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) Alshon Jeffery, WR CHI
It took the Bears’ star wide receiver a surprisingly long time to return to the field from his hamstring injury, but once he rejoined the Bears’ lineup, he’s been dominant. Though he’s played only three games this season, he’s still put up nearly 70 fantasy points. As long as he’s on the field, Jeffery will continue to soak up targets and gain dynasty value. He’s currently being valued just outside of the top 12 overall players based on November dynasty ADP data from Dynasty League Football. Expect him to be a lock for the first round of startup drafts this offseason.
2) Stefon Diggs, WR MIN
Since he first got on the field as a receiver, rookie Stefon Diggs has been a force for the Vikings. Since Week Four, Diggs is the WR7 in PPR leagues, averaging over 19 fantasy points per game. This is especially meaningful thanks to the value he offered this offseason in rookie and startups drafts, being overlooked by essentially everyone. Diggs looks like the top option in Minnesota for the foreseeable future, though I do have some concerns about his injury history, given his small frame of 6’0” and 190 pounds.
3) Latavius Murray, RB OAK
Raiders’ running back Latavius Murray entered the league with injury concerns himself, but in a year where starting running backs are dropping like flies, Murray has become the workhorse back of the young Oakland offense. With injuries and disappointing play across the NFL, Murray is now firmly in the discussion as a top ten dynasty running back. As the Raiders continue to improve, Murray’s opportunities will only increase, further enhancing his value.
4) Darren McFadden, RB DAL
The Cowboys are finding it harder than some thought to replace Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray, who bolted for the Eagles. Joseph Randle didn’t work out (more on him later) and pass-catching back Lance Dunbar was lost for the year with a knee injury. Former Seahawks’ running back Christine Michael continues to disappoint and it’s Darren McFadden who has risen to the top. In the past two weeks, McFadden has totaled nearly 300 yards and has been heavily involved in the passing game. At this point in his career, McFadden is not going to regain the elite dynasty value he once had, but he could be a valuable piece for your dynasty team as we near the playoffs.
5) Michael Floyd, WR ARZ
Cardinals’ wide receiver Michael Floyd began the season about as poorly as you could, suffering a severe hand injury and then being a complete non-factor even when he did return to the field. The challenge for Floyd, who has scored in three consecutive games entering Week Nine, is battling teammates John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald for looks on offense. This talented trio will result in at least one of them coming up short on a weekly basis. With a long-term lens though, Fitzgerald won’t be around forever and Floyd will be a free agent following this season, two factors that could help increase Floyd’s value immensely.
6) Charcandrick West, RB KC
After a terrible start taking over as the Chiefs’ starting running back for the injured Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West has calmed down and steadily produced. In the past two games against Pittsburgh and Detroit, West has averaged over 125 total yards and a touchdown. He’s also being increasingly used in the passing game, aiding his PPR production. I still don’t view West as the long-term starter for Kansas City or the replacement for Charles, but he too could be a key piece for championship teams this season.
7) Dion Lewis, RB NE
After bursting onto the dynasty scene in Week One, Patriots’ running back Dion Lewis fell off his pace for a couple of weeks as he dealt with an abdominal injury. In Week Eight though, Lewis was clearly back to full strength, as he notched his third 100 total yard game of the season. The Patriots continue to rely on Lewis as a receiver as he is still yet to eclipse the 69 rushing yards he had in the season opener, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t produced, as he’s the RB7 on the season in PPR scoring formats. The Patriots aren’t going to go away from this plan as long as it keeps working, so continue to plug Lewis into your lineups.
8) Tavon Austin, WR STL
After a pair of quiet seasons to begin his career, many labeled wide receiver Tavon Austin, a former first round NFL Draft pick, a complete bust. Recently though, Austin is showing us we may have given up on him way too soon. Austin currently ranks as a top 30 fantasy receiver and is making plays all over the field. The former West Virginia Mountaineer has five touchdowns in his past four games and has also has averaged over 80 yards per game from scrimmage. Not only is Austin becoming a reliable receiver for Nick Foles and the Rams, he’s also chipping in around 20 rushing yards per game. I’m shocked to say it, but Austin has become a reliable weekly fantasy starter and his dynasty value is growing as a result.
