After this week, the midway point of the NFL season has passed. It seems like it only began, yet the landscape is starting to clear up. Some teams are already in full-on tank mode. Others are thinking about a first-round bye. This is no different in fantasy football. However, there are so many fringe teams at this point. One way to secure a spot to playoffs is to have a great working watch list of players. This week’s additions are Derek Carr, Dallas Goedert, Darius Slayton, and Jonnu Smith.
Week 9 Fantasy Football Watch List: Derek Carr, Dallas Goedert, and More
The Oakland Raiders are 3-4 on the season but are quietly doing much better than many anticipated this season, especially on offense. The team is developing an identity as a run-first team behind rookie running back Josh Jacobs. Quarterback Derek Carr has been extremely efficient in his second season with head coach Jon Gruden, throwing 11 touchdowns to just four interceptions, and completing over 72 percent of his passes.
To this point, it still hasn’t translated to fantasy success, but it might start to. Carr has spent most of the season trying with a dearth at the wide receiver position. Tyrell Williams became the team’s number one guy after the Antonio Brown debacle, but he missed few games with plantar fasciitis.
Oakland has also had trouble finding another wideout to fill the number two role. The team started the year with Ryan Grant and J.J. Nelson fighting for the spot, but both have since been released. Rookie slot receiver Hunter Renfrow has also been fighting for the spot and may have had his breakout game last week, with four catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. Carr’s weapons are trending up.
Carr has some good matchups ahead of him, including this week against the Detroit Lions, who are a bottom-10 team against quarterbacks in fantasy. The Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals are also on the schedule, and also bottom 10 teams versus quarterbacks. With a Raiders defense full of holes, Carr’s fantasy numbers need to be monitored for quarterback-needy teams.
Most teams don’t even have one tight end who is fantasy relevant. The Philadelphia Eagles might have two. Zach Ertz is having somewhat of a down year, only clocking in as the TE7 in half-point PPR to this point in the season. Some of that could be due to the emergence of second-year man Dallas Goedert to steal targets.
Goedert has seen at least four targets in the last three games and has a touchdown in each of the last two. Goedert still has some work to do before he becomes anywhere close to fantasy-relevant, but he is trending upward, and already has streaming consideration depending on the matchup.
His next two games should be the most telling. This week he faces the Chicago Bears, who are 12th-worst in points given up to tight ends. Then he gets his bye in Week 10 and takes on the New England Patriots Week 11. The Patriots ferocious defense is the second-best team against tight ends.
However, after that, there are some favorable matchups, including a tilt with the Seattle Seahawks, who are fourth-worst in points allowed to tight ends. The fantasy finals pit him in a rematch against the Dallas Cowboys, where he put up 69 yards and a touchdown against Week 7. In an eternally barren tight end landscape, Goedert could at least streaming appeal.
Darius Slayton is still a mostly unknown name, but that might not last long. The rookie wide receiver has been a favorite target of Daniel Jones since he took over the starting job. In fact, Slayton only has two games with under five targets during that span for the New York Giants.
Slayton’s issue has been turning the targets into production. He has only caught 16 of 27 targets, a catch rate of only 59 percent. It is obvious Slayton is still learning and will have his growing pains, but the trust between him and Jones is undeniable.
Presumed starter Sterling Shepard has missed most of the season to this point with multiple concussions. However, Golden Tate has been better than advertised, putting up three straight games with at least nine targets and 80 yards receiving.
If Slayton fights off Shepard’s targets when he returns and starts converting on more of his targets, he just might fight off Shepard for the number two spot in the wide receiver corps.
Redux: Jonnu Smith
Last week’s watch list included Tennessee Titans tight end, Jonnu Smith. Smith got the start Week 8 with veteran Delanie Walker resting his ankle injury. Smith already had a promising game slotting in when Walker went out, catching three passes for 64 yards. He looked even better in Week 8, catching six balls for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Walker might miss his second consecutive game, as he still hasn’t practiced. Even if he does come back, the younger, and more recently productive Smith might keep the job. Head coach Mike Vrabel had good things to say about the third-year tight end: “Even with Delanie [Walker] out there, I think Jonnu [Smith] was starting to get a little bit more comfortable.”
It sounds like Smith might be here to stay. If he is a free agent, tight end needy teams should grab him now.