by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It was “just another day” in the NFL, as we saw injuries impact our outlook, players with high expectations entering the day falling flat and others exploding onto the scene. What are the biggest things that we learned from the action on the field? Let’s pick through all of the performances and take a look:
1) I think I understand Tennessee’s backfield strategy…
With Demarco Murray battling a hamstring injury and Derrick Henry coming off a strong performance, this was supposed to be Henry’s chance to carry the load. Instead Murray took the lead once again while Henry completely fell flat on the chances he was given:
- Murray – 18 carries for 59 yards; 3 receptions for 17 yards
- Henry – 13 carries for 13 yards; 2 receptions for 11 yards
Clearly Murray is going to remain the leader of this backfield, especially once he returns to full strength. While Henry is a must own handcuff and still holds potential, at this point it’s going to be impossible to trust him on a weekly basis. While he could easily “pop” off a big day here and there, it’s impossible to trust that it will happen every week.
2) I think we can forget about Ty Montgomery…
Even after the Packers fell behind, Montgomery failed to make an impact in the passing game as he sat back and watched Aaron Jones continue to emerge. Jones not only took 17 carries for 131 yards and 1 TD, he also out-targeted Montgomery 5-to-2 (Jones turned his targets into 3 receptions and 7 yards). Maybe Montgomery is still trying to get healthy, as he’s now posted 50 total yards or less in four straight weeks (and is also scoreless over that time).
Forget about the rushing yards, Montgomery has 2 receptions over his past three games. Isn’t that supposed to be his strong suit? Barring some dramatic change, he can’t be trusted on a weekly basis.
3) I think O.J. Howard has value, but don’t anoint him a must use yet…
Considering the preseason hype, when you see Howard explode to the tune of 6 receptions, 98 yards and 2 TD it would be easy to have a knee-jerk reaction and dub him a can’t miss TE1. One big day just isn’t quite enough, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he took a step backwards moving forward before he explodes once again. We have to remember that the team still has Cameron Brate in the mix (he actually had more targets, turning 9 into 6 receptions and 60 yards), so the workload should be inconsistent and the big plays could easily swing the other way.
Could Howard keep performing? Absolutely, but chances are he’s going to be hit or miss each week. He’s worth owning as a TE2 and potential streaming option, but don’t be so quick to dub him a must start quite yet.
4) I think it’s time to give up on Martavis Bryant…
There has been a lot of talk about Bryant requesting a trade, and that could lead to a “squeaky wheel” situation. Instead he was given 2 targets, getting 1 reception for 3 yards. While no one besides Antonio Brown was targeted more than 3 times for the Steelers, which does soften the blow a little, it’s not enough to make us believe Bryant is suddenly going to be thrust into the spotlight. He has 3 receptions on 5 targets over the past two weeks and has gone five straight games with less than 50 yards and without a TD. In three-receiver formats he’s worth stashing, but in shallower leagues it’s time to move on.
5) I think the Cardinals’ offense could look pathetic moving forward…
We’ve learned that Carson Palmer suffered a broken arm and will be sidelined the next 8 weeks. That’s just the latest hit, after David Johnson was lost at the beginning of the season, and now it’s easy to see the offense falling into shambles. After busting out in his first game with the Cardinals Adrian Peterson reverted back to the disappointment he had appeared to be in New Orleans (11 carries for 21 yards) and Drew Stanton was horrific after coming into the game (5-14, 62 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT). As it is the receiving corps was crowded and filled with some uncertainty, but now everyone outside of Larry Fitzgerald (who takes a hit himself) is going to be impossible to trust.
6) I think both Brett Hundley and Mitch Trubisky are going to be tough to trust…
That doesn’t mean that they don’t have potential, but their offenses appear to be designed to limit their exposure. Just look at the numbers they posted in Week 7:
- Brett Hundley (vs. New Orleans) – 12-25, 87 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
- Mitch Trubisky (vs. Carolina) – 4-7, 107 yards, 0 TD, INT
Hundley was able to run for a touchdown, and obviously with 25 attempts it’s more of a question as to the Packers letting him to try to push the ball downfield. As for Trubisky, just 7 attempts?! He’s gone 12-23 over the past two games and it’s clear that the Bears are going to run their offense through Jordan Howard. If we were going to prioritize one it’s going to be Hundley, for now, but both are limited to desperation plays for now.
7) I think we were premature to dub it the “Jerrick McKinnon Show”…
We were all prepared to write off Latavius Murray, and then he erupted taking 18 carries for 113 yards and 1 TD while McKinnon struggled (14 carries for 47 yards, 3 receptions for 10 yards). It was an impressive performance and shows that Murray’s going to remain a factor in the game plan, but we also can’t ignore how poorly he had been performing prior to Week 7 (2.4 yards per carry). Are we ready to lock Murray into a must use option? Absolutely not, but we also think he’s worth owning to see how things play out.
8) I think C.J. Anderson is losing value…
There has been talk about Jamaal Charles getting more opportunities, and we saw it a bit yesterday:
- C.J. Anderson – 11 touches for 61 yards
- Jamaal Charles – 8 touches for 22 yards
Obviously it’s not like Charles was impressive, but if Anderson is only going to see 10-14 touches per week his value is going to be capped. He’s now had 11 touches or fewer in three of the past four games, with yesterday’s yardage representing his highest among them. Throw in further limiting the TD potential and there’s obvious cause for concern.
9) I think Marlon Mack’s time is coming…
The big story was the 10 sacks for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the poor performance from Frank Gore also can’t be ignored (9 carries for 34 yards). He’s been averaging less than 4 yards per carry in most games, and it’s clear that Mack offers a potential spark and more athleticism to the position. With the Colts clearly moving towards a lost season, it’s only a matter of time before Mack’s role further expands (as it is he saw 5 carries and 6 targets in this one, stepping into the role left behind by Robert Turbin). Mack isn’t a viable option, yet, but he will be before long.
10) I think Matt Ryan may never be an elite QB in 2017…
This is a bold statement, but a matchup with the Patriots was his chance to get right and it just didn’t happen. That’s not to say that he was bad as he threw for just 233 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT, but it was by far the worst performance for any QB this season. We can’t blame the health of the receiving corps, as Julio Jones was targeted 13 times and Mohamed Sanu 10.
On the season Ryan now has 7 TD vs. 6 INT in six games and has been at or below 252 yards in four of his past five games. It’s a shocking development, and one that we can’t pinpoint exactly. No one is willing to write him off completely, but until he shows signs he’s going to be a low-end QB1 at best.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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