Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy & Tips 2020 Fantasy Football Projections & ADP Analysis NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Updated Tight End PPR Draft Rankings and Analysis

For the first time in what feels like an eternity, there are more than five tight ends to get excited about heading into a fantasy football season!

Breakout seasons from Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, and more propelled the position to new heights in 2019. Fantasy players will no longer be overcome with a sense of dread if they don't land a tight end before Zach Ertz gets selected. In years past, players would be talking themselves into Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen as passable starters. Those guys still start in the NFL, but we have them ranked in the mid-20s rather than the early teens this year. We've got a new group of promising tight ends to talk ourselves into.

There's a lot to like from the tight end position this year. We'll be breaking down each tier of tight ends from our RotoBaller Rankings. You can find the full list here.

 

Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings

Position Rank Position Tier Player Name Overall Rank Overall Tier
1 1 Travis Kelce 18 3
2 1 George Kittle 21 3
3 2 Mark Andrews 38 4
4 2 Zach Ertz 43 4
5 2 Darren Waller 53 5
6 3 Tyler Higbee 71 5
7 3 Hunter Henry 72 5
8 4 Evan Engram 84 6
9 4 Rob Gronkowski 86 6
10 4 Austin Hooper 94 7
11 4 Jared Cook 95 7
12 4 Hayden Hurst 98 7
13 5 Noah Fant 116 8
14 5 Mike Gesicki 118 8
15 5 Jack Doyle 124 8
16 5 T.J. Hockenson 131 8
17 5 Dallas Goedert 138 9
18 5 Jonnu Smith 140 9
19 5 Blake Jarwin 144 9
20 5 Eric Ebron 148 9
21 6 Irv Smith Jr. 168 10
22 6 Chris Herndon IV 171 11
23 6 Ian Thomas 179 11
24 7 Jace Sternberger 209 12
25 7 Dawson Knox 218 13
26 7 Jimmy Graham 224 13
27 7 Greg Olsen 226 13
28 7 Kyle Rudolph 229 13
29 7 O.J. Howard 239 13
30 7 Will Dissly 240 13
31 7 Jordan Thomas 250 14
32 7 Gerald Everett 253 14
33 7 Virgil Green 254 14
34 7 Darren Fells 256 14
35 8 Tyler Eifert 274 15
36 8 Devin Asiasi 278 15
37 8 Durham Smythe 279 15
38 8 David Njoku 284 15
39 8 Levine Toilolo 286 15
40 8 Vance McDonald 291 15
41 8 Marcedes Lewis 298 15
42 8 James O'Shaughnessy 304 15
43 8 Dan Arnold 305 15
44 8 Chris Manhertz 308 15
45 8 C.J. Uzomah 309 15
46 9 Jeremy Sprinkle 313 16
47 9 Robert Tonyan 316 16
48 9 Cameron Brate 318 16
49 9 Blake Bell 320 16
50 9 Daniel Brown 321 16
51 9 Nick Boyle 322 16
52 9 Trevon Wesco 324 16
53 9 MyCole Pruitt 336 16
54 9 Ryan Griffin 338 16
55 10 Cole Kmet 349 17
56 10 Anthony Firkser 350 17
57 10 Harrison Bryant 363 17
58 10 Trey Burton 364 17
59 10 Foster Moreau 368 17
60 10 Tyler Conklin 369 17
61 10 Kaden Smith 370 17
62 10 Jason Witten 371 17
63 10 Charlie Woerner 378 17
64 10 Delanie Walker 380 17
65 10 Seth DeValve 381 17
66 10 Jordan Akins 382 17
67 10 Josh Oliver 386 18
68 10 Adam Trautman 388 18
69 10 Jacob Hollister 398 18
70 10 Albert Okwuegbunam 404 18
71 11 Maxx Williams 411 18
72 11 Jesse James 416 18
73 11 Jaeden Graham 424 18
74 11 Johnny Mundt 429 18
75 11 Demetrius Harris 430 18
76 11 Drew Sample 431 18
77 11 Colby Parkinson 434 18
78 11 Dalton Keene 435 18
79 11 Deon Yelder 438 18
80 11 Derek Carrier 440 18
81 11 Kahale Warring 442 18
82 11 Joshua Perkins 446 19
83 11 Thaddeus Moss 448 19
84 11 Cethan Carter 452 19
85 11 Brycen Hopkins 454 19
86 11 Richard Rodgers 457 19
87 11 Mo Alie-Cox 458 19
88 11 Dalton Schultz 462 19
89 11 Josh Hill 468 19
90 11 Hunter Bryant 479 19
91 11 Nick Vannett 484 20
92 11 Jordan Reed 489 20
93 11 Matt LaCosse 493 20
94 11 Ricky Seals-Jones 494 20
95 11 Tyler Kroft 495 20
96 11 Ross Dwelley 497 20
97 11 Logan Thomas 509 20

Tier 1

Travis Kelce, George Kittle

Fresh off two massive paydays, Kittle and Kelce find themselves once again a tier above the rest of the pack. RotoBaller has Kelce ranked as the 18th overall player, with Kittle following behind at number 21.

Both guys seem like safe bets to finish as top-five tight ends. Kelce notched 97 receptions for 1,229 yards and six total touchdowns, somehow regressing in each of those numbers from the previous season. He's a top option in a passing game led by a quarterback who's on pace to be one of the all-time greats. He should be the first tight end off the board in 2020, but Kittle is a fine consolation prize for owners looking to grab an elite tight end.

 

Tier 2

Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, Darren Waller

Fantasy players who chose to wait on a tight end in 2019 were rewarded if they grabbed Mark Andrews late in their draft. Andrews broke out in a big way last season, leading all TEs in touchdowns with 10. Even if Andrews doesn't reach double-digit touchdowns again, he's a top pass catcher in an elite offense and belongs in this tier. Don't be surprised if he crosses the 1,000-yard mark this season.

Waller broke out in an even bigger way than Andrews last season, finishing as the TE3. His 90 receptions and 1,145 yards were second only to Travis Kelce among tight ends. Many have pegged Waller as a regression candidate, noting the numerous pass-catchers the Raiders added this offseason in addition to his low touchdown total last season. But Waller clearly still has a place in the passing game. He has valuable experience playing with Derek Carr and the Raiders made a big financial commitment to him. Even if he doesn't finish as a top-three tight end again, it would be a shock if he doesn't finish as a TE1 this year.

Zach Ertz has finished as a top-four tight end for the past three years and has been a top-10 tight end for the past five years. There's no reason to expect any serious regression here. He's one of the safest fantasy choices you can make in 2020.

 

Tier 3

Tyler Higbee, Hunter Henry

For the final five games of last season, Tyler Higbee was the best tight end in the NFL. He averaged 21.4 PPR PPG, nearly five points more than the next highest tight end. The problem is that he was 35th among tight ends for the 12 weeks that preceded that. He has an incredibly high ceiling and a dangerously low floor in 2020. He's easily the riskiest option of the tight ends so far, but as we saw last year, his ceiling may be the TE1. 

Will Gerald Everett's return impact Higbee's targets? Will the departure of Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley II impact Higbee's targets? Were the last five games of the season a fluke, or did we witness Higbee's true form? These are all questions fantasy players will have to consider when selecting Higbee.

 

Tier 4

Evan Engram, Rob Gronkowski, Austin Hooper, Jared Cook, Hayden Hurst

Evan Engram might be the top pass catcher on the Giants if he plays all 16 games this year. The problem is that he has missed 13 games over the past two seasons. Unfortunately, Engram may be shaping up to be this generation's Jordan Reed. But he managed to rank seventh among tight ends in PPR PPG last season, and will always be a "set it and forget it" type of player when he's active. The injury risk is going to be baked into his ADP.

The more casual the league you play in, the higher Rob Gronkowski's ADP is going to be. Just don't forget that Gronk had the worst year of his career before retiring in 2018 and that he's playing for a coach who's more likely to get his punter consistently involved in the passing game before he gets his tight ends involved. Having Tom Brady and Gronk might force his hand to use his tight end more, but there's a lot of risk with Gronk this season.

Austin Hooper finished third among tight ends in PPR PPG last season with 14.7. He left Atlanta for Cleveland in the offseason and his replacement, Hayden Hurst, falls just two spots below him in our rankings. Choosing between the two is simple: did Hooper blow up last season because he's talented, or did he blow up because of the situation he was in?

Hooper joins a talented, and crowded, group of pass-catchers in Cleveland. The Browns gave Hooper a nice payday when they signed him, but it doesn't even sniff what they have invested in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, the team's top two receivers. Hurst will also have to compete for targets with a talented group of receivers, but 2019 proved that Atlanta has no problem getting the tight end involved. Both guys have big question marks. But the upside is much more promising than some of the tight ends you'd be drafting in this range in previous years.

 

Tier 5

Noah Fant, Mike Gesicki, Jack Doyle, T.J. Hockenson, Dallas Goedert, Jonnu Smith, Blake Jarwin, Eric Ebron

Tier five is filled with young, talented tight ends who will all be seen as blow-up candidates

College teammates Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson were both drafted in the first round of last year's draft. Neither guy has a chance to be the team's top pass-catcher in 2020, and it's unlikely that either one is even the second option in the passing game. Fant specifically has to compete for targets with Courtland Sutton, two rookie receivers who the team spent high draft capital on, and an incoming Melvin Gordon III out of the backfield. But both guys showed promise in 2019 and tight ends have historically taken to the NFL slower than other skill positions.

Both Fant and Hockenson have a ton of promise. Still, that's all it is, promise. There's a reason they're available this late, but don't be surprised if one of these guys finishes as a TE1 this season. If I had to bet on one of them, I'd bet on Hockenson, simply because he has less competition for targets and a better quarterback.

If you're looking to find this year's Mark Andrews or Darren Waller, Miami tight end Mike Gesicki fits the mold better than anyone. The Dolphins have one proven wide receiver after a few players opted out due to COVID-19. Gesicki finished second among Miami pass-catchers last season in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns, and he somehow has even less competition for targets in 2020. Gesicki is a former second-round pick who has been quietly coming into his own as a solid NFL tight end. Quarterback play is going to be a question mark in Miami this season, but somebody has to catch passes from these guys. If you plan on waiting on tight end, Gesicki might need to be a priority. His ranking as TE14 feels a bit low to me.

Like Gesicki, Tennessee tight end Jonnu Smith finds himself out of Delanie Walker's shadow and in position to be the No. 2 pass-catcher on the Titans, but his ceiling doesn't feel quite as high. The Titans are going to feed Derrick Henry as much as possible and their receiver room is a bit deeper than Miami's. Still, Smith certainly has appeal at his ADP for those waiting on tight end in deeper leagues.

Pittsburgh acquisition Eric Ebron rounds out the top 20. Ebron has some appeal due to his name value and his memorable 13 touchdown season just two years ago, but I'm not buying into any hype here. Maybe there's a chance that Ebron picks up where Vance McDonald left off in 2018. Does reading that sentence really get you excited about anything? I see much more value in Chris Herndon (TE22) and Ian Thomas (TE23) than I do Ebron in 2020.



Win Big With RotoBaller

Be sure to also check out all of our other daily fantasy football articles and analysis to help you set those winning lineups, including this new RotoBaller YouTube video:


More Fantasy Football Analysis


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Todd Gurley - A Definitive Outlook for 2020

On December 2nd 2018, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley II torched the Detroit Lions for 132 yards and two touchdowns in a Rams victory. Gurley was capping off one of the best two-year stretches by a running back in recent memory and was the face of one of the NFL's best offenses. He received a massive contract extension prior to the season and was set to lead the Rams backfield for the next five years.

18 months later, Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley went viral on Twitter for a workout video showcasing him working out his arthritic knee. 18 months ago, Todd Gurley was an All-Pro and considered by many to be the best running back in the NFL. Today, Gurley is one of the biggest question marks in the NFL.

A soon-to-be 26-year-old, three-time All-Pro running back set to be a bell-cow in one of the NFL's more talented offenses would usually be considered a steal as the 15th ranked running back. With Todd Gurley, it's a bit more complicated.

 

What Happened In 2019?

I detailed Gurley's knee situation in detail in my 2019 outlook for Gurley, but here's the short version: Gurley missed a few games at the end of the 2018 season, split carries with CJ Anderson during the playoff stretch, and was revealed to have developed arthritis in his surgically-repaired left knee. Reports were downplayed throughout the offseason, but the Rams' decision to draft a running back in the third round of the 2019 draft raised a ton of red flags. Still, everyone in Gurley's camp, as well as the Rams' organization, downplayed the entire situation and expected Gurley to be fine in 2019.

And that's exactly what Gurley was in 2019. Fine. This would be a much easier situation to break down had Gurley either returned to his 2018 form or completely fell off a cliff in productivity. Instead, he played fine. 

15 games, 857 rushing yards, 14 total touchdowns, RB14 in PPR, RB17 in PPR points-per-game. 

The numbers were low enough to show that Gurley may never get back to his old-self and they were low enough for the Rams to decide he wasn't worth paying $17 million this season. But they weren't low enough to show that Gurley didn't have anything left in the tank or that he wasn't worth giving another shot in a better situation.

There were plenty of factors in Gurley's decrease in production last year. The Rams' offensive line production completely fell off a cliff. One of the best units in the league in 2018, the 2019 squad was a disaster. Proven talent turned into shells of themselves, and unproven talent continued to prove nothing. It led to the entire offense regressing.

Another factor was Sean McVay's refusal to commit to establishing the run in many games last season. Gurley only had 18 or more carries six times last season, all of which resulted in Rams wins. There were very few chances for him to get into a grove. Additionally, the Rams decided to give his backup, Malcolm Brown, an increased workload in the beginning of the season, taking even more opportunities away from Gurley. He certainly didn't look as sharp as he did in 2018, but Gurley showed plenty of glimpses when he was actually given the chance.

Perhaps the most alarming development for Todd Gurley last season was his complete lack of production in the passing game. A major factor here is that Gurley simply had to block more in pass protection due to the disaster of an offensive line in front of him. But that doesn't excuse Gurley looking absolutely lost when they chose to have him run routes. He had a few noticeable drops and was only truly productive as a pass-catcher in a Week 5 shootout with Tampa Bay, a game in which the Rams made it a point to throw Gurley the football.

There's two ways to view Gurley's 2019 performance:

Glass Half Full: 

Todd Gurley still managed to finish as the RB14 in PPR despite playing behind PFF's 31st ranked offensive line and being a complete ghost in the passing game. The Rams offense was shockingly bad at times and Gurley was just another victim of a Super Bowl hangover. He'll bounce back in a new situation. He'll only be 26 at the start of the season

Glass Half Empty: 

Todd Gurley produced a career low in yardage in 2019 and finished 37th in yards per carry. The passing game struggled because he failed to establish the run, and don't even get me started on what he did in the passing game. He has arthritis in his knee and is only getting older. He'll already be 26 at the start of the season.

 

Onto Greener Pastures?

Gurley quickly signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons after being released by the Rams. When asked about his newest signing, Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter stated "The main question, that no one seems to know, is what is his health status?"

Clearly, the Falcons don't even understand the deal with Gurley. But they took a chance on the former Georgia Bulldog and seem to be investing in Gurley as their lead back in 2020. He has virtually no competition for carries in the Falcons backfield. They're desperate for production out of the position. Gurley is going to get the ball in 2020. The big questions are will he be able to produce, and if he's healthy, should he be able to produce fantasy value in the Atlanta offense?

Dirk Koetter has been running NFL offenses for the past 13 years. His teams have produced in the bottom-10 finishes in rushing yards for seven of them. All seven of those came in the past eight years.

Koetter's first taste of being an offensive coordinator in the NFL was with Jacksonville from 2007 to 2011. His teams finished in the top 12 in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in four of those five seasons, including two top-three finishes in yards. Koetter was blessed with a smooth transition from an aging Fred Taylor into an arriving Maurice Jones-Drew and was not afraid to feed either of them. He coached MJD to each of his three Pro Bowl appearances.

Since Jacksonville, Koetter has coached in Atlanta and Tampa Bay, and his rushing attacks have not been great. Part of the reason has been an emphasis on the passing game. You don't run a run-heavy offensive attack with Matt Ryan on your team, and Koetter chose to take the same approach with a developing Jameis Winston. He let his quarterbacks sling it, and that won't change in 2020.

There is one outlier season, however. Koetter took over as offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay and built a powerhouse rushing attack. The Bucs finished fifth in yards and second in yards-per-rush, led by the two headed monster of Doug Martin and Charles Sims. Looking back, it's an astounding feat. Martin was an absolute disaster in the seasons that led up to 2015 and the seasons that followed, while Sims was a complete non-factor in the following two seasons before being out of a job. Producing those kinds of numbers, with a rookie quarterback nonetheless, is nothing short of a miracle.

If we're being honest, 2015 was the only time Koetter has had a talented running back since MJD. Martin completely fell off a cliff after 2015 and the other guys in the Tampa Bay backfield were not cutting it. In Atlanta, he's dealt with guys on the tail-ends of their NFL careers: Michael Turner, Steven Jackson, and Devonta Freeman. There's a chance that Gurley winds up fitting right in with those names. But there's also a chance that he breaks the curse. Stranger things have happened... such as Doug Martin and Charles Sims combining to make one of the best one-two punch backfields in the NFL.

 

Monumental Upside

There's a lot to like about the Atlanta offense heading into 2020.

Production in the passing game is a given. Atlanta led the NFL in passing attempts last season and finished third in yards under Koetter. Julio Jones and Matt Ryan still play for Atlanta. Younger guys such as Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and newcomer Hayden Hurst will be factors. Atlanta is a pass-first offense and will remain that way. That should open some space up for Gurley to run when he gets the chance.

Atlanta's offensive line wasn't very good last season, but things can only get better. They've brought back all five starters from 2019, two of which were first-round picks in 2019. Having time to mesh as a unit is critical for offensive line production. With Jake Matthews as an anchor on the left side and a few up-and-coming talents on the right side, this unit has nowhere to go but up. They should be improved in 2020.

It's almost as if the stars aligned for Gurley and allowed him to sign in a perfect situation. Atlanta will allow him to remain a feature back without having to carry the load of a run-heavy offense.

Now, you can't lay all of this info out without talking about the knee. It's not like the arthritis in Gurley's knee got up and vanished. It's still there and it will remain there for the rest of his career. But this is an injury that will have more long-term problems than short-term. It's going to give Gurley pain for the rest of his life, but it can be managed enough for him to play football. Arthritis doesn't come and go. It's here and isn't going anywhere. He's not going to miss a game in 2020 due to arthritis. Given what we saw last year, the biggest concern is that the inflammation caused by arthritis was the reason Gurley struggled in 2019. If that's the entire story, things could get a lot worse in 2020 and it could be the last season of his career. But the symptoms this issue will cause are the kind that will force Gurley to retire at 30 instead of 34, rather than be a week-to-week issue and distraction. He played in 15 games last season after all.

It seems like there's three possible outcomes for Gurley in 2020:

The worst-case scenario is, obviously, the arthritis in his knee becomes a massive problem and he's not even able to look like he did in 2019, let alone 2018. The Falcons wouldn't be able to commit to him as a feature back and he becomes a part of the worst running back by committee backfield in NFL history alongside Brian Hill and Ito Smith. This doesn't feel like a likely outcome. Gurley showed signs of slowing down in 2019, but he played a ton of snaps and didn't look like he'd be falling off a cliff production-wise anytime soon.

The likely scenario is that Gurley looks similar to how he looked in 2019. Not as explosive and dangerous as he was at his best, but good enough to produce well when given the right opportunity. His pass-catching days are mostly behind him, but that doesn't stop Gurley from putting up similar numbers to last year and being a reliable week-to-week starter. This feels like a likely outcome. Gurley has a nose for the red zone and will shine when given the chance to take a drive home. His touchdowns may even increase a bit playing alongside Matt Ryan, but his yardage total will hover in the 900-1,000 range. Still, for a guy you're likely going to draft in the third or fourth round, this is a fine outcome.

The best-case scenario is that Gurley was woefully mismanaged in 2019. The Rams chose to buy into the belief that his knee wasn't right and refused to lean into him the way they did in previous seasons. This, paired with a complete regression from the team's offensive line, doesn't allow Gurley to succeed at a high level.

Now, he's playing with Matt Ryan. He's playing with Julio Jones. He's back in Georgia. Most importantly, he's back, and he shines. The Falcons produce one of the leagues best dual-threat offenses, and Gurley gobbles up yards and touchdowns. The pass-catching woes of 2019 turn out to be a fluke and he puts up solid numbers through the air. His knee looks just as good as it did in 2017 and he winds up being the overall RB1, putting up massive numbers in the process.

Is this likely? Probably not. But it's in the realm of possibility. There's truly only a few running backs in the NFL that you can say have a chance at finishing as the overall RB1 in 2020. Most of them will be going in the first round. Gurley's current ADP is 61! That number is certainly going to get smaller as more and more drafts happen, but it seems likely that Gurley will be available in most leagues in the third round. He's a slam dunk at that value. He has no competition for carries and the only thing keeping him from being at least startable is health. Health was a concern going into last season and it never proved to be much of a factor in his fantasy output.

