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Fantasy Football Panic Index, Week 6: What happened to Keenan Allen?

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Grading the panic level fantasy owners should have for Keenan Allen, Zach Ertz and more.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Every week, some NFL player underperforms and it sends a shockwave through fantasy football. This week I’m sure was especially rough for people, what with the entire Rams offense looking lost against the 49ers, the Chargers seemingly forgetting they have an All Pro receiver and the best running back in the NFL to start the season in their backfield, and Minshew Mania coming to a screeching halt. It’s easy to be feeling pretty down about your fantasy team right about now (unless of course you’ve got Deshaun Watson and Christian McCaffrey and are just sipping pina coladas and giggling at the pain and suffering of your league mates).

If you’re looking for comfort, you’ve kinda come to the right place. I can offer some comfort here, but also some harsh truths.

I’ve collected a bunch of fantasy names that I’m sure you’re worrying about to start the week and given each of them a rating of how much panic is the right amount of panic to have if these players populate your fantasy roster.

Quickly, honorable mention: Aaron Jones. We know Matt LaFleur has been wanting a running back committee forever and with a healthy Jamaal Williams, he did just that. Jones isn’t someone to panic just yet on, but he’s starting to give me the nervous tingles.

Let’s begin.

Aaahh, FREAK OUT!

Keenan Allen

It’s good that Halloween is just around the corner, because the split between Allen’s first three and last three games so far this season is just about the scariest thing you’ll see all year. Allen started the season as by far and away the best receiver in the league, catching 29 balls on 42 targets for 404 yards and three touchdowns. His last three games? 11 catches on 17 targets for 99 yards. What in the holy blue blazes of blue holiness happened here? I get that players have down weeks and offenses maybe sometimes change, but I can’t for the life of me understand why the Chargers suddenly went from targeting their best player 14 times a game to 5.5. Riddle me that Batman! Needless to say, until we see something different from Los Angeles, it is officially time to panic on Allen and this entire Chargers offense. Which leads me to..

Austin Ekeler

Of course we knew things were going to change with Melvin Gordon back in the fold and we saw that in Week 5 when Gordon received the bulk of the carries and Ekeler did his work in the passing game (15 catches on 16 targets for 86 yards against the Broncos). However what we saw Sunday night against the Steelers is not what Ekeler owners—myself included—wanted to see the Chargers offense look like. Ekeler had only eight total touches Sunday, mustering only 28 yards from scrimmage. More so than just Ekeler, this entire Chargers offense looks lost with no real plan how to get things back on track. With the Titans, Bears and a much improved Packers defense on the schedule ahead, Ekeler deserves your panic.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

It’s never great when someone has shown up on the index multiple times this season. Not exactly something one strives for. And sadly for JuJu and fantasy owners alike, none of this is actually his fault. The Steelers offense is just a whole different beast animal tamed house cat with Mason Rudolph Devlin Hodges under center. What sucks is that Smith-Schuster is an extremely talented wide receiver who could’ve easily been a WR1 this year had Ben Roethlisberger managed to stay healthy. Now he’s a WR3 at best and not at all a guy you can rely on from week to week. If JuJu is on your fantasy team, you best be finding away to get yourself another wide receiver. (Fun thought experiment: do the Steelers, realizing this season is in the tank, try and recoup that first round pick they sent to Miami for Minkah Fitzpatrick and look to trade Smith-Schuster? I don’t know, just saying...)

It’s time to move on

T.J. Hockenson

Hockenson is the classic case of holding onto hope instead of facing the cold, dark face of reality. I can speak to this because it’s exactly what I’ve been experiencing with him on my fantasy team ever since his Week 1 explosion. Since his 131 yard/1 touchdown breakout game vs the Cardinals, the rookie tight end has managed only 56 yards on nine catches. THROUGH FOUR GAMES. If you erased the name and just looked at those stats, you’d have dropped him weeks ago. Monday night against the Packers was the first time Hockenson saw more than four targets since Week 1 and he managed to only record 21 yards. The curse of the rookie tight end is real people. Don’t let it lose you fantasy games.

DeMarcus Robinson

We know what Robinson did back in Week 2 and Week 3, but since then he’s failed to go over 40 yards and was shut out last week against the Texans, despite being targeted four times. With Tyreek Hill back and the Chiefs offense finally fully healthy, I would expect Robinson’s already diminished role to all but disappear. If you play in a super deep league, he’s worth holding onto in case of injury in Kansas City, but he’s not worth rostering still if you’re in a shallow league. There are likely still more than a few WR1s available on your waiver wire (JAMISON CROWDER ANYONE!?).

You’re Fine

Zach Ertz

If you drafted Ertz, you drafted him as one of the BIG 3 fantasy tight ends—Ertz, Travis Kelce and George Kittle—and you got him with the expectation that he was going to be a top three tight end this year. That hasn’t been the case so far this season, but he also hasn’t been terrible to say the least. Ertz is currently TE6 in non-PPR leagues and TE5 in PPR. His numbers don’t jump off the page as he’s only scored one touchdown this season but he’s routinely seeing upwards of seven targets a game. It’s fair to be worried about him coming off a game against the Vikings in which he managed to score under five points but that had more to do with a fumble than poor production on his part. Hopefully the touchdowns will come, which will launch Ertz into the top three at the position, but in the barren lands of tight ends, you can do a whole lot worse than Ertz.