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Players That Are Making Me Nervous For Week 9

ben-tate-fantasy-football-running-backs-sleepers-nflHey all, Rek is on vacation this week so I'm coming off the bench to cover the players I'm worried about as potential busts for week 9! Let's start by looking at his three players from last week, like we always do.

Marshawn Lynch had another disappointing game but he did go over 4.0 YPC once again. There is a little cause for concern with his supposed unhappiness in Seattle but I would reaffirm Rek's thoughts that you shouldn't worry too much. He is an excellent football player, and the Seattle Seahawks will need to use Beast Mode more if they want to win consistently. Alfred Morris responded with his best game in weeks, totaling 85 yards and a score. I'd agree with Rek that he is an RB2 and was probably drafted as an RB1. He should be able to reach 80 yards in most games.

Lastly Reggie Bush did not play and Theo Riddick looked very good in his place. Bush is looking droppable in many league formats, as I can't imagine trusting him as a reliable weekly fantasy football option even if he has a strong game. Looks like Rek did a great job identifying three concerning players last week, so let's move on to this week!


Julius Thomas - TE, DEN

95% Owned on Fleaflicker

Through his first five games, Julius Thomas was on an insane record breaking pace, averaging nearly two touchdowns a game. He has since totaled 50 yards in two games with no touchdowns. Should we worry? Temper your expectations but don't think Julius is suddenly a horrible fantasy tight end.

Yardage-wise, Julius is on pace for a very similar season to last year. He is averaging 46 yards a game vs 56 last year. It is because of this that I had Julius as my TE3 in my preseason rankings. I stick by that, he never was expected to rack up yards like Graham and Gronk can. He is a touchdown specialist. So what's gone wrong lately? Mostly Emmanuel Sanders with some Juwan Thompson mixed in. Sanders had zero scores in his first five games but now has four during Julius' drought. Three of those scores are from within five yards of the endzone. Likewise Juwan Thompson vultured every Denver fantasy-relevant player with two goal line scores.

Is that a reason to worry? Not really. Sanders was due for some touchdowns but there is no reason to think that going forward the 5'11" Sanders will continue to get the goal line looks over 6'5" Julius. I think the absolute worst case for Julius over the final 8 games (9 if you play week 17) is five touchdowns. If he continues to average around 50 yards with five scores over the next 8 weeks I'd guess that is still TE3 or 4 from this point on and that is strictly worst case. More realistically he sees 7+ touchdowns and is easily top 3 if not better. I would seriously consider trading him for healthy Gronk if you can, but other than that you want Julius in your lineup. His low yardage will result in some duds but more often he'll get you 10+ points.


Ben Tate / Cleveland Running Backs

88% Owned on Fleaflicker

Through the first five weeks, Cleveland running backs were dominant and had a 10 point RB every single week and often an impressive two double-digit scoring RBs! The past two weeks the Browns had two average or better matchups (Jags, Raiders) and flopped badly. I think there is definite reason to worry here.

Of the three Cleveland backs (Tate, Crowell, West), not a single one has managed to exceed 2.6 YPC over the past two games. With Crowell and Tate both playing at an extremely high level up to this point I think it's pretty clear that the issue lies elsewhere. Luckily for me, I didn't have to look far before seeing a likely cause. Through week 6, Alex Mack was Pro Football Focus's 3rd highest graded Center before breaking his leg which has sidelined him for the remainder of 2014.

In Week 7, the Browns tried to replace him by moving RG John Greco over to C and starting Paul McQuistan at RG. McQuistan was the 67th graded G for the week out of 70. In Week 8 they tried something different and started Nick McDonald at C which resulted in him being graded as the 31st C of 33. It's been an absolute disaster trying to replace Mack and the RBs have suffered a great deal. They have some nice matchups going forward but I will have little confidence in the Browns run game until I see an offensive line that works. I am really worried and I'd be looking to trade Ben Tate to an owner that thinks he'll bounce back.


Matt Ryan - QB, ATL

96% Owned on Fleaflicker

Matt Ryan is another player that has suffered offensive line injuries. The Falcons offensive line woes are way beyond that of Cleveland though, as injuries have left multiple third-stringers starting. Do I think Ryan is talented? Absolutely, I think he's a top-10 QB in the league in terms of talent. However from a fantasy perspective I set the bar at 15 points (standard 4 points/TD scoring) as a decent performance. Over Ryan's last four games he's scored 14, 12, 11 and 15 points. Over the same span he's been outscored by Kyle Orton, Mike Glennon and Derek Carr.

As a result, I've made the case on Twitter (to some backlash) that Ryan is droppable IF you need the roster space, especially with his bye this coming week. He has several good matchups following the bye, starting with the Bucs and Panthers, but unless he has a Brady-like turnaround I can't say I'll feel comfortable starting him. I'll like Ryan a lot next year but with the offensive line he has to deal with, no thanks. Even in a good matchup it's hard to trust Ryan away from home (averaging 13.25 points in away matchups) which are where his next two matchups are.

So we're looking at a QB who is on bye and then plays away games in weeks 10-11. Even though those games are against the Bucs and Panthers, I don't trust him. If you feel the same way after reading this then Ryan is dead weight on your roster and you should consider making the change.


Closing Thoughts After Week 8

I hope you enjoyed me as a replacement. Rek will be back next week with the writing you know and love! In your average league there are just five more weeks before the fantasy playoffs so start assessing your team and figuring out what you need to do to get there. Good luck!