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Fantasy Hipsters Week 6 guide: Start Jerick McKinnon

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  • By Matt Franciscovich and Matt Harmon
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The Fantasy Hipsters are back for the 2017 season with their weekly guide to how to approach fantasy football a little bit off the beaten path. In this space, Matt Harmon and Matt Franciscovich (Franchise) will give you a mix of players to add, overlooked weekly plays and in-depth stats all layered with the type of unique, off-the-mainstream tone you can only expect from these two well-groomed hipsters. Since the communal approach to creating a living space is the only way to exist in harmony, the duo will split the work. Here's this week's division of labor.

Harmon:
Barrel-aged bargain
Most ironic stats

Franchise:
Vintage veteran
Sustainable pickup

Communal living space:
Pour over your lineup

Barrel-aged bargain:


When we're building lineups for the week, we're always looking for a bargain. The thing is, those of us who don't want to live cookie-cutter lives aren't chasing some boring old fill-in; we're still after something fresh. Just like a good barrel-aged craft beer that's off the beaten path away from dull domestic brews, we want a different kind of bargain brought on by a unique spin on an outcome of a game that the public just hasn't considered yet.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings

When you evaluate college prospects, hyping a young fantasy football player is a lot like following a band during their early breakout years.

We obnoxiously talk the player up before they've done anything. Seriously, have you heard of dynasty leagues? The folks playing in those leagues quite literally discuss players you have never heard of and will never be relevant in the league. It's underground, I like it. Eventually, if the player becomes successful, has some good games and starts selling out some shows, we want to parade around our touting of them. We knew it! That band would eventually hit mainstream radio and we knew that sleeper would nab that starting job.

Yet, eventually, we must inevitably sour on them. The band's sound changes as they hit the big stage. That sleeper running back doesn't quite prove up to snuff when thrust into a full-time role. We drop off the jean jacket with their logo stitched in it at the Salvation Army, we walk away feeling burned.

Such has been the tale of Jerick McKinnon in the NFL. Everyone loved this guy, they were begging for him to breakout. Some loved him because he was one of the most athletic backs to come into the NFL in years. Others because opportunity was there for the taking if Adrian Peterson ever went down in Minnesota.

When McKinnon finally did hit the main stage as the Vikings lead back in 2016 after injuries struck, the sound didn't come out right. He offered up tracks something akin to Matchbox 20, averaging 3.4 yards per carry and scoring just two touchdowns on the ground in seven starts. We all left the venue feeling quite a letdown. Even his manager signed a replacement at the top of the label when they drafted Dalvin Cook and doubled-down when they brought on west coast overhyped artist Latavius Murray to usurp him. It all pretty much felt done with.

Even as the path for a reunion tour opened up, not many wanted to buy tickets to the Jerick McKinnon show after Dalvin Cook's season-ending injury. However, we real hipsters knew what was good. The public was out, it was time to get back in.

McKinnon showed himself to be the best artist on the Vikings label in Week 5, trampling the Bears for 95 yards and touchdown. He led Minnesota and snaps played and caught all of his six targets. His comeback album is hitting shelves now.

Don't believe it? Just look at how the tracks of this new EP set up:

- Pristine Pass Game Progress: McKinnon has catch totals of six, three, five, nine, six and five over the last six games dating back to 2016 in which he's played 30-plus snaps.

- Incredibly Improved Interior Blocking: The Vikings offensive line is allowing their backs an average of 0.93 yards before defenders close within a yard of them, per Next Gen Stats. It's the third-best figure in the league this year, showing that the old synth from last year's dud album are gone.

- Actually Awesome Aerial Attack: With Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen emerging as one of the NFL's best wide receiver tandems and Case Keenum keeping the offense on schedule, defenses aren't worried about stopping the run game. It's a quick-strike west coast offense that McKinnon fits.

- Optimal Old Groove (remix): Look, those athletic traits that made McKinnon such an intriguing prospect are still there, he's just mixed up the sound a little. He didn't rip off that 58-yard touchdown Monday night for nothing. He still has it. As long as he can approach 15-plus carries, and he will with Latavius Murray being the only competition, he'll have a chance to hit eye-popping plays.

