The winds of change are blowing … and fantasy fortunes are rising and falling in turn.
Just a month ago, it seemed that those of us without a heavy investment in the Chiefs’ offense were destined to play for second place. Alex Smith was the top fantasy passer in the land. Kareem Hunt was on his way to shattering every rookie record in the books. And Tyreek Hill was scoring at will.
Not so much anymore. Smith has reverted to his perennial pedestrian ways, Hunt hasn’t sniffed the end zone since Week 3 and Hill’s SportsCenter moments have been coming with less frequency.
Only Travis Kelce has held up his end of the bargain. But that’s long been the case.
Of course, the Chiefs aren’t the only ones to abandon their fantasy owners as the stakes get higher.
Remember when Jordy Nelson was a thing? I realize Aaron Rodgers has left the building, but somehow Davante Adams is prospering in the Brett Hundley era. Wherefore art thou, Jordy?
The Cowboys offense is imploding without Zeke Elliott and Tyron Smith, while the incredible, shrinking Dez Bryant seems incapable of helping Dak Prescott keep the wheels from flying off.
Case Keenum has turned Adam Thielen into a fantasy stud while Stefon Diggs watches longingly from the shadows.
And will the real Raiders please step forward? Actually, will the 2016 Raiders please return?
Catch ‘em while you can
Samaje Perine, RB, Redskins: Perine took advantage of his starting opportunity, rushing for 117 yards and a TD in Sunday’s tough matchup with the Saints. And now that Chris Thompson has joined Rob Kelley on the sideline for the rest of the season, Perine’s value is magnified. Look for more passes thrown his way, too.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers: This is the point in the fantasy season when backup kickers and defenses should be ejected and skill-position depth added. Ekeler has put up impressive numbers in recent weeks and Melvin Gordon’s owners are foolish if they don’t handcuff him heading into the stretch run.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars: The rookie fell well short of the ridiculous 200-receiving-yard proclamation he made prior to his NFL debut, but the ultra-confident wideout still deserves consideration. Westbrook should be fully integrated into the Jaguars’ passing game over the next couple of weeks, and he could be a valuable contributor during the fantasy postseason.
Kenny Stills, WR, Dolphins: Stills is available in most leagues because he’s the third receiver in a pass-challenged offense. Though inconsistent, he showcased his playmaking skills against the Bucs on Sunday and he has far out-performed the more-heralded, yet underachieving, DeVante Parker.
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers: Olsen is eligible to return after Carolina’s bye from the broken foot he sustained in Week 2. With Kelvin Benjamin now wearing a Bills uniform, Olsen should instantly rekindle his bromance with Cam Newton. It’s a rare proposition to add an elite tight end this late in the season.
Don’t be fooled
Damien Williams, RB, Dolphins: Williams’ big game was more of a reflection on the dicey proposition any Miami back represents, rather than a sign of things to come. Take away his 69-yard burst on Sunday, and the rest of his carries were essentially meaningless. Neither Williams nor Kenyan Drake will carry you to a fantasy title.
Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cardinals: There’s a reason Seals-Jones isn’t owned in any league on the planet: He’s Arizona’s third-string tight end and his three receptions on Sunday were the first three of his career. The undrafted former Aggie should be nowhere near any fantasy roster.
Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and five-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).