Swimming Upstream, Fantasy Football Advice for Phin Nation

By Katen Burgess

We are almost halfway through the NFL season. Most fantasy football playoffs are week 16, which means that it’s time to lock in your trade targets and your waiver wire claims as you try to make a push to capture the championship.

Fantasy football leagues, like the people who play them, come in all shapes and sizes. These targets might seem kind of obvious for your $500 buy-in 16-team 0.5 PPR keeper league, but if you’re in a more casual league with friends and coworkers, you might be able to improve your fantasy team by adding some of the following players.

Sammy Watkins, WR Buffalo Bills

NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport reported that Watkins won’t need a second surgery after seeing a doctor about his foot injury. If Sammy can follow the doctor’s orders of rest and relaxation, he could be back from the injured reserve as early as week 12, just in time for your playoff push. He’s only owned in 42 percent of ESPN fantasy football leagues. Sammy Watkins is an elite talent that changes the way defenses have to look at the Bills offense, and anyone that does that is worth any IR spot or waiver claim.

Donte Moncrief, WR Indianapolis Colts

Moncrief went down in week two when the Colts took on the Denver Broncos with what turned out to be a fractured scapula as reported by ESPN. The initial time frame was four to six weeks, and his official status is week-to-week which means he could be ready at almost any time. He has yet to return to practice, but is only owned in 48 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues.

Moncrief had a slow start in 2015, but by the end of the season he was getting double-digit targets per game and scored five touchdowns over the last seven weeks of the season. Much like Watkins, this is a player that could be a big addition to your team in the playoff push, but that can return much earlier.

Jeremy Kerley, WR San Francisco 49ers

It seems like Chip Kelly manufactures one fantasy relevant WR everywhere he goes. In three seasons in Philadelphia, the team’s top WR averaged 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns (pro-football-reference.com). According to ESPN, Jeremy Kerley is the 12th most targeted WR in the NFL.

He’s converted 19 first downs for the 49ers, tied with Odell Beckham Jr. and Marvin Jones in that category. Last week, Kerley was only owned in 8 percent of ESPN Fantasy Leagues, but has skyrocketed up to 45 percent after putting up touchdowns in back-to-back weeks. The only question mark about Kerley is that while he was Blaine Gabbert’s favorite target, Colin Kaepernick will be starting at QB for the 49ers.

Sammie Coates, WR Pittsburgh Steelers

Sammie Coates has been playing with a broken finger as reported by ESPN last week, so expectations have been tempered since I initially included him on this list.

He was active last week, and from the looks of things will be playing week seven as well. Broken finger or not, he still has the distinction of playing across from one of the best wide receivers in football, Antonio Brown.

The Steelers also have a player named Le’Veon Bell who is arguably the best running back in the NFL. The only downside to the Pittsburgh offense is the recent injury to QB Ben Roethlisberger, we’ll see if backup Landry Jones will lean on Brown and Bell or if he’ll be able to spread the ball around this week.

There is a narrative that Sammie Coates is a one-trick pony as his 421 yards have come on just 19 receptions as reported by ESPN. That trick was good enough for two touchdowns against the New York Jets in week six, and it’s good enough to add him to your roster.