Mining for Paydirt: Week Four

Chad Scott

Mining for Paydirt is a deep-sleeper article geared toward your average to larger sized leagues.  The players we focus on here are owned in less than 35% of leagues – they are your blue collar workers.  I’m not going to give you names like Roy Helu or Joique Bell – those aren’t the droids I’m looking for.  I want the players who are on the radar of only the realest of degenerates.  Players you wouldn’t think of owning in a million and one years.  These will strictly be for injury and bye week fill-ins based on matchups and situation.  Some may stick, some won’t.  It’s the nature of the beast and I’ll be thrilled to get one or two correct a week.

We did alright last week, with the only real air ball being Robert Turbin.  Interestingly enough, he was probably the one I was most confident in.  That makes two weeks in a row where a Seahawk has let me down (fantasy purposes, of course), but my other two picked Turbin up.  I think editor, Ken Kelly mixed up my predictions for the receivers, though (no, he didn’t)…

Here are last week’s results:

Robert Turbin: Five rushing yards (0.5 PPR points), RB65

Brandon LaFell: Three receptions, 53 yards and two touchdowns (20.3 points), WR13

Marvin Jones: Three receptions, 38 yards and one touchdown (12.8 points), WR32

Week Four we’ll see our first round of byes as both the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers get a week of rest and relaxation.  Make sure to get those players out of your lineups and perhaps think about adding one of the following.  Let’s get to it:

Marcel Reece, RB OAK vs WAS (27.3% owned)


Last week, Reece caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown against the Denver Broncos.  This week, he gets a porous Washington Redskin defense that is allowing over 350 yards passing (eight receiving touchdowns)and 155 yards rushing (four rushing touchdowns) a game.  They are ranked #31 and tied for #30, respectively.  Basically, the Raiders’ offense might actually look like a real-life offense (no offense, Raider nation).

Since the defense is giving up tons of yardage via the run and the pass, why not go with the Raider Swiss army knife?  When given the opportunity, Reece is up to the task averaging 0.52 points per opportunity, #17 overall among running backs.  Joique Bell scored the third most points among running backs last week against Washington, albeit in a starting role.  Bell and Reece are similar players, used in different ways.  Both can run the ball effectively, but both make their hay in the pass game.

Reece has played on roughly 44% of the teams’ offensive plays.  Both teams are allergic to tackling or stopping their opponent, so I expect the Raiders to run 70-75 plays on Sunday.  That should yield Reece approximately 32-35 plays so long as the Raiders stick to their game plans.

I don’t expect Darren McFadden to throw another touchdown his way, but there will be plenty of opportunity for Terrelle Pryor to.  As long as Pryor is cleared to play, I fully expect this offense to play well at home and you could do a lot worse than picking up Reece given the myriad of injuries at the running back position.

Paydirt Prediction: 5 receptions, 45 yards and one touchdown; 20 yards rushing

Dwayne Harris, WR DAL @ SD (4.7% owned)

(Writer’s Note: Dwayne Harris has said he is a go for Sunday and Miles Austin has been ruled out as of Friday, 12:00 PM.)

The news coming out of Dallas on starting wide receiver Miles Austin is as surprising as football being played on Sundays.

Last season, if you watched a Cowboys’ game, you could tell something wasn’t completely right with Austin.  He looked timid out of cuts, as if going 100% would have surely landed him on the IR list.  In 2013, he’s playing much better and doesn’t look like a 42-year old anymore, but to the possible detriment of his lasting health.

He’s dealing with yet another hamstring injury and did not practice today (Wednesday).  Austin has a long history of these injuries so his owners should be nervous.  Almost 63% of his routes run have been from the slot this season.  If he were to go down or be deactivated prior to the game, Harris will be the man filling in on slot duties.

Harris hasn’t gotten a lot of run in the early going, but when he has, it’s been in the slot, mostly.  Nearly 43% of Harris’ routes have come from the slot compared to just 6.7% for Terrance Williams.  Williams would get the nod as the starting wide receiver opposite Dez Bryant, but Harris will be the add here for fantasy purposes.

The Chargers are the NFL’s worst team at defending the pass, giving up 341 yards per game.  In terms of fantasy, they are giving up 46.27 points to wide receivers on average.  I imagine we can pencil Bryant in for 20-25 points, leaving another 20+ points up for grabs.

In an incredibly small sample size, Harris is producing a full PPR point per opportunity.  Mind you, that’s on just five opportunities, so take that stat for what it’s worth.  What Harris does have going for him is he’s a playmaker best utilized in space as evidenced by his punt returning prowess.  Playing in the slot against this defense will afford him just that.

Even if Austin starts the game, there’s a high likelihood he won’t finish it.  When he went out during the last week’s contest, Harris came in and caught a 24-yard touchdown.

If there was ever a week to go all-in wit Harris, I’ll take this one.

Paydirt Prediction: six receptions, 85 yards and one touchdown

Kellen Winslow, TE NYJ @ TEN (31% owned)

The allure of having this “soldier” on your fantasy team has more than likely worn off after Winslow wasn’t targeted in the week three win over the Buffalo Bills.  After starting the 2013 campaign with a stat line of seven receptions, 79 yards and one touchdown, those who made haste to pick up Winslow have most likely dropped him with even more swiftness.

Winslow was bothered by a knee for most of last week and wasn’t able to get practice reps – although he played 53 of the teams’ 83 offensive snaps.  He wasn’t able to get open and Geno Smith was finding success through the air by targeting his wide receivers.  The Bills have been tight end stalwarts early into the season, but the Jets get the Tennessee Titans and their tight end friendly defense this week.

The Titans have given up the ninth most fantasy points to the position this year and Winslow is a prime candidate for another “where did that come from week.”  Smith is getting more acclimated to the NFL and the Jet offense with Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes doing work on the outside.  They’ve gotten back to the “ground and pound” with Bilal Powell, giving Smith a chance to find open receivers.

Winslow ranks #12 in points per opportunity with 0.45 – so he hasn’t been useless when given the ball.  The Titans have trouble with bigger, more athletic tight ends (see Antonio Gates and Owen Daniels).  In fact, I picked on their defense in week two when I anticipated Garrett Graham to find pay dirt (3/40/1).

All signs point to Winslow being a go for this weekend’s matchup and if you’re a Jermichael Finley or Greg Olsen owner looking to capitalize on their bye week, Winslow will be weekend warrior.

Paydirt Prediction: 5 receptions, 60 yards and one touchdown