While much of the focus in the early season has been on rookie quarterbacks, it was rookie running backs and receivers that shined this Sunday. In San Diego, unheard-of rookie Branden Oliver bulldozed the best run defense in the league while the Giants’ Odell Beckham and Andre Williams looked brilliant as they posted breakout efforts against the Falcons.
Let’s take a look at what those three can offer your squad and some other targets still available in nearly every league.
Brian Hoyer (Owned in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues): Hoyer has now passed for at least a touchdown in each of his four games and owns a 6:1 TD:INT rate on the season. He has also passed for at least 200 yards in every game and 290+ in each of the last two while posting quarterback ratings of 94, 81.7, 127.1, and 98. Say what you will about Hoyer and the Browns but they are getting it done and Hoyer is suddenly a must-own in deep leagues with matchups against the Jags and Raiders in two of his next three weeks. Plus there’s the potential add of Josh Gordon in the future.
Kyle Orton (3 percent): Orton faced a tough Detroit pass rush in his 2014 debut but still completed 70 percent of his passes for 308 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He’s a legit veteran who has put up solid performances everywhere he has been, so this is hardly a surprise.
Over his next three weeks, he’ll face the Pats, Vikes, and Jets. The Pats may have beaten the Bengals but allowed two touchdowns and a 117 passer rating to Andy Dalton on Sunday after allowing Alex Smith to complete 20 of 26 passes for three touchdowns and a 144.4 passer rating.
The Vikings have given up nine passing touchdowns while picking off just two passes over their last four weeks while the Jets simply don’t have any semblance of a secondary.
Running Back Targets:
Branden Oliver (14 percent): While the Jets passing defense leaves a lot to be desired, their rush defense was the best in the league entering Sunday. That didn’t matter much to undrafted rookie Branden Oliver who took over for an injured Donald Brown to put up 19 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown and four receptions for 68 yards and another score. Even if Brown plays, he has been pretty bad thus far, so look for Oliver to have a Darren Sproles or Danny Woodhead-like role in the Mike McCoy offense, making him especially valuable in PPR.
Ronnie Hillman (8 percent): With Montee Ball out, Hillman figures to be the main back in what will probably be a committee approach. He ran 15 times for 64 yards on Sunday against the Cards and was targeted seven times when Denver faced off against the Seahawks. Hillman is on the smaller side but can run through the tackles, catch the ball, and give the Broncos the weapon that Ball simply hasn’t been.
Andre Williams (25 percent): Whether Rashad Jennings is hurt or not, and Jennings has a long history of injury, Williams is clearly winning more opportunities. After rushing the ball just 19 times over the first three weeks, Williams has 35 carries for 131 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games. Whatever he’s doing it’s clearly working and he now owns enough of the timeshare to be a must-own in every deep league. Look for him to put up numbers against the Eagles and Cowboys over the next two weeks.
Wide Receiver Targets:
Odell Beckham Jr. (11 percent): Beckham caught four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown in his rookie debut and looks to immediately be above Preston Parker on the depth chart. Beckham played 35 of the Giants’ 68 offensive snaps while Parker played just 17. Look for Beckham to quickly develop into a go-to weapon for Eli Manning with Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle on the outside.
Tight End Targets:
Tim Wright (9 percent): Let’s not be too quick to dub Wright the next Aaron Hernandez but the second-year tight end did finally make a dent on Sunday, catching all five of his targets for 85 yards and a score. This could be a sign of things to come, or it may simply be an aberration given that Wright was targeted just five times over the first four games and entered Sunday with 35 receiving yards.
While I would shy away in normal leagues, he’s worth a lottery ticket pickup in deep leagues. Maybe he’ll go off like Hernandez did. He did catch 54 passes for 571 yards and five scores in just eight starts as a rookie. Or, he’ll be irrelevant in most games and you can simply release him back into the wild. The potential reward outweighs the risk in this case.