Fantasy Football Week 13: Matt Camp's Weekly BS Meter
With just four weeks left in the fantasy season and NFL teams falling out of contention, injured players are getting shut down and unknowns are being evaluated. That makes things tough for fantasy.
Teams that provided reliable fantasy production all season suddenly can't down the stretch. The Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys are the prime examples of teams faltering at the worst possible time.
As we head into Week 13, questions about the trust in Kareem Hunt are legitimate despite what was an amazing first half of the season. The same is happening with Dak Prescott in Dallas, following the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott. Both situations are addressed along with other varying levels of trust in both good and bad teams heading into the final month of the season.
The B.S. Meter breaks down the most pressing issues in fantasy football. The statements will be rated from 1 to 10 with 1 being completely true or 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.
Dak Prescott Can't Be Trusted in Your Starting Lineup
The honeymoon is over for Dak Prescott, and if he's been your fantasy QB for the majority of the season, the divorce proceedings could be underway after yet another terrible performance in Week 12.
The Dallas Cowboys dropped their third game in a row and second straight at home in a 28-6 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thanksgiving. In those losses, they've scored a total of 22 points. While never a high-volume passer, Prescott has just 500 yards on 88 passes with no TDs and five INTs in the last three games. He didn't rush for a single yard against the Chargers and has 52 rushing yards with a TD in addition to three lost fumbles during the losing streak.
Initially, the absence of Ezekiel Elliott was only part of the problem, as LT Tyron Smith missed the first two games without Elliott. However, Smith returned to action in Week 12 and the offense didn't show any improvement. In fact, the rushing production was the lowest of the three games without Elliott, including a combined 77 rushing yards from Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Prescott.
Because Prescott isn't a player you expect to throw the ball a lot, he has to make up for volume with TDs and limited turnovers in addition to rushing production. After throwing 14 TDs in the first six games, he has thrown for just two in the last five games. He had just four INTs for the first 10 weeks of the season, but has five in just the last two games. Little is going right for Prescott, so instead of a weekly starter, he'll be someone you have to consider based on the matchup. After three poor performances, you can shy away from him this Thursday against Washington.
B.S. Meter on not trusting Prescott to be in your starting lineup: 1/10
The Chiefs Ask Too Much of Alex Smith
In last week's B.S. Meter, the concern for Kareem Hunt was addressed with the hope that the Kansas City Chiefs would feature Hunt in a favorable matchup at home against a poor Buffalo Bills run defense. Apparently, Andy Reid didn't feel the need to follow such obvious advice and the Chiefs wound up losing for the fifth time in six games.
A week after taking too long to get Hunt involved in an ugly loss to the New York Giants, the Chiefs gave Hunt a season-low 12 touches in a 16-10 loss to the Bills. He carried the ball 11 times for 17 yards, which was his third-lowest carry total and lowest rushing output of the season. He tied a season-low with one target and one reception for nine yards. Not only did Hunt have no room to run, but there were no attempts to get him involved as a receiver, despite Alex Smith passing 36 times.
Speaking of Smith, he's been asked to do too much and is responding with poor play. Even though the Chiefs have lost by a total of nine points in the last two games, Smith has attempted 76 passes, but totaled just 429 yards with one TD and three INTs.
His struggles are hurting the fantasy production of Tyreek Hill. In the last two games, Hill has 14 receptions on 18 targets, but just 109 yards and no TDs. The big plays haven't been there, which is paramount to Hill's success.
While Smith did have early-season success throwing the ball 35-plus times, he's never been a volume passer throughout his career and when he's been forced to be that player out of necessity, the results haven't been pretty, as evidenced by the last two weeks. The Chiefs have no clear identity on offense and have now turned Hunt into a major fantasy concern after he was one of the most reliable players for the first half of the season. With offensive line woes, it might not be as easy as feeding Hunt more, but the team needs to get more creative with him, especially after he had just one target in Week 12.
According to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star, Reid affirmed his confidence in Smith.
"Alex is my guy," he said. That indicates no move to rookie Patrick Mahomes is coming in Week 13. To be fair, it would be asking a lot of the rookie to make his debut on a team with a one-game lead in the division heading into the final five weeks of the season. While Mahomes was brought in to be the QB of the future, he's not necessarily the quick fix to a situation that seems to lie in the hands of a coaching staff that has lost its way with the offense.
Considering the struggles of Smith and the Chiefs offense, it's made the decision-making process a bit tougher as it relates to your lineup. While Travis Kelce has been able to remain among the top TEs in the league, you can't say the same for Hunt, Smith or Hill at their respective positions. Hunt is the No. 42 RB over the last five weeks, so while you shouldn't bench him, he's out of the top tier of RBs until he proves otherwise. Hill is averaging 11.7 fantasy points per game in the last five weeks, which puts him in the WR3 level. He's been a boom-or-bust player and that won't change. Smith doesn't even rank in the top 20 of QBs over the last five weeks, so he's not a lock to be in your lineup.
