The NFL season already has six weeks in the books, so now’s a good time to go through six players to try to buy-low on as the fantasy season crosses the halfway point. Instead of focusing purely on how many points players have scored so far, looking at trends about how they are being used can show who are candidates to outperform their production thus far. The focus is on how many of their teams’ snaps are they playing, via Pro-Football-Reference.com, how many of the available targets are they seeing, and for running backs, how many of the designed carries are they getting amongst their peers.
David Montgomery, Chicago Bears
The raw numbers haven’t popped off of the page yet for the second-year runner, but he is getting workhorse usage that should translate to more fantasy points as the season continues. That workload has been particularly strong ever since Tarik Cohen suffered a torn ACL. Overall, Montgomery is playing 67% of the snaps, seeing 69.49% of the running back carries (13.67 per game), and 12.07% of the team’s targets (4.67 per game). In the past three games without Cohen, which has coincided with a pass-heavy game plan with new quarterback Nick Foles, Montgomery has a 83.77% snap share, a dominant 84.78% running back rush share (13.00), and an impressive 15.83% target share (6.33). That last number has been key as he has at least 30 receiving yards in all three games to raise his floor even when game scripts don’t provide Chicago with the chance to pound the rock.
When they do have leads, Montgomery is going to be the one who gets the carries like in this past win when he had 19. He had a touchdown overturned that Foles subsequently punched in from the one-yard line, and since he only has only one score on the ground to go with one receiving, the window to buy remains open. His current managers might just look at the 43.3 total PPR points over the last three games and think the breakout isn’t coming even without Cohen. That will be to your benefit as his usage piles up.
James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
The RB11 in PPR points per game (16.98) might not seem like someone you can buy low on, but the fact that he has just 35 total points over the past three weeks with zero rushing touchdowns could have managers worried. After all, this is an undrafted rookie from Illinois State in the FCS that didn’t cost much if anything in fantasy drafts, so there could be some fear that the Cinderella story is about to turn into a pumpkin. The peripheral numbers are still overwhelmingly in his favor, however.
Robinson has 85 carries on the season compared to six for teammate Chris Thompson. That incredible 93.41% running back rush share is paired with a solid 11.35% target share, so even when games get away from Jacksonville, Robinson is still getting opportunities. He has at least four targets in every game since the opener and has been efficient with 23 receptions on 26 targets for 207 yards and a touchdown.
With the coaching staff wanting to continue to get him more involved, his snap share has also been on the rise with recent rates of 76.47%, 57.33%, and 68.75% after only being on the field for 50.67% and 45.45% of the time in Weeks 2 and 3. This is a player that should continue to flirt with the RB1/2 border.
Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins
Like Robinson, Gaskin has come out of seemingly nowhere to become a feature back, and managers might not realize what they have. With Miami on their bye week and some uncertainty about the offense now that rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is taking over, you can take advantage of the situation. The fact that he only has one touchdown so far could further mean that he’s available in trades, and with the high usage he’s seeing, more should be on the way.
Despite the Dolphins giving Jordan Howard $4.75 million guaranteed in free agency and trading for Matt Breida, the 2019 7th-round pick has emerged as the workhorse he was at the University of Washington, where he ran for at least 1,268 yards and 10 touchdowns in all four years. Gaskin is seeing 61.65% of the running back rushes (13.67 per game) and a strong 14.72% target share (4.83 per game) with at least four targets in every game. He’s even relegated Howard to being a healthy inactive the last two games, which opens up the goal line role, and over the past four weeks overall, Gaskin is up to a 71.74% rush share (16.5) and 14.88% target share (4.5). He’s had at least 64% of the carries in every game since Week 2, and he’s been on the field for at least 62.69% of the plays in every game as his role is secure no matter the situation. This kind of consistency should see him firmly remain a RB2 the rest of the season, especially in PPR formats since he has caught 27 of 29 targets on the season.
DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins
Staying in Miami, Parker could potentially be had in the same way I mentioned with Gaskin, although the switch to a rookie passer does of course make this a more volatile situation. However, that could potentially lead to more passing volume since they are currently only 25th in pass attempts per game and could be trailing more often with Tagovailoa behind center. If you believe in the abilities of the Alabama signal caller that made him the fifth overall pick, then now is the time to pounce on Parker.
The Dolphins’ leading receiver’s overall numbers are a bit down since he left the season opener halfway through with a hamstring issue, but the opportunities have been there. From Week 2 on, Parker has played 84.24% of the snaps and received 21.56% of the targets to average 7.2 per game. He did exit last week’s blowout early with a tweaked groin that bears watching during the bye, yet he still played 82.14% of the snaps and saw a team-high eight targets (27.59%). It’s also worth noting that Tagovailoa excelled at throwing downfield to all kinds of speed at Alabama, and Parker is the best vertical threat on the team. He ran a 4.45 40-yard dash that is second only to Jakeem Grant, who recorded a 4.34 at his pro day but is only playing 28.83% of the snaps with just a 8.63% target share. Parker is set to soar like he did down the stretch last year.
Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens
Another player on his bye week, Brown has been frustrating for his managers with only one touchdown and single-digit PPR points in half of his games. They might be desperate for a fill-in this week or simply ready to move on from the deep threat due to his run-heavy offense. That presents an opportunity for you to make an upside play. With a more difficult schedule against Pittsburgh twice, Indianapolis, New England and Tennessee coming up, Baltimore may be forced into passing more to win.
Any increase in attempts would set up Brown to explode down the stretch because he has an elite 26.58% target share. That has resulted in seven targets per game, and the opportunity has been consistent throughout the season with at least a 22.22% mark in every game. He is averaging 8.95 yards per target, so the points will come if talk of the team spending the off week working on the passing game results in less of a run-centric approach. There is also room for growth in the TD column considering that Brown scored on seven of 46 catches as a rookie compared to just once out of 26 receptions this season, and he’s getting the ball down the field with an average depth of target of 16.4 per NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats. Brown actually leads the league with 45.82% of his team’s air yards, so altogether, there are strong indicators that more production is coming.
Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team
Not much further down the list is McLaurin, who is fifth with 42.85% of the air yards. Of everyone on this list, he might be the hardest to buy low on since he’s WR24 in PPR points per game and 14th in total points. Like others mentioned, though, he only has one touchdown so far and recently had a quarterback change as Kyle Allen has taken the reigns the last two games. McLaurin only has 10 catches for 100 yards total between those contests, so take advantage if his managers are worried at all because he has dominant peripherals.
The second-year stud has played 94.97% of the team’s snaps thus far with a low of 90.14%, and he’s dominated the looks with 27.62% of them overall (9.67 per game) and a target share of at least 22.22% in every game. That includes 19 of the 67 targets (28.36%) over the last two games even after the benching of Dwayne Haskins, his college quarterback that always looked his way. Only having a single score despite 36 catches for 487 yards also means he should see some positive regression to the mean in that category. After all, he had seven touchdowns on 58 catches and 919 yards in 14 games as a rookie, so even mediocre quarterback play shouldn’t hold him down for too long. This is a borderline WR1 with that kind of usage, so act appropriately.
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