Each week I walk through the Twitterverse extracting some of the best commentary from trusted fantasy football minds. Twitter can be overwhelming with the amount of information that streams live, but it also proves to be one of the fastest and easiest ways to communicate. In 140 characters or less, you can learn something about a player you may have never thought of from trends, stats or analysis.
“Old age is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to a man.” – James Thurber
Normally I do not cover multiple players from different teams at the same time, but this pair of geriatrics warranted the coverage this week. Yes, being 33 or 34 years old in the NFL is comparable to the rest of us working into our 70’s, but both of these receivers were coming off of 900-plus yard 2014 campaigns and still expected to be the second receiving option on their respective teams. After just three weeks of the season, the fantasy community is looking to lay them six feet under.
Roddy White had 0 targets on 65 snaps yesterday. Is he hurt again? Age 10 years this offseason?
— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) September 28, 2015
Andre Johnson is on pace for 37 receptions, 272 yards and 0 TDs #Colts
— Eye of the Gator (@EyeoftheGator) September 30, 2015
When looking at Andre Johnson & Roddy White’s numbers through 3 weeks, “Turn The Page” from Bob Seger pops in my head.
— Ty Miller (@Ty_In_StL) September 28, 2015
It is not as though we all believed both Roddy White and Andre Johnson would continue to provide fantasy goodness for years to come, but many were still banking on solid returns in 2015. Andre in particular was expected to be a low end WR2 for the Colts’ high-powered offense. After dealing with the Houston Texans’ carousel of quarterbacks for years, I believed Johnson would be able to squeeze out continued fantasy production with one of the best signal callers in the game. Julio Jones was poised for a breakout year, but he was not going to catch 100% of Matt Ryan’s passes leaving White as the apparent next man in line. Now entering week four, they are hitting the waiver wires or simply wasting roster spots for their fantasy owners holding out the slightest of hope. Despite playing 84% of the snaps the past two weeks Roddy has not even logged a catch.
Andre’s snaps have fallen steadily from 82% week one to only 67% last week while snagging only seven of his 18 targets year to date. While Johnson only managed to haul in 59% of his targets the previous two seasons, one would have thought the stability of Andrew Luck would have increased that percentage and not made it downright atrocious. At this point, not even injuries to the players ahead of them on the depth chart would seem to make a difference looking at their usage and production. So while I thank both players for their services over the years, I leave you with this.
good night, andre johnson. good night, roddy white. pic.twitter.com/si5brajp8z
— Matt Kelley (@Fantasy_Mansion) September 27, 2015
Steve Smith, WR BAL
Jumping to an even older receiver with a completely different fantasy outlook, Steve Smith had been tearing up opposing defenses to start the season. Through three games, he hauled in 25 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns making him a WR1 and rewarding his owners who still placed trust in the 36-year old. Part of the reason for his success is based on the sheer volume of targets Joe Flacco whipped his way.
Steve Smith is seeing 32 percent of the #Ravens targets this year.
— Adam Pfeifer (@APfeifer24) September 30, 2015
On Thursday night, the feel good story took a different course. Through three quarters, Joe Flacco had targeted Smith only six times and then a shot to the back knocked him completely out of the game. 4for4’s Josh Moore voiced my exact thoughts when he tweeted,
Didn’t expect the sell high window on Steve Smith to close so quickly. Hopefully get some more good games out of him. #fantasyfootball
— Josh Moore (@4for4_Josh) October 2, 2015
An underlying notion should have always been on whether Smith would fade as he had in previous seasons, but that opinion will now be front and center. In 2013, Smith maintained his average of 50 yards per game throughout the season but recorded only one touchdown over the final ten games. Last year was much worse in regards to his production falling off after he registered four 100+ yard outings during the first six contests to go along with four scores. Over the final ten games, he failed to log more than 90 yards receiving in a game and only crossed the goal line on two more occasions.
So where before you might have been able to get some fantasy value in a trade for Smith, the injury and poor performance will likely cause any potential buyers to stay away completely. Hopefully Smith will not miss any time and he still remains the best receiving option for the Ravens. At this point, owners can only hold and hope the receiver can become a target hog and muster a few more useful fantasy weeks before hanging up the cleats.
Latavius Murray, RB OAK
[inlinead]Fantasy football and Twitter are two of the fastest moving entities known to man (look it up, it’s true). Opinions, views and beliefs change on players by the minute and the Raiders’ Latavius Murray was a prime example this past Sunday. Against one of the worst run defenses in the league, Murray managed only one yard on his first seven carries against the Browns. Twitter was exploding and owners were cursing their bad fortune. From that point on, Murray started rolling including runs of 20 and 54 yards and a score to cap off a solid effort for the 24-year old back. All things were right with the world and grown men were digging their #28 jerseys out of the trash and wearing them proudly.
Through three weeks of the season, Latavius is one of the league’s top running backs and a lot of that has to do with opportunity as Graham Barfield shared.
