Is there hope for Allen Robinson? Is there a new No. 1 wideout in Green Bay? Is trouble percolating in the Washington backfield? Is there a new fantasy threat in the Minnesota Vikings receiver corps? FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson gives us his take on those four player situations and the Week 7 aftermath with his latest version of the “Traps & Trends 10.”
1. HEY! DIDN’T YOU USED TO BE THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS’ STUD WIDEOUT WHO CAUGHT 80 PASSES FOR 1,400 YARDS AND A FRANCHISE-RECORD 14 SCORING GRABS LAST SEASON?
The Dude: Allen Robinson
The Damage: Any resemblance between the deep-ball/jump-ball stud version of A-Rob from 2015 and the painfully average stone-handed 2016 version of Robinson is purely coincidental to the frustration of fantasy owners who spent a first-round pick on this guy.
The poor showing against San Diego Chargers’ standout cornerback Jason Verrett in Week 3 is understandable, but Robinson has disappointed most weeks in a schedule loaded up with plus matchups so far. His poor outings against the very soft defenses of the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders are inexcusable. Robinson’s scoring is clearly well off his 2015 pace, and the third-year pro’s yardage numbers also have been shockingly soft. Last season, A-Rob averaged 87.5 receiving yards per game. This season he has compiled an average of 49.3 receiving yards per contest. Are these subpar fantasy outings the new normal for Robinson?
The Diagnosis: TOSSUP
Why has the talented Robinson been struggling? Blake Bortles has clearly regressed. I’m also starting to suspect Robinson’s offseason preparation was not as thorough as it could have been. Remember how Mike Evans (Buccaneers) struggled during his disappointing drop-plagued 2015 sophomore campaign? Evans later confessed to not putting in the necessary offseason work to refine his craft. In addition, with the entire Jacksonville Jaguars offense struggling, it looks like the NFL found some soft spots in offensive coordinator Greg Olsen’s scheme, and he hasn’t been able to adjust. Can Robinson turn things around? He can – but A-Rob is going to need help from the struggling Bortles. Can Bortles rebound? We’ll see. Robinson’s next four matchups – the Tennessee Titans, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Houston Texans and the Detroit Lions – don’t look scary to me. Robinson, however, obviously is no longer a stud. Don’t be afraid to bench him until/if he gets back on track if you haven’t done so already.
2. IS THERE A NEW NO. 1 WIDEOUT IN TITLETOWN?
The Dude: Davante Adams
The Damage: Unless you’re a Green Bay Packers fan or you live and breathe NFC North football, chances are Adams, listed as the No. 3 wideout on the Packers’ depth chart, has been flying under your fantasy radar.
He has been a largely solid but admittedly touchdown-dependent option in leagues that require at least three wideouts in starting lineups. Adams, who had been diagnosed with a concussion in Week 6, was a surprise active for this past Thursday night, and the third-year pro stunned the fantasy universe with a career-best outing that tied a single-game franchise record for receptions. With Jordy Nelson playing solidly overall but not looking like the true big-play stud that he was before ACL surgery, is Adams emerging as the new lead wideout in Green Bay?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
No, Adams isn’t the Packers’ new No. 1 wideout. Nelson is still the guy. I’ve been surprised by the large amount of comments on message boards from fantasy owners who have totally overreacted to Adams’ huge outing, which was just the product of Green Bay’s inability to get the ball to Nelson against a Chicago Bears defense that sold out to shut him down. By the way, aside from the Bears game, Nelson has been solidly productive even though ACL surgery has sapped his elite speed. However, Adams, even though he’s a No. 3 wideout, should continue to produce reasonably consistent weekly numbers in a pass-happy offense that will continue to rely on Knile Davis and Ty Montgomery to shore up an injury depleted backfield. You may find Adams available on the waiver wire in smaller leagues.
