Tuesday, June 15

Fantasy Football: Time to panic about Alvin Kamara, Kyler Murray? Plus injuries, MNF recap, and more – CBS Sports

This is usually where I say, “Welcome to Week 13!” and offer some thoughts on the Fantasy football landscape for the next week. But … Week 13 doesn’t technically start for a few more days thanks to the Steelers-Ravens game Wednesday afternoon. Waivers won’t run until Wednesday night in CBS Fantasy leagues, and some other providers may not run waivers until Thursday night — because, remember, there’s no Thursday Night Football game this week. 

That all means that we’re in sort of a holding pattern between Weeks 12 and 13. We’ll look ahead to the top waiver-wire adds with Jamey Eisenberg’s top priorities column Tuesday, plus the rest of our Week 13 preview content later this week, but for today, I wanted to take the opportunity in today’s Fantasy Football Today Newsletter look at some of the players you might be panicking about with the playoffs looming. 

I looked at how you should view 10 struggling stars at this point in the season, focusing on the likes of Alvin Kamara, Kyler Murray and Calvin Ridley who may be making you feel especially antsy right now. You could face some tough decisions if you’re in do-or-die situations, so the goal is to provide reasons to believe — or reasons to give up on them.

Plus, I’ve got the latest news from around the NFL and a recap of Monday night’s game between the Seahawks and Eagles. And if you want the rest of our Week 12 review content, you can find my early look at the waiver wire here, plus Heath Cummings’ breakdown of the top storylines, and my Winners and Losers for each game. And, if you have questions about the upcoming waiver wire, Week 13 matchups or anything else, send ’em my way for Tuesday’s #AskFFT mailbag. Hit me up at Chris.Towers@CBSInteractive.com with the subject line “#AskFFT” with your toughest questions for tomorrow’s newsletter.

Injuries, news and notes

  • Ravens-Steelers moved to Wednesday — At least, assuming the Ravens can avoid any further positive tests today or tomorrow. I broke down everything you need to know about this situation here, but I just hope you were able to avoid having to rely on too many players from this game — because there’s still a legitimate chance it won’t be played. 
  • Will Fuller hit with a six-game suspension — I also broke down what Fuller’s suspension means here, and there’s nothing good about it at all. The Texans don’t have any obvious replacements, especially after they just lost Randall Cobb to IR and waived Kenny Stills. Fuller’s season is done, and he heads into free agency with one game remaining on the suspension hanging over his head for 2021. It comes right in the middle of the season we’ve been hoping he could have for years. 
  • Josh Jacobs (ankle) could play in Week 13 — One nice thing about the delayed waiver run in Week 12 is we should know more about injuries than we normally do, with most teams set to practice for the first time Wednesday. Jacobs appears to have avoided a serious injury, which is great news with big playoff matchups looming, but it’s no guarantee he’ll be able to play against the Jets. If he does, he’s an obvious must-start option against any matchup; if he doesn’t, Devontae Booker is the top target on waivers and could be a top-12 RB for Week 13. Remember, DeAndre Washington averaged 20-plus PPR points per game in three starts for Jacobs last season and Jalen Richard hasn’t played in three weeks due to a chest issue. 
  • Daniel Jones (hamstring) is expected to miss time — Jones appears to have avoided a serious issue, but it will likely keep him out for Week 13. That means Colt McCoy gets to face a fast-improving Seahawks defense, which would make it awfully tough to trust anyone in the Giants offense. Wayne Gallman is still a low-end RB2 and Evan Engram is probably too valuable to sit at such a shallow position, but I wouldn’t start anyone else here. 
  • D.J. Moore’s (ankle) X-rays came back negative — The Panthers are lucky to have a bye in Week 13, but that means we may not get another update on Moore’s status until next week. The concern remains that he may have had a high-ankle sprain, though that hasn’t been confirmed yet. Hopefully we find out more soon, because we’re at the point of the season where a three-week absence might make even a very good player like Moore droppable. Curtis Samuel could be a good starter down the stretch if Moore misses time. 
  • Bruce Arians: “Ronald Jones “needs to have 20 touches” — Uh oh, does that mean a 30-touch Leonard Fournette game is looming? Arians’ vote of confidence hasn’t historically meant much for Jones — Arians anointed Jones the starter before Week 13 last season and then benched him for missing a blitz pickup. Jones has clearly been the best Bucs back this season, and he should get a majority of the touches over Fournette moving forward, but Fournette has played more snaps in four of the past five games. As always, Jones is an intriguing RB2 with upside each week and a razor-thin margin for error unless Arians is willing to give him room for error. I wouldn’t bet on a sea change here, but I would love to see it. 

