Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Writer
In fantasy, you have to make split decisions to ensure you get the edge on your competition. Sometimes that means adding the guy who came out of nowhere or cutting the sleeper who never made it. But what if the player's last performance was just an outlier? Recency bias is something all fantasy managers struggle with, and while those split decisions can be league winners they can also be league losers. Sure, expanding the sample size can help, but sometimes a player just seizes an opportunity and never looks back. Just ask fantasy managers with Jags RB James Robinson on their roster.
The Heat Check is designed to address this issue by taking a look at some players from each skill position (no kickers allowed) that performed as fantasy starters over the past three weeks but are not viewed as lock it in starters. Each player will come with a hint of #analysis, but more importantly they will come with a recommendation as to whether or not their performance is sustainable. Not only should this highlight some players you can add or drop, but hopefully it will help you evaluate how to tackle the issue of recency bias.
Week 10 Heat Check
Drew Lock (DEN): Have the Broncos unlocked Drew Lock's potential? Despite sitting at QB30 on the season, Lock lately is a streamer's dream for those who had the stones to pick him up, with 22 PPG in Week 7 through Week 9. However, most of those points came in Week 8 against the Chargers and Week 9 against the Falcons, who are two of the best matchups for QBs in 2020. Lock will have another good week against the Raiders in Week 10, but his penchant for throwing the ball to the wrong team (5 INTs over the past three weeks) and his league-worst on target percentage are a recipe for disaster against tougher matchups against the Dolphins and the Saints. Heat Check: Lock is streamable this week, but expect him to fall back to Earth in Week 11.
Teddy Bridgewater (CAR): I talked about Bridgewater in yesterday's free agent article, and there is a lot to like about the Panthers QB. Bridgewater has been fairly stable this year but has trended up over the past three weeks, rising from QB16 the previous six weeks to QB10 over the past three. Unfortunately for him, the matchups going forward are not in his favor. Tampa Bay this week is brutal, especially since Bridgewater scored only 10.7 points in their last meeting. He still has two favorable matchups against Detroit and Minnesota the following two weeks, but a Week 13 bye and a Week 16 matchup against Washington are less than ideal for fantasy managers. Heat Check: Bridgewater may finish the season as a top 12 QB, but due to his schedule cannot be considered more than a streaming option.
Jerick McKinnon (SF): Running back has been awful over the past three weeks, so maybe it is not a surprise that McKinnon is heavily rostered despite scoring 7.2 PPR points total in Week 5 through Week 7. After all, a healthy RB is worth his weight in gold in 2020, and McKinnon took advantage of being healthy while most of the Niners were out. During Week 8 and Week 9, McKinnon averaged 14.85 PPR points, boosting him to RB21 over the last three weeks. Unfortunately, Week 7 tells the real tale, where Jeff Wilson Jr. scored 32 PPR points and McKinnon managed to get in the red with -0.1 points. Heat Check: You cannot trust McKinnon week-to-week. He needs a perfect situation where he has no competition for touches and is nothing more than a stash in case the Niners injury woes continue.
Zack Moss (BUF): I staked a claim on Moss in Week 9 Movers & Shakers (and in multiple leagues) and the Bills RB came through, scoring a TD while dominating the red zone attempts for Buffalo. Should be good news right? Unfortunately, that rushing TD was all that saved Moss from being a total dud in Week 9, where the Bills largely abandoned the run against an awful Seahawks pass defense. Heat Check: The Bills rushing attack has been stagnant and Josh Allen's usage really hurts the fantasy value of their RBs. Still, matchups against the Chargers, Cardinals, and especially the Patriots in Week 16 mean that you must roster the Bills RB.
David Moore (SEA): The last three weeks present an interesting pattern for the Seahawks WRs. In Week 7, Seattle fed Tyler Lockett, leaving wideouts D.K. Metcalf and Moore with disappointing performances. But in the following two weeks against the Niners and Bills, QB Russell Wilson looked away from the slot and towards the perimeter, allowing Metcalf and Moore to feast while Lockett was frustrated fantasy managers. Unfortunately, Moore is still the clear fourth option on the Seahawks though, battling with TE Greg Olsen for best of the rest after Metcalf and Lockett. Heat Check: If you are confident that Moore's production is predictable then he could be a safe-floor FLEX play. However, given the tough matchups against the Eagles, Rams (twice!), and Washington Football team I would expect Moore to disappear from some games entirely before the season is over. Stay away.
Mike Williams (LAC): Is the Mike Williams breakout finally happening? The Chargers WR has looked really good with Justin Herbert under center and was WR26 in Week 7 through Week 9. It also seems that the rookie QB is developing a connection with Williams, preferring him as the clear second receiver on the team. Williams has even been matching TE Hunter Henry for targets most weeks with Herbert as QB, which bodes well for his future. Heat Check: With Justin Herbert under center, Williams is clearly a WR2/WR3, and needs to be rostered.
Nelson Agholor (LV): Not counting the Week 6 bye, four of the Raiders' last five games ended with Agholor scoring double digits. Not coincidentally, each of those games also featured an Agholor TD. The whole thing reminds me of Tyrell Williams to start the season last year, which makes complete sense given that Williams is who Agholor replaced. Heat Check: Agholor struggles way too much for targets to be sustainable going forward on a Raiders team whose passing game is essentially TE Darren Waller and then everyone else. If you need a WR in Week 12 against Atlanta, his matchup is too good to pass up, but barring that Agholor is TD or bust.
Eric Ebron (PIT): Eric Ebron has been a top 5 TE over the past three weeks, and yet fails to get the same respect as other TEs. Maybe it is because he very quietly became rostered in a majority of leagues and is not considered a bust, but I think it is simply that the Steelers WRs have stolen the show. To be fair, Ebron is noticeably behind the trio of talented WRs in Pittsburgh regarding target share. However, where Ebron is not behind is red zone targets. In fact, he leads the Steelers with nine of them. Heat Check: As long as Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is healthy, Ebron is a TE1 ROS. You may need someone else in Week 16 to win you your championship (he plays the Colts), but he will get you there.
Jared Cook (NO): Cook is notorious for being a boom/bust TE, but the last three weeks have seen him averaging a healthy 10.4 PPR PPG, good enough for TE8. He also is number two on the Saints for red zone targets, which is a sign that the opportunity is there. Unfortunately, QB Drew Brees cannot seem to connect with his TE, as Cook is dead last on the Saints in red zone completion percentage. Even worse are the games like last week, where Saints TEs not named Jared Cook scored 22.3 points, and TEs named Jared Cook scored only three points. Heat Check: It is tough to find a TE with the red zone opportunity that Cook has, but he is a risky play in any given week. I like him as a matchup dependent play in some weeks (including two upcoming matchups against the Falcons), but I would need to roster an additional TE.
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