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  • Writer's pictureJeff Trela @jtrela20

Breakout Second Half Players

Fantasy football is always en ebb and flow. As we enter week 6, you probably have decided whether your fantasy team sucks or has legs, which isn't neccesarily a smart idea. Remember last year at this time, Ryan Tannehill was starting his first game of the season and Miles Sanders hadn't scored a touchdown or logged a 15 touch game yet. Lamar Jackson was way behind Russell Wilson in the MVP race after a three interception game, only to turn the page in week 6 with a 19 carry, 152 yard rushing performance which started a streak of seven consecutive games with either 70 rushing yards, a rushing TD, or both. If you can identify even one of these situations could turn your 2-3 season into a championship or your solid team into a potential overall competition winner. We're at the point you are starting to see teams make bad drops or panic trades. Remember, when you drafted your team it was for the entire year. Some of these players have underwhelmed to this point and are worth a hold if you can spare the roster space. If you can't look at the season long term, hit me up Sunday morning and I'll give you some DFS plays. I've seen AJ Brown and Cam Newton dropped by owners who needed a win desperately. Let's try to identify some of these players we can get on the cheap or even for free that might have some league -winning upside down the stretch .

J.K Dobbins

There are a lot of rookie running backs with tremndous hype which just haven't broken out yet, and Dobbins is the leader of the pack. Keep in mind, with no preseason and limited training camp, these rookies are really in week 2 right now. Dobbins was the most efficient back in the country at Ohio State last year in RPO (run/pass option) plays, and being drafted to a team which ran 57% RPO, it seemed a match made in heaven for he and Lamar Jackson. The Ravens backfield has been tremendously frustrating with Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Mark Ingram all basically splitting 1/3 of the snaps, with Dobbins getting the lowest percentage of touches. If you look at raw fantasy points, Dobbins is a mere 3 pts behind the leader Ingram with 31.9 PPR points on only 25 touches, while Ingram has needed a nearly double 45 touches to get to 35 PPR pts. Dobbins is among the league leaders with 1.28 fantasy points per touch, telling us he's been efficient and explosive. So far this season, Lamar Jackson has targeted his running backs only 18 times, with Dobbins receiving more than half of them. The offense hasn't been explosive yet this year, and we've seen a flip flop in the Ravens approach. Last year, Jackson targeted his WR and and TE equally, with the running backs receiving only 12% of targets. This year, possibly due to the loss of Hayden Hurst, we've seen Jackson target the wide receivers a whopping 58% of the time, while the TE is way down at 28% and the running backs seeing the typical 14%. While this doesn't exactly scream in favor of my argument for the passing back here, it does speak to change and evolution.

The AFC North has proven to be extremely competitive this year, with the Ravens, Steelers and surprising Browns combining for a 12-2 record through five weeks. Many power rank the Ravens as the best team, but passed the quarter pole, it seems like making the playoffs is going to be a fist fight in the AFC. Looking ahead at the schedule, after facing the Eagles this week in a game with a 47.5 total, the Ravens schedule gets very difficult for running backs with tilts against the Steelers(2x), Colts, Patriots, and Titans up next. However, if you can wait that out you will reap the benefits of the Cowboys, Browns, Jaguars and Giants(in the fantasy Super Bowl). Dobbins owners are sure to get frustrated with the upcoming schedule, but if you can hold off and be patient and let him develop into the most talented and efficient weapon to Lamar Jackson that he is, he will be in tyour lineup week 16 to help you win the title.

Preston Williams

Williams is a better play in standard leagues than PPR as he isn't a high volume receiver. He is much more of a big play receiver. The touchdown equity is there, with five in 13 career games. I have said since last year that this undrafted free agent out of Colorado State flashed Julio Jones level talent, but it has not translated yet to fantasy success. What excites me about Williams is the inevitable switch to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been damn good, and so have the Dolphins, quite frankly, but it's only a matter of time before the reigns are turned over to the young signal caller.

