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
The Philadelphia Eagles Defense will look to bounce back after a rough Week 2 performance in their Week 3 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Eagles defense allowed the Rams to score 37 points last week, with Rams quarterback Jared Goff looking comfortable all game. The Eagles only recorded one sack. Going up against the Bengals this week, who have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, the Eagles should theoretically play well, but they've been too inconsistent even through just two weeks to trust as a high-end defense. They're somewhere in the 12-15 range of fantasy defenses in Week 3.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (hamstring) will be questionable heading into Week 3, but his injury may not be as serious as many thought last Sunday. Adams is the unquestioned No. 1 receiver on the team and was held out of the second half of the Packers 42-21 win over the Lions with the injury. But head coach Matt LaFleur downplayed the severity, telling reporters: "I know he wanted to go back in the game. I just told him, 'Hey, let's see how these next few series go and see if we need you.' ... If we don't need him, we didn't want to put him back in a position to do further harm to his own body." So the fact that the coaching staff was considering clearing him to return to play during the game should give fantasy managers a sigh of relief. Adams' status will need to be monitored all the way through the week, perhaps up to game time against the Saints.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is off to a hot start and will have a prime chance to keep it going in Week 3 against the Saints. Through two games, Rodgers already has six touchdowns, zero interceptions and 604 yards. The future Hall of Famer will go up against a Saints Defense that has already allowed five touchdowns and an average of 260.5 passing yards to Tom Brady and Derek Carr. No offense to Brady, but Rodgers is still a different breed of quarterback at the respective stages of their careers. Rodgers' fantasy value could be affected by the availability of star receiver Davante Adams (hamstring) but the veteran passer should be considered a QB1 for Week 3.
The Philadelphia Eagles are saying that rookie wide receiver Jalen Reagor (thumb) is dealing with a UCL tear in his thumb. The first-round pick left the game in the Week 2 loss to the Rams but returned and played through the injury. With Reagor expected to miss a few weeks, the Eagles are expected to place him on the Injured Reserve, which means he'd have to miss at least three games. The talented 21-year-old out of TCU had five catches on eight targets for 96 yards through the first two weeks, and his role was growing before the injury. DeSean Jackson will continue to function as the team's No. 1 wideout, with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward and John Hightower battling for playing time after that. Reagor has the talent to make it worth stashing him in deeper leagues, and fantasy managers in dynasty/keeper leagues should definitely be holding him.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert remains a TE1 option in fantasy lineups despite a struggling offense and the presence of Zach Ertz. Goedert was excellent in Week 1 before taking a step back in Week 2, but he was actually on the field more in Week 2. In Week 1, Goedert saw 79% of the team's offensive snaps, which went up to 89% in Week 2. The Eagles offense seems like it is going to be run through the running backs and tight ends, so there will be plenty of targets to go around for both tight ends. Ertz is the preferred play by a slight margin, but Goedert is still a solid, high-upside TE1 option.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott is a mid-range kicking option for a Week 3 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals. Elliott has made three of his four field goal tries and all of his extra points so far this year. With the Eagles offense sure (maybe?) to get better this season, Elliott could improve in the rankings, but for now he's somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has been phased out of the offense and doesn't play on special teams at this point either. Despite a decent bit of hype around the second-year wide out before the season, Arcega-Whiteside has yet to catch a football in 2020. He was on the field for 41% of the offensive snaps in Week 1 and only 23% in Week 2. He shouldn't be anywhere near a fantasy roster at this point in his career.
Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert is expected to make his second straight start in Week 3 against the Panthers with Tyrod Taylor (lung) dealing with a punctured lung. Herbert had a costly interception late in Week 2, but he held his own and looked impressive on short notice against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs in an overtime loss. If the first-rounder puts on another solid performance in just his second NFL start, he could supplant Taylor as the Bolts starter under center, even though head coach Anthony Lynn said that Taylor is the starter when he's 100 percent healthy. Herbert has a great matchup this weekend, but he's still more of a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is still a top-tier fantasy tight end option despite the emergence of Dallas Goedert in Week 1. Ertz was on the field for 85% of the offensive snaps in Week 1 and followed that up with a 94% clip in Week 2. The Eagles will run most of their offense through their two tight ends along with running back Miles Sanders. Ertz and Goedert are both TE1 options, with a slight preference going to Ertz if choosing between the two.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Greg Ward is not a viable starting option in any standard format of fantasy football in Week 3. Ward saw only one target in Week 2, catching it for a five yard gain. He was slightly more involved in Week 1, but still wasn't able to do much, catching five passes for 31 unexciting yards. With the Eagles offense struggling as a whole, the third wide receiver on a team that often plays with two tight ends on the field is not much of a fantasy asset. Ward can be left on the waiver wire in shallower formats.
