Tom Lorenzo, Senior Editor RotoExperts.com
In the spirit of the holidays, I wanted to take the time to forget all the thankfulness, forget all the good will, and reflect on what we’re really clamoring about on the inside with a new segment called, “What is wrong with these guys?!”
In Fantasy Football you have your Aaron Rogers, your Arian Fosters and your Calvin Johnsons; studs who you can count on to perform from week to week. Then, you also have your Chris Johnsons, your Andre Johnsons and your Darren McFaddens. That second group of gentlemen fall into the category known as, “What is wrong with these guys?!” They’re the ones you spend Monday mornings wondering about. “Is he done?” “Should I trade him?” “Is it worth trading for him?” Whether it be a prolonged injury or a season long slump, they’re forcing you to die a little on the inside. These are the guys we typically get the most e-mails or tweets about. Of course you never ask about Arian Foster or Aaron Rodgers. I mean, why would you? These guys produce, week in and week out.
This week, with so many questions abound, I figured I’d run down the top players who have caused you to wake up in a cold sweat and see if we can figure out what the deal is with these one-time Fantasy studs. I’ll also, to prove just how frustrating it’s been for these guys, give you a player who I think is a better option this week than these one-time studs as we head into Week 11.
Teams on bye in Week 11: Houston, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis
Remember when you were trying to figure out whether or not you should draft Michael Vick of Aaron Rodgers in the first round? Yeah, those were much simpler times. Now, you’re trying to figure out whether or not you should start Vick over Tim Tebow. Imagine that. Sure, you can point to his rib injury which is likely to keep him out in Week 11, but really Vick was terrible prior to the injury. And the problem isn’t just with his arm, which has looked mediocre (how do you miss a wide open Brent Celek last week?). The problem has also been with his legs. Vick, who ran for 9 touchdowns last season, has zero rushing touchdowns. That’s awful. I think the best course of action right now is to play it week by week. Make sure you have a viable backup and hope that Vick, when he returns, can somehow find his groove. I’m less inclined to think that will happen this season, but there’s nothing you can do about that now.
Better option: Tim Tebow
So much for that breakout season in 2011, huh? After having thrown 25 TDs to 6 INTs last season, Freeman is on pace to throw just 16 TDs and upwards of 21 INTs. That’s unbelievable. You can point to the thumb injury, which he sustained two weeks ago, but I’m not buying it. You can, however, point to the offensive system in Tampa, which I’ll give you. The play calling at times has been horrific. But I think we have to put a lot of this on Freeman himself, who each day has looked more and more like a pedestrian QB. I think at this point, if you haven’t done so already, you should drop Freeman in non-2QB leagues. I don’t think he’s done as a Fantasy contributor, for his career, but he’s certainly done this season.
Better option: Carson Palmer
Yes, you’re seeing that stat-line correctly. Gore ran the ball six times last week for a whopping zero yards. Gore has been a consistent play this season, according to RotoExperts’ Bob Lung’s consistency rating, but as of the past few weeks it’s become pretty apparent that he’s banged up and probably in line for a little R&R on Sundays. Think about it this way; the 49ers are a playoff team, and they’re better in the playoffs with Gore. So, if they think they can win regular season games with Kendall Hunter as their back, they’re going to give Gore some time to stay fresh and heal. Think they want to see him getting bruised and beaten against Baltimore and Pittsburgh? No, they’ll let Hunter handle the ball in those situations. Have him take one for the team. Gore’s not a must-sit, especially not this week against Arizona, but he’s probably trending closer to RB2 territory as the season winds down. That’s pretty bad, for a guy who was likely drafted late in the first round.
Better option: Reggie Bush
Mathews was another runner who was looked at as a promising young back ready to breakout in 2011. Unfortunately, and we can probably say this about the entire San Diego offense, he’s been stale. Yes, he has been banged up a little (groin), but he’s still looked mediocre when he was healthy. He’s failed to score more than eight Fantasy points in each of his last three games and still has not scored a rushing touchdown since Week 3. I still think you give him serious consideration as an RB2, but he’s no longer locked in as a must-start. Especially since, as I said, the San Diego offense is still struggling to find their identity 10 weeks into the season.