Taking Gurley in the third round feels more likely to win you a championship than derail your season. There aren't that many backs out there who have no competition for carries and will be available at Gurley's price. Keep your eye on how Gurley's ADP plays out. You might be able to get him in the fourth or fifth round. But he's worth going and grabbing in the third, especially if you go with two receivers early.

You know the risks with Gurley. The potential rewards far outweigh the risks at his current price. He has league-winner potential. It wouldn't be the first time he had a third-round ADP and carried teams to fantasy glory.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Bust Watch: Three Overvalued Tight Ends for 2020

Tight end is a deeper position heading into 2020 than in any other year in recent memory. You don't have to draft studs like Travis Kelce or George Kittle to feel good about your tight end situation this season. Plenty of young, promising talent emerged in 2019, while some older names continued to perform or even re-emerged onto the scene.

There's going to be a lot of players to consider for your TE1 this season. If you're not drafting one of the top four guys, you need to make sure you make the right decision. I'm here to help you avoid making the wrong decision.

If you're considering making any of the following three players your lead tight end this season, it might be time to consider a different approach. Here are some potential busts you should be aware of:

 

Rob Gronkowski - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (79 ADP, TE9)

Rob Gronkowski's ADP is noticeably higher in ESPN leagues, where more casual players play. (via Fantasy Pros)

Gronk will certainly be one of the more polarizing options at the tight end position in 2020. His current FantasyPros PPR ADP is TE9, but he's being drafted as a TE6 in ESPN leagues. His ADP is useless due to the variance of his draft positioning between expert and non-expert leagues. You're going to have to reach for Gronk if you want him on your fantasy team this year, but he's not worth it.

Let's start with the former Patriot himself. After a decade of dominance, the TE showed clear signs of slowing down in 2018, finishing as the 11th overall TE in PPR scoring and ninth in fantasy points-per-game. He averaged just 52.5 yards per game, the lowest since his rookie season. He only scored three touchdowns, making it just the third time in his career he grabbed less than eight touchdowns. In those other two seasons with just three touchdowns, he played in eight or fewer games. He appeared in 13 games in 2018. The decline was enough to make Gronk retire, at least temporarily.

Maybe a year off was exactly what the talented player needed? Even so, it remains highly unlikely he'll even sniff the production he was known for in New England. Tampa Bay had two talented tight ends on their roster last season in Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard. They barely threw either one the ball, and the duo combined for 70 catches on 108 targets for 770 yards and five touchdowns. If you combined Brate and Howard's 2019 numbers, they would have finished as TE7 in overall PPR fantasy points and 11th in points-per-game at the position.

Gronk would have to absorb every single target the duo received in 2019 for me to consider him where his ADP is going to end up in 2020. But both Brate and Howard are still on the team! Therefore, Gronk is going to have to fight for targets at his own position, a position largely ignored by head coach Bruce Arians during his time in the NFL. We haven't even mentioned the fact that he also has WRs Chris Godwin and Mike Evans to compete with for targets. Don't buy Gronk on his name value. He'll be a better real-life player than a fantasy player in 2020.

Jared Cook - New Orleans Saints (95 ADP, TE10)

Jared Cook hauled in nine touchdowns in his first season with the Saints last year. It was the second-highest total at the position, trailing only the Baltimore Ravens' Mark Andrews. Both Cook and Andrews may be due for a touchdown regression in 2020, and there is one notable difference between the two players. Andrews is a blooming young tight end playing with the reigning MVP (Lamar Jackson) at quarterback in an offense without much competition for targets. Cook is an aging, inconsistent player paired with an aging quarterback (Drew Brees) in an offense featuring the league's most targeted receiver (Michael Thomas) and one of the most versatile running backs (Alvin Kamara).

Cook finished as the overall TE7 in PPR scoring last year despite scoring three or more touchdowns than five of the six players who finished ahead of him. His numbers were bloated by an unsustainable touchdown total. The last Saints tight end to put up solid numbers was Benjamin Watson in 2015. Watson recorded over 800 yards and nabbed six touchdowns. The following season, the Saints paired their WR1, Brandin Cooks, with a guy named Michael Thomas, and Watson's replacement Coby Fleener saw his numbers go down across the board.

What did the Saints do this offseason? Well, they paired Michael Thomas with Emmanuel Sanders, easily the best WR2 the team has had since Cooks was traded following the 2016 season. Thomas, Sanders, and Alvin Kamara are all going to see targets and touchdowns before Jared Cook. Do we really expect a 33-year-old tight end to build on a 43 reception, 705-yard season? Plus, it's nearly impossible to build on a total of nine touchdowns. The Saints have a lot of talent that is going to see the ball before Cook. He'll be involved, but there are just more intriguing, higher-upside options at TE10 than this NOLA tight end.

 

Noah Fant - Denver Broncos (109 Overall, TE12)

I like Noah Fant. He's a good prospect and I think he's going to be a good player. Coming off a solid rookie year, he has a chance to be a blow-up candidate in 2020. But, standing at TE12 and likely being drafted as a starting tight end, I think there are more intriguing options here.

Similarly to Tampa Bay and New Orleans, Denver's offense is crowded. In 2019, Fant likely saw a bit more work than a rookie tight end should have due to a lack of passing options on the team. Nevertheless, the Broncos spent high draft capital on two wide receivers in Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. They also spent a pretty penny on former Charger Melvin Gordon III, a running back who's made a career as a dual-threat guy. RBs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay combined for 98 targets last season, but neither guy is known to be a pass-catching back.

Fant finished second on the team in targets last season. Can he repeat? It's possible, but unlikely. Gordon is certainly going to take some work in the passing game. Denver didn't draft Jeudy and Hamler to sit on the bench. All three guys are going to catch passes in addition to Courtland Sutton, the team's top option who saw nearly twice as many targets as Fant last season. On top of all this, we don't even know if the Broncos have a good quarterback. The team loaded this offense with weapons to put QB Drew Lock in a position to succeed. His best path to doing that is by spreading the wealth.

Fant has a chance to explode this year. But guys like Mike Gesicki, Hayden Hurst, T.J. Hockenson, and Jonnu Smith have a more likely path to a breakout season, and they're all being drafted behind Fant. If you're going to wait to draft a starting tight end, look for a guy who has a clear path to heavy targets.



Win Big With RotoBaller

Be sure to also check out all of our other daily fantasy football articles and analysis to help you set those winning lineups, including this new RotoBaller YouTube video:

More ADP Busts and Avoids




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Keepers & Dynasty Ranks Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Dynasty Price Check: Antonio Brown

On June 12, 2020, seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown plead no contest to three different criminal charges. With no outstanding legal charges against the free-agent wide receiver, it may clear the way for teams to begin looking at signing him. So what kind of value does he hold in dynasty leagues?

*deep breath* 

Where do we even begin?

 

It Was All So Simple Then...

The soon-to-be 32-year-old was the most valuable player at his position in the NFL over the past decade. Between 2013 and 2018, Brown put up mind-boggling numbers, averaging 114 catches for 1,514 yards and 11 touchdowns per year. He remained a perennial high first-round pick during that stretch.

Then 2019 happened. Brown was traded to the Raiders in 2019 and spent the preseason having a highly publicized temper tantrum over not being able to use his old helmet. Despite this, Brown was still being drafted in the second or third round of fantasy drafts. Everyone just assumed things would level out and Brown would be his productive self on the field. Obviously, they didn't.

Child: Grandpa, what was Antonio Brown's dynasty value in 2020?

Grandpa: *slams a shot of whiskey* It all started with that stupid helmet...

Here are just a few of the things that have happened with Antonio Brown over the past 10 months:

  • Fined $54,000 by Raiders GM Mike Mayock before verbally berating him at a practice two days later.
  • Requested his release from Oakland after losing his guaranteed money.
  • Released by Oakland and signed by New England.
  • Accused of three separate instances of sexual assault by former personal trainer Britney Taylor.
  • Accused by a second woman of sexual misconduct.
  • Played a game for the Patriots, recording four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown.
  • Allegedly sent intimidating texts one of his accusers.
  • Released by the Patriots after appearing in one game.
  • Britney Taylor drops lawsuit against Brown.
  • Files countersuit case against Taylor for defamation.
  • Worked out with the New Orleans Saints in late December.
  • Released what was essentially a diss track against the Saints regarding the workout.
  • Recorded a video of himself throwing penis-shaped gummies at law enforcement officers outside his house.
  • Removed from any association with his local PAL league.
  • Arrested on three criminal charges following an altercation with a delivery driver.
  • Pleaded no contest to all three charges and was sentenced to two years of work probation.

The fact that we're even talking about what's next for a 32-year-old with that laundry list of issues above is a testament to how good of a football player Antonio Brown is. He really is that good, and hasn't given us any indication on the field that he wouldn't be able to produce at a high level.

 

Comeback on the Horizon?

Brown still has a few big hurdles to cross through before being relevant in re-draft leagues. The first is that he needs to actually sign with a team. Is there a chance that teams shy away from signing Brown due to the cargo ships worth of baggage he's bringing with him? Of course, but if we've learned anything from the NFL in the past, it's that talent often trumps all. If teams have an assurance from the league that Antonio Brown isn't going to be suspended upon signing with a team, I'd bet on him finding a home for the 2020 season.

It's a big "if" though. The NFL has yet to formally suspend Brown for any of his actions in 2019. The Raiders handled their problems internally, while the Patriots chose to simply cut bait and run. There's a chance the league is planning on disciplining Brown once he returns to the fold. Or there's a chance that they don't; Brown has been more-or-less been exiled from the NFL for the past year. He's lost ungodly amounts of money from both the Raiders and Patriots due to his own actions. If Brown's head is in the right place when he signs with a team, there's a good chance the NFL doesn't take action.

At worst, I could only see him serving a short suspension, but obviously that's just speculation. The NFL could decide they no longer want him to be a part of the shield and threaten a lengthy suspension should he sign somewhere.

 

Fantasy Outlook

In re-draft leagues, he's worth at best a dart throw with your last pick in the draft. The upside is clear, but there's going to be better value available through the course of a draft. But in Dynasty? It's a bit more complicated.

Brown is currently RotoBaller's 119th-ranked receiver in dynasty, saddled between Collin Johnson, a 2020 fifth-round pick by Jacksonville, and Josh Gordon, a man who needs no introduction. Brown owners can't drop him at the moment. Unless a miracle floats onto the waiver wire, nobody available will provide even nearly the upside Brown does. But you also aren't going to get much of value for him.

If we're being honest, his real value is probably about a fourth-round pick at this point, and I'm not sure I'd give up a fourth-round pick to get him. If I'm a Brown owner, I'm holding unless somebody overpays for him.

That's what non-Brown owners need to consider. Is he worth over-paying for? For teams looking to contend, he might be. We all hold onto a lot of hopeless causes at the end of our rosters. Guys that are too notable to cut, but too volatile to put in your lineup. The Sammy Watkins type. That's the kind of guy you need to sell your league's Antonio Brown owner on if you want to buy-in on him.

Because let's be honest: nobody is going to sign Antonio Brown as an end-of-the-bench veteran mentor. He's not worth the headache. If somebody signs Antonio Brown at this point, he's going to play, and he's probably going to play well. He looked damn good in his one-game tease last year and finished second in PPR points-per-game in 2018. He has the potential to push a good fantasy team over the hump if he returns to the field in 2020.

If you have a team you think can contend with some depth on the bench, look for the Sammy Watkins-type players that you will never put in your lineup. That kind of guy may be of value to your league's Brown holder. Some other potential players of theoretical value: Tyrell Williams, Devin Funchess, Josh Reynolds, and *gulp* Corey Davis.

*deep breath*

In short, if you own Brown, hold onto your lottery ticket unless you receive an offer you simply can't refuse. His value will skyrocket if he signs, and it can't really get any lower right now. If you want Brown, try and sell your league's Brown owner on some gold-plated garbage. His value may never be lower. Now is the time to buy if you want a shot at the lottery.

More Dynasty League Strategy




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Sit Your Studs?

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we've been focusing on one dud a week, but given that the fantasy playoffs have arrived, we're going to hit on a few of Week 14's biggest busts, and talk about whether or not these high-profile players are worth rolling with for the playoff run.

Let's take a look at some concerning players from the past week.

 

Let it go? Let it go?!

Alvin Kamara's Week 14 stat-line: 13 rushes for 25 yards, four receptions for 18 yards

The Saints and 49ers played the game of the year so far on Sunday afternoon. The 49ers escaped New Orleans with a huge 48-46 victory. The two teams combined for nearly 1,000 total yards and 12 total touchdowns.

In this high-scoring game, Alvin Kamara failed to amass 50 total yards and didn't score a touchdown. Staying out of the end zone is nothing new for Kamara. He's only scored a touchdown in one game this season. That game was 11 weeks ago. In those 11 weeks, Kamara is averaging roughly 85 total yards and six receptions per game. Over the past two games, those averages have dipped to 63 total yards and four receptions.

Given his top-three ADP, Kamara has turned in one of the most disappointing fantasy campaigns of 2019. The fact that he's playing on the highest percentage of snaps in his career just adds to the disappointment. He's facing Indianapolis and Tennessee for the remainder of the playoff run, which are largely neutral matchups. However, Kamara has had a decent floor in PPR leagues and still has that big-play potential we grew to love in recent years. I'm not considering benching Kamara unless my alternative options are too good to bench, but view him more as a middling RB2 than the elite RB1 you drafted him to be.

Panic Meter: 4/5

 

Davante Adams' Week 14 stat-line: four receptions for 41 yards on six targets

Owners with Adams on their team that are still in the playoffs should give themselves a big pat on the back. You guys have absolutely earned it. It's been a nightmare.

Adams has been gobbling up targets when he's been on the field this season, but staying on the field has been a huge issue. In recent weeks, he's found the end zone enough to satisfy, but when it mattered most in the fantasy playoffs, Adams failed to deliver much of anything against Washington's horrifying defense. Aaron Rodgers and the Packer's passing attack was quiet against Washington. That's not the type of performance you'd like to see with matchups against Chicago and Minnesota on the horizon.

The plus side for Adams is that he's Rodgers top option in the passing game and he's proven that he can put up yards and touchdowns this season. He's had over 100 yards in a third of his games this season. Prior to this week's stinker, Adams had double-digit targets in four straight games, and scored three touchdowns across the previous two games. It's impossible to start Adams with full confidence in Week 15, but he's not somebody I'm putting on my bench for such a crucial moment in the season. In this case, start your stud.

Panic meter: 3/5

 

Odell Beckham Jr's Week 14 stat-line: two receptions for 39 yards on five targets

There are three sure things in life: death, taxes, and Odell Beckham Jr letting down the Browns and his fantasy owners in 2019.

Odell's five targets in Week 14 marked the lowest number of targets sent his way this season. Worse, his 39-yard showing isn't even one of his three worst games this season. This was Beckham's worst game since... well, last week. On top of all of this, he's apparently telling opposing players and coaches to have their teams trade for him, and he's been dealing with a sports hernia that he believes he should have had surgery on in the preseason. This should be an easy decision for the panic meter.

Panic meter: .........

It seems like the panic meter is broken. The arrow is going all over the place. On one side, we're talking about a player that's been so inconsistent and disappointing he probably doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in an article talking about studs. He's caught just two touchdown passes, has two games with over 100 yards, and is the second option in a mediocre passing game.

On the other hand, the Browns are playing Arizona this week. Arizona's defense is trash. It's hard to describe just how horrible their passing defense is. Last week was the first time in their last three games that they didn't allow an opposing receiver to produce over 130 yards. They're giving up the most passing yards per game by a solid 16 yards. Every team that has faced Arizona this season has scored at least 20 points.

If you have absolutely no faith in Beckham, you can bench him. There's no shame in benching him. But if you have the slightest shred of optimism for Odell, keep him in your lineup. There's no better matchup in fantasy football than the Arizona Cardinals. If there was ever a team for Odell to have a blow-up showing against, it's them.

 

Le'Veon Bell’s Week 14 stat-line: a career-high 251... just not on the football field

Bell put up his best performance since joining the New York Jets this offseason. Actually, according to Bell, it was the best performance of his career and was made even more impressive by the fact that he had the flu. Bell's flu-game showcase of a 251 was a feat unlike any the Jets have seen from their eight-figure running back.

Of course, I'm not referring to the Jets' victory against the Dolphins this week. I'm referring to Bell's bowling score this week. The Jets sent him home with the flu and he went bowling. A star player being held out of action going bowling doesn't always end well. Luckily for Bell, he's expected to suit up on a short week to face the Ravens.

Unluckily for Bell owners, he's been terrible on the gridiron this season. Baltimore is an awful matchup and a game that the Jets will likely be playing behind in. If you have any other real options to play at running back, now might be the time to shift Bell over to the bench. This simply isn't his year. For those unlucky fantasy players who don't have another option, Bell has had a fairly high floor, even if the ceiling isn't that high. You better hope the rest of your team can turn it up. He's not going to be the guy that carries you to victory.

Panic Meter: 5/5

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Playoff Panic

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we've been focusing on one dud a week, but given that the fantasy playoffs have either arrived or are just on the horizon, we're going to hit on a few of Week 13's biggest busts, and talk about whether or not these high-profile players are worth rolling with for the playoff run.

Let's take a look at some concerning players from the past week.

 

Abandon ship?

Aaron Jones' Week 13 stat-line: 11 rushes for 18 yards, six receptions for 13 yards

It was a tough afternoon for Jones, who was stopped twice at the one-yard line and had another touchdown called back due to a penalty. It was the second straight game he was outplayed by his backfield mate Jamaal Williams.

Jones remains fantasy's most volatile high-end running back. But the highs are so high. We're talking about a player with multiple three-touchdown games this season. You just have to take the good with the bad when it comes to a player who's upside is as high as Jones week-to-week. He was a yard away from avoiding making this article in Week 13. He’ll bounce back, but he’ll always carry the risk that any running back in a shared backfield would.

Panic Meter: 2.5/5

Tyler Lockett’s Week 13 stat-line: zero receptions on three targets

Lockett followed up his one reception, 38-yard performance last week with an even worse game in a shootout victory against Minnesota. Owners who rolled out Lockett needing just one catch from him to win suffered heartbreaking defeats. It was a painful goose egg for one of Russell Wilson’s favorite targets.

Lockett has just four catches over his past three games and hasn’t salvaged any of them with a touchdown. He had more receptions against Tampa Bay (13) in Week 9 than he’s had targets in his last three games (9). Even worse may be the fact that Seattle’s offense is doing fine without his production.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Lockett on and off the field, as he’s been battling a shin injury for the past few weeks and even battled the flu last week. Neither prevented him from suiting up last week and neither limited his snap count in any meaningful way. Lockett felt good enough to join in on David Moore’s touchdown celebration after all.

Lockett is slumping at the worst possible time for fantasy owners and has established himself as a heavy boom-or-bust candidate. He’s benchable, but benching him is a very tough decision. Lockett has the talent and the quarterback to pop off for a massive game any given Sunday. Owners will have to decide if they’re other options are worth risking leaving the potential of a Lockett blow-up performance on your bench.

The Seahawks will face a Rams Defense on Sunday that has looked like the ‘85 Chicago Bears and the ‘85 Chicago Pop Warner Pee Wee football team in their past two games. It’s another unpredictable matchup for Lockett. You’ll have to decide if other options are worth taking the Lockett gamble in Week 14.

Panic meter: 4/5

Le’Veon Bell’s Week 13 stat-line: 10 rushes for 32 yards, four receptions for 35 yards

It was yet another miserable showing for Le’Veon Bell, who’s been emerging as one of fantasy’s most disappointing players this season. Many were predicting the stars would align for Bell to have a dominant second half of the season, when the Jets schedule finally eased up. The astronomers were wrong there.

Bell is a tough player to deal with if you own him and are still playing in meaningful fantasy matchups. His usage is still high as ever and he’s been bailed out by a touchdown quite a few times this year. If the Jets are going to score points, Bell is likely to be the guy that scores them. The problem is that the Jets can go from hanging 34 on the Raiders to scoring 6 against the Bengals in the span of a week. Relying on good players playing on bad teams can be frustrating.

It’s hard to call Bell a must-start, but it’s also hard to advise benching him. His floor remains moderately high. His ceiling hasn’t been too high, but he’s gotten the job done a number of times. Bell feels like a lock to score between 8-16 points every week. Owners flushed with riches at the running back position shouldn’t hesitate to bench him for someone else. For the rest of us, benching Bell in a great matchup for a Ronald Jones-type guy isn’t the right move. Trust the floor that Bell will deliver and hope the rest of your team will pick up the slack.

Panic Meter: 4/5

Zach Ertz’ Week 13 stat-line: three catches for 24 yards on six targets

George Kittle's Week 13 stat-line: two catches for 17 yards on four targets

Look, it doesn’t really matter what other tight ends you have, you should not be benching George Kittle and Zach Ertz. Both guys are elite tight ends and have been reliable for the most part this season, even if the touchdowns haven’t come as much as one would hope. Last week was simply just an off game for both of them. Don’t make any panic moves here.

Panic Meter: nonexistent.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Chris Carson

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week. There will be two major qualifiers for this player: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player needs to be considered a must-start in most formats.

