By Gerry Love - SPM Fantasy Staff
Every so often we have enough body of evidence about a single player’s DFS and full-season fantasy football overall performance, declining performance or actual lack of performance that the time comes where we have to move him to our HAZMAT Do Not Play List. Inevitably, one or two of these players will have a great week and make us look bad for the short term, but the following week it’s right back to underachiever city, baby!
Over the past few weeks as we prepare for the stretch run of the bizarre 2020 National Football League season, several players who were higher-end draft picks, weekly lineup locks and up for weekly DFS lineup consideration have trended in a direction for a long enough period of time that it is officially time to move on – even if they have favorable matchups – and avoid playing them.
The risk simply is not worth the potential upside. We continue to look for players who are getting plenty of snaps, touches or targets on a weekly basis.
Week 11 HAZMAT Do Not Play List:
Below please find our list of players who might tempt you, but should be avoided:
Caron Wentz – He has had favorable matchups the past two weeks with many top skill-position players returning from injuries and done nothing. Zero. Doug Pederson’s game plans are all over the place. Miles Sanders is underused. The receivers are young and inexperienced, so chemistry is lacking. Travis Fulgham came out of nowhere with back-to-back 20-plus-point weeks earlier in the year, but also has disappeared lately. Jalen Reagor is averaging 30 yards a game the last two weeks. The tight ends are part of a revolving-door MASH unit. DO NOT PLAY!
Ryan Tannehill – He hasn’t earned a permanent place on this list, but this week against a tough Ravens defense that isn’t at full strength but is sure to be unhappy coming off a loss to the Patriots, there is no reason to play Tannehill. Through six weeks he was one of the NFL’s top passers and was being talked about in MVP conversations, but he has fallen back to become exactly who we hought he was as the Titans have struggled. This team has to ride its superstar running back Derrick Henry, and while Henry has done fine, teams have decided to at least try to contain him and take a chance that Tannehill can’t beat them. Many times he cannot. In his last four outings he has recorded 17.3, 18.3, 14.6 and 10.8 fantasy points. That’s just not good enough for a starting QB, a position that needs to produce at least 20 points for your lineup to have any chance to be successful. Tannehill is trending down after two weeks in a row in which he recorded 30 points, and it isn’t going to head back in the right direction this week.
Jared Goff – The Rams have gone pretty conservative with a short passing game that involves a lot of players, which allows no one – including Goff – to put up big numbers. Los Angeles leans on the run with its three-back committee and operates a ball-control offense that causes Goff to have games like last week in which he throws for 302 yards against a historically bad Seattle defense, but scores just 10.48 points. The week before it was 355 yards and 12.2 points following weeks of 220 and 198 yards. This week it’s a tough Tampa Bay defense, but we would stay away from Goff until we see him string together at least two consecutive fantasy weeks of 20-plus points.
Baker Mayfield – He’s averaging just 13.8 fantasy points per game and both of his stud running backs, who are likely to average 40 touches between them, are back. DO NOT PLAY!
Jonathan Taylor – Was supposed to be the guy this year as a rookie in Indy. It seemed that way early, but the signs were there that maybe he wasn’t quite ready. His average yards per carry was low, and even though he was used at the goal-line and in short-yardage situations, he struggled in that role. Frank Reich has turned to a short, quick passing game because he has weak-armed Philip Rivers at QB, which has benefitted the ultra-athletic Nyheim Hines, who is now averaging more than 10 fantasy points per game and has become a viable weekly flex option. Hines has eclipsed the 19-point mark in two of the past three weeks, while Jordan Wilkins’ role has expanded. Meanwhile, Taylor is averaging about the same number of points as Hines for the year, but has recorded just 4.7, 9.4 and 4.1 points per outing the past three weeks a span in which he has received 7, 6 and 11 carries, respectively after getting as many as 17 and 26 carries earlier in the year. Stay away.
James Conner – He’s just priced too high for what his role has become in a pass-happy Steelers’ offense that has three really good wideouts and a strong tight end. If Conner was catching passes it would be fine to keep playing him, but he’s not running effectively and is seeing fewer than three targets per outing the last three weeks. While he’s averaging a respectable 12.2 fantasy points per game for the year, he’s recorded 5.8 and 3.0 the past two weeks and is averaging less than 3.0 yards per carry. Watch his price to see if he becomes a potential value flex option, but that’s not the case now. If you have him in a full-season league he’s a flex play at best right now.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Andy Reid has a history of forgetting about his running backs, even the most talented ones. And now with a new toy in town in the person of Le’Veon Bell, CEH has seen his touches decrease considerably. In the last three games he has a total of 19 rushing attempts for 81 yards. He has seen 12 targets and caught 7 passes for 47 yards in that span, but while the number of targets is fine, the production isn’t. Not for the price anyway. Flex him in full season for now, but stay away in DFS.
Also be sure to stay away from these backfields in their entirety: Ravens, Rams, Broncos, Jets, Chargers.
Michael Thomas – Sure, he can bust out at any time, but is that going to happen this week with Taysom Hill at the helm? He has scored 3.2, 7.6 and 3.2 fantasy points in three outings thus far. Priced way too high in DFS until he proves himself again. Maybe worth a flex in full-season fantasy, depending on what your lineup looks like.
Robert Woods/Cooper Kupp – Overpriced in DFS given the Rams’ current game plan, their recent production and their overall usage – although Woods is getting a few carries per game on the jet sweep. Play them in full season, because you have to and they should get you 10 points or a few more per game, but not worth it in DFS. Josh Reynolds is the bargain play to look at in daily games.
Marquise Brown – After being way overpriced in DFS all season long, his salary is finally coming back to reality along with his and QB Lamar Jackson’s numbers. Brown has recorded 2.4, 5.3, 6.8 and 7.7 fantasy points over the past four weeks – a steady downward trend – following weeks of 10.6 and 16.8 points. Those were his best two showings of the year, along with a 12.6-point outing Sept. 13. He and Jackson don’t seem to be on the same page, although he has been a red-zone target, and Jackson has not been able to throw the deep ball successfully. We would stay away in all formats, but he is a flex player at best in full season.
Eagles Receivers – Travs Fulgham was great early, but as long as Wentz and the play calling remain erratic in Philly, none of these guys is worth a sniff.
Early in the season it appeared as though it might be a banner year for tight ends, but that has simply not been the case with George Kittle suffering a season-ending injury, Zach Ertz underperforming before getting injured and normally reliable players such as Mark Andrews, Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper and Tyler Higbee taking huge steps back. Tight end is clearly a place to look for value on a weekly basis. Consider taking the player with the best available matchup off the waiver wire week to week in full-season fantasy and look for players who get a lot of snaps and targets at bargain prices in DFS. We would not pay up for players such as Andrews, Jared Cook, Jonnu Smith, Henry, etc. The only TE’s worth paying big money for are Travis Kelce and Darren Waller if the matchups are right and you want to do a team stack. But even those guys rarely will provide great value for their price except when they have huge weeks. That makes even those guys risky plays.