Better option: James Starks
Blount has been an absolute mess this season. Granted, it ties in a little with my Freeman statements above, but I think his struggles go beyond mismanagement and enters into “this dude isn’t putting in the work” territory. I know he “can’t” catch footballs, but is it really not an option to put the work in to try and at least become an adequate pass-catcher out of the backfield? You’re telling me he can’t figure out how to catch the football? It’s not as if he has a full-time gig during the week, like you and I do. I mean, if you’re putting in 40 hours of labor at an office and then are also asked to prepare for an NFL game–watch film, workout, do drills, catch some passes, etc.–I could understand where you’re coming from. But this is his job. If you “can’t” catch the football, get out there and practice. With that, you can’t seriously consider starting him against better football teams, because once the Bucs fall behind, he’s out of the game. It’s sad, but your high-end RB2 is now nothing more than a flex play.
Better option: Chris Ogbonnaya
Maybe Green-Ellis isn’t a high-impact player, but considering he’s owned in 99% of all leagues and over two of the last three weeks he’s given you zero points, he’s still impactful enough to where I’m getting start/sit questions about him. Here’s my advice, and it’s been the same since about Week 6: Sit him. Sit him this week, sit him next week (@PHI) and even think about sitting him in Week 13 (vs. IND). With the bye weeks having come and gone, by time we reach Week 13, I still don’t think even with a matchup against the Colts he’s better than 24 other RBs in the NFL. Also, look at last week, against the Jets, where four different running backs carried the ball five or more times, with no back seeing any more than eight touches. That’s some scary ball distribution, from a Fantasy perspective. I don’t see that trend changing this week against the Chiefs. I don’t really see any way you start BJE in 2-RB leagues.
Better option: Roy Helu
I’ve never particularly liked Jackson, but I guess I can see his appeal in non-PPR leagues. He does have big-play ability, which is nice, but he doesn’t provide much “normal play” value. Over the last four games, Jackson has scored a total of seven fantasy points (and, yes, I counted last week – he was suspended, that’s no an injury, that’s his own fault; it counts against him). I don’t think we’re going to see a better DeSean Jackson this season. It really seems as if the contract dispute has gotten the best of him, much in the same way it got to Peyton Hillis when he was healthy. You may get a huge game from Jackson at some point, and it may be this week against the Giants, but you’re not going to see a WR1 on a regular basis.
Better Option: Denarius Moore
He’s got to score a touchdown at some point, right? I was thinking that last week against the Packers was his best chance, and of course he was held to 52 yards on six catches and still doesn’t have a TD. If you want to say that this week against Oakland is his week, sure, why not? I mean, it has to happen at some point. But I’m not going to risk another near goose egg just because Harvin eventually has to score and this might be the week. I mean, the guy is only playing about half of his team’s snaps. That’s what you’d expect from a WR3. I do see him catching a TD, eventually, and he’ll probably catch three by the time the season is done, but I don’t want to chance another poor performance from my WR2 just to see if this might be the week.
Better option: Damien Williams
This is a bit of a different case, since not only is Johnson hurt, but his team is on a bye in Week 11. Also, it’s worth pointing out that when he returns he will have Matt Leinart throwing him the ball for the final six weeks of the season. Good luck with that, Texans fans. To be honest, I don’t think the Matt Schaub injury affects Johnson all that much. Similarly to how you see a premier talent like Larry Fitzgerald perform at a high level with subpar quarterbacks throwing him the ball, I think you’ll see Johnson perform at the same level. Maybe not at the Calvin Johnson level, but certainly a top-tier WR, and this is what you want from him.
Better option: Hold onto him or buy low on him, but do no trade him away
Believe it or not, in non-PPR leagues, Finley has only scored in double figures twice all season. That’s pretty amazing, coming from a one-time top TE in the game. The matchup is absolutely prime this week, with the Packers playing the Bucs. But I would be concerned that when the Packers go up big in the first half, they might turn to James Starks and Ryan Grant to handle a heavy load in the second half. Of course, when you’re talking about the Packers, you face this dilemma from week to week. I think the problem is that Rodgers has far too many weapons, and Finley is becoming a bit lost in the shuffle. I can’t necessarily advocate you sitting Finely, but I will say that there’s a widely available tight end who may just have better showing in Week 11.
Better option: Brent Celek