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. Or How I Stopped Doubting Cam Newton and Learned to Believe in the Panthers
Welcome to a super spooky Halloween 2018 edition of the FANTASY FILES! With an exciting Week 8 out of the way, we’re now officially past the half way point of the 2018 NFL season and rapidly approaching the trade deadline for most fantasy leagues. Fantasy owners around the world are now facing the grim reality often reserved for real football GM’s. It’s the time where you need to look in the mirror, look at your record and decide if you think you’re actually a playoff team. If you believe you are, then it’s time to make those last second deals, and if you think you’re not then, well, there’s a ton of free candy around to eat the pain away.
This past week’s search for busts was a bit of a mixed bag as some of our primary suspects surpassed expectations and some fit the bill perfectly. Let’s take a look at how our lineup performed starting with the busts that I missed on:
- Cam Newton (28 Points)
- Doug Martin (6 Points)
- Marquise Goodwin (11 Points)
- Jordan Reed (3 Points)
- Josh Lambo (16 Points)
- Denver D/ST (3 Points)
- Jarvis Landry (3 Points)
Cam Newton did two things this week that made me feel two vastly different emotions. For one, he shattered my bust prediction and showed that this Panthers offense has the potent mixture of talent and resilience that could make them a playoff team. Secondly, he made me lament the loss of the last true, reliable defense in fantasy football. The Baltimore Ravens were the one consistently dominant D/ST force in fantasy heading into Week 8, and the Panthers just dunked on them all game long. Kudos to Super Cam for proving me wrong, but I’ll miss being able to believe in a defense for fantasy purposes.
Marquise Goodwin’s second double-digit fantasy game of the season completely fit the model I explained last week when I labeled him as one of my busts. I mentioned that he was a dynamic, speedy playmaker with a bad quarterback and above average target share. Following that description, Goodwin saw 4 targets all game (down from his average of 7) and caught ONE for a 55-yard touchdown. He came as dangerously close to zero points as a fantasy wideout could get, and fantasy owners have Goodwin’s world class level speed to thank for getting any production at all. He’s far from a reliable option for fantasy owners and should be treated as a risky, touchdown dependent FLEX option at best for the rest of the season. In summary, Goodwin got lucky to avoid the bust label he rightfully deserved this past week.
Then there was Josh Lambo, who apparently had saved up ALL of his fantasy points for the season for the Jaguars trip to London. The game script for the Eagles/Jaguars game revolved around deep red-zone drives that stalled out and ended in field goals, which fed right into the 16-point performance Lambo served up. With point totals of 8/7/7/13/2/1/1/16, Lambo’s still far from the best kicking option out there for fantasy owners to pick up, but he had his best game of the season when the Jags visited the Queen across the pond. I give Lambo credit where it’s due, he booted two 50+ yarders and kept Jacksonville in the game until Bortles eventually ruined it.
As for the Busts that lived up to their billing:
- Doug Martin ran hard for Oakland but was predictably out-shined by Jalen Richard throughout.
- Jordan Reed was targeted 12 times and caught 7 balls for just 38 yards, proving that the Giants are actually good at something (defending tight ends), and that Washington’s offense is screwed if AP goes down for any reason.
- Denver’s defense put up a little more of a fight than they did in Week 4, but fell to the mighty Kansas City offense all the same. This unit has talent but is consistently held back by a middling offense. They stood no chance against Mahomes and company.
- Finally, my Primary Suspect of the week delivered on everything I promised he would. Jarvis Landry caught 8 balls on 12 targets for just 39 yards on Sunday against Pittsburgh, proving that even in a perceived good matchup, he’s a risky play in standard formats. The target totals will hold steady, but the production is far too random for fantasy owners to put any real stock into Landry as a championship level wideout on their squad.
With that out of the way let’s take a look at the bust candidates for Week 9:
Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)
As the quarterback of one of the most loaded offenses in the league it’s fair to say Big Ben’s name doesn’t get mentioned often when it comes to fantasy football busts. However, he does have an Achilles heel that lives within his own division: the Baltimore Ravens. I know that I got burned last week believing in the Ravens defense against Carolina, but this week I have history on my side in believing that Ben will struggle on the road against Baltimore. Roethlisberger is just (3-7) lifetime when playing the Ravens in Baltimore and has averaged one touchdown and just over 200 yards per contest in his career there. Add on the fact that Ben surprisingly found himself on the injury report this week with an injured finger and his outlook appears even bleaker. The weapons around Ben can make plays for him in this one, but he’s shown throughout his career that he’s not someone to trust on the road in Charm City.
LeSean McCoy (Buffalo Bills)
As an Eagles fan I know what LeSean McCoy’s capable of each and every week, and he’s been completely wasted so far in 2018 by this rock bottom Bills offense. Unfortunately for him (and his fantasy owners), the trade deadline came and went with McCoy still firmly planted somewhere in western New York. Against the Patriots on Monday night football Shady touched the ball 20 times for a combined 95 yards, which sounds serviceable until you realize that only 13 of those yards were attributed to rushing the ball. The Bills seemingly non-stop nightmare carousel at quarterback has allowed opposing defenses to stack the box against Shady every week and it’s worked perfectly. No matter how shifty, how quick and how cunning McCoy can be, he still has yet to score a single touchdown in 2018. That streak of offensive impotence is sure to continue this week when Buffalo welcomes the Chicago Bears. Owners who drafted Shady more than likely drafted against his legal issues/bad offense because they wanted to chase his name value and shockingly high production from 2017. They’ve been rewarded with an average of 4 fantasy points per contest in standard leagues. As much as it may hurt, it’s time to let Shady sit on your bench until further notice.
