Many fantasy owners will be kept awake at night this week with this thought: Should I bench Drew Brees?
It’s a valid question. The Saints quarterback has zero touchdown passes and three interceptions in each of his last two games. He scored in single digits in back-to-back weeks for the first time since Weeks 3-4 of 2009, according to ESPN’s basic scoring. That was also the last time he went back-to-back games without a touchdown pass, and he had never thrown three picks in consecutive games in his career.
After scoring seven points against the Lions in Week 13, Brees had four against the Buccaneers on Sunday. And the opposition doesn’t get any easier. This week, the Saints visit the Cardinals, who have allowed the fourth-fewest points to quarterbacks. In Week 16, they host the Bucs, who have allowed an average of 10.4 points to quarterbacks in the last five games.
The timing couldn’t be worse for owners who have ridden the No. 3 QB scorer to the playoffs. But benching Brees likely doesn’t solve owners’ problem. Drafting Brees removes the need for a high-end backup or claiming one on waivers. So unless you’re in a four-team league, he’s probably better than anyone else you have.
Plus, this isn’t all on Brees. Against the Bucs, wide receiver Brandin Cooks and running back Travaris Cadet dropped potential touchdown passes. The Saints committed 16 penalties, 13 of which were accepted for 104 yards. Perhaps most important, wideout Michael Thomas was a late scratch with a foot injury. He should return this week.
The postseason is no time to overthink. Play your studs. Besides, Brees has produced against tough competition this season, scoring 20 points against the Broncos (fewest points allowed to QBs) and Seahawks (sixth). And in the game after those duds in 2009, he threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns. Stick with him.
Here are some other struggling players you should stick with:
Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi: He has scored in single digits in four of the last five games, and the Dolphins lost quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a knee injury. Sure, it doesn’t sound good, but his next two games are against the Jets and Bills, who allowed 467 rushing yards combined to running backs last week. Expect the Dolphins to lean on Ajayi.
Raiders WR Amari Cooper: He finished in single digits in three of his last five, and he hasn’t had more than 59 yards since Week 8. But along the lines of my advice last week (follow the points), Cooper is still start-worthy. The Raiders rank fifth in passing, and their next two opponents, the Chargers and Colts, rank 25th and 26th in pass defense.
Chargers TE Antonio Gates: Hunter Henry tied him with five touchdown catches last week, but Gates is catching more passes and gets a bump against a Raiders defense that ranks 27th against the pass. In Week 16, he’ll face the Browns, who have allowed the second-most points to tight ends.
Follow me on Twitter @JeffreyA22.
WEEK 15 OUTLOOK
Jets RB Bilal Powell: He’d take over the feature role if Matt Forte (knee) can’t play. Even if he does, Powell is versatile enough to be a good flex option.
Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon: He outsnapped Terrance West 42-14 and had a season-high 19 touches Monday. He looked fantastic, too.
Broncos RB Devontae Booker: Justin Forsett had more touches and only three fewer snaps Sunday, even though he lost a fumble early.
Giants RB Rashad Jennings: The 15 carries are nice, but not when you consider Paul Perkins was given the same number.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson: The Rams’ nosedive has coincided with games against Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. Wilson figures to keep them sliding.
Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill: The Titans have allowed an average of 34 points to wide receivers in the last four games.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford: He’ll play with a finger injury, and the Giants have allowed the second-fewest points to quarterbacks.
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton: Lower expectations against the Vikings, who have allowed the second-fewest points to wideouts and rank third in sacks. Pray for Andrew Luck.