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.
Updating previous reports, Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (quadriceps) aggravated the quadriceps injury he had coming into the game Sunday, Sept. 22. Hilton re-injured it a couple of plays before he scored a touchdown, but he didn't want to leave the game before the drive was over because he knew he wasn't coming back. He'll have tests done for re-evaluation.
Fantasy Spin: If he's able to recover in time for Week 4, he'll have a great matchup against the Oakland Raiders. More will be known later in the day after tests are done.
San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis caught four of his five targets for 20 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Sadly, all of those marks are season highs. Pettis was quiet for most of the game, but his TD catch with 1:15 remaining was the game-winner and very much a "trust throw" from Jimmy Garoppolo as he split two defenders from about five yards away. It seems likely Pettis will eventually find his way back into head coach Kyle Shanahan's good graces and be fantasy relevant again soon, but he should be on waivers in most normal-sized leagues now. He'll have a chance to prove himself again after the team's Week 4 bye.
San Francisco 49ers RB Matt Breida ran 14 times for 68 yards and hauled in two of his three targets for 20 yards in Week 3 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Breida's 16 touches are a season high, but his upside is capped by sharing touches with Raheem Mostert outside the red zone and losing goal-line work to Jeff Wilson. The frustrating thing for fantasy owners is San Francisco is averaging nearly 40 rushing attempts and unable to make any one of its three backs anything more than a flex option. Breida has the most consistent role of the bunch, and he figures to remain a high-end flex when the 49ers return from their bye to meet the Cleveland Browns in Week 5.
Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt had an interception and a fumble recovery against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. Watt added two tackles, two passes defensed and two quarterback hits.
Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly was on the right end of a reception once again as he was the chosen one for the team's final garbage-time touchdown of the game on Sunday. Dissly was targeted seven times, caught six passes, and tallied 62 yards in the game, exact copies of his season stats coming into the matchup. The rainy conditions seemed to make Dissly more appealing to quarterback Russell Wilson, and it looks like he trusts that Dissly is a solid release valve when he finds himself in trouble. Be wary of Seattle's knack for letting certain receivers go to rot quickly after they look great, but for now, Dissly could be a real part of the offense moving forward.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR James Washington accounted for 14 yards on two receptions in the team's Week 3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Fantasy Spin: With Donte Moncrief inactive there was hope that Washington would step up, but Pittsburgh's passing game flailed around outside of a pair of long TD connections. While there's still some long-term upside with Washington, he's only worth stashing in larger leagues.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle caught six of his eight targets for 57 yards in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle opened the season with consecutive 54-yard outings. It's a bit of an anomaly that a big-play threat like Kittle hasn't enjoyed a huge day or scored a touchdown yet, but his time is coming; he's had a bit of bad luck this season after having a lot of good fortune in 2018. The 49ers will go on a bye in Week 4, but he'll remain an elite TE1 option when he returns to action in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster caught three passes for 81 yards and a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Seventy-six of Smith-Schuster's 81 receiving yards came on a long touchdown, salvaging an otherwise unimpressive first game post-Big Ben. Week 4 presents a tasty matchup with the Bengals, which means Smith-Schuster should remain in your starting lineup.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf continued his impressive run on Sunday as he snagged a 54-yard bomb just before halftime. Metcalf was a little quieter the rest of the day, partially due to rain and constant slipping on the field, but he's now caught a pass of 25+ yards in all three games of his young career. Metcalf was targeted six times in the game, and while he only caught two of the passes, he at least made those ones count. The coaching staff seems to love having Metcalf across from Tyler Lockett, so it looks like he's in for a pretty solid year as the team's No. 2 receiver.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore finally got into the action for the first time on Sunday, but he only caught one pass on the afternoon. As expected, Moore's catch was a nifty one that featured him coming back and around a defender to be able to reach the wet, slippery ball, but the lack of chances continues to limit his potential. Moore was initially pegged as the team's likely No. 2 receiver, but it looks like everyone's infatuated with D.K. Metcalf so far, so Moore's looking more like he'll be battling for table scraps. His incredible acrobatics will allow him to make highlight reels often, but it doesn't look like he'll be hitting box scores as regularly.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner (knee) gained 43 yards on 13 carries against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. He added 14 yards on four receptions and also lost a fumble.
