game. He had at least 800 yards four straight seasons before last year. He is going to be 35 years old before the start of the year, but the time off last year might help him have one more big season. He is a big part of this passing game and will get plenty of weekly looks. The Titans added more weapons at receiver this offseason, but Walker might remain Marcus Mariota’s favorite target. At a position that is weak, Walker has good potential for fantasy teams at a pretty good price tag. 

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Phillip Dorsett Sep 22 5:30pm ET

The Seattle Seahawks are placing wide receiver Phillip Dorsett II (foot) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday, according to a source. Dorsett will be eligible to return in three weeks, and it'll give him some time to let his injured foot heal. The earliest he'll be able to return will be in Week 6. He hasn't played yet in 2020. Dorsett's injury has opened the door for David Moore as the No. 3 behind wideouts DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Moore took advantage in the Week 2 win over the Patriots, catching all three of his targets for 48 yards and his first touchdown of the year. However, he's still a reach in deep leagues, as he's competing with rookie Freddie Swain and has only six targets through two games.

From RotoBaller

Dee Ford Sep 22 3:33pm ET

San Francisco 49ers DE Dee Ford (back) is expected to miss Week 3 against the New York Giants, and there appears to be no clear timetable for his return, according to multiple sources.

From TheHuddle

Dion Lewis Sep 22 3:00pm ET

If all goes well with COVID-19 testing, the New York Giants will sign free-agent running back Devonta Freeman, according to sources. Freeman visited with the Eagles a few days ago, but it's looking like he'll land with the Giants after they lost Saquon Barkley (knee) for the season. The veteran back has 43 scrimmage touchdowns since 2014, which is tied for 11th in the NFL in that span. Freeman should eventually become the team's lead back, but it remains to be seen how long before that'll happen. Until then, Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman will split touches, making this a tough backfield to get behind until Freeman gets up to speed. For those hurting at running back early in the season, Freeman will be an attractive waiver pickup heading into Week 3.

From RotoBaller

Devonta Freeman Sep 22 2:33pm ET

Free-agent RB Devonta Freeman (Falcons) reportedly agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract with the New York Giants on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Fantasy Spin: Freeman is reportedly waiting to get through COVID-19 protocols, but it appears the deal will happen if everything checks out OK. If the deal comes together as expected, the former Atlanta Falcon can't be expected to do much in Week 3 but should be expected to lead this backfield at some point early in October. Unfortunately, he graded out as one of the worst running backs analytically last season, so it's debatable what he might be able to offer fantasy owners. Consider him a low-end flex option at best.

From TheHuddle

Kyle Lauletta Sep 22 2:13pm ET

Atlanta Falcons QB Kyle Lauletta was released from the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 22.

From TheHuddle

Saquon Barkley Sep 22 2:03pm ET

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee Tuesday, Sept. 22. CB Ryan Lewis was elevated from the practice squad to take Barkley's spot on the roster.

From TheHuddle

Parris Campbell Sep 22 1:50pm ET

The Indianapolis Colts placed wide receiver Parris Campbell (knee) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday with injuries to his MCL and PCL. The team also put safety Malik Hooker (Achilles) on IR, and he'll miss the entire season. The Colts are saying that Campbell will be out indefinitely, but he'll be eligible to return from the IR in three weeks. Without a timetable for a return, the 23-year-old can be dropped in shallow formats if you don't have the room to stash him. Rookie Michael Pittman Jr. and Zach Pascal will see more targets alongside T.Y. Hilton with Campbell out, but this Colts team could be transitioning to more of a run-first offense behind their stellar offensive line.

From RotoBaller

Malik Hooker Sep 22 1:33pm ET

Indianapolis Colts WR Parris Campbell (knee) and S Malik Hooker (Achilles) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Sept. 22. The Colts also elevated S Ibraheim Campbell and CB Tremon Smith from the practice squad and added free-agent TEs Hale Hentges and Ethan Wolf to the practice squad.

From TheHuddle

Malcolm Brown Sep 22 1:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown (pinkie) had surgery on Monday to repair the fractured left pinkie finger that he suffered in the Week 2 win over the Eagles. The Rams expect Brown to play in Week 3 against the Bills, however. Just as we expected, this Rams backfield has been tough to figure out through two weeks of the season. Brown had 18 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 1 win over Dallas, but he came back to Earth against Philly, carrying the ball 11 times for 47 yards and didn't catch a pass. To make things worse, both Brown and rookie Cam Akers (rib) are injured heading into a tough Week 3 matchup with the Bills. Darrell Henderson Jr. could see more of a lead-back role this Sunday as a result, making Brown more of a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex.

