Fantasy Football Week 9: Matt Camp's Weekly BS Meter
Definitive statements are tough to make when the NFL is a week-to-week league. Many fantasy owners about Player A vs. Player B for the rest of the season, but we can only account for what we know right now. Injuries, standings and weather are just a few of the factors that can change the fantasy value of a player.
Cam Newton is a great example of a player who has seen wild swings in his fantasy value over the first eight weeks of the season. He started slowly in the first three weeks, bounced back with two strong games and disappointed those who expected him to come through in a great matchup against a poor Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. Can you trust him going forward or will he deter fantasy production of players like Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess?
It's a bit easier to evaluate what's happening with JuJu Smith-Schuster in Pittsburgh. Martavis Bryant was deactivated for his behavior and Smith-Schuster stepped into a bigger role with outstanding results. Logic says the Steelers will continue to feature Smith-Schuster as the No. 2 WR behind Antonio Brown while minimizing Bryant's role.
The B.S. Meter breaks down nine of the most pressing issues in fantasy football. The statements will be rated from 1 to 10 with 1 being completely true and 10 being total B.S.
Note: All fantasy stats used to calculate finishes are from FantasyPros. All advanced stats are calculated using data from Pro Football Reference. Snap counts are also from Pro Football Reference. All stats are based on a points-per-reception (PPR) format.
Alex Collins Will Have a Prominent Role the Rest of the Season
Two weeks ago, the Workload Watch addressed Alex Collins' role for the Baltimore Ravens, noting that while Collins earned more touches, his lack of presence in the red zone and passing game was limiting his fantasy potential.
Fast-forward to Week 8 when Collins had his best game of the season with 18 carries for 113 yards and his first two receptions of the season for 30 yards on two targets. He also saw his first red-zone carry of the year. Collins played a season-high 49.2 percent of the snaps, which was the first time this season he outsnapped Javorius Allen, who checked in with 47.7 percent of the snaps and 17 carries for 55 yards along with a catch for two yards on three targets.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that head coach John Harbaugh expects Collins "to get more and more opportunities going forward," per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. While Harbaugh thinks Danny Woodhead (hamstring) "could practice in some capacity this week," he's not eligible to play until Week 11, per Zrebiec.
Harbaugh admitted to Zrebiec that the team won't be able to keep Collins, Allen, Terrence West, Woodhead and Bobby Rainey, so "a decision or two will have to be made."
Collins' early-season fumble issues appear to be behind him, which is why he's earned more trust from the coaching staff. With Woodhead due back before the end of November, it is Allen, not Collins, who may lose a significant role in the offense. Collins has been arguably the team's best offensive player this season and a combination of him leading the way on the ground and Woodhead as the top pass-catcher out of the backfield makes the most sense.
B.S. Meter on Collins having a prominent role for the rest of the season: 1/10
Chris Thompson Is the Only Washington RB You Can Trust
While Chris Thompson's ridiculous efficiency was destined to cool off following a hot start over the first three weeks of the season, he still remains a reliable fantasy asset, which is more than you can say about the rest of the Washington backfield.
In Week 8, Thompson racked up eight receptions (season-high) for 76 yards on nine targets (season-high) and added four carries for 18 yards. That was the fourth game he had at least 94 total yards and the fifth game he had at least four receptions. By comparison, Rob Kelley hasn't had more than 78 total yards in a game and Samaje Perine topped out at 67 yards in Week 2.
Thompson leads the team in rushing yards (231) despite trailing Perine in carries (55-47). He's also the team's most productive receiver with those most receptions (31) and receiving yards (442) with the second-most targets (40). Thompson also leads the team in rushing TDs (two) and total TDs (five), and is tied for the lead with Josh Doctson in receiving TDs (three).
The combination of Kelley and Perine has been a big disappointment, although the destruction of Washington's offensive line doesn't help. On a team with consistency issues, Thompson is the constant in both reality and fantasy.
B.S. Meter on Thompson being the only Redskins RB you can trust: 2/10
Cam Newton Is Limiting the Fantasy Value of His Wide Receivers
The roller coaster ride of Cam Newton's season has seen more valleys than peaks, which has made it tough to gauge the fantasy values of Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess.
Despite drawing one of the best possible matchups of Week 8 against a depleted Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary, Newton had a season-low 154 yards on 18-of-32 passing with one TD and one interception in addition to 44 rushing yards on 11 attempts. It marked the third time this season he failed to throw for at least 200 yards and the sixth time this season he failed to throw for 240 yards. Even though he's completing 63.1 percent of his attempts, Newton has 10 TDs to 11 INTs in eight games.
Funchess had nine receptions for 88 yards and no TDs on 23 targets in the last three weeks after posting 14 receptions for 123 yards and three TDs on 17 targets in Newton's best games against the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions.
