The hardest part about playing dynasty fantasy football is identifying when a player is in a slump and when they are on a downward trend. When a player is in a slump you can move them to your bench and allow your depth to cover their slow play until it all comes back together. When they are in a downward trend you have to quickly identify the situation and figure out what you want to do: cut, trade, or go down with the ship. Each situation is different. Sometimes it’s age or injury, sometimes it’s a new team, coach, or scheme change, and sometimes it’s just inexplicable. We’re entering week eight now and half of the fantasy season is over. A lot of us are at a crossroads with our teams, or past the point of no return, and we have to decide if we’re going to push through with these players or start building for next year. Let’s look at some of the players who torpedoed our seasons.
*The ADP data used is from Ryan McDowell’s August data collection.
Trent Richardson, RB IND
ADP: Third overall, RB2
Season stats: 333 yards, 3.1 ypc, two touchdowns, nine caches, 70 yards
Positional ranking (PPR): RB31
I took a lot of flak for not ranking Trent Richardson as the RB1 and for nominating him for a “Stewie Award” at the end of last season. The truth of the matter is, the writing was on the wall and we have all been in denial. Through a season and a half he is sporting a career 3.4 yards per carry average, has a career long carry of 32 yards, and has been largely dependent on touchdowns as a fantasy running back. He’s been with the Colts a month now since being acquired from the Browns for a first round pick in next year’s draft and he’s still getting acclimated to the Colts’ playbook? Seriously? People blamed stacked boxes and ineffective quarterback play for his plodding numbers in Cleveland but the excuses don’t hold water in Indianapolis. A team led by Andrew Luck with speedsters T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey will very rarely ever see a stacked box.
More than likely if you spent a top three pick on him your season is probably in pretty bad shape as you’ve been victimized by the weekly “breakout potential” of your top pick’s normalcy. I own Richardson in just one league and I’ve been praying for one big week to try to get anything close to market value. Even though he is just 23 years old I don’t feel like his game has translated to the NFL level. He was a beast at Alabama when his line was exponentially better than any defense they faced but on a level playing field I see a runner who only gets what is blocked for him. It’s feeling like Jonathan Stewart all over again. I don’t want to wait half a decade for someone to pay off. When he was active in the passing game his floor was high enough to avoid weekly clunkers but without it, and his apparent allergy to the end zone, he has become nothing more than a Shonn Greene-like runner. I don’t believe he will ever be a stud RB1, I think his future value needs to be re-evaluated with the hope he can be a high end RB2. I would trade him straight up for his college running mate, Eddie Lacy, right now.
Dwayne Bowe, WR KCC
ADP: 46th overall, WR17
Season stats: 25 catches, 295 yards, and two touchdowns
Positional ranking: WR47
We should have seen this coming. The writing was on the wall and we bit anyways. Alex Smith cannot support a viable fantasy wide receiver. His timid nature and unwillingness to throw outside the numbers had everyone believing Michael Crabtree was a bust and we thought Andy Reid’s ability to make any quarterback look good would change it. Well, it hasn’t. Smith is still just a game manager and a check down master. This offense runs exclusively through Jamaal Charles, and rightfully so. What makes matters worse is the team is the lone remaining undefeated through seven weeks so the game plan surely isn’t about to change to suit fantasy football players. When the team has been forced to throw the ball, Bowe has rarely been the beneficiary, instead the likes of Donnie Avery and Sean McGrath have excelled.
Bowe has a ridiculous amount of talent and is just 29 years old but he signed a five year, $55 million deal this past March so he’s stuck with Reid and Smith. Unfortunately it means what you see is what you get. Smith is not going to magically morph into Matthew Stafford overnight and start chucking deep balls up for his talented wide receiver. Bowe is a WR1 stuck in a WR3 situation. Barring an injury to Charles or Alex Smith we aren’t going to see much change, for better or for worse. Unfortunately you aren’t going to get anything in trades straight up either. He’ll be the throw in player in a multi-player deal, if you’re lucky.
