Players Sending Out Warning Signals: Heading Into Week 13

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Whether your fantasy playoffs start next week or the week after, Week 13 marks one of the last opportunities you will have to jostle for position and secure a playoff birth. By the same token, one wrong move now could just about eliminate you from contention.

Making the right roster decisions has never been more important than it is now, which is why we are back again to take a look at some of the players you will have to tread lightly with from here on out. We will also take a look and see if the players we discussed last week have any chance to boost their production in the games that remain this season.

Let's get to it.

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Heed the Warning Signs

Marcus Mariota (QB, TEN)Medium Warning Level

Coming off a 184 yard, one touchdown effort in Week 12, it is becoming clear that Marcus Mariota’s return to the form he had before his Week 16 leg injury last year isn’t likely to happen this season. You would have to go all the way back to Week 2 to find Mariota’s last multi-touchdown game without an interception, and the inconsistency that he has displayed all season has plagued owners. The recent low point for Mariota owners came in Week 9 when Mariota tied his season-high with 306 passing yards, only to cancel out that production with a season-high 4 picks.

While Mariota has been over 300 yards twice this year, he has hovered at or below 200 yards twice as well, and only has three games in which he hasn’t thrown at least one interception. His accuracy and decision making have been in question all year, and his eight interceptions over the past four games speak to that. But where Mariota has disappointed the most has been with the somewhat reliable rushing floor that he once offered, which is likely what many of those that drafted him hand in mind when they chose him over other similarly ranked quarterbacks. While he has improved his rushing touchdown production, more than doubling his two touchdown campaign last year with 5 this year, the consistency from game to game just hasn’t been there all year. Outside of a solid 51 yards on six carries in Week 10, Mariota has only added 23 rushing yards total over the past four games. Mariota will be a shaky start for the rest of year, but he does have some quarterback friendly matchups to close out the season, so if there was ever a chance for him to get back on track now would be his chance to do it.

Jay Ajayi (RB, PHI)Medium Warning Level

When it was announced that Jay Ajayi had been traded to the Philadelphia Eagles at the deadline this season, Ajayi owners everywhere rejoiced. Not only was the Dolphins’ offense going nowhere fast, but the Eagles were and still are one of the top three most productive offenses in the league. It was obvious that the backfield was going to be crowded, but only the Jacksonville Jaguars run the football more, and the scene appeared set for Ajayi to finally begin producing the way owners were expecting when they burned an early pick on him. How much of a log-jam this backfield would become no one could have predicted, but the picture that has developed over the past three weeks hasn’t been in Ajayi’s favor.

Since Ajayi came to town, LeGarrette Blount has been the clear-cut leader with 37 total touches, with the rookie Corey Clement right behind him at 24. Ajayi is behind both players with 22 touches, with his touches actually decreasing each week since joining the team. Blount has handled and will likely continue to handle the majority of the between-the-tackles work, and as of late Clement has been the team’s go-to red zone option of the committee, leading the group with four touchdowns over the past three games. For now Ajayi appears to be the odd man out, and although the possibility of him breaking off a long touchdown at any moment is real, you can no longer count on his volume or value as one of the only rushing threats on the team. While he wasn’t at all productive in Miami, he was on the field for around 70% of the team’s offensive snaps, and in the three-way committee with the Eagles now he is down to around 25%. So while everything else about Ajayi’s situation has improved, his fantasy outlook looks like it could end up being just about the same as it was in Miami due to a lack of opportunity. It will be tempting to continue to roll him out because of the potency of the Eagles’ offense, but relying on that one play he might or might not convert can be dangerous at a time when wins are imperative.

Stefon Diggs (WR, MIN)Low-Medium Warning Level

Stefon Diggs started the season off extremely hot, catching 17 passes for 293 yards with four touchdowns in his first three contests. In the five games that he has played since, he has caught more than four passes only once and has gone over 50 yards only two times, with only one touchdown. Meanwhile during that same five-game stretch fellow receiver Adam Thielen has flourished, with a touchdown or at least 80 receiving yards in all but one of those games. Thielen took advantage of the time that Diggs missed with a groin injury during Weeks 6 and 7 and has become the team’s clear receiving leader, with both more snaps and targets than Diggs since his return.

