By Joe Burns
The NFL is already a quarter through the season and fantasy teams and as bye weeks begin, fantasy owners are entering a time where watching your line-ups can make or break a winning season. Some players with big expectations just aren’t performing like they were expected to and should be dropped before it’s too late. Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, and Washington all have byes this week, and while your first thought may be to snag up a player to cover for your starters, you should also be looking at players who may otherwise be picked up if they were playing this weekend. Check the free agents and snag these players from the waiver wire before your opponents find them next week.
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints RB
Despite some teams like the Chiefs and Seahawks showing a hard-hitting run-first offense can still win games in this era, the game has changed so much around the league that running backs can’t make it anymore without some proficiency in the passing game. Kamara has shown just that since being drafted by the Saints in the third round, catching at least three passes in his first three games and a whopping 10 in Week 4 for 71 yards and a touchdown against Miami. Even with Adrian Peterson revealing to be a bust, he has only managed 8 rushing attempts behind Mark Ingram in the past three weeks. Regardless of his lack of carries, his ability to catch the ball makes him a valuable component to New Orleans offense and could prompt more snaps moving forward. The Saints are on a bye this week, but I am sure anybody scouring for players will try to pick him up before Week 6’s games so if you have a roster spot I strongly encourage grabbing him now.
Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings RB
While Murray has mostly sat on the bench so far, he is going to be thrust into the role as the Vikings workhorse after Dalvin Cook left Week 4 after injuring his ACL. While he hasn’t shown anything to prove he is a must pick up, averaging 2.5 carries and 0.6 points in the first three weeks, he touched the ball 10 times after Cook left the game and has plenty of upside and a high floor going forward. Next week the Vikings face the Bears who rank 6th in the NFL in rushing defense with 86 yards per game allowed, but then face Green Bay and Baltimore who rank 19th and 25th, respectively. Although he may not be your best option next week, it is worth it to pick him up and see how he adapts to a heavier work-load before throwing him into your lineup Week 6.
Will Fuller V, Houston Texans WR
While I don’t believe all the Deshaun Watson hype just yet (I mean he does play for the Texans), I do think picking up his newest receiver Fuller V is a power play. First off, he snagged two touchdowns in his first game back from a shattered collarbone; while this could easily be a bit of luck, it immediately puts him in as the Texans third option through the air. Watson has shown trust in him, and with defensive secondaries blanketing DeAndre Hopkins they may forget to cover the Fighting Irish alumni who has absolute potential to be a vertical threat. Worth playing as a flex the next two weeks against sub-par Kansas City and Cleveland secondaries that ranks 26th and 24th in the league against the pass, he also has potential to go above that if Watson can manage to take hold of the Texans offense and shows chemistry with the young receiver.
Evan Engram, New York Giants TE
The market for tight ends has been dry to say the least this season, and as a result you may have to look in places you wouldn’t think of for some production in that spot on your roster. Of all the teams, I know the Giants’ roster would probably be the last place to look for an offensive weapon, but hear me out. Due to the lack of any real running game, injuries and incompetence throughout the wide receivers, and the sad sight that is Eli’s deep-ball (guy looks like he is throwing shuttlecocks out there), the only person who has managed to stand out is rookie tight end Evan Engram.
He has caught 19 of 30 targets in the first four games, averaging 5 receptions for 50 yards per game. While the complete absence of offense in New York makes it improbable he’ll put up big numbers on a regular basis, his connection with Eli and consistent targets mean he is a good choice for someone looking to add some stability to the position.
Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers TE
I tried, I really tried.
I know Bennett is one of the best in the game at his position and can add a huge dimension to the team he plays for, but it just isn’t working out with the Packers. Despite being one of the biggest tight ends to have in the past five years with the Bears and Patriots, he has looked like a completely different player for Green Bay. It seems that he is Aaron Rodgers last option on any play, and even when he does get targeted he drops it or doesn’t get any yards out of the catch. He hasn’t broken 5 points all season, which makes sense considering he hit his season high in receptions last game with six catches for 39 yards. SIX! 39!
I know you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh! The Packers play the Cowboys! That sounds like the perfect type of game for him to get on track and start producing!” Wrong. Wrong, wrong, WRONG. Dallas has only allowed one touchdown to tight ends in their first four games, and rank 13 against opposing tight ends, only allowing 191 yards. If Sean lee returns, they may stop him all-together. Bennett very well may go out and prove me wrong, but after four games of abysmal performances, I believe it’s time to pull the plug and trade him to some desperate fool who thinks he can turn it around.
Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns RB
Crowell had big expectations from fantasy owners and the Browns organization heading into the season, being projected as the new workhorse for a franchise that has historically had to rely on running due to a revolving door of pitiful quarterbacks. This seemed to be the case after he received 17 carries and two receptions for 66 yards in the first game of the season, but after only 22 carries and three receptions since then it seems he is being phased out of the offense.
Crowell’s decrease in carries directly correlates to the rise of Duke Johnson Jr., a versatile back that has shown he can be effective in both the passing game and the red zone. Although Johnson has seen the majority of his touches through receptions, with 15 catches for 128 yards the past two weeks, he has also scored a two touchdowns from six carries in that same time. While Crowell will probably receive more overall carries on the ground, it is becoming evident that Johnson is their goal-line man and carries a much larger role in the offense. Switch the two if you still can, but at the least I suggest offloading Crowell.
Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders WR
Suddenly, things are not looking good for Oakland. The Raiders looked like they had the components to build upon last year and win the division, or maybe even make a deep playoff run. This dream has quickly evaporated: their amazing offensive line was great until Derek Carr left the game with a back injury this past weekend, their receivers looked as if they were the best pairing in the league. With Michael Crabtree also injured, EJ Manuel now quarterbacks a team with only one offensive weapon: Amari Cooper.
Although Cooper has shown to be an explosive player that can shred defenses on his day, I don’t think he has proven he has what it takes to carry an offense without support. After starting the season against the Titans with five receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown, he has only caught 7 passes since then for 48 yards. This stat looks bad enough, but it gets worse when you realize he leads the NFL with 7 dropped passes. He is going to get a huge amount of targets next week, but I think his sub-par hands this season and the lack of accuracy from the guy throwing to him make him a clear sit for Week 5.