A full 10 weeks of football has come to an end and we have plenty of data needed to make informed decisions. It’s virtually impossible to catch every second of every game, so of course there are things you miss from week to week. This article aims to name most of time Under-the-radar, mid-tier, but fantasy-relevant players trending up or down. You’ll never see me mention that Justin Jefferson is trending because that’s a headline you can read just about anywhere. You’ll also never see me beat a player like Matt Breida with a “Trending Down” label because (with all due respect) who cares? But you’ll see that I hold “star” players to a higher standard by occasionally featuring them in the downtrend category. The underlying purpose of this article is to identify up-and-coming players before they become popular waiver wire adds.
Christian Watson – WR, Green Bay Packers
Not one, not two. Not three, not four, but five touchdowns for electrifying rookie wide receiver Christian Watson in the last two games. After scoring three touchdowns against a previously stingy Cowboys defense, Watson was on a mission to prove it wasn’t a fluke. He did just that on Thursday Night Football. On Watson’s last time out, he caught four passes en route for 48 yards and two touchdowns. What has impressed Watson most recently has been his efficiency, he didn’t need a lot of receptions to get the job done. This is evidenced by the fact that he has five touchdowns in his last eight catches. This type of production is totally unsustainable, but I would advise everyone to keep riding this train until it collapses.
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) November 18, 2022
The health of the Green Bay Packers’ wide receiver room is trending in the right direction. Randall Cobb, finding his way back into the lineup, proved to be a huge boost to the Packers offense. Fellow rookie WR Romeo Doubs had stepped down prior to his injury so it will be interesting to watch the team’s momentum when he returns. While the WR space is healthy, Green Bay will still need a consistent playmaker without Davante Adams. It looks like Christian Watson is up to the challenge.
Van Jefferson-WR, Los Angeles Rams
Van Jefferson’s return hasn’t been as sparkling as one might have hoped. In his first game back from injury, Van Jefferson was virtually invisible. Despite being on the field for 53% of the snaps, Van wasn’t once targeted by Matthew Stafford. One could argue that things got even worse over the next week. What could be worse than no goals, you say? Five goals. Five goals and zero catches, that is. After he went without catches on his debut of the season, the Rams tried to get him working and failed with all their might. In fact, Van only had to start John Wolford as quarterback to record his first catch and touchdown of the season. After Matthew Stafford was out, Van finally surfaced on the stat sheet, hauling in a measly three yards on three receptions, adding to the stinkiest garbage-time touchdown of all.
— OnlyGators.com: Florida Gators News (@onlygators) November 14, 2022
I should have started this passage by foreshadowing that I have nothing nice to say about how Van Jefferson’s year started. The only reason he’s on this side of the article and not “trending down” is because of Cooper Kupp’s injury. The injury to Kupp’s ankle was apparently serious enough to require surgery, so the team put him on IR. That Rams offense flows through Kupp, without him Matthew Stafford needs to find a new receiver to lean on. Reports from Los Angeles appear to believe Van is said man. All signs seem to be pointing in that direction, but Van needs to produce if he’s going to maintain and secure that role for the rest of the season.
Treylon Burks-WR, Tennessee Titans
Another player is back from injury, only this time it’s a player in Treylon Burks who looked just as good as when he left. Everyone understands that Burks was basically the 1v1 replacement for AJ Brown. If you just look at the stats, you can easily see who was the bigger win for their soccer team. Upon closer inspection, we’ll see that Burks has done exactly what has been asked of him so far this season. He was that big threat in the field that the Titans had hoped, he just doesn’t do it at the volume that Brown had. It’s not all Burks’ fault. He’s obviously missed some time through injury, but more importantly, the Titans’ game plan revolves around Derrick Henry and the running game, which really limits wide receiver options.
The wide receivers for the Titans really haven’t had much production this season. Again, this is largely because the team has the third-highest rate (53%) in tumbling the ball in the NFL. That percentage was even higher (58%) in the last three games as Ryan Tannehill suffered an ankle injury that forced Malik Willis into the game early. What was really stunning is the fact that Tannehill didn’t play many play-action passes, which has been his bread and butter in the past. I believe a healthy few weeks together will do wonders for the new duo. The Tannehill-Burks connection is trending up.
Chase Claypool-WR, Chicago Bears
Chase Claypool only ran SIX routes ALL the game. He’s not even tired. #DaBears
– Clayharbs (@clayharbs82) November 14, 2022
When Chase Claypool was traded to the Chicago Bears, everyone expected weekly 100+ yard strides and multi-touchdown plays. Imagine their disappointment when he was less involved there than in Pittsburgh. Just kidding, nobody expected Claypool to become a world champion. Especially not catching passes in Chicago. Putting ink to paper, Claypool effectively vaporized any chance he had of gaining relevance this season. Justin Fields has played alongside Darnell Mooney for several seasons. Luckily, two are finally starting to trend in the right direction. If it’s taken that long for the two to form some kind of rapport, I think it’s going to take a while for Fields and Claypool to be on the same page.
You might be thinking, “Justin just needs a big body to throw himself on”. The Bears went and got Velus Jones, already had Equanimeous St. Brown and traded to N’Keal Harry. All big bodies, no consistent production. The only big body Fields has had success with is TE, Cole Kmet. Cole has been the biggest threat to the Bears in the red zone, which in turn limits what Claypool can do for the Bears
Robert Tonyan-TE, Green Bay Packers
I remember a time when Aaron Rodgers’ TE was a must in fantasy football. Those times seem long gone. A few seasons ago, Tonyan was a touchdown-dependant guy, but at least he was catching touchdowns. This season, it’d be a miracle if he’s even targeted by former NFL MVP QB. In his last three appearances, Tonyan has amassed nine targets and managed to catch only 6. Those 6 catches were only good for 56 yards. As mentioned above, there were no touchdowns for Bobby this season. He’s only hit pay dirt once this year when he caught two passes in week 4. The way the WR space has been trending, it’s a wonder why Rodgers wasn’t leaning more on his tight end. This is a very different Robert Tonyan than the 2020 version that scored 11 touchdowns.
Taysom Hill-TE/QB, New Orleans Saints
Aside from the emergence of Juwan Johnson, Saints Hill haven’t used as much as some believe they should. Whenever Taysom is in play, he keeps the defense busy. You never know if he’ll run or fold (run, he’ll run), adding momentum to the Saints’ offense they’ve been missing. Taysom has averaged a 30% snap count share so far this season, which wasn’t much when they were using him. But now that number feels really low since he’s been used as a blocker for the past few weeks. Maybe it’s the defense that turns him on when he comes into play, but Hill has given off the ball more times than he’s held the last few times. If Hill is not fielded near the goal line, Hill will not score any touchdowns.
Taysom Hill moved 💨 💨
(He also finished the ride with a rushing TD)pic.twitter.com/u8Eh67tqu0
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 11, 2022
Also check out our Week 11 rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | Flex Rankings