For leagues that have first-round byes for top teams, this is the last week of the regular season. Some teams will be forced to throw in the towel and wait until next year to try again. The elite will move on and fight for that championship title. Few got to where they were at by being satisfied and sitting on the team they drafted. No, they scoured all available free agents, scooping up some, and watching others for weeks, waiting for the right time to add them to their squad. Here are a few to monitor this weekend.
Week 13 Fantasy Football Watch List Featuring Justin Jackson
It was a rough past week for Melvin Gordon owners. Late last week, reports circulated that Gordon could miss week 12 against the Arizona Cardinals. Though he ended up playing and putting up two touchdowns in the first half, many probably wish he hadn’t. Early in the second half, Gordon was injured on a very questionable reverse handoff play with the Los Angeles Chargers already up big. Now, Gordon is week-to-week with an MCL sprain.
Many figure Austin Ekeler to slide into Gordon’s role in his absence. What is more likely, however, is for Ekeler to keep the scat-back type role he had and rookie Justin Jackson to take on the majority of Gordon’s workload. Ekeler already had his shot at lead-back duties when he filled in for Gordon in London versus the Tennessee Titans. He managed 42 yards on 12 carries, good for only 3.5 yards-per-carry.
Jackson saw his first real game action last week, turning seven carries into 57 yards. He looked more the part of a lead back compared to Ekeler. A downside was that he was not targeted in the passing game, so at this point, Ekeler has much more upside. However, unlike Ekeler, Jackson is probably still available. He could have a role similar to Baltimore Ravens back Alex Collins had early in the season, seeing the bulk of carries and goal line work.
With the running back market all but tapped out at this time in the season, Jackson’s role should be monitored this weekend to see if he might have some value.
The Washington Redskins receiving corps have been a fantasy wasteland all season while Alex Smith was under center. Smith spread the ball around pretty evenly, and the team relied mainly on the run game with the ageless Adrian Peterson. The Redskins lost Smith for the season a few weeks ago, so now Colt McCoy is running the offense. This has changed the target share in the offense, funneling targets to fewer guys.
The main beneficiary has been tight end Jordan Reed, who probably had people who dropped him scrambling to pick him back up on the waiver wire. On the wide receiver end, Josh Doctson is a name to keep an eye on. While Doctson’s ceiling isn’t quite as high as Reed’s, his target share is about the same. He has seen 17 targets over the last two games, including a team-high ten last week on Thanksgiving.
Doctson has some plus matchups coming up against teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and Tennessee Titans. His one tough matchup is against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but their defense has been reeling in recent weeks. If Doctson keeps developing a rapport with McCoy, he could be someone to look to in the playoffs in an emergency situation during the playoffs.
The Oakland Raiders desperately need a number one wide receiver. The Silver and Black traded away Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys. Some expected Martavis Bryant to step up in his absence, but he was injured and lost for the season. Jordy Nelson has mostly a disappointment, looking almost invisible most games. Journeyman Brandon LaFell looked like he was gaining a hold on the job but also went down for the season with an injury.
Out of options, Oakland has turned to rookie seventh-round pick Marcell Ateman. No one has heard of him. No one believes in him. But still, he makes an appearance on this week’s watch list. Ateman showed promise in his first active game of the season against the Arizona Cardinals, hauling in four of five targets for 50 yards, including a crucial catch on the game-winning drive.
Last week was a different story. Quarterback Derek Carr tried to get Ateman more involved, targeting him ten times. He ended up turning all of those targets in a pitiful 16 yards on three catches. Still, Ateman has no competition for targets on the outside, and the Raiders go up against very burnable secondaries for the next three weeks in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati.
Ateman is worth watching this weekend in deeper leagues.
Last week’s watch list mentioned Detroit Lions wide receiver Bruce Ellington as a player to keep an eye on. He was attempting to take advantage of what was thought to be a temporary absence from Marvin Jones and establish himself in the offense. Well, the Lions just placed Jones on injured reserve this week, meaning Ellington’s role will only grow.
In only two games with the Lions, Ellington is up to 16 targets. He’s still struggling to do much with them, totaling only 80 yards. It is important to remember that he just joined the team this month and is still learning the playbook. Now that the Lions know that he is going to have to be a big part of their game plan the rest of the season, they will probably make a conscious effort to cater to his strengths.
Ellington has a chance to show what he can do this week against the Los Angeles Rams and could be in the streaming conversation from there. Detroit goes up against Arizona, the Buffalo Bills, and the Minnesota Vikings, all of which have great number one corners who might shut down Kenny Golladay. This would force quarterback Matthew Stafford to lean on Ellington.
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