Amari Cooper (Dallas Cowboys)
Insert No. Pick for Amari Cooper joke here
Believe me, I’ve had my fun at the expense of Cowboys fans all week since this trade went down, but the joke is really all about what they gave up. What they’re getting is a talented, young receiver with a high fantasy ceiling. The problem is that Amari Cooper very rarely reaches that ceiling, and when he does he’s prone to crashing back to earth in the most crushing way imaginable the next week. Here’s a look at Cooper’s fantasy production (in standard format) so far this year: 1/16/1/23/1/0.
In terms of rollercoasters, Cooper is the kind that you’d make in Rollercoaster Tycoon where the tracks just end and send the patrons flying off the rails to their certain death. He’s a literal “ride or die” fantasy player that requires a steady hand (and a lot of luck) to predict when the right week is to play him. Fortunately, I can give you the cheat sheet for Week 9 and tell you straight up: DON’T PLAY AMARI COOPER.
Why? For starters, this will be his first official game as a Dallas Cowboy. On top of learning a new playbook, he’ll be playing in an offense centered around a dominant run game and managed by a quarterback that routinely throws for around 200 yards per game. Cooper will also have to contend with a Titans defense that’s one of the stingiest in the league against wide receivers, giving up just over 200 YPG through the air and only allowing 9 scores (tied for 2nd fewest in the league). Cooper has the potential to blossom into a weapon that Dallas can use well, but this week he just has too many obvious red flags to start him with any kind of confidence.
Trey Burton (Chicago Bears)
Okay, so this one feels weird to write out. It feels weird because I featured Trey Burton as one of my breakout players of the week just 2 weeks ago. He then rewarded me for my belief by putting up 1 point against the Jets in Week 8. Say what you want about the AFC East, but for some reason they’re pretty damn impressive when it comes to shutting down production from tight ends. Things don’t get much easier for Burton as Chicago now travels to Orchard Park to take on a scrappy Bills team that somehow has Nathan Peterman listed as it’s starting quarterback (again). The reason that’s a tough break for Burton is twofold: For one, the Bears defense could realistically be up by three touchdowns at halftime on Peterman pick-6’s alone. Secondly, the Bills are great against the position. On the year tight ends have yet to put up more than 55 yards in a game against Buffalo, and the Bills are coming off of a Monday night matchup that saw them hold Rob Gronkowski to just 43 yards on 3 catches. It’s going to be impossible to justify sitting Burton, but I want owners to brace themselves for the very real possibility that he has another stinker in Week 9. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
Out of respect for our new kickers-only column on 5thDownFantasy.com, I’m officially withdrawing the kicker category from FANTASY FILES. It has nothing to do with the fact I’ve been pretty bad at picking them so far, so don’t read into this at all. Okay? Cool.
New England D/ST
I feel pretty comfortable saying that the Week 9 selection of matchups has my two favorite pairings of the season so far. We get to see a battle of two NFC powerhouses when the Rams take on the Saints, and we get to see two of the greatest of all-time duke it out at Lambeau when Aaron Rodgers faces off with Tom Brady. I’m hyped to see how both of these matchups play out, but one thing is certain: there’s going to be a TON of offensive production. New England gets the bust label out of the four defenses included because I generally think the least of them overall as a unit. LA is basically half the cast of the next AVENGERS movie, Green Bay almost beat LA last week and the Saints have looked much better on D over the past month. Sure, the Pats had their way with the Bills on Monday, but that’s nothing anyone in the league should be bragging about. They faced Derek Anderson, a former Panthers backup QB that was more than likely mowing his lawn when he got the call from Buffalo. In short, there’s going to be a ton of points scored in this Packers/Patriots game, and I don’t think you should be starting either defense. Just stay out of this fight on the defensive front and try to grab as many offensive pieces as you can.
PRIMARY SUSPECT: (Avoid at all costs)
Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith (Atlanta Falcons)
The Falcons offense is great. The Falcons defense is terrible.
The Redskins offense is Adrian Peterson. The Redskins defense is excellent.
Basic math dictates that this should be a game of opposites through all four quarters at FedEx Field on Sunday. Atlanta’s high-powered passing offense will contend with a newly stacked secondary including Josh Norman/D.J. Swearinger and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and they’ll be content to challenge them all game long. The reason? Atlanta lacks a clear every-down rusher between Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith and the Redskins are arguably the best run defense in the league right now. Seriously, Washington’s entire operation on both sides of the ball is dictated by how good they are at running the ball and stopping other people from running the ball.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a look at how some of the league’s elite RB’s performed against Washington so far this year:
Ezekiel Elliott: 15 Car/33 Yds
Saquon Barkley: 13 Car/38 Yds
Those are two of the best, most versatile backs in the NFL and this defensive front stone walled them all game long between the tackles. While it should be mentioned that Barkley had a nice game against them through the air, that can be chalked up to the freak athlete that Saquon is. Neither Coleman or Smith come anywhere close to matching the ability that Barkley brings to the table. On the year Washington is currently the 2nd ranked rushing defense in the league behind only New Orleans. They’re giving up just 80 YPG on the ground and have allowed 6 TDs through 8 weeks. Coleman and Smith will already be firmly behind the eight ball in this one due to Atlanta’s constant need to throw the ball. Any opportunities they do get to run the ball will be putting them in a position where even some of the league’s best players failed miserably. I know it’s tempting to play any/all parts of this Falcons offense because they score so many points, but this is one week to stay away from their backfield completely. Save yourself the headache and find someone else for your FLEX.
That’s another week in the books! I hope everyone had a HAPPY HALLOWEEN and I wish you all the best as we head into the dreaded Week 9 super-bye week. Until next time, keep an eye out for the busts in your neighborhood and know that the W.F.U. is just a call away if you need any assistance. Stay safe out there, fantasy fans!