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.
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said that he expects cornerback Jalen Ramsey to play on Thursday night against the Titans. Ramsey's agent requested a trade on Monday night, and multiple teams are believed to have already made offers for the shutdown cornerback. Against a sluggish offense with a quarterback that very rarely beats defenses through the air, Jacksonville's defense/special teams is a low-end starting unit in Week 3. Ramsey is likely to cover Titans receiver Corey Davis throughout the game, making him a wideout to fade in DFS and season-long leagues.
New York Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian (ankle) will miss the rest of the season after an MRI exam on Tuesday on his left ankle revealed ligament damage that will require surgery, according to head coach Adam Gase. Siemian, starting in place of the sick Sam Darnold on Monday night against the Browns, was injured early in the second quarter when Myles Garrett fell on top of him with most of his weight. He was on crutches and in a walking boot after the game and will be placed on season-ending Injured Reserve. Third-stringer Luke Falk will start for however long Darnold is out. He'll be a bottom-barrel QB2 in Week 3 on the road against the Patriots.
New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) is listed as week-to-week after suffering a new injury in his Jets debut on Monday night against the Browns. Thomas caught only one pass before his injury on Monday for negative yards. It sounds like he won't be active in Week 3 against the Patriots, and he's not an attractive fantasy option with third-string quarterback Luke Falk now under center for the foreseeable future. When healthy, Thomas is the third receiver, at best, behind Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder. No player other than running back Le'Veon Bell has much upside in this offense until Sam Darnold (illness) returns.
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said that quarterback Marcus Mariota (quadriceps) will practice in full on Tuesday. On a short week going up a very respectable defense, Mariota is a last-gasp QB2 in two-QB leagues on Thursday night. Tennessee's offense remains a slow-paced, run-first unit and Mariota just is way too inconsistent with the passing work that he does get. He's attempted less than 30 passes in each of the first two games of the season.
NBC Sports Bay Areas Brian Witt believes the San Francisco 49ers should do whatever it takes to pursue Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The Pro Bowl corner requested a trade on Monday and the Niners could be a great fit. With veteran cornerback Richard Sherman locking down one side, the addition of Ramsey would be a significant upgrade to the inconsistent Akhello Witherspoon or oft-injured Jason Verrett. The Jaguars are asking for at least a first-round pick and the Niners are already without their 2020 second-round selection, but Ramsey is just 24 and a proven NFL asset. With Ramsey and the emergence of rookie defensive end Nick Bosa, the 49ers would instantly vault into a fantasy-caliber defense. Even with defensive end Dee Ford (quad) banged up, the Niners may be a worthy streamer at home in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with or without Ramsey.
San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley (leg) suffered a broken left fibula in Week 2. Hes expected to miss six to eight weeks. The 35-year-old Staley is a lynchpin for the Niners strong offensive line and his absence could impair the teams running game, which annihilated the Cincinnati Bengals for 259 rushing yards last Sunday. Sixth-round rookie Justin Skule is expected to receive the start at left tackle in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. While Staleys injury impact may be far-reaching, running backs Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert still make for appealing RB2 and RB3/flex plays, respectively.
The New York Giants claimed rookie tight end Kaden Smith on Monday. Smith was waived by the San Francisco 49ers over the weekend to make room for running back Jeffery Wilson on the 53-man squad. The 2019 sixth-round pick was buried on the depth chart behind George Kittle, Ross Dwelley and Levine Toilolo in San Francisco and could immediately benefit on the talent-barren G-Men. The lost draft equity is costly for the Niners, but Smith was thoroughly outplayed during the preseason. Drafted out of Stanford, the catch-first tight end likely has significant strides to make before hes fantasy-relevant.
Updating previous reports, New York Jets QB Trevor Siemian (ankle) is out for the season.
Fantasy Spin: No surprise here, and Luke Falk becomes the de facto starter unless they make a trade. Avoid the situation entirely in fantasy.
After giving up a combined 102 points in their first two games, the Miami Dolphins Defense may now somehow be even worse in Week 3 when they travel to take on the Dallas Cowboys. The Fins achieved this level of pessimism by trading defensive back (and 2018 first-round selection) Minkah Fitzpatrick to Pittsburgh on Tuesday for a package of draft picks highlighted by the Steelers first-round pick in 2020. By trading the only Fitzpatrick on the roster whose talent could possibly get in the way of their tanking, Miami virtually assured that every opponent they play this season will have a chance to light up the scoreboard. While the Miami defense shouldn't have been on anyone's radar in the first place, the trade of Fitzpatrick is still notable from a fantasy perspective as owners will no longer have to worry about their top receivers being shut down by the former Alabama standout. With a matchup against the high-powered offense of Dallas on the horizon, expect any Cowboy with a pulse to have a green light.
