Fantasy Football Week 13 BS Meter
As teams fall further out of contention, injuries that wouldn't be considered long-term issues get judged differently, especially if the player is important part of the future. Unfortunately, that is part of the risk of owning players on bad teams. If they have nothing to play for, why would teams risk long-term damage?
On Monday alone, Andy Dalton (thumb), Marvin Jones (knee) and Jack Doyle (kidney) were all sent to the injured reserve, and Jeff Heuerman (ribs/lung) was announced as out for the year by his head coach, Vance Joseph. Obviously, Doyle and Heuerman are on teams in playoff contention, so those injuries were bad enough to end their respective seasons. The injuries to Dalton and Jones come at a time when the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions are being realistic about where they stand in the playoff race. Plus, there's only five weeks left in the regular season.
For the fantasy teams that have clinched the playoffs or are in playoff contention, the work on the waiver wire never ends. Replacing injured players such as the aforementioned names or a superstar like Melvin Gordon isn't easy this late in the year. Of course, in the case of Gordon, Austin Ekeler should already be owned as a handcuff.
Roster management isn't all about covering for injuries. This is a great time to assess your bench. Instead of keeping a player you'd never have the confidence to use in these crucial final weeks, consider grabbing an important handcuff, a streaming defense or quarterback and/or a second tight end to play the matchups. Get the most out of your roster instead of filling your bench with empty depth.
The B.S. Meter breaks down 10 situations, covering the most pressing issues in fantasy football heading into Week 13. 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. All stats are based on a points-per-reception (PPR) format.
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Davante Adams Is Green Bay's Only Reliable Receiver
There's plenty of blame to go around for the struggles in Green Bay. Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff have come under fire, injuries have been a problem on both sides of the ball and even Aaron Rodgers deserves some criticism for his play, although he's clearly not at 100 percent. The bottom line is the excitement that used to be there for the Packers offense is long gone. That's bad news for fantasy players.
Davante Adams has been able to rise above it all with another fantastic season. In the Week 12 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Adams caught five of eight targets for 69 yards and a touchdown. For the year, he has 77 receptions for 1,022 yards and 10 touchdowns on 114 targets. He remains firmly in the WR1 tier for fantasy and could wind up as a top-five fantasy wide receiver. He's not the problem.
The rest of the Packers receiving corps has been disappointing and inconsistent. Even though Jimmy Graham hasn't missed a game this season, he's managed just 36 receptions for 486 yards and two touchdowns on 61 targets. He's not even a top-10 TE with just 8.8 fantasy points per game, and it's hard to see Graham finishing on a high note while trying to play through a broken thumb.
Randall Cobb has been on the field for just five games this year and hasn't played since Week 9. Even if he's able to get back on the field this week, he'll be hard to trust coming off a hamstring injury. Geronimo Allison looked like he could turn into the second-best passing option, but he landed on injured reserve after Week 9.
With Allison and Cobb sidelined, the door has been wide open for Marquez Valdes-Scantling to step into a bigger role. He's been a huge disappointment, with just eight receptions for 55 yards and no touchdowns on 12 targets in the last three weeks. Even with a snap share that's ranged from 83.0-94.7 percent during that time, Valdes-Scantling hasn't been a reliable fantasy option.
Technically, the Packers are still in the NFC playoff hunt, although they don't seem like a legit contender. At some point, you have to accept a team for what they are, and in Green Bay, you can't bank on any receiver other than Adams to help your fantasy team over the next month.
B.S. Meter on Adams being Green Bay's only reliable receiver: 1/10
Lamar Jackson Is Bad for the Ravens Wide Receivers
With Joe Flacco nursing a hip injury, the Baltimore Ravens called on Lamar Jackson to step in as the starter for the last two weeks. Thanks to a fortuitous schedule with games against the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders, the Ravens were able to lean on Jackson's running ability and back Gus Edwards. As a result, the team won both games and sit at 6-5 right in the middle of the AFC playoff picture.
That might be good news if you picked up Edwards or Jackson, but it's been terrible if you were hoping for John Brown to return to the form that made him a weekly starter in the first half of the season. In Jackson's two starts, Brown has two receptions for 48 yards on eight targets. In those two games, Jackson completed just 27 of 44 passes for 328 yards with one score and three interceptions.
Willie Snead caught five of his eight targets for 51 yards in Week 11, but he didn't see a single target in Week 12. Michael Crabtree caught just one of his three targets for seven yards in Week 11, although that improved to three receptions for 21 yards and a score on six targets in Week 12. That means the top three Ravens wide receivers have 11 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown on 25 targets in the last two games.
