The Hot Sheet looks at which top prospects are excelling and which ones are struggling on a week-to-week basis. The consensus top-flight players may not always appear on this list because we are trying to help you find the next group of breakout players before your league mates do.
The value of the players mentioned on the Hot List is rising, thanks to their performance on the field. On the other hand, Cold List players are struggling, and losing dynasty value as a result.
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1) Mike Evans, WR TB
Second year receiver Mike Evans got off to a slow start this year, dealing with injuries and adjusting to a new quarterback in rookie Jameis Winston. Since Tampa’s bye though, Evans has looked more like his dominant self, ranking as the PPR WR5 over the past four weeks. Evans is again back among the top ten wide receivers in dynasty ranks, and maybe even in the conversation for top five status. I expect him to again be one of the most sought after players this off-season, when it comes to dynasty trade talks.
2) Martavis Bryant, WR PIT
Another sophomore receiver who didn’t start the season well was Steeler Martavis Bryant, though his was due to the four game suspension he earned for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Since Bryant returned to the field in Week Six, he is the WR3 in PPR leagues, behind only Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham. When it comes to his fantasy output, there was a concern last season that Bryant relied too much on big plays and wasn’t a receiver that could be started on a weekly basis. Through the first five games of his season, we are seeing that trend continue, but with a higher floor and higher ceiling. Bryant seems to be a lock to put up at least 12 fantasy points each week, but has 30 fantasy point upside, as he already has a pair of games over 29 fantasy points through five matchups.
3) Kamar Aiken, WR BAL
One thing that can make or break a fantasy season is the waiver wire. Play it well and you find starters for free. If you don’t you miss out and make the road more difficult for yourself. Once Ravens’ wide receiver Steve Smith suffered a season-ending Achilles injury, it became evident that Kamar Aiken would get his shot. He does not have the high ceiling of other receivers, but he has been very consistent over the past three games, posting 13, 12 and 14 points. I question Aiken’s long-term upside and value, but for a dynasty team looking to fill a gap at WR3, Aiken could make a huge difference over the next few weeks.
4) Charcandrick West, RB KC
In Week Five, star running back Jamaal Charles suffered a season-ending injury and the Chiefs turned to relatively unknown Charcandrick West as their new starter. West got the start in the next game and was a massive disappointment, rushing for just 33 yards and losing a fumble. Since that debut as a starter though, West has been a fantasy factor, averaging over 24 points per game in PPR leagues. Not only is West running well, scoring a rushing touchdown in the past three games, but he’s also a large part of the passing offense. In the past three weeks, he’s averaging three receptions for over 40 yards per game. I still don’t see West overtaking Charles, as some have suggested, but he is certainly earning a role in this offense going forward.
5) Brandin Cooks, WR NO
Expectations for second year Saints’ receiver Brandin Cooks were sky-high entering the 2015 season. After all, the team had shipped Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills out of town and Marques Colston was showing signs of slowing down. It appeared as if Cooks was all that was left. He started the season slowly, but has been showing improvement, thanks to a growing role, on a weekly basis. Cooks has eclipsed 25 fantasy points in two of the last three games and now ranks as a top ten wide receiver. Cooks has five of his six scores this season in the past three games, making him one of the hottest pass catchers in the league.
6) Matt Jones, RB WAS
In Week Ten, rookie running back Matt Jones saw fewer snaps than he typically does for the Redskins, but he made a huge impact, totaling 187 yards and a touchdown in the blowout victory over New Orleans. Jones and Alfred Morris have been splitting carries at running back much of the season, which we can expect to continue for the remainder of the season. Following the season though, Morris will become a free agent and is widely expected to be in search of a new team, leaving Jones with a potentially larger role.
7) Brock Osweiler, QB DEN
We may have witnessed the end of an era last week as the Broncos turned to Brock Osweiler to replace the struggling Peyton Manning. At the very least, we witnessed the beginning of the end. Osweiler was not overly sharp in his half of play, but he did lead the Broncos on some scoring drives and will get his first career start in Week Eleven after Manning was ruled out with an injury. The legitimacy of said injury can be questioned, but regardless, Osweiler will get his shot. He has to be considered the favorite to be the Broncos’ starter in 2016, even before we see him in action for a full game and that lends him a major bump in dynasty value. If he bombs this week, the Broncos could turn back to Manning and then have a major hole to fill during the offseason.
