It has been said that trust is difficult to earn and easy to lose. For fantasy owners, being able to trust the players on your roster is essential to finding peace of mind when setting your lineup. While we understand that we can't expect historic performances like Calvin Johnson's 329 receiving yards this week (second most all time), we trust that if Calvin is in the starting lineup for the Lions, he should be in our fantasy lineups, as well. Owners who did not trust Jimmy Graham because of his questionable status heading into the game against the Bills benched this week's top scoring tight end. The lesson, of course, is to trust your studs.
But there comes a time when that trust is misplaced. You cannot trust a player based what they've done in previous seasons. A player's skills may erode, their offense scheme may change, or they may be surrounded by new teammates. We start the season expecting a certain level of play, but at some point during the year it becomes evident that outstanding performances have become the exception rather than the rule. By Week 8, we have a large enough sample size to make informed predictions about the rest of the season. Fantasy owners hoping to win championships cannot afford to continue to start poorly performing players with the hope for resurgence. It's time to realize that these former studs can no longer be trusted as automatic starts.
Tom Brady's career will be defined by his ability to make lemonade out of the lemons (Troy Brown, anyone?). Unfortunately for owners expecting a frosty beverage this year, Brady doesn't seem like the same player. Many want to blame the quality of his lemons, but this week he had both Gronk and Amendola in the lineup and only managed 116 passing yards and 1 touchdown. He's no longer a starting fantasy quarterback.
Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith was once so dominant that the Giants wide receiver was officially known as The Other Steve Smith. This year, Smith could be named The Other Ted Ginn. He's accumulated only 335 yards and 3 touchdowns on the year and has yet to post more than 6 catches or 69 yards in a single game. He can't be trusted in your lineup.
In the previous seven years, Marques Colston has had only one year with less than 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns. This year, despite starting in all seven games for the prolific Saints offense, he's only caught 27 passes for 342 yards and 1 touchdown. With Jimmy Graham limited by injuries, this week was his opportunity to return to form. Instead rookie Kenny Stills seized the opportunity to put up 129 yards and 2 scores. It's no longer just a slow start to the season for Colston.
Ray Rice and the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl a mere 8 months ago, but this is not the same team. Rice has averaged 4.4 yards per carry in his career but is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry this year. Worse yet, in 6 games he has only 86 rushing attempts and 24 receptions. He can't make up for his poor average with volume of touches. While nobody wants to bench their first round pick, I don't see how you can afford to keep this guy in your starting lineup.
Finally, in the last three games, Jason Witten has 27, 43, and 15 receiving yards and 0 touchdowns. For the mathematically challenged that is 85 total yards over three games. While Witten did put up 121 yards and a touchdown against Denver in week 5 (when Romo threw for 500 yards), that was his only week with over 70 yards. Going forward I'd rather put my trust in Washington tight end Jordan Reed.