Green Bay at New England – Rob Gronkowski
We’re at the time of the year where speculating season-long projections isn’t an absurd notion. If we told you that Gronkowski would play at least 14 games and would finish with anything less than nine touchdowns, you would have laughed. Instead, we’ve got one missed game to go with one lonely touchdown which is on pace for two touchdowns this year. Two. As in one more than one, one less than three, two more than zero, 10 less than he caught in 2015. That’s a lot of different angles of looking at this issue, but the issue continues to confuse us. Is he all done with New England after all those trade rumors from the past summer? Has he seen the rest of the league cash in while he is forced to sign incentive structured contracts? Whatever the reason is, if he can’t get it going this week in a game where the two teams could break 60 total points, then it’ll be time to pull the plug on Gronkowski. Luckily for fantasy owners, Tom Brady can see the writing on the wall as well. He’ll be actively forcing looks to Gronkowski to juice the numbers up a little bit the same way Russell Wilson did last year with Jimmy Graham. Don’t be shocked to see Gronkowski finish this game against Green Bay with two touchdowns. If he doesn’t, his 2018 season may be beyond repair.
Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans – Michael Thomas
Remember back to the first month of the season where Michael Thomas was a Golden God of points per reception (PPR) fantasy football leagues? Over the first three games of 2018, Mike Thomas had 38 catches for almost 400 yards with three touchdowns. Since then though, over the last four games, Thomas has had 271 yards with just one touchdown. That’s a drop from an average of around 133 yards per game to about 68. Thomas has gone from the best at his position to an afterthought in his own offense. What has changed? He has the same coach. He has the same quarterback. No one else at receiver offers that much of a challenge. So what’s the deal? Is it a big coincidence that New Orleans has both of its stud running backs as options after Mark Ingram’s suspension ended and Thomas’ value has taken a hit? Maybe being forced to get creative in keeping both Ingram and Alvin Kamara involved has lead to Thomas’ value loss? Well, we may get an answer right quick as the Rams offer a complete defense and will score a ton of points against the New Orleans defense. Will this lead to Thomas returning to the focal point of the New Orleans offense or will Kamara and Ingram handle the burden? Anything less than 100 yards and a touchdown will have Thomas falling out of elite company.
Atlanta at Washington – Julio Jones
Let’s hit you with some knowledge:
FACT: Julio Jones has caught 53 passes on the year already.
FACT: With 812 yards already racked up, he has nine games to collect 188 yards to break that 1,000-yard marker.
FACT: That’s good for an average of 116 yards per game.
FACT: Not a single one of those 53 catches or those 812 yards have seen him break the plane for a touchdown.
HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!
We now play in a league where Terrelle Pryor has more receiving touchdowns than Julio Jones. Emmanuel Sanders has thrown more touchdown passes than Julio Jones has caught. Even New England safety Devon McCourty has more touchdowns than Julio Jones. That’s a lot to wrap your head around but the truth remains. Jones has the “yips” in the red zone and it’s been happening for a long time. We just tore up Rob Gronkowski for having one score on the year and Jones has none. Apply exactly what was written about Gronkowski above to Julio Jones. He needs touchdowns NOW in a big way in order to turn around a season that has reached the point of no return. If Jones can’t bump up the touchdown total against Washington this week the half-season of frustration may spill over.
Los Angeles Chargers at Seattle – Chris Carson
Well, well, well … What do we have here? Has Seattle found its new workhorse back? Entering the season, we thought it was going to be Rashaad Penny running away with that title, but at the halfway point, Chris Carson looks like the future of the Seattle backfield. Over the last four games, Carson has averaged 95.5 yards per game on the ground. All in all, it’s impressive considering that defenses aren’t forced to play against the pass as there is not a single receiver worth keying on. If Carson can keep on this pace and begin to get a little bit of life out of Doug Baldwin, the dynasty outlook could be that of a second round fantasy pick next season. But, if Carson were to stall out against a tough defense like Los Angeles while also seeing Baldwin offer zero help, one would wonder if he’s worth buying into at such a high price next year. Long story short here, Carson has to keep up the good work or his value will begin to break apart.
Kansas City at Cleveland – Sammy Watkins
As good as Tyreek Hill has been and as worthy as he is of our fantasy love, let’s not forget about the season that Sammy Watkins is having. When Kansas City moved away from Jeremy Maclin and then inked Watkins to a major contract, we in the fantasy world laughed. Now, Maclin is out of the league completely and Watkins has more than 500 yards total and three touchdowns. One thousand yards and six touchdowns would be way more than even the biggest Watkins’ fans would have hoped for; Sammy Watkins’ mother drafted him with lesser expectations. But here we are. With how inconsistent Tyreek Hill has been between monster showings, Watkins has carved out a role of reliability. Can Watkins take his current WR3 output and turn it into high-end WR2 stuff? Here against Cleveland, if Watkins were to have 90 yards with a score, his statistical pace would have him on the rankings rise.