The Bottom 5% - Pre Week 1 Edition






Written by: Derek Tate


The Bottom 5% is back for the 2017 season. Normally my preseason list consists of deep league stashes for owners wanting to be ahead of the curve with some high upside bench players. However, with the madness of Hurricane Irma raging in the Caribbean at the current moment, many owners are left scrambling for Week 1 options. If you are like me and generally roster one QB, the postponement of the Bucs & Dolphins game has owners scouring the waiver wire for an option. Here is what I have for Week 1 and some other intriguing deep league stash options.

Before I get into this week's analysis, it's time to beat my chest and also call myself out for some Bottom 5% hits and misses from 2016.

Hits (week mentioned):

Tyreek Hill (Week 5)
Rob Kelley (preseason)
Tyrell Williams (Week 1)
Cole Beasley (Week 1)
Dennis Pitta (Week 1)
Cameron Brate (Week 4)
Mike Gillislee (preseason)
Brian Hoyer (Week 5)
Cameron Meredith (Week 6)
Adam Theilen (Week 6)
C.J. Fiedorowicz (Week 6)
Ty Montegomery (Week 7)

Misses:
Dwayne Washington
Kenton Barner
Nelson Agholor
Chris Conley
Marquise Goodwin
Kenneth Farrow

Quarterback


Brian Hoyer - 3.3%, San Francisco 49ers
Ask any desperate owner who scooped or started Brian Hoyer last season for his month under center how it turned out. All he did from Weeks 3-6 was post four straight 300 yard passing performances with 6-0 TD-INT ratio.

Now he is the starting QB for a head coach that helped orchestrate a MVP season for QB Matt Ryan in 2016. Of course, the offensive talent on the 49ers’ roster does not compare to the Falcons of last year. The lead man in the receiving game will be Pierre Garcon, who hardly strikes fear into opposing defenses. I'm not predicting a surprise top 15 season, but with the 49ers potentially playing from behind quite a bit, Hoyer could sneak into the weekly top 15 on more occasions than you would think.

In 2QB formats, he may be worth a stash to owners looking to stream QBs throughout the season. Also, he could be a sneaky Week 1 DFS play against a Panthers defense that finished 29th against the pass.

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Jared Goff - 4.9%, Los Angeles Rams
The #1 overall pick from the 2016 draft enters the season as the leading man for the Los Angeles Rams. It was a busy offseason, as the Rams brought in young, first-time head coach (emphasis on young), Sean McVay, who was the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins the past three seasons. Kirk Cousins blossomed under McVay, posting back to back 4,000 yard passing seasons.

Now am I predicting Cousins type production for Goff just because McVay is in town? Absolutely not. However, the Rams acquiring Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods from the Bills, who join speedster Tavon Austin and promising rookie Cooper Kupp, the Rams are now serviceable in terms of options on the outside.

Goff's preseason totals of 250 yards passing with a TD, INT & fumble lost don't exactly scream fantasy breakout candidate. However, in deep 2QB leagues his favorable schedule the first month of the season (IND, WAS, SF & DAL) means we should find out quickly if this kid has any potential to finish in the top 20.

Running Back

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Chris Carson - 4.9%, Seattle Seahawks
Thomas Rawls is banged up heading into the season. Prosise appears to be pigeon holed into passing down work. Lacy has had to make weight more often than a cage fighter over the past couple months. This my logic for wanting to stash Chris Carson.

In case you need something with a bit more merit than simply talking down the other options in this backfield, here is my case. Carson was easily the most productive RB of these options in the preseason (of course, WR Kasen Williams was phenomenal this preseason and still got released by Seattle, so go figure, albeit he is a receiver) and he flashed three down potential as a rusher (21 carries for 92 yards and TD), in addition to getting a few looks in the passing game.

This young RB showed enough ability with his opportunities to likely earn a few looks a game. If the other options don't impress, you shouldn't be shocked to see Carson's role expand as the season progresses.

