What happens when offenses aren’t offensive? They break and fall apart.
Recently, there have been several NFL teams that have been struggling offensively, and it’s hard to sit through a game and watch without getting annoyed, like the Transformer movies.
I’m talking about teams like the Chiefs, the Giants, the Broncos, and the Buccaneers. Unfortunately, they seem to be struggling at the worst time. It’s the start of fantasy playoffs, and you need to start players you can trust, players that will get you to the championship.
If you’re like me, you may have players on each of these inconsistent offenses, which makes your lineup decisions that much harder this week. What should you do with these ineffective players and their teams?
Let’s take a look, team by team, starting with the most frustrating: the Chiefs.
If you compare the Week 1 Chiefs to the Chiefs we’re seeing now, you’d think they were a completely different team. Their season started out strong, with an upset over the Patriots that few saw coming.
Fast-forward to today, and they can’t even beat the struggling Giants or Bills. In fact, the Chiefs have scored only four touchdowns on offense since Week 8, which is the fewest in the league. Everyone thought that they would bounce back against the Bills, but the welcome back party never started. Their offense looks broken right now, and we can only hope that it gets repaired soon.
However, that doesn’t mean you should bench all of your Chiefs. In fact, most of them are still start-worthy. Let’s talk about the four Chief studs.
Alex “Check-Down” Smith
It looks like the regular Alex Smith of 2016 is back. Smith is now averaging 6.3 yards per pass, after he was averaging 8.7 yards per attempt, which was first out of all quarterbacks.
At this point, trusting Smith is not possible. He’s had at least one turnover in the past four games, and hasn’t scored more than 20 points since Week 7. You can still expect low double-digit points, but there may be better options on your waiver wire this week. If I had him, I wouldn’t be starting him until the offense rights itself.
Hunt hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 3 and hasn’t cracked double-digits in standard scoring since Week 7. His struggles aren’t because of lack of effort, but lack of carries and opportunities. The past three weeks he’s had nine carries, 18 carries, and 11 carries. Those weeks he posted rushing yard totals of 37, 73, and 17. On top of that, he is hardly involved in the passing game at all, with Charcandrick West coming in obvious passing situations and when they’re behind. Game plan and play calling have been lacking, and Hunt is suffering.
This week may be more of the same. They’re playing the Jets this week, who only are allowing 3.5 yards per carry over the last seven games. However, West is out this week, which means Hunt should be given more opportunities than usual. He’s hard to trust given his last few weeks, but at this point, you probably don’t have better options on your bench. He’s still start-worthy, but he’s downgraded to a RB2, so lower your weekly expectations.
Right now, Tyreek Hill is only valuable in PPR leagues. The past two weeks he’s had seven catches in each game for 68 yards and 41 yards. If you’re in a standard league, that’s not enough to trust him in the playoffs. Right now, he’s very boom or bust, but if the home/away splits are to be believed (he booms when it’s an away game) then this week is going to be big for Hill.
Travis Kelce seems to be the player least affected by the recent offensive woes. Last week was the only week where he’s struggled, posting three catches for 39 yards. Before last week, he’s had either over 100 yards or a touchdown in four straight games. You can still start him with confidence every week.
The Giants have scored a touchdown on just 10 percent of their drives since losing Odell Beckham to injury in Week 6. This is the lowest rate in the league.
Now, to make matters worse, Eli Manning has been benched for Geno Smith. That’s something I never thought I would ever say.
This downgrades the entire offense and makes almost every Giants player not worthy of starting. However, there are a couple players to consider.
Evan Engram maybe still get his with Smith throwing to him, but he’s been dropping balls constantly and has lost his TE1 status. Over the past two games, Engram has four catches for 27 yards on 13 targets. Ouch. I’m still starting Engram in my leagues, but I’m not expecting as much.
Honestly, Orleans Darkwa is the only Giant I trust to perform decently. If the Giants are smart (which they’re not) they would game plan to run the ball as much as possible, to distract from the fact of how horrible Geno Smith is.
This week will be a test for all the Giants players to see how they do without Manning.
As the carousel of starting quarterbacks continue, almost every player on the Broncos is suffering. From Siemian to Osweiler to Lynch, now back to Siemian, it’s been a roller coaster this season.
It’s also been a running back roller coaster. The Broncos have turned their backfield into a complete timeshare, with C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker splitting the work, and a little bit of Jamaal Charles mixed in. Booker and Anderson totaled just 13 touches last week. Booker had eight and Anderson had five. Basically, no Broncos running back is startable, but Booker seems to have the edge and the coach’s favor.
The only players worthy of a start are the wide receivers, but they’ve also been inconsistent. The past two games, Emmanuel Sanders has had a combined total of five catches (two in Week 11 and three last week). In standard scoring, he’s only scored double-digits twice this year. He’s a flex at best, and I’m benching him where I can.
Siemian starting definitely downgrades Demaryius Thomas slightly. Thomas was Osweiler’s favorite target, but his history with Siemian isn’t as great. Out of all the Broncos players, Thomas is the one I trust the most, and he has a favorable matchup this week against the bad Dolphins defense. The past three games, starting wide receivers have all had at least five catches for 80 yards against them.
What looked to be a promising year is now disintegrated. With the poor play and injury of Jameis Winston, to the struggling and under-performing of Doug Martin, the Buccaneers have definitely failed their high expectations.
Now, Martin is in the concussion protocol, which means Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber are back in the mix, but neither of them are trustworthy of startable, in my opinion.
However, Winston is back this week. But can you trust him? No. It’s a wait-and-see approach to figure out which Winston we’ll get: the good or the ugly?
The only TB players I trust are the wide receivers: Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. With Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to them, they’ve still put up decent numbers. Evans the past two weeks has yard totals of 92 and 78. The past three weeks, Jackson has had yard totals of 82, 28 (and a touchdown), and 60. With Winston back, they both get a boost against an exploitable Green Bay defense.
Even though these offensives aren’t offensive right now, there is still some hope for these players. Like the Cowboys this week, there could still be some spark left. But it’s playoffs and the time to be cute with your lineups has passed. Now you need to start players that you know are going to perform, without much risk of a dud. Fantasy football can be an extremely frustrating game, but if you play the matchups and your lineup right, it can pay off. Good luck this week, and show your opponent that you’re just plain better than he/she is.
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