4 late-rising fantasy football standouts

By David Kenyon

Consistency is key in fantasy football, but sometimes it takes a few weeks for NFL players to begin producing on the field and subsequently for our favorite side attraction.

Players who took over because of injuries are not included. Rather, the following list is composed of a few starters who battled through a tough opening and have since produced at a high level.

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears

There’s a notable disconnect between reality and fantasy when it comes to quarterbacks. While yards and touchdowns win fantasy games, that’s not always the case on the stadium scoreboard. Jay Cutler is a perfect case study, since Chicago is 4-5 yet Cutler has tallied six consecutive outings of 17-plus points.

Part of that success is because he’s not throwing as many interceptions in offensive coordinator Adam Gase’s system, and it should continue. After the Bears take on the Denver Broncos in Week 11, the remaining schedule offers plenty of 250-yard, two-touchdown potential.

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins

Lamar Miller Dolphins

After spending two years toiling away as a rotational back, the Dolphins finally committed to their most productive running back. Miller had appealing upside because of his receiving ability, and he was hyped as one of the likely breakout stars of 2015.

During the first four weeks, however, Miller managed a shockingly bad 4.5 points per game and failed to reach the end zone. Since then, he’s averaged 20 points while scoring seven total touchdowns. Four of his final six opposing fantasy defenes are ranked in the bottom half against running backs.

Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders

Amari Cooper put together a tremendous start to his rookie campaign, and his mere presence has helped make Crabtree a relevant fantasy option once again. The former San Francisco 49ers had one standout performance before Oakland’s Week 6 bye but has exploded recently.

In the four games following the Sunday when the Raiders were off, Crabtree has caught at least six passes and scored a touchdown three times, topping 100 yards twice. He’s found a home across the bay.

Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints

Courtesy of USA Today Images

Like Miller, Cooks received a wide range of preseason attention proclaiming his emergence as a fantasy stud. Bill Belichick indirectly validated the notion when he said, “I’m glad we don’t have to play him twice a year and he’s not in our division” after an exhibition matchup in August.

Cooks recorded just 4.8 points per game through four contests, bumped it up to 9.3 over the next three and surged to 18.3 from Week 8 to Week 10. Additionally, each of his opponents during Weeks 14-16 are bottom-14 fantasy pass defenses. Cooks’ mid-season surge should continue.