ITB Fantasy Corner: WFT'S RB Combo Can Key Playoff Push
The fantasy playoffs are drawing near and the next couple of weeks will determine positioning – or in some cases, survival. Fortunately, if you classify as the latter, I have provided some pickups and sneaky Week 10 plays who just might save your season and increase your odds to get into the tournament.
Let’s get to it!
*Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey received positive news on his AC joint injury and could return as early as Week 11. However, in the interim, get Mike Davis back into your lineups. In Week 2, Davis reeled in eight catches for 74 yards.
Speaking of Carolina, while DJ Moore has been a virtual non-factor the past two weeks, fellow wide receiver Curtis Samuel has emerged as an explosive do-it-all weapon for the Panthers. He likely isn’t available after Thursday's round of waiver claims, but if you have him, flex Samuel with confidence. With McCaffrey sidelined for at least another week, Samuel should continue to earn 3-4 carries in addition to his work in the passing game.
*A breakout game is looming for Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Last week, the rookie passed for 248 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 35 yards in a shootout against the Cardinals. This week, he’ll face the Chargers, who have allowed the fourth-most points to fantasy quarterbacks this season.
*If you need a running back this late in the season – who doesn’t? – how about Washington Football Team's JD McKissic? He’s not going to produce 75-yard rushing performances – that’s not his game – but he’s become an extremely valuable PPR asset. Last week, McKissic served as a safety valve for quarterback Alex Smith, yielding a whopping 14 pass targets. Add him and throw him in the flex against a disastrous Lions defense.
Another running back who always seems to live on the waiver wire in 10-12 team leagues is the Texans’ Duke Johnson. With David Johnson possibly sidelined for Week 10 with a concussion, the other Johnson could be a nice plug-and-play option against the Browns. Monitor David Johnson’s status throughout the week.
*In last week’s edition, I recommended owners keep an eye on Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. The second-year pass-catcher found his footing against the Jets on Monday Night Football, racking up 12 receptions for 169 yards on 14 targets. Though far from a household name, the N.C. State product has emerged as the Patriots’ primary receiving option and, most importantly, has established an unmistakable rapport with quarterback Cam Newton. Meyers is not someone who stretches field vertically, but he was among my most pro-ready route-runners going into the 2019 NFL Draft. If he’s still out there, scoop him up.
*Last call on Jalen Reagor. Seriously, the Eagles’ rookie receiver offers league-winning upside as you prepare for the stretch. Reagor returned from injury against Dallas, finished second in snaps behind Greg Ward, caught an early touchdown and nearly reeled in another in the waning moments. Reagor will be returning from the bye week at full strength and I suspect the coaching staff spent a portion of the off week actively scheming ways to take advantage of its explosive rookie. Despite an array of weaponry returning in the coming weeks, Reagor is going to be a primary factor in the Eagles’ postseason push.
* In the same vein, grab Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims if you play in 12-14 team leagues. Mims, who garnered 18 pass targets over the past three weeks, amassed just four receptions for 62 yards against the Patriots on Monday Night Football. However, what encouraged me were his pass targets. The ball was thrown eight times in his direction. Amid a lost season, I anticipate the final slate of games for the Jets will be dedicated to featuring younger players like Mims and running back La’Mical Perine to determine what they have going into the offseason.
Flex Plays I Like
Washington Football Team RB Antonio Gibson vs. Lions: Gibson has taken over as the unquestioned lead back in Washington. McKissic, as mentioned above, will continue to see a high-volume of pass targets, but it will only be a matter of time before Gibson – a former wide receiver at Memphis – supplants him there as well. The Lions have allowed the most fantasy points to running backs through nine weeks, so if the Football Team can keep this game close as expected, Gibson could see 18-20 carries.
Lions RB D’Andre Swift vs. Washington Football Team: Detroit still boasts a two-person timeshare between Swift and Adrian Peterson, but this is a matchup where a more dynamic runner could find success against a formidable Washington defensive front. The snap share might end up looking virtually identical, but Swift has the skill set to maximize his opportunities. He’ll exploit a vulnerable Washington second level.
Bills RB Zack Moss vs. Cardinals: If you’ve been keeping tabs on the Bills’ rushing attack, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. A lingering toe injury likely prompted owners to cut bait with Moss early but Buffalo has gradually integrated the rookie into the offensive game plan increasingly over the past three weeks. Moss has out-snapped Devin Singletary each of the past two weeks and has taken over goal-line duties.
Texans WR Will Fuller vs. Browns: Although Fuller has yielded just 11 pass targets over the past two weeks, the Browns have surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers. The emergence of Brandin Cooks should alleviate some of Fuller’s attention, who will draw the speed-deficient Terrence Mitchell in coverage. Look for Fuller’s stellar play to continue another week.
Cardinals WR Christian Kirk vs. Bills: Kirk has been on a tear the past three games, bringing in five touchdowns on 19 targets for Arizona. This week, DeAndre Hopkins will draw Tre’Davious White in coverage, which likely will leave Kirk matched up with the oft-overmatched Josh Norman, who notoriously struggles against quicker receivers who are nuanced route-runners. I can feasibly see Kirk generating another 8-10 targets this week.
Giants WR Sterling Shepard vs. Eagles: Former Eagles wide receiver Golden Tate had a more significant impact the last time these two teams met, but Shephard is a target monster who has historically given the Eagles fits on slant and Sluggo routes. Shepard isn’t a burner by any means, but more of a consistent, chain-mover who tends to give secondaries fits. Since returning from injury three weeks ago, Shephard has amassed 20 catches on 26 targets, including a touchdown against the Eagles in Week 7.
Eagles WR Jalen Reagor vs. Giants: As stated above, Reagor will have a sizeable role on offense coming out of the bye. Look for the Eagles to get the rookie involved early on Sunday in a game that could very well turn into a shootout, with the Giants riding high off of two consecutive inspired performances. Reagor not only has the speed to exploit Giants No. 2 cornerback Isaac Yiadom, but he can make plays in space and produce chunk plays on screens. He’ll be in my flex this week. – Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.