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.
Welcome back to the Fantasy Files everyone! This week was a strong reminder that the world of fantasy football can be a wild and unpredictable one. After nearly batting 1000.00 last week we were knocked down a peg in Week 12 with two of our bust candidates putting in breakout performances. While we succeeded, for the most part, these performances should be analyzed and stored away for future notice. With just one week left in the fantasy regular season the margin for error is thinner than ever. With that in mind let’s run down the line up:
- Dak Prescott (27 Points)
- Royce Freeman (1 Point)
- Corey Davis (19 Points)
- Nick Vannett (2 Points)
- Bengals D/ST (-4 Points)
- Mike Evans (11 Points)
WHERE I MISSED:
- I gave Dak Prescott the credit he deserved just a week ago following a string of strong performances with new wideout Amari Cooper, but I overlooked just how quickly the 3rd QB’s been progressing. Since bringing Cooper on board last month Prescott’s thrown for an extra 50 yards per game and he’s also started to use his legs more often. A stronger passing game and the constant threat of Ezekiel Elliot has started opening up holes for Dak to flash his ability as a runner that made him so special in his rookie campaign. With Dallas currently atop the NFC East Prescott has more than enough reasons to continue performing like this down the stretch.
- Despite not having a major role in the Titans offense (4 targets), Corey Davis made the most of his opportunities. The 2nd year wideout caught all 4 targets for 96 yards and a highlight reel, breakaway TD in a Week 12 loss to the Texans. While this performance was impressive I still don’t trust Davis as anything more than an upside FLEX play with fringe WR2 upside moving forward. His stat lines over the past month are the equivalent of a fantasy football yo-yo (6/18/2/19). One week he’s a stud, the other he’s a forgettable bench player. If trends continue this way he’ll be a safe sit against the Jets in Week 13.
WHERE I HIT:
- Royce Freeman fell back to earth hard in Week 12 after his 9-point return performance in Week 11. I warned fantasy owners not to chase the touchdown from last week’s contest, and those who heeded that advice were relieved that they did. Freeman continued to be completely overshadowed by Philip Lindsay in the Denver backfield and only got 6 carries in the game (which he took for just 17 yards). Freeman is a bench player due to the potential upside he has if Lindsay were to miss time. Until that happens he’s a total detriment to any fantasy lineup he plays in. Stay far away.
- Nick Vannett continued his C.J. Uzomah-esque fall from grace in Week 12 despite the shootout nature of the contest. Russell Wilson was firing on all cylinders and only thought to look the tight ends way twice in a game where Seattle scored 30 points. Vannett’s five minutes of fame are officially over.
- The complete collapse of the Bengals reached its lowest point in Week 12 as they were dominated in every phase of the game by the Cleveland Browns. The Bengals defense surrendered monster games to the Browns talented rookie tandem of Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield, and they lost Andy Dalton in the process. Cincinnati had their early season fun in September, but to look at them now you’d be forgiven for thinking that whole month was just an elaborate dream.
- Mike Evans is the first case I’ve been on so far that I could argue is somewhere in the middle between bust and boom. On one hand he caught 6 balls for 116 yards against San Francisco, which is great for PPR scoring format. On the other hand, he failed to reach the end zone for the 7th time this season and standard format fantasy owners were looking for more out of their WR1. Evans’ performance will continue to fluctuate on a weekly basis depending on the opponent, but he’s still well worth starting as a WR2 in both formats. Trusting him to be a Top 5 WR on a weekly basis is a pipe dream as long as the QB situation in Tampa continues to be the equivalent of a coin flip.
With that out of the way let’s take a look at the bust candidates for Week 13.
Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)
With last week’s divisional primetime loss to the Saints the Falcons 2018 season officially came to an end. The primary diagnosis for their inability to live up to expectations this year is their complete and total breakdown on defense due to key injuries early in the year. Losing All-Pro talents like Deion Jones/Keanu Neal/Ricardo Allen certainly didn’t help Atlanta, but the more pressing issue with this team is their ineffective red zone offense.
Even with a depleted defense Atlanta was able to go on a mid-year win streak due to their ability to put up 30 points per game, but most of their effectiveness came from well outside the usual scoring area. Julio Jones didn’t score his first touchdown until Week 9 and the loss of primary red zone back Devonta Freeman drove another stake into Atlanta’s ability to score at the goal line.
These issues have cost Matt Ryan dearly down the stretch. The former league MVP has seen his fantasy PPG dip from a mid-season average of (26) to (18) over the past month. Ryan’s TD:INT ratio since Week 9 is still impressive at (9:3), but outside of his Week 9 performance his fantasy totals haven’t reflected that production. He’s produced totals of (29/20/14/21) over the past month and seen his TD totals cut in half while his yardage totals continue to climb. That’s not a recipe for success against a stingy Baltimore Ravens defense in Week 13. If Atlanta can’t get their red-zone woes under control this could be a long day for Ryan under center.
Adrian Peterson (Washington Redskins)
The 2018 fairy tale season of Adrian Peterson hit a major speed bump on Thanksgiving Day. Washington was reeling from the loss of Alex Smith to a nasty leg injury, and Peterson lost any hope he had of defenses not stacking the box against him for the foreseeable future. Smith may not be a premier QB in the league, but the one thing he’s always been is consistent. His ability to protect the ball while extending plays with his legs gave opposing defenses a reason to have to spy him, which lead to Peterson seeing reduced attention.
