1) Zay Jones
Finally, Zay Jones might be living up to the hype that his size/speed combination has forced upon fantasy managers season after season after some random big week despite his almost permanent WR3 status on every team he’s played on.
The facts are this: Zay Jones has turned into a target magnet and finally a starting (or borderline) starting receiver on his own team in a pass-happy offense. For those reasons alone he deserves FLEX consideration – and this will be the last week you can grab him if he is still available in your league.
— NFL (@NFL) September 25, 2022
So far in 2022, Zay Jones has achieved the following rankings among all players (not just WRs):
- Tied for 8th in receptions
- Tied for 12th in targets
- 34th in yards
- 40th in YAC
- Tied for 8th in catches for 1st downs
In an offense that throws it around a ton and is built on their former #1-overall and Heisman-winning QB, Jones sees his share of opportunities every week. Coming off a career-high 11 targets, Jones should be heavily involved again next week against Philly.
If you needed another example on how much better the @Jaguars are this season as opposed to last, just listen to @Trevorlawrencee speak a year apart after games at SoFi Stadium:#NFL #DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/Fd4QY47TkX
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) September 27, 2022
While the Eagles defense is stout, Jones and the rest of the Jags receivers could benefit via having to keep pace with Hurts and the Eagles offense.
Currently fantasy’s WR26 based on PRK, statistically Zay Jones is technically a low-end WR2 or high-end WR3/FLEX.
Jones might struggle against a talented eagles team, it looks like he’ll have a productive season-long role from a fantasy perspective.
2) Isaiah McKenzie
Isaiah McKenzie has always had talent, and he flashed his supreme acceleration and agility during somewhat of a breakout game towards the end of last season when a few Bills pass catchers were out.
This year he’s scored a touchdown in two of his three games and is fresh off a game where the only Bills player he was out-targeted by was Diggs.
It is clear the Bills organization believes in him as well as many plays are clearly crafted for McKenzie and his skillset (he even received a carry as well last week in addition to designed screens/dump offs).
Touchdown from the face of the franchise to the face of the franchise.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) September 9, 2022
Although, one has to keep in mind that Gabe Davis and Diggs both left the game at different points with injuries and cramps (among other Bills players) which likely contributed to McKenzie’s respectively abnormal target share.
Yes, starting McKenzie if Davis, Diggs, and Crowder is a dice roll this week, but: He plays in the most pass-heavy offense in the NFL, is coming off a game where Josh Allen had a career-high in passes attempts, and will face a Ravens D that has given up the most passing yards – you do the math.
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 25, 2022
Today McKenzie is fantasy’s 35th-highest scoring receiver, meaning based on his production he is a low-end WR3/FLEX, but you could do worse than rolling the dice on a guy on a team that throws the ball the most in the NFL playing the team that has given up the most passing yards in the NFL.
3) Richie James
I said it last week with Dortch and Dortch balled out, but good QBs pure straight love good slot receivers. With Shepard out, Richie James is currently the Giants’ WR1, and in fact was already second on the team in targets to only Sterling Shepard.
Today Richie James currently has the following ranks among all players (not just receivers):
- Tied for 13th in catches
- Tied for 11th in catches for 1st downs
- 50th in yards
It might surprise you that Richie James is the only player on this list with at least five targets in all his games, so there’s certainly optimism for him taking some of Sterling Shepard’s work and optimism for a consistent season-long role.
With Sterling Shepard out, the Giants' top 2 healthy wide receivers are:
David Sills V
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 27, 2022
Additionally, like McKenzie, James’ athleticism forces the Giants to draw up plays for him, and it shows up on the stat sheet as he’s already received two carries through three games in addition to his now team-leading targets with Sterling gone.
James has underrated speed and can work outside as well as in the slot, but his already blooming connection with Daniel Jones puts him squarely in the mix for locking down the Giants’ WR1 role for the rest of this season.
The Giants new WR1 certainly won’t be Golladay or Toney especially if you’ve seen and heard what the Giants’ coaching staff has said about earning that position every week.
Giants WR snap counts from MNF
Sterling Shepard: 58
Richie James Jr: 53
David Sills: 45
Kenny Golladay: 24
Darius Slayton: 14
The Giants played 72 offensive snaps
— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) September 27, 2022
Sterling leaves a chunk of receiving work that someone will have to pick up, even if that someone ends up splitting that work 60/40 or 50/50 etc. Per StatMuse, Shepard was tied for 12th among receivers in targets.
Don’t give up on Richie James after this week: He gets a tough matchup and faces a defense that has allowed the 9th-fewest passing yards (it will likely also take some time for the Giants offense to adjust without Sterling).
James is only fantasy’s WR49 based on PRK, so he’s a WR4/5 at best and should not be started this week (and maybe not until he proves he’s taken some of Sterling Shepard’s target share).
But I like him for a great under-the-radar stash who has the chance to finish as a top-20 WR based on points – much like Greg Dortch currently is who’s a very similar player in terms of his physical makeup, skillset, and current slot role.