Fantasy Spin: With a young QB making his first NFL start the Steelers needed a big day from Conner. They got the opposite. He turned his 17 touches into just 57 yards and his fourth-quarter fumble set up the game-winning TD for the 49ers. They'll expect more from Conner going forward, and he should continue to get opportunities to make plays. He's a solid RB2 against the winless Bengals in Week 4.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo finished 23-of-32 for 277 yards and a touchdown to go along with two interceptions in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had three yards rushing on six carries and lost one of his two fumbles.
Fantasy Spin: While not having a clear alpha receiver probably isn't helping his cause, Garoppolo hasn't been particularly sharp in two of his three games. Of course, expectations should have been kept in check early this season anyway considering he is still working his way back from ACL surgery. Garoppolo will have plenty of things to work on heading into the team's Week 4 bye and will be a middling QB2 option at best in Week 5 versus the Cleveland Browns.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson busted a big 23-yard bruiser of a run early in Sunday's game against the Saints, but after that, he was nearly silent. Carson finished with just 15 carries for 53 yards and one reception out of the backfield. Carson's lack of use was due to a combination of the score, where Seattle was getting pounded for the majority of the game, and a costly fumble that turned into a defensive touchdown in the first half. This is the third game in a row where Carson has coughed up the ball in a terrible way, and that's a bad sign for his long-term prospects in Seattle.
Given the chance to be the team's No. 2 for the week, Seattle Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise didn't make much noise. With running back Rashaad Penny (hamstring) out on Sunday, Prosise got his chance to remind everyone why Seattle has put up with his annual injuries. Instead, he tallied just five yards on four carries. He did catch five passes out of the backfield to rack up 38 yards, but most of that came on one 21-yarder. Penny's injury isn't considered serious, and he's currently expected to play in Week 4. For now, it looks like Prosise will continue to have to sit tight because he's not putting any pressure on anyone ahead of him in the depth chart.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett had the biggest receiving day of his NFL career on Sunday as he caught 11 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the team's loss to New Orleans. He also just missed a second touchdown pass on an errant throw that was a little out of his reach. Lockett came up huge for quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks throughout the game, snagging balls left and right to keep the team in it when they were down big. The game doubled up Lockett's catches and targets on the season, and he's now averaging more than 90 yards receiving per game. Lockett looks like he's well on his way to topping 1,000 yards this season, and he should have a handful of touchdowns in the bank as well.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson put up huge numbers in Sunday's loss against the Saints. Wilson completed 32 passes on 50 attempts for 406 yards and two passing touchdowns. He also carried the ball seven times and ran in a pair of touchdowns, including one where he straight muscled through a Saints defender. The explosion of passing attempts was due to the fact that Seattle trailed by a hefty margin for the majority of the game after a series of bad breaks early on. That said, this is the second straight game where Wilson has tallied up sizable QB numbers. Perhaps Seattle is willing to let him use some of his magic moving forward.
Seattle Seahawks LB K.J. Wright recorded 13 tackles in Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints - matching his total from the first two games combined.
Cleveland Browns CB T.J. Carrie had seven tackles (six solo), two passes defensed and an interception against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3.
New Orleans Saints CB Marshon Lattimore registered a career-high 12 tackles - including 10 solo - in Week 3 versus the Seattle Seahawks.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin had a step on two defenders with two minutes left and the team trailing by seven points, but he couldn't hold on to the throw that hit him in both hands. Quarterback Philip Rivers had laid it out in the perfect spot where only Benjamin could reach it, but it was gone in an instant as it started to slip out of his hands and a slap on the elbow from a Texans defender ensured it couldn't be snagged. Instead, Benjamin finished with just two catches for five yards, and the Chargers fell to 1-2 on the season.