By Ari Gilberg
Every year many fantasy football owners face the same dilemma – what to do when your early-round selections aren’t producing like you thought? Do you panic, or do you stick with them? Well, that’s a difficult question to answer.
Last year, Eddie Lacey averaged 40 yards-per-carry and only scored a single touchdown through the first month of the season. Lacey, however, rewarded owners who remained patient, and stuck with him, by finishing the season as the sixth highest scoring running back with 216 points, according to ESPN.
However, not all players who get off to slow starts are able to pull themselves out of it. After being named the Denver Broncos starting running back in training camp last season, Monte Ball was commonly selected in the late first/early second round. Despite the pre-season hype, and after an inconsistent start to the year, Ball eventually fell out of the running back rotation entirely, and is now currently a free agent after being released by the Broncos this past pre-season.
With a number of fantasy stars off to slow starts, yet again, this year, here’s who you should remain patient with, and who you should hit the panic button and attempt to move, if possible.Embed from Getty Images
DeMarco Murray, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Last year’s rushing champion is off to an absolutely horrid start after spurning the Dallas Cowboys and signing with the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles this past offseason. Murray, who rushed for more than 1,800 yards last season (not including the playoffs), is averaging a paltry 5.5 yards-per-game – yes, yards-per-GAME, not yards-per-carry. While he may not be off to the start fantasy owners were hoping for, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is widely viewed as one of the most creative offensive minds in the game, and will eventually figure out a way to get the talented Pro Bowler going and more involved in the offense.
Patience or Panic: Patience. Murray may not be producing now, but he’s simply too talented not to have success in Kelly’s fast-paced offense.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks: A year ago, Graham and Rob Gronkowski were considered to be in a tier of their own, among a group of largely mediocre tight ends. Now, the gap between them couldn’t be any wider. After an offseason trade to the Seahawks, it was widely believed Graham’s production would dip. However, no one could have predicted Graham would fall off to this extent. The former third-round pick out of Miami has been targeted just 10 times in two games, 15th among all tight ends, according to Yahoo Sports. Even more so, according to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, Graham is “pissed off” and “hates” his role in the Seahawks offense.
Patience or Panic: Panic. This already seems like a terrible marriage, and one that may not end with a happy ending. Best advice is to trade Graham while he still has some value.Embed from Getty Images
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Graham isn’t the only Seahawks player off to a poor start. Five-time Pro Bowler Marshawn Lynch has failed to live up to his “Beast Mode” nickname so far this year, averaging just 3.5 yards-per-carry, and still waiting to score his first touchdown. These numbers are even more concerning when considering the large workload Lynch has had in past years – he’s carried the ball at least 280 times each of the past five seasons, and is set to turn 30 in April (running backs typically suffer a serious decline after the age of 30). However, unlike Graham, he still remains the focal point of the Seahawks’ offense, and will be instrumental in their attempt to rebound after an 0-2 start to the season.
Patience or Panic: Patience. The Seahawks are still a ground-and-pound offense at heart, with Lynch being their anchor.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos: After being named the starting running back prior to the Broncos’ Nov. 16 game against the St. Louis Rams last year, Anderson took the reigns and never let go, averaging more than 125 combined rushing and receiving yards, and totaling nine touchdowns in the last seven regular season games and lone playoff game. Believed to become the focal point in new head coach Gary Kubiak’s run-heavy offense, Anderson is reportedly already in danger of losing the starting job to Ronnie Hillman after a discouraging start to the season. The undrafted running back out of the University of California has failed to eclipse 30 yards rushing, and has disappointed in the passing game as well, averaging just 10.5 yards receiving. While Hillman hasn’t exactly been building up his Hall of Fame resume, his 3.6 yards-per-carry look pretty spectacular in comparison.
Patience or Panic: Panic. Anderson started the year off locked in a timeshare, and now he’s quickly treading in the wrong direction.Embed from Getty Images
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts: Let’s take a moment and dive into Andrew Luck’s stats through the first two games of the season, according to ESPN: less than 250 passing yards per game, just 5.7 yards per completion, a concerning 3:5 TD:INT ratio, a dismal quarterback rating of 58.9 and a even more pathetic total quarterback rating of 28.5. Pretty disappointing stats for a man who was widely regarded as the number one fantasy quarterback to start the year, according to both Yahoo Sports and ESPN. Luck has been so underwhelming that Colts head coach Chuck Pagano even took the time to call him out after his three-interception performance in the team’s Monday night loss to the New York Jets, according to Sports Illustrated. The scariest stat of all? Luck currently ranks as just the 26th highest scoring quarterback with just 26.1 total fantasy points, behind the likes of Blake Bortles and Ryan Fitzpatrick, according to ESPN.
Patience or Panic: Patience. Despite Luck’s struggles, the Colts simply have too many weapons on offense for fantasy owners to seriously consider cutting the cord at last year’s highest scoring player.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints: Considered a consensus top-five fantasy quarterback to start the year, according to both ESPN and Yahoo Sports, Brees has taken a giant step back after a massive overhaul on offense. The Saints said goodbye to longtime running back Pierre Thomas, wide receiver Kenny Still, and, of course, Brees’ go-to playmaker Jimmy Graham this offseason. The trio accounted for more than 40 percent of Brees’ completions last season. With a young and inexperienced wide receivers core, Brees has looked just slightly above mediocre so far with a total quarterback rating of just 41.1 and four turnovers (two interceptions and two fumbles).
Patience or Panic: Panic. Brees, and the entire Saints offense as a whole is struggling. Throw in a reported bruised rotator cuff, according to ESPN, and all signs point downward for the nine-time Pro Bowler.
* All facts and figures are taken from ESPN and Yahoo Sports. All fantasy football statistics are based on ESPN fantasy football default scoring.