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Don't Let Me Down - What to Do with Disappointing Offenses


The key to drafting a quality fantasy team is to find players on high-powered offenses and draft them. By doing this, you give yourself a piece of good teams who should score a lot. But what if it all goes wrong? What if teams with high expectations like the Vikings, Browns and Texans disappoint? All we are then left with are a lot of high picks who drag your team down.

It sounds crazy but it is easier to get past an injury to a key player than bad performance. When it comes to injuries, you are able to pivot and pick up someone to replace them. Sure, you are not going to replace Saquon Barkley with Wayne Gallman point-for-point. But at least you know to pull Barkley out of the lineup. When it comes to underperforming players, it is easy to talk yourself into playing them over and over because this has to be the week they break out... right?

With this in mind, let us take a look at some key players from some teams who are disappointing us this season. Are they in for a rebound? Or should we be seriously concerned? Of course, some of the players on these teams are still performing. So, players like Julio Jones and Dalvin Cook will not be discussed here. I mean, if you are upset with their performances so far, just stop playing fantasy football. Also, we will not be talking about teams dealing with injuries at the quarterback position causing the down production. We are simply talking about teams who are fully functioning but underperforming for various reasons.

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Atlanta Falcons

Devonta Freeman - ADP: RB18

Four games. 157 yards on 47 carries. Not good.

There was a lot to be worried about with Freeman coming into the season, mostly injury-related. The injury bug has not bitten but the terrible offensive line has in a big way.

Devonta Freeman is still the lead back. Receiving over 65% of the backfield load is a good thing. But on a Falcons team which is not even as good as their 1-3 record, it is hard for him to have the top-20 RB season we were hoping for after the dismissal of Steve Sarkisian.

Sometimes, even with high draft picks, you have to cut bait. Are you going to release him? No. But if you can get something for him in the trade market, do it now. Things do not look good in Atlanta with the way that offensive line is performing. If your name is not Julio Jones, you are in for a disappointing season. So, it is best to get out of the situation now and avoid the heartache of playing Freeman and company on a weekly basis.

Matt Ryan - ADP: QB5

Matt Ryan is not having a bad season in 2019. He is on pace again to be a top-10 quarterback and this is a solid base for a team. He will not finish as a top-two quarterback like last season. But he is still steady for most fantasy teams.

The issue with Ryan is the rest of the offense, starting with the offensive line who has seen both of their first-round draft picks bust in a big way. Add to this the litany of interceptions he is throwing and we have concerns.

1,325 pass yards and eight touchdowns through four games is great. But the six interceptions thrown by Ryan due to the pressure he is getting make him just another guy in leagues where turnovers are heavily penalized. The Falcons have shown an inability to run the ball. This will lead to even more reliance on the pass game. This will lead to good weeks for Matt Ryan in the long run based on volume. He is certainly a player to continue to hold on to and start most weeks. He will not kill you and more often than not will be a huge performer.

 

Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield - ADP: QB4

The overconfidence of a young player. This has been an issue with Mayfield this season. He is a wonderful competitor, but he has seemingly already bought into his own hype and this is not good. It does not help that he may have one of the worst offensive lines trying to keep him upright either.

If Baker Mayfield can steady himself and learn from his mistakes, this could turn around quickly for him. With Beckham, Chubb and Landry he has the talent to make it happen. He just needs to trust in them as much as he does himself. This said, if you have someone who really wants him, I would trade him for another quarterback. It is a very replaceable position and he has become one of those streamer options from week-to-week. At this point in time, I cannot tell you to keep him. All I can tell you is, on any given Sunday he could go off. But he could just as easily bury you. So, proceed with caution.

Nick Chubb - ADP: RB8

165 yards and three touchdowns in Week 4 was a great way to break out of a slump. But we still have to wonder what is going to happen once Kareem Hunt returns. Will he continue to get the full workload? What will his workload look like if not?

These questions are very important to try to figure out. He should retain most of the rushing work after the return of Hunt. But the minimal pass work he has gotten will diminish even further as Hunt looks to help the Browns get to the playoffs. Or at least finish the season at .500.

Nick Chubb is a player to either go and get or keep if you have him. Yes, Hunt is going to return after his suspension. But the Browns have a Week 7 bye. This means he will not return until Week 9. It took Ezekiel Elliott a week to get into the swing of things after missing training camp and Melvin Gordon is still being eased back into action. We can only imagine it will take at least as long for Kareem Hunt to get his footing after missing much longer. Therefore, Chubb will be the man until most likely Week 11, making him a number one running back for basically the rest of the season. Don’t be worried about Nick Chubb and his potential future usage right now. Just enjoy the ride while It lasts.

