Happy Thanksgiving week, Fam! There are just 6 more weeks of genius tinkering. Of course, the most dedicated and passionate managers find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While some weeks your roster may allow for snoozing on sleepers, it’s always beneficial to keep tabs on emerging trends and players. This weekly column is for those who understand the satisfaction of digging deep.
All of the listed players are rostered in under 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks … but that’s what makes them so intriguing.
We manifested the requested good juju in Week 11! Cam Newton, Elijah Moore and Adam Trautman all posted top-five fantasy numbers at their respective positions. The only real bust of the bunch was Cole Kmet. Even Ryan Griffin managed top-20 numbers.
Let’s take that momentum (a real thing!) into Week 12!
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers (33% rostered, $25)
If you’re looking for a strictly DFS play then peep Dalton Del Don’s Week 12 primer, which features Carson Wentz ($26). If, however, you’re struggling in redraft (I just got outbid by a leaguemate in Superflex for Andy Dalton, so I feel your pain) then consider His Handsomeness.
Jimmy Garoppolo has passed for over 300 yards in two of his last four games, posted four consecutive multi-TD efforts, and managed top-14 fantasy numbers in three of his last four outings. He’s also maintained a YPA better than 8.0 and thrown just one pick since Week 8. With Deebo Samuel cooking, George Kittle back to health and Brandon Aiyuk seemingly out of the dog house, Jimmy G is firing on all cylinders.
He figures to be busy on Sunday when the Vikings come to Levi for what promises to be a high-scoring affair (48.5). Per Roto Curve, the 49ers currently have the fourth-highest implied team total (25.5) for the week. The Vikings are also dealing with a host of issues and absences on defense. That gives Garoppolo top-14 appeal in a week without Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes and Justin Fields.
Ty Johnson, RB, New York Jets (33% rostered, $14)
Michael Carter is expected to miss two-three weeks with a high ankle sprain. A large part of Carter’s fantasy draw was his involvement in the passing game. The rookie averaged nearly 8 targets per game from Weeks 7 through 10. His absence opens up touches for Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson. But given the Jets’ penchant for negative game script, Johnson offers more fantasy goodness due to his usage as a receiver.
The Maryland product has averaged five targets per game since Week 7 and two of his three scores have come via the air. With a potentially skittish Zach Wilson (PCL) returning, and likely to be chasing points (even against Houston), there figures to be no shortage of check downs. Those should go to Johnson, who is the Yahoo consensus RB28 (.5PPR) for the week.
Rex Burkhead, RB, Houston Texans (4% rostered, $14)
David Johnson looks like dust and the Texans just waived Phillip Lindsay.
Welcome to Rex Burkhead Szn, bebés!
Burkhead led the Texans backfield in Week 11, recording a season-high 18 carries. While he didn’t draw a single target, we know he has the chops to work as a receiver (25 receptions over 10 games in 2020 with the Patriots). That’s a plus for a team rarely in positive game script. On the occasion that they are favored — like this weekend versus the Jets — Burkhead becomes all the more intriguing.
The Jets have the 31st-ranked run defense, per DVOA. Not only has New York allowed the most fantasy points to opposing RBs, but Gang Green has additionally given up the third-most receiving yards (655) to the position. Burkhead has the skills and the apparent favor to work for Houston, regardless of how this game goes. He’s inside my top-35.
Kendrick Bourne, WR, New England Patriots (20% rostered, $20)
Kendrick Bourne has been more consistent than you probably realize. He’s the team’s No. 3 WR, but he’s drawn four targets since Week 7 (save a 7-look glow up at the Chargers in Week 8) in every game. He’s also been impressively efficient, converting 19 of those 23 looks. Each of those opportunities comes with some weight, too. Bourne is averaging 12 yards per target (WR3) and 15.2 yards per reception (WR22).
The Patriots head into Week 12 with the fifth-highest implied team total (25.25) versus the Titans. Tennessee has allowed an average of over 270 receiving yards per week while additionally giving up the most fantasy points to opposing wideouts. The DB situation in Nashville is so bad that the team added 32-year-old Buster Skrine (who was cut by San Fran in early October) on Tuesday. Bourne figures to flex his identity as New England’s yardage leader on Sunday.
Josiah Deguara, TE, Green Bay Packers (0% rostered, $10)
Maybe it’s the tryptophan, or the wine or good ol’ fashioned late-season desperation … but Josiah Deguara could pop on Sunday. The former Bearcat may not be the longest (6-foot-2 and 242 pounds) or fastest (4.72) young player at the position, but he’s got a reliable catch radius and he’s got Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball.
Deguara’s been more involved since Robert Tonyan suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 8. Since then, the second-year tight end has steadily recorded a higher snap share (from 19.4% to 46.3%) and run more routes (from 5 to 15) each week. Marcedes Lewis is still part of the equation, but the 16-year vet’s numbers have been the inverse of Deguara’s since Tonyan’s untimely exit.
Deguara drew a red-zone look in Week 10 and found the end zone in Week 11. He figures to be featured in the red area this Sunday when the Packers host the Rams. Los Angeles has allowed TDs to TEs in each of their last three games (George Kittle, Geoff Swaim, Brevin Jordan). With Jalen Ramsey likely to follow Davante Adams and Rodgers potentially looking for underneath options (especially if his toe is flaring up), Deguara should be active. He’s a low-volume, high-touchdown upside play.
Dig deep with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF