Breaking Bad Week 4: Stevan Ridley, Colin Kaepernick 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 Colin Kaepernick, Stevan Ridley 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

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

Kaepernick has struggled quite brutally so far this year. In week one, he turned in a 412 yard, 3 TD performance against the Packers. In the last two games, he’s combined for 277 yards with 4 INT, 2 fumbles lost and 0 TDs. Kaep was looking like the next fantasy stud coming into the year and after week 1, what gives?

There are a numbers of issues at hand right now. The first and probably most important issue is that of his receivers not getting open at all. Even against an underwhelming Colts defense, neither Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams or anyone could break free. Vernon Davis was out with a hamstring injury, which really hurt. Another issue is that Kaep has been awful when under pressure, something you don’t expect to see from a mobile QB. As it stands, he is 5-21 for 82 yards when under pressure, getting sacked a whopping eight times and running eight times as well. You can’t expect numbers to be great with the defense in your face, but they need to be better than that.

Lastly, we still haven’t seen a full season from Kaepernick. Our expectations were probably a little high coming into the year, especially with Michael Crabtree out, but things should get better. Vernon Davis could return as early as tonight against the Rams and this offensive line should undoubtedly improve. If he has a poor game with Vernon Davis on the field and looking healthy, it’s time to worry, but if Davis doesn’t play, cut him a little slack tonight. Somewhere, Alex Smith is smiling.

Eli Manning, New York Giants

I know a lot of you are wondering, “What the hell happened to the Giants?” The second question, “What the hell is wrong with Eli Manning?” Last week, he had just 119 yards with 1 INT.

The good news? He had just one interception this week, compared to 7 in the first couple games. The main question people have had is why he’s throwing a ton of picks, which I’ve been struggling to figure out myself. I’ve taken a look at each of the interceptions and three of those were by receivers being in the wrong place, although Eli probably could’ve avoided them had he been a little smarter. As far as the poor 119 yard total last week, this falls entirely on the offensive line. He was sacked in 6 of his first 9 dropbacks and sacked 7 times total. To put it into perspective, he dropped back to pass 31 times and was either sacked or pressured 15 times. Yikes.

Now for the scariest stat I could scrounge up. In 74 dropbacks where he wasn’t pressured, he has thrown 6 picks. In the 53 dropbacks where he was pressured, just two interceptions. Manning keeps making stupid mistakes and the interceptions are probably going to keep coming, whether it be miscommunication or garbage time INTs. Manning has been prone to having bad streaks, so this isn’t new, but don’t plan on starting him until he starts to turn it around, which probably won’t happen this week against a seemingly elite Chiefs defense.

Players to Monitor

Carson Palmer, ARI – A popular sleeper pick this year, Palmer’s offensive line has struggled with pass protection and Larry Fitzgerald has been banged up. Palmer has struggled and he has Tampa Bay, Carolina, San Fran and Seattle in the next four weeks. Good luck with that.

Running Backs

Stevan Ridley, NE

Ridley is another guy that was a popular sleeper pick this preseason. He’s been just awful so far, being outplayed by Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount. It’s not just about the fumbles anymore.

Folks, it’s not looking good. Ridley, Blount and Bolden nearly equally splitted snaps last week, with Blount getting a heavy running game workload, Bolden being used in the passing game and Ridley kind of middling. As long as Bolden can stay healthy, Ridley likely won’t get the snaps needed to be productive.

It’s time to be worried, and you probably should trade Ridley to someone that still believes in him, because there are some people out there yet. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Ridley isn’t going to be a significant part of that offense going forward.

Other Players to Monitor

Marshawn LynchHe’s been somewhat disappointing in the fantasy points category. He could use a score soon and should get plenty of touches this week against Houston.

C.J. SpillerI thought about featuring him this week, but he got hurt last week, which cut his day short. If he struggles again against Baltimore if he plays, we’ll take a closer look.

Ryan MathewsHe’s been okay so far, but he’s only getting 15 touches per game and hasn’t found the end zone so far this year. I liked Mathews coming into the year, but I’m starting to change my tune.

Wide Receivers

Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs

Poor Dwayne Bowe. The top question coming into this year for him was his QB, Alex Smith. It’s not that Alex Smith is a bad QB, but he just doesn’t throw the ball downfield all that much.

You can mark me down for one of the guys that simply wasn’t worried. The talent of Dwayne Bowe and the stats he put up the one season that Matt Cassel was decent made it look like he was going to have a 1200 yard, 8 TD season easily. However, through three games, Alex Smith ranks 32nd in passes over 10 yards. How is Bowe supposed to make his money like this?

One of these days, Bowe is going to have a breakout game and hopefully Alex Smith realizes he has a star WR that he can lean on. However, until that happens, if it happens, I’m starting to panic and trying to deal Bowe.

Players to Monitor

Vincent Jackson, TB – Jackson is hurt and his offense is him turmoil. It doesn’t help that the Bucs are starting a rookie QB now, but after seeing Josh Freeman so far this year, I guess it can’t hurt either.

Mike Wallace, MIA – Wallace’s season has been a model of inconsistency so far, hauling in just 2 catches for 22 yards last week. Look for him to bounce back this week, but if he doesn’t, it’s probably time to be concerned.

Miles Austin, DAL – He keeps injuring his hamstring and has turned in two poor performances in a row. Until he’s healthy, look for better options.

Tight Ends

No significant fantasy players struggling.

Players to Monitor

Kyle Rudolph, MIN – If you’ve got the guts to do it, benching Rudolph probably isn’t a bad option at this point. Heath Miller is still available in a ton of leagues.