(Original photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Charles Herrmann (@HermsNFL) The Lateral Chief Editor (Herms Music Recc: "Waiting For the 7.18" by Bloc Party)
It's been a while since the last edition of this recurring piece, but I'm glad to get back into it. The short version of what this is would be best described as I, Charles Herrmann, dive deep into the waters of the free agent pool to find value for you. Nothing super complicated by any means. I'll expand a bit here to give you a better idea of how I do this. FantasyPros has a wealth of research tools at my disposal, FantasySP.com has the handy touch and target leaders that cover the last four weeks of play, and I take all of these things into account when identifying players less than 20% rostered in ESPN leagues I believe can be solid additions to the end of your bench in hopes of a payoff down the line. Not all of these players will work out for you, but had you taken the shot on Washington RB J.D. McKissic or Bengals RB Giovani Bernard after Week 4 when they appeared in the first edition of Fantasy Ice Fishing, you are probably pretty pleased. Had you read the last edition previously linked, you might have acted upon my advice and landed Jets RB La'Mical Perine who reportedly will be the feature back in New York for the rest of the season. Some if not all of these players may require patience, are not advisable to put into your lineup right away unless specifically noted otherwise, and do not need to be held onto if signs of hope do not improve and minimal-to-no production results. There's a reason I think of this exercise as fishing; not everything I catch will be great, but occasionally I'll get one worthy of a photo. Lastly, the presentation of the statistics is fairly intuitive but I'll always answer questions via direct message on Twitter if it's not clear. RUNNING BACKS Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny:
[no statistics to report from the 2020 season] 2.2% rostered For those who do not remember, Penny tore his ACL in December of last year. He's spent basically all of this season rehabbing and has not really been thought of much, but it appears as though he is close to a return to action. It's still a bit up in the air as to when Penny will return, but the Seahawks have had a hard time dealing with injuries to the running back position recently and will continue to deal with these issues ahead of Sunday's action once again. The case for Penny here has a lot to do with the situation in Seattle being what it has been recently mixed with the fact that he is a pretty talented player. While not exactly the most consistent player in his career to date, if you look back at his game logs you'll be reminded of the fact that the former San Diego State product has flashed the same potential Seattle saw in him when making him a 1st round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. I mean, he was the nation's leading rusher in 2017 at the college level over guys like current Cleveland Browns/former Georgia Bulldogs RB Nick Chubb and current New York Giants/former Penn State Nittany Lions RB Saquon Barkley to name a couple. How much does any of that make a difference in 2020? I'm not sure, but as you look ahead toward the end of the fantasy regular season in search of a high-end stash, it doesn't get a lot better than this. I can't imagine many people have even thought about Rashaad Penny recently outside of the Pacific northwest let alone anyone in your fantasy league. This feels like a good use of a spot on the end of your bench. Washington Football Team RB Bryce Love: [no statistics to report from the 2020 season] 0.9% rostered Much of what I said about Penny applies to Bryce Love but with considerably less optimism attached. Unlike Seattle, Washington has two healthy/fantasy viable running backs in the aforementioned McKissic and rookie Antonio Gibson and Love's own ACL injury has caused him to not appear in a single NFL game to date as I mentioned all the way back in September. The path for Love is murky, but as I did for Penny, let's remember who Bryce Love was once upon a time:
The knee injury Love suffered during his senior year in 2018 aside, there's a chance he could be more like the college star he once was for all we know. After all, there is really no way of knowing. As I stated earlier, I'm not super enthusiastic about this one, but in a deeper league with the slimmest of pickings, I think you could do worse. You never know what could happen in terms of the health of those around him. Los Angeles Chargers RB Troymaine Pope: [Only game of note is Week 8 @ DEN: 10 att/67 yards rushing (6.7 YPA), 5-7 rec/28 yards receiving, 14.5 ESPN PPR points, 1.3% rostered] Already without their lead RB Austin Ekeler, the Chargers have been piecing it together this season. As time has gone along, rookie RB Joshua Kelley has fallen out of the good graces of HC Anthony Lynn and that manifested itself in Week 8, a game in which Pope ran ahead of him behind RB Justin Jackson. Pope did very well in that game as you can see above, but a concussion kept him out of this past Sunday's action and that paved the way for RB Kalen Ballage to fill in for the injured/still injured Jackson. All of that was covered on Monday, but should Pope be ready to go for the upcoming game @ MIA, I would expect him to get run behind Ballage as the team's second option out of the backfield over Kelley. It's just a hunch, but as long as Kelley is in the doghouse and Ekeler is out, Troymaine Pope holds some PPR flex value. I do believe he is usable in deeper leagues as soon as this week and as for the future, we'll have to wait and see.
WIDE RECEIVER Chicago Bears WR Darnell Mooney: 425 snaps, 54 targets (5-7-6-11 over past four weeks), 31 rec/348 yards receiving (57% catch rate), 2 TDs, 77.5 ESPN PPR points, 17.3% rostered Mooney finds himself 30th in the league in targets among all WRs and TEs. Obviously that hasn't translated into much consistent production as he's only catching a tad over half of the balls thrown his way, but a look at some of the passes coming his way from QB Nick Foles will show it's not really on him; lots of overthrown, off-target passes. At some point something's got to give. He has a solid ability to get open and has easily established himself ahead of teammate Anthony Miller in my opinion as the Bears' second-best receiver. Elite speed + great separation skills = solid wide receiver. The opportunity is there and I sense that Mooney could be a great bench stash for your fantasy team. New York Jets WR Denzel Mims: Week 7-9: 144 snaps, 18 targets (7-3-8), 10 rec/144 yards receiving (56% catch rate), 0 TDs, 24.6 ESPN PPR points, 3.7% rostered Jeez, I didn't anticipate so many rookies being included this time but if it's warranted, so be it. Since being activated off of IR due to hamstring issues, Mims has gotten right to work moving around on the outside. Coming into the NFL out of Baylor University, I felt Mims would step in nicely into the X receiver role in place of WR Robby Anderson. He checks all the boxes in terms of size and athleticism but, of course, he is on what is objectively the worst team in football coached by the infamous talent killer that is He Who Shall Not Be Named. I'm not sure how large the upside is here, but if you're in need of a WR3 for whatever reason, Mims just might be able to achieve that if his involvement continues to grow and the Jets integrate him into the offense more over the bye week. Might be a better half-PPR/non-PPR player, but the point stands. Honorable Mention: Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffrey (no 2020 stats, 8.3% rostered) I made a case for Jeffrey as a stash a while ago and I'll defer to my past self for the reasoning.
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