In the Weekly Fantasy Unit, there are crimes committed that would shock and appall you. Negative points, underwhelming superstars and outright fantasy football 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: TALES FROM THE W.F.U.
Welcome back to the Fantasy Files, everyone! I hope you all had a fun Halloween filled with more treats than tricks. Unfortunately, we here at the W.F.U. struggled mightily with the trick portion of the holiday this past week. Multiple bust candidates banded together and had a night full of mischief in spite of our best efforts. However, it wasn’t all bad. We hit on a few name-brand busts and we had another player narrowly avoid bust status on a night that he should have fit the bill.
With all that said, let’s take a look at how our lineup performed:
- Ben Roethlisberger (25 Points)
- LeSean McCoy (2 Points)
- Amari Cooper (11 Points)
- Trey Burton (8 Points)
- New England D/ST (4 Points)
- Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith (27 Points/12 Points)
The Ravens defense is dead to me. They’re dead to me and they should worry Baltimore fans moving forward toward the second half of the season. They took a matchup that’s been a historical slam dunk and turned it into a sloppy nightmare against Pittsburgh. To Big Ben’s credit, he gutted out an impressive performance at less than 100% following a hand injury during the week. He also took a rough fall on his shoulder during this matchup, but Pittsburgh continued to roll regardless. These two teams are a complete 180-degree flip from where they were at the end of September, and this was a major victory for Ben in an environment where he’s typically fallen short.
Amari Cooper and Trey Burton fall into the Marquise Goodwin category that I discussed last week. Both players have name value, but their fantasy totals coming out of Week 9 were bolstered by touchdowns that won’t always be there. In the case of Cooper, he absorbed 9 targets in his first game as a Cowboy and caught 5 for 58 yards. His touchdown from 4 yards out was a nice change of pace from his usual deep ball reliance that we saw in Oakland, but overall this was just an okay debut in a game that Dallas ended up losing by two scores. Burton’s day was even more forgettable, as he had just one reception for 20 yards heading into the 4th quarter against Buffalo. A last-minute garbage time touchdown from the goal line saved him from being a total bust, but it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that his target share was as low as it was (3 targets).
Then there was the ultimate disaster that was the Washington Redskins run defense. This team completely lost any semblance of an identity in front of its own fan base this past Sunday (along with every member of its offensive line and top wide receiver). I wrote Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith in as my primary suspects to avoid last week because Washington had dominated the line of scrimmage in every contest of the season through 8 games. They followed that dominance up by turning into a revolving door for the Atlanta backfield. Coleman and Smith couldn’t lose on Sunday, the holes in the line were massive and they were hitting them for chunk yardage on nearly every other attempt. Atlanta’s defense is manageable against a mid-tier offense (which Washington barely qualifies as), but if they can just NOT give up 30 points the Falcons will have a shot to win every game they’re in the rest of the way. I was completely wrong about Coleman/Smith, but I was even more wrong to believe this Washington team could be consistent at any one thing for an entire year.
As for the busts that really lived up to their billing, LeSean McCoy ran into brick walls all day against Chicago and continued to add more tread to his tires on a dead end Bills team that should cut him out of pure mercy. New England’s D/ST performed decently on Sunday night, but this game ended up being essentially what we thought it would be: a series of long drives by two of the all-time great QB’s culminating in little defensive production to speak of.
With that out of the way let’s take a look at the bust candidates for Week 10.
Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)
So, it turns out that when you trade away your best (yards after catch) receiver at the deadline your offense suffers a bit, who would’ve thought?
Less than a week after Detroit opted to move Golden Tate to Philadelphia, Matthew Stafford put up his first zero touchdown game in well over a year. Honestly, it was shocking to see how quickly the Detroit offense ground to a halt without having Tate; they were ineffective all day and Stafford paid for it. On top of not throwing a single touchdown on the day, Stafford was put on his back 10 times courtesy of the Minnesota defense.
To make matters even worse, he now finds himself face to face with the Chicago Bears Top 5 defensive unit at Soldier Field in Week 10. With an offensive line that failed spectacularly in protecting him and an offense that’s suddenly sputtering, I worry about Stafford’s ability to produce in this big time NFC North matchup. It also doesn’t help that Stafford’s only been a slightly above average QB for fantasy so far this year as it is. His weekly totals since Week 1 (12/24/18/20/15/17/18/6) place him firmly in the middle of the pack as far as starters are concerned in either format. He’s a mid-tier streamer until Detroit shows some life again, and a player to avoid in bad matchups.
Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville Jaguars)
This one’s going to sting for Leonard Fournette owners. I get it, you drafted him in either the first or high second rounds back in September, and you’ve been suffering through his seemingly unending hamstring struggles, but this matchup isn’t as good as you think it is.
The Indianapolis Colts are a team that (for the first time in what feels like years) has some momentum going for them. They got their superstar QB back after fearing they’d lost him for good, and their line play on both sides has been underrated all season. Luck and the Colts have the offensive firepower to make this a tough matchup for Jacksonville and Indy’s defense has been quietly middle-of-the-road against running backs. The Colts defense ranks 13th in the NFL in overall yardage, giving up to the position (879 yards), but they’ve only allowed 6 scores for RB’s all year. Those statistics place them in the same vicinity as units like Tennessee/Baltimore/Atlanta and make them a sneaky opponent for Fournette to make his return against.
