Let me introduce myself. My name is Karl and I’m the new resident fantasy football expert for Beer League Talk. Want to win your fantasy football league? I’m here to help you do that.
Fantasy Football Season is officially a quarter of the way through! Whether or not your team has been dominating the rest of your league, there are players that have fallen short of their preseason expectations. In some cases, nagging injuries have been the cause of their lackluster performances, in other instances, the player has simply failed to produce at their expected level. This article will discuss some of the players who have disappointed thus far into the season, and offer advice for what to do with said player. Here are 6 players who have been disappointments this season and whether to acquire/keep/hold them.
All fantasy points in this article are drawn from PPR leagues and rankings and ADP’s are from ESPN leagues.
Wilson has left a lot of his fantasy football owners frustrated through his first four games of the season. After being drafted on average as the QB4, Wilson currently holds the rank of QB16. He’s thrown for seven touchdown passes and has been picked off three times this season. Seattle’s star QB has only reached the 20 fantasy point threshold one time in 2018. The Seahawks offensive line is among the worst in the league, and Wilson doesn’t have many weapons to throw to. While Doug Baldwin returned to action this past week, TE Will Dissly went down with a season ending injury. Dissly had emerged as a primary target for Wilson, and that’s one less receiving threat at Wilson’s disposal to help him turn his struggles around.
Much of Wilson’s fantasy appeal has typically been tied to his legs and his ability to make big plays on the ground. That has not occurred this season, and it doesn’t seem likely to happen as Seattle’s new Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer doesn’t intend to utilize Wilson’s exceptional running ability. After logging 95 carries last season, and no fewer than 72 carries in any one of his six previous NFL seasons, Russell Wilson has run just 11 times through his first four games. That is a pace of 44 carries in a 16-game season, far below his usual workload. With limited weapons in the passing attack, and an OC who won’t call plays for Wilson to use his legs, defenses are not going to have much trouble containing the Seahawks offense this season. While Wilson is notorious for having a slow start to the season, I don’t think that he is going to have the year that fantasy owners were hoping for when drafting him.
Synopsis: Hold Wilson, but bench him. I know people are typically against rostering two quarterbacks, outside of 2QB leagues, but Wilson is somewhat of a special case. I don’t expect great results from him for the time being, so I would try to scoop another QB to start in the mean time, and hope that Wilson can be effective as the season goes on.
Kenyan Drake emerged last season and was likely instrumental in many fantasy teams making a playoff push. Drake was energetic in the second half of 2017 and acted as a top tier waiver wire pickup. This year, Drake had an ADP of 39.4 (RB16), good for an early 4th round selection, and if you drafted him around that mark, you are likely regretting it big time. While his first two games of the season were decent, he has only reached 50 yards on the ground once (53 yds in Week 2). What’s truly concerning in the case of Kenyan Drake is how few carries he has seen over the past two weeks. Drake has totaled 8 carries, including just three this past Sunday against the Patriots. What’s worse is that he has only accumulated six rushing yards TOTAL over the past two games. He’s not making up for it in the passing attack either, reeling in three receptions for 20 yards during that same span. In Week 4 Drake was only on the field for 46% percent of the Dolphins’ snaps, while Frank Gore appeared on 51% of snaps. Gore also carried the ball 11 times for 41 yards and reeled in two receptions for 16 yards and a score. Drake’s usage has fallen off a cliff over the past two weeks as he failed to make an impact for Miami. Despite Adam Gase claiming that Drake would see around 20 touches per game this year, Drake has totaled just 11 touches over the past two games. Whether this will be the case from here out is unlikely, but it’s certainly concerning for Drake owners.
Synopsis: I’d say you have no choice but to hold Drake. No one is going to give you any sort of value for him. He should be riding the bench of fantasy rosters until he has a good game, or at least a high volume game.
The Bears put up a season-high 48 points on Sunday, but unfortunately for Howard owners, he did not get involved in that action. Howard rushed the ball 11 times against Tampa Bay for a pitiful 25 yards. He was absent in the passing game, failing to make a reception and getting just one target. Howard was drafted as the RB15 in ESPN drafts, with an ADP of 30.5. While Howard looked like he was finally getting the volume owners were seeking in Week 3, carrying the ball 24 times for 61 yards (meh) and a score, the game script favored Tarik Cohen in Week 4, and Howard put up an abysmal 2.5 fantasy points. Howard’s lack of pass catching ability is not doing him any favors as the Bears offensive attack was almost purely aerial last week. Trubisky threw for six touchdown passes and Tarik Cohen was the team’s most targeted player, catching 7 of 8 passes thrown his way for 121 yards and a touchdown. Head Coach Matt Nagy continues to claim that he wants to involve Howard more in the offense, and Week 3 looked like it was a fresh start, but his lack of touches in Week 4 is extremely concerning. Chicago has a BYE week in Week 5, so hopefully they can work on a way to ensure Howard gets the touches he needs to succeed. On the season so far, Howard is averaging a measly 3.2 yards per carry, scoring just once in the first four weeks.
