Week 6 Observations

I have a bunch of teams, and the task is to make the waiver deadlines, set the lineups and repeat. It doesn’t matter if I win 107 to 105, or lose 158 to 156. Make the waiver deadlines, set the lineups, repeat. At the end of Week 16, we’ll see. Far more emotionally taxing is the Supercontest with the $1.5 million prize, where we still have a pulse, but it was teetering for a bit in the early games.

We had the Browns plus one as one of our five, and that was dead on arrival. Of more concern were the Redskins (whose entire roster was seemingly scratched from the game) and the Falcons who were life and death with the Bucs. Both games went down to the wire, and there was a real chance we would start off 0-3. But the Falcons, up two, get stuffed on 3rd and 2, Dan Quinn opts for the 57-yard field goal, Matt Bryant nails it while twisting his ankle and the Falcons hold up on defense to win by five in a game in which they were favored by 3.5. Borderline miracle, and enough of a good beat to help me finally let go of the bad beat with the Browns two weeks ago.

The Redskins led all game, but kicked a field-goal to go up six with a few minutes left, and Cam Newton and the Panthers quickly and easily got the ball to the plus side of the field before turning it over on downs. Newton had just led the team on an easy long drive and two-point conversion the previous possession, so I was fairly sure we were toast. But now we were 2-1, 17-10-1 overall, and awaiting the Rams -6.5 in the afternoon game and the Packers -9.5 on Monday night.

Of course, the Rams, who were up 20-3, coughed up the backdoor cover, something I didn’t they would do because of their aggressive style of play. The refs, who gifted the Broncos two first downs on the garbage-time drive, didn’t help, either. So just as I got over the Browns beat, I have a new one over which to stir, though admittedly, it’s not nearly as bad and probably won’t take as long.

• Pat Mahomes and Tyreek Hill had monster second halves, and Hill in particular stood out on the game-tying TD in the closing minutes. It’s one thing to catch a long TD in stride, quite another to come to a full stop, jump to catch the ball and accelerate so quickly that the defender standing next to you still can’t catch you. The Chiefs offense didn’t have much rhythm, but when you can connect on 75-yard and 67-yard TDs, you don’t need it.

• Kareem Hunt went 10-for-80 on the ground and 6-5-105-1 through the air. The Chiefs haven’t been trailing much early in the season, but Hunt has been big as a receiver both here and against the Broncos when the game-flow necessitated it. He’s a great running back, but fantasy-wise, he’s not yet in the class of Todd Gurley or Saquon Barkley because the Chiefs don’t throw to him when they’re ahead.

• Tom Brady had a business-like 340 yards, 9.7 YPA, a TD pass and a nice TD run, aided by the new ultra-sensitive QB rules. Brady was all but wrapped up, but the defender, not wanting to draw a flag and not thinking the old man would run, let up, and Brady smartly made a dash for the goal line.

• Sony Michel looked good, hitting the holes quickly and decisively and running hard. He finished with a 24-106-2 line. James White ran well too (6-for-39) and went 7-5-53 as a receiver. Both are every week PPR starters.

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• The reason you should never take Rob Gronkowski in the top-two rounds is the lack of volume. He was efficient as ever (4-3-97) and made the game-sealing catch, but the Pats almost never give him double-digit looks, and this year, they’re not even using him in the red zone (one target all year.)

• Josh Gordon led the team with nine targets, drew a long pass interference penalty and caught a modest five passes for 42 yards. The results weren’t great, but they’re taking the experiment seriously at least. The only negative is Gordon didn’t appear to be open on most of the throws that went his way. Julian Edelman had seven targets and a TD, but mostly Brady spread the ball around.

• I mostly watched the Rams-Broncos in the late-slate. The Titans against anyone are usually unwatchable, and the Ravens were like sand on an already dying flame. The Cowboys also fall into that category, though Jason Garrett went on 4th-and-1 once, and their game plan, targeting Cole Beasley (11-9-101-2) from the slot and avoiding the outside corners was sound.

• You would have done very well in DFS stacking Dak Prescott (80 rush yards and a TD, plus two passing TDs) and Beasley as well as Brock Osweiler and Albert Wilson against ostensibly two of the league’s best defenses this week.

