The Fantasy Hipsters are back for the 2017 season with their weekly guide to how to approach fantasy football a little bit off the beaten path. In this space, Matt Harmon and Matt Franciscovich (Franchise) will give you a mix players to add, overlooked weekly plays and in-depth stats all layered with the type of unique, off-the-mainstream tone you can only expect from these two well-groomed hipsters. Since the communal approach to creating a living space is the only way to exist in harmony, the duo will split the work. Here's this week's division of labor.
Most ironic stats
Communal living space:
Pour over your lineup
Some things get better with time. Like a full-flavored cask of aged bourbon or that one pair of skinny jeans you've worn in so much that they feel like sweatpants (let's be honest, I have, like, eight pairs of those). Same goes for fantasy football players. Did you draft Hunter Henry thinking the shiny new young tight end would be the next big thing? Get in line with the rest of the herd. While you and the rest of the mainstream horde are all about the up-and-coming young talent in the NFL, we Fantasy Hipsters are sticking with experience over youth. Each week in this space, we'll deliver one Vintage Veteran player of the week that you can rely on to produce for your fantasy team. Now where did I put my great-grandpa's brogues?
I woke up Monday morning after sleeping in, obviously, and walked out to the taco truck. Just wasn't ready to face the day yet, get off my back. As I was strolling, I pulled up the weekly box scores and was stunned to find out Kendall Wright had 13 targets last week. That comes one week after he caught 10 of 11 targets in Week 14.
I mean, what year is this? Here I thought it was 2017, but I guess we teleported back to 2013 as I was walking to get some breakfast tacos.
So now that we live in this vortex, lets lay out the facts. Kendall Wright has 24 targets over the last two weeks. It's in the hipster handbook that we don't turn our nose up at volume. His snaps rate has gone up each of the last three weeks from 54 percent to 62 percent to 67 percent. Oh, and the Bears have a weak receiver corps that has been desperate for someone to step up. Actually, that was probably true in the 2013 vortex as much as it is today. I'm losing track of where we are in human history.
Since I'm in the mental wilderness, here's my last point before I go ... Wright has a pristine matchup in Week 16. Quarterbacks have a 118.5 passer rating when targeting slot receivers against Cleveland this year, the highest in the NFL. Plenty of interior receivers have ripped them up this year. Wright could be the next one.
Sustainable pickup of the week:
Sustainability is all about preparing for the future. From discovering and developing a new source of energy like wind and solar to crop rotation and water conservation, we all have to do our part to mitigate our impact on the environment. A small investment now goes a long way down the road. And when it comes to fantasy football, a major key to building sustainable depth from waiver wire adds means finding players that you can rely on for the long term without wasting resources. So in this section, the Fantasy Hipsters will get ahead of the curve and offer up one player to add for depth who should pay off dividends in the future. Hey man, turn that light off in the other room. It's not hard, okay?
Not but a few months ago did I pick up a hobby once held by my dear grandfather. I mean, I don't want to pick up the old activities of my dad, considering how lame he is, but grandfather did pull off that tweed jacket pretty well. Maybe I can scrounge one of those up at the local thrift store. Anyway, I was talking about his hobby: bird-watching.
I know it sounds lame, but think about it. You get to be out in nature, away from the trappings of a metropolis filled with herds of sheep. I like the sound of that. You can bring some chilled mint tea with you. That makes everything better. And it's the type of activity that no one else in your malaise corporate office is taking part in, so you can really prove how much you stand out from the drones.
Here's the thing: this was not a fluke. Damiere Byrd has seen his snap rate rise each of the last three weeks from 40.4 percent to 59.4 percent then to 66.2 percent last week. He's caught eight of his nine targets over the last two games and both of his touchdowns came in the red zone in Week 15. Everything about that usage profile hints at predictable production.
The best part? We haven't even seen Byrd truly bust out his incredible speed, as he was a 4.3-second runner in the 40-yard dash. This could be the week he does it while facing a Buccaneers secondary that's struggled all year, has allowed the fifth-most yards to wideouts over the last four weeks.
When we're building lineups for the week, we're always looking for a bargain. The thing is, those of us who don't want to live cookie-cutter lives aren't chasing for some boring old fill-in; we're still after something fresh. Just like a good barrel-aged craft beer that's off the beaten path away from dull domestic brews, we want a different kind of bargain brought on by a unique spin on an outcome of a game that the public just hasn't considered yet.
Alright sheeple, two things to dissect here.
First: If Kerwynn Williams is healthy enough to play on Sunday, he's a legit option at running back for your fantasy lineup.
