Our Traps & Trends guy Matt Wilson says there’s a stud tight end that should be benched if you haven’t done so already. Matt also gives us his take on nine other players that stood out for one reason or another in Week 5.
1. HEY! DIDN’T YOU USED TO BE STUD TIGHT END JIMMY GRAHAM?
The Damage: The elite Graham’s talents continue to go to waste, and the sixth-year pro continues to disappoint fantasy owners. After hitting pay dirt in two of his first three games, Graham has been quiet two weeks in a row. He followed up a soft 4-29-0 line on five targets in Week 4 with a fantasy TE2-esque 3-30-0 line on five looks in Week 5. On the season, Graham has been targeted an average of 5.2 times per game. During his 2013 and 2014 seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Graham was targeted 8.9 times per game and 8.4 times per game, respectively. Should Graham owners expect more of the same middling fantasy production in the coming weeks?
The Diagnosis: TREND
You can expect more of the same from Graham. If you have a more productive option on your bench, go ahead and sit Graham. Five games into his Seattle career, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell either doesn’t know how to incorporate Graham into the passing attack or doesn’t want to do so. Bevell did seem to have problems fitting now-former Seahawk Percy Harvin into the offensive mix consistently. Granted, this is a team that has enjoyed great success by pounding the football with Marshawn Lynch, so you wouldn’t expect a major change in offensive philosophy to accommodate Graham. However, in a reasonable situation, he would operate as Russell Wilson’s featured target, commanding more than 5.2 targets per game. The Seahawks’ next three opponents before the Week 9 bye are the Carolina Panthers, the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys. The Panthers defense and the Cowboys defense have both been very stingy to opposing tight ends.
2. HEY! DIDN’T YOU USED TO BE GOLDEN-ARMED DETROIT LIONS FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK MATTHEW STAFFORD?
The Damage: During a Week 5 blowout loss at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals, Stafford threw for 188 yards and one touchdown against three interceptions in a total meltdown before the Lions benched him in the third quarter and rolled with backup Dan Orlovsky. Stafford’s disastrous outing came following a very disappointing 203-0-0 showing against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4.
The Diagnosis: TREND
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell says Stafford will start again in Week 6 versus a Chicago Bears defense that has played better during the last couple of weeks. Even if Stafford rebounds and keeps his starting job for the long term, there’s no way you should trust the Lions triggerman as a weekly starter. It’s hard to tell if Stafford is playing hurt or is playing with badly shaken confidence. Maybe it’s both. He deserved the benching for his dismal play, but the Detroit offense has some serious problems that aren’t Stafford’s fault, and those problems aren’t likely to disappear. The offensive line struggles in pass protection, and the Lions can’t run the football. In addition, second-year offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi also deserves some blame for failing to get the most out of some talented skill players.
3. ANDY DALTON…MATCHUP PROOF FANTASY STUD QUARTERBACK?
The Damage: During Andy Dalton’s Week 5 overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks, he torched what’s regarded as an elite secondary, going 30-for-44 for 331 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. On the season, Dalton has racked up three 300-yard outings while throwing for an average of 303.6 passing yards and 2.2 touchdown passes per game with only two interceptions.
The Diagnosis: TOSSUP
If you own Dalton, continue to ride his hot hand. Dalton is clearly playing well and benefitting from having capable secondary targets Tyler Eifert, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu at his disposal. You’re probably thinking that I should label Dalton’s play a TREND. While I respect the numbers that Dalton has compiled, I’m still a little skeptical about whether the guy that has been the butt of jokes in fantasy football circles (you’ve certainly heard of “Good Andy” and “Bad Andy”) during the last few seasons has turned it around. Before the Cincinnati Bengals’ Week 7 bye, Dalton draws a favorable matchup against the Buffalo Bills. Dalton’s three matchups following the bye – Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans – all look favorable. The Browns and Texans games are both happening in front of national television audiences, and Dalton has a history of playing poorly in the national spotlight. If he can play well in those two outings, I’ll be happy to declare that he’s matchup-proof.
4. IS JOSH McCOWN THE REAL FANTASY QB1 DEAL?
The Damage: Coming off consecutive 341-2-1 and 356-2-0 outings, McCown lit up a Swiss Cheese Baltimore Ravens secondary in Week 5 with a single-game team record 457 passing yards to go along with two touchdown tosses against no interceptions. Is the 36-year-old journeyman McCown a safe weekly fantasy QB1 play?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
There’s nothing fluky about McCown’s success in his last three games. However, Cleveland’s schedule is going to get a lot harder in the coming weeks. In other words, if you’ve been rolling with him as a fantasy QB1 or were hoping to do so, there’s bad news: Cleveland’s schedule is going to get a lot tougher. McCown’s next three opponents – the Denver Broncos, the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals – are stingy against the pass.
5. HEY! DIDN’T YOU USED TO BE ATLANTA FALCONS’ STUD WIDEOUT JULIO JONES?
The Damage: After racking up 34 catches, 440 receiving yards and two touchdown grabs on 46 targets through the first three weeks of the season, Jones has cooled off noticeably. In Week 4, he compiled a meager 4-38-0 line on six targets, and, in Week 5, Jones cobbled together a soft 5-67-0 line on 10 targets. Is it time to bench him?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
While I suspect at least one of Jones’ recent dud outings probably cost you a win, don’t overreact and sit him. Even good receivers like Jones endure production droughts. He has been the victim of game flow. Devonta Freeman has been running well, and Jones’ services simply haven’t been needed. The fifth-year pro’s tender hamstring also is probably more of an issue than Jones is admitting. By the way, Jones has notched 100-yard outings in his last two clashes with Atlanta’s Week 6 opponent, the New Orleans Saints.