Lots of big-name fantasy stars disappointed during a volatile Week 13. If you still managed to make the playoffs even though your top guys took the weekend off , keep in mind that there are two running backs, one quarterback and one wideout that could give your fantasy team a boost. Senior writer Matt Wilson gives us the 411 on those four guys and has warnings for Josh McCown and Alex Smith owners in his newest edition of “Traps & Trends.”
1. Will “The Barber” trim off a little of Doug Martin’s workload or a lot of it going forward?
The Dude: Peyton Barber
The Damage: We had Barber sightings back in Week 9 (he amassed an 11-34-0 rushing line and a 2-20-0 receiving line against the New Orleans Saints) and one in Week 12 (5-7-2 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) before his rock-solid coming out party this past Sunday. Granted, it happened against a Green Bay Packers defense that had sold out to contain Mike Evans, but Barber, who unexpectedly got the start in place of Doug Martin (concussion), ran better than Martin has at any time this season. Barber, operating in a lead three-down role, racked up 23 carries for 102 yards (his first career 100-yard game) and four catches for 41 yards. In case you’re wondering, Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims combined for just eight touches in the Packers game. Even if Martin returns for Week 14, will Barber continue to have fantasy usefulness?
The Diagnosis: TREND
In the coming days, we’ll see how this shakes out. At the very least, Barber has played himself into a solid timeshare with Martin, but it wouldn’t shock me if 4-8 Tampa Bay handed the starting gig to Barber for the rest of the season. Martin, averaging 3.2 yards per carry, hasn’t eclipsed the 75-yard mark on the ground, and his last score came in Week 6. Assuming Barber is the guy, he draws a great Week 14 home matchup against a Detroit Lions defense that was ranked in the bottom six in fantasy points allowed to running backs. However, a Week 15 home matchup versus the Atlanta Falcons and a Week 16 road matchup against the Carolina Panthers are more challenging on paper. Check your waiver wire for Barber. Finding a healthy starting running back (if he lands the gig) at this point in the season is fantasy gold.
2. After watching the Seattle Seahawks operate a wildly unpredictable and horribly ineffective backfield that includes Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy, C.J. Prosise, J.D. McKissic and Chris Carson for most of the 2017, has one runner finally emerged?
The Dude: Mike Davis
The Damage: Remember this guy? Back in Week 11, Davis started for the Seattle Seahawks during their Week 11 clash with the Atlanta Falcons. Despite amassing just 18 yards on six carries and 41 receiving yards on two grabs, Davis ran solidly overall before a groin injury forced him out of that contest. The now-healthy third-year pro, who had appeared in 15 career games before making his second career start with the Seahawks this past Sunday night, put a noticeable dent in what had been a top-rated Philadelphia Eagles run defense. He racked up a 16-64-0 rushing line and a 4-37-0 receiving line in a lead three-down role. By the way, Davis’ 16 totes of the rock and the 64 rushing yards were both career highs. Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls and J.D. McKissic combined for just six touches in the Eagles game. The question is simple: Will Davis lead the Seattle backfield for the rest of the season?
The Diagnosis: TREND
This one is a two-foot putt. The Seahawks’ backfield is now Davis’ clubhouse. Lacy, Rawls, McKissic and Prosise clearly haven’t stepped up at any point this season despite numerous opportunities, and Davis piled up 101 combo yards on 20 touches versus a usually ferocious Philadelphia stop unit. Even though Davis’ NFL résumé is clearly light, he clearly gave the Seahawks a spark they haven’t enjoyed since Chris Carson went down. What about Carson? Just to refresh your memory, the rookie seventh-rounder started three of Seattle’s first four games and played surprisingly well before going down in Week 4 with a broken leg and a likely high ankle sprain. I think it’ll be a surprise if we see Carson on the field before the playoff roll around. While Davis has propelled himself into the fantasy RB2 conversation, he has challenging matchups against the Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 14) and the Dallas Cowboys (Week 16) sandwiching a plus matchup versus the Los Angeles Rams (Week 15).
3. Is the quarterback who was nicknamed “The Future” during his days with the New England Patriots deserve fantasy consideration in the present?
The Dude: Jimmy Garoppolo
The Damage: Making his long-awaited starting debut as the San Francisco 49ers’ designated franchise quarterback and designated franchise savior, Garoppolo played well during his team’s road loss to the San Francisco 49ers this past Sunday. Enjoying some surprisingly nice protection (the Chicago Bears sacked him just twice), Garoppolo connected on 26 of 37 throws for 293 yards and no touchdown passes against one interception. I was able to watch a good chunk of the 49ers/Bears clash, and I can tell you first hand that Garoppolo looked good. His arm strength, accuracy and pocket presence were all as good as advertised. Garoppolo’s interception came on a ball that was ripped out of the wide receiver’s hands. The only major negative about Garoppolo’s outing obviously was the lack of touchdowns (San Francisco kicked five field goals). Has Garoppolo played himself into fantasy streamer status?
The Diagnosis: TREND
All aboard the Garoppolo hype train! Even though San Francisco’s offensive line remains suspect and the team supposedly lacks a true No. 1 wideout (yes, I’m going to discuss that topic), I think he deserves streaming consideration. In Week 14, Garoppolo and company draw a decent road matchup versus a Houston Texans defense that had allowed the 10th-most passing yards and the fifth-most scoring strikes heading into the Week 13 action. Garoppolo returns home in Week 15 to square off against a leaky Tennessee Titans secondary that yielded a 365-1-1 passing line to…drum roll please…Tom Savage. However, Garoppolo’s Week 16 home matchup against an elite Jacksonville Jaguars defense is obviously a toughie.
4. How can Jimmy Garoppolo operate as a fantasy streaming option since he lacks a true No. 1 wideout? Or do the San Francisco 49ers have an emerging lead receiver?
The Dude: Marquise Goodwin
The fifth-year pro’s production was wildly inconsistent during the first two months of the season with Pierre Garcon operating as the featured wideout. Goodwin’s receiving yardage numbers ranged from a low of 18 to a high of 116. After Garcon went down in Week 8 with a season-ending neck injury, Goodwin’s role quietly expanded. Since Week 9, Goodwin has been targeted an average of six times per game and has drawn eight looks in two contests. The Buffalo Bills’ 2013 third-round selection also has amassed at least 68 yards per contest and scored once (Week 10). With the steady Jimmy Garoppolo under center for San Francisco’s clash with the Bears this past Sunday, Goodwin was clearly the top dog, hauling in all eight of his targets for 99 yards, which were all team highs. Instead of his usual deep routes, Goodwin was running plenty of short and intermediate stuff, too. Has Goodwin showed enough to deserve starting consideration?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Quickly emerging as Garoppolo’s favorite target, Goodwin looks like a reliable fantasy WR3 or flex option with upside. If you need wideout help, Goodwin may still be available in your league. His next two matchups, at the Houston Texans (Week 14) and versus the Tennessee Titans are both favorable. The Texans and the Titans both entered the Week 13 action ranked in the bottom 10 in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. However, a Week 16 home matchup against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that had yielded the fewest fantasy points to the wideout position is clearly a very challenging one.