You know, I have made a concerted effort not to duplicate players in this column this season. I don’t want to talk about the same players over and over again. That’s not fun for me to write. Or fun for you to read. Or especially helpful — assuming this column has been helpful at all.
Hopefully it’s at least been good for a laugh or two.
But I gotta ask a question here — one that I already asked earlier this season.
What the bleepity blank is Arthur Smith doing in Atlanta?
In last week’s loss to a Minnesota Vikings team playing a quarterback who had been with the team for five days (no, really — five days), this was an actual series that happened when the Falcons had a first-and-goal at the 1:
False start. Five-yard pass to backup tight end Jonnu Smith. Run by Smith (no, really). Run by Tyler Allgeier. Field goal. No Bijan Robinson. No Kyle Pitts. No sense.
When asked about this play-calling that seems like a four-year-old playing Madden for the first time, Smith offered up this word salad of an “explanation.”
“Every staff I’ve been on, you do whatever you can to win,” he said. “I mean, it’s just how you set things up. You collaborate. I know these are natural questions. You get them in the cycle, and then when you don’t win, you have to stand there and look at it. It’s not an ego thing. We’ll always do what’s best for our team. (We’re) moving the ball, but obviously, we’re not scoring more points than the other team. So, you look at everything.”
At this point, I legitimately don’t know if Smith is incompetent or is intentionally trolling us. His lack of usage of Pitts and Robinson is just bizarre. It doesn’t appear it’s going to change any time soon. And it has caused me to start this week’s drops with a player I’m sure will get the comments section riled up.
(Rostered percentages courtesy of Yahoo.)
Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons (95 percent — Droppable in shallow 12-team leagues)
That’s right. I’ve had it. Pitts is no longer a must-hold.
Want to hear some numbers that will make you want to mail Smith a Priority Mail envelope filled with cat poop? (Don’t — I think it’s probably illegal). Pitts has been targeted more than five times just thrice in nine weeks. He has just 11 more targets in those nine weeks than Smith. He’s 22nd in red zone targets among tight ends.
Pitts is 16th in PPR points among tight ends — a full five slots behind Jonnu freaking Smith, who had five catches for 100 yards and a score against Minnesota because nothing matters anymore. Pitts has fewer PPR points than three different rookie tight ends. And Cole Kmet of the Chicago Bears. And Logan Thomas of the Washington Commanders. He has fewer PPR points per game than Cade Otton of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I understand that many fantasy managers aren’t in a position where they can outright drop Pitts. That this late in the season there aren’t better options available. But the earliest-drafted tight end in NFL history — a unicorn in terms of talent — is a blah TE2 in fantasy leagues. And folks, that’s not changing so long as Arty the Troll is calling the plays for the Falcons.
Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams (61 percent—Droppable in 12-team leagues)
Well, that was fun while it lasted.
Henderson was a great story — the guy who went from sitting on his couch to starting at running back for the Rams in a manner of days. In that first game back, Henderson tallied 66 total yards and a touchdown — numbers that were enough to make the 26-year-old a hot waiver add a few weeks ago.
Hey, where running backs are concerned, we are not an especially choosy bunch. A guy hits the end zone, and off we go to chase him.
However, even in that game Henderson only averaged 3.4 yards per carry. And things have gone steadily downhill from there. Sharing the backfield with Royce Freeman the past two weeks, Henderson has carried the ball 22 times for 50 yards. And with Matthew Stafford out at quarterback and Brett Rypien one-hopping receivers left and right, opponents just focused on the run that much more.
The Rams are on bye in Week 10, and by the time we next see them against the Seattle Seahawks, Ronnie Rivers and/or Kyren Williams could be back. There’s just no point in holding Henderson (or Freeman, for that matter) through the bye.
Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans (85 percent — Droppable in shallow 12-team leagues)
That’s right — coming out swinging this week!
Before the season, Pierce was a trendy breakout candidate in the eyes of many fantasy pundits. He appeared to be Houston’s clear lead back. He had shown some flashes as a rookie, and the young bruiser from Florida was telling reporters that he was light-years ahead in his development as a player compared to his rookie season.
“I’m 1,000 leaps ahead of where I was last year,” Pierce said over the summer. ” This time last year, my head was spinning here in camp, I’m trying to remember plays, so I see how C.J. (Stroud) feels. Now, the game’s slowed down tremendously. I just feel better. I feel more in shape. I feel better mentally. (I) feel sharper. I’m ready to have a good season.”
When the game slowed down tremendously, Pierce apparently slowed down with it. He’s barely averaging three yards a carry in 2023. Pierce has topped 50 rushing yards in a game twice this season. He has one rushing score. He’s 44th in PPR points per game among running backs. He’s mired in a full-blown committee now with Devin Singletary for a Houston team that’s 27th in the league in rushing. And he missed Week 9 with an ankle injury.
Other than that? He’s been great.
Brandin Cooks, Dallas Cowboys (46 Percent—Droppable in 12-team leagues)
Last week’s tilt with the Philadelphia Eagles was arguably the Cowboys’ biggest game of the season. But despite the massive stakes of that NFC East clash, veteran wideout Brandin Cooks told reporters he wasn’t going to let himself get too hyped up for the contest.
“I stay even-keeled,” Cooks said. “I just continue to go about my process, come in, work hard, and when my opportunity comes, I take advantage of it. My confidence never shifted one way or another even early on in the season. … I’m just here to help my team win.”
Well, it’s Tuesday. And Cooks is still waiting for that opportunity — he was targeted twice against one of the leakiest pass defenses in the league in a game where Dak Prescott attempted over 40 passes. Cooks scored touchdowns in Week 6 and Week 8, but he has just 29 targets and 17 receptions for the season. And when asked why Cooks’ role in the Dallas offense wasn’t bigger, head coach Mike McCarthy had this to say:
“I don’t play fantasy football.”
You know what, Mike? Get bent. All the way bent.
Romeo Doubs, WR, Green Bay Packers (58 Percent – Droppable in shallow 12-team leagues)
Remember when it looked like Romeo Doubs might break out in 2023? That was fun.
In Week 3 and Week 4, Doubs was targeted 25 times, He caught 14 of those targets for 168 yards and a touchdown. Over that admittedly small sample size, Doubs was 13th in PPR fantasy points among wide receivers. Per the team’s website, receivers coach Jason Vrable talked up the way that Doubs was attacking the football in his second pro season.
“I think the biggest thing with him is the way he’s attacking the football,” he said, “catching it. Coming out (in the draft), I definitely believe he had good hands but right now, he’s just running through the catch, strong aggressive hands, getting the hands in front and just really good body control. It’s equated to success when the ball has gone his way.”
The problem here isn’t Doubs — he’s among the league leaders in red-zone targets and has five touchdowns for the season. But since those 25 targets in two games Doubs has 21 targets in his last four — largely because Jordan Love isn’t especially good at the whole playing quarterback in the NFL thing. Four weeks in, Doubs was WR16 in PPR points. Now, he’s WR41. And given the way the Green Bay passing game is trending, things aren’t going to suddenly get better.
Gary Davenport is a two-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association Football Writer of the Year. Follow him on Twitter at @IDPSharks.
(Top photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Pierce photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)