Let’s take a deep dive with these fantasy football stashes
By: Malcolm McMillan
It is officially the fantasy football playoffs. I can only assume that you made it into the fantasy football playoffs or are preparing for next year. In either case, congratulations on doing the right thing. Prepping ahead of the competition and being active in your dynasty league will pay off next year. You know you can wait until after the Super Bowl to take a break from fantasy football.
This week’s article will be a little different. Like in previous weeks, these players are still widely available, though one of them is only available in about 40% of Sleeper dynasty leagues. The goal is to find players with 50% rostership or less, but after last week two sets of players stand out. One set of players for those managers still making their playoff run, the other for dynasty fantasy football managers looking beyond the 2021 NFL season (though redraft people can pay attention too).
First up, two running backs that could make a difference in the 2021 fantasy football playoffs.
Jermar Jefferson vs Craig Reynolds vs Godwin Igwebuike: Which Detroit Lions Running Back Do You Want?
Last week everyone thought that they made a killer waiver wire addition in Jermar Jefferson. After all, both D’Andre Swift (shoulder) and Jamaal Williams (COVID-19) were out for the Detroit Lions Week 14 matchup against the Denver Broncos. Sure, Jefferson had been sick in the lead-up to the game, but plenty of experts assumed he and fellow running back Godwin Igwebuike would see the work out of the Lions backfield.
Unfortunately, neither Jefferson nor Igwebuike saw meaningful work in Week 14. Igwebuike at least got to touch the ball; Jefferson was on the field for a mere six snaps. Instead, Craig Reynolds stole the show (relatively), with 11 rushing attempts and a pair of receptions that resulted in an RB20 finish in half-point-per-reception (half-PPR) formats. Williams and Swift are both out again for the Lions Week 15 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, so the pressing question is: which Lions running back do you trust?
In terms of athleticism, betting on Jefferson is not smart. Per PlayerProfiler he lags behind both Reynolds and Igwebuike in every athletic metric. Igwebuike is the most athletic of the three, though Reynolds does have some mildly impressive agility. The problem is that none of that has mattered all season. All three running backs have been anything more than bench depth until now. Jefferson had a brief flash in Week 10, and Igwebuike has been involved regularly on special teams, but Reynolds made his season debut in Week 14.
Unfortunately for Jefferson and Igwebuike, Reynolds made the most of that debut and probably qualifies as the “hot hand” going into Week 15. If you have to trust a Lions running back in the fantasy football playoffs, Reynolds is the player to roster, though do not be surprised to see Igwebuike cut into Reynolds’s workload. Detroit is not seeing what they have here. All three of these running backs are undrafted or seventh-round picks firmly behind Swift and Williams on the depth chart. The Lions just need a body to carry the ball, and that body will look like Reynolds’s until Swift or Williams returns.
Jalen Guyton and Josh Palmer: A Dynamic Dynasty Duo
If Jalen Guyton and Josh Palmer are still available in your dynasty leagues, they need to be on your roster. Now. The Los Angeles Chargers passing attack has become red hot with Justin Herbert under center, and it is not just the usual suspects that are benefiting. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams still dominate the wide receiver room. The Chargers’ current studs each have over 100 targets after 14 games. However, both Guyton and Palmer are flirting with fantasy football relevance recently.
Let us start with Guyton. Guyton showed a connection with Herbert in 2020, but things have heated up over the past few weeks. In half-PPR fantasy football leagues, Guyton led the Chargers wide receivers in fantasy football points from Week 12 to 14. Week 15 was more subdued but still saw Guyton score a touchdown for the third game in a row. With Mike Williams headed for free agency after this season, the Chargers may make Guyton the next man up. He already has a connection with Herbert and an impressive athletic profile. At just 24 years old, what is not to love?
But Guyton is not the only intriguing up-and-coming wide receiver on the Chargers roster. While not as athletic as Guyton, Palmer was the Chargers’ third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which is not insignificant. Plus, while Guyton has been the third wide receiver this season, Palmer did fill in for Allen in Week 14 to great success. Palmer’s seven targets that week led all Chargers players, and the five receptions, 66 yards and a touchdown were enough to finish WR16 on the week. The best part is Palmer is flashing this production all before turning 23. He will be just 25 when his and Allen’s contracts expire at the end of 2024. The Chargers bringing back their 25-year-old WR rather than the 32-year-old wide receiver will not be a surprise, and this role seems to be Palmer’s for the taking. Worst case, he should become one of the top three wide receivers in Los Angeles when Williams leaves at the end of the year.
The Chargers already have their quarterback of the future in Herbert, but it is expensive (if not impossible) to acquire that piece of their offense if you are a dynasty manager. However, you can get either—or both—of their wide receivers of the future for dirt cheap right now. The return on investment will not be instant, but it will be worth it.