One of the difficulties in fantasy football is quickly adjusting and reacting to short sample sizes, changing game plans, and the impact of injuries. With just 17 weeks, we have to be quick to identify changing situations and stay one step ahead of the competition.
In that spirit let’s take a look at some NFL DFS plays for cash games and tournaments this week who have either seen a recent role change or could see one very soon:
CJ Prosise, SEA
With Christine Michael banged up last week and Seattle already wanting to get Prosise involved, the rookie RB out of Notre Dame received a workhorse role, carrying the ball 17 times and receiving seven targets. Prosise converted his seven targets into seven catches for 87 yards and is a very skilled receiver out of the backfield, something that will come in handy this week against an Eagles team that is strong overall against the pass but struggles with RBs involved in the passing game.
Prosise’s exact role rest of season isn’t defined. However, the team pretty clearly thinks highly of him as evidenced by outright releasing Christine Michael. Thomas Rawls is expected back but also expected to be limited in his first game back from injury. All this points towards Prosise becoming a core cash game play this week on both DraftKings and FanDuel, where his price tag is not in line with his current role.
Rob Kelley, WAS
Kelley is an unnecessary risk in cash games this week, but he quietly has tournament upside at a cheap price tag across the industry. After not carrying the ball more than five times in a single game through eight weeks, Kelley has received 21 and 22 carries the past two weeks to go along with nine combined red zone opportunities. The backfield is clearly his in terms of the rushing attack. Matt Jones has been a healthy scratch, leading to a huge market share of carries of 73 percent the last two games for Kelley. He won’t be involved in the passing game, which is a big knock against him, but his domination of carries, especially by the goal line, provides him with 100-yard rushing and multiple TD upside.
Cameron Meredith, CHI
The Bears lost Alshon Jeffery to a four game suspension, which leaves a giant void in their passing game. Over the team’s last four games, Jeffery received 30.4 percent of the team’s targets. That was the sixth highest mark in the NFL over that span and leaves an average of a little over 10 targets a game that need to go elsewhere in the Bears offense.
Enter Cameron Meredith. There’s some systemic risk here as Meredith has yet to show a rapport with QB Jay Cutler, and the Bears offense has a low floor in general. However, Meredith has the highest market share of targets of active Bears’ WRs and has already shown his ability to handle increased volume this season. In Weeks Five and Six Meredith received 27 combined targets and turned those looks into 20 receptions for 243 yards and a score. Meredith has good size (6-3) and scored well at the combine in a variety of agility drills. He currently leads all Bears receivers averaging 9.29 yards per target.
Martellus Bennett, NE
Rob Gronkowski has not been officially ruled out this week, but all signs point towards his absence after sustaining an injury on Sunday Night Football. With Gronkowski out of the picture, Bennett’s elite efficiency should meet more volume. Of tight ends with at least 30 targets on the season, Bennett ranks third in fantasy points per target (Gronkowski is first) and second in yards per target (Gronkowski is first). The issue has been inconsistent weekly volume as a second tight end.
Bennett was up and down the first four games of the season when Gronkowski was out/limited, but that sample size shortchanges Bennett’s potential. The opponents NE faced resulted in Bennett staying in as a blocker for some of those games. Additionally and more importantly, Tom Brady was suspended for all four of those games. With Brady at the helm, no Rob Gronkowski, and a superb matchup (Patriots have a team total of 32 against a bad 49ers defense that allows a high quantity of plays), Bennett is severely underpriced across the industry.
Ladarius Green, PIT
Green is a very risky option, but the upside is there for the minimum salaried TE. Hype has followed Green wherever he’s gone. He was supposed to unseat Antonio Gates in San Diego. He was supposed to be a key cog in a historic Steelers offense this season. The production is yet to follow the hype, and injuries are a big reason why. He made his Steelers debut this past week after spending the rest of the year on the PUP list. Despite the negativity, there is some substance to the hype. Green scored well in an array of metrics at the collegiate level (market share of yards, YPR, breakout age) and at the combine (92nd percentile in height-adjusted speed score). His career 14.0 YPR (yards per reception) at the NFL level also highlights his explosiveness.
The issue with Green is there is almost no floor here given uncertainty surrounding his volume. He played on just 16.2 percent of snaps last week, but he was targeted four times. In such an explosive offense with big name threats in Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown playing alongside him, Green can make a dent in the box score even with limited playing time. The matchup against Cleveland could not get any better (allowed the most fantasy points per game to the TE position), and ownership will be really low in tournaments. There’s always a lot of risk in trying to be ahead of the curve, but the reward is sweet when you’re right.
Volume changes for the Bills?
Offensive Coordinator Anthony Lynn indicated that Percy Harvin is expected to start at WR this week. However, he’s still going to be on a snap count. It’s too early to take a chance on Harvin given the Bills low volume passing attack and heavy opportunity cost at the WR position, but if you notice a significant rise in snaps/targets for Harvin in Week 11, he may surface as a tournament viable choice in Week 12 at home against Jacksonville.
While the examples above represent specific options to target in Week 11, it’s important in general to stay up to speed on shifting volume for teams and individuals.
Whether it’s an injury to a teammate (Gronkowski), a suspension (Jeffery), young players breaking out (Prosise), or an explosive player finally getting healthy (Green), identifying where volume is headed and the skills/matchups of those that will benefit allows you to stay ahead of the competition and pricing changes.
Michael Leone is a former Buffalo News sports clerk who has won several daily fantasy sports championships. His column appears weekly at [BN] Blitz.
Looking for more NFL DFS advice? You can read Michael Leone and other DFS experts on DailyRoto.com.