Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Writer
For those of you who missed it, we had some issues with our distribution system this weekend. It seems that GlimpseLink, the service we used to create shortened URLs for our tweets, got flagged by Twitter and gave people the impression that our beautiful site was malicious in nature. We seem to have solved that issue and took that time to look at what we want to do here at The Lateral. As evidenced by yesterday’s 2020 Season: Inside The Week 9 Storylines, we are throwing the playbook away and revamping our efforts.
Those efforts continue today in our Week 10 waiver wire piece. Casting aside roster percentages and platforms and all that, we will instead create a pool of players beyond the obvious adds at each position and pick our favorite (could be the same player), and then take a few paragraphs to cover what made us choose said player. Those obvious adds will be mentioned but you do not need to hear us talk about them; we’ll leave that to other sites to do. This may be strange, especially this late in the game, but we feel this will be more useful to you the reader. The last thing to keep in mind is we are going to keep this to players rostered in 50% or less of ESPN or Yahoo leagues as we want to ensure we are not suggesting you pick up players you never had a chance at anyway. Charles will join contributing to this exercise next week to this, but be sure to look out for his Fantasy Ice Fishing piece coming out later this week.
So without further ado, let’s roll.
Diving Into Week 10 Waivers
The Pool: Tua Tagovailoa (MIA), Teddy Bridgewater (CAR), Nick Foles (CHI)
Malcolm's Pick: For me, it has to be Tua Tagovailoa. While Teddy Bridgewater has flirted with being a QB1 at times, including this past week where he finished QB6 against what should have been a tough Kansas City defense, I just do not like the matchup against Tampa Bay in what is absolutely going to be a revenge game for Brady & Co. Nick Foles will be a solid streamer against Minnesota, but he cannot be expected to not throw an interception two games in a row.
So why Tua? First, from an on-field perspective, he has actually looked pretty good. 65.4% completion rate, zero interception, low sack rate; basically he looks like he can handle the pressure. Second, he is improving every week, which you can see both from the game logs and the eye test. While QB17 in Week 9 may not seem impressive, he was only off QB11 Justin Herbert by 2 points. Plus, he did not need to be overly reliant on his legs to get there, with only 3.5 points of his coming on the ground in Week 9. For me, if you can tell me that I can get a mobile QB who does not need his legs to score, I am buying all the stock I can.
Finally, schedule matters and Tua's is a breeze. He gets to play the Chargers, Broncos, Jets, and Bengals to get you into the playoffs, and then once you are there, he gets the Chiefs (who Bridgewater made look human), the Patriots (who Joe Flacco made look human), and the Raiders. That schedule vaults him straight to the top, and frankly, unless you have a top 12 lock at QB, I would consider dropping them for Tua this week.
The Obvious Adds: Jared Goff (LAR), Derek Carr (LV), Carson Wentz (PHI)
The Pool: J.D. McKissic (WAS), Duke Johnson (HOU), Wayne Gallman (NYG)
Malcolm's Pick: Unlike QB which required some #analysis to determine the best choice, J.D. McKissic has a clear argument to be the top choice here and it comes down to opportunity. If David Johnson is out with a concussion for this week, which hopefully we will know more about ASAP, then Duke Johnson is a no-brainer. We saw what Duke Johnson looked like as the lead back last week against Da Bears, and it is a double-digit point scoring RB1/RB2. If David Johnson is healthy? Duke Johnson does not even merit a flex spot. We have the data to make that call. Same with Wayne Gallman. As long as Freeman is out, Gallman is an RB2 with RB1 upside. If Freeman is in, Gallman is on your bench.
J.D. McKissic, however, has shown he can do it from a fantasy perspective. He has shown in three of the past four weeks that he is a PPR flex, and is not going to disappear from this Washington offense. Does he have upside in the rushing attack? No! McKissic has fewer rushing attempts than Peyton Barber through nine weeks, and Barber has zero attempts in two games. Does he have TD upside? Not really! McKissic has zero TDs, has less red-zone rushing attempts than Panthers WR Curtis Samuel, and is fifth on Riverboat Ron's Fightin' Football Team for red-zone targets.
Wait, so what does he have? Usage in the passing game. McKissic actually leads the Washington Football Team RBs in offensive snaps and is second on the team in targets. In 5 of 8 games, he has 5+ targets, and he has 10.39 PPG in PPR if you take out the lowest test score against Philly in Week 1. In three of the past four weeks, he averaged 12.4 PPR points. One final piece of good news? He plays Detroit in Week 10, who are the worst defense in the league in terms of fantasy points allowed to RBs. If you need an RB this week, McKissic is the clear choice.
The Obvious Adds: none
Good Handcuffs: Boston Scott (PHI), Jordan Wilkins (IND)
The Pool: Darnell Mooney (CHI), Jakobi Meyers (NE), Richie James (SF)
Malcolm's Pick: Darnell Mooney has such a good matchup against Minnesota, but he has a bit of a timeshare for the second receiver spot for Chicago. Looking at the snap counts, Mooney seems firmly entrenched at number two ahead of Anthony Miller. The issue? The fantasy production has been nearly identical between Mooney and Miller. Do I think Mooney is a great pickup for this week? Yes. In fact, he is a lock for a boom performance in my opinion. The problem is there is a real chance I am wrong and it becomes Anthony Miller's week instead.
