Elijah Moore Breaks Out at Last

New York Jets WR Elijah Moore
New York Jets WR Elijah Moore
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 12 - Your anticipation of Thanksgiving football may have dimmed a bit since the Bears, Lions, Raiders, Cowboys, Bills, and Saints on this Thursday's schedule lost by a combined 72 points on Sunday. But fantasy football could make up for that fading intrigue. With star players such as Allen Robinson, CeeDee Lamb, and Amari Cooper dealing with injuries and having less time than usual to make their recoveries, Thanksgiving could provide some lesser names opportunities to shine and contribute to even shallow-league rosters. None of those short-term substitutes, however, can match a future star Jets receiver for potential fantasy impact.

Roster percentages are for ESPN/Yahoo.

Elijah Moore, WR, New York Jets

41%/57%

Maybe the best cornerback in football, Xavien Howard, praised Moore to reporters on Sunday predicting the rookie receiver would be special. The metrics so far agree. Moore is in standout company with Mike Evans, Ja'Marr Chase, Emmanuel Sanders, Tim Patrick, DK Metcalf, and CeeDee Lamb as the only receivers with 50 or more targets and 3.0 PPR points per catchable target this season. My main concern has always been opportunity. After the Jets chose not to trade Jamison Crowder at the deadline, Moore had languished at 60% and 56% of snaps in Weeks 9 and 10 even as he went off for 128 yards and three touchdowns. But that outburst may finally have earned Moore more playing time. He was up to an 80% snap share on Sunday and delivered with season highs of 11 targets and 141 yards and scored for the third straight week. I would feel better if the Jets had better quarterback play or at least stability at the position. But Moore has been so productive as a part-time player that the prospect of him on every snap coaxes a 100% FAB recommendation out of me. He is another strong performance or two away from definite WR2 status for the fantasy playoffs, a much more difficult waiver wire distinction at his position than at running back since the former position is less ruled by injuries and handcuffs.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 100%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

38%/51%

Newton has been a top-eight fantasy quarterback in points per game in all but two of his healthy seasons in his career. He set a career high with a 67.9% completion rate in his last healthy year in 2018 in Carolina, thanks in large part to a more conservative passing approach that had him frequently target his current running back Christian McCaffrey. He finally had some extended time off to recover from 2020 shoulder surgery. There were plenty of reasons to believe in a Newton rebound as the new-old Panthers quarterback. I presented many of them in my aggressive waiver pitch for him last week. But those arguments depended on a reading of just a handful of throws from the preseason and as a red zone package option with P.J. Walker starting in Week 10. I'm much more confident now that I have seen Newton play a full game. His passing totals of 189 yards and two touchdowns were modest and will undoubtedly continue to be so with his reliance on his rushing. But Newton completed 21 of his 27 pass attempts for a 77.8% completion rate and maintained the better throwing mechanics I believed I saw from him in the preseason. His touchdown pass to McCaffrey is a great demonstration. Newton may not have the arm strength he did at his pre-injury peak, but he lofted that ball 25 yards with minimal exertion and did so with the proper arc and zip to carry the blanket of Washington defenders just shallow of McCaffrey.

That is all Newton needs to do with his arm to reassert his former QB1 fantasy value because he was his vintage self as a runner on Sunday with 10 carries, 46 yards, and a touchdown.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 31%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Devonta Freeman, RB, Baltimore Ravens

35%/65%

We never got many details about the ankle injury that in the end cost Latavius Murray more than a month of game action. And it's possible he has not yet reached 100% even though he played on Sunday—he was a limited practice participant last week and entered the weekend with a questionable injury designation. But Murray at least managed 37% of snaps on Sunday, and that did nothing to slow the Devonta Freeman fantasy renaissance. The latter back has now played 58% of snaps in three straight games and can point to his efficiency as a runner to justify his continued role as the team's No. 1 back. Freeman leads all backs with 50 or more carries with a 67.8% success rate this season. Murray hasn't been bad. He has a 58.0% success rate that for me means more than his underwhelming 3.5 yards per carry since he takes a disproportionate number of his carries in third-and-short and goal-line situations. But even if Murray can close the carry gap on his teammate, that seems unlikely to influence their respective target rates. Freeman has out-targeted Murray 22 to seven on the season and is tied for 23rd at the position with 4.0 targets per game since Week 7. In such an explosive and run-reliant offense, Freeman will live on the RB2/flex bubble if his recent workloads continue.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 21%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots

