We’re nearly halfway-ish through the season, Fam! That means 9 more weeks of genius tinkering. Of course, the most dedicated and passionate managers find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While some weeks 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.
Last week was … something. On the plus side, Gabriel Davis found the end zone and Daniel Jones was fantasy’s QB13. Unfortunately, my other picks tanked. Guess that means it’s only UP from here.
On to Week 9!
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Houston Texans (6% rostered, $24)
Does the thought of an oft-injured player dealing with a lingering soft tissue issue scream "Let’s GOOOO!!!"
Nah. But that’s not the assignment.
Tyrod Taylor was activated off IR and resumed practice last week. He avoided any known setbacks, but still sat out Week 8 versus the Rams (wonder if Aaron Donald had anything to do with that decision?). He’s currently day-to-day but the expectation is that he’ll start on Sunday at Miami.
Taylor was impressively efficient before hurting his hammy in Week 2. He completed 31 of 44 pass attempts, threw for 416 yards, ran for 55 yards and scored 4 TDs over nearly six quarters. Taylor’s Week 1 performance was enough to make him the QB12 for the week.
Ironically the Dolphins are allowing an average of 291 passing yards per game. That’s exactly what Taylor threw for versus the Jags. The Phins give up 55 rushing yards and a ground score to Josh Allen last week. Of course, I’m not intimating that Tyrod is in the same category as the Bills’ superstar signal caller, but if you’re missing Tom Brady or got blindsided by Aaron Rodgers then maybe say a prayer for Tygod. FF: 278 passing yards, 2 TDs, 28 rushing yards
Jordan Love, QB, Green Bay Packers (6% rostered, $20)
Some see the Packers’ glass being Aaron Rodgers-empty. Others see it as Jordan Love full.
Green Bay’s backup QB may only have seven career attempts to his name, but that’s that much less tape for an already beleaguered Chiefs defense to study. While KC looked better in Week 8, and the addition of Melvin Ingram should eventually help, the Chiefs defense is far from being a cohesive unit. They let Daniel Jones (who lost his No. 1 WR in the first half) sneak into the top-15 FF QBs last week.
Nevermind the fact that Love could be pulled into production by two of the best — Davante Adams and Aaron Jones — at their respective positions. L'Jarius Sneed, KC’s leading CB (479 snaps on the season), is allowing a passer rating of 119.9 percent (CB142). And the Chiefs run defense is ranked No. 29 per Football Outsider’s Rush DVOA. Plus, what we’ve seen of Love hasn’t been bad. He completed 5 of those aforementioned 7 attempts for 68 yards in the season opener. We know via his career at Utah State that he’s a dual-threat who can also extend plays with his legs (9 rushing TDs over three years).
I’m not expecting a clean performance from Love. But I do think he can take advantage of his situation and flirt with top-15 fantasy numbers. I’d start him over Jimmy G or Matt Ryan.
Derrick Gore, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (18% rostered, $10)
No relation to Frank, but he exhibits a similarly determined running style.
Derrick Gore stunned Chiefs fans — and Darrel Williams investors — in Week 8, carrying the ball 11 times for 48 yards and a score. The 25-year-old admitted that he, too, was surprised by his extended playing time, but took full advantage of the opportunity nonetheless.
Undrafted out of Louisiana-Monroe, Gore is always falling forward and excels in short yardage. He wasn’t involved in the passing game (Williams, however, converted all 6 of his looks) but was only out-touched by Williams by two totes last Monday night. Gore’s fresh legs figure to work on a short week. He’ll face off against a Packers’ rush defense that’s ranked No. 30 (DVOA) and that’s allowed the fourth-highest YPC (4.7) on the season.
Gore offers fantasy managers the chance to flex and chase (those TDs).
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins (59% rostered, $18)
Longtime DeVante Parker apologist here. Apparently, I’m not the only one.
After shying away from the contested catch specialist in Year 1, Tua Tagovailoa made a concerted effort to get Parker more involved immediately. Even after the second-year QB was sidelined with a rib injury, Parker remained a focal point for the offense, averaging 8 looks per game before injuring his hamstring ahead of Week 5. That number jumped to 11 when Parker returned from injury in Week 8 and recorded an 8-85-0 stat line against an excellent Bills defense.
Parker is going to be in the WR3 conversation as long as he’s healthy, partially because of Miami’s concentrated passing tree (no Will Fuller again in Week 9) and partially because of his red-zone appeal. However, he sneaks inside the top-30 this week, largely due to the matchup versus Houston.
The Texans have allowed the sixth-most receiving yards (nearly 180 per week) to opposing WRs. Furthermore, the Dolphins boast the eighth-highest implied total for the week (26). That means plenty of Parker on Sunday. FF: 6-76-1
Tyler Conklin, TE, Minnesota Vikings (29% rostered, $17)
More times than not, we’re chasing TDs — not targets — at the tight end position. Tyler Conklin has been serving up the latter, though. Averaging over 5 looks per game (TE11), Conklin is coming off his second-most productive outing of the year (5 of 7 for 57 yards).
He should get peppered again in Week 9, as the Vikings are 6-point underdogs in a road game at Baltimore with an over/under of 49.5. Furthermore, the Ravens have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Over seven games, Baltimore has given up 6 TDs to TEs, which means Conklin is in line for all of the fantasy fun. He’s a top-12 play come Sunday.
Bonus TE: Albert Okwuegbunam, Denver Broncos (1% rostered, $10)
If Noah Fant, who is currently on the COVID list, can’t produce two negative tests before Sunday then it’s Albert O. time! Okwuegbunam (hamstring) returned from IR last week and converted all three of his looks for 34 yards.
Jerry Jeudy’s return depresses Al’s potential target total in an already low-passing volume offense, but the matchup sets up well for the Broncos' No. 2 TE. Dallas’ cornerbacks have been solid. They held Justin Jefferson in check last Sunday (2-21-0) while allowing the previously mentioned Conklin to reel in 5 balls. With most of the defensive attention on Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, Okwuegbunam could get loose, particularly in the red area of the field.
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