The Late Week Hustle - Week 4

The Late Week Hustle

by @dwainmcfarland

Fantasy football is a fluid game.  Yeah, your waiver wires have already ran for the week and you are probably settling in on your lineups, but things change. 

You have new information at your disposal such as drops your league mates made, unexpected late week injuries, and other news.  That is why each week I will be bringing you an update on Thursday or Friday to help you digest new info and make the adjustments you need to win on Sunday or better equip your team for the long run. 

In the content below you will see me refer to player utilization a ton.  Player utilization refers to the underlying drivers that must be there for consistent fantasy performance. 

  • Team plays tell us about coaching philosophy.  Up tempo play callers give us more of what we want in fantasy - volume. 
  • Snap percentages provide us our first indicator of player involvement.  Not on the field, welp you know rest of that equation ...
  • Routes Ran per Drop Back help us understand who coaches want on the field when the ball is in the air.  This is a very telling, yet often overlooked data point.
  • Target percentages are a well known stat at this point, but can be misleading if out of context.  We don't want to pick up a player with 20% of the targets last week when he was only on the field for 50% of the snaps and only ran routes 40% of the team drop backs.

It is ALL about context and these indicators when used together can paint a very telling picture that will help you dominate your opponents by pivoting away from bad choices to find the true gems.  So, let's dive in and start out hustling your league mates.

Late Week Injury News & Impact

Below is a run down of most skill position injury news we likely didn't have when league waiver wires ran.  If a player missed last week (like Jack Doyle) I likely will not cover them here. 

For each player I provide injury info as well as the potential downstream impacts to other players on the roster.

WR Keenan Allen did not participate in practice on Wednesday or Thursday but was able to get a limited session in on Friday due to knee and tooth ailments. The limited session on Friday isn't as encouraging as a full practice, lets hope this has more to do with his tooth issue than his knee and maybe the Chargers coaching staff was just giving their star wideout a break. 

If for some reason he is out, both Tyrell Williams and Mike Williams get nice bumps in offensive involvement.  Each have been sharing around 10% target share so far - that probably doubles for both if Keenan can't go. Below is the Chargers full utilization break down:

WK 3 Chargers Utilization2

WR Randall Cobb was added to the injury report and is considered to be a game time decision after limited practices on Thursday and Friday due to a hamstring issue. 

Green Bay has been a four man passing attack so far this season, which often leaves someone left out of the box score each week.  If Cobb can't go, Davante Adams, Jimmy Graham and Geronimo Allison will all see increased utilization.  Cobb has accounted for 31%, 14%, and 25% of the targets in the first three weeks. Below is a full utilization break down for reference:

WK 3 Green Bay Utilization

WR Golden Tate was added to the injury report on Friday after injuring his hip during practice.  He is listed as questionable, it is important to note that Friday adds are pretty rare and usually not a good sign for a player's chances on Sunday. 

This is a three man passing game for the Lions so monitor closely Sunday morning and if Tate can't go it moves Kenny Golladay into must start status and makes Marvin Jones a very nice flex play in most leagues.  Full Lions utilization:

WK 3 Lions Utilization

RB Matt Breida was downgraded from full participant to limited participant on Friday after being limited Wednesday but logging a full practice on Thursday.  Breida described himself as a game time decision for Sunday. 

With Alfred Morris also ailing this means Raheem Mostert and Kyle Juszczyk could get more work if you are desperate.  This is a late game at the Chargers so monitor Sunday morning and have options available.

RB Alfred Morris was added to the injury report on Thursday with a knee issue.  He was limited Thursday and Friday.  See above.

RB Chris Carson was limited all week in practice due to a hip injury. This one isn't considered serious but still a situation to monitor Sunday.

If he is out it is a big upgrade for Rashaad Penny and a small upgrade to Mike Davis (Prosise likely out too).

TE Jake Butt tore his ACL on Thursday and unfortunately will miss the remainder of the season.  

This could mean more targets for WR Courtland Sutton, TE Jake Heuerman and the running backs. If you are in a pinch at TE there are worse options than Heuerman. His snaps were declining with the emergence of Butt however, they were pulling in nice targets as a tandem and some of those have to go to him now.

WK 3 Broncos Utilization3

Waiver Wire - Looking Ahead

First of all, if you haven't read Jim Day's weekly waiver wire article please do so here.  Each week in this space I will focus on a few areas:

  • One or two under the radar waiver options I am being proactive on
  • Players on the mend I am being proactive about now
  • Players I am monitoring in week 4
  • Second opinions on any players from Jim's list I may view differently

I may or may not have recommendations every week for each category.  

One word of advice before we dive in on these - only you know your league.  If you are in a smaller league some of these guys may not be viable for you.  If you are in crazy deep leagues (like most of mine) many of these guys won't be available. 

I will add context where I can on this where I can, but trust you to hold yourself accountable for making the right choices.

