What I Saw: Thoughts On Every Week 6 Game
Good afternoon sports fans. We’ve heard your feedback loud and clear, and we’re back to covering every game from the prior week. As always, use CTRL + F to find players of particular interest to you.
Eagles vs. Panthers
Misc. Observations: After a brief controversy over some alleged misogynistic comments, Cam Newton tried to make good through his favorite communication medium: ‘fashion’. Still, while his hat may say ‘I’m sorry’, his shoes want everyone to know that they’d be happy to arrange a night with a working girl (for a price).
QB: Carson Wentz has the talent to be a top-five fantasy QB going forward, though he was desperately missing tackle Lane Johnson whose replacement allowed several big hits. Cam Newton’s newfound passing skills shown during weeks four and five deserted him—his throws were positively Bortlesque. He did salvage his day with a huge rushing effort, but should Carolina decide to reign him in again as they did early in the season, Cam’s value will plummet.
WR: Alshon Jeffrey is Wentz’ first look on most plays. He’s had some brutal matchups (including potentially Josh Norman next week), but things are bound to take an upturn down the stretch. Nelson Agholor is looking like he can sustain his unexpected success indefinitely going forward, and he seems to have discovered a latent ability to gobble yards after the catch. Kelvin Benjamin has been averaging 9 targets a game since Greg Olsen’s departure in week two. However, it’s important to remember that one Newton target is worth significantly less than average. Kelvin Benjamin exploded this game, leading the team in targets and receptions for the first time this season. Benjamin has been much more efficient with his opportunities than Funchess, which makes him a safer option, even if/when his target share regresses going forward.
RB: I’ve been a pretty outspoken critic of Legarrette Blount, but his situation is favorable, and he’s running well. Christian McCaffrey continues to produce ugly fantasy points. Luckily, he’s buoyed by receiving volume (he had a gawdy 14 targets this week).Through six weeks, McCaffrey is averaging 9.5 targets a game, which is ninth among all players (receivers included). He’s essentially a WR1 who also occasionally rushes. Jonathan Stewart vomited out -4 yards on 8 carries and looked lucky to get even that.
TE: Zach Ertz is locked in as the TE#2 overall for the rest of the season, barring injury. He’s the top receiver on the Eagles and the only consistent option week to week.
Bears vs. Ravens
QB: Neither QB here is going to be useful outside of 2 QB leagues, and perhaps not even then.
WR: Chicago has made it clear that their game plan going forward is to rush the ball exclusively. All WRs are now downfield blockers. For Baltimore, something called Chris Moore led the wide receivers in targets. He’s not worth an add, as Jeremy Maclin is on his way back soon.
RB: Now that he’s healthy, Jordan Howard has turned into Mr. Atlas, carrying the world on his broad shoulders. It’s clear that he’s the entirety of the bears’ offense going forward. His obscene carry total (he had 36 totes this week!) has got to be a concern for owners though. Unless his volume is aggressively reduced, he’s a good candidate for further injury. Tarik Cohen’s fantasy box score was decent enough, but that was mainly due to a gimmicky touchdown throw he made. Cohen is not looking good as a rusher or as a receiver, and is a risky play going forward. Alex Collins led the team in rushes, but his ceiling is severely limited by his inability to catch passes. Buck Allen had about the same amount of touches as Collins, and is the preferred back to own here due to his much higher upside. Neither is likely to have a touchdown in any given week.
TE: As a part of the Chicago receiving corps, Zach Miller will not receive enough targets going forward to be consistently fantasy relevant. He’s just another tight end who will score once every three or four games. Benjamin Watson led the team in targets, though that doesn’t appear to be worth much.
Packers vs. Vikings
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert…. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Aaron Rogers, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
For the first time in his career, Brent Hundley was instructed to put down his Gameboy and play football. He didn’t do anything special, but with all of the weapons he has around him, Hundley may be a sneaky start for those who are suffering at the quarterback position going forward. Case Keenum’s time may be nearly up, as there are rumors that Teddy Bridgewater may be returning soon.
