By Matt Kelley (@Fantasy_Mansion)
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week, we look at one player whose fantasy stock is trending up, one whose fantasy stock is trending down, and one sleeper to stash before your oblivious competitors fully process last weekend’s events.
Trending Up: Aaron Jones
Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones is for real. Aaron Jones is happening. Aaron Jones is not going away, because Aaron Jones is a great football player.
Jones entered the 2017 NFL Draft as one of the most decorated running back prospects. Through four years, Jones dominated collegiate defenders in all phases. He posted 4,760 total yards, 71 receptions, and 33 touchdown during his career. Jones closed out his final season with an exceptional 47-percent (97th percentile) College Dominator Rating on PlayerProfiler.com. Only Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook and Kareem Hunt offered NFL scouts equivalent college resumés.
These comps are just scratching the surface. Here are Jones’ top-10 player comparisons on PlayerProfiler.com based on size, athleticism, and college production:
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Jones demonstrated great burst and quickness, evidenced by a 127.3 (87th percentile) Burst Score and a 11.02 (86th percentile) Agility Score. Despite one of the most impressive talent profiles among the 2017 rookie running back class, Jones slipped to the Packers at pick 182 of the NFL Draft. UTEP is long way from LSU.
Even the Packers passed on Aaron Jones when Green Bay selected BYU running back Jamaal Williams one round earlier. While Jones offers an all-purpose skill set, Williams was a one-dimensional pounder at the college level with sub-par athleticism, exemplified by a 95.5 (8th percentile) SPARQ-x Score, Nike’s composite athleticism metric.
Williams entered the 2017 NFL season with more draft capital, Jones entered the season with more ability, and talent won one day. Jones quickly rose up the depth chart culminating in a 20-plus fantasy point performance on a 90-percent Opportunity Share (Le’Veon Bell-level usage) against the Cowboys in week 5.
Aaron Jones vs. Dallas
Opportunity Share: 90.9%
Evaded Tackles: 5
Yards Created: 34
Fantasy Points: 20.4
What about Ty Montgomery? Based on the injury probability models, Montgomery will likely miss week 6. The Packers then have a bye in week 8. Aaron Jones could get two more starts, including one against the Saints in week 7. A converted receiver, Montgomery has never endured a full season of primary back touches, and with each passing day, his grip on the starting job becomes more tenuous.
NFL Coaches deploy playmakers they can trust. If Jones continues to excel in his midseason audition by running efficiently and avoiding turnovers, he should carve out a significant role in the second half of the season.
Aaron Jones is more than a single week fireworks display in the sky. He is the perfect buy-high candidate in fantasy football.
Trending Down: Jarvis Landry
Jarvis Landry is the anti-Aaron Jones. Landry has been an underwhelming NFL staple for many years. Since he entered the league in 2014, no wide receiver has posted lower athleticism metrics, and no wide receiver has posted lower on-field efficiency metrics. It’s almost like athleticism matters in athletics [insert snicker face emoji].
While Jones is now rising out of a primordial soup of über talent obscurity, Landry has been coasting on a brand closely affiliated with former LSU teammate Odell Beckham. Unlike Beckham, Landry is not a true No. 1 receiver. Landry consistently finishes near the bottom of the NFL in key efficiency categories from Target Premium to Yards Per Target to QB Rating When Targeted. Because Landry produces the bare minimum yards and touchdowns on any given target, he is a highly volume-dependent fantasy producer. Yet, many fantasy gamers still perceive Landry as the Dolphins’ go-to playmaker.
Jarvis Landry 2017 Efficiency Metrics
Yards Per Target
Yards Per Route
QB Rating When Targeted
Before leaving Miami’s week 5 game with an ankle injury, Parker had usurped Landry as Miami’s leading receiver. Zooming and reviewing the analytics, Parker’s career Air Yards per Target, one of the most powerful efficiency metrics, dwarfs Landry’s. Fantasy football analysis began advising gamers to trade Jarvis Landry in the wake of Devante Parker’s ascendance at the end of 2016 and exacerbated by Jay Cutler’s arrival this summer.
Dealing with a disinterested Jay Cutler under center while competing for targets with a superior playmaker in Devante Parker is not the contract year Landry had in mind. Answering questions about domestic abuse allegations while the Dolphins front office sinks into salacious “white powder” scandal is not the contract year Landry had in mind. Trade Jarvis Landry now before your league mates realize this fish is cooked [inster laughing-crying emoji]
Sleeper Watch: Roger Lewis
Midseason breakout wide receivers are rare, but extraordinary circumstances have befallen the New York Giants passing game, and Roger Lewis is the last healthy wide receiver left standing.
Once upon a time, Lewis was a high profile Ohio State recruit. Banished to Bowling Green after a shameful dismissal, he went on to ring up 1544 yards and 16 touchdowns on 18.2 yards per reception in his final college season. Lewis is just the most recent prolific MAC conference wide receiver to go undrafted. Coincidentally, Lewis’ prospect profile on PlayerProfiler.com compares closely to Ball State’s Willie Snead who went from NFL journeyman to 1000-yard receiver with the New Orleans Saints in 2016.
Interestingly, Lewis was more productive and efficient than teammate Sterling Shepard at the college level. Since coming into the NFL with Shepard in 2014, Lewis has delivered more splash plays in far fewer snaps for the Giants.
Roger Lewis Efficiency Metrics
Yards Per Target
Air Yards Per Target
Flash-forward to last Sunday, Lewis vaulted into a featured role in New York’s pass-oriented offense after the Giants lost Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and even Dwayne Harris for the season, and Shepard suffered a high ankle sprain. While the upcoming match-ups against Denver and Seattle are foreboding, he has the talent profile to fill the target void at the top of the wide receiver depth chart. If Lewis excels against Aqib Talib and Richard Sherman in the weeks ahead, he would establish himself as the Giants’ defacto No. 1 WR for the remainder of the season.
Don’t wait and see. Stash Lewis now.