Feel good fantasy players can come at all different points in your draft. They can make a difference between winning some close games and talking “wait until next week.”
This week we’ll look at nine flex players that are shaping up to have fantastic comeback and breakout fantasy seasons. For one reason or another, all of these guys were recently valued much lower than they currently are at some point in the recent past.
Best Feel-Good Fantasy Players – Week 9
These are the feel-good football stories of the fantasy underdogs that have climbed back through adversity to become championship-caliber players for their fantasy teams.
9.) Jamaal Williams
Green Bay has not been known for possessing much of a running game stretching back over half a decade ago to the early days of Eddie Lacy. There was hope coming into this season that the ground game would finally be formidable. But, expectations were certainly tempered. Jamaal Williams was viewed as the weaker half of the 1-2 combo in Green Bay by a significant margin entering the season. Aaron Jones was expected to be the dominant force (if he could stay healthy).
Things really looked bleak for Williams in Week 4, when he was knocked unconscious with a devastating hit. He was awkwardly sandwiched between Eagles’ defenders. Williams was carted off with a severe concussion, which at the time, a concussion looked like a best-case scenario considering the severity of the hit. Williams was dropped in countless leagues as fantasy owners gave up on him in droves.
After missing Week 5, Williams has since come back with a vengeance. Scoring double-digit fantasy points in all 3 games and being a dominant power-back that Green Bay desperately has needed to compliment and spell Jones.
While Green Bay has struggled to find reliable dominance from anyone wide receiver this year, the ground game has been the opposite. Since returning in Week 6 both Jones and Williams have been unstoppable and together with Aaron Rodgers and the resurgence of the Packers defense.
8.) Tevin Coleman
The 49er’s have the most dominant ground game in the league, as well as possessing an undefeated record. Just over 2 months ago Tevin Coleman was viewed as the newest addition to a 3-headed backfield committee. It was going to be co-featuring Matt Breida and Jerrick McKinnon along with Coleman.
In many regards, Coleman was viewed as a low-end RB2 (at best!) or a match-up-dependent flex-option in PPR leagues. But the early loss of McKinnon for the season elevated Coleman’s status and he was drafted as “cautiously optimistic” prospect.
However, in just the first week of the season, Coleman was dealt a fairly serious ankle injury that sidelined him until Week 5. During that span, San Francisco chugged along hardily. They hardly missed his services thanks to their armada of formidable ball carriers.
But in the last few weeks, Coleman has clearly re-defined himself as the lead back for a team that very few people honestly would have expected to be standing undefeated heading into Week 9.
Although the whole of the 49ers looks impressive right now (to say the least) last week against Carolina, Tevin Coleman undeniably stood out with 3 rushing touchdowns and 1 receiving touchdown.
7.) Chris Carson
Since the days of Beast Mode, Seattle has fancied itself best as a power-run offense with a hard-nosed defense and MVP-viable quarterback. The defense has lost some of its once staunch fortitudes and the run game had completely dried up. Marshawn Lynch had been an oasis but that oasis was long gone and there was no satiation insight.
Thirsty desperation for a dominant run game to finally put the Seahawks back together was manifested in last year’s draft with the Seahawks’ desperate first-round reach for Reshad Penny. The logic was clear: Seattle wanted so painfully to return to their run-first style that they drafted the best running back (in their eyes) in hopes of landing a player so dominant that he could transcend the team’s glaring weakness at O-line. That didn’t happen.
Nobody is calling Penny a bust by any means, but that is largely in part because Seattle has finally found running back salvation. That savior didn’t come in the form of a first-round pick, but instead in the form of Chris Carson’s power-first run game; a seventh-rounder selected with the 249th pick in 2017.
Carson wasn’t very hyped-up coming into the 2019 fantasy season either, with an average draft position in the 5th round. Since then he has heavily out-produced his projections, scoring double-digit fantasy points in all but 2 games this season and handling 15 or more rushing attempts in every game through 8 weeks.
Carson is clearly the guy that the Seahawks needed and they are not questioning his production. Pete Carroll is clearly comfortable giving Carson heavy workloads and the fumbling issues seem to have been left behind along with all the doubts about Carson as an RB1 in fantasy.
6.) Darren Waller
Coming into this season the only pass catcher in Oakland anyone could talk about was Antonio Brown. And then when he left the masses were sent scrambling for who could possibly be “the guy” for the raiders. Tyrell Williams was the best bet.
While Williams has had an okay showing, Waller has been the baller.
Through seven games Waller has had only two performances where he didn’t score double-digits; he has 46 receptions on 58 targets and has more fantasy points than upstart rookie Josh Jacobs does.
Look at it this way, when Waller was with the Ravens he was a nobody, just a 2015 6th round draft pick that wasn’t really panning out. This year with the Raiders, he has the same number of fantasy points as fellow TE Travis Kelce [and Waller has already sat-out for his bye week].
Although it is hard to see the Raiders going anywhere in the postseason this year, the fantasy outlook of Waller is as bright as they come (especially at the TE position which has been especially troublesome this year).
5.) Terry McLaurin
On their own Scary Terry’s number themselves don’t look all that intimidating: 458 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. But when you look at the situation around him, you begin to see just how Scary, Terry, just maybe.
Firstly, the fact that McLaurin is a Rookie. Rookies can show flashes but it is much more telling if they can sustain those flashes. Mclaurin has done that.
