Every week, there will be guys that explode in fantasy seemingly out of nowhere. It’s our job to figure out which of those performances are flukes, and which ones can actually be sustained for the rest of the season. There are a few ways to figure that out. Either a guy just put up yet another week of productivity after a surprising breakout in a prior week, or they broke out for the first time thanks to a change in their situation. These five players all fit one of those descriptions, and they should be taken seriously for the rest of the fantasy season.
1. Calvin Ridley – 7 Receptions, 146 Yards, 3 TDs
Reports in the preseason said Calvin Ridley would struggle to find meaningful targets behind Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu in 2018. Reports from the Superdome on Sunday suggest someone should have told that to Calvin Ridley. While Matt Ryan and Julio Jones continue to have some weird inability to connect on TDs, Ridley is more than willing to pick up the slack. One TD last week, 3 this week, and suddenly the Alabama product looks primed for WR2 production, at minimum, the rest of the way. The Falcons are a high-powered offense and with Ryan clearly connecting with the rookie in a major way, Ridley has the potential to put up the best rookie WR season since Odell Beckham Jr, who coincidentally is the last rookie WR to put up 3 TDs in a game.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick – 30/50, 411 Yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs
FitzTragic reared its ugly head in the first half of the Monday nighter against the Steelers. Everyone was understandably writing him off at halftime as it seemed like the fairytale was about to end, just as it always has whenever Fitz blows up for a few weeks. But the Harvard man re-wrote the story in the second half. Despite falling just short of completing the comeback against Pittsburgh, Fitzpatrick had another great fantasy day. Fitz is now the first QB in NFL history to throw for 400+ yards in 3 straight games. This performance was notable because against all odds, FitzMagic might just be here to stay. Of course, he won’t be throwing for 400 yards every game all season. But his ability to bounce back from what looked like an obvious falloff is encouraging for his prospects going forward.
3. Josh Allen – 15/22, 196 Yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 10 Carries, 39 Yards, 2 TDs
Plenty of people questioned if this guy would ever be a viable NFL starter, let alone a fantasy starter. But after captaining one of the biggest upsets in NFL history over the Vikings this past Sunday, Josh Allen put himself firmly on our radar. The passing yard total leaves plenty to be desired. But no INTs and a great completion percentage from a guy whose accuracy was the most criticized aspect of his game? That’s impressive, especially against Minnesota. Then add in the fact that he’s apparently Cam Newton in the run game, and you’ve got yourself a guy that could actually, somehow be fantasy-relevant the rest of the season.
4. Chris Carson – 32 Carries, 102 Yards, 1 TD
Against a solid Dallas defense that contained Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley the first two weeks, Chris Carson finally hit his stride. While the yards per carry (3.2) were uninspiring, the most important part of his outing Sunday was Pete Carroll’s decision to give him a bell-cow workload, and to commit to the run overall. Carroll admitted last week that impatience led him to call pass plays more often than he probably should. That obviously wasn’t the case this week, and Carson was the beneficiary. This performance puts Carson back in weekly flex consideration. Rashaad Penny could still be a problem later in the season, but after only getting 3 carries against the Cowboys, this is Carson’s job to lose.
5. Tyler Boyd – 6 Receptions, 132 Yards, 1 TD
A second straight game of 6 catches, at least 90 yards and a TD have put Tyler Boyd firmly in the upside flex conversation. The wildcard Andy Dalton has been connecting with Boyd, and as the weeks go by, the presence of John Ross becomes less and less of a concern. Heading into this week, Boyd was tied for second in the league in targets when the QB is under pressure. That’s a level of trust that should make Boyd a viable play going forward, and a must-add in leagues where he’s still available.