The third-year receiver strategy has been around for years, if not decades, in fantasy football. It still has its detractors who call it a myth, so we feel inclined to help ease your doubts.
The first halves for some third-year players are lending some credence to the belief that the third time is a charm. Ask Andy Dalton owners, or those with Jordan Cameron or Julius Thomas.
Granted, those are not wide receivers per se, but even former coach Tony Dungy chimed in on players in Year 3 in the NFL media notes this week:
It's those players who continue on and make that next jump between Year 2 and Year 3 that seem to really have the great careers. Between their second and third year, the player's confidence seems to grow. A lot of it is just confidence. The player has been around the league for a couple seasons. They know what's going on.
Yours truly wrote his yearly third-year receivers preview at SI.com this past June. You can read it here.
While there are some injury busts on that list—namely Julio Jones (foot) and Randall Cobb (broken leg) you have to like the potential of Torrey Smith, Denarius Moore and perhaps even the Chargers' Vincent Brown, who is coming off bye and still can emerge as Philip Rivers' leading target. Brown has more polish than rookie Keenan Allen and a higher ceiling than slot man Eddie Royal.
That column above should have delved into the tight ends, which is where Cameron and Thomas have been first-half fantasy revelations. We have taken note for the future. For now, consider Smith, Moore and Brown potential second-half fantasy gems.
Here are the third-year AFC players who rank in the top five in various statistical categories through Week 8, according to the Week 9 AFC Notes at NFLMedia.com:
|Third-Year AFC Players Among Stat Leaders|
|Andy Dalton||Cincinnati||Passing Yards||2,249||4|
|Andy Dalton||Cincinnati||Passing Touchdowns||16||T4|
|A.J. Green||Cincinnati||Receiving Yards||734||2|
|Julius Thomas||Denver||Touchdown Receptions||8||T2|
|Torrey Smith||Baltimore||Receiving Avg.||20.3||1|
|Justin Houston||Kansas City||Sacks||11||T2|
|Tandon Doss||Baltimore||Punt Return Avg.||17.8||2|
|Tandon Doss||Baltimore||Punt Return TDs||1||T1|
|NFLMedia.com Week 9 AFC Notes|
For those of you frustrated with the emergence of second-year receiver Marvin Jones in the red zone at the expense of A.J. Green, fear not. What goes around comes around, Dalton says.
A.J.'s a great player, one of the best anywhere, but he's not selfish and he just wants to win. He wasn't getting his usual number of catches and yards for a while this year, because teams were really rolling up the defense toward him. He knew that if he was getting all that extra attention, it would open up some other things for us. And it did, and now it's kind of swinging back.
Green has had three straight 100-yard games, and through Week 8, he ranks second in the NFL with 734 receiving yards. Don't worry; the touchdowns will come.
Look out above, Calvin Johnson.
Charles in Charge
Like those Green owners cursing Jones' four touchdowns this week, we had a Twitter follower looking an Andy Reid gift horse in the mouth Wednesday morning:
It should have been fairly obvious: More touches means less effectiveness per touch, but more overall fantasy awesomeness.
Charles had been a small-frame back that has been at risk of injury and unable to handle a full workload. He is doing that now under Reid, though.
Charles has handled the ball on 38 percent of the Chiefs' offensive plays, according to the Kansas City Star's Randy Covitz, and is the team's leading rusher and receiver. He accounts for 38 percent of the yards and has scored more than half (eight) of the team's 15 offensive touchdowns.
The workload question becomes a concern when Charles comes down with an injury. His fantasy owners who were paying attention had to be holding their breath Sunday when he left the game with a knee issue. Thankfully, he returned.
This comes just over one week after telling USA Today's Tom Pelissero:
I'm not worried. Sometimes, I don't even really get hit. Sometimes, I try to hit them before they hit me. It doesn't matter about how many touches I've gotten. I'm not even worrying about that. It's not even in my mind. I'm just worrying about how to stay successful.
Charles has gotten anywhere from 16 to 22 carries per week and three to eight catches. He is going to stay around the 18- to 25-touch mark per week. As long as he stays healthy, you will get plenty of production from your fantasy star. Worry more about him leaving the game Sunday than how many yards he gets per touch.
Consider Sunday one bullet dodged, like his preseason foot issue.