Now, there’s no doubt that you’ll be starting Fournette if he’s out there because odds are you need to. I’m just saying you should lower your expectations a bit in this one, especially with how great T.J. Yeldon has been and the presence of Carlos Hyde. Jacksonville’s got a packed RB room and it reeks of a potential committee situation in the coming weeks.
Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
James Bradbury; have you heard of him? Probably not, but Tampa Bay Bucs fans certainly got a nice introduction this past Sunday when the Panthers corner shut down Mike Evans. Bradbury isn’t a name brand corner, he’s not someone you think should be able to stop an elite level wideout like Evans; and yet he did, which is worrisome for Evans owners.
Coming off of one of his worst single game performances of his career (10 Targets/1 Reception/16 Yards), Evans is set to lock horns with Josh Norman, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and the Washington Redskins secondary in Week 10. Norman on his own is a challenge for most WR’s, but when you add the Redskins safety depth (Swearinger/Clinton-Dix) into the equation it paints a less than pretty picture for Evans in this matchup. For those who want/need to start him, I get it, through Fitzmagic all things are possible (in the 4th quarter), but I advise exercising caution here. Evans has had a fine year considering how jumbled his QB situation has been, but this is a matchup that poses a real challenge for him.
Jack Doyle (Indianapolis Colts)
Jack Doyle is finally back (kinda, sort of, maybe) for the Colts and he’s just in time for what’s sure to be a bruising AFC South battle with the Jaguars.
Things to remember here: Eric Ebron still exists and the Oakland Raiders defense is junior varsity level bad. When Doyle toasted Oakland last week for (6 Rec/70 Yds/TD) fantasy fans rejoiced because another (somewhat) reliable name had returned to make the tight end position a little less sad; but those same owners would be overplaying their confidence in Doyle by starting him this week.
The Colts welcome the league’s top passing defense in Week 10 and you have to believe the Jags are looking to reassert themselves as a dominant player in the 2nd half of the year. The defense from DUVAL County has allowed a league low 9 TD’s through the air and just 206 yards of total passing offense per game this season. Doyle will find himself covered early/often by a combination of All-Pro’s in Telvin Smith/Myles Jack in this one, and I don’t like his odds against either of those guys.
This is another classic case of an overrated fantasy asset needing to be taken to task. I did this just a few weeks ago for the Denver defense after their demolition of the Arizona Cardinals, and now I’m doing it for the Dolphins.
Miami’s D/ST won matchups last week for some of you out there, because they preyed on a rookie QB in Sam Darnold that we now know was injured during the contest. That same treatment should not be expected when the Dolphins travel to the cold confines of Lambeau Field to face a pissed off Aaron Rodgers.
While the Dolphins do have some stand-out performers on their defense (TJ McDonald/Minkah Fitzpatrick/Xavien Howard), they still lack the ability to stop good teams from scoring points. On the year the Miami defense is ranked 23rd in Pass defense and have routinely allowed close to 300 yards of total offense through the air with 16 TD passes to boot. Stream away from Miami this week and let them be someone else’s mistake; Rodgers isn’t losing to this Dolphins team in Green Bay.
PRIMARY SUSPECT: (Avoid at all costs)
Kerryon Johnson (Detroit Lions)
Oh, sweet Kerryon, we hardly knew ye. It feels like years since you became the Lions first 100-yard rusher in half a decade back in Week 7. Why has the Lions coaching staff forsaken you? Have they forgotten that running the ball helps them? Have they realized that when they don’t run the ball it almost gets Matt Stafford killed?
Sadly, I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, and neither does Kerryon, but I can say that as a fantasy fan it makes me sad to see his talent wasted like it has been these past 2 weeks. Since his break out performance in Week 7, Johnson’s rushing attempts have gone down from 19 to (8 in Week 8 and 12 in Week 9). While the Lions have tried (with some success) to get Johnson some work in the receiving game, it just doesn’t make since that they’ve shied away from their obvious bell-cow back.
This confusion turns to horror when you realize that Johnson’s struggles are only set to continue this week as he prepares to run into the brick wall known as the Chicago Bears defensive line. On the year, Chicago ranks as the NFL’s 3rd overall run defense, allowing a mere 3.7 yards per carry and just ONE rushing touchdown all year. Things are bad in the land of Kerryon Johnson on multiple levels in this one, and I suggest distancing yourself from the drama until it sorts itself out. Just hope he makes it out of Soldier Field in one piece.
Well, that’s another week in the books! I wish you all the BEST of luck in your Week 10 matchups and hope that you’re continuing to watch the waiver wire/activities of your fellow owners closely as we head down the stretch. Always remember that one man’s perceived trash can be another man’s valuable bench stash for the playoffs. Keep your focus forward and your eyes on that fantasy football prize my friends. Have a great week.