It’s been an exciting week on the NFL (and fantasy football) front with two marquee trades plus the constant saga of the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott (and perhaps there is still more legal maneuvering going on).
If Elliott is actually suspended, the Cowboys are slated to start Alfred Morris (Dallas), though Darren McFadden and Rod Smith could also have some value. The bigger impact may be on the passing game with more volume there and toward Dez Bryant (Dallas). Kansas City allows the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
In trade news, there were two big ones at the NFL trading deadline this past Tuesday as Kelvin Benjamin (Buffalo) was sent to the Bills, and Jay Ajayi (Philadelphia) to the Eagles. Both could be eased in this week as they learn the offense. But you would think that Benjamin could be featured more with Buffalo than he was with Carolina, while Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi sounds way more attractive than Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi.
We are also nearing the time when some injured reserve players will start to make their way back to the lineup. You may want to get ahead of your competition if you need to shake things up. Below are three IR sleepers to consider, plus another who is returning from injury.
▪ The Patriots could use some receiving depth with Chris Hogan suffering a shoulder injury that should sideline him a few weeks. Malcom Mitchell (New England) chipped in four touchdowns in limited playing time as a rookie last year and could be returning soon.
▪ At this point, getting any piece of the Houston Texans offense is a very good thing and tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (Houston) is likely set to return. The Houston offense has featured the tight end.
▪ Dede Westbrook (Jacksonville) is set to make his NFL debut Sunday. The 2017 fourth-rounder looked impressive in preseason where he led all receivers with 288 yards, plus Jacksonville could use the help at receiver so the opportunity could be there.
▪ Check to see if Corey Davis (Tennessee) has been dropped and is on your waiver wire. He’s missed many weeks due to a hamstring injury but Davis has the tools to be a go-to receiver. Davis was the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft.
▪ Jared Goff (LA Rams) has some sleeper potential this week against a Giants’ defense that has allowed 325 yards per game over its past four and has suspended star defensive back Janoris Jenkins.
▪ Alvin Kamara (New Orleans) is a big play waiting to happen and he is due for busting a long score – 24 percent of Kamara’s rushing attempts have gained 10 or more yards, the highest rate of any running back with at least 20 rushing attempts.
▪ Alex Collins (Baltimore) has yet to score, though he’s off a massive 143-yard game and he leads the NFL in rushing yards per carry average at 6.0 (minimum 50 attempts).
▪ Vernon Davis (Washington) should have the starter’s role all to himself with Jordan Reed (hamstring) likely out multiple weeks.
▪ Jonnu Smith (Tennessee) should have an expanded role with Delanie Walker (sprained ankle) either limited or out. Especially in daily league formats, Smith should be on the radar this week with a low price point.
▪ Matt Ryan (Atlanta) has been a big disappointment with just one 300-yard game this season and only nine touchdowns in seven games. It’s probably best to bench Ryan on the road against a Panthers defense that ranks fifth against the pass.
▪ Marshawn Lynch (Oakland) should be back after his one-week suspension but he isn’t terribly attractive even in a good matchup. Lynch has averaged less than 50 yards per game and won’t be involved as a receiver.
▪ You can’t drop A.J. Green (Cincinnati) too much in the rankings but Jacksonville allows the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, with just one touchdown to a wide receiver so far this season.
Alan Satterlee is in his fourth year of writing about fantasy football for The Charlotte Observer. Find him on Twitter at @Speedkills_DFW.