Don’t call it a comeback!
Far too often in fantasy (and in life), we get swept up in recency bias. T.J. Hockenson smashes Arizona in Week 1, we all rush to the waivers to pick him up only to learn weeks later that the Cardinals are one of the worst defenses in the history of mankind at defending tight ends.
But what about the other side? We see verifiably good players struggle for a few weeks and assume “something” is off, that it’s an unfixable problem. We write them completely off and all of a sudden we’re how Andy is with old toys, stuffing these guys away into the oblivion box.
And then the crazy thing is when said struggling player bounces back on your bench, you internally scream, thinking, “I KNEW I SHOULD HAVE PLAYED HIM!!!”
Bro, no you didn’t, you literally hated him and were like, three White Claws away from dropping him outright and tweeting something regrettable @ him like a soulless troll.
But look, it’s all good. That’s why I’m here. Hopefully, we can hash this out and prevent that internal screaming from happening.
Let’s talk about some struggling stars with solid bounce-back potential.
WENTZ AND ALSHON REDEMPTION TOUR
Both Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery have been huge busts in fantasy this year. Eagles Twitter is having a semi civil war right now as to whether the bust label extends to real life but that’s for another column.
Wentz is currently the QB14 but the funny thing is it feels like he’s doing worse. Certainly, the numbers over the last two weeks have been gross as he’s posted 12 and 11 fantasy points in back-to-back weeks.
Alshon, because of injuries, has essentially played seven games this year and clocks in as the WR54 in full-point PPR setups.
Both men have been huge disappointments but if there is hope for a market correction — and a fairly significant one — you only need to look at their upcoming schedule.
After scuffling during a ROUGH five-game slate (@DAL, @BUF, CHI, NE, SEA), the schedule eases up dramatically. The Eagles take on Miami, the Giants, and Washington in the upcoming weeks.
You have to understand, this year, seemingly more than previous years, there is a massive disparity between the good teams and the truly horrific teams with completely nonfunctioning defenses.
All three of MIA, NYG and WAS fall in the latter category.
Plus, head coach Doug Pederson hasn’t shied away from his struggling quarterback. Despite having virtually zero NFL-caliber wide receivers, Wentz has averaged 41.3 pass attempts over the last three weeks, so the volume is still there. Give Wentz 40-ish pass attempts versus his upcoming schedule and we’re cooking with gas.
You add in the fact that Alshon is getting healthy and is close to returning, possibly this week, and we raise the ceiling even higher. Remember in his last 6 healthy games, Jeffery has averaged 8 targets per game. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Jeffery averages 5 receptions, 75 yards per game and scores 2-3 touchdowns during this stretch.
If you’re on the fence about your streaming quarterback and flex spot, pending health, feel free to fire up both Jeffery and Wentz this week.
JAGUARS SET TO ROAR
Nick Foles is a fantasy afterthought at the moment, especially after the Jags got shelled last week and Foles failed to score a touchdown.
But the reason for optimism is two-fold. For one, like the Eagles, the Jags schedule is looking nice. They take on a hapless Bucs secondary this week followed by the Chargers, Raiders, and Falcons. TB, OAK, and ATL are all among the six most generous to fantasy quarterbacks.
And for two, the Jags defense has fallen off harder and faster than an elder actor on a Life Alert commercial. A bad defense mixed with a reasonably good offense is fertile ground to foster fantasy points. The open-door defense has forced the Jags to throw to keep up and Foles has averaged a whopping 47.5 pass attempts since returning from injury. That is a ton of volume.
D.J. Chark, Dede Westbrook and Leonard Fournette is a solid trio of pass-catchers and all three should thrive in the coming weeks but it also means Foles could have a little breakout here as well. (By the way, one extremely under-reported story in fantasy is how much volume Fournette is seeing in the passing game. The guy is averaging 5.1 receptions per game after averaging just 2.8 receptions per game in each of his previous two seasons. He’s on pace for 81 receptions this year which is probably more than double what most experts were projecting him for.)
Great schedule, potentially great volume and a very good group of pass-catchers — what is there not to like in Foles to close the year???
DAVID JOHNSON TO EXPLODE!!!
No, I’m totally just messing with you. He’s like, done-done.
JAMES WHITE: PPR SAFETY BLANKET
James White started the season as expected: Seeing tons of volume in the passing game while averaging 7.8 targets, 6.3 receptions and 57.5 total yards per game.
But over his last four games, those opportunities have quizzically dried up with White losing more than half his receptions and averaging just 2.8 catches per game during this cold stretch.
Coming out of the bye White scored 9.6 PPR points against Philly and then bottomed out last week against Dallas, collecting just one lousy reception for an abysmal NEGATIVE 6 yards and finishing the day with 0.9 points. An almost inconceivable number given his role and ability.
But if you’re worried, don’t be. White has a terrific schedule coming up and I anticipate the Patriots to stop messing around and go back to what has worked in the past, which is to funnel targets to Julian Edelman and James White. It makes too much sense to play a ball-control offense and lean on that nasty defense.
And you won’t have to wait long for the James White bounce-back game. The Patriots host the Texans this week and Houston has given up the most receptions and the second-most receiving yards to running backs this year. This screams “James White game” and I think the PPR machine could have a monster outing.
After Houston? Dates against Kansas City, Cincy, and Buffalo. The Chiefs have allowed the most fantasy points per game to the running back position. The Bengals are a mess defensively. And White had one of his best fantasy days of the season earlier this year against Buffalo as Brady, as he is wont to do, checked down to James White (8 rec, 58 total yards) to help alleviate some of that defensive pressure.
If the touches come, the touchdowns will eventually come as well. Remember: White scored 12 times last year.
ONE FOR THE ROAD ...
David Njoku is a sneaky stash for those of you with bench space. Why? Well, the Browns play the aforementioned Cardinals Week 15, aka a must-win for those looking to make it to championship week.
Even if you’re not planning on playing him, it could be a nice little preemptive block of your future opponent. Every little move can help when it comes to taking home that ever-elusive fantasy championship.
James Koh is a fantasy football analyst and an award-winning journalist. He’s probably wrong, but you never know. Follow him on Twitter @JamesDKoh.