WR: Davante Adams will take a hit in value with the loss of Rodgers, however, Adams and Jordy Nelson were still Hundley’s first and second look on most plays. Nelson’s value this season was in his psychic connection to Rodgers in the red zone. Going forward, I actually think Adams has the chance to be the most productive fantasy receiver in Green Bay. I would hold Randall Cobb, for a week or two if you can, but a Hundley-led offense is not likely to be able to support three fantasy receivers. Stefon Diggs was out due to his week five hamstring injury. This exact scenario happened in 2016, and killed Diggs’ value. I recommend selling him if you can find a willing buyer. Adam Thielan soaked up the targets in Diggs’ absence, which should be encouraging. He’s a sneaky play as long as Diggs is out/limited or potentially in the case of a quarterback change.
RB: Ailing Ty Montgomery got the start this game, but was clearly still limited. Neither he, not Aaron Jones were able to get much going against one of the league’s premier run defenses. To my eye, both look equally talented. Both are strong holds through next week. Jerrick McKinnon is clearly the lead dog in Minnesota, and might well hold 95% of Dalvin Cook’s value going forward. What a world. Latavius Murray is significantly less talented, and should be treated as a fantasy afterthought.
TE: With Diggs out, Kyle Rudolph soaked up targets. Even in a world where quality TEs are worth their weight in gold, Rudolph is only worth a start when one of the two big WRs is out.
49ers vs. Redskins
QB: The 49ers may not be able to give many points to fantasy managers, but at least newcomer C. J. Beathard should provide enough nominative material to make for a puerile team name or two. Kirk Cousins has continued his hot streak, despite not having any clear WR1.
WR: With a change of quarterback, there is potential for Pierre Garcon to gain a little value. Still, Garcon needs volume to thrive, and Beathard was spreading the ball around pretty well. Terrelle Pryor continues to not be on the same page as Cousins, and there are no signs whatsoever that this is improving. The Washington receiving corps is quickly taking on a New Orleansish feel, where there are plenty of touchdowns happeneing weekly, but they’re evenly distributed between three or four guys.
RB: Carlos Hyde gets a bump with Beathard at the helm since the new quarterback seemed much more willing to hit Hyde in the passing game. Hyde did not look nearly as good as his fantasy line suggests (one of his two scores was a fluke). Chris Thompson continues to be the back to own here. Samaje Perine is a terrible rusher. It’s like there’s an invisible wall that exists only for him located at the one-yard line. He had a couple of decent dump off runs (including a touchdown), but the talent and usage simply aren’t where they need to be for Perine to return consistent fantasy value.
TE: For the second week in a row, George Kittle had more than 8 targets. He looks to be one of Beathard’s first reads and could be an intriguing TE option going forward. Jordan Reed is clearly not right. It may be injury, scheme change, or the addition of the new weapons like Doctson, but there is little to no hope at this point that Reed will return even TE1 value from here on out.
Lions vs. Saints
QB: Matthew Stafford played like a guy who was hurt, and his injury-plagued offensive line offered little relief. If the team doesn’t fix the line woes soon, things could go south in a hurry for Mr. Stafford. Drew Brees owners have got to feel more than a little robbed following a game where the Saints scored 52 points, yet he notched two touchdowns and fewer than 200 yards. This has less to do with Brees, and more to do with the fact that the Saints went up early and stayed way ahead for the whole game.
WR: Marvin Jones had a big day, drawing as many targets as he has received in any two other games combined this season. This was entirely a result of a game script where the Lions were down early and often and isn’t likely to be repeated. Golden Tate was able to able to literally match Jones’ yardage and a touchdown (both had 96 yards and a score) on half the targets. Tate’s touchdown was a beautiful yardage-after-the-catch masterclass. Unfortunately, he was mauled on back to back plays and left early. On a day where the Saints hardly had to throw at all, nothing of note stood out in the receiving corps.
