Week 10 Flames: Booker, Burkhead breakouts could be on the horizon
Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 10 Flames in the comments section below.
Josh McCown, NYJ, QB (20 percent started, $32 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at TB (Game over/under: 41)
Vasco de Gama. Sir Frances Drake. Gulliver. McCown. What do they all have in common? They’re globetrotters. On his eighth team in 15 years, the 38-year-old vagabond, almost impossibly, is on pace for his finest statistical season to date. He displayed appreciable aptitude previously under Marc Trestman in Chicago, but, for the most part, the career backup hasn’t exactly moved the needle for fantasy purposes. With Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse and Austin Seferian-Jenkins as weapons, a group most labeled “tepid,” his accomplishments through 10 weeks are awe inspiring, to say the least. In a year of extreme QB turnover, the waiver wire discovery has been a revelation. QB14 on the year, he’s tallied five consecutive multi-TD performances. Equally impressive, he ranks top-12 in every completion percentage category imaginable – overall, red zone, play action, deep ball. Again, it’s remarkable. This week, a top-10 effort is on deck for McCown. His opponent, Tampa Bay, has conceded 7.9 yards per attempt, the highest completion rate (69.0), 1.8 passing touchdowns per game, 278.6 pass yards per game and the second-most fantasy points to QBs. With or without the services of Brent Grimes (65.5 catch% allowed), the Bucs are wielding toothpicks against the pass. In total, five passers have crossed the 20 fantasy-point threshold when matched against them. McCown piles on.
Fearless Forecast: 266 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 turnovers, 11 rushing yards, 18.7 fantasy points
Isaiah Crowell, Cle, RB (38 percent started, $14 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at Det (Over/Under: 44)
Before Cleveland hopped on a plane to jolly old England to clash with Minnesota, fantasy owners across the globe dropped Crowell in droves. In his prior seven games, he compiled largely uneventful production ranking RB39 posting an upchuck-inducing 64.1 total yards per game and one touchdown. His secondary profile was identically bland (2.33 YAC/att, RB31 in elusive rating). Listening to Ben Stein read a published study on the psychology of squirrels offered more excitement. But across the pond, Crowell, against one of the most inflexible run defenses in the league no less, resembled the back many banked on being a premium RB2. In that contest he busted through tacklers (3.09 YAC/att) and chipped in his best fantasy effort of the season (11-64-1; 4-54-0). Many will say “too little, too late,” but the maligned rusher could recapture his bull form, this time on American soil. Duke Johnson will remain in the mix and down Joe Thomas the Browns’ offensive line takes a hit, but the matchup presents a profitable opportunity. The wheels have come off the Lions’ run defense sans Haloti Ngata, Though Aaron Jones disappeared Monday night, the unit has given up the 10th-most fantasy points to the position, much of that with Ngata. As always, game flow is critical for the Browns (They’re 11.5-point underdogs), but if they can remain competitive in the first half, Crowell should have supporters cackling with glee.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 61 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 20 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.6 fantasy points
Devontae Booker, Den, RB (2 percent started, $13 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. NE (Over/Under: 46)
Denver is undeniably one of the most rabid football towns in the country. At all points during the year, even the deadest time of the offseason, local radio stations beat, kick and stab the Broncos dead horse, spinning hot takes without a reprieve. Currently, negative conversations are unavoidable, even on smooth jazz stations. With the franchise seemingly in a state of disrepair, many backers are resigned to punting the season and allowing a youth movement to unfold. John Elway and the coaching staff may feel the same. If that’s the case, Booker could see an uptick in touches rest of season. Compared to perceived ham and egger, C.J. Anderson, and roadside antique, Jamaal Charles, the Utah product packs more versatility and explosiveness. He’s seen his snap share increase in recent weeks (35% in Week 9), but with only sporadic work (6.6 touches per game). Still, his tackle-breaking ability (2.9 YAC/att) and reliable hands (80.0 catch%) suggest he deserves more opportunities. Against the Patriots, an opponent sure to hang 24-plus points against Denver’s suddenly “All Fly” defense, this could be the week. Since Kareem Hunt’s slashing of New England in the opener, the Pats have tightened the screws somewhat defensively. From Weeks 2-9, they’ve exemplified “bend don’t break,” ranking inside the top-11 in fewest fantasy points allowed to RBs while giving up 4.53 yards per carry and 5.9 receptions per game to the position. In what could be a lopsided affair, Booker is an out-of-nowhere FLEX option who could reward risk takers handsomely.
