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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
Boston Scott Sep 18 6:20pm ET

The Philadelphia Eagles are having free-agent running back Devonta Freeman in for a visit on Friday, according to the league transaction wire. It doesn't sound like a signing is imminent, but it's worth watching after lead-back Miles Sanders missed the season opener with an injury. Sanders says he's fully healthy heading into Week 2 against the Rams, though, so a Freeman signing would just provide depth to this backfield alongside Boston Scott and Corey Clement. Philadelphia didn't get much production out of either Scott or Clement against Washington, so perhaps they view Freeman as a backup upgrade. Freeman, still only 28, has been bothered by injuries in recent seasons, but he was a Pro Bowler in 2015 and 2016 with 1,000-yard rushing campaigns in both years and 22 total rushing touchdowns in that span.

From RotoBaller

Robert Woods Sep 18 6:10pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods received a four-year, $68 million extension on Friday with $32 million guaranteed, according to a source. Woods' previous contract was due to expire after the 2021 season. It comes after the team just signed teammate Cooper Kupp to a three-year, $48 million extension, putting both wideouts together for even longer. Quarterback Jared Goff will be happy. Woods had eight targets and 119 total yards in the Week 1 win over the Cowboys and should once again see a steady diet of targets against a sketchy Eagles secondary in Week 2. The one concern is that Eagles cornerback Darius Slay may stick with Woods for most of this contest. You should still fire Woods up as a strong WR2 in this matchup. He's seen 88 targets in his last eight games, making him a must-start at this point.

From RotoBaller

Courtland Sutton Sep 18 5:00pm ET

Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton (shoulder) was limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable for Week 2 against the Steelers. Sutton is expected to be a game-time decision for Sunday after he missed the season-opening loss to the Titans. If Sutton winds up playing, he probably won't be 100 percent and could have his snaps limited, which makes him an extremely risky flex option against a stingy Steelers Defense. Quarterback Drew Lock would certainly benefit from the return of his top wideout, but even then we can't recommend the second-year QB in standard leagues. Without Sutton last week, tight end Noah Fant led the team in receiving and scored their lone aerial touchdown.

From RotoBaller

Jerry Jeudy Sep 18 5:00pm ET

Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver K.J. Hamler (hamstring) practiced in full all week and was taken off the final injury report for Week 2, meaning he's poised to make his NFL debut against the Steelers. The second-round speedster is an explosive playmaker at just 5-foot-9, 176 pounds, but he should remain out of fantasy lineups in his NFL debut, even if Courtland Sutton (shoulder) misses his second straight game. Hamler is certainly intriguing in dynasty/keeper leagues in this up-and-coming offense out of the slot with fellow rookie Jerry Jeudy and Sutton on the outside when everyone is healthy, but he's unlikely to see enough targets to make him relevant in standard-sized leagues.

From RotoBaller

George Kittle Sep 18 4:50pm ET

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (knee) has been ruled out for Week 2 against the Jets. Kittle suffered a knee sprain in the Week 1 loss to the Cardinals and will rest up for a week. The All-Pro tight end is a must-start each and every week, but his fantasy managers will have to pivot and go in another direction in Week 2. Jordan Reed could be an intriguing name to monitor as a one-week play at the position in DFS and deeper leagues, especially with Deebo Samuel (foot) still out. In the passing game, Kendrick Bourne, Dante Pettis, rookie Brandon Aiyuk and Trent Taylor could all benefit against New York, while running back Jerick McKinnon is also worth a look in deep PPR formats.

From RotoBaller

Phillip Lindsay Sep 18 4:50pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (toe) missed practice all week and has been ruled out for Week 2 against the Steelers. Lindsay hurt his toe in the first half of the Week 1 loss to the Steelers and was diagnosed with turf toe. He's listed as week-to-week for now, but the good news is that he had a near-even split of the workload with Melvin Gordon III before he went down with his injury. Gordon will be more of a low-end RB2 this Sunday with Lindsay out, despite the tough matchup against Pittsburgh's defense. Expect Royce Freeman to spell Gordon when he needs a breather, but he won't have any standalone fantasy value in this matchup.