RB: This was the worst possible game script for Ameer Abdullah, and he was almost completely erased from the game. His owners should feel fortunate that he ripped off a 30+ yard run late to salvage his fantasy line. Mark Ingram owners should buy a lottery ticket this week, since they seem to be swimming in good fortune. The first Sunday after future first ballot hall of famer and backfield third wheel Adrian Peterson was dealt to Arizona, the Saints blow out the Lions, and Ingram nearly doubled his season-high carry total. Wheels up, amigos. Alvin Kamara thrives in more competitive game-script situations, though he still looked amazing on limited touches.
TE: In a 52-38 game, nominal starters Eric Ebron and Coby Fleener combined for 1 catch and 9 yards. coughdrop’emcough
Dolphins vs. Falcons
QB: Smilin’ Jay Cutler was the football equivalent of driving a Ford Escort. It’s not fancy, and it mostly gets you where you want to go, yet is deeply unsatisfying. Matt Ryan is the victim of a strong run game with two backfield vultures capable of ripping off long touchdown runs. There doesn’t seem to be a path toward QB1 style fantasy numbers for him this year.
WR: With DeVante Parker out, Jarvis Landry did quite well for himself, thank you very much. He’s a pure volume based play, but will pay off more often than not in positive game scripts. Julio Jones has not yet scored a touchdown through five games. Year after year, he is criminally under-targeted in the red zone. An unfortunate truth that owners should probably make their peace with.
RB: Through six games, Jay Ajayi has yet to score a touchdown, which rather limits his upside, as does his complete inability to produce in the passing game. Ajayi runs well enough and is a solid play when he receives volume, but his situation is far from ideal. Devonta Freeman was shut down worse than any other single game in his career this week, though he did salvage things late with a 40+ yard run. Tevin Coleman vulture the only rushing score and matched Freeman in carries, though he did not look significantly better than his back-mate. One couldn’t avoid the feeling that Atlanta erred in not playing Freeman more.
TE: Austin Hooper benefitted a lot from Mohamed Sanu’s injury-related absence. He didn’t do much of note, but he got WR2 usage. If Sanu sits in week seven, Hooper could be a decent spot-start.
Browns vs Texans
QB: So Kevin Hogan did so well that the Browns are openly talking about reverting to Deshone Kizer in week seven. That was fast. Over the past four weeks, no other quarterback has even come close to Deshawn Watson’s 2.5 touchdowns per game average. It’s been strange trying to start thinking of the Texans as an offensive powerhouse, like looking at one of those magic eye pictures. If you cross your eyes you can almost trick your brain into believing it, but it’s hard.
WR: If you’re looking to buy your weekly ‘Browns wide receiver’ lottery ticket, the name for this week is ‘Kasen Williams’. Game script nearly murdered DeAndre Hopkins this week—the Texans went up early, and simply didn’t need to force-feed him targets like a foie gras donor. Luckily, a late touchdown saved his fantasy owners. Interestingly, Will Fuller (the fifth of his name) has become a bit of a 2013 Eric Decker style touchdown maven. There is a lot of risk inherent in a touchdown-dependant player (see Chris Hogan, below), but with five touchdowns in the past three weeks, owners are going to ride this cow till the teats run dry.
RB: Until the moon turns to blood and the tides to ash, the Browns will not be ahead in a football game, and Isaiah Crowell will not be fantasy viable. Even poor Duke Johnson Jr.’s utility seems to have evaporated—he’s not even getting useful targets anymore. Even in a game with a favorable game script, Lamar Miller belched out a game as ordinary as any other game. He should have ’18 touches, 81 yards’ tattooed on his bicep right next to the ‘mom’ heart with an arrow in it.
TE: David Njoku had two catches for 0 yards in week six. Still, he’s a talented guy on a team that is begging for someone to come seize their targets.
