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TRAPS & TRENDS: Week 5

Let’s see…Patrick Mahomes, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Deshaun Watson and Dak Prescott didn’t throw any touchdown passes, and elite wideouts Odell Beckham, DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Keenan Allen and Amari Cooper were all held scoreless and limited to 52 or fewer receiving yards. Week 4 of the NFL goes into the fantasy football books as the first weird slate of games so far this season. Senior FantasySharks.com writer Matt Wilson checks in with his latest take on a handful of the studs and duds in his newest edition of “Traps & Trends.”

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

 

1. This guy is operating the New York Giants No. 1 tailback, but can he really fill Saquon Barkley’s cleats for as long as he’s needed?

The Dude: Wayne Gallman

The Damage: Making his third career start, Gallman was utilized in a workhorse role during New York’s Week 4 win over floundering Washington. The third year pro carried 18 times for 63 yards and one touchdown, and caught six balls for 55 yards and one touchdown on seven targets. His backup, Jon Hilliman, toted the rock only 10 times for 33 scoreless yards and lost a fumble, and wasn’t targeted. Will Gallman’s outing against Washington be typical of the level of regular production that we can expect as long as he’s filling in for Saquon Barkley?

The Diagnosis: TREND

In the Washington game, Gallman received a high number of touches (24) that included targets in the passing game and red-zone duties, so, yes, he’s a legit fantasy starter. That’s not in doubt. While Gallman’s workload should remain constant, I suspect his production will fluctuate up and down depending on the caliber of the defenses that he will face. The former 2017 fourth-round selection is a competent player but not a special talent. He averaged just 3.5 yards per carry against Washington’s barely-there bottom-10 run defense and lost a fumble. Even though his next two matchups are toughies – Week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings and Week 6 at the New England Patriots – you’re obviously going to keep starting him because of touch volume. Gallman has a nice Week 7 home matchup versus the Arizona Cardinals and a decent Week 8 road matchup against the Detroit Lions. By the way, Barkley (high ankle sprain) will miss the next four-to-eight weeks.

 

2. Hey! Aren’t you that stud wideout who is supposedly matchup proof and started the 2019 regular season with 32-game streak of performances with either 73-plus receiving yards or at least one scoring grab?

The Dude: DeAndre Hopkins

The Damage: He did a ton of damage to the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, compiling an 8-111-2 receiving line on 13 targets. However, Hopkins’ streak of outings with at least 73 receiving yards or at least one touchdown catch ended at 33 in Week 2. The elite wideout is now riding a different streak of three straight scoreless outings that are all fantasy duds by his lofty fantasy stud standards:

  • 5-40-0 on eight targets (Week 2 versus the Jacksonville Jaguars)
  • 6-67-0 on seven targets (Week 3 at Los Angeles Chargers)
  • 5-41-0 on eight targets (Week 4 versus Carolina Panthers)

Is there reason to worry about Hopkins?

The Diagnosis: TRAP

Don’t overreact and bench/trade him because there are some things happening beyond his control. First, Hopkins has squared off against some of the NFL’s top cornerback talent during his three-game dud streak: Jalen Ramsey (Jaguars), Casey Hayward (Chargers) and James Bradberry (Panthers). Hopkins’ target load also has dropped off slightly compared to last season likely because of facing tough coverage and a more seasoned Deshaun Watson more willing to to use his other receivers in what’s a deeper Houston Texans receiver corps this season. After four games during the 2018 season, Hopkins averaged 11 targets per game. With four games in the books this season, he is averaging nine targets per contest. Hopkins also is averaging 7.67 targets per outing during his three-game dud game streak.

Hopkins’ schedule lightens up moving forward. His next four matchups are against the Atlanta Falcons (Week 5), at the Kansas City Chiefs (Week 6), at Indianapolis Colts (Week 7) and versus the Oakland Raiders (Week 8.

 

3. There’s no reason to worry about tight end production nose-diving in Bruce Arians’ version of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense. Arians said his offense could be tweaked to be tight end friendly. So far, we’ve seen just the opposite.

The Dude: O.J. Howard

The Damage: After Howard posted a goose egg in the target column during his team’s Week 2 road win over the Carolina Panthers and all the remarks from Arians about Howard needing to elevate his game came out, a breakout performance from Howard seemed very likely very soon. The following week, Howard caught three passes for 66 yards on four targets as Jameis Winston threw for 380-3-1 during a home victory over the New York Giants. This past Sunday, Winston passed for 385-4-1 against the Los Angeles Rams, but Howard managed just three catches for 30 yards on three targets. Is it time to declare Howard a bust?

The Diagnosis: TOSS-UP

I wouldn’t write Howard off just yet, but there’s no denying that the third-year pro, touted all summer as a breakout candidate in Arians’ high-octane passing attack, has been disappointing. With one-quarter of the regular season in the books, it’s time to demote Howard to TE2 status if you haven’t already. As things stand now, the Tampa Bay passing attack is all about Mike Evans (team-high 35 targets) and Chris Godwin (33 targets).

As for Howard, he has drawn just 12 targets while seeing lots of blocking duties. Word on the street is that the Buccaneers coaching staff loves Howards’s blocking skills. Cameron Brate has been targeted 10 times, remaining in the mix as a red-zone specialist. By the way, Brate made three grabs for 36 yards and one touchdown on three targets during the Rams game. By the way, Brate had two scoring grabs nullified by penalties back in Week 1. There’s still a chance for Howard to breakout, but Brate’s role would have to disappear and Howard’s blocking duties would have to decline. I don’t expect either to happen anytime soon. Call it a hunch. The passing attack has clicked two weeks in a row. Why change anything now?

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.