B.S. Meter on the Chiefs asking too much of Smith: 2/10
Jarvis Landry Is the Only Dolphin You Can Play with Confidence
After 12 weeks, only Jarvis Landry and Adam Thielen have five receptions in every game this season. While both players play on teams with other talent around them, the difference is you can confidently put other Minnesota Vikings in your starting lineup on a weekly basis, but using other Miami Dolphins besides Landry is risky.
With eight receptions for 70 yards on nine targets in Week 12, Landry posted his fourth straight game of at least 15 fantasy points. He's hit that mark eight times this season. Meanwhile, DeVante Parker was a major disappointment with one reception for five yards on three targets against the New England Patriots. He has five receptions for 31 yards on 12 targets in the last two games. He has just one game with at least 15 fantasy points and no other game with at least 13 fantasy points. Kenny Stills has been solid, but only six of his games have results in double-digit fantasy points.
With Jay Ajayi gone, the backfield had a nearly-even split between Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams, as covered in last week's Workload Watch. However, Williams exited Week 12 with a shoulder injury and is expected to miss at least Week 13, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. The split made it hard to consider Drake or Williams as anything more than a RB3/flex, but with Williams out, Drake can be played with a little more confidence, assuming the Dolphins feed him the majority of the touches.
Even though matchups will dictate how you treat the potential fantasy options on the Dolphins, they are a 4-7 team going nowhere on a five-game losing streak. While Drake gets a boost as long as Williams is out, Landry is the one Dolphin you can trust regardless of the matchup or state of the team.
B.S. Meter on Landry being the only Dolphin fantasy can trust: 3/10
Cam Newton's Inconsistency Is a Problem
By the end of Week 12, Cam Newton was the No. 13 QB with 17.5 fantasy points, which is not a great performance for someone who came into the week as the No. 6 QB for the season. If you've been following Newton closely this year, seeing him fail to come through in a big spot shouldn't be a surprise.
After Newton torched the Miami Dolphins for 254 yards and four TDs through the air and another 28 yards and a rushing TD on the ground in Week 10, the Carolina Panthers went into the bye riding high at 7-3, knowing they should be getting Greg Olsen back from the broken foot. Instead, Newton struggled on the road in Week 12 against the Jets. The Panthers needed a fourth-quarter comeback that was secured by TDs on a fumble return and punt return, so Newton was bailed out.
He completed just 11 of 28 passes for 168 yards without a TD and salvaged his fantasy performance with 28 rushing yards and a TD in addition to a two-point conversion. That marked the fifth time this season and third time in the last four games Newton failed to throw for 200 yards. He's thrown for 250-plus yards just three times and has five games without a passing TD. Even though he's been bolstered by 464 yards and five rushing TDs, the passing numbers are alarming.
Newton will run into tougher matchups in the next two weeks when he heads to New Orleans to face the Saints before coming home to take on the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14.
B.S. Meter on Newton's inconsistency being a problem: 4/10
Relying on the Tennessee Titans Will Cost You a Fantasy Championship
Typically, you want to rely on good teams in contention heading down the stretch of the fantasy regular season and playoffs. The exceptions to the rule usually involve players who are overcoming ugly situations on bad teams. The rare exception is avoiding contending teams. The Tennessee Titans might be that rare exception this season.
Other than Delanie Walker, the Titans were a mess in an ugly victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12. Marcus Mariota completed 17 of 25 passes for 184 yards with one TD and two INTs. Other than leaving Week 4 with 96 yards following a hamstring injury, Week 12 was the first time this season Mariota failed to throw for at least 200 yards. He has two TDs to six INTs in the last two games and nine TDs to 12 INTs on the season. He's also failed to rush for double-digit yards in five of his last six games. The fantasy superstar from 2016 is nowhere to be found in 2017.
The struggles and confusion of the RBs have been covered all season in this article and Workload Watch, as DeMarco Murray continues to clog up the backfield while playing through multiple injuries and being outrushed by Derrick Henry. Murray carried 12 times for nine yards with a TD and added three receptions for 33 yards on four targets while playing a season-low 53.4 percent of the snaps.
Henry outsnapped Murray at 55.2 percent with 13 carries for 79 yards and one reception for 10 yards on two targets. For the season, Henry has 520 yards and three TDs on 114 carries (4.6 yards per carry) while Murray has 452 yards on 129 carries (3.5 YPC) and five TDs.
