Always believe in regression. For Week 5 in fantasy, I made a game for the Pro Football Focus Twitter account allowing the followers and me to play Fantasy Bingo. Part of that game obviously meant coming up with 25 different things that could happen for the boxes (well, 24 and the free space).
I jumped around with them, going for full-game totals, random plays that could happen, plenty of variety. But one thing I did was identify the most productive players this year who hadn’t yet found the end zone and give each of them a “[Player X] scores a touchdown” square. The players were:
· Julio Jones
· Odell Beckham Jr.
· Zach Ertz
· Christian McCaffrey
Those were four fantasy stars, with plenty of touches in 2018, and none had scored a touchdown before Week 5. And then? Ertz scored. McCaffrey scored. If you count passes, Beckham scored twice. Jones didn’t, but then he’s the unscoringest player ever (and yes, that’s a word I made up).
If players are touching the ball as often as those big names do, they’ll score eventually. It’s just reality. Even Julio Jones is going to score a touchdown soon enough. And the players who are scoring at an incredible rate? Well, I’ll just say that Calvin Ridley also had a “scores a touchdown” square in my Bingo game, and it never got filled.
Welcome to my look at some of the best and worst fantasy situations for Week 6 of the NFL season. Powered by the stats and information we compile at Pro Football Focus, I’ve identified some of the key situations that I think will matter this week for fantasy. Good luck in Week 6.
Mismatch of the week
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I stashed Winston in two of my biggest leagues, grabbing him with a late-round pick in both. This is the week it pays off, even if things go worse from here. The Atlanta Falcons came into the season with a promising, if not elite-level, defense, but it’s fallen apart like a late-era season of “24”, complete with beloved characters going away (although in “24” it was death and for Deion Jones, Ricardo Allen, and Keanu Neal it’s just injury). That’s led to the Falcons allowing three passing touchdowns in each of their past four games — the only quarterback who hasn’t gotten to three touchdowns against Atlanta was Nick Foles, who isn’t even a starting-caliber QB anyway.
Winston comes into this game with one of the league’s best groups of pass-catchers. On top of that, his Buccaneers might be the only team with a worse defense than Atlanta’s right now, meaning there’s every chance this game could be an incredible shootout. Winston is in my top-10 quarterbacks for Week 6.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Here’s what to do if you have Bortles: Plug him in your lineup and then go as far from your television as you possible can. The Bortles football experience is brutal, with wobbly passes, interceptions and a 69.7 PFF passing grade that ranks 24th at the position through five weeks. But for fantasy, he’s been fine, with three top-10 weeks out of five (including two weeks ranking as the overall QB3). One of his bad weeks was with Leonard Fournette on the field — Bortles’s numbers dip when Fournette is active. Even a week ago, with four interceptions and a 51.6 passing grade, Bortles made his fantasy owners happy … as long as they didn’t see a single second of him actually playing.
Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots
The presence of James White puts a cap on Michel’s overall potential — even if he could be a productive pass-catcher, White being in the backfield means he’s unlikely to need to. Right now, though, that’s one of the few knocks on the New England rookie. He’s improved his yards per carry each week he’s been active and has scored a touchdown and topped 100 yards from scrimmage each of the past two weeks. Now he faces a Chiefs defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs all year — the only team that has allowed more (Arizona) can at least blame gamescript for the numbers. The only reason for the Chiefs’ struggles against the position is lack of quality.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
You don’t need a good matchup to put Beckham in your fantasy lineups any week, but you get one in Week 6 anyway. Beckham finally found the end zone for the first time in Week 5 (catching one and throwing one), but even with that he’s off pace. Keeping it simple — Beckham has 462 receiving yards, third among WRs. The other 16 receivers with at least 400 yards average 2.9 TDs apiece, and that’s even including Julio Jones, The Amazing Scoreless Receiver. Beckham, Jones and Brandin Cooks are the only receivers with 400-plus yards and fewer than two TDs. And now he gets an Eagles defense that has been picked apart by offenses, and it’s only gotten worse as Rodney McLeod landed on IR. Beckham scored for the first time in Week 5. He’ll do it again in Week 6.
C.J. Uzomah, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
I made the Uzomah-over-Tyler Kroft point in this space a week ago, so just for clarification — Uzomah ran 26 routes in Week 5 compared to 9 for Kroft. He played 55 snaps to Kroft’s 24. He had 44 receiving yards to Kroft’s 0. That battle’s over. Now, on to Week 6, when the Bengals play a Pittsburgh Steelers team that has been gouged by tight ends. The last four weeks, tight ends facing Pittsburgh (Travis Kelce, O.J. Howard, Maxx Williams and Austin Hooper) have all had their best fantasy games of the season. Uzomah’s turn is next.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
The lasting memory most people have of the Ravens defense this season is probably Andy Dalton and the Bengals gouging them for four first-half touchdowns on Thursday night in Week 1. And that’s a shame, because the Ravens have played nine halves of football outside of that so far this season, and in those nine halves combined they have allowed two passing touchdowns — one to Antonio Brown, one to Rashard Higgins. Now it’s Marcus Mariota’s turn. Mariota had a monster Week 4 against the aforementioned burnable Eagles, but in three other games this year he has 0 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and 5.53 yards per attempt. Stay away.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
The Patriots hold running backs in check on the ground, with only two teams’ backfields (Houston and Detroit) topping 100 yards against them as a unit. Running backs have slightly more success against New England through the air, but really, if you’re attacking the Patriots this season, it’s your wide receivers doing the work. Hunt averaged nearly 23 touches per game (97 carries, 16 receptions) through Week 5 a year ago; he’s averaging just over 19 this year (93 carries, 5 receptions) despite the Chiefs playing more snaps on offense. He’s still a borderline RB1 in Week 6, but I’m probably avoiding him in DFS.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
The only team that’s allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing receivers than the Giants through five weeks is … oh, wait, nobody. The Jaguars are the only team even within four points of the Giants’ 26.2 fantasy points per game allowed to receiver. And the Giants have done especially well against opponents’ No. 1s — other than the Jaguars and Cowboys (who don’t really have No. 1 receivers), the top options against them (DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas and Devin Funchess) have totaled 20 receptions for 186 yards in three games. If the Eagles are going to have success against the Giants through the air, it might be Nelson Agholor or Zach Ertz, but it’s unlikely to be Jeffery.
David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
George Kittle had a massive 82-yard touchdown against the Chargers in Week 4, and yes, it’s true that counts just like every other play, but there’s another thing that is also true. Take out that play, and in five games, the Chargers have allowed the following line to opposing tight ends: 18 receptions, 150 yards, 0 touchdowns. In five games-minus-one-play, the Chargers have kept tight ends to roughly what Jared Cook did by himself in Week 1. And while there’s a game against the essentially TE-less Rams in there, there are also games against Travis Kelce (one catch for 6 yards), Charles Clay, Kittle-minus-that-play, and Cook. For analytic purposes, I’m just going to ignore that Kittle score and tell you to avoid tight ends against the Chargers … and that means no Njoku in Week 6.
Daniel Kelley is the fantasy editor for Pro Football Focus.
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