An important aspect of fantasy football is getting ahead of the curve in player values. Dave Kluge has listed and highlighted some players who show a change in value and lets you know what to do with them in Week 7's "Three Up, Three Down" article.
Bill Simmons famously coined the term “Ewing Theory,” which states that a team is more successful when its star player is not playing. Just days before Week 7’s divisional matchup against the Buccaneers, the Panthers traded away their star player, Christian McCaffrey. Carolina went into the game as 13-point underdogs and won with a final score of 21-3. The win was impressive enough that the team anointed P.J. Walker as the starting quarterback. Walker was an undrafted free agent signed by the Colts in 2017 but didn’t take his first NFL snap until 2020. After failing to elevate himself from the practice squad, Walker chose to go to the XFL. He led the league in passing yards and touchdowns until they suspended operations. Spending his years in Carolina buried behind Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Cam Newton, and Baker Mayfield, Walker has never had much of an opportunity to showcase how his skills could translate to an NFL field. He pulled one start in 2020 and another in 2021 but didn’t do much in either. In his Week 6 start this year, he had a quiet game as well. But we finally saw some shades of promise in Week 7. Walker didn’t stuff the stat sheet, but he finished with 177 passing yards on a 72.7-percent clip, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. However, what we’ve yet to see from Walker throughout his NFL career has been any rushing upside. Over his NFL career, he has just 13 rushes for 10 yards. But if we look at his stint in the XFL, he had a minimum of four rushing attempts and 17 yards in all but one game. Walker isn’t a guy who you should pick up and start next week in single-quarterback leagues. But the upside with Walker is appealing for deep, two-quarterback, or Superflex leagues. He should be picked up and stashed just in case the team decides to utilize his skillset as a rusher, which would raise both his weekly floor and ceiling.
After seeing a three-headed committee in Week 7, fantasy managers rostering Gus Edwards might be a bit nervous. On the flip side, he scored twice and had a great fantasy outing. Because of that, we might be looking at a sell-high candidate who shouldn’t really be sold high. People probably see the stable output paired with lackluster usage and might be looking to get out. However, the workload Edwards saw in his first game back is a promising sign of things to come. Edwards tore his ACL before last year’s kickoff and faced a long recovery. But upon return, he instantly led the backfield in touches, yards, and touchdowns. Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill are not going to simply disappear. And as we know, Lamar Jackson has a penchant for sniping goal-line touches. But Edwards has a long history of efficiency. He’s one of nine players in NFL history who have had over 400 carries while maintaining at least 5.0 yards per attempt. Considering the staff’s commitment in his return, it’s likely that Edwards sees an expanded role in the coming weeks and could make for a weekly RB2 in fantasy.
There might not be a more obvious buy-low trade target than Chris Godwin. He’s seen 25 targets over the last two weeks. He’s only played in five games this year and was limited in two of them. But in the three games where he’s logged a full snap share, he has seen 10, 12, and 13 targets. Unfortunately, he hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 10 of last season. He’s the WR51 on the year. The Buccaneers have been abysmal. Some fantasy managers might be looking to sell low on Godwin because of it. Godwin’s 2021 season ended with an ACL tear, but nothing this year indicates that the injury is still lingering. He looks like himself, and bad luck has been the reason for the lack of production. Godwin has not recorded less than 15.9 points per game or below a WR15 finish in the last three seasons. Still just 26 years old, there’s no reason to believe that age is a factor in his production dip. Someone out there might be thinking there is a correlation between his output and the injury. But the underlying metrics make it appear as if it’s been bad beats. Expect plenty of WR1 weeks ahead for Godwin, and throw some trade offers out to fantasy managers who could be panicking at his slow start.
It turns out that Jared Goff’s early-season success may have been an apparition. After putting up top-five fantasy numbers through the first four weeks of the season, Goff has been a liability in fantasy lineups since. In his last two games, he has zero touchdowns, three interceptions, and an average of 5.2 fantasy points per game. Amon-Ra St. Brown missed Week 5 and was knocked out of Week 7’s matchup early. D'Andre Swift has not played since Week 3. That, coupled with tough matchups against the Patriots and Cowboys, could explain Goff’s cold streak. Given what we’ve seen from Goff throughout his career, though, it’s more likely that the hot start to this season was a fluke. Even when he was putting up substantial fantasy numbers, PFF graded him as the 24th quarterback in passing grade. Like Jimmy Garoppollo, he’ll have some big games because of his supporting cast. But his lack of rushing upside and weaknesses as a passer cannot be ignored. Goff is surrounded by talented playmakers, giving him a bit of appeal in deep or two-quarterback leagues. But in standard one-quarterback leagues, better options are likely available on the waiver wire. I prefer Justin Fields, Daniel Jones, and Marcus Mariota going forward. Even if Swift and St. Brown can return this week against the Dolphins, Goff is a risky play given what we’ve seen over the last two games.
This offseason, it appeared as if the Packers were going to run their offense through A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones, given the apparent lack of talent in their wide receiver room. We may have underestimated the effects of losing Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. This Packers’ offense has been as dull as you can imagine. Whether looking at pace of play, yardage totals, points scored, or just about any other team ranking, Green Bay consistently shows up in the middle of the pack. And while Jones has been able to maintain some relevance with his role as the team’s pass-catching back, Dillon is teetering into unstartable territory. He has pulled three or fewer targets in five of seven games this year. He’s seen 12 or fewer rushing attempts five times. After a 20.1-point Week 1 performance (PPR), Dillon has failed to exceed 10 points in any other outings. His role last year came as the late-game hammer who would eat the clock at the end of wins. With a current record of 3-4, the Packers have yet to find themselves in many situations where they can afford the luxury of burning the clock with Dillon. Now in his third year, Dillon has done more than enough to showcase his skill set. We know the talent is there. But unfortunately, there isn’t enough volume to go around for him to have weekly relevance. He remains a high-end handcuff and would be a fringe RB1 if Jones were to get hurt, but he’s nothing more than a risky flex play in his current role.
Going into this season, we knew there would be some concerns with the Pittsburgh Steelers' passing attack. But quarterback concerns overshadowed how crowded the depth chart was. Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth each showcased abilities as solid pass catchers in their rookie seasons. The team invested a second-round pick in George Pickens in this year’s Draft. And what we’re getting now is lower pass volume than we saw in the Ben Roethlisberger era and less accurate throws being spread thinner across the team. Where Roethlisberger hyper-targeted Diontae Johnson and Najee Harris in the short parts of the field, Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky each take more risks downfield. That inherently benefits Chase Claypool and Pickens while harming Johnson and Harris. And since Pickett has taken over, it’s spelled even worse news for Johnson. He has seen a dip in his target share as Pickett utilizes Pickens at a much heavier rate. Johnson still commands a steady enough target share that you have to keep him in your lineup. With draft day aspirations as a borderline WR1, though, it’s best to start looking at Johnson as more of a WR3. Despite the league’s 13th-highest target share, a short target depth, inaccurate passes, and lack of touchdown equity has Johnson sitting as the WR31 in PPR formats. He’s someone you can probably move based on name value, and his perceived value is likely higher on the trade market than it is in your fantasy lineup.