We’ve made it through five weeks of football and now we’re really starting to collect some of the data points we need to make informed decisions. It’s virtually impossible to watch every second of every game, so naturally, there are things that you might 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 Cooper Kupp 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.
D’Onta Foreman- RB, Carolina Panthers
In case you haven’t heard, Christian McCaffrey is now a San Francisco 49er. Following the trade, interim head coach Steve Wilks said that the team will form a running back by committee. This supposed committee would consist of D’Onta Foreman, Chuba Hubbard, and Raheem Blackshear. From here, the team would ride the hot hand. Both backs, Chuba and Foreman have been used very sparingly with CMC on the roster. But so far this season it has been Foreman that has been utilized the most. He currently has 12 carries to Hubbard’s five.
While 12 carries is hardly a large enough sample size, we can take a quick peek at recent history and determine that Foreman still has a ton of juice. If you remember, Foreman stepped up in a big way last season for the Titans when Derrick Henry went down with a foot injury. During his time as Henry’s replacement, Foreman put up three 100- yard performances on the ground. Meanwhile, Chuba was in Carolina running in place of an injured McCaffrey and looked like hot garbage. He was only able to muster 2 games where he gained at least 80 yards. If history is any indicator, Foreman should get the first crack at the starting job and run away with it. Get him on your rosters soon, the big RB is trending in the right direction.
Rashid Shaheed – WR, New Orleans Saints
Okay, okay, okay. Rashid Shaheed might be for real. Rashid Shaheed, not only is it a fun name to say, but it may be a name worth remembering after all. Mainly a return specialist, Shaheed has been trending in the right direction for the last two weeks. With his first career offensive touch, Shaheed took an end around to the house for a 44-yard rushing touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was also targeted once in the passing game to no avail. Fast forward one short week later and here he is again making a big play. This time it’s on primetime and it’s through the air. On Thursday night, Rashid caught a 53 bomb from Andy Dalton to open up the scoring against the Arizona Cardinals.
— NFL (@NFL) October 21, 2022
The Saints are lacking a playmaking receiver on offense. Healthy ones I should say. Unfortunately, it has been the same old song and dance with Michael Thomas. The once elite pass-catching option just can’t seem to stay on the football field. While his presence is sorely missed, it is promising to see a young receiver step up in his absence. Rashid Shaheed still isn’t a full-time offensive player yet, he only played on 13% of snaps in Week 6 and 14% of snaps Thursday night. Once the playing time ramps up we’ll be able to gauge his true potential.
Tyquan Thornton – WR, New England Patriots
I’m trying to get on this one before he pops again as Shaheed did. Tyquan Thornton is a rookie WR out of Baylor. Man can this kid fly! Thornton who ran an unofficial 4.21 40-yard dash, showed off some of that speed just last week against the Cleveland Browns. Thornton was actually a contender for my rookies to watch before he injured his collarbone, forcing him to miss the first four weeks of the season. When he was finally available, Thornton wasted no time in making his presence known.
Bailey Zappe ➡️ Tyquan Thornton ➡️ Touchdown.
First career touchdown for Thornton.
— Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) October 16, 2022
In his first week back, Thornton played on 42% of snaps. That’s a sizeable chunk for a rookie in Bill Bellichick’s offense, let alone a rookie who has missed game reps and practice. So that’s already a positive sign, a green flag if you will. Just this past week Thornton’s playing time and usage increased. He played on 57% of snaps and caught four passes for 37 and 1 touchdown. The dynamic rookie also added 3 carries for 16 yards and another score. The fact that he’s over 50% of snaps in just his second game is telling for how the Patriots wish to use him going forward. The rookie WR is trending up, although it remains to be seen how he and Mac Jones will fair together.
Chase Edmonds – RB, Miami Dolphins
Chase Edmonds began this offseason as what many people believed to be the uncontested starter in Miami. And you know what? For a brief moment (one week), it worked out that way. As time passed, the Dolphin’s coaching staff figured out what everyone else had already known deep down inside. Chase Edmonds is not that guy. By “that guy”, I simply mean he’s not built to carry the load that a traditional three-down back could. His smaller stature just wouldn’t hold up to the beating that NFL running backs are forced to take. The team has been trending toward limiting his carries lately. This makes sense because he has been much more efficient in his career when he’s utilized as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.
It seems that Edmonds’ role has been reduced to just that, a pass catcher. Although he was on the field for 40% of the plays last week, Edmonds still only saw two carries. He obviously didn’t do squat with them (three yards). To make matters worse, he really hasn’t been used much in the passing game either lately. In fact, in the last two weeks, Edmonds has only been targeted four times. Catching two balls for 28 yards over that span is not going to get it done. Mostert has a firm grip on the backfield carries, which leaves Edmonds in a serious predicament.
Jeff Wilson Jr. – RB, San Francisco 49ers
This selection piggy backs off of the D’Onta Foreman pick in a sense. That’s just the Christian McCaffrey effect I suppose. CMC is so talented that his presence just commands usage. And it commands usage until the point of having nothing left for others to work with. A fully healthy McCaffrey just about spells the end of Jeff Wilson’s days as RB1 in San Francisco. One week after rumbling for 120 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers, Wilson had a let down performance. Apparently the 7-25-0 and a fumble line that Wilson put up was enough to motivate the 49ers front office to seek help elsewhere.
— Mundo NFL (@MundoNFL) October 16, 2022
This spells danger for Elijah Mitchell as well. The young runner has been uber-efficient for the Niners since signing with the team as an undrafted free agent. This is just one of the many harsh reminders that the NFL is a business. Mitchell’s lack of draft capital essentially makes him expendable. It’s possible that Mitchell will have a change of pace role when he returns to the team, but his days of being the lead back are also over, as long as CMC stays healthy. Back to Wilson. Thanks to his complete lack of pass-catching abilities, Wilson does not appear to have a role for as long as McCaffrey is active. Wilson is trending way down, he may even be droppable in a couple of weeks time.