• I thought Marcus Mariota had turned the corner against the Eagles, but I was wrong. He missed Taywan Taylor on a wide open bomb too. It’s crazy he still got 7.8 YPA on 15 attempts, but if you factor in the whopping 11 sacks for 66 yards, the passing game netted only 51 yards.

• It was a Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead rather than John Brown day for the Ravens, but I’ll chalk that up to game flow and the opponent. Brown will get more work when the opponent scores a point.

• Jared Goff had a quiet game with only 201 passing yards, no TDs and a pick. The Broncos weren’t fooled by the Rams’ misdirection and got constant pressure, sacking him five times. Cooper Kupp’s potentially serious knee injury didn’t help.

• Todd Gurley ran wild going 28-for-208 and two scores. He also caught two of five targets for 17 yards.

• Robert Woods led the Rams with a 10-7-109 line, while Brandin Cooks chipped in with 6-2-53.

• I’m just glad the second pick by Nathan Peterman wasn’t returned for a TD. The first one coughed up the game (and any chance for people to lose in my Survivor Pool), but the second almost blew the cover.

• The Bills are not a team you want your fantasy players to be up against – they slow it down, never score and play solid defense. Only DeAndre Hopkins (6-5-63-1) had a passable game.

• Alex Smith had a meager 4.5 YPA and 163 passing yards. This is a far cry from last year’s Andy Reid offense. Adrian Peterson ran well, though – 17 for 97.

• Cam Newton put up passable numbers, but came up just short on the final drive. Devin Funchess (8-5-74-1) is the team’s unquestioned No. 1, though D.J. Moore (5-4-59) seems to be growing his role, despite two fumbles. Greg Olsen had a solid 7-4-48 game, his first one back from a broken foot.

• Is Christian McCaffrey a workhorse? Sunday, he had eight carries for 20 yards and caught seven of eight targets for 46 more. I still see Reggie Bush as the relevant comp.

• I’ve been bashing Sam Darnold since Day 1, but it’s hard to knock his performance against the Colts – 24-of-30 for 280 yards (9.3 YPA), two TDs, one pick and two sacks taken. Slot man Jermaine Kearse (10-9-94) was his top target, and Terrelle Pryor (6-5-57-1) was his No. 2, before leaving with a groin injury. Quincy Enunwa left early with an ankle injury, and Robby Anderson saw only five targets for 39 yards.

• Andrew Luck had a passable 301-yard, 4-TD day without his top receiver T.Y. Hilton, but he also threw three picks, one of which, on a tipped ball, was taken to the house. Eric Ebron (7-4-71-1) appears to be a top-five TE, and Chester Rodgers (10-4-55-1) looks like the No. 1 until Hilton gets back. Marlon Mack supplanted Nyheim Hines as the top back with 12 carries for 89 yards.

• Adam Thielen is an unstoppable force, going 15-11-123-1, the sixth straight game he’s topped 100 yards to start the year. Stefon Diggs had a modest 5-3-33. Latavius Murray had a big game filling in for Dalvin Cook – 24-155-1. Cook was slated to play, but aggravated his hamstring in pre-game warmups.

• Larry Fitzgerald led the Cardinals in targets with eight, but produced a meager five catches for 39 yards. He had value last year when the team forced him the ball 160 times, but in a more diverse offense, it’s tough for him to make an impact. Christian Kirk and Ricky Seals-Jones are the more dynamic targets in the offense. I was wrong about Fitzgerald last year, but I’d rather be out a year too early than a year too late.

• David Johnson scored another TD, but he fumbled and managed only 70 YFS. He simply hasn’t found much room to run this year.

• When Ryan Tannehill was scratched before the game, the point spread jumped from Bears -3 to Bears -7, i.e., the market thought the Dolphins had hit Brock bottom. But Osweiler threw for 380 yards and three TDs (two picks), didn’t take a single sack against the Bears vaunted defense and led the team to an overtime win.

