Rams to the Rescue

Los Angeles Rams RB Sony Michel
Los Angeles Rams RB Sony Michel
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 14 - The Rams' stars-and-scrubs team-building approach may have influenced their winless November as they lost some standout players to injuries. But as the team's schedule turns easier for the final month, the approach should help fantasy players identify the beneficiaries of those star absences on the waiver wire. A pair of Rams pace my Week 14 waiver recommendations. And while the former showed his potential with an excellent fantasy performance on Sunday, the latter has a role that could help him sustain his current value through the fantasy playoffs.

Roster percentages are for ESPN/Yahoo.

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots

46%/61%

Stevenson jumped those Rams players on Monday night after his teammate Damien Harris suffered a hamstring injury. Before he left, Harris was his usual exceptional self with 111 yards on 10 carries. But for the season at large, Stevenson has measured favorably to his veteran teammate. In fact, he has the edge with a 56.6% versus 51.0% rushing success rate for Harris and with 2.6 yards after contact per attempt versus 2.1 for Harris. And Stevenson's after-contact average ranks him fifth among backs with 50 or more carries this season. As I see it, either Harris or Stevenson would be an RB1 in fantasy if his teammate missed time and allowed him a full complement of work. And Stevenson could have that opportunity in the fantasy playoffs if Harris needs a few weeks to recover from his injury.

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

Sony Michel, RB, Los Angeles Rams

61%/68%

Darrell Henderson tested his hip injury in pregame warmups on Sunday. And while he didn't play any snaps in what became a Rams rout of the lowly Jaguars, he was active. For me, that suggests that Henderson may not miss any more time. Still, I think Michel is a worthy waiver wire target as a Henderson handcuff. The former back played 97% of snaps and took 27 touches in Week 13, totals that put him in the Alexander Mattison class of backups. Meanwhile, I'm at least alert to head coach Sean McVay's comments about Michel last week. He complimented Michel for keeping the Rams on schedule offensively, a notion supported by Michel's 58.3% rushing success rate, the highest among backs with 100 or more carries this season. Henderson isn't far behind at 57.7% and is more versatile as a runner and receiver. But Henderson shined in his efficiency metrics last season and still lost his starting job to Cam Akers. I wouldn't rule out a McVay decision to hand Michel the starting job to close the season even if Henderson returns fully healthy.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 51%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Van Jefferson, WR, Los Angeles Rams

64%/68%

Jefferson does not have the star persona of his wide receiver teammates Cooper Kupp or Odell Beckham, but since Week 7, he has quietly produced like a fantasy star. His 76.0 PPR points in that time have him 24th at his position even with a bye in Week 11. And while his 18.6% target share is 38th among wide receivers and would on its own suggest some good fortune in his total of three touchdowns, Jefferson has 4.3 expected touchdowns based on the air yards and proximity to the end zone of his targets. That is tied for the highest total at his position since Week 7 with Ja'Marr Chase. The Rams offense has ebbed with its more difficult defensive matchups of late and closes the season with the eighth-hardest schedule by DVOA. But more than the more recent injury beneficiaries at his position such as Russell Gage and K.J. Osborn, Jefferson has the talent to measure up to his newfound WR2 circumstances. I would happily spend up to secure a player I see as trustworthy for the fantasy playoffs.

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

Taysom Hill, QB, New Orleans Saints

36%/34%

I suspect your preconceived notions of Hill will determine how many of his four Thursday interceptions you believe were due to an injured finger and how many were a product of his naturally poor passing skills. But with the news that Hill and the Saints believe he can play through the injury, I would rather leave my real football opinions out of it. The fact is that Hill plays a style of football that typical fantasy scoring formats reward. And even while he self-combusted with those four interceptions, Hill still ran 11 times for 101 yards and finished fourth at his position with 24.7 fantasy points. Hill has averaged 21.0 fantasy points per game in five starts since the beginning of 2020, a total that puts him 10th among quarterbacks with five or more starts. Tom Brady is ninth at 21.8 points per start. And aside from the finger injury, Hill will likely see better circumstances for his fantasy productivity going forward. The Cowboys pressured Hill on 27.9% of his dropbacks on Thursday, a rate that would have landed the Saints in the bottom 10 in offensive pressure rate across all of 2020. But the Saints finished that year fourth with just a 19.4% pressure rate, and they are poised to bounce back with linemen Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk close to returns from their respective knee injuries.

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

DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins

54%/52%

The Dolphins have their bye in Week 14, and so Parker will miss one more week for schedule reasons after he missed seven of the previous eight weeks for various shoulder and ankle injuries. But Parker did play on Sunday, and so he won't debut in a difficult week to trust him in the fantasy playoffs. Rookie Jaylen Waddle bested Parker with a 77% versus 71% snap share and 11 versus five targets on Sunday and will push the veteran to flex consideration at best when they play together. But when he has played this season, Parker has averaged 7.8 targets per game, tied for 21st among wide receivers with five or more games played.