Walker came through with four receptions for 63 yards and a TD on five targets. He has at least 12 fantasy points in his last five games, so despite the struggles of Mariota, Walker remains a weekly starter. Rishard Matthews had to sit out with a hamstring injury, which left Mariota without his most reliable WR. Corey Davis was unable to take advantage of the beatable matchup, posting just four receptions for 39 yards on four targets. Eric Decker's miserable season continued with three receptions for 23 yards on four targets.
Walker is locked in as a strong fantasy TE and Matthews should be a reliable WR3 when healthy, but it's hard to be confident in any other Titan despite their 7-4 record in a tie for the AFC South with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mariota hasn't played well for most of the season, the backfield is in flux and the team doesn't have a proven, primary weapon at WR other than Matthews. While the Titans have talent, the offense seems to be surviving instead of thriving.
B.S. Meter on the Titans costing you a fantasy championship: 5/10
The Patriots Backfield Is a Fantasy Headache
Hopefully, Bill Belichick is happy with the output of his backfield because it's a rare occasion when you can forecast New England Patriots running backs with confidence.
For the seventh straight game, Dion Lewis led the Patriots in rushing thanks to his best performance of the season in Week 12. He gashed the Miami Dolphins for 112 yards on 15 carries and added a catch for one yard on two targets while playing just 40 percent of the snaps, so he was efficient with his time. Lewis has been a reliable RB2 regardless of the format since stealing the lead role away from Mike Gillislee, who was a healthy scratch for the third straight game. Lewis is averaging 14.0 fantasy points per game in his last four games.
Rex Burkhead put the memories of his fumble and bad drop in Week 11 in the rearview mirror by rushing for 50 yards and a TD on 13 carries and catching both of his targets for three yards and an additional TD. Burkhead also played 40 percent of the snaps, which was his second-highest snap share of the season and his fourth straight game with at least 31.4 percent of the snaps. He's averaging 14.4 fantasy points per game in his last four games.
Gillislee has been easy to eliminate with three straight healthy scratches, but so has James White. He has just nine receptions for 98 yards and a TD on 12 targets and 11 carries for 35 yards in the last four weeks. Even though White could emerge as a busy receiver in any given week, the Patriots seem to be getting enough out of the rest of their receiving corps as well as Burkhead and Lewis to keep White out of the mix. Lewis is the safest fantasy back leading the way, while Burkhead has the most upside with his role as a runner and a receiver.
B.S. Meter on the Patriots backfield being a fantasy headache: 6/10
Latavius Murray Is the Only Fantasy Back to Own in Minnesota
As you may have learned in last week's Workload Watch, both Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon were top-16 RBs in PPR formats over the previous five weeks, so both had fantasy value. Murray's hot streak continued on Thanksgiving, while McKinnon disappointed.
Murray turned a season-high 20 carries into 84 yards and a TD. With that stat line, he has five TDs in his last five games and at least 15 carries in six straight. Murray also saw a season-high 54.8 percent of the snaps in the Week 12 win over the Detroit Lions, which was also the first time Murray played at least 50 percent of the snaps. Seven of his 20 carries came in the red zone, including two inside the 10-yard line, one of which was converted to a TD. That gives Murray 14 red-zone carries and seven carries inside the 10 over the last three games, four of which resulted in TDs.
McKinnon's performance in Week 12 was one of his worst since taking on a more prominent role when Dalvin Cook went down in Week 4. He rushed 13 times for 23 yards and caught just one of his three targets for 31 yards. It was only the second time in the last seven games he failed to post three receptions. It also marked his third straight game without a TD. His 45.2 percent snap share was his lowest since Week 4. He has just five carries inside the 10 all season, so he's not getting the same scoring chances as Murray.
Murray is the better fantasy option, but it's hard to get too down on McKinnon since he still had 14 touches in Week 12. While Murray has at least 12 carries in each of his last seven games, McKinnon has at least 10 carries in the same span and usually makes up for the difference in carries with a more active role as a receiver. In those seven games, McKinnon has 28 receptions for 221 yards and a TD on 37 targets, while Murray has just five receptions for 31 yards on seven targets. It's fair to rank Murray higher than McKinnon, but both players have fantasy value getting plenty of touches on one of the best teams in the league.
B.S. Meter on Murray being the only fantasy back to own in Minnesota: 7/10
The Concern for Leonard Fournette Is Overblown
Leonard Fournette has battled an ankle injury since Week 6, and since then, his fantasy production has taken a hit. According to John Reid of the Florida Times-Union, Fournette was asked about his injury after Week 11 and said, "The best way for me to get it healed is to rest, and I don't have that much time."
