Fantasy Football Panic Meter: Week 9 (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. 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!
Tom Brady (TB): 2
Yikes, Tom. With a full arsenal of weapons — Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Mike Evans… Brady failed to deliver. He threw for 209 yards, no scores, and three picks. He completed just 57.8% of his passes.
Brady throws his 3rd pick of the night ?
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 9, 2020
That’s not what you want to see out of your QB1. Fortunately, it’s not what you get out of Brady most weeks! He scored 36.9 points just two weeks ago, and he has a median showing of 20.7 points.
I’m not sure what exactly went wrong this week, but it’s probably safe to chalk it up as an outlier. Brady isn’t a high-end QB1, but he should be a decent low-end option to start in favorable matchups. He doesn’t have one next week, however, as the Buccaneers will take on the Panthers. He scored just 9.7 points against them in Week 2 because Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones took over the offense, and I would leave him on your bench.
Ezekiel Elliott (DAL): 3
You don’t have to bench Zeke while you’re shopping him, but you should try to move him before your league’s trade deadline. The Cowboys are in the midst of a lost season, and with the mixed messages they sent about Elliott’s status for this week, there’s a non-zero chance the team shuts him down at some point.
Even if Elliott plays the rest of the season, it’s likely that Dallas will feature Tony Pollard in an expanded role. Pollard touched the ball 10 times for 58 yards in Week 9, while Elliott got 20 touches for only 69 yards.
Elliott is a high-value asset, and you can probably still shop him for a decent price. You shouldn’t panic and sell low, but you should try to gauge demand while identifying the pieces you want to target. I would only rush to make a move if your league’s deadline is bearing down on you.
Devin Singletary (BUF): 4
My take here is entirely format-dependent. Singletary is still a decent option in PPR — he caught three passes last week, and he’s averaging 2.7 catches per game. That gives him some extra floor in those formats, which makes him an acceptable floor play at flex.
Outside of PPR — both in standard and half-PPR — Singletary is someone to move away from. In games that Zack Moss also played, Singletary hasn’t scored double-digit points, but Moss has accomplished that in three of his six games due to his red-zone usage.
That said, he has a lot of upside as a handcuff, as he’s the unquestioned lead back when Moss misses time. That value means that I would try to shop him, not drop him, but your ability to do so will depend on the size of your league. He’s almost certainly droppable in 10-team leagues with standard rosters.
Melvin Gordon (DEN): 1.5
Gordon looked great when the Broncos didn’t have a healthy Phillip Lindsay. But with Lindsay back in the offense, Gordon has struggled to post RB2-type numbers. He’s scored 11, 7.7, and 3.7 points since Lindsay came back.
Phillip Lindsay is nearly a full career YPC above Melvin Gordon (4.9 to 4.0).
Lindsay's Yards Created/carry was +0.05, Gordon's was -0.53.
Lindsay's first 2 years scoring 13.6 PPG is better than Gordon's 13.4 in his first 2.
Phillip Lindsay is a better RB than Melvin Gordon.
— David Zach (@DavidZach16) June 24, 2020
Lindsay is just a better back than Gordon. He ranks second in yards created over expected, an efficiency metric cooked up by David Zach, and Lindsay should start to see more usage as a result. Gordon will likely keep getting the goal-line work, so he still has touchdown-based upside, but it’s hard to get excited about rolling him out as an RB2.
That said, the Denver Broncos have a fantastic matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders next week. Entering Week 9, they had given up the fifth-most points per game to the position, and both Gordon and Lindsay should run roughshod over them.
Le’Veon Bell (KC): 4
At this rate, Bell is close to droppable. The once-elite back touched the ball just five times last week, and he earned a combined three yards. Worse, Clyde Edwards-Helaire out-snapped him by a good margin.
Chiefs final HB snap count
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 25
Le'Veon Bell 19
Darrel Williams 18
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) November 8, 2020
Edwards-Helaire has separated himself as the better back in this offense. Bell has now had three weeks to prove himself, yet he’s totaled just 80 yards and hasn’t scored. The writing is on the wall with Bell, and you can either hold onto him as a high-value handcuff, shop him for a low-end piece you prefer, or send him to waivers.
D.J. Moore (CAR): 3
Moore first appeared in the panic meter in Week 3. Since then, he posted some impressive-but-unsustainable numbers — he’s averaging 6.6 targets per game (33% of which came in one game), and he’s only catching 57.6% of them.
Moore has succeeded when targeted far downfield or when creating yards after the catch. While that role offers some fantasy value, Moore doesn’t much volume relative to his teammates. One teammate, Robby Anderson, is leading the team in targets (80); another, Curtis Samuel, has seen his role increase recently — he’s averaged 6.6 targets per game over the last three weeks.
Worse, Christian McCaffrey just got back this week, and he drew 10 targets from Teddy Bridgewater. The best time to sell Moore was a week or two ago, unfortunately, and you should try to take what you can get before your league’s trade deadline. He’s a boom-or-bust WR3 moving forward.
Corey Davis (TEN): 2
Oof. Davis posted a fat goose-egg in the points column after consecutive weeks of reliable production. Ryan Tannehill threw his way three times, good for a 14% target share, but Davis failed to haul in any of those looks.
Davis hadn’t scored fewer than 9.4 fantasy points on the season, and in PPR formats, he had scored double-digits in five-straight starts. So what happened? The Titans just didn’t need to throw very often to beat the Bears. Tannehill got away with attempting just 21 passes, his fewest all season, as the Titans could pretty much just coast to victory on a long A.J. Brown reception and a Desmond King fumble-six.
The Titans will play the Colts next week, and their defense has been far more generous to opposing wideouts than the Bears’. I don’t know if Davis will bounce back to double-digit numbers, but he should play better, and he’s a smart player to keep holding on your bench.
Antonio Brown (TB), Chris Godwin (TB), and Mike Evans (TB): 1
Brady wasn’t good in Week 9. As a result, his receivers also struggled. Evans led the way with four catches for 64 yards, while Godwin caught three passes for 41, and Brown hauled in another three for 31. None of them scored.
There are quite a few mouths to feed in this offense, and I’m not sure how Brady will make all of them fantasy-relevant on a weekly basis. I would give this offense some time to gel now that everyone is healthy.
It would be smart to leave the Tampa Bay receivers on your bench for their Week 10 matchup with Carolina. The Buccaneers pummelled the Panthers on the ground back in Week 2, and Brady threw for only 217 yards and one score, so don’t expect much out of their passing game next week.
Michael Thomas (NO): 0
After a multi-week absence, Thomas could only practice in a limited capacity and was ruled questionable for this game. As a result, it shouldn’t surprise fantasy managers that he only caught five passes for 51 yards — he’s still getting back up to speed.
Thomas managers shouldn’t worry about this one. Thomas led the league in targets and receptions last year, and the Saints (and Drew Brees) know what he can do, it’s just a question of acclimation.
The Saints will have a tough matchup against the 49ers next week, but Thomas should be in for much bigger games against the Falcons (Week 11) and the Broncos (Week 12) shortly thereafter.
Mark Andrews (BAL): 2
I try not to mention the same player in consecutive weeks in this column, but unfortunately, Andrews continues to warrant panic. The player some managers picked as an elite TE1 has now finished with fewer than five half-PPR points in five of his games thus far — he’s posted a TE1 result just three times!
I won’t repeat my analysis of his situation from last week, but you may want to exchange him for a more consistent tight end (see: Darren Waller) if you can concoct a package deal. I would wait for him to have another big game before you do, however, as you shouldn’t sell low on a player with this much upside.
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