Fantasy football in 2020 requires patience, flexibility, and a whole lot of woooooosaaaah. The most dedicated and passionate managers get that … since they continue to find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While there are times your roster may allow for snoozing on sleepers, it’s always beneficial to keep tabs on emerging trends and players. This weekly column is for those who understand the satisfaction of digging deep.
All of the listed players are rostered in under 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks … but that’s what makes them so intriguing. The injury bug bit hard in Week 9, eliminating Matt Breida from Sunday’s action. Kyle Allen’s exit also upended Logan Thomas’ rhythm, though the TE did draw a season-high six targets versus the Giants. Marvin Hall and Darnell Mooney were less than productive in Week 9. However, Mooney (who now leads the Bears in targets and is coming off of an 11 look effort), has another shot to shine versus the Vikings on Monday night.
The biggest win of last Sunday was clearly Drew Lock, who stayed swaggy with a top-three FF performance.
But let’s focus on the future and see what fantasy damage we can do in Week 10!
Jake Luton, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (4% rostered - $23) @ GB
First of all, it’s pronounced LEWTON, not LUHTON. Secondly, the Jags’ current starter may not have a mustache as robust as Minshew’s, but his arm is definitely stronger. Much was made of the 24-year-old’s pro-style arm — and subsequent ability to push the ball deep — ahead of his Week 9 debut. And, apparently, for good reason. Less than a minute into the game’s action — on his second throw — Luton connected with D.J. Chark on a 73-yard touchdown pass. The sixth-round rookie performed admirably for the bulk of the contest, closing out the week with a top-13 fantasy performance which included 308 passing yards, 1 passing score, and another 13-yard rushing score.
The matchup gets tougher for Luton in Week 10, as he’ll face the Packers (rather than the Texans). Yet, there’s uncertainty surrounding the availability of CBs Jaire Alexander (concussion) and Kevin King (quadriceps). Even if Green Bay’s secondary gets healthy, Luton is still saddled with a bad offense and the challenge of keeping pace with Aaron Rodgers. Vegas agrees that there figures to be a good amount of back-and-forth in this one, as evidenced by the 50.5 total point projection.
Luton will make a few mistakes in this contest, but given his willingness to run (especially against this Mike Pettine defense), Chark leading the way at receiver and Laviska Shenault likely to suit up, Luton deserves to be part of the streaming conversation. If you’re looking to replace either Patrick Mahomes or Matt Ryan and Tua Tagovailoa isn’t available, give the Washington state native a look.
Duke Johnson, RB, Houston Texans (50% rostered - $16) @ CLE
There is no better season for a Duke Johnson blow-up game than 2020. The truthers have been waiting six years for this. Inexplicably underutilized by two different franchises, the 27-year-old is in a spot to show off and get some revenge. With David Johnson (concussion) unlikely to take the field on Sunday, Duke is the team’s expected RB1. He also has the full confidence of his QB, who said earlier this week “There’s really no difference between the two” when speaking about the respective Johnsons. Stepping in for his injured teammate in Week 9, Johnson was active for 52 of 64 offensive snaps and closed out Houston’s narrow win with 73 scrimmage yards on 20 touches.
The last time Johnson recorded more than 10 totes (he logged 16 rushing attempts last Sunday) was Week 13 of his rookie season (2015) with the Browns. In that effort, he managed 78 rushing yards on 13 attempts. Ironically, two of Cleveland’s three wins that year included double-digit carries from Duke. A player who has demonstrated a three-down skill set, the Miami product figures to have another career effort when he takes on his former team in Week 10. The Browns are only giving up an average of 4.0 YPC to opposing rushers, but the volume — in tandem with his ability to lineup as a receiver out of the slot — provides Johnson with top-20 fantasy appeal.
J.D. McKissic, RB, Washington Football Team (57% rostered - $17) @ DET
J.D. McKISSIC DREW 14 TARGETS IN WEEK 9!!! That’s it. That’s the whole graph.
As much as the Antonio Gibson truthers (myself included) want the rookie to do all the things in Washington, McKissic is the Football Team’s preferred RB on passing downs. Through eight games, McKissic has recorded 47 targets (RB4) to Gibson’s 26 (RB20).
Alex Smith — a man who has a reputation for checking down and who certainly does not want to get hit now — is Washington’s starting QB. That means McKissic figures to get Carolina Reaper Pepper-ed in his Week 10 showdown versus the Lions’ bottom-ranked run defense. Not only is Detroit allowing the most fantasy points to opposing RBs, but this unit is also giving up an average of over 52 receiving yards per week and has gifted the position with the most receiving scores (5) on the season. In a week littered with RB injuries and questionable statuses (CMC, Joe Mixon, Chris Carson), McKissic projects to land on the RB2/RB3 bubble in PPR friendly formats.
KJ Hamler, WR, Denver Broncos (2% rostered - $13) @ LV
Jerry Jeudy is the Broncos rookie WR that everyone is chirping about. And I get it. He’s got first-round draft pedigree and he’s coming off of a monster effort (7-125-1). But he’s also far from a secret; the dude is rostered in 80% of Yahoo leagues. Right behind him, however, is a lesser-discussed first-year player with plenty of boom ability.
Second only to Jeudy in looks (10) and yards by a rookie in Week 9 (75), Hamler posted a career effort last Sunday (6-75-0). Just three days before traveling to Atlanta, Drew Lock specifically noted the chemistry he and Hamler were building, stating that he hoped to “keep [it] rolling.” That’s a trend that figures to continue again in Week 10, as the Broncos take on the division-rival Raiders, a squad with a bottom-10-ranked pass defense.
With Albert Okwuegbunam (ACL) done for the year, Noah Fant still dealing with an ankle injury, and Jeudy (shoulder) popping up on the mid-week injury report, Hamler could further emerge. In a game with a projected point total over 50, there should be more than a few opportunities for the Penn State product to show off his explosive speed and YAC ability. Flex him for a moon shot.
Austin Hooper, TE, Cleveland Browns (54% rostered - $17) vs HOU
For the three weeks prior to being blindsided by appendicitis, Hooper averaged 7.6 targets per game and recorded 5 catches in each contest. He was emerging as a consistent starter (TE6 in Week 4, TE11 in Week 5, TE11 in Week 6) at an inconsistent position. Fully recovered and rejoining an OBJ-less squad, Hooper figures to pick up where he left off. He’s the Yahoo consensus TE11 heading into a Week 10 matchup versus the Texans’ bottom-three pass defense, one that’s allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
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