Caplan's Week 18 Insider Fantasy Notebook


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Caplan's Week 18 Insider Fantasy Notebook

It’s that time of the fantasy season where keeper or dynasty league owners start to look toward the future.

Even if your teams are doing well, you should always be looking to see where you can add talent at skill positions—just as NFL teams do.

It was around this time last year that I said it was time to go get Bears WR Darnell Mooney (before he started going off) and if you listened and traded for him you’re now richly rewarded.

With that in mind here’s my initial list of non-obvious players (you won’t see Elijah Moore on here as he has come on too strong) to acquire and how their teams see their roles in the future (in no particular order) and I’ll add to this list as I get more information in the weeks ahead:

Running Back

1) Rhamondre Stevenson/Patriots: He went from having no role for several weeks to now sharing a role with RB Damien Harris in a two-RB backfield.

While there are no signs, as of now, that he’ll eventually take over the starting job, Stevenson gives their coaching staff badly needed speed and explosion in the backfield.

At the very least, Stevenson should garner 10+ touches a game in future seasons, which fits him in nicely as a flex option or higher due to his upside and talent.

2) Tony Pollard/Cowboys: You might look at Pollard and wonder why he should be on here since he’s their #2 RB, but the Cowboys can move on from Ezekiel Elliott after the 2022 season and owe him nothing.

So, it’s possible that Pollard, who has really good versatility, could wind up taking over down the road.

3) Kenny Gainwell/Eagles (ADDED 12/5): For whatever reason, the rookie went from having a clearly defined role earlier this season to very little role in recent weeks. However, the Eagle coaching staff remains very high on Gainwell and with Miles Sanders heading into the last season on his contract next year, Gainwell still could see an increased role in the future.

The coaches love his versatility and they saw him being able to handle a decent number of touches at the time he was drafted.

4) Trey Sermon/49ers (ADDED 1/9): Sure, he came up small and was a non-factor this season, but he’s way more talented than Jeff Wilson and JaMychal Hasty. Sermon would be a good complement to Elijah Mitchell for years to come and won’t cost you much in a trade.

Wide Receiver

1) Dyami Brown/WFT: His rookie season has not provided much production mainly due to a lingering knee issue.

However, Brown could wind up starting opposite WR Terry McLaurin as soon as next year with WR Curtis Samuel lining up mostly inside.

And Brown gives their coaches badly needed size at WR and he has major big play ability based on his college production and game tape and I know from talking to their coaches they are very high on him.

2) Chase Claypool/Steelers: For whatever reason, the 2nd-year pro has not put up consistently high numbers this season even with WR JuJu Smith-Schuster out of the lineup.

Claypool should take over the starting position full-time next year with Smith-Schuster unlikely to return and the Steelers continue to be very high on him. He just has to be more consistent in his approach each week in order for him to reach his potential, which is large.

UPDATE 1/9: I’m a bit concerned about his lack of consistency. Again, he was given a great opportunity and didn’t fully take advantage of it. It seems to be more of a maturity issue than anything else.

3) Gabriel Davis/Bills: The Bill coaches love his versatility (can play inside or outside) and if the team does not re-sign veteran WR Emmanuel Sanders next year, Davis would be in line to start.

What’s interesting about him is that they didn’t exactly envision him as a “shot play” WR (though his per catch average in college was over 16) when they drafted him, but he’s averaging over 17 yards per catch on 52 receptions in less than two years of play.

What he does a really good job of is tracking the ball from QB Josh Allen on scramble plays and I can tell from talking to the team that they envision him having a bigger role down the road.

UPDATE 1/9: With Sanders dealing with a lingering injury and not providing the kind of production that the team was expecting this season, Davis should be able to start opposite Stephon Diggs next season.

4) Rashod Bateman/Ravens: He suffered a significant groin injury in August, so his rookie season has not produced the kind of numbers that most expected this season and has yet to score a TD.

However, the coaches are still very high on him and expect his role to grow in the passing game in the future and he has the ability to line up inside or outside, which is really important in today’s NFL.

5) Nico Collins/Texans: While their QB situation for the future is clouded, Collins has continued to see a lot of playing time lately after dealing with some nagging injuries earlier this season.

What the team really likes about him is his size and his ability to make contested catches and separate from defenders.

While he hasn’t scored yet this season or done much from a fantasy perspective, his upside still makes it worth you adding him to your roster for the future.

6) Donovan Peoples-Jones/Browns: Unfortunately, he continues to deal with a lingering groin issue which has curtailed his progress this season.

However, the 2nd-year pass catcher has performed well when healthy and he has taken over as a starter after the departure of veteran WR Odell Beckham Jr.

