Welcome back to the Stat Vault, a place to review some of the most interesting stat blurbs from the week and the bigger picture they paint. Some of them you may not have heard yet, and some of them are plastered everywhere – with that being said, the point is to analyze what these stat blurbs mean for fantasy, not to learn a new fun fact. Each of these stat blurbs has more significant fantasy implications, so we’re here to pull them out of the vault, polish them up, and use them to our advantage.
BENGALS’ OFFENSIVE WOES
STAT: Dead last in yards, only averaging 236 yards per game.
What this means:
Joe Burrow is not okay. His injury is clearly still causing him problems – that or the Monstars have taken his abilities. I’m choosing to believe the former, but either way, I’m worried.
This is an offense that was supposed to include fantasy stars from Ja’Marr Chase to Tee Higgins to Joe Mixon. Hell, even Tyler Boyd and Irv Smith Jr. were supposed to be worth rostering. Now, starting even the top players on this offense looks risky.
The Bengals have started to force-feed Chase to get something going, which helps his floor. But, it will not make him into the top-three option he was meant to be when drafted. Mixon has been solid — his volume is there, but he’s certainly not wowing anybody as the current RB20.
Higgins has gotten a ton of volume. Thirty-two targets in four games is no joke, but getting 12 catches on that target share? That is kind of a joke. He also fractured his rib, which could sideline him for a few weeks.
Although this situation may seem similar to the Bears, I would not take the same course of action that I’ll talk about below. The talent level and draft stock for the guys in this offense is much, much higher. And, they’re not coming off of a good game, meaning selling high is off the table unless you expect them to continue sinking lower.
If the Ja’Marr Chase or Tee Higgins owner is not you, I would look to see how frustrated they are. Let it rip if they are willing to give them Chase for a solid player like Jaylen Waddle, Brandon Aiyuk, or DeVonta Smith, with another piece thrown in. The same holds true for trading for Higgins in exchange for a player like Gabe Davis, Chris Godwin, or Marquise Brown.
Even if the offense does not become what it used to be, those two WRs are talented enough to outperform the others listed.
I’d recommend holding most of these guys if you own one of the two. You can shop them around to see if somebody is still willing to give a top option in exchange for Chase, but other than that, it seems like it can only go up from here.
Consensus: Lower your expectations for any player on the Bengals’ offense for now, but look for more success as the season continues. Keep ‘em if you have ‘em or trade cheap for ‘em if you can.
JUSTIN FIELDS’ BIG DAY
STAT: Posted career-highs in passing yards (335), passing touchdowns (4), and passer rating (132.7).
What this means:
Justin Fields had a breakout passing day, yet all it makes me do is want to get rid of him. It sounds counterintuitive, but let’s be honest: in his other 30 career games, he has never come close to this type of passing ability – and likely will not again.
It is not a coincidence that the team Justin Fields threw for these stats against is the same team that gave up 70 points the week prior. Instead, they made one of the worst passing quarterbacks in the NFL look like a Hall-of-Famer.
The problem with this performance from Fields is that it is not replicable. Even if he made a jump in passing after this game, he would still be an average passer and not worth the hype. For instance, if Fields started throwing for 250 yards, a couple of touchdowns, and limited turnovers each game, he would sound like. . . Matthew Stafford or C.J. Stroud. Or any of those solid waiver QBs.
Yet, he will not improve to those passing numbers and is still starting across many leagues. So, why was he any good last year if his passing is virtually the same? Well, because his rushing production was historic. And now it is nonexistent.
Here is Justin Fields rushing performances so far this year:
- Week 1 vs. Packers – 9 rushes, 59 yards
- Week 2 at Buccaneers – 4 rushes, 3 yards, 1 TD
- Week 3 at Chiefs – 11 rushes, 47 yards
- Week 4 vs. Broncos – 4 rushes, 25 yards
That’s a total of 28 rushes through four weeks. Compare this to last year, where in his last four weeks, he totaled 56 rushes, exactly double. Outside of this week, his passing stats are not good enough without last year’s massive rushing volume. He should not be started, and sell him high now if you can — good luck though, as even the biggest Justin Fields’ fans have started to hop off the bandwagon.
The offense, in general, is not prime for top fantasy options. D.J. Moore has been okay but ranks better due to this last week. He caught 8-of-9 targets for 131 yards, with a touchdown that was not really a touchdown. Cole Kmet can be picked up and used for TE-streamer teams, but likely won’t be anything beyond that.
Khalil Herbert also got a large amount of volume for the first time, mostly because the Bears held the lead. They played extremely conservatively, allowing the Broncos to come back. I would not expect this amount of carries again, especially with the rumors of Roschon Johnson getting an increased role — something I still see as very possible.
I am not a fan of playing any of these players in this offense. If you can sell them high after a successful week, pull the trigger. I have no faith in this Bears’ offense outside of Kmet and Moore, who are not dependable weekly starters.