Unfortunately, Williams is apparently dealing with a quad injury because he didn't eat enough organic kale ahead of last Sunday's game. But he was seen running hard during practice on Friday morning, which is a good sign. But that's beside the point. Let me apathetically tell you why I like Williams. He's seen, on average, 17 touches per game over the last three weeks as a starter. This is a completely underground running back that few fantasy owners have heard of, and yet he ranks 12th in the NFL among running backs in rushing yards, 231, over that three-game span. It's the classic volume over talent theory or whatever. The Cardinals offense is not a productive one, they're putting up fewer than 15 points per game recently. But Williams is eating because of volume and decent blocking from his offensive line. And the matchup against the Giants, aka the second-worst run defense in the league allowing 128 rush yards per game. So if he starts, plug him into your lineups.
Now, about this Penny character. There is definitely some irony in writing about a guy named "Penny" in the bargain section, know what I'm saying? He did get 10 carries for 45 yards last week. But according to PlayerProfiler.com, Penny's speed is not his strong suit. He ran a 4.86 40-yard-dash. His measurables are comparable to those of former Vikings' plodder Matt Asiata. Gross. You'll probably see some mainstream analysts advising to use Penny as a backup fantasy option with the Williams injury news, but don't do that to yourself. It's the championship. Like I mentioned before, the Cardinals aren't putting up points, plus Drew Stanton is starting at quarterback this week. A slow-as-molasses runner like Penny needs goal-line tumbles to be fantasy relevant and despite the decent matchup, I don't see him getting any of those. Give a Penny, save a Penny. Save yourself from Penny. Make a wish. What? I'm losing it, its Week 16, gimme a break.
Most Ironic Stats of Week 15
-- Every quarterback that's faced the Packers in the last four weeks has finished as a top-12 fantasy option, including two QB1 performances. Case Keenum could win you your league.
-- The Chargers STILL haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver this season. Robby Anderson is not going to be that guy.
-- The Cowboys haven't allowed a single touchdown to a running back in their last four games. Sorry, Mike Davis, it was fun while it lasted.
-- The Titans haven't allowed a touchdown to a wide receiver in four straight games. Robert Woods owners shouldn't worry because he's the GOAT.
-- Drew Stanton is starting at quarterback for the Cardinals. That whole Ricky Seals-Jones thing is dead. Yes, even against the Giants.
Pour over your lineup
Harmon: Here we go. This one is for all the marbles. By the way, what happened to marbles? Should we bring those back?
Franchise: I've been collecting marbles since I was, like, two-years-old. Never stopped. Maybe this can be an offseason project to get them trending again on the underground circuit. For now, let's focus on this loyal and tilting follower's lineup.
Franchise: Look, I agree with you that Agholor isn't a terrible option in a favorable matchup. BUT. Foles spread the love last week kind of like how we like to spread organic avocado on our sourdough toast, with four touchdown passes to four different players. That will limit upside.
I think Keelan Cole is the play. The guy leads the Jaguars in targets and yards the last two weeks and two touchdowns. His 10/285/2 line is looking nice right now, and Marqise Lee might be out again. I know all the mainstream folks are on the Dede Westbrook tip, but it's all about Cole if you're living the Fantasy Hipster life.
Harmon: Yeah, man. What about Dede Westbrook? I feel like his time in the spotlight came and went faster than this band I road-tripped and followed around on tour last summer. They had a handful of good shows but by the time we reached Oklahoma, I tapped out and came back to LA.
I heard someone at the local dive bar I go to saying Westbrook was robbed of some big plays thanks to a couple of pass interference plays. I don't know, I think he can bounce back this week and that makes Keelan Cole a bit dicey.
Franchise: You're kind of playing with fire with any of these Jags wideouts, to be honest. It's been a different guy every week. Maybe you're correct about Agholor being the play, as mainstream as that sounds. I am sorry for ever doubting you. I hope we can still ride our tandem bike together...
Harmon: Of course. Let's do the socially responsible thing and compromise. We'll tell our follower that Cole is the upside play but is riskier, while Agholor is the safer player who doesn't have the same volume to access the same ceiling as Cole.
Franchise: This is 100 percent accurate and correct, as our advice has been all season. Hopefully, this guy can win. But yo, I have to get to trimming my beard before this holiday party. Gotta split.
Harmon: I hear you, I need to find a nice sweater to wear to an ugly Christmas sweater party. You know, to be ironic.
Franchise: Right, you're saying it again, I see.
Harmon: We're saying it again. Merry Christmas, sheeple.