Week 6 Observations

What a random day of football. I mean it’s always somewhat random, but usually you get the sense you did well or poorly by the end of it. Week 6 seemed totally arbitrary, some of it even in my favor, but rarely in the way I envisioned. I suppose that’s part of the game, though – not merely that outcomes are uncertain but grasping the extent of the uncertainty and how much it overwhelms the known.

• The Giants finally won a game, and it’s no coincidence it happened after Ben McAdoo gave up the play calling to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. The Giants also decided to run block for once, handed the ball to a running back who aimed for where defenders were not and played defense the way they did a year ago. It’s rare to see a 13-point underdog not only win, but dominate. In what was already the hardest Survivor season of all time, the Broncos surely knocked out another big chunk of pools.

Orleans Darkwa isn’t especially fast or shifty, but he’s decisive and runs hard. That’s good enough for now. Wayne Gallman looks like the backup, and Paul Perkins a third stringer when he returns.

• Evan Engram is third in targets, fifth in catches and yards among tight ends, and his role should be huge going forward. He also runs a 4.42 40.

• Trevor Siemian threw for the quietest 376 yards of all time. Demaryius Thomas did much of his damage against star corner Janoris Jenkins, though it was Jenkins who scored a TD.

• Jason Pierre-Paul is healthy for now, and on the rare occasion that’s the case, he’s one of the league’s elite pass rushers.

• Denver’s top-ranked run defense was so stout it eviscerated Ezekiel Elliott and LeSean McCoy, but yielded 148 yards to the Giants, one of the bottom-three rushing attacks in the league heading into Week 6.

• It’s ridiculous Al Michaels had to apologize for his Harvey Weinstein joke. It was as mild as can be, and one reason Michaels is a good sportscaster is he talks like an actual football fan and human being rather than a nutless monkey.

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• The Chargers finally got Hunter Henry involved, mostly on the game-winning drive, and it paid off. He’s a top-five TE if they stop being moronic enough to target Antonio Gates’ carcass (seven for Henry, one for Gates this week.)

• Melvin Gordon is the AFC’s Todd Gurley. Huge workload in both the running and passing games, all the goal-line work.

• I never saw the appeal of Keenan Allen except as a reliable, moderate-upside PPR specialist, and he has injury risk, to boot.

• Michael Crabtree once again led the Raiders in receiving and caught a TD, though Amari Cooper had two catches called back on penalties. Derek Carr is just a guy, and the Raiders are in trouble. I’d still buy Cooper low.

• Marshawn Lynch ran well enough against a soft Chargers front, but the volume isn’t there, and he’s never used as a pass catcher.

• Every team should have a Tyreek Hill, Jalen Richard or Cordarrelle Patterson – they always seem to make huge plays on low volume. Unfortunately, the Raiders have two, and it’s no substitute for a competent offense.

• Le’Veon Bell is an all-time great back – his patience in the hole is one of a kind, and he pushes the pile and falls forward for extra yards on every play. He had 32 carries and six targets.

• Antonio Brown is matchup, venue and nearly variance proof. Ben Roethlisberger actually wasn’t terrible in a tough environment, but Bell and the game-flow kept him in hitter’s counts.

 Martavis Bryant is unhappy and apparently wants to be traded. Juju Smith-Schuster is the team’s No. 2 WR right now, though each saw only three targets.

• The Steelers shut down Kareem Hunt on the ground, but he caught 89-yards-worth of passes, giving him 100 YFS in his first six games.

• Tyreek Hill might have gotten concussed on a fourth-quarter return, but prior to that he managed only 34 yards on seven targets. Week 1’s explosion against the Patriots (where the defender fell down, and Hill had a 75-yard TD) looks like an outlier.

• The Chiefs were due for some regression offensively, but the Steelers defense is legitimately good.

• Leonard Fournette did almost all of his damage on his first carry, a 75-yard TD run. Todd Gurley, by contrast was gashing the Jaguars for a lot of productive runs, but his long was only 14. Neither back was a big factor in the passing game.

• Robert Woods has been productive for consecutive weeks against two of the toughest pass defenses in the league.

• Sammy Watkins, like Cooper, is a buy low. There’s talent and opportunity in both cases.

• Adrian Peterson has something in the tank yet. He ran with power and elusiveness behind what had been a weak offensive line. The early downs are obviously his until David Johnson returns.

• After 24 targets the last two weeks, Andre Ellington saw only one target (no catch) and no carries. That said, the game flow was unexpected – the Cardinals had a massive lead until the tail end of garbage time. Ellington should be relevant when the Cardinals are trailing or facing more third downs.

• Carson Palmer had 12.9 YPA and only four incomplete passes against an awful Tampa defense. Half of Palmer’s 22 attempts went toward Larry Fitzgerald, who had a huge game – 10 catches for 38 yards and a TD. I’d still trade him straight up for Amari Cooper in non-PPR, though I’m sure I’m in the minority.

• John Brown had 63 yards and a TD on four targets. If he’s healthy, he supplants Jaron Brown and J.J. Nelson as the team’s downfield receiver. There’s still upside for Brown.

• Ryan Fitzpatrick played pretty well in relief of Jameis Winston, who left early with a shoulder injury. If healthy, Winston’s not in danger of losing his job, but I still can’t tell if he’s any good. If Fitzpatrick is forced to take over, I don’t see a huge downgrade to DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans or Cameron Brate.

