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We’re almost a month in, fam! That means 14 more weeks of genius tinkering. Of course, the most dedicated and passionate managers find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While some weeks your roster may allow for snoozing on sleepers, it’s always beneficial to keep tabs on emerging trends and players. This weekly column is for those who understand the satisfaction of digging deep.
All of the listed players are rostered in under 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks … but that’s what makes them so intriguing.
Last week Peyton Barber and James Conner both finished inside the top-12 FF RBs. Ya girl was also ahead of the curve on Pat Freiermuth. But K.J. Osborn fell flat. And don’t even get me started on Mooney and the Bears.
On to Week 4!
Taylor Heinicke, QB, Washington Football Team (8% rostered — $26)
Football Team fans saw the two INTs. Fantasy fans noted the 21 rushing yards. His game may be flawed, but Heinicke is hustling. Passing for 2 TDs over the past two weeks and averaging 5 carries per game (QB6), Ryan Fitzpatrick’s understudy has recorded over 20 fantasy points in two consecutive efforts. He’s undoubtedly been bailed out by the surrounding talent, but that just adds to his appeal.
Another top-15 finish seems likely when he travels to Atlanta this Sunday. The Falcons have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing QBs. While Daniel Jones didn’t post big numbers in Week 3 (his two top receivers exited with hamstring injuries and his third-best option entered the game with a bad hip), he did record 39 rushing yards. Noting Heinicke’s mobility (nearly 15 rushing yards/contest), in tandem with the fact that the Falcons haven’t recorded a single INT on the season, means another big outing for the pride of ODU.
Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo Bills ($20 in DFS)
We know that Brian Daboll likes to throw the ball; he's fourth in pass attempts (128) already this season. That should mean a glorious number of yards for Josh Allen and his pass-catchers in Week 4 versus the Texans’ bottom-ranked pass defense. But there should also be plenty of rushing opportunities for the backfield in a matchup in which the Bills are 17-point favorites.
Enter: Zack Moss.
Underwhelming in Year 1. A healthy scratch in Week 1. But an absolute gift to fantasy managers over his past two outings. Proving the goal line plunges at Miami weren’t a fluke, Moss found the end zone again last Sunday versus Washington. This time, however, his score came via the air. How Moss was utilized wasn’t the only thing that grew. His snap count and tote total also increased, as he secured over 51 percent of both, signaling a move ahead of Devin Singletary on the depth chart. He should continue to produce and deserves top-30 consideration against a Houston squad that’s allowed six rushing scores over the past three weeks.
BONUS RB: Michael Carter, New York Jets (52% rostered - $13)
After scoring all of 20 points over three games, it’s hard to imagine the game script ever leaning in Carter’s favor. The silver lining here, though, is that after a buzzy summer, the North Carolina product has climbed his way to the top of the Jets depth chart.
The timeshare between Carter and Ty Johnson looked even in Week 2, but the rookie pulled ahead in Week 3, recording six more carries and one more reception than the vet. Tevin Coleman appears to be a non-factor regardless of whether or not he’s active. That means Carter should have the first crack at playing keep away versus Tennessee. The Titans are more vulnerable versus the pass than the run, but the defense has given up 3 TDs to RBs over the past two weeks.
Remember, fantasy is all about staying a week ahead. Carter may only be a desperation Flex/RB3 this Sunday, but his role is growing and needs to be monitored.
Terrace Marshall, WR, Carolina Panthers (14% rostered — $12)
A consistent red-zone threat at LSU, Marshall continues to draw high-value opportunities in the pros (3 red-zone targets, WR22). Deployed primarily out of the slot (58.3% rate), the Panthers No. 3 WR has seen his snap count steadily increase while averaging over 4.5 targets per contest. The volume isn’t great, but it should get a massive boost with CMC sidelined and Dan Arnold traded.
Sam Darnold is going to have to put the ball in the air with the Panthers 4.5-point underdogs in what’s expected to be a high-scoring game at Dallas (50.5). The Cowboys defense has exceeded expectations. But the secondary — even with exceptional play from Trevon Diggs — has been leaky. The Boys’ back-half has allowed the sixth-most yards to opposing wideouts (625) so far this season.
Jourdan Lewis (81.9% slot share), has allowed a passer rating above 113 percent and gave up 48 yards on 3 catches to Quez Watkins last Monday night. That bodes well for Marshall (and, maybe even Robby Anderson, *prayer emoji*), who should convert on a higher than usual number of looks. Flex him in PPR-friendly formats. FF: 6-68-0
Hunter Henry, TE, New England Patriots (44% rostered — $15)
James White reeled in 6 catches in back-to-back weeks before suffering a hip subluxation last Sunday versus New Orleans. A cornerstone of Belichick’s offense, White’s absence frees up short-yardage opportunities for the other pass-catchers. Second-year RB J.J. Taylor appears to be first in line to absorb the bulk of White’s work, but it’s hard to imagine BB fully trusting the 23-year-old so immediately.
Henry’s role, on the other hand, has grown over the first three weeks of September. With his preseason shoulder issue now behind him, the former Charger has run more routes and drawn more targets since the start of his tenure in New England. Coming off a game in which he recorded 5 catches out of a season-high six looks, Henry should continue to work as a safety valve for his rookie QB, who figures to be chasing points versus the heavily favored (-6.5) Bucs.
Fellow TE Jonnu Smith (who is averaging 14.6 routes/gm as opposed to Henry’s 29) will likely steal some of the ex-Bolts’ thunder. However, the Bucs have surrendered the tenth-most receiving yards to opposing TEs, allowing Henry ample opportunity to finish inside the top-15 for FF purposes.
Dream and stream, my friends.
Dawson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills (25% rostered — $18)
After a pair of scores in consecutive outings, it’s hard not to notice Knox. I never like chasing TDs, but Knox is running more than 24 routes per game (TE11). The third-year player could be on the verge of a breakout as a red-zone presence on an uptempo offense (2.01 pace) and attached to a talented passer. Despite being one of many options, he’s maintained a consistent target share over three weeks (4/gm).
A guaranteed share of opportunities against a Texans defense that has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing TEs is enough to put Knox in the streaming conversation. I’d start him over Jonnu Smith or Dalton Shultz, but not ahead of Jared Cook or Austin Hooper.
Dig deep with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF