With fantasy bowls happening in a huge majority of fantasy leagues next week, FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson takes a look at some players that could help you win a championship or torpedo your team. It’s Matt’s new edition of “Traps & Trends.”
We’re just 15 weeks into the NFL regular season, but…
1. Is it okay to trust a Philadelphia Eagles wideout not named Golden Tate? Perhaps you remember this guy. If he’s on your roster, he probably has been collecting dust on the end of the bench.
The Dude: Alshon Jeffery
The Damage: From Week 10 through Week 13, the Philadelphia Eagles went out of their way to try to showcase new acquisition Golden Tate while Jeffery took a back seat to him. During that time frame, Tate out-targeted Jeffery 27 to 23 and out-produced him 18-182-1 to 14-151-0. During that stretch, , and Jeffery produced just 11 receptions for 120 scoreless yards. However, Jeffery make some unexpected fantasy noise in Week 14, compiling six receptions for 50 yards and one touchdown on a nine targets from Carson Wentz, which was the highest number of looks that Jeffery had received since Tate joined the team. The touchdown also was Jeffery’s first visit to the end zone since Week 7.
This past Sunday, Jeffery, catching passes from backup Nick Foles, built on his Week 14 comeback outing with a totally unexpected eruption performance during the Eagles’ surprising Sunday night victory over the Los Angeles Rams. Jeffery went off for a game-high and season-best eight receptions for 160 on eight targets. There was nothing fluky about it. Jeffery made several clutch receptions, including a spectacular 50-yard jump ball toss from Foles. As for Tate, he compiled just five receptions for 43 yards on five targets with sitting third in the pecking order behind Jeffery and Zach Ertz (seven targets). Is it safe to trust Jeffery in starting lineups again?
The Diagnosis: TREND
It sure looks that way. As noted, one of Jeffery’s comeback outings happened with Wentz under center and the other happened with Foles slinging the rock, so Jeffery’s reemergence wasn’t about one quarterback favoring him more than another. Somebody on the coach staff apparently remembered that he topped the team in scoring grabs (nine) and finished second in receiving yardage (789) during the 2017 regular season. Jeffery’s spotty involvement in the offense up until now proves that the Eagles sorely missed former offensive coordinator Frank Reich (head coach – Indianapolis Colts). Jeffery looks like a solid fantasy WR3 play for Week 16 in a home matchup versus a Houston Texans defense that has allowed the most catches and the most receiving yards to the wideout position in the last two weeks.
2. After further review…is it time to bench the tailback that compiled the second-most rushing yards and the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL from Week 7 through Week 13 because of his recent struggles?
The Dude: Phillip Lindsay
The Damage: Yes, the explosive runner really did rack up the second-most rushing yards and the most rushing touchdowns among all running backs from Week 7 through Week 13, but Lindsay has fallen on hard times during the last two weeks. During his team’s Week 14 road loss to the San Francisco 49ers, they limited him to only 30 yards and one rushing touchdown (this salvaged what would have been an awful outing) on 14 carries and caught 4 passes for 21 yards on seven targets. This past Saturday night, Lindsay treated his championship hopeful fantasy managers with a stink bomb of an outing during a surprising home loss to the Cleveland Browns. Coming into this game, Cleveland had allowed a running back to top 100 scrimmage yards and/or score a touchdown in eight of its last last nine games. Lindsay, however, never got track. He managed just 14 carries for 24 yards and four receptions for 20 yards on six targets, which was the rookie’s worst performance of the season since he became a full-time starter. Can fantasy managers trust Lindsay to rebound in Week 16, which is when a lot of fantasy bowls are happening?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
In the Week 15 edition of this column, I had urged fantasy managers not to give up on Lindsay. As things stand now, however, giving up on him could save your fantasy team from an ugly fantasy bowl loss. Lindsay is stuck in a tough overall situation. Did you notice that his production cratered starting with the first game (versus San Francisco) that Emmanuel Sanders (Achilles’ tendon) missed? That’s not a coincidence. While Denver’s other wideouts – Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and DaeSean Hamilton are picking up the slack and playing adequately, nobody in that trio is special, which has allowed opposing defenses to divert extra resources to contain Lindsay. The Browns keyed on him non-stop Saturday night. Lindsay is also trapped in an offense that uses archaic game plans and doesn’t utilize him properly, which isn’t going to change (if it does) until the offseason. This week, Lindsay will clash with an Oakland Raiders defense that still puts up a fight at home. The Raiders, during their each of their last two outings, allowed a rushing touchdown but didn’t let a visiting tailback top 85 yards. Another dud outing from Lindsay seems likely.
3. A certain young NFL quarterback leads one of the NFL’s most talented and highest-scoring offenses, but he hasn’t thrown zero touchdowns and six interceptions in the last two weeks. Is it time for fantasy owners to throw him out of your starting lineup?
The Dude: Jared Goff
The Damage: It has been tough times for Goff following his monster outing against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11 (413-4-0) and the Los Angeles Rams’ Week 12 bye. In three games played since the bye, Goff has tossed a combined one touchdown pass against seven picks. He also has lost one fumble and taken nine sacks. In Week 13, Goff racked up a soft 207-1-1 passing line during his team’s over the Detroit Lions. In the second-year pro’s next two outings, which were both losses, Goff threw for 180-0-4 versus the Chicago Bears and a very disappointing 339-0-2 against a terrible Philadelphia Eagles secondary this past Sunday while Nick Foles (Eagles) clearly outplayed him. Goff’s Week 16 road matchup against an Arizona Cardinals defense that has slipped versus the pass looks favorable. Will Goff’s shoddy play continue? Can fantasy owners trust him in fantasy championship lineups?
The Diagnosis: TOSS-UP
Why has Goff struggled? Some think it’s a combination of losing security blanket and slot guy Cooper Kupp (ACL) and shaken confidence after the beating that Goff took at the hands of the Chicago Bears defense two weeks ago. It’s hard to predict whether Goff will turn things around quickly like Rams head coach Sean McVay insists will happen. Can fantasy owners trust Goff in a road matchup versus Arizona? Consider him a boom-or-bust play. The Cardinals have hemorrhaged the most rushing yards and the most rushing touchdowns, so Los Angeles might protect Goff by going run heavy – assuming Todd Gurley (ankle) is okay. Arizona, as noted, isn’t as stingy versus the pass, so this could be a get-right matchup.