8) Johnny Manziel, QB CLE
Starting in place of an injured Josh McCown, second year quarterback Johnny Manziel played his best career game, throwing for 372 yards and leading the Browns in rushing as well. Manziel played well enough to earn the starting job for the remainder of the season, as head coach Mike Pettine announced this week. This was the obvious move for a two-win Browns team that needs to find out if Manziel is the future or just another wasted draft pick. With a favorable schedule and some rushing upside, I’m banking on Manziel playing well enough to earn the starting job heading into 2016.
9) Jeremy Langford, RB CHI
You never know what to expect when an NFL team is forced to turn to a backup, especially when that backup is a late round rookie, but if the past two weeks are any indication, Bears’ running back Jeremy Langford has a future in the league. Over those two games, Langford is the top scoring running back in the league, following up his solid 25-point debut as a starter with a huge 37 point game against one of the best defenses in the league. Like West, Langford too has been involved as both a runner and receiver as he has 70 yards rushing and receiving in those two contests. This surprising performance has allowed the Bears to be cautious with Matt Forte, whose injury opened the door for Langford in the first place. There is a growing sentiment that Langford could be the long-term replacement for Forte and it’s hard to ignore that idea.
10) Jay Ajayi, RB MIA
For the second consecutive week, rookie running back Jay Ajayi was impressive in a limited role. In Week Ten, the former Boise State runner actually led the Dolphins in rushing on just six touches, compared to 16 carries for starter Lamar Miller. Head coach Dan Campbell has indicated Ajayi’s role will continue to grow and I expect the same can be said of his dynasty value.
1) Christine Michael, RB WAS
This was yet another bad week for the Cowboys’ backfield. Not only did starter Darren McFadden fail to get anything going against the Tampa defense in a loss to the Bucs, but the team pulled the plug on the Christine Michael experiment. The Cowboys gave many dynasty owners and Michael supporters just what they wanted when they traded for the former Seahawk. The team gave him plenty of time to adjust to his new location and there were multiple rumors that he was seeing first team reps and would get a real shot, but that never proved true on game days. The Cowboys are the second team to throw in the towel on Michael in just a few months and while the Redskins were willing to take a chance, signing Michael to their practice squad, there’s really no reason to hope for a successful NFL career.
2) Nick Foles, QB STL
It seems like we’ve heard the same story repeated week after week when discussing the St. Louis Rams. They have a dominant defense and a dominant run game thanks to the arrival of Todd Gurley, but they are handicapped by the play of their quarterback, namely Nick Foles. After the Rams suffered a home loss to the Bears to fall below .500, they announced Foles had been benched in favor of Case Keenum. In ten career starts, Keenum has failed to establish himself as a starting level quarterback, but the Rams are desperate and Keenum is not afraid to toss the ball down the field. I am almost certain Keenum is not the Rams’ answer at quarterback, but they know Foles isn’t either.
3) David Johnson, RB ARZ
After a hot start, rookie David Johnson found himself ranked as the RB17 in PPR leagues, thanks to a barrage of big scoring plays. Since Week Five though, Johnson’s role has been diminished and he’s averaging less than four fantasy points per game, putting him at RB65 over that span of time. With veterans Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington both clearly ahead of him, Johnson’s upside is very limited. I still like Johnson as a long-term value, but I’m not counting on him for a role in 2015 and his dynasty hype has waned.
4) James White, RB NE
Many of the players appearing on the Hot List are getting increased playing time thanks to injuries, which is the case for Patriots’ running back James White, who seems to have earned the pass-catching back role with the injury to Dion Lewis. Unfortunately, White is just not as good as Lewis. He carried the ball just once last week and caught his only target, totaling 11 yards. There is a chance, with the injury suffered by receiver Julian Edelman, White could play a larger role going forward, but don’t count on Lewis-level production.
5) Ameer Abdullah, RB DET
Lions’ rookie running back Ameer Abdullah continues to be a non-factor in the Detroit backfield, as the team continues to rely on the bland and washed up Joique Bell instead. Abdullah dazzled us in the preseason, but once the lights came on, Abdullah disappeared. With only two wins, the Lions have already made major changes in their leadership and head coach Jim Caldwell is probably next. This is likely good news for Abdullah, who could excel under a different coaching staff.