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 W.F.U. fantasy fans! With an exciting Week 7 out of the way we’re past the first heavy bye week of the fantasy year and we’re charging head on into another one in Week 8. With four teams on bye (Atlanta/Dallas/LA Chargers/Titans) some owners are now scrambling for replacements for their usual studs. I’m here to tell you to stay calm and not overreact, there are worthy options on the waiver wire that haven’t blown up yet. Unfortunately, there are also former stars that will look enticing this week, and those are some of the names we’ll be talking about here. Before we dive into the bust candidates for Week 8 let’s take a look at how our suspects from Week 7 performed:
- Alex Smith (12 Points)
- Peyton Barber/Ronald Jones (3 Points/8 Points)
- Demaryius Thomas (4 Points)
- Greg Olsen (6 Points)
- Wil Lutz (6 Points)
- Falcons D/ST (5 Points)
- Cole Beasley (5 Points)
Alex Smith extended his streak of mediocre performances in Week 7 with just 178 yards and a touchdown AT HOME against the Cowboys. His TD:INT ratio continues to look good at face value (7:2), but he’s nowhere near the fantasy caliber player he was last year in Kansas City. Those who took my advice were glad they stayed away from Smith this week.
The Tampa Bay running back carousel of misery continued in Week 7 as Peyton Barber rushed for just 30 yards on 11 carries before leaving the game with an ankle injury. What little production Ronald Jones put up in this one was by virtue of that injury. He scored the first rushing TD this offense has scored all year, but that score made up for another lackluster rushing performance otherwise (6 car/13 yards). There’s still no true standout value in this backfield.
The two veterans I advised against (Thomas/Olsen) put in performances worthy of their place in the lineup of busts, though credit should be given to Olsen for scoring the go-ahead TD against Philadelphia. Thomas continues to be a non-factor in an offense that runs through Philip Lindsay/Emmanuel Sanders; he’s a low level WR2 with name value. Olsen didn’t see a ton of work, but he was out on the field for most of the game and scored so he may just have a chance of playing later into the season which is a welcome surprise.
Add a season low performance from Wil Lutz against Baltimore, a predictably poor outing for Atlanta’s defense and Cole Beasley’s fall back to earth to the mix and I feel comfortable saying we batted 1,000 in Week 7! We’re starting to hit our stride at just the right time, so let’s get back at it and strike while the irons hot. Here are the busts to look out for in Week 8:
Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)
You won’t find many fantasy quarterbacks with a better combination of high floor/high ceiling than Cam Newton. As the premiere rushing quarterback in the league for fantasy purposes there aren’t many match-ups that would lead me to leave Newton on the bench.
However, this week he faces off against the No. 1 consensus defense in the league: the Baltimore Ravens. Even with this game being in Carolina I find it hard to trust anyone in the Carolina rushing game against a Ravens unit that’s only allowing 3.8 YPC (Yards Per Carry). Newton’s also coming off of a particularly misleading win over the Eagles where almost all of his fantasy production came in a miraculous 4th quarter comeback. Through 3 quarters against Philly’s equally stingy run defense, Newton hadn’t scored either of his 2 TD’s on the day and Carolina was down 17-6.
While the Panthers showed their ability to fight back when they’re put against the wall, I find it hard to believe they’ll be able to drive down the field for a similar result against this Ravens team. Baltimore is likely furious over their last second defeat to New Orleans at home last week and will be looking to reassert themselves as a legitimate defensive force on the road. Super Cam saved the day in Week 7, but the Ravens may just be his kryptonite.
Doug Martin (Oakland Raiders)
Did you hear Doug Martin’s playing football this week!? Every fantasy football site is discussing the former Buccaneers viability for fantasy purposes despite the fact he’s not even the best fantasy RB in his own backfield. Most fantasy owners will be reaching for Martin for the same reason they still believe in Demaryius Thomas; they’re stuck in the past and they’re chasing name value talent. Don’t allow yourself to fall into that same trap.
