Fantasy Football Stock Watch: NFL Week 13
Howard Bender takes a look at the rising and falling value of a number of NFL players you'll want to keep tabs on heading into Week 13 of the fantasy football season.
Wow. Week 12 came and went like a hurricane and the aftermath left for the fantasy community to deal with does not look good. We saw a number of key injuries happen and the reports on Monday were ugly for many. Some guys managed to escape relatively unscathed, but there are plenty of risers and fallers on the Stock Watch to take notice of and game-plan for moving forward.
Jeff Driskel l, QB CIN – We can’t say we’re too excited about the Cincinnati Bengals and the hot mess they’ve become, but if there’s a silver lining we can take away from Andy Dalton ’s trip to IR due to a thumb injury, it’s that owners in 2-QB and superflex leagues get another possible quarterback to add to their mix. Driskell isn’t a world-beater by any stretch of the imagination, but he seems relatively competent and let’s face it…the shoes to fill aren’t all that big. Driskell does a good job of extending plays with his legs and he’s not afraid to take off running, so there’s that element. Now we just have to see how he handles the passing game with a (hopefully) returning A.J. Green . He seemed to hook up nicely with Tyler Boyd this pas week, but we also have to take that with a grain of salt as the Browns definitely took their foot off the gas Sunday.
Austin Ekeler , RB LAC – This is probably the biggest stock rise of the week as Melvin Gordon suffered a sprained MCL and is expected to miss a few weeks of action. While Justin Jackson will see an increase in snaps and touches, Ekeler is likely to be the primary beneficiary of this change in the backfield hierarchy. He’ll retain all of the third-down and pass-catching work he already handles, but you should also expect to see him do some extra work on the early downs as well. The Chargers won’t run him into the ground for fear of another injury, but he gives them the best possible chance to win and even Anthony Lynn won’t screw that up.
Chris Thompson , RB WAS – Inch by inch, step by step, slowly we creep back into fantasy relevance. After a multi-week absence due to some broken ribs, Thompson is back on the practice field and is already looking good in individual drills. Colt McCoy looked fine in his debut after Alex Smith landed on IR, but there has definitely been a missing element to the Redskins offense without Thompson on the field. Sorry, Kapri Bibbs , but you just don’t cut it. Thompson is looking to get back onto the field this week and if he does, he should be in a pretty good place facing a team like the Eagles who are dealing with massive injuries on defense and rank 24th against running back pass plays. Remember, this team’s playbook was designed for Smith, so the check-downs should be abundant.
Bruce Ellington , WR DET – With the news that Marvin Jones was placed on Injured Reserve with a knee injury, the hierarchy for the Lions receiving corps gets an adjustment and the biggest beneficiary looks to be Ellington. Of course, we’ll add in “if he can stay healthy,” as that’s always been an issue with him, but with Kenny Golladay sliding up into the No. 1 slot, the next biggest bump in targets should go to Ellington. Just make sure you’re tracking the snaps and targets for Ellington and T.J. Jones and see how they are lining up, for the most part. Ellington was seeing an increase in snaps out of the slot when Golden Tate was traded, but with the loss of Jones, we may see Ellington moved to the outside which could help increase his red zone targets.
Demaryius Thomas , WR HOU – We’re not going to flip out over one multi-touchdown game, but it was obviously encouraging to see Thomas receive, not just a legitimate number of targets in a game (seven), but also a heavy usage inside the red zone as well. If he’s worked himself into the good graces of Deshaun Watson and is going to be a bigger part of this passing attack, then he’s going to be a strong asset for the fantasy playoffs. Of course, there was talk coming out of Denver saying he lost a step and is showing his age, but before we etch those comments in stone, let’s watch his follow-up game in Week 13 and see if there’s really anything to it or if it’s just bad blood between him and the Broncos.
Mo Allie-Cox/Eric Swoope, TE IND – The news broke Monday that Jack Doyle suffered an injury to his kidney and was rushed to the hospital for an immediate procedure. He’s officially done for the year. With the Colts using 2-TE sets regularly, someone has to fill the gap. It’s not like Eric Ebron is going to start seeing all the targets between the 20s, is he? When Doyle was out earlier, it was Swoope who saw the heavy dose of targets, but now that he’s missed multiple weeks with a knee injury, Allie-Cox steps into a bigger role. It will be one or the other, probably not both. So provided Allie-Cox isn’t still bothered by a calf issue, he’s the guy to look at first.