What the team likes about Peoples-Jones is his ability to win with leverage against smaller DBs and he runs well for his size.

7) Kadarius Toney/Giants (ADDED 12/5): He wouldn’t be on this list after his two big games much earlier this season. However, Toney can’t seem to stay healthy and you might be able to get him on the cheap end from a fantasy GM who’s frustrated with his inability to stay on the field.

He still is a WR who you’ll want for his huge upside and is worth trading for if the cost isn’t prohibitive.

UPDATE 1/9: He was an absolute disaster from an injury standpoint, but Toney, if he can find health next season, could be a breakout player, so now is the time to add him at his lowest value.

8) Anthony Schwartz/Browns (ADDED 12/5): When they drafted him, the word was that the Browns saw Schwartz as a vertical slot WR. And that likely will be the case. He’s raw, but very fast.

If you have him or want to acquire Schwartz, you’ll need to be very patient as he has a lot of development to make, but the payoff down the line could be very good.

9) Michael Gallup/Cowboys (ADDED 12/5): He’s scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after this season and it’s hard to see the Cowboys paying him because of Amari Cooper and Ceedee Lamb’s presence.

Gallup has good size and is an explosive receiver who figures to be a full-time starter somewhere else and is worth adding as your #3 WR.

UPDATE 1/9: Because he suffered a torn ACL, it’s unlikely that he’ll make a big impact for the team that he signs with, so it shouldn’t cost much to trade for him. It’s more about 2023 and beyond with him.

10) Amon-Ra St. Brown/Lions (ADDED 12/5): A lot has gone against him this season; poor play calling, less than stellar QB play, and overall, a bad offense.

So, St. Brown, who’s averaging about 3.5 receptions per game, could certainly see an increased role next season if the team addresses these issues. He projects to start down the line and is worth targeting as your #3 WR.

UPDATE 1/9: HC Dan Campbell actually has done a good job with St. Brown after OC Anthony Lynn had no idea what to do with him. St. Brown is actually looking better than a #3 fantasy WR at this point based on his talent and upside. Hopefully Campbell will hire a new play caller who is better at creating matchups, etc.

11) Terrace Marshall/Panthers (ADDED 12/5): He’s had a very quiet rookie season. Some of that is due to some minor injuries he suffered earlier this season and some of it can be attributed to the poor QB play.

Still, the Panthers remain very high on him and Marshall has a bright future as your #4 WR once they get their QB situation straightened out.

UPDATE 1/9: From what I’m told, Marhsall’s struggles had nothing to do with him. It was more about former OC Joe Brady’s issues with figuring out how to get him the ball.

12) Josh Palmer/Chargers (ADDED 1/9): While he does back up veteran WR Keenan Allen, it’s not out of the question that they move him to the “X” position, which is where Mike Williams lines up. And Williams is unsigned for next season. Palmer has flashed in extended playing time this season and has a good upside.

13) Ben Skowronek/Rams (ADDED 1/9): For those in super deep leagues, it’s not out of the question that he sees a good amount of playing time down the road. They drafted him to play the “X” position and believe that his size gives them something that they lack overall at the WR spot.

Tight End

1) Pat Freiermuth/Steelers: The Steelers came into the season with a lot of pass targets to work with, but Smith-Schuster’s 1-year deal will expire in March and it seems rather unlikely that veteran TE Eric Ebron will return for another season with the team.

So it’s very possible that Freiermuth, who has scored in three out of his last four games, could see an increased role next season and beyond.

2) Cole Kmet/Bears: He has taken over the starting role at this position with the team in his 2nd season.

Kmet, while a little robotic in his movements, still has better than average athletic ability and has shown, at times this season, that he can be a high volume pass target and he has really good size.

You can expect him to start to develop better timing and chemistry with QB Justin Fields by working with him more next off-season, so Kmet could wind up being a decent starting fantasy TE down the road.

3) Harrison Bryant/Browns: If the Browns cut or trade veteran TE Austin Hooper, Bryant essentially would move up to the #1 spot on the depth chart at this point and the coaches are very high on him.

And keep in mind TE David Njoku will be a free agent in March, so Bryant could go from not having any value to quite a bit for the future. Stay tuned.

4) Donald Parham Jr/Chargers: He’s playing behind veteran TE Jared Cook, who is on a one-year deal.

Parham Jr is extremely difficult to cover in the redzone area (legit 6-8) and from talking to the team about him over time, it’s clear they want his role to continue to grow.

While he still has improvement to make, Parham Jr is the type of player to stash on your dynasty league roster and

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