9) Jeremy Langford, RB CHI
Rookie running back Jeremy Langford has not exactly earned his spot on the Hot List yet, but he will have a chance to this week on Monday Night Football as the Bears face the Chargers and Langford takes the place of injured starter Matt Forte. The extent of Forte’s injury is not yet known, but he’s expected to miss at least two weeks and dynasty owners have quickly reacted by targeting Langford, the former Michigan State back, in trade talks. With the Chargers’ soft run defense, Langford will get an early opportunity to prove he can produce in the NFL and if he does, the talk of him eventually taking Forte’s place will commence. This is just how we treat young running backs in dynasty leagues.
10) Derek Carr, QB OAK
A year ago, dynasty owners took a stand on the rookie quarterback debate, many opting for Vikings’ Teddy Bridgewater while others took the risk with former Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. Oddly enough, two of the other top drafted quarterbacks were largely ignored – Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles and Oakland’s Derek Carr. Like many rookie quarterbacks, both struggled their rookie season, but both have turned things around in 2015. Carr currently sits just outside the top 12 fantasy quarterbacks, thanks to the addition of receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, who offer the Raiders’ offense a good mixture of safety and upside. Carr is now widely being considered as a top ten dynasty quarterback.
1) Randall Cobb, WR GB
If you follow my work at all, you know how it pains me to include Packers’ wide receiver Randall Cobb, my favorite NFL player, on this list. Unfortunately, Cobb, and really the entire Packer offense, is just not getting the job done. Since Cobb’s three touchdown performance in Week Three, he has averaged just 33 yards per game and has not found the end zone in that four game stretch. Cobb is still a very good player and this will turn around, but he’s not currently an automatic start in fantasy leagues. With the impressive play of Jeffery and other young receivers like Allen Robinson, Cobb’s value and ranking is taking a slight hit.
2) Joseph Randle, RB FA
I wrote about running back Joseph Randle last week and shared that I was somewhat surprised he was still a member of the Dallas Cowboys following his on- and off-field struggles and after another troubling week, the team opted to release their former starting running back. As should be the case, few details have been released, but there are reports Randle is battling some personal issues. This makes me think he won’t be back in the NFL this season, but hopefully he can overcome these issues and gets another chance in the future. For now, Randle can be dropped in all but the deepest dynasty leagues.
3) Teddy Bridgewater, QB MIN
I mentioned Bridgewater earlier as many dynasty players pushed to get him on their roster a season ago and he had a solid rookie campaign, especially once wide receiver Charles Johnson joined the team. Unfortunately, Johnson has regressed this season and so has Bridgewater. Strangely enough, this is the case even though the Vikings added veteran Mike Wallace and rookie Stefon Diggs to their receiving corps over the off-season. Minnesota is winning and Bridgewater is doing enough to help Diggs break out, but for those who once viewed Bridgewater as a future top-five fantasy quarterback, myself included, it is time to reevaluate.
4) Colin Kaepernick, QB SF
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is another player I mentioned last week amidst continued struggles and rumors the team may be considering benching their starter in favor of Blaine Gabbert. Sure enough, after another let down in Week Eight, that is just what happened. This week, the Niners announced Gabbert, the former Jaguars’ bust, would start in Week Nine. They also dumped their longtime tight end Vernon Davis in a trade with the Broncos. San Francisco seems to be giving up on their season and Kaepernick’s poor play is a major reason for that. Even with this benching, I’m not giving up on him as a dynasty asset, assuming I have the roster space. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the team turned back to him later this season.
5) Le’Veon Bell, RB PIT
Keenan Allen, WR SD
Steve Smith, WR BAL
As you know by now, Week Eight was a rough week for NFL fans, fantasy players and especially NFL players themselves and the injuries started early and just kept coming. Among the injuries were a season-ending knee injury to the best running back in the game, Le’Veon Bell, a kidney injury that landed Chargers’ receiver Keenan Allen on the injury reserve list and an Achilles tear that may have ended the career of wide receiver Steve Smith. The value of each of these players will be affected by these injuries through no fault of their own. Bell and Allen are young enough that their value is insulated and might make good buy-low candidates. Meanwhile, Smith and his future will be one of the stories to watch during the offseason. Prior to this season, he announced that 2015 would be his final NFL season, but now he is said to be reconsidering.