Bench These Underperforming Players
Kareem Hunt, RB Kansas City Chiefs
Hunt hasn’t scored a touchdown since Ronald Reagan was spinning trickle-down economics, and he hasn’t had 100 yards from scrimmage since Week 7 against Oakland, whom he faces this week. He has scored 17.50 Fantasy points over the last four weeks combined, and on the whole, the Chiefs have been a pitiful excuse for an offense. The Raiders’ defense is a juicy matchup and Hunt is a talented player, but the numbers over the last six weeks show that if you have a playoff caliber roster, you probably have a better Flex option than Hunt. It will take cajones to sit him, but the trends suggest that you should seriously consider it.
Jordan Howard, RB Chicago Bears
One of the most attractive aspects of owning Jordan Howard was the high volume of attempts, but that volume has been cut significantly over the last four weeks. In Weeks 3 through 8, he had 130 rushing attempts, an average of just under 22 totes per game. In Weeks 10-13, he had 50, slightly more than 12 per game and in those four games, he only scored 28.50 total Fantasy points. Howard faces one of the worst defenses against running backs (Cincinnati Bengals), so the matchup makes him a tempting flex, but don’t be afraid to bench him if you have a respectable alternative.
Stefon Diggs, WR Minnesota Vikings
My best draft season “Hot Take” may have been the prediction that Adam Thielen was going to be a better Fantasy player than Stefon Diggs in 2017, and I am looking good as we enter the Fantasy playoffs. What I didn’t predict was that Diggs would be such a relatively mediocre overall player this season. He is currently a big name and an explosive talent who has only three 90-yard receiving games and four games of five receptions or more this season. He has only scored one touchdown in three Vikings games, and he has only scored double-digit Fantasy points twice in his last six games. It looks like Diggs is playing hurt because he isn’t performing like the big time talent analysts expected he would be in 2017. At an average of 8.13 Fantasy points per game over his last four, Diggs isn’t a must-start play in a relatively neutral matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
T.Y. Hilton, WR Indianapolis Colts
Hilton has 89 receiving yards and seven receptions in his last three games and if you exclude his Week 9 explosion against the Houston Texans (175 receiving yards and two touchdowns) he has 12 receptions for 150 receiving yards and one touchdown in six games. In Week 14, Hilton faces a Buffalo Bills team that has had some bad individual games (Weeks 9-11 they allowed 135 total points) but overall, they have been one of the better defenses against wide receivers this season. If Hilton wasn’t on your bench already, then he probably should be for the first game of the Fantasy playoffs.
Jordy Nelson, WR Green Bay Packers
Nelson hasn’t scored more than 12 Fantasy points in a game since week four against the Chicago Bears and in his last six games, he has 120 total receiving yards and zero touchdowns. The Packers face a Cleveland Browns defense that is the ninth-best against wide receivers and allows an average of just 29.3 Fantasy points per game. Nelson has been one of the more noteworthy underperforming players all season, and the Browns are actually a tough matchup. Even at a bargain basement price in DFS, Nelson should be on the waiver wire rather, not in your starting lineup.
Alex Collins, RB Baltimore Ravens
Collins has scored a touchdown along with 13 Fantasy points or more in three straight games. He isn’t a significant part of the passing game, but he hasn’t been entirely absent either. This week, he faces a banged up and suspended Steelers defense in a game in which the Ravens are likely to rely heavily on the run.
Kenyan Drake, RB Miami Dolphins
He has scored double-digit Fantasy points in four of his previous five games including a 120-yard, one touchdown, 23-point breakout performance in Week 13 against the Denver Broncos. The Dolphins struggled to run the ball in a previous matchup against their Week 14 opponent, the New England Patriots. Even with the Patriots’ defensive improvements, the Dolphins should be able to have some success running the ball in this one.
Mike Wallace, WR Baltimore Ravens
Wallace has scored double-digit Fantasy points in three of his last four games, but I am reluctant to fully buy into Wallace in season-long Fantasy leagues. He has only one 100-yard receiving game and no more than five receptions in any of those four games. He’s also facing a Pittsburgh Steelers team that is tough against the pass despite suspensions and injuries to several defensive players. Wallace is a flex consideration and the recent statistical trends are cause for optimism. However, I am more enamored with Wallace in DFS at the right price point than in season-long leagues in which he doesn’t size up well when owners are choosing between comparable alternatives.
Nelson Agholor, WR Philadelphia Eagles
Agholor put up 18 and 27 Fantasy points over the last two consecutive weeks. He was targeted 12 times in Week 13, but only six times in Week 12, so there is a reason to be hesitant. There is a small trend forming in his production, but his targets have been inconsistent. That’s why Agholor’s performance is noteworthy, but not a trend just yet.
Rex Burkhead, RB New England Patriots
Burkhead racked up 15, 19 and 25 Fantasy points during Weeks 10, 12 and 13 respectively, with double-digit carries in all three of those games. He also scored three rushing touchdowns during that time period. He hasn’t been a significant player in the passing game, but he has made 16 catches over the last four games with two receiving touchdowns in those four. Dion Lewis has looked great but Burkhead is getting plenty of touches, and with Gronk out this week, his role could increase against a mediocre Miami defense.
Jermaine Kearse, WR New York Jets
Kearse put together back-to-back weeks with 20-plus Fantasy points and 100-plus receiving yards. This week, he faces a talented Denver defense that has really struggled to perform. Denver has lost eight games in a row, allowed at least 20 points in all of them. Among the eight losses were games in which they allowed 29, 35, 41 and 51 points. Josh McCown also had a big week against Kansas City in Week 13, which could make the pairing of McCown and Kearse an affordable “double-whammy” in DFS.