BUY Jonathan Taylor, RB, Colts
This is mostly a schedule play. Because, frankly, Taylor has been disappointing in the usage and performance departments.
In 5 games without Marlon Mack, he’s averaged 16 carries and 2.2 targets. He’s fallen to 13.5 carries — with 2.3 targets — over the last 4. Decent volume, but not the workhorse usage we thought he might get.
And Taylor’s play has been lackluster. He’s averaging 4.1 yards per carry and ranks bottom 4 among 45 qualifiers in yards after contact per attempt and Pro Football Focus’ Elusive Rating. In other words, he’s not doing a good job adding yards beyond what’s blocked.
Despite all that, Taylor ranks 18th among RBs in PPR points and 15th in non-PPR over the last 5 weeks. And now the schedule is about to get juicy.
Colts RBs have the easiest remaining slate of opponents according to our Strength of Schedule. Seven of their remaining 9 games (excluding Week 17) are against teams that rank 23rd or worse in adjusted fantasy points allowed to RBs. That includes 3 straight games against bottom-4 RB defenses in Weeks 13 through 15.
If Taylor starts running like the guy who dominated at Wisconsin for the past 3 seasons AND the Colts expand his volume, he could be a top 5 fantasy back the rest of the way. And even if things stay the same, that schedule figures to propel him to borderline RB1 production.
BUY J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ravens
You’d like to see Baltimore use Dobbins more consistently. Through 6 games, he’s totaled a mere 36 opportunities, with 13 coming last Sunday at Philly. He’s averaged 6.2 yards per carry on 25 attempts.
Mark Ingram left Week 6 with an ankle sprain and looks questionable to play following a Week 7 bye. He’s probably not looking at an extended absence. But the upside here is that Dobbins — clearly the backfield’s most dynamic and versatile member — should be cheap to acquire.
Pro Football Focus’ Elusive Rating places the rookie 2nd among 55 RBs with 25+ carries. His 7 broken tackles as a rusher put him ahead of Gus Edwards (5) and Ingram (3). Those two rank 44th and 54th, respectively, in Elusive Rating.
So while Dobbins isn’t in the “significant role” HC John Harbaugh predicted before the season, there’s a scenario in which he forces his way onto the field. And you have to love his late-season schedule of Dallas, Cleveland, Jacksonville and the Giants from Week 13 on.
BUY Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks
Lockett’s tallied only 9 targets, 6 catches and 83 yards over his past 2 outings. So perhaps there’s a buying window on one of the game’s most efficient WRs.
For all of the attention D.K. Metcalf has (rightfully) drawn, Lockett owns just 1 fewer target (38 vs. 39). The veteran’s on pace for a career-high 122 targets.
Lockett’s 23.6% target share is also ahead of his 2019 pace (22.2%). That’s helped him rip off lines of 8-92, 7-67-1 and 9-103.
A more aggressive offense, a struggling pass defense and an elite-as-ever Russell Wilson supply more reasons for optimism. Lockett still looks like a top-12 WR the rest of the way.
BUY Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington
McLaurin just made it through a brutal 6-game stretch to open the season. Check it out:
Week 1 - Eagles CB Darius Slay ranks 26th among 77 qualifying CBs in Pro Football Focus’ coverage grades. Football Outsiders ranks Philly 12th in coverage against #1 WRs.
Week 2 - Patrick Peterson is no longer a shut-down corner, but the Cardinals rank 7th in adjusted fantasy points allowed to WRs.
Week 3 - A plus matchup against the Browns. McLaurin caught 4 balls for 83 yards.
Week 4 - A tough Ravens secondary that ranks 8th in adjusted fantasy points allowed to WRs.
Week 5 - McLaurin saw a lot of Rams CB Jalen Ramsey, who ranks 14th among 77 qualifying CBs in Pro Football Focus’ coverage grades.
Week 6 - The Giants rank 3rd in coverage against #1 WRs, per Football Outsiders, largely thanks to James Bradberry, who is Pro Football Focus’ 5th-graded CB.
The schedule lightens up now, with 2 remaining games against the Cowboys, a Week 14 meeting with the Steelers’ 31st-ranked WR defense and a Week 16 draw vs. the Seahawks, who sit dead last in adjusted fantasy points allowed to WRs.
McLaurin is seeing elite usage, ranking 5th among WRs in targets and 10th in air yards. Yeah, we should probably discount that opportunity a bit considering Washington’s shoddy QB play. But it’s enough — combined with McLaurin’s talent and remaining schedule — to give him a shot at WR1 production the rest of the way.
SELL Kenyan Drake, RB, Cardinals
If you waited out Drake’s rough start, then congratulations. You might have just earned an opportunity.
