C.J. Anderson, Ryan Tannehill, Dez Bryant, two New England Patriots wideouts and…flying saucers…are on the mind of Matt Wilson following the Sunday Week 8 games. Seriously, flying saucers. Well, only one actually. Check out Matt’s new edition of “Traps & Trends.”
1. HEY! AREN’T YOU FIRST-ROUND FANTASY BUST C.J. ANDERSON?
The Damage: Despite not starting and sharing touches with Ronnie Hillman Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers, Anderson toted the rock 14 times for 101 yards, which were both season highs, and scored one touchdown. He also caught one pass for five yards. Following an absolutely terrible start to the season, is Anderson back?
The Diagnosis: TOSSUP/LEANING TREND
If you’re not familiar with the television show “The X-Files,” there is a poster of a flying saucer with the caption, “I want to believe” hanging in office of one of the lead characters (FBI agent Fox Mulder). Well, I want to believe in Anderson. The third-year pro recently admitted that he wasn’t healthy during the opening weeks of the season, and he’s feeling better only now. Early-season offensive line struggles and growing pains with a new offensive scheme also deserve some blame for Anderson’s struggles. The Denver offense looked surprisingly sharp against the Packers, which is a plus. I’d like to see more solid rushing efforts from Anderson before declaring that he’s back, but, unfortunately, Ronnie Hillman will still command touches in the Broncos’ backfield timeshare. If you see Anderson in your free-agent pool, he’s obviously worth a pickup. If Anderson gets enough touches, he should have a great outing in Week 9 versus a very soft Indianapolis Colts defense.
2. SO YOU STARTED RYAN TANNEHILL AGAINST THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS THIS PAST THURSDAY NIGHT…
The Damage: With Miami Dolphins interim head coach Mark Campbell injecting some much-needed passion into the team when he took over in Week 5, Tannehill stepped up his game. In Week 6, the fourth-year pro played solidly overall versus the Tennessee Titans, throwing for 266 yards and two scores against one interception. The “Tanny” hype machine cranked at full power after he dropped 282 passing yards, four scoring strikes and a perfect passer rating on the Houston Texans in one half of work in Week 7. However, Tannehill and his teammates came crashing back down to earth against the New England Patriots. The Dolphins’ triggerman passed for 300 yards but failed to toss a scoring strike against two picks. Should we expect hot and cold fantasy outings from Tannehill the rest of 2015?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Ryan Tannehill is who we thought he was. “Tanny” is a fantasy QB2 with fantasy QB1 upside…in the right matchup. The Patriots have a knack for humbling upstart teams, and they reminded us all who still owns the AFC East. As for Tannehill, his disappointing outing against New England wasn’t entirely his fault. The fourth-year pro’s offensive line struggled in pass protection, and he received very little help from the Lamar Miller-led ground game. I’d be very reluctant to start Tannehill this week on the road against a rested Buffalo Bills defense that’s grouchy after an awful Week 7 performance in London, England. Don’t forget about “The Patriot Effect.” As I said, teams that lose to New England struggled the following week. Just ask the New York Jets.
3. MIKE EVANS…PAGING MIKE EVANS…PLEASE PICK UP THE WHITE COURTESY PHONE…YOUR FANTASY OWNERS WANT TO HAVE A WORD WITH YOU.
The Damage: After a stellar showing in Week 7 (8-164-1 on 12 targets) versus Washington that had most folks thinking he and Jameis Winston finally were on the same page, Evans logged his third-worst game of the season statistically (3-48-0 on nine targets) the Buccaneers’ victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Will Evans continue to produce boom-or-bust weekly fantasy numbers for the short-term?
The Diagnosis: TREND
As long as opposing defenses are free to focus on containing Evans like the Falcons did, it’s going to be tough sledding for him. In case you don’t follow Tampa Bay closely, Louis Murphy (torn ACL) went down last week, while Vincent Jackson (knee) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) were both inactive for the Atlanta game. Jackson’s replacement, rookie Donteea Dye, caught just one pass for four yards on three looks. It looks like Jackson will miss Week 9, but according to media reports, Seferian-Jenkins is supposedly close to returning, which would stop defenses from locking onto Evans like a laser. By the way, the great chemistry that we saw between Evans and Winston during the Washington game was absent this past Sunday, but the duo should get their act together in Week 9 at home against a super-leaky New York Giants secondary.
4. SO YOU STARTED MATTHEW STAFFORD THIS PAST SUNDAY…
The Damage: The Lions gave Stafford an interim offensive coordinator with a cool-sounding Duke of Hazzard-style name (Jim Bob Cooter), and the new offensive maestro revamped Detroit’s system to make it simpler. However, while the coordinator and scheme have changed, Stafford’s results were pretty much the same – and that 405-4-0 he amassed against the Chicago Bears in Week 6 looks very fluky now. During a 45-10 blowout loss at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs in London, England, Stafford passed for just 217 yards and one touchdown against two interceptions. He was sacked six times and was under siege throughout the game. If you throw out the Chicago game, Stafford has averaged 239.7 passing yards and 1.3 touchdown passes per game. The Lions’ triggerman also has been sacked 22 times, which is tied for fourth in the NFL.
The Diagnosis: TREND
The Detroit offense is obviously a pile of rubbish that appropriately only seems to show up in junk time, but it’s not all Stafford’s fault. The team’s offensive coordinator and offensive scheme have changed, but we saw the same results. Unless the Lions’ offensive line can improve its horrible pass blocking, it’s hard to see things getting better for Stafford. You can trust him along with Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Eric Ebron only in the most favorable matchups. Even if Cooter and head coach Jim Caldwell finish out the season, how long before Stafford and company start to throw in the towel mentally?
5. WELCOME BACK, DEZ BRYANT…SORT OF
The Damage: Making his return after missing six weeks because of a bum foot, Bryant fell victim to the double whammy of non-stop blanket coverage from Seattle Seahawks top cornerback Richard Sherman and Matt Cassel’s brutally conservative take-no-risks passing. Bryant also shook off some rust while compiling just two catches for 12 yards on six targets. The Cowboys had said he would played limited snaps against the Seahawks, but Bryant played just about the entire game with no known setbacks. While Bryant obviously won’t face Sherman again during the regular season, it looks like the stud wideout is stuck catching passes from Cassel for at least two more games. Tony Romo (collar bone) already has started throwing. He’s expected to start practicing this week and is eligible to play in Week 11 at the earliest. Is Bryant’s Week 8 production typical of what we’ll get from him with Cassel starting?
The Diagnosis: TREND
While I think Bryant should improve on his 2-12-0 on six targets at home in Week 9 versus a shaky Philadelphia Eagles defense, Cassel, who doesn’t look any more competent than Brandon Weeden, is going to continue to drag down Bryant’s production. I would start him only as a fantasy WR3 for now, and don’t be afraid to keep Bryant benched if you’re loaded at wideout.