Kickoff: Sunday, October 18th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
Betting Odds: NE -9, 46.5 total via Oddsshark
Drew Lock (Sit)
After suffering a shoulder injury in Week 2 and being listed as questionable before Denver’s Week 5 game against New England being pushed to Week 6, all signs point to Drew Lock being under center as the Broncos face the Patriots on Sunday. Unfortunately for Lock, and despite all the defensive opt-outs for New England, the Patriots still have a defense that ranks in the top-12 against the pass this season. New England allows 233 passing yards per game (12th in the NFL) but has surrendered nine passing TDs. Lock is going to be missing at least one receiver, Courtland Sutton, and Noah Fant looks to be questionable at best. Given the multitude of negatives Lock is facing this week, it’s advised he be left on the benches of fantasy managers in Week 6.
Melvin Gordon (Start, Flex), Phillip Lindsay (Sit)
Through four games, Melvin Gordon has been average for fantasy managers despite having his first 100-yard and multi-TD game of the season in Week 4. That game was against the woeful New York Jets, so fantasy managers shouldn’t expect that to be the norm going forward. Gordon is averaging just 70 yards per game and has been used sparingly in the passing game. New England is 18th in rushing yards allowed per game with 115 but has surrendered just one TD on the ground. Denver will also have Phillip Lindsay returning after suffering an injury in Week 1, further dampening Gordon’s upside. Gordon still provides Flex appeal for fantasy managers and is best viewed in the RB3 tier for Week 6. EDIT: As I was writing this, news broke of Gordon being ticketed for speeding and DUI. This obviously puts his status for this week’s game in doubt. Previous DUI offenses have garnered two- or three-game suspensions from the NFL. This is a developing situation and we will stay on top of it as much as possible. If Gordon does miss this week’s game, that makes Lindsay a viable Flex option with RB2 upside for fantasy managers.
Speaking of Lindsay, he was prepared to play in Week 5 before the game was moved so he should be at or near 100% by Sunday. Despite that, Lindsay saw half the snaps Gordon saw in the only week in which both were active. It’s hard to project Lindsay getting more work than he did in Week 1 coming off an injury, so his upside for fantasy managers is limited. Lindsay is a recommended sit for Week 6.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jerry Jeudy (Start, WR3/Flex), Tim Patrick (Sit, Deep Flex), KJ Hamler/DaeSean Hamilton (Sit), Noah Fant (Sit)
It is concerning when a team’s #1 WR is averaging just under 60 yards per game, but that is exactly the scenario with Denver. Jerry Jeudy leads the team in targets (28) and receiving yards (234) through four games and his biggest competition right now seems to be in the form of Fant. Given the uncertainty surrounding Fant, Jeudy looks to be in line for a bump in targets, up from the seven he is averaging per game so far this season. Jeudy was Lock’s favorite target before his injury, so the volume should be there to drive Jeudy into a potential starting option for fantasy managers. Start Jeudy as your WR3 or Flex in Week 6.
Tim Patrick has been starting opposite Jeudy in the absence of Sutton and has been generally productive given the opportunities he’s had. Patrick is second on the team with 16 receptions, third with 209 yards, and tied for the team lead with two TDs. Patrick should benefit from Jeudy being shadowed by Stephon Gilmore (if he plays) giving his upside a slight bump. Denver’s offense can’t reliably sustain more than two receiving options, so it may be best to pass on Patrick if Fant is active. If Fant is out or limited, then Patrick is a viable option as a Deep Flex in larger leagues for fantasy managers in Week 6.
As of this writing, there is no indication if KJ Hamler will be able to return from his hamstring injury to face New England in Week 6. If he misses, then DaeSean Hamilton will likely draw the start as the team’s WR3. So far, Denver’s third WR has seen plenty of snaps without much production. That projects to remain the case against New England and neither Hamler nor Hamilton should be started by fantasy managers in Week 6.
Fant was carted from the field during Denver’s Week 4 game and his status for this week’s game is still in doubt. Even if Fant plays, it would stand to reason he would be at least partially affected by the injury and the team may elect to give him another week to fully heal. Monitor reports coming out of Denver this week before making a lineup decision if you can. I’d lean to sitting Fant this week to neutralize the risk of reaggravation or subpar performance. If Fant is ruled out, Nick Vannett would draw the start but is not a reliable option for fantasy managers this week. If Fant is cleared and you have no other options, Fant could produce TE2 numbers but I would look elsewhere. Vannett is a sit regardless of Fant’s playing status.
New England Patriots
Cam Newton (Start, QB2)
It appears as if Cam Newton will be cleared following his recent positive COVID test and he should step right back into being a viable option for fantasy managers. Newton’s fantasy appeal comes not from his throwing, although he did pass for nearly 400 yards against the Seahawks in Week 2, but from his ability as a runner and his penchant for punching the ball in near the goal line. Denver possesses a better run defense than pass defense in yards per game which takes some shine off Newton for fantasy managers. Newton always possesses QB1 upside because of his running ability, but this week against Vic Fangio’s defense fantasy managers should view him as a solid QB2 with upside in Week 6.
Damien Harris (Start, Flex), Rex Burkhead (Sit, Deep Flex), James White (Start, RB2)
Anyone who has played fantasy football in the past few years understands the conundrum surrounding RBs and the Patriots. New England leads the NFL in rushing yards per game at 179 but it’s hard to discern where the production will come from on a week-to-week basis. Here are the snap counts from the team’s Week 4 game against the Chiefs: James White – 40 (53.3%), Rex Burkhead – 26 (34.7%), Damien Harris – 23 (30.7%). Harris hit the 100-yard mark on 17 carries, Burkhead saw 12 touches and White was the preferred option in the passing game garnering eight targets. Add Newton back into the mix and it’s almost impossible to predict how the rushing pie will be divided up. So, here are my recommendations. Start White as a low-end RB2, start Harris as a viable Flex option, and sit Burkhead except in larger leagues where he might be a deeper Flex option.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Julian Edelman (Start, WR2), N’Keal Harry (Start, WR3/Flex), Damiere Byrd (Sit, Deep Flex)
Julian Edelman has been an anomaly this season in comparison to year’s past. Through four games, Edelman is averaging 13.2 yards before the catch in stark contrast to the 6.8 yards in 2018 and 8.0 yards in 2019. Edelman has become a viable downfield threat and the Patriots have utilized that to their advantage so far this season. Edelman leads the team in targets (30) and receiving yards (294) and is tied for the team lead with 18 receptions. Edelman has been a reliable option for fantasy managers this season and that trend should continue into Week 6 as a solid WR2.
Would it surprise you to learn that Damiere Byrd leads the Patriots in snaps at the WR position this year? Byrd has been in on 257 snaps this season which equates to 91.7% of the team’s offensive snaps. Despite that, Byrd has not been as productive as one might think garnering 22 targets and converting those targets into 14 receptions for 179 yards without a TD. This week, however, Byrd should have more opportunities given the stout run defense of the Broncos likely forcing New England to pass more than normal. Byrd is not a flashy option, but given the rash of injuries across the NFL and with four teams on a BYE this week, he is a Deep Flex option in large leagues for fantasy managers in Week 6.
It has been frustrating for fantasy managers trying to decide whether to start N’Keal Harry as there has been little consistency so far this season. Harry has also been an inconsistent option in that offense seeing a team-high 12 targets in Week 2 then dropping to four targets the following week. Much like Byrd, however, the options at WR for fantasy managers in Week 6 may be limited which makes Harry an option in Week 6. Expect an uptick in volume over his season average which should make Harry an enticing option for fantasy managers as their WR3 or Flex option in Week 6.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)