Drake matched his season high with 20 carries in Monday night’s blowout win at Dallas. And on the Cardinals’ final offensive play, he went over 100 rushing yards. That 69-yard TD scamper gave Drake a 20-164-2 rushing line for the game and boosted him to 19th among PPR backs (13th in non-PPR). That Week 6 game accounts for 38.4% of his non-PPR scoring through 6 contests and 35.5% of his PPR points.
It was the same fantasy total in each format, because Drake caught 0 passes for the 2nd time in 3 games. That’s the most worrisome thing about his profile. Drake had been running more routes than Chase Edmonds, so the fact that he has seen no climb in targets over the past few weeks indicates the Cardinals prefer Edmonds in that area.
Drake’s struggles were such a big story before Monday night that you might still not be able to sell him at a worthwhile price. But it’s worth a shot, especially with a tough Week 7 matchup vs. the Seahawks’ 10th-ranked RB defense and then a Week 8 bye.
SELL Amari Cooper, WR, Cowboys
If you watched Monday night’s Cardinals blowout in Dallas, then you might have been surprised to see that Cooper wound up with a nice 7-79-1 receiving line on 10 targets. That ranked him 7th among PPR wideouts for Week 6
For the season, Cooper ranks 5th among PPR receivers. He has finished just 1 week lower than 23rd at the position so far.
But if Cooper’s Week 6 result surprised you, it’s because the Dallas offense looked awful against Arizona. Cooper finished the 1st half with just 1 catch for 8 yards. Andy Dalton had 82 passing yards at that point and managed just 4.9 yards per attempt in his 1st start filling in for Dak Prescott.
Maybe it was just a bad night. But even a rebounded Dallas offense would still present a crowded crew of pass catchers.
Cooper has won on target volume this season, garnering 9+ looks in 5 of 6 contests and sitting just 1 behind Allen Robinson for the team lead to this point. But will that continue in the Dalton passing game? The new QB certainly won’t throw it 54 times per game as he did against Arizona. Even then, CeeDee Lamb matched Cooper’s 10 looks, and Ezekiel Elliott beat them by 1.
Cooper shouldn’t crash, given that Dallas seems to view him as the lead receiver. But he’s bound for inconsistency. Let’s see if we can sell him at a top-10 return before waiting to see if the offense will remain ugly.
HOLD Justin Jefferson, WR, Vikings
Jefferson is off to a historic start. Last week, he became just the 4th WR in NFL history to post three 100-yard games among his first 6. He’s currently on pace to break Anquan Boldin’s record for receiving yards as a rookie (1,377).
And that’s despite tallying just 70 yards over his first 4 games. Jefferson has ripped off 467 yards and 3 scores over his last 4 outings, leading all WRs in fantasy points over that span.
The hot streak needs context, though. Jefferson has feasted on a string of bad pass defenses. Here’s where his last 4 opponents rank in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA:
It’s also worth remembering that this remains a run-leaning offense. Minnesota ranks 22nd in pass attempts and dead last in pass rate when games are within 7 points. And Jefferson still looks like the team’s #2 WR behind Adam Thielen, who’s out-targeted Jefferson 33 to 30 even over the past 4 games.
So why not sell high on Jefferson right now? Because he has a Week 7 bye, which figures to ding his trade value, and then 2 more plus matchups vs. the Packers and Lions.
Hold Jefferson for the next 3 weeks — and then consider cashing in those chips.
HOLD Travis Fulgham, WR, Eagles
Fulgham’s huge Week 5 at Pittsburgh (10-152-1) looked like a fluke. But then he did it again vs. Baltimore (6-75-1). The 2nd-year wideout is already WR35 in PPR on the season, with just 3 games under his belt. He has seen targets on 25.2% of Carson Wentz’s pass attempts over the past 3 weeks. And that began with a mere 3-target game at San Francisco.
Fulgham hasn’t gotten going until the 2nd quarter in each of the past 2 games, which makes you wonder whether he’s just coming off 2 straight outliers. You’d think the Eagles would have looked to get him going earlier against the Ravens after how things went in Pittsburgh.
But what if the team chooses to get him going earlier in Week 7 against the Giants? Philly lost a couple more key pass-catchers in Week 6: Zach Ertz (high-ankle sprain) and Miles Sanders (knee).
DeSean Jackson might return this week. But he has topped 54% playing time in 1 game so far. We don’t know yet when Dallas Goedert will return. Jalen Reagor likely has at least 2 more weeks of downtime. And we can’t know yet what to expect from Alshon Jeffery.
There’s a chance Fulgham remains a key offensive piece the rest of this season. And besides, you’re almost certainly not getting WR1 value -- and probably not even top-24 value -- on Fulgham in a trade.
So why not keep rolling with him for now and see where this goes?