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Dynasty Watch: Players Returning From IR

Dynasty rankings are in constant flux and staying informed is the key to making roster decisions for your fantasy football team. The Dynasty Watch series highlights some key takeaways from each week’s games.

The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grisly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom

It’s zombie season. Fields across America will soon be filled with bodies coming back from the dead, driven by an insatiable hunger. I’m talking of course about footba….eh, you already read the title, you get the joke. You’re here for the football content, not Halloween gags.

Injured Reserve used to be a death sentence for a player’s season. Starting in 2012 though, the NFL allowed teams to bring one player back from IR after eight weeks, and then bumped it up two two players in 2017. Players put on IR before the season started are eligible to return next week.

In leagues with limited IR slots, or none at all, many of these players have been dropped to waivers. Can any of these zombies be fantasy relevant down the stretch?

Mack Hollins and Mike Wallace

Eagles2018Passing

 

With Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor healthy once again, the Eagles wide receiver situation doesn’t look as dire as it did at times this season. The third WR spot is currently occupied by Jordan Matthews, a player who came back from the dead in his own right after being injured and released by both the Bills and Patriots. His lackluster performance thus far has opened the door for Mack Hollins or Mike Wallace to take over once they return from IR.1

It’s worth wondering if the Eagles WR3 is even worth owning right now, as Matthews has seen only nine targets over five games, but it’s not entirely clear whether that’s an indictment of the role or the player who is filling it. Either way, it does not appear that Matthews is a huge part of the Eagles offense right now, so any WR added to the active roster should have a chance to replace him, and Shelton Gibson and DeAndre Carter have been unable to carve out any playing time for themselves.

For dynasty purposes, the younger Hollins is the player who has the potential to grow his value if he’s able to come in and make some plays this season.hollins compsI called Hollins a dynasty stash at the end of last season, but the addition of Wallace hurt Hollins’ chances of developing a major role. With Wallace also hurt now, it’s possible Hollins will get an opportunity to come on at the end of the year. He’s still probably more of a stash at this point unless the Eagles suffer more injuries to their  receiving corps, but in deeper leagues he has some appeal.

Trey Quinn

Mr. Irrelevant in the 2018 draft became even more irrelevant when he hit IR before the start of the season. Trey Quinn is set to return now though, and he’s joining a Washington team that finds itself thin at wide receiver.

Redskins2018Passing

Quinn has some pretty gaping holes in his prospect profile due to his slow start at LSU, but his Dominator Rating during his senior year after he transfered to SMU is among the best in the class. Late breakouts aren’t really what we look for here at the Viz, but that’s also the reason he’s probably a free agent in most leagues.

What he might be most known for is outperforming the highly drafted Courtland Sutton during their final year together in school. Could he come in and outperform Sutton once again?

CourtlandSutton2018

Jamison Crowder was recently seen with his foot in a boot and rolling on a scooter, and Jay Gruden indicated he could miss several weeks with the injury. When asked if Quinn would be a good fit to replace Crowder in the lineup, Gruden replied “exactly right.”

The healthy Washington WRs are currently a bunch of retreads, has-beens, and never-weres. Quinn will have an immediate shot at fantasy relevance when he comes back, and with Crowder struggling in the final year of his contract, Quinn could end up as the starting slot receiver for Washington for years to come.

Quinn is a priority add in leagues where he’s not owned yet.

Elijah McGuire

When Elijah McGuire was first injured, the Jets considered not putting him on IR as it was questionable if he would even miss eight full weeks. That’s a good sign that McGuire could return at or near full strength in Week 9, and with Bilal Powell going to IR himself, he’ll have a chance to secure a sizeable role in the backfield.

Jets2018RBs

With another week to go before McGuire can return though, Trenton Cannon will have a chance to prove he deserves a piece of the work Powell left behind. Though Cannon didn’t make the final cut of Shawn Siegele’s Top-15 Zero-RB candidates, he only fell off due to having too many bodies in front of him, a problem that has since resolved itself. Cannon is athletic, was productive in college, and had a strong showing in the preseason. While Cannon could end up being the better player, the Jets haven’t always had a history of playing their best running back.

Isaiah Crowell has yet to miss a game in his career, but he’s also been dealing with nagging injuries throughout the season, frequently showing up on the injury report. If all three RBs are healthy, it’s possible we’ll see a three-way split for touches rather than all the work concentrated to just two RBs. If Crowell eventually misses time though, or if Cannon isn’t ready for primetime, McGuire could take on a reasonably valuable workload.

Kenneth Dixon

Maybe the Ravens rushed Kenneth Dixon back and he wasn’t fully recovered from his preseason injuries, or maybe the guy is just made of glass and will never stay healthy. Dixon was injured at the end of the Ravens Week 1 blowout of the Bills, so he’ll be eligible to return in Week 10.

AllenCollins2018

While both Alex Collins and Javorius Allen have had some solid fantasy performances, neither player has been overly impressive.

As one of the last remaining Dixon truthers, even I have to admit he’s basically the East Coast C.J. Prosise – a dual-threat RB with a ton of potential but who just can’t stay healthy. But you want to own a piece of the Baltimore backfield as I pointed out when I wrote up Dixon as a sleeper this offseason.