Since his 11 TD 2012 season, Martin has been on a steady, downward trajectory. Since 2016 he’s scored just 6 times (all with Tampa Bay), and he’s averaged less than 3.0 yards per attempt. The Raiders offense took a double shot to the gut this past week with the loss of Marshawn Lynch to the IR and Amari Cooper to the Cowboys. While Gruden should be praised for somehow getting first round value for Cooper, it doesn’t change the fact that this offense is a wasteland in its current state.
You’ve got the aging relic of fantasy past in Jordy Nelson, the always under investigation Martavis Bryant and the often-forgotten Seth Roberts. Derek Carr’s receiving weapons are about as unreliable a group as you’ll find in the league right now and defenses know this, which is why I can see opposing teams looking to stack the box against Gruden’s predictable, run-first style of offense. Once Carr gets tired of watching Martin run into brick walls he’ll likely fall back on his favorite pass time: the check down pass.
Most of Oakland’s offensive output out of the backfield has come through screens and dump off passes into the flat which is where Jalen Richard thrives. If you want to have any part of this offense moving forward I highly recommend going out and getting Richard if he’s somehow still available in your league. Let Doug Martin be a headache for someone else to worry out.
Marquise Goodwin (San Francisco 49ers)
If you drew up a list of the wideouts most damaged by a lack of a reliable quarterback on their roster, Marquise Goodwin would likely be found hovering around the top 10. Goodwin struggled for most of 2017 before Jimmy G emerged in the Bay Area; from that point on he became the young QB’s favorite target. Goodwin was targeted 105 times last year and while his catch rate wasn’t spectacular (56 receptions), he scored twice and nearly put up 1,000 yards (962). Goodwin is a game-breaking talent with the speed to beat coverages before they even know where he’s going, and it’s unfortunate to see him back in the dog house with another sub-par talent under center. C.J. Beathard isn’t Jimmy G, he doesn’t have the ability to lift the talent around him, but he and Goodwin did somehow put together a 31-point fantasy performance against Green Bay in Week 6. I like to look at that performance like Haley’s Comet. It’s confusing, it’s impressive, and it’s not something that’s likely to repeat itself for some time.
I recommend sitting Goodwin in a match-up against Arizona where he’ll likely see a lot of Patrick Peterson in coverage. The talent is there, but the quarterback is too inconsistent to trust in what should be a low scoring divisional battle.
Jordan Reed (Washington Redskins)
Here are two facts for you to think about:
- The tight end position in 2018 fantasy football is a barren, ruthless hell-scape with little room for hope or salvation.
- The New York Giants are shockingly good at defending the tight end position this year.
It’s true. Despite being in full on fire sale mode and openly tanking for the quarterback most people think they should’ve drafted this past year, the Giants are one of the stingiest defenses in the league against tight ends. They only allow an average of 50 yards per game and have let a tight end score just once in almost half a season’s worth of match-ups. That one TD total is ironically the same amount of total scores that Jordan Reed has so far this season.
I spoke earlier on about owners being lost looking at the names of fantasy football’s past, and Reed has looked like another name to add to that list so far in 2018. His target share is all over the place (5/8/7/2/9/4), and his usual injury issues haven’t even plagued him much this season; he’s just not producing on the field.
As weird as it may sound, Washington’s offense is literally run through Adrian Peterson right now, and there’s little room for anyone else to have a solid fantasy outing. They feed Peterson 20+ touches per game, pray he avoids the inevitable injury for one more week and toss a red zone look or two Reed’s way just when you start to forget he actually exists. In summation, Reed isn’t a player you want in your line up this week. Your instincts and memories of fantasy seasons gone by will pull you towards playing him, but I’m telling you in confidence that you’d be making a poor decision.
Josh Lambo (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Remember when the Jaguars were in the AFC Title game last year? Better yet, remember when Blake Bortles threw 4 TDs and out-dueled Tom Brady in Week 2? No? Well neither do the Jaguars, apparently, as they’ve looked like a complete shell of their early season selves so far in the month of October.