• Kevin Hogan had been better than DeShone Kizer as a reliever, but as a starter, not so much. He threw one of the worst pick-sixes I’ve ever seen, lofting the ball well over the head of his intended target and right into the arms of Jonathan Joseph who ran untouched for an 82-yard score. The Browns should give Cody Kessler a shot, but they seem determined to bury him.

• Until Corey Coleman or unless Josh Gordon returns, don’t try to figure out which Browns receiver will produce in a given week.

• Deshaun Watson has a chance to be the greatest fantasy quarterback of all time. That he threw a pick six up 33-3 in the fourth quarter convinced me.

• D’Onta Foreman got more work in the blowout and ran more effectively than Lamar Miller. It’s still Miller’s job, but Foreman is arguably the top backup to own. (Derrick Henry is the other.)

• Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins both caught touchdowns, though didn’t have to do much else.

• The Ravens offense is horrific. They scored 24 points, but 15 of them were on special teams touchdowns, and the other nine on Justin Tucker field goals. I saw them run a check-down to Ben Watson on 3rd-and-10, down seven points that he caught six yards short of the first down and was tackled two yards later. It’s the worst offense in the NFL, behind even the Browns, Jets, Giants, Dolphins, Colts and Bears.

• Jordan Howard had 36 carries, and his massive workload is unlikely to abate in the near term as the Bears protect Mitch Trubisky. Even Tarik Cohen got 14 carries in a game with unlikely game-flow.

• C.J. Beathard took over for Brian Hoyer in a long-overdue move. Why not find out whether Beathard is part of your future? He played well enough to earn the start next week and has some mobility.

• Carlos Hyde was stuffed on the ground, but he scored twice and caught five passes for 47 yards. Reports of his demise were exaggerated, though after the team cut NaVorro Bowman, there were rumors Hyde would get dealt. The deadline is Oct. 31.

• Kirk Cousins played well and had a big fantasy game, thanks to a rushing TD. It was a designed play, and Cousins had nine rushing TDs from 2015-16, so this wasn’t a fluke.

• Neither Chris Thompson nor Samaje Perine did anything on the ground, though Thompson surprisingly had 16 carries, easily a career high. Thompson was a monster in the passing game, though, with four catches for 105 yards, and Perine caught a TD.

• None of the Redskins receivers did anything. Josh Doctson caught an early TD, but that was his only catch on three targets. This offense has upside, but it has to get its playmaking receivers – Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Reed, Doctson and Jamison Crowder – more involved.

• The Jets went toe-to-toe with the Patriots all game and might have tied it but for a bizarre call on a would-be Austin Seferian-Jenkins TD that was ruled a touchback.

• Tom Brady targeted his best two receivers, Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks, 10 and nine times, respectively, but the Patriots offense is nothing special right now.

• Mike Gillislee fumbled, and Dion Lewis (11 carries to Gillislee’s 10) got the subsequent goal-line carry and converted it. Gillislee is no LeGarrette Blount, offers nothing in the passing game (telegraphing a run play when he’s on the field) and now has lost a fumble. He’s not done yet, but he’s on the ropes.

• Every QB that’s faced the Patriots this season has now thrown for 300 yards. Matt Ryan is up in Week 7.

• Seferian-Jenkins saw 11 targets and should have scored twice. He managed only 46 yards on those targets, but the workload seems fairly assured. Robbie Anderson also saw 12 targets.

• The Saints-Lions game had 90 points, but five defensive and special-teams touchdowns.

• The Saints scored 52, but Drew Brees threw for 186 yards, two TDs and two picks. Michael Thomas and Willie Snead combined for 4 catches for 22 yards.

• When the Saints weren’t scoring on defense, Mark Ingram did most of the work with 150 YFS and two scores. Alvin Kamara also had 75 rushing and 12 receiving yards.

• Ameer Abdullah had 14 carries, no catches and no touchdowns.

• Marvin Jones had 14 targets and scored a TD, but only 96 yards. Golden Tate caught all seven of his targets for 96 yards and a TD.

• Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone and is out for the season. This crushes Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb. Aaron Jones and Martellus Bennett might be less affected.

• Adam Thielen produces every week, no matter who the quarterback is. Last year’s first rounder, Laquon Treadwell made a great catch and could have a role yet, though Stefon Diggs isn’t expected to be out long.

• Jerick McKinnon lost a fumble, but had five catches, 99 YFS and two scores. He split early-down carries (16/15) with an ineffective Latavius Murray.

• The Dolphins were down 17-0 in Atlanta and won the game 20-17. Between the Falcons, Ravens and Broncos going down, some Survivor pools are surely over at this point.

• Jay Ajayi looked like the monster runner from Week 1. He reminds me of peak Marshawn Lynch, but his lack of passing-game involvement caps his ceiling.

• Jay Cutler had 4.6 YPA, two TDs and an interception. Despite being 3-2, he’s not out of the woods yet.

• Marvin Hall, a receiver of whom I had previously never heard, now has more touchdowns on the year than Julio Jones. It’s bizarre how little the Falcons used Jones (seven targets) or Devonta Freeman (nine carries.)

• Austin Hooper had nine targets, catching seven. He isn’t especially fast (4.72 40), but someone has to be the red-zone target in Atlanta.