Panic is basically the default condition of every fantasy manager. When you sign up for this game, you accept the fact that you're going to exist in a state of jittery near-terror for the next five months. I believe this is actually spelled out somewhere in the terms of service you never bothered to read.
If you were thinking our purpose here was to calm your mind and ease your sense of imminent doom ... well, no. We're not qualified for that sort of thing. Also, you are probably right to be worried about your poorly performing fantasy players.
Today, as we do every week, the mission is to tell you exactly how panicked you should be about various aspects of your roster — and make no mistake, you should definitely panic, always. Let's begin with a guy who accomplished the least with the most air-yards last week...
Davante Adams. Still have to start him every week and we just saw how low the floor can go 😨
— Arin Gudmundson (@ArinGoody) October 31, 2023
Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders
Panic level: We are beyond panic. We're now just rocking back and forth in a favorite chair, muttering about process-over-results and Davante's success rate versus various coverages and his share of the air-yards and ... gah. It's bad.
Sorry, but there's not much we can say to make this situation any better. A dysfunctional franchise continues its alarming dysfunctionality and any production you'd expected from Adams has become collateral damage.
As you surely know by now, Adams was the intended target on two misfires from Jimmy Garoppolo on Monday night that should have resulted in touchdown receptions of 98 and 60 yards. Had either of those attempts been completed, you'd have a wide-open sell-high window today. Instead, it's despair. We're all feeling exactly what Adams was feeling right here:
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) October 31, 2023
Garoppolo will be replaced by Purdue rookie Aidan O'Connell moving forward, which is, um ... something. Adams caught eight balls for 75 yards in O'Connell's one start this season. He's drawn 19 targets over the past two weeks and he's seen a ridiculous 41.4% of the team's targeted air yards, so it's not as if he's a forgotten man. The team context is just simply terrible. It's bleak.
Adams should have been flipped at the deadline, considering how incredibly far away this team is from competing. But they presumably didn't want a soon-to-be-fired GM negotiating an enormously important trade, so here we are.
Regrettably, we can't make you feel any better about Adams. He's actually still playing at an extremely high level, and, again, volume hasn't really been an issue, so it's not as if you're sitting him. We can only wallow in the unfairness of it all and hope Adams is dealt in the offseason.
Aaron Jones is single handedly losing me this season
— GoBlue 〽️ (@RIPMegatron_81) October 31, 2023
Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
Panic level: Moderate. It's not quite as bad as it was a week ago (but still, it's bad). 😣🤢
After re-returning from the hamstring issue, Jones has seen only 11 touches in each of Green Bay's last two games. His modest snap count against Denver two weeks ago (23) gave us a pretty clear indication that he was being eased back following a stubborn injury. Jones actually saw the field a bit more in the loss to Minnesota (51% snap share), although his opportunities were unchanged. A.J. Dillon continues to play a bunch, but obviously not quite as much as he did when Jones was inactive. Last week, those two saw an equal number of touches and neither player did anything notable for fantasy purposes.
Jones, of course, is a fundamentally different player than Dillon, in all the best ways. He certainly hasn't looked impaired in his limited recent opportunities. It's also worth remembering that Jones was the centerpiece of Green Bay's offense in the opener, when the Packers mauled the Bears at Soldier Field. Jordan Love has not exactly covered himself in glory since the opening week win, however, which is a limiting factor for this team's offense and all its pieces. Dillon has never been the game's most creative or elusive runner and he's currently averaging just 3.1 YPC and 3.9 yards per touch for the season. It's not as if he's leapfrogged Jones in the backfield hierarchy.
Green Bay has a few RB-friendly matchups ahead, including a Week 16 matchup with Carolina, so it's not difficult to make the argument to hold (or buy-low on) Jones right now. But you might not want to hear that from me, because it's possible that I am the jerk who got you into this mess in the first place.
Olave? If he doesn’t show up vs the bears, I will know it’s not just Carr’s fault.
— Mike Miro (@mikmirophd) October 31, 2023
Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints
Panic level: Elevated, not yet extreme. Disappointment is definitely understandable. 😵💫
The good news on Olave is that he's among the most targeted players in the NFL this season (77). He's had five games with double-digit targets so far and another with nine. Earned opportunities continue to flow his way.
The bad news is that Olave has been sloppier than anyone could have possibly expected, his catch-rate and yards per route run have both slipped, and his quarterback has had moments in which he's been visibly upset with him. He's also coming off a game in which he had one of the worst drops you will ever see from a professional receiver. (Officially, that was actually his only drop of the season according to Pro Football Focus, but Saints fans would probably say PFF has been much too generous. Olave has definitely had other unfortunate non-catches.) It's worth noting that longtime Olave supporter Matt Harmon has expressed some degree of concern, so this isn't simply a situation in which a few fantasy managers are raging because their guy didn't find the end zone in a particular week. Olave hasn't yet made the leap many of us anticipated back in August.
However, I'm generally a follow-the-volume fantasy player with respect to receivers, so Olave remains well inside the WR2 range in the position rankings. He's about to face a Bears defense that currently ranks No. 30 in the league against the pass, next-to-last in passing scores allowed (17) and last in sacks (10). This clearly sets up as a get-right week for Olave. If it doesn't happen against Chicago, we can reconvene next week and have a proper panic session.
I’m buying Pollard if I can.
— Play Tufte (@Avalangelist) October 31, 2023
Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
Panic level: Shrugging on the outside, crying on the inside. 🤠😥
Pollard would be an example of a player who recently found himself in a get-right spot and did not, in fact, get right.
He's the featured runner for a team that led its opponent 33-3 in the first half on Sunday, yet that game situation somehow did not lead to him enjoying a productive afternoon. Pollard finished with a season-low 55 scrimmage yards on 13 touches in Week 8, which is not ideal. He's slumped year-over-year in terms of yards per carry (5.2 to 3.9) and yards after contact (3.8 to 2.6); he's been credited with only eight missed tackles on his 108 carries this season, nowhere near the 41 he registered on 193 attempts last year. Dallas isn't dialing up exactly the same runs for Pollard in 2023, which is presumably a factor in his per-touch efficiency decline. He also suffered a broken leg and high-ankle sprain last January during the playoffs, so it's understandable if his explosiveness isn't quite back to pre-injury levels.
But let's also not be overly critical of a guy who's on pace for over 1,400 scrimmage yards with 60-plus receptions. He's not having a bad year, certainly. You weren't complaining when he scored a pair of touchdowns in the opener, or when he rushed for 122 yards two weeks later. And we all got briefly excited a couple weeks ago when he turned that dump-off into a 60-yard gain against the Chargers. It's not accurate to say there haven't been flashes of peak Pollard.
For what it's worth, he thinks a breakout is coming. The Cowboys aren't viewing him as any sort of problem. After the Philly game this weekend, nearly all of his remaining matchups are neutral-to-favorable, so the schedule isn't particularly daunting. Christian McCaffrey is the only back who's handled more red-zone carries than Pollard this season and Kenneth Walker III is the only guy with more attempts inside the 10-yard line.
Sure, we might reasonably have expected (many) more touchdowns as a result of all those carries near the goal-line, but at least they're happening. Mild disappointment is definitely understandable in this case, though I'd still have Pollard's name on the buy-low list. (Written in pencil.) (Lightly and barely legible.)