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Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Chris Carson


Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week. There will be two major qualifiers for this player: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player needs to be considered a must-start in most formats.

Chris Carson has developed a fumbling problem this year, but Pete Carroll has stuck by him regardless. That all changed in Week 12.

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Not Today, Carson

Chris Carson's Week 12 stat-line: eight rushes for 26 yards, four receptions for 31 yards, one fumble

Though Carson was only credited with one fumble, a second fumble was entirely his fault, but was credited to Russell Wilson due to the fact that Carson never fully possessed the football. 

It's been a complicated season for Chris Carson to say the least. The third-year back entered the season as Seattle's starting running back, but had 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny breathing down his neck to steal touches. However, the job did feel secure enough for Carson, due to his stellar play in 2018 and how highly Pete Carroll viewed him.

Carson didn't impress through the first three weeks of the season. He failed to rush for over 60 yards and didn't total over 100 yards combined rushing and receiving in any of the three games. Most significantly, he fumbled in each of these games after fumbling just three times in his career previously. Luckily for Carson, Penny was dealing with an injury after Week 2, and Carroll didn't have the option to replace Carson.

Carson rolled to 346 rushing yards over the following three games and didn't have a fumble during this stretch. Carroll had no reason to go back to Penny. Carson was his guy and he was producing...

...until Week 9, where Carson coughed up another two fumbles despite a solid game otherwise. Carson followed that up with a decent performance against San Francisco, but again coughed up another fumble.

Week 12 was a Carson owner's worst nightmare. It was Penny's breakout game. Penny ran the football 14 times for 129 yards and a touchdown and played a season-high 46% of the offensive snaps.

The most crucial moment of this game for both guys came on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter. On the first drive, Penny took a handoff 21 yards, Wilson threw an incomplete pass, and Carroll went to Penny yet again, this time resulting in a 58 yard touchdown. The following drive, Carson fumbled the football but was able to recover it. The following play, he bobbled and lost a handoff from Wilson, which resulted in a visibly infuriated Russell Wilson.

Do you know how hard it is for a teammate to make Russell Wilson visibly infuriated? Penny out-touched Carson five to one for the remainder of the football game.

Carson's seven credited fumbles this season are the most by a non quarterback and it isn't even close. No other non-quarterback has more than four fumbles. Carson is on a historic pace, as no non-quarterback has had more than eight fumbles in a single season this decade.

Pete Carroll has a decision to make. Penny has a ton of upside and seems to be factoring into the offense more now and probably moving forward after a huge breakout game, but it isn't a sure thing that he's going to enter a timeshare with Carson, let alone become the feature back. Penny literally just fumbled one of his two touches against San Francisco in his previous game. Neither running back is perfect.

It's the worst possible time for fantasy owners to have to predict Carroll's behavior. Heading into a crucial Week 13, are you really going to bench Chris Carson? It's hard to imagine their are more appealing options sitting on your bench or on the waiver wire. You're not benching him for Penny, yet. Even though Penny put up the better numbers last week, Carson still out-snapped him. If you own Penny, it's best to take a wait-and-see approach. It's not unrealistic that he'll have another two carry game.

At the same time, it's also not likely. Carroll has to let Penny get a few touches against Minnesota on Monday Night Football. Don't expect him to put a heavy dent into Carson's workload, but expect him to cut into his snaps and touches a little bit. Carson is going to have to have a big day against Minnesota to keep a hold on his job. Fantasy owners need to hope that he steps up to the plate. I'm cautiously optimistic about putting Carson in my lineup this week, but I'm certainly sweating a bit while I'm locking him in.

Panic Meter: 3.5/5

 

Other Players to Monitor

Let's take a look at some other notable busts from Week 11:

Don't Panic: RB Aaron Jones

I've covered Jones previously, and most of what I said then still stands. Jamaal Williams isn't going anywhere and Jones will still get his. Gameflow was not on his side in a blowout loss to San Francisco. Luckily for Jones, he gets the Giants and the Redskins over the next two weeks. Continue to roll out Jones without hesitation.

Last Stand: WR Cooper Kupp

Cooper Kupp recorded seven catches for 220 yards and a touchdown in the team's final game before the bye week. In the three games since, Kupp has totaled nine catches for 88 yards, has fumbled twice, and dropped a pass late in the Rams' blowout loss to the Ravens that resulted in an interception.

Unfortunately, the Rams' matchup against Arizona is just too juicy to pass up. The Cardinals Defense stinks. They literally haven't held an opponent under 20 points this season. Meanwhile, the Rams haven't scored over 20 points since their bye week. If there was ever a time for a bounce-back game for Sean McVay's offense, it's this match. Kupp isn't a must-start for owners with deep benches, but I'd recommend giving him one last shot to produce against the Cardinals. The same can be said for Todd Gurley.

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