1) Mecole Hardman
Each week it is starting to look more and more like Hardman is taking over Tyreek Hill’s old role, and if he has then he’ll end the season top-20 in PRK without a doubt.
Mecole Hardman makes the list again since he’s still available in 64% of ESPN leagues and now has four-straight double-digit fantasy weeks – a rare feat for players still available at this point in the season.
Coming out of Georgia, Mecole Hardman did run an official 4.33 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, so he’s only a step or two slower than Tyreek (which still makes him one of the fastest players in the league).
After leading all Chiefs receivers in offensive snaps with a 62% snap share against the 49ers the prior week, should anyone really be surprised by Hardman anymore?
Mecole Hardman ties it! #ChiefsKingdom
— NFL (@NFL) October 16, 2022
Ideally, you might look for a higher overall snap share for a team’s #1 receiver – but the bottom line is if you’re a starting wide receiver in an offense led by Patrick Mahomes, you have fantasy value.
The Chiefs have also made an obvious commitment to using Hardman more throughout the backend of the fantasy season.
Through the first four weeks of 2022, the Chiefs’ supersonic speedster had just 12 targets. Through the last four weeks, he’s had 22 targets.
Hardman also had 40+ total yards just once through those first few dismal weeks, but since Week 5 he’s had over 40 yards in every game.
Kansas City has been using Hardman creatively, opting to send him in motion and hand him plenty of jet sweeps in addition to using him as a decoy to open up the rest of the playbook.
Its worth noting Hardman did maintain a snap share of over 50% this week even with the acquisition of Kadarius Toney.
With a similar role to Curtis Samuel except in an unfathomably better offense with more scoring opportunities, Hardman is a must-grab if he’s still available in your league.
As evidenced by the fact that Hardman is tied for 4th in TD catches this season, Hardman should have significantly more value and scoring opportunities than other players with similar volume.
Over the last four productive weeks, Mecole Hardman’s per game averages are:
- 18.3 fantasy points
- 5.5 targets and one carry
- 4.3 receptions
- 56.5 receiving yards
Today, Hardman has more fantasy points than Gabe Davis, Diontae Johnson, Chris Godwin, and Darnell Mooney.
It doesn’t take a fantasy expert to deduce that a carry or reception in Kansas City’s offense means significantly more than a carry or reception in other offenses around the league like Washington’s
If you look at Curtis Samuel’s ownership and starting percentage, you’ll get a sense for where Hardman’s numbers are trending in those areas as long as he maintains a snap share of over 50%.
Given Hardman’s role in an offense with abundant passing and scoring opportunities, Hardman can be considered a WR2 or high-end FLEX until proven otherwise.
In 2022, the Chiefs are ranked:
- 1st in PPG
- 2nd in passing yards to only the Dolphins
- 1st in percentage of throws for first downs
- 6th in passing attempts
- 1st in passing TDs – many of which Hardman has been fortunate to the be the recipient of
Mecole Hardman has 4 touchdowns in the last 6 quarters he's played in❗pic.twitter.com/uQNOTCGXZC
— Yahoo Sports NFL (@YahooSportsNFL) November 7, 2022
Hardman’s main downside is he is somewhat TD-dependent as he’s scored a touchdown in half his weeks and not coincidentally, those have been the weeks he’s been startable.
Hardman is scoring on 26% of his touches as well, so you have to figure that percentage will dribble away as the season drags on.
This coming Sunday, he’ll face Jacksonville which has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
2) Donovan Peoples-Jones
With five straight weeks with fifty or more receiving yards, at least four catches, and nine or more fantasy points in every game, Peoples-Jones only being owned in 12% of ESPN leagues is an atrocity that should be considered against the Geneva Convention given the other options available.
Peoples-Jones has been quietly amassing a respectable season for a player in his situation in his type of offense, playing with a backup QB. He is currently top-50 in receiving yards per game and is averaging over 50 yards per week.
Peoples-Jones also ranks 32nd in yards per catch and 38th in receiving yards among all players (not just WRs).
He’s a gamer whose big-play ability has been on display all season as today Peoples-Jones sits tied at 9th in the NFL in catches for 20+ yards despite the Browns already having undergone their bye week.
Peoples-Jones has that tantalizing size/speed combination coveted by NFL scouts and fantasy owners alike, a main reason he’s become one of Jacoby Brissett’s favorite targets.