Time to panic? 

It’s crunch time, and that means you can’t afford a miss. When you’re in a win-or-go-home situation, sometimes you have to decide if you’re going to go down with your struggling star or ride a hot waiver-wire pickup. We got a question about just that in Monday’s Fantasy Football Today podcast, specifically about Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott, perhaps the poster-backs for this question with the playoffs looming. 

Let’s say Jacobs is out for Week 13 and you picked up Booker. Is it too much to say you should start Booker over Kamara or Elliott? I’m not sure it is, believe it or not.

What we need to do first is try to figure out what level of concern you should have about your struggling stars. So, I’m going to steal one of Adam Aizer’s bits and break out the “Worry-O-Meter,” a theoretical but still very powerful machine designed to gauge how worried you should be about a given player. I know, it’s high-tech stuff. A “1” on the Worry-O-Meter indicates a must-start player going through a small rough patch; a 10 means you’re free to drop them. 

  • Alvin Kamara — We’ll calibrate the meter with Kamara, the player probably inducing the most panic right now in the Fantasy world. And not for no reason. He’s been targeted just three times in two Taysom Hill starts, with his only catch losing 2 yards when Hill couldn’t hit him accurately on a simple screen pass. In the short term, there are real reasons to be worried about Kamara, though I would caution against taking too much from a pair of blow outs where the Saints didn’t really have to try. I won’t have the guts to sit Kamara in most situations in Week 13 — I would start him over, say, Wayne Gallman or either of the Bills running backs, putting him in that middle RB2 tier — and when Drew Brees comes back, he should return to the elite tier. But, if you’re fighting for a playoff spot in Week 13, you’re definitely sweating. Panic-O-Meter rating: 7. 
  • Kyler Murray — If you could guarantee me that his shoulder injury was going to be a non-issue moving forward, I’d be fine; if you could guarantee it was going to limit him the rest of the way, I could figure something out. It’s the unknown that worries you about Murray. With 37% of Murray’s points coming from the rush yards or touchdowns, he relies on his rushing for Fantasy production more than even Lamar Jackson did last season, so if he’s more like a five-carry-per-game guy moving forward, that would be reason to panic. I’m not worried yet, but another game with lackluster rushing production and you might have to consider playing the matchups. Panic-O-Meter rating: 4. 
  • DeAndre Hopkins — Hopkins has been sort of quietly not good lately — just one game with more than 10.5 PPR points in his past four, and in the lone exception, 11.3 of his 25.7 points came on a Hail Mary. So, how can I be less concerned about the guy who relies on Murray than I am with Murray? Because, if Murray does run less, the Cardinals will invariably have to pass more, especially near the goal-line, where Murray has been dominant as a rusher. That should only help Hopkins. Panic-O-Meter rating: 1. 
  • Miles Sanders — The Eagles offense just isn’t working right now, and that has limited Sanders’ value. I still love Sanders’ skill set, and he has a valuable role in Philadelphia, seeing regular downfield throws and dominating carries. However, if Carson Wentz‘s struggles continue, Sanders is going to be big-play dependent, and that’s a recipe for inconsistency. . Panic-O-Meter rating: 6. 
  • Tyler Lockett — What’s frustrating about Lockett is the role is still incredibly valuable — even after four targets Monday, he is still averaging 8.4 per game for the season, with plenty of downfield looks. He just hasn’t been particularly efficient of late, averaging 6.7 yards per target over his past five, compared to 9.7 for his career. That makes me inclined to believe he’ll pull out of his recent slide, though the ship has sailed on Lockett matching DK Metcalf as the 1a or 1b in this offense. There’s a clear hierarchy now. Panic-O-Meter rating: 3. 
  • Calvin Ridley — Ridley has topped 60 yards just once in his past three games, and has only reached 70 once in his last five. However, since returning from his foot injury, he’s still playing around 75% of the Falcons snaps with 18 targets in two games, and his only game with fewer than seven in his last five was in Week 8 when he left with that foot injury. Is he going to get back to averaging 100-plus yards like he was early in the season? Maybe not, but you should start Ridley without hesitation. Panic-O-Meter rating: 1. 
  • Antonio Brown — There is, potentially, some confirmation bias at play here, because I was skeptical Brown would be able to make an impact joining the Buccaneers midseason, but in my defense … *gestures wildly at Brown’s role in the Bucs offense*. He is clearly their third-best wide receiver, and there doesn’t seem to be much rapport there with Tom Brady, especially on any downfield stuff. To me, signing Brown always looked like a solution in search of a problem, and why would the Bucs force the ball to him when they have better options? At this point, you’re just betting on names if you are starting Brown, and neither he nor Brady is the guy he used to be. Brown is droppable. Panic-O-Meter rating: 10. 
  • Ezekiel Elliott — The fumble combined with the season-low 11 touches in Week 12 might have you starting to worry, but Elliott’s at no risk of losing touches. He will probably remain inefficient with the touches he does get, and you might have better options to play in Week 13 against the Ravens. However, he gets the Bengals in Week 14, so you’re definitely starting him, and it’s hard to see going away from him in the Fantasy playoffs given his workload. He’s a touchdown-dependent No. 2 RB, but the way he dominates touches makes him more likely than most No. 2 backs to score a touchdown. Panic-O-Meter rating: 6. 
  • Robby Anderson — We’ll see what happens with Moore’s availability, but I feel pretty confident in Anderson moving forward. He reminded us that he is still the kind of receiver who only needs one touch to put up a big game in Week 12, and the targets have still mostly been there — 8.6 per game over the last five. He’s been inefficient with those targets, averaging 6.3 yards per target, but he’s averaging 8.9 per target for the season and 8.2 for his career, so that doesn’t worry me much. He was in a little bit of a rut over the past month or so and still has at least 11.6 PPR points in three of those five games. He’s still a WR2 in my eyes, though we’ll need Teddy Bridgewater to play better than he did in Week 12, so hopefully that knee heals up quick. Panic-O-Meter rating: 2. 
  • Lamar Jackson — Well … there are six games left — five if you remove Week 17, and he’s missing at least one of them after his positive COVID-19 test. And, if you aren’t guaranteed of a playoff spot, that means you may not have him for a must-win Week 13, either — that remains to be seen. Oh, and Jackson is no guarantee to produce huge numbers even if he is healthy. I’d bet on him being a QB1 when he plays, but not necessarily a huge difference maker. I can’t say you should drop Jackson, but the fact that it’s even a thought is pretty shocking. Panic-O-Meter rating: 7. 

