If only fantasy managers could drop head coaches.
Preferably on their coaches’ heads.
(Author’s Note: Violence is wrong, and you can’t drop people on their head — even if they deserve it)
What happened last week with Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson is one of the weirdest situations I have seen in 20 years of playing and/or writing about fantasy football. Robinson wasn’t at any point listed on the injury report. At no point on Sunday morning did any news come out that anything was wrong with the No. 8 running back in PPR fantasy points. Nothing.
And then nothing was exactly what happened. Robinson barely played, reportedly because he was “just not feeling all that great.” He wound up carrying the ball all of one time for three yards.
This writer gets Robinson not feeling well — it happens. This writer gets the Falcons deciding not to play him much. But the NFL has policies about injured and ill players. Not saying anything about Robinson’s illness until after the game certainly appears to run afoul of those policies — and the league is investigating.
But what really sticks in my craw is that Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has gone out of his way on more than one occasion to make it abundantly clear that he doesn’t like fantasy football. Not targeting Kyle Pitts? Too bad. No looks for Drake London? Pound sand, you fantasy dorks. And now he gives Robinson one meaningless carry at the end of a game just to twist the knife.
Was it intended as a one-finger salute to all the people who play fantasy football? Not entirely. Do I think the thought crossed his mind?
I’ve decided not to tell anyone the answer to that, because I can.
Alas, we can’t drop Smith and grab the Falcons a new head coach off the waiver wire, so let’s get to the players who should be shown the door in Week 8.
(Rostered percentages courtesy of Yahoo)
Sam Howell, QB, Washington Commanders (58 Percent — Droppable in 12-team leagues)
Sam Howell’s first full season as Washington’s starting quarterback has been… ungood. After seven weeks, he’s 18th in completion percentage, 18th in passer rating and 25th in QBR, with just nine touchdown passes and seven interceptions, However, despite calls from fans and the media to bench Howell for Jacoby Brissett, Commanders head coach Ron Rivera told reporters that there aren’t going to be any big changes coming.
“I think we have found a young quarterback that gives us an opportunity,” Rivera said. “We’re trying to play the best football we can and at the same time grow a football team. We’re not going to go around cutting a bunch of people, trading for a whole bunch of people, trying to hire a whole bunch of people. We’re trying to develop a young football team to be a very good football team for the future, and that’s what we’re going to continue to work on.”
At the rate Howell is being sacked, he may ask to be benched — he’s been dropped 40 times and is on pace to break David Carr’s record for being bounced off the turf like a rag doll. That the Commanders attempted 52 passes last week despite Howell being dropped 40 times makes my head hurt almost as much as Howell’s. But there’s no way to get a passing game going when the quarterback spends most of the game looking out his earhole.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Cleveland Browns (75 Percent — Droppable in 12-team leagues)
Of course, at least Howell is on the damn field.
Fantasy managers who rolled out Watson last week after he was cleared to start received quite the treat — one completion in five attempts (well, two if you count the interception he threw) for five yards against the Indianapolis Colts before being forced from the game. The shot he took may have aggravated his injured shoulder, and Cleveland’s $46 million a year quarterback wouldn’t say after the game if he’ll be able to practice or play in Week 8.
“Whenever I step on the field, I don’t want to have any pain holding me back and be handicapped,” Watson told reporters. “We had a great week of preparation and we felt that it was the best opportunity for me to come back this week. I just wasn’t able to finish the game.”
Do you know which quarterbacks had more fantasy points last week than Watson? All of them — including the ones that didn’t play, because in fantasy leagues that subtract points for picks, Watson finished with negative points. There’s chatter that Watson could start Sunday in Seattle or wind up on injured reserve. The Browns are stuck with their $230 million boondoggle. Fantasy managers don’t have to be.
Zach Evans, RB, Los Angeles Rams (35 Percent — Droppable in all leagues)
Remember the Zach Evans era in LA? That was fun.
Frankly, this one is our fault. The fantasy football community wanted the rookie running back to be named the starter in the backfield after Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers landed on injured reserve. So we paid attention when Rams head coach Sean McVay said, “We’re excited to see what he’s got,” and ignored it when McVay went out of his way to make it clear he was not naming Evans the starter.
“We’ve got the week to be able to evaluate and I would say all four of those guys are possibilities and we’re truly navigating through that,” McVay said last week, per Stu Jackson of the team’s website. “But I was pleased with what Zach did towards the latter part of the game.”
Well, McVay wasn’t kidding. Practice squad call-up Royce “Wait, he’s still in the NFL?” Freeman saw 12 touches. Darrell Henderson, who was watching football on TV two weeks ago before being signed off the street, saw 19 touches. And Evans, on whom many a FAAB dollar was spent last week, saw exactly as many touches against Pittsburgh as you did. It’s possible the backfield split could change again in Week 8, because Sean McVay. But zero snaps makes it rather difficult to score fantasy points.
Jeff Wilson, RB, Miami Dolphins (52 Percent — Droppable in 12-team leagues)
The Dolphins got Wilson back a week ago after a stint on injured reserve with an abdominal and finger injury. His return ostensibly came at a good time, with De’Von Achane on IR himself with a knee injury, and head coach Mike McDaniel said that Wilson had actually been clamoring to get on the field the week before against the Carolina Panthers.
“He’s doing great and he was ready to go,” McDaniel told reporters. “And really, I’ve never had issues with players chomping at the bit and then being like, ‘All right, you have to wait.’ It just means he’s going to be hungrier, and I think we’ll all benefit from when that time comes.”
When gametime rolled around, there was no chomping, clamoring or much of anything where Wilson was concerned — he barely played and had all of one touch in Sunday night’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. That was partly negative game script, partly easing Wilson back in — and partly Raheem Mostert having the best year of his life. Once Achane is back from IR too in a couple weeks, Wilson’s going to be the third Stooge.
And no one liked Larry. Not one person.
Tutu Atwell, WR, Los Angeles Rams (46 Percent – Droppable in 12-team leagues)
Puka Nacua got all the run this season, and rightly so — he’s been the kind of instant impact shocker off the waiver wire that comes along once a decade…if that. But while Cooper Kupp was sidelined third-year pro Tutu Atwell made quite the little fantasy dent of his own — earning praise from Rams head coach Sean McVay in the process.
“What I appreciate about a lot of the guys on this team is that they just put the work in,” McVay told reporters. “And then they’ve earned opportunities and really they allow us to be able to do certain things. (Atwell’s) a guy who can play all over the formation. He’s getting a bunch of different targets in a bunch of different locations and it’s not exclusive to the deep speed that he possesses. I’m really happy for Tutu.”
Well, happy time is over — because Kupp is back.
Yes, Atwell caught a 31-yard touchdown last week against the Steelers. But that ball wasn’t even intended for him — it was thrown to Kupp, and Atwell snagged it out of the air because his fantasy team was playing against Kupp. Outside that, Atwell was targeted once.
Kupp and Nacua were targeted 19 times.
If Gary Davenport was better with a sewing machine, he’d own an Arthur Smith voodoo doll. You can try and talk him down off that ledge on Twitter at @IDPSharks.
(Top photo: Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)