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TRAPS & TRENDS: Week 7

Has the torch been passed in San Diego? Is there a sell-high candidate in the Bears’ backfield? Is there a sell-high candidate in the Kansas City receiver corps? Is there still a need for Snead in your starting lineup? FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson gives us his take on those four player situations and the Week 6 aftermath with his latest version of the Traps & Trends 10.

 

1. HAS THE TORCH BEEN PASSED IN SAN DIEGO?

The Dudes: Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates

The Damage: Henry apparently didn’t receive the memo about how rookie tight ends usually struggle with consistency and how he’s not supposed to out-produce future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates. Here’s the breakdown of the production from the two players during the last three weeks. Gates was inactive in Week 3 and Week 4 due to a hamstring injury.

 

ANTONIO GATES HUNTER HENRY
WEEK TAR REC YDS TD OPP WEEK TAR REC YDS TD
3 @IND 3 5 5 72 0
4 NO 4 7 4 61 1
5 5 4 30 1 @OAK 5 4 3 74 1
6 6 2 16 0 DEN 6 8 6 83 1

 

The Diagnosis: TREND

The numbers clearly tell the story. The torch has been passed in San Diego. If you didn’t watch the game, Gates is clearly at the end of the road physically. Henry is operating in a functional and usually pass-heavy offense with a very talented quarterback who likes to throw to tight ends slinging the rock. While Gates isn’t going to disappear, Henry deserves to be started every week as a low-end fantasy TE1 unless he regresses abruptly or the matchup is poor. Gates still offers middling fantasy TE2 value at best.

 

2. HEY! AREN’T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE THAT STUD WIDEOUT AND PPR DYNAMO FROM THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS?

The Dude: Julian Edelman

The Damage: Nobody expected super-productive outings from Edelman while he was catching passes from Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett during Tom Brady’s suspension. However, the wideout’s first two games with “Angry Tom” back under center have been disappointing. Two weeks ago, Edelman compiled five receptions for 35 yards on 10 targets, and this Sunday, he racked up four grabs for 30 yards on seven looks. Is this the level of production the new normal for Edelman? Will he go off at some point this season?

The Diagnosis: TREND

While a few monster outing are likely, I think the level of production that we’re seeing from Edelman will be the new norm for him. Two things are happening here: 1) Edelman has been playing through a foot injury that’s probably a little worse than the New England Patriots are telling us. 2) The big issue is usage. Last season he averaged 9.8 targets per contest (nine games played) and received double-digit targets in four contests. While Edelman has averaged 8.5 targets per game this season (granted, it’s a small sample size), the presence of Martellus Bennett (6.5 targets per game with Brady under center) is clearly cutting into Edelman’s workload. Games with double-digit looks likely will be rare for him this season. Downgrade Edelman to a fantasy WR3 in PPR leagues and to a low-end fantasy WR3 in standard scoring leagues.

 

3. HEY! AREN’T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE THE CHICAGO BEARS’ WORKHORSE TAILBACK?

The Dudes: Jordan Howard and Ka’Deem Carey

The Damage: Following two straight weeks of heavy workloads for rookie Jordan Howard, his owners watched in frustration this past Sunday as his backup, Ka’Deem Carey, tallied 50 rushing yards on nine carries during the Chicago Bears’ narrow loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. While Howard still toted the rock 15 times for 34 yards and one touchdown, and caught two passes for six yards, it was a surprise to see Carey cut into the rookie runner’s workload after seeing very little action during the last few weeks. Is the Bears’ backfield going committee? Is it time to sell Howard?

The Diagnosis: TRAP

Don’t overreact to Howard losing nine carries, and don’t trade him. A swarming Jacksonville Jaguars defense stuffed the Bears’ ground game all afternoon, containing the only moderately fast Howard. Carey, who just returned in Week 5 after missing two games with a hamstring injury, is the more explosive runner of the two, which explains why he was more productive in this matchup. Unless Howard regresses, he should maintain the lead back role and goal-line duties going forward – even when Jeremy Langford (ankle) returns, but Howard will struggle against the tougher run defenses. Carey is a low-level handcuff until Jeremy Langford returns.

 

4. SHOULD YOUR STARTING LINEUP STILL HAVE THE NEED FOR SNEAD?

The Dude: Willie Snead

The Damage: Regarded as a rock-solid fantasy WR3 option in one of the NFL’s most pass-happy offenses entering the season, Snead’s production cooled off noticeably in the New Orleans Saints’ last two games.

 

WILLIE SNEAD – 2016 PRODUCTION
WEEK OPP TAR REC YDS TD
1 OAK 9 9 172 1
2 @NYG 8 5 54 1
3 ATL
4 @SD 1 1 23 0
5 BYE
6 CAR 7 4 47 0

 

Is this the level of production that we can expect from Snead going forward?

The Diagnosis: TREND

Snead is over the toe injury that sidelined him in Week 3 and slowed him in Week 4. However, his Week 6 stats – four catches for 47 yards on seven targets in a contest in which Drew Brees passed for 465 yards and four touchdowns – were a red flag waiving in the breeze. Snead’s production will be spotty going forward, because there are extra mouths to feed in the Saints’ passing attack. Last season, Snead had to share targets with Brandin Cooks, an aging Ben Watson (Ravens) and a worn-down Marques Colston. This season Cooks obviously has returned, but promising rookie Michael Thomas, who replaced Colston, is on the rise. Thomas hit pay dirt three games in a row and averaged 8.3 looks per contest. Fleener, shaking off a slow start, scored in two of the Saints last three outings and averaged 7.7 targets per game. Downgrade Snead to a boom-or-bust fantasy WR4.

 

5. HEY! DIDN’T YOU USED TO BE THE DENVER BRONCOS’ STUD TAILBACK?

The Dude: C.J. Anderson

The Damage: A popular 80’s musician named Howard Jones wrote a song entitled “Things Can Only Get Better,” which was my take on Anderson’s soft rushing performances two weeks ago. [Editor’s Note: For those of you too young to remember Howard Jones, or just looking for a trip back to 1985, click here.] The fantasy production obviously hasn’t gotten better from the highly paid Anderson, and his struggles were on full display this past Thursday night during the Denver Broncos’ surprising loss to the San Diego Chargers.

 

C.J. ANDERSON – 2016 PRODUCTION
WEEK OPP ATT YDS TD REC YDS TD
1 CAR 20 92 1 4 47 1
2 IND 20 74 1 3 19 0
3 @CIN 14 37 0 1 4 0
4 @TB 19 49 1 1 3 0
5 ATL 11 41 0 3 21 0
6 @SD 10 37 0 4 34 0

 

Anderson hasn’t amassed more than 50 rushing yards in a game since Week 2 and has hit pay dirt just once in the last month. Granted, he had some nice runs and a touchdown nullified by penalties in the San Diego game, but rookie Devontae Booker officially out-rushed him in that contest, compiling 46 rushing yards on only five carries. Booker’s usage in the passing game (six catches in the last two weeks) also has been on the rise. Will the Broncos backfield go timeshare? Is it time for Anderson owners to panic?

The Diagnosis: TREND

The answer to both questions, in my opinion, is “yes.” Booker has been the more explosive runner of the two. While Anderson has never been a burner, it’s reasonable to suspect that he’s not 100 percent healthy – even though the team has said otherwise. Granted, the Broncos offensive line play has been shoddy recently. Booker has been the more explosive runner of the two, and it’s likely that his role is going to expand at the expense of Anderson. Downgrade him to middling fantasy RB2 status and upgrade Booker to flex status.

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.