Sometimes, it’s more difficult to fade a player than add one to a lineup. The dreaded “fear-of-missing-out” is always present, and we know that any player we choose to not put on our team can — and, in our superstitious minds, probably will — make us pay for such a mistake.
Still, it’s a necessity.
Whenever we move away from a player, we just need to establish why. Is it because the salary is too high? The matchup too difficult? The popularity expected to be through the roof? Once we know the risks and reasons, we can take said player off our list and start to trim our options. That works wonders in ultimately defining a player pool for our lineups.
QB Lamar Jackson – BAL $8,100 at DEN – It’s always hard to argue against a dual-threat quarterback — especially one of the best in the game in terms of WFS — but Lamar Jackson is in a shaky position on Sunday. For starters, he will face a Denver Broncos defense that has been outstanding but has yet to face a threatening offense. Make no mistake, the Broncos have heard these same criticisms, and they will make every effort to prove how legitimate they are.
They will have some help.
Home-field advantage plays a role in the National Football League, but it is a pronounced role in Denver. Especially early in the season, the Broncos are downright dominant at home. Over their last 20 home games in September, Denver is 15-5. Granted, Sunday’s game is technically in October — and the bulk of those losses have come in recent years — but the general theory behind this odd trend is that visiting teams aren’t conditioned to play in the thin air early in the year.
The Baltimore Ravens might be the team most dependent upon conditioning, especially at the quarterback position.
WR Davante Adams – GB $7,800 vs. PIT – I’m always a fan of high volume when targeting a player for my WFS lineup, and Davante Adams is truly a target king. He went from 7 to 9 from Weeks 1 to 2 but then doubled his target total to a whopping 18 against the 49ers on Sunday Night Football.
As integral as Adams is to the Green Bay Packers’ offense, the team’s exposure to him is simply unsustainable. It won’t continue to force passes in his direction, even though his overall looks will remain high. That’s without considering the defense against which he will play on Sunday. When we bring the Pittsburgh Steelers into the picture, it gets a little murkier.
Pittsburgh’s overall defensive numbers are a far cry from last year’s, but they are also heavily weighed down by a misstep against the Raiders. Otherwise, the Steelers are continuing to limit offenses, and it’s the only chance they have at staying in a game. If we factor in the brutal hit that Adams suffered at the end of last week’s game, we can see a path where he isn’t the focal point of Green Bay’s offense in Week 4.
QB Dak Prescott – DAL $7,300 vs. CAR – After Monday night’s performance in which the Dallas Cowboys absolutely mauled the Eagles, it’s hard to find anyone selling Dallas.
Yet here I am.
The Cowboys dominated in every facet of the game, and the narrative is now that quarterback Dak Prescott is back to where he was before his injury last season. Maybe. But the Cowboys tallied only 220 yards through the air. That was one yard fewer than the 221 they had against the Chargers.
Really, Dallas’ offense has been effective, but Week 3’s final score — which was aided by outstanding field position on a regular basis — is going to push Prescott into the spotlight. In reality, he will be playing against a Carolina Panthers defense that ranks best in the league in total yards and passing yards allowed. It’s possible that some of those numbers are inflated by Carolina’s lack of competition, but the Panthers’ defense also ranked tenth in takeaways and 12th in net-yards-per-pass-attempt last year, so this success is nothing new for the team.
WR DeAndre Hopkins – ARI $7,000 at LAR – I am honestly never comfortable fading DeAndre Hopkins on a given week, but winning a tournament requires bold moves sometimes, and this is one of them. Hopkins plays on the league’s highest-scoring team and is truly never out of the game plan. The problem? He hasn’t been the focal point of the passing attack.
Through three weeks, Hopkins has seen modest target totals of 8, 4, and 6, respectively. His low count in Week 3 suggests that there is some positive correction coming, but his matchup against the Rams is brutal. Los Angeles has allowed the second-fewest passing touchdowns in the league, and comparatively shut down Hopkins in both games last year — he failed to reach 60 receiving yards in either matchup.
Hopkins is always a threat to explode on a given day, but the undefeated Rams will make it a point to slow down the Arizona Cardinals’ offense with a methodical approach. It may not work, but that would likely limit Hopkins to the point where he isn’t worth his salary.
RB Alexander Mattison – MIN $5,900 vs. CLE – Obviously, this becomes less bold of a pick if starting running back Dalvin Cook is healthy enough to play on Sunday but, even if Cook is out, I am looking to fade Alexander Mattison. Mattison put together the best performance of his career in Week 3 — high watermarks in carries, rushing yards, and receiving yards — and now faces a Cleveland Browns defense that is quietly stout against the run — fourth-best in yards-per-attempt.
Mattison has potential, and his salary is low enough where he can easily outperform the expectation set forth what the price needed to use him in a lineup. But the most likely outcome is that we are selling high on a player who just raised his own bar and likely won’t approach again in the near future. The only time he ever accumulated double-digit targets in back-to-back games, he ran for just 26 yards in the latter game.
I’m not expecting Mattison to replicate his success in Week 4.