Chris Carson has developed a fumbling problem this year, but Pete Carroll has stuck by him regardless. That all changed in Week 12.

 

Not Today, Carson

Chris Carson's Week 12 stat-line: eight rushes for 26 yards, four receptions for 31 yards, one fumble

Though Carson was only credited with one fumble, a second fumble was entirely his fault, but was credited to Russell Wilson due to the fact that Carson never fully possessed the football. 

It's been a complicated season for Chris Carson to say the least. The third-year back entered the season as Seattle's starting running back, but had 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny breathing down his neck to steal touches. However, the job did feel secure enough for Carson, due to his stellar play in 2018 and how highly Pete Carroll viewed him.

Carson didn't impress through the first three weeks of the season. He failed to rush for over 60 yards and didn't total over 100 yards combined rushing and receiving in any of the three games. Most significantly, he fumbled in each of these games after fumbling just three times in his career previously. Luckily for Carson, Penny was dealing with an injury after Week 2, and Carroll didn't have the option to replace Carson.

Carson rolled to 346 rushing yards over the following three games and didn't have a fumble during this stretch. Carroll had no reason to go back to Penny. Carson was his guy and he was producing...

...until Week 9, where Carson coughed up another two fumbles despite a solid game otherwise. Carson followed that up with a decent performance against San Francisco, but again coughed up another fumble.

Week 12 was a Carson owner's worst nightmare. It was Penny's breakout game. Penny ran the football 14 times for 129 yards and a touchdown and played a season-high 46% of the offensive snaps.

The most crucial moment of this game for both guys came on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter. On the first drive, Penny took a handoff 21 yards, Wilson threw an incomplete pass, and Carroll went to Penny yet again, this time resulting in a 58 yard touchdown. The following drive, Carson fumbled the football but was able to recover it. The following play, he bobbled and lost a handoff from Wilson, which resulted in a visibly infuriated Russell Wilson.

Do you know how hard it is for a teammate to make Russell Wilson visibly infuriated? Penny out-touched Carson five to one for the remainder of the football game.

Carson's seven credited fumbles this season are the most by a non quarterback and it isn't even close. No other non-quarterback has more than four fumbles. Carson is on a historic pace, as no non-quarterback has had more than eight fumbles in a single season this decade.

Pete Carroll has a decision to make. Penny has a ton of upside and seems to be factoring into the offense more now and probably moving forward after a huge breakout game, but it isn't a sure thing that he's going to enter a timeshare with Carson, let alone become the feature back. Penny literally just fumbled one of his two touches against San Francisco in his previous game. Neither running back is perfect.

It's the worst possible time for fantasy owners to have to predict Carroll's behavior. Heading into a crucial Week 13, are you really going to bench Chris Carson? It's hard to imagine their are more appealing options sitting on your bench or on the waiver wire. You're not benching him for Penny, yet. Even though Penny put up the better numbers last week, Carson still out-snapped him. If you own Penny, it's best to take a wait-and-see approach. It's not unrealistic that he'll have another two carry game.

At the same time, it's also not likely. Carroll has to let Penny get a few touches against Minnesota on Monday Night Football. Don't expect him to put a heavy dent into Carson's workload, but expect him to cut into his snaps and touches a little bit. Carson is going to have to have a big day against Minnesota to keep a hold on his job. Fantasy owners need to hope that he steps up to the plate. I'm cautiously optimistic about putting Carson in my lineup this week, but I'm certainly sweating a bit while I'm locking him in.

Panic Meter: 3.5/5

 

Other Players to Monitor

Let's take a look at some other notable busts from Week 11:

Don't Panic: RB Aaron Jones

I've covered Jones previously, and most of what I said then still stands. Jamaal Williams isn't going anywhere and Jones will still get his. Gameflow was not on his side in a blowout loss to San Francisco. Luckily for Jones, he gets the Giants and the Redskins over the next two weeks. Continue to roll out Jones without hesitation.

Last Stand: WR Cooper Kupp

Cooper Kupp recorded seven catches for 220 yards and a touchdown in the team's final game before the bye week. In the three games since, Kupp has totaled nine catches for 88 yards, has fumbled twice, and dropped a pass late in the Rams' blowout loss to the Ravens that resulted in an interception.

Unfortunately, the Rams' matchup against Arizona is just too juicy to pass up. The Cardinals Defense stinks. They literally haven't held an opponent under 20 points this season. Meanwhile, the Rams haven't scored over 20 points since their bye week. If there was ever a time for a bounce-back game for Sean McVay's offense, it's this match. Kupp isn't a must-start for owners with deep benches, but I'd recommend giving him one last shot to produce against the Cardinals. The same can be said for Todd Gurley.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Kenny Golladay

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week. There will be two major qualifiers for this player: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player needs to be considered a must-start in most formats.

Just two weeks ago, Kenny Golladay was thriving in a Matthew Stafford-led offense. Now, he's attempting to catch passes from Jeff Driskel. What should we make of Golladay moving forward without Stafford?

 

A Light Driskel

Kenny Golladay's Week 11 stat-line: One catch for 34 yards on five targets

It's not exactly a shock that Golladay struggled in a tough matchup with Jeff Driskel throwing him passes. Driskel spread his targets out evenly among the Lions' group of pass-catchers. Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola each had five targets against Dallas. Not a single one of them eclipsed 50 yards.

Forget about Golladay for a moment. Here are the more relevant stats from Detroit's past few games:

  • Matthew Stafford in Weeks 8-9: 51 for 73, 748 yards, six touchdowns
  • Jeff Driskel in Weeks 10-11: 42 for 72, 478 yards, three touchdowns

The Lions offense was on fire in Weeks 8 and 9. Stafford was throwing haymakers at opposing defenses, and both Golladay and Jones were thriving as a result. Golladay hauled in 10 of his 15 targets over the two games for 255 yards and three touchdowns. He was on track to remain a high-end WR2 as long as Stafford was slinging passes his way.

Stafford's injury was equally devastating to fantasy owners as it was to Lions fans. Driskel is throwing basically the same amount of passes as Stafford was, but he's producing about half of the numbers. He's connected with Golladay on just four of his 14 targets since taking over as the starting quarterback. In Week 10, Driskel threw 46 passes and couldn't get a receiver over the 80 yard mark, let alone surpass 300 passing yards himself.

The prevailing rumor on Stafford is that his injury is a six-week injury, so he may be out for another month. Stafford himself has confirmed that there is no timetable for his return. The Lions are stuck with Jeff Driskel for the most important stretch of the fantasy season. That doesn't bode well for Golladay owners.

Golladay has always been a home run hitter. His big-play upside is what has made him such a great play with Stafford in the lineup. With Driskel, Golladay becomes a much, much more volatile fantasy option. The big-play ability still exists, as evidenced by his 47 yard touchdown catch in Week 10 and against Dallas last week, when Golladay's only grab was a 34 yard completion. He's become a good enough player to score touchdowns with any quarterback. It's just far more likely to happen with someone like Stafford at the helm.

As long as Driskel is under center, Golladay will simply be a boom-or-bust fantasy option. He's no longer a reliable week-to-week option. That doesn't make him unplayable. Owners lacking other sure-fire options may be inclined to stick with Golladay, and it wouldn't necessarily be a bad move. Just don't expect the same output you had with Stafford under center. He's a low floor, high ceiling play for now. He's no longer a must-start, but he remains startable. It is, however, completely reasonable to panic if you have to rely on Golladay through the fantasy playoff stretch.

Panic Meter: 4/5

 

Other Players to Monitor

Let's take a look at some other notable busts from Week 11:

A Slight Panic: RB Leonard Fournette

Leonard Fournette has put up back-to-back undesirable performances and hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 5. That's certainly not ideal from a guy who's being counted on as an RB1 by many fantasy owners.

Still, even in a game where game-flow was not remotely on Fournette's side, he hit double-digit points in PPR. His floor continues to be one of the highest in fantasy football. There's a slight cause for concern that Fournette will continue his touchdown slump, but there isn't a reason to consider benching Fournette yet. Better days are ahead.

Literally Unplayable: RB David Johnson

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Johnson was the consensus number one pick in 2017 fantasy drafts. Just two years later, he's lost his job to Kenyan Drake. Injuries have played a big part in his demise, but unfortunately for fantasy owners, you don't get to handicap Johnson's point total due to injury. Playing Johnson is a hail mary at this point. There is no reason for him to be in your lineup.

 

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Cooper Kupp

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week. There will be two major qualifiers for this player: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player needs to be considered a must-start in most formats.

Cooper Kupp has 220 receiving yards in his last two games. None of them came in his most recent game. Are darker times on the horizon for one of 2019's best value fantasy picks?

 

Is the Kupp half-full or half-empty?

Cooper Kupp's Week 10 stat line: zero catches on four targets. 

Cooper Kupp failed to catch a single pass for the second time in his career in Sunday's loss to the Steelers. The previous time he left with an injury. He played the entire game on Sunday.

Kupp suffered from blanket coverage courtesy of Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick as well as the overall ineptitude of the Rams offense. The Rams' dreadful offensive line continued to be over-whelmed, and Goff struggled heavily as a result. This wasn't the first time the Rams offense looked completely lifeless this season. Goff threw for just 78 yards against the 49ers a few weeks back. Still, even in that game, Kupp was able to snag four catches for 17 yards.

Things are not looking up for Goff and company. The Rams lost two starters on the offensive line against Pittsburgh. Center Brian Allen has been ruled out for the year, and right tackle Rob Havenstein has been ruled out for this week's tough matchup against the Bears. The Rams have a tough task ahead of them when it comes to handling Khalil Mack and company. Goff is going to be pressured early and often in that game.

The good news for Kupp is that he's been Goff's favorite target all season long, and that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon. He's also not going to be going against Pittsburgh's dominant secondary every week. There will be tough matchups down the stretch, but the only one that will be on this level for Kupp is San Francisco.

All signs point towards this being a fluke game and that Kupp will continue to put up numbers for the remainder of the season. They might not be as strong as the first half of the season due to tougher opponents and an injury-riddled offensive line, but they shouldn't be bad enough to consider benching him.

So why are we even talking about Kupp then?

Last week's game has one key difference compared to the previous games this year: it was Kupp's first game this season where he didn't start the game next to Brandin Cooks. This was the first time a defense truly got to gameplan on stopping Kupp without having to worry about Cooks, who is arguably the most talented receiver on the team. Cooks drew plenty of coverage from top opposing cornerbacks, and Kupp drew all of that coverage on Sunday.

It's worth noting that Cooks didn't play for the majority of Kupp's 220-yard performance against Cincinnati. You can either view that as a sign that Kupp can perform at an elite level without Cooks in the lineup, or you can chalk it up to the defense being blindsided by Cooks leaving the game so early and not having a backup plan on how to guard the Rams receiving core. I'd bank on the former, but the latter is certainly a possibility.

The Rams are also not going to be playing the Bengals again. They won't be facing a defense even remotely as bad. The worst secondary they'll face down the stretch is Arizona. Kupp has the privilege of facing off against Seattle, Dallas, and San Francisco during the fantasy playoffs. On top of that, this offense is getting worse by the week.

It's an uphill battle for Kupp to retain his elite WR1 status. But it's hard to imagine Kupp being anything worse than a WR2 ROS. He's too important to an offense that will continue to pass the ball. Don't expect first-half Kupp down the stretch, but still expect good things.

Panic Meter: 2.5/5

 

Other Players to Monitor

Let's take a look at some other notable busts from Week 10:

Proceed with caution: RB Saquon Barkley

Barkley has clearly not been 100% since returning from injury a few weeks back. Barkley has been insistent that he will not be shut down for the rest of the season despite this. His Week 11 bye could not have come at a better time for his fantasy owners, as it will hopefully mean he is back healthy for the stretch run. His usage will continue to be unfathomably high, and if he's on the field he needs to be in your lineup. He might not be the RB1 like you drafted him to be down the stretch, but he still figures to be an RB1.

Benched until further notice: RB David Johnson

How can you play David Johnson with any confidence at this point? Johnson ran the ball five times for two yards on Sunday and finished with negative points in standard and half-point PPR leagues. He doesn't look right and is splitting carries with Kenyan Drake. The Cardinals aren't going to make the playoffs and have no incentive to feed an unproductive player hampered by injuries. Unless you truly have no other real options, playing Johnson is a bad move until we see signs of life from the former fantasy stallion.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Aaron Jones

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week. There will be two major qualifiers for this player: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player needs to be considered a must-start in most formats.

Aaron Jones is currently the RB3 in half-PPR scoring. He's also managed to produce three games with single-digit fantasy points. In Week 9, he had his worst game of the season. Is there any concern here?

 

Jones'n for Touches

Aaron Jones' Week 9 stat line: eight rushes for 30 yards, one reception for -1 yards on four targets.  

Week 9 was Aaron Jones at his worst. It was the first time all season that Jones logged single-digit touches and just the second time in his last 17 games dating back to last season. It was the second time this season that Jones failed to record a red zone touch and just his third game without a touchdown. Truthfully, Jones just fell victim to playing against a hungry Chargers Defense that dominated the Packers in Week 9.

At his best, Aaron Jones is quite the opposite of his Week 9 performance. In Week 4, Jones ran for 107 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries while adding seven receptions for 75 yards through the air. It was one of the most dominating performances of the season by any player. Jones saw a career-high seven red zone carries in that game and took four of them to the house.

Typically, Jones finds himself performing somewhere in-between these two games. He's had three stinkers on the season and two blow-up games. The other four games were simply solid fantasy performances. Under no circumstances should anyone bench Aaron Jones. You probably shouldn't trade him either. If that's all you came to this column for, you can stop reading now.

Jones is a locked-and-loaded RB1 for the rest of the season. But there's still just one slight problem that will plague him for the rest of the season: the existence of Jamaal Williams.

There are 12 running backs averaging over 15 points-per-game this season in half-PPR scoring. 10 of them are considered work-horse running backs. One of those other two was a work-horse back before Melvin Gordon ended his holdout, Austin Ekeler. The other is Aaron Jones, who's dealing with a pesky backup running back who is on the field for 40-60% of the offensive snaps.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Jones' best game of the season was the one that Jamaal Williams missed. Green Bay hasn't been afraid to ride the hot hand in their backfield this season. In Week 6, the game that followed Jones' four-touchdown performance, Williams played more snaps, gained more yards, and recorded more touches than Jones. It didn't matter that Jones was coming off the best game of his career. Williams stepped in, ran well, and earned more snaps as the game went on. This is something that could happen in any game this season.

The good news for Jones is that he's going to get the chance to start in every game this season. If he comes out swinging, he'll get the majority of the touches. He's also the clear goal-line back for the Packers. Both of Williams' red zone touchdowns were receptions. In contrast, Jones has 18 red zone carries this season and is tied for the lead in red zone rushing touchdowns.

Jones will usually get his. But his ceiling is substantially lower than some of the other RB1's due to the slight chance that Williams will take over the backfield. Williams has only out-snapped Jones twice this season, and in one of those games, Jones still managed to score two touchdowns. There's no reason to panic when it comes to Jones, but just remain aware of the concerns surrounding him. If you could flip Jones for a true top-tier RB1, he may be worth moving. But don't quit on Jones just because of a bad game and a shared backfield. He's gotten his touches, for the most part, this season, and he's going to continue to get them most of the time.

Panic Meter: 1.5/5

 

Other Players to Monitor

Let's take a look at some other notable busts from Week 7:

No Need to Panic: RB Leonard Fournette

The only stat you need to know about Fournette is that he's currently a top-10 back in all formats despite scoring just one touchdown all season. The return of Nick Foles should help Fournette find the end zone a little more. He is locked in as an RB1 with an absurdly high floor.

Unbenchable: WR Stefon Diggs

After three straight games of seven receptions and 140+ yards, Diggs put up the stinker of a lifetime, recording just one reception for four yards. His twelve rushing yards saved it from being the worst game of his career, but that will be little consolation if you started him. Diggs has had five games with three or fewer receptions this year and four games with seven receptions and over 100 yards. He's settled in as a high-end boom-or-bust player. Unless you're dealing with an unbelievably deep roster of receivers, you aren't going to be benching Diggs anytime soon. The upside is just too high. You don't want to have him on your bench when he decides to blow up again.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Disaster Recovery Week 8: Le'Veon Bell

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week. There will be two major qualifiers for this player: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player needs to be considered a must-start in most formats.

Le'Veon Bell was the subject of many trade rumors this week. But the trade deadline came and went, and Bell remains a member of the New York Jets, where he has failed to produce quality fantasy numbers this season. Week 8 was Bell's worst performance of the entire season.

 

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Le'Veon Bell's Week 8 stat line: nine rushes for 23 yards, three catches for 12 yards on five targets. 

To say Le'veon Bell's debut season with the Jets has been a fantasy disaster is an understatement.

Bell has been a fantasy phenom for the duration of his career when he's been on the field. Through the first seven games of Bell's 2017 season, he put up 898 total yards and four touchdowns. Bell has just 536 yards and two touchdowns in his first seven games with the Jets.

For the most part, the blame doesn't fall on Bell. He's been saddled in an absolutely abysmal Jets offense. The Jets are bad with Sam Darnold and were even worse without him. Statistically, the Jets have the worst offense in the NFL. They rank either dead last or second-to-last in points-per-game, passing yards-per-game, rushing yards-per-game, and total yards-per-game. Their coalition of bad quarterbacks have thrown 11 interceptions this season.

When an offense is this bad, it's hard to expect anybody to put up numbers, even a player of Bell's caliber. It's not like the Jets aren't trying to give Bell the ball. He's a three-down back who's played on over 90% of the team's snaps. He's the only player running the football for the Jets and is second on the team in receptions. He's second on the team in touchdowns behind Ryan Griffin, who scored two of his three touchdowns this season last week.

The Jets simply aren't putting up yards or points. Bell accounts for a good chunk of the team's statistics in both categories. The problem for fantasy owners is that number is so low it hasn't produced much.

Still, anyone paying attention knows that the Jets' upcoming schedule is ridiculously easy. The team has had a rough go of it early on, facing just two opponents with a losing record so far this season. Seven of their next eight games are against teams with a losing record.

Bell's upcoming schedule has been beaten to death for weeks. Everyone has been advising owners to buy low on Bell while there was still time. If you own him, there's absolutely no way you should part with him now. The Jets aren't just facing off against bad teams. The best team they play over the next six weeks is Oakland. They get Miami twice. They get the Giants, Redskins, and Bengals. All these teams are terrible, and all of them have terrible defenses.

Bell should feast over this stretch of games. But many considered Jacksonville to be the start of what should be Bell's reign of terror. The Jaguars are a much better team than all of New York's upcoming opponents besides Oakland, but they still aren't a great team. Maybe the 2019 New York Jets truly can't be saved? Maybe this is a dumpster fire on the scale of Miami, Cincinnati, and Washington. Maybe Bell will never find holes to run through and will continue to put up awful numbers. It's certainly possible, but as a Bell owner, I'm betting on the three-time All-Pro.

The Jets' upcoming schedule is just too juicy to quit just yet. Miami can't stop a nosebleed. Are you really going to bench or trade Bell with Miami next on the schedule? You simply cannot do it. Bell owners should be cautiously optimistic that he'll feast during this upcoming stretch, but there needs to be a heavy emphasis on the word "cautious."

Regardless, the simple truth is that the Jets have, somehow, more talent than five of their next six opponents, and even the sixth could be debated. If the offense is ever going to figure it out, the time is now. I'm betting on them.

Panic Meter: 2/5

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Week 7 Disaster Recovery: Evan Engram

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week, and touching on a few others briefly. There will be two major qualifiers for these players: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player needs to be considered a must-start in most formats.

The Arizona Cardinals have been comically bad at defending tight ends this season. Evan Engram is a very good tight end. In Week 7, he failed to deliver even a passable performance against the Cardinals in a dream matchup. Let's look into what happened.

 

I Can't Evan...

Evan Engram's Week 7 stat-line: one catch for six yards on five targets. 

Evan Engram suffered an injury in Week 5 and was inactive for the Giants' Thursday night showdown with the Patriots in Week 6. As an Engram owner, I wasn't even that concerned about him missing that game. It was a short week and he was banged up. He deserved to rest. Judgment day was looming in Week 7.

The Arizona Cardinals have been consistently obliterated by opposing tight ends this season. Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson, and Austin Hooper have each had at least six catches for over 110 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals. Greg Olsen had six catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Will Dissly recorded seven grabs for 57 yards and a touchdown. Arizona's lack of ability to guard tight ends was so notorious that smart people actually recommended starting Tyler Eifert against them in Week 5.

Engram is considered one of the best tight ends in the league. He's been a top fantasy option at the position all season. He returned to practice as a full participant early last week. The stars had aligned for Engram owners. He was set to rain fire all over Arizona's defense in Week 7.

One catch for six yards on five targets. 

This was more devastating than Thor not going for Thanos' head at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. It was a disaster on a scale we may not see again this season. One of the league's top tight ends going against the Arizona Cardinals couldn't even eclipse two points in PPR leagues.

