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.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram has rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns through the first two weeks of the season. 104 of those yards and both touchdowns came in Week 1 against the Dolphins. Although his production in Week 2 was hampered, fantasy owners can expect to see him bounce back in a Week 3 matchup against the Chiefs that has the highest over/under total in the league. The Chiefs Defense has yet to let a running back in the end zone, but Ingram should see goal-line work in this balanced Ravens offense. Start him as a quality RB2 for Week 3.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson goes into Week 3 having thrown for 596 yards and seven touchdowns. The Ravens play in Kansas City Sunday in what will most likely be a high scoring shoot-out. The Chiefs Defense stands in the middle of the league in passing yards allowed (525) and has given up 36 points through the first two weeks of the season. Jackson is on a serious breakout path and you can expect him to put up good numbers for your fantasy team Sunday. Start him with confidence as he is a solid QB1 in Week 3.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown has had communication 'with a few teams that are interested,' according to agent Drew Rosenhaus Saturday, Sept. 21. Rosenhaus adds those teams 'want information regarding his legal situation and the NFL investigation.' A deal isn't likely to happen until the league's investigation is resolved, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
New England Patriots S Nate Ebner (groin) was added to the injury report Saturday, Sept. 21, and is considered questionable for Sunday.
Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson won't be traded, according to general manager Steve Keim Friday, Sept. 20. 'We're not trading Pat and that's something we've been very consistent with, from (team President) Michael (Bidwill) to myself to coach (Kliff Kingsbury),' Keim said. 'When you look at the kind of player Pat is, and I think arguably the best corner in the National Football League, all you have to do is say, 'Does this make your team better or worse?' And I think to lose someone like Pat Peterson would make us worse.' Peterson remains under contract with the Cardinals through the end of next season when he'll carry a $13.2 million cap hit.
Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (concussion) could be 'weeks' away from a return to the field, according to a source Saturday, Sept. 21. Reed hasn't played yet this season and has already been ruled out for Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears.
Fantasy Spin: Reed is free to drop in all formats with fantasy managers best off streaming the position based on weekly matchups.
Detroit Lions DE Da'Shawn Hand (elbow) was ruled out for Week 3 Saturday, Sept. 21. Hand had been considered questionable.
Detroit Lions WR Marvin Hall was added to the active roster from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 21. WR Chris Lacy was released from the active roster and DE Jonathan Wynn was signed to the practice squad.
Washington Redskins DL Jonathan Allen (knee), CB Fabian Moreau (ankle), OT Morgan Moses (knee), S Montae Nicholson (foot) and WR Robert Davis (knee) were all full participants in practice Saturday, Sept. 21. CB Quinton Dunbar (knee), QB Colt McCoy (fibula) and LB Cassanova McKinzy (hip) didn't participate. Allen and Dunbar are considered questionable for Monday against the Chicago Bears. McCoy and McKinzy have been ruled out.
Seattle Seahawks DE Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) will make his season debut Sunday, Sept. 22, against the New Orleans Saints. 'Ziggy's ready to play,' Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Friday, Sept. 20. 'Ready to play football. We're excited to see that. It has been a really good process to get him to this where he's in good shape too. He's worked hard and long, so he's in better shape than sometimes when a guy is just coming back. We'll be able to get him a bunch of plays here in this game, and we're looking forward to his participation with us.'
Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (concussion) was ruled out for Week 3 Saturday, Sept. 21. He'll miss Washington's game against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.
Fantasy Spin: Backup Vernon Davis has seven catches for 88 yards and a touchdown through two games in place of Reed this season. Fantasy managers should be moving on from Reed at this point with Davis just one of the viable replacements available on the waiver wire.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has seen his production capped by Kirk Cousins' rough start, though he secured 5-of-8 targets for 75 yards in Week 2. He has a golden opportunity to break out in Week 3's tilt as the Vikings will face the Raiders and their tissue-soft secondary at home. Thielen lines up everywhere, but he should see Daryl Worley (4.64 40-yard dash) the most in coverage on Sunday. Advantage - Adam Thielen. The Vikings are big favorites (-8.5), which will likely lead to featuring Dalvin Cook and the rushing attack. However, Thielen should still be started as a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 as his 26% target share leads the team and he should be able to torch the Raiders even on limited opportunities. He's also a sneaky tournament play in daily formats as he could go under-owned and has a high ceiling.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs is coming off a Week 2 performance where he caught just 1-of-7 targets, but the catch resulted in a 49-yard touchdown that saved his fantasy day. He had another touchdown called back in the contest. Diggs has been a victim of Cousins' erratic play and low passing volume, but his Week 3 matchup against the Oakland Raiders is enticing. He'll square off against Gareon Conley and the rest of the Oakland defensive backfield, a group that has gotten absolutely ripped by receivers this season. They've allowed a combined 104.9 PPR points to wide receivers through Week 2 (vs. DEN, vs. KC). Start Diggs as a mid-range WR2 in this beatable matchup. His high target share in this offense gives him a decent floor and a high ceiling, which also puts him in play for daily tournaments as a reduced-ownership play.
