(Table for 6 continued from above)
Taylor Heinicke, QB, Washington Football Team
Heinicke’s preseason average draft position was QB52. No joke: Tony Romo was one spot ahead of him. Apparently, there are a lot of Romo fans out there. It took a Week 1 injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick to thrust the 28-year-old Heinicke into a nearly impossible position.
Admittedly, I didn’t take him seriously as a fantasy waiver add. He’d thrown only 77 passes in his NFL career, connecting on two scores and three interceptions. Most of his work (53 pass attempts) came in one start three years ago against Atlanta.
He didn’t look NFL ready. And yet, entering this week, Heinicke is the QB15. He’s racked up 20+ fantasy points in five of nine starts. Starting him is no longer an act of desperation; it’s a savvy play based on current realities. If Heinicke shines against a beatable Seahawks defense on Monday night, he could realistically enter next week as the QB12 or QB11.
Alex Collins, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Collins’ limitations are clear. He’s bounced around the NFL for six seasons, occasionally flashing yet rarely earning consistent top-20 production. He doesn’t do much in the passing game (57 career catches, including only 7 this year).
So what’s different about him this week?
Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and Travis Homer are all out. Only DeeJay Dallas stands in the way of a potentially big Collins night. That’s not to say he’ll produce; Washington is yielding only 4.1 YPC and 8 rushing touchdowns. But Collins’ value going forward could hinge on what he does tomorrow.
Essentially, this marks his best opportunity to lock down a bell-cow role for the remainder of this season.
Kenny Golladay, WR, New York Giants
With Sterling Shepard out today and Kadarius Toney doubtful, will Golladay finally begin earning his huge offseason payday? Not that it’s been Golladay’s fault. He missed time this summer and during the season with injuries. Daniel Jones has regressed.
This is a team in turmoil: loaded with talent on paper but unable to execute on the field.
Golladay’s talent is unquestioned. He should be a top-20 WR today. But he’s received only eight targets in his last three games – a bizarre stat considering what he brings to the table.
With the 3-7 Giants almost mathematically eliminated from the postseason, it will be interesting to see how they utilize their most prized offseason acquisition. I’m betting on a good day. If I’m wrong, it probably won’t get better until 2022, at the earliest.
Laviska Shenault, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
I like betting on underutilized talent when their teams are struggling. Because more often than not, talent wins in the end.
With Jamal Agnew injured, Shenault should be featured more prominently than he has been. Trevor Lawrence hasn’t thrown a TD pass in any of his last three games. The Jaguars are facing an anemic Falcons pass defense yielding an average 106.2 QB rating.
Shenault’s ranking assumes 7-8 fantasy points. I believe he’ll get more attention and crack the top 30 WRs. Like Golladay, Shenault has been woefully under-targeted. If things break right, he could be one of the most under-the-radar streamers for the stretch run.
Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos
There are many “what-ifs” to consider at the TE position, particularly when we move beyond the elite and near-elite tiers when targets grow more scarce.
The Broncos are loaded on offense with two high-performing running backs, three high-functioning wideouts, and two highly capable tight ends. Oh, and one QB2 who’s not expected (or not able) to consistently feed most of his weapons.
The ascending Albert Okwuegbunam (10 targets in his last three games) is one of many factors capping Noah Fant’s ceiling. I believe Fant has peaked this season, especially as Courtland Sutton gets more involved after three consecutive down games.