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 leagues biggest perpetrators before they strike again.
These are…the FANTASY FILES.
Welcome back to the Fantasy Files everyone! This was a monumental week here at the W.F.U. and I’m proud to say that our renewed bust locating initiative passed the test with flying colors in Week 11! With the exception of one notable (pleasantly surprising) exception, we nailed all of our bust predictions this last time out. Let’s jump back into the line-up from this past week and admire our handiwork:
• Blake Bortles (3 Points)
• Jordan Howard (6 Points)
• Doug Baldwin (11 Points)
• C.J. Uzomah (4 Points)
• Eagles D/ST (-4 Points)
• Allen Robinson II (3 Points)
WHERE I MISSED:
• Doug Baldwin represents my only miss from this past week, but he also represents one of the few bust selections I’ve been happy to be wrong about. Honestly, Baldwin is one of those fantasy assets that any owner would love to have, his consistency has become a trademark of his game, but this year he was just struggling on so many levels. His well-documented knee injury hampered his production, and his target share had fallen to its lowest point in his entire tenure in Seattle. However, that all changed in a big way this past Thursday as Baldwin collected 7 receptions on a season high 10 targets and turned it into 52 yards and a TD in a win over the Packers. Baldwin should still be handled as a cautious FLEX/low end WR2 for now given that this was his first touchdown of 2018, but his upcoming schedule looks promising with Carolina’s leaky secondary up next and 2 trips to San Francisco left on the slate. Baldwin is a fine bounce back candidate for the fantasy play-offs and has officially shed his BUST label.
WHERE I HIT:
• Blake Bortles (and the Jaguars by association) officially hit rock bottom in a heartbreaking Week 11 loss to the Steelers. Despite their defense having their best performance of the year, the anemic Jags offense was unable to move the ball consistently through the air all day. Bortles’ (3 points) on the day mark his 3rd single digit fantasy finish of the season and make him effectively untouchable for the rest of the season.
• In a game where the Bears scored at will on both sides of the ball, Jordan Howard put up another forgettable performance against the Minnesota Vikings. His 63 yards on 18 carries matched the steady regression both in playing time/effectiveness that we’ve seen throughout the year. As Tarik Cohen continues to take over more of the backfield work, Howard remains a lowly TD-dependent option best left on the bench outside of ideal match-ups.
• C.J. Uzomah officially wore out any/all good faith that he had with fantasy owners this past week. The back-up tight end took 5 targets from Andy Dalton and only got 41 yards and 3 catches out of it in another forgettable performance. The once popular streaming candidate has a friendly slate of match-ups to round out the fantasy season, but he’s a total dart throw at this point. You just don’t know what you’re going to get from Uzomah, and even when he “hits” his ceiling looks to be around 8 points. You can do better.
• The depleted Eagles defense performed about as good as anyone would imagine they would against the NFL MVP Drew Brees and the powerhouse Saints offense. Philly got bullied in all 3 phases of the game on Sunday and walked away with their tail between their legs following a 48-7 loss. The worst loss by a defending super bowl champion in league history.
• Allen Robinson must have been reading the Jordan Howard offensive play-book on Sunday, because he practically disappeared off the screen. I mentioned that a match-up with Xavier Rhodes could prove costly for the big bodied wide-out, and that played out exactly as expected. Robinson brought in 3 receptions on 7 targets for just 39 yards. While Robinson may be listed as the teams WR1, he’s barely a FLEX play for fantasy purposes moving forward. His production is far too spotty to trust on a weekly basis, and his 2 double digit performances this year (Against Miami/Detroit) paint him as a match-up dependent start. Good news, he gets Detroit again on Thanksgiving. Bad news, his QB looks like it’s going to be Chase Daniel, and Darius Slay is back. I’d steer away from AR12 if you have any other reliable options on your roster.
With that out of the way let’s take a look at the fantasy football bust candidates for Week 12.
Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys)
I have to give credit where it’s due. Since the acquisition of Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders, Dak Prescott has really seemed to turn a corner in 2018. In the first six weeks of the season Prescott averaged just 200 passing yards per game and had scored just 7 TDs. Since bringing Cooper in the Cowboys QB has tacked on an additional 50 yards to that total and has started bringing back his scrambling ability that made him so dangerous during his rookie campaign.
All of this is to say that none of those things will help Prescott on Thanksgiving against the NFC East leading Redskins and their stout defense. Washington comes into this statement game on Turkey Day with the NFL’s 6th ranked run defense, and one of the more impressive secondaries in the league this season featuring Josh Norman/D.J. Swearinger/Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. This is a defense that held Ezekiel Elliott to just 42 total yards on 21 touches in Week 7, and it’s a defense that has even more reason to play their best football of the year with starting QB Alex Smith going down with a grisly leg injury this past Sunday.
Prescott lacks the weapons to challenge Washington’s secondary on a consistent basis, and if Zeke can’t get the run game going Dallas will struggle all day in what should be a low scoring NFC East dog fight.
Royce Freeman (Denver Broncos)
Fantasy owners that patiently placed Royce Freeman in their IR slot and waited for the rookie RB’s return were rewarded with: another Royce Freeman performance. By that I mean he was grossly out-snapped by Philip Lindsay, had a low number of carries but still managed to score a TD.