Ellington the Next Charles?
Speaking of undersized breakaway backs and workload question marks, Andre Ellington emerged as a potential fantasy star this week, rushing for 154 yards. That performance had Cardinals coach Bruce Arians telling Darren Urban of the team's official website he'd "like to increase Ellington's touches."
Urban believes the added touches will come in the way of "pass receptions to get Ellington in space." Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin told Urban he believes Ellington is "smart enough to handle a lot of carries," but the Cards want to avoid the Charles-sized Ellington (5' 9", 199 lbs.) getting beat up.
Arians has said Rashard Mendenhall (toe) will be the early down back once healthy, perhaps after the Cardinals' Week 9 bye. Elllington remains a must-have breakout candidate for the second half, though.
The Cardinals have the fifth-weakest schedule for running backs the rest of the season, according to DavidGonos.com's Devin Jordan. Mendenhall and Ellington will both prove worthy fantasy starters down the stretch for their touchdowns and receptions/yards, respectively. When Mendenhall is injured (or benched), Ellington is a must-start potential fantasy monster.
Thursday Night Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
- Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Giovani Bernard, A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, Jermaine Gresham/Tyler Eifert, Mike Nugent and Bengals D/ST
- Miami Dolphins: Lamar Miller and Mike Wallace
Cincy—especially Dalton and Jones—is scorching hot right now. A road game against a solid defense like Miami's shouldn't scare you off your Bengals. Both of their backs are solid plays against Miami, which is the fourth-worst team in fantasy against running backs. Miami has also been suspect against tight ends (second-worst), so you can consider Gresham or Eifert as needed.
Your Dolphins are not great plays against the Bengals defense, but having six teams on bye keep Miller and Wallace among the viable starting options this week.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Mohamed Sanu
- Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, Daniel Thomas, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay, Caleb Sturgis and Dolphins D/ST
Sanu (shoulder) is likely questionable, having missed practices early this week, according to Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson. Sanu cannot be played and you might use this news to give Jones a chance.
The Bengals are in the top half, if not the top 10, against most positions in fantasy, and your Dolphins are mostly marginal options anyway. This is a bad week to have to trust them. Thomas, Clay and Sturgis are the only real considerations here, but the matchup suggests you should look elsewhere if you can.
Roster Trends Review
We go over the most-added players from Tuesday night's waivers run, using CBS Sports leagues as the source.
|RK||Player||POS||TM||Past %||New %||Increase|
Locker is the hot hand coming off bye, while Pryor has the hot legs. Pryor and the Chiefs' Smith are the matchup plays if you need a bye-week replacement, while Locker has emerged as a must-start breakout in two-quarterback leagues. He has a diverse set of targets, so he might even prove to be a fringe starter in standard formats.
Starks has proven healthy and productive again, but Eddie Lacy is still the Packers' bell-cow back. Tolbert might be impacted by a potential return of Jonathan Stewart (ankle) from the PUP list, so he is a shaky addition. The Giants' Brown (leg, Designated for Return IR) and the Cards' Ellington are the prizes of this group because they have a chance to start and star down the stretch.
The Bengals' Jones and Saints' Stills are the hot commodities who might warrant being started in all leagues, not just added, right now. Tate is an intriguing one for the Seahawks, but he might be affected by the return of Percy Harvin (hip). It you are going in on one of Locker's targets coming off a bye, the right choice is Kendall Wright, particularly in PPR formats.
It was a lean week for this position, with the Bucs' Wright getting the top honor. The Colts' Fleener is the emerging star, though, particularly with Dwayne Allen (hip) and now Reggie Wayne (knee) out for the season. The stars have aligned for Fleener to enjoy a huge second half for fantasy owners. Andrew Luck is going to make productive receivers out of a few people, and T.Y. Hilton is not enough.
The Titans, Colts and Rams are the leading streaming options, with our choice going to the Colts because of the matchup in Week 9 against Houston, which is starting quarterback Case Keenum. The Texans have been the worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks, and the Colts have been surprisingly effective defensively.
The kickers coming off bye are the most popular pickups this week. Our choice among them is Justin Tucker, who was a top fantasy option a year ago and should be lined up for a much better run in the second half. We also are surprised fantasy is still slow to turn to the Chiefs' Succop. He has earned the right to be owned and active in all leagues.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.