Week 7 Busts: In the Weekly Fantasy Unit, there are crimes committed that would shock and appall you. Negative points, underwhelming superstars and outright busts. These are the findings of one man on a mission to expose the league’s biggest perpetrators before they strike again.
These are…..the FANTASY FILES.
Welcome back to the W.F.U., fantasy fans! With an exciting Week 6 out of the way we’re now officially midway through October and racing toward the midway point of the 2018 NFL season and soon the holidays! There are plenty of fantasy players playing the role of Santa Claus for owners across the league; names like Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill are putting fantasy fans in the holidays spirit, but we’re not here to discuss those players. We’re here week-after-week to point out the Grinches of the NFL, the busts that threaten to sink your season. I’m happy to announce that we succeeded at a high level this past week at rooting out some of the top offenders. Let’s take a look at last week’s suspects:
- Marcus Mariota (7 Points)
- Kenyan Drake (5 Points)
- Keenan Allen (10 Points)
- Jared Cook (1 Point)
- Dustin Hopkins (14 Points)
- Chiefs D/ST (0 Points)
- Derrick Henry (2 Points)
With the notable exception of a kicker, I must say we nailed our bust candidates for Week 6! Mariota played most of Sunday’s game from his back after the Ravens sacked him a whopping 11 times, and he didn’t get any assistance from our primary suspect, Henry, who tallied just 22 yards on a combined 8 touches in a game that showed the league just how one-dimensional this Titans team is.
In Miami, Drake looked a lot like most of his fantasy owners, with tears in his eyes and a towel over his face after almost fumbling away the game on the goal line. Cook completely disappeared (like most of Oakland’s offense) over in the UK in a blowout loss to Seattle. The Chiefs defense failed them, as usual, in Foxboro, including on the very last drive of the game, and couldn’t muster a single fantasy point for owners.
Finally, the streak of a disappointing performance from Allen continued in Week 6 in a game that saw the Chargers put up 38 points on the road in Cleveland. Allen saw only 6 targets (down from his average of 8) for 62 yards and carried the ball four times for another 41 yards in yet another game that saw the No. 1 wideout not find the end zone. Heading into Week 7, it’s fair for owners to tilt big time on Allen’s realistic output for the rest of the second of the season. We’re almost half way through the calendar and he’s only scored ONCE (back in Week 1). He’s simultaneously a buy-low value and a terrifying player to call your WR1. He’s good for those who don’t have him, but miserable for those who drafted him.
Now, with that out of the way, it’s time to dive back into the data to find out who the biggest bust candidates are for Week 7.
Alex Smith (Washington Redskins)
If you asked most Washington area sports fans if they’d rather have Kirk Cousins or Alex Smith, most of them would begrudgingly say they wish they still had Cousins. This isn’t so much about how great Cousins has looked in Minnesota, but about how mediocre Smith has been since signing his 4-year/$94 Million deal this past off season.
While Smith’s never been known to be a guy that fills up a stat sheet, he’s usually consistently usable on a weekly basis for fantasy, but that just hasn’t been the case so far this season. Smith’s TD:INT ratio of 6:2 looks fine at the off set, but if you scratch under the surface even an inch you’ll see that all 6 of those scores have come in just 3 games. That means that Smith has thrown of ZERO touchdowns in half of Washington’s games so far this season. He’s averaging just 240 yards per game through the air and he gets arguably the league’s most underrated defensive unit this week in the Dallas Cowboys.
With bye-week hell fast approaching, fantasy owners will be looking for anyone with name value and a decent matchup to plug into their line ups. I’m taking this time to advise you against choosing Smith for that role. He hasn’t performed well enough to earn your trust in a week where you need steady production, and he’s someone that is facing an unassumingly daunting challenge at home. Look elsewhere for your QB help in Week 7.
Peyton Barber/Ronald Jones II (Tampa Bay Bucs)
Do me a favor. Blindfold yourself, spin around a few times & throw a dart at the wall. You’ve just done exactly what I’m lead to believe the Tampa Bay coaching staff does each week to decide who their top running back is. To be completely honest, I don’t blame them. With options like Barber & Jones II Tampa is stuck between a rock & a hard place on an offense that likes to throw the ball down the field anyway. Barber’s been what I guess you could call the more serviceable of the two backs by virtue of workload, but even that’s a bit a stretch. His 16 point performance last week against Atlanta was more than the totals of all four of his other starts COMBINED.
On the other hand you have the high touted rookie in Jones II who had Bucs fans buzzing coming out of the draft only to lose his luster with a poor preseason performance. Last week fantasy pundits were all aboard the RoJo hype train against a battered Falcons defense & plenty of fantasy owners hopped aboard only to have the breaks fall off the moment the game started. Jones was out touched by Barber 17-4 in a good matchup & only mustered 19 total yards in both the running & receiving game. Neither of these players are fantasy starters, but if you need an upside pick I’d stick with Barber & see if his workload amounts to some valuable goal line work. Just don’t count on too much production against a brutal Cleveland front this Sunday.
Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos)
Waits for the name-recognition based outrage to subside…
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get down to the point. Demaryius Thomas isn’t a WR1 in fantasy football anymore. In fact, he hasn’t been one since Peyton Manning retired.
Most fantasy owners see Thomas hanging around in fantasy drafts in 2018 and have an instant “oh my God” moment. How is he still around? This is DEMARYIUS THOMAS! He’s a red zone magnet and a TD-machine in Denver, right? Unfortunately, no.
