Welcome to Risers and Fallers, week 9 edition. The weather is cooler, I have at least one 8-0 fantasy team, and I’m one win away from clinching a division from some very close friends.
At the end of the day, fantasy is just that: a fantasy. It should be fun but still challenging. And above all else, it should be rewarding. If you draft and cruise through the season, maybe you’ll make a playoff push. Maybe you won’t. But the folks like you and me, analyzing and staying on top of trends are the ones to be afraid of. So here’s to you, your winning week, and a soon-to-be-had playoff clinch. Cheers!
Kenny Golladay/Marvin Jones Jr. – WR (DET)
In a pretty wild trade deadline day, the NFL saw many moves. Maybe the biggest name on the list belongs to Golden Tate III of the Lions. Tate did/does lead the Lions in targets at 69, 22 more than the next highest player at 47 (Jones Jr.). In fact, Tate has led Detroit in targets each year since 2016. In 2015 he was 22 targets off the lead, behind Calvin Johnson. That’s a lot of work to now be distributed, most likely to Golladay and Jones Jr. Tate vacates the slot receiver position, where he took 66% of his offensive snaps from. Next in line could be Golladay, who has played 29% of snaps from the slot. Predicting beyond that is difficult because the trio saw 69, 47, and 44 targets. Outside of running backs, the next highest targeted receiver is TJ Jones, with 6 targets.
What is certain, is the stock for these two has just skyrocketed. With such an even split of looks between the three, losing nearly 10 targets per game means fantasy gold for what’s left of the receiving corps. Golladay is the WR 28 in PPR, and Jones Jr. the WR 29. Jones is coming off a huge week where he posted 7-117-2 against Seattle. Golladay has been in a two-game slump after being the WR 16 through week 5, making him an excellent buy-low target. The near schedule isn’t great, nor bad – They see the 4th, 11th, and 24th (twice) ranked defense against fantasy WRs in their next four matchups.
Courtland Sutton – WR (DET)
Another trade, another rookie wide receiver breakout on the horizon. Demaryius Thomas was traded to Houston, opening the door for the 6’3″ SMU product. Sutton is the WR 59 right now, and that will rise on volume alone. He’s currently 3rd in targets in Denver with 35 per Pro Football Focus, behind Thomas (56) and Emmanuel Sanders (64). He does have the lowest catch percentage of any Bronco, and three drops, second to Thomas’ six. Maybe that’s because his targeted air yards are 14.9 compared to Thomas’ 10.6 per NFL Next Gen Stats. With more involvement should come more stability, much like running backs who see a lower Y/C when going from 5 to 15 carries per game. He should continue to play out wide, and with volume increasing and a huge frame to work with, he could be a great weapon for Denver, especially in the red zone.
While seeing two fewer red zone targets than Thomas, he has caught just 16.7% of those. Thomas caught 87.5% of his eight. That’s the only thing to be concerned about here, and being forced into a starting role might be the cure. Thomas is the WR 30 right now, so that should give you a baseline for what to expect. This doesn’t necessarily make Keenum better, but Sutton could grow up quickly so to speak and become a better second option behind Sanders.
Eric Ebron – TE (IND)
Oh tight ends how we love you all. Ebron finished the TE 8 in half-PPR last week, despite playing only 22% of the snaps, compared to Jack Doyle’s 73%. To be clear, I’m writing him off as a faller because of this – the competition between him and Doyle. Ebron is the TE 3 on the year, exploding with and without Doyle. In weeks 1, 2, and 8 when Doyle played he has 15-150-1, compared to Ebron’s 10-114-3.
If we continue to see snaps percentages similar to the game in Oakland, I’m not sure how long Ebron can maintain his efficiency. Fantasy is very much a numbers game where following the opportunity usually grants results. In real football, this is also true. Don’t play the snaps, and you generally don’t produce. We’ve seen this before, last season when Will Fuller was hyper-efficient on nearly half the targets that DeAndre Hopkins saw. In the nine games those two played together last season, Fuller hauled in 26-406-7 while Hopkins had 56-893-11. Fuller had just 45.9% of the targets Hopkins had in that span. Back in Indianapolis, Ebron has just 57.1% of the targets Jack Doyle has, yet he still outperformed Doyle in week 8. So it isn’t impossible, but I’d expect a drop off in overall points as the season evolves with these two splitting the workload.
Doug Baldwin – WR (SEA)
I drafted Doug Baldwin in a league where I seemingly only took busts like David Johnson and Evan Engram. Since I’ve been able to start Baldwin (which I actually haven’t) he’s been a huge disappointment. The whole Seattle offense has been weird when you consider Will Dissly and Rashaad Penny surprising you, or in Penny’s case, completely ghosting you. Baldwin has averaged 4 targets/gm, 2.8 receptions/gm, 31.8 yards/gm, and no scores in five games this year. This is a far cry from the Doug Baldwin we saw last year. Russell Wilson has stepped down to pace for just 416 attempts this year, from 553 in 2018. Even more confusing is that Baldwin has the most targets of any Seahawk in the games he’s played. He has the lowest Y/R and aDOT than any receiver in those games other than Jaron Brown, with 6 Y/R to Baldwin’s 11.6. To Brown’s credit, however, he’s played in just two games.
Maybe Doug Baldwin comes back to be a league winner. Maybe pigs will fly, I don’t know. What I do know, is that Balwin is averaging 6 PPG, in PPR. Yuck. He simply doesn’t do enough with the work he’s getting, which is much lower than that of the past. To hold onto him because of his name, or where you drafted him is a fool’s errand. Package him up, and ship him out.
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