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 leagues biggest perpetrators before they strike again.
These are…the FANTASY FILES.
Welcome back to the Fantasy Files everyone! This is an all-important time on the fantasy calendar, when most trade deadlines have past and teams are locking in for the final push to fantasy glory. This is also the time of year where playing a major bust can make or break everything you’ve worked for this entire campaign. So, while our goal here at the W.F.U. remains the same as always, it’s become even more important that we get things right for you, the innocent fantasy public. With that said we had a great deal of success this past week and I’d like to share that feedback with you in our usual report. Let’s take a look:
- Matthew Stafford (17 Points)
- Leonard Fournette (22 Points)
- Mike Evans (5 Points)
- Jack Doyle (3 Points)
- Miami D/ST (5 Points)
- Kerryon Johnson (18 Points)
WHERE I MISSED:
- Against a mid-tier run defense and his own injury history, Leonard Fournette put in a strong return performance for the Jags. Even in a losing effort the 2nd year power back showed his trademark ability to punch the ball in on the goal line for 2 scores. He remains a difficult player to trust from a health standpoint, given the lingering nature of hamstring injuries, but he’s an RB1 on an otherwise listless Jacksonville offense for the remainder of the year.
- Kerryon Johnson was set to be a bust in this game until the 4th The Bears run defense had stifled him the entire game, even forcing a costly fumble that made his label as my PRIMARY SUSPECT fit perfectly. Then the 4th quarter happened, and the Lions remembered how to score points seemingly out of nowhere. Johnson ended the day with a more than respectable 18-point total and TD’s in both the passing and running games. To their credit, the Lions rectified their mismanagement of Kerryon’s carries in this one and gave him the bulk of the work. As long as that treatment continues he should be a trustworthy FLEX/Borderline RB2 for the playoff push.
WHERE I HIT:
- Matthew Stafford managed to salvage an otherwise forgettable performance with 2 late TD’s against Chicago, but on the year this 17-point performance still falls right in line with the mediocrity he’s shown fantasy owners. In my write up leading into this past week I pointed out that Stafford had only gone over 20 fantasy points twice this year, and this performance doesn’t give me any more confidence in him than I had before. He remains a shaky, match dependent streamer if needed.
- Mike Evans followed up his rock bottom Week 9 performance with a 2nd straight forgettable outing against a stout Washington pass defense. The Bucs offense as a whole put in one of the most miraculously bad/good performances in NFL history on Sunday, throwing for over 400 yards and only scoring 3 points. It’s telling that Evans only ended up with 51 yards on 3 receptions in a game where Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs offense took to the air so effectively. Evans is downgraded to a WR2 with matchup-based WR1 upside in my rankings for the playoff push. He needs to prove he can produce the way he did at the start of the year.
- Jack Doyle was a bust by virtue of who he plays opposite of on the depth chart at TE for the Colts. On a day where Andrew Luck was completely locked in to the TE position for touchdowns, Eric Ebron caught all three. Those 3 scores make Ebron a top 5 player in the league for TD’s on the year and make trusting Doyle on a weekly basis a risky option. The TD upside is always there because Luck has a Carson Wentz level love affair with his tight end’s, but right now it looks like Ebron’s the guy in Indy.
- As expected, the warm weather Dolphins didn’t perform well against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at Lambeau Field. Once again, the fantasy Gods sent a message to owners everywhere: “Just because a defense delivered one week doesn’t mean they’ll do it consistently”. Defense is already a dying art in real football, don’t allow that principle to carry over to your fantasy team. Stream for the best matchup and trust that the rest of your team is good enough that your D/ST points won’t make or break you.
With that out of the way let’s take a look at the bust candidates for Week 11.
Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars)
It took 8 editions of the FANTASY FILES but Blake Bortles finally made it! One of fantasy football (and real football’s) most shaky assets at the quarterback position makes his worthwhile debut on this week’s write up because he faces a surging Pittsburgh defense in Week 11.
At 3-6, the former AFC Championship-caliber Jaguars have been completely stripped of their luster on both sides of the ball and they now find themselves in a matchup with a Steelers team that likely has revenge on its mind from the 2017 playoffs. Bortles has been a somewhat reliable garbage man this season with 4 performances above 20 points, but when he implodes he has the ability to ruin your entire week (14/11/8/1-point performances this year). With the final push towards the playoffs firmly at hand you can’t trust someone with Bortles’ track record in a big game situation. Stream away from the Jags QB this week and ride with your QB that brought you this far once the bye weeks are officially over.
Jordan Howard (Chicago Bears)
Lost in the hype surrounding the emergence of Mitch Trubisky in Matt Nagy’s offense has been the slow, silent death of Jordan Howard’s fantasy value out of the backfield.
A glance at this past month’s fantasy production: (10/14/16/3).
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Derek, he’s scored double digit points in 3 of his past 4 games! How is that worthy of the bust list?”. Howard’s on this list because his beauty (just like his production) is only skin deep. Over the past month Howard has been one of the most TD-dependent backs in either fantasy format. In his 10/14/16-point performances his actual rushing numbers looked like this:
Week 7: 12 Car/39 Yards/TD
Week 8: 22 Car/81 Yards/TD
Week 9: 14 Car/47 Yards/2 TDs
Given that touchdowns are the ultimate stat in any fantasy format (and the most likely statistic to regress from week to week) it stands to reason that Howard’s trips to the end zone won’t continue to be this frequent. Take those TD’s out of the equation and you’re left with a back barely averaging 3.3 YPA (yards per attempt) over that stretch. Add in the steady emergence of Tarik Cohen as the Bears more explosive back and you have a recipe for major regression. Stay away from Howard unless you can use him as a FLEX play only; if possible I’d recommend trying to trade him on numbers alone if your deadline hasn’t passed already. He gets the Vikings Top 3 run defense in Week 11.
