News & Analysis

Fantasy risers and fallers from Week 10 of the season

By Dan Clasgens
Nov 14, 2017

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CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 24: Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears runs the football toward the endzone for a touchdown in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Soldier Field on September 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Bears defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-17. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

In our weekly fantasy stock market report, we examine some players on the rise, some sliding down and a couple to keep on the radar. Week 10 is in the books. We are down to just a few more slates of action before the fantasy playoffs kick off.

With the byes coming to completion in Week 11, it’s time to make those final roster tweaks to brace for your team’s postseason run. Here are a few players to think about.

Rising up

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

Stafford continues to heat up as the calendar moves along in the season. He threw for three touchdowns and 294 yards on 17-of-26 passing in Sunday’s win over Cleveland. Over his last four contests he is now averaging 336.5 yards through the air with eight touchdowns in that span.

The return of rookie Kenny Golladay to the mix should only help the offense as a whole. Golden Tate clearly remains his favorite target, but Stafford has plenty of options in the passing game with Golladay, Marvin Jones, TJ Jones, and tight Eric Ebron all vying for targets.

The veteran signal-caller is definitely getting his fair share of opportunities in 2017. For the season he ranks third in dropbacks (358), fourth in pass attempts (329) and seventh in completions (206). With the team not getting much out of its running game (29th in the league), Stafford will be expected to continue to carry the offense down the stretch.

Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Thielen torched the Redskins with eight catches on 11 targets for 166 yards and a touchdown in Week 10. He ran routes on 90 percent of his snaps and garnered 39.3 percent of the team’s target share, including two end-zone targets and three deep-ball targets.

There may not be a wide receiver in fantasy football with a higher weekly floor, at least in PPR leagues. He has at least five catches in every single game of 2017. In his nine games this year Thielen has finished as a WR1 four times and fallen outside the top 40 just once.

He currently ranks inside the top six in the NFL in targets (83), receptions (56), and receiving yards (793). Stefon Diggs appears to finally be near 100 percent after missing some time earlier in the season with a groin injury and that should help keep opposing defenses distracted enough for Thielen to continue to work his magic.

Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

In his two games since returning from an ankle injury Shepard has been targeted 21 times. Only three wide receivers have seen a higher rate of passes thrown their way during that timeframe. Shepard has turned those targets into 16 receptions for 212 yards and a touchdown.

With the Giants’ receiving corps being ravaged by injuries, the second-year wideout has become the focal point of the team’s passing attack. On Sunday against the 49ers he garnered 35.3 percent of the team’s targets, including three deep-ball targets.

If New York’s defense continues to struggle like it did in Week 10’s loss at San Francisco, the game flow should benefit Shepard’s stat line in weeks to come. The Giants are giving up 35.3 points per game over their last three outings so expect that trend to continue.

Sliding down

Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears

The last time Howard made his way in the end zone was Week 4, a span of five games. He scored in three of four contests to start the season, but hasn’t hit pay dirt since. That is causing his fantasy value to drop a bit.

Howard’s struggles coincide with Mitch Trubisky taking over as the team’s starting quarterback. However, a closer glance at the numbers suggests the impact of the new quarterback hasn’t been a complete negative.

Before the rookie took over under center Howard was averaging 63 rushing yards per game (4.0 YPC, 2.3 YAC) to go along with the four scores. While the touchdowns have gone away, Howard’s per-game average has risen to 92.8 yards per game (4.1 YPC, 2.8 YAC) over the span. Expect Howard to continue to get a high volume of carries. His upside appears to be limited though as the Bears are struggling to put points on the scoreboard.

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys

For the second time in his last three games, Bryant failed to break double-digit fantasy points, even in PPR leagues, as he finished with just four catches on six targets for 39 yards. He saw just 22.2 percent of the team’s target share in the loss at Atlanta in Week 10.

Week 10 of the 2016 season was the last regular-season game in which Bryant reached 100 yards receiving. This year he’s failed to reach 65 yards receiving in seven of his nine outings. Still, he’s finished inside the top 25 five times, but only once as a WR1.

Bryant will remain a decent fantasy starting option the rest of the way, especially with Dak Prescott running the offense, but his floor keeps him from being considered as nothing more than an average WR2 play. His upside is fading as each week of the season wears on.

Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers

Henry continued to disappoint fantasy owners with a dismal effort in Sunday’s loss at Jacksonville. He was only targeted twice all day and finished with just one catch for seven yards. He only ran routes on 51.4 percent of his snaps.

The second-year tight end has offered some glimpses of hope throughout 2017, but has been mostly a non-factor in the Chargers’ passing attack over his last two contests with only three catches for 18 yards. He now has two catches or less in five of his nine games this season, including two outings where he did not record a reception.

He’s turned in a few nice games this season, but Henry’s production has become too unpredictable to trust him as an option for your lineup now that bye weeks are nearly complete.

On the radar

Elijah McGuire, RB, New York Jets

With Matt Forte (knee) sitting out on Sunday, many expected Bilal Powell to have a big fantasy day in a favorable matchup against the Bucs. However, McGuire saw only three fewer snaps and had one more touch than the veteran. The rookie was also targeted seven times in the passing game compared to just two targets for Powell.

Forte appears to be looking at a multi-week absence. That makes McGuire an appealing waiver-wire grab to stash some depth, but he remains a risky bet for any fantasy lineups with a hard-to-figure out workload.

Brandon LaFell, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

LaFell was targeted 10 times and finished with six catches for 95 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s loss at Tennessee. It was by far his best game of the 2017 campaign. He now has at least four catches in four of his last five games and has scored in two of his last four. He’s been the WR17 in fantasy since Week 7 until now.

The Bengals rank dead last in the NFL in rushing (70.1) and the defense has been a middle of the road unit. That is leading to plenty of passing and some more garbage time production could be ahead. LaFell might not be worth picking up just yet, but keep him on your watch list.

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