2018 Team Running Backs – Expected Fantasy Points

OFFSEASruEPreEPruFPOEreFPOETotal EPTotal FPOE
NE2018110.7129.9-2.212.4240.610.2
NO201884.910311.2-0.8187.910.4
LAR2018125.161.827.713.6186.941.3
LAC201880.4101.333.538.8181.772.3
SF201898.279.13.917.5177.321.4
BAL201898.775.9-0.84.5174.63.7
OAK201873.7100.7-5-12.1174.4-17.1
NYG201868.6104.516.313.1173.129.4
CLE2018114.956.87.3-11.2171.7-3.9
PHI201895.770.93.7-4166.6-0.3
IND201876.389.312.1165.63.1
DEN201894.868.7215.2163.526.2
WAS201890.372.5-7.618.5162.810.9
JAC201864.697.2-12.49.4161.8-3
CHI201874.678-6.319152.612.7
DET201879.672.98.6-5.6152.53
BUF201876.875.3-13.4-15.5152.1-28.9
CIN201879.172.16.7-11.2151.2-4.5
KC201886.662.28.338.6148.846.9
ARI201878.166.3-9-2.9144.4-11.9
ATL201877.665.127.1142.79.1
TEN201886.854.6-19.65.2141.4-14.4
MIA201873.767.20.2-3.5140.9-3.3
HOU201889.450.1-18.70.2139.5-18.5
NYJ201886.652.325.54.1138.929.6
DAL20187661.68-10.8137.6-2.8
PIT201880.5579.8-0.9137.58.9
SEA201887.146.35.1-2133.43.1
GB201863.562.1-0.4-9.6125.6-10
CAR201853.571.1-0.313.2124.612.9
MIN201862.659.65.5-2.4122.23.1
TB201857.940-17.8-197.9-18.8

True to form, the Ravens are currently sixth in combined backfield rushing and receiving EP. With fourth-stringer De’lance Turner now on IR and fifth-stringer Gus Edwards manning the RB3 role at the moment, Dixon should rejoin the roster immediately if he’s fully healthy.

I won’t blame anyone for not wanting to get burned by Dixon again, but if all it costs to take a shot at this point is a roster spot at the end of your bench, there are worse fliers you can take.

Honorable Mention: Jake Kumerow and Ed Dickson

Jake Kumerow had an electric preseason, with multiple long receptions that put him firmly on the map as a late-round flier. His injury derailed all the hype, but now he’ll be eligible to return to a team that has had some injury issues with two of top three wideouts. He’s only an honorable mention due to the sheer number of WRs the Packers have already on their roster, not to mention Trevor Davis who will also be eligible to return. It would take a lot for Kumerow to move ahead of earlier-drafted players who are also 10 weeks ahead of him in terms of practice time.

Ed Dickson wasn’t technically on IR; he was on the NFI list for a Non-Football Injury of the soft-tissue variety. This required him to miss just six games, but with the Seahawks Week 7 bye, that means his debut will be in Week 8. Dickson doesn’t have a ton of appeal on the low-volume Seahawks passing offense, but Russell Wilson turned rookie Will Dissly into a servicebale tight end for a few brief weeks before he went to IR himself. With Nick Vannett not doing much to impress, Dickson could be a decent option for players who have been hit hard by the TE apocalypse.

Sleeper of the Week

Each week I’ll use this space to highlight a player for deep dynasty leagues where every player already getting significant touches is already owned.

I’d like to start off by thanking Chris Herndon for making me look smart last week as he was second in targets for the Jets and was inches away from scoring a second TD. Usually the players profiled here are deep enough that they aren’t contributing right after I write about them, but Herndon really should have been on our radar already. Let’s see if we can find another valuable player to add off the scrap heap.

The big news this week was the Raiders trading Amari Cooper to the Cowboys. The immediate beneficiary here is probably Martavis Bryant, who played a season-high 72 percent of snaps after Cooper was knocked out of his Week 6 game with a possible concussion. Cooper’s trade opened up room on the roster for another WR though, and seventh-round rookie Marcell Ateman was called up from the practice squad to fill the void.

MarcelAtemanPP

Is Ateman atheltic? Not particularly. Was he productive? Also no. Surely he had an early breakout then? Not so much…

What Ateman does have is size and an excellent college YPR. While his poor showings in the categories that really matter likely mean he will never amount to anything, His high YPR offers a glimmer of hope that he could eventually find a role in the NFL.

The other thing Ateman has going for him is that he’s the only WR drafted by the current regime. With a fire-sale happening in Oakland, it appears that Jon Gruden is looking to remake the roster with “his” players, and Ateman may fall into that category. His current depth chart competition is:

  • Jordy Nelson – 33 years old
  • Brandon LaFell – 32 years old and barely hanging on in the league
  • Dwayne Harris – 31-year-old return man
  • Seth Roberts – four years of vulturing TDs and not much else
  • Martavis Bryant – May have been suspended again as I typed this

I have no clue what the hell the plan in Oakland may be, but this is not the picture of a WR corps that is going to have starting spots on lockdown for the next two seasons. If Ateman is any good at all, he could start to garner some playing time this season. If he’s not, he’ll stay on the bench and you can throw him back on the heap.

  1. Note that Wallace went on IR after Week 2, so he won’t be eligible to return until Week 11.  (back)

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