For the second week in a row, disappointing play from proven stud quarterbacks decided the winners and losers in fantasy leagues. FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson hauls out the magnifying glass to take a closer look at those volatile passers once again. He also gives us the 411 on the fantasy playoff prospects for Justin Forsett, Jeremy Maclin and Ty Montgomery in his latest version of the “Traps & Trends.” Oh yeah, is there a second fantasy relevant tight end in Philadelphia? Matt has the answer.
1. THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS’ FUTURE HALL OF FAME QUARTERBACK WON’T GO TWO STRAIGHT GAMES WITHOUT TOSSING A TOUCHDOWN PASS, RIGHT?
The Dude: Drew Brees
The Damage: If you’re one of my regular readers, you probably noticed that I had discussed Brees in last week’s column after he failed to throw a touchdown pass in a game played at the Superdome for the first time since Week 4 of the 2009 season. Even though I had voiced my concerns about some wobbly passes and a Week 14 matchup versus a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that has been playing with some fire at home, I said Brees would “be fine.” He wasn’t fine versus the Buccaneers. Brees passed for 257 scoreless yards against three interceptions. He has compiled a 0:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the last two weeks. It should be pointed out that passing-down guy Travaris Cadet dropped a sure scoring grab in the end zone versus the Buccaneers. Brees also had to operate without No. 1 target Michael Thomas, who was a surprise scratch due to a foot injury. However, Brees has plenty of other capable targets. Should you trust in his talent and experience? Should you give Brees another shot next week?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
I’m not expecting a dramatic turnaround in Week 15. Last week I was wr…wr…wr…wrong about Brees. The Tampa Bay defense played way better than I had expected. Think about this: Tampa Bay has held Russell Wilson and Drew Brees to zero touchdown passes this season. Even though New Orleans insists there’s nothing wrong with Brees, I saw some passes flutter for the second week in a row. With the fantasy playoffs on the line, that’s what is bothering me the most. Brees will hit the road for a Week 15 matchup against an Arizona Cardinals defense that has usually played very well at home. However…you’d think Brees, a proud veteran, will want to rebound against the Cardinals. Then again, why didn’t he rebound versus the Buccaneers? The Cardinals are out of the playoff hunt. Will they bring their “A” game? I’m going to say yes. If Brees didn’t torpedo your playoff run, should you start him this week? I’m going to say no.
2. THE TUNDRA AT LAMBEAU FIELD WASN’T THE ONLY THING THAT WAS ICE COLD.
The Dude: Russell Wilson
The Damage: It’s hard to believe that this was the same guy who gashed the New England Patriots for 348 yards and three touchdowns at Gillette Stadium back in Week 10. Wilson’s horrible Week 14 performance in a blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers was a good old fashioned implosion. Even though wind and snow weren’t a factor – yes, it was cold – Wilson threw for 240 yards and one touchdown against an eye-popping five interceptions. While two of the tipped picks weren’t his fault, Wilson was surprisingly erratic against a beatable Packers secondary all afternoon. He missed hooking up with Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham on what would have been surefire scoring plays. Is it time to sit Wilson?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
Don’t overreact here. If Wilson didn’t sink your fantasy team, give him another shot Thursday night in a get-well home matchup against a Los Angeles Rams defense that was shredded by Matt Ryan without the services of Julio Jones (toe) and Mohamed Sanu (groin). The Seattle Seahawks know they can’t make a deep playoff run with Wilson struggling, so they’re going to let him throw it plenty to get his mojo back. Wilson’s Week 16 matchup is another home contest. It’s against an Arizona Cardinals defense hasn’t played well on the road all season. I think Wilson will be right as rain and help your team win in the next two weeks.
