Keep Mathews, stream Luck: Week 4 fantasy advice that goes against the grain
The bye weeks are here. Pull the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles from your fantasy football lineup and take a good, hard look at your bench. Not only will the bye week players need a place in your rotation, but you’re going to have to make difficult decisions regarding injured players and those who simply are not playing up to the level of being in your starting lineup.
Here are some practical tips that might go against the grain in Week 4.
Hold on to (or pick up) Ryan Mathews if you have space on your bench.
Again, the bye weeks are here and Philadelphia is one of the first teams.
Sunday, Mathews ticked off a lot of fantasy owners when he only had two carries for negative-5 yards. We later came to find out that Mathews’ ankle injury was apparently more severe than the team had let on during the week. He came into the game against Pittsburgh with a heavily taped ankle and they pulled him from the action almost immediately.
Fantasy owners are not only ticked off that he posted a negative number, but they’re also worried because coach Doug Pederson said that the team will go with a committee approach even when Mathews comes back from injury.
But I’m going to come at this from a different perspective:
- Pederson also said Mathews would get his starting job back and he was not benched due to performance. This explains his drop from 22 carries in Week 1 to nine carries in Week 2 to two Sunday.
- Okay, they will rotate backs. That’s fine, because through the first two games it was clear that Mathews was the goal-line back. He scored three rushing touchdowns in two weeks. Also, considering Mathews’ sordid injury history, this could keep him healthier down the stretch.
- Considering some leagues will have him on waivers, he’s a steal. I’ve already seen him out there in some leagues. He’s hurt, he underperformed, and he’s going on bye. This is exactly when you can grab guys like him.
I’m not telling you that Mathews is going to be a RB1 and a no-brainer start for the remainder of the season, but I am going to tell you that we live in a world where you might be in a position where you’re considering starting Jerick McKinnon or Cameron Artis-Payne. I would rather have a touchdown-dependent Mathews on a team that wants to run the ball.
You should absolutely stream quarterbacks for the remainder of the season.
But I’m staying away from these players until conditions change.
These five quarterbacks have been under pressure on the highest percentage of their dropbacks so far this season:
Andrew Luck: 42.3 percent
Tyrod Taylor: 38.9 percent
Ryan Tannehill: 37.9 percent
Russell Wilson: 36.8 percent
Blake Bortles: 36.6 percent
Here is the completion percentage of those five players while they are under pressure:
Blake Bortles: 57.5 percent
Russell Wilson: 55.2 percent
Ryan Tannehill: 50.0 percent
Andrew Luck: 43.5 percent
Tyrod Taylor: 36.0 percent
That’s almost in exact reverse order, which is a bad thing for Luck and Taylor owners. I know the fantasy points for these two players have been up and down, but these two stat lines are not quarterback-friendly. If a player is under pressure on almost half of his snaps, and he’s making less than half of those throws, that means the fantasy production will suffer.
I wrote earlier this week that I’m avoiding Russell Wilson until he’s healthy because he can’t be the mobile quarterback that we need him to be on a bum knee and/or ankle. I also believe Tannehill and Bortles will be risky streams, but I will consider them based on the matchup. Luck and Taylor, as it stands, are too risky for me moving forward.
The rush for bye week fill-ins is here, but here are some volume guys you can target.
The fantasy production is there for some of these players. For others (I’m looking at you, Jerick McKinnon), the volume hasn’t panned out the way fantasy players had hoped. When you’re filling roster spots during the bye weeks you want to plug in volume guys and hope they can make something happen with their many opportunities.
Here are some players that are under 80 percent owned who got a lot of volume in Week 3.
Christine Michael, Seattle: 20 carries (73 percent owned in Yahoo leagues)
Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia: 17 (2 percent)
Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota: 16 (67 percent)
Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina: 12 (19 percent)
Chris Ivory, Jacksonville: 12 (69 percent)
Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants: 11 (3 percent)
Derrick Henry, Tennessee: 10 (72 percent)
Dwayne Washington, Detroit: 10 (23 percent)
Kevin White, Chicago: 12 targets (49 percent owned in Yahoo leagues)
Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland: 12 (24 percent)
Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore: 11 (39 percent)
John Brown, Arizona: 11 (70 percent)
Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets: 11 (34 percent)
Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay: 11 (1 percent)
Michael Thomas, New Orleans: 10 (48 percent)
Zach Miller, Chicago: 9 targets (41 percent owned in Yahoo leagues)
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay: 9 (2 percent)
Jimmy Graham, Seattle: 9 (73 percent)
Ryan Griffin, Houston: 9 (0 percent)
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota: 8 (43 percent)