Brandon Funston

The Funston Fives

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Funston Fives: Charging Ahead

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Each week during the NFL season, I will offer up a variety of top-five lists because, well, who doesn’t love a top five list?  With that universal love of lists in mind, I look at those players that could be especially naughty or nice for fantasy owners the final month of the season.

 

 

5 Non-Obvious Players Poised to Deliver a December to Remember in Fantasy

Philip Rivers, LAC, QB – Rivers is starting to percolate, ranking second in passing yards (920) and third in TD passes (7) over the past three weeks. In addition, with the third-easiest rest-of-season schedule at the QB position – each team he faces in the next four games ranks among the 13 most generous defenses against opposing QBs – Rivers’ current should remain strong. Owners of WR Keenan Allen and TE Hunter Henry should also reap the benefits of the Chargers’ friendly stretch run passing game schedule.

Derrick Henry, TEN, RB – Henry has been the Titans’ milk man, the back the team turns to to run out the clock late with a lead in hand – Henry has 293 yards on 41 fourth quarter rushes (7.2 YPC) with his team ahead. That bodes well for Henry’s December, when he’ll face Houston, Arizona, San Francisco and the L.A. Rams, in order, between Weeks 13-16. Those first three teams all have losing records and have struggled to put up points, especially Houston with Tom Savage under center. Those contests should be ripe for Henry. And a Championship Week matchup against a Rams’ defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to the RB position is not a bad way for Henry owners to go out either.

Dion Lewis, NE, RB – Lewis has been top 15 at the RB position in fantasy PPG since Week 4 (min. six games), averaging a stellar 5.3 YPC in that span. And he’s being rewarded in the touch department for his success, having handled the rock at least 14 times in five straight games. That kind of workload should net out nicely in fantasy over the next month as Lewis will face the easiest schedule at the RB position, two games against Buffalo, a team allowing the third-most fantasy points to RBs, another run-in with a Miami team that he just hung 112 rush yards against in Week 12 and a Week 15 showdown with a Steelers’ defense allowing a healthy 4.2 YPC to the RB position. Backfield mate Rex Burkhead should also benefit greatly from the remaining slate.

Jamison Crowder, WAS, WR – Just the 32nd-most owned WR heading into Week 13,  Crowder has delivered WR1-level production since Week 8, averaging  10.5 targets and 103 yards in those four games. With Chris Thompson out, for the season and Jordan Reed unable sustain his health for more than a week or two at a time, Crowder has positioned himself as QB Kirk Cousins’ go-to guy for a stretch run that rates as the 12th-easiest remaining WR slate in fantasy.

Jack Doyle, IND, TE – While the Colts’ remaining fantasy schedule is a nightmare for the team’s wideouts, it ranks as one of the top 10 easiest at the TE position. Three of Doyle’s next four opponents rank among the 14 most generous to the TE position. Doyle, who leads all tight ends in targets since Week 6 (54 in six games), should continue to hoard QB Jacoby Brissett’s attention as his wideouts struggle to find daylight against the suffocating corners of Jacksonville, Baltimore and Denver (who will have Aqib Talib back in time for the Week 15 matchup with the Colts).

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5 Name-Brand Players that could be handing out Lumps of Coal this Holiday Season

Matthew Stafford, DET, QB – Stafford’s December slate is fourth-toughest at the QB position for fantasy purposes, with especially brutal road tilts at Baltimore (Week 13) and at Cincinnati (Week 16). The Ravens have allowed opposing QBs an average of 211.4 passing yards and just a 3:9 TD-to-INT ratio in five home games. The Bengals have been nearly as inhospitable to QBs, allowing an average of 182.6 passing yards and just a 4:3 TD-to-INT ratio in five home games.

Carlos Hyde, SF, RB – Hyde ranks just 23rd among RBs in fantasy PPG since Week 7 (min. four games). Now he’ll face the fourth-toughest December schedule at the RB position, including Houston and Tennessee, two of six stingiest defenses versus fantasy RBs. Hyde will also face a Jacksonville defense that has improved markedly since trading for Buffalo defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, as the Jaguars have allowed just 2.8 YPC to RBs since Dareus joined the lineup in Week 9. Hyde’s expanded role in the passing game gives him a better chance to avoid being a complete bust over the final month of the season, especially in PPR leagues. However in standard leagues, his remaining schedule combined with the fact that he’s found the end zone in just two of 11 games, doesn’t inspire confidence that he can deliver top 20 RB production the rest of the way.

Stefon Diggs, MIN, WR – Diggs has been a true roller coaster ride for his fantasy owners, delivering five games of 66 yards or less without a TD, and four of those games came on the road, where Diggs will be playing in three of his next four contests. Diggs’ remaining slate rates as the ninth-toughest for WRs in fantasy. It’s shaping up to be another rough final month for Diggs, who has averaged just 33 yards in eight career December contests, no more than half as many as his average in any other month.

T.Y. Hilton, IND, WR – Hilton’s been a coal factory this season, delivering outside the top 40 fantasy WRs in eight of 11 games. Now he’s looking at a murderer’s row of December matchups, with Jacksonville, Denver and Baltimore coming up in the next four weeks – those three teams rank among the four stingiest to the WR position in fantasy. Hilton, 99 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, is cut-worthy in standard leagues of 12 teams or less.

Greg Olsen, CAR, TE – Out since Week 2 with a broken foot, Olsen was added back en masse by the fantasy community ahead of his Week 12 return against the Jets, which resulted in just one catch for 10 yards before he exited early with what was deemed an aggravation of his injured foot. While the setback is considered to be minor, Olsen’s schedule difficulty ahead should be considered major. In his next four games, he’ll meet three teams (MIN, GB, TB) that rank among the five stingiest in fantasy to the TE position, with those teams combining to allow just two touchdowns to the position since Week 7 (total of 16 games). Olsen’s one decent matchup (against a Saints defense that’s middle of the pack in points allowed to TEs), comes in Week 13, a game in which Olsen is likely to be questionable because of the foot setback.    


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Brandon Funston has been dispensing solid gold fantasy advice (with some fool's gold mixed in from time to time) for the past 20 years, formerly with ESPN, and Yahoo. You can send him questions/comments on Twitter @brandonfunston.



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