Sat Sep 18 9:43am ET
By CHARLIE WIEGERT
With Week 1 in the books, use some caution with some of the strange things we saw. Green Bay is not that bad, and New Orleans is probably not that good. Houston might have won their only game of the year, and Jacksonville might not win any. So as I look at the best offenses and worst defenses, I’ll still factor last year in some as one game doesn’t give you a good picture. . . . most of the time!
The top passing team this week should be the Los Angeles Chargers at home against Dallas, who were torched by Tom Brady and Tampa Bay last week. Justin Herbert is no Tom Brady (yet!), but should have his way against a weak Dallas secondary. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Jared Cook all have a chance to top the century mark in receiving yardage.
The Atlanta at Tampa Bay game should be a big arial show. Both teams gave up huge passing yards last week, and Tampa reciprocated to win the game. It’s doubtful that Atlanta can hold with them, but they’ll need to get a huge game from Matt Ryan to stay close.
Green Bay gets a great get well card with Detroit coming to visit. While Green Bay should be able to do whatever they want offensively, meaning Aaron Jones could run wild, I expect the Rodgers to Davante Adams show to be the feature attraction.
My other favorite for passing yards based on a bad passing defense is Teddy Bridgewater at home against Jacksonville. If Tyrod Taylor and Houston can dominate the Jags, Denver should light them up at Mile High. With Jerry Jeudy out, look for Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton and KJ Hamler to have big days.
The tough passing defenses to stay away from if you can this week are Rams (no Carson Wentz), Steelers (no Derek Carr), Broncos (no Trevor Lawrence), Patriots (no Zach Wilson) and Bills (no Tua Tagovailoa).
Christian McCaffery is always the guy you look to be number one, and of course you play him if you have him, but he’s not a good DFS play at his high salary this week going against a Saints defense that contained Aaron Jones last week. As mentioned above, though, Jones could rebound this week and have big numbers against Detroit. The Chiefs gave up a lot of yards to Cleveland last week and are soft against the run. The question is who on Baltimore will get those yards. Lamar Jackson will probably lead the team, but Ty’Son Williams gets a chance for a big day, also.
Minnesota showed it could be run on last week, which means Kyler Murray could challenge Jackson for the most rushing yards from a quarterback this week. Chase Edmonds should lead the Cardinals rushing attack, but he’ll split time with James Conner, making both good, but not great plays.
It doesn’t get any easier this week for Tennessee’s Derrick Henry going against the Seahawks. And don’t expect a repeat performance from Houston’s Mark Ingram at Cleveland. Mike Davis and Atlanta will have tough going at Tampa Bay.
It’s not always finding the defense giving up the most passing yards. Sometimes it’s finding the weak cornerbacks, and staying away from the shutdown corners. Such was the case for Bears’ Allen Robinson with Rams Jalen Ramsey covering him last week. This week should be different for Robinson and Darnell Mooney going against a Bengal secondary that gave up 59 points to wide receivers last week. The Bears secondary wasn’t a whole lot better giving up the fifth most points to wideouts last week, so the Bengals receivers should have good days. Slot receiver Tyler Boyd should fair the best, but Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase will get theirs, too.
As mentioned above, the Lions have no way to stop Packers’ Davante Adams. As bad as the Lions were last week, they lost top defensive back Jeff Okudah, so Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdez-Scantling also could have good fantasy days.
There will be an interesting battle as Arizona takes on Minnesota. Former Cardinal Patrick Peterson tries to shut down former teammate DeAndre Hopkins. AJ Green and Christian Kirk might be the better plays. Odell Beckham Jr will miss the game, opening the door for Donovan Peoples-Jones to have a big day as Jarvis Landry will draw tighter coverage.
It could be tough going for Bills wideouts Stefan Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders as the Dolphins could shut them down. And the Colts Zach Pascal will get shadowed by Rams Jalen Ramsey.
Every week it’s going to be the same five guys - Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, George Kittle, Mark Andrews and T.J. Hockenson. This week the edge goes to Kelce against the Ravens defense that allowed the third most fantasy points to tight ends in Week 1. He is followed by Hockenson against the Packer defense that was fifth in points allowed. The “sleeper” picks could be Chargers Jared Cook against the Cowboys, a team that allowed the most points (29), or Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert against the 49ers, a team that was fourth in points allowed. A really, really deep sleeper would be Texans Pharaoh Brown or Jordan Akins going against the Browns, a team that was second in points allowed last week, although that probably had more to do going against Travis Kelce. And don’t forget Rob Gronkowski, who is on the same page with Tom Brady right now, going against the Falcons.
