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.
This is crunch time, let us try and find you a guy who’s going to get you over the line after a week of brutal injuries.
Must pick-ups – These guys are should be starting in your line-up this week.
Jaylen Samuels, RB, PIT
Ownership: ESPN 3%, Yahoo 10%
Week 14 @ OAK, Week 15 vs NE
Injuries have been aplenty in the NFL over the last few weeks, with the likes of Kerryon Johnson and Melvin Gordon down for the count, just to name a few. After week 13 of the NFL season, add Steelers running back James Conner to that list. While initial reports stated that the injury was a leg contusion, reports surfaced today stating that the injury is more serious than initially thought, claiming an ankle sprain as the likely culprit. For skill players in particular, ankle sprains and high ankle sprains are touchy injuries which can take weeks to recover from, so the prognosis for Mr. Conner is not looking good for fantasy football playoffs. Enter Jaylen Samuels, who came into the game in relief of Conner and scored a quick receiving TD, with 3 catches for 20 yards and 2 carries for 5 yards. Not eye popping numbers, but given the Steelers’ usage of running backs and the uncertainty surrounding James Conner, Samuels is a must add in week 14. – AM
Justin Jackson, RB, LAC
Ownership: ESPN 12%, Yahoo 23%
Week 14 vs CIN, Week 15 @ KC
Has anyone out there ever suffered an MCL sprain? As a passionate, yet fragile practitioner of brazilian jiu-jitsu, I have, and it sucks. Granted I am not a 6’1”, 207 pound superhuman whose body is conditioned to take a pounding in a 17 week stretch that is the NFL season, but still, it hurts. Despite the fact that Melvin Gordon broke fantasy hearts around the world after going down against the Cardinals in week 12, if anyone saw Justin Jackson in action in week 13, you have to feel good about what is to come. The rookie running back from Northwestern displayed excellent lateral movement and vision against the Steelers, running for 63 yards on 8 carries and a TD, plus 1 reception that went for 19 yards. As we work our way into the first week of the fantasy playoffs, much like the aforementioned Samuels, Jackson is a must add as Ekeler looks to assume his usual role as a change of pace back. -AM
Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL
Ownership: ESPN 52%, Yahoo 46%
Week 14 vs. KC, Week 15 @ TB, Week 16 @ LAC
Again, Long live the running quarterback! Lamar Jackson has now ran for 117 yards, 75 yards and a TD, and 71 yards and a TD in his 3 games as a starter. He comes up against the teams who have given up the 5th and 3rd most fantasy points to opposing Quarterbacks on the season in the next 2 weeks. These teams are also among the 6 teams giving up the most to running backs on the season. Everything is in place for Jackson to lead teams to championship weeks if he can do something through the air against these leaky pass defences. – MS
Ownership: ESPN 41%, Yahoo 51%
Week 14 vs NO, Week 15 vs BAL, Week 16 @ DAL
While the Buccs have a tough schedule to finish the year, Jameis Winston has shown he is not scared to pass the ball no matter who he is facing. In the 3 games since Winston regained the starting job for Tampa Bay, Adam Humphries has seen 20 targets, catching 16 passes for 175 yards and 3 touchdowns. Humphries had a total of 64 targets on the year coming into week 13, compared to Desean Jackson’s 70, but Humphries saw 9 targets this week with Jackson sidelined. If Jackson continues to miss time, Humphries should see an uptick in volume and will always have a chance to score no matter who the Buccs come up against. – MS
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.
Josh Allen, QB, BUF
Ownership: ESPN 4%, Yahoo 5%
Week 14 vs. NYJ, Week 15 vs. DET
Long live the running quarterback! No seriously, the dual-threat QB is a major fantasy asset (see Russell Wilson, 2017) and few have been able to do it better than Josh Allen this year. Over the last two games since returning from injury, Allen has racked up an impressive 234 yards on the ground and a TD, bring his TD total on the year to 4. Over the next 4 games of the NFL season, the BIlls will face the Jets at home (allowing 128 rushing yards per game & 248 passing yards per game), Detroit (allowing 119 RY per game & 234 PY per game), at New England (allowing 106 RY per game & 262 PY per game), and Miami at home (allowing 144 RY per game & 254 PY per game). Per fantasypros.com, Allen has the 13th easiest schedule for quarterbacks over the next 3 games. It is understandable that he might not have the most appealing numbers in the past, but he is a sneaky play in the fantasy playoffs, particularly for deeper QB leagues and 2 QB leagues. – AM
C.J. Anderson, RB, OAK
Ownership: ESPN 3%, Yahoo 9%
Week 14 @ CLE, Week 15 vs. NO, Week 16 vs. ATL
The Raiders backfield options were arguably the worst in the NFL before picking up CJ Anderson on Tuesday. C.J was signed by Carolina as a backup to Christian Mccaffrey in the offseason and was never really needed thanks to CMC going full 3-down back and making Anderson completely irrelevant. Anderson is a quality running back, it is easy to forget that he posted 1000 yards rushing last season behind a mediocre offensive line in Denver. It should not take a lot to unseat Doug Martin as the feature back in Oakland, keep an eye on C.J. – MS