Taking a look at the player trends over the past few weeks can reveal some surprising things - it's important, though, to temper expectations in some cases and realize that some great (and some awful) performances can be the product of gameflow as much as the talent and/or rising production of a player. But since each player can only be owned by one team at a time in most standard fantasy leagues, you've got to scoop them up before anyone else and make smart decisions as far as when to play a rising (or falling) star. What do you think about these scenarios? Will the players listed below live up to expectations based on recent weeks? Make sure to check out the podcast to find out which side we take on each player.
Marcus Mariota (TEN)
Week 4 @ HOU – 13/29, 202 yds, 1 INT, 9.08 pts
Week 5 @ MIA – 20/29, 163 yds, 3 TD, 1 rush TD, 30.52 pts
Week 6 vs CLE – 17/24, 284 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT, 28.76 pts
Mariota has exploded the last two weeks, throwing for 6 touchdowns against just one interception. Mariota is still only owned in 61% of yahoo leagues, but he’s the #8 overall QB so far this season. Mariota has a very favorable schedule ahead of him, with 5 of his next 6 games against bad teams before going into his week 13 bye. Mariota has finally found some receiving targets and could easily finish the season as a top 10 QB. We’ll start the line on him at 22 points this week, at home vs IND.
Aaron Rodgers (GB)
Week 3 vs DET – 15/24, 205 yds, 4 TD, 26.40 pts
Week 5 vs NYG – 23/45, 259 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT, 17.86 pts
Week 6 vs DAL – 31/42, 294 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT, 13.46 pts
Anyone who follows us tracking trends knows that this one was coming. Rodgers is traditionally the gold standard for fantasy football consistency, but this year, especially the last few weeks, he has looked like fool’s gold. So far this season, Rodgers looks much like he did last year in completion percentage and yards per passing attempt, two categories that he used to excel in. Now Rodgers has a short week at home vs the Bears, but he’s likely to be without both Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Will the Bears be just what he needs to get his mechanics corrected, or do his struggles continue? We’ll start the line at 19 points.
James White (NE)
Week 4 vs BUF – 4/12 yds, 5 rec/50 yds, 6.20 pts
Week 5 @ CLE – 5/26 yds, 4 rec/63 yds, 8.90 pts
Week 6 vs CIN – 7/19 yds, 8 rec/47 yds, 2 TD, 18.60 pts
James White is trending up in both points and touches, mostly thanks to the return of Tom Brady. Everyone knew that the focus of the offense would be much more towards passing once Brady returned, so White’s uptick is to be expected. The biggest question with the Patriots backs has always been – How long will this last? Dion Lewis is waiting in the wings to return, though it may not happen until after the Week 9 bye. With White playing better, do you keep starting him, or offer him up as trade bait? This week, the Patriots go to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers without Big Ben. We’ll start his line at 11.
Isaiah Crowell (CLE)
Week 4 @ WAS – 16/120 yds, 1 TD, 20.20 pts
Week 5 vs NE – 13/22 yds, 4.00 pts
Week 6 @ TEN – 9/16 yds, 3.60 pts
Isaiah Crowell started out the season like he was fired from a cannon. He put up just shy of 400 yards and 3 TDs in his first four games and looked like he was headed towards top-10 RB status for the season. Then it’s like he suddenly remembered what team he plays for, and promptly saw his production drop like a rock. This is partly due to the uptick in touches for Duke Johnson Jr, but when your yards per carry goes from 6.45 (Wk 1-4), to 1.72 (Wk 5 & 6), it’s hard to keep giving him the ball. Crowell is still 90% owned, and started in 51% of Yahoo leagues last week. This week he faces the Bengals in Cincy, and we’ll set his line at 9 points, and ask, would you start him this week?
Jamison Crowder (WAS)
Week 4 vs CLE – 3/2 rec, 21 yds, 2.10 pts
Week 5 @ BAL – 3/3 rec, 35 yds, 1 Return TD, 9.50 pts
Week 6 vs PHI – 4/3 rec, 52 yds, 1 TD, 10.30 pts
Jamison Crowder has a larger role on the Redskins offense with Jordan Reed out with a concussion. It’s not settled if he’s coming back this week, but Reed is often out multiple weeks when he has a concussion. Crowder has made some big plays helping the team win each of the last two weeks. With the decline of DeSean Jackson, can Crowder step up to start filling some of that role? We’ll start the line for Crowder at 7 points for his matchup against the Lions, giving up the 5th most points to opposing WRs.
Antonio Brown (PIT)
Week 4 vs KC – 5/4 rec, 64 yds, 2 TD, 18.40 pts
Week 5 vs NYJ – 11/9 rec, 78 yds, 1 TD, 13.80 pts
Week 6 @ MIA – 8/4 rec, 39 yds, 4.50 pts, 4.50 pts
Antonio Brown was the consensus #1 pick going into the 2016 season, and he already has 2 games where he’s scored under 5 points. It’s not time to panic with Brown, but this week looks like it’s about as tough as matchups get. His starting QB will be Landry Jones and the opposing team will be the New England Patriots. It seems like this so-called juggernaut of an offense can never get going because of injuries and/or suspensions. Brown is the only consistent part, but even this week you may consider benching him. We’ll start our line for Brown at 12 points.
Hunter Henry (SD)
Week 4 vs NO – 7/4 rec, 61 yds, 1 TD, 12.10 pts
Week 5 @ OAK – 4/3 rec, 74 yds, 1 TD, 13.40 pts
Week 6 vs DEN – 8/6 rec, 83 yds, 1 TD, 14.30 pts
Now those are some numbers that are just screaming consistency. Hunter Henry is easily the most impressive rookie TE this season (there were only 3 drafted, after all). Having scored a TD in each of the last 3 games, he’s also drawn 19 targets and is 2nd in scoring over the last 4 games at the TE position. With Antonio Gates hobbled and on the way out anyways, Henry is in a perfect position to continue his breakout rookie season on a team that is always starving for pass catchers. This week, Henry faces the Falcons, who have given up the 5th most points to opposing tight ends. Can he continue his impressive streak? We’ll start his line at 13 points.