Dallas Cowboys free safety Xavier Woods (ankle) is expected to miss four to six weeks with a high ankle sprain, according to a source. Woods is a key piece of Dallas' secondary, so this is a notable loss moving forward, although it's not likely to matter much in Week 3 with a putrid Dolphins offense coming to town. The Cowboys Defense/special teams is a must-start this Sunday and are an easy top-three fantasy option.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton's (foot) Week 3 status against the Cardinals is up in the air after he aggravated a foot injury that he initially suffered in the preseason. Newton is rehabbing during practice on Tuesday. Cam hasn't looked good through two weeks, and perhaps his foot is the main reason why. He's run the ball five times in two games for a total of negative-two yards. His fantasy owners were really hoping he could bounce back this Sunday in a great matchup against the Cardinals, but it's looking like he might be extremely questionable. You better make plans now in case he's inactive. Either Kyle Allen or rookie Will Grier would start if Newton can't play, and the Panthers would likely feed the ball to running back Christian McCaffrey all day.
The good news is that Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant led the team in targets in a 43-0 loss to the Patriots on Sunday, with seven. The bad news is that he only caught three of those targets, finishing with just 22 yards. The worst news is that with the Dolphins down 37-0 in the fourth quarter, Grant missed his only opportunity for fantasy relevance, dropping a long pass from Josh Rosen that likely would've resulted in a 45-yard touchdown. But even if he had caught the pass, it still wouldn't change the fact that there are few reasons to roster Grant in Week 3 as the Dolphins pack it up and go on the road for the first time in 2019, traveling to Dallas to take on the 2-0 Cowboys.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams caught four of his six targets in Miami's 43-0 blowout loss to the Patriots on Sunday, ending with a total of 63 yards. While 48 of those yards came after the game was already out of hand in the second half, Williams was still Miami's most productive player on offense - even though that isn't exactly a difficult achievement. But even though he was Miami's best player on Sunday, it doesn't mean that he should find a home anywhere but in the deepest of fantasy leagues. With quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and his lack of magic leading a minor-league band of misfits into Dallas for a Week 3 matchup, leave Williams on the wire where he belongs.
New England Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn (toe) is considered week-to-week with turf toe, according to a source. His injury is not season-ending, however. With right tackle Marcus Cannon also injured, New England's offensive line has become a question mark moving forward. It's an upgrade to the Jets defensive line in Week 3, but fantasy owners won't be benching quarterback Tom Brady anytime soon. Marshall Newhouse is expected to take over at left tackle for however long Wynn is out.
Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy's (ankle) MRI exam showed no significant damage to his ankle and he has a shot to play in Week 3 against the Ravens, according to sources. Damien Williams was also injured in Week 2, so McCoy's fantasy value will depend on if Williams can play as well. As of now in a tough matchup with Baltimore, Shady will be more of an RB3/flex play. If Williams is inactive, undrafted rookie Darwin Thompson should see more work on passing downs, making him flex-worthy in deep PPR formats.
That inevitable moment has finally arrived. Head coach Pat Shurmur has named Daniel Jones the starting quarterback for the New York Giants. While many Giants fans will rightfully be excited by the move, it's important to temper expectations early on. Jones is going to be throwing to one of the league's worst collection of wide receivers on a team that will still allow running backSaquon Barkley to dominate the offensive game plan. Jones looked good in the preseason and can be fired up as a QB2 in certain matchups, but this doesn't lead to a notable bump for any of the Giants skill position players, as Barkley and tight endEvan Engram were always going to be top-five options at their positions. Assuming Eli Manning has started his last game for the Giants, he will finish with a fitting record of 116-116.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (foot) could be at risk of missing Week 3 after he aggravated his foot injury over the weekend. He's out of practice Tuesday, Sept. 17, and rehabbing.
Fantasy Spin: Newton hasn't shown enough to start in fantasy whether he plays or not. Kyle Allen would not be worth the spot start should Newton miss the game.
Free-agent QB Jeff Driskel (Bengals) signed an undisclosed deal with the Detroit Lions Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Free-agent QB Paxton Lynch (Seahawks) is visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers Tuesday, Sept. 17.