Marlon Mack - 4.1%, Indianapolis Colts
The impending fall off of Frank Gore is now entering it's fourth season. However, he hasn't missed a game since Cam Newton came into the league in 2011. So why will this season be any different? Perhaps it won't be. Gore may register another vanilla season at the age of 34, still averaging under four yards per carry, while giving father time the middle finger for one more season. Then there is another possibility, that Frank Gore finally loses some work to a player due to being outproduced.

Enter Marlon Mack. An electric rookie RB from USF who got buried in this year's deep draft class of RBs. He is a slashing runner, with loose hips and great acceleration. If you haven't done so, take a peek at his highlights versus the Dallas Cowboys this preseason.

Once upon a time in 2016, Josh Ferguson caught 19 passes the first five weeks of the season. Mack should step right into a change of pace & 3rd down RB role to start the season. He may surprise and have some deep PPR, stand alone value.

Unfortunately it is very difficult to get excited about any Colts player without Andrew Luck under center. So I'm not predicting a breakout season. If Mack can impress with his opportunities, they may want to see what they have in Mack with this being Frank Gore's final season under contract. He is worth a stash to see how involved he is to start the season behind a 34-year-old RB.

Tarik Cohen - 2.6%, Chicago Bears
Of course, Howard is the top dog and even an injury to Howard does not guarantee a bell cow role with his smaller frame (5'6 179 lbs). However, Cohen is a special talent in space. With the loss of Alshon Jeffrey to free agency and Cameron Meredith to an injury, this offense is in desperate need of big play threats. It will be worth stashing Cohen on your bench to see how they get this explosive rookie involved the first couple weeks.

This Darren Sproles clone is in line for a change of pace role behind Jordan Howard. Do we know what value a backup, pass catching specialist looks like in a Mike Glennon offense? Absolutely not. Howard saw 50 targets in the passing game, with Langford seeing 27. His production the first two weeks of the (18 carries for 116 yards) preseason was evidence enough that if they find a way to get the ball into his hands ten times a game, he may carve out a bigger role than we think.

Matt Breida - 2.4%, San Francisco 49ers
Let's begin with this..... Matt Breida is a very gifted athlete. One can gush over the pro day results Breida put up back in March. To be exact, he ran a 4.39 40-yard-dash, banged out 23 reps on the 225 bench test and posted exceptional vertical and broad jump numbers.

However, this is not the reason he is worth a stash on your bench. Shanahan proved last year that a second back in his system could have stand alone value. Granted, Hoyer is not Matt Ryan and Pierre Garcon is not Julio Jones. The 49ers are not going to finish in the top 5 in total offense in 2017. That being said, Tevin Coleman saw 118 carries and 31 receptions behind Devonta Freeman last year. Breida, an undrafted free agent, currently sits in the number two spot on the depth chart heading into the season.

In depper leagues, regardless of format, Breida is absolutely worth a stash. He has handcuff upside paired with potential stand alone value. Go pick him up.

Branden Oliver - 1.3%, Los Angeles Chargers
Hear me out. Branden Oliver caught 36 passes back in 2014. Unfortunately, the Chargers added a pass catching ace in 2015 by bringing aboard Danny Woodhead. He likely would have been the passing catch option last year if he didn't tear his achilles up. His disappearing act the past two years doesn't exactly scream fantasy relevant.

However, if (a big if) Oliver can ever slide into Woodhead's old role, he could be a sneaky deep PPR option this season. Woodhead caught 80 passes in 2015. Of course, a healthy Keenan Allen, an emerging Tyrell Williams, a developing Hunter Henry and a reliable old TE heading into this season means there are a bunch of mouths to feed in the passing attack. Not to mention, Gordon proved to be a capable receiver last year.

Oliver is a quick, quality pass catching option. In very deep PPR leagues, it's worth seeing what his role is in Week 1.

