Fantasy Football: Patience or Panic

We are at the point in the fantasy football season, where teams in every league are beginning to separate themselves, for better or worse. There are the undefeated teams that are just about guaranteed to reach the playoffs, and there are the teams who look to be a loss or two away from being out of the playoff race altogether. For the latter group, there is a desperation that is ripe for overreaction. There is blood in the water, and everyone knows it. Surely, if you’re 0-4 or even 1-3, you’re being bombarded with low-ball offers from owners looking to pounce on your precarious place in the standings. While it’s tempting to take some home run swings and shake up your roster, it’s always important not to make a trade, just for the sake of making a trade.

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Patience
It’s crazy that Brown is even being included here, and if you have Brown on your roster, chances are your team is in good standing. But, if somehow, you have Brown and your team is struggling, don’t do anything rash. The Mike Vick effect will only last a few more weeks, and it’s hard to imagine it being any worse for Brown that it was last Thursday, when Brown just had a few catches for 42 yards. Brown is either the best WR in fantasy, or just a hair behind Julio Jones, and anyone who panics on Brown will be kicking themselves when Big Ben is back and Brown goes back to being a lock for 100 yards every week.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Patience
What a difference a few weeks make, huh? Not that Matthews ever really set the fantasy world on fire yet this year, but after week 2, Matthews looked like a safe bet to be a top 15 or even top 10 fantasy WR. The top aerial option in Chip Kelly’s offense should be a safe bet to receive a boatload of targets, and Matthews’ size should make him a red zone monster. But the Eagles have looked like a mediocre team, who maybe gave up the reins to Chip Kelly a little too much. The offense, for the most part, has struggled to put up points, and the rejuvenation of Sam Bradford hype was a little premature. Despite all of that though, Matthews’ owners should stay the course. He’s the unquestioned #1 wideout in Philly – neither Nelson Agholor, nor Riley Cooper is a real threat to steal too many targets from Matthews, and the offense can only get better. Matthews is a solid WR2 and a few so-so weeks shouldn’t cause panic out of his owners.

Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mild Panic
Evans will be fine. It took him a little longer than people expected to get back on the field, and he hasn’t really had a breakout game, but two things. First, Evans is on a bad team that is often trailing. Second, in his first real game back, Evans tallied 17 targets. He is going to get a lot of chances, and while he may not have the WR1 upside that some had hoped, he is going to be a really good WR2 from here on out. So, why panic? Well, Jameis Winston is not a very good NFL QB at the moment and that certainly caps Evans’ upside. Also, when Evans was out, Winston seemed to develop a solid rapport with Vincent Jackson. Last year, Jackson and Evans shared very similar numbers in every category except one: TDs. With a more even TD split between Jackson and Evans, Evans loses much of his upside.

Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks: Major Panic
I’m never in favor of selling off one of your early picks at basement value, and for that reason, there’s really nothing Graham owners can do right now, except for be patient. But, Graham owners should look to flip him after his next good game. Seattle is winning games in spite of its offense right now. Seattle’s offensive line is putrid and Graham has largely been invisible. Last week, with Marshawn Lynch out, it seemed like the perfect setup for the first Jimmy Graham game of the season, but he finished with less than 30 yards. Graham is no longer the clear cut TE2 in fantasy behind Gronk – players like Kelce, Olsen, and Eifert have jumped him, among others. Like I said though, you can’t cut bait right now because Graham’s value is so low. If he can have one monster game though, owners should shamelessly sell high on him. Wilson spreads the ball around too much. Seattle targets: 24 for Baldwin, 22 for Graham, 20 for Jermaine Kearse.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: Patience
The overplayed narrative right now is how it’s so clear that Calvin has lost a step or three. The bottom line is that Detroit’s offensive line is arguably the worst in the league and Matt Stafford is a subpar QB. Beyond that, Detroit has faced a brutal schedule playing Denver, at Seattle, and now Arizona. Those are some of the best defenses in the league. After this murderer’s row of games, Calvin should be a solid WR1. Is he still the best WR in the NFL? No, probably not, but Calvin is still just 30 years old. Most people who own  Calvin are probably irrationally tied to him and understand he was a shred under 2K yards just two years ago, but if the owner in your league is worried that Calvin’s best days are behind him, now is the time to pounce.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: Panic
Don’t be fooled by the 3 TDs last week. Hill only received nine touches and he’s not going to have multi-TD games ever week. Hill is locked in a timeshare with Gio Bernard with Bernard receiving the upper hand. Hill could regain control of that job, but barring injury to Bernard, that looks a long way away. Fantasy owners often only look at the bottomline – the player’s point total – and those owners are susceptible to chasing last week’s points. Right now, Hill is a vulture RB, who cannot be counted on.

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins: Patience
If not for the Joe Philbin firing, Miller would be in red alert panic zone. Everyone understands that the only problem with Miller is that he’s not touching the ball enough. Through the first month of the season, Miller was getting 8-10 touches a game, and that’s not enough for a RB to start in fantasy. The change of scenery is not guaranteed to have a drastic impact on Miller’s output, but quite frankly, it cannot get any worse for Miller. Miller will not be the player you drafted to him to be, but at least with a new coach who gives him the ball, he can still salvage a solid rest of the year.

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