MNF recap: Seahawks 23, Eagles 17

At some point, the Eagles seriously have to consider making a change at quarterback. 

Winner: DK Metcalf — Pro tip for future Seahawks opponents: Don’t go up to Metcalf before the game and tell him he’s good, but he’s not as good as Calvin Johnson, as Jim Schwartz allegedly did before kickoff Monday. Metcalf is the guy who holds a grudge against every team that passed on him in the draft — which is every team. Early in the season, I said Metcalf wouldn’t sustain his touchdown rate, and he hasn’t; he has one touchdown every 12.8 targets over the last six games, compared to one every 7.8 targets in the first five games. Of course, after Monday’s 10-catch, 177-yard performance, he’s still averaging 17.4 PPR points per game in that stretch of six games. The combination of Metcalf’s prodigious skills and his growing workload with Russell Wilson‘s historic efficiency makes him one of the best receivers in Fantasy. 

Loser: Carson Wentz — Wentz was pressured on 19 of his 52 dropbacks, and it’s really hard to succeed in those kinds of circumstances. But the bigger issue is it looks like he’s being pressured even when he isn’t. His pocket presence has regressed badly, and whether you want to blame the poor offensive line play, he’s not even coming close to making the most of a bad situation. Wentz was actually a decent Fantasy QB this week, but his play has been bad news for pretty much everyone in this offense. You can start Dallas Goedert, and you probably can’t go away from Miles Sanders at this point, but that might be it until Zach Ertz gets healthy. I’m not even sure if Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham or Alshon Jeffery even need to be on a 12-team roster. 

What you might have missed: According to pre-game reports, the Eagles were allegedly planning to get Jalen Hurts more week in Week 12, and he did play more snaps than in Week 11; he upped his snap count from one to two. Given how well Wentz has played in the past, I get why the Eagles wouldn’t want to give up on him — he could find it just as easily as he lost it, in theory. But at some point, you have to see what you have in the guy you drafted in the second round, right? My guess is, if the Eagles fall more than one game back of the NFC East lead, we’ll see Hurts at some point. It’s not guaranteed to be better, but it will at least be different. 

And one other note: Shout out to the two people who split the top prize in the FanDuel Monday Million contest on the last-minute Richard Rodgers tipped Hail Mary touchdown. Sometimes, you’ve just gotta be lucky. 

So who should you start and sit this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 13 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big-time last season.

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