Sneaky fantasy football stashes for Week 8
By: Malcolm McMillan
Just when the Byepocalypse was finally behind fantasy football managers, a slew of injuries came out of nowhere. Well, maybe not nowhere. After all, this is fantasy football; injuries are to be expected. However, it is always the worst when an injury hits in conjunction with a bye week. Last week, fantasy football managers had to deal with the absence of Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller, which thanks to a bye is now continuing for a second week. This week, fantasy football managers get the unpleasant surprise of missing out on star Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler. Ekeler was on a bye in Week 7, and now a sudden injury may have him absent for their game against the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Again, this really should be nothing new, but it still feels like a total surprise when it happens. Luckily, even in dynasty fantasy football and deeper redraft leagues, there are still some players that could merit rostering this week. If fantasy football managers are desperate, they could even play these guys in Week 8.
Joshua Kelley: RB, Los Angeles Chargers
For the first two weeks of 2020, Joshua Kelley was a fantasy football darling. 12.6 point-per-reception (PPR) points per game, double-digit rushing attempts, he felt like the Robin to starting running back Austin Ekeler’s Batman. Unfortunately, the next two weeks Kelley had two key fumbles are never returned to the same prominence for the Chargers. However, 2021 is a new year, with a new coach, and Brandon Staley may be starting to increase Kelley’s opportunities. Kelley has only played in two games so far this season; a Week 5 shoutout win against the Cleveland Browns and a blowout loss in Week 6 to the Baltimore Ravens. Despite the drastic differences in the two games, one thing remained constant: Kelley had the second-highest snaps of any Chargers running back.
There is no guarantee that this trend will ultimately result in a valuable standalone role for fantasy football managers. However, fantasy football managers that pick him up may have the backup to Ekeler on their roster. That is a role that could be valuable as soon as this week.
Freddie Swain: WR, Seattle Seahawks
At the beginning of the season, fantasy football managers were getting hyped about second-round draft pick D’Wayne Eskridge. Nobody was even thinking about Freddie Swain. Unfortunately, Eskridge’s rookie season has been marred by a serious concussion problem, and he may not even play this year. Swain has filled in Eskridge’s stead and has had an okay season. He even had an incredible Week 2 performance against the Tennessee Titans defense, where he scored over 20 fantasy football points in PPR leagues.
Luckily, Swain gets a chance to repeat that performance against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense in Week 8 that is””well””not great. Plus, unlike his teammate Tyler Lockett, Swain has seen his targets increase since backup quarterback Geno Smith took over from Russell Wilson partway through Week 5. If Smith feels more comfortable with Swain versus Lockett, that is huge for Swain’s potential as long as Smith is the Seattle Seahawks quarterback. Even when Wilson takes his job back though, Swain has been the Seahawks’ third target so far this season. That is a role that could be valuable going forward.
Mo Alie-Cox: TE, Indianapolis Colts
Over the past four weeks, the Indianapolis Colts have really caught fire. They are 3-1 during that stretch and it has coincided with Mo Alie-Cox taking over as their starting tight end. Seriously, from Week 4 to Week 7, Alie-Cox has been TE9 in PPR fantasy football leagues, averaging over 12.1 points per game. During that same time, fellow tight end Kylen Granson has been TE63, and veteran tight end Jack Doyle has been just behind Granson at TE65. That is a massive gap. Doyle admittedly still sees a fair amount of snaps per game, but he has not seen more than a single target in a game since Week 3. Alie-Cox is relevant for fantasy football managers as long as he holds onto this role, and as long as Colts quarterback Carson Wentz continues targeting him inside the 20-yard line.