3. HEY! AREN’T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE THE CHICAGO BEARS’ WORKHORSE TAILBACK?
The Damage: Howard’s control of the Chicago Bears’ backfield is looking very shaky right now. Back in Week 6, he out-touched Ka’Deem Carey by a count of 17 to nine, amassing 40 total yards and one rushing touchdown while Carey tallied 50 rushing yards on nine totes of the rock. This past Sunday, however, Howard’s usage took a major hit. Finding little running room against a solid Green Bay Packers defense, the plodding back was out-touched by Carey 11 to seven with the quicker Carey amassing 57 total yards (10 carries for 48 yards and one catch for nine yards) and Howard compiling just 22 rushing yards. The scary part: Howard, with the Bears trailing, touched the ball just once in the second half. Is his starting job in serious jeopardy? Is Chicago’s backfield trending toward a timeshare?
The Diagnosis: TREND
I want to offer my humble apologies. Last week I whiffed on my take of the Bears’ backfield. Yes, this backfield is slowly going committee. Howard is an early-down thumper who has trouble against tougher defenses. While Carey isn’t a burner, he’s a little quicker than Howard and likely will see more action against the stiffer front sevens. By the way, Jeremy Langford, who has been sitting on the injury shelf since Week 4 due to a high ankle sprain, is tentatively expected to return right after Chicago’s Week 9 bye. Bears head coach John Fox has not seemed overly impressed with Langford, so, unless he really impresses, don’t look for Langford to operate as a high-volume runner. It’s impossible to predict how the Bears’ backfield will shake out going forward. The value of Howard, Carey and Langford obviously will depend on their respective roles. Cary and Howard both look like weak plays against an angry Minnesota Vikings defense in Week 8.
4. WHO IS BACKING UP JACQUIZZ RODGERS WHILE DOUG MARTIN REMAINS PARKED ON THE INJURY SHELF WITH A BUM HAMMY?
The Dude: Peyton Barber
The Damage: Operating as a breather back behind Jacquizz Rodgers this past Sunday, Barber, an undrafted rookie, toted the rock 12 times for 84 yards and one touchdown (no, he didn’t catch any passes) during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers road triumph over the San Francisco 49ers. Listed at 5-foot-11, 225 pounds, Barber flashed some surprising quicks, scoring on a 44-yard run. Is the No. 2 guy in the Buccaneers’ backfield going forward?
The Diagnosis: TREND
This one is as simple as a two-foot putt on the 18th green. The No. 2 gig in the Tampa Bay backfield clearly belongs to Barber. Doug Martin (hamstring) is out indefinitely, and Charles Sims (knee) has been lost for the season. Antone Smith, who amassed 47 total yards on three touches against the 49ers, was signed off the couch a week ago. While Smith has some speed, the smallish runner (5-foot-9, 192 pounds) wasn’t known for his durability during a five-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons (2010-2014). Rodgers, who lists at 5-foot-6, 205 pounds, has amassed 62 touches in his last two games, can’t hold up under such heavy workloads, so look for the Buccaneers to reduce his load and continue working Barber into the mix. If Rodgers went down with an injury, Barber would be thrust into a starter role.
5. IS TROUBLE BREWING IN THE WASHINGTON BACKFIELD?
The Damage: Jones disappointed in a plus matchup against the Detroit Lions, compiling just 27 rushing yards on 10 carries with no targets in the passing game. It looks like ball security, which was Jones’ kryptonite during his 2015 rookie season, is becoming a worry with him once again. In the Detroit game, Jones fumbled three times. One bounced into the end zone, which cost Washington a touchdown. He also botched two handoffs from Kirk Cousins, but one miscue was actually credited to Cousins. After the third fumble, Jones was benched for one series and played in a rotation with Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson the rest of the way. Thompson was the most productive of Washington’s three ball carriers. He amassed 12 carries for 73 yards and caught seven balls for 40 yards, while Kellley toted the rock four times for 15 yards and caught a one-yard touchdown pass. Is the Washington backfield going timeshare?
The Diagnosis: TOSSUP
Washington head coach Jay Gruden has said he’ll stick with Jones as his starter, but it’s a safe bet that another turnover-marred outing will cost him playing time. Consider Jones a risky fantasy RB2 for Week 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals in London, England. Thompson looks like a decent speculative pick up.