This week feels like the first time some big-name players have made an impact – good or bad – and have loaded the Risers and Fallers article. Mostly, you’ll be happy with the material below, as some of the highest drafted players at their position are finally rising up the fantasy stock charts. Time is of the essence this late in the year, so let’s get started!
Keenan Allen – WR (LAC)
From weeks 1-7 Keenan Allen was the WR 27, averaging just 12.9 PPG. During weeks 9 and 10 he’s the WR 5, averaging 19.45 PPG. Coming into the year everybody had high hopes, and draft picks, for Allen after his impressive finish last year. What you got in 2018 just wasn’t comparable. In 2017, Allen averaged 6.3 receptions/game, substantially higher than his 5.5/game through week 7 of this year. His Y/R, YAC/R, and aDOT were all also lower than his 2017 totals. Since week 7, he’s raised all but his aDOT, and has found the end zone once again. The most impressive stat to have changed is his targets per game, now at 9, up from 6.6 before. Giving this playmaker the opportunity is going to pay off, and it seems like Philip Rivers and the coaching staff have finally given way to that.
Moving forward he sees Arizona and Pittsburgh, the 12th and 21st ranked defenses against the position. The Chargers play a stout Baltimore defense in week 16, but I wouldn’t worry. Rivers and Allen are too good of a duo for a bad matchup to spell trouble. Hopefully you got Allen at a discount already as trade deadlines are soon coming.
Marcus Mariota – QB (TEN)
Marcus Mariota and the Titans shocked us when they beat the Patriots by 24 points in week 9. It also marked the first time this year he’s thrown for two scores in back to back games. The Titans offense, in general, has looked better, produced more, and that has to be attributed to Mariota finally looking healthy and playing lights out as a result. Mariota was the QB 30 heading into their week 8 bye, and since then is the QB 7. He’s averaged 23 PPG the last two weeks, has a 69.5% completion percentage, and has a rushing TD to add. The running backs have found their groove, with Dion Lewis taking the lead role, and a favorable schedule against run defenses should further assist Mariota moving forward.
Coming into week 9, Mariota had thrown for just 1030 yards and 3 TDs, with 5 INTs to boot. Since then, he’s impressed with 468 yards, 4 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD, and no INTs. Things are certainly looking up, and if you’ve been stashing him on the bench it’s safe to consider a start now.
David Johnson – RB (ARI)
It’s amazing how much coaching can affect a players performance. We heard the “run between the tackles” complaint for weeks on end until Byron Leftwich finally saved our 1st round pick. Since Mike McCoy’s firing following the Denver game, Johnson has rushed for 3.69 and 4.67 Y/C. Before the firing, he’d only surpassed 3.69 once, in week 1. Johnson has also been involved more in the passing game, finally, posting 6.5 targets/game, and 63 receiving yards/game. This is way up from 4.2 targets/game and 23.7 receiving yards/game in weeks prior. We’ve only got two weeks of data to work with, so the one rushing and receiving TD each doesn’t help much, but the numbers alone are hard to ignore. Obviously, this wasn’t a situation where you benched or dropped Johnson. Maybe you traded him like I tried to and failed. If you held on though, rejoice with me!
Leftwich said he wanted to use Johnson the way Bruce Arians did, and that is evident in the numbers. The Cardinals don’t face a defense tougher than the 13th ranked Chargers in week 12 in points allowed to fantasy RBs. Detroit and Atlanta are 24th and 29th against the position, so your early playoff games look to be lovely by way of owning David Johnson.
Deshaun Watson – QB (HOU)
When I wrote Watson off as a Faller in week 7 I referenced his schedule. At the time, his schedule through week 10 had him facing no worse than the 11th ranked defense against QBs. He dismantled my argument, throwing for 197/game, 8 TDs, and 0 INTs. He was also only sacked 5 times in those games when he was facing 4 sacks per game prior. Things have certainly turned around in Houston. Coming out of the bye week Keke Coutee is returning to health, which should help Watson’s options in addition to newcomer Demaryius Thomas. Indianapolis, the NY Jets, and Philadelphia play the Texans during the fantasy playoff stretch and that further excites me. Those three rank 14th or worst against QBs currently (I hope I’m not burnt again on this stat.)
If the offensive line can continue limiting the number of sacks (Eli and Dak now take first place in that category), Watson can be an extremely valuable asset rest of season. His rushing stats are down from the first six games, but if he makes up for that with TDs, nobody will be upset. That three-game sample paces Watson for 3,152 yards and 43 TDs. Get back on the horse!
Jared Cook – TE (OAK)
As is usual, Jared Cook has lost his shimmer moving into the back half of the season. From weeks 1-5 Cook had seen fewer than six targets just once, in week 2, when he went 4-49-0. Since then, he’s had six or more targets only once, in week 10 when he had nine. He converted that into 4-52. This was by far his lowest catch rate, at only 44%. Prior to this he’d been at 61.5% or higher, and hit 100% on three occasions. We all know Oakland is busting at the seams, and regardless of what goes on in the locker room, we need to react to what’s happening on the field.
Through week 4 Jared Cook was the TE 1. He had 370 yards and 2 scores, with a 76.5% catch rate. Since then he is the TE 15, which considering the landscape, is pretty hard to do. He’s got just 16 receptions on 24 targets, 176 yards, and a lone score. The best news for Cook is that he leads the team in red zone targets by a long way. He has more than double the RZ targets than the next player, and that’s where you’ll make your money.
You may consider streaming a TE on certain weeks, namely, week 11 when Oakland travels to Arizona. Arizona is the 6th ranked defense against the position, and after that, the Raiders have one of the best schedules for a single position in all of football. They get the 16th, 24th, 28th, 29th, and 21st ranked defenses against TEs ending in week 16. If the targets start going up for Cook, then you’ve got a solid player. If they remain low, hope for a score.
Jarvis Landry – WR (CLE)
Landry has been a disappointing play the entire season. I hoped that when Baker began to play better it would boost Landry, but sadly it hasn’t. He isn’t typical of a faller, because he hasn’t had a place to fall from. On the season, he’s eclipsed 90 yards receiving just three times, has only two scores, and since week 7 his target count has decreased each week. I don’t look too far into that last stat, but it cannot be ignored, either. The fact that Landry has averaged 10.6 targets/game and has yet to produce more than 10-97-1 is astonishing.
Jarvis ranks 4th in targets per Pro Football Focus but is the WR 20 in PPR. The players surrounding him in targets are Julio, AB, Hopkins, Thielen, and OBJ. Of those, the lowest ranked is Odell as the WR 8. Clearly, something isn’t working for Baker and Landry, as his opportunity hasn’t equaled production all year long. Of receivers who’ve played at least 25% of their team’s snaps, Jarvis ranks 90th in catch rate, of 117. Of that same set of players, he ranks 94th in points per touch, per PFF. If you still own Jarvis Landry for the name, do yourself a favor and capitalize on that as best you can and trade him before your deadline.
As always, thank you for stopping in for Risers and Fallers. Feel free to leave a comment, or send me your thoughts on Twitter @FF_bamills! Good luck this week, and I’ll see you for week 12!