Baltimore has a favorable schedule over the next three weeks, with games against the Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, head coach John Harbaugh indicated the team could use both Jackson and Flacco a "significant amount" when Flacco is able to play. The more Jackson plays, the more you should be worried about getting anything useful from this wide receiver group.
B.S. Meter on Jackson being bad for the Ravens wide receivers: 2/10
Austin Ekeler Can Replace Most of Melvin Gordon's Production
Melvin Gordon came into Week 12 with questions about his status and playing time thanks to hamstring and knee issues. He was able to play, and for those who stuck by him, Gordon's seven carries for 45 yards and two touchdowns in addition to two receptions for five yards were more than enough. At the half, the Los Angeles Chargers led the Arizona Cardinals 28-10, so the game was well in hand.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, Gordon got leg-whipped on a reverse, which would end his day. The team announced that an MRI of Gordon's right knee confirmed an MCL sprain and that he would be "evaluated week-to-week." Head coach Anthony Lynn called the results "good news" as the injury could have been worse.
Austin Ekeler was involved even before Gordon went down, as he was the featured back on the final drive of the first half, which culminated in a touchdown. Ekeler finished with five carries for 35 yards and a touchdown plus 10 receptions for 68 yards on 11 targets. Ekeler scored 26.3 fantasy points while Gordon had 20.6, so the Chargers had another huge backfield performance.
The other element of this situation is rookie Justin Jackson. He played 13.8 percent of the snaps and carried seven times for 57 yards. The Chargers could keep Jackson involved to avoid putting too much on Ekeler's plate, but the trust is clearly in Ekeler.
According to Ricky Henne of Chargers.com, Lynn was asked about changes in the offense with Ekeler and said, "Austin was already plugged in at what we are doing right now inside, outside, special plays. It won't change at all." Lynn added, "He's a smaller back, but he's our pound-for-pound strongest young man on the team. I have no problem bouncing him in between tackles."
The last and only time Gordon sat out, in Week 6, Ekeler played 95.5 percent of the snaps with 12 carries for 42 yards and five receptions for 26 yards on seven targets. You can't underrate the trust the Chargers have in Ekeler, especially this late in the season while in the hunt for both a division title and a potential first-round bye. He might not be a locked-in RB1 like Gordon, but Ekeler should at least be a strong RB2 with RB1 upside.
B.S. Meter on Ekeler replacing most of Gordon's production: 3/10
Baker Mayfield Is a Weekly Starter
Baker Mayfield has made it clear with his words and, more importantly, his actions that he doesn't miss Hue Jackson. Another big game in Week 12 proved that, as Mayfield connected on 19 of 26 passes for 258 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions to finish with 25.9 fantasy points as the No. 5 quarterback for the week.
In three games without Jackson and Todd Haley, Mayfield is 65-of-88 passing (73.4 percent) for 771 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception. He's averaging 22 fantasy points per game during that four-week span, which makes him a strong QB1. The Cleveland Browns started a favorable part of their schedule in Week 7, and since then, Mayfield is averaging 20.3 fantasy points per game. That would make him a top-10 fantasy quarterback over that span, which means he's been a reliable starter for more than a month.
Over the next four weeks, the Browns face the Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals. The Panthers, Broncos and Bengals all rank in the bottom 11 of pass defenses in the league, so Mayfield's reliable fantasy option has a very good chance of continuing into the fantasy playoffs. With the matchups in his favor and the Browns offense seemingly leigitimate, you can keep using Mayfield with confidence.
B.S. Meter on Mayfield being a weekly starter: 4/10
Nyheim Hines Is Back on the Fantasy Radar
Earlier this season, the Indianapolis Colts were struggling to find anything useful out of the backfield, with Jordan Wilkins unable to provide consistency and Marlon Mack sidelined by multiple injuries.
Over the first five games, Nyheim Hines wound up being the only reliable running back, with 29 receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns in addition to 33 carries for 99 yards and an additional score. Hines averaged 14.7 fantasy points and was a strong RB2. In those five games, Hines' snap share never dipped lower than 41 percent and went as high as 72.9 percent.
