We’re at the halfway point of the fantasy football season, and well on our way to thinking about the playoffs. Despite that, we still have actual, tangible things we have to do (get to the playoffs). So, if you’re stuck in the mud with an injured player, or if you need some punch in your lineup, I have just the article for you (this one, it’s this one, the one that you’re reading). Every week, I take a look at players rostered in 50% or fewer of Yahoo! leagues, with one player in each spot available in at least 90% of Yahoo! leagues. With no teams on bye, we should hopefully have some juicy matchups on the slate. Let’s dive in!
Kenny Pickett versus Jacksonville (19% rostered)
Kenny Pickett still hasn’t thrown for more than 250 passing yards in a game this season, but he has started to trend up lately on his per-throw efficiency. He’s notched two of his three best yards per pass attempt numbers this season in the last two games, going up against two tougher defensive opponents (Rams and Ravens, who allow the sixteenth-most fantasy points to QBs and the fewest fantasy points to QBs). While Pickett leaned on Pickens for most of the season, we saw Diontae Johnson’s immediate impact last week, getting a 24% share and finishing with 5 catches for 79 yards. Pickett is yet to finish inside the top 12, but his matchup this week could change that. The Jaguars allow the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks on the year.
Bryce Young versus Houston (11% rostered)
Young, the #1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, gets to take on the bizarro version of himself, as his Panthers host the Texans and the #2 overall pick, C.J. Stroud. Stroud has found more success early in his career, mostly because everyone reading this has as many (or more) wins as Bryce Young so far in his career. Young’s flashed some arm talent and is getting more comfortable with the NFL game, so things are looking up for him with his main weapon, Adam Thielen. The Texans allow the eighth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks on the season, and Bryce Young has two of his three best fantasy games in his last two contests and with Miles Sanders & Chuba Hubbard as whatever the opposite of a dynamic duo might be in the backfield, the Panthers will throw a ton in this one.
Deep Dive: Tyson Bagent at L.A. Chargers (4% rostered)
Here we go, this is what the deep dive players are all about: guys we aren’t sure are good yet, but who have a primo matchup. You can’t fit those categories more than an undrafted free-agent rookie quarterback in his second start going up against the best possible matchup in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Bagent was inconsistent in his first NFL start but showed some interesting proclivities (namely, a willingness to run the ball, notching 3 carries for 24 yards) that make him an intriguing option against the Chargers. To be very clear, I am still not sure about Bagent as a prospect, but I like his prospects this week against a Chargers team that has allowed at least 21 points to every quarterback this year but Aiden O’Connell.
Curtis Samuel versus Philadelphia (49% rostered)
This is the last call on Curtis Samuel, who seems to be the WR2 in Washington yet again, despite everything pointing toward Jahan Dotson this offseason. Samuel had a bad game last week (4 catches for 25 yards) but has at least 7 targets in three of the last four games for the Commanders, commanding (pun intended) a 17% target share, similar to guys like Calvin Ridley, Sam LaPorta, and Jordan Addison in the same period. The Eagles allow a ton of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, yielding the second-most on the season, including… Curtis Samuel. These two rivals played in week four and Samuel ended with 18.2 PPR fantasy points, on 7 catches, 51 yards, and a one-yard rushing touchdown statline. With Antonio Gibson circling the drain, it’s likely the Commanders once again lean into that Samuel-heavy game plan in week eight.
Tyler Boyd at San Francisco (47% rostered)
Much like Samuel, it’s likely that Boyd will tip over the 50% roster rate threshold sometime between now and the next time I write this article. Boyd has at least seven targets in five straight games, finishing with 10.7 PPR points per game in that timeframe. I like Tyler Boyd this week because of where he lines up. Boyd leads the NFL in slot routes run, with 196 runs so far this season (which accounts for over 90% of the Bengals’ slot snaps). The 49ers allow about 18 fantasy points per game to opposing slot receivers, so if 90% of that goes to Boyd, you have yourself a great start this week.
Jauan Jennings versus Cincinnati (2% rostered)
Jennings would probably be the WR2 on a lot of teams in the NFL. He’s a tenacious third-down threat possession receiver who has a preternatural ability to turn everything into a catch, despite whatever is going on around him. Think of him like you would the guy he replaced in San Francisco: Kendrick Bourne. With Deebo Samuel on the shelf, Jennings saw nine targets last week (and a 30% target share, to boot). The Bengals are a neutral matchup this week, but if you’re desperate in a deep PPR league, then Jennings could save your bacon this week with a 5-catch, 55-yard performance.
