We’ve made it through seven 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.
Hayden Hurst – TE, Cincinnati Bengals
Oh boy. Shocking news out of Cincinnati. Elite wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase has been sidelined with a hip injury and a torn labrum. His current timetable for recovery is estimated at 4-6 weeks. This is terrible news for the Bengals’ passing attack overall, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be bad news for everybody. Hayden Hurst has already been trending up, seeing his fair share of the targets, compiling 18 looks in the last three games. There is no reason to believe that his target share won’t increase while Chase is off the field.
Hayden Hurst is coming off of a game in which he saw 8 targets from Joe Burrow. Hurst turned those eight looks into six catches for 48 yards. This isn’t an eye-popping number, but what is significant is the fact that he is being targeted in crucial situations. These situations include third downs and red zone looks. Hurst only has a pair of touchdowns to his name, but Joe Burrow is hot right now and has one less target to throw the ball to. What Ja’Marr Chase does can not be replicated, this may force the Bengals to do more “dinking and dunking”, which would benefit both Hurst and Tyler Boyd.
Greg Dulcich – TE, Denver Broncos
This offseason was all about Russell Wilson and how he and Albert O should have this electric connection. That speculation did not pan out as Albert Okwuegbunam quickly fell down the depth chart. This allowed the likes of Eric Saubert and Andrew Beck to leapfrog him. Ultimately, Saubert and Beck were just keeping the seat warm for rookie tight end Greg Dulcich. In his first-ever game action, Dulcich played in 71% of snaps against the Chargers in Week 6. Russell Wilson wasn’t shy about welcoming his new pass catcher. Dulcich ended his debut with two catches for 44 yards and a touchdown.
Greg Dulcich has played just two games this season.
— PFN Fantasy Football (@PFNFantasy) October 25, 2022
We saw that Russell was willing to show the tight end some love. We also saw that Dulcich will be a part of the game plan now matter who is at quarterback. Last week the rookie’s usage increased to the tune of nine targets. He corralled six of those looks for 51 yards. The way that this is trending, the young tight end could become Wilson’s number two target over Jerry Jeudy. Dulcich will look to showcase his talents across the pond when the Broncos meet the Jaguars in London this Sunday. The word on the street is that Russell Wilson will be back under center for the matchup.
Keaontay Ingram – RB, Arizona Cardinals
James Conner has been ruled out once again this week. This week marks the third straight week that Conner will miss due to his rib injury. This obviously doesn’t bode well for his future with the team, so it makes sense that even when Conner is ready to return his role could be muted. That has mostly been due to the efforts of Ingram and Benjamin in Conner’s stead. Benjamin scored a touchdown in Week 5 and most recently exploded for 92 yards and a score this past week against the Saints. Ingram showcased his skills as well.
Keaontay Ingram a thing???
— PlayerProfiler NFL (@Profiler_NFL) October 21, 2022
Keaontay Ingram must have done something right in Week 6 because the dynamic rookie saw his playing time more than double in Week 7. His usage increased as well. He went from three carries in Week 6 to 9 carries last week. Ingram also got involved in the passing game. He pulled in both of his targets for 23 yards, one of which he made multiple defenders miss in route to a big gain. Ingram has flashed and with Conner out again this week he could be primed to get more opportunities to gain traction. The rookie is trending in the right direction, he’s a speculative add in dynasty formats.
Romeo Doubs – WR, Green Bay Packers
Romeo Doubs will probably be featured in the “Slump Buster” section of this article next week. With Allen Lazard already ruled out for Sunday’s game, Doubs will have a real chance to get right and bounce back against the Buffalo Bills. The last few games have been pretty rough for the rookie, who had started the season off very hot. Doubs hasn’t scored more than 10 fantasy points since he put up a 5-47-1 line against the Patriots in Week 4. Fortunately for Doubs, the Packers don’t have the depth to replace him in the lineup.
Since Week 3 Doubs has played in at least 86% of his team’s offensive snaps. He’s on the field, he just has not been producing. It isn’t like anybody else is lighting it up for the Packers, but Doubs has been bad as of late. The rookie has had 18 targets in the last three games but has only been able to turn that into 7 catches for 50 yards. Just this past week, Doubs goose-egged on four targets. You don’t need me to tell you what a zero score does for your lineup. Doubs is trending down but has a shot to bounce back this week in a game where the Packers will no doubt be playing from behind. But against a tough Bills secondary, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Hunter Renfrow – WR, Las Vegas Raiders
Dishonorable mention in my Week 6 trending players article, Hunter Renfrow now finds himself firmly in the trending down category. I really don’t have any fear that this will come back to bite me either. Renfrow is simply not in his usual role and it is sad to see. Even when his hip injury isn’t keeping him off the field, the Raiders’ game plan is. It seems that every time the Raiders line up they’re in two-wide sets. That means that there are only two wide receivers on the field. If you didn’t know, Hunter Renfrow is not in that formation. The wide receiver opposite Adams in two-wide sets is Mack Hollins.
With Hollins taking the reigns in two-wide sets, Renfrow has been limited strictly to the slot. Even without Darren Waller to take away targets down the seam, Renfrow has not been able to produce much. I will say that when targeted, Renfrow makes the catch. It just doesn’t help that he may have one of the lowest A-Dots (average depth of target) in the league next to maybe Rondale Moore. Hunter has a pair of WR-friendly matchups on tap in New Orleans and Jacksonville. Renfrow is in real trouble if he can’t bounce back in either of those spots.
Melvin Gordon III – RB, Denver Broncos
An injury to Javonte Williams really should have meant a possible career resurgence for Melvin Gordon. Instead, it led the Broncos to seek help outside of the organization. When Williams went down they took no time at all in poaching Latavius Murray from the New Orleans Saints practice squad. For Gordon’s sake I hope that he gets a chance to play against the Broncos next season when they ultimately move on from him this coming offseason. The Denver organization has lost faith in Gordon and he honestly hasn’t done much to garner any. Gordon was virtually benched in favor of Murray in Week 6. The veteran back only saw 16% of snaps and three total touches.
— NFL (@NFL) October 23, 2022
Gordon went back to his normal usage last week. He ended up leading the backfield with 11 carries but grossly underperformed on the stat sheet. He only gained 33 yards on the ground, adding another 17 through the air. MG3 only out-touched Murray 13-10 but it was Latavius who found the end zone. That’s not a good look for Gordon who is trending way down. To complicate matters even worse, Marlon Mack has been signed to the active roster following Mike Boone’s injury. The search for the number two back to Javonte Williams appears to be underway.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – WR, Kansas City Chiefs
It seems that every week I mention a player in my trending down section and one of them blows up the next week. So I thought that it was only fair that I give them a shout-out for their bounce-back performance and making me look dumb. Nobody rose from the ashes last week, but JuJu Smith-Schuster, who I mentioned in the Week 6 edition did. Since being mentioned in the trending down section, JuJu has turned in back-to-back 100-yard performances. He racked up 113 and a TD against Buffalo and then 124 and another score last week against San Francisco. It looks like Smith-Schuster has finally found his footing in Kansas City. The team recently signed a new playmaker in Kadarius Toney. I believe that this move will ultimately benefit the entire receiving corps. Smith-Schuster has found his home in KC.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Sui celebration after his touchdown pic.twitter.com/VkPoZTooMg
— . (@ManuDaGoat__) October 23, 2022