Relaxation or desperation; every fantasy manager is going through one of these feelings (or both). With ten weeks in the books, time is running short for managers on the outside of the playoff race. We’ve reached the point of the season where struggling squads need to start prioritizing immediate production and upcoming schedules over potential playoff performances, a difficult pill to swallow. Teams en route to the postseason must take advantage; a failure to act could be the difference between a championship and a first-round exit. It’s time to look at which players are struggling and which are surging before the final weeks of the regular season.
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Stock Up: WR Terry McLaurin, Washington Commanders
It’s been a rocky ride, but at the end of the day, McLaurin is currently the PPR WR13. Thus far, the value has been returned for managers that drafted him in the third or fourth round. What makes Terry’s production feel sustainable is that Carson Wentz (probably) won’t be taking over at quarterback any time soon. While his overall passing numbers aren’t very impressive, Taylor Heinicke clearly favors his number one wideout. Since Heinecke took over in Week 7, McLaurin has been the overall WR8.
The most impressive part of McLaurin’s resurgence is that it has been driven purely by volume. He’s averaging nine targets a game over the past four weeks and has scored just one touchdown. Should that number go up even slightly (he had five TDs in 16 games with Heinecke last season), Terry could be a locked-and-loaded WR1. The upcoming schedule is favorable, with dates against the Texans and Falcons. Despite their run-first approach, look for Washington to feed Scary Terry.
Stock Down: WR Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
The alarm bells aren’t blaring for Samuel, but there are a few warning signs that are impossible to ignore. The most obvious is that, despite his high draft price, the 49ers star is the PPR WR29. Granted, Deebo has missed a game, but the production just hasn’t been there; he’s gained over 100 yards just once this season. Samuel had his least effective game on Sunday night against the Chargers, catching two passes for 24 yards and rushing for 27 more. His six targets were tied for second on the team, but it’s clear Deebo isn’t dominating San Francisco’s touches like last season.
Samuel’s dip in production has been a season-long frustration, but much of it is out of his control. The 49ers changed their entire offense midseason by trading for Christian McCaffrey, a target hog out of the backfield. Brandon Aiyuk has become a top-20 fantasy wideout thanks to an average of 6.9 targets per game (along with more red zone looks than Samuel). Deebo’s work as a rusher keeps his floor relatively high, but without a massive workload, he’s closer to a high-end WR2 than a true WR1.
Stock Up: RB David Montgomery, Chicago Bears
It’s been rough for David Montgomery lately. While Justin Fields‘ breakout has helped every other Bears player, Monty has been stuck in the mud. Over the team’s past three games, he has a combined 17.3 points. So, why is Montgomery’s stock on the rise? It’s due to Khalil Herbert‘s hip injury, which forced Chicago’s talented backup to the IR on Tuesday. With his only competitor in the backfield sidelined through, at minimum, Week 14, Montgomery has a golden opportunity to carry fantasy squads in need of some wins before the end of the regular season.
It also helps that Matt Eberflus and the Bears coaching staff love to run the ball; Chicago leads the NFL with 360 rushing attempts. While a good chunk of that is due to Fields’ dual-threat abilities, there is still plenty of work to go around. If he’s even granted half of Herbert’s carries, Montgomery could come close to 20 rush attempts per game. For context, that level of volume would put Montgomery behind only Saquon Barkley and Derrick Henry in total touches. We’ll have a good idea of what Montgomery’s role will be after this Sunday when the suddenly high-powered Bears offense takes on a mediocre Falcons defensive front.
Stock Down: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs
Over the course of three seasons in the NFL, Clyde Edwards-Helaire has gone from first-round pick to third-string running back. It’s a shocking fall considering CEH’s early-season success, but it makes sense. His rushing yards per game this season sits at a paltry 32.6, and he’s been especially inefficient since Week 5 (three yards per carry). While he’s normally been able to offset poor rushes with passing volume, the Chiefs have pivoted to former 49er Jerick McKinnon on passing downs over the past two weeks, and he’s responded with back-to-back double-digit fantasy point outings.
On the ground, seventh-round rookie Isiah Pacheco has literally run away with the role of lead back. If it wasn’t already obvious, Pacheco made it official on Sunday with 82 rushing yards on 16 carries against the Jaguars. Meanwhile, CEH had zero carries and two targets, barely seeing the field in a game where Kansas City gained nearly 500 yards on offense. With the way things are trending, it’s time to pull the plug on the Clyde experiment. Edwards-Helaire shouldn’t be rostered in 12-team leagues at this point in the season.