Fantasy Football Panic Meter: Week 14
With the playoffs in full swing, fantasy football players need to examine their options carefully. Draft price, career stats, prior streaks, the vast majority of it is meaningless. What matters is whether, at this moment, you feel confident in throwing that player in your lineup with your fantasy life on the line.
As always, here we’ll examine some players whose recent performances may have their owners panicking, and consider whether or not fantasy owners should truly be concerned.
John Brown (WR – BUF) – Panic Meter Rating: 9
Brown is a wonderful football player in the midst of a fantastic year. But as he hit the tough part of his schedule, some fluky performances have clouded the fact that he has not been performing close to his early-season levels.
In Week 12 against the Broncos, Chris Harris Jr. (for the most part) held him to two catches on four targets for 39 yards, but a late touchdown saved his day. Against the Cowboys, he was held to just 26 yards on three catches, but a passing touchdown saved his day. Against Baltimore, however, there were no late or fluky touchdowns to mask his numbers, and Brown totaled just three catches for 26 yards.
With a matchup-neutral schedule, Brown’s panic meter rating would be at a one or a two. But with matchups against two very tough pass defenses in the Steelers and the Patriots, fantasy owners have every reason to be nervous. You may still need to start Brown — once you get outside the top 24 wide receivers in any given week you’re looking at a ton of question marks anyway — but if you’re looking for him to return to his early-season numbers, you’ll likely be disappointed.
Josh Allen (QB – BUF) – Panic Meter Rating: 6
Since we’re talking about Brown, let’s go right into his teammate, Allen. Like Brown, Allen had largely survived his recent tough schedule, but he didn’t need any fluky performances to do so. He was simply outstanding all around.
But the Baltimore defense is on a different level than the Denver or Dallas defense, and Allen’s deficiencies shown through. Specifically, when he can’t offer production with his legs (he had no fewer than 56 yards rushing or a touchdown in any of his five games prior to Sunday’s nine-yard effort), then his ability to be a QB1 is in question. And, as mentioned above, he faces two elite defenses in Pittsburgh and New England in Weeks 15 and 16.
The thing saving Allen more so than Brown is his rushing ability, despite his lack of production this past week. That’s particularly true against the Patriots, who have struggled against mobile quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson. And this past week, where Allen attempted just two rushes, may have been a wake-up call that he has to use his legs more in every situation.
Sunday showed you the floor with Allen, and it wasn’t pretty. But there’s enough reason to believe that he can still produce effectively despite two more difficult matchups ahead.
All 49ers running backs not named Raheem Mostert – Panic Meter Rating: 10
Let’s keep this simple. You can drop Tevin Coleman. Even if there were a rebound coming, you’re not waiting around to see it after two weeks during which he saw nine touches and turned them into 21 yards. And Matt Breida, who is an injury risk on his best day, played on 17.9% of the snaps and saw just seven touches against the Saints, though he did turn them into 58 yards.
Mostert saw 59.7% of the snaps, had 12 touches, and turned them into 109 yards and two touchdowns. To the extent there is a running back in San Francisco who you want to start, it’s obviously Mostert. But be wary — 12 touches is not usually a recipe for an RB1. Against the Falcons, yes, Mostert will be a starter for fantasy teams. But although he would not merit a ranking on the panic meter rating for obvious reasons, he’s far from a sure thing.
All Patriots offensive players not named Julian Edelman – Panic Meter Rating: 10
Tom Brady hasn’t been particularly effective for the vast majority of the season. And although he succeeded against the Texans in garbage time, he has accounted for one or fewer touchdowns in five of his last seven games. Sony Michel saw just five carries against the Chiefs (fewer than James White or Rex Burkhead) and has gotten more than 10 carries one time in his last five games (in a game in which passing was nearly impossible because of the weather). And James White had a monster game against the Texans but had not topped 84 yards in any other game this season.
The Patriots have the Bengals and the Bills on tap. You may be excited about Michel (and may even be in a position where starting him is the right move). You may think Brady will shine in a soft matchup next week in a get-right game. And perhaps they will all succeed.
But the New England offense, at the moment, is broken. Brady has little time to throw, his young receivers often run poor routes or can’t make plays when needed to, and the defense is not playing well enough to cover the offense’s warts. It is certainly possible that any Patriots player you would consider starting will shine against the Bengals. But, if you’re willing to risk your playoff life on it, you’re a better man than I am.
Alvin Kamara (RB – NO) – Panic Meter Rating: 7
I do not know. That’s the best I can do for you. I don’t know why Kamara has been ineffective of late. In a 48-46 game against the 49ers, Kamara gained 43 yards on 17 touches and lost a fumble. That is unfathomable.
Before this game, Kamara’s owners had been justifiably frustrated. But a large part of his deficiency was that he had scored just two touchdowns on the season. His YPC (4.7) were just fine, and his catches (64 catches in 10 games) gave him a solid floor in half- or full-PPR leagues.
But I don’t have an answer for Sunday, particularly when Latavius Murray totaled 94 yards on nine touches. I admit that a performance like that, coupled with his season-long slog, is reason for concern over Kamara.
But the thing is, if you survived with Kamara in your lineup, you’re not benching him. Not a guy averaging nearly 19 touches per game in a Drew Brees-led offense. Not with another home matchup on tap next week.
So, you’re concerned. It’s fair to be. But the panic meter can only go so high on a player who is still a must-start option in fantasy circles.