Charles Herrmann (@HermsNFL) The Lateral Chief Editor
This happens to plenty of people every year. You need some help for your roster, look at who's out there on waivers and say, "Damn, there's like NOTHING out there for me right now," and you get salty. Imagine the waiver/free agent pool in your fantasy football league is a pond where all the big fish (the more obvious players you read about in mainstream waiver articles) have already been caught. I don't really know how ice fishing works admittedly, but I would imagine it's much harder to do considering all that's involved to catch a damn fish that way compared to regular fishing. At a certain point, you've got to bail on the pond, drill a hole, set up shop, and brave the cold to get what you need. That's why I'm calling this exercise "fantasy ice fishing". There are always players that can help if you if you dig (or I guess drill) a little deeper. I'm going to use the help of FantasyPros and FantasySP.com to find a few players that are not widely owned (I use ESPN for this and look for less than 20% ownership) who I believe are some speculative adds that might pay off for you and make you look all cool and whatnot. Want to know the beauty of this exercise? If I'm wrong about any of these players, I don't necessarily advocate starting all of them right away and the worst thing that could happen is that you cut them after a couple weeks if they turn out to be duds. No harm, no foul. Reference my RBBC breakdown piece for how to understand the formatting of the information I present. If not, it's fairly intuitive and I trust you're a smart cookie. Grab your poles and let's get crankin'! RUNNING BACKS
Green Bay Packers RB Jamaal Williams: 177 snaps, 42 touches (11-8-7-16), 29 att/108 yards rushing (3.7 YPC), 13-13 rec/119 yards receiving, 0 total TDs, 37.7 ESPN PPR points, 16.3% rostered This one feels a bit cheap considering that many fantasy football participants know who Jamaal Williams is, but if you are new to the game or just straight up don't know, here's the lowdown: Picked in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of BYU, Williams has been a fairly productive back for Green Bay since entering the league. Take a look at his profile on Fantasy Data and check out his historic game logs. He's shown he has some good hands out of the backfield too, a trait particularly desirable in a PPR format. Hell, we just saw it on Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons, a game in which he caught 8 balls for 95 yards and wound up with 18.5 ESPN PPR points. Because of the fact that we just saw Williams go off, me giving him some spotlight for these purposes may not be in line with the intent here, but screw it. Plus, the Packers are on their bye week this week, so it's not like this stash is going to pay dividends right away anyhow. Aside from Week 3 @ NO, Williams has posted at least 8.2 points in the other three game this season, and given his early bye week, Williams could have some value for you as a spot-start for someone else on your team down the line as bye weeks ramp up. I've used him in this capacity twice in the last three seasons and it's worked out fairly well. This may not be an earth-shattering revelation, but Jamaal Williams = pretty good. Washington Football Team RB J.D. McKissic: 133 snaps, 29 touches (4-8-8-9), 18 att/72 yards rushing (4.0 YPC), 11-17 rec/78 yards receiving, 0 total TDs, 24.0 ESPN PPR points, 10.2% rostered While I am a big supporter of the Football Team's rookie RB Antonio Gibson and will confidently say he is the only back on this team I would start with any level of comfort, you may be surprised to learn that while he vastly out-touches McKissic (Gibson's 54 through four weeks to McKissic's 29), the latter is the back who sees more time on the field (Gibson's 118 snaps to McKissic's 133). Things like this don't always translate to anything meaningful, but McKissic's involvement in the Washington offense has been there for three weeks now and his production has grown along the way. If you take a look at his game logs from 2017 and 2019 on that same page, you'll notice that he has a similar type of skillset to the aforementioned Williams (albeit a lesser version). I don't see the schedule moving forward for Washington (vs LAR, @ NYG, vs DAL, BYE, vs NYG, @ DET) being that friendly to pass-catching backs according to what we've seen so far, but it's always possible McKissic could do well. And while I hate doing this, let's consider the possibility that Gibson gets hurt. I would assume some combination of RBs Peyton Barber (yuck) and Bryce Love (maybe/he's on IR) end up being the primary between-the-tackles guys and McKissic would be the sole passing downs guy. There's value to be had in that case, but aside from that scenario, I'm not chomping at the bit to go add McKissic and would probably only do so if you're in a deeper league. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being wanting a player bad, McKissic is about a 3. I guess if you really were in desperation mode there are worse options than a guy who despite being in a bad offense at least sees the field often. Just somethin' to think about. Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard: 93 snaps, 16 touches (5-6-3-2), 4 att/73 yards rushing (7.3 YPC), 12-15 rec/98 yards receiving, 0 total TDs, 24.7 ESPN PPR points, 4.2% rostered Frankly, there aren't many running backs less than 20% rostered on ESPN that have a.) done anything or b.) clear paths to relevance that do not more than likely require injury to someone ahead of them on a depth chart. I suppose I could look at players to keep an eye on in case bad things happen, maybe I will, but I don't want to bring that type of energy to the table. I made that case for McKissic and it felt kind of callous, so I'll just stick with what I'm doing here and say this is the last RB of note besides Colts RB Jordan Wilkins who I talked about in the RBBC piece I wrote already. There was a time in the past when this proudly mustachioed man was a more reliable weekly fantasy contributor, and despite the presence of teammate Joe Mixon over the last three years prior to this one, Bernard finds a way to catch at least 30 balls a season. It's a bit tough to predict when exactly he'll be used, but Bernard could be a guy you turn to in a full meltdown situation. I don't feel particularly enthusiastic about this player, but like I said, there aren't many guys at this level of available players who contribute anything. You could warrant picking up Bernard given that Mixon is questionable for Sunday, however on that 1-10 scale, my desire to add him is lower than that of McKissic moving forward in general. Obviously if for some reason Mixon doesn't play you should snag Bernard, but my point stands.
WIDE RECEIVERS New England Patriots WR Damiere Byrd 257 snaps, 22 targets (0-9-3-10), 14 rec/179 yards receiving, 0 TDs, 31.9 ESPN PPR points, 2.6% rostered After doing literally nothing Week 1 vs MIA, Byrd has been involved in the Patriots offense more than I (or probably anyone willing to be honest) expected with both QB Cam Newton at the helm and QBs Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham this past Monday. I've mentioned him briefly a couple other times not really worth linking to given how little was said, but if this type of output persists, we might have a decent WR3/flex on our hands! See? This is fun, isn't it? I like fun things. Anyhoo, Damiere Byrd. Here's a guy that has some mixed but interesting opportunity coming up (vs DEN, BYE, vs SF, @ BUF, @ NYJ) as the de facto WR2 for the Patriots given that WRs Julian Edelman and N'Keal are more of a 1a/1b type deal (30 targets for Edelman, 28 for Harry). Well, maybe calling Byrd the WR2 isn't accurate because that's not how the Xa/Xb works, but you probably understand what I'm trying to say, so let's roll with it. With the bye for New England coming up after this week, you might want to scoop Byrd now in case he performs well again and starts appearing on more waiver wire articles your friends read because I sure as hell know they're likely not reading this and planning ahead is a thing responsible adults do. Miami Dolphins WR Isaiah Ford 166 snaps, 25 targets (4-9-2-10), 15 rec/151 yards receiving, 0 TDs, 30.1 ESPN PPR points, 0.5% rostered The results have been a mixed bag, but in every other week so far Ford has done well enough to return WR3/flex value and has out-targeted his more discussed teammate Preston Williams (Ford's 25 to Williams' 17). How much the potential Dolphins WR2 means to you is up to you, but there's something here worth exploring in my estimation. Let's put it this way: he's received three more targets than Colts WR T.Y Hilton has to this point and has scored 0.9 more points. You're still potentially rostering Hilton hoping for something, aren't you? I'm not in love with Ford by any means but hey, this is ice fishin'. We have no way of knowing when Miami might turn it over to rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa (almost spelled that right the first time), or if it even happens in 2020 frankly, but in the interim it's not like QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is that bad. It's tough to say as of this moment that the Dolphins' offense can support two or more pass catching options, but with the aforementioned Williams (39% rostered) and TE Mike Gesicki (68.4% rostered) far likelier to already be on someone else's team in your league(s), Ford is the most easily attainable flyer to take amongst Miami pass catchers who've done anything meaningful thus far in 2020 if it proves to be true that someone besides WR DeVante Parker can hold value in fantasy. Denver Broncos WR Tim Patrick: 206 snaps, 21 targets (5-5-4-7), 16 rec/209 yards receiving, 2 TDs, 48.9 ESPN PPR points, 18.2% rostered With the various circumstances being what they are in Denver right now (WR Courtland Sutton done for the year, TE Noah Fant week-to-week with an ankle issue, etc.), Patrick has seen the highest number of snaps amongst any Broncos receiving option and has produced the most fantasy points of the bunch. Now, I have absolutely no idea who the Broncos QB is going to be given that QB Drew Lock is questionable entering Week 5 after not playing since Week 2 against Pittsburgh when he injured his shoulder, but Patrick has been good with someone besides Lock under center. If we take a look at this, you'll find that Patrick did fine in Week 3 with Jeff Driskel at QB and again in Week 4 with Brett Rypien throwin' the pigskin. In fairness, both instances of Patrick succeeding were helped by finding the end zone and some big plays, but when looking for a streaming WR3/flex option, that's the upside you look for anyway. We won't know for certain what type of involvement Patrick will have long-term necessarily with the offense as a whole continuing to get healthier, but there's no reason not to take a shot on Patrick for this week against New England potentially without CB Stephon Gilmore and going forward. This could be the 2020 version of Giants WR Darius Slayton for all we know, and if I'm wrong, there's a reason I'm not paid to do this at this point.
Follow The Lateral on Twitter (@TheLateralFF)