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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen (knee) was limited during practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: Allen should have a good chance to play in Week 3, but fantasy players will know more about his status later in the week. He is off to a fantastic start to the season and is a must-start option in all leagues if he is healthy.
Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams (knee) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: Williams was expected to be limited last week but still finished the game with 83 yards. He should receive more targets this week and can be a No. 3 fantasy receiver.
Denver Broncos OT Ja'Wuan James (knee) and OG Ronald Leary (non-injury) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18. CB Bryce Callahan (foot), FB Andy Janovich (pectoral) and LB Joseph Jones (triceps) were limited during practice. LB Todd Davis (calf) fully participated in practice.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel is emerging as the go-to wideout in a crowded receiving corps. The second-round rookie led the team in targets, receptions and yards in Week 2, outpacing even All-Pro tight end George Kittle. Drafted for his playmaking abilities, Samuel has delivered and cant be ignored in fantasy for Week 3s tilt against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers enter the contest third-worst in passing DVOA, allowing nine yards per pass attempt. Samuels primary risk is the Niners intent on rotating five receivers, but if the team devises plays to feature his skillset as expected, Samuel should be a reliable WR4 with upside.
Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson (wrist) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: Johnson likely will receive his normal workload this week despite the injury. He is off to a bit of a slow start but remains a big part of the offense. He is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues.
Arizona Cardinals DE Jonathan Bullard (hamstring), C Lamont Gaillard (knee), LB Jordan Hicks (groin), DT Corey Peters (knee) and LB Zeke Turner (hand, hamstring) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18. TE Charles Clay (non-injury) was limited during practice.
Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (non-injury) was limited during practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: The Broncos likely were giving Sanders some time off during practice so he was listed as limited. Sanders has caught 16 of his 20 targets over the first two games and has posted 184 yards and two touchdowns during that span. Fantasy players can consider him a No. 2 receiver in leagues this week.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiversJalen Hurd (back) and Trent Taylor (foot) were absent from Wednesdays practice. This is no surprise, as head coach Kyle Shanahan suggested a few days prior the team anticipates Hurd and Taylor returning after the Week 4 bye. Both wideouts suffered preseason injuries and are off the fantasy radar until deemed fully healthy. Deebo Samuel and Marquise Goodwin should continue dominating receiver snaps with Dante Pettis, Richie James and Kendrick Bourne splitting three-plus wideout sets.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (non-injury) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzgerald will be fine for Week 3 and is coming off two straight 100-yard games to start the season. He should be at least a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues and could even be a low-end No. 2 receiver in some leagues.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin rewarded risk-seeking fantasy players in Week 2 by racking up 77 yards and a touchdown. Along with rookie wideout Deebo Samuel, Goodwin leads team receivers in snaps by a wide margin (62 percent). The seven-year speed demon is a proven deep threat that can always take the top off a defense, but has endured volatile bouts of game-to-game inconsistency. With steady playing time but without a string of steady performances, Goodwin is back in the mix as a low-floor WR5 with WR2 upside in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker will look to bounce back in Week 3 against Jacksonville. After pulling in two touchdowns against the Browns in Week 1, the veteran fizzled out against the Colts on Sunday, finishing that contest with just four receptions for 39 yards. Despite this, he is still one of the most productive tight ends this season, currently ranked ninth in the league in receptions at his position. Unless there is a more practical alternative, Walker has justified his existence as a fantasy-starter, at least for now, even against a tough Jaguars Defense on Thursday night.
Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher (groin) and WR Tyreek Hill (shoulder) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18. OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (elbow) and OT Cameron Erving (elbow) fully participated in practice.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce has started the season off strong with 195 yards and one touchdown in two games. He should continue to be one of the top fantasy tight ends going forward.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry will continue to be heavily involved on Thursday night against the Jaguars. Henry has been productive throughout the first two games of the season, racking up 165 yards and two rushing touchdowns on 34 attempts. With the Titans' passing game not doing much to impress, expect the 25-year-old to get his number called often against Jacksonville in Week 3. Despite the relatively tough matchup against an efficient Jaguars Defense, Henry is a must-start in virtually all fantasy formats.
Kansas City Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: McCoy was expected to do things during practice but was apparently not able to participate. Fantasy players will know more about his status later in the week because he could be a starting option if he plays.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (ankle) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: Mahomes will be facing one of the better defenses in the NFL this week but is still a must-start option in all fantasy leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Demarcus Robinson (elbow) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: Robinson is coming off an outstanding Week 2 performance with 172 yards and two touchdowns but likely will see a drop in stats this week against the Baltimore Ravens. He can still be considered a No. 3 receiver or flex option in fantasy leagues.
Dallas Cowboys WR Randall Cobb (rib) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: Cobb likely will receive a bigger role with Michael Gallup out of the lineup and can be considered a flex option this week because of the favorable matchup.
Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (foot) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Fantasy Spin: Cooper should be one of the most valuable receivers in fantasy this week because of the matchup and should be in the lineup in every fantasy league.
Dallas Cowboys WR Tavon Austin (concussion), DE Tyrone Crawford (hip), WR Michael Gallup (knee), LB Chris Covington (ankle), DT Antwaun Woods (knee) and S Xavier Woods (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18. S Jeff Heath (knee), TE Blake Jarwin (foot), LB Sean Lee (knee), OG Zack Martin (back) and TE Dalton Schultz (foot) fully participated in practice.