As we approach the midway point in the season, it is rare that we get the opportunity to break out our highest category. The approaching trade deadline has seen a few names switch teams, with the biggest so far being that of the New England backup quarterback being sent from one coast to another. Beyond that, we have several solid pickups and a few players on our radar as this is another tough week with six teams on the bye. Something for everyone, on to the wonders!
QB Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco
New England held onto Garoppolo as long as it possibly could, and a day before the trade deadline it pulled the trigger and moved its long time backup to the west coast. San Francisco was desperate for something good behind center. The off-season signing of Brian Hoyer was a bust, as he went winless in six starts. C.J. Beathard was not much better in his two starts, thus San Francisco had its hand forced and made a move. Garoppolo will immediately become the starter, and though it could be that it takes him a week to get up to speed, he will end up being a player who will put up around 250 passing yards per game with a couple of touchdown throws. With the bye weeks continuing, that makes him an excellent backup fantasy quarterback.
RB Alex Collins, Baltimore
Baltimore may have finally found a player to carry the ball on a consistent basis, and that is Alex Collins. Against Miami last week, he rushed for 113 yards while also tacking on 30 yards by air. We would have Collins grouped in our highest category, but the uncertainty at the quarterback position gives us pause that defenses may be able to stack the line against him. Plus, with Terrance West and Buck Allen still in the mix, Collins’ hold on the starting position is precarious. With that said, Collins is available in half the online leagues. Grab him and enjoy what will be some excellent short term fantasy success.
WR Robby Anderson, New York Jets
The Jets have found a way to get some consistency with their passing attack, with the main beneficiary of that being Robby Anderson. Against Atlanta this week, Anderson was good for six catches and 104 yards, including one for a touchdown. That gives him touchdowns in back-to-back games. Josh McCown looks to him early and often, making Anderson a solid pickup this week.
On the Radar
We are grouping these two players together as they are both on this week’s radar. We have our doubts that Russell Wilson will be throwing for 450 yards on a regular basis, but when he does, that brings to light some of the players he is throwing the ball to. Lockett gets the slight edge if forced to choose, as he has been seeing a little more of the ball. Last week, he caught six passes for 121 yards, a week after hauling in four passes for 29 yards. Richardson is right behind him, as two of his six catches this past week got him in the end zone. His 105 yards this week came on the heels of a 61-yard performance last week. Doug Baldwin is also in the mix in Seattle, but either of these two are worth a look for those needing a receiver to cover a bye week.
TE Austin Hooper, Atlanta
After a quiet week against New England, Hooper was once again heavily used this past week against the New York Jets. He caught four passes for 47 yards, and one of those was good for a score. He narrowly missed another, if not for the rainy conditions in the Meadowlands he might have been able to haul it in. With 17 catches in the last four games, Hooper is a tight end who is on the radar.
With Marshawn Lynch enjoying a week off for his close encounter with a game official, Washington and Richard split the role of ball carrier for Oakland. We drop both of them at the bottom of this week’s list on the radar, given Lynch’s age it is likely that Oakland will rest him from time to time. Washington is the better of the two, mostly because of his heavier involvement in the passing game. Last week he caught eight passes for 62 yards, including one for a touchdown. He also tacked on 26 yards on the ground. Richard was also involved – 66 yards in total offense that included five catches out of the backfield. Both are worth owning, especially for those owners of Lynch.
Deep and/or Dynasty Only
WR T.J. Jones, Detroit
Even with Golden Tate healthy and on the field, Jones has been seeing more playing time for Detroit. He is establishing himself as the third wideout, and Matthew Stafford has not been afraid to look in his direction of late. Last week, four catches for 88 yards against Pittsburgh, which came on the heels of a three-catch, 33-yard performance against New Orleans.
WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit
As the trade deadline approaches, the annual rumors of those trying to lure Calvin Johnson out of retirement start to become a dull roar. Those in deep leagues with a roster space to burn.
TE Dion Sims and Adam Sheehan, Chicago
The ugly injury to Zach Miller opens up some playing time on the field for the backup tight ends in Chicago. Though many are touting Sheehan as stepping in, we see this as a shared situation where out of the gate it will be Sims getting throws from Mitchell Trubisky. Those in deep and dynasty leagues will need to keep an eye on this situation to see if one of these two can get an edge on playing time.