Terry plays for the Redskins, undeniably one of the worst teams in the NFL right now. They boast a 1-7 record and have had almost no continuity on offense. They lost Jordan Reed to IR before he ever made it onto the field, and lost Guice in Week 1. The injury bug has bitten this team much deeper than just those 2 prime examples as well.
They went through a head coach change in the first half of the season- that is never a good sign. And through the changes, McLaurin has continued to display his game-altering route running abilities.
He’s been injured. He was dealing with a fairly serious hamstring injury that hindered him for several weeks. But now he looks like he is fully healthy.
More than likely Scary Terry went undrafted in your league, and then some savvy manager (hopefully you) managed to pick him up off waivers. He hasn’t really “dominated” in any game yet this season, but when you see him on the field he truly stands out from the other receivers in Washington. Given a little more time I expect Terry to turn into a full-fledged monster on the field. Scary Terry is no trick. In fact, I suspect he will be quite the treat for fantasy owners once the Redskins get a little solidarity under their feet).
4.) Aaron Jones
Jones’ average draft position was in the 3rd round of fantasy drafts, but through the first half of the season, his performance is indicative that he should have been drafted in the first round. Second to only McCaffrey and Cook (MVP candidates themselves) Jones has looked every bit of amazing.
Williams has been a tremendous boon to both the Packers and Jones. It is clear that the Packers are featuring Jones, but Williams is so good that he can effectively spell Jones during games and keep drives alive. This keeps the ball in possession of the offense [Aaron Rodgers] which keeps trending towards the end zone. The long, copious drives have resulted in a multitude of touches for both backs, but especially for Jones.
Jones has been no stranger to injury in his young career and the sizable, yet manageable workload he is receiving in Green Bay may be the epitome of “less is more”. He is able to leave during a drive and come back in and the drive stays alive with him out. He also stays healthy without the over-abundance of carries. Jones is absolutely vital to the proliferation of the Packer’s dominance.
3.) Austin Ekeler
I’d say that Austin Ekeler is potentially my fantasy flex draft pick candidate of the year, but that’d be a lie because I’d actually say he’s already the full-fledged winner. Currently, Ekeler weighs in as the RB4 in PPR leagues – and that’s after Gordon has been back for weeks. The undersized Ekeler was drafted with abundance because of Gordon’s holdout, but nobody that tells you they drafted him fully expecting this type of production is an honest man.
I’d say that Ekeler is playing like Kamara, but Ekeler has actually been playing better than Kamara (about 60 points better). The truth about Ekeler is this: in the last 4 weeks since Gordon has returned, Ekeler has 63 fantasy points to Gordon’s 35 in PPR leagues.
2.) Dalvin Cook
The first 3.5 games of Dalvin’s rookie season were eye-opening. The young RB was on fire on the field, running through, over, and around defenses. Vikings fans immediately forgot about missing Adrian Peterson.
But when Cook went down with an ACL tear, the void of having a great RB was definitely present in a strong but ultimately flawed Viking’s season that saw them march all the way to the NFC championship game.
Cook returned last year but the same electric runner wasn’t on the field. Partially because of offensive play calling, partially because of the undeniable effectiveness of the WRs in Minnesota, Cook performed well but there wasn’t enough emphasis featuring Cook.
The offseason this year built a lot of hype that the Vikings wanted to be a run-first team, which helped push Cook into his first-round average draft position, but undeniably there were still a lot of questions surrounding the runner.
But once the season got underway Cook proved he was once again the lightning-quick and thunderously powerful back that we saw in 2017 and at times in 2018. He has fully acclimated to the workhorse role and even has a fantastic rookie back in Alexander Mattison that can help spell Cook and keep drives alive.
The way Cook has been playing, he is more valuable than any WR in fantasy right now (in PPR leagues too). Cook was expected to be good, but seeing him this good is why he is so high on this list.
Dalvin Cook Week 7 Highlights Video
1.) Cooper Kupp – Feel Good Fantasy Players
The Rams went to the Super Bowl last year, but Cooper Kupp didn’t. The L.A. offense was truly a machine in 2018 and powered them into and through the playoffs until they collided with the Patriots.
Kupp never made it to the playoffs last year because of an ACL tear he suffered in the regular season. He was shaping up as potentially the most dangerous piece of a wide receiver trifecta that also showcased Cooks and Woods.
But an ACL tear is truly a career-altering injury for many players. If they do return, there is no guarantee that they come back as quick or as powerful as they were prior to the injury. Luckily for Kupp, he left all of that concern in the dust. His quick recovery had him back in time to see 10 targets in Week 1 of this season.
Kupp has recorded triple-digit receiving yards in 5 of his 8 games since coming back and is only 8 yards shy of 800 yards after 8 weeks. Comeback player of the year (in fantasy football at least) undoubtedly goes to Kupp.
And while the rest of the Rams offense seems to be slightly suspect, Kupp is a lock-down WR1, currently ranked as the WR2 behind only Michael Thomas. He gets a bye week this week, then comes back to resume his role in a prolific offense in a prolific NFC West.
— Red Zone Rick
Rick’s frequent trips to the bank when the fantasy football season is over is testimony to his player picking skills and team management. Follow along for the ride and see how your team’s performance improves.
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