By Josh Barrett
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
First, let’s begin with a quick humble brag. I’m one of those idiots who overthought during the draft and selected Andrew Luck over Aaron Rodgers in the second round. (However, I still stubbornly stand by my logic to overdraft my favorite player in a keeper league.) Anyways, this same logic led me to think, hmm…so you’re telling me there’s a QB who throws 50 passes a game to two top-25 WRs and a top-10 TE. I’ve already written too much about a widely undrafted QB who is outscoring Cam Newton, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Luck. If you’re still not sold, I can only lead you to water.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Say what you want about the man, but Cutler gets his. If you throw away the game and a half he missed due to injury, Cutler’s averaging 17.1 PPG. That’s not terrible production if you’re searching for a spot starter or QB2. Add to the mix the return of Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal, and you’ve got a guy with the upside of a low-end, interception prone QB1. It should be noted though that Bears will be on their bye during week 7, so plan accordingly. I say wait a week before picking him up.
Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns
Let’s play a game: Over the last four weeks
Player A: 22.5 PPG, 1,367 passing yards, 8 passing touchdowns
Player B: 15.6 PPG, 1,090 passing yards, 5 passing touchdowns
Player A, right? Correct, you’ve just selected Josh McCown over Matt Ryan. I’ll give you a minute. OK. Despite a tough schedule and WR corps that you could say is not the belle of the ball, McCown is putting up legitimate QB1 numbers. Now, how long will this last? Your guess is as good as mine, but, in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, “buy the ticket, take the ride.”
Brian Hoyer, Houston Texans
If you need a warm body, Hoyer has thrown seven touchdowns and increased his PPG in each game he has played since taking over the reins from Ryan Mallett. Deandre Hopkins is in the makings of a special season and Arian Foster is back to being the heathen savior of the Houston backfield. Maybe Hoyer was riding high on the Michigan State win, but he went off for 24.2 points, and faces off next week against a Miami Dolphins defense who can’t stop ‘ya momma or ‘yo little dig.
Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions
Here’s the PPR play that Reggie Bush never became in Detroit. He’s already caught 33 passes for 278 yards, and is on pace for 88 receptions and 741 yards. Similar to Danny Woodhead, don’t expect much value from him actually rushing the ball and some weeks are going to be better than others, but he’s a sneaky FLEX play who should be considered a must add in PPR leagues.
Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints
This is less of an appeal to the local base than you might think. He’s averaging 8.5 PPG on 7.7 TPC, and is an injury away from becoming a viable fantasy option. I’m just saying. You could do worse than having a player on your bench to root for each week.
Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles
As Jon Gruden pointed out during ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast, Mathews is a better fit for Chip Kelly’s spread-rushing attack. The Eagles move at warp speed, resulting in a myriad of touches to be distributed amongst the masses. DeMarco Murray appears to have let his hair down as of late, but Mathews is no Rosencrantz or Guildenstern. He’s alive, and, thus, has a role to play.
Christine Michael, Dallas Cowboys
So we finally meet. As a long time Seahawk fan, I’m familiar with the artist currently known as Christine. He’s only had two touches this season for five yards, but this dude can fly, has better blocking than at any point in his life and, most importantly, an opportunity. For years he was buried behind Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin on the Seattle depth chart, yet he still has a career 4.8 YPC. An optimist could argue that he’s been able to keep his legs fresh while he adjust to the speed of the NFL, and I would be inclined to agree. I wouldn’t start him next week. But, I also wouldn’t let my opponent start him.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers
This is another case of speculating on Eddie Lacey being injured. I hope Lacey is healthy, (I own him in a few leagues, and genuinely root for players to be healthy human beings. I’m not a jerk.) and he has the bye week to get healthier, but here’s another guy who is an injury away from being inserted into a high powered offense lead by the best QB in the league. Last week, against the Chargers, Starks turned 11 touches into 117 yards and two touchdowns. He should already be handcuffed, but, if he isn’t, pounce on your prize.
Eddie Royal, Chicago Bears
I’m guilty of advocating for a player I’ve already drafted and dropped. I’m that guy. Regardless, Royal’s proved productive against the Lions with 49 yards on five receptions. He’s a WR4 in PPR leagues who is on a bye week, but I like the cut of his jib. Cutler and Royal made for a hell of a tandem during their time in Denver, and it looks like they’ve picked up where they left off so long ago, in the year 2011.
Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
Call it the Andy Dalton effect. Healthy after a nearly wasted 2014, Jones has 14 receptions, 156 yards and a touchdown in his last two games. Sorry, but…he’s on bye during week 7. Whoops.
Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings
Somebody has to catch the ball in Minnesota. Last year I thought it would be Cordarrelle Patterson, and then it turned out to be Charles Johnson. This year I thought it would be Charles Johnson. Could it be that Stefon Diggs is the prodigal receiver? In the two games he’s played this season, Diggs has 13 receptions and 216 yards. The Vikings have already had their bye, so you get him for the whole year, if that’s what you’re into. Maybe He might not be the chosen one, but if you’re going to roll the dice, roll ‘em while they’re hot.
Bryan Walters, Jacksonville Jaguars
See, Bortles, Blake. Walters is a low-end PPR play so long as Marquis Lee or any other Jacksonville WR remains injured. The former Seahawk went down south to play special teams for his old coach, Gus Bradley, but just might have stumbled into a position of fantasy relevancy.
Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals
I traded for him and Kenny Britt to get rid of the Washington backfield, so it’s only right that Floyd would post his best week of the season the week that I released him. I don’t trust him, but I trust karma. Carson Palmer is on fire, and I think he has the mojo to supply three WRs with top-40 production.
Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints
Let’s not get it twisted; Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons was an apparition. I’m not going to lie to you and say I watch tape, but I pay attention, and Drew Brees’ arm isn’t what it once was. All due respect to the best in the game, Willie Snead, but Sean Payton offenses are designed for a big body to fill up the middle of the field. Watson is by no means Jimmy Graham, but he is a capable hands catcher with the ability to post consistent TE1 numbers at a position that is about as stable as the GOP. Boom. Topical.
Scott Chandler, New England Patriots
Here’s another case of a player being an injury away from experiencing a boom in his value. It’s not like he’s done much this season, but Tom Brady is on pace to break his records like cellphones, (Boom. Topical.) and has plenty of stats to share.
Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are like Beetlejuice, if you say their name three times, they’re bound to appear. In his second week back from a finger injury that kept him out for the first four weeks of the season, the player who shall now be known as Teal Julius had seven catches, 78 yards and a touchdown against the Texans last week. Strange as it seems, I’m betting the farm on Blake Bortles and the people he’s throwing to.