Latavius Murray has 80% of the #Raiders carries through Week 3. Forte (67%), Peterson (65.6%), Yeldon (64.9%), Randle (62.3%) next closest.
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) September 29, 2015
Graham’s numbers include all carries for a team and not just by running backs, but the distance between Murray and his competition is wide. Coming into the year I was not high on the Raiders despite the addition of rookie Amari Cooper as I was not sold on quarterback Derek Carr. Last year, Carr had one of the lowest completion percentages to go along with the worst yards per attempt. Year to date he has added five points to his completion percentage and his yards per attempt is a respectable 8.1. Murray was also expected to lose third down work to Roy Helu limiting his weekly ceiling particularly when the team fell behind. To date, Helu is barely and afterthought and while Taiwan Jones looks to be the clear number two, the team uses him sparingly as well.
When looking at where Murray sits in dynasty rankings, you can still normally find him around 20th overall at the running back position. Rankers have been pushing him up slowly, but I would be open to see him closer to the top 10. Players like Mark Ingram, Lamar Miller and C.J. Anderson are performing poorly and sharing carries. I would even mention a player like Carlos Hyde with Reggie Bush coming back, who I assume will take on the third down duties for a team that will be constantly behind. If I could move Hyde for Murray and another fantasy piece I would be pulling the trigger today.
Jonathan Stewart, RB CAR
Turning focus to a running back I am quickly losing confidence in, we find none other than Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart. DeAngelo Williams was shipped out during the off-season, leaving JStew as the primary ball carrier. Through three weeks of play, he has averaged 18 touches per game, so the opportunity has been available. The problem is those valuable touches have netted him an average of 3.6 yards per touch. He has yet to score a touchdown with Cam Newton taking all of the scoring opportunities so far. As Patrick Daugherty pointed out, Stewart is also well behind the guy the Panthers presumed to be done.
Through three weeks, DeAngelo Williams has 21.4 more fantasy points than Jonathan Stewart.
— Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat) September 30, 2015
The most worrisome part for me is Stewart has not been able to put up good numbers despite Carolina winning their first three games and having favorable game scripts for him to excel. Stewart has another great matchup against Tampa Bay this Sunday before the bye in week five. If he is unable to impress against the Buccaneers, I presume many will be echoing Denny’s sentiments.
JStew might be the first ever droppable every-down RB.
— C.D. Carter (@CDCarter13) September 28, 2015
Joseph Randle, RB DAL
The fantasy world had a lot to cheer about this last week as Cowboys’ Joseph Randle rushed for three scores and 87 yards carrying many owners to a weekly win in leagues and DFS. Who needs DeMarco Murray (who is struggling mightily in Philadelphia) when big plays are popping from your starting running back making less than a million a year? But if you only looked at the box score you likely missed something else about Sunday’s game against the Falcons.
Joseph Randle’s yards gained on each of his 14 carries from yesterday: 28, 37, 20, 1, -1, 1, 4, 1, 0, 1, -1, -4, 2, -2
— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) September 28, 2015
While Randle has been known for breaking long plays, Matt Harmon highlighted the other side to Randle, which is completely unacceptable in the real NFL. After the hot start, Randle managed only two yards on eleven carries. When the Cowboys needed to sustain drives and keep Julio Jones off the field, getting stuffed on third and one does not instill confidence in your coaching staff. Running mate Darren McFadden did provide 35 yards and a touchdown on only six carries, but the prior two weeks saw him average less than three yards per rush. Lance Dunbar has been doing work in the passing game and to top off the growing confusion around Dallas’ backfield, Christine Michael was taking reps with the first team in practice this week. Michael is the bigger back and likely the better option to pick up those short yardage situations, but I am far from joining the Christine fan club. Mainly, this looks like it will continue to be a crazy time share with Randle in the mix for big plays, Dunbar taking passing down work, Michael getting the tough yards and McFadden hanging around because he is a Razorback. Randle is sure to have a few more highlight plays and games this season but this is a situation I would rather not have to figure out week in and week out.
Cody Latimer, WR DEN
A final note on a player you can pretty much write off in fantasy at this point. Cody Latimer had all the hype you would expect around a second round draft pick catching passes from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. As Rich Hribar notes, there is nothing left to hype.
Cody Latimer couldn’t beat out any of Jordan Norwood, Bennie Fowler or Andre Caldwell, btw. Just keep believing, though.
— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) September 28, 2015
Latimer struggled as a rookie but was expected to be the Broncos third wide receiver during his sophomore campaign. Three weeks in and he is currently sixth on the depth chart with no real line of sight to playing time. Despite having great size, his speed and agility are lacking and the NFL game appears to have eaten him up. You hate to sell for nickels on the dollar but it is better than holding just a penny in your hand. It is hard to imagine Latimer ever making an impact in fantasy.
Thank you to 4for4.com, Football Outsiders and Football Guys for some of the stats used within this article. Both are great resources still available for the average fantasy fan.