There’re multiple reasons why Thomas was sticking around in your draft this year. For one, he’s not even the best wideout on his team (shout out to Emmanuel Sanders). Secondly, he’s averaging 5 targets per game in an offense that moves the ball primarily through its running game.
Thomas’ career trajectory fell back to earth in a major way after Manning retired in Denver and the stats back that up in a way that’ll startle most people who still view him as a top option. In the three seasons he played with Peyton (2012-2015), Thomas averaged 1,400 yards and had TD totals of 10/14/11. He was the equivalent of fantasy football gold. Since Manning left and the QB carousel began in Denver, Thomas’ yardage has dipped to 1,100 per season and his high in TDs is 5. Any grade school student could look at that graph and see a negative correlation, so I beg my fellow fantasy owners to stop valuing names over production.
This week Thomas runs up against a bad team with a great corner. The Arizona Cardinals don’t have much of an offense to speak of, but Patrick Peterson will likely be shadowing him, which is bad news. It’s going to take a different outlook to do it, but I recommend sitting or flexing Thomas this week, if you can.
Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers)
This one hurts to say, because I (like so many others) waited for Greg Olsen to possibly return from my IR slot. When he played 59-60 snaps last week against Washington, it only made my hope for him climb higher, and yet I have to sit him this week in Philadelphia.
The fact is, Olsen isn’t going to be anywhere near 100% for the rest of the season, and in a game against the champs in south Philadelphia, that’s going to matter. I think Olsen will flirt with PPR value because Cam Newton’s going to target his favorite option throughout the game, but he’s facing a violent Eagles defense that hasn’t allowed a big day from a tight end since Week 2 (O.J Howard).
With the tight end landscape in shambles, it’s going to be hard to sit Olsen, and in most situations you won’t be able to. I just recommend keeping your expectations on the lower side and hoping he leaves Philadelphia capable of playing in Week 8.
Wil Lutz (New Orleans Saints)
It’s not often that you’ll see a member of the Saints offense in this column, but if there was ever a week for one to show up, it’s this one. Drew Brees and the red-hot “WHO DAT” offense are traveling from the friendly confines of the Super Dome to visit the top-rated defense in the NFL in the Baltimore Ravens.
In a true battle of No. 1 offend and defense, I lean toward the defense, especially at home, as those games generally don’t see many points scored. While Brees and co. are riding high off of his record-breaking performance from Week 5, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the quiet dominance of this Ravens team through six weeks.
Baltimore comes home for the first time since Week 3 with a 4-2 record and a top-ranked defense allowing just 12 points per game to their credit. The book on Brees outside of the Super Dome is that he usually doesn’t perform as well, but he’ll need to turn his fortunes around against this unit if Will Lutz has any chance of performing well for your team this week. Lutz is a top-5 kicker that I’d recommend benching and grabbing a replacement for this week. I wouldn’t drop him, but if you have to I’d rather stream someone than take my chances against this Ravens defense on Sunday.
Atlanta Falcons D/ST
I know, talk about low-hanging fruit, right? This is the ultimate “kicking a man when he’s down” kind of pick, but with the lack of legitimately great defenses in the NFL on a weekly basis, I think it’s worth pointing out the ones you absolutely shouldn’t touch.
The Falcons defense (when healthy) is brimming is young, superstar-level talent. Unfortunately for them, almost all of that talent is sitting on the couch or rehabbing at the moment. What’s been left in their stead is a unit with some bright spots, but nowhere near enough talent to stop an NFL level offense.
This week, the Falcons find themselves at 2-4, needing a win and facing a 1-5 Giants team coming off an embarrassing loss to the Eagles on Thursday Night Football. This one is a fantasy feast waiting to happen for both offenses, and in the case of the Falcons, I just don’t see anyway they’ll be able to stop Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. from tearing them apart all day long. Sit the Falcons defense with confidence, and while you’re at it, stay away from the Giants too.
PRIMARY SUSPECT: (Avoid at all costs)
Cole Beasley (Dallas Cowboys)
This week in “waiver wire darlings set to disappoint,” we have one of the most obvious regression candidates we’ll see all year: Cole Beasley. While Beasley is a fine slot receiver that had fantasy upside when the likes of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten were still on the field, he’s a fantasy pipe dream as Dallas’ default No. 1 wideout.
Going into last week’s match up against the Jaguars, Beasley had scored ZERO touchdowns on the year and was averaging just 5 targets and 50 yards per contest. His 9/101/2 performance was the very definition of a fantasy football anomaly and is something that he’ll be lucky to repeat again in his career, let alone on the road this week against the Redskins.
I don’t believe any owner is delusional enough to believe Beasley is a top rated wideout, but I need to warn against believing Beasley is anything close to his Week 6 performance on a regular basis. If you need to start him due to bye-weeks I’d FLEX him. There are better, more consistent options on the wire than Beasley that are worthy of your WR2 spot. Don’t chase outlier performances by mid-level players, you’ll end up with a broken heart and a fantasy loss almost every time.
That’s another week in the books! Best of luck in your matchups heading into Week 7, everyone. As the second month of the fantasy season plays out, make sure to keep your eyes on the waiver wire, as always, but also start to consider the value of your roster. Bye weeks are in full swing and will continue to cripple rosters through Week 12, so keep a watchful eye on what positions your opponents will be losing when they face you. Once you’ve seen their needs, I recommend heading to the waiver wire (if you have priority) and grabbing the top option available that you think they’d need. Fantasy football is a zero-sum game where every week matters, don’t be afraid to exploit your opponent’s needs for your gain if it can help you gain victory on Sunday.