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! The time is officially upon us. The 2018 fantasy football playoffs kick off in (most) leagues in Week 14 and we here at the W.F.U. would like to extend our hearty congratulations to all owners who made the cut this season. Our commitment to excellence (Al Davis trademarked) here at the department will continue day and night to get you the best advice possible on which busts to avoid, but there will always be room for error. This week we had a few players shed the bust label and one player in particular narrowly escape being a bust in the most incredible way imaginable. Enough talk, let’s look at how last week’s lineup performed:
- Matt Ryan (7 Points)
- Adrian Peterson (15 Points)
- Tyler Boyd (9 Points)
- Jimmy Graham/Lance Kendricks (5 Points/0 Points)
- Seattle D/ST (16 Points)
- Alex Collins (DNP, Injured)
WHERE I MISSED:
- I gambled on the 49ers’ consistent love of running the ball this past week and it blew up in my face in a big way. Seattle’s defense had been a bottom 10 unit in the league against the run heading into Week 13 but following an early injury to Matt Breida and some costly errors from Nick Mullins things got out of hand quickly. Seattle continued to look like a dangerous wild card team and the Niners completely ceased to exist by half time in this one. Swing and a miss.
- Adrian Peterson got some well-deserved praise from me in my recap write up a few weeks back (when Alex Smith was still under center), but since that point he had fallen off a statistical cliff. It was believable that he would falter against a mid-tier Eagles front on the road, and in reality, he did for most of the game. Except the part where he took a first down handoff to the house for a 90-yard TD run, the longest run of his entire illustrious career. That 90-yard run ended accounting for nearly every yard AP earned in this one as he ended up with just 98 total yards on the day. He had a Jordan Howard/Royce Freeman game but instead of rushing the TD in from 1 yard out he did it from the other side of the field. Definitely not a bust this week, but dangerously close.
WHERE I HIT:
- Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense as a whole continued to struggle mightily in the red zone as the once dominant QB put up just total points in Week 13. Ryan was the biggest name brand QB bust of the week in a game that saw him throw for just 131 yards and one TD. The TD was to Austin Hooper of all people, and Julio Jones was MIA for the majority of the day. Total nightmare fuel for Falcons fans and Ryan fantasy owners alike.
- If you had Tyler Boyd in a PPR league you were pleased with his stat line. Despite not scoring a TD the default No. 1 Wideout in Cincinnati caught 6 balls for 97 yards on the day. In standard leagues you were probably looking for much more out of a player you had grown to view as a season long WR2 quality asset. Boyd’s lack of a TD made him a disappointing play this week and things are only set to get tougher in Week 14 as he’ll face off with Casey Heyward and a red-hot Chargers team.
- Jimmy Graham managed to play in Week 12 so Lance Kendricks was even more of an afterthought than usual. That being said you’d be forgiven for not knowing that Graham was out there as he only mustered 50 yards in a juicy matchup against a bad Cardinals team. In PPR you got some decent value as Graham still caught 8 balls on a season high 11 targets, but in standard leagues he was barely better than any other nameless TE you could have streamed.
- Alex Collins obviously wasn’t a bust in Week 13 because he didn’t even play, but I wanted to expound more on his outlook moving forward despite the injury. With the Ravens future leaning more and more towards Lamar Jackson and the likes of Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon re-entering the fray I think it’s time to address that most of us were wrong about Collins at the start of the year. I drafted him in the 4th round as a RB2 with RB1 upside because of his mobility and Baltimore’s love for the run game. Collins scored 8 TDs on the year but never eclipsed 70 yards on the ground in any of those games, and now that he’s gone the Ravens have just continued to win games anyway. His days in Charm City are likely numbered, and he’ll find a new home in the offseason, but the location and backfield situation will greatly affect how valuable he’ll be in future fantasy seasons.
With that out of the way let’s take a look at the bust candidates for Week 14.
Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills)
Step right up and ride the Josh Allen coaster! The highs are limitless, and the lows are soul crushing. This week’s QB bust candidate is the exciting rookie from Orchard Park.
I chose Allen because he’s one of the most tantalizing streaming options on most owners waiver wires heading into Week 14. The playoffs are starting, and teams with iffy options under center (Matt Ryan/Ryan Tannehill/Kirk Cousins/etc.) are looking around for a ripcord to pull. At face value Allen looks like a perfect candidate for these owners in need, as he’s produced back-to-back top 5 finishes over the past two weeks (26/30), and he’s done it all while commanding the toothless Bills offense.
My reasoning for selecting Allen is the yo-yo nature of his season as a whole. While the strong-armed rookie has flashed his ability on the ground and through the air despite less than ideal surroundings, he’s still crash landed more than he’s soared this year. On the season Allen has three performances of 25 of more fantasy points (Weeks 3/12/13) — every other week he’s either been injured or finished with 15 or less points total.
His TD:INT ratio is 5:7 and he just lost two of his perceived top options in Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes this past week. If Allen is going to make any noise for you this week it’s going to be with his feet, and you just can’t trust a QB to score multiple times on the ground every time he suits up. Avoid the Allen Coaster in Week 14, if you don’t it could end up costing you your season.
Marlon Mack (Indianapolis Colts)
It would take less time to list who’s actually healthy on the Indianapolis Colts roster heading into Week 14 than to tell you who’s out. Indy is currently missing T.Y. Hilton, Eric Ebron, Chester Rogers and Malik Hooker (among others) from practice and are slated to face off against one of the hottest teams in football this week in the Houston Texans. After getting shutout in a nasty 6-0 match-up against Jacksonville last week the wind is threatening to come out of the Colts sails. The magical return season of Andrew Luck now seemingly hinges upon his ability to make do with what he has, and I don’t think he can pull it off this week.