Engram shoulders a bit of the blame here. He dropped what could have been a 30-yard catch on a perfect ball from Daniel Jones late in the second quarter. He dropped another pass later in the game. But five targets against this Arizona defense? That's a tough pill to swallow for Engram owners. Even worse, backup tight end Rhett Ellison snagged a 28-yard touchdown in this matchup.

Usually, we look into what happened and whether we should be concerned moving forward. The truth is that it's hard to really be concerned about Engram. He's still ranked as the TE6 in half-point PPR leagues per game, and he remains one of the few true "set 'em and forget 'em" fantasy tight ends in the NFL. It would take three straight games of this to really consider moving on from Engram.

For now, we just mourn. We mourn what should have been one of the best tight end performances of the year. Engram should be fine. We'll forgive him, but we'll never forget this performance.

Panic Meter: 1/5

 

Other Players to Monitor

Let's take a look at some other notable busts from Week 7:

Patience, Patience: RB Le'Veon Bell

It's been frustrating to sit through all these mediocre performances from Le'Veon Bell, but better days are indeed coming for the star running back. Bell's next seven games teams are favorable matchups. Four of the seven games are against bottom-five run defenses. Bell should feast during the second half of the year.

Remain Calm: WR Keenan Allen

I'm still remaining calm when it comes to Keenan Allen. Four catches for 61 yards and no touchdowns is not ideal, but Allen recorded double-digit targets for the first time since Week 3. There will be a blow-up game from Allen sooner than later.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Keenan Allen - Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week, and touching on a few others briefly. There will be two major qualifiers for these players: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

Keenan Allen had back-to-back duds in Weeks 4 and 5. I was unconcerned. After a third-straight stinker in Week 6, it's about time we finally talk about the Chargers receiver.

 

Keenan and Dry Spell

Keenan Allen's Week 6 stat-line: two receptions for 33 yards on six targets

Keenan Allen was sending secondaries to the shadow realm during the first three weeks of the season. During that stretch, Allen recorded 29 catches for 404 yards and three touchdowns on a massive 42 targets. He was on pace for over 200 targets and 2,000 yards.

Obviously, nobody expected Allen to keep up that pace - but the weeks that have followed have been alarming. Allen has accumulated 11 catches for 99 yards and zero touchdowns over the last three weeks. And he has just seventeen targets over that stretch, the same amount of targets he had in Week 3 alone.

Allen has been known to have the random dry-spell here and there. This, however, is the worst of his career. Allen has never had a three-game stretch with under 100 total receiving yards - and the Chargers have not changed their offensive philosophy during this particular three game stretch. Phillip Rivers has more attempts and completions during Allen's dry-spell than he did during his hot streak.

The truth is that, for the most part, Allen's struggles have just been the result of good defense. In Week 5, Allen simply ran into elite cornerback Chris Harris. He struggled to do much of anything against the swarming defense of the Broncos' Pro Bowl cornerback. This week, Allen faced a Pittsburgh defense that he victimized for 148 yards and a touchdown last season - and the Steelers decided that they wouldn't let Allen beat them again. They hit Allen with plenty of double coverage and forced Rivers to make Mike Williams and Hunter Henry his main targets.

 

Looking Forward

The fact that the Chargers can make other guys their main target in the passing game is the biggest concern for Allen owners right now. This is an offense that is loaded with pass-catchers. Getting Melvin Gordon and Hunter Henry back further complicates an already complicated situation for Allen. Even though Allen will remain Rivers' number one target in the passing game, he'll lose a few targets to their returning players. It's unlikely that he'll have a three game stretch with 42 targets again this season.

Henry has already proven to be a favorable red zone target for Rivers. The veteran quarterback looked to his tight end three times in Week 6, and two of the three targets resulted in touchdowns. On the contrary, he's only targeted Allen in the red zone twice over the past three games. Williams and Austin Ekeler also have more red zone targets than Allen during that stretch.

Even with all the concerns regarding Allen for the rest of the season, I'd have trouble parting ways with him. The positives are too positive. He plays on a good offense with a good quarterback surrounded by talent. The targets, yards, and touchdowns will come back. He might not have 400 yards and 40 targets over a three game stretch again this year, but he'll have a few more 100 yard games. Even in another tough matchup against Tennessee, you'd have to be crazy to bench Allen.

Panic Meter: 2.5/5

 

Other Players to Monitor

Let's take a look at some other notable busts from Week 6:

Wait and See: WR Cooper Kupp

The Rams had a historically bad offensive performance against the 49ers in Week 6. Jared Goff threw for a career-low 78 yards and the team barely had positive yards in the second half offensively. They failed to convert on a single third or fourth down. It's hard to image the offense being this bad again in 2019, but there are genuine concerns with Jared Goff and the Rams' offensive line. If the Rams can't bounce back against Atlanta's Swiss cheese defense, they might never bounce back. But they should bounce back, and you don't want to have Kupp on your bench when that happens.

Sound the Alarm: RB Aaron Jones

For whatever reason, Green Bay coaches do not enjoy feeding Aaron Jones. Just a week after scoring four touchdowns in a rout of the Cowboys, Jones found himself playing second banana to Jamaal Williams in the Packers' backfield. Jones has officially entered a "hot-hand" situation in Green Bay's backfield, which is the worst thing a fantasy owner could hope for. Jones owners have no choice but to start him in most situations due to his upside. But if he has a solid game in Week 7, it might be time to consider moving him for a more consistent piece.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Week 5 Disaster Recovery: Odell Beckham Jr.

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week, and touching on a few others briefly. There will be two major qualifiers for these players: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

Odell Beckham Jr's 89-yard touchdown against the Jets in Week 2 saved him from being the most colossal bust of the season. It's the only game all season that he had over 100 yards and scored a touchdown. What's going on with ODB?

 

Bust It Like Beckham

Odell Beckham's Week 5 stat-line:

  • Two receptions for 27 yards on six targets
  • Two rushes for 15 yards
  • 20 passing yards
  • Fumble on a punt return

Adding Odell Beckham to the Browns' high-powered passing attack was supposed to give them one of the most dangerous units in the NFL. Through five weeks, they've been the opposite.

Cleveland currently ranks 20th in the NFL in passing yards-per-game. The other stats are even worse. Cleveland ranks third-to-last in passing touchdowns and first in interceptions. When you're only throwing for 228 yards per game and less than a touchdown per game, there aren't a ton of fantasy points to go around.

Beckham is currently the WR35 in half-point PPR formats. He's trailing teammate Jarvis Landry despite having more receptions and touchdowns. He's hauled in just four of his 13 targets over the past two weeks. More importantly, he's averaging 23.5 yards-per-game over the past two weeks in games that had drastically different game flows.

The most alarming fact about Beckham's 2019 season is that Cleveland is trying to get him the ball. It's not like he entered a new situation and was forgotten. The Browns have been doing as much as they can to get Beckham in situations to succeed. He hasn't delivered so far.

In Week 5, Beckham threw a pass, ran the ball twice, returned a punt, and was targeted six times. He really only delivered on his passing attempt. Beckham straight up dropped his first two targets against the 49ers. Baker Mayfield hit him with a perfect pass down the sideline later in the game and he couldn't keep his feet inbounds. He didn't take advantage of his rushing attempts, and he fumbled on his punt return. He played a factor in why the Browns were blown out in San Francisco.

Beckham owners can hope that when the offense turns it around, Beckham's season will turn around. But Beckham had an even worse fantasy performance in the team's rout of the Ravens just a week earlier. In a game where the Browns scored 40 points and Mayfield threw for 342 yards, Beckham caught two receptions for just 20 yards. He was targeted on half of Mayfield's incompletions.

Beckham's 89-yard-touchdown genuinely saved his season from being bad to being an atrocity. Without that touchdown, he'd be averaging 8.7 fantasy points-per-game in half-point PPR. The touchdown play upped his average to 10.3, which is still only the 43rd-highest number among receivers this season. This is a guy that had an ADP of 14.9 this summer.

The sixth-year receiver is off to the worst start of his career by far. It's tough to have a positive outlook on Beckham for the rest of the season in an offense that isn't passing for many yards and isn't scoring many points. It's even tougher when you factor in that he hasn't even looked good when the offense is passing for a lot of yards and is scoring a lot of points.

Still, I cannot advise against benching Odell Beckham. Opportunity, performance, and talent are the most important factors for a fantasy football player in that order. Beckham is being given opportunities. Even if it isn't as many as we'd hope for, the Browns are looking his way quite a bit and he's been on the field for almost every one of the team's offensive snaps this season. The performance hasn't been there, but you can't doubt the talent. Beckham has opportunity and talent on his side. You have to keep rolling him out and hope the performance follows. He adds no value to your team on the bench. Either keep him in your lineup and trade him while you still can. You have to decide whether you want to jump off the sinking ship or hope the crew patches up its holes.

Panic Meter: 4/5

 

Other Players to Monitor

Let's take a look at some other notable busts from Week 5:

 

This is who he is: WR Julio Jones

I'd like to give a warm welcome to any first-time Julio Jones owners wondering why he's put up two duds in a row. For the returning Jones owners, welcome back! Anyone who has owned Jones in the past knows this is par for course with the Falcons' receiver. In 2016, Jones finished fourth overall in half-PPR points-per-game despite having four games with under 40 yards and zero touchdowns. Jones is bound to have a few duds through the course of the season. If you can't deal with him, trade him for somebody more consistent.

Remain Calm: WR Keenan Allen

Allen had a tough matchup against Denver's Chris Harris this week and had his worst game of the season. I'm not ready to panic on Allen whatsoever. If he has another dud next week, we'll revisit him.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯: WR Mike Evans

Tampa Bay's entire offense besides Chris Godwin was an absolute dumpster fire against New Orleans. Ronald Jones was the only other Buccaneer to have over 35 total yards. Evans caught the worst of it by recording a goose egg on three targets. Entering this game, Evans had 279 yards and four touchdowns in his previous two games. Nobody is benching Evans, but a goose egg is always a tough pill to swallow. Evans owners need to make sure they tighten their seat-belt. It might be a wild ride this season.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Week 4 Disaster Recovery: DeAndre Hopkins

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week, and touching on a few others briefly. There will be two major qualifiers for these players: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

In 2015, DeAndre Hopkins recorded over 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns despite playing with four different starting quarterbacks and zero good quarterbacks. In 2019, he's playing with a Pro Bowl quarterback and is averaging under 50 yards per game over the past three games. What's happening?

 

Hopping Down The Bust Trail

DeAndre Hopkins' Week 4 stat-line: five receptions for 41 yards on eight targets... and an interception. 

DeAndre Hopkins' has recorded at least 1,200 yards in four of the last five seasons. The only time he didn't was during the infamous 2016 campaign, when Brock Osweiler was attempting to throw the ball his way.

During that season, Hopkins hauled in 78 of his 154 targets for 954 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 12.2 yards per catch. The numbers weren't terrible, but they were far from what any owner who selected Hopkins in the first round would have hoped for. The worst part was that they could have been so much better if Osweiler could throw the football somewhat accurately. Hopkins had nearly 1,000 yards on by far the lowest catch rate of his career. Had Osweiler and Hopkins been able to connect on a few more balls, he likely would have had a decent season.

Hopkins' had a catch percentage of 51.7% in 2016. Through four games this season, he's caught 66.7% of his targets. He's on pace for 1,036 yards and 96 receptions on 144 targets. That's less targets than he received in 2016 and just 82 more yards.

My point is that Hopkins is barely on pace to top his yardage totals from 2016 despite catching 16% more of his targets. He's still on pace for eight touchdowns this season, but Hopkins hasn't scored since Week 1. He hasn't even been targeted in the red zone since Week 1.

Part of the reason - lack of a strong passing game. Hopkins has three games this season with eight or fewer targets and under 50 yards. In two of those games, Watson had fewer than 30 passing attempts, didn't throw for a touchdown, and didn't throw for more than 200 yards. Last week's game against Carolina was one of those duds. The week before, however, wasn't.

In Week 3, Hopkins caught six of his seven targets for 67 yards against the Chargers. This was in a game where Watson threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns. Five different players had five or more targets, and Watson chose to target his tight ends in the red zone rather than his star receiver. The Chargers have a solid pass defense, but other star receivers have been able to go to work against their secondary. In Houston's best passing performance of the year, Hopkins recorded his season-low in targets.

Week 3 proved that the Texans didn't need to force Hopkins the ball to have a successful passing attack. Weeks 2 and 4 proved that the Texans may not always have a successful passing attack. Neither of these points are going to make Hopkins owners feel better.

It seems silly for the Texans not to make it a point to get their star player the ball more in the coming weeks. The offense isn't exactly firing on all cylinders. Hopkins has also played against three very solid cornerbacks over the last three weeks, which may have played a part in Watson looking his way less often. A juicy matchup against Atlanta should serve as a prime bounce-back game for Hopkins.

The key word here is should. There's a chance that it doesn't. Hopkins received double-digit targets in 11 of his 16 games last season. This year, he's on pace for four games with double-digit targets. His lack of targets could be due to the fact he's gone against tougher competition. It could also be because the Texans have a much deeper roster of pass-catchers. Kenny Stills and Will Fuller are good receivers. Duke Johnson is a great pass-catcher out of the backfield. Watson has begun to develop chemistry with two different tight ends. The depth chart is so deep that Keke Coutee barely sees the field. This is a far superior receiving corps than Hopkins is used to playing with.

If you believe that Hopkins just ran into a string of good quarterbacks and will get back to his monster target-share in the coming weeks, hold steady and ride him out. If you think that the Texans may just be spreading the ball out more and Hopkins will just be a wheel in the offense rather than the engine, it might be time to sell while you can still get high-value for him.

I'm still willing to lean towards the former. I don't think Hopkins will approach 1,600 yards like he did last season, but I still believe he'll have well over 1,000 yards. And even if he doesn't, his current pace of 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns is fine. He's a superstar receiver with a relatively high floor. I'm still rolling the dice with Hopkins, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sweating a little.

Panic Level: 2.5/5

Here are some thoughts on a few other duds from Week 4.

 

No Need to Worry

Keenan Allen (WR, LAC)

I'm sorry, but if you've been complaining that you lost in Week 4 because Keenan Allen had a bad game, you're what's wrong with fantasy football. Don't cry about your now 3-1 record that Allen helped carry you to. The Chargers receiver is still on pace for 1,808 yards and 12 touchdowns despite having 48 yards and zero touchdowns in Week 4. He's going to have a monster year. Don't be an idiot and panic.

 

Plenty of Reason to Panic!

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT)

JuJu probably won't have many more 15-yard games this season. But how much better can it really get? His season-high is 84 yards, a number he eclipsed nine times last season. It's not JuJu's fault that Ben Roethlisberger got hurt, but Mason Rudolph certainly isn't getting the job done. I'm not ready to bench Smith-Schuster just yet, but I'm also not feeling great about playing him. It's going to be a long season for JuJu owners.

You'd have a better chance of knocking out Brock Lesnar than this player living up to his ADP: Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

Joe Mixon's 2019 season has been so laughable that I didn't even think he warranted a full article today. The Cincinnati Bengals are a bad football team. Their head coach might be terrible and their offensive line is definitely terrible. Mixon's outlook for the rest of the season is looking bleak in this offense. Unfortunately for Mixon owners, you probably can't get good value back if you trade him, and you probably don't have better options on your bench.

Look at the bright side. In the first two weeks of the season, Mixon had 27 total rushing yards. He's quadrupled that total over the past two weeks. If Mixon can keep up his current pace, he'll almost finish with 1,000 yards! Everything is fine!

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Week 3 Disaster Recovery: Todd Gurley

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week, and touching on a few others briefly. There will be two major qualifiers for these players: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

I've been in denial since February that I'd ever be covering this player in this column, but the time has unfortunately come. We need to talk about Todd Gurley.

 

Barring an Act of Todd...

Todd Gurley's Week 3 stat-line: 14 rushes for 43 yards.

This is a complicated situation. Let's start by talking about what we should not be panicking about.

Todd Gurley is not injured: I went in-depth on this a few months back, but it doesn't appear that Gurley has suffered any setbacks since he missed time late last season. It doesn't seem likely that he will. The Rams have had months to prepare a plan to keep Gurley as spry as he can be. There's a plan in place and it's being executed. Speaking of which...

Malcolm Brown is not a concern: Anyone who drafted Todd Gurley had to account for a decrease in touches from last season. Gurley is still playing on 69% of the Rams snaps, compared to 31% for Brown. You'd be insane to expect Gurley to receive 90% snap shares like he was last season, as he has arthritis in his knee. The Rams have to take care of him where they can, and cutting his snap-count down a bit is a part of that.

One thing that should be noted is how the Rams are splitting up the snaps between Brown and Gurley. Rather than spell Gurley mid-drive for Brown, the running back who starts out the drive plays the entire drive. Last week, Gurley played on seven drives and Brown played on three. That resulted in a 74% snap share for Gurley and 26% for Brown. The week before the duo split the same amount of drives, but Brown was on the field for 37% of the snaps while Gurley dropped to 63%. It seems reasonable to expect somewhere between 60-70% of snaps for Gurley each week, which should theoretically be enough work for Gurley to put up solid numbers.

With that out of the way, let's look at what's actually concerning for Gurley owners.

The Rams aren't passing the ball to running backs: This is the most bizarre roadblock Gurley owners have had to deal with. It was expected that either Malcolm Brown or Darrell Henderson would take some snaps from Gurley and ultimately some of his general workload. It was not expected that Goff would just completely ignore the team's running backs in the passing game.

In the first three games of 2018, Gurley hauled in 11 of 14 targets for 121 yards and a touchdown. Keep in mind that this was before Cooper Kupp was injured. This season, Gurley and Brown have caught five of eight targets for 18 yards and a touchdown combined. Gurley's dual-threat ability was part of what made him such a dominant fantasy force last season. Gurley had one game of four or less receiving yards during his first two years under Sean McVay. He's had four or less receiving yards in every game this season. Take away his receiving ability and he doesn't really have a path to being an RB1 this year. Gurley owners have to be praying that this aspect of his game returns.

The Rams offense is worse: Last season, the Rams finished second in total yards, fifth in passing yards, and third in rushing yards. Currently, they're at 16th in total yards, 22nd in passing yards, and seventh in rushing yards. The rushing yards are fine. Gurley's total rushing yards will dip due to his timeshare with Brown, but he's still shown he can get his even with Brown seeing a few drives here and there. It's the other stuff that's a concern.

The offensive line is worse. Rich King recently explained this in his Offensive Line series. The Rams replaced veterans with first-year starts at left guard and center. Their starting offensive guard is currently injured and his replacement is also a first-year starter, only he's been cut by two different teams in his two-year career. The unit struggled against Cleveland last week. It's certainly possible that the first-year starters develop and become solid players by year's end. But it isn't a guarantee.

Jared Goff has been decent at best this season. His completion percentage is down, his TD% has dipped by two points, and he's throwing nearly 50 yards less per game compared to last season. Remember that this is all with Cooper Kupp, Goff's favorite target, back in the lineup. When Goff struggles, the offense struggles. They're finding themselves in the red zone less than last year. Since Gurley is already losing a few red-zone touches to Brown, he needs the team to be in the red zone as much as possible. He scored 20 of his 21 touchdowns in the red zone last season. It's his bread and butter.

Goff needs to get back into form for this offense to find itself once again. But he's not the only player who has looked worse this season.

Todd Gurley is worse: You can dig deep into the snap counts, the offensive line, the red zone touches, and whatever else you want to dissect to try and figure out why Gurley's numbers are lower this season. The hard truth is that Todd Gurley hasn't looked like Todd Gurley.

Gurley lit the Panthers up for 64 yards on eight carries during the fourth quarter of the team's opening game. It's truly the only quarter where he's looked like his old self. He found the end zone in Week 2 to cover up a mediocre outing on the ground. He was exposed in Week 3.

The offensive struggles certainly factor into Gurley's poor play. If Goff and the line can get going, there's a strong chance that Gurley gets going as well.

There's also a chance that he's lost a step. Gurley has averaged less than four yards a carry in four of his last five games dating back to last postseason. I'm still a believer in the fifth-year running back, but even I can't deny the possibility is there. Next week's game against Tampa Bay will be telling. Gurley could desperately use a big game.

Panic Meter: 4/5

I won't be covering any other players this week, but I'll be keeping a close eye on Stefon Diggs and James Conner, two players who are approaching level five on the panic meter. Read more about our take on James Conner here. We'll touch base on them next week if they continue to struggle.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Week 2 Disaster Recovery: Alvin Kamara

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week, and touching on a few others briefly. There will be two major qualifiers for these players: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

The NFC South had two of the consensus top four picks this year. Both of them busted in Week 2. We're going to talk about one of them.

 

History Doesn't Repeat Itself

Alvin Kamara's Week 2 stat-line: 13 rushes for 45 yards and one reception for 15 yards on three targets.

There are a lot of factors baked into those numbers that we need to consider before discussing Kamara's outlook. First, let's look into the past.

To say that Kamara has played well against the Los Angeles Rams in the past is an understatement. Kamara has had at least 100 total yards in each of his first three meetings with the Rams. He torched Los Angeles for 188 total yards and two touchdowns when he first met the Rams as a rookie in 2017. In the 2018 rematch, Kamara's yards dropped to 112, but his touchdowns increased to three.

