(Table for 6 continued from above)
Craig Reynolds, RB, Detroit Lions
The pride of the Kutztown University Golden Bears, Craig Reynolds, was placed on Detroit’s active roster last week with D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams sidelined.
Rookie Jermar Jefferson entered the season as the presumed No. 3 RB in this offense. I even drafted him in the final round on the assumption he’d get 10+ touches eventually in what I anticipated would be a lost Lions season.
But I never imagined Reynolds swooping in and taking the lead role and surely never anticipated he’d rumble for 83 yards on 11 carries – yes, against the Broncos’ stout run defense. (Perhaps I’ve overstated the Broncos’ run defense.)
Reynolds will be a fascinating story heading into Week 15. As with most undrafted players after an impressive NFL debut, the question is whether they’re for real. He can’t be expected to average 7.6 yards per carry again, and scoring remains an uphill battle for Detroit. So I’m watching to see if Reynolds can be a high-volume RB3.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
A decade from now, we’ll look back and remark on CEH’s professional career. I’m not sure anyone can say with any certainty what that conversation will be like. Is he as great as his best performances, or as ineffective as his worth performances? And by “ineffective,” is he not deserving of his bell-cow role?
He has the good fortune of playing in one of the league’s top offenses. He has the bad fortune of sometimes looking like a replacement-level talent alongside Darrel Williams and Derrick Gore. During his brief career, he’s had more games with less than 50 rushing yards (11) than with 50+ rushing yards (10). He’s averaged a solid 4.5 yards per carry.
But he has only 4 rushing TDs inside the 10-yard line; his handcuff, Williams, has more. So I’m eager to see if Edwards-Helaire can finish strong and help fantasy managers justify their faith in him as we look ahead to 2022.
Mike Davis, RB, Atlanta Falcons
I drafted Mike Davis in the fifth round in my 14-team league. Begrudgingly. I needed a No. 2 RB, and he was the last supposed starter remaining. It turns out he was a starter in name only, as Cordarrelle Patterson quickly took the NFL and fantasy world by storm. I traded Davis after a few weeks. Later he came back to me in a package deal as a throw-in.
Then I traded him again.
But it’s time to take stock of Davis’ value in the context not of the ceiling but consistency. His ceiling remains low. RB2 performances are few and far between. Yet he’s produced eight double-digit fantasy weeks. That’s more than Nick Chubb, Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon, and so on. He’s not better than these other fantasy RBs. But his typical floor is objectively higher.
As injuries continue to mount, more and more managers are scrounging waivers for a 10-point RB who can keep them afloat. A back-end RB3 like Davis isn’t flashy. He probably won’t help you win a title. But he’s helped scores of managers stop the bleeding at a highly volatile position. If he can keep this up, he’ll be one of the most underappreciated fantasy RBs of 2021.
Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills
The 2020 Bills were fairly predictable offensively. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss offered sporadic streamability. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs were elite. Cole Beasley was a nothing-flashy WR3. And Gabriel Davis gave hungry managers seven games with 9.5+ fantasy points.
The offseason arrival of veteran Emmanuel Sanders and ascending tight end Dawson Knox changed the passing-game calculus. Diggs (WR10) has averaged nearly four fewer fantasy points per game than last year. Beasley has clawed his way to WR3 numbers, though he’s averaging three fewer points per game. And Davis has been a frequent afterthought.
Yes, Sanders’ 40-606-4 receiving line has lowered every other Buffalo wideout’s ceiling.
But with Sanders expected to miss Week 15 due to a knee injury, the door has opened for a return to 2020 normalcy – or something close to it. Beasley is now a must-roster WR, while Davis is a legitimate deep-league streamer. And Diggs could find himself back in the elite WR tier.