Unpredictability is a large part of what we deal with in fantasy football. One week your team is riding as high as you can get, and the next, you're struggling to find points from your MVP from the week before. A great early example of this is with Ravens running back, Ty'Son Williams. After gut-wrenching injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, the rookie falls into a starting job and performs well in weeks one and two. Then, going up against a defense that allowed four touchdowns to Aaron Jones a week ago, he can only rack up 22 total yards of offense, leaving you scratching your head and praying for a Monday night miracle.
So, how do you identify if you roster a player in an unpredictable situation?
A player in a timeshare that still gets work but at any moment can be supplanted.
An offense that is completely built to do the opposite of what your player does. Week to week, it is a crapshoot on if they will even see the field.
A team believes in the player, but the player has done nothing so far, making you stuck in a holding pattern.
Let's look at an example of each of these situations we see currently playing out and how you can handle them.
TRADE: Melvin Gordon, RB, Denver Broncos
Melvin Gordon is an excellent example of number one in the list above. Melvin Gordon is in the last year of his contract with the Broncos.
Gordon only has four more touches than Williams through the first three weeks. The Broncos took Javonte Williams to replace Melvin Gordon down the road, but no one knows when that will be, but here is what we do know:
To gain the most value for Gordon before you are stuck holding an aged running back with no value when the switch flips and Williams starts getting 60% of the touches by November, trade him while the iron is hot. He has two touchdowns through the first three weeks and is top ten in rushing yards. Find someone to take Gordon's unpredictable situation off your hands and reap the benefits before it is too late.
DROP: Tampa Bay Running Backs
Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones are about item number two on the list. The Buccaneers are built to throw the ball all over the field. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time. Mike Evans has over 1,000 yards every season of his career. Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown are great at what they do with their versatility to move into the slot or play outside. Rob Gronkowski is Brady's safety net over the middle of the field.
Do you see a pattern? No running backs to lean on. If you need proof, take a look at the first three weeks of the season. In a tight game against the Cowboys, the Buccaneers abandoned the run and threw the ball 50 times. They blew out the Falcons in week two and threw the ball 36 times. This week they lost to the Rams and threw the ball 55 times. Three games, three different types of games, and the same result from the running backs: little to no fantasy impact. More stats needed? Team leader in rushing touchdowns? Tom Brady and Chris Godwin with one apiece. Do not handcuff yourself by waiting around and hoping one day the Buccaneers' offense will change their philosophy overnight. Running back touches in Tampa Bay are unpredictable, and you can find more predictable touches with someone like Jamaal Williams in Detroit than any of the Buccaneer's running backs.
KEEP: Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers
This one is going to be a tough one to figure out all season. Robby Anderson last year was one of the more consistent wide receivers in the league with 95 catches on 136 targets is highly predictable. However, the Panthers leader in targets from 2019, Christian McCaffrey, played in only three games last year. So far this season, McCaffrey is back in the lineup and has seemingly picked up where he left off with 17 targets already through three games.
Looking ahead at how to predict Robby Anderson, it might get a little bit easier. The Panthers extended Anderson before the season started showing their faith in him as a player. McCaffrey got dinged up in Week 3 with a hamstring injury which could sideline him for multiple games. The Panthers also made a trade that sent Dan Arnold to Jacksonville, and he was tied with Anderson for targets at 11. At the very least, the next couple of weeks should prove fruitful for Robby Anderson, which makes him someone to keep for now.
At the end of the season, the team that wins the fantasy football championship is the one that can navigate these unpredictable situations the best. You have seen almost a quarter of the NFL season, and teams will start leaning on what they do best. Learn how the players you roster are used in real-life football do not just look at the bottom line of their fantasy finish. This extra dive into the numbers will help you predict how productive they can be for you in fantasy football now and in the future to get you a championship at the end of the season.
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