Week 3 is in the books and we are only 1-week of, garbage time, games left until the start of the 2018 NFL season. The “dress rehearsal” is over, we have a better picture of depth charts and value picks are getting harder to grab as ADP’s (Average Draft Position) continue to settle in their proper spots. Al and Chris, on Sunday Night Football, eluded to teams using pre-season week 2 as the dress rehearsal so not all teams suited up their stars. Overall this pre-season has been pretty unwatchable. Don’t worry, I watched it for you and was able to gather valuable information to help you dominate your drafts and prepare you for the fantasy football season!
Thank you for the comments and personal messages from my last article. I want to provide you with more ammo before the 2018 kickoff. Hopefully you are in a league that has not drafted yet. If you are don’t worry because this article is for you, as well. It is never too early to start eyeing your waivers, trade partners, or replacing already injured players.
Before I start bringing you my weekly handcuff report I want to provide you with a couple of players that I believe are more than just a handcuff play. These players can provide you value and are even worth spot starts if the matchup is right with the number one option still in the lineup.
JuJu Smith-Schuster ADP 40.2
I won one of my leagues last year with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster both on the same roster. His value as a handcuff is tremendous, when AB was out at the end of last season (weeks 15-16-17) JuJu posted the following stat line 6/114/0, 6/75/1, and 9/143/1 (rec/yds/TD). JuJu is having a strong pre-season and looks like he is in mid-season form. Juju finished 2017 as WR17 in standard scoring even with AB as the #1 target and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburg. With the amount of attention defenses give AB and Le’Veon it allows JuJu to flourish as a sustainable WR2/Flex with WR1 upside. His ADP might be a little too rich for me, 18th receiver taken off the board, but it can easily be justified. One injury to AB and he is arguably a top 5 WR.
Tevin Coleman ADP 74.1
Tevin has proven to be a valuable RB asset the past two seasons finishing as RB22 in 2017 and RB18 in 2016 in standard scoring. Atlanta has shown the ability to support two running backs with Devonta Freeman as the lead dog (RB12/RB6 in 2017/2016). 2018 is a contract year for Coleman, he is motivated to get ‘the bag’ and show teams he has RB1 value. There is a lot of talk this camp about Coleman being utilized more in this offense. Coleman himself is quoted saying “They are just going to use me more, lining up out wide and stuff” … “It’s going to be pretty fun.” His head coach, Dan Quinn, is backing this up… “Now, we want to make sure we are really featuring him and Devonta in as many ways as we can,” and “Splitting them outside, leaving them in the backfield, the amount of catches and touches that we can get for those guys, we know how explosive they are.” This is year two under OC Steve Sarkisian and I believe things are trending up for the Falcons as they bounce back from a disappointing finish to 2017. The Falcons have the 16th easiest rated schedule and is facing the NFL’s second easiest run schedule, per Warren Sharp. It’s no secret that Tevin is more than a handcuff.
Latavius Murray ADP 121.3
Latavius is not as obvious as the players listed above with Dalvin Cook expected back and 100% healthy. Depending on how deep your league is I still believe Latavius can provide value even with Dalvin Cook in the lineup. Latavius finished RB21 last season with Dalvin starting the season and Jerrick McKinnon sharing snaps as the season progressed. Mckinnon is gone and Dalvin is coming off an ACL tear. Looking at carries inside the 5-yard line Murray has finished top 5 in this category multiple seasons in a row. Murray has shined this offseason posting 111 yards and 1-TD on 23 total touches. With new OC, John DeFilippo, coming over from Philly who utilized multiple running backs there will be value for Murray. Also, I believe the Vikings will want to protect their young asset in Cook and make sure they don’t risk another injury. Murray is worth a late round flier.
Sterling Shepard ADP 107.6
The WR dynamic between Odell Beckham Jr. and Shepard in New York reminds me of the situation we have in Pittsburg. OBJ just signed a massive contract and is poised to prove to everyone that he is the best player in the league. Similar to AB, Odell demands opposing defenses to scheme around him and apply double teams. This will allow multiple opportunities for Shepard to shine. People will argue that Saquon Barkley diminishes Shepard value but Pittsburg has AB and Le’Veon Bell on the same roster. Saquon does not make it impossible for Shepard to be a valuable fantasy asset similar to JuJu. New OC Pat Shurmer showed last year that his offense can support two productive fantasy WRs in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. At a much more attractive ADP than JuJu, I will be buying stock in Shepard this season.
This pick is equally Kyle Shanahan as it is Alfred Morris. The last time Alfred Morris was relevant was under Kyle Shanahan back in Washington. If you read my first article, I discuss the importance of scheme and Shanahan’s offense is the perfect example. He has a history of supporting two valuable RB fantasy assets, most recently his time in Atlanta with Freeman and Coleman. Shanahan has been searching for his 1-2 punch in the offense. He found his “Freeman” in Jerrick McKinnon and is looking for his #2. Morris’ name is on my radar after Mckinnon and Matt Breida are already nursing injuries before the season starts. McKinnon has a history of getting banged up and not lasting the whole season. This will be Mckinnon’s chance to prove everyone wrong but buyer beware. Morris looked like his old-self when he posted 84 yards on 17 touches this last weekend against the Colts. With uncertainty around Mckinnon and Breida’s availability to start the season Alfred is a must add in the later rounds. BUY BUY BUY!
This is the name none of your friends are thinking about. An obvious handcuff for any Zach Ertz owners, but I believe Goedert will end the season more than just a handcuff. 55 TE targets and 6 TE touchdowns are up for grabs with Trey Burton and Celek’s departure. Alshon is expected to miss 2-3 games to start the season and has a possibility of starting the season on the PUP. More targets and touchdowns to go around. Everyone knows the Eagles WR core is banged up and they will need someone to step up as an offenses weapon. Goedert is still working on his blocking and learning the playbook but he has shown in college and this pre-season that he has a nose for the end zone. Philly loves to use 2 and 3 TE sets. My guess is by the mid-season Goedert will no longer be on your waiver wire. Add him to your watch list and grab him before anyone else does!
Sanu’s value comes in play more in 14+ team leagues or in 3WR + Flex formats where WRs depth is important OR if Julio exits the lineup which he has a history of missing games. Sanu finished WR37 last year with 5 TD and 96 targets. Sanu’s production comes primarily from the slot and the Falcons chose not to re-sign Taylor Gabriel who also was a slot guy for ATL, leaving more targets up for grabs. Sanu had a pretty one-handed grab against arguably the best corner in the league Jalen Ramsey this last weekend in Atlanta’s third pre-season game. Matt Ryan is due positive TD regression this season and Sanu is a favorite redzone target of his. Calvin Ridley has entered the picture but I believe he will operate more on the outside when in the lineup. Also, rookie receivers don’t have a strong track record in recent years of producing reliable fantasy output.
Mark Ingram ADP 47.7
This is the most obvious name on this list given his RB6 finish last season in standard scoring. Please read my blurb on Mark in my first piece.
I look forward to seeing your comments and questions. I’ll continue to highlight more handcuff options in future pieces. You can follow me on Twitter.