Benjamin had eight receptions for 162 yards and a TD on 10 targets in the games against New England and Detroit. He followed that up with nine receptions for 99 yards on 13 targets in a rough outing for Newton against the Philadelphia Eagles. However, he has just six receptions for 104 yards and a TD on 13 targets in the last two weeks.
When Newton got the Patriots and Lions for 671 yards and six TDs with just one INT, it looked like the early-season struggles that may have been tied to his shoulder surgery were behind him, but that excuse doesn't seem to hold water. At this point, he looks like an erratic QB who continues to make bad decisions and inaccurate throws that should be easy.
The Panthers may have won in Week 8, but it was far from impressive, especially considering the matchup. If Newton had been on his game, he would have torched that Buccaneers secondary. Instead, he had arguably his worst performance of the season.
When you can't rely on Cam to come through, you can't confidently use Benjamin or Funchess.
B.S. Meter on Newton limiting the fantasy value of his WRs: 3/10
Mark Ingram's Two Fumbles Are Reasons for Concern
Apparently, everything was going too well for the New Orleans Saints.
Despite their fifth straight victory in Week 8, fantasy owners watched in horror as Mark Ingram fumbled not once, but twice on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter of what became a much tighter game than expected in a 20-12 win over the Chicago Bears. The Bears converted the first fumble into a Tarik Cohen TD to close the gap to 17-12, but turned the ball over on downs after the second fumble.
Earlier in the game, Alvin Kamara initially lost a fumble, but replay reversed the ruling, so the Saints kept the ball, otherwise we might be talking about Kamara potentially joining Ingram in head coach Sean Payton's doghouse. Payton was clearly angry with Ingram on the sidelines after the second fumble, but to Ingram's credit, he owned up to the mistakes.
According to Josh Katzenstein of The Times-Picayune, Ingram said, "I got to make it up to my teammates. That was terrible, that was sucky on my part. But I'm going to bounce back, I'm a fighter. The bottom line is I sucked at the end of the game. I was terrible. I let my teammates down, put us in a bad position. The game was only close because I sucked. That's the bottom line."
After Ingram's second fumble, Kamara handled the final three carries of the game, leading to a field goal. Ingram also lost a fumble in Week 6, so it's fair to wonder if Payton will punish Ingram in the short term, as he did last season. In 2016, Ingram lost a fumble in Week 7 and then another early in Week 8, which put him on the bench for the rest of the game, as he finished with three carries. The next week, Tim Hightower got the start and racked up 23 carries, but Ingram redeemed himself with 15 carries for 158 yards including a 75-yard TD.
The Saints clearly have faith in Kamara, but they'd be foolish to limit Ingram and ignore how good he's been since the Adrian Peterson trade. Unless Ingram loses another fumble, it shouldn't be a major concern for the long term. But don't be surprised if Kamara gets a few more carries at the expense of Ingram in Week 9.
B.S. Meter Ingram's fumbles being reasons for concern: 4/10
Tyrod Taylor Is a Must-Start Fantasy QB
Anytime a streamer turns into a weekly starter, you're lucky. Those that turned streaming options like Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson into fantasy starters hit the jackpot. While Tyrod Taylor isn't on the same level of Wentz or Watson, his play this season has been better than expected, especially with a lack of weapons.
Over the last two weeks, Taylor has thrown for 433 yards and two TDs and rushed for 54 yards and a TD, which is good for 36.7 FP. Obviously, those aren't huge numbers, but for a QB position that's producing disappointing results and absences because of bye weeks, that's good enough to be a top-10 option.
If you're frustrated by the play of Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, Ben Roethlisberger or Marcus Mariota, Taylor could at least provide another option instead of locking any of those players into your lineup on a weekly basis. A good philosophy to follow when searching for a QB is to look for legs. Taylor has 175 rushing yards on the season and as 38 rushing yards or more in three games. It's a nice bonus that helps make up for Taylor's lack of big-time passing production.
Taylor is certainly worth a look against the New York Jets on Thursday night and he has a favorable finish to the season with two games against the New England Patriots, one against the Colts and two against the Dolphins in December. He's not a locked-in weekly starter, but he should be in the top-12 mix for the rest of the season.
B.S. Meter on Taylor being a must-start fantasy QB: 5/10
A Reliable Fantasy Option Will Emerge from Washington's Receiving Corps
After eight weeks, we should have a pretty good idea of who we can rely on for each team. If that's still a question you're pondering, the answer is likely no one.
That brings us to the Washington Redskins receiving corps. In Week 8, Jamison Crowder had the best game we've seen from any Washington WR, with nine receptions for 123 yards on 13 targets. No Washington receiver (WR/TE) has had more targets, receptions or yards in a single game. However, that's only the second time this season Crowder has had at least five receptions and 50 yards. In his previous three games, Crowder totaled six receptions for 36 yards on 12 targets.
