This was a unique week, to say the least, in terms of last-minute roster switches and changes in offensive structure. Many did not know that Clyde Edwards-Helaire and D’Andre Swift were not playing. I saw many teams actually start each. Many expected Todd Gurley not to play but instead he prevented all three Atlanta running backs from scoring over five points in any format. Since Tua Tagovailoa and Alex Smith have taken over, we have seen the tight ends and running backs on those teams see more opportunities while everyone else takes a back seat.
Certain players may look terrible based on the stats but actually still have a bright future. Frank Gore was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a concussion so his statistics are significantly lowered. Jonathan Taylor might have also had 20 points in half-point per reception (PPR) scoring but his 13 carries and three targets suggests he is still far from a locked-in starter every week.
This week we’ll look at fringe starters and misleading player stats from the week:
Fringe Starters that Should be Benched
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia – I stand by my assessment last week saying he can easily be benched at this point. Sanders was the RB52 this past week with 3.1 fantasy points. As stated last week, his opportunities are so low and he is not receiving scoring production either. Ten carries and one target against one of the better running back matchups (Green Bay) last week proves there are much better players to start in your running back slot. This is also not an offense you want to be attached to, especially with Jalen Hurts under center stealing the rushing scores.
The Entire Cincinnati Offense – There is no real optimism that can be attained from this. Tee Higgins might be the closest and safest option to start because he can at least score touchdowns. Higgins led the team this week with seven targets which turned into 56 yards. Outside of Washington, he has been fairly consistent in production and has finished with over 11 fantasy points five out of the last seven weeks. There are few targets to go around in this offense, though as the entire offense had just 17 completions last week. Tyler Boyd is also looking like a bust since Joe Burrow went down; do not be fooled by the one long touchdown catch for Boyd this week. A.J. Green is retired at this point. However, with Dallas and Houston approaching, you shouldn’t drop your Bengals but they also shouldn’t be used as starters, they’re reserves in case something happens to one of your starters.
The New York Jets Offense outside of Jamison Crowder – Without Joe Flacco in the game to support Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman, everyone besides Jamison Crowder is useless in fantasy. No receiver had over 40 yards or a touchdown besides Crowder. Frank Gore was inline for some work but left very early with a concussion. Ty Johnson performed very well in his absence. He was given 22 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown. This was the line I was expecting for Gore. The Las Vegas defense has been horrible against the run and the Jets have two straight games of being at least 13-point underdogs coming up. La’Mical Perine will likely be back by then too so there isn’t a lot to be hopeful for in Ty Johnson.
Christian Kirk and the Arizona Running Backs – If the coaching staff didn’t feel a need to feed Kenyan Drake touchdowns, he would be here also as touchdowns and recent targets have given him a safe floor. Reports have leaked on how bad Kyler Murray’s arm has been in terms of functionality. He can no longer hit Christian Kirk deep until it recovers. His completion percentage was barely above 50 percent this game. We can agree the Los Angeles Rams defense has been great recently against all offensive players though so Murray gets a bit of a pass. Chase Edmonds is now outside of starter territory until we hear about Murray recovering though. Kirk should not be near any lineups; Kirk has had logs of 2, 19, 50 and 27 yards over the last few weeks without any touchdowns. Chase Edmonds is more of a temporary sit as he still saw six targets this game and is on the bubble pending Murray’s ability to work through his shoulder issues.
The Los Angeles Rams Tight Ends and Running Backs – Outside of the wide receivers averaging well over 10 targets per game recently, the fantasy outlook for this offense is not great. Cam Akers was given 21 carries this past week. If Darrell Henderson was not injured in the middle of this game, this number would have been much lower. Akers averaged 3.4 yards per carrying while Henderson averaged 16.3 yards. Even taking away the biggest run from each you have Akers with a 3.0 yards per carry average and Henderson at 5.1 yards per carry. Henderson is worth an occasional start depending on your roster as it seems his quad injury from last month is recovering.
This week was Akers’ first game with over 11 carries since Week 1. Akers has not had more than one target in each game all year also. This is mostly a backfield to avoid until they play the New York Jets in Week 15. Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee might have had at least six targets this week but they never turn it into significant production. They had 44 yards and 24 yards this game, respectively. Otherwise, they are both averaging less than four targets per game. This whole offense minus Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods lack opportunities.
David Johnson, RB, Houston – Since returning from injury, his snaps with Duke Johnson have almost been 50/50. He is still receiving minimal pass usage and had 10 carries last week. With the rough schedule coming, he really should not be started unless we see an uptick in usage.
The San Francisco Backfield – This one is fairly straightforward as none of the running backs finished in the Top 32 this week in points. With Tevin Coleman back, no running back had 10 carries this week. Jeff Wilson Jr., Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman are all eating into each other’s workload. None of the running backs had over 50 yards or a touchdown either. None should be started next week and we can evaluate the carries after the Washington game.