(Table for 6 continued from above)
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
In Sunday’s newsletter, I wrote about Lamar Jackson, warning readers that his seemingly impressive fantasy numbers (22.1 points per game) didn’t tell the whole story.
In fact, he’s been struggling this season, and it was fair to wonder if we would see ‘elite’ Lamar Jackson again this season.
If you have him, you probably don’t feel that you have much of a choice. There’s an adage in fantasy that you “start your studs.” I adamantly disagree with that sentiment because it suggests “studs” is an objective and unchanging measure of a player’s value.
In Week 13, Jackson scored fewer points than nearly half of all starting QBs, including Tua Tagovailoa, Gardner Minshew, Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff, Taysom Hill, and Zach Wilson – all quarterbacks available in most leagues. The week before, he was the QB25. And he lurched to 15.4 points the game before that.
Jackson has multiple touchdowns in only three of 11 games. He’ll close the season against the Browns, Packers, Bengals, Rams, and Steelers.
Are you excited to start Jackson going forward? The overall numbers still look great. But when you have a QB who’s consistently outperformed by waiver fodder, it’s time to re-evaluate the “start your studs” mantra.
Javonte Williams, RB, Broncos
Many in the fantasy community have been bracing for a breakout from Javonte Williams. But with Melvin Gordon posting RB2 numbers on a healthy 14.3 touches per game, we’ve had to wait longer than expected.
Gordon’s hip and shoulder injuries opened the door for Williams, who broke out with 29.8 fantasy points – by far the most of any Bronco RB this season. That he needed 29 touches is, on the one hand, meaningless. Williams has bell-cow talent, period. The challenge is that we don’t know what role he’ll play when Gordon returns.
If the Broncos continue to employ them equally, can Williams be trusted as a must-start fantasy running back? Given his ceiling, if left alone, this will be a huge question heading into Week 14 and the fantasy playoffs.
DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Is it time to panic about fantasy’s preseason WR6? Well, maybe worry, or perhaps worry a lot. But panic? It’s been a tale of two seasons for DK Metcalf – more than 11 fantasy points in each of his first eight games, and he hasn’t surpassed 11 points in any of his last four.
But before we give up on the 23-year-old, consider that Sunday was his best performance among these last four. He’s also earned 8 targets in three of four contests. If we believe Russell Wilson’s finger injury is the problem and that nothing will change, then it might be time to throw in the towel.
However, I’d encourage managers to take a step back. Three of his next four games are against the Texans (road), Bears (home), and Lions (home). If we believe Sunday’s win is a step in the right direction for a historically near-elite QB returning to 100%, then we can still believe in Metcalf.
K.J. Osborn, WR, Minnesota Vikings
How good is K.J. Osborn? That might be a question some of you are asking after Adam Thielen exited Sunday’s contest with an ankle injury. Fantasy-wise, the more helpful question to answer is, can K.J. Osborn help fantasy managers?
Because we’ve been around long enough to know that even backup QBs, third-string WRs, fourth-string RBs, and long-retired TEs can shine in the right situation, the right game plan, and with the right surrounding talent.
And Osborn has carved out a clear No. 3 WR role on a team where only five wideouts have seen a target, catching more balls (35). Compare that to a team like the Titans, where eight wide receivers have gotten involved. Yes, when it comes to predicting usage, Minnesota makes it pretty easy for fantasy managers.
Kirk Cousins has thrown the fifth-most passes in the NFL. He has to be on a team yielding the eighth-most points to opponents. If Thielen misses time, Osborn will have the opportunity to earn fantasy streaming production.
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Longtime readers and listeners to the PFN fantasy podcast know my views on Pat Freiermuth. He entered the season arguably more talented than starting TE Eric Ebron, and he’s been one of the best TE dynasty investments money can buy.
Yet sometimes managers can fall in love with players based on stats rather than projected production.
I’m certainly one of those people.
When Freiermuth is scoring, he’s a TE1. But that’s true for most TEs. The difference has been Freiermuth’s frequent use in the red zone.
On Sunday, the rookie crashed back to earth. We can’t call him an elite TE1 because his receptions and yardage don’t allow for TE1 production when he doesn’t score. It’s an important distinction when evaluating tight end fantasy values, and it probably will continue to impact those starting Freiermuth for the rest of the season.