Fantasy Football Panic Meter: Week 6 (2020)
After an exciting Week 6, it’s time to discuss the players who let us down. In this column, I’ll identify the biggest disappointments of the week, and I’ll assign each player a grade from 0 to 5 that corresponds to my strategy of choice. Of course, I’ll leave out those whose disappointing performances were to injury, as you can read about those players in our weekly injury report.
|0||No fear. Keep starting this player.|
|1||A little worried. Consider benching them if you have a better option.|
|2||Wait-and-see. Bench them across the board.|
|3||On the block. Bench this player and try to sell.|
|4||Sell now. Take whatever you can get, but don’t drop them.|
|5||Droppable. Send them to waivers.|
So with the panic meter laid out, let’s get started!
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT): 0.5
Big Ben only attempted 22 passes this week. The Browns couldn’t keep up with Pittsburgh, so the Steelers ran out the clock. One negative game script is not a reason to bail on Roethlisberger — he had scored no fewer than 18.24 points before this week.
Before this week, the Steelers were attempting 35.75 passing plays per game. That’s not a ton, but Roethlisberger’s big arm compensates to an extent — he can score more long-range touchdowns than your average quarterback.
The other reason to keep your chip up with Big Ben? His wide receivers. Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, and James Washington form one of the best receiving corps in the league, and they’re all capable of breaking a big play.
If Roethlisberger is your QB1, leave him in your lineup next week against the Titans. They just gave up four passing scores to Deshaun Watson this week, and Big Ben should be able to exploit them as well.
Aaron Rodgers (GB): 0
Rodgers did not look good against the Buccaneers this week. He took four sacks, completed less than half of his passes, and threw two picks.
AARON RODGERS GETS PICK-SIXED! ?
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 18, 2020
Entering this week, Rodgers had taken just one sack, completed 70.5% of his passes, and hadn’t thrown a pick. I’m confident that he’ll regress to his usual elite self against an easier opponent — Green Bay will play the Houston Texans next week, and they just gave up four passing scores to Ryan Tannehill.
Seriously, don’t worry about Rodgers. If anything, his poor performance says more about the quality of Tampa Bay’s defense than his ability to post QB1 numbers moving forward.
Alexander Mattison (MIN): 2.5
Mattison was a colossal disappointment in Week 6. That said, it wasn’t entirely his fault — Kirk Cousin’s early interceptions forced the Vikings to emphasize the pass instead of the run.
If you started Mattison in hopes of Dalvin Cook-type numbers, I’m sorry. But the Vikings won’t always have to play from behind like this, and we know that they love to run the ball. Coming into this week, the Vikings were attempting the sixth-most rushing players per game, and they’ll get back to their run-first mentality after their bye.
Cook will be back in the lineup by then, unfortunately, so if you need Mattison as an RB2, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Otherwise, he’s worth keeping around as a high-upside handcuff.
Kareem Hunt (CLE): 0
With Nick Chubb out, Hunt is a high-end RB1. He may not have finished as one this week, but he wasn’t playing in a favorable game script. Hunt touched the ball just 15 times for 57 yards, good for only 2.94 yards per touch.
Is there cause for concern regarding his efficiency? Probably not. Before this week, Hunt was averaging 5.06 yards per touch on the year, and he averaged 4.04 against the Colts in his first start. It’s safe to expect that he’ll regress positively against a lesser defensive front.
That’s exactly what the Browns will face over the next two weeks. They’ll get the Bengals without nose tackle D.J. Reader in Week 7, and they’ll play the Raiders’ abysmal rushing defense in Week 8. He’ll rebound massively in those matchups.
Cooper Kupp (LAR): 3
This week marks Kupp’s second appearance on the Panic Meter so far. Rams teammates Jared Goff and Tyler Higbee have also earned spots throughout the season. The last time I wrote about Kupp, I expressed my concerns with Sean McVay’s newfound love for running the football. Through six weeks, those fears seem well-founded.
Before this week, the Rams were attempting just 30.4 passing plays per game, the third-fewest in the NFL. McVay has shifted into a run-heavy, play-action style offense, and it’s helped win games at their players’ expense in fantasy.
