Fantasy Football Panic Meter, Week 4: Wildest adds, drops and trades in aftermath of slow starts

We're deep enough into the fantasy season at this point that if you're panicking about a player or team, you're probably ready to take action. So, this week, instead of simply inquiring about the various NFL situations that concern you, we wanted to know the concrete steps you've actually taken — your wildest fantasy adds, drops and trades. Our mission in today's Panic Meter is to determine if you've wildly overreacted, or conducted yourself responsibly.

Trevor Lawrence, kicked to the curb 🚮

Yeah, um ... you are probably gonna regret this one. I would at least suggest offering Lawrence via trade before ditching him, just in case someone in your league has been watching Jacksonville play. You might not be entirely thrilled with the early box scores, but Lawrence has already made a dozen or so WOW throws. In fantasy, he hasn't yet been impactful. In reality, he's been excellent.

Just look at this missile from opening week:

Jacksonville receivers have been dropping catchable throws at an alarming rate, with Calvin Ridley the most flagrant offender (four of the team's nine drops). Lawrence has also thrown a few near-miss college TD passes this season, connecting with receivers who failed to get both feet down in the end zone.

Again, it's fine to be disappointed with Lawrence's fantasy totals, and perhaps with Jacksonville's offense generally through three weeks. But he actually seems like a screaming fantasy buy at the moment. Also, the team's upcoming schedule has plenty of soft spots, given the relatively low degree of difficulty within the division.

If Lawrence hits your league's waiver wire this week, be prepared to snag him — and, later, to mercilessly ridicule the panicky manager who dropped him.

Justin Fields, buh-bye 😟

First of all, let's note that C.J. Stroud fever is rapidly spreading. We have people out here dropping their healthy fifth-round picks for a uni-threat rookie passer — and, honestly, I understand the temptation. Stroud has been a revelation, averaging 40.3 attempts and 302 yards per game. If you drafted him in super-flex, take a victory lap.

As for using Stroud in your one-QB leagues ahead of players who've already produced top-10 seasonal finishes ... well, again, I'm nowhere near doing it with Lawrence.

But as a replacement for Fields?

Look, the shouty meathead Bears fan inside of me wants to tell you it's a mistake — that Fields has elite rushing upside and a big arm, that the offense can self-correct just like last season. Chicago has a premium matchup ahead against a Denver defense that just gave up 70 points and over 700 total yards to Miami.

But then there's this: Fields has looked skittish, the coaching staff has failed him and this team's offensive play-calling has been almost comical. Opposing defenses are clowning them. It's just a very rough watch right now. A traditionally dysfunctional franchise has unlocked new and previously unexplored depths of dysfunctionality. Things are quite bad.

I'd personally prefer to hold Fields through the string of inviting matchups ahead — Denver, at Washington, Minnesota, Las Vegas, at LA Chargers — but I did also rank Stroud just ahead of him this week. I am not overflowing with confidence. My Bears pride is at an all-time low. I will offer no guarantees related to Fields' rest-of-season performance or long-range job security. Everything feels quite shaky and tenuous at Halas Hall just now.

Rhamondre Stevenson, trade sweetener 🍭

If we're simply ranking these four players as flex options going forward, I'd definitely place DeVonta Smith at the top. So that's something.

But I gotta say, the Giants backfield is exactly the sort of situation in which you do not need to roster the team's primary backup, because there is no world where Matt Breida can deliver a passable impression of Saquon Barkley. You aren't protecting yourself in any obvious way by stashing Breida; instead, you're simply committing in advance to a bad idea.

It's wild that Stevenson has sunk to ... um ... whatever this is. A trade throw-in? Your third-round pick is the sweetener you toss into a deal so as to unload your second-round pick? Wild times. Not generally a winning approach.

Let the record show that we did try to warn you weeks ago about the Zeke effect and the fact that Stevenson, by his own admission, was reeling near the end of 2022, a season in which he handled 279 touches. But don't go too far in assuming a worst-case scenario with Stevenson, because he's still playing 70% of the offensive snaps for New England and he's given us a few incredible yards-after-catch moments in the early weeks. Elliott is an annoyance, but Stevenson is still the clear chairman in this two-person committee. He certainly isn't a must-trade.

Jahan Dotson, no longer the next big thing 🥱

You, sir, never deserved Dotson.

(No disrespect intended to Tank Dell, a recommended add coming off back-to-back stellar games. Really like him. But this is not how I'd acquire him.)

Dotson is a great talent, fully Reception Perception approved and playing well despite the fantasy totals. His team just got trucked, so, no, he wasn't helpful in Week 3. There are better spots ahead, beginning with Philly this week, then Chicago four days later on Thursday night.

He's still the guy who hauled in seven TDs last season and earned all the summer buzz. I'm pleading with you to have patience with this Sam Howell-Eric Bieniemy collaboration. Dotson has better days ahead.

If you'd originally drafted him thinking you were getting this year's to-the-moon WR1 at a bargain price, well ... OK, that's not happenin'. However, if you are a person with more reasonable expectations who thought Dotson could build on a solid first season and achieve fantasy relevance in a still-evolving offense, it's all still clearly on the table.

DeAndre Hopkins, dusty and discarded 🤢

It's easy to imagine a hundred ways this Titans season could slip away in a hurry. Tennessee's O-line is a tragedy. Ryan Tannehill might get sacked 50 times before December. Derrick Henry has a toe injury of unknown severity, a rookie is stealing his snaps and there's a serious shortage of rushing lanes. Clearly, none of this team's potential breakout candidates have any chance whatsoever of breaking out in 2023.

And then there's Hopkins, a player with faintly detectable late-stage Julio Jones vibes. It's not great. Hopkins is 31, he served a PED-related suspension last year and he's been fighting an ankle issue. He's seen 25 targets this season, which is nice, but they haven't resulted in anything helpful for fantasy purposes.

I'm not desperate to be tied to Tennessee's offense, so I won't give you a hard sell on the current version of Nuk. I would, however, encourage you to explore the Hopkins trade market, because he's still a solid brand-name capable of enhancing any multi-player offer. If we could actually get the man dealt in real life, so many fantasy problems could be resolved.