From RotoBaller

Calais Campbell Sep 18 4:23pm ET

Baltimore Ravens DT Justin Madubuike (knee) and WR Chris Moore (finger) did not practice all week and have been ruled out for Week 2 against the Houston Texans. CB Jimmy Smith (hip) was limited in practice for a second straight day Friday, Sept. 18, and is listed as questionable. OT Ronnie Stanley (hip) and RB Justice Hill (thigh) were upgraded to a full practice Friday but are also listed as questionable. DE Calais Campbell (non-injury) and DT Brandon Williams (non-injury) were not given practice designations Friday while LB Pernell McPhee (non-injury) did not practice, but all three are expected to play.

From TheHuddle

Melvin Gordon Sep 18 4:10pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III has more upside as an RB2 this weekend against the Steelers with teammate Phillip Lindsay (toe) week-to-week with turf toe. The matchup is a daunting one, though, as the Steelers Defense held Saquon Barkley in check (15 carries for six yards) in Week 1. But the extra touches that Gordon should receive on Sunday push him from a flex play to more of a low-end RB2. Royce Freeman should help spell Gordon when he needs a breather. In his first game with Denver, the 27-year-old had 86 total yards and a touchdown on 18 touches, but he also had a costly lost fumble in the first half. Gordon had 18 yards in eight carries against Pittsburgh last year while with the Chargers.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Golladay Sep 18 4:10pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring) has been officially ruled out for Week 2 against the Packers. Golladay will miss his second straight game to open the season, but hopefully his fantasy managers will be able to put him into their lineups for Week 3. The Lions will use three-wide sets of Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola and rookie Quintez Cephus against their division rivals on Sunday. Jones will be a high-end WR3 and Amendola will be in flex consideration in DFS and deeper leagues. Tight end T.J. Hockenson will be intriguing with some TE1 upside with Golladay out again.

From RotoBaller

DeVante Parker Sep 18 4:03pm ET

Miami Dolphins LB Elandon Roberts (concussion) was upgraded to a limited practice Friday, Sept. 18, but has been ruled out for Week 2 versus the Buffalo Bills. DB Clayton Fejedelem (pectoral) was limited in practice all week and is listed as doubtful. WR DeVante Parker (hamstring) was also limited in practice all week but is listed as questionable. CB Xavien Howard (knee), CB Byron Jones (Achilles), LB Kyle Van Noy (hand) and WR Preston Williams (knee) practiced in full Friday, Sept. 18, and have been removed from the injury report. WR Jakeem Grant (calf) was not given a practice designation for a second straight day Friday but is also expected to play.

From TheHuddle

Drew Lock Sep 18 4:00pm ET

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock faces a stiff test in Week 2 on the road against the Steelers Defense. The 23-year-old second-year signal-caller had his ups and downs in the Week 1 Monday night loss to the Titans. His mobility and arm strength were on display, but he was hurt by some drops and overthrows and he also fumbled the ball twice but recovered. His final line was 22-for-33 for 216 yards and one touchdown. Lock should get both Courtland Sutton (shoulder) and rookie K.J. Hamler (hamstring) back for this one, but the matchup is too tough to consider him as anything more than a low-end QB2 in leagues that start two quarterbacks.

From RotoBaller

Alex Okafor Sep 18 3:53pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs DE Alex Okafor (hamstring), DT Khalen Saunders (elbow) and CB Charvarius Ward (hand) did not practice all week and have been ruled out for Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers. C Austin Reiter (knee), DT Derrick Nnadi (ankle), OG Kelechi Osemele (knee), S Juan Thornhill (knee) and RB Darrel Williams (hamstring) practiced in full all week and no longer appear on the injury report.

From TheHuddle

Tyrod Taylor Sep 18 3:53pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers RB Justin Jackson (quad) did not practice all week and is listed as doubtful for Week 2 versus the Kansas City Chiefs. TE Donald Parham (illness) returned to a full practice Friday, Sept. 18, and has been removed from the injury report. DE Joey Bosa (triceps), CB Casey Hayward (knee), OG Trai Turner (knee), WR Mike Williams (shoulder) and QB Tyrod Taylor (ribs) also practiced in full Friday and no longer appear on the injury report.