Consensus: If given the choice between a Bears player and a similar-level player on another team, go with the player on another team. Sell Fields, Moore, Herbert, and the rest of that crew.
C.J. STROUD’S RISE
STAT: Became the only QB in NFL history to have 1,200-plus pass yards and zero INTs over their first four career games.
What this means:
C.J. Stroud has been truly impressive to begin the season. His stats are historic, yet they still don’t tell the whole story — watching him play is just as crazy. So, of course, picking up Stroud as a stash or a starter if you are weak at QB is a good play, but there are bigger implications.
The Texans have been far more willing to pass and successful than most expected. This changes the entire team dynamic — there are now fantasy-relevant WRs on this team.
Nico Collins is the WR4 overall through four games, something not many saw coming. He was targeted nine times, his third time with nine or more targets in just four games. He’s gotten more looks than guys like Mike Evans and Ceedee Lamb.
Tank Dell has not been quite as good as Nico, but he is also worth a roster spot. He only managed three targets last week, but with 17 targets over the previous two games, you can expect that number to increase.
Both Tank Dell and Nico Collins are worth starting at a flex spot if you have an opening; Nico could even be a WR2, assuming he keeps this up, which I think he will. I say that because their unexpected success is not the result of a flukey concept like playing certain defenses or injury — Stroud is just a better QB than anybody guessed, which seems like a concrete idea to rely on.
Now, that’s a lot of positives, but unfortunately, fantasy points can often be a zero-sum game. With the passing game’s success in Houston, Dameon Pierce has gone from an RB2 with great volume into simply a no-floor, low-ceiling, unexciting flex prospect.
He currently sits at…
- 64 carries (T-7th most)
… yet only has amassed:
- 181 yards (27th most)
- 2.8 yards-per-carry (7th worst)
- 1 touchdown
For the first couple weeks, it seemed like Dameon Pierce was awaiting a breakout game, but with 25 touches last week and only 11.8 points, he is starting to seem useless. Up big against the Steelers, he had a perfect chance to break out and failed. Paying attention to volume is important, but sometimes it can only go so far.
The Texans will run the ball to set up play-action and try to pound the rock sometimes, of course. But, at this point, it seems like the running game just is not that good. And, because of the passing game’s success, Houston does not really feel the need to fix it. It doesn’t help that he is essentially a non-factor receiving-wise.
Pierce will be a guy who will consistently have less than his expected points based on his volume. Yes, he will likely have a few great weeks throughout the season – that volume will occasionally manifest itself in a 2-TD day. But it is not worth waiting for. This was the last chance I was giving him and he failed the test. When trading him, try to use the line, “Look at his volume, though!” to try and attract buy-lowers who are a little too deep down the rabbit hole.
Consensus: Ensure C.J. Stroud, Nico Collins and Tank Dell are rostered. Try not to fall into Dameon Pierce’s high-volume trap.
DE’VON ACHANE SHOWS OUT AGAIN
STAT: Leads the league in yards-per-carry with 11.4.
What this means:
De’Von Achane averages over 11 yards every carry? Woah. First, let’s give credit where credit is due – this looks like Achane’s backfield. He has outsnapped Raheem Mostert for the past two weeks now. Achane has found the end zone six times in just his last 33 touches.
Realistically, though, this is not sustainable. What is sustainable, though, is if Mike McDaniel keeps on his word that the best performers will be awarded as such with more volume. It has been trending in that direction, so hopefully, Achane will smoothly transition from overperforming with limited touches to great performance on normal volume.
There’s not much of a bigger picture to this one, although I think there is something to be said about the amount of mouths to feed in this offense. The Dolphins have hand-picked a slew of short, quick, and electric players to run around the field and find space. It does not seem like the preference is too much for who gets the ball other than Tyreek Hill, who always gets what is his.
I am mildly concerned about Jaylen Waddle, who has not been very impressive when he has played. The amount of targets is lower than other WRs at his value, with only four catches in each of the three games he played. There is no need to panic yet, though, as that was a similar story last year — he is more of a big-play guy.
Braxton Berrios‘ involvement has not been worth rostering, but it is just enough to annoy Waddle and Hill owners. See how many names I have already said? Tyreek, Waddle, Berrios, Mostert, Achane…
This offense is great, but the amount of players that are expected to perform is impossible to actually satisfy outside of their 70-point outing. With that being said, I would hold on to Hill and Waddle, the former being obvious and the latter for the likely future contribution.
Achane is valued pretty highly right now, but I would still be willing to trade for him. Do not overcompensate with a crazy package, but value him as a flex or RB2. With the upside to be a high-RB2 or low-RB1, that value is enough to look into.
That is three players — the most I think can succeed at once. Sell on Mostert in fear of the Achane breakout.
Consensus: Buy Jaylen Waddle at a discount, buy De’Von Achane at his value, and sell high on Raheem Mostert ASAP.