To Panic or Not to Panic

Ryan Mathews still stands close to fantasy football stardom, Mike Wallace already is there & Favre's a dump

Ryan Mathews still stands close to fantasy football stardom, Mike Wallace already is there & Favre's a dump

In the world of fantasy football, one week’s unusual performance can be labeled a fluke. Too often though, jittery owners mistake a few weeks of off-kilterness to be a trend.

This can lead to them cutting bait on some underperforming players who might just be overdue for the big games expected of them at the start of the season. Here are 10 players who were uniformly high draft picks but have stumbled out of the gate.

I’ll tell you whether you can take a chill pill or whether you need to reserve some space out on the ledge

QB Brett Favre, Minnesota — PANIC: I’m a Vikes fan, and even I underestimated the value of Sidney Rice. (Hey, Sidney, next time your hip starts hurting for no particular reason, GO SEE A DOCTOR!!!)

Anyway, Favre has no connection with his receivers, and the schedule, after last week's breather against the Lions, which still wasn't that great (201 yards, only one touchdown and two interceptions for Favre) gets ridiculously brutal. It kills me to admit it, but Favre ain’t riding off into the sunset, and neither are you if you stick with him as your starter.

RB Michael Turner, Atlanta — DON’T PANIC: Feel free to grumble about what Turner might have been able to do had he not been knocked out of the game against Arizona, allowing burly Jason Snelling to gobble up all of those points. But don’t get carried away and think that Snelling is some kind of threat to Turner’s job. It was turner who gobbled up 30 carries (for 114 yards and a TD) while Snelling made due with 16 carries in week three against New Orleans.

Turner will live up to his RB1 status the rest of the way.

RB Shonn Greene, New York — PANIC: I steered clear of Greene this year, simply because I wasn’t convinced that a hot postseason means immediate success as a regular. What’s been even more troubling for Greene owners is that LaDainian Tomlinson has defied most predictions (including mine) and looks absolutely rejuvenated. Plus, Green has a severe case of the fumbles, which a ball-control team like the Jets can’t afford.

This looks like a strict time-share and Greene’s value is plummeting. LT was on the field for 42 offensive snaps in the Jets win over Miami last week. Greene only made it out there for 17 snaps, getting just 10 carries.

RB Steven Jackson, St. Louis — DON’T PANIC: While I think that Jackson was severely overrated before the season, I can see him amassing his usual totals as the season wears on. Sam Bradford at least provides a semblance of a threat in the passing game, which means that defenses can’t send 13 men in the box against Jackson like they have in the past years.

His groin injury — which makes him questionable for this week's game — is a legitimate concern though. If it lingers, this could switch to PANIC quick.

RB Ryan Mathews, San Diego — DON’T PANIC: Here is a case of an injury perhaps being overrated. It's being two weeks of fantasy pain for Mathews' owners, but he is expected to start this Sunday.

You should monitor how the Chargers align on the goal line; if Mike Tolbert is getting the carries, then Mathews’ value takes a hit. But the bottom line is that despite their early-season struggles, the Chargers will score a lot, and the rookie, as their main running back, should get a nice piece of the action.

RB Jamaal Charles, Kansas City — PANIC: The good news is that Charles doesn’t need a lot of carries to break it big. The bad news is that he might not get many, because Thomas Jones remains productive at age 56.

So you’ll get the occasional big burst from Charles, like his long TD run in Week 1, and the occasional nothing game, like Week 2 and the occasional game where he averages 8.1 yards a carry and still gets only 12 of them like in Week 3. Which all kinda makes Charles the running back equivalent of Devery Henderson, a severely depressing thought if you’re an owner who took him in round two of a draft.

WR Steve Smith, New York — PANIC: Smith is going to get his catches eventually, but, as a glorified possession guy, it’s going to take a whole bushelful to get him close to 1,000 yards on the season. Considering he was taken in the third or fourth rounds in most drafts, that’s a benchmark he should be reaching with ease.

Instead, with Mario Manningham finally figuring out how to run a pattern and Hakeem Nicks’ raw talent blossoming, Smith might be the third option on his own team despite those nine catches for 103 yards in Week 3.

WR Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh — DON’T PANIC: You've already ridden out the worst of the storm. Wallace's three catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns last week show what a huge impact player he can be even with Charlie Batch throwing the football. Just wait until Big Ben is back.

Come Week 5, Roethlisberger, he of the paralyzing pump-fake and the pocket fearlessness will stroll back into the huddle, and young Wallace, a jet who was a forgotten man the first two weeks, will surge to star status.

WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona —- DON’T PANIC: If your main concern with Fitzgerald is the status of his knee, I can sort of see that. But if you’re worried about Derek Anderson and Fitzgerald's two meager catches for 26 yards last week, I think you’re fretting needlessly.

Anderson will lead his team to the Super Bowl on the 12th of Never, but he is capable of putting up big stats in offensive slugfests. It says here that Larry could quickly regain his status among the fantasy elite, starting with this week's game against San Diego.

WR Michael Crabtree, San Francisco — PANIC: I could be letting my personal feelings get in the way here, as I was among the many who felt that Crabtree would take a big jump this year with a full training camp. But he missed much of the preseason with an injury, and his chemistry level with Alex Smith looks about like a romantic comedy starring Christopher Walken and Snooki would.

Unless your league gives points for locker-room friction caused, I’d say you can stomp on that panic button with both feet here.

Ryan Mathews
Ryan Mathews is one breakout game from bringing everyone back.
Mike Wallace
The Steelers Mike Wallace could already be the fastest players in the NFL and he'll fly even higher once Big Ben returns.
Brett Favre
Brett Favre is done as a major force.