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Traps & Trends – Week 10

Our Traps & Trends guy is back to assess the fantasy aftermath of Week 9. Matt Wilson combed through the NFL box scores and analyzed 10 players that either surprised or disappointed fantasy owners. Who is on Matt’s radar this week?

 

1. WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WITH EDDIE LACY?

The Damage: Two weeks ago, it looked like things were getting better in Eddie Lacy land. Facing the elite Denver Broncos defense, Lacy ran well, amassing 38 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown and one catch for nine yards while operating in a timeshare with passing-down back James Starks. However, Lacy regressed big time this past weekend, compiling just 10 rushing yards on five carries during his team’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. In case you didn’t watch the game, the Packers benched Lacy for a series in the second quarter because he lost a fumble. In the third quarter, Lacy suffered a groin injury and didn’t return. By the way, Starks amassed 122 total yards and one receiving score on 16 total touches. Getting back to Lacy, are we going to see boom-and-bust performances from him for the rest of 2015?

The Diagnosis: TREND

It sure looks that way – assuming he gets back on the field. As I’m writing this column Sunday evening, there was no immediate news about the severity of Lacy’s groin injury. If he was healthy, there would be hope for the third-year pro because of upcoming soft matchups versus the Detroit Lions (twice), the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings. Looking at things long-term, Lacy’s fantasy playoff matchups are versus the Dallas Cowboys (Week 14), at the Oakland Raiders (Week 15) and at the Arizona Cardinals (Week 16). While Dallas isn’t particularly strong against the run, the Raiders and Cardinals are solid versus the run on their respective home fields. Put simply, I don’t think a healthy Lacy operating in a timeshare will help your team in the fantasy playoffs. If the groin injury is going to force Lacy to miss all or most of his next four favorable matchups, consider releasing him on the off chance you find a player that can help your team.

 
2. JEREMY HILL…PAGING MR. JEREMY HILL…PLEASE PICK UP THE WHITE COURTESY PHONE, YOUR FANTASY OWNERS WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU THURSDAY NIGHT.

The Damage: Many fantasy experts had reasonably billed the Cincinnati Bengals’ Thursday night Week 9 game matchup a sagging Cleveland Browns defense as a surefire “Jeremy Hill game” and a great chance for him to explode. Hill, however, apparently missed the memo. While he out-touched Giovani Bernard 16 to 14, Hill was outgained by a total-yardage tally of 86 to 52. Hill is healthy as far as we know, but it looks like the second-year pro is missing his burst. Digging deeper into Hill’s 2015 game logs, since Week 4 he has notched just one scored and has failed to rush for more than 60 yards in a game. The word “plodding” sums up Hill’s running style right now. Should we expect more plodding from Hill going forward?

The Diagnosis: TREND

Unless he’s concealing some kind of ankle/knee/leg injury and eventually heals up, I think what we’ve been getting from Hill is what we’ll be getting for the rest of 2015. If you’re wondering why he looks like a shell of the guy that we saw run wild through NFL defenses during the second half of 2014, I honestly don’t have an answer for you. Treat Hill as a matchup play low-end No. 2 fantasy running back, and don’t be afraid to sit him for a safer choice. I’d give him one more shot in Week 10. Hill draws another very good home matchup against a Houston Texans defense.

 
3. HEY! DIDN’T YOU USED TO BE STUD WIDEOUT A.J. GREEN?

The Damage: A.J. Green’s disappointing 4-53-0 on six targets showing against a severely banged-up and underachieving Cleveland Browns secondary Thursday night left his fantasy owners grumbling, and with good reason. Since Week 4, Green has racked up receiving lines of 7-82-0 on 10 targets (versus the Kansas City Chiefs), 6-78-0 on eight targets (versus the Seattle Seahawks), 4-36-0 on seven targets (versus the Buffalo Bills), 11-118-1 on 17 targets (versus the Pittsburgh Steelers) and the aforementioned 4-53-0 on six targets stink bomb. To sum up, Green has produced only one great outing in his last five. Is this inconsistent week-to-week production the new normal for Green?

The Diagnosis: TREND

Speaking as someone who owns Green in three leagues, I hate to say this, but yes, this is the new normal for him. The remaining teams on the Cincinnati Bengals’ schedule are a mix of favorable and unfavorable matchups for Green, but there are two other things affecting his production. For the first time in recent years, the Bengals offense is loaded with capable playmakers who are stealing targets, including Tyler Eifert, Marvin Jones, Giovani Bernard and Mohamad Sanu. The biggest thing happening here: Andy Dalton is playing some of the best football of his career. Dalton is displaying an unprecedented command of the Cincinnati offense, and he’s skillfully spreading his throws around. In previous years, Dalton would lock onto Green and pepper him with targets, which is what his owners would prefer. Treat Green as a fantasy WR2 with WR1 upside going forward.

 

4. TITANS COACH FIRED. NOW MARCUS MARIOTA HAS A CHANCE?

The Damage: Coming off a two-week furlough due to a knee injury and having to make a transition from now-former head coach Ken Whisenhunt to interim head coach Mike Mularkey, Mariota shocked the fantasy football universe by shredding a porous New Orleans Saints defense for 371 passing yards and four touchdowns, which were both single-game career highs. One of the touchdown passes (a 61-yarder) came on a deflected ball to Delanie Walker, but it still counts of course. By the way, Mariota’s top wideout, Kendall Wright (knee), was inactive for the game, which makes the rookie passer’s performance all the more impressive. Is Mariota a viable fantasy QB2 with upside going forward?

The Diagnosis: TREND

First I need to explain the “Titans coach fired” headline. I borrowed the quote from the twitter account of former NFL quarterback Matt Leinart. It was Leinart’s reaction to Whisenhunt’s dismissal. Even though Mariota lit it up in just one game, I think he’s a solid fantasy QB2 with upside and a decent addition if you need help at quarterback. Mularkey brings eight years of NFL offensive coordinator experience to the table. He directed the Atlanta Falcons offense from 2008 through 2011 and had a hand in developing Matt Ryan (Falcons), so I think Mularkey can help Mariota. The Tennessee Titans also have some promising upcoming matchups for Mariota. While the Titans’ Week 10 home matchup versus the Carolina Panthers looks somewhat challenging on paper, the following three matchups – at the Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 11), home against the Oakland Raiders (Week 12) and home versus the Jaguars (Week 13) – are favorable.

 
5. WELCOME BACK, JORDAN MATTHEWS?

The Damage: After failing to hit pay dirt or amass more than 60 yards five game in a row and struggling with drops, Jordan Matthews, who was coming off a bye week, erupted for a season-best 9-133-1 line on 12 targets during the Philadelphia Eagles’ overtime road victory over the Dallas Cowboys. The score, in case you missed the game, came on a 41-yard walk-off catch-and-run during the extra quarter. Is Matthews back or was this outing a blip on the radar?

The Diagnosis: TREND

I think it’s safe to reinsert Matthews into your starting lineup. It looked like the hand injury that was bothering Philadelphia’s lead wideout before the bye is no longer an issue, and Sam Bradford is starting to look more relaxed in the Eagles’ offense. Philadelphia’s next three matchups are favorable: the Miami Dolphins (Week 10), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 11) and at the Detroit Lions (Week 12).

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.