The teams that allowed the most points last week were Tennessee (take Seattle), Detroit (take Green Bay), New York Jets (take New England), Tampa Bay (take Atlanta) and Green Bay (take Detroit). So this is where Week 1 stats can be misleading. You don’t want Atlanta or Detroit.
The defenses that scored the most Week 1 were Arizona, San Francisco, Washington, Carolina and Dallas. After all those stats, the team I like the most this week is Denver, playing at Jacksonville against a rookie quarterback and coach. I’m expecting two to three picks, and hopefully one returned for a pick six.
Charlie Wiegert was the sixth person to be inducted in the Fantasy Sports Hall Of Fame in 2001. He is a founder of CDM Fantasy Sports and Fantasy Sports Trade Association. He has been playing and winning fantasy baseball leagues since 1984. If you have any questions for Charlie, email them to [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @GFFantasySports.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb will try to bounce back in Week 6 against the Chicago Bears after reeling in 2-of-3 targets for 30 yards in Sunday's 25-22 overtime win against the Cincinnati Bengals. The 31-year-old averages 10.6 air yards per target and owns 9% of the team's target share, ranked 92nd among all wideouts. Cobb will continue to have an expanded role while Marquez Valdes-Scantling (hamstring) remains on the injured reserve. This season, the Bears have been obliterated by WR1s (30th in DVOA) but have been solid against the opposing team's WR2s, which ranks 10th in DVOA versus the opponent's secondary receiver. Cobb is considered a flex play in deep-league formats and is a dart throw at best in Week 6.
Green Bay Packers' tight end Robert Tonyan (knee) doesn't have an injury designation for Sunday's Week 6 game against the Chicago Bears. He was a limited participant in practice throughout the week but is all systems go in Week 6. The 27-year-old has caught just 9-of-17 targets for 82 yards and a touchdown over five games in 2021. He averages 8.9 air yards per target (9th in position rank) and 10% of the team's target share, 26th among all tight ends. The Bears are ranked ninth in DVOA against tight ends this year, and a bounce-back week for Tonyan most likely won't happen this Sunday. Fantasy managers can search the waiver wire for a streaming tight end as Tonyan is a mid-range TE2 at best in Week 6.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (ankle) doesn't have an injury designation for Sunday's Week 6 game against the Chicago Bears. He was a limited participant in practice throughout the week but is all systems go for Week 6. The 26-year-old has rushed for 309 yards on 70 attempts and two touchdowns while catching 17-of-19 targets for 132 yards and three scores over five games in 2021. The Bears have been tough against the run this season and rank fourth in rush DVOA. Despite the tough matchup, Jones is a low-end RB1, and fantasy managers can start the Packers running back with confidence in Week 6.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams is coming off his best game of the season in last Sunday's Week 5 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He hauled in 11-of-16 targets for 206 yards and a touchdown. The Packers star receiver gets the Chicago Bears in Week 6, has been dreadful against WR1s, and is ranked 30th against the opposing team's top targets. Adams has dominated the Bears in the past, reeling in 67 catches for 814 yards and eight touchdowns over 14 games against Chicago in his career. The 28-year-old should have success again versus the Bears, and a is a surefire WR1 in Week 6.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown exactly two touchdowns in three straight games and is coming off his first 300-yard effort in last Sunday's Week 5 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The future Hall of Famer gets divisional rival the Chicago Bears in Week 6. Chicago has allowed the fifth-fewest points to quarterbacks and ranks third in pass DVOA this season. Rodgers has completed 107-of-163 attempts for 1,241 passing yards and a 10:3 TD: INT ratio while rushing for eight yards on seven attempts and a score over five games in 2021. The 37-year-old has typically done well against the Bears and has a passing rating of 107.2 with 55 touchdowns over 25 games versus Chicago in his career. Fantasy managers can fire up Rodgers as a low-end QB1 in Week 6.
