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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Potential Late-Round Goldmines

There is no hidden agenda when it comes to my SSI algorithm. I plug in the values and let the computer work its magic from there. With that said, it was fortuitous that four of my most favorite late-round targets all ended up in a cluster of five players, beginning with Alexander Mattison at No. 111. One key point to make before proceeding: perhaps the hardest task any fantasy analyst has might be trying to predict when a coach has seen enough from his starter and is ready to go with the young guy. Trying to predict when the starter is going to get hurt is another nearly impossible task. With that said, there are several players outside the top 100 who are one injury away from being a top-20 player at their position.

My support of Mattison has less to do with hedging my bet on Dalvin Cook staying healthy and more to do with a belief the Vikings are going to be judicious with the latter's workload, likely keeping him under 15 carries per game. For a team that wants to pound the rock, it means Mattison should have standalone value in the same way Rashaad Penny should in Seattle. Having a handcuff that can be used as a flex option AND serves as depth to a stud starter is worth his weight in fantasy gold, especially since the majority of supposed handcuffs end up not being worth a roster spot. The rookie may also provide the added bonus of being the primary goal-line back in Minnesota. Owners should consider what Latavius Murray did the last two years in Minnesota when Cook was healthy as Mattison's floor; he should be a more-than-capable RB3.

Marquez Valdes Scantling

For a brief time last year, I thought Marquez Valdes-Scantling was going to be the answer to my prayers on a number of my high-stakes teams. Alas, it was not meant to be as he barely caught half of his targets and went through a five-week stretch in which he saw more than three targets only once. It is debatable how much different Year 2 is going to be, but it does seem clear that he has caught the attention of Aaron Rodgers with his offseason work. While his exact role remains unclear because it appears Geronimo Allison will man the slot and probably split snaps with him in two-wide formations, Valdes-Scantling offers a bit of the somewhat consistent splash-play vibe that made DeSean Jackson a solid fantasy WR3 for a number of years.

It's anyone's guess as to whether or not Justice Hill is Mark Ingram's true handcuff or if Baltimore wants to keep him in more of a change-of-pace role regardless. The latter is the most likely, but what makes Hill and his situation unique is that he plays in an offense that could run the ball in upwards of 600 times AND has a supremely athletic quarterback in Lamar Jackson that will keep defenses from getting too aggressive. Regarding the high-volume running game, there will likely be roughly 200 carries up for grabs even if we assume Ingram finishes with 200-plus and Jackson with 150-plus. Half of those are almost certain to go to Hill, who is one of the few backs who could realistically make a noticeable dent in the box score every week with only eight to 10 touches. In the event Ingram misses a game or two, the Ravens will be hard-pressed to feed Gus Edwards 20 touches when Hill has the ability to score just about every time he gets the ball in his hands.

Derrius Guice should be the future in Washington. The problem is his team re-signed a no-brainer Hall of Famer at his position who is coming off a 1,000-yard season and has no desire to play the role of mentor quite yet. Chris Thompson is still a very effective player on passing downs. In short, Guice probably isn't going to open the season as his team's top early-down or passing-down back despite the likelihood he is the team's best back. Making matters worse for him is an offensive line in flux and a starting quarterback in Case Keenum who isn't going to command enough respect to keep opponents from loading the box. Can he overcome all of that? Possibly. However, expecting him to do that with limited touches - as part of a three-man committee - is probably too much to ask. Talented backs with unquestioned roles and huge workloads can overcome a lot of their team's shortcomings. Guice has none of that going for him and a supporting cast that might be among the worst in the league. It is quite possible Washington turns the backfield over to him if the team is out of contention in December, but most fantasy owners can't afford to wait until the fantasy playoffs to see a payoff from their likely RB3.

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”. Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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