Are we finally seeing what the revamped Jacksonville Jaguars ground game is supposed to look like? Is it safe to trust Blake Bortles again? Is there a fantasy relevant receiver in Atlanta not named Julio Jones or Mohamed Sanu? Does your team need tight end help? FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson has two suggestions for you as he sifts through the Week 9 fantasy aftermath in his latest version of the “Traps & Trends 10.”
1. IS THIS WHAT THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS’ GROUND GAME IS SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE?
The Damage: Interim Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett quickly made good on his promise to get what has been an inept rushing attack clicking on all cylinders. During the Jaguars’ frustrating 19-14 Week 9 road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Chris Ivory touched the rock 19 times while Yeldon logged 12 touches mainly as a receiver. Ivory toted the rock 18 times for 107 yards, which were both season highs, and caught one pass for zero yards on two targets. The bulk of Ivory’s rushing yards came on a 42-yard gallop. However, he lost a goal-line fumble in the fourth quarter. As for Yeldon, he carried seven times for 33 yards and caught five-of-six targets for 32 yards and one touchdown. Is it finally safe to trust Yeldon and Ivory in starting lineups?
The Diagnosis: TREND
It was only one game, but Hackett’s Jacksonville offense clearly looks more committed to the ground game right now than at any point earlier in the season. While I consider Ivory a touchdown-dependent fantasy RB3 and Yeldon a middling fantasy RB3 with more appeal in PPR leagues, you have to admit that having an extra running back to start is gold in any league at this point in the season. The next two matchups for the Ivory/Yeldon tandem – Houston Texans (Week 10) and Detroit Lions (Week 11) – look good before the schedule gets tougher with matchups against the Buffalo Bills (Week 12) and the Denver Broncos (Week 13). However, the Broncos did look soft against the run on Sunday Night Football. Somebody in your league probably stashed Ivory and Yeldon, but it never hurts to check that free-agent pool.
2. IS IT SAFE TO TRUST THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS’ DESIGNATED FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK IN STARTING LINEUPS AGAIN?
The Dude: Blake Bortles
The Damage: With interim offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett calling the shots, Bortles, who was said to have spent some time with a throwing coach last week, connected on 22-of-41 throws for 252 yards and two touchdowns against one pick during his team’s 19-14 Week 9 setback at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs. He also carried six times for 54 yards. Has Hackett worked enough magic with Bortles to get him back on track?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
I’d say no. Unless you like to roll the dice with your quarterbacks and hope for garbage time, Bortles hasn’t earned his way back into the ranks of the safe starts at the position. While he managed to get the ball to Allen Robinson (seven catches for 76 yards and one touchdown on 11 targets), Bortles, for the second week in a row, was largely ineffective until fourth-quarter garbage time. Despite favorable upcoming matchups against the Houston Texans (Week 10) and the Detroit Lions (Week 11), Bortles isn’t a recommended option for now. As long as Bortles struggles, look for Jacksonville to go as run heavy as possible.
3. WILL THE DENVER BRONCOS’ REAL NO. 1 TAILBACK PLEASE STAND UP?
The Damage: Booker’s second consecutive start was very disappointing to say the least. Despite drawing a plus matchup against an Oakland Raiders defense that had entered Week 9 ranked 24th in fantasy points allowed to enemy running backs, Booker rushed 10 times for only 22 yards and caught one pass for eight yards despite playing 45 of 54 snaps. Backup Kapri Bibbs, playing only eight snaps, looked like the more effective runner of the two. He carried just two times for 11 yards but scored on a 69-yard catch and run. Is it time to pull the plug on Booker?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
Don’t give up on him just yet. Granted, he failed to impress for the second straight week, and it was frustrating to see Bibbs score a touchdown. Booker and Bibbs will face the New Orleans Saints in Week 10. The Saints entered Week 9 having surrendered the second-most fantasy points to the running back position. If Booker can’t get on track here, then it’s definitely time to bench him.
4. HEY! AREN’T YOU THAT FANTASY TEASE TIGHT END WHO PLAYS FOR THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES?
The Dude: Zach Ertz
The Damage: During the Philadelphia Eagles’ 28-23 road loss to the New York Giants, Ertz amassed eight receptions for 97 yards on eight targets, which were all far and away season highs. It also was Ertz’s best fantasy outings since he racked up a 6-58-0 receiving line on seven looks back in Week 1. Will Ertz step up as a desperately needed second target for rookie Carson Wentz? Is Ertz worth a waiver-wire pickup?
The Diagnosis: TREND
I’ll say “yes” to both questions, and the Eagles’ efforts to get Wentz and Ertz in sync are way overdue. Instead of digging around a second-rate collection of wideouts — Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham, among others – searching for a wingman for Jordan Matthews and a second go-to guy for Wentz, the team should have focused on Ertz, a fourth-year pro, all along. Call it better late than never. Three of Ertz’s next four opponents – the Atlanta Falcons (Week 10), the Green Bay Packers (Week 12) and the Cincinnati Bengals (Week 13) are all plus matchups.
5. IS THERE A FANTASY RELEVANT WIDEOUT IN ATLANTA NOT NAMED JULIO JONES OR MOHAMED SANU?
The Dude: Taylor Gabriel
The Damage: He’s showing up as a blip on the fantasy radar after hitting pay dirt two weeks in a row. Against the Green Bay Packers (Week 8), the speedy Gabriel hauled in three passes for 68 yards and one touchdown on three targets. Battling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past Thursday night, he toted the rock five times for 52 yards and caught two passes for 24 yards and one score. Is Taylor a legitimate waiver-wire add?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
While I think he’s worth a pickup in deeper leagues, I’m labeling Gabriel a “trap” because I think you should keep your expectations for him in check. He lists at 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, according to NFL.com, so I strongly question whether Gabriel will ever receive a large number of touches. The third-year pro has averaged just five touches per contest during the last two weeks, which suggests the Falcons are well aware of his size limitations. Gabriel’s touches also have come with Tevin Coleman (hamstring) out of the lineup during the last two weeks. Even though I don’t think Gabriel will completely disappear when Coleman returns, this is another reason why Gabriel’s role won’t expand.