Week 9: 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.
We're just about at the midway point to the 2011 season and there have been plenty of surprises in store for all fantasy owners. There has been the emergence of rookies like Cam Newton and A.J. Green and the slippery slope for former fantasy studs like Chris Johnson and Chad Ochocinco.
In the second half of the season, it is time to round out your team in order to make a serious run into the playoffs.
Since averaging 288 passing yards and two TDs per game during the first four weeks of the season, Hasselbeck is now averaging 197 passing yards and one TD per game in his last three games. He had a decent performance against the struggling Colts in Week 8, but he could have done a lot better. The Titans' passing game just isn't the same without Kenny Britt (who had a brilliant start to the year). Tennessee's inability to establish a running game has only made things more difficult. Giving up Javon Ringer may keep defenses more honest, but the Titans are striking fear into their opponents with streaky play from Nate Washington, Damian Williams and Jared Cook. Hasselbeck is sufficient as a QB2 on your fantasy roster, but the likelihood of big scoring games is dwindling with each game.
Bernard Scott replaced Cedric Benson for his one-game suspension. Scott's stats for that Week 8 game against Seattle aren't stellar, but he showed some serious explosion and tenacity in his runs. Benson is a grinder; if you need 1 yard, he gets 3 and if you need 4 yards, he gets 3. Giving Scott more touches makes sense. Cincy can spell Benson for a few drives, take some pressure off of him and keep him healthy. Benson isn't at risk of losing his job, not yet anyway, but it'll be tough for the Bengals to go back to the status quo after this game. Scott can catch passes and maybe break off a big run from time to time. Benson just isn't as dynamic and the Bengals know it, which is why he is listed amongst this week's downgrades.
Sure, Green-Ellis was coming off a toe injury and that is reason enough to see a big drop in his carries. The Pats were also playing behind for the majority of the game against the Steelers. The problem is that Bill Belichick is starting to get back into that running back rotation. Kevin Faulk was activated from the PUP list, so he'll grab a half dozen touches every week. The schedule gets easier in the second half, but there are just too many options here. New England loves to spread the ball around and if they're only willing to give BJGE about 13 carries per game, it's tough to use him as anything more than a flex spot-starter from week to week.
Teams have really figured out how to curtail Jackson's production. To make matters worse (as such a big-time deep threat), it is very difficult to sit him because all it takes is one big reception and boom, he'll score a dozen fantasy points. The truth is, wide receivers are almost a dime a dozen if you can play the match-ups properly. Every week, a new receiver breaks out to have a big game and catapult himself into the Top 30 at his position. Jackson is a very tradeable commodity who can be paired with a low-end RB in exchange for much more reliable receiver. For PPR owners, there are about 40 receivers who have more receptions. Would you rather stick with a guy who's scoring in the single-digits nearly every week, or add a player who's getting far more targets per game and is producing more reliably? It's a matter of preference; so if you can't stomach the inconsistency, there's no shame in going after a safer player.
It should go without saying that Marshall is one of the best receivers in the league. The problem is that his team just isn't very good. What makes receivers so valuable is that when they have good weeks, they really tend to put up big numbers. That's going to be tough for a Miami team that's highly unlikely to score more than a touchdown or two at most per week. Marshall should have few issues collecting five receptions and 50 yards each and every game, but what you really need are guys who score to put you over the top. If you own him in a standard scoring (non-PPR) league, trading Marshall isn't a bad idea. The fact that he's only scored once all season should be evidence enough that the Dolphins possess zero high-quality fantasy players. Miami ranks 28th in the NFL in points scored per game (15.3).