The Week 5 NFL action has left Ty Montgomery owners feeling nervous, Ben Roethlisberger owners feeling frustrated and Amari Cooper owners feeling down in the dumps. Is there hope for Jamison Crowder? Senior writer Matt Wilson sifts through the aftermath and tackles the big fantasy questions in his latest edition of “Traps & Trends.”
1. Hey, Ty Montgomery owners – it’s time to pound that panic button.
The Dude: Aaron Jones
The Damage: Two weeks ago, the rookie fifth-rounder played surprisingly well coming off the bench in relief of the injured Ty Montgomery (broken ribs), rushing 13 times for 49 yards and one touchdown against the Chicago Bears in his first career regular-season action. With Montgomery parked on the injury shelf for Week 5, Jones got the start against the Dallas Cowboys and ran well for the second straight week. He racked up 125 rushing yards and one touchdown on 19 chain-moving carries and one catch for nine yards on one target. In case you’re wondering, Jones lost just two carries to other Packers running backs. Can we expect more regular contributions from Jones and fewer touches for Montgomery (when he’s healthy) going forward?
The Diagnosis: TREND
When Montgomery returns, he’s the starter, but I very much doubt that we will have seen the last of Jones. The rookie fifth-rounder has played too well for Green Bay not to use him regularly. Don’t forget—Montgomery has struggled with durability since he switched from wideout to running back around the midpoint of last season. Jones’ solid play is just the excuse that the Packers need to trim the sure-handed Montgomery’s early-down workload – and I think the Packers backfield will go timeshare. We’ll see what happens with the workloads. If Montgomery sits again in Week 6, Jones looks like a solid volume play against the Minnesota Vikings.
2. Let’s play a game. Pretend the starting quarterback in your fantasy lineup said, “Maybe I don’t have it anymore,” during a post-game presser after he tossed a single-game career-high five picks during a home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Oh wait, that did happen this past Sunday. What should you do?
The Dude: Ben Roethlisberger
The Damage: He connected on 33 of a season-high 55 throws for 312 yards with no touchdowns and – count them – five interceptions against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that’s considered one of the best defenses in the NFL right now. It was obviously a very tough matchup, and a couple of the picks can be blamed on Roethlisberger’s receivers. What’s more troubling is that “Big Ben” hasn’t racked up a truly dominant fantasy outing so far this season. After starting the season with respectable passing lines of 263-2-1 and 243-2-0 in his first two contests, respectively, Roethlisberger has passed for just two scores in his last three games. Will he continue to produce marginal fantasy QB2 numbers going forward?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Roethlisberger’s quote about possibly not having it anymore was probably sarcasm. I think Big Ben is still a good player and has plenty of talent around him, so he’ll bust out of his production funk at some point. However, I don’t think it will happen soon, which is why I diagnosed Roethlisberger’s play as a trend. In Week 6 six, he travels to Kansas City to face a Chiefs team that he and his teammates eliminated from the playoffs last season. Deshaun Watson shredded the Chiefs with five scoring strikes, but a lot of that production came in garbage time. Kansas City also plays better at home. In Week 7, Roethlisberger will face a solid Cincinnati Bengals defense. Until he proves otherwise, he’s not an every-week starter. Frankly, he just doesn’t look right.
3. Is the Oakland Raiders’ No. 1 wideout planning to be a magician during his post-NFL career? He pulled a disappearing act for the third week in a row (Cue rim shot sound effect here as cover for my lame joke).
The Dude: Amari Cooper
The Damage: Logging just one reception for eight yards on a season-low two targets against the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday, Cooper has now amassed two or fewer catches and fewer than 10 receiving yards for the third week in a row. The two targets from E.J. Manuel was very troubling as Michael Crabtree was operating as the unofficial top wideout and received eight targets to compile a 6-82-1 receiving line. By the way, Cooper’s reception in the Ravens game came early in the fourth quarter. On the season, he has amassed just 13 catches for 118 yards and one touchdown. Is it time to cut bait with Cooper?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
Cooper isn’t an elite wideout – the production slump proves it – but he’s too good not to bust out of this production slump, so to try to hang onto him if you can. However, you should make Cooper earn his way back into your starting lineup. Derek Carr (back) was tentatively expected to return next week, which obviously will help. Back in Week 3, Cooper compiled a 1-6-0 line on five targets against Washington because he received the Josh Norman treatment. In Week 4, Cooper struggled against a top-level Denver Broncos secondary that shuts down lots of wideouts. This past Sunday, as noted, Manuel was under center. A Cooper rebound is coming.
4. Hey! Aren’t you one of the best slot wideouts in the NFL? Weren’t you supposed to have a massive 2017 campaign? So how come you’ve…oh…I don’t know…done next to nothing most weeks?
The Dude: Jamison Crowder
The Damage: Since Washington is coming off a bye, Crowder’s surprisingly dismal Week 5 performance – one catch for minus-seven yards on one target – possibly slipped your mind. With four games in the books for Washington, Crowder, who was expected to have a huge role in a post-DeSean Jackson/Pierre Garcon aerial attack has logged just 14 catches for 106 yards on 19 targets while operating in a rotation with Josh Doctson and Ryan Grant. Is it time to give up on Crowder?
The Diagnosis: TOSSUP
It’s hard to believe that Washington head coach Jay Gruden, who stated publicly during the preseason that he was planning a big role for Crowder, would purposely marginalize one of the NFL’s best wideouts. I’m wondering if Crowder has been more banged up than Washington has been letting on. He started the season nursing a hip injury, and had been listed as questionable due to a hip injury in Week 4. Maybe that explains why we haven’t seen much of Crowder, and maybe…just maybe…he got healthy during his team’s bye week. Let’s see what a possibly healthier Crowder can do in upcoming matchups against the San Francisco 49ers (Week 6), the Philadelphia Eagles (Week 7) and the Dallas Cowboys (Week 8).