Each week, I’ll take a look at some of the top fantasy players that have been struggling lately. I’ll go beyond the numbers to let you know why they are struggling, what they need to improve on and what the chances are your fantasy star picks up his play in the coming weeks.
No significant players have struggled lately.
Marshawn Lynch, RB Seattle Seahawks
Marshawn Lynch was one of many running backs that laid an egg in week one with 43 yards on 17 carries with a couple catches for 9 yards. However, I’ll be the first to tell you to hold off on pushing the panic button for now. While it was far from Lynch’s most impressive performance, his offensive line was handled up front, something that may not happen again for the rest of the 2013 campaign, which speaks volumes to how good the Panther’s front seven can be.
Anchored by 2nd year MLB Luke Kuechly and rookie DT Star Lotulelei (both of these players are going to be perennial All-Pro selections,) the Panthers consistently got penetration in the running game. The pass rush was another story…
The Seahawks are going to need to run the ball to win games this year, so I expect the front five will make the adjustments necessary to get a push next week against the 49ers, another good defense. I wouldn’t worry about Lynch and while most say he is sit-proof, if you needed any more assurance, I’ll tell you it would be insane to sit him in week 2.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB Jacksonville Jaguars
This might be yet another example of how we learned more about the opposing defense rather than the player we’re looking at. The Chiefs held MJD to just 45 yards on 15 carries. MJD looked a little sluggish when he started out, but by the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd, he looked like the MJD we’ve come to know and love.
It didn’t help matters that the Chiefs were stacking the box, but hey, it’s Blaine Gabbert, so why the heck wouldn’t you? Looking past that, the Chiefs had excellent gap control defense, with DT Dontari Poe having an exceptional debut and showing fans why he climbed up draft boards so quickly in the weeks leading up to the draft. Still, the Jaguars offensive line turned in a sorry performance themselves, not managing to get any push on the KC defensive line, let alone rarely ever reaching the second level to get some pads on the linebackers.
I hate to say it, but Chad Henne starting is a boost to MJD. Henne isn’t anything special, but he’s a veteran that can make teams be honest when defending. MJD shouldn’t get quite as many stacked box looks as last week, but it could still be rough going with the shoddy offensive line as well as the team probably being behind in most of their games. It’d be nice to see him get more involved in the passing game as well after zero receptions last week. You’re not benching MJD, but he needs to have a better game this week, or people can sure start pushing the panic button.
Other Players to keep an eye on:
Stevan Ridley, Patriots - Ridley is in the doghouse thanks to his fumbles, but he should rebound this week with Vereen out for a while.
David Wilson, Giants - Wilson has the same problem as Ridley, but even coach Tom Coughlin said he is too important to the team to be sitting on the bench.
Lamar Miller, Dolphins - It looks like Daniel Thomas is going to get the goal line carries. Miller will get opportunities to make plays, but if he struggles again this week, he will be a feature in the Week 3 article.
Calvin Johnson, WR Detroit Lions
Johnson had 4 catches for 37 yards against the Vikings on Sunday. The worries stop there.
The Viking’s secondary isn’t good enough to guard the lesser options of the Detroit passing attack and it showed. However, even though Johnson failed to lead the team in the receiving category, he led the team in targets. Those of you math majors out there will also notice that’s only good for about 9 yards per catch, which is an abberation. His career ypc is 16.
Calvin is fine and he should have a solid game against the Cardinals this week.
Dwayne Bowe, WR Kansas City Chiefs
Before we get started, take your hand off the panic button, there’s no reason to be alarmed. Firstly, Bowe is easily the top target, with no other receiver on the roster being close to his caliber. Secondly, this was by no means a close game and the Chiefs had set the cruise control by the third quarter.
Although Bowe only pulled in 4 catches for 30 yards, he is the focal point of the passing attack and will be used as such, starting in week 2 against the Cowboys. Don’t get me wrong, Alex Smith could struggle getting the ball to Bowe down the field, but either way, Bowe is going to get plenty of looks and should haul in enough of them to be a reliable WR2.
Other Players to keep an eye on:
T.Y. Hilton, Colts - It might be time to worry with Hilton as bad as the offensive line is. Luck just might not have time to get the ball down the field, where Hilton makes his money. It also doesn’t help that he isn’t in the starting lineup yet.
Antonio Gates, TE San Diego
I would imagine most of you envisioned Gates being in this article in some way or another before the season started. He only hauled in 2 catches for 49 yards, yet still registered as the top receiver for the Chargers on Monday night.
Contrary to what some believe, I thought Gates ran well and looked the best he has in the last few years. However, it’s pretty apparent he’s going to be limited by Phillip Rivers this year. The saving grace is that he is going to get looks in the red zone and should haul in a good number of touchdown passes.
I’d be pushing it to tell you to sit him, but there are other comparable options out there. Until he shows us something, he should be considered a low-end TE1 from here on out. I really wouldn’t blame you if you took a shot and started high upside guys like Jordan Cameron (no-brainer,) Martellus Bennett and Brandon Myers. If you drafted Gates in any leagues, hopefully you were smart enough to add some insurance.
Kyle Rudolph, TE Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph didn’t have a particularly horrible game in the passing attack, his 2 catches for 27 yards were a direct byproduct of Christian Ponder‘s ineptitude.
However, he did struggle with run blocking against Lions defensive ends. Lucky for him, that’s not going to lose him his job if he keeps that up. There isn’t anybody on the roster that can seriously push him for playing time. However, the feast or famine type player that Rudolph is, should be taken to new heights this year with Ponder taking seemingly another step back to start out the season.
I was high on Rudolph from the start and I still think he can have a great season, but I drafted him in a few leagues and failed to get a solid backup thanks to my ill-advised lack of concern with him. I’m regretting it now and have been left scrambling on the waiver wires for some of the guys that blew up in week one.
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