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With a full week of football in the books, you’re either feeling pretty good about your team’s chances or you’re scrambling to the waiver wire to improve a roster going nowhere. While players in standard leagues may check the wire and find the likes of Kelvin Benjamin or Darren Sproles still available, deep-leaguers have to work a little harder to find help.
But it’s not impossible. Let’s take a look at the top players still available in almost every fantasy football league.
Jake Locker (Owned in 13% of Yahoo Leagues): People shied away from Locker in drafts because of his injury history but now that he costs nothing he’s well worth a pickup. After posting a solid 61 percent completion rate with eight touchdowns and four interceptions before getting hurt in 2013, Locker started his 2014 even better against the Chiefs.
Locker shredded the Chiefs’ defense, completing 22 of 33 passes for 266 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions. He also had six rushing attempts which didn’t amount to much in this game but could amount to added fantasy points in the future.
Locker does have a tough stretch coming up but not before he faces the woeful Cowboys defense this week. He’s definitely worth the pickup just for that matchup.
Geno Smith (10%): Geno was one of our quarterbacks in Week 1 and looked very solid on Sunday against the Raiders despite two fluke turnovers – one interception on a great diving play by Charles Woodson and a fumble caused by a vicious blindside hit from a defender. That is to say that Geno did have two turnovers but not because he was playing like the turnover-happy quarterback we saw last year.
Geno ran the ball 10 times for 38 yards, just missing out on a touchdown. Those rushing yards are key. In the final four games of last season, we saw Geno run an average of 8+ times per game, including 20 times over the last two games (that’s 30 rushing attempts in his last three games, if we’re counting). He scrambles a lot in the red zone in particular, giving you prime rushing touchdown opportunities.
He’s also improved as a passer. He completed 23 of his 28 pass attempts for a league-best 82 percent completion rate, 221 yards, and a touchdown. Expect Geno to be relied on heavily as the Jets get set to face high-scoring/poor-defending teams in the Packers and Bears over the next two weeks.
Running Back Pickups:
Justin Forsett (12%): There weren’t any top running backs hurt in Week 1 but there was one who was cut, opening the door for Justin Forsett to have some fantasy relevance. Forsett hasn’t gotten too many touches in the last two years in Houston and Jacksonville but he did average 5.9 yards per carry on 69 attempts when he got opportunities.
On Sunday, he was impressive with 11 attempts for 70 yards and a touchdown along with five receptions for 14 yards. With Bernard Pierce posting just 14 yards on six touches (after a rough 2.9 yards per carry season last year) Forsett figures to be the feature back in this offense.
Benny Cunningham (12%): We mentioned Cunningham last week as a handcuff to Zac Stacy, who I believe has a good chance to disappoint. While the Rams were completely shut down by the Vikes this week, Cunningham walked away with five rushes for 21 yards and four catches for 30 yards while Stacy caught just one pass and posted 11 carries for 43 yards.
While it’s clear the Cunningham already has a role on this offense, at least on passing downs, I think Cunningham will emerge as the stronger threat. Of course, the Rams have a lot to figure out between now and then.
Wide Receiver Pickups:
Allen Hurns (14%): Approach Hurns with caution. While he came out of nowhere to catch four passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday against the Eagles, he only caught four of his nine targets. The Jags spread the ball around with Marqise Lee catching six of his 10 targets and Marcedes Lewis catching six of his nine targets. And don’t forget that Cecil Shorts could be back as early as this week, leaving Hurns’ future prospects shaky but perhaps still worth a shot.
Andrew Hawkins (25%): The new NFL drug rules may allow Josh Gordon to return earlier than expected but that still figures to be a while from now. Meanwhile, the undersized Hawkins was far-and-away the top target for a scrappy Browns offense, catching eight of his 10 targets for 87 yards. Jordan Cameron, the team’s second-leading receiver, was targeted just five times. Hawkins doesn’t have a ton of value but he could post a strong PPR campaign this year.
Tight End Pickups:
Dwayne Allen (9%): Coby Fleener was targeted more but Allen was far more effective, catching four passes for 64 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos. Fleener isn’t very good and Allen appears to be fully recovered from his hip injury that ended his season a year ago. With Andrew Luck, who went toe-to-toe with Peyton Manning and completed 35-of-53 for 370 yards and two touchdowns, there should be plenty of opportunity for Allen to thrive.
Larry Donnell (1%): Sitting at 1st-and-Goal on the 1-yard line, the Giants called a fade route. Then another fade route. Then another. Eventually, on fourth down, big tight end Larry Donnell brought in the touchdown on his second attempt. This appears to be the Giants’ MO – use the 6-foot-6, 265-pound body to dominate defenders in small spaces. In his first game of the year, Donnell caught five passes on eight targets for 56 yards and a touchdown. Look for plenty more touchdowns in the big man’s future.
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