Patriots vs. Jets
QB: Tom Brady continued his multi-week slip against some of the league’s most generous secondaries. On the bright side, even against the lowly Jets, the Patriots quickly were down by two scores, so owners can be confident that Brady will be consistently throwing early and often this season.
WR: Chris Hogan didn’t get a touchdown for the second game this year, and again showed that his floor is Mariana-trench low if he fails to score. Brandin Cooks had a highlight-reel catch which brought the Patriots to the two-yard line. Through seven weeks, Hogan and Cooks have had identical opportunities (3 rushing attempts, and 24 receptions on 41 targets for each). Hogan has managed 307 yards and 5 touchdowns with his 21 catches, and Cooks has 472 yards and 2 touchdowns for virtually identical fantasy scores. Given the high variance nature of touchdown scores, I’d rather have Cooks going forward. Robby Anderson is the second target on the Jets after Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but this is a team that can barely support one receiver, let alone two.
RB: Mike Gillislee had an early fumble, and was benched for nearly the remainder of the game. It’s officially time to press the ‘panic’ button, as Dion Lewis took the goal line carries for the third game in a row, and this Patriots team is not likely to be far ahead in any game this season, so there will be no clock-salting for Gillislee to pad his stats with. Dion Lewis ran well and scored for the second time in three weeks, but he is not noticeably more talented than Gillislee—in fact, Lewis is rather ill-suited to the between-the-tackles runs that Gilislee was brought in to handle. Who knows when he too might find himself in Belichik’s doghouse? James White continues to be just a guy who is extremely unlikely to score a touchdown. Matt Forte returned this week and took over the passing game work exclusively which is very, very bad for Elijah McGuire’s prospects, especially with a Bilal Powell return looming.
TE: Rob Gronkowski had a ‘fiesta’ game this week. Sometimes soy fiesta and sometimes no soy fiesta, but when it’s fiesta time, life is good. Austin Seferian-Jenkins has caught more balls per game than any other tight end in the league. He’s a volume based TE1, who is an increasing threat to score. As it happens, Seferian-Jenkins scored the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of the game. Unfortunately, the Jets failed to get their weekly ‘dues’ into the Jersey referees and his touchdown (in which he had complete control of the ball and in which the ball never hit the ground) was instead ruled a lost fumble. The lesson here is this: always pay your protection money—the mob doesn’t mess around. On a serious note, Seferian-Jenkins’ response was among the most classy I’ve ever seen in the NFL, and it’s clear he’s turning his life around. Good for him.
Buccaneers vs. Cardinals
QB: Carson Palmer dutifully carved up what may be the worst secondary in the NFL. Jameix Winston was injured early, and Ryan Fitzpatrick was more than adequate while filling in.
WR: Larry Fitzgerald continues to dominate, though history suggests he will start to fall off in November. Owners should look to sell high before then, and wise owners should look to the other pieces of this offense to try and secure some assets. John Brown is the clear next best man while healthy. If he is unhealthy, Jaron Brown will take the load. Mike Evans drew the dreaded Patrick Peterson, but was fortunate to have Peterson exit with an injury, opening the door for a long touchdown. Desean Jackson has been quietly productive this season, scoring only 3 standard fantasy points fewer than Evans over the past four games. He looks great on the field and is a good bet to eclipse 100 yards or score a touchdown on any given week.
RB: Adrian Peterson had a 100+ yard game for the first time since 2015 which probably felt pretty good for all involved. It’s difficult to tell how much of this was due to Tampa Bay’s inadequacies on defense and how much was Peterson’s new role. Personally, I have reason to believe Peterson will continue to find success on this team going forward. Doug Martin had a strong showing in his second week back against a difficult run defense. It was encouraging to see his usage stay reasonable, even in a game where the Bucs were in catch-up mode.
TE: After scoring his fourth touchdown in as many weeks, Cameron Brate is now firmly in the same tier as Gronkowski and Ertz. Fitzpatrick seemed to have no qualms continuing to force him the rock, so his role seems secure even if Winston were to miss more time.