From RotoBaller

Henry Ruggs III Sep 22 1:00pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III had a quiet Monday night in the win against the Saints, catching just one pass for four yards on three targets. Tight end Darren Waller saw nearly half the targets among the team's pass-catchers, so there were not many to go around for the rest of the offensive weapons. Combining this with 35 rushes did not give Ruggs a whole lot of opportunity to catch passes. Ruggs also saw a lot of attention from the Saints secondary due to his speed and explosiveness. Things will not get easier next week against the Patriots, where Ruggs will likely see a lot of attention from star cornerback Stephon Gilmore. It is unlikely that Ruggs will only catch one pass again next week, but don't expect him to have a great performance either.

From RotoBaller

Jonathan Williams Sep 22 12:53pm ET

Detroit Lions RB Jonathan Williams was released from the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 22.

From TheHuddle

Darren Waller Sep 22 12:50pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller was dominant against the Saints, catching 12 balls for 103 yards and a touchdown on a whopping 16 targets. The Saints had absolutely no answer for Waller. He is too big and strong for safeties and cornerbacks and too fast for linebackers, so he is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He is clearly quarterbackDerek Carr's favorite offensive weapon, leading the team in targets by a significant margin. He will match up against the Patriots next week, a team that has found success against opposing tight ends thus far, but they have not faced an elite tight end like Waller to this point. Look for Waller to have another strong performance next week. He's a must-start high-end TE1 each and every week.

From RotoBaller

Cam Akers Sep 22 12:50pm ET

Los Angeles Rams rookie running back Cam Akers (rib) is being listed as day-to-day after separating rib cartilage in the Week 2 win over the Eagles. Akers had just three carries for 13 yards before suffering the injury last Sunday, but he should be OK going forward. However, the Rams are uncertain on Akers' status for this weekend at the Bills, which is already a very tough matchup to begin with. Malcolm Brown (pinkie) is ailing, too, but LA also has Darrell Henderson Jr. in the picture, so Akers will once again be an extremely risky flex option in shallow leagues for Week 3. After two weeks, this Rams backfield has been extremely tough to predict, as was expected coming into the year.

From RotoBaller

Derek Carr Sep 22 12:40pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had an impressive performance against the Saints, throwing for 282 yards and three touchdowns in a Monday night victory. Carr showed his efficiency once again, completing 73 percent of his passes and not throwing an interception. The Saints have a solid defense, so this was an encouraging performance from Carr. After a difficult first quarter, the Raiders were great on third down, and the Saints had no answer for the passing attack. Carr has led the Raiders offense to 34 points per game over the first two contests, but it will not be easy to keep this pace next week against the Patriots. Carr will need to have a couple more of these performances to start being considered as a legitimate fantasy starter.

From RotoBaller

Josh Jacobs Sep 22 12:40pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs picked up 88 yards on 27 carries in a win against the Saints. The Saints have one of the best defenses in the league, so yards did not come easy for Jacobs. It was not the best fantasy day, considering he was not heavily utilized in the passing game, catching just three balls for 17 yards. However, he showed that he can still put up a significant amount of yards against stout run defenses, gaining over 40 yards after contact. He will look to build on this performance next week against the Patriots, who surrendered 115 rushing yards to running backs against the Seahawks in Week 2. Jacobs should remain a starter in fantasy lineups no matter who he matches up against.

From RotoBaller

Rob Gronkowski Sep 22 12:23pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski received four targets in the first two games, which head coach Bruce Arians said wasn't a surprise. 'We're not throwing the ball 50 times to the tight ends,' Arians said. 'That's what we have receivers for, that's the way our offense is built. Gronk's playing great run blocking in the fourth quarter, so I'm not concerned with his pass catches or his targets.'

Fantasy Spin: Gronk certainly could break out any given week, but if you need to drop him to replace an injured starter, we could certainly see it.

From TheHuddle

Jeff Driskel Sep 22 10:30am ET

The Denver Broncos signed free agent quarterback Blake Bortles to a one-year deal on Tuesday morning. The former Jaguars signal-caller will officially sign once he passes his COVID protocols and will serve as some much-needed depth in the absence of Drew Lock (shoulder). Bortles owns an 80.6 career passer rating in 73 starts along with 103 touchdowns to 75 interceptions. Backup Jeff Driskel looked good in relief of Lock on Sunday and should remain the starter for the near future, though if he falters, Bortles could step in as a serviceable backup.

From RotoBaller

Blake Bortles Sep 22 10:13am ET

Free-agent QB Blake Bortles (Rams) is signing a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos this week. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

From TheHuddle

Blake Bortles Sep 22 9:13am ET

Free-agent QB Blake Bortles (Rams) is visiting the Denver Broncos Tuesday, Sept. 22.

From TheHuddle

Jason Witten Sep 22 12:53am ET

Las Vegas Raiders TE Jason Witten posted one grab for three yards on his only target in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints.

Fantasy Spin: Witten won't sniff the field for many snaps as long as Darren Waller is healthy and running hot. He is more of an on-field coach and mentor at this point of his career. His fantasy value is rather negligible at the moment. The Raiders travel to meet the Patriots in Week 3.

From TheHuddle