Breaking Bad Week 3: Ray Rice, Frank Gore Struggling

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Each week, I’ll take a look at some of the top fantasy players that have been struggling lately. This week, we’re talking about Frank Gore and Maurice Jones-Drew among others. 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.

Quarterbacks

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

It’s probably tough to say that Wilson has started out slowly, but guys who waited until the back end of top QBs are probably disappointed with the start that Wilson has given us. He is currently ranked 25th among QBs in ESPN standard leagues, which is quite underwhelming.

The sad part is, though, that he hasn’t really started out that slowly. The Seahawks are just looking like one of the few teams that aren’t going to abandon the run and chuck the ball 45 times per game and that really hurts. If you drafted Wilson and planned on using him as your top starter, it’s time to start thinking about other options.

Hopefully you drafted a top flight QB2, because he just might end up being your starter for the majority of the season. Wilson still has the chance to put up some big numbers, but I don’t see Wilson quite finishing top 10 in a smashmouth offense with a lack of weapons in the passing game. Wilson is a much better real life QB than fantasy QB.

Players to Monitor

Colin Kaepernick SF – Kaepernick should be just fine, but I think he’s shown us he might not be a match up-proof player. We’ll see, but we still have had a fairly limited sample size with him and Anquan Boldin showed more true colors last week than he did in week one.

Josh Freeman TB – I’m only putting him here because some people took a shot on him early. It’s time to let him go.

Running Backs

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers

Gore had just 16 carries on 9 carries Sunday night against the Seahawks, but that’s not really what caught my eye. He could’ve made more happen than he did, but he had abysmal blocking ahead of him. The 49ers offensive line was awful all around.

This week, that shouldn’t be the case against the Colts and funny enough, it wasn’t the case in week 1 against the Packers when he rushed 21 times for 44 yards and a TD. The troubling part is two poor performances to open up the season, with Gore starting to show his age.

However, he should be able to control the game against a weak Colts front, but if he doesn’t, be prepared for some guys to start getting chances at overtaking his starting job. For the sake of his fantasy value, here’s to hoping he turns in a fine performance this week and honestly, among all of the slow starts by running backs, he is one of the best bounce back candidates thanks to the team around him.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars

MJD sprained the same foot he had the lisfranc injury with last year, which is troubling. The resident medical specialist, Ziad Dahdul, talked about MJD in his Week 2 Injury Report Review, so make sure to check that out for his view on MJD’s value.

Guys, I don’t think this offensive line is near good enough to run this zone blocking scheme they switched to over the offseason. MJD looked great on Sunday, better than he did in week one. He was making guys miss, squirting through some would be tacklers and looked like he had burst. When defenders weren’t in the backfield, he was able to make some good things happen.

The injury is a major setback however and he faces the Seahawks this week, so safely place him on your bench if you have other viable options. I’m not sure he’s going to be able to break out of his slump soon, but he’ll get a great chance in week four against he Colts if healthy.

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

Rice has a hip flexor strain, so he might not play this week, but that’s not what has hampered him en route to a 25 carry, 72 yard start to the season. The veteran also has one score to go with 11 catches for 44 yards.

Yes, you read that correctly, which is good for a mere 4 yards per catch. That won’t get it done and he only had one reception last week. He’s also been inconsistent running the ball. Last week, he had 25 yards on two carries and 11 yards on the other 11 attempts. I know it’s easy to pick out stats that fit your point, but according to Football Outsiders, his success rate is at 28% (anything below 40% is considered very bad), which is good for 33rd out of 35 qualified RBs this year.

Success rate, in short, measures the amount of successful runs on certain plays given the down and distance. For example, a runner has a successful run gaining two yards on a 3rd-and-1 play and a fail for gaining two yards on a 1st-and-10. For more details on the stat, click here.

In other words, Rice has to be more consistent and he should get the chance in weeks four and five against Buffalo and Miami, respectively. He’s a tough play against Houston this week, but he’s too involved in the offense and too good to sit him if he suits up.

Players to Monitor

David Wilson, NYG – Last week, Giants RBs had 23 total yards, 24 of which came after contact. Wilson is a very good runner, but yikes, just yikes.

Montee Ball, DEN – This is why it’s tough to trust rookie RBs. Ball is a good player, but he needs to be more well rounded to get on the field this season, which likely won’t happen unless there is an injury to Moreno, but he should be on waivers until then.

Mark Ingram, NO – Yeah, he’s still bad. I held out hope that he might be a feasible option due to workload, but he’s too far behind Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles at this point. Time to move on from false hope and pick up a receiver.

Wide Receivers

No significant players are consistently struggling.

Players to Monitor

Anquan Boldin, SF – We told you here not to read too much into week one’s performance. Boldin remains a solid WR2 play going forward, but don’t expect too many breakout performances.

Mike Williams, TB – This team is in trouble and it’ll probably be another tough one against the Patriots this week. Keep him on your roster for now, but don’t plan on starting him any time soon.

Tight Ends

No significant players are consistently struggling.

Players to Monitor

Brandon Pettigrew, DET – Pettigrew is droppable in most formats right now. With Reggie Bush, Nate Burleson and Joique Bell emerging in the passing game, Pettigrew keeps getting lower and lower on the totem pole.

Thanks for reading this week’s edition of Breaking Bad. I know some of you may be disappointed with the lack of wide receivers and tight ends on the list this week, but it’s clearly the year of the struggling running backs. I haven’t been able to find starting fantasy receivers/tight ends that have struggled in both games to start out the season that would concern you. I tried to make sure I put any player that could possibly be in question at least in the players to monitor section. However, if you feel that I missed any player, feel free to comment and I’ll give you a rundown on what I think.

For more fantasy analysis, follow me on twitter @fantasyguidelin and check out the FF Locker Room Show every Tuesday night at 8 pm EST for the pressing fantasy topics of the week as well as starts and sits. Thank you.

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