In this weekly article Michael Stephenson (@DFF_Mste) and Andrew Mendoza (@DFF_LeGrand) focus on identifying players who are owned in less than 50% of redraft leagues, which are going to help your team win this week and every week to come! We will identify the guys you should be able to plug into your starting lineup without hesitation, as well as some bench stashes who could become starters in the coming weeks.
There will be no recommended FAAB spends in this article as those decisions always depend on your team’s needs.
These guys have a chance to contend for your starting lineup this week
Vance McDonald, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ownership: ESPN 31%, Yahoo 43%
Week 5 vs ATL, Week 6 @ CIN
2018 hasn’t exactly been kind to tight ends. In a position marred by injury and inconsistency, Vance McDonald has single-handedly stiff-armed his way into contention for weekly TE1 consideration. After hauling in 4 catches for 112 yards and a TD against Tampa Bay in week 3, McDonald demonstrated once again why his play warrants that consideration with 5 catches for 62 yards on Sunday against the Ravens. Granted he was the victim of a forced fumble at the hands of Safety Tony Jefferson (a really slick forced fumble at that), McDonald has shown respectable consistency at a position that is anything but consistent. Still widely available in ESPN and Yahoo leagues, Vance McDonald just might be the answer to your tight end problem, because let’s face it, you probably have a tight end problem.
Nyheim Hines, RB IND
Ownership: ESPN 14%, Yahoo 16%
Week 5 @ NE, Week 6 @NYJ
Hines has been featured in this article a couple of times already this year, and this week he showed exactly why. Hines is currently the 3rd most targeted player on the Colts through 3 games with 26 and has run the ball 18 times, scoring 3 total touchdowns. In Week 4 he caught 9 of his 11 targets for 63 yards and two touchdowns. Andrew Luck finally looked like Andrew Luck again for the first time in week 4, Nyhiem Hines is operating as Luck’s WR2 right now so scoop him up.
Antonio Callaway, WR, CLE
Ownership: ESPN 33%, Yahoo 38%
Week 5 vs. BAL, Week 6 vs. LAC
While his stat-line was disappointing in his first full game with Baker Mayfield under center, his usage was encouraging. Callaway was targeted 9 times in this high-scoring game, as the Browns put up 40+ points for the first time since 2009. This offense looks to be much improved with the addition of Mayfield and with 9 targets per game it is only a matter of time before Callaway pays off. This week’s performance should ensure that Callaway is not a hot pickup, but the future is bright for this rookie QB/WR partnership.
Geronimo Allison, WR, GB
Ownership: ESPN 43%, Yahoo 47%
Week 5 @ DET, Week 6 vs. SF
A feature in this article last week, Allison’s ownership only saw a slight bump this week and remains on over half of waiver wires. Allison now has a four-game sample size of good production, culminating in a career-high 11 targets vs Buffalo with Randall Cobb sidelined. Allison did exit the game this week with a concussion, which may stop people picking him up, I would grab him and monitor his status as whenever he returns he will be a solid flex option.
Dede Westbrook, WR, BAL
Ownership: ESPN 12%, Yahoo 17%
Week 5 @ KC, Week 6 @ DAL
The Jaguars receiving corps has been the subject of debate ever since Marqise Lee was lost during the preseason with a knee injury. In his absence, Keelan Cole has shown excellent rapport with Blake Bortles and was the heir apparent to targets vacated by Lee, now on IR. Despite solid chemistry dating back to last year, Cole has yet to run away with the no. 1 WR slot. In the meantime, Dede Westbrook has turned some heads in Jacksonville with his athletic skill set, securing 9 catches on 13 targets for 130 yards on Sunday against the Jets. While not part of a prolific passing attack and in a back and forth battle with Cole for Bortles’ attention, Westbrook just might find himself pulling ahead of Cole in weeks to come if he continues to see this degree of targets.`
Worth a shot
If these guys don’t go into your lineup this week, they have a chance to work their way in very soon.
