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Wed Dec 4th 2019

Week Thirteen Review

Older Quarterbacks Fading Away

Week 13 is in the books, and it's time for the fantasy playoffs to begin.  I hope you had a dominant regular season and are on your way to the post-season in your leagues.  Not that you care about my teams, but I did make the playoffs in six of my ten competitive leagues, including my FFPC league and my "experts" league.  I wish it could be more, but I'm planning on winning a few titles, at least.  I hope my advice has helped you do the same.  Here are some of my helpful thoughts on week 13 in the NFL.

Top Four Observations

Several fantasy giants are starting to fade.

  • For the last decade, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and to a lesser extent, Phillip Rivers have been fantasy giants.  Their quarterback play has elevated the fantasy value of all the players on their teams. Now, however, it feels like father time is catching up with them.  None of them have looked the same this season, especially the last few weeks.  Their coaches are designing less aggressive gameplans for them as they don't seem to have the arm strength to get the ball downfield as well anymore.  In the case of New England and New Orleans, their defenses have been strong enough to win games playing this way.  The LA Chargers injury-rattled defense cannot say the same.  Except for Michael Thomas and Austin Ekeler, the other skilled-position players on these teams are underperforming this year.  Alvin Kamara has not scored a touchdown since week three.  Last week Kennan Allen scored for the first time since week three, and Mike Williams has not caught a touchdown this year.  Hunter Henry and Jared Cook have had a few good games, and Julian Edelman has been consistent, but that's about it.  New England's offense used to make guys like LeGarrette Blount into fantasy stars, but they're just not able to anymore.  The Chargers are 30th in scoring, the Patriots are 28th, and the Saints are 23rd.  The quarterbacks are on the edge of a cliff, and they're taking their offensive teammates with them.

I gave up on a few players too early.

  • Two players that I traded and dropped are now playing far better than I ever thought they would.  I sold my shares of Derrick Henry last year after he ended the year on fire.  I didn't believe he could do it again, but he has certainly proved me wrong.  He's currently the third-highest scoring running back, and I would never have guessed it.  I dropped DeVante Parker last year in all of the leagues where I owned him. Now that looks pretty bad.  He has played incredibly well this year, and it is not just in garbage time.  Sunday was the best game of his career, and he did all the things we thought he could do when we drafted him in rookie drafts four years ago.  I regret giving up on these guys.  At least I did draft DeVante Parker in the 20th round of a start-up draft this year.  He carried me to the playoffs last week.

I did not give up on a few players and am glad I did not.

  • I'm happy that I continued to roster Anthony Miller and James Washington even though, at times, they appeared to be passed up by other wide receivers on their teams.  Miller has finally secured a role in Chicago, getting 33 targets in the last three weeks and turning them into more than 40 fantasy points.  I don't believe Chicago can move away from targeting Miller after what he has proven the last few weeks, even if Taylor Gabriel comes back from injury.  Miller had seven touchdowns last year while playing through nagging injuries.  This year was just a slow start, but now he's turning into the sure-handed target we thought he could become when we drafted him two years ago. I'm also glad I was patient with him.  James Washington was hard to hold onto this year, especially when Donte Moncrief and Diontae Johnson appeared to pass him in the depth chart at different times of the year.  He's finally turning into the big-play receiver we thought he could be when we drafted him two years ago.  He'll have to establish rapport with Big Ben once he's back next year, but if he finishes the year strong and earns his coaches' trust back, he'll earn Big Ben's too.

There appear to be three new #1 wide receivers on three teams.

  • D.K. Metcalf, Jarvis Landry, and A.J. Brown are the #1 wide receivers on their teams.  A.J. Bown had 90% of the snap count last week while Corey Davis had just 68%, and he's been getting more targets too.  Targets are slim in Tennessee's run-first offense, but he has become the most targeted player on the team.  Jarvis Landry and OBJ play roughly the same amount of snaps, but Landry has more targets and yards week after week.  Like it or not, he has become the #1 target for Baker Mayfield, and he's carrying fantasy teams into the playoffs the last few weeks.  Metcalf and Lockett have had about the same number of snaps and targets overall this season, but since week 8, there has been a significant shift to favoring Metcalf.  He has passed by Lockett in Seattle, and it appears to be a permanent thing.  Lockett can get out of his recent slump and still be efficient with his targets like he has been historically, but he'll be seeing far fewer than he was at the start of the season as Metcalf has passed by him.

Week Thirteen Injuries

There were just a few notable injuries last week that will give some younger guys a chance to play.  Some of these younger players are already on our dynasty rosters, but some may not be.

Greg Olsen

  • Olsen sustained a concussion on a pretty brutal hit.  I suspect he will be out for several games.  I've always liked his back up, Ian Thomas, and thought he would cut into Olsen's playing time this year way more than he has.  Thomas will get almost all of the snaps in the coming weeks.  He would be an excellent player to preemptively pick up if he's available in leagues.