Hines has been more of a change-of-pace option with limited fantasy value since Mack returned in Week 6. In six games with Mack back in the mix, Hines had just 11 receptions for 84 yards on 16 targets and 36 carries for 184 yards (5.1 yards per carry). During that six-game span, Hines averaged just 6.3 fantasy points per game. He played 43.5 percent of the snaps in Mack's first game back but hasn't played for more than 37.7 percent of the time in his last five appearances.
That 37.7 percent came in Week 12 and was partially the result of the concussion Mack suffered in a win over the Miami Dolphins. Nothing can be assumed when it comes to concussions, so the Colts may have to turn back to Hines. Wilkins could be involved on the ground, but with two lost fumbles, ball security is a concern. Hines should see an uptick in touches and snaps, and he could be even more important after Jack Doyle landed on injured reserve on Monday.
Hines is far from a lock to have any fantasy value this week or going forward since Mack could be cleared for Week 13. He's worth adding off the waiver wire for insurance purposes with the chance the Colts plug him back into the role he played earlier in the year.
B.S. Meter on Hines being back on the fantasy radar: 5/10
Kenyan Drake Is a Must-Start Player
Kenyan Drake was coming out of the Week 11 bye having scored a total of 13.3 fantasy points in his previous two games. Of course, that came after he posted 23.5 fantasy points in Week 8 and 18.7 fantasy points in Week 7. Which version of Drake would show up for Week 12 against the Indianapolis Colts?
We learned the answer quickly when Drake caught a pass out of the backfield and ran 33 yards for a touchdown less than three minutes into the game. He would score again in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard touchdown run, but he also aggravated the shoulder injury that's been a problem for multiple weeks. Drake did get back on the field and finished with five receptions for 64 yards and a score on six targets plus eight carries for 32 yards and another touchdown. His 26.6 fantasy points ranked him fourth at running back.
The problem with Drake doesn't have as much to do with him as it does his odd usage. The Miami Dolphins have made it clear Frank Gore will continue to lead the way on the ground, which explains why Drake has just four games with double-digit carries. That would be easier to swallow if Drake had a bigger, more consistent role in the passing game.
Drake is actually second on the team to Danny Amendola in targets (62-55) and receptions (48-38) along with 298 receiving yards and three touchdowns through the air. However, that average of 3.5 receptions per game and five targets per game seems low when Drake doesn't have a big role on the ground and the Dolphins have arguably the worst receiving corps in the league.
According to Safid Deen of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, head coach Adam Gase was "optimistic" about Drake's injury, although he'll be in a non-contact jersey for practice. With Amendola (knee) looking less likely to play, Drake's role should be bigger. Of course, his role should have been bigger and more consistent throughout the season.
It's hard to say Drake has to be in your lineup since his production has been very all-or-nothing this season. When you add in the shoulder injury that's been a problem for multiple weeks, no assumptions can be made about Drake getting through the entire game. Proceed with caution.
B.S. Meter on Drake being a must-start player: 6/10
Jarvis Landry Is Still a Reliable Fantasy Starter
The frustration with Jarvis Landry had a good chance to come to an end in Week 12. The Browns seemed to be clicking on offense coming into a beatable matchup with the Bengals.
Landry failed to deliver. He caught three of five targets for 30 yards in what was an otherwise great performance by the Browns. Nick Chubb continued his dominance and David Njoku was able to end his slump with five receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown. It's hard to argue for Landry anymore because he's hasn't lived up to expectations for most of the year, but especially in the last month.
Before the Week 11 bye, Landry had two receptions for 22 yards on five targets in a win over the Atlanta Falcons. Once again, the Browns played well and Baker Mayfield looked great, but Landry failed to come through with even decent fantasy numbers. In Week 10, Landry and the Browns played from behind against the Kansas City Chiefs, yet he had just six receptions for 50 yards on seven targets. In five of Landry's last six games, he hasn't had more than 50 receiving yards,
For the season, Landry is averaging 12.5 fantasy points per game, which makes him a decent WR3/flex. In the last five games and arguably the best part of Cleveland's schedule, Landry has averaged just 11.8 fantasy points, and that means he's barely worth flex consideration. Mayfield has been a QB1 during that time, so a lot of this falls on Landry failing to play at reliable level.
Even though you should keep Landry on your roster, he's not a lock to be in your lineup for the most important stretch of the year.
B.S. Meter on Landry still being a reliable fantasy starter: 7/10
Rex Burkhead Is a Serious Problem for Sony Michael and James White
Rex Burkhead has been on injured reserve since hurting his neck in Week 3, but he was designated to return. On Monday, the team announced Burkhead's activation, which means he's eligible to play in Week 13.