The Rams finally kept Kamara out of the end zone in last year's NFC Championship. That doesn't mean they could stop him. Kamara had over 100 total yards and hauled in 10 receptions for 96 yards. It felt like Kamara was a guaranteed nine yards every time he caught a pass. As RotoBaller's resident Rams fan, I can assure you we hate playing against this guy. He's a nightmare.

It's not just Kamara that the Rams have struggled against. Under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the Rams have had a rough time against speedy, dual-threat running backs. This was not a problem that appeared to be solved for the 2019 season. In Week 1, Christian McCaffrey hung 209 total yards and two touchdowns on the Rams.

However, Kamara was only able to put up 60 yards against a team he has historically dominated and that was just obliterated by Christian McCaffrey a week earlier. That's a tad concerning.

 

No Breeze for Kamara Owners

Now, as we always need to remember with this column, duds happen. A big reason for this one was that Drew Brees hurt his thumb after the second drive and was replaced by Teddy Bridgewater for the remainder of the game. Bridgewater didn't play too bad overall, but the offense was clearly shaken up by the injury. They played incredibly sloppy and had simply given up by the time the fourth quarter came around. Kamara's biggest play of the day, an 18-yard reception late in the first quarter, was called back due to a block in the back by Jared Cook.

Unfortunately for Kamara owners, Drew Brees is not coming back next week. He likely won't return to the field for six weeks after having surgery on his injured thumb. The good news is that he'll be back for the stretch run into the fantasy playoffs. The bad news is Kamara owners we'll have to try to keep the ship afloat until his return.

Let's make one thing clear: you can do much worse than Teddy Bridgewater as your backup. It's not like New Orleans is rolling out Sean Mannion for the next six weeks. Bridgewater is a former first-round pick whose career was derailed by an injury after a Pro Bowl season in 2016. He's one of the NFL's best backup quarterbacks, but he's still a backup for a reason. Sunday was the first time Bridgewater played meaningful snaps since January of 2016.

Bridgewater is also a much different quarterback than Brees. He's never been a gunslinger, and he likely never will be. Bridgewater threw for over 300 yards times twice in 2016, his last full season, and only had one game with over 40 passing attempts. In 2019, Drew Brees has just as many games with over 40 attempts and one less 300-yard game. He's played in one full game.

It remains unclear how the Saints offense will adjust around Bridgewater. It does feel likely that Kamara's production will take a dip. There's still a world where he's an RB1 with Bridgewater and puts up very solid numbers. There's also a world where the Saints struggle to score points and everyone on the offense loses production with their new quarterback. It remains to be seen how this offense will play in a full game with Bridgewater under center. If the Rams game is any indication, it won't be pretty.

Next week will be incredibly telling for Kamara, Michael Thomas, and the rest of the Saints' offense. A road game against Seattle is as good of a test as any. You can't take Kamara out of your lineup this week, but temper your expectations. It's unlikely that he'll even sniff the expected production you drafted him for over the next six weeks. That doesn't mean that he can't produce. Proceed with caution.

Panic Level: 4/5 (for the next six weeks.)

 

Other Players To Monitor

As always, let's talk about a few other busts from the past week.

Business as usual: RB Christian McCaffrey - I know what you're thinking, if Kamara is taking such a dip because of a new quarterback, what about McCaffrey? The difference is that Cam Newton played terrible in Week 1 and McCaffrey still crossed the 200-yard mark. Anybody who can accurately throw the ball 10 yards can get McCaffrey the ball where he needs it. You'd be a fool to consider benching this guy under any circumstances. He's going to be used at an ungodly level.

Wait and see: RB Joe MixonThere's really only two things to say about Mixon's 2019 season: he's been banged up, and he's been incredibly unproductive. I'm holding out judgment until after Week 4 on Mixon. If he continues to do absolutely nothing on the field, we'll revisit him later.

Abandon ship: TE OJ HowardI'm usually not one for telling you to quit on a player after two weeks. But this... this is different. Tampa Bay's new head coach Bruce Arians has historically shied away from featuring tight ends in his offenses in the past. Everybody, including myself, ignored this fact because Howard was simply too talented to ignore.

Well, turns out that means nothing to Arians. Howard didn't receive a single target on Sunday despite being on the field for 92% of snaps. The man is blocking his ass out but unfortunately, that doesn't amount to fantasy points.

Howard is too talented to cut, but he's also too volatile to start. Howard owners should look to acquire another tight end to lock-in as their starter. Even if you can't get somebody like Mark Andrews or Darren Waller, go out and find somebody like Greg Olsen, Will Dissly, or even gulp Jason Witten. You can't possibly start Howard with confidence next week. There's simply nothing to be confident about right now.

More Week 3 Lineup Prep




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Week 1 Disaster Recovery: Mike Evans

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds.

This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about benching, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week, and touching on a few others briefly. There will be two major qualifiers for these players: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

 

An UnEvantful Sunday

Mike Evans' Week 1 stat-line: two receptions for 28 yards on five targets.

Here’s what Mike Evans has going for him: he’s a damn good receiver and one of the NFL’s most dangerous red zone threats.

Here’s what he has against him: he plays with two other incredibly talented pass catchers and a quarterback who can’t get any of them the ball.

Jameis Winston isn’t good. This was his chance to prove us all wrong. The Bucs hired a head coach that we know is a good coach. We have proof of it. Going against an improved, but not scary, San Francisco secondary, Winston had to show us something to make us buy into him and this passing offense.

At almost every turn, save for a few touchdown passes to Cameron Brate that didn’t count, he failed to do so. Winston completed 20 of his 36 passes for 194 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. His touchdown pass to Chris Godwin was decent. His other touchdown was a picture perfect pass right into the hands of his receiver: Richard Sherman, a cornerback on the other team. Winston completed two passes to Evans, both solid passes, albeit easy ones. The three incompletions that went Evans' way were forced balls that weren't very close to being completed.

In Winston's defense, he didn't get much help. He was running for his life on most of his snaps. The San Francisco pass rush brought it, and the secondary was solid as well. Chris Godwin was the only Tampa Bay pass catcher who had a decent game, grabbing three of his six targets for 53 yards and a touchdown. OJ Howard, the other big option in the passing game, caught four of his five targets for just 32 yards. Five other players received targets for Tampa Bay on the afternoon, including all three running backs. Winston spread it around on his 36 targets.

That doesn't bode well for Evans. If Jameis Winston is throwing the ball 36 times in this offense, you can't expect all of those throws to be good ones. Keep in mind that game-flow benefited Evans and the passing attack in this matchup. Tampa Bay lost the lead at the start of the third quarter and never got it back. Evans isn't the only talented pass-catcher in the offense that needs work. Godwin is an incredible young talent and trumped Evans in every statistical category on Sunday.

Is there a chance that Godwin emerges as Tampa Bay's go-to option in the passing game? Absolutely. If he does, it's unlikely that Evans will return the value owners expected when he was drafted at his late-second ADP. Evans still seems like the number one option in Tampa Bay. A bounce back game will seal that. But unless the entire Tampa Bay offense can have a bounce back game against Carolina, there is a ton to be worried about here. At least one of Godwin, Evans, and Howard is likely to be a major draft bust if Tampa Bay can't produce a top-15 passing offense. This whole unit desperately needs to turn it around on Thursday Night Football.

Panic Level: Medium. 

Again, it's Week 1, so don't panic too much here. Let's look at some other duds from around the league

 

Patience, patience: Davante Adams and Aaron Jones

In his head coaching debut, Matt LaFleur stepped in and helped Davante Adams record his lowest yardage total since October 2017. Well done, coach!

In all seriousness, it’s too early to tell how the season will shake out for Adams and Jones. The Bears have the best defense in the NFL. We’ll give everybody a hall pass for this one. Let’s see how it shakes out next week. If it goes poorly once again, they’ll probably be the lead of this article.

 

Sweating it out: Sony Michel

Sony Michel was a little touchdown dependent last year, but he’s never played like he did in Week 1. 15 carries for 14 yards? It’s a rare thing when a running back can get double digit carries and average less than a yard per rush. You can be a bit concerned that Rex Burkhead played more than expected, but the biggest concern here should be Michel’s atrocious yards per rush.

Owners might be quick to cite Michel receiving the lowest snap share out of the trio at 33%, but that isn't a major concern. Michel never even received 50% of the snaps in a regular season game last year. It's a slight concern that the Patriots aren't putting a bigger load on Michel's plate in his sophomore season, but not the end of the world. He has proven he can produce at a high level without a major share of the snaps.

It’s obviously too early to give up on Michel. But as someone heavily invested in him this season, I’ll be sweating harder than Jordan Peele in that one gif while watching the Patriots next week. Finding the end zone would be ideal, but Michel needs to at least look like a professional running back. Still, if there’s a fire sale on Michel in your league, I’d buy.

 

Abandon Ship

Nobody! It's been one week. If you drafted somebody in the first five rounds and they're healthy, there's no reason to try and dump them because of one bad game. Look into what the problem is and see if it can be solved in the following week. If it can't, then it's time to panic. But don't go trading away Mike Evans for A.J. Brown because of one game.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football & NFL Rookies 2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Stop That Hype Train! Darrell Henderson

Rookie running back Darrell Henderson was a force to be reckoned with during his career at Memphis. He holds the NCAA Division I record for yards per rush with 8.2. You could argue that he's literally the most dangerous ball-carrier in NCAA history and the numbers back it up. It wasn't like he was doing this in a limited sample size either. Henderson ran for over 1,900 yards and had 22 touchdowns last season. He finished second in multiple major career rushing stats for the Tigers, only trailing DeAngelo Williams.

What better offense for Henderson to join in the NFL than the Los Angeles Rams? Sean McVay's high-powered offense has taken the league by storm ever since he joined the organization in 2017. The Rams produced four top-end players at their positions last year when Cooper Kupp was healthy. Now they add Henderson, one of college football's most explosive running backs ever, to the mix. Shouldn't Henderson be a home-run pick in the eighth-round?

Maybe, if he were the team's best running back. But he's currently the third-string running back for the Rams. He's also sitting behind the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year and a seasoned trusted backup in Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown.

 

Darrell Henderson (RB, LAR) ADP: 90 RB: 37

Let's just go through every reason somebody would give when drafting Darrell Henderson in the eighth round.

"Todd Gurley won't be able to stay healthy" Gurley's knee issues have been well-documented over the past few months and it's been confirmed he's dealing with arthritis in his knee. Arthritis is a complicated issue to deal with. It's also not something that just happens overnight. You don't twist your knee the wrong way and suddenly have arthritis.

Gurley has likely been dealing with the issue for a while now. In fact, he even stated that he was dealing with a painful knee injury after Week 1. People also forget that Gurley did actually play in the Rams playoff run, and even ran for over 100 yards against Dallas. The injury might have hampered him a bit in the team's playoff run, but mental mistakes and the emergence of CJ Anderson were also huge factors in Gurley's limited playing time and touches in the NFC Championship and Super Bowl.

The Rams and Gurley have had months to come up with the best way to approach the situation. They'll have a plan to keep Gurley on the field this year. Is he going to play 16 games? I wouldn't bet on him, but I'd be willing to bank on him playing at least 12 barring an unrelated injury.

Note: I went in-depth on this issue and more in my Todd Gurley outlook earlier in the summer. Read it here

"Gurley's workload will be decreased" This one is true. Rams beat writer Vincent Bonsignore anticipates Gurley receiving 75-80% of the offensive snaps in Los Angeles. For context, Gurley saw just over 86% of snaps last year. So there will be some opportunity for the next man up to put up some numbers.

"Darrell Henderson is the next man up behind Gurley" He isn't. That would be Malcolm Brown. The Rams retained the free-agent running back by matching an offer sheet made by Detroit this spring, so they still think highly of him. The only reason the Rams signed CJ Anderson last season is because Brown was placed on the IR with a clavicle injury after Week 13.

The Rams haven't been playing most of their starters or key role players this preseason. Brown has been one of those guys. Why sit a backup running back in the preseason if you don't expect to rely on him in the season? Brown has the backup spot locked up for the time being.

"You don't draft a running back so high if you don't plan on using him" This is a fair point to raise, but the Rams haven't been afraid to ease-in their rookies under Sean McVay. Last year's third-round pick, OL Joseph Noteboom, barely played any meaningful snaps. The Rams selected three players in the third round this year: Henderson, CB David Long, and OL Bobby Evans. Evans and Long aren't going to play much barring injuries. I'd be surprised if Henderson played as little as those two will, but I also don't expect him to play a major role if Gurley remains on the field.

"Henderson is a great prospect and is oozing potential" You're damn right he is. So is D.K. Metcalf. Are you touching D.K. Metcalf in the eighth round?

Henderson is an explosive runner. Even in the limited-role, I anticipate him having this year, I'm willing to bet he still breaks off a few incredible runs here and there. But he's a third-string running back on a win-now team. His preseason performance didn't help him move up the depth chart either. Outside of one screen pass he was able to break through on, Henderson did next to nothing and failed to even hit 3 yards per carry in the team's first three preseason games.

Henderson should carve out a small role for himself in this offense. If Gurley is rested for a game or two, he'll likely split touches with Brown and might do well in that spot. He might be a very good running back in this league. He probably isn't going to be this year. Henderson is the type of guy you take a flier on near the end of the draft. In the eighth round? I'm more likely to take a flier from a con-artist in Times Square. If you want to draft Todd Gurley's backup, Brown is currently being drafted in the 13th round.

More ADP Busts and Avoids




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy & Tips Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

ADP Showdown - Evan Engram vs Hunter Henry

We know about the big three tight ends but most of us won't own one of them in every fantasy football league. When it comes to the next tier, Evan Engram and Hunter Henry are among the most popular choices.

In our latest ADP Showdown, Pierre Camus and Steve Rebeiro take opposite sides of this debate to decide which TE is the better choice. Both have an average ADP in the 6th round in 12-team, PPR leagues, but fantasy owners can only choose one.

When you're done here, also check out our ADP Showdowns on Gurley vs. Conner, Beckham vs. Brown, or Fournette vs. Williams.

 

The Case for Engram

ADP: TE5 (64 Overall)

Evan Engram started out the 2018 season as one of the most disappointing tight ends in the league. He hit the sophomore slump hard due to a combination of injuries and poor offensive play as a whole. Still, Engram was able to come back strong at the end of the season. He finished with at least five catches and 75 yards in each of his final four games. Engram ended the season with the seventh-highest PPR points-per-game among tight ends.

A major factor for Engram’s resurgence near the end of the year was that Odell Beckham Jr. was on the sidelines with an injury. Engram wound up being the de facto number one option through the air. Heading into 2019, Engram will split targets with a banged-up Sterling Shepard and an aging Golden Tate. Engram and Saquon Barkley may very well lead the team in targets next season. With Beckham out of the picture, the Giants lost their favorite red-zone receiver. Engram has a chance to blow-up in 2019 if he can stay healthy.

Both Hunter Henry and Evan Engram essentially have two seasons of football under their belts. Engram has more total yards in three fewer games and is averaging 14 more yards per game on his career. While Henry has more touchdowns than Engram, Henry’s total may be a bit bloated. He scored eight touchdowns in his rookie season, a year where Keenan Allen only appeared in one game before suffering a season-ending injury. When both Allen and Henry were healthy in 2017, Allen doubled Henry’s red-zone targets.

While Henry will still be fighting for targets with Allen and an emerging Mike Williams, Engram is heading into his first full season without Beckham in New York. Engram played his best football of the year by far with Beckham on the sidelines last season. Engram may very well be the best pass-catcher on the Giants besides Barkley. Not only is his floor higher than a guy who didn’t catch a single pass in 2018, he probably has the higher ceiling.

The Case for Henry

ADP: TE6 (66 Overall)

We might as well throw last year’s stats out the window for this debate. That’ll be easy in the case of Henry since his stat line reads as such: zero receptions, zero yards in zero games. A year has gone by since he tore his ACL in OTAs, which means Henry is ready to officially begin his third-year breakout., Engram might be the exception, continuing to decline from his rookie season and putting up even worse numbers than last year.

First, let me explain why I’m still bullish on Henry. He gives the team another red-zone threat. The Chargers spent a lot of time in the red zone last year but they preferred to run the ball with Melvin Gordon. While we all optimistically like to believe he will be back in time for Week 1 and all will be dandy. This is a serious concern that could lead the Chargers to a more pass-heavy offense if they are without their top RB for any length of time.

Engram is in the opposite situation. The Giants were bad last year, especially on offense. This isn’t breaking news. They ranked 17th in yards per game and 16th in points per game. That was with Odell Beckham, one of the top wideouts in the league. They don’t have him anymore but they have the same exact quarterback, unless they bring in rookie Daniel Jones (yikes). Talk of their offensive line improving is overblown. I wouldn’t say that Kevin Zeitler or re-signing Spencer Pulley and Jon Halapio are instant impact-makers.

The recent rash of injuries and suspensions has made fantasy owners overzealous as they envision Engram as the #1 receiver in the Big Apple. There are two big caveats here.

First, Sterling Shephard’s injury isn’t believed to be serious and he is hoping to be back by Week 1 of the regular season. Golden Tate is appealing his suspension and states he is optimistic that it will be dismissed, but it's still just four games. Even in the worst-case scenario, these two receivers will be on the field for the majority of the season.

Second, if/when these receivers are not playing, does this help or hurt Engram? The Giants’ offense is already suspect. If they are rolling out Kelvin Benjamin and Darius Slayton on the outside, Engram is sure to get extra attention from safeties. His targets will rise exponentially but not necessarily his production. Henry is far more likely to benefit from the absence of Melvin Gordon on a team that is a strong playoff contender, not a hot dumpster fire. Give me the guy on the better offense any day.

More ADP Showdown Articles




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy & Tips Editor Note Featured Football NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

ADP Showdown - Derrius Guice vs Rashaad Penny

Typically, there are two types of RB2's fantasy players will target in their draft: a known, or an unknown quantity. A known would be somebody like Marlon Mack. While Mack has a path to being an RB1, it's much more likely that he settles in as a stellar RB2. They're high-floor guys who usually don't have a sky-high ceiling.

Then there are the unknowns. These guys are usually rookies, guys coming off injuries, guys who switched teams, or young players who didn't get the chance you expected them to get the previous year. Then there are unknowns. These guys managed to have two of the scenarios listed above.

Today, we'll be comparing an unknown and an unknown: Rashaad Penny and Derrius Guice, two second-year backs who both have a lot to prove in 2019.

 

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks

ADP: RB36 (93rd overall)

Despite being a first-round pick for Seattle in 2018, Penny struggled to find many opportunities during his rookie season. Penny found himself buried behind Chris Carson and Mike Davis on the depth chart last year. In the two games Carson missed, Davis out-carried Penny 31-21. Still, Penny's numbers are fairly impressive in his limited sample size. He averaged nearly five yards per carry on the year. During a five-game stretch near the end of the season, Penny bumped that number up to 6.45 yards per carry before being limited by a knee injury the rest of the way. His best performance of the year came in Week 9, where Penny ran for 108 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries while splitting touches with Davis.

The good news for Penny is that Davis is out of the picture in Seattle. The bad news is that Carson isn't. Pete Carroll would be a fool to stop giving Carson the ball. He'll be the starter in 2019, but that doesn't mean all is lost for Penny. Don't be surprised if the rely on their newly-found running game more than ever in 2019. While Carson will be the starter and get more touches than Penny, he's still going to factor into the offense. There's no reason to run Carson into the ground when you have a talented back in Penny behind him.

 

Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins

ADP: RB31 (80th overall)

Derrius Guice was poised to be the workhorse in Washington's backfield in 2018. Washington had done nothing but rave about their second-round pick in the offseason, and the only real competition he faced for touches was Chris Thompson, who typically is a passing-down only back. Everything changed for Guice when he tore his ACL in the preseason and missed all of the 2018 season.

Now, Guice joins the most bizarre running back room in the NFL. Backs alongside Guice on Washington's depth chart include:

  • Adrian Peterson, a 34-year-old future Hall-of-Famer who turned back the clock to run for 1,000 yards in Washington following Guice's injury.
  • Chris Thompson, the aforementioned receiving back who's always a threat for passing targets when he's healthy, which hasn't been often as of late.
  • Samaje Perine, a 2017 fourth-round draft bust who is inexplicably still on the roster.
  • Bryce Love, a 2019 fourth-round pick and former Heisman runner up.

It's not exactly stiff competition for Guice, but it is competition nonetheless, which can be worrisome for a guy who has never played a down in the NFL. Peterson proved that he can still run hard, Thompson will always factor into passing downs, and it seems unlikely that Washington drafted Bryce Love just to ride the pine. But it oddly still feels like Guice's job to lose. Even if Peterson is coming off a 1,000-yard season, it's not like Washington has anything invested in him long-term. They'd be thrilled if Guice was the one to run for 1,000 yards this year. I think it's safe to say it's Guice's job to lose, but it's far from a guarantee that he won't lose it.