Jerick McKinnon is back on the scene, and his new sound is ready to win back the haters. Just because he didn't become a league-winner for you last year when he hit the fantasy football stadium tour doesn't mean this new EP can't be a good listen. In a high-scoring game against Green Bay, where he's likely to see 10-plus carries and get that pristine pass gameplay, he's an excellent start. Even better, if this EP takes off, we'll be hitting repeat on the start Jerick McKinnon track all season here in 2017.

Sustainable pickup


Sustainability is all about preparing for the future. From discovering and developing new sources of energy like wind and solar to crop rotation and water conservation, we all have to do our part to mitigate our impact on the environment. A small investment now goes a long way down the road. And when it comes to fantasy football, a major key to building sustainable depth from waiver wire adds means finding players that you can rely on for the long term without wasting resources. So in this section, the Fantasy Hipsters will get ahead of the curve and offer up one player to add for depth who should pay off dividends in the future. Hey man, turn that light off in the other room. It's not hard, okay?

Roger Lewis, WR, New York Giants

Yeah ... well, look. This is a long-term add here. And that's the whole point of sustainability anyway. If you grab Roger Lewis on the waiver wire now, when nobody wants him, you'll look like a genius when he goes off against the 49ers in Week 10.

With season-ending injuries to Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris, that leaves a hobbled Sterling Shepard who's already out for Week 6 and tight end Evan Engram as Eli Manning's go-to pass-catchers. Enter second-year receiver, Roger Lewis.

Lewis is like that one band who even the indie record labels don't want to sign. But somewhere deep beyond his catalog of 15 career catches, he has a hit waiting to be unleashed on the underground masses. For now though, that hit needs some more post-production, if you will. Because Lewis faces the Broncos and Seahawks in consecutive games coming up and then gets to chill on a bye week. So consider this your parental advisory straight from the hand of the Fantasy Hipsters. Lewis is going to be a target hog in the Giants pass game, and he's going to put up fantasy production ... eventually. During his soundcheck last week against the Chargers he scored on his only catch of the game, so we know he has it in him. Who knows, maybe he'll shock us all and actually produce in these tough matchups. Wouldn't that be, like, the most ironic thing ever?

Vintage Veteran


Some things get better with time. Like a full-flavored cask of aged bourbon or that one pair of skinny jeans you've worn so much that they feel like sweatpants (let's be honest, I have, like, eight pairs of those). Same goes for fantasy football players. Did you draft Hunter Henry thinking the shiny new young tight end would be the next big thing? Get in line with the rest of the herd. While you and the rest of the mainstream horde are all about the up-and-coming young talent in the NFL, we Fantasy Hipsters are sticking with experience over youth. Each week in this space, we'll deliver one Vintage Veteran player of the week that you can rely on to produce for your fantasy team. Now where did I put my great-grandpa's brogues?

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts

Here you were, thinking T.Y. Hilton's fantasy football value had been knocked down to a pile of pennies with Andrew Luck out. Newsflash: Hilton's third in the NFL in receiving yards and is the WR10 in standard scoring heading into Week 6. Yeah, I think Jacoby Brissett knows who his best receiver is. Heck, Hilton's accounted for 49 percent of Brissett's gross passing yards over the last three games, that's 360 of 730 for you looking for the raw numbers. Because at the end of the day, that's what really counts -- the numbers.

Brissett's definitely on Hilton's guest list too. Even at the most intimate of sold-out venues, Brissett gets his entire crew into Hilton's show. And this week, under the Monday Night Football spotlight in Tennessee, it's hard to imagine this duo not being able to harmonize yet again for fantasy owners. Even when the coverage is tight, Brissett's been finding Hilton. I mean, 60 percent of Hilton's production the last two games have come on tight-window throws by his quarterback. Now that's chemistry. A chemistry that should continue against a Titans secondary allowing the most touchdowns to receivers this season. It's open mic night in Music City, and Hilton is the headliner. Get in line, ya sheep!

