Did you really think the fantasy universe would calm down in Week 2? Of course you didn’t. It was loaded with fantasy surprises and disappointments just like Week 1. Senior writer Matt Wilson has sifted through the aftermath and checks in with a look at the 10 fantasy players grabbing the morning headlines. We call them the “Traps & Trends 10.”
1) WHAT TO MAKE OF WATKINS
The Dude: Sammy Watkins
The Damage: What damage? With the first two weeks of 2016 in the books, Watkins, the Buffalo Bills’ best offensive weapon, has been a total non-factor, compiling only six catches for 63 yards on 11 targets. Opposing defenses have succeeded in shutting him down, which is likely one of the big reasons why now-former offensive coordinator Greg Roman was pink slipped (his other big problem was not having the last name Ryan). There also was all the drama about Watkins’ surgically repaired foot, but, after watching him play Thursday night, I think he’s healthy enough to be effective. Will Watkins rebound with some consistently large fantasy outings? Will he be a boom or bust fantasy option?
The Diagnosis: TREND
I think his production will improve, but boom-or-bust performances will be the trend throughout this season. Watkins’ trade value is lower than a gopher’s basement, so you’re likely stuck with him for now. There are a lot of working parts here. Will Watkins’ foot hold up? Probably. The Buffalo Bills say new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will scheme to get the ball into Watkins’ hands more frequently. Will he succeed? I honestly don’t know. Lynn, who has spent the majority of his 16-year NFL career as a running backs coach, has never coordinated an offense, but he’s not going to change the playbook. Buffalo’s schedule also looks tough in the next few weeks with matchups against Patrick Peterson and the Arizona Cardinals (Week 3), the New England Patriots (road contest, Week 4) and at the Los Angeles Rams (road contest, Week 5). Even though you probably drafted Watkins in the third round, treat him as a boom-or-bust fantasy WR3 until his schedule lightens up.
2) HEY! DIDN’T YOU USED TO BE THE JAGUARS’ GO-TO WIDEOUT?
The Dude: Allen Robinson
The Damage: The first two weeks of 2016 have been tough sledding for the 2015 breakout star. In Week 1, Robinson corralled just six of 15 targets, compiling six receptions for 72 yards. This past Sunday versus the San Diego Chargers, Robinson sure didn’t look like a first-round fantasy draft selection. He compiled three catches for 54 yards on five targets and was a total non-factor against the San Diego Chargers. Robinson didn’t catch a pass until the last minute of the third quarter, and one of his grabs went for 35 yards in garbage time. Is it time to sit Robinson?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
Don’t give up on him. While Robinson’s performance against San Diego was troubling, he should rebound nicely in Week 3 versus a forgiving Baltimore Ravens secondary (Week 3), a soft Indianapolis Colts secondary (Week 4) and, following a Week 5 bye, a thin Chicago Bears defensive backfield (Week 6). Why did Robinson flop? File this name in the back of your mind: Jason Verrett. The Chargers’ cornerback is an emerging talent, and he did to Robinson what Darrelle Revis used to do to all wide receivers. Any top wideout going against San Diego will have to square off against Verrett.
3) PAGING MARK INGRAM…MR. MARK INGRAM…PLEASE PICK UP THE WHITE COURTESY PHONE.
The Dude: Mark Ingram
The Damage: He’s still the New Orleans Saints’ top ball carrier, but you wouldn’t know it from Ingram’s usage to open the season, In Week 1, he amassed 87 total yards on 14 touches but lost seven targets to Travaris Cadet. This past Sunday against the New York Giants, Ingram compiled 47 combo yards on 14 touches. He touched the ball only three times in the second half. Ingram also lost three targets to Cadet and three carries to Tim Hightower. Is this type of usage the new normal for Ingram?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Yes. You probably spent a high-round pick on Ingram, so this is going to sting like a paper cut. Downgrade him to fantasy RB3 status for now. The Saints didn’t make a big fuss about their plans to cut back the injury-prone Ingram’s snaps (he has started all 16 games in a season just once in the last five years), but they apparently meant it. Ingram, who caught 50 passes last season, has lost 10 total targets to Cadet, which was unexpected. Ingram also has been the victim of game flow. In Week 1, the New Orleans passing attack was clicking against the Oakland Raiders, and he wasn’t needed. Against the Giants, the ground game was ineffective, and Ingram’s carries dried up in the second half.
4) DETROIT’S NO. 1 WIDEOUT HASN’T BEEN GOLDEN
The Dude: Golden Tate
The Damage: Following the retirement of Calvin Johnson, the Detroit Lions had promised to use Tate as their featured receiver in offensive coordinator Jim-Bob Cooter’s “Cooterized” dink-and-dunk passing attack. The good news: Tate has been targeted 16 times on the season. The bad news: he has compiled just nine receptions for 54 yards in very soft matchups against the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans. Is this usage expected to continue? Is it time to sit Tate?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Yes and Yes. Tate has fallen behind Marvin Jones (12 targets, 12 catches and 203 receiving yards) and Eric Ebron (nine targets, nine catches, 99 receiving yards and one touchdown) in the pecking order. The targets will continue coming for Tate, but unfortunately, the Lions continue to use him almost exclusively on short routes near the line of scrimmage, which explains Tate’s 6.0 yards per catch. Downgrade him to fantasy WR4 status unless/until his usage changes.
5) IT’S THE SAM AND STEFON SHOW IN MINNESOTA NOW
The Damage: In case you missed Sunday Night Football, Sam Bradford, with only two weeks to learn the Minnesota Vikings playbook, played way better than expected. Completing 22 of 31 passes, Bradford threw for 286 yards and two scores. His first touchdown went to Kyle Rudolph, whom he targeted eight times. The real story, however, was Bradford’s instant chemistry with Stefon Diggs, who hauled in nine receptions for 182 yards and one touchdown on 11 targets.
The Diagnosis: TREND
It looks like the Minnesota Vikings offense is going to live and die with the Bradford-to-Diggs connection this season – with Rudolph also having a notable role. Even if Adrian Peterson’s knee injury isn’t season ending (as of Sunday night there was no definitive word on A.P.’s injury), he wasn’t running well, so more passing seemed inevitable. Somebody in your league probably owns Diggs, but Bradford and Rudolph may be available. However, there are concerns. Minnesota’s next three matchups are against the Carolina Panthers (road contest, Week 3), the New York Giants (Week 4) and the Houston Texans (Week 5) which makes for a tough stretch. In addition, the struggling Vikings offensive line may have trouble keeping Bradford upright.