 

Verdict

Rashaad Penny is an unknown. While we believe he will factor into the offense this year, it remains to be seen just how much of a workload he can carve out when Chris Carson isn't going anywhere. Derrius Guice is an unknown. He could end up starting in Week 1 as a workhorse back, and he can also end up watching from the sidelines as Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson eat up all the snaps. Both seem extremely possible.

So who's the back you'd rather have in 2019? To me, the answer is obvious: the guy who isn't competing for touches with Chris Carson. Both of these backs have low floors, but Guice's ceiling feels much, much higher unless something were to happen to Carson. I'd rather swing for the fences than swing for a double. Guice's value was sky-rocketing before his injury last year for a reason.

More ADP Showdown Articles




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy & Tips 2020 Fantasy Football Projections & ADP Analysis Editor Note Featured Football NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Todd Gurley - A Definitive Outlook for 2019

Todd Gurley's knee has become more than a matter of concern - it's an enigma.

Despite being fantasy's number one overall player for each of the past two seasons, Gurley's stock is sinking quicker than the Titanic. He's reportedly developed arthritis in his surgically-repaired knee. It may or may not have affected his performance and playing time in the playoffs. It may or may not be a major factor in his performance and playing time again next year. Nobody knows because the Rams have kept the details close to the vest, and it's driving fantasy owners insane.

Gurley is currently ranked as RotoBaller's eighth overall player and is trending downward. He's slipped to 17 in the FantasyPros consensus rankings. He'll likely continue to dip in stock until the season starts. But is a decline in ADP this massive warranted for somebody who's coming off back-to-back fantasy MVPs and is all-but-certainly going to start in Week 1? Let's take a deep-dive into everything we know about Todd Gurley heading into the 2019 season.

 

The Injury - What We Know

On December 16th, 2018, Todd Gurley suffered a knee injury in a late-season showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles. Gurley left the game briefly before returning to the field and finishing out the game. The injury was classified as a Grade 1 Knee Sprain and Gurley referred to it as "inflammation." The injury kept Gurley out for the remainder of the season and the Rams signed veteran C.J. Anderson to fill the void. Anderson played so well that he continued to receive snaps throughout the playoffs, despite Gurley being active for the duration of the team's playoff run and rushing for over 100 yards against Dallas in his first game back.

The Rams and Gurley downplayed any problem with Gurley's knee following the season, and Sean McVay insisted that Gurley was 100% healthy after the Super Bowl. Regarding his lack of usage in the season finale, McVay stated that the team planned on a shared-backfield approach with Gurley and Anderson.

As to why they failed to produce, McVay credited New England's defense. “Todd nor C.J. got involved because they did some different things – nothing that we didn’t expect, but I think when you go 5-yard run, then have a couple penalties to set yourself back where now you’re at second-and-10 and you’re not converting on some third downs-and-shorts,” he said. “So we didn’t get the amount of plays off and didn’t have the drive continuity where we’re punting more than we did, and that’s a big result of why those opportunities were limited for him and just going into the game the way we had thought.”

On March 2nd, 2019, The Athletic's Jeff Howe reported that Gurley had developed arthritis in his left knee, the same knee that he had surgically repaired in college after suffering a torn-ACL. The Rams never directly acknowledged whether or not Howe's report was true.

On March 22nd, the Rams matched an offer-sheet from the Detroit Lions to keep backup running back Malcolm Brown in Los Angeles for two more years. The decision was a no-brainer regardless of Gurley's health, as Brown is a capable backup and the deal was only worth $3.25 million over two years. The Lions responded a few days later by signing C.J. Anderson to a one-year deal a few days later. Just when it seemed like the Rams would enter 2019 with the same backfield they had at the start of 2018, they selected Memphis back Darrell Henderson early in the third-round of the 2019 NFL Draft. This was the biggest sign that the Rams may be reconsidering Gurley's backfield touches. You don't draft a guy like Henderson that high and not have a plan for him.

On May 31st, GM Les Snead laid out the team's off-season plan for Gurley. “We’re not going to run him at all during OTAs,” Snead said. “We’re definitely not keeping score in May so we’re doing things to continue getting his knee and the quads and all the things around him in the best possible shape and as fresh as possible so when we do go to Carolina – because I doubt we see Todd in the preseason, along with a lot of our starters.” The preseason comment is not a surprise at all. Gurley and many other Rams starters didn't see a single snap in last year's preseason.

Gurley finally gave some insight into how he was handling the offseason on June 11th. “I’m fine, I’m training, I’m doing what I’m doing in the offseason – what I’ve always done up to this point, so it’s just part of getting ready for training camp and the season,” Gurley said. Gurley insisted that he'll be ready for camp and that he was doing the same workouts he had been doing last offseason, though one comment from Gurley felt a bit ominous: “I had bigger problems to worry about coming out of college. This is small.”

Finally, on June 17th, Gurley's personal trainer Travelle Gaines confirmed that there is an arthritic component to Gurley's knee, but downplayed the lasting effects of it. "Everybody knew when Todd came out of Georgia that there would be some kind of arthritic component to his knee, which is part of every surgery whether it's a shoulder, a knee, an ankle," Gaines said late last week. He also stated that he had not heard of any plans to decrease Gurley's touches, confirmed that Gurley's offseason workouts remained the same, and claimed that Gurley could have suited up in the final two games of the regular season if he was needed.

 

Usage - What We Know

Earlier in June, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that there was an understanding in Los Angeles that Todd Gurley would no longer be the team's bell-cow back. "The days of Todd Gurley just being the straight-up, every-down bell cow are probably over, just based on his knee, his age, the position, the amount of carries he's had," said Rapoport.

This report is a lot less cut-and-dry than the rumors about Gurley's knee, as the Rams have been vocal about Gurley being a major part of the offense moving forward. "You can expect Todd to be a focal point of our offense going forward," McVay stated on the Rich Eisen show on April 12th, "He's in a good place, he's feeling good and will continue to be a central piece of our offense and I don't see that changing."

As we mentioned above, Gurley's trainer also stated that he had heard nothing about the team cutting back on Gurley's workload. "It's never been told to me that there's a plan to decrease his workload come Week 1," said Gaines. When they asked him about the team's decision to draft Henderson in the third round, Gaines stated "At the end of the day, you need solid running backs, and they grabbed a home-run running back in the third round. ... If you watched the games last year, Todd typically sat out two to three series last year. I don't see anything changing with that, so you need a back who can catch, and I believe Darrell averaged around 9.0 yards per carry, a home-run type guy."

The comment about Gurley sitting out two to three series a game isn't completely accurate. While Gurley played just 75% of snaps in games he suited up last year, this included two blowout wins in which he played in under 70% of the snaps. Gurley would play in 85% or more of the snaps in nine of the 14 games he suited up in 2018. It may not be three series worth of snaps, but it's also not like Gurley was on the field every single down. For comparison, Robert Woods was on the field for 95% of the offensive snaps in 13 of the 16 games he played in last season, for a total of 94.64% on the year.

We have to go back to the Henderson pick though. Is there any reason the Rams grab a running back in the third round if they're still confident in Gurley's health? The answer is, surprisingly, yes. “If you go back to when we signed Lance Dunbar – Sean’s always felt like his offense would be, let’s call it, slightly more explosive when you have a change-of-pace-type running back,” Snead said in regards to the Henderson pick, “We attempted with Lance Dunbar a couple of years ago, you know, his knee didn’t work out. We thought about doing it in last year’s draft. A couple of enemies chose a few of those change-of-pace backs ahead of us. It’s always been something we’ve been trying to do, obviously, since Sean walked in and felt like it would be a nice complement.”

McVay also added to the importance of getting another weapon like Henderson. “I think, when you get a player like that, too, it enables you to activate some different personnel groupings where you have so much confidence in the guys, especially our receivers when you’re a heavy 11-personnel team,” McVay said. "Being able to give somebody a chance to come in and provide a different threat is exactly what we identified. He was kind of one of those guys that stood out for us, so we’re excited about getting him here.”

The brain trust in Los Angeles even implied that Gurley and Henderson could be on the field together. “Sean will split him out and let him run some routes. … Because you can run the ball as a change of pace guy, but to be able to split out – a little bit like James White with New England and be able to run some routes similar to a slot receiver,” Snead said.

Judging from what the Rams have said, it seems like Gurley is going to see a ton of work in 2019. But we can't take everything they say as gospel. They could be keeping their cards close to the vest here. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, this is a topic we'll be trying to figure out all of August, and a topic that we won't truly have an answer to until the Rams take the field in Week 1.

 

Should You Take a Chance on Gurley?

Let's go back to the Rams' playoff run last winter.

Todd Gurley returned from his knee injury to face the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round of the NFC Playoffs. He played in 57% of the offensive snaps and ran for 115 yards and a touchdown in his first game back from the injury. He came out in the NFC Championship and was, to put it frankly, terrible. He dropped a pass that was intercepted and wasn't able to do much of anything. C.J. Anderson stepped in and played much better, and found himself as the team's primary back in the second half. Gurley was on the bench for 54% of the snaps in the team's 26-23 victory in New Orleans.

Was Gurley's poor play a result of the injury? It's possible, but keep in mind that he ran for over 100 yards just a week prior. Was Gurley's injury the reason he was on the bench for the second half? It's unlikely considering that he snaps in the second half and the Rams wouldn't put him on the field if he had a chance of re-injuring the knee. He saw the bench because he was playing terribly and C.J. Anderson was having an incredible late-season run. Gurley played in 66% of the snaps in the Super Bowl. There's no reason to look much into his performance here, as the entire Los Angeles offense played like the 2016 Rams.

The main takeaway here is that Gurley played through this injury. As far as we know, this is the same injury that he is currently dealing with it. And in the case of the Dallas game, he played pretty damn well through this injury.

Todd Gurley ran for 17 touchdowns in 2018. Every single one of these came in the red zone. 14 of them came within the 10-yard line, and 9 of them came within the five. Why does this matter? The newest member of the backfield, Darrel Henderson, is a home-run hitter. He's on the field to make big plays. If these big plays don't result in a touchdown, expect Gurley to be the guy to come in and clean up in the red zone. Even if his touches get cut, he's going to be the team's goal-line back. Gurley scored so much last season because the Rams were in the red zone all the time. That's not going to change overnight.

The red zone numbers are just too high to ignore. Gurley will find touches in the red zone even if he gets his overall touches reduced. And how much, really, can the Rams reduce Gurley's touches if he's healthy? You can cut Gurley's 2018 fantasy points per game number in half and he's still the overall RB20 in PPR. That's the absolute worst case scenario if he's on the field all year. His numbers won't dip in half.

But what if he doesn't play in all 16 games. Is there a chance he re-injures his knee? It's possible, but having arthritis in his knee will have more long-term effects on his knee and body than short-term. He can play through this injury. He already has. Only this time the Rams will have had seven months to prepare for how they will treat it before, during, and after games. They've been a smart organization over the past two years. Expect them to know what they're doing when it comes to dealing with their $60 million running back.

Gurley is too risky to take as the overall number one pick. There's no denying that. But he's on a free-fall that has him going in the mid-second round. At that value? He's absolutely worth taking a chance on. To me, it's more likely that he finishes as the overall RB1 than it is that he becomes a part of a full-blown RBBC. It feels like his touches will be vultured a bit by Henderson, but not enough to tank his value past the second round. If he continues to fall, I'll be gobbling up second-round shares of Gurley like no other. He's somehow become a sleeper pick.

More Fantasy Football Analysis


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy & Tips 2020 Fantasy Football Keepers & Dynasty Ranks Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Early Dynasty Football Mock Draft - Rounds 10-16

The Super Bowl has come and gone, but the RotoBaller staff hasn't given up football. A select group of us participated in the 2019 Way Too Early Dynasty League Startup Mock Draft, which gave us just another reason to keep fantasy football at the forefront of our minds.

This will be a 12-team, one-quarterback, PPR dynasty league. To add some more context, we were unable to trade startup picks and the incoming 2019 rookie class was not made available since draft declarations were not yet finished, so keep that in mind when looking over the picks. Rookies being added will change where some players go in the next mock draft we conduct.

We'll be breaking down the final few rounds of this mock draft, digging into some of the best and worst picks of the double-digit rounds. Playing catch up? Check out our round one recap here, then rounds two and three here, and rounds four through nine here.

 

Dynasty Mock Results

Rounds 10-16 Analysis

We're going to wrap up our mock draft recap by taking a team-by-team look at the owners' picks, followed by a quick review of how they did.

 

Cliff Clifton

Pick 10.1 - Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR, GB)
Pick 11.12 - Isaiah Crowell (RB, NYJ)
Pick 12.1 - Drew Brees (QB, NO)
Pick 13.12 - Jordan Reed (TE, WAS)
Pick 14.1 - Donte Moncrief (WR, JAX)
Pick 15.12 - Hayden Hurst (TE, BAL)
Pick 16.1 - Josh Doctson (WR, WAS)

Despite having taken two quarterbacks in the earlier rounds of the draft, Cliff couldn't pass up the opportunity to take the MVP runner-up in the 12th round. It may have been a smart decision considering the injury concerns surrounding Cam Newton and Jimmy Garoppolo, Cliff's other two quarterbacks.

Cliff was also the last owner to draft a tight end, waiting till the end of the 13th round to take Jordan Reed and backing him up with Hayden Hurst near the end of the draft. You could certainly do worse when waiting this long for a tight end. The Ravens spent a first-round pick on Hurst last year, so you would hope they have plans to get him more involved in the offense in the future. As for Reed, the 28-year-old struggled to produce at a high level this year before suffering a toe injury near the end of the season. But I'm still a sucker for Rule 86, and I love Reed's potential this late in the draft.

Brief Team Review - Cliff produced a well-balanced roster, grabbing some proven commodities like Gordon, Chubb, and Woods to pair with upside players like Moore, Williams, and Hunt. A stable backup in Lamar Miller will prove beneficial should these players not reach their full potential.

 

Dominick Petrillo

Pick 10.2 - Nelson Agholor (WR, PHI)
Pick 11.11 - C.J. Anderson (RB, LAR)
Pick 12.2 - Jack Doyle (TE, IND)
Pick 13.11 - Jamison Crowder (WR, WAS)
Pick 14.2 - Geronimo Allison (WR, GB)
Pick 15.11 - Giovani Bernard (RB, CIN)
Pick 16.2 - Randall Cobb (WR, GB)

Dom drafted some interesting players in the later rounds of the draft, most notably C.J. Anderson. The veteran running back came out of nowhere to rush for over 100 yards in three-straight playoff games for the Rams. He made people think Todd Gurley was injured simply because he was on the field. Whether Anderson is back with the Rams next season or in a new situation, I'd be shocked if he didn't have an established role in an offense. Dom may have grabbed an RB2 in the 11th round of the draft.

Brief Team Review - Dom started out strong, but taking two quarterbacks and a tight end in the first seven rounds hampered his ability to put together a quality receiving corps. Still, a very solid group of running backs paired with the reigning MVP in Patrick Mahomes could carry Dom's squad to the playoffs.

 

Kyle Richardson

Pick 10.3 - Lamar Jackson (QB, BAL)
Pick 11.10 - Mark Andrews (TE, BAL)
Pick 12.3 - LeSean McCoy (RB, BUF)
Pick 13.10 - Philip Rivers (QB, LAC)
Pick 14.3 - Greg Olsen (TE, CAR)
Pick 15.10 - Trey Quinn (WR, WAS)
Pick 16.3 - Chase Edmonds (RB, ARI)

Kyle chose to draft a combination of very young and very old players in the later rounds of the draft. After stacking the young Ravens combination of Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews, Kyle nabbed some grizzled veterans in LeSean McCoy, Phillip Rivers, and Greg Olsen. Rivers is always a safe bet to produce and Jackson is oozing with fantasy upside. Kyle locked down a stellar group of quarterbacks without using any early-round capital.

Brief Team Review: Uncertainty and upside surround Kyle's running back stable. Guys like Guice, Mack, and Ingram provide RB1 upside, but may not be the RB1 on their own teams. Still, a stacked receiving core and some quality value picks in the later round give Kyle a solid foundation for both the short and long-term.

 

Matt Terelle

Pick 10.4 - Dede Westbrook (WR, JAX)
Pick 11.9 - Chris Herndon IV (TE, NYJ)
Pick 12.4 - Robert Foster (WR, BUF)
Pick 13.9 - Jared Cook (TE, OAK)
Pick 14.4 - Tyrell Williams (WR, LAC)
Pick 15.9 - Jalen Richard (RB, OAK)
Pick 16.4 - Albert Wilson (WR, MIA)

Matt chose to wait until the late 11th round to draft a tight end, grabbing Chris Herndon and pairing him with Jared Cook later on. With the position so thin, Matt did a decent job considering how long he waited. Cook provides some immediate low-end value at the position. If Herndon can continue building a rapport with fellow 2018 rookie Sam Darnold, it wouldn't be a surprise if he ends up as a middling TE1 for years to come.

One thing that stands out about Matt's late-round pick is his commitment to receivers. He took receivers with four of his last seven picks, finishing up with nine total wide receivers on the roster. He didn't choose a back-up quarterback, instead rolling solely with Carson Wentz. Jalen Richard was a nice value in the 15th round, but he was just the fourth running back selected by Matt in the draft. Matt has to be hoping that a ridiculously deep group of receivers will be able to net him some value at other positions via trade.

Brief Team Recap - Matt has a deep, young, and talented group of receivers, but is severely lacking depth on the rest of his roster. He only has one running back who's likely to be the opening-day starter on his team. He can't play all nine of his receivers at the same time. For this team to succeed, he'd have to move some of them for quality players at other positions.

 

Justin Carter

Pick 10.5 - John Brown (WR, BAL)
Pick 11.8 - Jamaal Williams (RB, GB)
Pick 12.5 - Kirk Cousins (QB, MIN)
Pick 13.8 - Mike Gesicki (TE, MIA)
Pick 14.5 - D.J. Chark (WR, JAX)
Pick 15.8 - Kenny Stills (WR, MIA)
Pick 16.5 - Jordan Wilkins (RB, IND)

Health is never a certainty in the NFL, and Jamaal Williams may be a steal in the 11th round because of this. Williams was a fantasy playoff hero this season when filling in for the injured Aaron Jones. With a new coach in Green Bay, Williams has a clean-slate to prove he can be of use in Green Bay. It's unlikely that he takes the job from Jones. But if something happens to him, Justin has himself a volume-based RB2.

Justin grabbed two rookies who failed to produce in 2018 near the end of the draft, taking Miami's Mike Gesicki and D.J. Chark. Neither guy gave us much to be excited about last year, but given how high they were drafted, it would be surprising if either team completely gave up on these guys. Gesicki, in particular, could potentially provide an option in the always-thin TE slot.

Brief Team Review - Justin had a solid all-around draft, gathering a solid stable of starters with his first five picks. This team doesn't have the upside that some of the other teams have, but I'd be surprised to see this roster out of the playoffs in year one.

 

Keith Hernandez

Pick 10.6 - Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)
Pick 11.7 - Trey Burton (TE, CHI)
Pick 12.6 - Elijah McGuire (RB, NYJ)
Pick 13.7 - Rex Burkhead (RB, NE)
Pick 14.6 - Zay Jones (WR, BUF)
Pick 15.7 - Josh Rosen (QB, ARI)
Pick 16.6 - Demaryius Thomas (WR, HOU)

I love what Keith did with his double-digit round picks. None of these guys have massive upside, but every one of them has value in redraft leagues, let alone dynasty. He paired a capable QB1 in Matt Ryan with a young QB in Josh Rosen who has nowhere to go but up. Elijah McGuire is likely to have a role in the Jets offense unless they sign Le'Veon Bell, who also happens to be on Keith's roster. Trey Burton is a talented player who could be used as a trade piece, and Zay Jones quietly improved in Buffalo last year. Keith did a great job in the back-end of the draft.

Brief Team Review - Keith put together a deep and talented roster, with a stellar receiving core led by Davante Adams. Still, this team's championship odds will depend on where Le'Veon Bell winds up. At pick 2.6, that was a swing worth taking. Keith put together a solid squad.

 

Frankie Soler

Pick 10.7 - Austin Ekeler (RB, LAC)
Pick 11.6 - Devin Funchess (WR, CAR)
Pick 12.7 - Josh Adams (RB, PHI)
Pick 13.6 - Matthew Stafford (QB, DET)
Pick 14.7 - Vance McDonald (TE, PIT)
Pick 15.6 - Spencer Ware (RB, KC)
Pick 16.7 - Keelan Cole (WR, JAX)

Frankie went with the opposite approach of Matt. Rather than stack up some depth at receiver, he added three running backs to an already deep core. I do like the selections of Austin Ekeler and Josh Adams though. Ekeler's value took a dip when Justin Jackson emerged as a capable backup in Los Angeles, but Ekeler still feels like the guy with more value when Gordon is both healthy and injured. Adams briefly emerged as the lead back in Philadelphia, but ended the season with minimal-to-no touches at times. Even Spencer Ware was a nice value pick late in the draft. Still, it was surprising to see Frankie select these many backs after taking four of them in his first six picks.

