Fantasy Football Panic Meter: Week 8 (2020)
After a windy Week 8, 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!
Lamar Jackson (BAL): 0.5
Just because Jackson gets a 0.5 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be worried about him. Sure, he’s played like a low-end QB1 this season, but that’s not what you drafted him to do. He’s not someone I would consider benching, but again, he’s also not producing at a level that justifies his draft position.
At this point last season, Lamar Jackson had 180.6 fantasy points (25.8 PPG).
He currently has 140.82 fantasy points (20.1 PPG).
This is why you don't draft quarterbacks early.
— Isaiah Sirois (@is_sirois) November 2, 2020
So while you shouldn’t bench Jackson, you should be shopping him before your league’s trade deadline. Try to find a manager who is hurting at quarterback (perhaps the Dak Prescott manager?) and see if they want to spend up for a quarterback.
Next year, don’t draft a quarterback in the first three rounds.
Tua Tagovailoa (MIA): 2
It feels weird to include Tagovailoa here, but he got picked up in lots of leagues after he was announced as the starter, so I suppose it’s a good idea to remind you not to drop him yet.
Tagovailoa will begin his NFL career with a pair of difficult matchups. He already survived his date with Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey (who left early with an injury), and he’ll get the Arizona Cardinals up next. The Cardinals have played pretty solid defense against quarterbacks so far, and they’ve remained an above-average defense in the first few weeks without Chandler Jones.
That said, Tagovailoa will have some easy matchups on tap once Week 9 is over. He’ll play the Chargers (Week 10) and the Broncos (Week 11), both of whom struggle against quarterbacks. The two teams played each other this week, and both Justin Herbert and Drew Lock tossed three touchdown passes. Tagovailoa should be able to do the same.
Jonathan Taylor (IND): 3
Taylor is a sinking ship. I have a small writeup about him and the Colts in this week’s recap, but the skinny is that Frank Reich doesn’t trust him in the red zone. The emergence of Jordan Wilkins doesn’t help his case, either. He also isn’t finding open holes.
Jonathan Taylor gets a chance from the 1-yard line, can’t punch it in because he has no vision, Jordan Wilkins comes in and makes it look easy on a 1-yard TD
2nd half RB stats:
Wilkins – 6 carries, TD
Nyheim Hines – 1 carry, 1 target
Taylor – 1 carry
Has Taylor been benched?
— Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler) November 1, 2020
Taylor won’t get replaced by Wilkins, but a three-back committee doesn’t have much value. You should try to move him before your league’s deadline, although I may wait a week for him to rebound before you accidentally sell too low.
Joshua Kelley (LAC): 4.5
In Austin Ekeler’s absence, Kelley has been unremarkable. He has finished with 4.3, 7.8, and 3 points over the last three weeks, and that’s not startable production. I thought that Kelley’s value would be as a goal-line back, but he has not found the end zone since Week 1.
Worse, third-stringer Troymaine Pope out-produced him this week.
#Chargers Week 8 RB usage:
Justin Jackson – 17 carries, 5 targets
Troymaine Pope – 10 carries, 7 targets (???)
Joshua Kelley – 7 carries, 1 target
— Jared Smola (@SmolaDS) November 2, 2020
I had a lot of faith in Kelley earlier in the year, and from his college tape, it doesn’t seem misplaced. I think that the Chargers’ banged-up offensive line has something to do with his struggles, although that doesn’t mean much for fantasy purposes, and I would plan to move on from him before Ekeler gets back.
Adam Thielen (MIN) and Justin Jefferson (MIN): 0
I hope you recognized this going in, but both Thielen and Jefferson play for a run-first team. Yes, I know that they’re talented receivers, but again, they play for a run-first team.
Last season, the Vikings attempted 476 rushing plays (29.75 per game), which ranked them fourth in the league. They only attempted 466 passing plays (29.15 per game), good for a 30th-place result. This year has not been much different — they’re attempting 28.7 rushing plays and 27 passing plays per game. That doesn’t give either of these receivers much margin for error.
So while Thielen and Jefferson don’t have a ton of floor, their talent (and Minnesota’s frequent pass-heavy game script) give them much upside. An early lead (and, let’s be honest, Jaire Alexander) prevented Minnesota from targeting their top two wideouts much, but at least one of them should bounce back next week against the Lions.
Rashard Higgins (CLE): 2
Higgins was a popular waiver pick-up this week, so managers who added him were probably disappointed with his one-catch, 14-yard showing. Before you send Higgins back to waivers for a shiny new toy, remember that he had to play in some bad weather.
Baker Mayfield completed 12 passes in Week 8, and he only threw the ball 25 times. Higgins, a downfield weapon, still saw three targets despite playing in a worst-case scenario.
Browns’ WR Rashard Higgins, now replacing the injured Odell Beckham Jr., told @ByKimberleyA that he feels so close to Baker Mayfield that he feels like his “mama gave birth to him.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 1, 2020
And with a connection like that, he’s a safe bet to bounce back in better weather.
Amari Cooper (DAL): 2
The Cowboys did not play well with Ben DiNucci under center, but no one suffered more than Cooper. The wideout caught just one of his five targets for five yards. Meanwhile, Michael Gallup caught seven of his 12 looks for 61 yards.
I really don’t know what to make of Dallas anymore. The loss of Dak Prescott has severely depressed the value of every player in this offense, and Cooper may be more of a boom-or-bust asset moving forward. You could try to sell him now in hopes that a league-mate still has faith in Andy Dalton, but I would wait for him to have another strong finish before trying to negotiate a sale.
The Cowboys will play the Steelers before their Week 10 bye, and it’ll be hard to get excited about starting Cooper until he plays the Vikings in Week 11.
Mike Gesicki (MIA): 5
I haven’t written about Gesicki in this column so far, but it’s past time to do so. In his last four outings, Gesicki has scored 2, 11.6, 0, and 1.3 fantasy points. That kind of production is unacceptable, and he is almost fourth on this team in targets (Preston Williams is just two behind him).
While the Dolphins had a very friendly game script this weekend, Gesicki’s poor performance has become a trend, and he’s pretty much droppable in all formats. The fact that Miami has looked to Adam Shaheen (2 TDs) Durham Smythe (1 TD) in the red zone dramatically lowers Gesicki’s ceiling — he has the same number of touchdowns as his primary backup!
Mark Andrews (BAL): 1
I have written about Andrews a lot this season. This is his third time making this column (he also appeared in Week 2 and Week 6), and while I’ve always tried to play it off as “oh, he’s a touchdown-dependent, boom-or-bust TE1” — that line kind of rings hollow now.
Andrews has finished with fewer than five half-PPR points in four of his seven games. His five touchdowns are enough to earn him a top-10 spot at the position, but he hasn’t lived up to the top-three hype.
The Baltimore Ravens have suffered from a serious case of touchdown regression this year, and you should try to sell high on the name recognition of their assets. Andrews will be a frustrating and touchdown-dependent asset to manage here on out, and while he has matchup-winning upside, you might be able to move him for a higher-floor option like Darren Waller.
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