From a fantasy lens, dozens and dozens of players being sidelined is already greatly impacting the depth of your league and roster. Starting stars is as justifiable as ever, but I am still here to take a flamethrower to your optimism on a weekly basis, highlighting a handful of upcoming fantasy busts for the forthcoming slate of games. Let me be clear - I like fun, I prefer to focus on positives and, most of all, do not hate any of these players. I simply believe they will perform below their normal output.
Giants RB Wayne Gallman at Seahawks (-7)
Total: 48.5 | 62% Started
In half PPR scoring, here are Gallman’s point totals over the last five games: 13.9, 12.7, 14.2, 18.5 and 16.6. That is fantastic consistency, scoring a touchdown in five straight games, and easily must-start RB2 territory… right? Not this week.
The Seahawks’ run defense was 12th best in DVOA prior to their Week 12 domination of the Eagles’ backfield, limiting Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Corey Clement to a combined nine carries for 28 yards. It makes sense: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Poona Ford and others make it so difficult to run tackle to tackle, and now a healthy Jamal Adams is a true box defending X-factor flying through gaps or chasing off the edge. This Seahawks Offense puts teams in such a bind when ahead on the scoreboard - forcing the opposition to chase points through the air to match Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Do you truly believe a Colt McCoy based operation will successfully keep up?
Giants RBs’ best avenue for success should be in the receiving game, but Gallman’s offering in this area is limited. In that same five game sample as an entrenched fantasy starter, Gallman handled a middling 15 targets, resulting in just 11 receptions for 51 yards and no scores. 10 receiving yards per game simply won’t cut it this week if the Seahawks predictably dominate the gamescript. Unless the Giants shock the football world, by starting Gallman you are banking on a short yardage touchdown or Jason Garrett somehow believing the team’s best path to victory is to give Gallman 20 touches… against one of the most explosive offenses in the league.
Prediction: 12 carries for 38 yards, 1 catch for 9 yards
Eagles RB Miles Sanders at Packers (-6.5)
Total: 48.5 | 91% Started
Fantasy luck has not been on Miles Sanders’ side these last three weeks. He looked strong in his return to the lineup in Week 10, turning 17 touches into 95 yards and a two-point conversion - with Boston Scott scoring a touchdown on just three carries, and Corey Clement also finding the endzone on his only opportunity. Then in Week 11, Sanders again posted a redeemable yardage total of 81 yards on 19 touches but failed to score a touchdown.
Then the floor fell out from under him in Week 12. Just eight touches for 22 yards and a two-point conversion on 61% of the team’s offensive snaps. We all know this offense is broken, and on paper this game against the Packers could be the moment where it gets back to functional. Yet I have zero faith in Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson and, most importantly, the Eagles’ offensive line. Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary could have their best performance of the season and overwhelm one of the NFL’s worst blocking units.
Prediction: 12 carries for 47 yards, 2 catches for 15 yards
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Bengals WRs Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins at Dolphins (-10.5)
Total: 42.5 | Boyd 60% Started, Higgins 54% Started
Prior to Joe Burrow’s injury, Tyler Boyd was the WR18, Tee Higgins the WR24 and Gio Bernard the RB16 in fantasy points per game. Unfortunately, those reliable fantasy starters should evaporate from your lineup building process just as we approach the fantasy playoffs. In Brandon Allen’s first start, Boyd produced just 15 yards on 3-of-6 targets. Higgins was far more successful due to tremendous efficiency, catching 5-of-5 targets for 44 yards and a touchdown.
I do not need to tell you how the Dolphins have suffocated a number of quarterbacks (Justin Herbert, Jared Goff) and passing games that are far more talented than a Brandon Allen-led unit. Despite an uncharacteristic performance against the Broncos two weeks ago, the Dolphins still rank as the No. 9 Pass Defense according to DVOA and the 14th overall defense. Brandon Allen was only capable of manufacturing 136 passing yards against the Giants’ 25th ranked pass defense last week. This has the potential to be a “Seeing Ghosts” matinee for Brandon Allen.
If you are chasing one of this duo, Higgins appears to be the right answer. The Dolphins have shored up their slot coverage since facing Cooper Kupp and Higgins/Allen might have a glimmer of training camp magic. But here’s a touch of perspective - Higgins’ first two catches were on 3rd & 18 plays where the defense was comfortable allowing receptions well short of the line to gain. That is not actionable offense.
Prediction: Boyd 5 catches on 8 targets for 39 yards, Higgins 3 catches on 7 targets for 34 yards
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Falcons RB Todd Gurley vs Saints (-3.5)
Total: 47.5 | 61% Started
Gurley has appeared on this list more than any other player this season. The reason? He is totally endzone dependent and is in the middle of touchdown regression hitting hard. In games where Gurley did not cross the goal line, his fantasy output equaled 6.1, 9.7 and 3.9 points. He has not exceeded six receiving yards in 7-of-10 games this season. Nine touchdowns in 10 games is the lone reason Gurley has been fantasy relevant, and despite being among the likes of Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara in touchdowns scored, he ranks as only the RB16 in fantasy points per game (Cook is 2nd, Kamara 3rd).
Prior to missing Week 12 with an injury (which, yikes) Gurley handled just eight carries for 26 yards against these New Orleans Saints before being limited with the knee issue. He has since returned to practice. Factor in the Falcons’ past offensive issues with a limited Julio Jones and you get a strong avoid against the Saints’ No. 2 defense against the run and pass.
The Saints Defense is surging, and Gurley’s fantasy reliability is collapsing.
Prediction: 14 carries for 42 yards, 1 catch for 6 yards