Brief Team Review - Frankie may have the best and deepest running back stable in the league, led by Alvin Kamara and James Conner. He's thin at receiver, but a trio of Diggs, Green, and Sanders is a more than capable starting group. I would have done some things differently in the later rounds, but Frankie was still able to produce a very strong roster overall.

 

Pierre Camus

Pick 10.8 - Dallas Goedert (TE, PHI)
Pick 11.5 - Austin Hooper (TE, ATL)
Pick 12.8 - Kenneth Dixon (WR, NYJ)
Pick 13.5 - Quincy Enunwa (WR, NYJ)
Pick 14.8 - Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT)
Pick 15.5 - Latavius Murray (RB, MIN)
Pick 16.8 - Deon Cain (WR, IND)

Pierre attacked his need at tight end first with his double-digit picks, pairing an upside player in Dallas Goedert with a proven commodity in Austin Hooper. Hooper is far from the sexiest starting tight end, but he's about as good as it can get for a starter this late in the draft.

Taking Quincy Enunwa at 13.5 may be one of my favorite late-round picks in this draft. The Jets were committed enough to Enunwa to give him a nice contract extension, which shows that they're (literally) banking on him and Darnold to build a solid rapport over the next few years. It wouldn't surprise me if he had WR3 value next season, which is more than you can ask for this late in a dynasty draft.

Brief Team Review - After nailing his first three picks with DeAndre Hopkins, David Johnson, and Sony Michel, Pierre spent the next few rounds drafting some high-risk, high-reward players. Should guys like Corey Davis and Courtland Sutton live up to their potential next season, Pierre may be the best team in this entire draft. But he has a lot riding on young, unproven guys.

 

Chris Mangano

Pick 10.9 - Duke Johnson (RB, CLE)
Pick 11.4 - Dion Lewis (RB, TEN)
Pick 12.9 - Chris Thompson (RB, WAS)
Pick 13.4 - Larry Fitzgerald (WR, ARI)
Pick 14.9 - John Ross (WR, CIN)
Pick 15.4 - Tom Brady (QB, NE)
Pick 16.9 - Willie Snead (WR, BAL)

Chris had maybe the boldest approach of anyone in this draft by waiting until 10.9 to select his RB2. He nabbed Duke Johnson, Dion Lewis, and Chris Thompson with consecutive picks in the hopes that one of them would see enough volume to be an RB2 for his squad. All three of these guys will be backing up young, talented running backs that should probably be taking all the carries. But we can't always count on NFL coaches to make the right decision when it comes to dividing up touches. Thompson is the most likely to emerge as an RB2, but he's struggled to stay on the field during his career.

I do like Chris' next three picks after his running backs. Larry Fitzgerald will be back and always has some volume, John Ross is entering a make-or-break season with a new head coach, and pairing Tom Brady with Jared Goff makes sense unless you've only seen them play in Super Bowl LIII.

Brief Team Review - While I love what Chris did in the first three rounds, none of his picks between the fourth and ninth round were good enough to me to justify not taking a single running back. Everyone he drafted is talented and I wouldn't call any of them a bad pick. But there is a severe lack of quality backs on this team. It will be tough to compete without one.

 

Gage Bridgford

Pick 10.10 - Gus Edwards (RB, BAL)
Pick 11.3 - Devante Parker (WR, MIA)
Pick 12.10 - Kalen Ballage (RB, MIA)
Pick 13.3 - Josh Allen (QB, BUF)
Pick 14.10 - Adam Humphries (WR, TB)
Pick 15.3 - Equanimeous St. Brown (WR, GB)
Pick 16.10 - Ian Thomas (TE, CAR)

I really like Gus Edwards this late in the draft, and I was disappointed that he didn't fall to me at 10.12. Edwards has a chance to be what we expected Alex Collins (who wasn't even selected in this mock draft) to be. He isn't going to get much, if any, work in the passing game, but he has the potential to be a workhorse on the ground. At 10.10, he adds some nice value to Gage's talented running back group.

Brief Team Recap - I'm not a fan of what Gage did in the later rounds, but he might have the best team in the league regardless. He nailed his first nine picks. If Damien Williams ends up with a similar role to what he had late in the season, his starting lineup is stronger than anything anyone else can put out there. Gage would be the favorite in year one if this was a real league.

 

Richard King

Pick 10.11 - Ito Smith (RB, ATL)
Pick 11.2 - Jameis Winston (QB, TB)
Pick 12.11 - Kyle Rudolph (TE, MIN)
Pick 13.2 - Jaylen Samuels (RB, PIT)
Pick 14.11 - Justin Jackson (RB, LAC)
Pick 15.2 - Jordy Nelson (WR, OAK)
Pick 16.11 - Jimmy Graham (TE, GB)

Richard assembled what may be the most uninspiring group of tight ends I've ever seen, pairing the always mediocre Kyle Rudolph with the corpse of Jimmy Graham. Jameis Winston was a solid choice to backup Rodgers at 11.2, but I would have gone with one of the other tight ends on the board at that point in the draft. That position may hamper Richard all year long.

Brief Team Review - Richard nailed his first four draft picks and assembled a core that could keep him in contention for years to come. Some high-risk running backs paired with Aaron Rodgers could make this team a perennial title contender, even with the holes at tight end.

 

Steve Rebeiro

Pick 10.12 - Sam Darnold (QB, NYJ)
Pick 11.1 - Rob Gronkowski (TE, NE)
Pick 12.12 - Josh Reynolds (WR, LAR)
Pick 13.1 - Carlos Hyde (RB, JAX)
Pick 14.12 - Adrian Peterson (RB, WAS)
Pick 15.1 - Josh Gordon (WR, NE)
Pick 16.12 - Marqise Lee (WR, JAX)

After taking Sam Darnold, I chose to draft guys who I thought would have a chance for real roles in the 2019 season. Gronkowski looked sharp in the Patriots playoff run and will obviously have fantasy value if he chooses to play in 2019. Reynolds looked good down the stretch replacing Cooper Kupp for the Rams. Hyde and Peterson may benefit from a change of scenery, but both proved they could be reliable running backs when called upon last year. Lee looked good for the Jaguars in 2017 before an injury derailed his 2018 season.

Oh, and I drafted Josh Gordon. Somebody had to. What is hype may never die.

Brief Team Review - I was thrilled with how my first five picks turned out, grabbing a solid pair of backs and receivers along with the most valuable tight end in the NFL. If either Anthony Miller or Matt Breida can produce at a high level next year, I'll be thrilled with how this team ended up. Although I'm still being haunted by the fact that I drafted Doug Baldwin over Tyler Lockett.

More Dynasty League Strategy




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Derrick Henry - Fantasy Football Legend

Fantasy football legends come in all different shapes, sizes, and skill levels. Sometimes it's the stars that shine even brighter when all eyes are on them. We saw this with Todd Gurley last season. Other times, it's the guys who fall into a bigger role due to unforeseen circumstances. It's how we saw Damien Williams, Jamaal Williams, and a fresh-off-the-couch C.J. Anderson cement themselves as fantasy legends this season.

My personal fantasy football legend is Joe Webb. I was playing for a fantasy championship in my first money league back in 2010, and all I needed was for the Philadelphia defense to lose a few of the automatic 10 points defenses get in fantasy. They faced off against the Vikings on Monday Night Football. With Brett Favre on the sidelines, I put all my faith into an unproven rookie making his first NFL start to lead me to the promised land. Webb (with some help from Adrian Peterson) was able to hang 24 points the Eagles, and I won my first title.

Joe Webb's fantasy legacy is a bizarre one. But it isn't as bizarre as what Derrick Henry did in the 2018 fantasy football playoffs as a player who was benched by most and dropped by some before his late-season explosion cemented him in the fantasy Hall of Fame.

 

Troubled Beginnings

When the Titans drafted Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry back in 2016, many anticipated he would take the starting job from DeMarco Murray at some point in the season. He didn't, as Murray wound up having the second-best season of his career. The duo began spitting carries in 2017. Henry had the occasional flashes of greatness, but didn't fully emerge onto the scene as a lead back until a Wild Card matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs where he ran for a career-high 156 yards and a touchdown.

Henry seemed destined for a starting role following this game. The Titans released DeMarco Murray on March 8. This allowed Henry to become Tennessee's definitive feature back... for a week. The Titans complicated matters by signing Dion Lewis just one week after cutting Murray.

Fantasy players were still buying up stock in Derrick Henry regardless, and he ended up having a fourth-round ADP this year. This started out awful for anyone who drafted Henry. He didn't score double-digit points in the first six games. He didn't run for over 60 yards once during the first 13 weeks of the season. If he wasn't in the end zone, he wasn't helping. He was, at best, a touchdown-dependent flex option, and you can't fault anyone for dropping Henry at some point during the first 13 weeks of the year.

The stage was not set for a glorious playoff run. It was set for Henry to potentially be out of a job next season. Anyone who started Henry in Week 14 was either incredibly desperate or hadn't set their lineup since Week 1.

 

Mr. December

Henry's glorious run began with one of the greatest Thursday Night Football performances we've ever seen. He ran for 238 yards and four touchdowns in one game. In an era where multi-dimensional backs dominate fantasy matchups, Henry didn't even need to catch a pass to have the best game from a running back this season. Keep in mind this also came against the Jacksonville Jaguars, one of the best defenses in the league.

It's hard to comprehend this performance even a few weeks later. Henry quadrupled his previous high of 58 yards this season. He became the second running back in NFL history to rush for a 99-yard touchdown. Even if Henry didn't have the 99-yard run, he would have more than doubled his previous season high. He's the only player in the NFL to score four total touchdowns in a game this season, and the only player not named Todd Gurley to score four total touchdowns in a game since 2016. He's the first running back to rush for four touchdowns in a game since Jonas Gray, who might be the only player who was less-likely than Henry to notch a 200+ yard, four touchdown performance.

Gray is interesting to note here, because his moment of fantasy glory was literally the only good game he ever had in the NFL. Owners who either had Henry on their bench or grabbed him off waivers had a decision to make. Was Henry going to go the way of Jonas Gray back in 2014, or go the way of Todd Gurley last season?

Anybody who trusted Henry to start for them in the fantasy semi-finals was rewarded. Henry had the second-best game of his career, rushing for 170 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants. If you didn't play Henry against the Giants, you had to start him in the fantasy championship.

Imagine saying a month ago that Derrick Henry was a must-start in the fantasy championship? And Dion Lewis didn't even get hurt? Henry capped-off his incredible three-week run with 84 yards and a touchdown. He finished the three-week run with 492 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. In his first 12 games this season, Henry had 474 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

 

Beyond the Run

For those of you still playing in Week 17, you have to start Derrick Henry. You can't bench him after the run he's had. To quote Mike D'Antoni during "Linsanity," the Titans are going to "ride him like he's friggen Secretariat." You'd have to basically have all the best active players in the NFL to keep Henry on your bench. Don't expect 238 yards and four touchdowns, but certainly expect something in between what he did in Weeks 15 and 16. Henry is going to continue to eat.

For those in keeper or dynasty leagues, you have a tough decision to make. Henry's value may never be higher than it is right now. You should listen to what's out there. See if you can draw something crazy for him. In Dynasty leagues especially, I'd try and move him for an up-and-coming receiver. It isn't ridiculous to think you can sucker somebody into trading JuJu Smith-Schuster for Henry right now. People are quick to jump at a potential RB1.

That's what Henry is right now: a potential RB1. Henry could easily a top back next year even if he only sustains 70% of what he's doing right now. Owners strapped at the running back position may be better off just riding this thing out. We all know the risks at this point, but sometimes guys just figure it out at unforeseen times. Henry may be growing up right in front of our eyes.

 

A Legendary Tale

If I told you three years ago that Henry would do something like this, you might have believed me. If I told you that three weeks ago, I may have been banned from writing on this website. Henry going 0-to-100 this quickly is one of the most shocking on-the-field fantasy developments I've ever seen.

There are two ways Henry can go from here. The first is joining the likes of Todd Gurley, Jamaal Charles, and even Clinton Portis as guys who had incredible fantasy playoff runs during the course of great careers. The second is to join the likes of Steve Slaton's rookie year, LeGarrette Blount's 18-touchdown season, and of course the Jonas Gray game as something we look back on in awe that it actually happened. Let's hope it's the former.

More NFL Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Disaster Recovery Week 14: Worried About Gurley?

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds.

This isn't a place to find out why you should have benched a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about benching, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be covering one dud per week. There will be two major qualifiers: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

 

Rankings System

I'll also be implementing a new panic meter ranking system this year. It goes as follows:

  1. This week was a fluke. Don't panic!
  2. I still have full faith in this player, but there are some red flags. Be cautiously optimistic moving forward.
  3. There are genuine concerns here. Consider selling on name value, but don't panic too much unless you receive an offer you can't refuse.
  4. This player will not be the player you expected him to be. Regardless, his value may be too low to trade, and his ceiling is going to be better than anything you can get in return. Panic, but hold tight.
  5. Absolutely abandon ship. We're not coming back from this.

For what feels like the first time in ages, Todd Gurley has finally had a bad game. Let's talk about it.

 

Running From The Run

Todd Gurley's Week 14 stat-line: 11 rushes for 28 yards along with three receptions for 30 yards.

Todd Ain't God

Well, it's official: Todd Gurley isn't human. Gurley was completely bottled up on his limited touches against the Bears on Sunday Night Football. It was a defining moment for the Bears. They manhandled a Rams offense that many consider to be the NFL's finest. Maybe defense isn't dead after all?

Gurley's two best runs of the day went for twelve and nine yards respectively. Take those two runs away and he had nine rushes for seven yards. Gurley struggled to get anything going. He shares a small portion of the blame, but most falls on the shoulders of what was happening around him.

Where are the Touches?

It's hard to find a reason why the Rams decided to run Gurley just 11 times in what ended up being the worst game of Jared Goff's career. Sure, they were playing from behind, but the Bears never even had a double-digit lead. The defense was playing well enough to trust them to get the stops Los Angeles would need to win.

The truth is that Sean McVay loves throwing the football. He can't get enough of it. And for the most part this season, that hasn't been a problem. The Rams have shredded teams through the air, and Jared Goff was an early MVP candidate. They're going to continue to throw the ball a ton. This team works best when they can balance both the run and the pass.

That's what was so surprising about the Bears game. They didn't even attempt to have a balanced offense. In Goff's two other duds this season, the Rams were able to overcome his poor play and claw their way to victory thanks to Gurley. Against Denver and Detroit, the two games where Goff struggled most up until this week, Gurley had a combined 51 carries for 340 yards and two touchdowns. The Bears run defense is much better than those two teams, but the Rams really didn't give themselves a chance to get the run going. That's a slight concern.

 

Path to the Finals

The Matchups Ahead

If you survived Week 14 with Gurley's dud, congratulations. You must have a hell of a team around him. And if you can make it to Week 16, Gurley should lead you to the promised land. The Cardinals have been decimated by running backs all season long, and game flow should benefit Gurley greatly. He's going to eat in that game. 

This week's matchup against the Eagles is the only real concern. Gurley should be fine. McVay should give Gurley a ton of carries to make up for last week's bizarre gameplan. He should put up enough yards and touchdowns to lead you to the fantasy promised land.

But let's play devil's advocate for a second here. Jared Goff is coming off the worst game of this NFL career. He's coming off back-to-back poor performances. The Eagles secondary has been decimated by injuries this season. They don't have the bodies to keep up with the Rams passing attack. Dak Prescott just threw for 434 yards against them. Amari Cooper finally completed his transformation from Laquon Treadwell to Jerry Rice in this game. The Eagles simply have no answers in the secondary right now...

...so the Rams should actually throw the ball a ton in this game, right? It's the perfect "get right" game for Goff. He should be able to pick apart this defense. Expect big games from Goff, Robert Woods, and Brandin Cooks. McVay loves his passing offense, and this is a chance to get at the level it belongs.

Panic Meter: 2/5

Please note that this meter is on the scale of "should I be worried that Todd Gurley won't do Todd Gurley things?" and not "should I consider benching Todd Gurley?"

The truth is that it shouldn't matter if the Rams throw the ball enough. Honestly, we should be hoping they do.

Gurley has been so dominant this season because he's the Rams go-to option in the red zone, and they are always in the red zone. He's scored 18 of his 19 touchdowns in the red zone. His yardage totals have been great, but the touchdowns are what made this such a memorable fantasy season. The Rams love giving him the ball in the red zone. If Goff is the one getting them that far, so be it. Gurley should be able to find plenty of scoring opportunities if the Rams passing game bounces back.

The small number on the panic meter is just incase the Rams don't bounce back in the passing game. Goff has played horribly for the past two weeks. The Rams need him to bounce back. I expect that he will.

What To Watch For

Just make sure the Rams offense looks competent again. They've been rocky since their historic game against the Chiefs a few weeks ago. This whole unit needs a bounce-back game.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Disaster Recovery: The Playoff Panic

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds.

This isn't a place to find out why you should have benched a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about benching, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

Typically, we cover one dud per week and discuss in-depth what happened and how concerned we should be. With the playoffs on the horizon and a surprising amount of Week 13 duds on the table, we're going to switch things up a bit by placing a few players into three different tiers based on how concerned we should be.

 

Start Your Studs

Despite a disappointing week, these players should not be removed from your lineup under any circumstances.

Tyreek Hill & Julio Jones

We'll group these two together due to the past few weeks for each of them. Hill had 332 yards and four touchdowns in his previous two games and Jones was coming off six straight 100-plus yard performances before their respective duds this week. No need to panic whatsoever. Both are by far the most lethal options in each of their respective offenses. There's no reason to consider taking either out of your lineup.

David Johnson

Despite a mini-breakout game from backup running back Chase Edmonds, Johnson is in no danger of losing touches. The Cardinals have too much invested in their franchise back. He's the future of their offense.

Still, the obvious concerns remain with Johnson. The Cardinals offense is horrible. They have no passing game whatsoever. Defenses can simply gameplan for Johnson and Johnson alone, and it's shown in the stat sheet. But Johnson has remained a top-15 running back in PPR despite all of this. He's clawed his way to as many yards as he can muster up in this abysmal offense. He's still gotten at least 19 touches in every game since Byron Leftwich took over as offensive coordinator. It feels like Johnson's worst days are behind him. Unless you're ridiculously stacked at the running back position, I'm locking in Johnson for the rest of the season.

Michael Thomas

This one is tough to grasp. I wrote about Thomas last week and said there was no reason to panic, but he let me down big time in Week 13. Thomas has just 78 yards total over the past two games. He's crossed the 78-yard mark on six separate games this year.

We can tie the struggles directly to the low passing yard numbers from the Saints in the past two weeks. Thomas actually led the Saints in receiving yards in Week 13. He's still the number one option in the Saints passing attack by a country mile. But can we trust a receiver in an offense that has thrown for under 300 total yards in the last two weeks combined? We've effectively faded all options in the Arizona passing attack, is this any different?

Of course, it's different. It's Sean Payton, Drew Brees, and the New Orleans Saints. They should be able to turn this around rather quickly. When If they do, Thomas will return to form. You don't want to have him on the bench when this happens. It's hard to imagine the Saints throwing for under 200 yards in three straight games. Still, it was hard to imagine them doing it in two straight games...

 

Weigh Your Options

There is a reason to proceed with caution on the following players. They still have hope to return to form, but be sure to weigh all your options before making a decision.

Jared Goff

Goff has been one of the NFL's best quarterbacks for most of the season. But we have seen him struggle at various points. He's had two distinct duds this year: last week against Detroit, and way back in Week 6 in Denver.

The Denver game is more pertinent here. It was Goff's only game of the season in the cold, and he struggled mightily. Goff hit lows in passing yards, touchdowns, and completion percentage in the mile-high city. Now, coming off his second worst game of the season, the Rams will travel to Chicago in the early winter to take on the Bears.

You can safely fade Goff this week if you have a decent option to replace him. He may surprise us, but playing in the cold against the NFL's best defense isn't exactly what you'd call a plus matchup. Goff should be a safe play in Week 15 when the Rams face the Eagles. The Rams get a championship week matchup against a decent Arizona secondary, so you'll have to reassess your quarterbacks should you make it that far.

Mike Evans

No offense has been more frustrating than Tampa Bay this season. It's been inconsistency across the board. Both of their quarterbacks have played like Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf at various points in the season. This doesn't bode well for any player to work as a weekly option.

When it comes to players with a sink-or-swim type situation, you typically stick with them when they're as talented as Evans. But the ROS schedule is concerning. He's basically a must-start against New Orleans this week, but Tampa Bay ends the fantasy season with Baltimore and Dallas, the two best defenses against receivers this season. If Evans struggles against the Saints this week, owners will have to consider fading him for the rest of the fantasy playoffs. If he dominates against New Orleans, you'll still have to weigh your options considering the matchups lying ahead of him. It's a tough road for Evans owners to navigate.

Sony Michel

The return of Rex Burkhead has thrown a wrench into Michel's fantasy value. Just take a look at the box score from this weeks game against Minnesota. While Michel still led the way with 17 carries for 63 yards, Rex Burkhead and James White added six and seven carries respectively. To make matters worse, fullback James Develin vultured two short-yardage touchdowns, including one right after Michel was stuffed at the one-yard line.

