The Browns could end up using Kareem Hunt as a lead back or bell cow, yet Hunt’s injury issue would seem to make it likely that Cleveland will utilize something more along the lines of a platoon approach with Johnson as the platoon opposite of Hunt. It worked like a champ last week when Johnson racked up 95 rushing yards on 13 carries. It may work like that again this week and as long as Nick Chubb is out, as the Browns may be the best run blocking team in the league this year, especially on downfield blocks, so getting any part of this powerhouse Cleveland backfield could be a huge add for fantasy managers.
I railed against Beasley as a draft option in the run up to the season, but Buffalo’s heavy usage of four WR sets has allowed Beasley to rank 26th in fantasy points in PPR leagues. It is very likely that his roster rate did not move up much this week because fantasy managers are concerned that the Tuesday night matchup against the Titans will be canceled, but with the Bills slated to play the Chiefs, Patriots, Seahawks, and Cardinals in four of the next five games after this week, Beasley’s value should continue to stay high enough to warrant keeping a bench spot for him.
Jordan Howard, RB, Miami Dolphins (roster rate: 33.2 percent)
Howard currently ranks second in the league with eight carries on plays starting at or inside the opponents’ five-yard line and is tied for first in rushing touchdowns (3). He has almost completely taken over that role in Miami, as the only other Dolphins to have carries in that same area of the field are Ryan Fitzpatrick (2) and Myles Gaskin (1) (all stats per PFR).
Most fantasy managers will understandably not put Howard in a fantasy lineup due to his getting next to zero carries outside of goal line attempts, but consider this – after today’s game against San Francisco, Miami will have faced red-rated rush defenses in four out of five games. As the schedule currently stands, from here on out the Dolphins have zero red-rated rush defense matchups on the schedule and have green-rated matchups in Weeks 10-14 (with a bye in Week 11). That means Howard could have his share of games with two rushing TDs and could end up getting more carries if Gaskin or Matt Breida get injured. That’s quality deep dive roster value to have available so stash Howard if you have the opportunity.
Per the NFL’s official gamebooks, the Steelers have either completed a pass or drawn a defensive coverage penalty on seven deep passes this season (defined as aerials thrown 15 or more yards downfield).
Here is the distribution of those plays:
Chase Claypool: two completions for 112 yards and a TD, plus a 29-yard DPI
Eric Ebron: two completions for 39 yards
James Washington: one completion for 21 yards
Diontae Johnson: one completion for 28 yards and a TD
This shows just how central Claypool is to the Steelers downfield passing game. He only has six total receptions for 151 yards and 27.9 fantasy points in PPR leagues, but with this type of impact potential on a Pittsburgh passing attack that was just starting to hit its stride the last time they played, Claypool could be on his way to quickly increasing fantasy value sooner rather than later.
Damiere Byrd, WR, New England Patriots (roster rate: 2.6 percent)
There doesn’t look to be a lot of value in the Patriots deep pass game but consider this. Per pro-football-reference.com, Byrd is one of only 31 wide receivers this year with a 10+ yard depth of target average on 20+ targets. That means he’s the primary vertical threat in the Patriots offense and could offer sneaky upside value in shootout games like the ones that New England may get into in Weeks 7-12, a span in which they face a slew of high-powered offenses (San Francisco, Buffalo, Baltimore, Houston, and Arizona). That makes Byrd a quality deep roster stash.
Players with highly favorable rush defense schedules over the next four weeks
For those fantasy managers looking to target upside players in trades, here are the teams with two or more green-rated rush defense matchups in Weeks 6-9: Atlanta (3), Buffalo, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Tennessee (all with 2).
Players with highly unfavorable rush defense schedules over the next four weeks
By contrast, here are players with highly unfavorable rush defense schedules over the next in that same four-week span: Baltimore (3), Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, Las Vegas, NY Giants, Pittsburgh (all with 2). (Item of note – Green Bay lands a spot on both the favorable and unfavorable lists)