That is why I am going with Jakobi Meyers, who has looked fantastic over the past three weeks. The matchup is awful against Baltimore, who held Indianapolis WRs to a combined 33 PPR points. Their best WR was Zach Pascal with 10.5 points. Not great. However, target share matters here. Indy spreads the ball out, with Michael Pittman's 7 targets in Week 9 representing a 28% target share amongst the WRs, and three of Indy's receivers had 6+ targets (Johnson, Pittman Jr., Pascal). Unlike the Colts WRs, Meyers does not have an issue getting a significant number of targets. New England's matchup against the Jets saw him receive a 58% target share amongst the WR group, an absurd amount. Compare that against the week before against Buffalo; Meyers' 10 targets represented a 66.6% target share, also absurd. Week 7 against San Francisco? He had a 46% target share amongst New England WRs. There is a clear trend here: once Julian Edelman went down with a knee injury, Meyers became QB Cam Newton's favorite target. As long as he does not betray that trust, Meyers will remain the top fantasy WR in New England even if Edelman comes back and regardless of matchup.
Richie James was a nice storyline for Week 9, but if Bradon Aiyuk comes back in Week 10, he is the only San Francisco pass-catcher I am trusting against New Orleans. This was really a case of someone having to catch the ball, and while James has potential as a deep threat, that someone is going to be Brandon Aiyuk. Richie James had literally zero fantasy points prior to Week 9 and just as many targets while Aiyuk is a WR3 despite missing two games. Pump the brakes on this one hard.
The Obvious Adds: Curtis Samuel (CAR), Jalen Reagor (PHI)
The Pool: Irv Smith Jr. (MIN), Logan Thomas (WAS), Gerald Everett (LAR)
Malcolm's Pick: I want Irv to happen so badly. I really do. But until he gets a majority of the snaps at TE, I just cannot bite. Case in point? In Week 9, he was on the field for just 38% of the offensive snaps, which was third for Vikings TEs. Granted, Tyler Conklin gets zero targets, but unfortunately, Kyle Rudolph does, and Smith Jr. just cannot shake him there. Yes, he does get the clear majority of the red zone targets, TE is a very TD dependent position, but I want to see a trend in claiming the majority of the overall targets before I lay my life in his hands.
You know who does not face competition at TE? Logan Thomas! Seriously, there is literally nobody else cutting into his work and he gets just as many red zone looks as Irv Smith Jr. In fact, Thomas is second on the entire Washington Football Team for red zone target, and third in all passing targets, behind Terry McLaurin and J.D. McKissic. In fairness, is Irv Smith Jr. third for the Vikings in that category, but being third on the Vikings translates into 22 fewer targets than being third on the Football Team. The numbers are all there for Thomas, he is just brought down by the team around him, particularly the QB play, but even then he still scores 1.6 more PPG than Gerald Everett, and a relatively whopping 2.8 PPG more than Smith Jr.
Speaking of Everett, the Tyler Higbee-sized weight around his neck is just too much for me. The overall target share actually works in Everett's favor compared to Higbee, but neither the red zone targets nor the snap count works in his favor. That would be fine if the Rams offense could support two TEs, but right now they cannot even support one. Both Everett and Higbee are behind Logan Thomas in fantasy points scored this year.
The Obvious Add: Austin Hooper (CLE)
The Pool: Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers
Malcolm's Pick: The Miami Dolphins are a top 4 defense through nine weeks in both total points and PPG. The Eagles and Packers are both good streaming options, but only the Dolphins are potential set and forget.
"But Malcolm," you ask, "surely the Dolphins are not matchup proof?" Are we sure? Week 9 against Arizona they were DST7, despite Kyler Murray finishing QB1, Chase Edmonds at RB21, and Christian Kirk at WR12. Cardinals TE Darrell Daniels was even a borderline TE1! But the end result was still another starting performance from the Fins DST and another win for Flores & Co. This is due to two factors: they do not give up points, and they take away the ball. Need another reason to pick them up? Well as I mentioned when talking about Tua, the schedule is pretty juicy. I would only be concerned about Kansas City in Week 14, but at that point, you would have ridden the Dolphins to the playoffs.
Circling back to the Eagles and the Packers, they are streamers that you are picking up due to the opponent's QB, which can be a great strategy! Just look at Week 7 when the Eagles went up against the Giants, who are also their Week 10 opponent: DST6. Green Bay destroyed San Francisco in Week 9 due to shaky QB play from Nick Mullens and finished DST9. Unfortunately, it does not always work. In Week 1, the Eagles DST was awful against a bad Washington Football Team led by now-benched Dwayne Haskins, and Green Bay, despite some easy matchups, is currently DST21. They are good options, but only the Dolphins could be great.
The Obvious Add: New Orleans Saints
The Pool: Graham Gano (NYG), Jason Myers (SEA), Daniel Carlson (LV)
Malcolm's Pick: Kickers have one job: do not miss. So this would make Jason Myers the obvious choice right? Well, the issue there is Myers simply does not need to do his job often. The Seattle Seahawks' offense is so good and gets in the end zone at an insane rate to the point that Myers has yet to have a game where he kicks more than two field goals. The talent is there, but the opportunity is not.
This leaves Daniel Carlson and Graham Gano, both of whom are basically the same player. Carlson is on the Raiders, a team slightly better than Gano's so he kicks less, and more importantly, his attempts are from closer in. Gano is on the Giants, who are awful but just good enough to get in range for Gano's leg, a limb which has connected on 8 field goals of 40+ yards. For me, this gives Graham Gano the edge even though he is much more boom/bust than the stable Carlson. One will win you the game, the other will not lose it for you.
The Sneaky Bye Week Pick-Up: Greg Zuerlein (DAL)
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