Marcus Mariota, QB, TEN
Ownership: ESPN 20%, Yahoo 33%
Week 5 @ BUF, Week 6 vs BAL
Stand up and take a bow Mr. Mariota. Not so much for your collection of work on the season, to be honest, it’s been underwhelming, to say the least. Instead, let’s recognize your monster outing in week 4 against the defending Super Bowl champs. The former Heisman trophy winner finally found his footing this last week to the tune of 344 yards, 2 TDs and one INT with 46 yards and TD on the ground. Largely labeled a disappointment this season, Mariota showed off what he can do when healthy and in sync with OC Matt LaFleur. Given that we are now starting to see bye weeks come into the picture, Mariota may serve well as a stash and stream player while he continues to grow within LaFleur’s offense, an offense that helped Matt Ryan and Jared Goff to flourish in the past.
Taylor Gabriel, WR, CHI
Ownership: ESPN 7%, Yahoo 5%
Week 5 BYE, Week 6 @MIA
5,7,10, 7 targets
While Taylor Gabriel did have a break-out game in week 4, catching all 7 of his targets for 104 yards and two touchdowns, he is heading into a Week 5 bye. This means he may just be left on the wire when he would usually be a top add for the week. Gabriel is averaging 7 targets per game through 4 weeks, if the Trubisky we saw this past week turns up again in the future Gabriel should have some serious upside.
Blake Bortles, QB, JAX
Ownership: ESPN 18%, Yahoo 32%
Week 5 @KC, Week 6 @DAL
I’ve always been a Blake Bortles fan when it comes to fantasy football. This sort of performance should not be a surprise if you were paying attention towards the end of 2017, where Bortles was the QB2 across the final 5 weeks of the season. With bye weeks coming thick and fast in the next few weeks Blake could be the answer to your problems. Bortles is one of the most consistent rushing QBs in the league, averaging over 30 yards per game so far this year. He set a career high for passing yards this past week with 388, he has now thrown for over 300 yards in 5 of his last 8 regular season games, throwing 2+ touchdowns in 6 of those games. With Kansas City up next week he should have plenty of opportunities to score points through the air.
Keke Coutee, WR, HOU
Ownership: ESPN 0%, Yahoo 2%
Week 5 vs. DAL, Week 6 vs. BUF
Me: “Hey Keke, what’d you do this Sunday?”
Keke: “Oh you know, just set an NFL record for most receptions in a debut since 1970…”
Okay, so I don’t know Keke Coutee, nor can I legit quote him on saying that, but Mr. Coutee came out in a big way on Sunday, setting modern era records along the way and balling out to the tune of 11 catches on 15 (yes that says 15) targets for 109 yards. Missing the first three weeks of the 2018 season with a hamstring injury, Keke has come out of the slot on fire, demonstrating excellent rapport with QB Deshaun Watson in his NFL debut. With Texans WR Will Fuller exiting in the second half of Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, Keke could see huge production in the WR2 role behind DeAndre Hopkins, further developing chemistry with Watson while climbing his way up the WR rankings.
Nick Chubb, RB, CLE
Ownership: ESPN 16%, Yahoo 19%
Week 5 vs. BAL, Week 6 vs. LAC
It is the news that fantasy players rostering Carlos Hyde have been fearing since preseason: Nick Chubb looks good, like really good. While still not commanding a great deal of attention and usage in the run game, Chubb was given lemons and made lemonade on Sunday with an eye-popping 105 yards on 3 carries, 2 of which went for TDs. While he probably is not an immediate threat to Hyde’s stranglehold on the Browns backfield, Chubb opened up a lot of eyes against the Raiders with excellent vision, balance, patience, and breakaway speed. As a self-proclaimed Carlos Hyde truther and rostering him on two of my fantasy teams, Nick Chubb’s big day has me worried to say the least, because Mr. Chubb is the real deal.