Most fantasy football players look at things from a season-long perspective. Player X finished as WR16 last year. Player Y finished as WR33. We tend to forget though, that fantasy football is a weekly game. Not everyone is a good start every week, but a lot of players are useful during certain weeks of the season. Guys like Tre Mason and Jarvis Landry weren’t good fantasy assets early in the 2014 season, but they helped a lot of teams make the playoffs in later weeks.
Predicting these types of players isn’t always easy. Injuries play a major role in who emerges as a late-year-stud, and predicting injuries is really f*ckin difficult. That being said, I’m gonna give it a shot. Let’s do it!
Devante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins drafted Parker with the 14th overall pick for a good reason. They want him to be their WR1 for a long time. His career got off to a rocky start when he underwent foot surgery in June, but Parker is back and played 8 snaps in the final preseason game, catching 1 ball for 11 yards.
Sometimes teams will try to rush their high draft picks onto the field, but the Dolphins have enough WR depth (Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings) that they don’t need to. It makes sense for Parker to serve as WR4 for the first couple weeks as he gets acclimated to the offense, but his talent won’t keep him there for long. I expect Parker’s snaps to gradually increase as the season goes along and he develops chemistry with Tannehill. This should lead to fantasy relevance.
Terrelle Pryor, WR, Cleveland Browns
This pick could get derailed since, as we’ve noted on the podcast several times, Mike Pettine hates fun. Entertain this scenario for a moment though. It’s week 7. The Browns have fallen to 1-6 with a loss against the equally lowly Rams. What reason is there to keep playing Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline over a guy like Pryor? We know what they are, we have NO IDEA how good Pryor could be. He’s transitioning to a new position and coming off an injury, but Pryor is a freak athlete who, according to most accounts, was a natural at WR in camp. If and when Cleveland realizes they won’t make the playoffs this year, it makes sense to get Pryor some real game experience and see what he can do.
Todd Gurley, RB, St. Louis Rams
Gurley is being drafted as RB27 right now, but he’s unlikely to be a major contributor early on. The Rams will ease him in, with Tre Mason handling the bulk of the run game. As the season progresses, though, we should see Mason and Gurley trend in opposite directions with Gurley getting the lion share of the carries. If Gurley’s the generational talent that he’s been billed as, he could be a league-winner come December.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Tennessee Titans
Right now Green-Beckham is behind Kendall Wright, Harry Douglas and Hakeem Nicks on the depth chart. Ken Whisenhunt is billing him as a “red-zone threat.” This is another tenuous situation since Whisenhunt, like Mike Pettine, hates fun, but DGB should be starting opposite Kendall Wright by mid-season. With his tremendous size and ball skills, double digit touchdowns could be possible as early as this year. The Titans mediocre-to-bad offense will prevent him from putting up major numbers, but he’ll definitely have startable weeks late in the season.
Breshad Perriman, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Perriman should have been startable week 1, but a lingering knee injury has kept him out for about a month now and he won’t be ready for the Ravens’ opener. As of yet, no one has emerged as the number two receiver for Baltimore, which means Perriman should be able to transition into that job upon return. It’ll likely take several weeks for him to get acclimated to the offense and get a full compliment of snaps. Once he does, though, Perriman should become a weekly WR3/Flex option for his owners.
What Should You Do With These Players?
In leagues with a 5-7 man bench (a.k.a. most leagues), it’s going to be difficult to roster these guys all year. The early lack of production will make them candidates to be dropped (outside of Gurley), particularly when bye weeks come around. Personally, I’ll try to either pick them up midseason or buy them very low in a trade. I’d try to shy away from drafting them, though.
Think Gurley will be a stud all year? Don’t like Breshad Perriman? Wondering why I’m obsessed with Pryor? Let me know! Tell me in the comments below or hit me up on twitter @nwalshington.
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