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.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) said he played through a concussion in Week 1 against the Cowboys because he wanted to try and help the team win. Shepard didn't start feeling normal until this week and is off the final injury report for Week 3 against the Buccaneers. Shepard will be the top wideout this Sunday with Cody Latimer (concussion) ruled out. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones could target Shepard heavily in his NFL debut, but it doesn't necessarily mean that Shepard is in line for a big day. It's also important to note that Shepard and Jones didn't play together in the preseason because Shepard broke his thumb on the first day of training camp. In his first game back from the concussion, Shepard will be a shaky WR4 with volume upside.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn accumulated a grand total of zero targets against the Rams in Week 2 after a solid Week 1 performance, and fantasy owners should expect more duds going forward. Ginn, already a boom-or-bust option, finds himself in a tough spot with starting quarterback Drew Brees(thumb) sidelined for the next six weeks. He faces a leaky Seattle secondary in Week 3, but is not worthy of any fantasy consideration in standard-sized leagues with Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill taking the snaps under center.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Danny Amendola came crashing back down to earth in Week 2, seeing only one target compared to 13 in Week 1. Fantasy owners who started Amendola with hopes he would replicate his Week 1 performance were undoubtedly disappointed, but we have now seen what his ceiling and floor are in this Lions offense. This will likely be how the season goes for Amendola, putting him firmly in the WR4/WR5 conversation. He faces off against a porous Eagles secondary on Sunday but is a risky start, at best.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (knee) was a full participant in practice on Friday and is cleared to play in Sunday's game against the Texans. Allen's knee injury was minor and just held him out of practice for a couple days. After racking up 16 catches for 221 yards in the first two games, Allen is set to face a forgiving Texans secondary that has been below-average so far. Allen continues to be the heart and soul of the receiving corps, and owners should expect another big day with lots of targets for him on Sunday.
Green Bay Packers LB Oren Burks (chest) and OG Lane Taylor (biceps) did not practice Friday, Sept. 20, and have been ruled out for Week 3 against the Denver Broncos. DL Montravius Adams (shoulder) did not practice all week and is listed as doubtful. LB Kyler Fackrell (shoulder), TE Jimmy Graham (groin), WR Jake Kumerow (shoulder) and WR Darrius Shepherd (hamstring) were limited in practice Friday and are listed as questionable. WR Davante Adams (personal) did not practice Friday, while LB Blake Martinez (shoulder) remained a limited participant; both players were removed from the injury report. DL Fadol Brown (knee), OT Bryan Bulaga (rest), DL Kenny Clark (calf), CB Ka'dar Hollman (neck), CB Kevin King (chest), S Will Redmond (ankle), S Darnell Savage (shin), LB Za'Darius Smith (ankle), CB Tramon Williams (rest) and RB Jamaal Williams (ankle) fully participated in practice Friday and no longer appear on the injury report.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) fully participated in practice Friday, Sept. 20, and is not on the injury report for Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce did not miss any practice time this week and will be fine for the Week 3 game. He is one of the top tight ends in the NFL and is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Demarcus Robinson (elbow) fully participated in practice Friday, Sept. 20, and is not on the injury report for Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Robinson has stepped up at receiver while Tyreek Hill is sidelined and will continue to receive a solid amount of targets for the time being. He will be facing a tough matchup this week but can still be a No. 3 receiver or flex option in leagues.
Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Week 3 against the Saints after suffering an injury in practice on Friday. Late-week additions to the injury report are never good, putting Penny in real danger of sitting out this Sunday. He was a risky RB3/flex in PPR leagues to begin with as the clear backup to workhorse Chris Carson. Carson would become a stronger RB1 selection if Penny is inactive, while C.J. Prosise could see his role expand in passing situations in Week 3.
Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills caught a touchdown in Week 1, but in Week 2 he played just 38 percent of Houston's offensive snaps, turning those 24 plays into two catches for 38 yards. The battle between Stills and Keke Coutee for the third receiver role is a bit of a mess at this point, with Coutee getting more snaps in Week 2 but Stills outperforming him. For now, it's best to ignore Stills in season-long leagues, though there will be weeks where he looks like a good DFS option. The Chargers Defense is probably too good for Week 3 to be one of those weeks, though.