Kalen Ballage

  • Ballage hurt his knee early in the game on Sunday. Now is lost for the season and put on IR.  He has been awful this year.  I did not have him on any of my rosters. If I did, I would have dropped him by now.  Patrick Laird came into the game and looked good, especially in the passing game.  Laird is almost startable in PPR leagues down the stretch because Miami has no one else to give the ball to but Laird.

Darrel Williams

  • Williams hurt his hamstring early in the game and was placed on IR this week.  Damien Williams had not practice either after his rib injury two weeks ago.  The coaching staff in Kansas City does not seem to trust LeSean McCoy, so Darwin Thompson may finally get his chance to play a lot of snaps.  Thompson was an offseason and preseason star.  He could come in and do what Damien Williams did at the end of next year.   Thompson was dropped in one of my leagues in the middle of the year, and I immediately picked him up.  Dynasty owners who were patient are finally going to get to see what he can do.

Week Thirteen Waiver Moves

As a reminder, I play in dynasty leagues that roster 27-30 players, so the player-pool is very thin. There were only three players that I made claims for this week.  One I expected to see on the waiver wire.  The other two, I was surprised to see.

Tyler Higbee

  • Higbee took advantage of the Gerald Everett's injury and the league's worst defense against tight ends (Arizona) to have the best game of his career.  For the last few years, Ram's tight ends have been worthless for our fantasy teams.  They didn't seem to use the position very well in the McVay offense.  This year things have changed.  Higbee and Everett were both end of the roster guys coming into the year but were added to dynasty rosters this year.  As this year progressed, Everett started getting more snaps and fantasy points than Higbee, so Higbee was dropped from most dynasty rosters later in this season.  I still think the Rams prefer Everrett and I do believe he is a better player than Higbee, so this waiver add is not so much of a dynasty move as it is a move for the end of this season in case Everrett's injury lingers and your team is thin at tight end.  It could even be a bit of a defensive move to keep him off another team's roster.

Gardner Minshew

  • Minshew was only available in one of my leagues.  I was surprised to see it and was happy to win my bid for him.  I have him on one other team and never thought to drop him after Foles was named the starter in Jacksonville.  It was apparent to me that Minshew is the future in Jacksonville.  I guess at least one other owner disagreed.  It is a one quarterback league, so he's not a must add, but he showed enough to make me want to keep him on my bench to see how he can improve in the coming years.  He'll likely have a new coach next year too, which could lead to Jacksonville being more committed to the pass than the run.  They have the wide receiver weapons to be successful if they do.

Mitch Trubisky

  • Trubisky has looked pretty awful this year at times, but he also has boom weeks again bad defenses like he did last Thursday against Detroit.  I like to stream my quarterbacks on my dynasty teams, and I could see giving Trubisky the occasional start.  He has too much draft capital for the Bears to give up on him yet.  He's going to get another few years to prove himself.  I'm glad to give him that chance on my bench too.

Week Thirteen Trades

The trade deadline has expired in all but two of my leagues.  So the trading flurry has subsided quite a bit.  That said, there were a few trades that took place in my leagues this week.

Joe Mixon and David Njoku <======> Phillip Rivers, Brandin Cooks, and a 2020 second-round pick

  • I like the Mixon and Njoku side of this trade. Mixon is only going to improve in Cincinnati.  Next year they'll have a new quarterback, and they'll get their injured offensive linemen back.  Njoku did not get to prove anything this year since he was injured most of the season, but the other tight ends in Cleveland have not proven anything either, so Njoku should take the job right back.  Rivers has looked bad this year, and I'm afraid he experiencing that "drop off a cliff" that we see with older quarterbacks.  Cooks is having the worst year of his career.  He's too young and too talented of a player to be in decline, but the continued great play of Woods, Kupp, and now the tight ends in LA are making his dynasty value hit an all-time low.   I do like that the owner did get a second-round pick out of the trade, but I think I would have needed a first-round pick to consider this trade.

Cam Newton <======> D.J. Chark

  • This trade, of course, was made in a super-flex league where Cam still holds value.  One owner posted to the message board, "Anyone still like Cam?"  I guess someone did.   The team that gave up Cam has depth at quarterback and just made the playoffs, so this move helps him in the playoff run too.  I prefer the Chark side of this trade in the short-term and the long-term.  I still believe that Cam has some good years left in Carolina or on another team, but his injuries and style of play make his NFL years numbered.

Courtland Sutton <======> Peyton Barber and 2020 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks

  • I like Sutton and moved him up to wide receiver #18 in my rakings.  I think the owner paid too much for him, especially with this great 2020 rookie class.  I would have given up a first-round pick for Sutton just because I have two years of proof now to see that he is going to be great, but I would hate to not have a pick in the rookie draft next year until the 4th round.  The new Sutton owner is a great judge of talent and is always willing to pay up for a guy he wants.  The other owner loves rookie draft picks and gets impatient with young players. It was not a surprising trade given the philosophy of these two owners.

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