The Denver Broncos defensive line should have the advantage in Week 6 against a Las Vegas Raiders offensive line that ranks 20th in pressure rate allowed and 31st in yards per carry. The key will be limiting big plays in the passing game, as they've allowed seven completions of 30-plus yards this year, which is tied for seventh-most in the league. Kyle Fuller has struggled in one-on-one matchups, but the return of Ronald Darby from Injured Reserve should help this secondary. If Denver can keep Derek Carr from succeeding deep -- only four QBs have completed more 30-plus-yard passes than him -- they have a shot to really slow Vegas' offense down. The Broncos defense has allowed the second-fewest points (76) through five weeks and should have a solid fantasy week if they can get consistent pressure on Carr.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus will be looking to stay perfect in a big matchup against the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders in Week 6. McManus has made all 11 of his field-goal attempts and all nine of his extra-point tries through five weeks to rank him as the No. 8 fantasy kicker. The move from Drew Lock in 2020 to Teddy Bridgewater at QB this year has made a world of difference for Denver's offense in terms of efficiency and lack of turnovers. In turn, McManus has become fantasy relevant on a weekly basis, and it also has helped that Denver ranks 10th in red-zone attempts but just 29th in red-zone success rate. The Broncos have scored touchdowns on just 42.11% of their trips inside the 20-yard line, which means McManus should continue to get his chances this Sunday. He'll easily be a top-10 fantasy kicker in Week 6.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant had just three catches for 20 yards and wasn't targeted until the fourth quarter in the Week 5 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The reason? His lack of involvement was a direct result of the team's decision to slow down Pittsburgh's edge rushers. The Las Vegas Raiders have some impressive pass-rushers of their own, but look for the Broncos to get Fant more involved in the passing game in Week 6. The 23-year-old remains one of Denver's top targets with Jerry Jeudy still out with a high ankle sprain, and the Raiders defense has been generous to opposing tight ends the last three weeks, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game. At the weakest fantasy position, Fant will remain a midrange TE1 with a prime bounce-back opportunity this Sunday.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick hasn't put up gaudy numbers or done anything overly special with Jerry Jeudy sidelined by a high ankle sprain, but he is quietly one of the NFL's best receivers. Through five weeks, Patrick leads the NFL by a wide margin with a plus-15.8% catch rate over expected. Oh, and he also hasn't dropped a pass in 127 targets since the 2019 season. He's gradually seen an increase in targets as the season has progressed, and he had a season-high seven catches on nine targets for 89 yards in the Week 5 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But because he's not much of a big-play receiver in a middling offense, Patrick has been merely a WR4/flex option in fantasy with Jeudy out. There won't be a ton of upside in Week 6 against a Las Vegas Raiders defense that has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the receiver position this year.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton woke up in the Week 5 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, catching seven of his 11 targets for 120 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Aside from his two 100-yard games, though, Sutton has been pretty quiet despite ranking second behind Davante Adams with 644 air yards in 2021. The 26-year-old was also helped by the fact that Denver was forced to throw while being down multiple scores in the second half last Sunday. The targets will be there for Denver's top option in the passing game, but Sutton will also be facing a Las Vegas Raiders defense in Week 6 that has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game (9.0) to opposing pass-catchers in the last three weeks. He'll be a midrange WR2 for fantasy managers against the division rivals.
Denver Broncos rookie running back Javonte Williams seems to waiting patiently for his true breakout game with Melvin Gordon III (hip), who is questionable for Week 6 against the Las Vegas Raiders, dealing with nagging injuries in recent weeks. Williams has gains of 31 and 49 yards, respectively, in the last two games and is a true big-play back that can break tackles. He is fifth in the NFL in adjusted yards after contact per rush at 4.3 since Week 2, and he has 5.05 yards per carry for 202 yards and a score on 40 carries in the last four weeks compared to 3.69 yards per carry on 49 attempts for Gordon. There's a chance that Williams finally takes the majority of touches over Gordon this week, which would give him RB2 upside against a Raiders defense that has been vulnerable to running backs in the last three weeks -- 23.1 fantasy points per game allowed to RBs (seventh-most).
Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the offense will be looking to carry over their fourth-quarter success in the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers into a Week 6 meeting with the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders. The Broncos scored 13 points on 10 first downs and 205 yards of total offense in comeback mode in the fourth quarter last week, but the Steelers also were playing softer coverage. Bridgewater has only gone over 300 yards passing once in five games, but he does have a nice TD-to-interception ratio of 7:1 and is completing a career-high 69.8% of his passes. The 28-year-old is taking care of the football, taking plenty of deep shots and taking what the defense gives him. Against a Raiders defense that has looked much better this year, Bridgewater will remain a midrange QB2 in superflex leagues.
