RB Damien Williams, Chiefs
Each fantasy football season, we see players emerge midseason to help teams win their league titles late in the year. The goal is to identify those players while trying to acquire them on your roster. I’m sensing we are going to have a replay of 2018 over the championship rounds of the playoffs with Damien Williams. His season started with only 215 combined yards with three TDs and 15 catches over six games while missing two other contests with a knee issue.
Williams flashed in Week 9 (12/125/1 with two catches for three yards), but a massive portion of his production came on one play (91-yard TD). On the positive side, the Chiefs gave him 72 percent of the RB snaps.
This week Kansas City decided not to activate LeSean McCoy for their contest against the Titans after only seeing the field for six of 60 plays in the previous game. Williams responded a season-high 24 touches for 109 combined yards and five catches. More importantly, he passed the eye test. He ran with power and explosiveness.
With Patrick Mahomes back at the controls as the quarterback for the Chiefs, KC is going to score many TDs in multiple game games giving their RB position high upside if one back can receiving the bulk of the RB touches. Over the final seven games of the year, I expect Williams to score between seven to ten TDs while averaging between 15 to 20 Fantasy points per game in PPR leagues.
His DFS salary will be a value over the next couple of weeks in the daily games, and his price point in trading leagues should be favorable. For the teams in the season-long games with no trading, only a small percentage of teams will survive the regular season with Williams as an option at RB. One of the survivors may be in a position to fill a weak spot in their starting lineup and make a push toward an overall title.
New York Giants
Sunday was a great moment in football for the city of New York. Both NFL franchises will come out of 2019 with disappointing seasons for different reasons. The most crucial factor for both teams is emerging with a rising young option at quarterback. Even in a loss, the Giants were the team that started with a more significant bounce in their step.
Daniel Jones did face pressure in the game (six sacks), but he shined when having time to throw. He finished with 328 combined yards with four TDs while playing the game without two of his best-receiving options (Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard). I can say this for sure, Jones is no Baker Mayfield in 2019, but who wants to be?
The other bright spot in the Giants’ offense was WR Darius Slayton, who delivered his best game (10/121/2) of his young career. With Shepard trending toward missing all of 2019, Slayton will work as the WR2 for New York going forward. His best value will come in the deep passing game, which works best as WR3/flex option in PPR leagues.
RB Kareem Hunt, Browns
After missing the first eight games of the season due to a suspension, Kareem Hunt returned this week against the Bills. Many Fantasy owners didn’t know what to expect for him coming out of the gate. In last week’s RB projections for the Browns, I assumed he would see limited action on early downs while securing the top pass-catching opportunity. Hunt finished with 74 combined yards with seven catches on 11 touches, which was a tad below his projections (5/23 in the run game and 4.8 catches for 46 yards in the passing game with a reasonable chance at a TD). Hunt is going to be a viable flex option going forward in PPR leagues. His floor should work well in all games as he’ll have plenty of action when trailing plus see a bump in rushes when Cleveland plays from the lead.
New Orleans Saints
There’s a point in each NFL season when a team shows if they have the “it factor” to make a push to a Super Bowl title. This week the team that showed it doesn’t have what it takes for the long haul in 2019 is the Saints. New Orleans came into this week’s game off a bye while facing one of the worst defenses in the NFL with a six-game winning streak. They failed to score a TD, their defense couldn’t get the Falcons off the field, their offensive line struggled to block for Drew Brees, and they had an injury to their top CB. Coming into Sunday, Atlanta had a six-game losing streak while allowing almost 34 points per game.
The New England Patriots don’t lose games at home to weak opponents, which is a crucial reason they earn home-field advantage in many seasons in the playoffs. The Saints will look back at Week 10 as the turning point of their season, which now forces them to go on the road to Green Bay (if the season ended now) and require three wins to reach the Super Bowl.
Los Angeles Rams
Without a top run game, Jared Goff isn’t the same player he was in 2019. He failed to toss a TD this week while being sacked four times with two balls landing in the hands of the Steelers’ defense. Los Angeles didn’t score an offensive TD after scoring a defensive TD 14-second into the game. Goff only has 11 passing TDs after nine games with nine interceptions.
The failure of the Rams’ offense starts with the coaching staff. In 2018, they’d run left, run a jet sweep right, hit a crossing WR in the middle of the field, and take shots in the deep passing game. LA forced defenses to defend the whole field, which created more space over the short areas of the field. This season they’ve been babying Todd Gurley while failing to feature the RB position in the passing game. They don’t run screen plays or circle routes out of the backfield.
It’s time for Sean McVay to wake up and attack again on offense. He needs to look back at the early part of 2018 to see the rhythm of the playing calling and see why the Rams were so good offensively. Or you look over at Todd Gurley and see he was your ticket to the Super Bowl. It’s getting late in 2019, and wasting touches on Malcolm Brown is almost conceding the season. Either Gurley can play or he can’t. If the Rams limit Gurley’s touches to help in the playoffs, the sun is setting on your postseason chances.
QB Philip Rivers, Chargers
After a great career in the NFL, Philip Rivers is heading the wrong direction in 2019. Last week he made multiple poor throws leading to three Ints, and a fourth called back due to a penalty. The Raiders sacked him fives times with plenty of pressure on other plays. The Chargers had a chance to save their season last week with a win while keeping their playoff hopes alive. Even with improvement in their run game, LA’s offensive line couldn’t keep open a long enough passing window for Rivers to make successful passing downfield.
If the Chargers don’t make a push over the final six games, Rivers could be nearing the end of his career while never reaching the Super Bowl. His career has been exceptional, but his lack of mobility is a huge issue when matchup with a weak offensive line and his advancing age.