It's easy to forget about injuries when players are taken off the injury report and play through them, as Fournette did in Week 12. After posting 28 carries for 111 yards and two receptions for seven yards on three targets in Week 11 with little practice, Fournette had just 12 carries for 25 yards and three receptions for 17 yards on three targets on Sunday in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Getting a clear assessment of a lingering issue like this one is tough. In Week 11, Fournette did almost nothing in practice but tied a season-high with 28 carries for 111 yards on 66.7 percent of the snaps. He practiced ahead of Week 12 and was taken off the injury report only to play 43.8 percent of the snaps in a disappointing effort. He missed Week 7 because of the injury and was scratched from Week 9 after the bye because he violated team rules, including missing treatment. That means since he suffered the injury, Fournette has just one game of at least 100 rushing yards and four games without topping even 33 rushing yards (when including his two missed games).
While not a huge part of his game, Fournette proved to be a reliable option in the backfield with at least two receptions and 21 yards in each of his first four games. Since then, he hasn't had more than 17 receiving yards in a game. He totaled 12 receptions in those first four games and has just 10 in the last eight weeks. Meanwhile, T.J. Yeldon has 12 receptions for 86 yards on 16 targets in the last three games.
Fournette has gone from a locked-in RB1 as a foundation of fantasy rosters to more of a RB2 with concerns that may not go away thanks to an ankle injury that isn’t getting enough time to heal. You have every right to be concerned about his fantasy value in the coming weeks.
B.S. Meter on concern for Fournette being overblown: 8/10
Bilal Powell Will Emerge from a Crowded Jets Backfield
Last season, Bilal Powell came through in a big way over the final four games of the season with 82 carries for 411 yards and two TDs in addition to 21 receptions for 141 yards and a TD on 23 targets while Matt Forte was injured. His play for most of 2016 was solid, but his strong finish is what boosted his fantasy value on a team that looked hopeless heading into 2017.
The Jets have been better than expected, although they are falling out of contention at 4-7. Even after his performance in 2016, Powell has rarely been featured this season despite Forte's missing three games and the only other RB of note being rookie Elijah McGuire. Powell's biggest game was a 163-yard rushing performance in Week 4 with Forte inactive. Forte would also miss the next week, but Powell went down in that game and ended up sitting out Week 6. Forte sat again in Week 11, but Powell had just 10 carries for 30 yards and a single reception for six yards on two targets.
Heading into Week 13, Powell, Forte and McGuire all appear healthy enough to play, as they did in Week 12. Forte missed practice time with a knee injury but was active, logging 41.4 percent of the snaps with 10 carries for 26 yards and one target. Powell had just nine carries for 34 yards and one reception for 12 yards on his only target while playing 32.9 percent of the snaps. McGuire lagged behind with 25.7 percent of the snaps and five carries for 21 yards and one reception for 13 yards on his only target.
As long as all three are healthy, it will be hard for Powell to break out of the pack like we saw in 2016. Even if Forte gets hurt again, the Jets could take a longer look at McGuire with little to play for over the final month of the season. Powell might be the best RB of the group, but you can't bank on him to get enough chances to show it. McGuire doesn't have any value, while both Forte and Powell are just RB3/flex options in this crowded backfield.
B.S. Meter on Powell emerging from the crowded Jets backfield: 9/10
The Buccaneers Have an Obvious Replacement for Doug Martin
Doug Martin's disappointing season got even worse in Week 12 when he suffered a concussion during a loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Martin left the game in the second quarter with seven carries for 33 yards, so he was running well for the first time in months before the injury.
Jacquizz Rodgers was in the mix for the Buccaneers before Martin went down and finished with eight carries for 31 yards and one reception for six yards on two targets. He played 35.2 percent of the snaps, which was the first time he was on the field for at least 18 percent of the snaps since Week 5, which was Martin's return from suspension. Rodgers was the team's lead back in the first three games of season when Martin was serving his suspension, so he might be the safest pickup to replace Martin.
Peyton Barber made the biggest fantasy impact with a pair of short rushing TDs, but that was part of a five-carry, seven-yard performance on 14.1 percent of the snaps. Three of Barber's five carries came inside the 10-yard line including the two TDs. Rodgers didn't have a carry in the red zone. Charles Sims had just one carry for three yards and three receptions for 26 yards on five targets on 36.6 percent of the snaps. He's played at least 30 percent of the snaps in all but one game this season, so his role shouldn't change.
Martin was the No. 29 RB in the seven games he appeared in before Week 12 with just 61.3 fantasy points. That means he was a fringe fantasy starter at best. If this backfield splits up Martin's touches between Rodgers and Barber along with Sims as the primary receiver, you're better off ignoring them, just as you should have been ignoring Martin.
B.S. Meter on the Buccaneers having an obvious replacement for Martin: 10/10