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

D'Onta Foreman, RB, Tennessee Titans

34%/40%

Foreman and the next back I'll discuss both had their byes in Week 13. That offers them an advantage relative to Parker. But it may keep them out of the minds of your fantasy league-mates, and so I have dropped my price recommendations for them accordingly. Of course, Foreman offers other reasons to doubt his deserving of a substantial FAB expenditure. The biggest of those is that his teammate Dontrell Hilliard enjoyed the better fantasy day in Week 12. But Hilliard saw the bulk of that production in one breakaway carry, a 68-yard touchdown. Foreman strikes me as the likelier back to produce in the final month of the season. First, he echoes normal starter Derrick Henry with a 236-pound frame. Hilliard (202 pounds) and Jeremy McNichols (205) are smaller and may fight over a third-down role when both are healthy. And second, Foreman has been efficient, even if those metrics have yet to translate into standout fantasy numbers. His 59.5% rushing success rate is sixth-best of backs with 40 or more carries. And his 2.7 yards after contact per attempt are fourth-best and better even than Henry's 2.2-yard average.

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

Chuba Hubbard, RB, Carolina Panthers

56%/76%

Hubbard has fallen dramatically short of Foreman in terms of efficiency. The rookie back has a -21.8% rushing DVOA this season, second-worst among backs with 96 or more carries. And while you might be tempted to blame his undermanned offensive line, the Panthers are better run-blockers (4.24 adjusted line yards, 15th) than pass protectors (7.6% adjusted sack rate, 24th). But with Christian McCaffrey out and the team either waving a white flag or determined to establish the run with their firing of offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Hubbard should see 10 to 15 touches per game by default to close the season. With McCaffrey sidelined earlier this year, Hubbard saw 12 or more carries in five straight starts. Just don't expect the RB2 value Mike Davis provided with McCaffrey out last season. Recent Panthers addition Ameer Abdullah has out-targeted Hubbard 20 to five since Week 8.

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

Russell Gage, WR, Atlanta Falcons

25%/34%

The more weeks pass since Calvin Ridley stepped away from the Falcons, the more Gage's Week 10 shutout looks like an anomaly. Gage saw a ton of work on Sunday. He caught 11 passes for 130 yards, and his 12 targets were a team high by five. And Gage has seen a ton of work in the broader five-week period. His 25.2% target share in that time is tied for 12th-highest among wide receivers, just behind Jaylen Waddle at 25.3%.

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

Michael Carter, RB, New York Jets

69%/67%

As potential fantasy playoff stashes such as Sterling Shepard and Antonio Brown suffer setbacks and scandals, Carter is left with the torch. His high-ankle sprain was deemed relatively mild after he suffered it in Week 11. And so Carter seems likely to return to the field when he is first eligible to come off of injured reserve in Week 15. It won't be easy to trust a returning player in the fantasy playoffs. But Carter led all backs with 7.8 targets per game between his bye in Week 6 and his last healthy start in Week 10. Even on a Jets team liable to fall behind by multiple scores and abandon the run, Carter should be safe for an RB2 workload in PPR formats when he is healthy enough to play.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 2%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans

65%/61%

Maybe Jones deserves that same fantasy playoff stash consideration after coming off of injured reserve this week. But it's difficult to be optimistic after Jones missed half of the Titans games this season and saw just a 17.8% target share when he did play. That rate is good for just 46th among receivers with as many games played. I'll take a bench flier on maybe the most talented skill player of the last decade. But I wouldn't spend radically more than my recommended 1% FAB bid.

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

K.J. Osborn, WR, Minnesota Vikings

4%/4%

Speaking of high-ankle sprains, star Vikings receiver Adam Thielen suffered one on his sixth snap in Week 13. And while no backup is likely to replace Thielen's top-five receiver rate of 0.76 touchdowns per game since 2018, the normal slot receiver Osborn did score on Sunday. And more important for his temporary fantasy potential, Osborn saw seven targets and played 92% of snaps. He had not exceeded four targets in his previous five games, and he had not exceeded a 63% snap share in his previous 10 games. Thielen could miss anywhere from a couple of weeks to the six weeks Jerry Jeudy missed earlier this season with such a variable injury for its recovery timetable. But for however long Thielen is out, Osborn looks like a flex option in deeper PPR formats.

