Considering that many fantasy leagues run a 12-week regular season, we are already a quarter of the way into our battles to figure out who makes the fantasy playoffs. That can be a scary fact for many who currently have a roster full of underperformers. In fact, this year has been especially bad in terms of high-level guys producing low-level statistics. A simple look at a preseason top 12 rankings reveals a who’s who of disappointment through three weeks’ action.
LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy, Demaryius Thomas, Montee Ball and AJ Green all have played underwhelmingly so far, and likely have helped their respective teams to a rough start out of the gates.
But what to do? Which of these guys, and a few other higher-end options, are likely to turn things around? Which ones will continue to sink your squad?
First things first, take a moment to read up on six value players that can jumpstart your struggling fantasy football team. These are guys that can help you bridge the gap between your slow start and when your respective studs decide to start producing at the levels you are more accustomed.
Secondly, those who’ve played fantasy football know that there typically is a value pendulum. Very few times — short of a long-term injury or suspension — do guys pegged as fantasy studs totally fall off the map of relevancy. There is a certain ebb-and-flow to fantasy and typically the studs who underperform early make up for it later in the season. Obviously, these players are solid buy-low candidates if you can snag them before they start on the upswing of their season. Let’s go through some of this year’s current disappointments and what you can expect the rest of the way.
LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI. His first two weeks weren’t too bad. A total of 37.7 fantasy points in PPR leagues vs. the Jaguars and Colts. So why the worry? One is Darren Sproles, who looks rejuvenated in Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense. Another is the overall poor play of the Philadelphia offensive line — which looked like Swiss cheese last week vs. the Redskins. Lastly was McCoy’s pathetic 2.20 PPR fantasy points vs. Washington.
So what to do? If you own him, nothing. If you don’t, feel free to send a feeler or two to his owner. Why? Because McCoy will be fine. Chip Kelly’s offense is more than potent enough to help McCoy produce regularly. Yes, the O-line is a mess, but they have enough options to keep most defense honest and give McCoy the lanes he needs. Many forget just how legit the Washington run defense is — and how soft the Jacksonville and Indy squads can be. That being said, the Eagles’ matchup with the Niners will pose a tough test for McCoy. He may produce mediocre numbers another week before another slate of soft matchups.
As far as Darren Sproles … his huge performance came in a Week 2 game where McCoy still notched 100 total yards, four receptions and a touchdown. McCoy still gets the majority of the reps.
Jamaal Charles, RB, KC. An ankle injury has kept Charles to just 9.60 PPR points through three weeks. However, remember that he was healthy during the entirety of the Week 1 loss to the Titans and Charles managed just 19 yards total rushing. The problem here is multi-faceted. The Titans’ run defense is under-rated. Charles’ ankle injury has kept him from playing for the past 1 1/2 weeks. But don’t overlook the importance, too, of just how stale the overall Chiefs offense is. Dwayne Bowe is well past his prime, Alex Smith is not a game-changer and there are no pass catching options of note on the roster — outside of Travis Kelce which the management hasn’t used as well as it should.
Will Charles rebound? Yes, but not necessarily to the top-3 overall range that many were expecting in the preseason. He’s still a buy-low, just don’t pay for him expecting a total resurgence unless Kansas City can jumpstart its overall offensive slumpage.
Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN. No one could have seen this coming. His suspension, his indefinite future. You can’t drop him because there still is some slight glimmer of a chance that he plays again at some point this season. However, I highly doubt he will — and even if he does wind up somewhere, he won’t produce meaningful stats until next season. Remember all those scenarios in the past when running backs held out most of the preseason demanding more money? In almost every case, it affected their regular-season numbers due to lack of conditioning and the overall mental stress of things. Peterson has a lot more on his plate than contract disputes.
Eddie Lacy, RB, GB. I was pretty up front with my opinion on Lacy here. Since writing that, Lacy struggled again, (as I expected) against Detroit’s extremely solid defense. Owners have become more frantic than ever and there was even some talk out of Green Bay where the coaching staff wants Lacy to get his act together. All of this has people starting to squirrel away James Starks just in case Lacy continues his faceplant. I don’t think he will. His game will get a much-needed spark from a slew of much softer matchups starting this week vs. Chicago. This is the last week to buy low on Lacy.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN. Outside of an OK week 2 performance (5-62-1), Thomas has been downright unbearable despite the fact that Wes Welker was missing from the offense. Instead, Emmanuel Sanders emerged looking like a world-beater and Thomas owners are licking their wounds heading into this week’s bye.
Thomas is too good to continue playing so poorly, but use this as a reminder that Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos are an equal opportunity employer. They spread the ball around, meaning one week it will be Julius Thomas going off, the next Sanders, the next D-Thomas or Welker. This isn’t to say that D-Thomas should be avoided, just that it seems as if he may be more hit-and-miss this season and less consistent week-to-week. At this point, I’d definitely prefer guys like Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown and a few others the rest of the way.
Montee Ball, RB, DEN. The Broncos offense continues to spread the wealth, and Ball has yet to get his footing. His 4.4 PPR performance this past week and current bye is definitely leaving a bad taste in many a fantasy owner’s mouth. However, remember that the Broncos just played the Seahawks, a team that been known to frustrate opposing players.
As Knowshon Moreno owners last year can testify to, you don’t need to be the best back in the NFL to produce in this offense. And while Ball has some short-comings, he is good enough to take advantage most weeks when defenses are keying off Peyton Manning and the passing game. Buy low and enjoy the statistical resurgence after the bye.
AJ Green, WR, CIN. Turf toe eliminated Green’s Week 2 production and has concerned a variety of his owners. The injury is one that is known to linger in certain players, hampering production for long stretches of time. However, Green bounced back with a 6-for-102 game vs. Tennessee before heading into this week’s bye. The overall numbers are lacking due to the missed time and lack of TD last week. If his respective owners in your league are thin at WR and have Green on bye this week, you might be able to squeeze him away at a value.
Drew Brees, QB, NO. A slow start to a season isn’t breaking news for Brees, who always seems to produce studly numbers regardless. It was somewhat disheartening to see him struggle with an OK game at home this past week, but two super-plus matchups vs. Dallas and Tampa Bay will likely help him rebound perfectly before his Week 6 bye.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB. Seattle and Detroit both have extremely good pass defenses. The Jets, lacking CB talent, does not. So it isn’t a surprise that Rodgers went off for 34 points (in 6-point TD leagues) vs. the Jets but struggled against the Lions and Seahawks. Even in a tough matchup, though, owners expect more than 12 points a game from a guy with Rodgers’ pedigree and stable of weapons.
Rodgers should fare better this week vs. the Bears and even with a few somewhat challenging matchups on the horizon, Rodgers should continue to rebound into being an every-week QB stud, especially down the stretch when his matchups soften quite a lot.
Doug Martin, RB, TB. I was high on Martin this preseason after seeing the impressive big receivers on the team and figuring the Buccaneers would air it out enough to give Martin some open lanes to take advantage of. However, injury and overall ineffectiveness on Martin’s part and an overall ineptitude from Tampa Bay’s offense is clouding the waters quickly. It appears that Bobby Rainey has caught the eye of management and could usurp more of a lead role. Martin is healthy this week, but I’d be plenty nervous about him moving forward.
What do you think will happen with these guys and others who’ve underperformed this year? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!