If you were hoping for Josh Doctson to break out against the Dallas Cowboys, your expectations weren't met, unless one catch for a one-yard TD on three targets constitutes a breakout. Doctson has eight receptions for 130 yards on 17 targets in 2017. Terrelle Pryor's nightmare season continued with zero targets.
The tight end position isn't much better. Jordan Reed appeared to be turning the corner after he hauled in eight of 10 targets for 64 yards and two TDs in Week 7, but he managed just one catch for five yards on his only target before exiting with a hamstring injury. On Monday, head coach Jay Gruden said if he had to guess, Reed would be out for Week 9, according to John Keim of ESPN.com. When Reed missed Week 3, Vernon Davis filled in with five receptions for 58 yards and a TD on five targets, so his value would be up, although only as a short-term replacement.
Until someone can string together multiple games of reliable fantasy production, it's hard to buy on any of Washington's receivers. They travel to Seattle on Sunday but likely won't have the same success the Houston Texans did in Week 8.
B.S. Meter on a reliable, weekly starter emerging from the Redskins receiving corps: 7/10
JuJu Smith-Schuster Is a Fluke
Even though Martavis Bryant's behavior gave the Pittsburgh Steelers enough reason to deactivate him for Week 8, the rise of JuJu Smith-Schuster meant they had a capable replacement to plug in against the Detroit Lions.
Not only was Smith-Schuster a viable fill-in, but he had arguably the best performance of any Steelers wide receiver this season with seven receptions for 193 yards and a 97-yard score on 10 targets. He played 79.7 percent of the snaps, which tied his second-highest snap share of the season, and it was more than enough to prove he should stick around as the No. 2 option behind Antonio Brown.
Before his breakout performance, Smith-Schuster had put together a solid rookie campaign, with three touchdowns in the previous six weeks, though Week 8 was the first time he was expected to play an increased role. According to Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network, when head coach Mike Tomlin was asked if he was confident Bryant could help down the stretch, Tomlin said: "I'm not. We'll see."
Whether Bryant sticks with the Steelers in a minor role or gets traded, it shouldn't matter much to Smith-Schuster. The second-round pick responded with a huge performance when called upon, which is something Bryant has failed to do for nearly the entire season. It would be coaching malpractice to go away from Smith-Schuster, so he should be at least a fantasy WR3 going forward.
B.S. Meter on Smith-Schuster being a fluke: 8/10
Marshawn Lynch's Return Will End the Raiders RB Committee
The Oakland Raiders went into Week 8 without the services of Marshawn Lynch because of his one-game suspension. That meant the team turned to Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, which wasn't anything new, as both players were worked in behind Lynch this year and behind Latavius Murray last year.
Washington had the most productive fantasy performance, with eight receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets and six carries for 26 yards on 49.2 percent of the snaps. Richard was on the field for 40 percent of the snaps and had five carries for 21 yards and five receptions for 35 yards on seven targets. Jamize Olawale played the role of touchdown vulture with two carries for three yards, including a one-yard score.
Lynch will return in Week 9, and while he's expected to take the lead role in the backfield, the team would be wise to keep at least one if not both of Washington and Richard involved. Lynch hasn't played more than 51.7 percent of the snaps in any game this season, and through seven weeks, he ranked as the No. 43 running back in PPR formats with 46.4 fantasy points. This committee will continue, and barring an injury, it's a situation to avoid.
B.S. Meter on Lynch's return ending the Raiders RB committee: 9/10
Jay Cutler Is the Key to Saving the Dolphins Season
With Jay Cutler sidelined by cracked ribs, the Miami Dolphins turned to veteran Matt Moore as their Week 8 starter against the Baltimore Ravens. Simply put, it did not go well.
Moore threw for 176 yards with two interceptions on 25-of-44 passing in a 40-0 loss in Baltimore. While it wasn't the easiest matchup, the struggles many saw with Cutler under center continued with Moore in Week 8. Jarvis Landry had been a bright spot in a bad offense but had just five receptions for 33 yards on a game-high 12 targets.
"We're not putting the work in," head coach Adam Gase said, according to Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post. "Guys should take this stuff home and study it. We've got to find guys who will actually put forth effort. Really it starts with our best players."
When asked about Cutler's status for Week 9, Gase said, "He's playing."
Before Cutler went down in Week 7, the Dolphins scored 19, 16 and 20 points in their three victories. They scored six and zero points in their two losses. Moore led the Dolphins to a come-from-behind 31-28 victory against the New York Jets in Week 7, but that's been their only strong offensive performance of the season.
Six points in three losses is inexcusable, and it's hard to see either Cutler or Moore being the answer to the offense's problems. The offensive line is a major issue, and there's no easy fix. This team is going in the wrong direction—and doesn't have a solution.
B.S. Meter on Cutler being the key to saving the Dolphins season: 10/10