From TheHuddle

Michael Thomas Sep 18 3:50pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) was not present at practice on Friday for the second straight day. There were reports that Thomas "felt fantastic" at practice on Thursday, and there is a "glimmer of hope" that he can play in Week 2 on Monday night against the Raiders, but it's a long shot, at best. The All-Pro receiver is dealing with a high ankle sprain, which can keep players out up to a month or more. The 27-year-old is known as a quick healer and wants to get back out there as soon as possible, but fantasy managers need to keep realistic expectations. You should be planning to be without Thomas this week. Both Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook should have heavy target shares with Thomas likely out.

From RotoBaller

Chicago Bears Sep 18 3:50pm ET

Chicago Bears linebackers Khalil Mack (knee) and Robert Quinn (ankle) are both questionable to play in Week 2 against the Giants. Mack was also questionable for the season opener against the Lions, but he played and was quiet with just four combined tackles. Quinn missed Week 1 with Chicago after a big season with the Cowboys. The Bears are counting on the combination of Mack and Quinn to be a big pass-rushing force this year, so if they both sit out, it'll be excellent news for Daniel Jones and the Giants passing attack. Chicago's defense/special teams should be considered a midrange starting unit in fantasy, but they'll lose a little luster if one or both of Mack and Quinn are ruled out.

From RotoBaller

Ndamukong Suh Sep 18 3:43pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Antony Auclair (calf) did not practice for a second straight day Friday, Sept. 18, and has been ruled out for Week 2 versus the Carolina Panthers. WR Chris Godwin (concussion) was upgraded to a limited practice Friday and is listed as doubtful. DL Ndamukong Suh (non-injury) did not practice Friday but was removed from the injury report. WR Mike Evans (hamstring), OT Donovan Smith (knee) and S Jordan Whitehead (elbow) practiced in full Friday and no longer appear on the injury report. LB Jason Pierre-Paul (non-injury) was not given a practice designation Friday but is also expected to play.

From TheHuddle

James Conner Sep 18 3:40pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (ankle) practiced in full the last two days and was taken off the Week 2 injury report. Conner will be active this Sunday against the Broncos, but he might play second fiddle to Benny Snell Jr. after Snell replaced the injured Conner in Week 1 against the Giants and ran for over 100 yards on the ground. Conner couldn't stay healthy last year as the team's lead back, so perhaps this will become more of a backfield committee in 2020 to preserve Conner's health. Snell is probably the more attractive RB3/flex this week, but both running backs are hard to trust because of the uncertain playing time split.

From RotoBaller

Golden Tate Sep 18 3:40pm ET

New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Week 2 against the Bears. Tate sat out in Week 1 against the Steelers, but he was much more active in practice on Friday than he was last week. Even if the 32-year-old plays this weekend, there are likely better flex options you can plug into your fantasy lineups. If he doesn't play for the second straight week, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and tight end Evan Engram would all stand to benefit from extra targets in the passing game. Slayton was the biggest beneficiary in Week 1, hauling in two touchdowns.

From RotoBaller

Carolina Panthers Sep 18 3:30pm ET

The Carolina Panthers Defense has ruled out defensive tackle Kawann Short (foot) and rookie defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (concussion) for Week 2 against the Buccaneers. A shaky Panthers defense that allowed over 30 points to the Raiders in Week 1 will be hoping that rookie defensive tackle Derrick Brown can step up against their division rivals on Sunday. Already at the bottom of the pile for fantasy defenses, Carolina should be avoided like the plague this weekend against Tom Brady and the Bucs, who are looking for their first win of the season.

From RotoBaller

Mike Evans Sep 18 3:30pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (hamstring) practiced in full on Friday and was taken off the Week 2 injury report. Evans will be good to go against the division-rival Panthers. The 27-year-old should draw the coverage of cornerback Donte Jackson, but he's good enough to put up points, and he should be targeted even more by cornerback Tom Brady with Chris Godwin (concussion) doubtful to play. Evans had a quiet Week 1 but still managed to find the end zone to salvage his day. With Godwin likely out, Evans will be a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 this Sunday.

From RotoBaller