ITB Fantasy Football Corner: Justin Jackson Emerging For Bolts
Although Week 8 has come and gone, several takeaways could impact your fantasy lineups. As Week 9 draws near, I took a look at many of the trending topics, pickups, and plays to give you the edge in your matchups.
Let’s get to it!
*Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was placed on the Reserve/COVID list Wednesday. However, Stafford reportedly tested negative in his most recent test, so presuming the remainder of his test results come back negative leading up to Sunday, he will be cleared.
It doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan, so if you’re like me and planning to use Stafford as a bye week fill-in, check the waiver wire for Derek Carr, Drew Lock, or Kirk Cousins.
*With so many prominent players sidelined for Thursday night’s prime-time matchup, scour the wire for 49ers running back JaMycal Hasty and tight end Ross Dwelley in addition to Packers running back Dexter Williams, who was just elevated Thursday afternoon.
*Just when it seemed rookie running back Jonathan Taylor would run away with the Colts’ starting job, the backfield has turned into a three-person committee. Last week, Jordan Wilkins led the group in snaps (39) and touches (21). Regardless of whether or not Wilkins ultimately emerges as the lead back in Indianapolis, he should be rostered as a handcuff with upside.
*If you play in 12-14 team leagues, keep an eye out for Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. The second-year receiver emerged last week against the Bills, hauling in six receptions for 58 yards on 10 targets. While the numbers are rather pedestrian, the key here is the double-digit targets. Meyers has earned the trust of quarterback Cam Newton.
*Looking for a deep sleeper for DFS or potential lineup home run? How about Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel. The versatile pass catcher has combined for three touchdowns in consecutive weeks, doubling as a receiver and runner. If the Panthers expect to keep pace with the Chiefs, they must continue to get Samuel involved.
*Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard won’t be activate Thursday night, but if he’s available, you’ll want to get him, as he could return next week. With so few reliable options on Green Bay, Lazard should be a weekly volume play.
*Before aggravating an injury to his throwing shoulder last week against the Chiefs, Jets quarterback Sam Darnold and rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims got off to a fast start. Mims, who has yielded 10 targets over the past two weeks, has amassed six catches for 84 yards. With the Jets frequently playing from behind, Mims is a good stash for a 12-14 team league.
Flex Plays I like
Cardinals RB Chase Edmonds vs. Dolphins: No Kenyan Drake means a heavy workload for the dynamic Edmonds. The Dolphins are allowing 4.96 yards per carry, fourth-worst in the NFL, so Edmonds should have ample running room. The Harrisburg, Pa., native has averaged 6.1 yards per carry on 29 carries over the first eight weeks, so he’ll be fresh and primed to capitalize on a porous run defense. Not sure that I would expect an 18-20 carry game from Edmonds – that’s not his game – but I envision a 14-carry, six-catch performance.
Washington Football Team RB Antonio Gibson vs. Giants: The Gibson/J.D. McKissic conundrum that puzzled owners throughout much of the first-half on the season appears to have been solved. Last we saw Gibson, Week 7 against the Cowboys, the rookie rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Comparatively, McKissic carried the ball just five times in the divisional clash. As I’ve written before, Gibson is unquestionably the superior runner and equipped to be a rare, three-down workhorse. Against the Giants, he will have an opportunity to eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive game.
Chargers RB Justin Jackson vs. Raiders: On the surface, the Chargers backfield appears to be a murky, three-person timeshare. Howev
er, looking at snap counts and production, Jackson is the Chargers’ running back to own. Jackson demonstrated his diversity last week against the Broncos, carrying the ball 17 times f
or 89 yards and reeling in three catches for 53 yards. The latter is especially important because while the Raiders have improved their run defense in recent weeks, they've allowed running backs to have success as pass-catchers. Start Jackson in this plus-matchup.
Patriots RB Damien Harris vs. Jets: In four starts, Harris has produced two 100-yard rushing efforts and will now face a Jets team that just shipped its most effective run-stopper – Avery Williamson – to Pittsburgh. Game script figures to play a factor here, as the Patriots should jump out to an early lead and grind out the clock in the second-half with Harris.
Lions WR Marvin Jones vs. Vikings: Jones has been eerily quiet throughout the first half of the season but showed signs of life last week against the Colts, yielding seven targets and finding the end zone twice. Kenny Golladay, who generally shoulders the bulk of the Lions' aerial attack, won’t play this week, so expect another 6-8 pass targets for Jones, the de facto top receiver.
Even if Matthew Stafford is unable to clear COVID-19 protocol, veteran Chase Daniel is adequate enough to keep Jones involved. The Vikings have allowed 15 touchdowns to wide receivers over seven weeks, so plug Jones into your lineup with confidence.
Titans WR Corey Davis vs. Bears: If you heeded my advice last week and flexed Davis, you reaped the benefits. While game script had plenty to do with Davis’ breakout, it’s hard to ignore his 2020 production. The fourth-year wideout has amassed double-digit points in all five games he’s been active, and last week took the fantasy community by storm. Against the Bengals, Davis parlayed 10 targets into eight receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Teams have shifted their focus to slowing AJ Brown, often leaving Davis in single coverage. He draws a tough matchup this week with the Bears, but until proven otherwise, Davis remains a strong flex play.
Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy vs. Falcons: Jeudy has only found the end zone once through eight weeks but should best those numbers this week in Atlanta. Coming off a career-high four receptions for 73 yards on 10 targets in a shootout against the Chargers, Jeudy could close in on his first 100-yard outing against a leaky Falcons secondary.
Bears WR Darnell Mooney vs. Titans: Mooney has clearly surpassed Anthony Miller in Chicago’s pass-catching pecking order and has become the team’s second-most reliable fantasy asset behind Allen Robinson. As I wrote last week, Mooney’s breakout was inevitable given his opportunities and propensity for separating from defensive backs. Against the Saints, Mooney reeled in five catches for 69 yards and a touchdown on six targets. The Tulane product is averaging north of six pass targets over the past five weeks. Run to the waiver wire and add Mooney.
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.