Welcome back to the Risers and Fallers article! Last week I watched the slate of games in my usual setup – my living room with one TV on the entertainment stand and one on the bookshelf. I took it all in, the blissfulness that is cooler weather and football. And then that moment was ruined when I lost a matchup by .3 points. I started Matt Breida just to see him fall victim to an ankle sprain. This is a game of inches they’ve said, or for us, a game of decimal scoring. We can take solitude in an uptick in snaps, an offensive line improving, presenting an easier decision on who to start or bench. Even still, things can change.
This week we see for the first time a player moving from one side to the other. For all our sakes, I hope that doesn’t happen too often. Good luck this week, and may this article gift you the tools for success. Let’s get to it!
Keke Coutee – WR (HOU)
Do you love me? Ok, it’s out of my system. In his first two games in the NFL Keke Coutee has set the wide receiver landscape on fire! He is the WR 11 during weeks 4 and 5 per Pro Football Focus, hauling in 17 receptions on 20 targets for 160 yards and 1 TD. During that span, he is beating out WRs like Julio Jones (WR 12), A.J. Green (WR 14), Keenan Allen and Kenny Golladay (tied for WR 17).
The best part about Keke is that he did just fine in week 5 with Will Fuller on the field, the one thing I was worried about. There was no way to tell if he’d be effective with two other top receiving options. In week 5 he was the WR 19 in PPR and had a line of 6-51-1. He played on 71% of snaps, while Fuller and Hopkins played on 96% and 100% of snaps respectively. In week 4 Coutee played on 93% of snaps while Fuller was less than 100% healthy and that’s a great sign since Fuller is prone to injury. View Keke as the T.J. Yeldon of the Texans’ receiving corps – he will get snaps regardless, but when Hopkins or Fuller go down he will a solid start.
The past two games Coutee has accounted for 25% of the total targets, and an average of 26% of the target share per game. Great numbers! Keep in mind when acquiring him this week that the upcoming schedule is no cakewalk – Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Miami are the next three games and all have strong numbers against fantasy receivers.
Austin Hooper – TE (ATL)
I find myself conflicted here. Before the season started I wrote about why Hooper wouldn’t be a breakout candidate. To some extent, I was very much correct. The TE landscape is a mountain of letdowns. Even Gronk finds himself as the TE 6 right now in PPR. Hooper is currently the TE 9, and he’s gotten there quietly if nothing else. He finished 2017 with 65 targets and has 26 through 5 weeks this year. That’s a pace of 83 targets or 128% of his targets from last season. He’s currently tied for 3rd with Calvin Ridley in targets in Atlanta.
Where I went wrong was being unable to predict the injuries on the defensive side for Atlanta. They have played every game in a scramble, usually with a negative game script. As a result, Matt Ryan has averaged 37 attempts per game. Calvin Ridley was able to open the field for Ryan when looking to Julio while simultaneously forcing defenses into covering two deep threats, allowing more looks for Hooper. So far he’s posted 21-202-1 and is scoring 9.4 fantasy PPG in PPR. On top of season-ending injuries to both starting safeties and Pro-Bowl linebacker Deion Jones, Grady Jarrett has been battling injuries. Expect the Falcons to continue to struggle defensively, and take comfort in Ryan being forced to pepper Austin Hooper with targets.
Tyler Lockett – WR (SEA)
Lockett has quietly become a low-end WR2 in all formats, returning amazing value from his 12th round ADP. On the season Lockett has 20-347-4, averaging nearly 16 fantasy PPG in PPR leagues. The Seattle offense has steadily improved with the emergence of Mike Davis and Chris Carson, along with Doug Baldwin coming back off injury despite putting up poor numbers in week 5.
Lockett is averaging 5 targets per game, and the only thing that worries me is the drop from 6 to 3 targets from week 4 to week 5. However, Seattle did play the Rams last week so I’ll be surprised if those worries remain. Lockett has scored in all but one game and is averaging 17.6 Y/R. He has 0 drops on the season, and have the Raiders, Lions, and Chargers in the next three matchups. As a trio, these are favorable matchups, coming in at 25th, 4th, and 26th against WRs in fantasy matchups. He is playing on 95% of snaps through five games, and we all know where I stand on fantasy value – follow the opportunity.
According to ESPN, he is owned in 68% of leagues, and that number went down from 71% in week 4 no doubt because of Doug Baldwin’s return. That being said, get him from waivers/free agency if you can because Lockett is a solid play until further notice.
Case Keenum – QB (DEN)
I called my shot in the week 2 Risers and Fallers claiming Keenum as a riser and I missed that one completely. Since that time he’s the QB 26 with a stat line of 97-1036-2 along with 4 INTs. In that span, he’s been good for 13.25 fantasy PPG. Here are some QBs that have been better fantasy plays since then: Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, Ryan Tannehill, Mitch Trubisky, and Eli Manning.
Luckily for the audience, this has not gone unnoticed. He is owned in 11.9% of ESPN leagues, down 5% from week 4. I cannot place my finger on what has attributed to the poor play. He has great support around him with Manny Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, as well as the pair of rookie RBs in Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. That being said, his top target has regressed both on the field and in digital lineups. Emmanuel Sanders between weeks 2 and 4 went on a poor roll of 4, 5, and 5 receptions. In week 1 and 5 he saw 10 and 9 respectively. Since week 2 Sanders hasn’t passed 72 receiving yards and hasn’t caught a touchdown. All of this is to say that Keenum and Sanders can be viewed as fallers until things change.
A tough week 6 matchup against the Rams is next, followed by Arizona and Kansas City. Even then I’m not excited about the Broncos passing game. In a sample of opponents, Denver has faced the 11th, 15th, and 29th ranked D/STs in terms of fantasy points scored. In those games, he’s only amassed 65-796-3. Plus 5 INTs. Hard pass.
Devonta Freeman – RB (ATL)
Going back to Atlanta, the 5th year vet has struggled yet again with injuries. You drafted him as an RB1, but he’s amassed only 14-68-0 in two games. He makes up just 14% of the rushing market share so far. Injured or not, this is not what you paid for. Even in the two games, he has played, he’s rushed for 56% and 44% of the teams’ total attempts and has rewarded you with no scores. Passing game? 14% and 5% of the market share in those games.
Freeman is currently dealing with a bone bruise to his foot. As of Wednesday, he was doing work “on the side” per Ian Rapoport. He looks to be questionable against a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed the 3rd fewest rush Y/G, then face the Giants, who allow the 5th fewest rush Y/G. Tevin Coleman is the RB 25 in PPR formats, and if you’re the Freeman owner you’re probably somewhere between 0-5 or 2-3. try to acquire Coleman if you want a piece of this backfield because they’re splitting the work. In weeks 1 and 5 (when Freeman played) the Falcons had a percentage split of 56/35 and 44/38/16 between the running backs. Ito Smith has even gotten goal line carries. Injuries, negative game scripts, and an RBBC system isn’t a good look going forward.
Thanks again for reading Risers and Fallers! Go check out the rest of the work done by my colleagues at The Fantasy Authority here.