By Matt Cott, Matt Schwimmer, & Moe Koltun of RotoAnalysis.com
With every team at least 8 games into the season, we’re nearing the home stretch of your fantasy football season. We looked into some players owned in less than 50 percent of CBS leagues that we could see having a big impact in the second half as well as some guys owned in less than 15 percent of leagues that could pop up in the rankings at the end of the year.
Beanie Wells, Cardinals RB (33% Owned in CBS Leagues)
When the often-injured Beanie Wells was hit with the IR tag earlier this season, most owners dropped him without thought. However, Wells was designated with the new IR tag that allows each team to designate one player to return after a certain date. Wells says he will return on November 25th and he claims to be healthier then he was in the beginning of the season because it gave his knee, which had surgery in the offseason time to recover. In his absence, the Cardinals have relied on William Powell and Larod Stephens-Howling to carry the load, although neither has done so very effectively. Once Wells returns, the Cardinals should rely on him as their fulltime back, who has shown glimpses of being a good runner in the NFL. Wells has at least two matchups in his remaining games where I plan on ranking him as a top 20 RB, which is a pretty valuable asset that you can find on the waiver wire in 66% of leagues.
Brandon LaFell, Panthers WR (38% Owned)
While a concussion in week 8 somewhat derailed LaFell’s hot start, we really like his potential in the second half. The Panthers have a much easier schedule in the second half of the season, and Newton seems to have decent chemistry with LaFell while Steve Smith is focused on by the safeties and defenses as a whole. He has more touchdowns than Smith on the year so far, and there is nowhere for this Panthers’ passing game to go but up. They will be behind a lot in throwing even when they don’t have some of their easier matchups against the poor secondaries of the Chiefs, Raiders, and Saints. He is not going to have many catches to post great PPR totals, but LaFell is an adequate deep threat who is worth a look in deeper leagues if you’re struggling at receiver.
Golden Tate, Seahawks WR (30% Owned)
Golden Tate is one of the most puzzling players in the league. While you may just know him from his miracle catch against the Packers, he’s top 20 in the NFL in Pro Football Focus’s ‘Fantasy Points Per Opportunity’ metric, meaning that if he starts to get more opportunities (as he has the last 2 weeks with 6 and 7 targets respectively) he could be a solid fantasy starter. On top of that, Tate has 5 TD’s so far this year in only 8 games, which could seem fluky for a 5’10” receiver; however, I think that Tate is a legit 6-10 TD threat every year, and what he lacks in size he makes up for with great hands and really, really good route running ability. Even Taco from The League took note. I’d grab Golden Tate now before he plays the overrated Jets secondary this week and possibly puts up his second big week in a row.
Taiwan Jones, Raiders RB (13% Owned)
Whether or not he actually produces for your fantasy team, Taiwan Jones’s team-name potential in itself probably warrants a pickup (I’ll give you the set-up and let you fill in the plethora of punch lines for yourselves: TaiWant To…). That being said, I actually believe Taiwan Jones has enormous upside off of the wire, largely thanks to his absurd speed (4.33 40 time) giving him the ability to break away a long rushing TD any game. This week, both Darren McFadden and backup Mike Goodson will likely be out with high ankle sprains, and Goodson should get the majority of the carries. On the goal line, I would expect to see full back Marcel Reese get used in lieu of Jones, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have any value—it may just be Reggie Bush-esque (also known as inconsistent). If he’s available in your league, go and grab Taiwan Jones. There’s a good chance both Run DMC and Goodson are out once again, and if Jones has a solid week that could make him a legitimately start-able option in week 11.
Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers WR (13% Owned)
Through 8 weeks, Sanders has been decidedly mediocre and has yet to have a game with double digit fantasy points. With the Chiefs on cue this week and Antonio Brown out, he should reach that number for the first time. Even with Brown back, Sanders is worth a look due to his consistency. If you’re severely lacking at wide receiver, you could do far worth than a guy who Big Ben thinks is very reliable. Maybe Heath Miller will draw enough attention in the red zone in the second half to spread some love to other options in the slot.
Chris Ivory, Saints RB (15% Owned)
The Saints have struggled to rely on one back this season, but with Darren Sproles out last week, Chris Ivory provided a spark to the team. It was Ivory’s season debut and he looked significantly better than the other backs on the Saints. Although he only rushed for 48 yards, he averaged 4.8 YPC and had another big run called back on a relatively meaningless hold. Although Sproles will be back for the Saints soon, he’s just as much of a WR as he is RB. Mark Ingram continues to prove to be a draft-day bust for the Saints and they don’t seem to like Pierre Thomas very much (despite the fact that he’s actually quite good) so it wouldn’t surprise me if the Saints try to use Ivory’s fresh legs as a second half boost. Although he doesn’t have huge upside, he could end up being a good flex play weekly.