Most Ironic Stats of Week 6


-- DeShone Kizer has the worst passer rating on deep throws outside the numbers (10.2). This stat leads me to think Kizer is not good at football yet. You know who might be pretty good? Kevin Hogan. I want to play him in fantasy this week. He's never started a game but when he's come in for major action, he's been kind of awesome. He was the QB11 last week when he relieved Kizer and the QB12 when he needed to play in a rash of injuries in Week 7 last season. He totaled 130 rushing yards in those games. That will give him a floor. I'm in.
-- Mike Glennon, Josh McCown, Blake Bortles, Jacoby Brissett and Kevin Hogan have a higher passer rating (75.8) than Ben Roethlisberger this year. Here's the hipster spin on this: the decline started for Roethlisberger last season but the sheep-stream media just didn't let you know. Good thing we're here.

-- The Rams and Jaguars will have as many combined wins as they did in the entire 2016 season (7) after one of them wins on Sunday. I'm in on both of these teams. They have identities with a high-flying exciting offense under Sean McVay and a tough defense-first approach in Jacksonville. Wait, you came for a fantasy take? Don't box me in, man.
-- Since Week 3, the Saints have the NFL's No. 1 total defense, giving up fewer than 250 yards per game (237.0). Should we suddenly stop targeting the Saints defense in fantasy? No, but we might want to stop watching Jay Cutler. New Orleans' ranking here is boosted by facing off with the aforementioned quarterback, who turned in 168 yards on his 28 attempts and took four sacks.
-- Adrian Peterson has seen most of his production out of the single-back formation, as his 4.52 yards per carry ranks 7th-most among running backs with 100 or more single-back carries the last three years. He's a role player. Don't let any name-brand-loving fantasy analyst tell you otherwise. Peterson could make me look stupid for writing this. Actually, how could I possibly look stupid in this cardigan despite the fact it's still 77 degrees out? You're right. I'm fine.

Pour over your lineup


Harmon: Here we are in Week 6. After this, there are only 10 more weeks of fantasy football left, because no one who has a clue plays in Week 17.

Franchise: Yeah man. And it's already getting tough to find time for IPA tastings when we're consumed with stressing over bye-week and injury fill-ins. But it looks like another loyal follower needs out help. Typical.

Harmon: Alright. Here we go. We've got ol' Walter here in an 18-team league. I already like this guy. 10 teams? Lame. 12 teams? Better, but everyone should be doing that. 16 teams? Not good enough. He went all the way to 18! Mad hipster cred, my compatriot.

Franchise: Yeah, 18 is nuts. I think I did a 20-teamer once and literally had two good players. One of them got hurt. It wasn't fun. Plus, my grandpa's name was Walter. We called him the Big Wally. Love that name. I digress ... I don't think there's any way he can play Mike Wallace despite the big Week 5 game. You?

Harmon: Nah. I don't think so. Look, he only had three targets. We need to chase volume, not the final stat line. That's what matters.

Harmon: He asked about his flex. Honestly, I think he's got it right with DeSean Jackson. He's been up and down, as per usual, but this is another blowup spot for him. Mike Evans will be tangled up with Patrick Peterson, leaving Justin Bethel to cover Jackson. Bethel is like ordering an overpriced light domestic brew at a local dive bar ... which is to say "not good." He gave up two touchdowns to rookie Kenny Golladay in Week 1 and a bomb score to Torrey Smith last week. Jackson should roast him deep at least once.

Franchise: TRUTH my man. The wideout wisdom just oozes from your ukulele-strumming, callused fingertips, love it. That's what the people come for. I would definitely keep an eye on Stefon Diggs, too. If he doesn't suit up Sunday, I think it's an okay move to cut Charles Clay for another receiver.

Harmon: Could probably say goodbye to O'Leary ... I don't like rostering too many tight ends. It's an 18-teamer so he'd probably have to dig deep. I'm thinking guys like Trent Taylor vs. Washington, Brandon Coleman vs. Detroit or Albert Wilson with Chris Conley out.

Franchise: That's like, organic-potato deep man. Hopefully, the rest of his roster produces so he doesn't have to worry too much. Solid roster all-around for an 18-teamer. I feel like we've hit a wall here. Don't you have some ghost peppers to harvest?

Harmon: Oh, thanks for reminding me. I'm going to go unlock my bike and peddle my way home. Can't be driving all around this city ruining the air like the rest of these sheep.

Follow the Fantasy Hipsters on Twitter @MattHarmon_BYB and @MattFranchise. You can also see them on Sunday morning on the NFL's Twitter Blitz show streaming live 11:30 am ET on nfl.twitter.com. You've heard of that website, right?

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