Marlon Mack will see his targets and overall presence in the Colts offense boosted if any of the above players miss time, but his production as of late has been questionable at best for owners. After blowing up for two-straight 100+ yard/TD games in Weeks 7/8, Mack seemed to just disappear.
Nagging injuries played a role in the slow down, but overall Mack seems to have peaked in those two weeks. Since then he’s rushed for totals of (29/61/85/27) and only reached the end zone once. He’s hit double digit fantasy points in just one of his past four contests, and he saw a season low carry total in Week 13 (8 carries). It will be tempting to chase his production from earlier in the year with as many injuries as Indy currently has, but I believe Mack will prove to be a swing and a miss in Week 14.
Robert Woods (Los Angeles Rams)
This one’s going to hurt for fantasy owners. Since coming over to LA from the Buffalo Bills Robert Woods has morphed from unknown to one of the finest possession receivers in the entire league. His target share in the Rams’ offense (before and after Cooper Kupp’s injury) has remained steady between 8/10 per contest, and his production has more than justified that target total.
On the year Woods has posted double digit fantasy totals in 7 of 13 games (even more in PPR format), and he’s consistently been the man Jared Goff has looked to in the red zone when he’s not handing the ball to Todd Gurley. That formula has worked in just about every matchup the Rams have been in, until this week.
This week the sunshine happy LA Rams will travel to the frigid confines of Soldier Field and find themselves in a fight to the death with an angry Grizzly Bear. The Bears defense boasts one of the best young secondaries in the game (including Pick 6 master Eddie Jackson), and they have more than enough firepower in their front 7 to keep Goff and company on their toes all day long. Woods makes his bread over the middle and in the red zone, and that’s exactly where these Bears feast. I know owners won’t be sitting Woods after the year he’s had, but I do recommend lowering your expectations drastically for him in this one.
Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota Vikings)
Rudolph the Red Zone Reindeer is set to deliver a big old shipment of coal to fantasy owners this holiday season (if you let him).
The reality of owning Kyle Rudolph is that you’ve known since around Week 6 that he was going to let you down. A lack of rapport with new QB Kirk Cousins and a consistently low target share (3-5 targets per week) have made the name brand TE a year-long bust at a position that’s been completely devoid of real talent for most of the season.
With the loss of yet another great in Greg Olsen to IR this past week owners are officially in full, red alert panic mode heading into the first week of the playoffs. Those who managed to get Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz are sitting pretty and counting their blessings, but for the rest of us it’s a C.J. Uzomah, Jonnu Smith, Chris Herndon nightmare out there. In that kind of climate Rudolph is almost undeniably a start based on name alone, but I advise the same caution you’ve had with him all year.
Just because he has a name that’s recognizable and an offense that scores points doesn’t mean he’s THAT much better than someone you could stream off the wire right now. Minnesota takes on a Seattle defense that ranks in the Top 10 for yards/TDs against the Tight End position this season. Start Rudolph at your own risk, just be ready to sweat it out for four quarters if you do.
Weeks back I picked Cam Newton as my bust QB of the week (spoiler: I was very wrong). I learned an important lesson from that experience and that was to never doubt Newton’s ability to prove people wrong (especially for fantasy purposes).
After roaring to an impressive 6-2 start the Panthers have since lost four straight and fallen back from playoff favorite to questionable wild card team. Their opponent this week may be able to give them a reprieve from their losing ways (if Carolina is willing to fight for it). The 2018 Cleveland Browns boast two legitimate stud players in their offensive backfield in Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb, but they also lack firepower through the air and that makes them a bit one dimensional. Against a defense with Luke Kuechly you need to have a deep bag of tricks to fool him, and I don’t believe Cleveland has that kind of play-calling prowess at this point.
What they do have is a defense with impressive individuals that got absolutely shredded by Lamar Miller of all people last week. If Miller could run through this unit I shudder to think of what Christian McCaffrey could do to them in Week 14. Load up Newton and CMC accordingly, they’re set to feast on the Browns defense in week one of the playoffs.
PRIMARY SUSPECT (Avoid at all costs)
Jeff Wilson Jr. (San Francisco 49ers)
Looks at waiver wire results…
Congratulations! You did it! You lost Matt Breida and you managed to beat everyone else to get his replacement: Jeff Wilson Jr. Now sit him down on your bench and go fishing for someone else.
It sounds brutal but I’m considering this one to be an act of tough love for fantasy owners that are desperate out there. With just 1 ½ games of NFL action under his belt, Wilson is far from a known commodity. Instead he’s one of the most volatile things any owner can run into in the fantasy playoffs, he’s a coin flip play.
Heads: The Niners offense is lacking at almost every major offensive position and they run the ball on nearly 50% of their offensive snaps. Wilson also showed impressive versatility in Week 13 by rushing 15 times for 61 yards and catching 8 balls for 73 yards in relief of Matt Breida.
Tails: Wilson’s breakout performance last week came against one of the worst run defenses in the league (Seattle). This week he faces off against a Denver defense that’s allowed just 8 TD’s on the year to running backs (5th best in the league).
Wilson is either going to walk out of Week 14 being hailed as a fantasy football savior or a waiver wire goat. I tend to believe he’ll end up being the latter. If you have to play him I understand, but just know the risks going into your matchup.
That’s another week in the books! I wish you all the best of luck as we all buckle down for the 2018 fantasy football playoffs. You made it this far because of your forward-thinking waiver wire adds, your skilled drafting and a little bit of luck (as always). Seize the moment, play your best line-up and may the fantasy gods be in your favor as we head into round one. Best of luck everyone!