C.J. Spiller, RB BUF
ADP: 6th overall, RB4
Season stats: 362 yards, 4.0 ypc, one touchdown, 15 catches, 48 yards
Positional ranking: RB28
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. This year was going to be different. The dreaded Chan Gailey was fired and new coach, Doug Marrone, was supposed to finally set Spiller free. No longer would Fred Jackson steal carries from one of the game’s most explosive playmakers…right?
Wrong. Spiller has been used eerily similar to seasons past but not producing like last year. The Bills currently run more plays per game than any other team in the league and join the Broncos as the only teams to score at least 20 points every game but Spiller has not been a key contributor to either. He’s averaging less than 13 carries per game and just over two receptions per game and has only scored one touchdown all season. On the flip side, Fred Jackson has remained the thorn is the sides of Spiller’s owners. He’s averaging just over 12 carries per game while consistently adding four catches in every single game this year except week four against Baltimore. HE has also scored five touchdowns, all on the ground. It’s obvious Marrone does not see Spiller as a capable short yardage runner, instead bringing in the old war horse to finish the job.
Unlike Richardson and Bowe, I would still look to acquire Spiller. As the team around him continues to gel and E.J. Manuel returns from injury, Spiller should bounce back to elite level. Whether or not it happens this season remains to be seen.
David Wilson, RB NYG
ADP: 16th overall, RB10
Season stats: 146 yards, 3.3 ypc, one touchdown, two catches, eight yards, two missed games
Positional ranking: RB72
I still like Wilson. He’s been as frustrating to own as anyone I can remember but not all of the balme can be placed on him. When I wrote my “Over/Under: David Wilson” article I asked the question, what would happen if Wilson fumbles the ball a couple time or even once in the red zone? Unfortunately we found out all too soon. Even without Andre Brown, Coughlin refused to give Wilson a chance to redeem himself. In week eight against the Eagles, Wilson was finally playing again and even scored a goal line touchdown. Then his everything came to a screeching halt. Wilson left the game with a “neck” injury. It would later be discovered he suffers from spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal cord. (You can ask Dr. Scott Peak for more info if you desire.) Now we don’t know if he’ll play again this year but on the bright side he hasn’t been placed on injured reserve. So there’s still a chance we could see him at some point.
I still believe there is value in Wilson. I don’t think he deserved to be considered a RB1 before the season started and I don’t believe he will ever be worthy of such a high pick again, but he is the kind of player I would try to buy low in hopes of finding a solid RB2 for the future. If your season is in the trash I wouldn’t hesitate to ask the Wilson owner what it would take to acquire him. Especially if he’s in the hunt and you can get him for an aging vet like Fred Jackson or DeAngelo Williams.
Marques Colston, WR NOS
ADP: 51st overall, WR18
Season stats: 24 catches, 324 yards, one touchdown
Positional ranking: WR53
Colston has been as steady as they come in PPR leagues for years, health permitting of course. He has been a 1,000 yard receiver every year in the league except for 2008 when he missed five games. This year he is on pace for just 864 yards on 64 receptions. What’s changed? Are the injuries catching up to him finally? He’s never been known for his speed, but Colston looks slower than normal. Drew Brees and this offense surely aren’t slowing down. He’s on pace for over 5,200 yards. It’s not like he’s seeing constant double or triple teams. Jimmy Graham draws plenty of attention away from everyone while lighting the stat sheet up. Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas have established an effective run game to keep defenses honest. Colston should be attracting more balls than a Kardashian. Coming off the Saints bye week and with Jimmy Graham now nursing a foot injury, look for Brees to lean heavily on his old friend. Colston is a great buy low candidate right now. He’s only 30 and plays in one of the league’s premier offenses. I don’t expect his 1,000 yard season streak to end this year and his trips to the end zone will also increase. I would not sell low on him.
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