Williams works almost exclusively on the left side of the hash marks and runs a terrific slant. Well, for the left handed Tagovailoa, that is his strong side. Combining his ability to roll to his left and pin point accuracy with Williams dynamic playmaking ability is the stuff South Florida hasn'r seen since Marino and the Marks Brothers. Tagovailoa also built a national championship throwing the slant to Jerry Jeudy at Alabama, and I can see that left to right slant turn into some big catch and runs. Williams is available on the waiver wire in most 12 team leagues, with only 22% ownership across the industry. He's a very easy add for me, although I'm probably most of the 22% as I don't think I have many teams I didn't draft Williams.

Mike Davis

Hear me out. Yes, I know he is 100% rostered. Davis has been an absolute league winner the last few weeks, averaging over 15 fantasy points per week, making him a low end RB1 acrossed that time frame. He showed to be a dynamic playmaker and further proved the fantasy theory of system and coaching being more impactful than actual talent. When Christian McCaffrey returns, the snap share is not going back to 95/5%....but probably closer to 60/40. The Panthers are going to want to protect their franchise player, and certainly continue the playing time which Davis has earned. If you are NOT the McCaffrey owner and Davis ends up on the waiver wire, snatch him up. There will still be a role, he will hold RB2/flex value and you see the upside if McCaffrey were to have a setback. This candle isn't burning out just yet.

D'Andre Swift

Viewed as the most complete running back in the 2020 draft, Swift was drafted into a terrible situation. The Lions have been rebuilding since the 1960s and for whatever reason decided to bring in Adrian Peterson after using premium draft capital on the position in back to back years.

Swift has been on the field quite a bit most weeks, save for a ghost performance of only 6 snaps in week 3. What is encouraging is his usage in the passing attack. Despite a fairly balanced snap share between Peterson, Swift, and Kerryon Johnson, it is Swift who has led the stable in running back targets in each of the team's first four contests. I have said it before, targets are the single most important indicator of future fantasy success. A running back who gets four plus targets per week will not be touchdown dependant and thus someone you will feel comfortable plugging into your lineup on the regular.

The coach speak from Matt Patricia coming out of the bye week speaks to simplifying the offense, which bodes quite well for Swift. Again, these rookies did not get a full offseason, so no better time to increase their workload than coming out of a bye. Swift is already averaging double digit PPR points, and quarterback Matt Stafford has targeted his running backs more than 100 times in every year in his career. Swift is by far the most talented back Stafford has worked with in this manner since Theo Riddick. Watch for Swift to have a big game this week against the Jaguars, who have been a top 5 matchup for pass catching backs. Considering Detroit has the sixth highest strength of schedule remaining, they will be playing from behind often. Swift is on the cusp of being a top 15 back weekly. I would trade for him now, i have him above James Robinson rest of season.

Mecole Hardman

Hardman was drafted in 2019 as a direct hancuff to Tyreek Hill. He is one of the best deep threat receivers in the game, just as is Hill. It looks as if Sammy Watkins is hurt(again) and will miss at least one if not a few games. In his absence, it won't be Hardman who directly replaces him, but more of Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson. Most fantasy owners view Watkins as one of the most frustrating receivers to own. Outside of the fantasy world, Watkins is one of the best receivers in the league. What he does as a blocker to assist in others getting open is very under-appreciated . Hardman is much smaller-framed and not built for that, so he won't be seeing an increase in snaps so much, as he cannot play the X receiver position. He will likely continue to see his normal 50% snap share, but could see an uptick in targets, which has already trended up since last year. Hardman is a threat to score every time he touches the ball, and if he can get an increase from the 5-6 per game up to about 8...there becomes a better floor to stand on as a bye week replacement. We'll look to see how things change once Lev Bell comes in to the fold in week 7, but let's stash Mecole and wait for the bomb to go off.

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