Rams vs. Jaguars
QB: Jared Goff has settled into a game-manager type role, and he’s succeeding in real life (though he’s no longer a starter in fantasy). Blake Bortles is game managing as well these days. Both teams are among the most run-heavy in the league.
WR: Sammy Watkins was shut down, but that’s nothing new. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods have fallen into a routine where each could be a viable option in any given week. Woods has the higher yardage and floor, but Kupp has the higher upside as the more consistent red-zone target. Marqise Lee had a season-high targets, though he was injured in this game and may be out for a few weeks. Lee is clearly the most talented receiver, but this is not a team which throws a lot. Allen Hurns continues to be just a guy.
RB: Todd Gurley has fallen off a bit in recent weeks, though he’s still a top-tier option. Owners should temper expectations for the near future, as his schedule is about to get really tough for a while. Leonard Fournette is the beating heart of the Jaguars’ offense. He did appear to sustain a late injury and Chris Ivory came in and adequately produced in Fournette’s absence. If Fournette were to sit, Ivory would be a high priority asset.
TE: The tight ends on both these teams exist only to block.
Chargers vs. Raiders
QB: Philip Rivers hasn’t been blowing anyone away in fantasy, but he had his third week without an interception after leading the league in that category last year. With new targets coming on, Rivers is primed for a strong second half of the season. Derek Carr looked far less than 100% in his first return after injury.
WR: Keenan Allen continues to hold the fourth highest target total in the league through seven weeks, though owners have yet to see WR1 production. Allen is a talented player and is clearly Rivers’ first look on most plays, the Chargers just haven’t been making enough trips to the red zone to buoy his production. The rest of the receiving corps is a dart throw on any given week, especially now that Mike Williams has his first reception. Even hurt, Michael Crabtree is the uncontested number one receiving option in Oakland. He is a red-zone monster and his target share means his floor is high as well. Amari Cooper has begun the long, slow climb out of mediocrity. His re-ascendance can’t come quickly enough for his longsuffering owners.
RB: Melvin Gordon continues to impress, and is a top-five scorer weekly, ahead of Le’Veon Bell. Gordon has a lot of detractors, but I am not one of them. The guy looks very good, and is an integral part of the offense. Marshawn Lynch continues to be a middling contributor on a team that is not likely to ever have a game script favorable to rushing. He is what he is, and there’s no reason to think he’ll suddenly gain value.
TE: Hunter Henry continues to gain snap and target shares. It’s only a matter of time before the reliable touchdowns come.
Steelers vs. Chiefs
QB: Despite a dominant team effort, Ben Roethlisberger didn’t impress in any particular area. Still, it’s worth noting that his one interception was not his fault (Antonio Brown bafflingly stopped in the middle of a route). In what was easily his worst game of the season, Alex Smith struggled mightily against a Steelers D/ST that seemed downright psychic in their play calling. Still, Smith came on strong late in the game, and should soon be regaining his starting center and guard whose absence has really hurt Kansas’ offensive line.
WR: Antonio Brown did cause the interception mentioned above, but he more than made up for it with a 51-yard circus catch and run where he absolutely refused to go down. Brown is my favorite receiver to watch. He’s like an elaborate domino arrangement, full of violence and beauty. Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster are stuck cannibalizing each other’s production, and neither is likely to break out without an injury of an offensive scheme change. The Steelers shut down Tyreek Hill hard for the second week in a row. Expect to see this blueprint used by more teams as the season wears on.
RB: Le’Veon Bell is back, baby. If Brown is my favorite player to watch, Bell may well be my second. He has a completely unique style where he sort of skips around in the backfield while chaos rages in front of him, then suddenly he teleports forward and reappears 5-12 yards downfield. Kareem Hunt had his third consecutive scoreless game, though his owners have got to love his 100-yard floor. Look for Hunt to rebound decisively when his offensive line returns to full health.