Baltimore Ravens CB Jimmy Smith (knee) and DB Brynden Trawick (elbow) did not practice all week and have been ruled out for Week 3 versus the Kansas City Chiefs. TE Mark Andrews (foot) was limited in practice for a second straight day Friday, Sept. 20, while FB Patrick Ricard (back) was upgraded to full practice; both are listed as questionable. S Earl Thomas (non-injury), WR Marquise Brown (non-injury), CB Brandon Carr (non-injury) and LB Pernell McPhee (non-injury) did not practice Friday but were removed from the injury report.
Kansas City Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy (ankle) fully participated in practice Friday, Sept. 20, but is listed as questionable for Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: McCoy appears to be on track to play and probably will join the starting lineup with Damien Williams ruled out. Fantasy players in most leagues should consider McCoy as a flex option or possibly a low-end No. 2 running back.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (ankle) fully participated in practice Friday, Sept. 20, and is not on the injury report for Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Mahomes remains one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL even with the minor injury and is a must-start option against the Baltimore Ravens.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Breshad Perriman returned to practice Friday after dealing with a quadriceps injury. He'll start this Sunday at home against the win-hungry New York Giants. Perriman has been an afterthought during his first two starts with the Bucs, logging only two receptions for 10 yards. He's a paper-thin replacement to the departed DeSean Jackson and is leaving a lot to be desired by only being the fourth or fifth best option on this talent-heavy team. This journeyman wide receiver is not on our radar as a viable start this week, even versus aGiants Defensethat is giving up a whopping 13.4 yards per target. He's a WR4 and should remain on your bench for the foreseeable future.
The Cleveland Browns placed tight end David Njoku (wrist) on Injured Reserve on Friday and claimed safety Juston Burris off waivers from the Raiders in a corresponding move. Njoku had four catches for 37 yards and a touchdown in two games before getting injured in the Monday night win over the Jets. We'd recommend keeping Njoku stashed in an IR spot on your roster if you have the space. Demetrius Harris and Ricky Seals-Jones are the next guys up with Njoku out, but it's unlikely that either of them will become streaming options at the weak tight end position. Jarvis Landry could benefit the most in the passing game underneath and down the middle of the field.
Heading into Week 3, the story with Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller is essentially the same as it's been all year: his speed makes him a major weapon down the field for quarterback Deshaun Watson, but his lack of targets gives him a lot of risk. Week 2 was a little different, as Jalen Ramsey shadowed DeAndre Hopkins and led to Fuller getting a bigger share of the offense, but he ended up catching just four passes for 40 yards. He's got upside against the Chargers in Week 3, but he also could have just four or five targets. If you need the upside, he's worth playing, but if you're looking for consistency you might want to look elsewhere.
Buffalo Bills TE Tyler Kroft (ankle, foot) did not participate in practice Friday, Sept. 20, and has been ruled out for Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Kroft was making progress from his foot injury but is now dealing with an ankle injury. Dawson Knox and Tommy Sweeney will continue to receive playing time at tight end, but neither player has fantasy value.
Updating a previous report, Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (calf) did not participate in practice Friday, Sept. 20, and is listed as questionable for Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Jeffery missed most of practice this week and likely will be a game-time decision for Week 3. The Eagles may consider resting him since they play on Thursday Night Football next week, so fantasy players may want to look for more reliable options for their lineups.
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins spent Week 2 having to go against one of the NFL's top corners, Jalen Ramsey. He caught five passes for 40 yards. He has another tough matchup in Week 3 against a good Chargers secondary, but Hopkins' target share and skill make him a must-start. Maybe he's more like a top-10 receiver than a top-five receiver this week, but there's zero scenarios where you should consider sitting Hopkins. Consider him a solid WR1 who could have a few things go wrong and end up as a WR2.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (foot), DE/LB Bruce Irvin (hamstring), S Rashaan Gaulden (groin) and OG Brandon Greene (neck) did not practice all week and have been ruled out for Week 3 versus the Atlanta Falcons. DT Kawann Short (shoulder) also did not practice all week but is listed as questionable. TE Greg Olsen (back) fully participated in practice for a second straight day Friday, Sept. 20, and is also listed as questionable.
Buffalo Bills WR John Brown (non-injury) fully participated in practice Friday, Sept. 20, and is not on the injury report for Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Brown has caught 14 of his 18 targets this season and has been the main option in the passing game so far. He has become a weekly starting option in fantasy leagues as a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver.