Fantasy Football Panic Meter: Week 5
At this point, you may be on the verge of sitting 1-4 or 0-5 despite starting the season with what you thought was a talented roster. The players you expected to be your stalwarts haven’t performed up to their potential, and better options appear to be sitting on the waiver wire. Figuring out whether you can continue to roll with your “studs” or whether it’s time to move on may save your season.
Here, as we do each week, we’ll examine some underperformers and whether fantasy owners should be panicking about their play.
Mike Evans (WR – TB) – Panic Meter Rating: 5
It’s one thing when your stud receiver puts up a mediocre performance. It’s an entirely different story when he puts up a zero-catch, three-target performance in a game his team trailed in from start to finish. And the thing is, despite the end numbers, Evans’ game in Week 4 against the Rams was close to being a disaster. If not for a late, 67-yard touchdown where Marcus Peters fell asleep, Evans would have had a disastrous effort last week, too.
Evans drew Marshon Lattimore in Week 5 against the Saints, a corner that overall has held him in check, especially recently. But no catches. That just shouldn’t happen to any elite receiver.
In the end, however, Evans sits at just a 5 on the panic meter, because, well, when you go down the list of wide receivers, how many would you feel comfortable starting over him? 10? 12? Evans will have plenty of big games this year, and he remains someone to leave locked in your lineup. But perhaps wait until after next week when he faces James Bradberry to make your buy-low offers.
David Montgomery (RB – CHI) – Panic Meter Rating: 3
My usual friendly reminder that just because Montgomery’s panic meter rating is lower than Evans’ does not mean you should prefer Montgomery to Evans. It is all relative to your expectations.
Montgomery scored a touchdown against the Raiders on Sunday, but 11 carries for 25 yards, plus one catch for 11 yards, is not what his fantasy owners expected. Montgomery’s snap share had risen dramatically in recent weeks, and with the Raiders missing Vontaze Burfict, it seemed like a prime spot for Montgomery to have a big game.
The fact that he did not, however, should only slightly raise any alarms. The Bears simply did not show up in London, and they were behind from the early going. If the Bears did not have the defense they do, then certainly, Montgomery would be higher on the panic meter given the likelihood that he would get phased out of games where the team has a negative game script. But with the Chicago defense, that’s unlikely to be the case often. Montgomery’s game in Week 5 did nothing to suggest that his lock on the starting role and general trend toward being a reliable fantasy option is in jeopardy.
Stefon Diggs (WR – MIN) – Panic Meter Rating: 5
Let’s strip the drama down to the bare points with Diggs. He is unhappy with his role in the Vikings offense and appears to want out of Minnesota. That’s essentially what we are dealing with.
The chances of Diggs being traded are seemingly minimal. The Vikings, who have playoff aspirations, need him as a complement to Adam Thielen. Diggs just signed a five-year, $72 million contract, so the Vikings have no need to trade him immediately. And the number of suitors available are fewer than they would be in the offseason. Plus, the Vikings have basically come out and said he’s not being traded.
So, we’re left with, Diggs most likely remaining in Minnesota. And while the results on Sunday weren’t great (four catchers for 44 yards) to a much lesser extent, it’s a bit like Mike Evans. Diggs, at this point, is basically a WR3 who you’re starting almost every week. How many receivers after the top 30 do you feel comfortable with? With a pretty light schedule for pass-catchers coming up, there’s just not all that much to panic about at this point.
Lamar Jackson (QB – BAL) – Panic Meter Rating: 3
Let’s be clear – you’re starting Lamar Jackson each week. But, after the first two weeks, it appeared as if he might be a locked-in top-three option.
The problem is that Jackson has looked less than elite in the last few games. Over the past three weeks, Jackson has five touchdowns and five interceptions with sub-par passing totals. Yes, he offers an incredible floor with his rushing ability, totaling 182 yards on the ground in his past three games. But he has missed several wide-open touchdown passes, and if he does not take the leap forward with his passing that he looked like he would, then his upside is somewhat limited.
Again, you’re starting Jackson every week. But as a guaranteed top-three option? He’s status is in doubt.
Sterling Shepard (WR – NYG) – Panic Meter Rating: 7
Hat tip to Mike Tagliere, who brought this out in on the Sunday night recap show of the NFL podcast: Shepard rarely played out of the slot against Minnesota with Golden Tate back. And that’s a problem.
Shepard had shown chemistry with Daniel Jones in their two games together and had run 80 percent of his routes from the slot. Indeed, out of Shepard’s 176 receiving yards with Jones at the helm, 168 of them had come out of the slot. And, as Tags detailed in his primer, Shepard is a receiver who is significantly better running routes from that position on the field.
Against the Vikings, however, Shepard lined up on 55 snaps. Just 19 of them (35%) were in the slot, while the rest were in the perimeter. Fantasy owners may see Shepard’s 10 targets and take from this game a positive development. But if Shepard is going to cede slot routes to Tate at this clip, then his fantasy owners should be panicking significantly.