Doug Baldwin (Seattle Seahawks)
This one hurts. It hurts because of just how productive and efficient a player Doug Baldwin has been throughout his career both in Seattle and in fantasy lineups.
Unfortunately, owners knew the risks of taking Baldwin this year as it was well documented that he had been dealing with a hobbling knee injury coming into the season. Those who decided to chase one last great year from the name value wideout have seen his number passed over in favor of Tyler Lockett/Deron Moore and Chris Carson this year.
On the season, Baldwin has been about as disappointing as a former WR1 caliber talent can be (4/9/2/7/3-point fantasy totals). Those fantasy totals only tell half of the story, though, as Baldwin’s usual share of Russell Wilson’s targets has also dwindled from 10 in 2017 to around 5 at best on a weekly basis. While he’s publicly told reporters that the knee injury is in the past, it’s difficult to believe in him against a stout and young Packers defense in Week 11. Baldwin will likely have plenty of the standout rookie Jaire Alexander to look forward to, and that’s spelled misery for plenty of other WR’s so far this season.
C.J. Uzomah (Cincinnati Bengals)
Last week in my weekly recap column I wrote about some previously unknown names on the rise at the tight end position. Each of those names then promptly went into the fantasy gutter in Week 11 (probably just to make me look bad!). I kid, but the fact that even the most promising up and comers can struggle continues to drive home the grim reality of the position as a whole in 2018.
This is a position so volatile that even the great Gronk can’t escape it’s wide spread streak of futility this season. Which brings us to the streaming candidates you’ve probably been rolling out to compensate these past few weeks. C.J. Uzomah was the trendy pickup for the Bengals when Tyler Eifert suffered his 80th injury of his 4-year career earlier this season.
As a player, he’s just a guy, but the selling point on Uzomah was his proposed target share and Andy Dalton’s love for targeting tight ends in the red zone. Those who gambled on Uzomah know exactly how that fairy tale ended. In 7 weeks of being the top TE in Cincinnati, Uzomah has managed just 2 TD’s and an average of 3 receptions per game for 30 yards. He’s a touchdown dependent play without touchdown upside, and he now faces one of the stingiest defenses in fantasy against the position: The Baltimore Ravens. Stream away from C.J. and see if someone like Jack Doyle or Ricky Seals-Jones is available in your league.
In more ways than one, the defending Super Bowl champions are a broken team. Whether it’s the drastic drop off in innovative offensive play-calling, the lack of consistent full game effort, or the crippling list of players on the IR, the Eagles are a team hurtling towards Armageddon in Week 11.
That Armageddon is waiting for them in the form of the 7-1 New Orleans Saints, a team that’s near untouchable within the confines of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Eagles have been decimated with injuries at each of the positions they’d need to be healthy in order to keep pace/stop this Saints team. With injuries to key players (Jay Ajayi/Ronald Darby/Rodney Mcleod/Mike Wallace/Sidney Jones/etc.) it’s a wonder the champs can field a full 53-man squad, let alone put a competent secondary on the field in Week 11.
It’s a sad reality of the sport that injuries happen — and they happened last season to Philly — but this year’s batch looks to be too much to overcome. They’ll go into the Superdome relying on 2nd year CB Rasul Douglas to guard Michael Thomas and 3rd string safety Tre Sullivan to out-match Alvin Kamara over the middle. This one has the makings of a potential shootout at best, and a bloodbath at worst. Either way you don’t want any part of the Eagles defense this week.
PRIMARY SUSPECT: (Avoid at all costs)
Allen Robinson (Chicago Bears)
AR12 is back! After a lengthy stint on your bench, the former “superstar in the making” from Jacksonville had himself a field day at the expense of a depleted Lions secondary.
Robinson’s 30-point total (6/133/2) gave fantasy owners and Bears fans alike a look at the game-breaker they assumed they were getting earlier this year. However, he performed that well against a Lions defense without its top corner in Darius Slay, and thus extreme caution should be advised for Robinson in Week 11 as he lines up across from one of the league’s best corners in Xavier Rhodes. Robinson’s yearlong fantasy totals don’t support owners plugging him in as a match-up protected asset.
On the year his totals are: 6/9/5/8/12/0/0/0/30.
Two of those three zero-point performances are from the two weeks he missed due to a nagging groin injury, but one of those showings was an actual game in which he simply didn’t produce. Robinson’s recent blow-up game accounts for 50% of his overall touchdowns on the year, with his last score prior to Week 10 occurring back in Week 6 against Miami.
His target share in the Bears’ offense has also fluctuated all over the place this season, from a high of 14 in Week 2 to a low of 4 just two weeks later.
The temptation to plug Robinson in will be high, and I don’t blame you for wanting to. He has the size, the strength and the track record (from 2016) of being an extremely valuable WR2/fringe WR1 level player, but I warn you that you’ll be playing with fire if you trust him to be anything above at WR3/FLEX type start this week. The combination of unknown target share, his recent injury and the matchup doesn’t bode well for the big man.
Well, that’s another week in the books! I wish you all the BEST of luck in your Week 11 matchups and hope that you’re continuing to watch the waiver wire and 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.