Freeman’s current role in the Denver offense looks/feel exactly like Jordan Howard’s role in Chicago right now. He’s the bruising battering ram back that the team uses at the goal line. The only issue with that is that Denver is usually scoring their TD’s from well outside the red zone. Lindsay routinely breaks long runs to the outside/takes Case Keenum passes in the flat, and Emmanuel Sanders/Courtland Sutton are both particularly fond of the deep ball. The TD will be enough bait to hook desperate owners into believing in Freeman, but I advise caution against a Steelers defense that’s been steadily improving over the past month.
If you need one more push to convince you, here’s a look a Freeman’s YPG this season:
Week 1: 71
Week 2: 28
Week 3: 53
Week 4: 67
Week 5: 31
Week 6: 22
Week 7: 37
Weeks 8-10: Injured
Week 11: 23
Corey Davis (Tennessee Titans)
In true Titans fashion, Corey Davis’ production remains consistently confusing and damn near impossible to predict on a weekly basis. We know he LOVES to play the Patriots for some reason, but outside of the Pats game in Week 10 and the game winner in Week 4 against Philadelphia, Davis has been a ghost.
The former 5th overall pick has struggled mightily to live up to his draft hype so far in his NFL career, and he’ll continue to struggle in Week 12 against a Houston Texans defense that’s been revitalized by the addition of Tyrann Mathieu and J.J. Watt’s return to form.
What hurts Davis even more is his questionable target share in the Titans offense. Despite being listed as the teams clear top wide-out Davis’ targets have fluctuated between 4-12 throughout the whole season. That kind of volatility in target share spells danger for fantasy production because you just don’t know when/where Davis will be featured in any given game. Sit the Titans top option comfortably in this key divisional match-up; he just hasn’t earned the trust of fantasy owners yet.
Nick Vannett (Seattle Seahawks)
You remember C.J. Uzomah, right? The guy we just talked about a few minutes ago? The popular streaming TE on a (previously) red hot offense? Well, meet his doppelganger in Seattle: Nick Vannett.
Vannett is far from a name value player in the league, and he’s not someone that most fantasy owners would be playing if the tight end landscape were healthy, and yet here I am, staring at owners with Nick Vannett in their TE slot. I’m here to say that I understand, the position has been ravaged with injuries and the recent loss of O.J. Howard shows that even more could be on the way, but Vannett simply can’t be trusted.
For one, the Seahawks offensive resurgence has been spurred on through their stunning emergence as a run-first offense. Seattle leads the NFL in rushing yards per game, and Russell Wilson is taking full advantage of that fact. His pass attempts are holding steady at around 26 per game, and he’s throwing for 2/3 TD’s per contest, making Wilson one of the most effective QB’s in the game right now. Where this hurts Vannett is the emergence of Tyler Lockett/David Moore and the recent resurrection of Doug Baldwin this past week. Vannett is buried under at least three other options in the Seahawks offense, and Wilsons passes are capped at that 26-attempt mark in most contests.
Vannett had one standout game in Week 9 where he went for (6 Rec/52 Yds/TD) and has only seen 4 targets total in the two games since. Stream away from the Pacific Northwest for your TE needs this week.
Losers of 4 of their last 5 games (including two divisional contests), the Cincinnati Bengals look to be a shell of the team they appeared to be in September. The Bengals have allowed 158 points over the past month-plus worth of games (roughly 30 points per contest), and they now find themselves in a match-up against an underrated Browns team at home.
The Browns lethal backfield combination of Nick Chubb/Duke Johnson should have a field day against Cincinnati’s 32nd ranked run defense on Sunday, and Baker Mayfield could very well have one of the best performances of his young career against an exploitable Cincinnati secondary. In short, the Bengals flew too close to the sun too early in the season, and they got their wings burned off. This team is officially in a free fall towards the ground that they don’t seem to be capable of pulling out of. Sit Cincinnati’s defense comfortably in this AFC North clash in the jungle.
PRIMARY SUSPECT: (Avoid at all costs)
Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Poor Mike Evans. The superstar wideout in Tampa Bay can’t seem to get any level of consistency going this season. While his franchise struggles to find ANY kind of stability with the quarterback position in general, Evans has found himself looking more like a human yo-yo this season than a WR1. His fantasy totals boast three 20+ point performances (thanks to a little FitzMagic), but with the magic once again banished from the Bay, Evans now has to readjust to having a different kind of wild card under center with Jameis Winston set to start.
Evans has also struggled in matchups against high caliber corners this season regardless of who’s under center. In Weeks 9/10 Evans found himself matched against James Bradberry/Josh Norman and finished well below his season average with performances of (1/5) points respectively. In the case of Bradberry Evans has less of an excuse, James Bradberry isn’t a superstar corner in the league, and yet he completely deleted Evans from the stat sheet for fantasy owners.
This week Evans draws perennial All-Pro Richard Sherman as the Bucs looks to right the ship against a feisty 49ers team. In a battle of two objectively bad teams in different phases of rebuilding I advise fantasy owners to look to Evans’ recent past and adjust their expectations for the wide-out accordingly.
That’s another week in the books! I wish you all a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING, and all the BEST of luck in your Week 12 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.