Week 6: Player Downgrades
Player Downgrades is a column focused on a handful of players who are losing fantasy value. Rather than discuss injured players, these guys are healthy and getting playing time, but are still underachieving. It's ultimately up to you whether you decide to bench, trade away, or drop them.
It's been an interesting season and there appears to be a clear divide between the have and have nots. Week 5 featured more than just bye weeks. There were blowouts and comebacks and everything in between.
The injuries are beginning to pile up and it should be clear to most which players just aren't any good for the long haul of the season.
Sorry Fantasy owners and Bills fans, Fitzpatrick is not the second coming of Jim Kelly. He's certainly very good -- leading the Bills to a 4-1 start -- but for our intents and purposes, it's time for a reality check. In his last two games, Fitzy has failed to pass for more than 200 yards and only has one touchdown pass. As other slow-starting QBs are starting to hit their stride (Philip Rivers, Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, to name a few), this product of Harvard is slowing down. This should've been expected to some extent. He was playing so well and Fred Jackson was running the ball so effectively, that it couldn't possibly last all season. Fitz remains a very solid and reliable QB2 across all formats, but his last two games should be a warning. He's not as bad as he's played recently and he's not as good as his first few games may have suggested.
Many expected the dynamic New Orleans offense to have Ingram come in as the final cog to take their offense to the next level, myself included. A back who could rush between the tackles, keep defenses honest against the Saints' passing attack; someone to tote the rock in the red zone and quickly accumulate goal line touchdowns. On the contrary, Ingram has been unable to make a big impact. He's averaging 43 rushing yards per game. His two touchdowns are a nice addition, but since he is not an every-down back who also catches the ball, his upside is very limited. Ingram is a decent flex play in a 12-team league, but the issue is that (considering his draft position) those who drafted him were likely hoping for more. Ingram is a good player to include in a 2-for-2 trade, but you definitely can't cut him. Depending upon the match-up, you should consider whether any of your other players can outperform his slow, but steady production.
As a spot start, you could probably do worse than plugging Tomlinson into your lineup, but are you thinking he'll score? Will he have a Week 3 performance where he only rushed for 38 yards, but also managed five receptions for 116 yards and a score? Or will he have 15 total yards, like he did in Week 2 against the Jaguars? Some teams are simply more susceptible to pass-catching backs; for example, teams that typically blitz a lot. The problem with Tomlinson is that his role wildly shifts from game-to-game. Sometimes he'll be utilized mostly as a blocker to protect Mark Sanchez on third down pass attempts and occasionally, he'll be used as an offensive weapon. This uncertainty from week-to-week makes him an unattractive fantasy option as far as I'm concerned.
Last week, I recommended that you downgrade Robert Meachem. As it should imply by that suggestion, Henderson should be downgraded even further. Now that Marques Colston is healthy, he'll be getting more and more comfortable on the field. Lance Moore was briefly out (which is what really helped Henderson), but he's back as well. Jimmy Graham looks like one of the league's next great tight ends. Darren Sproles is catching everything in sight, turning short passes into fantasy success. All of this leaves Henderson as the No. 7 scoring option on the Saints behind all the backs, receivers, and tight ends. New Orleans can obviously put a lot of points on the board, but Henderson is hardly worth the trouble. He'll be terribly inconsistent week to week and when you factor that wide receiver is such a boom or bust position, it's better to opt for a player that could more reasonably have a big game.
It's not hard to downgrade a player when he has zero catches in his last game. Moore had to make way for Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and even Chaz Schilens (who outplayed him during Oakland's valiant comeback win over the Houston Texans). Moore flashed that talent in Week 2 earning him some praise as a potential 2011 sleeper, but the Oakland receiving corps is getting healthy. Moore will have another solid week at some point in the season, but it's important to remember that the Raiders are fully committed to their running game. They are one of four teams that is averaging 30-plus carries per game. With all that running, it doesn't leave many targets for Moore, who is now likely a fantasy afterthought. He should be cut as he is technically the No. 5 wide receiver.