Fearless Forecast: 7 carries, 26 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 31 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.7 fantasy points
Paul Richardson, Sea, WR (57 percent started, $22 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at Ari (Over/Under: 41.5)
Richardson’s evolution from sporadically used third or fourth option to sure-fire WR2 stems from good old-fashioned grit and determination. This past summer the wideout worked out ceaselessly with Russell Wilson at USC facilities, sweat sessions the quarterback said helped unlock a “phenomenal receiver.” Everything has synchronized for Richardson in Year 4. Quietly WR17 in standard fantasy points per game, he’s amassed 3.1 receptions and 51.9 yards per game, finding the end zone five times. Underneath the hood, he’s more spectacular. Among all WRs, he ranks inside the top-six in total air yards, yards per target (10.6) and fantasy points per target (2.47). This week he could boost his overall profile even higher. The tequila is sure to hit the lips smooth for those who employ Richardson on Thursday Night Football. Yes, Patrick Peterson looms, but Justin Bethel, who the wide receiver is sure to battle most often, is incredibly forgiving. The dude prints points. Bethel has allowed six touchdowns and a 127.2 passer rating to his assignments. Total it up and Richardson flirts with WR1-level numbers. Start him with supreme confidence in shallow leagues.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 66 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.6 fantasy points
Cooper Kupp, LAR, WR (33 percent started, $17 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Hou (Over/Under: 46)
Echoing the “Greatest Show on Turf” during the organization’s St. Louis stint, the Tinsel Town version of the Rams is lighting up the opposition. Practically overnight, boy genius Sean McVay has put Jeff Fisher’s 7-9 mess in the rearview. Jared Goff, who posted one of the goofiest lines you’ll ever see last week in New York (14-22, 301 yards, 4 TDs, 14.1 ypa), has spread the love and occasionally bombarded defenses downfield. Todd Gurley, meanwhile, has rediscovered his tackle-displacing persona, plowing into the end zone with regularity. Kupp, too, has had his moments. Though he took a backseat to Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods in last week’s barrage of the Giants, the rookie continues to set the pace in red-zone target percentage among WRs (37.5). His 0.21 fantasy points per route also isn’t too shabby (WR21). Woods and Watkins combined for three scores in Week 9, but this is Kupp’s week to cut rug in the end zone. Houston’s secondary, clobbered by Jacoby Brissett last Sunday, is one of the league’s most generous. On the year, it’s yielded nine TDs and the fifth-most fantasy points to WRs. Most encouraging for the youngster, primary slot corner, Kareem Jackson, has allowed a 73.8 catch percentage and 118.8 passer rating to his assignments. Tip the Kupp.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 60 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.5 fantasy points
WEEK 10 SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)
Rex Burkhead, NE, RB (1 percent started, $12 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at DEN (Over/Under: 46)
It never fails. Every time I navigate through a Vegas casino late at night, and in an altered state, a mesmerizing force inevitably lures me – the big spinning wheel. It’s roulette for dullards and I, naturally, slap down $20 bills in a blind chase of random numbers. It’s stupidly addictive. New England’s backfield is no different. Every week, millions of fantasy owners take a leap of faith and let it ride on a Pats back – James White, Mike Gillislee, Dion Lewis, Burkhead. Sometimes it’s jackpot. Most times it’s jack squat. Oh the mischievous mind games Bill Belichick plays. Though this may be an exercise in futility, stacking chips on No. 34 is worth the risk. Recall prior to the bye week, the former Bengal broke through with a line that would make Julian Edelman shed a tear. On a season-high 29 snaps, he totaled 83 yards, most of those the result of his seven receptions. A similar workload could be in order this week against the crestfallen Broncos. Julienned by Carson Wentz in Philly, Denver has rapidly spiraled out of control. Its offense is dreadful. Its defense is gassed. Skewered across the middle due to the tight peripheral coverage of Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, the Broncos have surrendered numerous chunk plays to tight ends and quick-footed pass catchers (4.3 rec/g allowed to RBs). Knowing this weakness, look for New England to nibble underneath with White and a ton of Burkhead. Prop him up, PPR fans.
Fearless Forecast: 4 carries, 16 rushing yards, 6 receptions, 52 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.8 fantasy points
BONUS WEEK 10 FLAMES
#TEAMHUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?
Book it tequila boy!
— Joet (@jtory79) November 7, 2017
Fan Week 9 results: 2-5 (Season: 26-39)
My Week 9 results: 6-5 (Season: 40-60; W: Jay Cutler, Jacoby Brissett, Ted Ginn, Vernon Davis, Arizona D/ST, Marvin Jones; L: DeVante Parker, Alex Collins, Brice Butler, Bilal Powell, Orleans Darkwa)
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 75 million households on Fox Sports Regional Networks, and his new podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”