1. “NUK” IS STILL A MATCHUP-PROOF MUST-START STUD, RIGHT?
The Dude: DeAndre Hopkins
The Damage: Billed as a matchup-proof route-running technician who can rack up great numbers with any quarterback slinging him the rock, Hopkins has disappointed during the last two weeks.
Hopkins’ Week 4 performance was arguably the biggest shocker in the fantasy universe. The elite route-running technician logged his only reception about midway through the fourth quarter and was surprisingly kept in check by Tennessee Titans cornerback Perrish Cox. Should you think about benching Hopkins?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
No, don’t overreact and bench him. However, you should downgrade Hopkins to a low-end fantasy WR1 for now. Last season Hopkins racked up great numbers while catching passes from Brian Hoyer, Case Keenum, Ryan Mallett and Tom Savage, but it looks like largely erratic Brock Osweiler has been kryptonite to Hopkins so far. Will Fuller is also stealing targets. Through the first four weeks of the 2015 season, Hopkins had been targeted a whopping 60 times compared to the 33 looks that he has received so far. Two of Hopkins’ next three matchups are against the Minnesota Vikings (Week 5) and the Denver Broncos (Week 7), so he won’t receive any help from the schedule in the short term.
2. IS THE COLTS’ TRIGGERMAN STILL A MUST-START?
The Dude: Andrew Luck
The Damage: Fantasy owners had expected Luck’s trip to jolly old England to yield more than 234 passing yards and two touchdown passes against a work-in-progress Jacksonville Jaguars defense that’s softer on the road. Prior to his trip across the pound, the inconsistent Luck had compiled passing lines of 385-4-0 (versus the Detroit Lions), 197-1-1 (against the Denver Broncos) and 331-1-0 (versus the San Diego Chargers). Is Luck still a must-start option? Will he continue to have consistency issues?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Since Luck has a few things working against him, downgrade the Indianapolis Colts’ triggerman to low-end fantasy QB1 status – at least until Donte Moncrief returns and the offensive line gets healthy. The injury absence of Donte Moncrief (shoulder) obviously has hurt; Phillip Dorsett hasn’t stepped up. The team insists that Luck’s throwing shoulder is just fine. We’ll have to take the Colts at their word, but I have some doubts. In addition, the team had to start three rookies on a banged-up offensive line versus the Jaguars. Luck’s next matchup against a Chicago Bears defense that overachieved against the Detroit Lions is a plus one.
3. THE 2016 VERSION OF RYAN TANNEHILL HAS PLAYED LIKE THE 2015 MODEL. ARE BETTER DAYS AHEAD FOR HIM?
The Dude: Ryan Tannehill
The Damage: Great googly moogly, he played horribly against the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday night, racking up just 189 passing yards and one touchdown. If you take his 74-yard scoring strike, which came on a busted coverage, out of the numbers, Tannehill’s numbers look downright awful. Granted, his offensive line struggled, but Tannehill’s pocket presence and mechanics were poor. On the season, he has compiled passing lines of 186-0-0 (versus the Seattle Seahawks), a garbage-time boosted 387-2-2 (against the New England Patriots) and 319-3-2 (versus the Cleveland Browns). Are up-and-down performances going to be the status quo from Tannehill like last season?
The Diagnosis: TREND
New Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase deserves more time to work with Tannehill, and he deserves more time to absorb the playbook and Gase’s coaching. That stuff aside, even though you’re probably using Tannehill as just a backup, it’s time to bail on him. Maybe he flashes some improvement, but Tannehill’s performance against the Bengals was an eye opener for the wrong reasons. If he continues to play this poorly, a benching isn’t out of the question. The Miami Dolphins can cut him this offseason without a scary salary cap hit, so this is essentially a contract year for Tannehill. Let another fantasy owner take the risk.
4. HEY! DIDN’T YOU USED TO BE AN ELITE OAKLAND RAIDERS GO-TO WIDEOUT?
The Dude: Amari Cooper
The Damage: During the last two weeks, Cooper has taken a back seat to his wingman, Michael Crabtree. Here are the numbers:
|AMARI COOPER||MICHAEL CRABTREE|
While Cooper has come up just short of having some big fantasy outings, there’s no denying that Crabtree’s usage in the offense – particularly in the red zone, has been a punch in the gut to Cooper’s weekly upside. Will this situation continue all season?
The Diagnosis: TREND
While I don’t think Cooper will play second fiddle to Crabtree all season, I suspect this trend will continue for a while. In Week 5, Cooper will clash with San Diego Chargers’ standout cornerback Jason Verrett. Cooper also has a matchup with Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant (Week 7), which is sandwiched in between two matchups against the top-level Denver Broncos secondary. Cooper remains a solid option, but don’t be afraid to deal him for the right offer.
5. IS IT FINALLY POWELL TIME?
The Dude: Bilal Powell
The Damage: After seeing very little action during the first two weeks of the season, Bilal Powell has been way more involved in the New York Jets offense. In Week 3, he carried four times for 30 yards and caught six passes for 41 yards on six targets. Powell followed that up with four carries for 26 yards and six receptions for 54 yards on nine targets. Is he safe to start in PPR leagues?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Yes. Get him in your starting lineup if you haven’t already. Granted, the Jets offense has clearly sputtered since its crazy great Week 2 performance against the Buffalo Bills, but the team needs Powell right now. It looks like Eric Decker (shoulder) is going to be out indefinitely, and Gang Green doesn’t have much receiving talent behind Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa. In addition – this has been an under-reported story – Matt Forte had X-rays for an unknown reason following the team’s loss to the Seahawks. If Forte misses some time, Powell’s value obviously skyrockets. Even if Forte can still play, New York should try to help him out with a slightly smaller workload, which also works in Powell’s favor.