51%/58%

Stevenson fell short of matching Freeman in the maintenance of a teammate-injury-boosted Week 10 workload share. But his 34% snap share and 13 touches were much closer to Damien Harris' 39% and 11 than they tended to be before Harris had his concussion. In Weeks 8 and 9, Harris out-snapped Stevenson 65 to 29 and out-touched him 39 to 21. A 50/50 split isn't ideal for fantasy productivity, but it should work better on the Patriots with their top-14-and-rising run-blocking line (4.29 adjusted line yards) than it would on other teams. And Stevenson has a top-six 58.2% rushing success rate that suggests he could continue to excel on a modest touch volume. The only question then is the schedule. After a plus matchup with a Titans team ranked 25th in run defense DVOA this weekend, the Patriots close with five games against teams in the top 14 in run defense DVOA. Of course, two of those games are against a Bills team whose third-place ranking seems likely to fall after Jonathan Taylor just scorched them for 185 yards and four touchdowns.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 6%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers

68%/77%

Aiyuk undermined the narrative of his return to fantasy relevance with just three catches and 26 yards in Week 10. But the 49ers manhandled the Rams 31-10 that week with a 44-to-19 play-calling split in favor of runs. That is a risk any time a Kyle Shanahan team builds a lead, but I still take Aiyuk's snap and target share trends as the better indication of likely rest-of-season fantasy value. His former shares have trended up from 67% in Week 4 to 71%, 71%, 88%, 93%, 90%, and 93% his last six games. And his latter share is at 24.3% since Week 8, tied for 20th-highest among wide receivers. I don't think Aiyuk is back to the top-three standard he met in PPR points per game from Weeks 7 to 15 in his rookie season. But he is firmly back in flex consideration even if his year-to-date production falls dramatically short of that standard.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 5%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Ty Johnson, RB, New York Jets

19%/20%

Jets rookie Michael Carter burst onto the fantasy scene with nine and 14 targets in Weeks 7 and 8 and even survived the team's Flaccoification in Week 11 with a 39-yard run. Unfortunately, he couldn't survive the day in full as he suffered a high-ankle sprain that should cost him the next two to three weeks. Ty Johnson seems like the next back up for fantasy consideration. While he split time evenly with teammate Tevin Coleman with 33% snap shares apiece, Johnson has out-targeted Coleman 38-to-7 this season and is likely the team's only option to replace Carter's receiving contributions that underpinned his fantasy value.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 5%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Dawson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills

73%/76%

That was more like it. Since Knox played his typical 84% of snaps in his Week 10 return from a broken hand, I assumed his meager totals of one catch and 17 yards were of the typical low-floor tight end variety. And his subsequent 10 targets, six catches, and 80 yards on Sunday for me confirm it. That target total led the team by four, but Knox owes less of his fantasy standing to targets than touchdowns. He has a 13.1% target share in the games he has played this season, and that is just 21st at his position. But Knox has 0.63 touchdowns and 0.42 expected touchdowns per game this year, and even that lesser latter total is top-seven at the position behind mostly the elite tier of tight ends such as Rob Gronkowski, Mark Andrews, and Darren Waller.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 4%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Alex Collins, RB, Seattle Seahawks

49%/61%

After normal starter Chris Carson was ruled out for the rest of the season with his persistent neck injury, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told reporters he planned to give a slimmed-down Rashaad Penny a lot more work in Week 11. That went about as well as everything else has in Penny's career; he hurt his hamstring on his second Sunday carry. Collins has his own groin injury to contend with, and that may explain both Penny's planned promotion and DeeJay Dallas' rushing touchdown in Week 11. But even somewhat compromised, Collins has taken at least 10 carries in seven straight games. And while he may not stand out with an arrest-aided journeyman career and pedestrian 4.1 yards per carry average this year, Collins is fourth among qualified runners with a 12.9% rushing DVOA. If he can shake off his injury and Russell Wilson can shake off whatever is wrong with the team's passing game, Collins could reenter the RB2 conversation for the final third of the season.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 4%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers

58%/52%

Freiermuth has an 18.6% target share since JuJu Smith-Schuster went out for the season in Week 6. And while that has yet to translate into a game with more than 58 yards receiving, Freiermuth can claim back-end TE1 status thanks to four touchdowns in his last four games and metrics that support those as sustainable. Freiermuth is second among tight ends in both his four touchdowns and 3.3 expected touchdowns since Week 6. Only Hunter Henry has more.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 4%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears

53%/65%

Mooney posted a gaudy total of 16 targets on Sunday that could spur some hefty FAB spends this week. But while I support Mooney as a short-term fantasy option, I'm skeptical that he will maintain his current value into the fantasy playoffs. He had two major points in his fantasy favor on Sunday. First, his teammate and No. 1 Bears wideout (in at least name) Allen Robinson was out with a hamstring injury. Second, dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields lasted just 30 plays before a rib injury forced him to the sidelines. And while backup Andy Dalton has a tenuous claim as the better quarterback at this point in his and Fields' careers, Dalton is a typical dropback passer. As a more eager rusher, Fields has averaged just 24.6 pass attempts in his healthy starts this season, a total more than 10 attempts shy of the NFL average (35.0). Robinson and Fields seem likely to miss Week 12 since the Bears play the early Thanksgiving game. And their opposing Lions are a plus matchup for No. 1 receivers in at least their 46% increasing of yards per target. But after their subsequent 10 days of rest, the Bears could be back to business as usual by Week 13. And while Mooney enjoyed a top-20 25.2% target share even before his Sunday outburst, he couldn't crack the top 35 in PPR scoring at his position.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 3%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys

59%/68%

Gallup has a similar case for fantasy consideration as Mooney and for the same timeline. The Cowboys play the second Thanksgiving game, and that four-day turnaround will prevent Amari Cooper and may prevent CeeDee Lamb from playing. Cooper is unvaccinated and therefore must sit out at least 10 days after his positive COVID test from last week. Lamb took a blow to the head on Sunday and will have to clear concussion protocol on a truncated schedule. Gallup played 94% of snaps as the team's de facto No. 1 receiver on Sunday and would at least have flex value in that role on Thursday facing a Raiders pass defense that has slipped to 22nd in DVOA in recent weeks.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 3%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Jeff Wilson, RB, San Francisco 49ers

49%/65%

Wilson is a running back version of Mooney and Gallup. With Elijah Mitchell sidelined with a broken finger, Wilson out-snapped Trey Sermon 58% to 35% on Sunday and out-touched him 20 to 11. He looks like a temporary lead back on one of the run-heaviest teams in football. But unlike Mooney and Gallup, Wilson faces an uncertain timeline with his current role. Mitchell had a pin inserted in his finger that will require monitoring. He could be back for Week 12, or he could miss several more weeks. And with the possibility of the former, it's difficult to spend up for Wilson on the waiver wire. At least Wilson can claim some modest fantasy value as a second back once Mitchell returns. Wilson averaged 0.91 rushing and receiving touchdowns and 0.61 expected touchdowns per game in 2020, and that latter total was 22nd among regular running backs.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 3%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Rex Burkhead, RB, Houston Texans

1%/0%

You can take Burkhead out of New England, but it seems you can't take the New England out of Burkhead. With Mark Ingram traded to the Saints, the Texans figured to finally let their $3 million running back Phillip Lindsay play his anticipated early-down role. Instead, Burkhead out-snapped Lindsay 42% to 3% on Sunday and out-carried him 18-to-1. But while Burkhead's snap share fell squarely in Ingram's typical 31%-to-46% range with the team, that "full" early-down role does little to get me excited for fantasy. Ingram managed a meager 6.5 PPR points per game before his trade, barely inside the top 60 at his position. Add Burkhead in your deeper formats that demand every back with a potential for 10 or more touches be rostered. But expect some near-shutouts fantasy when game scripts skew the Texans' backfield workload more toward David Johnson on third downs and as a receiver.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team

47%/52%

Thomas suffered a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury coming off a Week 9 bye that pushed his anticipated Week 10 return another two weeks at least. But Thomas is finally poised to return to real practice this week for the first time since early October. The previous episode should tell you he is no lock to play in Week 12. But Thomas has a higher ceiling than a player such as Trautman and could justify a more significant FAB bid if you need a TE1 for the fantasy playoffs. Thomas finished tied for third in PPR points at his position in a healthier 2020 season.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