TE: The Steelers did the unthinkable, largely shutting down both Hill and Travis Kelce. No matter, look for Kelce to rebound in a plus matchup next week.
Giants vs. Broncos
QB: Playing the role of ‘game manager in the vein of sir Alex Smith’ this week was one Eli Manning. He didn’t win the game, but he sure didn’t lose it. Trevor Siemian managed to look heroic toward the end of the game, and his cadre of useful pass catchers dwindled. Still, as long as his favorite target Emmanuel Sanders is out he’s going to be a dicey play.
WR: There were some wide receivers listed on the Giants’ depth chart, but that might have been a typo. In fact, the Giants have become a singularity—some sort of black hole that is sucking in not only their own receivers but also those on other teams. Emmanuel Sanders was mostly quiet early on but was just catching fire in the second half when he sprained his ankle on a fluke play. Demaryius Thomas was also clearly hurt and kept ping-ponging in and out of the game. Regardless, despite his hobbled state and his tough matchup against CB Jenoris Jenkins, he still paced the team in targets and yards. If he can play in week seven, he’ll likely inherit double-digit targets. Benny Fowler (third of his name) should fill in for Emmanuel Sanders for the next few weeks and is a good bet to produce useful fantasy stat-lines during that time.
RB: In a game against one of the league’s premier run defenses—a game where the opposing team ran an eight-man run defense on 80% of his snaps, Orleans mothaflippin’ Darkwa calmly removed Denver’s trousers and paddled them like it was pledge week. I honestly don’t know how this happened. We know that Darkwa is a middling talent and yet he looked like an elite talent. The most plausible explanation is witchcraft of course, but nearly as plausible is the theory that weird things can happen in football on any given Sunday, and Darkwa should go back to sucking in week seven. In a game where the whole team looked hungover, C. J. Anderson was the victim of an extremely unfavorable game script. He logy, like he had eaten too much steak during the bye and needed to sleep it off. Devontae Booker stepped up nicely, ripping off huge gains on short dump-offs. This was a hot-hand kind of success though, and it is unlikely to be repeated.
TE: Evan Engram is the only receiver of consequence on the Giants, and is a TE1 on volume alone until further notice.
Colts vs. Titans
QB: Jacoby Brissett actually played well in this one, but his pass catchers weren’t doing him any favors (Moncrief dropped a touchdown, and Doyle killed several drives with drops/fumbles). Marcus Mariota played injured, and it was clear he had been told to pretend he was a tree. Still, he showed that he can effectively pass from the pocket, which was encouraging to see.
WR: Against one of the more generous secondaries in the league, T.Y. Hilton was completely shut down. Teams all across the league were like ‘Huh, I didn’t know we could do that? Cool!’ Donte Moncrief stepped up a bit, but as mentioned above, dropped a touchdown. Uh oh, Spaghetti-O!. Eric Decker really stepped up in this one, pacing the team in targets and yards, and coming through in the clutch several times to get crucial first downs. He ran like he could hear Corey Davis’ footsteps behind him.
RB: After a mini-breakout in week five, Marlon Mack was given all of two carries. In his place, Robert Turbin(!) was given carry after ineffectual carry. Not to worry, Mack daddies, Turbin was injured late, and will almost certainly be out for a while, leaving only Frank ’10 carry’ Gore between you and the promised land. DeMarco Murray was clearly dealing with an injury for most of the game. Nevertheless, it is notable that he was given the bulk of high leverage carries, including the critical late goal line touchdown. Derrick Henry had the better stat line, but it was skewed by a final clock-salting drive where he was given the ball five times in a row, culminating in a 75-yard touchdown against an exhausted and demoralized Indianapolis front seven. To my eye, Murray was clearly the better runner, though who knows what will happen with his health at less than 100%.
TE: Jack Doyle is basically Hodor the half-giant. Sometimes he does useful things, but mostly he just says his name over and over and looks at you with a blank face. Delanie Walker was largely a non-factor in the passing game, though he did have a goal-line rushing attempt. Cute.