The Minnesota Vikings offense has proved to be more than capable with Case Keenum at the helm, but a sixth-ranked rushing attack and Thielen’s emergence could continue to hinder Diggs’s production for the rest of the fantasy season. Diggs’ big-play threat will continue to make him a viable fantasy asset, but finding himself now playing second fiddle since his return has made him much more of a boom bust player than he was to start the season. Fortunately for fantasy owners Diggs’ floor is still relatively solid, but the quest for consistency and upside might remain just out of reach for the rest of the year.

Evan Engram (TE, NYG)Low Warning Level

For a while Evan Engram was looking like he was going to be a set and forget tight end for the rest of the season, with at least four catches and 40 yards in all but one game to go along with a healthy four game touchdown streak. He has struggled since catching his last touchdown in Week 10 though, despite seeing a bump in his snap count the past two games with receiver Sterling Shepard sidelined with an illness. There are very few viable pass catchers active for the Giants right now in general, and there has been nothing but space and opportunity available for the taking for Engram. Instead of remaining consistent, both his yardage totals and general efficiency have trailed off, and Engram has recently struggled to track and hold on to the ball and has been plagued by a couple of bad drops in the past few games.

Perhaps Shepard’s return to the line-up can take some of the defensive focus off of the rookie tight end, as Engram’s last productive game was unsurprisingly the last game that Shepard suited up. He will now have to play with beleaguered quarterback Geno Smith though, and while it can’t get much worse than it was with Eli Manning, the change doesn’t necessarily bode well for an improvement in production either. Engram’s talent still makes him a far better play than most streaming tight end options, and fantasy owners will have to remain hopeful that the change at quarterback will help him finish the season out strong.

 

Updates From Last Week

Derek Carr (QB, OAK)Same Warning Level as Last Week

For the first time since Week 2 of the season, Derek Carr managed to put together a multi-touchdown, interception-free game, although he did lose a fumble in the first quarter. He was over 250 yards passing, and his two touchdowns were the most he’s thrown since Week 7. Whether or not Carr can remain consistent remains to be seen though, and that task will be that much more difficult with Michael Crabtree suspended for the next game, and Amari Cooper’s status uncertain as he deals with a concussion and ankle injury. The matchups over the next couple of weeks are somewhat favorable, but this will likely be a wait and see situation for a quarterback that has been up and down all season.

Kareem Hunt (RB, KC)Same Warning Level as Last Week

The lowest of lows sunk even lower in Week 12 for Kareem Hunt, as he rushed for only 17 yards on 11 carries, while adding only one catch for nine yards. His 26 total yards marks his lowest output all season, on top of his touchdown drought now being extended to eight games. It is encouraging that Hunt still saw 12 touches in a game in which the run game clearly wasn’t working for the offense. However, Charcandrick West has stumbled on more playing time since the Week 10 bye now that the Chiefs have found themselves playing catchup more often as of late. So while Hunt’s volume should remain relatively safe, the Kansas City offense appears to have lost its way, and it may be difficult for Hunt to return to the peak RB1 effectiveness he displayed early this season.

Dez Bryant (WR, DAL)Higher Warning Level Than Last Week

The Dallas Cowboys offense has been halted, scoring only one touchdown over the last three weeks. As a part of this staggering offense, Bryant again offered very little production, with only three catches for 37 yards, and this games marks the fifth time this season Bryant has been held under 50 receiving yards. As long as Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense continues its backslide, Bryant will likely to be what he has been all season, a relatively safe floor play with very limited upside.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE, NYJ)Same Warning Level as Last Week

Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been the victim of some really tough luck this season, and for the second time this year he had another apparent touchdown catch taken off the board after review. Seferian-Jenkins also dropped an easy wide-open touchdown pass in the end zone earlier in the game. Unfortunately for fantasy teams, almost touchdowns count for nothing, and instead of having a huge game, he ended the day with only two catches for 27 yards. Still, his seven targets are encouraging, and although he has become solely touchdown dependent in the late stages of the season, three of those targets came in the red zone. This means that at the very least he will remain heavily involved, but his production will be hard to trust coming down the stretch.

 

More Week 13 Lineup Prep