Wide Receiver

Jets WRs (Charone Peake 0.0%, Jeremy Kerley 0.1%, ArDarius Stewart 0.3%, Jermaine Kearse 2.1%, Robby Anderson 4.2%)

Preseason Totals (Jets production):
- Robby Anderson 10 targets, 5 receptions, 85 yards, 0 TDs
- ArDarius Stewart 11 targets, 8 receptions, 213 yards, 2 TDs
- Charone Peake 6 targets, 1 receptions, 4 yards, 1 TD
- Jeremy Kerley (signed via free agency)
- Jermaine Kearse (aquired via trade)

The only reason any of these WRs make this list is because there is bound to be some opportunity somewhere in this offense. However, with no clear cut best option, here is my fantasy analysis........ I have no clue what to expect. If you are incredibly desperate and need a to start someone other than yourself at WR, then take your pick. I personally think Stewart is the best dart throw. Anderson figures to see targets by default. Kearse and Kerley are tough to predict early on due to their recent arrivals in town. Any way you slice it, it's not pretty. If you have to start one of these options, then best of luck.


Marquise Goodwin - 2.2%, San Francisco 49ers
Along with Hoyer, Goodwin becomes the second player to make the Bottom 5% two seasons in a row. Unlike Hoyer, an injury did not cost him the majority of last season. So his appearance on this list is because his play was mostly poor for last season.

So why am I bringing him up as a preseason bottom 5% option? Goodwin's production and involvement in Shanahan's system this preseason was encouraging. Here is the preseason production for Garcon and Goodwin:

- Garcon 9 targets, 7 receptions, 75 yards and 0 TDs
- Goodwin 8 targets, 5 receptions, 104 yards and 1 TD

Did Goodwin set the world ablaze with his numbers? No. However, on a team that could be playing from behind quite a bit, Goodwin could be deployed as a homerun hitting desperation option in deeper leagues. Not to mention, the preseason numbers suggest Goodwin could be much more involved in this offense than people might expect. So I'm suggesting Goodwin for a second year in a row in deep leagues. I'll take a shot (of whiskey) and hope it works out.

Brandon Coleman - 0.6%, New Orleans Saints
Willie Snead was a hot fantasy commodity in fantasy forums this offseason. And for good reason..... He has two 69+ reception and 895+ yard seasons to begin his career. So his three game suspension to begin 2017 has to open some opportunity for someone right?

Enter Brandon Coleman. Sure, one could argue it will just lead to more looks for Thomas, Fleener and Ginn. However, if you are desperate for a WR in deeper leagues, you may get some productive weeks out of Brandon Coleman, who is the next man up at WR without the services of Snead for the first three games.

Coleman has gotten some buzz in the past as a potential breakout candidate. However, with Cooks now in New England and Snead out, this may be the biggest window of opportunity he has ever had. He's worth an add and dare I say a plug-and-play for the first couple weeks.

Tight End

Charles Clay - 3.9%, Buffalo Bills
With most of Tyrod Taylor's receiving options from 2016 now on the Rams, Clay is the lone familiar face remaining entering the 2017 season. Although he was a non factor for the majority of 2016, he did have a hell of a fantasy playoffs that no one benefitted from (posting a stat line of 18 receptions, 209 yards and 4 TDs weeks 14-16).

Although Clay could prove to have season long value, he is one of the few players on this list I would actually start with confidence in Week 1. Going against a Jets’ roster that is one of the worst in the NFL and Zay Jones likely his #1 WR, I see Clay having an under the radar productive week. He is worth a desperation start for owners who banked on the likes of Julius Thomas being your TE for Week 1.

Ben Watson - 0.2%, Baltimore Ravens
With leading target Dennis Pitta and Steve Smith now out of the picture, there are 222 targets up for grabs from 2016. Although Nick Boyle is the starter listed on the depth chart, Watson is the better receiving option of the two TEs. His torn achilles cost him the 2016 season and has him as a completely off the radar option. Sure, Jeremy Maclin arriving in town will see plenty of looks, but the TE position is going to see some action as well. Watson, much like Pitta, could see enough work to be fantasy relevant.



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