Mon Nov 2nd 2020
2020 Week Eight Review
Midseason Rookie Running Backs Report
We made it through week eight, which means we're halfway through the fantasy season. God willing, leagues will crown champions eight weeks from now. Dynasties will begin. I hope you're enjoying the season like I am!
I had a terrible week, personally. My teams finished 3-5 this week. Win or lose; it's a joy to watch football all weekend and cheer on all of my teams.
After following all of the games this week, here are my thoughts on what we learned after week eight and its impact on our dynasty teams.
Week Eight Observations
- To everyone's surprise, an undrafted free agent, James Robinson, is far and away the leading rookie running back this year. That does not mean he holds the most dynasty value yet, but there is still a lot of uncertainty among rookie running backs with higher draft capital after eight weeks of play. After this week, two rookies saw increased opportunities to live up to their current dynasty values. Zack Moss got the most carries of his rookie year (14) and scored two touchdowns. As most dynasty analysts predicted, Moss would earn a role as the short-yardage back after Devin Singletary struggled with that part of his game in his rookie year. Singletary was still highly involved in the offense, but this was the first time they shared the same number of carries. It was clear that Buffalo preferred Moss in the red-zone. Similarly, J.K. Dobbins tied Gus Edwards for touches this Sunday against Pittsburg. Edwards kept his role as the short-yardage back and vultured a touchdown from Dobbins, but Dobbins still had the better fantasy day on the same amount of touches in leagues that give a 3-point scoring bonus for 100 yards rushing. Dobbins' 7.5 yards-per-carry was impressive, and coaches have to believe that it's about time for Dobbins to become their lead back. Like Buffalo, Baltimore seems committed to rotating their running backs, but I suspect Moss and Dobbins will get more than 50% of the touches the rest of the season.
- On the opposite end of the spectrum, two top rookie running backs see their roles scaled back. On a day where the Jets were allowing the Chiefs to throw the ball all over the field, Clyde Edwards-Helaire (CEH) and recently acquired Le'Veon Bell had the same amount of touches on the ground and in the air, six and three respectively. As Bell gets more and more familiar with the offense, I believe this 50/50 split with CEH will continue. The news is even worse for Jonathan Taylor, who played horribly on Sunday and was out-touched by Jordan Wilkins 21 to 13. More than that, Jordan scored on the goal-line after Taylor could not punch one in, and Nyheim Hines scored two touchdowns on pass plays. CEH and Taylor are far too talented to be busts in the NFL and dynasty teams, but it appears that their teammates will hamper their opportunities and production this year. For now, I am holding their dynasty value steady among the top-ten ranked running backs, but I have to admit that I am a little concerned.
One of these is not like the other.
- We all love handcuffing running backs, and while we don't root for injuries, we're thrilled when one of our players suddenly has a starting running back role. This week it became apparent that even the best handcuffs are nowhere near as talented as their starters. As great as Kareem Hunt is, he's no Nick Chubb. Chubb was averaging 6.9 yards-per-carry, 94 yards, and one touchdown per game before he was injured. His yards-per-carry is so high because he was good for one or two explosive plays per game. Hunt has been solid but has yet to break a long play. He scored more fantasy points in the games he played with Chubb than he has since Chubb was injured. Chubb is one of a kind and will prove how much better he is than Hunt when he returns from injury. I can say the same for Boston Scott and Miles Sanders. Scott has played admirably, averaging just over 10 points per game in the three games Sanders has missed this year. Sanders averaged more than 15 points per game in the games he has played. What's lacking from Scott is the ability that Sanders, like Chubb, has - breakaway speed. Sanders averages 6.1 yards-per-carry because he's also due for one or two explosive runs per game. Scott is reliable and shifty but lacks the breakaway ability of Sanders. Chubb and Sanders are some of my most-owned and favorite players. My teams are really struggling without them, even in the few leagues where I roster their handcuffs. Dalvin Cook proved this week how much better he is than Alexander Mattison, and I believe we'll see the same next week when Christian McCaffrey returns to show how much better he is than Mike Davis, who has fallen off the last few weeks.
Boom or bust passers
- Some weeks Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen have carried dynasty teams to victories. Other weeks they have left dynasty teams needing additional players to outperform their predicted points because of their poor play. Josh Allen's boom or bust weeks split in half. In the first four weeks, he averaged 33 points per game, while in the last four weeks, he averaged 17 points per game. Lamar Jackson tends more toward alternating weeks. He has been playing worse at home than on the road. He's averaging more than 25 points on the road while only scoring 19 points at home (16 points if you remove week one against Cleveland). I believe that teams have learned how to take away some of how Jackson took the league by storm last year in Baltimore. He's still a fantastic player and will have some boom weeks, but better-coached teams will find ways to contain him this year. As for Allen, I am far more concerned. He seemed to prove his doubters, who called him athletic but inaccurate, wrong at the beginning of the season with a 71% completion rate in those first four games. His completion percentage has dropped to 62% in the last four games. He gets to face the 32nd, and 23rd ranked passing defenses in his next two games. If he can't correct this downward trend, I'll have to move him much further down in my dynasty rankings, where he now sits as my 4th ranked quarterback.
Week Eight Injuries
- Golladay left with a hip injury, giving his managers a goose egg as he did at the start of the season while injured. At the beginning of the year, Golladay's absence affected the entire Detroit offense, but this week Marvin Jones, T.J. Hockenson, and Marvin Hall still performed catching passes and touchdowns from Matt Stafford. If Golladay's injury lingers, Hall is worth a waiver claim this week in dynasty leagues (more on him below). Jones becomes a better WR-3 for fantasy teams, and Hockenson is an every-week starter already. Stafford must take a slight downgrade without Golladay this year, but all the Detroit pass-catchers' dynasty value remains the same.