Now, with Colt McCoy under center, we’re likely to see more defenses blitzing/selling out against the run, and we saw a good indicator of that on Thanksgiving. The Dallas defense tightened up against the run and held Peterson to just 35 yards on 12 carries, marking the 4th straight game that AP’s failed to top 80 yards on the ground. With a must win divisional matchup in South Philly looming it’s only fair to assume that the Eagles front 7 will follow the blueprint Dallas did on Turkey Day. Tack on a shoulder injury diagnosis, and Peterson becomes an easy sit for Week 13.
Tyler Boyd (Cincinnati Bengals)
Anyone who’s read my work knows how impressed I’ve been with Tyler Boyd this season. The 3rd year wideout has flourished in Cincinnati with/without the presence of A.J Green and was the Bengals primary target recipient prior to Andy Dalton’s season-ending injury.
Alas, all good things must come to an end eventually, and the end of Boyd’s production has a name: Jeff Driskel. Say what you want about Andy Dalton, but the guy was getting his stud fantasy players the ball when you needed them to produce. The same can’t be projected for Driskel, and with the fantasy playoffs right around the corner and teams scratching/clawing to get final seeding it’s a major risk to trust Boyd in Week 13.
Even with a high target total I don’t believe Boyd can overcome a matchup against Chris Harris/Bradley Roby and a Denver secondary that shut down Antonio Brown on Sunday Night Football. Sit Boyd comfortably this week and see if another breakout WR is available in your league (Sutton/D.J. Moore/Lockett).
Jimmy Graham/Lance Kendricks (Green Bay Packers)
Insert comment about how bad the tight end position has been this season.
I know, believe me, I know. I’ve been talking about the lack of reliable starters/depth at the tight end position pretty much all year, and yet I’m still surprised when name value players fail to produce.
Jimmy Graham is steadily becoming the Demaryius Thomas of fantasy tight ends in my eyes. Both Graham and Thomas are living off of their glory years with better offenses and younger bodies. Graham’s name value is still high based off of his time in New Orleans with Drew Brees, while Thomas’ value lies in his three seasons with Peyton Manning in Denver. Both are quality players, but neither deserves to be in your starting fantasy line-up in 2018.
Going into the season the buzz around Graham was that pairing him with Rodgers in Green Bay would remedy the issues he faced in Seattle; so far that theory’s been proven wrong. On the year Graham has only scored twice and has only topped 70 yards receiving 3 times (Weeks 2/5/6) while his target share in the Packers offense has dipped steadily on a weekly basis. The big TE started the year with a strong target share of (8-10 per game), but since the teams Week 7 bye he’s averaged just 4 looks per contest. From a fantasy standpoint Grahams been consistently mediocre, posting double digit fantasy totals just twice and scoring 5 points combined over the last three weeks. Ignore the name value and just look at the production, it will make it easier to sit Graham this week.
Additionally, with Graham’s health putting Week 13 in question, I advise against starting his replacement Lance Kendricks. With the Packers season all but over at this point I expect Rodgers to continue funneling his targets through No. 1 WR Davante Adams and handing the ball off to Aaron Jones. Tight Ends have historically been a safety valve for No. 12, but I wouldn’t rely on either of these guys to get in the end zone.
PRIMARY SUSPECT: (Avoid at all costs)
Alex Collins (Baltimore Ravens)
The Baltimore Ravens running back committee is the stuff of fantasy football nightmares. Since the beginning of the Lamar Jackson era (trademarked; kind of) in Charm City the Ravens RB situation has become a three-man show (four if you count Jackson himself).
The dynamic rookie QB’s ability to make plays and score with his feet has drawn early comparisons to Cam Newton and Michael Vick, and that spells danger for anyone else in Baltimore that runs the ball for a living.
Unless your name is Gus Edwards. The undrafted rookie burst on the scene in Jackson’s first start under center and hasn’t gone away since. His production has made Collins/Dixon/Buck Allen completely irrelevant, and with Joe Flacco still nursing a hip injury it doesn’t look like things will be changing for the better anytime soon. While he has scored an impressive 8 touchdowns on the year Collins hasn’t seen more than 12 carries in a game since Week 6, and he has yet to top 70 yards in any contest this year.
His ineffectiveness in the receiving game makes him an afterthought behind Edwards and his recent injury struggles make him an even more risky play both for the Ravens and your fantasy team. Collins is trending dangerously close to Royce Freeman territory with Jackson under center (7 Car/18 Yds/TD in Week 12), and as we talked about earlier, that’s not a territory you want to be hanging out in. If Collins scores a touchdown he looks good for you, but if he doesn’t he can sink your entire week. Think of him in the same category of bench/drop worthy names like Jordan Howard/Royce Freeman.
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. To those that are on the bubble, play your players with upside and good matchups, don’t lose because you chased a name value bust. To those that are already comfortably in the playoffs, don’t become lethargic. Keep checking the waiver wire, putting in requests for the best players like your season depends on it, because in the playoffs you only need one loss for all of your work to this point to be meaningless. Keep your nose to the grindstone, outwork your fellow league members on the waiver wire and free agency, and shoot your best shot each week. Here’s hoping that we’re all hoisting fantasy gold in the weeks to come.