Fantasy Football Panic Meter: Week 3
Another week of football is in the books, and at this point, trends are starting to emerge. A poor performance in Week 1 can usually be written off as teams still working out the kinks of the preseason. A follow-up dud in Week 2 can be troubling, but not necessarily worth worrying about because the sample size is still too small. But once we get to Week 3, it’s time to sit up and take notice.
For many of your “locked in your lineup” players, the time to be concerned is now. So let’s check in on the panic meter for Week 3.
Stefon Diggs (WR – MIN) – Panic Meter Rating: 7
Let’s be clear — you’re not dropping Diggs or even benching him. And he could have easily had a monster game in Week 2 had a second touchdown not been overturned on replay based on pass interference.
But after Sunday’s three-catch, 15-yard performance, it’s time to be concerned. Diggs now has six receptions on 12 targets for 101 yards through three games. And yes, as I said, his game last week against the Packers could have been much better. But in the end, the Vikings continue to be a team that wants to (and given their success, should want to) run the ball early and often. Their strong defense, Week 2 aside, should leave them with few negative game scripts, meaning Kirk Cousins is likely to challenge for the fewest pass attempts in the league by season’s end.
When you’re the clear-cut second option in the passing game on a team that reaaaaaaaaally doesn’t want to pass, it’s concerning. And the chances of Diggs earning his ADP of 13th wide receiver off the board is remote.
Chris Carson (RB – SEA) – Panic Meter Rating: 9
This should be such an ideal situation for Carson. On a team that makes the Vikings look pass-happy and runs the ball routinely within the 10-yard line, Carson should be a fantasy stud just by being there. Especially given his increased usage in the passing game in the early going.
But no matter how good of a runner you are, you cannot continually put the ball on the ground. You just can’t. But Carson has lost a fumble in each of the Seahawks’ first three games. The fact that he fumbled against the Saints is particularly bad, both because Carson has been put on notice about his fumbling issues and because the Saints returned it for a touchdown.
The fumble itself wasn’t actually egregious, as Carson was protecting the ball well (it appears) from tacklers but was blindsided a bit. Still, that’s of little help to him given his history this year. Rashaad Penny was inactive for Sunday’s game, but C.J. Prosise saw plenty of work.
If you’re a Carson owner, add Penny immediately. And if you’re not, make sure you have plenty of running back depth.
James Conner (RB – PIT) – Panic Meter Rating: 6
Yes, Conner has been awful thus far, and yes, he lost a crucial fumble late in the game. But he is, for all intents and purposes, the only game in town on a team that wants to establish the run.
He’s the present and the future at running back, and if this season gets away from the Steelers, as it appears to be doing, that does not mean that they will look elsewhere at running back. Expect a heavy dose of touches next week against Cincinnati and with it production. If not, then it will officially be time to panic.
Sony Michel (RB – NE) – Panic Meter Rating: 9
After three games, Michel has 45 carries for 108 yards. His value has been saved somewhat by two touchdowns, but in games that the Patriots have won by a combined 106-17, you’d expect a ton of production from their top back.
Rex Burkhead, meanwhile, has rushed for 112 yards on just 24 carries and added 13 receptions for 110 yards. He’s been the far superior runner and, unlike Michel, offers value in the passing game should the Patriots ever find themselves in a game where they need to quickly score points.
Add to that the presence of James White (other than in Week 3 when he missed the game), and you’ve got a crowded backfield with a runner who is currently unproductive and doesn’t catch passes. That’s rapidly approaching DEFCON 1 territory.
T.J. Hockenson (TE – DET) – Panic Meter Rating: 7
Hockenson looked like he was going to shatter the narrative on rookie tight ends after his dominant six-catch, 131-yard performance in Week 1. Unfortunately, since then he’s gained eight yards on two catches and seven targets in two games.
Matthew Stafford looked for Hockenson in the red zone yesterday against the Eagles, and he actually had a touchdown called back, so it’s not as if Hockenson should be looked at as unplayable. But if you thought you had a stud tight end that you could set and forget, you need to think again.
And really, other than a small handful of players at the position, there are few guaranteed starters. Hockenson has as good a chance as any in a given week to score a touchdown. But as far as being a solution to your tight end problems, he is not.
Josh Jacobs (RB – OAK) – Panic Meter Rating: 5
Jacobs’ big problem is that he offers nothing in the passing game. He has one catch in three games and, although the Raiders were well behind to the Vikings all game on Sunday, he saw just two targets.
He’s a talented and strong runner, and so long as the Raiders aren’t blown out of the water, he should give more than serviceable numbers each week. And neither DeAndre Washington nor Jalen Richard appears to be a threat absent a blowout. But there will be games where Jacobs’ lack of involvement in the passing game will hurt him significantly.
Aaron Jones (RB – GB) – Panic Meter Rating: 7
The first two-time member of the panic meter article, Jones returns despite scoring two touchdowns on Sunday against the Broncos. But he gained just 19 yards on 10 carries, with one catch for four yards.
Meanwhile, Matt LaFleur talked this week about wanting to even up the touches between Jones and Jamaal Williams, and indeed he did, with Williams rushing 12 times for 59 yards and adding two catches for 27 yards.
Jones is the better runner, despite Williams’ superior numbers on Sunday. Even the most casual fantasy owner who has followed football since last season can tell that. But LaFleur is apparently a man of his word, and if this is going to move closer to a 50-50 split, then Jones owners should be panicked.
Talent will generally win out, and Jones did score two touchdowns on Sunday, so owners shouldn’t be jumping off a cliff. But they should be rightfully concerned.