• Albert Wilson went 9-6-155-2, gashing the Bears for two long TDs. I assume he’ll see more looks, but the Dolphins’ WR tree is very hard to decipher this year. Kenny Stills (two targets) used to be their top dog, and now even DeVante Parker (zero targets) is back. Danny Amendola saw 11 targets, but caught just eight passes for 59 yards.

• Kenyan Drake lost a key fumble at the goal line, but Adam Gase went back to him in overtime, and Drake made key plays on the game-winning drive. Still Drake had only 13 carries (for 57 yards) to Frank Gore’s 15 for 101. Drake had four catches for 21 yards and Gore one for 18, but Gore (at 35) is still part of a 50/50 timeshare and actually playing well.

• Mitch Trubisky was 22 of 31 for 316 yards (10.2 YPA), three TDs and one pick. It was a good follow-up to the six-TD Tampa game, but he threw a bad interception in the end zone. Trubisky also had 47 yards rushing.

• Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard are like James White and Sony Michel, with Cohen getting fewer carries but all the catches recently and Howard getting more of the early down work. Both lost fumbles, but Cohen scored the TD and had a 9-7-90 line through the air. Taylor Gabriel made the most of his targets – 5-5-110, while Allen Robinson went 6-5-64-1 and Trey Burton  4-4-23-1. Anthony Miller caught a 29-yard TD on four targets.

The two takeaways from the Seahawks are (1) Rashaad Penny got some work, ran well (9-for-43) and caught two passes for 17 yards; and (2) Doug Baldwin (knee) had his first good game – 8-6-91.

 Amari Cooper left with a concussion in the first quarter, and no one on the Raiders did anything all game. Derek Carr (4.6 YPA) is trending toward a backup job next year.

• Melvin Gordon was underdrafted as a late first-rounder this year. He went 18-132-3 and caught two of four targets for 18 yards. Tyrell Williams (4-3-118-2) had a monster game on low volume, while Keenan Allen went 6-4-62.

• Baker Mayfield had a bad game against an improving Chargers defense which should get Joey Bosa back at some point. Someone named Damion Ratley led the Browns in receiving with an 8-6-81 line. David Njoku went 12-7-55-1 and should continue to be heavily involved. Jarvis Landry might not be healthy – he posted a 9-2-11 line. Antonio Callaway is healthy, but possibly not ready – he delivered a 10-2-9 masterpiece.

• The Steelers look like themselves again, down to the narrow distribution of production among their top playmakers. Antonio Brown went 6-5-101-1, Juju Smith-Schuster 10-7-111 and James Connor had 19 carries for 111 yards and two scores to go along with four catches for 18 yards. Vance McDonald went 8-7-68 as the fourth weapon in the attack, while Jesse James saw seven targets for only 26 yards.

• Joe Mixon had another productive day – 11-64-1 on the ground and four catches for 20 yards, Tyler Boyd went 9-7-62-2 and A.J. Green 12-7-85. C.J. Uzomah was productive by 2018 tight end standards – 7-6-54. Andy Dalton had a mediocre game, with only 229 yards, 5.5 YPA and three sacks.

• Jameis Winston could put up huge numbers in this situation – great weapons, poor running game, bad defense. He had 395 passing yards and four TDs, two picks and two sacks. He also ran for 31 yards.

• Peyton Barber ran well – 13 carries for 83 yards, but gameflow prevented more. Five Bucs receivers had at least 56 yards, but no one had more than 82. O.J. Howard, Chris Godwin, Cameron Brate (one catch, 15 yards) and Barber (4-for-24) caught touchdowns.

• Matt Ryan threw for another 354 yards and three more scores. He’s on pace for 5,213 yards. Julio Jones led the team with a 14-10-143-0 line. He’s on pace for a 117-1,885-0 season. Austin Hooper went 10-9-71-1, cementing himself as an important part of the passing attack and one of the better fantasy tight ends. Calvin Ridley caught just three passes before leaving with an ankle injury, and Mohamed Sanu scored a TD on one of his two targets.

• It’s bad news for Tevin Coleman (and eventually Devonta Freeman) that the Judge, Ito Smith, is getting goal line work. Smith is only 5-9, 195, but he’s scored for three straight games.