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Warning Signs: Saquon Barkley, David Johnson, Aaron Rodgers


Another week, another bout of crazy results.

While survivor pools came to a screeching halt with the Saints and Colts losing, there were also some worrying situations that crept up for fantasy teams.

This week brings many questions. What should we do with the Atlanta run game? The answer there is nothing. How do we react to the concerns about the Rams offense still being bad? The following are a few players who need to have warnings next to their names going forward.

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Saquon Barkley's season is crumbling much like his pass blocking

He is still great. There is no doubt of that, but he is limited. Both with his health and his pass blocking ability. Something we thought would be a positive attribute coming into the NFL. Barkley is a great runner, but he is also a clear sign for defenses about what is coming next. They know he cannot stop them if they blitz. Worse yet the Giants know it. This makes it clear to teams defending the Giants, if Barkley is on the field, expect a run or a screen pass. What that means, is that they can plan for it and in most cases, stop it.

Saquon Barkley can still break off the 50-yard run or screen at a moment notice, but it has become harder and harder behind such a mediocre offensive line. This also may be a big sign New York rushed him back from his high ankle sprain. A very Giants like move which could have a major impact on the team as a whole, both this season and in the future.

29 yards rushing over the course of two weeks is a travesty. The fact it has happened to one of the best players in the NFL is even worse. He was a top-two pick in fantasy drafts this season and games like this should not happen two weeks in a row. With a bye week still in the mix, as well as two games remaining against a stout Eagles run defense. The end of the season is only going to get harder for Barkley and the Giants.

Obviously, there is no way you are going to sit him or cut him. That would be crazy of course, but a modification in your projections should be in order. And hopefully, you have a solid RB2 who can pick up the slack left in his wake.

 

David Johnson is underwhelming for the second straight season

Injury notwithstanding, this has been a down season yet again for David Johnson.

When the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, we all thought it was a great thing for David Johnson. As a pass-catching back, he would get massive usage in the air raid system. This would allow him to come back from his disappointing season of 2018. However, this has clearly not been accomplished.

In eight games thus far, Johnson has rushed the ball just 82 times for 302 yards and two touchdowns. While this is slightly buoyed by his receiving work with 31 catches, 323 yards, and three touchdowns, this is still far from what we expected from him.

With Kenyon Drake now in the mix, we need to really be concerned with the health of Johnson’s back moving forward. A tough game against an angry 49ers team awaits this week, followed by the Arizona Bye week. This means for two of the final three weeks of most fantasy leagues, he will not be a player you will want to start. Especially if you are trying to solidify a playoff berth.

We know every season there are players who boom or bust, and most times they take fantasy teams with them. Players like Joe Mixon or Le’Veon Bell can sink your team while players like Lamar Jackson or Chris Godwin can propel you to victory. Unfortunately for many of us, David Johnson seems to be more of the former for 2019. We truly need to think about what the future holds for him in Arizona. And for fantasy after this, his second straight underperforming season. Maybe, just maybe, it is the new normal.

 

Aaron Rodgers is leading a run-heavy offense

Rodgers is playing much better this season than he did in 2018. This is indisputable, and the Packers are also much better this season than last. So why the worry?

Well to start, the team's defense has gotten worse and worse as the season has gone on. The pass defense has been left making up for a run defense that is getting progressively worse. We have long said that Aaron Rodgers cannot do it all alone, which finally this season he hasn’t had to. This brings us to reason number two for worry. The explosion of the run game behind Aaron Jones.

Jones leads the league in total touchdowns with 14. He is also finally taking over the majority of the back-field work as we wanted him to in past seasons. It is still Green Bay, so he is not taking over entirely, but he is taking over enough to make it clear he is great and should be for many years. This has lifted a lot of the pressure from the shoulders of Rodgers and has also made the Packers a well-rounded offense. With the defense being as up and down as a roller coaster, the run game will be important in keeping them off the field. This, in turn, means the passing exploits normally achieved by Rodgers will be replaced a bit by the run game as time of possession becomes even more important coming down the home stretch of the season and into the playoffs.

As much as we all love fantasy, the coaches and players are not worried about fantasy. They are worried about real football and winning games to keep jobs. This means looking to the field to find out what to expect for fantasy. It is clear the Packers will become more run-heavy in the second half of their season. This makes Aaron Rodgers less likely to have monster games like the 400 yards and five touchdowns he had against Oakland. He is more likely to have games like the past two weeks in which he did not break 200 yards.

Although the touchdowns should be there more so than the past two weeks, the boom games are likely not to be. And this makes Aaron Rodgers a top-12 quarterback play rather than a top-four play. So just like with Saquon Barkley above, temper your expectations and hope you have a solid surrounding team to persevere through. Of course, if you had drafted quarterbacks late, you wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place. I'm just saying.

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