Heading into Week 4 of the Fantasy Football season already panicking? Don’t worry, here’s what to panic or don’t panic about when it comes to your prized fantasy football stars.
Sep 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) following the loss to the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Colts 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Week 4 of fantasy football is about to kick off and your team is 0 – 3. Or is it 3 – 0? Whatever your record may be, one thing is for sure: many things are out of your hands. If you drafted like a champion, you’re likely kicking butts and taking names, regardless of matchups and injuries.
However, if you drafted like a noob (anyone here play online co-op games?) you’re likely staring at a big, fat donut hole in the win column. Fantasy football can be a harsh mistress and, whether it be injuries or just poor foresight, the golden glow that radiated from your team post-draft may have blown away with the first gust of an early autumn storm.
I am here to lend you friendly advice on your (supposed) fantasy football studs.
Additionally, I’m in four leagues this year, with a combined record of 10 wins and 2 losses.
I’m generally going to stay away from injured players, mainly because I’m not a doctor, nor do you need me to tell you the obvious.
So, follow me down the rabbit hole of fantasy prediction and guesswork. Don’t panic! Things might get a bit scary as we start the month of October.
Next: DON'T PANIC: Andrew Luck
DON’T PANIC: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
If you drafted Luck, you drafted him relatively high, right? Fifth round or so? So far, Luck as thrown for 913 yards on the year, with 6 touchdowns and four turnovers, and is on pace for well under 4,000 yards passing on the year. Not encouraging, right?
Through three games, Luck has the second highest completion percentage (61.3), as well as the second highest passer rating (93.2).
Yes, Donte Moncrief is out for a bit, and the plans for his breakout year with the Colts are on a six-week hiatus. However, Andrew Luck is Andrew Luck and what should be expected is an almost Drew Brees-like game plan: spreading the ball around to whichever wide receiver* is open (*see T.Y. Hilton).
A word of caution: While he does have a few favorable games over the course of the rest of the season, if your league’s championship game lands in Weeks 14 or 15 (Houston and @ Minnesota, respectively), consider a backup plan. Don’t Panic…yet.
Next: PANIC: Russell Wilson
Sep 25, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold (58) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Wilson was injured on the play. The Seahawks won 37-18. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
PANIC: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
I play in four leagues (3 PPR, 1 standard). In two of the PPR leagues, I saw Russell Wilson get drafted in the 2nd in one, and the 3rd round in the other. Before you ask: yes, these guys have played fantasy football before and, yes, they truly thought they were nabbing a QB1.
Wilson has never been a huge numbers guy. He’s been a steady and smart quarterback, throwing 108 touchdowns to only 35 interceptions . . . in his entire five-year career. For the sake of contrast, Ryan Fitzpatrick has 157 touchdowns to 123 interceptions in an 11-year career. Just saying.
The biggest thing to consider with starting Wilson as your QB1 is that he has never been a high yardage passer or a high touchdown guy. His high water mark came last year with 34 touchdowns and 4,024 passing yards. It’s interesting to note that in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl year, he threw for only 3,357 yards and 26 touchdowns, riding the backs of a superior defense and Marshawn Lynch.
Outside of a few favorable matchups, Wilson has a rough year ahead of him and, much like Luck, if your league playoffs land in Weeks 14 (@ Green Bay), 15 (Los Angeles), or 16 (Arizona), you should consider other quarterbacks.
Oh, yeah. He also has a balky knee and will be wearing a knee brace for a while. PANIC.
Also, keep an eye on Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars. He may end up here soon.
Next: DON'T PANIC: Eddie Lacy
Sep 25, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) rushes with the football during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
DON’T PANIC: Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Understandably, you’re were likely saying to yourself after the first two games of this season, “Oh, my goodness. Did I honestly waste a high pick on Eddie Lacy again?”
Last week, I said “Don’t Panic” on Aaron Rodgers. He obviously read the article and didn’t want to let me down, so he responded by throwing four touchdowns and no turnovers (hey, fantasy doesn’t only apply to football, guys).
Playing with a great lead over the Detroit Lions, the Packers handed the ball over to Lacy, who ran for 103 yards on 17 carries. Yes, I know: he still has no touchdowns on the year, but with the seemingly returned vigor of the Green Bay passing attack, Lacy’s opportunities will continue to grow. Plus, if your league assigns bonus points for 100+ yards in a game, you ended up having a nice return on your investment in Lacy.
Green Bay has a decent schedule for the remainder of the year, but keep an eye out on that playoff schedule in your league. If your championship lands on Week 15 (@ Chicago), you should be a happy camper. If it lands on Week 16 (Minnesota), you may be taking a gamble.
Also on the DON’T PANIC: Matt Forte, New York Jets
Next: PANIC: Mark Ingram
Sep 11, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) runs while being chased by a host of Oakland Raiders defenders in the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Raiders won 35-34. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
PANIC: Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
Let’s just be frank (Okay, but can I still be Garth?): if you drafted Mark Ingram, you drafted him way too high. The Saints are a pass first team and Ingram is not a great pass catching threat out of the backfield. Yes, he caught a touchdown pass last week, but still has yet to punch one in on the ground.
Add that to the fact that Ingram has always been a very touchdown-dependent running back in fantasy, and, barring a random multiple touchdown game, he should be regulated to your bench.
Besides, with Brees throwing the ball, why would you need to run? Until Ingram ends up on a team that will feature him (a la Chris Ivory and the New York Jets), he’ll never live up to the potential that he has and we, as fantasy football managers, will never feel good about starting him.
Panic, but only if you’re relying on him as your RB1 or RB2. Maybe consider hitting the PANIC button on Justin Forsett, or, you know, any running back on the Baltimore Ravens.
Next: DON'T PANIC: Amari Cooper
Sep 25, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Oakland Raiders receiver Amari Cooper (89) catches a pass as Tennessee Titans cornerback Perrish Cox (20) defends during the first half at Nissan Stadium. The Raiders won 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
DON’T PANIC: Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders
Listen, Amari Cooper has had 29 targets this year, catching 15 of them, for a 54% catch rate. He is clearly the number one receiver on a young and growing Raiders offense. Added to that, he still has yet to find the end zone.
However, that will change. Derek Carr has shown great growth from behind center, rocking a 99.1 passer rating on the year.
With several tasty matchups on the horizon against very exploitable defenses, Cooper should find his stride as the year goes on. Also, it doesn’t hurt having Michael Crabtree as the other member of the tandem.
Cooper is still a WR1 in all formats and you should start him with confidence against the Baltimore Ravens this week.
Oh! Seriously, Don’t Panic about Julian Edelman, for obvious reasons.
Next: PANIC: Jeremy Maclin
Sep 25, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (19) leaps while running as New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) attempts the tackle during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 24-3. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
PANIC: Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs
Maclin mirrors Cooper exactly in number of catches (15) and targets (29), but has 1 touchdown. So, why should you panic about Maclin, but not Cooper?
Answer: the nature of the offense for Kansas City. They are a run first, run often team. Last year, Maclin tallied 87 catches for only 1,088 yards and 8 touchdowns. Not anywhere near elite wide receiver numbers, though catches and the number of targets (124) should lead to WR1 status.
This isn’t necessarily a full-on “panic”, mainly because Maclin is likely your FLEX or on your bench. However, some of you — and you all know who you are — have him as your WR1 or WR2 because you went high on running backs in the first few rounds and found yourself digging for scraps in later rounds.
Case and point: Against what is now (sadly) considered a porous Jets secondary, Maclin only managed four receptions for 35 yards. Granted, the Chiefs offense didn’t have to do too much to win the game, but the truth is that Maclin’s fantasy value is hitched to the Alex Smith wagon.