Roschon Johnson at L.A. Chargers (50% rostered)
We all know what D’Onta Foreman did last week for the Bears, finishing with three touchdowns as they shocked the Raiders into an 18-point victory. He did that without anyone of real note behind him on the depth chart, as Darrynton Evans spelled him to the tune of seventeen opportunities. This week, those opportunities should go Johnson’s way, and if they do, then he’s poised to have a big game. The Chargers allow the seventh-most fantasy points per touch to opposing running backs, so should Johnson get the Darrynton Evans treatment, he is in for a big game in this one.
Devin Singletary at Carolina (20% rostered)
The fantasy football community seemingly forgot that Singletary supplanted Pierce in their last game, playing 54% of snaps to Pierce’s 33%. Pierce out-carried Singletary, but Singletary had more targets, and the two finished with 13 touches a piece, but with Singletary’s 62 total yards nearly doubling up on Pierce’s 34. The Panthers make for an incredible matchup, as it might not surprise you to hear that the 0-6 team struggles to stop opposing running backs from scoring fantasy points. In the year, half the teams to play against them have had multiple running backs get double-digit fantasy days. The Texans run the ball at the eighth-highest rate in the league, so it should be a big day for both backs.
Pierre Strong Jr. at Seattle (10% rostered)
Strong barely makes the list here, but he’s a good player who should be in line for a good amount of opportunities as the RB2 for the Browns if they are without Jerome Ford’s services this week. Strong led the Browns in carries last week after Ford went down, and is likely to do that again this week if the Browns are without Ford’s services once again. The matchup this week (Seattle) is neutral, but I am leaning into the possibility for 10-15 touches in a desperation play.
Hunter Henry at Miami (28% rostered) is 4th in FPPG to te
I expect the suddenly prolific(?) Patriots offense to turn back to their tight ends, and Kendrick Bourne, to lead the way in the passing game this week against the Miami Dolphins. After all, this offense is built around… doing something, I’m still not quite sure, but it involves a lot of short passes to tight ends and running backs and wildly off-target throws to DeVante Parker. In seven games this season, the Dolphins have yielded four 11+ PPR fantasy days to tight ends, including 17.2 PPR points back in week two to Hunter Henry. This is a point of weakness for Miami, and Bill Belichick loves to hammer those. Henry saw his season-high in targets back in week two, and I expect him to be around his seven targets once again this week.
Michael Mayer at Detroit (18% rostered)
Trey McBride versus Baltimore (17% rostered)
You have to ask yourself, what do you believe in more: a guy who is going to get a bunch of targets in a bad matchup, or a guy who may not get a lot of targets in an absolutely primo matchup? That’s what we are dealing with as Trey McBride and Michael Mayer formulate your own personal game of Pick Your Poison. Mayer takes on a Lions team that allows the second-most fantasy points per game to the position, but he is looking at about five targets this game, after getting ten in the last two contests combined.
Then, on the other side, you have Trey McBride. McBride is taking over for Zach Ertz and his target volume. If you discount Ertz’s week seven, where he left early, he has a 19.9% target share, which ranks sixth among tight ends on the season. McBride will walk right into that volume, just as he did in games without Ertz in the past (without Ertz, McBride averages 5 targets, 3.6 catches, and 33.4 receiving yards per game). Unfortunately, the Ravens are the second-best defense against opposing tight ends, allowing only two double-digit fantasy days this season. The upside of those two games? They are the only games this season where a tight end had more than four targets against them.
Tyler Conklin at N.Y. Giants (7% rostered)
This isn’t a great week for streaming tight ends, especially in the deep dive portion of the article. The good tight ends took all the primo matchups this week, leaving us to chase volume. I’m chasing Tyler Conklin this week against the Giants. The Giants are yet to give up a massive blowup week to tight ends, which is why they are in the bottom ten in fantasy points allowed to the position this season. But, they give up decent games regularly, with tight ends scoring at least 8 fantasy points against them five games in seven games this season. Conklin’s become a valuable target for Zach Wilson this season, getting between four and six targets in every one of Wilson’s starts. He’s averaging 3.8 catches for 45 yards per game, which is exactly the type of volume we try to chase in streaming tight ends.