The Seattle Seahawks defense has been inconsistent all season, but they have interesting upside in Week 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers offense, outside of Week 5 against the Denver Broncos when they scored more than 17 points for the first time since Week 1, has struggled to consistently put up points. The Steelers have turned the ball over at least once in every game, except for their win against the Buffalo Bills, and the Seahawks defense has gotten at least one takeaway in four out of five games while averaging at least two sacks per game. If the Seattle offense can take care of the ball and sustain drives, which is asking a lot with Geno Smith now in for the injured Russell Wilson (finger), the defense could come out of the game with a solid fantasy performance this week.
Seattle Seahawks running back Alex Collins will be getting his second straight start in Week 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but we could see him struggle in this matchup. The Steelers haven't been lights-out on defense this year, but they've been pretty good against the run, allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. They remain the lone defense that has yet to give up a touchdown to the running back position. Collins has scored one touchdown thus far, with the majority going to teammate Chris Carson (neck), who was placed on Injured Reserve on Friday. As the primary ball-carrier last Thursday against the Rams, Collins averaged just 3.13 yards per carry, and this matchup doesn't figure to make life easier on him. Collins will be a shaky touchdown-dependent RB3/flex with Geno Smith now at quarterback, while DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer figure to share change-of-pace work.
This Los Angeles Rams defense has struggled to start the year after looking like one of the best units in the NFL last season, but they're in a great bounce-back spot in Week 6 against the New York Giants. After five games, the Rams D has come away with six turnovers, including five interceptions. The Giants are dealing with a number of injuries across their offense and will be without starting running back Saquon Barkley(ankle) and wide receiver Kenny Golladay (knee). Quarterback Daniel Jones has done a good job of taking care of the football so far this season, but the Rams have the pass rush to get home and really make him uncomfortable, as their 14 sacks are tied for fifth in the NFL. If they can get early pressure on Jones, they have the potential to turn in their best game of the season.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich said that kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (groin) will be out for Week 6 against the Houston Texans. Blankenship has been a low-end streaming option in fantasy through the first five weeks of the season by making 11 of his 14 field-goal opportunities and seven of his eight extra points, but he tweaked his groin in last week's game and won't be available this Sunday. The Colts have signed Michael Badgley to do the kicking against the Texans, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers to begin the season. Despite the good matchup against the one-win Texans, there are plenty of better kicking options out there.
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the Week 6 game against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. Quarterbacks coach Cam Turner and defensive lineman Zach Allen also tested positive and will be out this weekend. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who has head-coaching experience from his time in Denver, and assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers will split the head-coaching duties against Cleveland. This shouldn't have much effect on Arizona's game plan against the Browns, but it's worth noting as the Cardinals look to remain the NFL's lone unbeaten team.
Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said that running back Justin Jackson (groin) will play in Week 6 against the Baltimore Ravens after missing last week's 47-42 barnburner of a win over the Cleveland Browns. The Chargers will decide between rookie Larry Rountree III and Joshua Kelley for the third running back spot on Sunday. Jackson wasn't listed on the final injury report for this weekend. The 25-year-old has played just 12.2% of the offensive snaps so far this year in four games and has only 10 carries for 22 yards while catching all six of his targets for 27 yards. Behind workhorse Austin Ekeler, no Chargers running back has standalone fantasy value.
Houston Texans wide receiver Danny Amendola (thigh) and running back Rex Burkhead (hip, knee) are both listed as questionable to play in a Week 6 contest against the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday. Amendola was limited in practice last week as well but remained inactive. In limited action in the first two games of the season, the veteran slot man caught all six of his targets for 43 yards and a touchdown, but he'll be a desperation flex play in the deepest of leagues if he returns to the field against Indy. Chris Moore came out of nowhere to lead the team with five catches, 109 yards and a touchdown in last week's loss to the New England Patriots, but there's a good chance that's an outlier, especially if Amendola returns this weekend. Fantasy managers can't really trust any Houston receiver outside of Brandin Cooks.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (illness) was removed from the final injury report for Week 6 against the division-rival Denver Broncos after he missed practice on Thursday but returned to a limited practice on Friday. He'll have his work cut out for him against a Broncos defense that's allowed only 344 rushing yards and two touchdowns to RBs through the first five weeks. Fantasy managers should feel a bit more comfortable rolling Jacobs out as an RB2 this weekend, though, after he had 15 of the team's 17 rushing attempts in the Week 5 loss to the Chicago Bears. He also caught four of five targets for 19 yards and scored a rushing touchdown. Peyton Barber's return from turf toe is a bit concerning, but Jacobs is getting healthier after looking sluggish in his first couple of games.