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) David Johnson, RB ARZ
With Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson ailing, rookie David Johnson has had his chance to shine in the past few weeks, and that is just what he did in Week 15. Johnson exploded against the Eagles’ defense for over 200 total yards and three touchdowns, totaling over 40 fantasy points. Johnson’s dynasty value has taken a huge spike and he may not relinquish the starting role.
2) Sammy Watkins, WR BUF
There was plenty of concern amongst dynasty owner when it came to the play of Bills’ wide receiver Sammy Watkins, and for good reason. Through the first 11 weeks of the season, Watkins was just the WR58 and had essentially become a bench player for fantasy teams. Over the past month though, Watkins has reminded us why he was the top rookie option a season ago. Watkins is fully healthy and clicking with quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Over the past four games, Watkins is the WR5, averaging over 25 fantasy points per game.
3) Bilal Powell, RB NYJ
The hot streak of Johnson and Watkins might not surprise you, but would you believe Jets’ running back Bilal Powell is the RB2 over the past three games? Powell has done much of his damage as a receiver with 20 receptions for nearly 200 yards in those three games. Powell has always been an underrated player and more of an asset to the Jets than he was for fantasy owners. With starter Chris Ivory slowing down as the season wraps up, Powell has picked up the slack and become a title-winning player for fantasy teams.
4) Dorial Green-Beckham, WR TEN
There are plenty of other players heating up as the season wears down but one that stands out to me is rookie receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. After a troubled college career, DGB got off to a slow start for the Titans, but has started to earn a larger role as the season nears its end. Green-Beckham has at least five targets in each of the last five games and is averaging nearly 100 yards per game over the past three. Green-Beckham is easily the most talented receiver on the Titans’ roster and should be their top threat in 2016.
5) Brandin Cooks, WR NO
A slow start had some worried, but sophomore Brandin Cooks has done his part to ease the loss of two of the Saints’ top pass catchers from a season ago. With both Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills traded out of New Orleans, Cooks has been a weekly threat and is now up to nearly 1,000 yards on the season to go along with his eight touchdowns. Cooks will be a popular choice in the second round of offseason startup drafts.
6) DeVante Parker, WR MIA
With breakout receiver Rishard Matthews out of action in recent weeks, rookie DeVante Parker has seen increased playing time and has been impressive, showing us why he was the Dolphins’ first round pick. After seven consecutive games in which Parker failed to even see a target, Parker has nearly 250 receiving yards and two touchdowns over the past month. Matthews is due back soon, possibly as early as this weekend, so Parker’s role on the offense will be very telling.
7) Matthew Stafford, QB DET
Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford has gotten, and continues to receive, a great deal of “hate” from the fantasy community. Labeled as simply a volume passer, Stafford struggled in 2014 when that volume he’d so often used to put up big numbers and big fantasy points was not there. It was a similar story to begin the 2015 season as well, but Stafford has been on a roll as of late. Since the Lions’ bye week, a span of six games, Stafford is the fantasy QB8, with a low game of 19 fantasy points. Even more impressive, veteran superstar Calvin Johnson has been relatively quiet in a few of those games, so Stafford is not relying heavily on his top receiver.
8) Michael Floyd, WR ARZ
Through the first five games of the season, Cardinals’ wide receiver Michael Floyd was a non-factor, often playing as the fourth receiver in the Arizona offense. Of course, he was also trying to get healthy after suffering a nasty hand injury in the preseason. Since Week Six though, Floyd has been the WR20 in PPR leagues. The Cardinals’ offense is clicking and is currently looking like the best the league has to offer. As long as Carson Palmer is there and healthy, Floyd, John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald should continue rolling.
