Welcome back to the Risers and Fallers article for week 7! I hope you had a nice string of wins last week, and continue towards greatness again this week. I’m writing about a player who has crushed one of my teams and another who may surprise you.
This week we have a player who has personally hurt one of my teams, as well as a surprising Faller. Let’s get to it!
Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith – RB (ATL)
With Tuesday’s news about Devonta Freeman heading to the IR things are looking up for the duo in Atlanta. last week I wrote about Freeman’s poor season and injuries, and this solidifies Coleman and Smith into startable roles. While we haven’t seen a ton of production from them I’d expect them to rise. Coleman and Smith should see the proper snaps in practice, and the game script will be altered for them, not just as fill-ins.
Coleman is currently the RB 26 in PPR, and Smith the RB 46. While I expect those both to rise, remember that the game script should be generally negative in the near future. That being said, pro bowl middle linebacker Deion Jones is slated to return to the Falcons defense in week 11 or 12. If that is the case, down the stretch these two could see another value boost in terms of game script.
Some background on these two.
Coleman is currently averaging 12 carries/gm, slightly higher than in 2017 when he finished the RB 22. His Y/C is down from 4.2 to 3.7 no doubt due to the loss of LG Andy Levitre, but they face 23rd, 12th, and 26th ranked defenses against fantasy RBs before week 11. He is making an impact in the passing game – on pace for 34-280-5, which combined with his 189-693-3 rushing pace would’ve been good enough for the RB 17 in 2017, one spot and one point above Jerick McKinnon’s finish.
Ito Smith isn’t as easy to predict, but many believe he will take over the Freeman role. He isn’t as strong of a runner, but he was already taking the goal line snaps while Devonta was playing. Smith has outrushed Coleman 2:1 in the redzone, and that is likely why his Y/C are so low at 3.2. He has scored three times on the ground though, making him a top pickup for week 7.
There is uncertainty here, but the Falcons play some easier defenses before hopefully getting back a top defensive piece in Jones. Grady Jarret will also return soon, further driving up the production and value of these two with a more positive game script.
Carson Wentz – QB (PHI)
Wentz has completed 72% of his passes along with multiple scores and no interception over the past three games. That is good enough for the QB 6. That’s more along the lines of where he left us last season in LA. Prior to that, he was the QB 22, completing 69% of his passes and threw for one TD and INT each. It seems he is back to form and has the improvement of Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood over the injury-prone likes of Jay Ajayi. Along with Alshon Jeffrey returning, Wentz should be right back to an every week starter.
The Eagles face a couple of stout defenses the next two weeks before their bye. Down the fantasy playoff stretch, they see the likes of Dallas, NO, NYG, and Washington, all currently 18th or worse against fantasy QBs except Dallas (10th). Currently rushing for 10 yards less per game than last season, we should see fairly similar results in his final fantasy ranking (through week 14 last year). Also, he has a 5.9% better completion % than his career average and his TD to INT ratio is improving weekly from 1:1, 2:0, 2:0, 3:0.
Tarik Cohen – RB (CHI)
This one hurts to write. I drafted Jordan Howard in the 3rd round and he was the RB 17 through the first three weeks. As soon as I wrote about Cohen’s 6.8 fantasy PPG he burst back onto the scene. Since then, Cohen is the RB 10 in PPR and is scoring 27.5 fantasy PPG. Howard still is the leading rusher in terms of carries with 25 attempts to Cohen’s 18. However, Cohen’s pass-catching abilities have opened the offense up. Mitch Trubisky is the QB 5 (with a bye week) weeks 4-6. He has a line during those weeks of 41-670-9. That’s 32-1-4 better than Pat Mahomes in that time. Compare this to 72-591-2 in three games prior, and PFF grading their pass offense higher in weeks 4-6 than before, and this spells trouble for Howard and success for the Bears.
The last two games Cohen has seen 47.5% and 48.5% of the snaps. Compare that to 40%, 32%, and 40% of snaps in weeks 1-3. If Matt Nagy is cognizant of the offense’s abilities when using Cohen in the slot and out wide as he has on 29.5% of his snaps, they should continue to get him involved. Howard has also averaged a meager 3.5 Y/C and scored a single TD. Cohen has 1 score and 5.3 Y/C on 46 fewer attempts. The scenario is perfect to continue experimenting with Cohen to fuel a high powered offense.
Carlos Hyde – RB (CLE)
A lot happened when Baker Mayfield took over as QB for the Browns. They won their first game, Josh Gordon was traded, Antonio Callaway dropped a lot of passes, and Carlos Hyde’s production fell off a cliff. Per PFF, Hyde is the RB 34 from weeks 4-6, down from the RB 9 during the first three weeks. During that time he averaged 20.3 carries/gm. Since then he’s at 17.6 and has one less target. None of that is horrible, but it’s trending down nonetheless. Through six games his total touches are 24, 17, 25, 23, 20, 14. On top of this is the ugly fact he has just one game averaging more than 3.7 Y/C.
In weeks 5 and 6 the Browns were either in a negative game script or close to it, and as good as their defense has been I believe that’ll be the case most of the season. He isn’t a pass catching back, but he makes up for that in red zone attempts. He takes 93% of the red zone attempts and 100% of attempts inside the 10, thus far. If he can score from inside the 10, he can remain startable. If not, he may become a benchwarmer.
Jarvis Landry – WR (CLE)
Staying in Cleveland, Jarvis Landry was the WR 47 after Baker took over, down from the WR 22 in weeks prior. The most shocking statistic is his catch rate. The first three weeks Juice had a 64.7% catch rate, which still isn’t good, but better than the 42.6% rate since then. We can attribute this to Baker Mayfield, who needs a standout week himself against Tampa Bay in week 7. Baker currently has a 55% completion percentage, and his top target is seeing a dip in production as a result.
Baker is least accurate outside the hash marks where Landry has run half of his targeted routes. This could be why David Njoku has seen a spike in production. He has run 78% of his routes inside the hash marks and has a 77.9% catch rate during that time with Baker. Until Mayfield can correct his accuracy outside and down the numbers, his number one receiver might continue to struggle.
Deshaun Watson – QB (HOU)
Watson has now thrown at least one interception in every game this year. He threw two in week 6. The Texans have the 6th worst graded pass protection in the entire league per PFF, and it’s clear. Watson has been sacked more (24) than any other QB. He currently has the 20th best passer rating in the entire league, yet has remained the QB 7 in fantasy football.
So why is he falling? Well, his offensive line is putrid, and he getting is hurt to the point of being unable to run. He ran only twice in week 6 after taking hits and injuries to his chest in week 5. He is the QB 19 over the past two weeks, faces 3 top-11 defenses, then has a BYE after that. Furthermore, in 2017 he was on pace for 288-3,883-43 through the air and 82-614-5 on the ground. He’s currently pacing for 373-4,794-24 through the air and 98-538-3 rushing. Lastly, he was slated to throw 18 INTs last year and is currently on pace for the same number.
What to expect.
If he continues to be under duress, taking hits, and finishes with those numbers he will amass 323.5 fantasy points. That was good for the QB 2 last season, but the current QB 2 is on pace for 402 points. As it stands today, Deshaun Watson would finish the QB 11 in standard leagues. In 6 point leagues, he would be even lower – Watson is tied for 16th in TD passes, along with Cam Newton who has a game in hand. Carson Wentz has one fewer TD pass in two fewer games and both can rack up yards on the ground as well. A lot of football is left, and a lot can change. But if you’d prefer a QB who may actually make it through 16 games, and isn’t throwing a 1:1 or worse TD:INT ratio in over half his games, you can look elsewhere.