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TRAPS & TRENDS: Week 6

What happened to waiver-wire darling Wendell Smallwood? Is another player named Cam on the rise? Is it safe to trust Marcus Mariota again? FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson answers those two questions and others as he checks in with the “Traps & Trends 10” for Week 6.

 

1) WHAT HAPPENED TO TEAM SMALLWOOD?

The Dude: Wendell Smallwood

The Damage: Actually, it was the lack of damage that has riled up fantasy owners who shelled out a high waiver pick or gobs of blind bidding money two weeks ago to land the services of the rookie runner after he ripped Pittsburgh for 79 rushing yards and one touchdown on 17 carries while operating in a committee with an injured Ryan Mathews. However, even though Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson had promised to use Smallwood in a committee in Week 5 against Detroit, he surprisingly didn’t receive any touches and played just a handful of snaps. Mathews and Darren Sproles handled the bulk of the backfield duties. Should you cut your losses and release Smallwood?

The Diagnosis: TRAP

Even though he’s not fantasy starter material at the moment, try to hang onto Smallwood as a depth stash if you can. Mathews, who owns the Philadelphia backfield for now, has a checkered injury history, which is obviously the biggest reason not to give up on Smallwood. If Mathews lands on the injury shelf, Philadelphia isn’t going to pound 33-year-old scat back Sproles between the tackles. Since Philadelphia doesn’t seem interested in using Smallwood in its aerial attack, game flow also will factor into his playing time. Unlike the Week 3 game, Philadelphia fell way behind Detroit and was forced to pass for most of the second half.

 

2) HEY! DIDN’T YOU USED TO BE DENVER’S STUD TAILBACK?

The Dude: C.J. Anderson

The Damage: It’s another situation where a lack of damage is the problem. This past Sunday, Anderson carried a season-low 11 times for 41 scoreless yards and racked up three receptions for 21 yards during Denver’s surprising loss to Atlanta. While Anderson didn’t look hurt, he certainly didn’t look sharp, either. Here’s what has some Anderson owners nervous: In that contest, his backup, rookie Devontae Booker compiled six carries for 23 yards and four grabs for 36 yards. In simple terms, Booker racked up only three fewer total yards on four fewer touches. Is the Denver backfield trending toward a timeshare? Is it time to downgrade or even sit Anderson?

The Diagnosis: TRAP

Stay the course with Anderson. Since Denver shelled out a big money contract during the offseason to keep him in the fold, he should remain the lead dog in the backfield of an offense that’s built to run the football in heavy volume. The talented Booker will continue to siphon close to 10 touches each week, but that was expected to happen before the start of the season. Granted, the Anderson-led Denver ground game has been struggling due to tough matchups, game flow and quarterbacking issues during the last two weeks. Opponents are keying on Anderson and daring rookie Paxton Lynch to throw the ball. The rookie passer filled in for an injured Trevor Siemian (shoulder) last week and made his first career start this past Sunday. Anderson has a get-well Week 6 matchup against the leaky defense of tough-luck San Diego set for Thursday night. Even if Siemian doesn’t return, Anderson should get back on track.

 

3) HAS PITTSBURGH FOUND A MARTAVIS BRYANT 2.0?

The Dude: Sammie Coates

The Damage: Two weeks ago, the second-year pro enjoyed a coming out party of sorts, compiling six catches for 79 yards on eight targets against Kansas City. This past Sunday, Coates exploded for six catches, 139 yards and two touchdowns on a team-high (tie) 11 targets during his team’s triumph over the New York Jets. He has racked up at least one reception of 40-plus yards in all five games played this season, too. Is Coates a legitimate fantasy starter going forward?

The Diagnosis: TREND

While it’s honestly too early to start the Bryant comparisons, Coates definitely has earned weekly fantasy WR3 status in a potent Pittsburgh passing attack, but the stone-handed speedster is going to be a boom-or-bust option like Bryant and most deep threats. In the Jets game, Coates dropped four passes. Would you believe three of the drops could have been touchdown grabs? Coates is a work in progress.

 

4) IS IT TIME TO DOWNGRADE CHICAGO’S NO. 1 WIDEOUT FOR THE LONG-TERM?

The Dude: Alshon Jeffery

The Damage: Jeffery is a favorite target for Jay Cutler (thumb), who has been sidelined during the last three weeks, but fill-in starter Brian Hoyer has been more open to spreading his passes around, which has dented Jeffery’s production and boosted the production of Kevin White (ankle), Cameron MeredithEddie Royal and Zach Miller during the last three weeks.

ALSHON JEFFERY – 2016 PRODUCTION
WEEK QB TAR REC YDS TD
1 Cutler 6 4 105 0
2 Cutler/Hoyer 7 5 96 0
3 Hoyer 7 5 70 0
4 Hoyer 5 3 46 0
5 Hoyer 6 5 77 0

While the low-volume numbers don’t look too bad in points per reception league scoring, more production had been expected from Jeffery, particularly in the scoring department. Is it time to downgrade Jeffery?

The Diagnosis: TOSSUP

If Cutler gets his job back, the banged-up Jeffery’s numbers obviously will improve. Cutler loves to feed one wideout, and Jeffery, as mentioned, is his guy. However, there have been rumors that Chicago may continue to roll with Hoyer even if Cutler receives the medical green light to return. It’s a big question mark whether Cutler is in the plans of the new regime after this season. Chicago supposedly can cut him after 2016 without a scary cap hit, and Hoyer’s surprisingly solid level of play could be used as an excuse to phase out Cutler. Two front office regimes have tried and failed to build a winning team around him. If Hoyer keeps the No. 1 gig, expect status quo for Jeffery.

 

5) IS THERE ANOTHER GUY NAMED CAM ON THE RISE?

The Dude: Cameron Meredith

The Damage: Starting in place of the injured Kevin White (ankle) opposite of Alshon Jeffery, Meredith was arguably the biggest surprise of Week 5. The second-year undrafted free agent and quarterback-turned-wideout exploded, logging nine catches for 130 yards and one touchdown on 12 targets against Indianapolis, with twice the number of looks that Alshon Jeffery received. Should we expect more big outings from Meredith?

The Diagnosis: TOSSUP

Putting aside the quality of his Week 5 matchup – we all know the Indianapolis secondary isn’t very good – Meredith is definitely worth a pickup, but his long-term prospects will be affected by whoever starts at quarterback for Chicago. In case you skipped reading my Jeffery writeup, here’s the quick version: Jay Cutler prefers targeting Jeffery heavily, but Brian Hoyer prefers targeting Meredith heavily. We’re expected to find out early this week whether Cutler will get his job back.

About Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson has played NFL fantasy football since 1994 and has been a featured columnist at FantasySharks.com since 2008. His 18 combined years of professional writing experience includes a five-year stint as a contributing writer/editor at KFFL.com. He has been a featured contributor to The Fantasy Football Guide since 2008 and has been published regularly in the award-winning USA Today Sports Fantasy Football preview. Matt is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and holds a degree in journalism from Northern Illinois.