Chicago Bears DT Bilal Nichols (hand) did not participate in practice Saturday, Sept. 21 and has been ruled out for the team's Week 3 game Monday, Sept. 23. OG Kyle Long (hip) also did not practice Saturday and is listed as questionable. TE Trey Burton (groin), S Eddie Jackson (shoulder) and PK Eddy Pineiro (knee) were limited as are listed as questionable. DT Eddie Goldman (oblique) fully participated in practice and was removed from the Week 3 injury report.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) attracted interest from the Seattle Seahawks after his release from the Oakland Raiders, but that no longer appears to be the case after he was released Friday, Sept. 20, by the New England Patriots. 'We're pretty well set (at wide receiver) right now,' Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said when asked about Brown at a Friday news conference. 'We kind of know where we're going with that.'
Fantasy Spin: With the issues surrounding Brown morphing from bizarre to decidedly more serious, don't expect to see him in the league for the rest of the season.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is leading the league in rushing through two weeks, carrying 41 times for 265 yards (6.5 YPC) and three touchdowns. His 20.5 attempts/game only trails Marlon Mack, and his three runs of 20 or more yards also lead the NFL. Minnesota has run the highest percentage of run plays in the NFL and that is unlikely to change this week as they are 8.5-point favorites at home. The Oakland Raiders have only allowed 98 rushing yards (vs. DEN) and 31 rushing yards (vs. KC) through Week 2, but they haven't faced a running back like Dalvin Cook and the likelihood of seeing 20+ touches yet again pushes him way up the rankings. Consider "Chef" Dalvin a top-tier RB1 in this delicious matchup at home.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had a huge game versus the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. He caught all six of his targets for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Robinson was one of the most popular pickups throughout the week, but fantasy owners should get ready for disappointment. Robinson will once again be involved in the offense, but Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman will see targets as well. It was rare that Robinson caught all of his targets, and one of them being a 44 yard touchdown due to blown coverage. The Baltimore Ravens secondary isn't much better, but fantasy owners shouldn't expect the same result twice. Robinson is someone to be looked at as a shaky WR2 or a reliable WR3 for Week 3.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce came to play in the Week 2 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Kelce caught seven of his nine targets for 107 yards and one touchdown. The Chiefs offense doesn't seem to ever slow down and that should be the case again in Week 3. The Baltimore Ravens Defense is coming off a game where they gave up 349 passing yards to rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. Earl Thomas should be able to slow down Kelce somewhat, but fantasy owners should expect a TE1 type of performance from him once again.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman was able to make some noise for the team in the victory over the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. Hardman caught four passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in that contest. Tyreek Hill (shoulder) remains sidelined, so Hardman will continue to have decent fantasy value. Demarcus Robinson outplayed Hardman last week, but who knows if that will happen again. The Baltimore Ravens secondary is shaky, so the Chiefs should have no issues on offense. Hardman has WR2 upside, but at worst he's a solid WR3 for Week 3 against Baltimore.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins saw a team-high 13 targets in the victory over the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. However, Watkins hauled in just six of those balls for 49 yards and didn't find the end zone. It was a disappointing game for fantasy owners as Watkins was expected to be much better with Tyreek Hill (shoulder) sidelined. Watkins will get a chance to rebound here against a Baltimore Ravens Defense in Week 3. The same defense that just got carved up by rookie quarterback Kyler Murray last week for 349 passing yards. Fantasy owners can hope that Watkins will fulfill his WR1 potential in Week 3.