Another week and another cast of characters are being dragged into the dark corners of the fantasy universe. And quite honestly, I'm starting to feel like the bizarro-world "The Price is Right" announcer. Cam Newton, come on down! Brandon Marshall, come on down! You're the next contestants in the Panic Room!
But besides those guys and their respective fantasy outlooks, I know what you really want. Stupid online click-bait links, like The Predator, Booker T, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Dakota Fanning. I mean really, this piece pretty much sells itself. Read, click, enjoy.
Welcome to ... The Panic Room.
In Week 6 everything was clicking. Cam was finally healthy and he was once again the ultimate dual-threat quarterback; throwing for nearly 300 yards and more importantly rushing for over 100. All that beautiful yardage combined with three total touchdowns amounted to a HUGE fantasy day of 34.06 points.
But then things started to fall apart. Week 7 saw Cam score just 14 points against a Green Bay defense that, in recent years, has been horrendous versus mobile quarterbacks. That performance was followed by an atrocious five-point outing versus Seattle and a hugely disappointing 12-point performance versus a very soft New Orleans defense.
The offensive line has been a serious problem and outside of Kelvin Benjamin there are zero explosive athletes on the offensive side of the ball. Greg Olsen has been a good safety blanket as always but defenses are too commonly crowding the line and making life extremely uncomfortable for the Carolina signal caller.
Cam, like Arnold's character in the movie, gets beat up and pounded on to the point where you don't think he'll survive. He has set up an elaborate trap for the Predator only to see the creature easily avoid the death pit ... or so it thought!!! Little did it realize he was walking into a giant tree trunk of doom flattening him into oblivion.
My advice: In the words of the great Andy Dufresne, "If you've come this far, maybe you're willing to come a little further."
Cam's schedule lets up significantly down the stretch with Atlanta, Minnesota, New Orleans and Tampa Bay on the docket to take him through Week 15 and into your fantasy championships, should you get that far.
Now while I do believe Cam has the ability to once again be a top-five fantasy quarterback, what I'm not saying is to go all in. Absolutely buy an insurance policy just in case the wheels fall completely off. Carson Palmer and Ryan Tannehill have proven to be pretty reliable middle-of-the-road fantasy quarterbacks and guys like Brian Hoyer, Alex Smith, Teddy Bridgewater and even the dreaded Mark Sanchez should prove to be worthy of spot-start duties.
Is the Cutler-Marshall bromance over? Has he lost a step and become a tertiary piece to Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte? Or has the sputtering Chicago offense left Marshall out in the cold? Whatever the reason, the numbers are ugly. In three of his last four games, Marshall has put up less than five fantasy points.
Our Marcas Grant says this is the part in the buddy movie where the two guys have a falling out before they get back together, realizing they are better together than apart. He's confident the Marshler combination gets cooking again. Me? I'm not so sure.
The targets are still there -- nine or more in each of the last three weeks. But it's what he's done with those targets that has me worried ... dare I say, panicked. In most leagues Marshall was drafted to be a low-end WR1 but his current production has him as a low-end WR2, sitting just outside of the top 25 in terms of fantasy scoring for wideouts.
Can he turn it around? The history would tell you yes, but keep in mind the well-spoken receiver is 30 years old and in his ninth season, meaning athletically his best days are behind him.
We can easily chalk up his most recent 3.5-point performance to being stranded on Revis Island and hope for the best moving forward, but his season numbers have been extremely volatile. Marshall has had three double-digit games and four sub-five point games. And after posting two consecutive 100-plus catch seasons, barring a miraculous turnaround Marshall and his 34 catches (through eight games!) will fall far short of that century mark this season.
The bottom line is there is serious reason for concern.
It's almost comical and most certainly nonsensical as to what is happening right now to Brandon Marshall. Why are Stone Cold and the five time, five time, five time, five time, five time WCW champion brawling it out at the local supermarket??? Why is Marshall, despite the high volume of targets, doing absolutely nothing from a fantasy perspective???
My advice: I'm not totally convinced Marshall is going to bounce back and if anything we know the Chicago pass-catcher still has tremendous trade value. How long that continues I'm not sure. Moving him for Calvin Johnson straight up or a solid tight end like Dwayne Allen and a DeAndre Hopkins type player (read: solid, every week WR2 production) could be savvy.
Hip and shoulder injuries knocked the explosive sophomore out of his Week 9 game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a game fantasy managers had circled on their fake calendars as a matchup in which Gio could have gone bananas.
Instead it was fantasy managers pounding the ground like Donkey Kong in frustration as Jeremy Hill ran unabated for 154 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 28.30-point fantasy day.
Those same ailments will derail Bernard again this week versus the in-state rival Browns, so the natural question becomes, what is Gio's long-term outlook? Will these injuries hamper him for the second half? Or even worse for Bernard managers ... will the emergence of Hill eat into Bernard's workload, rendering him into a dreaded committee back???