3. WILL THE OAKLAND RAIDERS’ TRIGGERMAN KEEP GIVING HIS FANTASY OWNERS THE PINKY FINGER THROUGH THE PLAYOFFS?
The Dude: Derek Carr
The Damage: So much for the Carr for Most Valuable Player hoopla. Okay, okay, one bad Thursday night outing shouldn’t kill his MVP consideration, but Carr’s surprisingly poor performance during a Week 14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs undoubtedly killed a lot of playoff hopes. Even though Carr has said the bum pinky finger on his throwing hand isn’t a problem, his numbers say otherwise. Carr, displaying some shockingly poor accuracy, passed for just 117 scoreless yards in the bitter cold against a beatable Kansas City secondary. He and Amari Cooper just missed hooking up on a 72-yard scoring play that would have made both their game stat lines look a lot better. Assuming Carr didn’t harpoon your fantasy team, is it time to sit him?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
I think Carr will rebound. Because of the Thursday night game, Carr will have at least three extra days to rest his bad digit. The Raiders gunslinger also draws two favorable warm-weather matchups for the fantasy playoffs – at the San Diego Chargers (Week 15) and home versus the Indianapolis Colts (Week 16). I’m not a doctor, but I suspect the cold weather affected Carr’s ability to grip and throw the football. As you may remember, he suffered the pinky injury in Week 13 at home (warm weather) versus the Carolina Panthers, but Carr still was able to throw the ball reasonably well.
4. HEY! DIDN’T YOU USED TO BE THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS’ STUD TAILBACK?
The Dude: Spencer Ware
The Damage: During a Week 14 home matchup against a leaky Oakland Raiders defense, Ware compiled a disappointing 56 rushing yards on 20 carries, and Charcandrick West vultured what would have been a short goal-line scoring chance. Coming into that contest, the Raiders had coughed up 15 rushing touchdowns in 12 games played. Getting back to Ware, since Week 7, he has failed to eclipse the 70-yard rushing mark and has scored just twice. Is this the level of production that we should expect from Ware for the rest of 2016?
The Diagnosis: TREND
I seriously doubt it. The middling No. 2 fantasy running back production that we’re seeing from Ware likely will continue through the rest of the season. First, I’m starting to suspect that Ware, who has averaged just 3.2 yards per carry during the last month, has hit the wall because of some career-high usage. The Chiefs also seem to have a new-found fascination with their passing attack thanks to the emergence of speedster Tyreek Hill. Finally, Ware’s remaining playoff schedule (two home contests) looks like a mixed bag. The Tennessee Titans (Week 15) have been tough against the run, but the Denver Broncos have been softer against the run on the road.
5. CAN YOU TRUST THAT QUARTERBACK WITH THE LIGHTNING BOLT ON HIS HELMET TO LEAD YOUR FANTASY TEAM TO A CHAMPIONSHIP?
The Dude: Philip Rivers
The Damage: Rivers is another player that I had profiled in my column last week mainly because of my worries about his thin supporting cast – and I labeled him a tossup – but the San Diego Chargers triggerman continues to operate like a Jay Cutler-like turnover machine lately, too, which I wasn’t expecting. Rivers, during a Week 14 road loss to the Carolina Panthers, passed for just 236 yards and two touchdowns versus what has been a very leaky Carolina secondary. He also turned the ball over five times (three picks and two lost fumbles). Rivers clearly tried to do too much after Melvin Gordon was knocked out with a hip injury. During the last three weeks, Rivers has thrown for a soft 234.3 yards per game with seven touchdowns and eight turnovers (six picks and two lost fumbles). Will he get back on track thanks to two very favorable fantasy playoff matchups?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
Your team has an okay chance to win with Rivers in the starting lineup in the next two weeks, but your team won’t win because of him. Statistically, I’m not expecting Rivers to light it up. Despite favorable Week 15 (home versus the Oakland Raiders) and Week 16 (at the Cleveland Browns) matchups, Rivers, even though he should cut back on the mistakes, doesn’t have enough healthy playmakers at his disposal. Travis Benjamin is still dealing with a creaky knee, and Tyreek Williams is playing with a bum shoulder. As I was writing this column, there was no official word on the Week 15 status of Gordon, but I’d be surprised if he plays. As I discussed last week, the 36-year-old Antonio Gates is running on fumes, and Hunter Henry has been quiet lately. Bottom line – start Rivers at your own risk.