Our Traps & Trends guy is back to assess the fantasy aftermath of Week 4. Matt Wilson combed through the NFL box scores and analyzed 10 fantasy players that surprised us for one reason or another. Some stood out for the right reasons and some stood out for the wrong reasons.
1. COLIN KAEPERNICK IS NO RUSSELL WILSON AND NO FANTASY ASSET TO YOUR TEAM
The Damage: During the 49ers’ Week 4 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick completed just 13-of-25 passes for 160 yards with no touchdowns and one pick, and was sacked six times. It was the second time this season that he failed to notch a passing or rushing touchdown. In case you didn’t watch the game like I did, I can tell you that Kaepernick’s passing skills have regressed big time. He either didn’t want to throw the ball more than 15 yards down the field, or the team was making him operate a super-conservative passing attack. Several of Kaepernick’s throws also were wildly off target and nowhere close to his wideouts. When Kaepernick did show some flashes of accuracy, he tried to jam passes into an often double- or triple-covered Anquan Boldin. The 49ers triggerman also padded his meager stats with some garbage-time heaves down the field to Torrey Smith.
The Diagnosis: TREND
Per several credible media reports, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews was heard telling Kaepernick “…you ain’t Russell Wilson, bro,” sometime during the fourth quarter of Green Bay’s victory over San Francisco. I’m not going to piggyback on that remark, but I’m going to tell you that’s it’s time to cut bait with Kaepernick, Smith, Boldin and Vernon Davis if you haven’t done so already. I don’t think Kapernick’s problems and the problems with the 49ers’ passing attack can be fixed during the season.
2. STAY THE COURSE WITH KARLOS?
The Damage: Making his first career regular-season start in place of the injured LeSean McCoy (hamstring) against the New York Giants, Karlos Williams racked up just 40 rushing yards on 18 carries but saved his fantasy outing with three catches for 30 yards and one touchdown. Will this level of production be as good as it gets from Williams or is it time to look for running back help elsewhere?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
A surprisingly solid New York Giants defense (more on that later) bottled up the talented rookie runner, so don’t hold a grudge and bench Williams. He will continue to operate as Buffalo’s workhorse in McCoy’s absence since the team doesn’t have any better options. Williams’ weekly numbers should remain solid thanks to the volume of touches that he’ll receive. According to media reports, McCoy could miss two or three more games. The Bills’ next two opponents – the Tennessee Titans and the Cincinnati Bengals – rank close to average in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs and don’t play defense as well as the Giants do.
3. ROCK ON WITH RISHARD?
The Damage: Following a respectable Week 1 outing (4-34-1 on six targets), a strong Week 2 performance (6-115-0 on seven targets) and a spectacular Week 3 showing (6-113-2 on 10 targets), Rishard Matthews bombed during the Miami Dolphins’ blowout loss to the New York Jets in jolly old England, compiling just one catch for 16 yards on three targets. Was the stink bomb fantasy outing a sign that Matthews can’t produce with opposing defenses focused on him?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
You obviously have to bench the popular waiver-wire pickup for Week 5 because he’s on bye, but don’t shy away from playing Matthews in Week 6 and beyond. The fourth-year pro’s dismal showing against the Jets defense wasn’t a surprise. Like many receivers, Matthews struggled against a strong secondary led by Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. In addition, Ryan Tannehill also played poorly, which obviously isn’t the fault of Matthews. He remains one of Tannehill’s favorite targets, and the wideout should rebound in soft post-bye matchups against the Tennessee Titans, the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots.
4. IS LATAVIUS MURRAY IN THE DOG HOUSE?
The Damage: In case you weren’t following the Oakland Raiders/Chicago Bears game closely, Latavius Murray, according to media reports, was benched in the fourth quarter for losing a fumble and letting a short pass clank off his hands and into the waiting hands of a Bears defender. Roy Helu handled the rushing duties on Oakland’s final drive. Murray finished with a 16-49-0 rushing line and a 3-12-0 receiving line on five targets. Are we looking at a Murray/Helu timeshare next week?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
Unless the Raiders come out publicly and say otherwise, there is no reason to think Murray won’t resume his workhorse duties in Week 5. However, if Murray continues to struggle with ball security, the little-used Helu could see more action at Murray’s expense.
5. THE NEED FOR WILLIE SNEAD
The Damage: In case you missed Sunday Night Football, Sneed hauled in all six of his targets for 89 yards, which topped all New Orleans Saints wideouts. In Week 2, which was his last game played with Drew Brees under center, Snead compiled a 4-44-1 line on four targets. He currently is on pace to compile 64 receptions, 960 receiving yards and four touchdown grabs.
The Diagnosis: TREND
With opposing defenses selling out to defend big-play threat Brandin Cooks, the Saints are desperately looking for a secondary target to emerge. With the 32-year-old Marques Colston running on fumes and preseason favorite Brandon Coleman faltering, Snead seems to have earned Brees’ trust. Snead, an undrafted free agent out of Ball State, is drawing comparisons to former New Orleans wideout Lance Moore. Even though Brees’ tendency to spread his passes around will place a ceiling on Snead’s upside, he will continue to emerge and definitely is worth a pickup. New Orleans’ next three contests are versus the Philadelphia Eagles, the Atlanta Falcons and the Indianapolis Colts, which are plus matchups for Snead.