Week 7 Fantasy Sleepers: Darkwa a bright light in Giants backfield

Yahoo Sports Fantasy Minute
Week 7 Fantasy Flames: Hundley to cash for sleeper seekers

Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 7 Flames in the comments section below.

Brett Hundley, GB, QB (5 percent started, $20 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. NO (Game over/under: 47)

Any aspiring NFL quarterback who happened to splash a quarter in a wishing well would ask to be jettisoned to a handful of ripe locales – New England, New Orleans, Green Bay … With Aaron Rodgers likely sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a broken collarbone, Hundley parachutes into an ideal scenario. When he came out of UCLA in 2015, scouts questioned his ability to process and properly assess progressions. He was tabbed “inaccurate” and “ineffective,” a short field focused passer who, despite his plus athleticism (4.63 40-yard) and size (6-foot-3, 226 pounds), would only develop into an average backup. It’s those knocks that explain why he plummeted to Round 5 of the NFL draft. However, he made noticeablel strides in Year 3, evidenced by his excellent Preseason play. Yes, it was practice football against fellow second-stringers, but his observational learning behind a generational quarterback clearly paid dividends. He completed a respectable 63.2 percent of his attempts, was an advantageous runner and took more shots downfield. Now thrust into a favorable fantasy situation, Hundley has a chance to silence his harshest critics. He didn’t electrify at Minnesota in Rodgers’ absence, but the unexpected expanded role, scaled down playbook and uninviting environment were definitely influential. With a week to prepare and a bevy of terrific weapons around him, he could surprise. The matchup also isn’t too shabby. The Saints D, though on an upward track thanks to Marshon Lattimore and its aggressive pass rush, has given up 7.9 yards per attempt, 290.6 yards per game, nine touchdowns and the seventh-most fantasy points to QBs. In a game with shootout written all over it, the dual threat comes up green.

Fearless Forecast: 230 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 2 turnovers, 31 rushing yards, 18.1 fantasy points

Marlon Mack, Ind, RB (13 percent started, $15 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Jax (Over/Under: 44)

Father Time is and forever will be undefeated. All of the fantasy generation’s great ones – Priest Holmes, Shaun Alexander, LaDainian Tomlinson – eventually wear down and are rendered statistically useless. Sadly, Frank Gore is slowly trending in that direction. Though he remains upright and continues to contribute substantive snaps, the eleventh hour has nearly arrived for the Colts’ elder statesman. Mack, ascending rapidly, is the only Indy rusher to roster henceforth. That is, if Chuck Pagano will do the right thing and give him the ball. The indecisive head coach said late last week Mack wasn’t ready for an expanded role, but quickly changed his mind leading up to Monday’s game in Tennessee hinting he would increase the rookie’s touches. The result: TWO carries. Of course, Mack ripped a 20-plus yard run, his fifth of the season and second only to Kareem Hunt, then effectively disappeared. Dumbfounding. On a team desperate for playmakers outside T.Y. Hilton, he should receive double-digit touches at a minimum. He’s tallied a sensational 3.7 YAC/att and forced eight missed tackles … on just 27 carries. But apparently Pagano is the “genius” with all the answers. What do we stat nerds really know? This week, maybe, just maybe, the light in the attic flips on for Chuck. Despite showcasing one of the finest secondaries in the land, the Jags remain vulnerable up front. On the season they’ve given up 5.36 yards per carry to RBs. Admittedly, it’s a risky recommendation, but Mack is someone I would roll the dice on in the FLEX.

Fearless Forecast: 10 carries, 55 rushing yards, 1 receptions, 7 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 12.7 fantasy points

Orleans Darkwa, NYG, RB (4 percent started, $16 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Sea (Over/Under: 39)

Equipped with a name reminiscent of a Marvel Universe villain, Darkwa, and his Giants teammates, pulled off a stunner of unfathomable proportions. They marched into Denver with a Big Sky-level offense, mostly dominated and scored their first victory of the season. Ah, the NFL, where nuttiness is the norm. Thought to be merely a change-of-pace option after Wayne Gallman’s emergence, Darkwa now possesses the upper hand. Against the Broncos, he blasted and burrowed his way to 130 yards on 22 touches. His supportive 3.3 yards after contact per attempt was extraordinary, but what made the night particularly special; he achieved it against numerous overloaded boxes. According to NFL NextGenStats, he saw eight or men in the box a week-high 80.9 percent of the time. Credit to Darkwa. Credit to New York’s often lambasted offensive line. Gallman and Shane Vereen will remain involved, but, at this juncture, the backfield climber is starter-worthy in 12-team leagues. Seattle ranks No. 5 in fewest fantasy points allowed to RBs, but the standing is deceiving. Despite Bobby Wagner’s excellent gap coverage (No. 5 in runs-stop%), chunk plays by opposing rushers have been commonplace. On the year, the ‘Hawks have given up 4.84 yards per carry to RBs. Assuming the trench mound movers continue to create space, Darkwa has excellent odds of cracking the 80-yard mark with a possible score. Ride the hot hand.

Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 72 rushing yards, 1 reception, 9 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.6 fantasy points

Nelson Agholor, Phi, WR (24 percent started, $15 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Was (Over/Under: 48.5)

Not long ago fantasy breakout soothsayers always trumpeted the “third-year wide receiver.” Earlier this century, before spread formations and college concepts invaded NFL playbooks, the learning curve for even the most talented pass-catching prospects was rather steep. It’s why many took multiple seasons to reach their full potential. But due to explosive first-year performances by the likes of Odell Beckham, Mike Evans and Michael Thomas, to name a few, in recent campaigns, unfair and often unreachable expectations have been placed on rookie wideouts. Don’t pay an instant dividend and your image will be forever tarnished. Agholor exemplifies this mentality. Ballyhooed out of USC, he’s blossomed in his third season. The game is slower. Philly’s system is now a fluent language. Chemistry with his quarterback is established. For some guys, it simply takes time. Through six weeks, the overlooked target is quietly WR16 in fantasy. He’s lured just 13.2 percent of the targets share, but the premium looks he’s received have cashed. His 2.63 fantasy points per target and 11.6 yards per target rank top-10 at the position. Most impressively, connections from Carson Wentz to Agholor have resulted in a 147.9 passer rating. It might not be McNabb-to-Owens, but what they’ve achieved thus far is quite commendable. Matched this week against a rigid Washington secondary allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to WRs, the Eagle is still a trustworthy WR3. Josh Norman may not return and his likely adversary, Bashaud Breeland (94.7 passer rating allowed), is also a possible no go. Fly, Eagle. Fly.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 59 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.9 fantasy points

Bennie Fowler, Den, WR (1 percent started, $10 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at LAC (Over/Under: 42)

The injury imp’s wickedness knows no bounds. From David Johnson to Beckham to Rodgers to Emmanuel Sanders, no position is ever safe from its wrath. When misfortune strikes, we’re all pressed into previously unthinkable situations. Starting a largely unwanted receiver tied to an average quarterback with red-zone issues in a conservative offense is certainly one of them. But with Sanders ruled out (ankle) and a pair of teams on bye (Detroit and Houston), Fowler possesses deep-league fantasy appeal. Yes, his 13.0 targets share and minimal contributions since Week 1 are difficult to ignore, but he’s the primary beneficiary of Sanders’ absence. He’s trusted inside the 20, undeterred in traffic and, right now, the best receiving option Trevor Siemian has outside a banged up Demaryius Thomas. C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker and Jamaal Charles will be leaned on, but Fowler is a suitable TD candidate against the Chargers. Recall he torched the division rival for a pair of scores Week 1. Throw in Casey Hayward (107.5 passer rating allowed) and Co.’s struggles defending the pass – they’ve surrendered nine touchdowns, a 64.3 catch percentage and the ninth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this year – and a WR3 return seems entirely possible. With 27.6 percent of the Sanders’ targets allotted elsewhere, Fowler could morph into a golden fantasy goose.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 50 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.0 fantasy points

WEEK 7 SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)

Dion Lewis, NE, RB (6 percent started, $17 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Atl (Over/Under: 55)

Chucky, Jason Voorhees, Bill Belichick. What do the all have in common? Every fall their evil takes over television screens. When it comes to running backs, Beelzichick may be child’s play compared to former “Lucifer,” Mike Shanahan, but he’s certainly no saint. James White, Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee and Lewis have comprised a brain-racking backfield. Predicting who stands out from the crowd any given week is usually an exercise in futility. However, between the blurred lines lies clarity. Gillislee’s fumble lost last week in New York paved the way for the plucky Lewis to gain more opportunities, which he instantly took advantage of. On 11 carries he gained 52 yards, found the end zone, notched 3.7 yards after contact per attempt and posted a 135.5 elusive rating, the fourth-highest of the week per Pro Football Focus. Snake slithery, Lewis is one of the toughest RBs to corral. He sports impeccable vision, a sick jump cut and terrific burst. Pound for pound, he’s the best RB on New England’s roster. And he deserves more run. Due to Belichick’s rascally ways, the Pats will continue to employ a hard-to-read RBBC. Still, based on the recent uptick in snaps played (14-18-29 last three weeks), Lewis is a highly useful RB2 in 12-team and deeper leagues. New England’s Week 7 opponent, Atlanta, is one of the league’s most generous run defenses. On the year, the Falcons have allowed 4.32 yards per carry, 145.8 total yards per game, four total touchdowns and the eighth-most fantasy points to the position. In the Super Bowl rematch, look for Lewis to do his best White impersonation.

Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 64 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.7 fantasy points



Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

Fan Week 6 results:
My Week 6 results: 1-11 (Season: 27-38; W: ASJ L: Donte Moncrief, Washington, Kevin Hogan, Alvin Kamara, Andre Ellington, Taylor Gabriel, Alex Smith, Ricardo Louis, Willie Snead, A.J. Derby)

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 75 million households on Fox Sports Regional Networks, and his new podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”