Odell Beckham Jr - ADP: WR6

Taking him so high in drafts, we all thought he would be a monster with Baker Mayfield. Well, for one game against the Jets, he was. But the rest of the season he has been quite bad. Even in a Week 4 game in which Jarvis Landry went for 167 yards, Beckham still managed only two catches for 20 yards.

Things should get better moving forward and he is currently a buy-low candidate. He is too talented to be held down and if the Browns are able to get right, it will be on the back of him finding a connection with Mayfield.

Jarvis Landry - ADP: WR 29

After having a great game Sunday against the Ravens, we are all excited to see what else he can do if this offense starts to click. This was the first game since joining Cleveland in which he had 100 yards receiving. But he also came off the field and it is uncertain if he will be there this week to play in San Francisco. If he is, this could be the start of a good stretch for him.

If Landry is healthy, he is set to receive close to double-digit targets on a regular basis. This makes him a good play as your WR3 or Flex in PPR leagues. But after this week, it may be hard to acquire him for a decent price. Recency bias will mean his owner will want a ton for him. Don’t give it to them.

Yes, the rest of the season should be much better than the first quarter has been. But this does not mean you should overspend for a player just to make a move. Unlike a player like Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry is not worth going out and acquiring. He is though, a steady hold if you already have him.

David Njoku - ADP: TE10

This one is short and simple. Be worried.

He has a broken wrist and a concussion, resulting in placement on IR. He plays a low-priority position and is even replaceable in this offense by Ricky Seals-Jones. This means he can be dropped.

We don’t know exactly when he will return and holding a mediocre tight end on your bench is not smart. Drop him now and pick up a high-upside waiver wire guy. Or if you are in playoff contention, maybe a handcuff to your lead back if desired.

 

Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson - ADP: QB2

We thought the offensive line in Houston was as bad as it could get last year. Little did we know, it wasn’t. After being sacked 65 times in 2018, Deshaun Watson is on pace to be sacked even more this season. Add to this the season-ending injury to Lamar Miller and it should be a disaster for the Texans. But it hasn’t been all bad.

With the division being weak from top to bottom, especially after the retirement of Andrew Luck, the Texans still have a good chance to win it and make the playoffs again. But it will be heavily dependent on the health of Watson and Hopkins. If Watson is able to take the punishment and live up to his lofty ADP, Houston is the clear favorite in the AFC South. He has not had a great season to the level of this as of yet, but he has made up for his lack of passing with his rushing, including another rushing touchdown against the Panthers in Week 4.

Although quarterbacks run the game and are the most important position in sports, it is not the same for your fantasy team. There is not a quarterback in a single-QB league whom you should go out and trade for. Even Patrick Mahomes. But there are also few quarterbacks who you should trust every week. Deshaun Watson is one of those players. He is still an every-week start regardless of opponent, except maybe Jacksonville. Not just because of his potential to have 400 yards with the likes of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. But also, because he is just as likely to get you 75 yards and a touchdown on the ground. And this is the real key. He is a true rushing quarterback.

Even if the offense does not reach its potential, he will still have a solid floor for you. So, don’t be too concerned about Watson in this offense. Be more concerned about if he can find the rest of his weapons behind this offensive line.

Will Fuller - ADP: WR33

We still have not seen a touchdown from the speedy Fuller. But at least he has not gotten hurt so this is a plus.

With Kenny Stills coming in from the Dolphins, Will Fuller be becoming an afterthought in the offense. Now that Stills is hurt with a hamstring issue that could linger, it could be Fuller’s time to shine. We know he has a rapport with Deshaun Watson. This should lead to good things going forward for Fuller. While a touchdown each week is not likely, it is very likely he gets one this week against the Falcons against their struggling secondary.

Going forward, he could be a guy who fits in great as a low-end WR2  in your lineup. If you can trade for him now, this would be a good move. If you have someone in your league who dropped him due to frustration make sure you spend up to get him off waivers. He is worth it.

The Houston offense, much like the Atlanta attack, is based on the passing game first and foremost. Fuller currently has 18.7% of his team's air yards. Moving forward, Will Fuller should become an even bigger part of the offense

DeAndre Hopkins - ADP: WR1

Week 1 was good. Since then it has not been as good. After finishing as a top-five receiver in the first game of the season against the Saints, Hopkins has failed to crack the top 30 since.

Deshaun Watson has been good in some games and bad in others. He would have been really struggling this past week if not for a rushing touchdown to save him. This is having a major effect on Hopkins and his fantasy value. One thing we know is he is the main target there by far. He is fourth in the NFL in Targeted Air Yards Share for his team. He will remain so as long as he is on the team. This means it only takes one game to make your week and be happy again.

Hopkins is not someone you are going to trade. Nor someone you should consider trading. Not only is he still a top receiver in the NFL, he is also extremely durable and does not miss time. This can be just as important. Just ask owners of Davante Adams (like myself) who are now left scrambling for a replacement. Keep Nuk on your squad or throw out a feeler if an opposing owner is worried about him.