Michel is the clear lead back in New England, but with a third mouth to feed, this has become more of a committee. He's still a valuable player and will likely find his way into your lineup a few more times this year, but he isn't a must-start like he was before his injury. The Patriots simply have too many options.

 

Proceed With Caution

You may have better options than these guys heading into the fantasy playoffs.

Mark Ingram

The Saints offense isn't hot enough to sustain three must-start skill players at the moment, and Ingram seems like the odd man out. He's been more of a boom-or-bust option since returning from his early-season suspension. He's had three games with under 50 total yards, five games without a touchdown, and two games with over 100 yards on the ground. He's not a reliable play and is a middling flex option at best. Hold off on rolling out Ingram unless you're truly desperate.

Marlon Mack

Mack has gone from potential league-winner to potentially unplayable in a short amount of time. After back-to-back games with over 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Mack has had four consecutive games with under 100 total yards and has only found the end zone once in that stretch. Volume will keep him in the mix as a flex option, but it's hard to trust Mack in back-to-back tough matchups against the Texans and Cowboys. He's a risky start.

 

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Disaster Recovery Week 12: The (Other) Saints Come Marching In

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds.

This isn't a place to find out why you should have benched a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about benching, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be covering one dud per week. There will be two major qualifiers: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

 

Rankings System

I'll also be implementing a new panic meter ranking system this year. It goes as follows:

  1. This week was a fluke. Don't panic!
  2. I still have full faith in this player, but there are some red flags. Be cautiously optimistic moving forward.
  3. There are genuine concerns here. Consider selling on name value, but don't panic too much unless you receive an offer you can't refuse.
  4. This player will not be the player you expected him to be. Regardless, his value may be too low to trade, and his ceiling is going to be better than anything you can get in return. Panic, but hold tight.
  5. Absolutely abandon ship. We're not coming back from this.

This week we're going to take a bit of a different approach. The New Orleans Saints dominated the Atlanta Falcons on Thanksgiving this week. They scored four touchdowns. None of them were scored by Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamaraor Mark IngramDoes this mean anything?

 

Red Zone Zeroes

Stat-lines for the "big three" in New Orleans last week:

  • Alvin Kamara: 14 rushes for 89 yards, one reception for nine yards
  • Mark Ingram: 11 rushes for 52 yards, two receptions for 14 yards
  • Michael Thomas: four receptions for 38 yards on six targets

New Kids on the Block

Drew Brees tossed four touchdowns against Atlanta on Thanksgiving night. They were caught by wide receivers Austin Carr (no relation to Austin Carr), Keith Kirkwood, and Tommylee Lewis, as well as tight end Dan Arnold.

Ever heard of any of these guys? Combined, the foursome had 248 yards and zero touchdowns going into Sunday. The trio of Kamara, Ingram, and Thomas had 28 of the team's 40 offensive touchdowns before this week.

Unknowns on the Rise?

Will the new foursome of undrafted touchdown scorers become factors in the offense moving forward?

The simple answer is no. The longer answer is still probably no. The reason for the uptick on snaps and usage for the three receivers was the absence of rising rookie Tre'Quan Smith, who had 10 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown before missing this week's game with a foot injury. He'll get his snaps and target shares when he's back on the field.

Out of the three touchdown-vulturing receivers, Kirkwood is by far the most interesting. He was signed just three weeks ago after Dez Bryant's unfortunate one practice in New Orleans. He's played on 44% of snaps since joining the team and is averaging just under 28 yards per game in his three appearances. It isn't much, but he's had a clear role in the passing attack and scoring his first touchdown, albeit a small one. Carr has been active all season and failed to contribute much, while Lewis's touchdown was literally his first catch of the season.

As for Arnold, he's been splitting the backup tight end role along with Josh Hill and is still firmly behind Benjamin Watson on the depth chart. He isn't going to add a new wrinkle into this Saints offense. He's been here all year.

 

Any Reason to Panic?

Since we're looking into three different players, let's take a look at the panic meter for each of them. We'll go from low to high.

Michael Thomas

It was a strange time for Thomas to have a bad game. He was going against an Atlanta passing defense that has been torched this season. His main matchup was Robert Alford, who was responsible for giving up 230 yards against the Giants a few weeks ago. The Saints next best receiver was out with an injury.

So why did Thomas, an elite WR1, come up with his worst game of the season in a dream matchup?

Maybe Thomas isn't an elite player after all? Maybe he just benefits from a historically good offensive system with one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL? Maybe the Saints just produce quality situations, and the players aren't responsible for making the most of these situations. I mean seriously, how good were guys like Willie Snead and Jimmy Graham really? Reggie Bush? Darren Sproles? Brandin Cooks? System players! Could this be the end of Michael Thomas as we know it?

Nope. We're not doing that. Ever. This was simply just a fluke and Thomas is one of the best young players in the league. Bad games happen. Panic Meter: 0/5

Alvin Kamara

Kamara really only had a "bad" game by Alvin Kamara's standards. 98 total yards isn't exactly something to scoff at. Kamara has scored in seven of eleven games this year. His only true dud of the year was the Mark Ingram tune-up game in Week 5. Outside of that, he hasn't had less than 75 yards in a game this year. Kamara remains an elite RB1, and we shouldn't think twice about it.

We can be slightly, and I mean slightly, concerned about his lack of targets in the past two games. Kamara had literally never been targeted just once in a game until last week. It's now happened two weeks in a row. Part of this can be blamed on general game flow, as Brees has thrown less than 10 passes in the second half in each of the last two games. But it's not like the Saints having second-half out teams is going to stop. They'll be favored in every game for the rest of the season. Kamara is also one of two players on the team to have over thirty catches this year. He should be fine. But this is certainly something to keep an eye on next week. Panic Meter 1.5/5

Mark Ingram

Is Mark Ingram touchdown-dependent?

Ingram's had under 100 total yards in five of his seven games this year. He's had under 75 yards in four of these. He was not as much of a factor in the passing game last year. Even with Kamara being the team's main passing down back, Ingram was able to notch at least four targets in 12 of his 16 games last year. He's yet to have four targets in a game this season.

Last season, Ingram averaged 69.5 total yards per game in games that he didn't find the end zone. He's down to 59 this year. He's averaging around 113 yards per game this year in games that he does score. His overall yards per game is down 18 from last year.

Ingram isn't completely touchdown-dependent, but he rarely has a great fantasy performance in games he doesn't score a touchdown in. His yardage dips from last year to this are a bit concerning. And while last year felt like a genuine split backfield, it's starting to feel like Kamara is the top-dog now.

There's no reason to bench Ingram unless you've got a stacked squad. His floor is solid, and he still finds the end zone a good amount. But 2017 Mark Ingram isn't here anymore. He's not on the RB1 radar. Panic Meter: 3/5

 

What To Watch For

The most important thing to look out for his how Alvin Kamara fares in the passing game moving forward. Should he see another one-target game, we may need to temper our playoff expectations just a bit. Other than that, just be hopeful to see the trio return to form next week.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Disaster Recovery Week 11: James Conner Doesn't Answer the Bell

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds.

This isn't a place to find out why you should have benched a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about benching, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be covering one dud per week. There will be two major qualifiers: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

 

Rankings System

I'll also be implementing a new panic meter ranking system this year. It goes as follows:

  1. This week was a fluke. Don't panic!
  2. I still have full faith in this player, but there are some red flags. Be cautiously optimistic moving forward.
  3. There are genuine concerns here. Consider selling on name value, but don't panic too much unless you receive an offer you can't refuse.
  4. This player will not be the player you expected him to be. Regardless, his value may be too low to trade, and his ceiling is going to be better than anything you can get in return. Panic, but hold tight.
  5. Absolutely abandon ship. We're not coming back from this.

With Le'Veon Bell officially being declared ineligible for the remainder of the season, James Conner finally had full control of the Steelers starting job this week. He did not take advantage of it. What happened?

 

The Struggling Steeler

James Conner's Week 11 stat-line: nine rushes for 25 yards along with six receptions for 24 yards.

The Pressure's Off

Without the shadow of Le'Veon Bell looming over him, Conner went out and had one of his worst games of the season. He didn't have a run over 10 yards and only had two go for more than three yards. All six of his receptions were short dump-off passes. Conner had a chance to salvage his day late, but he dropped a wide-open go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of action. Ben Roethlisberger ran it into the end zone just a few plays later.

Who's to Blame

It's hard to blame this one on the matchup. Even when Jacksonville's defense was a frightening unit last season, they still weren't ranked in the top 20 against the rush. This season, they have the 15th-best rush defense in the league. Jacksonville has lost six straight and is in an absolute free-fall, yet were able to pull off their best performance against the rush against Pittsburgh. It's truly puzzling.

The Steelers offense as a whole struggled all day. They didn't even enter the red zone until the last four minutes of the game. Road Roethlisberger was in full swing, completing less than 60% of his passes for the fourth time all season and throwing three interceptions. Take away Antonio Brown's 78-yard touchdown and the only player who performed well in this game would be JuJu Smith-Schuster. Sometimes teams just struggle. This was a complete dud from the Pittsburgh offense, and yet they somehow came away with a win.

 

A Recurring Theme?

Looking to the Past

The Steelers lost to Baltimore in Week 4 in a game with an eerily similar box score. Conner had nine carries and Roethlisberger went 27 for 47, same as in Week 11. Pittsburgh was not able to get many red zone possessions and Conner suffered because of it. It was another road struggle for Roethlisberger, Conner, and the rest of the Steelers, just like we saw this week.

Luckily, this is the only example of a similarly disastrous game for Conner this year. Conner did struggle in Week 2 against the Chiefs and had his day saved by a one-yard scamper into the end zone. This one's a bit easier to understand, especially after watching Todd Gurley have his worst game of the year against the Chiefs this week. You have to play at a faster pace when you face Kansas City. Running the football usually isn't the answer, especially when your running back can barely get over two yards per rush as Conner did. The Chiefs are a completely different animal.

 

What Lies Ahead

Clearly, the Steelers offense is more likely to struggle on the road than at home. They've scored over 30 points in four of their five home games. Even against tougher opponents, they've come up big when playing in Pittsburgh. Let's take a look at their next few games:

  • Week 12: @ Denver. This could be a trap for the Steelers offense and is not an ideal matchup for a team coming off a tough game in Jacksonville. Denver's rush defense seems to have fixed some of their issues after getting obliterated by the Jets and Rams earlier in the season. They haven't given up over 100 yards on the ground to a single team over their last four games. This screams bad matchup for Conner.
  • Week 13: vs Los Angeles Chargers. Great upside matchup for the Steelers. The Chargers have performed well on defense in recent weeks, but this seems poised to be a shootout between to high-powered offenses. Conner should see plenty of opportunities to score.
  • Week 14: @ Oakland. The Raiders have one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL and are overall a terrible football team. Even on the road, Conner should feast in this one.
  • Week 15: vs New England. There's a chance this game goes at a similar pace as the Kansas City game, but New England's rush defense hasn't been fantastic and the Steelers may try to exploit it more. Not the best playoff matchup for Conner, but at least it's at home. I'd bet on him being a stud more than a dud in this one.
  • Week 16: @ New Orleans. Oh boy...

 

Panic Meter: 3.5/5

When you look at the playoff schedule of your stud running back, the last thing you want to see is a road game in New Orleans. The Saints run defenses has been suffocating this season, with the only running backs going for over 65 yards against them being Todd Gurley and Peyton Barber (?!). They've only given up 100 yards total rushing against Cincinnati and Tampa Bay (?!!?!?!).

Ever since their bizarre opener against Tampa Bay, the Saints have been on an absolute warpath over the past 10 games. They notched statement wins against the Vikings and Rams. They completely dismantled the Redskins and Eagles. Simply put, their playing like the best team in football right now. This is a brutal matchup for Conner in Week 16.

Now look, if Conner gets you to the championship and puts up a dud, you can't be that angry. You weren't getting that far without him. But this is what we have to look for when we evaluate the panic meter this late in the season. His remaining schedule isn't ideal and his championship matchup is terrifying. I'd be sweating if I'm a Conner owner. His best games this year may be behind him.

It is worth noting that many fantasy owners were concerned about Todd Gurley's playoff schedule last season. He put up 591 yards and eight touchdowns in the final three games of the fantasy season. Sometimes it doesn't matter!

 

What To Watch For

A bounce-back game for the Steelers offense in a tough matchup in Denver. Conner needs to get fed the ball more to get his groove back. If he falters in this matchup, don't sweat too much. The big concern would be if he struggles against Los Angeles in Week 13. Then you may have some decision to make.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players Editor Note Featured Football #2 NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Disaster Recovery Week 10: James White's Bad Flight

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds.

This isn't a place to find out why you should have benched a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about benching, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be covering one dud per week. There will be two major qualifiers: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

 

Rankings System

I'll also be implementing a new panic meter ranking system this year. It goes as follows:

  1. This week was a fluke. Don't panic!
  2. I still have full faith in this player, but there are some red flags. Be cautiously optimistic moving forward.
  3. There are genuine concerns here. Consider selling on name value, but don't panic too much unless you receive an offer you can't refuse.
  4. This player will not be the player you expected him to be. Regardless, his value may be too low to trade, and his ceiling is going to be better than anything you can get in return. Panic, but hold tight.
  5. Absolutely abandon ship. We're not coming back from this.

Week 10 saw the Patriots struggle to do much of anything against the Titans. Running back James White was one of the most notable duds of the afternoon.

 

No Flight White

James White's Week 10 stat-line: one rush for a loss of five yards along with five receptions for 31 yards on eight targets.

Bad News Brady

The Patriots were absolutely destroyed by an uninspiring Titans squad on Sunday. Tom Brady struggled mightily. The Patriots were without Rob Gronkowski, but it's not like Gronk has been producing at a high-level this season.

New England has truly had an odd season. They're 7-3 with a win over Kansas City, and yet they've been decimated by the Lions, Jaguars, and now the Titans. A game like this doesn't bode well for anyone on the New England offense. The only Patriot to score on Sunday was fullback James Develin.

What's unfortunate for fantasy owners about these rough Patriot performances is that we can't really see them coming. Did anyone expect Tom Brady to struggle against the Lions defense? Of course not. The Patriots have an easy schedule coming up, but who knows what games they will show up and what games they won't. You can't judge this team based on strength of schedule. They've shown it doesn't matter.

It's Always Sony In New England

James White scored three rushing touchdowns in the two weeks Sony Michel was sidelined with an injury. Neither did much of anything this week. Michel takes the bulk of the goal line carries when he's healthy, but does that necessarily mean he has a negative impact on James White?

Let's examine Weeks 4-6, where Michel emerged as a true option in New England's offense. During that stretch, Michel tallied 16 total red zone carries and scored on three of them. White snagged 11 total red zone touches in this stretch, scoring two receiving touchdowns.

In the six games where Michel was either injured or not a major factor in the offense, White touched the ball 19 times in the red zone and scored seven touchdowns. This includes five total touchdowns against Chicago, Buffalo, and Green Bay, the three recent games where Michel was inactive.

So to answer the question: Michel's presence has a negative effect on White, but not a big one. White averaged 93 total yards and a touchdown in the same stretch where Michel averaged 109 total yards 1.3 touchdowns per game. They can co-exist together, even if it hurts White's touchdown ceiling slightly.

Tracking for Takeoff?

Tools in the Shed

It's no accident that White's best game of the year came in a game that Sony Michel and Rob Gronkowski sat. The Patriots have a ton of tools to play with on offense. When some of them are in the shop, the other ones get put to use more.

This week was a prime example of what happens when an offense with a ton of weapons breaks down. When the system is failing, not everyone is going to eat. White and Michel were the ones to suffer mightily this week, even without Gronk on the field. The Patriots will have to find a way to put the ball back in the end zone. Tom Brady has only thrown one touchdown pass in his last three games. With Michel back to take the goal line carries, White is going to have to get Brady to throw a few more touchdowns in the coming weeks.

Panic Meter: 2.5/5

Even with a regressing Tom Brady, this Patriots offense is too good to fall apart. Josh Gordon and Sony Michel are getting better and more comfortable with every game they play. Julian Edelman is smoothing himself back into the NFL flow. Gronk has struggled, but he's always a threat whenever he's on the field.

Then there's White, who's been a symbol of consistency and reliability this season. White has had at least seven targets and five receptions in each of his last seven games. He had over 70 total yards in his last six games before this week's dud. Brady is going to need his safety valve down the stretch this season.

The presumptive lack of touchdowns may start to be a concern. If Brady's not throwing touchdowns and Michel is healthy, White isn't going to score. He's not going to get many red zone carries when Michel is healthy. He needs these passing touchdowns. Betting on White for the rest of the season is partially a bet in Tom Brady. I don't feel great about betting on a 41-year-old Tom Brady, but I am certainly not betting against him. 2.5 sounds like the right level of panic.

What To Watch For

How the red zone possessions shake out for New England when they return from their bye. Look to see who's on the field between White and Michel. See who actually touches the ball when they're out there. And most importantly, watch to see if Tom Brady looks like his former self after a week of rest. White needs it.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Busts & Overvalued Players 2020 Fantasy Football Matchups and Start/Sit Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

What's Wrong with Jordan Reed?

Rule 86: If Jordan Reed is in Washington's lineup, he should be in yours.

This was the rule to live by when it came to Jordan Reed throughout his career. One of the NFL's most dynamic playmakers, Reed struggled to stay on the field but shined when he was on it. Reed led all tight ends in PPR points per game in both 2015 and 2016. Fantasy owners could only dream of what a full season of healthy Jordan Reed would like.

Sometimes dreams are better left as dreams. Reed has played in every game this season. He currently ranks 13th overall among tight ends in PPR scoring and 18th in points per game. It's been a dreadful year for the tight end position and yet a healthy Jordan Reed can't even sniff the top 10. What's wrong?

 

Reed-ing Between the Lines

Washington's offense is in a much different place than it was during Reed's peak. The most notable departures are quarterback Kirk Cousins and offensive coordinator Sean McVay. Here's how Cousins and Reed's numbers in 2015 compare to Smith and Reed's this year through eight games:

2015 Cousins through eight games: 206 for 309, 1,954 yards, 10 touchdowns, nine interceptions. Reed: six games, 54 targets, 38 receptions, 368 yards, four touchdowns. 

2018 Smith: 174 for 274, 1,867 yards, nine touchdowns, three interceptions. Reed: eight games, 53 targets, 33 receptions, 340 yards, one touchdown. 

Two things stand out here: the passing numbers from the two quarterbacks are surprisingly similar, and  Reed is no longer being used in the red zone like he used to be. Reed scored 10 of his 11 touchdowns in the red zone in 2015, including the four he scored in his first six games. Reed was seventh in red zone targets in the entire league that season and finished third in red zone touchdowns.

Reed has seen just three red zone targets through eight games this season. He's seen just one since the first game of the season. Washington simply isn't throwing the ball in the red zone much. Alex Smith ranks 27th in red zone passing attempts, while Adrain Peterson has the fifth-most red zone carries in the league. In 2015, Cousins was fifth in the NFL in red zone passing attempts.

Another thing that has been hurting Reed's touchdown numbers is the fact that Washington isn't scoring that much. The team ranks 25th overall in points per game, compared to 10th back in 2015. Kirk Cousins was having a career year during Reed's career year, whereas Alex Smith has played like Alex Smith this season. The offense is a far cry from Sean McVay's dynamic 2015 squad.

The re-emergence of Vernon Davis also hasn't benefited Reed. While Reed has out-snapped Davis in every game this year, there's no denying that another tight end producing is a bad thing for Reed's numbers. Davis has 232 yards and a touchdown on the year. It's just another thing Reed will have to overcome to get back on track.

 

Hope on the Horizon?

There's no need to abide by Rule 86 anymore. Reed is in no way a must-start anymore. Still, do you know who's leading Washington in receiving? Jordan Reed!

Washington's receiving core is a mess right now. Paul Richardson is on the IR. Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson have been dealing with nagging injuries. Richardson is the team's leader in receiving touchdowns with two. Even if injuries have affected Reed's playmaking ability a bit, he's still the best healthy receiver Washington has by a wide margin.

Reed is on pace for 66 catches and 680 yards. If he can find the end zone a bit more, those are decent numbers for a tight end in 2018. The only issue is that there's no guarantee that will happen. Smith isn't feeding Reed like he fed Travis Kelce last season. The duo has not been able to develop a solid connection. Reed's catch percentage is a career-worst 62.3%, roughly 12% worse than his previous career low.

It's hard to draw up much hope from what we've seen this year, but Reed is theoretically Washington's WR1 and has a plus matchup against Tampa Bay this week. The Buccaneers have given up a touchdown to a tight end in five of their last six games. They've let a tight end surpass 70 receiving yards in five of their last seven games. This is a golden opportunity for Reed to have a return-to-form performance.

Reed is absolutely worth holding due to his talent, the lack of competent pass-catchers around him, and the fact that the tight end waiver wire is a wasteland. I'm giving Reed one last chance against Tampa Bay this week. He can't afford to bust in this game. If he does, you could genuinely talk yourself into dropping a healthy Jordan Reed for Jeff Heuerman. Can you imagine hearing that statement in August?

More Fantasy Football Analysis