A whole 10 weeks of football are complete and we have plenty of the data needed to make informed decisions. It’s virtually impossible to watch every second of every game, so naturally, there are things that you miss from week to week. This article aims to name mostly under-the-radar, mid-tier, but fantasy-relevant players that are trending up or trending down. You’ll never see me mention that Justin Jefferson is trending up because that’s a headline you can read just about anywhere. You’ll also never see me slap a player like Matt Breida with a “trending down” label, because (with all due respect) who cares? But you will see me hold “star” players to a higher standard by occasionally featuring them in the trending down category. The underlying purpose of this article is to identify rising 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 the 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 that it was not a fluke. On Thursday Night Football he did just that. In Watson’s last time out he caught four passes en route to 48 yards and two touchdowns. What has been most impressive about Watson lately has been his efficiency, he hasn’t needed a ton 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 wildly unsustainable, but I would advise anybody to keep riding this bandwagon until it breaks down.
— 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 making his way back into the lineup proved to be a big boost for the Packers’ offense. Fellow rookie WR Romeo Doubs had taken a step back before his injury, so it will be interesting to monitor the team’s dynamic when he returns. While the WR room is healthy, Green Bay will still be in need of a consistent playmaker sans Davante Adams. It looks like Christian Watson is up for that challenge.
Van Jefferson – WR, Los Angeles Rams
The return of Van Jefferson has not been as splashy as one may have hoped. In his first game “back” from injury Van Jefferson was, for all intents and purposes, invisible. Despite being on the field for 53% of snaps, Van was not targeted once by Matthew Stafford. You could argue that things got even worse the next week. What can be worse than no targets you say? Five targets. Five targets and zero catches that is. After going catch-less in his season debut, the Rams tried to get him going and flat out failed. In fact, all it took was starting John Wolford at quarterback for Van to record his first catch and touchdown of the season. With Matthew Stafford out, Van finally made an appearance on the stat sheet, posting a measly three yards on three receptions, adding the stinkiest of all garbage time touchdowns.
— OnlyGators.com: Florida Gators news (@onlygators) November 14, 2022
I should have started this passage with the precursor that I have nothing nice to say about the way Van Jefferson’s year has started. The only reason that he finds himself 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 severe enough to require surgery, so the team placed him on IR. This Rams’ offense flows through Kupp, without him Matthew Stafford is going to have to find a new receiver to lean on. Reports out of Los Angeles seem to believe that Van is said man. All signs seem to trending in that direction, but Van will need to produce if he is to claim and secure that role for the rest of the season.
Treylon Burks – WR, Tennessee Titans
Another player back from injury, only this time around it’s a player, in Treylon Burks, who looked just as good as he did when he left. Everyone understands that Burks was basically the 1v1 replacement for AJ Brown. If you just look at the stat sheet, you can easily tell who has been the bigger asset for their football team. Upon closer examination, we’ll find that Burks has been doing exactly what has been asked of him so far this season. He’s been that big bodied down field threat that the Titans had hoped he’d be, he’s just not doing it at the volume that Brown had. This is not all of Burks’ fault. Obviously he’s missed some time to injury, but more impactfully, the Titans’ game plan revolves around Derrick Henry and the run game, which really limits what the wide receivers can do.
The wide receivers for the Titans really haven’t have had much production at all this season. Once again this is mostly because the team rushes the ball at the third highest rate (53%) in the NFL. That percentage has been even higher over the last three games (58%) as Ryan Tannehill was nursing an ankle injury, which forced Malik Willis into the game before his time. What has really been killer though is the fact that Tannehill hasn’t been hitting on many play-action passes, which has been his bread and butter in the past. I believe that a few weeks healthy 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 game. He’s not even tired. #DaBears
— Clay Harbor (@clayharbs82) November 14, 2022
When Chase Claypool was traded to the Chicago Bears everybody was expecting weekly 100+ yard performances and multi-touchdown games. Imagine their disappointment when he was less involved there than he was in Pittsburgh. Just kidding, nobody was expecting Claypool to evolve into some world beater. Especially not catching passes in Chicago. In fact, when Claypool put ink to paper, he effectively vaporized any chance he had of reaching relevance this season. Justin Fields has had multiple seasons playing alongside Darnell Mooney. Thankfully, two are finally starting to get trending in the right direction. If it has taken this long for those two to gain some kind of rapport then I believe it’s going to be a while before Fields and Claypool are on the same page.
You may be thinking, “Justin just needs a big body to throw to”. The Bears went and got Velus Jones, already had Equanimeous St. Brown, and traded for N’Keal Harry. All big bodies, no consistent production. The one big body that Fields has found success with is TE, Cole Kmet. Cole has been the biggest red zone threat for the Bears, which once again 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-have in fantasy football. Those days seem to be long gone. A couple of seasons ago Tonyan was a touchdown-reliant kind of guy, but at least he was catching touchdowns. This season it is a miracle if he’s even targeted by the former NFL MVP QB. In his last three appearances, Tonyan has amassed nine targets, only managing to catch 6. Those 6 catches were only good for 56 yards. As mentioned above the touchdowns have not been there for Bobby this season. He only has reached pay dirt only once this year, when he caught two passes in Week 4. The way the WR room was trending, it is a wonder why Rodgers didn’t lean more on his tight end. This is a much different Robert Tonyan than the 2020 version that scored 11 touchdowns.
Taysom Hill- TE/QB, New Orleans Saints
The emergence of Juwan Johnson aside, the Saints have not used Hill as much as some believe that they should. Whenever Taysom is in the game he keeps the defense on their toes. You never know if he’s going to run or pass (run, he’s going to run), which adds a dynamic to the Saints’ offense that they’ve been missing. Taysom has gotten an average 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 deployed as a blocker for the last couple of weeks. Perhaps it is the defenses keying in on him when he enters the game, but Hill has handed the ball off more often than he’s kept it his last few times out. If Hill isn’t being used near the goal line then Hill isn’t scoring touchdowns.
Taysom Hill was moving 💨 💨
(He finished the drive with a rushing TD as well)pic.twitter.com/u8Eh67tqu0
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 11, 2022