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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 3
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has a great matchup on paper in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Eagles offense has been such a mess this season that it's hard to trust him as anything more than a mid-range QB2. Wentz will have more upside than most other quarterbacks in that range, but fantasy managers in standard 12-team formats may find safer starting bets on the waiver wire this week. It stands to reason that the Eagles offense won't be this bad all year, but it's hard to predict when things will come together for them. They've struggled to the point that the artificial crowd noise actually booed Wentz in Week 2.
It's unlikely that Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor (lung) will be 100 percent healthy for the Week 3 game against the Panthers. Taylor experienced chest pain from a pregame injection for his ribs before the Week 2 game against the Chiefs and was taken to the hospital, paving the way for rookie Justin Herbert to make his first NFL appearance in the overtime loss to Kansas City. Herbert could make his second start this Sunday after looking strong in Week 2. Doctors have advised Taylor not to play "indefinitely" after he suffered a punctured lung from his pain-killing injection. If Herbert plays well again this weekend against a shaky Carolina defense, he could take over the starting gig moving forward. Consider the rookie from Oregon a low-end QB2 option in superflex leagues if he gets another start.
The New York Giants placed wide receiver Sterling Shepard (toe) on Injured Reserve on Wednesday. Shepard will miss at least the next three weeks with his turf-toe injury. It was a rough Week 2 for the G-Men, as they lost Shepard for at least three weeks and star running back Saquon Barkley (knee) for the rest of the year. Darius Slayton, Golden Tate and tight end Evan Engram will be quarterback Daniel Jones' top three receiving targets until Shepard is healthy enough to return. Damion Ratley and CJ Board will compete for No. 3 receiver duties, but they can be ignored for fantasy purposes. Jones seems to like targeting Slayton, so he should be the preferred flex play over Tate.
New York Giants running back Devonta Freeman, who signed a one-year deal worth up to $3 million on Tuesday, will officially sign his contract Wednesday morning and then practice with the team, and he could play as soon as this Sunday against the 49ers. Freeman reportedly turned down more money elsewhere because he like the opportunity with the Giants the most. He'll try to help replace Saquon Barkley (knee), who was lost for the year in Week 2. The 28-year-old should be a high waiver priority this week for those that lost Barkley or another running back last week, but he may be slow to get going as he learns this offense. The matchup against the Niners isn't the greatest, either. Expect to see more of Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman this week.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller, who had 12 catches on a whopping 16 targets for 103 yards and a touchdown in the Monday night win over the Saints, had at least one reception from all four skill-position alignments. The breakdown was as follows: Fourteen routes at tight end (six catches, 44 yards and a TD), 12 routes from the slot (four catches, 37 yards), two routes as a wideout (one catch, 13 yards) and one route out of the backfield (one catch, nine yards). More than 52 percent of his 1,145 receiving yards in 2019 came after the catch, too. Only George Kittle had more yards after the catch. Waller has 586 receiving yards since Week 13 of last year. He's the real deal and is a must-start, high-end TE1 in fantasy. "It's been a long time since we've seen a guy like this," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "He's definitely more than a receiver playing tight end." The Pats will look to contain Waller in Week 3.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said he's "not really" surprised that tight end Rob Gronkowski has just four targets in the first two games of the season. His lone target in the Week 2 win over the Panthers was intercepted. "We're not throwing the ball 50 times to the tight ends. That's what we have receivers for, that's the way our offense is built. Gronk's playing great run blocking in the fourth quarter, so I'm not concerned with his pass catches or his targets," Arians said. The 31-year-old is competing with a lot of aerial playmakers in Tampa, so he won't see close to the target share he saw in his prime with Tom Brady in New England. And as long as Gronk continues to block well, he may only get a handful of looks per game. He's become a low-end TE2 that's droppable in shallow leagues.
Free-agent DBs Blake Countess (Jets), Mark McLaurin (Giants), Obi Melifonwu (Patriots), Tyvis Powell (Broncos) and Abraham Wallace (Bills) tried out for the Indianapolis Colts Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Updating a previous story, free-agent RB Devonta Freeman (Falcons) officially agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million with the New York Giants Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Fantasy Spin: It may take Freeman a couple weeks to get fully up to speed but he should eventually control the bulk of the touches out of the Giants' backfield. His dual-threat abilities should allow him to be a FLEX option most weeks.
Tennessee Titans LB Daren Bates, WR Cameron Batson, PK Tucker McCann and QB Trevor Siemian were designated as protected practice squad players Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Deon Cain, LB Jayrone Elliott, DE Henry Mondeaux and RB Wendell Smallwood were named as the team's protected practice squad players for Week 3 Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Kansas City Chiefs DB Chris Lammons and RB DeAndre Washington were named as protected practice squad players Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Cleveland Browns QB Garrett Gilbert, RB Dontrell Hilliard, PK Matthew McCrane and OT Greg Senat were placed on the team's Week 3 protection list Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Dallas Cowboys DB Deante Burton, DE Ron'Dell Carter, DB Rashard Robinson and OT Eric Smith were named to the Week 3 protection list Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Houston Texans C Greg Mancz, DB Jonathan Owens, RB C.J. Prosise and WR Devin Smith were named to the Week 3 protection list Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Atlanta Falcons QB Kurt Benkert, P Cameron Nizialek, LB Edmond Robinson and WR Chris Rowland were named the team's protected practice squad players Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Cincinnati Bengals DE Freedom Akinmoladun, QB Brandon Allen, WR Stanley Morgan and G Keaton Sutherland were named as the team's protected practice squad players Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Pittsburgh Steelers NT Daniel McCullers terminated his practice squad contract Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Free-agent DE Muhammad Wilkerson (Packers) had his suspension lifted by commissioner Roger Goodell Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Free-agent RBs Paul Perkins (Ravens), Karan Higdon (Texans) and Austin Walter (Giants) are among the running backs trying out for the San Francisco 49ers.
Arizona Cardinals DE Jonathan Bullard, DE Michael Dogbe, RB Jonathan Ward and DB Jace Whittaker were protected from selection off the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 22.