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

Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Washington Football Team

6%/5%

A Monday MRI revealed that Logan Thomas avoided the ACL tear everyone feared he suffered on Sunday. It's a silver lining in what has otherwise been a dark cloud of an injury-filled season. But even that positive news is unlikely to change the fantasy considerations of Thomas' injury this late in the year. The fantasy season will end in another month. And as such, Seals-Jones seems poised to reassert his rare tight end handcuff value for the fantasy playoffs. Seals-Jones has missed time recently himself with a hip injury, but his late inactive ruling for Week 13 suggests to me that he is close to a return. And when he played for an injured Thomas between Weeks 5 and 10, he produced like a solid TE2. His 45.2 PPR points in that time were 16th-most at the position. His 15.6% target share was 15th-best. And while he scored just the one touchdown in his five starts, Seals-Jones nearly doubled that total with 1.9 expected touchdowns and has excellent matchups to score in Weeks 15 and 17 against the Eagles. That division rival has allowed 88 catches and 11 touchdowns to tight ends this season, both the most in football.

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

Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings (93%/94%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (91%/96%)
Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers (91%/89%)
Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns (90%/91%)
Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos (89%/92%)
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (89%/91%)
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers (88%/92%)
DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (88%/91%)
Odell Beckham, WR, Los Angeles Rams (88%/90%)
Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (88%/89%)
Hunter Renfrow, WR, Las Vegas Raiders (86%/82%)
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (85%/92%)
Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys (85%/86%)
Jamaal Williams, RB, Detroit Lions (83%/88%)
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos (80%/82%)
Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears (78%/82%)
Elijah Moore, WR, New York Jets (71%/80%)
Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys (68%/87%)
Devonta Freeman, RB, Baltimore Ravens (67%/80%)
Zach Ertz, TE, Arizona Cardinals (63%/86%)

Players on More Than 20% of Rosters You Can Drop

Antonio Brown, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (78%/74%)
Marvin Jones, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (68%/59%)
Darrel Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (66%/65%)
Kenny Golladay, WR, New York Giants (64%/61%)
Corey Davis, WR, New York Jets (64%/54%)
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers (63%/53%)
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans (61%/69%)
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Buffalo Bills (61%/63%)
Kenyan Drake, RB, Las Vegas Raiders (59%/56%)
Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team (56%/68%)
Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo Bills (52%/46%)
Mike Davis, RB, Atlanta Falcons (50%/47%)
Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers (47%/37%)
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks (40%/35%)
Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams (39%/29%)
Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (28%/16%)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (24%/15%)
Curtis Samuel, WR, Washington Football Team (24%/14%)
DJ Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (23%/13%)
Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants (22%/22%)
Robert Tonyan, TE, Green Bay Packers (21%/19%)
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Houston Texans (21%/10%)
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts (20%/30%)
Jeff Wilson, RB, San Francisco 49ers (19%/26%)

Comments

10 comments, Last at 08 Dec 2021, 10:56pm

2 Christopher!

For what it's worth, 3 of Andy Dalton's 4 INT were tipped balls.

Two by his own receivers, one by Arizona's D-line.

They all count the same.

4 Courtland Sutton

Very deep league, is Sutton worth a pickup?  If so, how much would you spend?  Where does he rank ROS compared to those in this article?

6 Re: Sutton

In reply to by DAMdawgVU

Sutton has fallen precipitously in my rankings as his target share has since Jerry Jeudy returned. He's down to 46th among wide receivers in my ROS PPR projections just behind Brandon Aiyuk and Cole Beasley and just ahead of Jamison Crowder. I would spend more than I represent in the article because you are in a deeper format and players in that range presumably won't be freely available. But I'm projecting Van Jefferson and K.J. Osborn to outproduce Sutton by 11 and 3 PPR points the rest of the way as a comparison.

5 Playoff help

Josh Jacobs or Ja’Marr Chase as flex?

All advice welcome! Thx!

7 Re: Jacobs vs. Chase

In reply to by carlosla

I have Jacobs projected for 16.8 and Chase projected for 13.2 PPR points this week. Some of that discrepancy comes from a difficult Bengals matchup with the 49ers. But I also have Jacobs benefiting from extra work with Kenyan Drake being out for the rest of the season. Good luck!

9 Best Defense for this week?

I've got three viable options for this spot - Broncos D vs Lions, Titans D vs Jax, and Panthers D vs Atlanta. Which one do you think will be the most productive option out of those mentioned?

 

Appreaciate your advice!

10 Re: Defenses

Well, I have the Panthers projected for 8.1, the Broncos projected for 8.0, and the Titans projected for 7.9 points in typical (Yahoo) scoring. So not very helpful! I think I would lean Panthers in formats that more heavily reward sacks and turnovers. And I'd lean Broncos in formats that more heavily reward fewer points and yards allowed. Before their win on Sunday, the Lions had not scored 20+ points in nine straight games. Yikes!