Fantasy Football Panic Meter: Week 12 (2020)
After a fun Sunday of football, 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. If you’re starting this player, keep doing so.|
|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!
Kyler Murray (ARI): 0
Murray was a big disappointment against the Patriots, but you shouldn’t turn your back on him now. He was on pace to outscore 2019 Lamar Jackson heading into this game, and he should bounce back against the Rams next week.
Even if he has another rough outing against Los Angeles’ tough defense, Murray will play the Giants, Eagles, and 49ers before the end of the year. Those aren’t great matchups, but the dual-threat quarterback should play better as he recovers from his AC joint sprain.
Jared Goff (LAR): 4.5
Goff did not throw a touchdown against the 49ers. Instead, he tossed a pair of interceptions, took two sacks, and lost a fumble. That’s not what you want out of your QB1.
I’ve routinely featured Goff in this column this season, including the very first edition. My argument from September holds true now — Sean McVay has pivoted to a Shanahan-esque, run-first offense that doesn’t require him to do much.
While Goff has scored 20-plus points in four games, he’s scored fewer than 13 in five others. He doesn’t have much appeal over the next two weeks, as he’ll play Arizona and New England, and I’m not sure if his Week 15 and 16 matchups warrant holding onto him. He’ll play the Jets and Seahawks, two of the worst defenses against opposing signal-callers, yet he scored only 10.5 points against Seattle in Week 10.
Ezekiel Elliott (DAL): 3
I last wrote about Elliott in Week 9, and not much has changed in Dallas. Again, I’ll reiterate what I said then — you don’t need to bench Elliott while you’re shopping him, but you should consider it if you have better options. He has only scored double-digit points in half-PPR once since Week 6, so you can’t trust him to post RB1 numbers anymore.
If you’re a non-playoff team that’s stuck with Elliott, I’m sorry his injuries derailed your season. If you’re a playoff team still holding onto him, uh, you probably should’ve moved on a few weeks ago. Unless your trade deadline has passed, I would do so immediately, and for whatever you can get.
He’s even getting outplayed by his teammate, Tony Pollard.
Rushing grades through 11 weeks:
🔹 Tony Pollard – 81.0
🔹 Ezekiel Elliott – 69.1 pic.twitter.com/5FTiS5RO0K
— PFF (@PFF) November 25, 2020
Zeke is a decent RB2 at best right now. If that’s all you need, and you can’t get anything better for him, leave him in your lineup. That said, you should at least try to swap him for someone else.
Alvin Kamara (NO): 1.5
You shouldn’t consider benching Kamara, as you definitely don’t have a better option, but his current situation is still concerning. Kamara generated a lot of his fantasy value through his passing-down role, but unfortunately, he’s caught just one pass over Taysom Hill’s two starts.
Hill plays a dramatically different game from Drew Brees. Where Brees would dump off, Hill can chuck it deep or just scramble; where Brees would hand the ball off, Hill can run it himself. That means a massive reduction in Kamara’s volume.
For some perspective, Kamara was averaging 19 touches per game before Hill took over. Since then, he’s averaged just 12.5 touches per game, and he’s scored just one of New Orleans’ seven rushing touchdowns. How has that affected his fantasy value?
Alvin Kamara's weekly RB rankings (PPR) this year:
8, 2, 1, 10, 9, 3, 2, 5, 1 **TAYSOM HILL IS STARTER** 25, currently 29
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) November 30, 2020
Not well. He’s too good of a player to put on your bench, but he’ll need Brees to return (or Sean Payton to modify the offense) to re-enter the high-end RB1 conversation.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC): 1
Edwards-Helaire came into this game riding high after a 20.2-point showing in Week 11. But the Buccaneers pretty much took him out of the game, as their sixth-best running back defense allowed him just 3.7 yards per carry, and he caught one pass for just two yards.
That shouldn’t worry you too much. The Chiefs are still a high-powered offense, and while CEH isn’t matchup-proof, he has better days ahead. He’ll play the Broncos (Week 13), Dolphins (Week 14), Saints (Week 15), and Falcons (Week 16) before the end of the year, three of whom have defended running backs worse than the Buccaneers.
CEH scored 12.8 points against the Broncos in Week 7, and he should be in line for similar RB2-type numbers against them this week.
Antonio Brown (TB): 1
Brown has been borderline unstartable since joining the Buccaneers. He’s averaged 5.0 catches and 42 yards per game thus far, and he’s yet to catch a touchdown pass. Yes, he flashed WR3/FLEX upside in Week 11, as he caught eight of his 13 targets from Tom Brady. That said, he doesn’t have much floor, as Tampa Bay just has too many mouths to feed.
I wrote about this receiving corps back in Week 9, and I expressed the same concerns about volume that I highlighted above. Over the last four weeks, both Mike Evans (4.8 catches, 60 yards, 0.5 touchdowns) and Chris Godwin (6.0 catches, 70.8 yards, and .25 touchdowns) have better per-game averages than Brown.
But hold on.
Have you seen Tampa Bays’ schedule? They get the Vikings (Week 13), Falcons (Week 14), Lions (Week 15), and Falcons (Week 16) to end the year. All of those four matchups come against bottom-10 wide receiver defenses, and three come against bottom-five units.
Brown is a viable boom-or-bust WR3/FLEX. He could make the most of his matchups to win you your league, but he could also let you down in those smash spots instead. You start him at your own risk.
Jerry Jeudy (DEN), Tim Patrick (DEN), and K.J. Hamler (DEN): 0
The Denver Broncos started a practice squad wide receiver at quarterback this week. He attempted nine passes, three of which were caught — two of them by defensive players.
Hinton with another INT
They went the entire first half without a pass completion.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 29, 2020
A lack of catchable passes is a surefire way to sink a wideout’s value. These receivers should bounce back once their quarterbacks clear the COVID-19 protocol, and they’ll have the Chiefs (Week 13), Panthers (Week 14), Bills (Week 15), and Chargers (Week 16) to wrap up their fantasy schedule.
Jonnu Smith (TEN): 0.5
Smith did not record a target against the Colts. Teammate Anthony Firkser was targeted once, but he failed to haul in that pass. Fourth-stringer Geoff Swaim led the Titans’ tight ends in receiving with three catches on three targets. Fullback Khari Blasingame out-caught both Smith and Firkser.
The Colts give up the third-fewest points per game to opposing tight ends. In Smith’s last game against Indianapolis, he caught just two passes for 14 yards (he added a one-yard rushing score). His usage in this game is not indicative of his usage moving forward.
That said, this game should remind you that Smith is a touchdown-dependent, low-end TE1. While he benefits from being one of the team’s biggest red-zone weapons, the Titans have both Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown, so he will rarely be the first option in goal-to-go situations.
Smith will play the Browns (Week 13), Jaguars (Week 14), Lions (Week 15), and Packers (Week 16) to wrap up his season. The first two opponents rank in the bottom four against opposing tight ends, and he’s a fantastic streamer in those games. But the latter two field top-seven units, and he’s a less strategic option in those matchups.
If you’re reading this article, I suspect that you pay enough attention to your roster to have moved on from Higbee by now. He has the same number of targets (37) and catches (28) as another Rams tight end, Gerald Everett, and the two of them don’t get used enough to warrant consideration in fantasy lineups.
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