The warning signals get brighter by the week since we have more data to work from. The larger the sample size the easier it is for us to connect the dots from the latest trends. Football is a game of small samples and many variables, making it one of the hardest sports to predict.
How a player is used can indicate a player's future production. Target share and air yards are prime metrics when evaluating how valuable a player is to their team’s offense. The more volume or work a player gets on a consistent basis the more they are valued in the team’s weekly game plan. Chasing targets, air yards and touches are key signals to a player’s production.
It could also be a clue to a player’s demise. If a player is seeing less work or if another player in the offense has emerged as the team’s workhorse, then we could see a shift in player value. When we look for warning signals, we want to look for reasons why a player might lose touches in their team’s offensive system. Bad play, injuries, and other players in the offense breaking out are all factors that could derail a player’s season.Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Premium articles, rankings, projections, 15 lineup tools and daily Premium DFS research/tools including our Lineup Optimizer, Research Station and so much more! Sign Up Now!
Drew Lock, Denver Broncos
Lock trotted back on the field in Week 6 after recovering from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the lineup for a few weeks. His comeback game didn’t go so well considering he completed just 10 of his 24 pass attempts for 189 yards and two interceptions.
The support just isn’t there for Lock. Courtland Sutton is out for the year. Noah Fant isn’t there to bail him out. Lock will need to play at his best to be able to churn out weekly QB1 production. He’s not going to be bailed out by his receivers anymore and will need to be firing on all cylinders to keep the chains moving.
The warning signals started strobing when Sutton went down with his season-ending injury. It became more apparent this week. He is droppable in traditional 1QB leagues. If anything, he should already be on the waiver wire.
Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Fournette missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, but that’s not the warning signal. Ronald Jones is balling out of control and looks to be the true steal for fantasy this year. Against the Packers, he rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns. He’s currently the RB12 on the season with 90.6 PPR fantasy points.
Even if Fournette comes back healthy and ready to go he will still compete with Jones for touches out of the backfield. Right now, Jones has the hot hand, and it would be a mistake to divert from him. He has earned all the touches given to him. Fournette will need to wait his turn and make the most out of all the opportunities that are presented to him.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
The tide is turning in Pittsburgh. The wide receiver corps is a lot different compared to years past. There is now an even distribution of targets among the whole unit. Chase Claypool is emerging as a dangerous playmaker. James Washington is a deep threat who can make plays downfield. Diontae Johnson has been out due to injury, but when he comes back, he will take some of the targets from the slot.
Pittsburgh isn’t a pass-funnel to JuJu Smith-Schuster anymore. There are other players in the offense who can take care of business. This is exciting if you’re a Steelers fan but it’s not exciting if you’re a Smith-Schuster’s fantasy manger.
We can only hope for volatile fantasy production going forward. There are not enough targets to go around in Pittsburgh’s offense to sustain consistent fantasy production from Smith-Schuster. He’s still a very talented wide receiver, but he’s not in the most optimal situation to blow up the box score on a weekly basis anymore.
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
There was a lot of excitement surrounding Hockenson’s fantasy potential going into the season. Think about it. Mathew Stafford was coming back to toss lasers all over the football field. The Lions were going to be in more shoot-outs than Bradley Cooper when he starred in American Sniper. All these scenarios set the stage for a second-year breakout for Hockenson.
The Rolling Stones new fantasy football before it ever existed, because you can’t always get what you want. We all wanted the Hockenson break out to happen. We could feel in our drafts pumping through our veins. Unfortunately, those feelings might be premature.
Hockenson has only reached TE1 status once this season. This past week, in a favorable matchup against the Jaguars, he could only muster two catches for 27 yards. Tight end is a fickle position and is the hardest position to predict in all of fantasy football. With the team leaning heavily on the run game and Kenny Golladay being the true alpha wide receiver the offense, it’s going to be hard for Hockenson to maintain consistent production.
Remember this is only his second season. He’s still developing and is an elite-level prospect. Hockenson could turn it on at any time. He still plays in a high-powered offense while having the talent to be one of the top tight ends in the league. The warning signals are saying 2020 might not be consistent for Hockenson, but there’s still a light at the end of the tunnel.
Break Out Alert!
J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team
In his last two games, McKissic has been targeted 14 times and owned a 21 percent share of the team’s passing targets. He has developed into a key piece in the passing offense. The team is in shambles right now and they are doing whatever they can to keep the ball moving on offense.
McKissic hasn’t been so hot running the ball between the tackles but he is seeing enough workload to be fantasy relevant. He’s a must add off the waiver wire if you are in need of a running back. The Football Team is going to be trailing in most games which will present plenty of opportunities for McKissic to get used as a receiver out of the backfield in garbage time.
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