9) Christine Michael, RB SEA
What a season it has been for running back Christine Michael. Once considered the must-own running back prospect in dynasty leagues, the Seahawks gave up on their former second round pick, dealing Michael to the running back-needy Cowboys. Even with Dallas’ struggles at the position, they too dumped Michael, cutting him after a few weeks. The Redskins gave him a shot and signed him to their practice squad, though they later released him. As you already know, the Seahawks scooped him up after an injury to Thomas Rawls and Michael led the charge in Week 15, totaling a career-high 84 rushing yards on 16 carries. While Michael may not be the lead dog in Seattle in 2016, he is playing for a job next season, even if it means joining yet another team.
10) James White, RB NE
When Dion Lewis went down with a season-ending injury, followed up by power back LeGarrette Blount doing the same a few weeks later, there were many questions about which running backs the Patriots would rely on to fill the void. The question is still in doubt for their early-down back, but James White has played very well as the team’s pass-catching back. White is the PPR RB4 over the past five weeks, catching 25 passes and scoring a total of five touchdowns. With Lewis and White both playing well at times this year, it will be very interesting to see what the Patriots’ 2016 backfield looks like.
Others considered: Mike Evans, Darren McFadden, Zach Miller, Denard Robinson, Julius Thomas, Devonta Freeman, Cam Newton, Will Tye, Ted Ginn, Cameron Artis-Payne, Delanie Walker, Mike Gillislee, Jordan Reed, Kamar Aiken, Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Antonio Brown, Blake Bell, Zach Ertz, Golden Tate
1) Melvin Gordon, RB SD
A disappointing season for rookie running back Melvin Gordon has come to an end. The Chargers’ first round pick was placed on the injured reserve list with a banged-up knee. The injury doesn’t appear to be serious, which is good news going forward. Gordon was a consensus top-three rookie pick last offseason and was quickly ranked among the top-10 dynasty running backs due to his age and expected role as the Chargers’ starter. Gordon struggled from day one and failed to score a single touchdown this season. He is being tabbed by some as the biggest loser of dynasty value this season.
While the Bengals have had a very good season overall, with Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert leading the way for the offense, they have failed to really get their running game going. Big back Jeremy Hill has four multiple touchdown games this season but is only averaging around 45 rushing yards in those four games. He has yet to break 100 yards in any game this season and has received more than 20 carries just once. With Hill’s struggles, you might expect speedy back Giovani Bernard to be prospering, but that isn’t really the case. Bernard began the season with six consecutive games of double-digit fantasy points, leaving him as the RB10 after six weeks. Since that time, Bernard is the RB26, finishing less than one fantasy point ahead of Hill over that span. In short, Hill and Bernard are doing what the Bengals need them to do, but are somewhat cancelling each other out when it comes to fantasy production.
3) Javorius Allen, RB BAL
Since taking over for an injured Justin Forsett, Ravens’ rookie running back Javorius Allen has had some big games, to the surprise of many. During that time though, he’s been plagued by fumbling issues and in Week 15, he was benched after losing a fumble. This was the second lost fumble for Allen in the past two weeks. Reports are Allen will regain his starting role in Week 16, but he’s not as reliable as he appeared a couple weeks ago.
4) Marcus Mariota, QB TEN
Like any rookie quarterback, the Titans’ Marcus Mariota has had some ups and downs this season. His ultimate low point may have occurred last week as he suffered a knee injury that will keep him out for the remainder of the season. Mariota exited the game early after multiple hard hits by Patriots’ defenders. He was later diagnosed with a sprained MCL and with just two games left, the Titans will likely go with backup Zach Mettenberger for the remainder of the season. Mariota enters the offseason on a bit of a down note, but did have some huge games prior to the injury. He’ll be viewed as a top-10 dynasty quarterback this offseason.
5) Chris Ivory, RB NYJ
One of the most surprising players this season has been Jets’ running back Chris Ivory, who established himself as a top scoring weekly option early in the season. As the weeks have passed though, Ivory seems to be slowing down. With the emergence of Bilal Powell as a passing game threat, Ivory’s role as a receiver has diminished. While Ivory continues to run hard and rack up yardage, he’s becoming a back who is reliant on scoring a touchdown to produce big fantasy numbers, much like Alfred Morris in past seasons.