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TRAPS & TRENDS: Week 9 Edition

Is it time to give up on Doug Baldwin? Is it time to trust DeVante Parker? Who is Aaron Rodgers’ second-favorite wideout? Is there a new sheriff in the Philadelphia backfield? Senior FantasySharks.com writer Matt Wilson tackles those questions in his hot-off-the-press newest edition of Traps & Trends.

Some of the players discussed in this week’s version of Traps & Trends were the subject of trade rumors or the respective playing status of a few of them could be impacted by a trade. The NFL trading deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. eastern time.

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

1. Have you heard the one about the Miami wideout who took four years to manufacture his fourth career 100-yard game?

The Dude: DeVante Parker

The Damage: Playing in just his third contest of the season because of lingering finger and quad injuries – and one healthy scratch (Week 7) – Parker surprised the fantasy universe with an eruption game this past Thursday night. He reeled in six passes for a career-high 134 yards on nine targets during the Miami’s 42-23 road loss to Houston. With the Miami receiver corps injury depleted right now (only three wideouts caught passes for Miami in the game against Houston), is Parker a legit candidate for consistent targets and a consistent role going forward?

The Diagnosis: TRAP

Parker has been the subject of trade rumors. By the time you read this column, he could be suiting up for another team. Assuming the No. 14 selection in the 2015 NFL draft stays in South Beach … Parker is worth a speculative pickup if you’re totally desperate at wideout, but I still think that Parker is still the same underachieving and injury-prone boom-or-bust guy that he’s always been. A healthy inactive for Week 7, Parker was pressed into action because Albert Wilson (hip – injured reserve) and Kenny Stills (groin) were both sidelined for the Houston game. In that contest, 46 of Parker’s receiving yards came on a pass that ricocheted off Jakeem Grant’s hands. Houston was banged up and occasionally was playing safeties at starting cornerback positions, too. Historically, Parker has struggled with injuries and consistency regardless of whoever has started at quarterback for Miami. When healthy, he should remain a factor in the Miami offense even when Stills returns, but Parker won’t be a savior for your fantasy team.

2. Can the Houston passing attack still rack up big numbers without deep threat Will Fuller?

The Dude: Deshaun Watson

The Damage: This past Thursday night, Watson shredded Miami with 239 passing yards and a season-high five touchdown passes while leading his team to a 42-23 victory. However, the win was a costly one. As you surely know, deep threat Will Fuller went down with a torn ACL. With Fuller lost for the season, a very lean Houston receiver corps is down to banged-up rookie Keke Coutee (hamstring), career backup Sammie Coates, undrafted rookie free agent Vyncint Smith and the unremarkable tight end trio of career backup Ryan Griffin, rookie Jordan Thomas and rookie Jordan Akins. Slot guy Bruce Ellington (hamstring) isn’t eligible to come off injured reserve until Week 12 at the earliest. On top of Fuller’s injury, there’s more to think about. Watson, during the first five weeks of the season, averaged 38.4 pass attempts per contest. During his last three games, however, Watson has attempted just 23 passes per outing. He threw a season-low 20 passes in the Miami game. With the Fuller injury going to further impact Watson’s passing production?

The Diagnosis: TREND

Yes. With Fuller in the lineup, Watson has thrown for an average of 286.1 yards and 2.8 touchdowns per contest. When Fuller has been sidelined (he has missed 17 of a possible 48 games due to injuries), Watson has passed for just 228 yards and 1.3 touchdowns per outing. As noted, the Houston receiver corps looks lean behind DeAndre Hopkins. Houston’s offense, however, actually was trending toward a more balanced attack before the Fuller injury. Watson, as discussed, attempted just 23 passes per game during the last three weeks. Why? His offensive line has been providing better protection and playing better overall, and Lamar Miller, coming off two straight games with at least 100 yards and one rushing touchdown, is running better, too. Since the receiver corps is undermanned, it makes sense for Houston to go run heavy. While Watson obviously still has value, eruption games will be fewer and far between from him going forward.

3. Hey! Didn’t you used to be the go-to guy in the Seattle passing game?

The Dude: Doug Baldwin

The Damage: Let me give you the full picture on this guy. Baldwin suffered a left knee injury during the preseason and wasn’t fully recovered at the start of the season. The slot wideout then sprained his right knee in Week 1 (didn’t log any catches on one target) and sat out for two more games. Even though he was less than 100 percent healthy, Baldwin returned to play in Week 4 (5 catches, 41 yards on seven targets against Arizona), Week 5 (1 catch, 1 yard one target against the Los Angeles Rams) and Week 6 (6 catches, 91 yards on eight targets against Oakland). Following a Week 7 bye, Baldwin made just two grabs for 26 yards on two targets during his team’s 28-14 win over Detroit this past Sunday, which was very disappointing after his promising Week 6 outing. On the season, Baldwin has averaged just five targets per game in four full contests played. At some point this season, will Baldwin, who isn’t fantasy starter material right now, rebound and become a fantasy asset again?

The Diagnosis: TOSSUP

A rebound isn’t totally out of the question for Baldwin, but I have my doubts. I strongly suspect that Baldwin’s knees are still giving him problems. There are two other factors working against Baldwin. Seattle has become one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL. Heading into Week 8 action, Seattle ranked third (tie) in rushing attempts and dead last in the league in pass attempts. Russell Wilson, since Week 3, has averaged just 22.6 pass attempts per contest, and he put the ball up a season-low 17 times in the game against Detroit. Other legit options have emerged in the Seattle receiver corps, too. Tyler Lockett, despite averaging just five targets per contest, has scored in six out of seven contests, while rookie David Moore, averaging four targets per game, has scored four times in his last three contests. What should you do with Baldwin? Bench him until his production improves. If you see a sure-thing at wideout in your free-agent pool, consider dropping Baldwin.

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.