Matt LaCosse , TE DEN – More injuries and more defaults changing as Jeff Heuerman suffered a bruised lung and broken ribs during Sunday’s game which pushed LaCosse into the lead tight end role in Denver. We saw Heuerman receive a significant bump in targets after the Demaryius Thomas trade and we all saw LaCosse catch a touchdown this week, so if you’re desperate for help at this garbage can of a position, LaCosse could be someone to add.
Carson Wentz , QB PHI – Do you think, after the way Wentz’ season started last year, there was any way we’d see the Philly brethren turn on him so quickly? Well, the fantasy community seems to have followed suit and after a third-straight meh performance, people are jumping ship. Personally, I think they’re overreacting, but one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Let the snowflakes who require instant gratification drop Wentz and you can scoop him up to see what really happens. With match-ups against the Rams and Houston in Weeks 15 and 16, he could prove to be the fantasy champion you all expected when you drafted him. We’re sorry not every QB can be Patrick Mahomes , people, but Wentz is far from the throwaway you purport him to be.
Nick Mullens , QB SF – Speaking of throwaways, Mullens is good to go for the scrap heap. Regardless of what his late-season schedule looks like, Mullens has had back-to-back disappointments and this one was the absolute worst as the 49ers were shut down by the Bucs defense, arguably the worst defense in the NFL. Blame it on the sudden loss of Marquise Goodwin if you like, but the fact remains that Mullens is not that good of a quarterback and his first-game success against the raiders was clearly a lack of preparation on Oakland’s part.
Blake Bortles , QB JAC – It only took two years to notice, but finally, the Jaguars have benched Bortles in favor of…well…any old arm will do. It will be Cody Kessler taking over, so don’t think this is the last you’ve seen of Bortles. The change at OC from Nathaniel Hackett to QB Coach Scott Milanovich should be interesting to watch, but it seems unlikely that Milanovich is also ready to write off Bortles completely as well. The Jaguars are going to plod forward as a run-first team, so the QB work is going to be downsized, but should Kessler fail to move the passing game in the right direction, he too could be a casualty.
Leonard Fournette , RB JAC – In the category of Biggest Douche Move by a Football Player, the winner of the award is easily Fournette who, in addition to being ejected from Sunday’s contest, received a one-game suspension for fighting. The running back apologized to his fans and to his teammates, but he also defended his actions as, “that’s how I was raised,” when questioned as to why he jumped into the fracas and took a lead role in perpetuating the fight. It was bad enough having the endure the hamstring issues and his absence from most of the season, but just when we get him back, we have to replace him again at the most-crucial time of year? You gotta be kidding me. Gues who’s name is going to appear right after Le’Veon Bell’s when we start seeing all the 2018 Bust articles come out?
Marlon Mack , RB IND – Another letdown here as Mack is now sitting in the league’s concussion protocol at the worst time of year. You could see just how different the offense looked Sunday when Mack was in and when he wasn’t and now fantasy owners are forced to find a replacement for him as well if he doesn’t get cleared. He’s obviously not droppable at the moment, but keep in mind that concussions are different for every player and if he struggles to be ready even just a little bit, he’ll be safely parked on fantasy benches everywhere.
James White , RB NE – Tough to say White’s stock is truly falling, but after a subpar game against the Jets and the Patriots adding Rex Burkhead to their 53-man roster, it is very possible that we see the pass-catching RB duties get split between White and Burkhead. There’s no guarantee, of course, but Burkhead’s activation should play a serious role here and we’ve seen before how the Patriots owning a three-headed monster in their backfield is just fine by Bill Belichick.
Keke Coutee , WR HOU – Hamstring issues slowed down Coutee’s ascension earlier in the season and now in his second game back from another extended absence, he suffers another hamstring issue and missed almost half the game. His status for Week 13 is up in the air right now, but between Demaryius Thomas seeing more looks and yet another disappointing effort from Coutee, it’s time we moved on and stopped giving him the benefit of the doubt because it’s fun to say his name.