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 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.
Most ironic stats
Communal living space:
Pour over your lineup
Some things get better with time. Like a full-flavored cask of aged bourbon or that one pair of skinny jeans you've worn in 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?
All the nerds bemoan trusting the Patriots backfield every preseason and laugh at you when you when you try to figure it out. Well, you know what? We have to try because when it works out, it works out so well. You want a starting back from a high-powered offense, and as it stands, we've figured it out and now we have two in Lewis and Burkhead.
Lewis is one of the most elusive backs in the NFL. He ranks top-five this season in our super-secret, exclusive Next Gen Stats metric for running backs. I'm kidding, it's not a big secret. I wrote about it on our public website this week. I am a man of the people, after all. Consider that your backstage pass.
While Dion Lewis has 14 touches in each of the last four contests and is clearly established as the top early-down runner, don't forget about Rex Burkhead. He's such a perfect fit with the Patriots, fitting even better than these skinny jeans I'm rocking. I so pull these off. Burkhead has 16 catches and three touchdowns in his last four games. That's an awesome floor to count on at running back.
The newly minted Patriots backfield studs get the Bills in Week 13, who gave up an NFL-high 725 total yards to running backs over the last four weeks. That sounds pretty good to me. If you can't hear it, maybe you still need to adjust your antenna from the preseason takes of a Mike Gillislee breakout. That sure was (not) fun.
Sustainable pickup of the week:
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?
Here's what's a little less difficult to say: Dede Westbrook has fantasy upside in Week 13. I get it, you've probably never heard of Dede Westbrook. He's an underground Day 3 pick out of the University of Oklahoma. He's really fast and ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash at his Pro Day this past spring. It's not surprising you missed it while asking yourself for the 25th time about Myles Garrett's game while listening to old Aerosmith "hits." Painfully mainstream.
Well, Dede Westbrook is in the NFL and you're just now catching up. Don't worry, I guess it's not, like, that late or anything. He's only played in two games since coming off IR after a core muscle injury from the preseason. Since he hasn't ripped up the box score yet, you can probably still head to your waiver wire and pick him up. You don't have to feel so bad about yourself, I mean, you do read this column to get ahead of the sheep that play in normal fantasy leagues.
Westbrook's usage paints a picture of a player set for a breakout any week now, even though all the basics can't see it with just 76 yards gained over his first two career games. The rookie saw his snap rate jump from 43.6 percent in Week 11 to 71.4 percent in Week 12. He's clearly established as the third receiver. Even better, Westbrook owns a 36 percent share of the Jaguars' intended air yards over the last two weeks. They're trying to get him the ball, especially deep down the field.
The Colts make an excellent target for a deep threat like Westbrook. Indianapolis gives up a league-high 13.5 yards per completion. We might just witness his first career breakout game. Turn down the lame dad music and tune into the games.
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 for 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.
Look, I know what you're thinking. Didn't you just write up that other Rams receiver, Cooper Kupp, last week? That would be correct. And you know what Kupp did? He caught eight passes for 73 yards and was the WR10 in PPR scoring. Deal with it. The Rams have a high-powered offense and more than just one player can thrive. Progressive thinking for you sheeple, I know, but try to wrap your brain around that.
Now, for some of the same reasons I liked Kupp last week, I like this other rookie receiver, Josh Reynolds, for Week 12. First things first; Reynolds was thrust into a starting role with Robert Woods out, and played on 81 percent of the Rams snaps. He dropped a 4/37/1 line on six targets and you probably think that 37 yards aren't much to write home about. WRONG. Coming out of college, Reynolds was talked up by draft pundits as a red zone threat. Looks like that worked out. The kid is 6-foot-3, weighs 194 pounds and had an impressive production profile his senior year at Texas A&M of 61/1,039/12. Seems like he's got a nose for the end zone, eh? Seems like the Rams know what they're doing, eh? Seems like you want a piece of this Rams offense any way you can get it eh? EH?!?
Oh and just in case you need another reason to like Reynolds this week, (which I mean, come on, how greedy can you be?) the matchup against the Cardinals is, as the kids say, v nice. Wait, what's that? Look out! It's the "Cardinals defense is good, rabble, rabble, Patrick Peterson rabble, rabble" truthers! Sorry for you folks, but Arizona is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per game to wideouts this season. And sure, Peterson has mostly been locking up opposing team's No. 1 targets. That's the key. Ancillary receiving options have been tearing it up in the Arizona secondary this year. So while Peterson is busy in Week 13 shadowing Sammy Watkins, Reynolds and Kupp should both be in line for big games for the second straight week.
You're welcome, loyal followers, and good luck.
Most Ironic Stats of Week 13
-- Raiders tight end Jar-GOAT Cook is facing a Giants defense that's allowed the most fantasy points per game and touchdowns to the position this season. Ironically, Vernon Davis put up a goose egg in the same matchup last week. I don't want to talk about it.
-- Every running back to face the Eagles since Week 3 has posted fewer than 50 rushing yards. Ironically, Russell Wilson is the Seahawks RB1, so we're good. (see below)
-- Russell Wilson has accounted for 311.8 passing + rushing yards per game this season. That's more than five entire teams: Giants, Bears, Dolphins, Ravens, and Bengals.
-- The Buccaneers are allowing 32.3 fantasy points per game to wideouts since Week 9. Jordy Nelson is a wide receiver who has yet to retire, despite what you may have heard.
-- Kareem Hunt has totaled just 232 scrimmage yards since Week 8. He had 1,002 scrimmage yards after Week 7. Very sad.
Pour over your lineup
Harmon: Look at this guy. Asking for upside when he already nailed it with Alfred Morris on Thursday night. We see what you're up to here, David.
Franchise: Is he trying to scam us? Because hipsters don't like getting scammed. Either way, nice call there. And to be honest, there's one glaring WR swap I think he should make if he's really chasing upside. You thinking what I'm thinking?
Harmon: Man, I've already been scammed twice this week. I could have sworn those boots in that Instagram ad were premium organic leather! Anyway, I'm thinking he swaps out Jermaine Kearse for Nelson Agholor. Last week was the first time Kearse had gone over 40 yards since Week 6. My superior brain thinks the Eagles vs. Seahawks game will be high-scoring.
Franchise: Um. Weren't they organic? Bro, WYD? Moving on ... it seems like yes, both of our brains are united in their superior thinking because Agholor for Kearse was exactly where I was going!
Harmon: Agree. I think he sticks with Williams because I trust the goal line and passing down work with him. And the Bucs are, as we professionals say, not good.
Franchise: Whoa, whoa. We may be "professionals" but we have no affiliation with major corporations in any way. This little fantasy blog we write for, NFL dot com, super indie, mom and pop operation. But yeah, the Bucs are definitely one of the worst defenses standing around on a football field these days.
Harmon: Well, it looks like we have it all figured out. Let's roll before we give our compatriot too many of our hipster secrets. We don't want him opening up his own competing pawn shop next to our flea market.
Franchise: Yeah, I have beer to finish fermenting before Sunday. Peace.