 

Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins - ADP: QB18

Kirk Cousins has been terrible to say the least. Thank goodness for Dalvin Cook or this team would be in even worse shape. Coming down the field in the first game against the Falcons and throwing a touchdown to Adam Thielen was great but he has done nothing else since. He had less than 100 yards passing in that game and in the weeks since, he has still done nothing even in games the Vikings needed him when trailing against the Packers and Bears.

If Stefon Diggs gets his way, things will change this week against the Giants. If Mike Zimmer is smart, he will allow it to. Dalvin Cook is becoming an elite back but top receivers in Thielen and Diggs are already there, so use them! Kirk Cousins will need to stop checking down so much and trust that Thielen and Diggs will come down with the ball on passes down the field. He has apologized to Thielen already after his public comments but if he really wants to show he means it, he needs to increase his depth of target and accuracy to get the ball to his receivers more often.

Until this happens, Cousins should remain right where he is. Hopefully that's on your league's waiver wire. He has a game against the Giants this week followed by a game against the Eagles. These matchups could be a good barometer to see what is going to happen against two less-than-stellar secondaries. If he is able to do something, then you can get him off waivers after his bye in Week 7. Until he proves it though, let him fester away with the rest of the low-end quarterbacks.

Stefon Diggs - ADP: WR12

Diggs finally had a good game, against the Bears no less. Oh wait, he always does this against the Bears.

The outside receiver on a team who wants to run the ball, Diggs is the lesser of the two receivers this year in Minnesota. While there should be plenty of worry for both guys, Diggs is the one to really be concerned about. Not only are his yards and touchdowns down, but so are his targets. That is the real worry, aside from the trade rumors (are they really true?).

After being drafted in the fourth-round of fantasy drafts, a lot was expected from Stefon Diggs. Some even considered taking him over his teammate Adam Thielen. For those who did, I am sorry.

It is not going to be an easy thing to do but Diggs needs to be traded fast. He still has the name and coming off a good game against a great Bears Defense, you might be able to spin it to get value for him. He is no longer a number one receiver and if you can get a reliable WR2 for him and maybe a little extra piece it would benefit you to get out now before it is too late.

Adam Thielen - ADP: WR10

The squeaky wheel gets the grease. For his fantasy owners we can only hope this is true. Adam Thielen is the number one receiver in Minnesota. This is a good thing but also a bad thing.

It is good because he is getting the majority of the targets in the offense. But it is a bad thing because it just shows how bad Kirk Cousins is, both by the amount of those targets and the quality of them. It was great to see Adam Thielen finally come out and say what the rest of us have been thinking. The Vikings need to throw the ball. My feeling is they will start to do so soon.

As stated previously, the Vikings' next two games are against the Giants and Eagles,  two teams with bad secondaries. They are games in which the Vikings should be able to get right in the passing game. Although Stefon Diggs is a sell, Adam Thielen should be someone you look to buy. He is down in cost, which is good. But he is also the slot receiver. Even if Kirk Cousins continues to check down, it is going to be to Thielen. In PPR leagues he should continue to be elite. When Minnesota finally decides to try and start taking the top off defenses, he will also get the yardage and touchdown numbers we are craving from what should be a good offense.

My confidence in Adam Thielen returning a WR1 season is still there. It is much higher with him than it is with a player like JuJu Smith-Schuster with Mason Rudolph. If there is any way to get Adam Thielen on your roster, you should go and make the move. He is only in for better things moving forward.

Kyle Rudolph - ADP: TE17

The excitement was real for Kirk Cousins coming to the Vikings and using Rudolph like he did Jordan Reed in Washington. It didn’t work out. Then the Vikings re-signed him to a big contract this off season. And this has not worked out either. It is clear to us now Minnesota just wants to spend money on receiving threats they have no plans on using.

Kyle Rudolph is a drop. There are much better tight ends on the waiver wire than him. Grabbing Chris Herndon IV or Benjamin Watson would be more profitable for you than sticking with Rudolph any longer. And when you can say you would rather have Ben Watson than the tight end you already have? It is time to get out and drop him.

 

Final Thought

There is one thing all of these teams have in common - the state of the offensive line. Not only the teams talked about here, but teams like the Eagles who have also been somewhat disappointing. It really is true that nothing can happen in the NFL without a serviceable offensive line. We have seen it in all of these cases as well as the struggles with Arizona and Cincinnati. If you want to get better, you need to build in the trenches.

All of these teams were thought to be either good already or getting better through the draft and trades. It has not worked out and we now see the results. Teams like Philadelphia, who already have the talent there, are likely to get better quickly. But teams like Atlanta and Houston who trusted the draft may have a long wait for production. It just shows what good talent evaluators are worth. In Houston's case, it would help to have a real general manager.

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