NFL Media analyst Elliot Harrison described Hill as a more prototypical running back given his size. Bernard is 5-foot-9, 208 pounds. Hill a much more robust 6-foot-1, 238 pounds. You tell me who is more built to take the wear and tear of a full NFL season.
But more disconcerting for me as a manager who drafted Gio in the NFL Fantasy Live league is the fact that Hill broke off a sick 60-yard touchdown run, proving that not only does the LSU product have more size than Bernard but solid burst as well. And oh by the way, Hill already has just as many touchdowns (five) as Bernard on far less carries.
And keep in mind, it's not like the team isn't invested in Hill. The Bengals selected the former Tiger in the second round of the NFL draft this past year. Given Hill's and Bernard's respective skill sets I can EASILY see them splitting carries moving forward. I'll even go so far as to say that Bernard won't get more than 18 carries a game from here on out given how good Hill looks.
My advice: I know what you're thinking. I'm absolutely crazy to give a guy the Full Jodie when he's a top-12 fantasy back and still scoring at a pretty solid clip. But read the tea leaves. There's no way Cincy is going to push a heavy workload onto a small running back with a significant history of injuries dating back to college. The team is especially not going to do it when they've invested heavily in a tremendous talent like Jeremy Hill.
Look, if you want to ride Gio out for the final seven games, be my guest, you can't be faulted for doing that. Me personally, I'm trying to unload him while his name value is still hot. If Bernard comes back and it's a clear 50-50 split, guess what, you're not going to be able to move him for much. So the question becomes, what can you get for Bernard?
At this point, despite the litany of injuries, I'm still asking for the world. If you can package him up with a solid but unspectacular quarterback like Carson Palmer and get back an Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning, go ahead shake hands and be about your merry ways. But if managers aren't going for it, getting an elite tight end like Rob Gronkowski and an upside back like Weapon X -- former Michigan Wolverine Denard Robinson -- could also pay dividends.
Rivers was cruising along. Cruising isn't the right word ... maybe rocketing along is more accurate. The bottom line was the fiery quarterback was in the conversation for first-half MVP, posting a ridiculous 20 touchdowns to just five interceptions in his first eight games. For those that struggle at math, that is a 40-touchdown clip, a feat he's never accomplished.
Then that cruising, zooming rocket hit a major road block. MVP? Copius amounts of yards and touchdowns? Miami was not impressed by your performance.
I don't know what is more surprising: the fact that the Chargers haven't won in Miami since the Reagan Administration or that Rivers posted an atrocious stat line of 138 passing yards, zero touchdowns and four turnovers.
The numbers or lack thereof led to a shocking and week/soul-crushing NEGATIVE 2-point performance.
Rough estimate, but I'm relatively sure more people voted Democrat this mid-term election than won their fantasy matchups with Rivers at the helm ... that is to say, it was not a large number either way.
Not only was she in full-out panic but she was annoying as hell. That's what it was like to watch Rivers this past Sunday. How is it possible to go from MVP chatter to NEGATIVE FANTASY POINTS??!?!? Tom Brady versus Kansas City in Week 4 thinks that's unacceptable.
My advice: You're going to have to hold on and see what you got, whether you like it or not. The trade value for Rivers is extremely low given his horrendous performance and moving him right now is not advisable.
Dez had absolutely NOTHING going on until he got a meaningless junk touchdown to save his fantasy day. Now, there are rumors and conjecture that Romo is close to returning in Week 10 versus the boys from Duval County, so yes, Dez can absolutely crush this week. But moving forward are you really that confident that Romo doesn't reinjure his back? A two-time surgically-repaired back that currently has broken bones just floating around in there?
Look I get it, he's got buttery matchups down the stretch with two games remaining against the Eagles and their porous pass defense, but the other side of that equation doesn't look too bad either. Jimmy Graham is a proven commodity. Granted, he is just came back from an injury of his own, but if he can even put up 80 percent Jimmy, he's going to be dominant at his position.
Make the trade. You're better off for it.
Now that being said, I'm EXTREMELY skeptical that the artist formerly known as The Sanchize will just slide into Chip Kelly's offense and all of a sudden be a top-12 quarterback. Sanchez has never been an accurate passer, having never completed more than 56 percent of his passes as a pro. I don't care how much of a genius Kelly is, he ain't going to fix that part of Sanchez's game.
So would I trade a huge asset to get Brady? Eh ... obviously, if you've read Panic Room since it's inception, you know that I, like a number of analysts, panicked on Brady wayyyyyyyyyyy too early. So that being said, would I move heaven and earth to get him? No, absolutely not.
If you can get the Patriots signal-caller for an RB2 I would not be opposed to consummating a deal like that (say Brady for Alfred Morris). But would the Brady owner do it? I doubt it. But that's about as high as I would go to get Brady. If you can do it, great, if not, play matchups the rest of the way at quarterback and hope for the best.
Have a player you're panicking on? Need relationship advice? Follow me on Twitter @JamesDKoh and use #PanicRoom to let me know!