With the lack of stability around the NFL at the running back position, it is not only effecting season-long fantasy footballers all around the nation, it is also causing every daily player in the western hemisphere to play a wide receiver in the ever important flex spot. And honestly, for good reason.
Running back continues to be as fluid as ever while guys like Martavis Bryant, Travis Benjamin, John Brown and Allen Robinson lock down prominent roles with rather ease. Not only are these types of receivers consistent, but they offer upside higher than almost any running back sans a handful of the elite. Even the invincible Le’Veon Bell failed to catch a pass, score a touchdown or get 100 total yards in a game. What am I getting at here exactly? More breakouts are coming to a city near you soon, and just as the aforementioned receivers listed above moved into every week must-plays within a matter of weeks (or one week for the ultra-talented Martavis Bryant); more must-have, must-start players are certain to rise to the occasion during the meat of the NFL season. Here are a few I believe fit the bill perfectly:
1) Julius Thomas is now the second option in the Jacksonville passing attack.
For a team that likes to, or rather, has to heave the ball around the yard consistently – having a key cog in their game plan is what fantasy players dream of, especially at a discounted price. Thomas didn’t wow me whatsoever with his movement skills Sunday, but I couldn’t help but notice the lack of targets Allen Hurns (a Top 15 wide receiver at this point) received and how the game plan featured designed plays to one Julius Thomas.
Only two weeks in, I can confidently say Thomas is moving himself into the category of tight end who you can actually count on weekly. For the rest of the season only Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen, Tyler Eifert, Gary Barnidge and Antonio Gates are clearly in a tier above Thomas. Don’t be afraid to package a big name like Jimmy Graham and a role player for Thomas and an upgrade. In fantasy football, being ahead of the curve and trading AWAY big names who HAVE produced for players who WILL produce is the art of improving your team one step at a time. That is how winning deals are made.
2) Dorial Green-Beckham will play a more prominent role moving forward.
Just a couple week ago, the name Stefon Diggs was sitting on the waiver wire in every standard fantasy football league around these parts. Now? People are rushing out to grab him, spending half their waiver budget and mortgaging the farm for the chance to make him their WR3. Next up? Green-Beckham. From 14 snaps to 18 snaps to 29 snaps the last three weeks, respectively. Green-Beckham is slowly starting to receive more playing time. It would absolutely silly to allow lesser talents take valuable snaps away from Green-Beckham on a team that really does not have playoff aspirations.
Did I mention the Tennessee defense is not a stellar unit? Tennessee will pass plenty over the next month behind the gun arm of Zach Mettenberger. In fact, Mettenberger fits Green-Beckham’s skill set even better than did Marcus Mariota. A few more jump balls, a few more deep balls and pinch of gunslinger is the recipe for a breakout for the uber-talented wideout.
Green-Beckham has impressed me more than expected in his suddenness as a rookie receiver. It’s a trait I didn’t see him display at Missouri and it concerned me. Now as he acclimates to a new offense and steps on the field with the quarterback he took the most reps with in practice – he will certainly be earning a full-time role in the coming weeks. Stay ahead of the game and roster this future stud now.
3) Ryan Fitzpatrick is the best streaming quarterback you can acquire currently.
I never thought I would write that sentence but that is how far things have come. Fitzpatrick played easily the best and most efficient game of this young season Sunday. Eric Decker is back to full health and Brandon Marshall is playing, well, like Brandon Marshall plays. The bearded one has only had one game this year where he didn’t contribute multiple touchdowns. Pretty crazy when you think about it. On top of that he has rushed for more than 30 yards in each of the last two ballgames.
Speaking of rushing, the New York Jets can gash defenses with the play-action pass right now in a way I am not sure Fitzpatrick has been used to many times in his career. Behind a very good rushing attack, playing in a familiar system and with a defense that doesn’t put their entire offense behind the 8-ball; Fitzpatrick is playing comfortably and confidently.
I predicted before the season that New York would be one of the Wild Card teams in the AFC and I am sticking with that notion. Don’t be surprised to see Fitzpatrick keep himself in the QB1 territory (he is QB9 right now in points per game). It’s rare to see a bargain such as him rostered in so few leagues, while guys like Sam Bradford and Peyton Manning remain on the back end of teams’ benches. If you have a spot open on that back end, grab Fitzpatrick. If you have a quarterback on bye coming up, grab Fitzpatrick. He gets New England, Oakland and Jacksonville in his next three and should enjoy more borderline Top 10 fantasy success.
Thanks again for reading and make sure to follow me @JohnnyLFootball. Also feel free to ask me any questions you might have regarding trades or your starting lineup. You can also catch me on the Ticket Sports Talk radio at 8:45 a.m. Eastern/7:45 a.m. Central time on Friday mornings every week in the Florida area or on the www.theticketsportsnetwork.com or on the Tune In Radio App. Have a great Week 7!