This week is a rather bittersweet week for fantasy football. It is officially past the halfway point of the regular season. That means, for some, their fantasy team’s time will come to a screeching halt. At this point in the season, it becomes clearer who has a team that is cut out for a championship, and who doesn’t. But even teams who are built to win now can’t get comfortable. As players get hurt, new ones come in to take their place. This week’s watch list highlights players who are one injury or one roster move away from being potentially thrust into the spotlight.
Week Eight Fantasy Football Watch List Featuring Courtland Sutton
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver Courtland Sutton is about to become a household name. Rumors have been flying about veteran Demaryius Thomas being on the trade block. Sutton is a big reason why. He is a big-bodied receiver who the Broncos selected high in the second round of the 2018 draft. He’s already has a solid role with the team, but will explode onto the fantasy team if (or when) Thomas gets traded.
The trade deadline is October 30th. The Broncos are likely to hold on to Thomas until right up until the deadline. This way, they get to wait and see who gives the best offer. If they do move him, Sutton is in line for at least the majority of Thomas’ targets, and there are many. Thomas has only seen less than five targets in one game this season. He has two games with over ten targets.
Even with Thomas, Sutton has gotten his fair share of looks. He’s only seen four or fewer targets twice this year. It seems reasonable to project that he could average at least six targets if Thomas were to be shipped out, with the only real competition coming from Emmanuel Sanders. He will need to convert on his opportunities though, as so far, Sutton has caught less than 50% of balls thrown his way. If not, it likely just means that Sanders becomes a target monster.
Fantasy teams need to monitor the situation with Thomas, and if a trade goes down, he might even be able to be swooped up as a free agent after waivers are cleared.
Another player who has the potential to benefit from a trade is Oakland Raiders wideout Martavis Bryant. In this case, the trade already went down. The NFL world was shocked when the Raiders continued their fire sale of top-talent, sending former first-round pick Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys. Bryant’s case is a lot different from Sutton’s, but he still needs to be monitored in the coming weeks.
As far as this season, Bryant hasn’t done anything to garner fantasy consideration. Aside from one game where he hauled in three catches for 91 yards, Bryant’s tenure for the Silver and Black has been a huge disappointment. He was cut prior to week one because he was expected to be suspended once again. Oddly enough, the team re-signed him after a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Still, it is unknown if, or when, an indefinite suspension will be dealt.
Still, now that Cooper is gone, someone is going to have to catch the ball in Oakland. Bryant is on track to start for the Raiders starting this week. Aside from Bryant, quarterback Derek Carr has 33-year-old Jordy Nelson and wildly inconsistent slot guy Seth Roberts. Bryant will undoubtedly get more targets, and maybe even another deep shot or two down the field. This week should be a good indicator of his usage for the rest of the season.
Team owners should keep in mind one caveat if they do pull the trigger on Bryant: he can be suspended at any moment. So, they need to always have a backup plan at wide receiver.
Moving on from players who might from trades to players who could benefit from injuries. Kapri Bibbs, running back for the Washington Redskins is the next man up for injuries in that backfield. What makes him intriguing is that the Redskins have a dual-action backfield, with Adrian Peterson acting as the rusher, and Chris Thompson as the receiving scat-back. Bibbs can fill either role for the team, but the other two are limited to just one.
This is what makes Bibbs such an intriguing prospect. Both backs on the roster have already shown a propensity for injury, with Thompson missing last week’s game. He took on Thompson’s role as quarterback Alex Smith’s safety valve, catching four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. Thompson only rushed two times for 13 yards behind All Day. He has shown he can get into the end zone when given an opportunity to punch it in though, rushing for a touchdown in week five.
Peterson has also already seen his fair share of nicks and bruises. He was in danger of missing a game against the New Orleans Saints with an ankle injury. Then, Peterson dislocated his shoulder against in that same game. He hasn’t missed a start yet, but at his advanced age, Bibbs should be ready to go at any time. Bibbs would be worth an add if either Peterson or Thompson (more so in PPR leagues) suffer a season-ending injury.
Redux: Christian Kirk
The final highlight of this week’s watch list returns to week four’s top dog, Christian Kirk. He is another player who should benefit from a personnel change, this time by virtue of the Arizona Cardinals firing their offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy. Kirk was already on many player’s fantasy radars even before McCoy was shown the door. Now, his outlook is as high as it has ever been.
Kirk still leads the team in receiving yards (368) with over 100 more than the Larry Fitzgerald. He has seen five or more targets in five of seven games this season and has firmly established himself as rookie quarterback Josh Rosen’s number one option. He was held back by inefficient and uncreative play calling, something that will hopefully change under new offensive coordinator, Byron Leftwich. Obviously, Leftwich might not even work out. He has never been a coordinator before, so the offense has a chance to be just as bad. However, he has been around the Cardinals coaching staff since 2016.
The team has said the focus will be on making the offense go through superstar running back David Johnson again. They want to also get him involved in the passing game. Having a better run game will keep the team on the field more, giving Kirk a lot more chances to make plays, and hopefully, score some touchdowns. If the offense even nominally improves, Kirk will see himself on many waiver-wire add lists in the coming weeks.
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