LeGarrette Blount RB/New England Patriots (20.1% Owned)
After Jonas Gray destroyed the Colts for over 200 yards and four scores, it was only right to assume that the running game would continue to be a consistent contributor to the team's offense. However, in typical Bill Belichick fashion, he threw a wrench into the plans of many fantasy owners as Gray saw a grand total of 0 snaps after showing up late to practice this week. To punish fantasy owners that used a high waiver priority selection on Gray even more, Belichick relied on a running back that was just signed off of waivers at the end of this week.
Blount was released from the Steelers last week after reports surfaced from several NFL insiders that Blount's attitude within the Steelers locker room was beginning to be a detriment to the team. The Patriots were the only team that put in a claim for the veteran running back, and early returns are proving profitable on the team's investment. Blount gashed the vaunted Lions defense for 78 yards on 12 carries and added two touchdowns, taking the opportunity given to him by Jonas Gray's tardiness and making the most of it.
Going forward I would expect Blount to control the bulk of the carries on the Patriots offense. However, as I have said in the past the Patriots determine the use of their running backs as the game progresses, making them very hard to rely on consistently from a fantasy spandpoint. If Blount does see 15-20 carries a game I have no doubt that he has the ability to post RB2-type number playing on one of the best offenses in the game.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
Value: Low RB2/RB3
Jarvis Landry WR/Miami Dolphins (11.2% Owned)
When you go back and look take a closer look at the 2014 NFL Draft it is hard to imagine that there was a defense capable of stopping the talent that was on the LSU offense last season. The team was absolutely loaded with talent, evidence by the five players not only drafted, (Alfred Blue, Jeremy Hill, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr, Zach Mettengberger) but playing large roles on their respective teams.
While Odell Beckham will steal the headlines with his circus catches, and deservedly so, the Dolphins rookie is quietly having a very good rookie season. Landry ranks 7th among rookie receivers in receptions (42) and has been a consistent target near the red zone, racking up four touchdown receptions in the team’s last four games.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has started developed into what the Dolphins had hoped for when they drafted him eighth overall in 2012. While Tannehill has continued to struggle pushing the ball down the field (ranked no. 22 in Deep Ball Accuracy by PFF), Landry has made a living in the intermediate area of the field, hauling in all but three of his receptions within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
Workload potential is one of the biggest things to look for when determining whether or not to invest in someone off of the waiver wire, and with five or targets in 7 of 10 games this season, Landry has the potential to be an above-average flex play.
Recommendation: Add In All Leages
Charles Johnson WR/Minnesota Vikings (.3% Owned)
Going into the season I’m sure a lot of people would have expected someone like Cordarelle Patterson or Greg Jennings to be the focal point of the teams passing attack. However, with a slew of injuries on the offensive side of the ball, and a rookie quarterback trying to work through the trials and tribulations that come with being an NFL starting quarterback, it's Charles Johnson who is quietly becoming the preferred option in the Vikings passing game.
After racking up 6 catches for 87 yards last wee,k Johnson backed up the performance with yet another strong one. Johnson saw a team-high 11 targets, and had it not been for a couple of drops, Johnson could have had a much larger afternoon.
With both Jarius Wright and Cordarrelle Patterson battling injuries, there's a big opportunity for Johnson to show he can be a consistent option for Teddy Bridgewater in the future. I would classify Johnson as a matchup-dependent WR3 as of now until I can see him catch more than 50% passes on a given week.
Recommendation: Add In Deeper Leagues
Value: WR4 w/Potential
Carlos Hyde RB/San Francisco 49ers (19% Owned)
It is getting to be that time of year fantasy football fans, and no I am not talking about the playoffs, but the time of year where Frank Gore’s production starts to diminish. Over the last 6 weeks, Gore has only averaged more than 4.0 YPC one time and with a thoroughbred horse in Carlos Hyde waiting in the stables, I feel Gore could ultimately see his role reduced in half in the very near future.
For some reason coaches are not as quick to give up on the older running back even when it is clear that the team has a more explosive option waiting in the wings. This is the exact dilemma that coach Harbaugh is facing right now with between veteran Frank Gore and rookie second-round pick Carlos Hyde. Hyde has started to come on strong in the second half. Over the last month, he's averaged 4.27 yards per carry on 22 carries, and has taken over as the team’s short-yardage/goal line back. Going forward I would not be surprised to see the team split carries between the two backs pretty evenly. With Gore’s history of wearing down towards the end of the season, and having a more talented option waiting in the wings, I would not be surprised to see the 49ers get the kid more involved in the offense.
With two meetings with Seattle in three weeks, as well as the NFC West-leading Cardinals for games that could have implications as to who wins the division, the 49ers offense is going to need to step up if they want a chance to get back in the division race. Hyde is still a touchdown-dependent RB4 at the moment, but if his playing time continues to increase there is the potential for him to be an above average flex option in the near future.
Recommendation: Add in Deep Leagues
Value: RB4 w/Poetential
Players to Monitor
Robert Turbin RB/Seattle Seahawks (2.6% Owned)
Marshawn Lynch has been at the center of the drama surrounding the Seattle Seahawks this season; whether it be not getting on the bus after disgruntled wide receiver Percy Harvin was traded, or refusing to go with the team to the locker room during half time, something is going on in Seattle that is causing the team to play at a much lower level than last season. Lynch has reportedly been dealing with a back injury the last couple of weeks, and it has shown in his recent production. Now you may look at his recent box score and think a guy with two games of 120 or more rushing yards is in no way showing effects of being injured. Well, if you take a closer look at the Seahawks offense, you can just tell that Lynch was not running the same aggressive mentality that has made him so successful in the past.
The Seahawks have a quick turnaround this week, as they get ready for a Thanksgiving Day matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. It's fully expected that Lynch will try and go, but if for whatever reason he is unable to go, the combination of Robert Turbin and Christine Michael will handle the workload for the Seattle offense.
Justin Hunter WR/Tennessee Titans (14.5% Owned)
Justin Hunter has been one of my biggest letdowns this season from a fantasy perspective. After leading the NFL in receiving yards during the preseason and being the talk of Titans camp during the offseason, many were expecting the second-year man to breakout in a major way this season. Well things have not exactly gone as expected, as Hunter has struggled to establish chemistry with any of the three quarterbacks the Titans have put out there. However, with rookie Zach Mettenberger taking the reins of the Titans offense, I have a feeling Hunter could finish the season off strong. Since week 8 when Mettenberger took over, Hunter has seen 10 or more targets in a game twice and scored two touchdowns. But, with a catch rate of just over 42%, Hunter will need to be more efficient if he wants to take the next step in his development. Keep an eye on Hunter folks, with his big-play potential he could be a major component of the Titans offense down the stretch.