The Running Backs:
Jaylen Samuels, Steelers (31%) – The a struggling Steelers turned to the gimmick plays on Monday night against the even more inept Bengals, unleashing the versatile Samuels (he played RB, FB, WR, and TE in college at NC State!) in an updated wrinkle of the Wildcat. He went off. 10 carries, 8 catches, 3 pass completions, 114 total yards, and a TD.
Before we get too excited, it was the Bengals, who’ve proven all year that they can’t stop the run. It’s part of the reason Pittsburgh did what they did… but with the young QB and a struggling offense, they’re bound to try it again.
Add to that James Conner getting banged up in the 2nd half (he played thru it) and coming out with a Questionable tag this week, you’ve gotta take a flyer on Samuels. If Conner were to miss, he would be a borderline RB1 this week.
Ronald Jones II, Bucs (45%) – After 15 touches last week, Jones’ number jumped to 20 this week. A lot of that has to do with the high volume of plays run in that Bucs/Rams shootout, but it’s a good sign. After producing nicely in Week 1, Jones took a backseat to Peyton Barber in Week 2, only to resurface in Week 3. So, that second week in a row of steady touches is encouraging going forward.
The other encouraging thing is that he found the endzone for the first time. Turning those 20 touches into 82 total yards and the score. He’s averaging close to 5 yards per carry (ypc) and has added 71 yards on 3 receptions. This offense looks to really be finding its stride after a slow start, and if it can maintain this high level, Jones could be a steal of a free agent find. Hopefully, you’ve already jumped on him since this is the 3rd time he’s appeared in this column.
Nyheim Hines, Colts (19%) – This is a bit of a speculative play based on the Colts matchup this week and only for deep league situations. Coming off a week where they saw themselves fall behind early to the Raiders, it’s likely Indianapolis finds themselves in the same situation this week facing a Chiefs team at home. The playing from behind game script gave Hines his biggest opportunity of the year so far, and he turned in into 6 catches for 39 yards. Not great, but in a PPR league where you’re desperate due to bye week or injuries, he could offer some big help if he can grab another 6+ balls and maybe turn them into a few more yards and even a score.
The Wide Receivers:
Diontae Johnson, Steelers (7%) – After finding the endzone in his first week with Mason Rudolph, Johnson did it again. He hauled in all 6 of his targets for 77 yards against the Bengals. This is a team that’s gonna try to lean on running the ball, but 2 weeks and 2TDs (even if they were both WIDE open) while seeing 6 targets in each is plenty to warrant a pickup. If he keeps producing, they’ll keep getting him the ball out of necessity.
AJ Brown, Titans (10%) – Brown looked great, catching all 3 of his targets for 92 yards and 2 scores. It’s pretty questionable whether or not this is an offense that’s going to sustain WRs, but Brown keeps showing flashes, and I expect them to make more and more of an effort to get the ball in his hands going forward. His teammate Corey Davis is also barely under the 50% owned threshold (47%) and has seen a much higher volume to this point. He had a 5/91/1 line himself on Sunday. I don’t think there will be a lot of weeks where they’re both so productive (ATL has a secondary), so it’ll be hard to predict who’s gonna be the better play week to week for now, but they’re both viable options.
Cole Beasley, Bills (12%) – I’ve talked about him a lot as a PPR specialist, and he just keeps on producing more and more. Bease has 7 catches for 75 yards against the Patriots while seeing 12(!) targets. He’s averaging 9 targets per game! He’s never gonna be a big TD scorer, or even big yardage guy, but like I’ve said before he gives you such a solid baseline that on those weeks he does add a TD or break a big gainer, he’s gonna give you 20 points that week.
Others: Deebo Samuel (27%) was forgotten about and dropped in a lot of places during the Niners bye week. I still like him even on that run-heavy team. Antonio Callaway (1%) returns from a 4 game suspension to rejoin the Browns. He put up a 43/586/5 line last season and should slide in as the WR3 there, giving him good opportunities with defenses keying on Odell and Jarvis. Volume will be the concern, we need to see it play out, but if you like speculative adds, he’s one. Geronimo Allison (24%) hasn’t seen much action this year, but he caught 2 big passes from ARod late in the 1st half last week that included a TD, and should gain him some trust going forward. The real reason he’s here though is as a 1 or 2-week play IF, and only if Devante Adams has to miss time with his turf toe. One more to list is Randall Cobb (22%). Cobb faces his old Packers team this week, and as long as Michael Gallup is still out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cobb be pumped up and see a few extra balls with the a “revenge game” narrative in play.
The Tight Ends:
Chris Herndon, Jets (19%) – Similar to how I listed Golden Tate last week, Herndon still has one week to go on his suspension but now is the time to pick him up. At such a shallow position, people will jump on him next week, so get in early. A 39/502/4 rookie season last year doesn’t seem like much, but by rookie TE standards, it was one of the best on record. Nothing says improves on that, or even repeats it, but I’m willing to take the chance on finding out. If you’re like me and drafted OJ Howard, you should probably do the same.
Ben Watson, Patriots (3%) – I’m not picking him up yet, but Watson also returns from suspension this week. Normally a staple of their offense for decades, the Patriots have only given 3.5% of their target share to TEs this year (lowest in the league). I’m not sure if that changes, Watson was talked out of retirement to be in this spot, but he’s worth keeping an eye on in case they do revert back to their old schemes.
Others: Dawson Knox (12%) continued to produce and impress despite the low volume. He made a spectacular diving backward catch this week that showed his finesse to go along with the Beastmode tackle breaker he showed off 2 weeks ago. Ricky Seals-Jones (1%) has filled in pretty nice for David Njoku in Cleveland. I don’t think you add him yet, his big plays have all been on account of him being left wide open and forgotten about, but the former Texas A&M wide receiver has always been an intriguing TE prospect to me. If he continues to get open and gain chemistry with Baker he has the talent to be a backend TE1.
Jacoby Brissett, Colts (36%) – We talked about his schedule a few weeks ago, and he continues to light it up. 575 yards and 5 scores in the past 2 weeks, and he didn’t even have TY Hilton in this past game. He should NOT be a free agent.
Gardner Minshew II, Jags (15%) – He’s not lighting the world on fire statistically, but he’s doing enough. 200+ passing every week and 2TDs in 3 of 4, and he’s not turning the ball over. Minshew has the highest QBR of any rookie through his first 4 games. You read that right. I think it only gets better for him as he settles in with his receiving core and gains chemistry with more than just DJ Chark. Plus, like I’ve said before, this guy is FUN and fun is what it’s all about.
Good luck in Week 5.
- Michael Hogan, PSR/SouthtownUnscripter