- Henderson left the game before the end of the first half, leaving Malcolm Brown and rookie Cam Akers to split the workload for the rest of the game. Akers needed an injury to have a real opportunity to prove himself after not making the most of his few chances early in the season, causing him to move down to third on the depth chart. He did well but didn't do much to prove he can move past Brown if Henderson misses some games. The Rams' running back rotation continues to frustrate fantasy owners, and I suspect it will continue to do so. Akers managers should at least be excited that he could have an opportunity to play in the coming weeks. Based on Henderson outplaying Akers, I still have Henderson ranked far ahead of Akers in my dynasty rankings, 17th compared to 44th. Akers could close that gap if he plays well while Henderson misses time.
- Coleman returned from IR this week only to get hurt again in the first half of his first game back. Coleman cannot stay healthy. JaMycal Hasty led the team on the ground while Jerick McKinnon led the running backs in the passing game. With all other San Francisco running backs injured, Hasty and McKinnon should both be fantasy-valuable players in the weeks to come until Raheem Mostert comes back to take back the leading role. Hasty was a waiver wire add in my dynasty teams this season, and his dynasty value is rising with this new opportunity. I picked him up in a few leagues and plan to put him on the trading block to see if other managers are more excited about his future than I am. He could help a team this year, but I don't believe he'll be a future starter for the 49ers.
- I thought about not writing about Hilton since he's not been in anyone's starting line-up since the start of the season, where it was apparent that he and Phillip Rivers had no connection. Hilton's value has fallen too far to sell him, so he's a dead spot on dynasty rosters. While under the radar receivers like Zach Pascal and Marcus Johnson have played better than Hilton this year, Rivers has spread the ball around too much for anyone to be a reliable starter this year, let alone raise their dynasty value. Though injured, wide receivers Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell maintain the highest dynasty value on the Colts.
Week Eight Waiver Wire
As a reminder, I play in 27 to 30-man roster leagues (true dynasty leagues), so the players I list here are for deep leagues only. If you play in shallower leagues, there are certainly better players than these to pick up off the waiver wire. That said, for those of you in true dynasty leagues, here is who I would be looking to pick up this week. I list them in the order that I would prioritize them.
- As I wrote above, Jonathan Taylor has yet to prove that he is better than the far less talented Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. I still believe in Taylor's long-term dynasty value, but Wilkins would be my top waiver priority while Taylor learns how to play in the NFL. This week was Wilkins' first week to out-snap and out-carry Taylor, but it was also the first week after their bye week, meaning this could be something they evaluated and a change they plan to implement this year. Wilkins would be my top waiver wire priority this week, just in case that is their plan for this year.
- I would target Hall if Golladay is injured, and I had Golladay on my roster. I would look to add him in most leagues this week, even if I did not have Golladay on my roster. While he did not do much early in the season with Golladay out of the line-up, he stepped in this week and compiled 113 yards on four catches. He tied Marvin Jones with seven targets and had one 73 yard catch and run. If news comes out that Golladay's injury will cost him time, I would add Hall this week.
- Experienced dynasty owners will remember that Foreman was an end-of-the first-round or start-of-the-second-round draft pick in 2017 rookie drafts. He had a great rookie year before tearing his Achilles on a long touchdown run. It took some time, but he has finally found himself back on a roster - a roster looking for a player capable of backing up Derrick Henry. Who's to say it can't be Foreman? I picked up Jeremy McNichols off the waiver wire a few weeks ago in hopes that he would become Henry's back-up, but I'll look to drop McNichols (or a player in that value range) for Foreman this week.
- Speaking of former first-round or second-round picks in dynasty rookie drafts, Samaje Perine scored his first touchdown and had the most playing time on Sunday that he has had in years. He carried the ball ten times and caught one pass while spelling Giovani Bernard. He's the third-string running back in Cincinnati, so I would not look to add him unless it was a super deep league. In my deepest 14-team league, I picked up Perine a week ago after freeing up a roster spot via an IR transaction. That's about the only kind of move I would make to pick Perine up this week, but I wanted to mention him at least.
Week Eight Trades
Trades are hard to grade in a vacuum since scoring systems are different in each league, and every team has a diverse roster construction. That's why I write about trades made in my leagues and give context for why the dynasty owners made the trades. I grade the trade, but in the context of what each team was attempting to accomplish with the trade.
Usually, I have five to ten trades to write about, but this week there was only one trade in my leagues, but it was an interesting one.
James Robinson and James Washington <-----> Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead, and a 2021 1st round pick
- This trade took place in my 14-team, superflex, half PPR, tight end premium league. The trade was between two competitors in the top four in the standings. One manager believes in the rookie James Robinson, and the other believes in the emerging second-year player Damien Harris. Robinson has been the highest-scoring rookie running back this year, even though he was an undrafted free agent. His lack of draft capital and Jacksonville's poor record, and several draft picks have caused some managers to believe Robinson could be replaced by a running back drafted in 2021. Harris has greater draft capital, having been drafted in the 3rd round by the Patriots in 2019, but he did nothing to impress until the last few weeks of this season and this Sunday when he had his first 100-yard game with one touchdown. Harris was one of my favorite running backs in the 2019 class, so I would like to believe in him more than Robinson. That said, Robinson has surprised me this season, and I think he has proven enough to be the future lead running back in Jacksonville, allowing the Jaguars to invest draft picks at other positions. After what I've seen this year, I like Robinson ahead of Harris, which is why it took an additional first-round pick to acquire him in this trade. It's a pretty fair trade, in my opinion, but knowing the 1st round pick will be a late pick in this 14-team league, I think I prefer the Robinson side of this trade.
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