The Late Week Hustle - Week 13

The Late Week Hustle

by @dwainmcfarland

Fantasy football is a fluid game.  Yeah, your waiver wires have already ran for the week and you are probably settling in on your lineups, but things change. 

You have new information at your disposal such as drops your league mates made, unexpected late week injuries, and other news.  That is why each week I will be bringing you an update on Thursday or Friday to help you digest new info and make the adjustments you need to win on Sunday or better equip your team for the long run. 

We are entering the heavy bye week period.  For some owners this spells doom, but for smart owners that are hustling it spells OPPORTUNITY.  If you are behind in the standings, now is the time to be aggressive.  Gain points and wins on your opponents who are depending on a few studs that will be on bye. If you are an owner in the lead, now is the time to crush those beneath you by padding your roster with more depth and blocking the weak from becoming strong.

In the content below you will see me refer to player utilization.  Player utilization refers to the underlying drivers that must be there for consistent fantasy performance. 

  • Team plays tell us about coaching philosophy.  Up tempo play callers give us more of what we want in fantasy - volume. 
  • Snap percentages provide us our first indicator of player involvement.  Not on the field, welp you know rest of that equation ...
  • Routes Ran per Drop Back help us understand who coaches want on the field when the ball is in the air.  This is a very telling, yet often overlooked data point.
  • Target percentages are a well known stat at this point, but can be misleading if out of context.  We don't want to pick up a player with 20% of the targets last week when he was only on the field for 50% of the snaps and only ran routes 40% of the team drop backs.

It is ALL about context and these indicators when used together can paint a very telling picture that will help you dominate your opponents by pivoting away from bad choices to find the true gems.  So, let's dive in and start out hustling your league mates.

Late Week Injuries & News

Below is a run down of most skill position injury news (or other news) we likely didn't have when league waiver wires ran.  This isn't meant to be an extensive list of injuries - more focused on the trickle down impact to team mates and their value.

RB Kareem Hunt - Out (Released).  With the video of his February altercation with a woman released by TMZ on Friday the Chiefs decided to part ways with Hunt. 

I urged readers to make Ware a priority pickup a few weeks back due to his strong performance history, clear hand-cuff status and the nature of the Chiefs offense.  This terrible news around Hunt makes Spencer Ware an RB1 candidate this week and an RB2 with upside the rest of the way.  Ware is a premium option on FanDuel at $5200 in a matchup where the Chiefs are favored by 14.

RB Melvin Gordon - Out (Knee).

With Gordon out Austin Ekeler moves into the RB2 with upside category.  Justin Jackson is a low end flex option if in need.  Ekeler is an excellent option on FanDuel at $5400.

RB Kerryon Johnson - Out (Knee).

The Lions are 10 point dogs at home this weekend, which makes Theo Riddick the better play than fellow back LeGarette Blount.  Riddick is a decent flex option this weekend and Blount is a desperation flex.

WR Sammy Watkins - Out (Foot).

The Watkins injury is starting to become more worrisome given his injury history and inability to get back on the field due to setbacks.  This makes Chris Conley a boom/bust flex option this weekend versus the Raiders in a game Vegas is expecting 34.5 points from Kansas City.   At $4500 he is a fine salary relief option for GPP play on FanDuel this weekend.  Conley is worth rostering in deeper leagues as a low end WR3/Flex with upside the rest of the way.

This also makes Tyreek Hill even more of a center piece option at $8400 on FanDuel given the increase in targets he sees in games without Watkins (12 vs 7).

WRs Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon - Out.

With these two out the passing game will continue to funnel through TE George Kittle, RB Matt Breida and WR Dante Pettis.  Kittle has 29% and 41% of targets the last two games.  Pettis emerged from injury a few weeks back and had 7 targets last week (24%).  This news makes him a viable WR3/Flex play given his ability to beat man and zone coverage consistently due to his superior route running skills.

WR DeSean Jackson - Out (Thumb).

This news bumps Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries into the WR3/Flex conversation.  The Bucs already lost O.J. Howard for the season last week, so there are a lot of targets now being spread around over less options.  Godwin is only $5400 and Humphries is $6000 on FanDuel this weekend.  I prefer Godwin due to more big play and TD upside in the half-point PPR setup.

WR Danny Amendola - Doubtful (Knee); DNP all week.

Consider Amendola as very unlikely to play.  The Dolphins are very thin at receiver at this point, but the only player that appears to benefit is RB Kenyan Drake who saw 26% of the targets last week.  Splitting snaps and trailing Frank Gore in touches keeps Drake in the volatile category as only a flex play.

Waiver Wire - Looking Ahead

First of all, if you haven't read Jim Day's weekly waiver wire article please do so here.  Each week in this space I will focus on a couple of areas:

  • One or two under the radar waiver options I am being proactive on
  • Players on the mend I am being proactive about

I may or may not have recommendations every week for each category.  

One word of advice before we dive in on these - only you know your league.  If you are in a smaller league some of these guys may not be viable for you.  If you are in crazy deep leagues (like most of mine) many of these guys won't be available.

I will add context where I can on this where I can, but trust you to hold yourself accountable for making the right choices.

Under the Radar

Previously listed:  WR Taywan Taylor, QB Jameis Winston, TE Geoff Swaim, WR Mohamed Sanu, WR Albert Wilson, WR David Moore, WR D.J. Moore, WR Courtland Sutton, WR DaeSean Hamilton, WR Brandon Powell, WR D.J. Chark, RB Spencer Ware, RB Rod Smith, RB Malcolm Brown, WR Marcell Ateman

See Dante Pettis and Chris Conley above.

On the Mend

Below are players that are progressing well and are likely to return to the field soon.  This is not meant to be an extensive list.

Previously listed:  WR Alshon Jeffery, TE Hayden Hurst, TE Greg Olsen, RB D'Onta Foreman, TE Jack Doyle, TE Ed Dickson, RB Elijah McGuire, WR Quincy Enunwa, RB Giovani Bernard, RB Rex Burkhead, RB Ronald Jones II

There are many players returning to the fold this weekend:

RB Chris Thompson - He is a solid Flex play option with upside anytime he takes the field.  He will serve as one of the main pass targets in this offense as long as healthy.

RB Kenneth Dixon - Gus Edwards has seized his moment so Dixon's value is hard to project at this point, but he is a talented player who could have value if Edwards falters.  It bodes well for him that the team decided to move Alex Collins to IR with his return.

RB Darren Sproles - This is a consideration for deeper leagues only.  Sproles' value is unknown right now as he hasn't been able to stay healthy and the Eagles are a rotation machine at RB.

WR Jamison Crowder - Trey Quinn has filled in nicely over the last two games, but Crowder was able to get in practice work this week.  He could become a viable target for Colt McCoy down the stretch if you are hurting at WR.

Well that is it for week thirteen.  Good luck to everyone this weekend, unless you by some random chance are playing me.  In that case, you don't stand a Fighting Chance!

If you want more information similar to what you found in this article you can every Tuesday on The Tuesday Night Hustle pod cast with myself and Brian Drake.  Listen live or on demand.

Additionally, you can follow me on twitter @dwainmcfarland

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