Trust or Trap Players for Fantasy Football
Trust is the basis of relationships all over the world. When we do not trust our employees, spouses, or the kid behind the burger joint counter, we often expect the worst. In the world of fantasy football, trust is a fragile thing. Anyone who may have drafted Eli Manning in the 2013 season knows exactly how difficult it is to regain fantasy trust. There is a major difference between a player we can trust and a player that is a trap for fantasy football.
After the week-one dust settles, owners flock to the feeding frenzy of the waiver wire. There are times where the excitement of the big first week mixes with a bit of overreaction causes us to fall for those trap players thinking we can trust them. In this article we are going to take a look at players that we should be able to trust moving forward, and just as importantly the trap players that could snare someone unaware.
Trust or Trap Players
Trust: Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins came out week one ready to play. After a healthy offseason program, fantasy owners may finally be getting the Sammy we have always longed for. A healthy one. Within a handful of plays, Watkins got open for a long catch-and-run touchdown. That was just the beginning. He finished the game with nine receptions on 11 targets, 198 receiving yards, and three touchdowns.
Tyreek Hill left this game early with an injury and did not return. This may have contributed to some additional targets. However, Sammy appeared to get open at will against some talented corners.
Watkins fantasy finishes have been up and down since entering the league in 2014. However, that trend has been tied directly to injury and not his talent. Since entering the league, he has only played a full 16-game season one time. When he is healthy, he remains productive. Last season he was credited as playing 10 games, but really only saw a full complement of snaps in eight of those. In those eight games, he totaled 53 targets (6.6 per game), 515 yards (64.38 per game) and three touchdowns. Extrapolated out to a full season, he would have finished with 106 targets, 1,030 yards and six scores.
Trust Level for 2019: Moderately High
With players like Watkins, injury risk must be factored in. Even with that risk, one must objectively look at the potential reward. The week one stat-line was gaudy and owners cannot expect that level of production on a weekly basis. But the talent that made that stat-line possible is very real and very present. The upside a healthy Watkins represents is WR1 territory. Playing on a high powered offense led by Patrick Mahomes should be incentive enough. With Tyreek Hill expected to be out four-to-six weeks with a shoulder injury is enough to propel him into the trust category.
Watkins entered the season with a 33% target share. He should be rostered and started as a high-end WR2 with WR1 upside moving forward.
Trap: Marquise Brown
Even the most stubborn of Lamar Jackson truthers cannot begin to convince anyone that they saw this outcome from week one. The conditions were present for a good game, not the annihilation we pleasantly witnessed. Jackson looked comfortable and confident in the pocket, had all day to throw, and delivered strike after strike. One of the beneficiaries of that performance was rookie wideout Marquise Brown. Brown finished with 147 receiving yards and two touchdowns on just four receptions.
Trust Level: Low
There are a few reasons to be leery of point chasing with Brown. First of all, the Ravens will not be playing the Dolphins every week. Better defenses are on the horizon and have to be taken into account.
The second point is simply efficiency regression. Lamar Jackson finished with five passing touchdowns on only 20 pass attempts. That averages out to one touchdown every four pass attempts. Otherwise known as the definition of unsustainable. (For reference, Jackson threw a touchdown pass once every 28 attempts last season)
The third point is the rookie factor. Brown is still learning the speed of the NFL as well as an NFL playbook. That translates to a lower snap count. In fact, Brown only played on 18% of snaps in their week one contest. It becomes difficult to trust a receiver playing that low of a snap percentage.
Point chasing on the waiver wire is more than just looking at a final stat line. When taking the opponent, the crazy efficiency rate (by both quarterback and receiver) and the low snap percentage into account; there is no good reason that Brown’s ownership has risen over 46% since waivers ran.
All of this being said, Brown is a very talented rookie that should translate very well to the NFL. However, one should not expect this kind of production moving forward. We very well may have since his best game of 2019 already. Let someone else burn the free-agent acquisition budget on him.
Trust: Jamison Crowder
Wide receivers changing teams can often be a time-consuming transition. Moving to a new quarterback and beginning with zero rapport and learning a new playbook both factor into the process. Various factors can either expedite or hinder the process. Some receivers move into a better situation where the specific talents begin to shine almost immediately. Enter Jamison Crowder from stage left to the New York Jets. Crowder fits the scheme in an offense led by Adam Gase, who favors slot production. Crowder immediately benefitted from Gase and Sam Darnold‘s offense.
His week one stat-line is ridiculous. In a game where Darnold finished with 41 pass attempts, he funneled 17 of them Crowder’s way. For those playing the home game, that’s a 41% target share. He hauled in 14 of those targets for 99 yards.
Through his career, Crowder has shown the ability to maintain some PPR appeal. His limited ceiling has never made him a huge target in redraft leagues but he has remained a safe-floor kind of option through his time in Washington.
Trust Level: Moderate
Crowder leaves the Redskins to join Darnold and the Jets. Almost as important, he joins an offense called by Adam Gase. Gase, while known for having a stubborn refusal to utilize his best running backs, does have a penchant for slot receiver usage. Quincy Enunwa, unfortunately, is out for the season with a neck injury leaving Crowder to fill the slot role full time. Darnold needs that safety valve for short yardage plays, especially with Chris Herndon serving a suspension to start the season. Crowder does not have a super high ceiling but his PPR floor is safe and reliable moving forward.
Trap: John Ross
Allow us to begin by looking at the good, the tantalizing side of John Ross that brings him into the conversation. In week one of the 2019 season, Mr. Ross lit up the scoreboard to the tune of two scores and 158 receiving yards. It was a great game by a player who certainly has some talent. Mixed with a newly installed offense that certainly appears to be more creative than the Marvin Lewis variety we have all become accustomed to in Cinncinatti, Ross looks like the talent so many expected out of college. Since then, a smattering of injury and poor production has jaded the view on Ross.
Is it possible that the new-look offense can resurrect his fantasy value? Sure. Is it also possible that a trend is not set by one stellar game? Equally possible. Let us take a look and see what we statistically know about John Ross.
What we know here is that both the ceiling and floor remain fairly low and the difference between the two is not overly enticing. The raw numbers are even further depressing on his outlook. In seven games during the 2018 season, Ross had five or more targets. He never caught more than three passes in any of those contests. On a brighter note, he made his catches count in 2018, hauling in seven total scores.
Trust Level: Low
The twelve targets in week one are enticing. The seven receptions are a career-high as are the multiple touchdowns in one game. It sets this up for more of a trap than a trust play. This is one a call that I somewhat hope I am wrong on. With the newly installed offense, there is hope that Ross can grow and take the next step in his career. Mr. Ross is very talented, very fast, yet it has not fully translated to consistent production.
With A.J. Green sidelined for another couple of weeks, Ross represents a flex appeal kind of target that becomes a bit of a dart throw. If Joe Mixon were to miss any time with his ankle injury, Ross becomes more appealing as a flex option. Otherwise, it would be recommended to approach this as a show-me more situation before committing.
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