Is it time to lower expectations for Andrew Luck? Is it time to give up on a certain Chicago Bears’ wideout? Is Washington’s starting tight end still capable of elite production? FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson answers those questions and takes a look at a few other players that made the fantasy football headlines in his newest edition of Traps & Trends.
We’re just three weeks into the regular season, but…
1. Do the Indianapolis Colts still feature a must-start high-upside fantasy quarterback?
The Dude: Andrew Luck
The Damage: After watching him throw for 319 yards and two touchdowns against two interceptions (6.0 yards per attempt) during a home loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 – Luck’s first start in close to two years time – most fantasy owners thought they were getting the same ol’ Luck from 2016 (his last full healthy season played). It was Luck playing at Lucas Oil Stadium, throwing for 300-plus yards and a couple of scores, just like old times, right? However, Luck has disappointed in his last couple of outings. Two weeks ago, Luck passed for only 179 yards and two touchdowns versus two interceptions (5.8 yards per attempt) in a road win over Washington, and, this past Sunday, he threw for just 164 yards and one touchdown and zero interceptions (4.1 yards per attempt) during a loss to the Eagles in rainy Philadelphia. The seventh-year pro’s backup, Jacoby Brissett, replaced Luck on the Indianapolis Colts’ last offensive play of the Eagles game to throw a Hail Mary, which seems to have started a mild panic among Luck owners. With Luck’s yards per pass attempt declining three weeks in a row, will Luck continue to operate as a dink-and-dunk passer going forward?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Granted, the situation around Luck isn’t the best. The Colts ground game isn’t very scary, so opposing defenses can focus on him and the aerial attack. With only T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron as reliable targets, Luck’s receiver corps is lean, too. I’m obviously not a doctor, but there are clear signs beyond the yardage and touchdown pass numbers that Luck’s throwing shoulder isn’t 100 percent fully recovered right now. He has connected on a very efficient 68.5 percent of his throws, but, as noted, Luck’s yards per pass attempt has dipped each week, dipping from 6.0 to 5.8 to 4.1 this past Sunday. Luck is also throwing with less strength and has tossed a handful of near-picks each week. It goes without saying, but if Luck’s shoulder is fine, would Brissett be brought in for Hail Mary throw duty? In the Bengals game, he threw the ball 53 times to top the 300-yard mark. During the Philadelphia and Washington games, Luck attempted 31 and 40 passes, respectively. Demote him to matchup-play fantasy QB2 status. Luck’s Week 4 home matchup versus a Houston Texans defense that surrendered 297 passing yards and two scoring strikes to Eli Manning (Giants) doesn’t look very scary, but don’t expect Luck to stand toe to toe against the New England Patriots defense at Gillette Stadium.
2. Hey! Aren’t you supposed to be the Chicago Bears’ No. 1 wideout? Where’ the No. 1 fantasy wideout production?
The Dude: Allen Robinson
The Damage: Robinson kicked off the 2018 regular season with a modest 4-61-0 receiving line on seven targets during a Week 1 road loss to the Green Bay Packers. When he racked up a 10-83-0 receiving line on a whopping 14 targets in a Week 2 home victory over the Seattle Seahawks after the Chicago Bears had publicly promised to get Robinson more involved, hopes for a breakout and weekly double-digit target shares seemed within reach for him. However, things slammed into hard reverse for Robinson this past Sunday. The Chicago Bears outdueled the Arizona Cardinals on the road, but Robinson compiled just 3-50-0 on a disappointing seven targets. Add it all up, and Robinson has amassed 17 catches for 194 scoreless yards on 28 targets. Is this uneven week-to-week production what we should expect going forward from Robinson?
The Diagnosis: TREND
As Chicago’s lead wideout, Robinson’s target load should remain at least respectable most weeks, and his Week 2 target share (14) is obviously reason for optimism. However, A-Rob’s week-to-week production while operating in a new offense on a new team with a new quarterback will remain uneven. Part of Robinson’s problems is the development of second-year guy Mitch Trubisky, which is going much slower than most fantasy owners had expected. During the Cardinals game, the streaky Trubisky struggled with downfield accuracy, rarely connecting with Robinson and rarely giving the contested catch specialist any decent 50/50 balls. For now, fantasy owners should treat Robinson as a matchup-play No. 3 fantasy wideout.
3. He’s not the second coming of Barry Sanders, but is this guy ready to lead the Detroit Lions’ backfield?
The Dude: Kerryon Johnson
The Damage: Perhaps the third week of the season was finally the a charm for the rookie runner. After amassing 37 combo yards on eight touches in Week 1 and 66 total yards on 13 touches in Week 2, Johnson erupted during his team’s convincing Sunday night victory over the New England Patriots. The first Lions running back to top the century mark in rushing since 2013, Johnson toted the rock 16 times for 101 yards and caught two balls for nine yards on three targets. Will he own the Lions backfield going forward?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Detroit drafted Johnson to jumpstart what was the NFL’s worst ranked ground game last season, and he’s off to a promising start. It goes without saying that Johnson is now on the flex radar, but don’t go overboard with your expectations for now. Although he separated himself from LeGarrette Blount during the Patriots game, Blount still receiving 16 carries. He’ll likely continue sharing the early-down duties with Johnson, but Blount’s role should shrink – assuming Johnson continues to produce. Since Theo Riddick remains entrenched as the passing-down guy, don’t expect Johnson to see a ton of targets suddenly come his way. Johnson has a somewhat challenging road matchup in Week 4 against the Dallas Cowboys before returning home for a cushy Week 5 clash with the Green Bay Packers.