Under the Radar

Medium to Large Leagues

WR Taywan Taylor is my top player this week because he checks multiple criteria off that I am big on:

  • Opportunity Knocks:  WR Rishard Matthews requested his release from the team and TE Delanie Walker is already out for the season.
  • Talent:  Ascending player that drew comparisons to Stefon Diggs and Derrick Mason when drafted by the Titans in round 3 in 2017.  A rugged player who can win underneath with quickness (Best 3 Cone of all WRs in class - 6.57 seconds) or stretch the field vertically.  Explosive (11'00" Broad Jump) with the ball in his hands and can manufacture yards after catch.
  • Scheme Fit: OC Matt LaFleur uses a lot of bunch and tight formations, as well as motion in his scheme.  Pair this with fact that defenses are focused on Corey Davis and you have a recipe for 1:1 matchups all over the field.
  • Great Utilization Trends:  Taywan was already gaining steam with the coaching staff over the last few weeks (maybe part of why Matthews wanted a release).  His snaps, routes per drop back, and target shares have all risen each week so far.

WK 3 Titans Utilization2

On the Mend

Below are a few players that are progressing well and could return to the field as soon as this week but likely not later than the next couple of weeks.  This is not meant to be an extensive list and will not cover obvious guys like Marquise Goodwin or Doug Baldwin.

Smaller Leagues

WR Alshon Jeffery - Questionable for this week due to his shoulder and an illness.  Even if he doesn't play this week he is close to a return.  

Larger Leagues

TE Hayden Hurst - Questionable for this week, but participated in limited fashion every day. 

He was set to be a major part of this offense before his injury.  If you are hurting at TE and have room for the long view approach here he is a good add.  Even if active I wouldn't trust him for week four action though.


Larger Leagues

WR Martavis Bryant - Increased snaps, routes per drop back, and targets each of last two weeks. 

Amari Cooper continuing to struggle helps and fact they deactivated Seth Roberts shows some trust from Gruden.  Oakland runs 3WR sets ~67% of the time.

WR Terrelle Pryor - Increased snaps and routes per drop back each of last two weeks. 

Robby Anderson routes per drop back peaked in week two when the Jets trailed most of the game.  Need to determine if Pryor is seeing field due to blocking (Anderson bad at this) or if he is truly ascending to the second WR on the team.

WR Cameron Meredith - Finally got on the field in week 3 and caught one pass for a touchdown. 

Snaps and routes per drop back are currently too low, but want to see if he gets a bump in this explosive offense. 

WR DeVante Parker - Like Meredith he also finally saw the field.  While he didn't get a touchdown, his utilization numbers were much stronger running routes on 77% of drop backs which only trailed Kenny Stills.

Folks are sick of this guy, but he was a 1st round pick with some talent so its worth monitoring.

TE Mike Gesicki - Increased snaps each of last 3 weeks.

Still has a way to go due to inconsistent routes per drop back and targets, but getting on field more.  A.J. Derby is likely inactive this week so Gesicki may get his chance to shine.

TE Jonnu Smith - Playing almost all the snaps and getting steady routes per drop back in low 80% range.

Like Taywan Taylor he could see increased volume with the departure of Rishard Matthews.  He is on the field and running routes which means there is a chance to integrate further.

Second Opinions

All Leagues

WR Sterling Shepard - I was surprised to see Shepard available a few times in some of my larger leagues this week.  With Evan Engram out and the double coverage Odell Beckham Jr. is likely to see, Shepard has a WR3 floor and a WR1 ceiling this week vs the Saints (See Calvin Ridley).

Larger Leagues

TE Jonnu Smith - See Monitoring.

TE Mike Gesicki - See Monitoring.

Sneaky Cuts

If you are considering picking up Taywan Taylor or any of the others mentioned above but are struggling with who to cut, there are is a strategy I like to utilize when in this circumstance.  I call it floating. 

The idea is to cut a player you can likely reacquire next week (i.e. float) because your league mates won't notice them while you get a look at a player that will actually be on the field (and thus more likely to be a hot commodity next week if they go off).

There are a couple of tactics I like to deploy when floating:

Tactic 1:  Cut middling level players that are on a bye.

This week Carolina and Washington are on bye.  Paul Richardson, Josh Doctson, and C.J. Anderson all fit the bill.  I have cut all of these players everywhere I can for Taywan with the exception of C.J. due to the size of the leagues I play in where free agent runners are extinct.

Tactic 2:  Cut middling level players out due to injury this week.  

This week Anthony Miller (all leagues) and Jack Doyle (small leagues only) potentially fit this bill.

Well that is it for week four.  Good luck to everyone this weekend, unless you by some random chance are playing me!!!

If you want more information similar to what you found in this article you can every Tuesday on The Tuesday Night Hustle pod cast with myself and Brian Drake.  Listen live or on demand.

Additionally, you can follow me on twitter @dwainmcfarland where I am often posting analytical type info and sometimes film break downs.

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