If you want to be ahead of the curve in fantasy, sometimes it’s best to look at the trends. There are certain trends that you can look at when predicting which fantasy players will be productive in upcoming weeks.
For Running backs, it’s easy. Players with more carries likely will get you more fantasy points. If you are looking for running backs to pick up off the waiver wire, grab the guys who get an uptick in carries. Just be careful to avoid backs that only got more carries because of a 1-week injury to the starter.
To find the wide receivers worth snagging, it is beneficial to look at their targets received. Some players drop balls, some players have bad quarterbacks. Some players (Allen Robinson for instance) suffer from both problems. For the most part, however, players who are getting more looks from their QB’s are likely to get more fantasy points, especially when you look at that trend over the long-haul.
Chris Ivory, Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week, Ivory finally got the yeoman’s work getting 18 carries. He turned those into 107 yards despite losing a fumble. Jacksonville’s offense has struggled all season both passing and rushing the ball. If the Jags are willing to give their 36 million dollar running back the football 18 times per game, he can be a productive fantasy commodity. He is worth a bench stash to see if he can be consistent. He doesn’t have the best matchups the rest of the way, but in 2 weeks he plays Detroit and may be a great RB2 that week.
Paul Perkins, New York Giants
Out of the barren wasteland which we like to call the New York Giants backfield, Perkins finally got double-digit touches last week against Philly. He didn’t look too perky, on the ground, but he wasn’t too shabby catching passes out of the backfield. The shifty rookie has a chance to take over the backfield completely given that nobody else has done anything to show they deserve the lion’s share of the workload. A nice perk is that he’s only owned in 26% of ESPN leagues. He’s another bench stash who could be huge in the fantasy playoffs, especially in PPR leagues.
DuJuan Harris, San Fransisco 49ers
This situation is tied to the health of Carlos Hyde. Nobody is questioning that when healthy, Hyde is the best back on the Niners. However, Harris has rendered 2015 fantasy darling Shaun Draughn an afterthought because of his high-efficiency play. Like Ivory, he also faces a stout string of teams to end the season. Because of his attention in the passing game, he is a worthy flex play in PPR leagues pretty much regardless of matchup so long as Hyde is out.
Robert Kelley, Washington Redskins
Kelley experienced a similar feeling to what Ivory felt last weekend. For the first time this season (and in Kelley’s pro career) he got a nice workload. 21 carries in the absence of Matt Jones is nothing to sneeze at, and there have even been rumblings that the Redskins will give Kelley the chance to steal the starting job from Jones. Owned in less than 40% of your leagues, he is a must-own in the short-term to see this rumor comes true. If it does, Kelley could be a weekly RB2 play.
Steve Smith Sr. Baltimore Ravens
In weeks that Steve Smith has played, (weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9) would you believe me if I told you that Steve Smith has more targets than Demaryius Thomas, Kelvin Benjamin, and DeAndre Hopkins? Well believe it, it’s a fact. (This article was written before the completion of week 10) The Ravens offense (especially their run game) is pretty bad, but somehow it has been able to sustain Mike Wallace, Dennis Pitta, and Steve Smith as legit fantasy options. Smith can be started on teams weak at WR looking for a WR3 given the volume he receives.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
Patterson is slowly sneaking his way back to fantasy relevance. We’ve always known that, physically, he is among the elite athletes in the NFL. The problem has always been getting that talent to translate to success at the receiver position. Well, maybe it’s finally happening. Looking at the numbers over the past 3 weeks, Patterson is tied for 13th in the NFL in receptions. (on 18 targets) Minnesota’s defense has shown some kinks in their armor, which may mean a more aerial assault from the Vikings. Also, the run game has been atrocious. Coming into the season, it was thought that Minny could only support Stefon Diggs as a relevant receiving fantasy commodity. It now looks like it can support three. (including Kyle Rudolph) If you are weak at receiver, Patterson is becoming a consistent flex play or WR3 threat.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
So Michael Thomas makes this list for a different reason than most of the rest. Thomas is performing at borderline WR1/WR2 levels. He is easily having the best year of any rookie wide receiver and should be owned in every league. The criminal part is that Thomas isn’t universally owned. In fact, Thomas is owned less than his teammate Willie Snead who has 15 fewer catches, 98 fewer yards, and 3 fewer scores. His sub 80% ownership needs to climb to over 90. If for some ridiculous reason the saints budding star is still available, go pick him up!
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
In every game that Ebron has played in this season, he has gotten at least 4 catches and 42 yards. That’s the kind of consistency you look for from an every week starter. The target share that Ebron is receiving is excellent as well. Over his past 3 games, he has gotten 20 targets which ranks him 3rd amongst tight ends in the NFL. The Lions are a high-volume passing offense, and Ebron is owned in less than 60% of leagues. If he’s available, go grab this guy!
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
Over the past 3 weeks, nobody has received more targets (21) than Doyle except for Antonio Gates. His 175 yards over that span ranks 4th among tight ends. He is owned in a staggeringly low 37.6% of ESPN leagues. That needs to change. For crying out loud he has scored the 6th most points from the tight end position in PPR Leagues and 7th in standard!
Lance Kendricks, Los Angeles Rams
Coming out of basically nowhere, Kendricks has gotten 23 targets over the past 3 weeks, catching 18 of them for 172 yards and a score. He has seemingly developed a strong rapport with Case Keenum, and is worth starting as a low-end TE1 when he has a decent matchup. The awesome part about Kendricks is that he is basically free. He is owned in just a tick over 20% ESPN leagues, so if you need a tight end, you can probably just go snag Kendricks off the waiver wire for free.