Kupp is averaging 7.5 targets and 5.16 catches per game so far. That’s not bad volume, but Kupp’s aDOT was just 5.7 yards beyond the line of scrimmage entering Week 5. All of his fantasy production depends on his ability to make plays after the catch.
His YAC dependency and lower-volume role combine to make him a less valuable fantasy receiver, and he’s someone to try trading when you can get appropriate value for him. He isn’t a must-bench every week, but I wouldn’t want to start him against Chicago’s tough defense in Week 7.
Mike Evans (TB): 0
This is what you were getting yourself into when you took Mike Evans. He tends to disappear from box scores when facing tough matchups, and that’s what happened to him this week against Jaire Alexander.
Jaire Alexander has been on another level this season ? pic.twitter.com/EwkAXXtVD2
— PFF (@PFF) October 16, 2020
There’s no cause for concern here. Evans has built a solid rapport with Tom Brady, proven by his six touchdowns thus far, and the Buccaneers have a softer schedule coming up — they’ll play the Raiders and Giants in consecutive weeks.
Evans is a must-start at WR1, and you should feel comfortable about leaving him in your lineup despite his bad day.
T.Y. Hilton (IND): 4
Hilton got a 3 back in Week 4, but it’s time to get more aggressive about unloading him in trade offers. In a best-possible scenario for Hilton — a pass-heavy game script — Philip Rivers threw his way five times, and Hilton only caught one pass. Marcus Johnson and Zach Pascal out-targeted him, and he tied with Trey Burton.
The Colts were attempting the fifth-fewest passes per game entering Week 5. Rivers’ 44 attempts will somewhat increase their ranking, but we know that this team won’t pass a lot unless they have to play from behind, which lowers Hilton’s floor significantly.
Take whatever you can get for Hilton at this point. He’s too unreliable to start, and you shouldn’t let him burn a hole in your bench.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT): 4
Welcome back, Smith-Schuster! I hope you sold high on JuJu early in the year after his scoring streak, but if you didn’t, there’s no time like the present. Smith-Schuster got a 3.5 last week, and he’ll get a 4 this week to emphasize my point.
The Steelers have a lot of mouths to feed offensively, but even with Diontae Johnson sidelined, Smith-Schuster only caught two passes for six yards. While he technically tied Chase Claypool and Eric Ebron in targets, Smith-Schuster’s looks are worth considerably less from a fantasy perspective. Why?
There’s a simple answer: yardage. Heading into Week 6, Smith-Schuster’s aDOT was a measly 5.1, compared to a 13.9 for Claypool and an 8.9 for Ebron. Because Smith-Schuster is a short-yardage target, he doesn’t get the points for yardage that the other receivers get, limiting his fantasy utility.
Fortunately for you, Smith-Schuster had some high-scoring games early, so you still have the chance to unload him for some higher-value assets. Just make sure to do so before that window closes any further.
Mark Andrews (BAL): 0
Andrews is the definition of boom-or-bust. He posted TE1 numbers in three of his games so far, but he also busted for less than six PPR points in the other three. That’s just how things go when you roll with a touchdown-dependent option at tight end — Andrews hasn’t caught more than six passes or earned more than 100 yards since Week 2, 2019.
While that’s usually due to Baltimore’s run-heavy offensive scheme, Andrews also happened to get unlucky this week. The Ravens threw to fellow tight end Nick Boyle three times against the Eagles, and he caught all three of his targets for 33 yards and a touchdown. Those are looks that would typically go in Andrews’ direction.
You should keep starting Andrews as a TE1, but the Ravens have a Week 7 bye, so make sure to pick up a replacement.
Evan Engram (NYG): 3.5
Daniel Jones threw his first passing touchdown since Week 1 last Sunday. That’s right — Jones did not complete a touchdown pass for three consecutive weeks. All of his receivers have struggled due to Jones’ inefficiency, and Engram is chief among them.
In the last two weeks, Engram has gotten targeted five total times, and he’s been able to catch just three of those passes. A touchdown run saved his fantasy day last week, but there was no such score in store for him this week.
With Sterling Shepard’s return looming on the horizon, Engram will soon face even more competition in an impotent offensive scheme. You should try to make him someone else’s problem while you still can.
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