Burkhead will provide the team with depth and versatility as someone who can contribute on the ground and through the air. That doesn't mean he should be taken as a serious threat to the fantasy values of Sony Michel and James White. Michel and White have arguably been the team's most valuable offensive players this season (outside of Tom Brady), so it would be surprising to see a significant change in how this backfield is handled.
Week 12 was Michel's second game back from a knee injury that cost him Weeks 8-9. He gashed the New York Jets for 133 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. That gives Michel at least 98 yards in four of the eight games he's played in this season. It should be noted that he was injured early in Week 7 and wasn't fully healthy when he returned in Week 10. When healthy, Michel has been excellent.
White has been the team's best receiver all year. He leads the team in every receiving category with 94 targets, 67 receptions, 567 yards and six touchdowns. While some of that can be attributed to Julian Edelman's four-game suspension, Rob Gronkowski's three-game absence and Josh Gordon not arriving until Week 4, the bottom line is White has been reliable with so much in flux.
If Burkhead were to spell Michael for a few carries and find his way into some work in the passing game, that wouldn't be a huge surprise, but it's hard to imagine the Patriots making a significant shift knowing how important both Michel and White have been to the team's success.
B.S. Meter on Burkhead being a serious problem for Michel and White: 8/10
LeGarrette Blount Will Continue His Strong Play
Kerryon Johnson's knee injury was bad enough to keep him out for the Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Chicago Bears, so the Detroit Lions wound up turning to LeGarrette Blount. Surprisingly, Blount came through with easily his best game of the season.
The Lions gave Blount 19 carries, and he responded with 88 rushing yards and two touchdowns in addition to a reception for 15 yards on his only target. He was the No. 8 running back for the week with 23.3 fantasy points. Amazingly, Blount did that against a Bears defense that ranks second in rushing yards allowed per game (80.8) and is tied for first in yards per carry allowed at 3.6.
In the four games prior to Week 12, Blount carried 21 times for 16 yards. Considering he was averaging less than a yard per carry over the last month and facing one of the best run defenses in the league, no one was expecting Blount to come through the way he did. Even with the big game, he's averaging just 2.8 yards per carry on the season.
With Johnson's status in question and Marvin Jones on injured reserve, the Lions may need Blount to help carry the offense again in Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. However, Blount may not get the same opportunities he had if the Lions fall behind. Detroit had a lead heading into the fourth quarter against the Bears, which allowed Blount to handle such a heavy workload.
If you were forced to play Blount in Week 12, you were lucky enough to get a surprisingly strong fantasy performance. Hopefully you don't expect more of the same. Blount should be considered an average fantasy option as long as Johnson remains sidelined.
B.S. Meter on Blount continuing his strong play: 9/10
Josh Adams' Week 12 Performance Was a Fluke
The Philadelphia Eagles followed through on the plan to feature Josh Adams more, and it was a key part of the victory against the New York Giants in Week 12. All signs pointed in that direction after Adams has looked like the best running back on the team in recent weeks, but Doug Pederson has rarely featured one back. He ditched that philosophy, and Adams came through with his biggest game of the year.
Adams turned 22 carries into 84 yards and a touchdown with a two-point conversion to total 16.4 fantasy points. Before Week 12, Wendell Smallwood had the previous high, with 18 carries in Week 6. Adams became the fourth different Eagles running back to record 15 carries in a game this season, but it was only the fifth time one back had at least 15 carries in a game this year. Jay Ajayi was the only one to hit that mark twice.
Adams' 84 rushing yards beat out the old team-high of 70 rushing yards set by Ajayi in the Week 4 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans. Adams actually missed some time against the Giants with a shoulder injury he suffered on special teams too, so Corey Clement was able to contribute 45 yards on five carries and two receptions for 31 yards on two targets.
Since failing to record an offensive snap against the Giants in Week 6, Adams' snap percentage has risen each week. He was up to 54.9 percent in Week 11 against the New Orleans Saints and took another jump to 61.5 percent in Week 12.
We could see even more of Adams down the stretch. Per Zach Berman of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pederson said Monday, "It's just that Josh now has kind of taken that lead, and we continue to grow and try to increase his touches each week."
The Eagles won with this change in philosophy, so they should stick with Adams in a big role as they try to make a push to the playoffs. Adams will be a decent RB2 as long as the Eagles let him lead the way.
B.S. Meter on Adams' Week 12 performance being a fluke: 10/10