COLUMN: Fantasy Football Forecast

by Kirk Hollis

In the familiar Christmas tale “It’s A Wonderful Life”, Clarence (Jimmy Stewart’s personal guardian angel) notes as George Bailey is learning of his impact on the world around him, “Strange isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives and when he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole”. So it was with George’s life erased and so it is with fantasy football injuries. Not only did we lose Kirk Cousins last weekend to a season-ending injury, we also lost the opportunity to see what Jordan Addison could have become for the remainder of the season.

We lost the ability to know what to expect of T.J. Hockenson on a week to week basis. And, if Justin Jefferson does return fairly soon, he will be attempting to catch footballs from Josh Dobbs or Jaren Hall. Jaren who? The point is, when a top quarterback gets hurt, the entire offensive system suffers. Receivers suffer most, of course, but running backs also face more resistance when the QB is not someone to fear or respect. Awful hole indeed.

Turning to something a little less gloomy, there were some fun happenings this past weekend that bode well for players moving forward. The following is a list of five players whose “stock” is on the rise after their most recent performances:

  1. Sam Howell- It doesn’t matter in fantasy football whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. As in, how you produce in spite of the fact that your defense is super lousy by NFL standards. In order for Washington to have a chance to win, they’re going to have to chase points. This week, they traded away two of their defensive stars, making their offense even more hideous. If Howell can keep the job for the rest of the season (and he’s earned it in my book), elite fantasy numbers could be possible. Of course, he also leads the league in sacks taken, so have a good backup in place just in case should you decide to roll with him.
  2. Gus Edwards- While it’s true that Edwards offers almost nothing in the passing game in terms of receptions, neither did Jamaal Williams last year for Detroit and look how that turned out. Edwards is going to get lots of carries in the second half of games as the Ravens have a habit of putting teams away early and then salting games in the second half. Edwards is also proving to be a great option around the goal line, and in a world in which good goal line backs are hard to find, he is operating as a clear cut RB2 in fantasy right now with a shot at being a borderline RB1. If you’ve got him on your roster, keep starting him.
  3. DeAndre Hopkins- Change in quarterback can mean everything in fantasy football. Replacing the injured Ryan Tannehill with Will Levis in Tennessee brought Hopkins back to life this past Sunday and he’ll look to further that success tonight when the Titans face the suspect Pittsburgh defense on Thursday Night Football. Young QBs have a tendency to lock in on a trusted target and Hopkins has earned that trust throughout his long and successful career to date. On a side note, Trey McBride of the Cardinals did not make this list of five since his change in quarterback (to Kyler Murray) has not happened yet and thus cannot be assessed. Like Hopkins, McBride was highly productive in Week Eight, though, so he does bear watching.
  4. Jerry Jeudy- The whole world thought that Denver was going to trade Jeudy prior to this week’s NFL trade deadline, but alas, he’s still a Bronco after getting loose vs. Kansas City for a couple long gains and a touchdown. Denver is off this week, so the encore act for Jeudy won’t take place until Week Ten, but Jeudy has more talent in his pinky toe than many receivers have in their whole body. It was always just a matter of he and Russell Wilson getting on the same page. If you can trade for him in the next week or so, I would recommend doing it. This week is a great time as because he’s on bye this week, someone might be willing to part with him for cheap.
  5. Dalton Kincaid- With Dawson Knox on IR, Kincaid’s time is apparently right now. The rookie out of Utah has been targeted 15 times the past two weeks and it’s not hard to see his star being very much on the rise. As the weather continues to freshen in balmy Buffalo, the preferred routes become shorter and down the middle of the field and that is where Kincaid butters the bread. If you have had him on your roster as a backup up until this point, you can probably deal your starter (does not apply to Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews) and roll with Kincaid moving forward. A top-5 finish at the position alongside fellow rookie phenom Sam LaPorta appears likely.

Here’s hoping this upcoming weekend is light on injuries and heavy on rising players like the one we’ve noted today. Next week, we’ll give out some mid-season awards in the midst of the usual dose of prognostication. Until then, Happy November!