You feel that chill running down your spine? No, it’s not Halloween slowly creeping towards us. In fact, it’s something far scarier: Jared Goff is currently the fantasy QB5!
October is when those fun September stories become something far more real. We can’t simply dismiss hot starts or cold streaks anymore; entering the season’s quarter-mark, our preseason expectations must meet reality. This week’s stock watch could signify which players are trending in permanently opposite directions. Act accordingly.
Stock Up: QB Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He’s back! In spite of his off-field drama, the 46-year-old Brady looked to be in peak form during Sunday night’s shootout against the Chiefs. Number 12 threw for 385 yards and three touchdowns; outside of a forced fumble, the Buccaneers quarterback was flawless. It’s no coincidence that this happened as Tampa Bay welcomed back top weapons Mike Evans, Julio Jones and Chris Godwin. Turns out that even the greatest quarterbacks need reliable receivers to throw the ball to.
For those who drafted or traded for Brady, the ask isn’t too much: if he’s simply a top-eight quarterback for the rest of the season, fantasy owners should feel good about their investment. After a tough first three games against the Cowboys, Saints and Packers, it was fair to think that time had finally caught up to the ageless wonder. Wrong. Upcoming games against the Falcons, Steelers, Seahawks and Ravens will prove that, once again, we were too quick to write off Tom. If the Bucs can sort out their offensive line issues, big plays against better defensive units should come as well.
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Stock Down: TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
So it’s come to this: Kyle Pitts is the fantasy TE18. Pitts has just one catch on four targets Sunday, raising questions about his role in Arthur Smith’s offense. Even more concerning was the fact that the Falcons only ran him out for 62% of all plays last week. On a team that is content with single-digit pass attempts from Marcus Mariota, it’s hard to imagine Pitts getting the massive target numbers he enjoyed last season with Matt Ryan under center.
Who’s to blame for Pitts’ mediocre season? It’s hard to say, but the talent that made him the highest-drafted tight end ever hasn’t gone away. Smith’s willingness to run the ball in spite of injuries makes any Atlanta pass-catcher game script-dependent. However, the team’s 2-2 start is somewhat misleading; this is still a talent-starved roster that will be trailing in most of their games. Pitts should see more catches down the line, but it feels unlikely that he can return value on his third-round ADP.
Stock Up: RB Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions
The best dancer in football is also a pretty good running back. With no D’Andre Swift, the Lions gave Williams 20 total touches, and he delivered with 109 total yards and a touchdown. Had Detroit’s porous defense managed to slow down Geno Smith and the Seahawks, Williams would have had even more rushes. Still, the frenetic pace of Sunday’s 48-45 shootout has been the norm for the Lions this season, which is always a good thing in fantasy.
The dilemma for Williams owners is what to do once Swift returns (which is unlikely to be the case in Week 5). Dan Campbell clearly wants to use the second-year ‘back, but his injury history is concerning; splitting the load on the ground with Williams is the best way to ensure Swift stays healthy. If you can land a quality trade package, feel free to seal the deal now. However, before selling high, consider that if the Lions continue to score points at an elite rate, Williams is a legitimate fantasy contributor even as a backup. Jamaal should remain a solid flex option all season.
Stock Down: WR Gabe Davis, Buffalo Bills
After a terrific game on opening night against the Rams, those who drafted Gabriel Davis were feeling good about the Bills’ WR2. Unfortunately, things have gotten progressively worse for GabeDave. A nagging ankle injury that kept Davis out of the team’s Week 2 matchup has left him limited at Bills practices for the past two weeks. Despite taking the field on most of the team’s snaps, it’s clear that Davis hasn’t been himself; he’s recorded a total of four catches for 50 yards in Buffalo’s last two games, even with Josh Allen throwing the ball on most plays.
Week 5 presents a prime bounce-back opportunity. Finally a full practice participant, Davis goes up against a beat-up Steelers secondary that could be without Pro Bowl safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Opportunities to air it out should be there for big plays, and injuries to Jamison Crowder and Isaiah McKenzie should force Allen to look Davis’ way more often. However, another quiet game will warrant a spot on your bench for Davis.