Fantasy Football Panic Meter: Week 7

This was not a week when things felt like they went according to plan. Chase Edmonds was your top fantasy running back. Marvin Jones and Zach Pascal your top fantasy receivers. Typically reliable players aplenty fell flat.

Here, as we do each week, we’ll examine some underperformers from this week and whether fantasy owners should be panicking about their play.

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Melvin Gordon (RB – LAC) – Panic Meter Rating: 7
Gordon scored his first touchdown of the season on Sunday against the Titans and set a season-high in rushing yards. Unfortunately, that season-high was a mere 32 yards, and he also fumbled twice, losing one.

Some rust was to be expected with Gordon after he held out for several weeks, and the Chargers have faced a string of tough run defenses in a row (Broncos, Steelers, Titans). But Austin Ekeler has been more productive since Gordon’s return, and the Chargers’ attempts to get Gordon more involved have resulted in a series of stagnant offensive showings.

There are several reasons why Gordon’s panic meter rating is high but not off the charts. First, it is reasonable to expect him to improve as he naturally continues to round into form. Second, the Chargers’ offensive line should get healthier soon when Russell Okung returns, which may be next week. And finally, the Chargers’ schedule in terms of opposing run defenses lightens up significantly, with matchups against Chicago (not the same since the loss of Akiem Hicks), Green Bay, Oakland, and Kansas City. So, there’s a reasonable chance things get much better for Gordon soon. But fantasy players shouldn’t be banking on it at the moment.

Keenan Allen (WR – LAC) – Panic Meter Rating: 4
Let’s stick with the Chargers here and discuss another one of their recent disappointments, Keenan Allen. It hasn’t been pretty for Allen in recent weeks. After totaling 404 yards on 29 catches (and 42 targets) over his first three games, Allen has just 160 yards on 15 catches (and 28 targets) over his previous four games.

But the Chargers made a concerted effort to get him the ball against the Titans, as evidenced by Allen’s 11 targets, his most since Week 3. And he could have had a much bigger game had Philip Rivers not missed him on at least two deep balls. Similar to Gordon, Allen’s efficiency should improve somewhat as the Chargers’ offensive line gets healthier. And so long as the Chargers continue to make an effort to target him heavily, as they should, Allen will likely be fine.

David Montgomery (RB – CHI) – Panic Meter Rating: 8
Although the Saints beat the Bears handily on Sunday, a negative game script was not responsible for Montgomery’s terrible performance. He saw very little work, just two carries, despite the game being close for much of the first half. He lost a critical fumble on his first carry in the third quarter, and he put the Bears in a hole from which they could not recover.

The Bears are, simply put, not a good offensive team. Mitchell Trubisky has regressed and they do not commit to the running game. And although you can understand not focusing on the run against a tough Saints’ defense, that’s simply not an excuse for Montgomery to be entirely absent from the Bears’ plans.

With Montgomery averaging just over three yards per carry and the Bears’ defense no longer a strong threat to keep games in a positive script, Montgomery’s outlook is far from certain.

Larry Fitzgerald (WR – ARI) – Panic Meter Rating: 8
Fitzgerald started the season on fire, with 217 yards on 13 catches and 24 targets. Until this week, he had still totaled at least five catches in every game, which lessened fantasy owners’ concerns. But after a three-target, one-catch, 12-yard performance on Sunday against the Giants, it’s time to start being worried about Fitzgerald.

Sunday’s performance itself isn’t a huge deal. Kyler Murray barely threw the ball and the Cardinals relied almost exclusively on the run. But Fitzgerald has slowly morphed into a short-range possession receiver in recent weeks.

In his first two games, Fitzgerald had catches of 45 and 54 yards, respectively. In his five games since his longest catch is 23 yards. In full- and half-PPR formats, his target volume and efficiency should keep him as a viable option most weeks. But as he’s become more and more of a short-target safety valve for Murray, he’s dropped far more into the solid WR3 territory.

Joe Mixon (RB – CIN) – Panic Meter Rating: 11 (fine, 10, but you get the point)
Joe Mixon is a really, really talented running back. He’s just in an awful situation.

Mixon was in this article last week but was at only an 8 on the panic meter. After a game in which he gained just four yards (despite scoring a touchdown), however, it’s time to look at this for what it is. Mixon has essentially been relegated to a bye-week filler.

The Bengals’ offensive line is truly atrocious, A.J. Green may never play for the team again, and the coaching staff has no idea how to use Mixon appropriately. There does not appear to be any remote reason for optimism, no path to relevance. To be frank, it’s just a sad state of affairs to see a talent like Mixon’s wasted.

A running back who garners the vast majority of touches for his team still needs to be owned. But Mixon has gone from an RB1 to an RB2 to not even a Flex play absent bye weeks. If only the meter actually went up to 11.

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Dan Harris is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Dan, check out his archive or follow him on Twitter @danharris80.

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