48%/31%

Shepard may not have moved the needle in the Giants' 30-10 loss to the Bucs on Monday night. The Bucs entered the game ranked ninth in defensive DVOA. But Shepard has provided WR2 totals of nine, 10, and 14 targets in his three healthy games this season. And he should enjoy some easier opponents in the Eagles, Dolphins, and Chargers in upcoming weeks if he can soon return from his quad injury.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Taysom Hill, QB, New Orleans Saints

2%/5%

Adam Schefter may have solved the mystery of why the Saints had Hill in a competition with Jameis Winston in the preseason and have turned to Trevor Siemian with Winston hurt in recent weeks. Apparently, Hill just signed an unusual contract extension that escalates dramatically if Hill becomes the starter. And that could become a financial issue for a Saints team that is already more than $66 million over the projected 2022 salary cap. But since I can't parse the contractual side of this, I'll recommend Hill again at a modest 1% FAB bid. Trevor Siemian has looked capable by some metrics, such as his 8-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. But the Saints have lost all three of his starts and have run out of buffer for their playoff chances. Perhaps they will turn to Hill, and if so, Hill is likely to be a Cam Newton sort of fantasy value at the position. Hill's 21.2 fantasy points per game in four starts in 2020 would make him a back-end QB1 this season.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Players on More Than 80% of Rosters to Add

David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears (94%/97%)
AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers (92%/95%)
Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots (89%/95%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (89%/93%)
Antonio Brown, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (88%/92%)
DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (88%/91%)
Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns (88%/90%)
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (88%/88%)
Odell Beckham, WR, Los Angeles Rams (86%/86%)
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (85%/93%)
Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (84%/86%)
Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers (84%/85%)
Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos (83%/85%)
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos (82%/84%)
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (79%/83%)
Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys (79%/81%)
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints (77%/84%)
Zach Ertz, TE, Arizona Cardinals (60%/82%)

Players on More Than 20% of Rosters You Can Drop

Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans (85%/86%)
Darrel Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (83%/86%)
Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals (79%/77%)
Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans (74%/65%)
Mike Davis, RB, Atlanta Falcons (70%/60%)
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks (66%/52%)
Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams (50%/36%)
Jamaal Williams, RB, Detroit Lions (48%/39%)
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins (48%/31%)
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Carolina Panthers (41%/43%)
Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (31%/18%)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (26%/16%)
Robert Tonyan, TE, Green Bay Packers (25%/21%)
DJ Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (25%/14%)
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts (24%/33%)
Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears (21%/31%)
Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (21%/19%)
Trey Sermon, RB, San Francisco 49ers (15%/20%)
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Houston Texans (11%/10%)

Comments

7 comments, Last at 23 Nov 2021, 6:46pm

1 The real issue

" I would feel better if the Jets had better quarterback play or at least stability at the position. "

The real issue here is that Zach Wilson is coming back.  The other three quarterbacks have shown to be at least competent, if not the ultimate answer.  With the Jets defense being so incompetent, I expect a lot of throwing in the weeks ahead; if the Jets coaches don't get in the way, and Wilson improves, Moore will be a good pick-up.  That might be too many ifs.

2 RB Upgrade

I have Kenyon Drake & Zach Moss, should I swap those guys out for Collins & Ty Johnson?

7 Re: RBs

In reply to by BadgerDave

I have this group pretty bunched up with Drake at 68.5, Collins at 62.8, Moss at 59.4, and Johnson at 54.3 projected PPR points for the rest of the season (and all with seven games left).  As such, I'd probably aim for upside and switch out Moss for Collins.  He seems like the most realistic of those backs to end up an RB2 in the fantasy playoffs.

3 Do better

"Players on more than 80% of rosters to add" is a laughably dumb headline for fantasy football. Do better. Either get serious about fantasy content or don't do any at all.

5 Hilliard

Is Hilliard now a recommended pickup and, if so, at what FAAB?

6 Re: Hilliard

In reply to by DAMdawgVU

I don't think Hilliard is worth an add in shallower formats. I assume Jeremy McNichols is going to return soon from his concussion, which would put the Titans in another three-back committee.  And regardless, D'Onta Foreman is my best guess as the leading early-down back.