Cleveland Browns right tackle Jack Conklin (ankle) is over his ankle injury and is "ready to go" according to head coach Kevin Stefanski. Conklin appeared in the team's Week 1 loss to the Baltimore Ravens but sat out last Thursday night in a Week 2 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. When asked, he said, "Ankles feeling great. Ill be back to 100% this week, rolling.'' Conklin's return is a big boost for the Browns as they get ready to contend with a Washington Football Team that employs a nasty defensive line, anchored by No. 2 overall pick Chase Young. Young is tied for the league lead with 2.5 sacks through two games. Conklin's return will also help the Cleveland running game, most specifically Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt as they try to improve to 2-1 on the season.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver Jalen Reagor has seen his involvement increase in each of the first two weeks of the season. A good matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals Defense in Week 3 makes for a strong on-paper chance for him to continue moving up in terms of target share. Still, it's hard to trust Reagor as more than a WR4, especially given the fact that the Eagles offense has not looked functional at all through the first two weeks.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has some nice Week 3 upside despite the mess that has been the Eagles offense over the first two weeks of the season. Jackson hasn't done much so far this season, but the Cincinnati Bengals Defense doesn't really have anyone who can keep up with Jackson's speed. If there were ever a game for Jackson to blow up and get the Eagles passing game back on track, it's this one. All that being said, the Eagles offense was bad enough that the pre-recorded crowd noise booed them at one point in Week 2. Jackson is a solid WR3/FLEX play with upside this week.
Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) suffered a hamstring injury during the Week 2 game and will be sidelined for multiple weeks.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said that wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) further strained his hamstring in Week 2 against the Cowboys, and the team will take his injury "through the week," leading up to the game on Sunday against the Bears. So there's a real chance that the All-Pro receiver won't play this weekend, so you'll need to have a backup plan just in case. Jones had nine catches for 157 yards in the season-opener, but he caught only two passes for 24 yards despite the Falcons putting up 39 points last week. He's a must-start WR1 anytime he's on the field, but things might finally start to catch up with the 31-year-old while he seems to constantly be playing through injuries. If he sits out or is limited at all, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage would benefit from added targets.
The Carolina Panthers placed running back Christian McCaffrey (ankle) on Injured Reserve on Wednesday with his high ankle sprain. The move will keep McCaffrey out for at least three weeks. The team placed a four- to six-week timeline on his return on Tuesday. Carolina wants to make sure that their star running back doesn't try to return too soon from his injury and aggravate it. Mike Davis is in line for lead-back duties in McCaffrey's absence, and he has become one of the top waiver-wire pickups heading into Week 3. Wide receiver Curtis Samuel could also see some snaps out of the backfield to help pick up the slack, beginning in Week 3 against the Chargers.
New York Jets WR Breshad Perriman (ankle) may not be able to play in either of the next two games, according to head coach Adam Gase.
Fantasy Spin: The Jets have multiple injuries at the wide receiver position, so Chris Hogan and Braxton Berrios may be the starters for Week 3. The team will be facing a solid Indianapolis Colts defense this week, but Hogan can be a possible flex option in deeper leagues.
New York Jets WR Jamison Crowder (hamstring) has not run since suffering a hamstring injury last week, and his status for Week 3 is uncertain.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players should check on Crowder's status later in the week to see if he has a chance to play. Braxton Berrios would be the slot receiver for the Jets if Crowder is unable to play but probably should only be a possible flex option in deeper point-per-reception leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott has an excellent matchup against a struggling Cincinnati Bengals run defense in Week 3, but is still not a recommended fantasy starter in most formats. Scott ran clearly behind starter Miles Sanders in Week 2, even though Sanders was just coming off a hamstring injury that kept him out of Week 1. Scott is still worth rostering because he'd clearly take over if Sanders went down, but his standalone value is not significant with Sanders on the field.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Corey Clement is not a Week 3 fantasy option in almost any formats. Clement got some unexpected action in Week 1 with Miles Sanders (hamstring) out and Boston Scott (undisclosed) missing time. With both running backs now healthy, Clement is likely to be on the field only as a member of special teams. Clement does not need to be rostered in standard 12-team leagues.