Peoples-Jones is 6’2″, 212-pounds with insane intangibles. His 44½” vertical jump he achieved at the NFL Combine coming out of Michigan is still the second-best vertical recorded since the league began revealing Combine results in 2006.
He finished first among that receiver class with an 11’7″ broad jump too, and he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash.
Over the past five consistent, productive weeks from Peoples-Jones, he is averaging:
- 11.6 fantasy points per game
- 6.2 targets per game
- 69 receiving yards per game
- 20% target share per game
Donovan Peoples-Jones going WAY 🆙 and over 😳
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 1, 2022
So far, he’s managed to display his talents in spite of catching passes from Jacoby Brissett rather than Deshaun Watson, and in spite of playing second fiddle to Amari Cooper.
Peoples-Jones uses his body to expertly box out defenders, and his leaping ability and strong hands empower him to be a favorable target for any quarterback.
Peoples-Jones is also an underrated route runner, in large part because big men don’t often cut with such agility. Moreover, his ability to discover the soft spot zone coverage has been key for him acting as somewhat of a security blanket for Brissett.
The big-bodied #2 receiver for the Browns hasn’t scored a touchdown all season, so when he starts scoring you can expect his roster percentage to start creeping up along with his fantasy points and PRK.
Peoples-Jones is currently playing 87% of the Browns offensive snaps and is on pace for 64 grabs along with 886 receiving yards. Based on volume alone, its a fair assumption that he’ll start crossing the goal line at some point.
The Browns’ passing volume is somewhat of a concern as efficiency has clearly been the key ingredient in their offensive recipe.
While ranking outside the top-15 in yards, attempts, completions, and virtually every offensive measurable that hints at passing volume, the Browns are shockingly ranked 12th in yards per attempt and 9th in percentage of throws that result in first downs.
This week, Peoples-Jones faces a Dolphins defense that is giving up the 10th-most passing yards and the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing WRs.
His impressive consistency regardless of finding the end zone makes him a WR3/FLEX play this week. With bye weeks now in full effect, there are far riskier options to roll the dice on this week for WR-needy teams as evidenced by the next name on the list…
3) Terrace Marshall Jr.
The fact that Terrace Marshall makes this list speaks to just how bleak the fantasy waiver wire this week.
A former second-round pick, Marshall’s career itself was looking bleak until his sudden bout of production the past two weeks. Remember, Marshall once had a relatively high draft stock coming out of LSU and ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at their pro day.
Marshall makes the list simply because he has back-to-back double digit weeks in terms of fantasy points, is still available in over 90% of ESPN leagues, and passes the eye test if you ever have the unjust punishment of being forced to watch the Panthers offense.
Terrace Marshall TD.
LSU fans have seen him make grabs like this time and again. pic.twitter.com/nBkTghLTND
— Shea Dixon (@Sheadixon) November 6, 2022
The Panthers overall offensive play is definitely a concern as they are ranked:
- 27th in completions
- 24th in passing yards
- Tied for 4th-worst in TD passes
- 31st in QB rating
- Tied for 3rd in INTs thrown
Over the last two weeks though, Marshall has 140 receiving yards, 15 targets, and 27 fantasy points.
Since Robbie Anderson was traded three weeks ago, Marshall has played 85% of the team’s offensive snaps.
There’s a chance Marshall has emerged as the Panther’s #2 target opposite D.J. Moore, but that unfortunately isn’t enough for a start most weeks.
While Marshall’s recent production combined with the fact that the Falcons have given up the 2nd-most fantasy points to opposing receivers might force you to think about starting him this week, that’s a fools errand.
— Pro Football Culture (@proftblculture) October 30, 2022
Unless you are in the deepest of leagues, do not by any means slot Marshall into your lineup this week: If you ignore his past two weeks he has been completely unownable, and he got most of his points in Week 9 during garbage time.
Plus, game script tilted in favor of all Panthers wideouts in Week 9 with the team finding themselves down by an insane amount of points early on.
Although, he could be a valuable long-terms stash if he ends up securing the second starting receiver role opposite D.J. Moore.
If Mayfield ends up being named the starter, Marshall’s value should skyrocket as he saw an equal target share (25%) to D.J. Moore when Mayfield was in the game in Week 9.
Marshall also saw one more end zone target and had a slightly higher air yard share (only by 3%) compared to Moore when Mayfield was playing.
Finally, Marshall has seen five end zone targets the last two weeks… the same number that D.J. Moore has throughout the entire season.