Synopsis: Hold. This will likely be the lowlight of Howard’s season, and moving forward I’d expect brighter days. If you want to get off the Howard train, now is not the time to do it.
Injuries are the main issue here, but that hasn’t stopped fantasy owners from regretting spending an early second round pick on the Vikings RB. Cook has yet to top 40 yards on the ground this year, and in his return to the field in Week 4, he averaged just 2.0 yards per carry without making a single reception. Cook is currently the RB40, again largely due to his injury, but it’s still a cause for concern. He has failed to score a touchdown in any of the three games he has suited up for, and perhaps he returned to the field too soon as he remains less than 100% healthy according to Cook himself. It’s especially concerning considering that hamstring injuries have the tendency to linger (see: Leonard Fournette) so owners will be hoping that Cook recovers fully soon. Expect Cook to have another snap count on Sunday when the Vikings play the Eagles, the leagues best run defense through the first four weeks. This season, Cook is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry on 36 rushing attempts. His volume will obviously increase synonymously with his health, and ideally so will his production.
Synopsis: Buy/Hold. If you want to buy Dalvin Cook, now is an ideal time as his value probably won’t go much lower, barring an injury setback. It’s a risky play, however, as his early ADP will likely warrant a modest haul in order to acquire the Vikings RB. Still, this is probably the cheapest time to buy. If you’re an owner, I’m holding all the way. Selling on Cook now would effectively be wasting that second round pick you took him with.
There’s a reason I never select Rob Gronkowski in fantasy football, and that is that it’s nearly impossible to expect a 16 game season out of him. Still, he doesn’t necessarily need 16 games to produce Top 3, or even Top 1 fantasy TE numbers. Gronk hasn’t played a full season since 2011, yet since that season (excluding it) he has still reached 1,000 yards three times and had three seasons of double-digit touchdowns. Clearly the talent is there, it’s just a matter of staying on the field. Gronk boasts an ADP of 18.8 in ESPN leagues (TE1) but has produced TE6 numbers thus far. He had a typical monster Gronkowski outing in Week 1, catching seven receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown, but has failed to reach double-digit fantasy points in any game since. He’s been nursing an ankle injury, which caused him to leave the Dolphins game early, but he should be back on the field for Week 5’s matchup with the Colts, despite the contest being on Thursday. Over the past three weeks of action, Gronkowski has totaled less yardage than he did in Week 1, but he should remain a top tier tight end and reclaim his spot amongst the Top 3 at his position. I believe that Gronkowski will also benefit from the acquisition of Josh Gordon (when he gets more familiar with the offense) and the return of Julian Edelman from his suspension. Defenses will have to account for the increase in weapons the Pats deploy and Gronk will see far less double-coverage as a result. There is hardly a defender in the league who can handle Gronk’s 6’-6”, 265lb frame in a 1-on-1 battle. He’s still on pace for 68 receptions, one less than ideal for Gronk, and the yardage should increase throughout the year.
Synopsis: Hold. Gronk hasn’t been outstanding thus far, though that is largely due to injury. When healthy he is clearly a top tight end and as Week 1 showed, he can put up some incredible numbers at a position which is oft considered a barren wasteland. If you invested an early pick in him, you likely knew about his injury risk, but he will still end up in the Top 3 TE’s so long as he takes the field.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Alex Collins has a problem. That problem is that he fumbles the football. Collins has already fumbled twice this season through the first four weeks and as a result he is losing out on snaps. Last year he fumbled four times in 15 games. As a result, the Ravens have ushered Buck Allen into the role of their 3rd down RB, which issues a blow to Collins’ fantasy value as that is a significant portion of plays in which he will be on the sideline. Collins’ production has also been less than ideal, averaging 39.5 yards per game on the ground, on just over 11 carries per game. He has found the end zone three times already, including one receiving TD, but until he learns how to protect the ball better, owners are going to have to deal with Allen taking a sizeable share of snaps. Collins’ saw his highest amount of carries in Week 3, recording 18 carries, before coming back down to 11 in Week 4. After being selected with an ADP of 52.8 (RB20) in ESPN leagues, Collins has relied on touchdowns in order to maintain some of his value, currently ranking as the RB23. It’s worth noting that Buck Allen is ranked as the RB11 and saw 10 carries in Week 4. Collins has topped the 50-yard mark just once this season and is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry this season. If he continues to cough up the football, Allen could see his role increase which would be disastrous for Collins owners.
Synopsis: Sell/Hold. I’m definitely not looking to buy Alex Collins, unless I’m desperate for RB depth. His inability to protect the ball makes him a liability to the Ravens, who have shown they are not afraid to let Buck Allen take on a bigger workload. The fact that Collins has managed three total touchdowns this season bodes well for those who may be trying to trade him, as apart from his TD’s, his upside has been extremely limited.
Thanks for reading the inaugural BLT fantasy football tips blog. Be on the lookout for my weekly releases to help you win your fantasy league!