Tuesday - Oct 20, 2020

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TRAPS & TRENDS: Week 3

A huge number of high-profile injuries jolted the fantasy universe in Week 2. If your fantasy team was untouched by the carnage, consider yourself lucky. Looking past the injuries, there are still some unsettled backfields in the league and the No. 1 wideout in the Steel City isn’t the guy with the hyphenated last name. FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson sifts through the aftermath of Week 2 to tell us what’s real and what’s fantasy fool’s gold heading into Week 3 in a feature we call “Traps & Trends.”

A lengthy discussion about injuries from the Sunday games isn’t usually what I do with my Monday morning feature, but I can’t remember the last time there were so many notable injuries in a single weekend. Here’s the updated list from Sunday evening:

And that’s just the offensive skill players. The San Francisco 49ers also lost DE Nick Bosa (knee) and DL Solomon Thomas, and the Indianapolis Colts lost S Malik Hooker. Keep in mind that some teams often withhold injury information until Monday morning or Monday afternoon, so more names could be added to the list. That being said…

We’re just two weeks into the 2020 regular season, but…

1. Do we have a new sheriff in the Tampa Bay Bucs backfield?

The Dudes: Leonard Fournette & Ronald Jones

The Damage: Last week, Jones dominated the workload during Tampa Bay’s 34-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints, compiling a 17-66-0 rushing line and a 2-16-0 receiving line (three targets). Fournette, seeing his first game action with the Buccaneers, was limited to 5-5-0 rushing and 1-14-0 receiving.

During Tampa Bay’s 31-17 home victory over the Carolina Panthers, however, things changed. Jones fumbled a handoff early in the second half and didn’t see much action afterwards. Fournette (26 snaps) finished the contest with a 12-103-2 rushing line and a 4-13-0 receiving line (five targets) while Jones (21 snaps) piled up a 7-23-1 rushing line and a 2-4-0 receiving line on two targets. No other Bucs tailback carried more than once, and change-of-pace guy LeSean McCoy poured in a 5-26-0 receiving line on seven targets. Does the Tampa Bay backfield belong to Fournette?

The Diagnosis: TOSS-UP

While Fournette is clearly Tampa Bay’s most talented ball carrier, I’m going to call this one a toss-up because I suspect Bruce Arians will continue to utilize a hot-hand backfield for the short term even though promoting Fournette to the No. 1 gig would make a ton of sense. Arians loves veteran tailbacks, but he hates turnovers. If Jones commits more miscues, I could see Arians using Fournette as the primary tailback going forward. I’d keep rolling with both Jones and Fournette, but keep in mind that they’re both a weekly risk to have a bad outing.   

 

2 Racking up a 100-yard game doesn’t guarantee you a promotion in today’s NFL.

The Dudes: James Conner & Benny Snell Jr.

The Damage: During the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 26-16 win against the New York Giants, it had looked like Conner had played himself out of a starting gig. He struggled against a soft G-Men run defense, carrying just six times for nine yard and catching two passes for eight yards (four targets) before leaving the game due to an ankle injury. Conner’s backup, Snell, dominated Big Blue, toting the rock 19 times for 113 yards with no receptions on one target.

However, notching a 100-yard game apparently doesn’t mean much in the Steel City. This past Sunday, Snell, a popular waiver-wire pickup, was confidently started against the Denver Broncos in many leagues as the Steelers’ presumed new No. 1 tailback while Conner was benched in many leagues – and understandably so. Snell surprisingly took a back seat in the pecking order, logging just three carries for five yards, catching one pass for minus-four yards (one target) and losing a critical fumble in the fourth quarter. Conner, on a day with many injuries around the NFL, tallied 16 carries for 106 yards and one touchdown and two receptions for 15 yards on two targets. Does the Steelers backfield truly belong to Conner?

The Diagnosis: TOSS-UP

It’s Conner’s backfield, but I’m a bit skeptical about whether Conner will hold onto the No. 1 gig. During the Denver game, Conner’s final stats received a nice boost from a 59-yard jaunt during the closing minutes in which the Broncos were stacking the line and trying to force a turnover. Conner averaged just 3.1 yards per rush on his other 15 carries. It’s clearly Conner’s backfield in the minds of the Pittsburgh coaching staff, and Snell only borrowed it for a few quarters in the Giants game. If you picked up Snell, try to hang on to him. As you probably know, Conner has a checkered injury history.  I don’t think the Steelers’ tailback position is truly resoled. We haven’t seen the last of Snell despite his ball security issues.

About Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson has played NFL fantasy football since 1994 and has been a featured columnist at FantasySharks.com since 2008. His 18 combined years of professional writing experience includes a five-year stint as a contributing writer/editor at KFFL.com. He has been a featured contributor to The Fantasy Football Guide since 2008 and has been published regularly in the award-winning USA Today Sports Fantasy Football preview. Matt is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and holds a degree in journalism from Northern Illinois.