Since Week 5 Bortles’ TD:INT ratio is 2:5 and he’s coming off of a divisional match-up with Houston in which he was benched for Cody Kessler, of all people. Kessler then went on to lead Jacksonville to their one convincing scoring drive of the game. Sitting Josh Lambo is as easy as looking at the offense he’s kicking for. Jacksonville’s circling the drain at quarterback, missing their star RB Leonard Fournette, and seemingly imploding before our very eyes. Though it’s true that weirder things have happened for the Jags in London, I think it’s best to exercise caution given a match-up against the equally desperate Eagles.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a purely fantasy-based reason to sit Lambo here are his stats since Week 5: (2/1/1). Start any other kicker in the league and you’ll be liable to have a better a score.
Von Miller said he was going to tear through the Arizona Cardinals last week and that’s exactly what the Denver defense did. That unit harkened back to its Super Bowl winning glory with an absolute dismantling of the hapless Cardinals on the road. They put up 32 POINTS in fantasy and there’s no doubt that the players and fantasy owners who played them are riding high, which is exactly why they’re my bust pick for Week 8 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
To say there’s a leap in quality between the Cardinals and Chiefs would be like comparing Bologna to Filet Mignon. The Broncos picked up a much-needed confidence boost last week in a game that they absolutely should’ve won, and now they run the risk of being overconfident against a team that already beat them back in Week 4. That game saw Patrick Mahomes throw for over 300 yards/TD, Kareem hunt rush for over 100 yards/TD and Travis Kelce go for 78 yards/TD. The final score was 27-23, and Denver’s defense put up 1 point for fantasy owners.
This time they visit KC at Arrowhead, away from the elements and weather advantages of Denver. I’m not saying it won’t be a close game, but I’m saying I don’t see any reason to believe this defense will perform any better than it did last time for fantasy purposes. Kansas City is just too multi-faceted on offense for any team to slow down, let alone stop right now.
PRIMARY SUSPECT: (Avoid at all costs)
Jarvis Landry (Cleveland Browns)
This pick isn’t an indictment of Jarvis Landry as a player, it’s more of an acknowledgment of his falsely inflated value in fantasy circles.
In 4 seasons with the Dolphins, Landry was an absolute target monster (averaged 12 per game), but his TD total always stayed at 5 or below (with his 9 TD performance last year representing an extreme outlier). My argument against Landry (especially in standard leagues) has always been that he’s a great possession player that doesn’t score, and in standard format it’s all about getting into the end zone.
When the Dolphins dealt Landry this past offseason as part of the Browns massive talent acquisition project I saw fellow fantasy owners’ eyes light up. They saw the collection of young talent in Cleveland, the No. 1 pick in Baker Mayfield and immediately assumed that Landry could follow up that 9 TD season.
Since Week 1 Landry’s targets look like this (15/7/14/10/10/10/15), and he’s only scored twice. Despite being the top receiving option in Cleveland, with all of the fanfare and excitement surrounding this team, Landry has only surpassed the 100-yard mark twice (Weeks 1/3). That kind of output is consistent with what he’s been throughout his entire career in the league, and it’s a reality that’s been a rough one for some owners to come to grips with.
Landry’s a talented wideout with the best weekly PPR value in the league, but if you’re looking for a multiple touchdown blowup game out of him you’re going to be disappointed. This week is a trap, he’s facing a Pittsburgh secondary that’s been defined by its struggles so far, but he’s also going to line up against one of the top coverage corners in the league in Joe Haden. Since being released by Cleveland and signed with the Steelers Haden’s experienced a career renaissance. He’s routinely held opposing teams’ top options to low catch rates (including A.J. Green/Julio Jones/Mike Evans), and he’ll look to continue his hot streak in a low-key revenge game against his former team at home.
Given Mayfield and company’s recent struggles on offense I don’t expect to see anything too flashy out of Landry in Pittsburgh. He’s a name value player so if you have to play him and need to play him I suggest throwing him in your FLEX, but I wouldn’t have high expectations in this one.
That’s another week in the books! Until next time I wish you the best of luck in your match-ups heading into week 8. Make sure to keep checking the 5th Down Fantasy home page for all of the latest news/notes surrounding the players that impact your fantasy lineups.