Welcome once again to Risers and Fallers! I truly hope you’ve had a great week on and off the virtual gridiron. I love this time of the season as we begin to prepare for the playoffs. You need to pay attention to schedules, the last few bye weeks, and handcuffs. Trends and market shares are extremely important now because that player who was winning weeks or riding the bench last month could be on the move now, for better or worse. I’ll break down some of the most important moves, and what the next few weeks look like as they head into the final weeks of the regular season into the playoffs. Let’s do it!
Marquez Valdes-Scantling – WR (GB)
On Tuesday it was announced Geronimo Allison was going on the IR. In the last three games, Allison was active in just one and saw just one target. In that timespan, MVS has seen 12 targets and converted eight into receptions. He possesses big-play ability, evident by his 31.1 Y/R and 17.4 aDOT. He’s played 81%, 60%, and 93% of the total offensive snaps over those last three games, and is a sure lock in this offense now. Of the receiving corps, he’s carving out the #2 spot ahead of Randall Cobb and behind Davante Adams. With one of the top two quarterbacks in the league tossing him the ball, MVS is a savior at this point in the season.
Valdes-Scantling is the WR 20 over the past three games, excluding the week 7 results when the Packers were on bye. Before a couple of decent matchups, the Packers have a lovely schedule to end the fantasy season. They play the Falcons, Bears, and Jets from week 14-16. Those teams currently rank 30th, 19th, and 24th against fantasy WRs, so as long as this offense stays healthy, Valdes-Scantling could end up your fantasy dark horse.
Mike Davis – RB (SEA)
Gregg Bell reported that Chris Carson did not practice on Wednesday, giving way to Mike Davis to be the primary back this weekend. Carson is dealing with a hip issue that he re-aggravated last week, which isn’t good. Carson has beaten Davis almost two to one in rush attempts, and besides that, you can argue Davis is the better player. Davis is rushing for 4.3 Y/C while Carson has 4.5. Davis has 19 targets to Carson’s 10, and an extra rushing score. All told, Mike Davis has .46 points per opportunity to Carson’s .45.
When Carson sat out in week 4, Mike Davis exploded for two scores on 21 carries, and 101 rush yards along with 23 through the air. The Seahawks draw Green Bay and their 17th ranked defense against the RB position in week 10. Furthermore, Seattle throws the ball on average fewer than any team in the league on a per game basis with 27.6 attempts, per teamrankings.com. Expect Mike Davis to get a ton of work on the ground and through the air this week. Onward, the Seattle running backs have a juicy fantasy playoff schedule. They play San Francisco and Kansas City in weeks 15 and 16, respectively. Those two are ranked 20th and 31st against fantasy RBs.
O.J. Howard – TE (TB)
A few weeks back I decided to proclaim Howard as a faller on the cusp of Jameis Winston’s return. That was also around the time he supposedly had an MCL sprain, the same injury that sidelined Cooper Kupp and Evan Engram for several weeks. There were a few problems with my proclamation: Ryan Fitzpatrick is the starter again, and O.J. Howard refuses to be sidelined from some silly knee sprain. O.J. Howard is the TE 5 on the year and has a solid report with Fitzpatrick, who was named the starter at least for week 10.
Howard has played just one more game than Cameron Brate, yet has seen 20 more targets and 14 more receptions. He’s scored five times and currently has 16.9 Y/R, more than any tight end with at least 13 targets. The remaining schedule for Tampa Bay isn’t great for tight ends. They see the 8th, 13th, and 32nd ranked defense before the fantasy playoffs start. After that, they get the 6th, 17th, and 10th ranked defenses in New Orleans, Baltimore, and Dallas. Those rankings will move between now and then, and either way, I wouldn’t worry. It’s not like you can go get someone better.
Howard provides a fantasy asset that can and will score, regardless of quarterback, an injury resistant beast, and a PPR machine as far as the TE position is concerned. He is tied for 1st with Travis Kelce in points per opportunity of TEs with at least 10 receptions at .54. Behind those two are Ebron and Kittle at 0.5 PPO.
Kerryon Johnson – RB (DET)
I had high hopes this season for Kerryon Johnson. He’s the Aaron Jones of the Lions backfield – better than the rest of the committee but underutilized. His goal-line capabilities have been largely stolen from LeGarrette Blount and with Golden Tate shipped to Philadelphia Theo Riddick has eaten into his workload. In two games without Riddick, Johnson averaged 13.5 carries/gm, and 90 rush Y/G. He also had eight receptions for 90 yards, giving him 17.5 fantasy PPG. With Riddick in the lineup, Johnson has seen just 10.3 carries/gm, 53.8 rush Y/G and barely over two receptions/gm. That comes to 10.3 PPG.
Kerryon may survive Theo Riddick if he plays more in the slot as he did in week 9. Golden Tate’s slot role has yet to be filled, and Riddick saw a plenty of snaps from the position. Kerryon still got the majority of rush attempts, he just wasn’t able to do anything with them. He posted 3.1 Y/C, way down from his season average of 5.7. To further complicate things, the schedule is anything but nice for the struggling Lions, who are running the 12th fewest plays per game of all teams.
The next three week Detroit faces the 5th, 2nd, and 11th ranked defenses against the position before getting some juicy fantasy playoff matchups. In weeks 14 and 15 they get the 32nd and 21st ranked defense against RBs. For now, consider him a flex play until the slot/backfield situation is sorted, and hope for clarity during the playoff weeks.
Lamar Miller – RB (HOU)
Miller was the RB 14 during weeks 7 and 8. In week 9 he was the Rb 31. On the year he’s the RB 26. See what’s happening here? He’s a headache to own because you don’t know what to expect. He rushed for 100 and 133 yards, respectively, in weeks 7 and 8. Then Miller was rewarded with a 44% share of the RB carries in week 9 against Denver. These back and forth swings can and have made him a nightmare to own. You got 7 points while expecting 17 or more as you received in weeks past.
Alfred Blue had no more than 20 carries in week 5 while Miller was out, and came in to rush 15 times for a meager 39 yards in week 9. Miller had 12-21, combining both backs for a lousy 2.2 Y/C. Because of this, it’s not very clear what to expect moving forward. Had we seen Blue put up 2.6 Y/C while Miller posted his season average of 4.2, I wouldn’t be as worried. Neither back has a prominent role in the passing game, so it does look to be a risky start after the bye in week 11, on the road against Washington. Houston plays Tennessee after that, two stout defenses against RBs, further dimming my view of Lamar Miller.
If the workload shifts back in Miller’s favor, you could get some use from him in the first round and semi’s of the playoffs, before they play the Philadelphia and their #1 ranked defense in the championship week.
Thanks as always for stopping by. This is a critical time to pay attention to risers and fallers. Remaining on top of these trends significantly improve your odds to win in the postseason. For more information to help you push and prepare for the playoffs, check out some of our other articles for waiver adds, and market/target shares.