Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Time to panic or Week 7 antic?

2T1XMJ3 Tampa Bay, Florida, USA, October 15, 2023, Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff #16 points at a teammate at Raymond James Stadium. (Photo by Marty Jean-Louis/Sipa USA) Credit: Sipa US/Alamy Live News

Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff continues to underperform on the road: Despite enjoying a successful 2023 season, Goff once again went scoreless on the road against the Baltimore Ravens.

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley’s inconsistencies continue: Despite ranking top-12 in routes run among wide receivers this year, Ridley’s inconsistent usage (and the way he’s being used) is not conducive to an improved experience for fantasy managers.

Atlanta Falcons RB Bijan Robinson takes a backseat to Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson in Week 7: The No. 8 overall pick wasn’t announced on the injury report but was dealing with an illness Sunday to the surprise of fantasy football managers.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Week 7 was an ugly one, folks. There were six teams on a bye. Several injuries forced fantasy football managers to pivot in abhorrent directions just to complete a lineup. Onward and upward, though; all we can do is learn and apply our lessons moving forward. Here are five stats highlighting various fantasy disappointments from Week 7 and a temperature check; is it time to panic, or was this just a Week 7 antic?

WR:CB Matchup Chart

Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff struggles on the road against the Baltimore Ravens

It was a brutal outing for Goff and the  Lions in Week 7, getting rocked by the Ravens for a 32-point road loss. To be fair, Goff has played incredibly well to this point in the season, ranking fourth in the league with 1,902 passing yards while being tied for the sixth-most passing touchdowns and sitting with the 10th-best passer rating. However, a significant portion of his production comes at home. Dating back to the 2022 season, Goff has more road games where he hasn’t thrown for a single passing touchdown (five) than he has where he’s thrown for two or more passing touchdowns (two).

Week 7 marked a double whammy for Goff, throwing for 284 passing yards but zero touchdowns and an interception while taking a season-high five sacks. The good news was that this performance wasn’t totally out of left field, coming both on the road and against a top-end Ravens defense that had allowed a multiple-passing touchdown game just once this season. To date, the Ravens have allowed the sixth-fewest passing yards while also being tied for a league-low four passing touchdowns allowed. It’s not just a Goff problem. It’s a Goff, on the road, against a stout Baltimore defense problem. Fantasy managers have no reason to panic moving forward.

Temperature check: Week 6 (road) antic

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley continues to be a non-factor

The Ridley roller coaster continued in Week 7, with the steepest drop to date, totaling just a single catch for five receiving yards in primetime against the New Orleans Saints. More alarming than the lack of fantasy production was Ridley's sheer lack of consistent involvement — his first target came with 9:49 left in the third quarter, a screen that went for five yards. He saw three more targets after that, per NFL Next Gen Stats, two of Ridley’s three incompletions were targets that arrived less than a yard from the sideline, with a sub-20% completion probability. 

Ridley’s lack of consistent production hasn’t been due to a lack of playing time. In fact, throughout the 2023 season, Ridley ranks 11th in the league with 260 routes run. However, Ridley ranks 58th in total target rate on routes run among receivers with 25-plus targets on the season. His 2.4 average yards of separation rank as a career-low, possibly in part due to a career-low 9.76 MPH average speed at the target point compared to his 11.18 MPH career average. Though his upside is undeniable, the floor has been quite low, with 40 or fewer receiving yards in five of seven games this season. With a 27.8% deep target rate, which by nature has a lower completion percentage, there are no indications that the volatility will improve any time soon for fantasy managers.

Temperature check: Time to panic

Bijan Robinson mysteriously sits for most of Week 7, playing behind Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson

Fantasy football managers might have been in panic mode watching Atlanta Falcons running backs Allgeier and Patterson play over rookie Robinson. The pattern has been clear and obvious; the Falcons draft a skill position player with a top 10 pick in the draft and subsequently fail to feature them in the offense, leading to an underutilization of the talent they thought so highly of in the first place. Robinson played 10 total offensive snaps throughout the game, totaling just a single rushing attempt for three yards which came with 0:33 left in the fourth quarter. 

His lack of usage did have an explanation, however, even if it didn’t come in a timely manner to prepare fantasy managers for what was basically a full-game absence. HC Arthur Smith came out to say that Robinson “wasn’t feeling that well,” which led to his lack of participation. Robinson addressed this a bit further in the locker room following the game, saying he was managing a headache throughout the morning, accounting for his lack of playing time. Smith has made it clear he has no intent on giving fantasy managers an edge, but expect this to be an outlier in Robinson’s usage, having had 15 or more touches in five of seven games this season.

Temperature check: Week 6 antic

Cleveland Browns WR Amari Cooper has another game with five or fewer fantasy points scored

There’s no shortage of work to go around for wide receiver Cooper, as he's recorded six or more targets in each of his six games so far this season. However, despite the opportunities, it was another unproductive week for Cooper, who caught just two of his eight targets for 22 receiving yards. It marked the second game in the last three weeks that resulted in four or fewer fantasy points, which, as you may have realized, also coincides with Watson’s absence due to a shoulder injury and eventual evaluation for a concussion in Week 7. 

To date, Watson has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, ranking 48th among qualified passers in EPA per dropback, 37th in yards per attempt and 43rd in NFL passer rating. However, he’s generally an improvement over either Phillip Walker or Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who have played in his place when he’s unavailable. Cooper’s connection with Watson has led to a 112.6 passer rating when targeted, including 243 yards and a score, and 0.68 EPA per dropback. Cooper’s efficiency with Watson under center is higher in virtually all metrics worth considering, open throw percentage, passer rating, expected completion percentage… you name it. Moving forward, it may be time to panic on Cooper’s prospects without Watson under center. If Watson is active, consider Cooper’s floor to be exponentially higher, even if he’s not playing very well as an NFL quarterback.

Temperature check: Time to panic… as long as the Deshaun Watson shenanigans continue

Las Vegas Raiders rookie Michael Mayer comes back down to Earth

The Raiders drafted tight end Mayer with the 35th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, it didn’t translate to immediate usage, having earned just two total targets in his first four games. It seemed as though the Raiders finally woke up, however, as Mayer has started each of the last five games and has played 50% of Las Vegas' offensive snaps in four of those five games. In Weeks 5 and 6, Mayer totaled nine targets, catching seven of those for 114 receiving yards, and a 90.2 PFF receiving grade in Week 6 that ranked second among all tight ends. Unfortunately, the production was short-lived, following it up in Week 7 with two catches for 13 yards against the Chicago Bears, who have been one of the worst defenses in the National Football League to date.

Mayer isn’t on the radar in most redraft leagues, but Mayer’s increasing involvement as a receiver, well-rounded skill set as both a blocker and a receiver and a potential uptick in targets if and when the team eventually moves on from WR Davante Adams signals a prime buy-low opportunity in dynasty fantasy football leagues. Though it’s time to panic in redraft leagues, consider any down week (or a string of them, if they continue) an opportunity to invest in Mayer for the years to come, even if he can’t be trusted for immediate production. 

Temperature check: Time to panic (redraft)


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