We’re heading into the fourth week of fantasy football and there are already highly-drafted players causing us team owners angst. Players getting off to slow starts sometimes makes us want to jettison them from our rosters ASAP—either by trading or dropping.
Here, I take a look at some of the most worrisome fantasy players at each position and assign them a level on the panic meter.
I originally selected a handful of players for each position but then whittled the options down based on who had the biggest discrepancy between their ADP when the season started and where they rank now.
Some players who you would think qualify, I left out because they are simply missing touchdowns and would be ranked much higher if they had one or two. I also didn’t include players who struggled the first couple of weeks but rebounded in Week 3. Their arrows are mostly pointing up as is.
Here’s how the panic meter works:
- Not worried, just a slow start.
- Doesn’t look great. Have a trade plan ready, but wait it out for a little while longer, just in case.
- Time to set them free (or live with it and stash them on your bench).
*Initial ADP based on Fantasy Football Calculator and current position rank based on Yahoo! PPR rankings.
Cam Newton: 3
Initial ADP: QB10 | Current Position Rank: QB26
The QB position might be one of the most frustrating to have to sit and wait on. Fantasy owners are still clinging to Newton’s 2015 MVP season even though he tailed off in 2016. Maybe this is just who he is (but not quite this unproductive). He still doesn’t look to be fully back from offseason shoulder surgery. That, and general offensive lethargy has led to Newton only putting up 12.4 FPPG, including an 8.28-point nightmare against arguably the worst defense in the league, that of the New Orleans Saints. Most leagues have a Cam Newton fan boy/girl in them, so try to seek them out for a trade.
Isaiah Crowell: 2
Initial ADP: RB14 | Current Position Rank: RB40
I was very much on the Isaiah Crowell train and have been stubborn about jumping off. He has averaged 13 carries per game but obviously needs more to get going. Cleveland has been behind for the majority of their last two games, having to abandon the run. However, Crowell and head coach Hue Jackson have both emphasized the need to get Crowell more involved. If Cleveland can be competitive more consistently, Crowell can get back on track. The Browns’ next four matchups are against the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans, which is a very do-able slate for Crowell.
Bilal Powell: 2
Initial ADP: RB23 | Current Position Rank: RB44
This one is tough because, despite their surprising win over the Miami Dolphins, the Jets do, in fact, suck. However! Just like last year, it looks like starter Matt Forte’s health will peter out and Powell will become more of a factor. Regardless of if the Jets are down a ton, Powell is still a factor in the passing game. So, hang your hat on that. Another however, if Elijah McGuire is getting more involved and Powell starts to take a back seat, send ‘em down the river.
Paul Perkins: 3
Initial ADP: RB35 | Current Position Rank: RB54
Perkins wasn’t very heralded in fantasy drafts, but he was a sleeper pick. He is a machine at forcing missed tackles and was becoming the Giants’ starting RB this year. Well, that’s not going well and it shows no signs of improving. The Giants run the ball the second-least in the league (15.7 carries per game), have the third-fewest rushing yards (146), have the fourth-lowest YPC (3.1) and have 0 rushing touchdowns. Perkins leads the Giants in carries (23) by a decent margin but is the least productive of their three main backs, Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen the two others. An awful offensive line that doesn’t look to be showing signs of improvement is the primary catalyst in the team’s run game woes altogether. Perkins is someone I’d stay far away from.
Terrelle Pryor Sr.: 1
Initial ADP: WR14 | Current Position Rank: WR63
This one’s been painful. I thought the ingredients were there for Pryor to have a huge year with a QB like Kirk Cousins throwing his way. We’re only three games in, so that doesn’t mean it’s not still possible. But, it’s discouraging. However, the potential’s still there, so we can’t be in full-on panic mode yet. For example, in Week 1, Cousins targeted Pryor 11 times. Matt Harmon of NFL.com also made a great point, stating that Pryor’s opponent this week, the Kansas City Chiefs, are among the top three in yards allowed to slots and left wide receivers (Pryor plays primarily on the left side).
Amari Cooper: 2
Initial ADP: WR10 | Current Position Rank: WR51
I do not feel like hangin’ with Mr. Cooper. I went against my gut last year in the playoffs and started him in my home league, and he handed me a 4.3-point banger. That was the end of my season. I decided to give it another go this year because I loved him as a pro prospect heading into the 2015 Draft and all I could see with him was Marvin Harrison. Cooper really is a good player, though, he’s just inconsistent. However, here we are, three weeks into the season and he has a total of 5 catches for 39 yards in the last two weeks. It would be one thing if his running mate, Michael Crabtree, didn’t routinely perform at a high level. Regardless, it’s Amari Cooper, it’s Derek Carr, and it’s the Raiders offense. Ride it out and if it doesn’t improve soon, you should be able to trade Cooper.
Martavis Bryant: 1
Initial ADP: WR22 | Current Position Rank: WR47
The Steelers offense in general really hasn’t gotten going so far this year. You can consider Bryant the third option in the passing game behind Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, so the targets will be there. In fact, Bryant is getting 6 targets per game, and he did have one big game already, going for 91 yards and 1 touchdown in Week 2. Just be patient with guys from Pittsburgh’s offense.
Hunter Henry: 2
Initial ADP: TE11 | Current Position Rank: TE32
Maaan, there hasn’t been any TE with as frustrating of a start as Henry. Luckily, I only have him in one or two leagues. I’m a big believer in Henry, Philip Rivers and the entire Los Angeles Chargers offense so I’m really not worried. But, you can’t have guys with goose eggs in your lineup, and Henry hasn’t even been targeted in two out of three weeks. That means I give Henry a “2” here instead of a “1”. If that nonsense keeps happening, it’s probably time to find a trade partner, or hopefully there’s a more consistent option on the waiver wire like Charles Clay.
Kyle Rudolph: 1
Initial ADP: TE9 | Current Position Rank: TE16
Considering Rudolph finished as fantasy’s TE2 last year, his slow start this year (4.95 FPPG last two weeks) is disappointing. However, I’m convinced it’s almost completely linked to Sam Bradford’s absence. Bradford loves Rudolph, and although Case Keenum has targeted Rudolph on average more often than Bradford did in Week 1, the chemistry’s not the same. Hang tight and Rudolph’s numbers should improve.
Eric Ebron: 2
Initial ADP: TE13 | Current Position Rank: TE19
Ebron is maddeningly inconsistent. He has 21.00 fantasy points right now, which means he’s averaging 7.00 per game, but 15.20 of that came in Week 2 against the Giants. The Giants, by the way, are giving up the third-most FPPG to TE’s (18.5). In Weeks 1 and 3, Ebron totaled 4 receptions on 10 targets. Like Henry, it’s hard to depend on a guy that is giving you such highs and lows. Ebron shouldn’t be in your starting lineups right now.