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 NFL’s biggest perpetrators before they strike again.
These are…..the Fantasy Files.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Fantasy Files! My name is Derek McCauley and this will be a weekly bust column breaking down the biggest risks facing fantasy owners heading into each week. In this report I’ll list one major risk at each position and then name my primary suspect to avoid for the week. I’ve talked enough, let’s get into the weekly lineup.
Fantasy Files: Tales From The WFU (Weekly Fantasy Unit)
Quarterback: Case Keenum (DEN at Bengals)
Case Keenum’s start to the 2018 campaign has been a roller coaster through the first two weeks. Despite having an exciting offense with weapons like Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, and the much hyped Phillip Lindsay, Keenum has found a way to remain largely mediocre. He currently has a TD:INT ratio of 3:4 heading into a Week 3 matchup on the road against a talented Baltimore defense that will be looking to bounce back in a big way after getting throttled by Andy Dalton and the Bengals. If you’re in a shallower league (10-12 teams) you likely have a replacement for Keenum, but if you’re in a deeper league (14-above) I suggest scoping out free agency to see who your league mates dropped this week. Steer clear of Keenum on the road if you can.
Running Back: Derrick Henry/Dion Lewis (TEN at Jaguars)
To say the start to the Titans season has been bad would be an understatement. The season’s only two weeks old and Tennessee is already without its primary pass catcher in Delanie Walker for the year, and starting quarterback Marcus Mariota is week-to-week with an elbow ailment. Fantasy owners who drafted Derrick Henry high were likely banking on getting the dynamic bull of a player that showed up in the playoffs against Kansas City last year. Unfortunately, he’s failed to live up to his billing thus far, posting a measly 8 fantasy points in standard leagues through two weeks. Henry’s road to relevance doesn’t get any easier in Week 3 with a matchup against the top defense in fantasy. Lewis has slightly more upside with his ability to catch the ball and route run, but against this Jacksonville defense I wouldn’t want to trust Blaine Gabbert or a less-than 100 percent Mariota.
Wide Receiver: Brandin Cooks (LAR vs. Chargers)
Brandin Cooks is a classic burner in the NFL. You live for his monster 6 catch/140 yard/2 TD performances, but more often than not you’re left sitting around watching him be overlooked once his team gets into the red zone. This week, Cooks faces off against one of the more talented secondaries in the league and will likely be shadowed by Casey Hayward often throughout the game. As the Rams’ deep option, it’s going to be tempting to start him after seeing Tyreek Hill shred the Chargers in Week 1. But Cooks isn’t Hill (few are, Hill may actually be a superhero). Despite a solid Week 2, I fade him against ProFootballFocus.com’s 2nd ranked secondary.
Tight End: Eric Ebron (IND at Eagles)
Don’t let the back-to-back TD-scoring weeks lull you into a false sense of security with Eric Ebron. While his early success is a pleasant surprise, it’s hardly the norm for his career. In his five-year career Ebron has 13 TDs overall, with two seasons where he only scored once. He’s also set to continue losing the target battle to original starting TE Jack Doyle once he’s back to full health. Ebron faces a Philadelphia defense in Week 3 that’s largely bottled up the TE position with the exception of a major breakdown against O.J. Howard in Week 2. The position is understandably thin with some big name stars going down early, but you can do better than starting Ebron this week.
Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski (SEA vs. Cowboys)
While Sea Bass is a legend, he’s also rarely within field goal range with this Seattle offense. Russell Wilson’s offensive line is going to have its hands full once again against an improved Dallas defensive front. With pressure coming almost instantly on most drop backs, Seattle will likely be fighting to cross the 50-yard-line most of the game. While Janikowski certainly has range, I don’t see him being very busy in this one.
Defense: New England at DET
New England just got torched on the road by Blake Bortles of all people, and now the Patriots have to make the trip to the Motor City to face another QB known for throwing the ball deep down the field in Matthew Stafford. The Pats are also going to either miss or start multiple players at less than 100 percent this week. Edge rushers Deatrich Wise Jr and Trey Flowers are both on the injury report (Dislocated Finger/Concussion) as well as starting safety Patrick Chung (Concussion). With that many shortcomings on defense, New England is going to look to make up for it with on offense. Sit the Pats defense comfortably in a game that will likely be a late-night shootout.
PRIMARY SUSPECT: Avoid at All Costs: Joe Flacco (BAL vs. Broncos)
Something’s been happening over the first two weeks of the season that has fantasy players and analysts alike confused: Joe Flacco’s been start-able. Over the past two weeks, Flacco’s posted fantasy totals of 21 points and 19 points back-to-back in standard scoring formats. Players are looking at this and saying to themselves “Wow, maybe Baltimore’s offense is really coming together”. I’m here to steer you as far away from that line of thinking as possible. A deeper dive into Flacco’s stats show an outlier performance in Week 1 against the worst team in the league (Buffalo), and a garbage time-boosted, turnover-filled outing against Cincinnati on Thursday Night Football. This week, Flacco owners will get a reality check when Joe Cool faces off against a Denver defense that still features the firepower to get to the quarterback on a snap-by-snap basis. Flacco’s been sacked five times already through two weeks. Look for that number to spike this week at home.
That’s all for this week’s report. Keep your heads on a swivel and watch out for bad trade offers if you’re 0-2. Hold your stud players and hit the waiver wire strong to get that first win!