Week 5: Player Downgrades
This week the theme of the Downgrade article will be centered on Denny Green's post game tirade that involved him stating "They Are Who We Thought They Were". After a month of action, the stats don't lie and it is time to readjust those preseason forecasts as some players might never live up to their ADP (average draft position). Don't be afraid to bench (or possibly even cut) some of these players until they show consistent fantasy production. This might be your last chance to involve some of these underachievers in potential trades based on their name value.
Over half of the NFL is averaging less than 20 pts/game, with the most anemic offenses (less than 16 pts/game) in Carolina, San Fran, Minnesota, Arizona, Baltimore and Buffalo. Some of the players detailed in this article have flashed their fantasy potential in previous seasons but have now come back down to earth and been surpassed on the depth chart. Some of the players may have had their draft stock inflated based on impressive 2009 campaigns but are now in situations that are less fantasy friendly. Regardless, if you can upgrade a position of weakness on your team, now might be the time to take 50 cents on the dollar in a trade.
The first season of the Pete Carroll era has had its ups and downs as Seattle followed up an impressive week 3 home win over San Diego with a week 4 clunker in St Louis were they managed to score only 3 points. Seattle's passing game ranks 21st in the NFL, averaging only 197 yards/game through the air. The 35 year old Matt Hasselbeck has struggled as he has yet to crack 250 yards in any one game while throwing 4 TDs and 6 interceptions on the season. The coaching staff contends that the veteran will remain under center, but the offseason acquisition of Charlie Whitehurst from San Diego could become an option if the Seattle offense remains mediocre (averaging 19 pts/game).
Over the final month of the 2009 season, Jackson averaged 20 carries and 107 yards but failed to reach the end zone. The presence of Marshawn Lynch inside the red zone was cause for concern heading into 2010, as was the drafting of first round RB CJ Spiller. Jackson still seemed to be worth a late round gamble based on his explosive finish to the 2009 season. Through 4 weeks, F-Jax has failed to top 10 carries and the 29 year old RB is on pace for only 80 carries on one of the league's most anemic offenses. Unless the rumored trades of Marshawn to Lynch to Philadelphia or Green Bay are completed, it's probably safe to cut Jackson as he's been relegated to 3rd on the Bills' depth chart.
In 2009, Clinton Portis battled injuries that limited him to only 8 games but he still led the team in rushing, finishing with just under 500 yards and 1 touchdown. The 29 year old RB suffered a groin injury in week 4 and Ryan Torain filled in admirably and might get the start for as long as Portis is out. Portis has been less than impressive in the first week of the season as he has 49 carries for 195 yards (less than 50 yards per game). He should remain the goal line back when healthy, but if Torain impresses over the next few weeks a time share is not out of the question. Torain is not much of an option in the passing game but gained 70 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's victory over the Eagles. Running behind one of the weaker O-lines in the league makes any Redskin RB a Flex / low end RB2 option at best depending on the matchup. It's worth noting that in the next month, Washington faces two of the worst rush defenses in the league in Indianapolis and Detroit.
The Chargers' rushing game ranked an anemic 31st in the NFL in 2009 (averaging 89 yards a game). After nine seasons in San Diego, the Chargers decided to release future hall of famer Ladainian Tomlinson (now excelling with the NY Jets). Rookie Ryan Mathews has shown flashes of why the Chargers traded up in the first round to get him but has also battled injuries during the first month of the season. Many expected Darren Sproles to be the handcuff for all Mathews owners, but that role has been assumed by bowling ball converted FB Mike Tolbert (who leads the Chargers with 51 carries for 281 yards -- 5.5 YPC -- and 3 TDs). Through 4 games, the Chargers rank 10th in rushing (averaging 132 yards/game), but Sproles owners haven't reaped any of the benefits. On the season, Sproles has been used sparingly totaling only 17 carries for 73 yards and 7 catches for 75 yards. He can be dropped unless in the deepest of PPR leagues.
The Saints are equal opportunity employers when it comes to spreading the ball around, which limits the fantasy upside of their receivers. In 2009, seven Saints caught 35 or more passes. Colston posted his 3rd straight 1,000 yard season and led the team in receptions (70) and yardage (1,074) while finishing 13th in fantasy points for WRs. Now in his 5th NFL season, Colston has failed to post a breakout game as he has 18 catches for 190 yards (48 yards/game) and no touchdowns through 4 games. Despite playing with one of the league's elite QBs, the Saints offense has too many mouths to feed and I would consider involving Colston in trade talks if you are able to pry away an emerging talent like Hakeem Nicks or Austin Collie.