6 Players Ready to Bounce Back in Fantasy Football
The fantasy world is built around a "what have you done for me lately" mentality. With so few games in the NFL, everything is under a microscope. We all overreact to latest news and story lines.
But fear not. Below are a few bigger-named players from each position that have underperformed to start the year, but will be very productive in the next couple weeks.
Everyone has talked about Manning's lack of arm strength and how he's officially regressed. But he's a prime candidate to bounce back because of his upcoming strength of schedule. Manning and his Denver Broncos get to take on the Oakland Raiders and the Cleveland Browns prior to their Week 7 bye. The Raiders rank last in our Adjusted Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, and the Browns rank 22nd.
After the bye, Manning faces off against the Packers (14th), Colts (20th), Chiefs (21st) and Bears (29th). Manning may not be as good as he used to be, but with a very easy schedule coming up and an off week mixed in there, look for the Broncos pass offense to rise quickly.
T.J. Yeldon: The rookie out of Alabama has become the featured back for the Jaguars. Yeldon hasn't been overly unproductive this season, and he's yet to find the end zone. And of all players with at least 25 carries, Yeldon ranks 44th in Rushing NEP with -6.90. That isn't great, and proves why he hasn't been that successful this year.
The best stats, though, that point towards Yeldon's future success -- at least in fantasy football -- are his usage numbers. He's third in carries among all running backs, only behind Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson. Yeldon is a key part of the Jaguars offense, as he's on the field for 78% of Jacksonville's offensive snaps, which also ranks third in the league. He either receives a carry or a passing target on 38.7% of his snaps.
As I mentioned earlier, the touchdowns have eluded Yeldon so far. It isn't from a lack of attempts though. He is getting called on for 36.7% of all red zone opportunities for the Jaguars, and out of the top 15 running backs, in terms of touches, Yeldon and Alfred Morris are the only backs without a touchdown.
My point behind all of his usage stats are that he's still averaging 7.5 standard fantasy points per game without a touchdown. His schedule over the next two weeks isn't that difficult, either, as he faces the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Houston Texans. Tampa Bay has given up the eighth most fantasy points to running backs, while Houston has allowed the fifth most points per game to running backs, and that will look even worse after getting gashed by 32-year-old Frank Gore last night.
Lamar Miller: So far, Miller has posted an unimpressive Rushing NEP of -3.37, which ranks him 34th among players with at least 25 carries. However, it'd be smart to stick with him for a couple more weeks because it should get better from here based on his upcoming schedule.
Miller has faced a very tough running defensive schedule so far in the Redskins, Jaguars, Bills, and Jets. The table below shows the Dolphins first seven opponents and each of their Adjusted Rushing NEP ranks. The Dolphins head into their Week 5 bye week with a new coach, and will get ready for a lighter defensive schedule as they face the Titans, Texans, and Patriots.
|Dolphins' Opponents||Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP Rank|
|New York Jets||3rd|
|New England Patriots||28th|
As you can see, the strength of schedule will lighten up for Miller and the Miami offense.
Keep in mind, too, that in 2014, Miller placed seventh in Rushing NEP, and rushed for 5.1 yards per carry, good for second in the league. It's not as though he's never proven to be a good runner.
It will also help Millers' production if Miami stops getting behind early, as they haven't had a lead in the first half this season. The negative game flow destroys the amount of touches that Miller can receive. If the Dolphins can stay in games for a little longer, they won't have to abandon the running game right away, thus giving Miller more snaps, carries, and potentially yards.
Mike Evans: Evans is fully healthy now, and has tallied 25 targets over the last two weeks. I'll take that volume by any receiver, let alone someone who put up over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns last year in his rookie season.
Evans' quarterback,Jameis Winston, just hasn't been playing great -- only Ryan Tannehill has a worse Passing NEP total so far this year among relevant quarterbacks -- and the production has yet to come for the sophomore wide receiver. Evans missed Week 1, played Week 2 but was very limited, and then received 17 and 8 targets in Week 3 and 4, respectably. As Winston progresses, Evans' numbers should naturally grow.
The Bucs' next three opponents are against the Jaguars, Redskins and Falcons, who rank 29th, 21st and 26th against the pass, respectively, according to our metrics. Don't be scared off by his lack of production against the Panthers last week, as the same rankings have them as the second best team in the NFL in that category. Things should start to improve for the stud sophomore.
Jordan Matthews: The Eagles' number-one wide receiver definitely hasn't performed poorly, but over the last two weeks, he's posted lines of 6-49-0 and 3-50-0.
But Matthews has also seen a lot of work, as he's drawn at least eight targets in every game for a total of 38, which is 19th in the league.
Philadelphia will host both the Saints and the Giants over the next two weeks. The Saints have been atrocious against the passing attack this year, and rank 30th in our Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP metric while allowing over 300 passing yards a game. After that, the G-Men come into town with their 20th best passing defense.
The Eagles finished dead last in time of possession in 2014, and have continued that trend so far in 2015. However, they're averaging four minutes fewer than last year, and that's somewhat of a concern.
In 2014, despite having the ball for the least amount of time, they led the league in plays per game with 70.7. This year, they've dropped to 27th and are only snapping the ball 60.2 times a game. If they can bring both of numbers up a bit, that will generate more value to the entire Eagles offense.
Jordan Cameron: The Dolphins fired Joe Philbin and promoted Dan Campbell as the head coach. Campbell has been the tight end coach since 2011, and played in the NFL as a tight end for 10 seasons. If there was ever a coach that believes in tight ends and understands the position's value, it's Dan Campbell. Like I said about Lamar Miller, we should expect the Dolphins to trend upwards after the bye week and putting a new coach in place.
A pair of sad fantasy outings in Weeks 3 and 4 aren't anything to get you excited about. With that said, Cameron's owner probably isn't pleased with him. In fact, you may be able to pick him up off the waiver in some leagues, as he's owned in less than 74% of ESPN leagues. And that's before his bye this week.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that he will post Rob Gronkowski like numbers, but he is getting a decent amount of targets as well as red zone targets -- Cameron has had the fourth most red zone opportunities among tight ends this year. And look at upcoming matchups: the next four opponents for Miami are teams that have let up a lot of production to tight ends. In terms of fantasy points against at the position, the Dolphins face the Titans who rank 28th, the Patriots who rank 22nd, the Texans who rank 20th and the Bills who rank 29th.
The targets, coaching change, and the opponents for Cameron over the next four weeks following their bye make him an interesting buy.