Injuries to high-profile starters – Mike Evans, Jared Cook, Calvin Ridley, Mark Andrews and DeVante Parker, among others – dominated the Week 14 fantasy headlines, and so did the performances of some other intriguing fantasy players. In senior FantasySharks.com writer Matt Wilson’s newest edition of “Traps & Trends, he puts five of them under the microscope to see if they’re fantasy assets or fantasy fool’s gold for your playoff run.
We’re 14 weeks into the regular season, one week into the fantasy playoffs for some managers and one week away from the postseason for others, but the fantasy universe has left us with a new set of player questions:
1. Can a certain embattled quarterback improve your chances to win a fantasy bowl with his suddenly improved play?
The Dude: Mitchell Trubisky
The Damage: From Week 1 through Week 11, Trubisky, expected to take a step forward during his second season in head coach Matt Nagy’s scheme, was largely disappointing , and his critics were quick to remind the fantasy universe that the Chicago Bears selected him second overall during the 2017 draft, ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. During that three month-stretch (nine games played), Trubisky averaged just 175.6 passing yards and one touchdown pass per contest. Actually, he failed to throw a scoring strike in five outings. Touted for his scrambling ability and athleticism, Trubisky carried just 15 times (1.67 times per contest) for 58 scoreless yards (3.9 yards per carry.
However, Trubisky’s production picked up three weeks ago:
- Week 10 versus the New York Giants: 278-1-2 passing and 7-18-1 rushing.
- Week 11 @Detroit Lions: 338-3-1 passing and 4-4-0 rushing.
- Week 12 against the Dallas Cowboys: 244-3-1 passing and 10-63-1 rushing.
Throwing with more accuracy, flashing his mobility and playing with far more confidence and a stronger command of the offense, Trubisky has resembled the playmaker that the Bears thought they were getting three seasons ago. Is he a safe starting option who can help your fantasy team chase a championship?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
He’s clearly playing better, mixing a lot more good plays with a lower percentage of bad ones lately. Trubisky completed 76.3 percent of his passes in the Lions game and connected on 74.2 percent of his passes versus a largely disinterested Cowboys defense last Thursday night. In the Dallas game, he probably should have been picked two more times. Where did the season-best 10 carries for 63 yards and one touchdown versus the Cowboys come from? Prior to that contest, Trubisky hadn’t cleared seven carries or 18 rushing yards in a contest.
While he has shown some overdue growth, I think Trubisky’s improved play is also a major product of some very soft matchups. He won’t be able to sustain it. The Giants, Lions and a disinterested Cowboys defense have all surrendered at least the seventh-most quarterback fantasy points during the last four weeks. In addition, Trubisky has only one legit target – Allen Robinson – and another target that’s slowing improving as well – Anthony Miller. I’m expecting Trubisky to have tougher sledding in the next two weeks against a Green Bay Packers defense that has given up the fourth-fewest quarterback fantasy points and a Kansas city Chiefs defense that has yielded the fifth-fewest quarterback fantasy points. If you’re expecting Trubisky to be a fantasy playoff savior, you’re making a mistake.
2. Has one of the San Francisco 49ers’ committee ball carriers finally taken command of the team’s backfield?
The Dude: Raheem Mostert
The Damage: Even though Tevin Coleman is healthy and remains the “starter” and a now-healthy Matt Breida is supposedly the No. 2 guy, Mostert clearly has been the most productive option recently in what has been a hot-hand backfield over the course of the season. He started making fantasy noise back three weeks ago:
- Week 12 versus the Green Bay Packers: 6-45-1 rushing and 1-22-0 receiving.
- Week 13 @ Baltimore Ravens: 19-146-1 rushing and 2-8-0 receiving.
- Week 14 @ New Orleans Saints: 10-69-1 rushing and 2-40-1 receiving.
While Mostert’s performance against the Ravens two weeks ago was impressive, it’s easy to understand why some fantasy managers thought it was a fluky product of Mostert’s ability to produce in what was a rainy game in Baltimore. However, he shut the doubters up with a two-score performance during the 49ers insane 48-46 victory over the New Orleans Saints, which had been previewed as a low-scoring defensive battle by many experts. Can Mostert sustain this high-level of production as a safe starting option for playoff fantasy teams?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Even though the struggling so-called starter Coleman, who was benched last week, and Breida aren’t going to disappear – and I figure that San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t going to scrap a hot-hand backfield in one of the NFL’s run-heaviest offenses – Mostert probably will continue to be the 49ers tailback to own for the close of the 2019 regular season.
Prior to Week 12, he had touched the ball just 62 times (6.2 touches per game. Mostert has fresher legs and clearly looks far more explosive than Coleman and Breida. While the risk of Mostert’s workload taking a hit if he struggles and other ball carrier gets hot, the fifth-year pro is a weekly RB2 with upside. His next two home matchups versus the Atlanta Falcons (14th in rushing yards allowed during the last month) and the Los Angeles Rams (16 in rushing yards allowed since Week 11) don’t look very scary.
3. Hey! Didn’t you used to be Russell Wilson’s steady go-to receiver?
The Dude: Tyler Lockett
The Damage: From Week 1 through Week 9, he more than effectively held down the role of Wilson’s No. 1 target, replacing the retired Doug Baldwin on the depth chart. In one-point PPR scoring formats, Lockett clocked out of Week 11 as the fantasy WR6. According to his stat sheet, Lockett either scored or amassed at least 75 receiving yards in nine of 10 contests played (7.6 targets per contest). However, following the Seattle Seahawks’ Week 11 bye, Lockett has been a major disappointment:
- Week 12 @Philadelphia Eagles: 1-38-0 receiving on two targets.
- Week 13 versus Minnesota Vikings: 0-0-0 receiving on three targets.
- Week 14 @Los Angeles Rams: 4-43-0 receiving on six targets.
Will Lockett rebound to his early-season form and make a more reliable fantasy option for playoff fantasy teams?
The Diagnosis: TOSS-UP
It’s nothing that I can easily approve but I suspect that Lockett hasn’t been physically right for a while. Prior to a Week 12 clash with an Eagles secondary that has yielded the sixth-most wideout fantasy points but has played well on occasion, Lockett was battling a shin problem and the flu even though he wasn’t listed on the final injury report that week. Those health issues likely carried over into Week 13 against a burnable Vikings secondary that has coughed up the eighth-most wideout fantasy points. This past Sunday night, Lockett posted his best outing in more than a month despite having to fight some battles with Jalen Ramsey and a Rams secondary that’s 16th in wideout fantasy points allowed.
While Lockett’s health should improve, he looks like a boom-or-bust fantasy option for the close of the 2019 fantasy playoffs A Week 15 matchup with the Carolina Panthers and cornerback James Bradberry is not a plus one. For Week 16, the Arizona Cardinals have given up the third-most wideout fantasy points – Lockett could get back on track here – but the Seahawks didn’t need big production from him to defeat the lowly Cardinals back in Week 4 and probably won’t in this rematch.