Each week of the NFL campaign we will sift through the deeper options at each position with an eye on identifying streaming fantasy commodities with valuable matchups to consider.
Do you need replacement options for injured or suspended players? Or are you merely dealing with depth issues heading into the season? We have some choice names to consider for those seeking widely available options at each position.
It’s easy to dismiss Jay Cutler from fantasy relevance, but doing so would be foolhardy. In 2015, Cutler posted his highest QB rating of his career (92.3) running Adam Gase’s offense. He competed that season with limited resources at wide receiver as Alshon Jeffery played just nine games. Marquess Wilson was second among wide receivers on the Chicago Bears that season with just 467 receiving yards. With Gase now the Miami Dolphins’ head coach and Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker at wide receiver, Cutler is poised to have a solid season.
This week, Cutler will face the hapless New York Jets who have allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw for five touchdowns during the first two weeks. The reason is simple: the Jets haven’t been able to apply pressure. In 61 opponent drop-backs, the Jets have just two sacks, both coming during their week one loss to the Bills. Teams don’t need much time to pass against the Jets either as 47 of the 56 pass attempts against them have been no further than 10 yards downfield. This is ideal for a big game for Cutler, and by extension Landry. -K.D.
We’ve witnessed the wide spectrum of potential outcomes for this raw rookie, as he flashed real promise with two touchdowns in his debut and yet four turnovers in a trip to Baltimore last Sunday. The Browns aren’t afraid to let Kizer drive the ball downfield, as his average of 10.3 air yards per attempt ranks fourth highest in the NFL this season. The Colts, meanwhile, are ceding the third-most yards per attempt to enemy arms and claim the worst pressure rate (just 21.6 percent of opposing dropbacks) in the league. To me, this suggests a young boom-or-bust vertical passer could be afforded extra time to operate against a patchwork pass defense. For those in multi-quarterback formats or seeking a sneaky streamer in deep leagues, Kizer is an intriguing spot-starter to consider. -J.M.
If you are expecting Chris Carson to consistently post starting-caliber fantasy stats at the running back position, you haven’t been watching how poorly the Seattle Seahawks offensive line has been. Carson will likely continue to see the lion’s share of carries — at least until Thomas Rawls demonstrates he can stay healthy and contribute too. Regardless, for this week, it’s perfectly safe to use Carson. -K.D.
Through two games, the Tennessee Titans have allowed 41 fantasy points to opposing running backs. The attractive part of the points allowed is they were primarily achieved through yardage and reception totals as they have only allowed one scrimmage touchdown to opposing backs. As Carson will be the primary runner and will receive a portion of the running back targets, the likelihood for a 15-point game is significant.
Afforded 22 touches in place of an ailing Rob Kelley last week, Perine is a potential waiver warrior given he’s available in well over 90 percent of ESPN leagues and yet could consume the valuable majority of early-down work for the Redskins this week. You might not know how to properly pronounce his name, but don’t let that stop you from considering Perine against an Oakland front that has yielded the ninth-most yards to tailbacks since the second half of last season. -J.M.
After drawing just two targets during the Carolina Panthers’ week one win, Devin Funchess saw six targets in Week 2. The rise in targets is almost definitely attributable to Greg Olsen leaving the game early in the first quarter with a foot injury as all of Funchess’ targets subsequent to the injury. The best part of those targets is the depth at which they were thrown as five of those six targets came at least 13 yards down the field.
The depth of those targets is sweet, but this week’s opponent is sweeter. The New Orleans Saints‘ passing defense can only be described as nonexistent. After finishing dead last in the league last year by allowing 274 passing yards per game, they’ve actually found a way to make that seem respectable as they’ve allowed a whopping 389 passing yards per game this year. -K.D.
Rashard Higgins, Cleveland Browns
Speaking of streaming against the Colts’ suspect defense, Higgins is a fun pairing with Kizer in deeper leagues given the instant rapport the two enjoyed in Week 2. Corey Coleman is headed to injured reserve, meaning a batch of meaningful targets are up for grabs in Cleveland. Higgins was targeted on a whopping 28.6 percent of his team-leading 35 routes in Week 2, evidence he might be the key beneficiary of Coleman’s absence over the next several weeks. -J.M.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, New York Jets
I’ll be 100 percent honest; I really wanted to recommend Zach Miller for a third consecutive week in a row, but wanted to provide another option for those who already know why I think Miller is severely undervalued. By all accounts, Austin Seferian-Jenkins looked finally ready to live up to his past hype during training camp for the Jets. He missed the first two games of the season because of league-imposed suspension, but enters this game as an outlet that Josh McCown hasn’t had during the Jets’ first two games. -K.D.
In drawing the Miami Dolphins in Week 3, Seferian-Jenkins gets an ideal matchup as the San Diego Chargers’ tight end duo of Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry established that the position can attack vulnerabilities in the Dolphins’ defense to the tune of a combined 26 fantasy points. Look for Seferian-Jenkins to be targeted at least five times, which should result in a solid fantasy output.
I’m intrigued by the potential Griffin has as a target hog as the current top tight end on a team that led the AFC in targets to the position in 2016. With game script likely to trend pass-heavy as sizable road dogs, Griffin could earn a good portion of Deshaun Watson‘s attention in New England on Sunday. -J.M.
If you exclude a meaningless Week 17 game, since Week 3 of last year the only defenses not to score at least six points against the New York Jets are the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns. During that span of 15 games, teams have averaged 12 fantasy points and scored at least 10 fantasy points in two-thirds of those games. It just doesn’t get more obvious than this … grab the Dolphins off the waiver wire immediately. -K.D.
Tampa Bay Bucs
Sticking with another Florida defensive force, the Bucs could possibly face Case Keenum and a deliberately conservative Minnesota offense on Sunday. The Bucs have ceded the second-lowest touchdown (per drive) rate to passers since the second half of last season along with the highest interception rate in the league over this sample. -J.M.
Individual defensive players
Some confusion over his role in the preseason saw Jack enter the year as a value pick in the later rounds of IDP drafts. Now that rewarding clarity has revealed a nearly every-down role for Jack, he’s racking up tackles and claims rare big-play upside for an emergent young defense. -J.M.
Playing safety in Orchard Park has proven rewarding for fantasy purposes, as Poyer is yet another example of a player thriving statistically at the back-end of Buffalo’s defense. While we don’t expect him to tally a sack every week, usage as a blitzer and in the box supports a high fantasy ceiling for Poyer. Facing Denver’s effective passing attack, Poyer could prove busy this week. -J.M.
Finally available to start the season after years of suspension-laden campaigns, Lawrence is shining as the Cowboys’ key pressure producer. On the field to set the edge against the run, Lawrence now has added value in the tackle department. The Cardinals’ vertical passing game could expose Carson Palmer to added pressure, meaning Lawrence is creeping into the DL2 tier for Week 3. -J.M.