Breaking Bad Week 6: Matt Schaub, Trent Richardson 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 Matt Schaub and Trent Richardson 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

Matt Schaub, Houston Texans

Schaub’s struggles have been well documented thus far. He’s thrown a pick six in each of the last four games, head coach Gary Kubiak has left him the starter, but called it a “tough decision,” and in standard ESPN scoring, he put up 0 fantasy points last week. Yep, the goose egg.

Everybody wants to know why he’s struggling so much. Has it been poor pass blocking, like we’ve seen with many other struggling QBs? Well, that could have a hand in Schaub’s issues. So far this year, he’s been pressured a whopping 44% of the time, compared to 34% in 2011 and 29% in 2012. So that answers the question, right? Well, not exactly.

The sickening part for Texans fans and fantasy owners alike, is that 6 of his 9 picks have come with no pressure upon him. That hurts, especially when plays when pressured vs. non are almost a 50/50 split. Schaub has consistently made poor decisions this year and they’ve all been within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. He’s not taking shots down the field and hitting defenders, he’s throwing them all in the short routes. He should be much more consistent this year with what are supposed to be “safe” passes.

To put that into perspective, another flailing QB, Eli Manning, has thrown just 6 out of his 12 INTs under 10 yards. He’s at least making mistakes by being aggressive… missing, but taking shots. Schaub seems to have taken a giant(pun intended) step backwards and I’m not sure he digs himself out of this hole. He could be benched in just a couple leagues. He’s just simply not worth owning anymore, at least not until things start going right, which may never happen, unfortunately.

Other Players to Monitor

Cam Newton, CAR – Don’t be alarmed, he turned the ball over last week, but he had over 300 yards against an underrated Cardinals defense. He also gets the Vikings this week, banged up defense in all.

Colin Kaepernick, SF – I’ve touched on him before, but I’ll sum it up in short again. Sit the guy until he proves something. Maybe the 49ers will trade for one of the many pass catchers on the market.

Running Backs

Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts

T-Rich has struggled so far this year, that much is clear, as evidenced by his lackluster 3.1 yards per carry. I really don’t think Richardson is a great player, so I don’t think he’ll ‘snap out of it.’ However, he’s been known the moment he came into the league last year as the type of player that just gets too much work to ignore.

With Ahmad Bradshaw now done for the season, Richardson is a lock to get 20+ touches per game and when it comes down to it, he will get the goal line carries. And believe it or not, this ‘horrible’ Colts offensive line has actually been decent as far as run blocking goes.

With the line playing good enough and Richardson expecting to get the large majority of the carries, it all comes down to whether or not he’s up to the task. Hopefully the back that lacks burst and has injury concerns can inspire his play and produce under the favorable circumstances.

Other Players to Monitor

Lamar Miller, MIA – He’s been very inconsistent thanks to his sporadic playing time, but they get a bye week, then a couple questionable run defenses with the Bills and Patriots. He could be in line for a couple solid weeks.

Daryl Richardson, STL – It’s time to cut bait, but you already knew that, right?

Wide Receivers

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

I hear all of your cries, but have no fear! Green is going to have a monster week against the Bills, a team that has given up the most yards in the league to opposing #1 WR. He is also #3 in the NFL in targets, with the injured Julio Jones and Cecil Shorts ahead of him.

Unfortunately, Green has only hauled in 31 of his 59 targets and has had a high in yardage total with just 61 in his last four games, but that shouldn’t be the case this week. As for the rest of the season, as long as Andy Dalton keeps forcing the ball his way, things are going to be fine. If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that we can’t blame the Bengals for a lack of trying to get him the ball.

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

Fitz has been known to have nagging injuries in the past and I think that could finally be taking a toll on him, albeit a small one. However, Fitz still looks good, he runs well and does all the intangibles that you’ve come to expect from him. So why is he averaging just over 10 ppg in ppr leagues since the opener?

If you’ve read any articles of mine, you know I think the offensive line is the core value of any successful offense, one of which the Cardinals don’t have. In return, Carson Palmer has been just dreadful this year, as we feared may be the case after witnessing quite possibly the biggest train wreck of an offensive line in our existence last year. However, don’t worry, I’m not silly enough to pin Fitz’s struggles all on that.

Palmer is a good enough QB that he should be able to overcome any line woes to let Fitz’s star shine through. However, with a lack of a running game and Palmer content with throwing interception after interception, defenses are more than happy to blanket Fitz and let the Cardinals try and beat them with Floyd over the top, which Palmer hasn’t had time to take advantage of.

In short, this comes down to supporting cast. There is just no one else on this team to take pressure off of Fitz. Luckily, he’s their top red zone target, which should buoy his fantasy value as a WR2 for the rest of the year, so don’t freak out too much. There’s always a chance that Palmer starts to come into his own.

Other Players to Monitor

Anquan Boldin, SF – Yeah, he’s going to be incredibly consistent with Kaepernick struggling to throw for more than 150 yards per game. He’s going to be hot and cold all season, folks.

Andre Johnson, HOU – I know he’s struggled, but Schaub is still throwing for yards (273.2) and his bad weeks came against two solid defenses in Baltimore and San Francisco. Better things are on the way for Johnson, who makes for a solid buy low candidate.

Tight Ends

No significant fantasy players struggling.

Other Players to Monitor

Jared Cook, STL – Don’t worry, everyone on the Rams roster is struggling right now. The part that stinks the most is that he really doesn’t have a good match up until after the bye, which is week 12 at home against Chicago.