Wed Sep 22 10:38am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Kupp will keep it going this week
Here is my big week of advice for this week. Remember, we are just two weeks into the season. It is a long season and things can change in a hurry. Don’t panic if you are 0-2. And if you are 2-0, don’t get too cocky. Things can turn good or bad in a hurry. Just be patient. Keep plugging along and doing your homework to put the best team out there.
Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
The rookie quarterbacks really struggled last week. We saw some terrible performances, including a four-interception performance from Zach Wilson. This is to be expected, though. I know the trend in recent years has seen some big seasons from rookie quarterbacks, but it is a tough learning curve to come right into the NFL and produce big. And this especially remains true for players on bad teams. Remember, the Jags and Jets are not good. It isn’t easy for even a very talented player to produce on a bad team. Justin Herbert had a monster season last year, but he was in a much better situation in Los Angeles. It could be a long season for some of these rookie signal callers.
Derek Carr is really underrated. He is currently sixth overall in fantasy quarterback scoring and was 13th overall in scoring last year. And he is doing this without a lot of top weapons offensively. He knows the offense really well and seems to make the right reads often. Carr just makes plays. He is not going to keep his current crazy pace, but expect plenty of big games along the way, making him a low-end No. 1 fantasy quarterback. Carr posted his big numbers to start the year against the Ravens and Steelers - two really good defenses. Don’t sleep on Carr anymore.
Brandin Cooks is going to have a really big season. The Texans are going to throw the ball a lot, playing from behind at times. And Cooks is so far ahead of the rest of the options on the roster that his weekly targets are going to be really high. He has already been targeted 21 times in two games. He is going to bring great value to all the fantasy teams that were able to nab him as a WR3 come draft day.
The Cowboys split carries last week, seeing both Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott post good numbers. Could this situation turn into a Browns backfield, seeing both backs get a lot of weekly chances? I think it could happen. But either way, I would expect Pollard to be more involved going forward. He might not split work with Elliott every week, but he deserves more chances. Pollard is a playmaker and good fit for the offense. He might end up being a back to use a flex play going forward.
The running back position is kind of messy to start the year, so guys like James White have a little more value. He doesn’t get many carries, but White has six receptions each of his first two games. As long as he keeps getting the passing game work, White can be a decent No. 2 back or flex option. He’ll get double-digit fantasy points per week. White currently ranks 13th overall in fantasy running back scoring. It doesn’t always have to be the flashy back that is the big fantasy producer. Backs that come off the bench and get work in the passing game have good value, too (hello Nyheim Hines and J.D. McKissic).
So Jared Goff has been a surprise. He has played better than I thought he would in an offense that lacks some weapons in the passing game. He is making the most of his talent, though, and currently sits seventh overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. I don’t think he’ll be top-10 all season but I do think he is going to continue to have some big games. The Lions are going to be playing from behind a lot, giving Goff plenty of chances to play catch up.
News and Notes: The 49ers signed running back Jacques Patrick off the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad. Patrick gives the 49ers some much needed depth at a position that is ravaged by injuries right now.
Daniel Jones, QB, Giants. Jones is off to a great start to his season, looking to finally take his game to a new level. He has 26-plus fantasy points each of his two games. He also is showing his dual threat ability, having 122-rushing yards and two rushing scores. Jones did this against two really good defenses, playing the Broncos and Washington. Jones gets a favorable matchup this week, so things are looking good for Jones once again. He plays the Falcons, a team that has allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks their first two games.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams. Kupp is off to a fantastic start to his season, having a great rapport with new quarterback Matthew Stafford. Kupp has 100-yard games each of his firs two and been targeted a whooping 21 times. He also has scores each of those games. Kupp should be involved in a shootout this week with the Bucs, a tBucJust eam that has posted some big numbers this years. Plus, Tampa has struggled some against the pass, allowing the second most fantasy points to receivers. Kupp is a top-five fantasy option this week.
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seahawks. Metcalf is off to a so-so start to the season, watching teammate Tyler Lockett post huge numbers for the Seahawks. But the good news is Metcalf was targeted 11 time last week and has 10 receptions in two games. It is just a matter of time before Metcalf posts one of his huge games. We think that happens this week against the Vikings. Minnesota allows the third most fantasy points to receivers and rank 26th against the pass.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Lions. Hockenson has moved into must-start territory. He has a legit chance to lead all fantasy tight ends in scoring - even with Travis Kelce out there. Hockenson is piling up the points to start the year. He has eight receptions each of his first two games and scores each of those games. Hockenson has 20-plus fantasy points each of his two games. He plays the Ravens this week, a team that has allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends. Don’t be scared of the matchup.
Ty’Son Williams, RB, Ravens. Williams is the starter for the Ravens because of injury and producing well in that role. He had 13 carries for 77 yards last week and two receptions for 16 yards, giving him 93 total yards. He has 11-plus fantasy points each of his first two games. Williams is the back to use for the Ravens. He has a prime matchup for his best game of his young career this week. Williams gets the Lions, a team that allows the second most fantasy points to running backs.
Jameis Winston, QB, Saints. Winston was a disaster last week, proving he is not a surefire fantasy option by any means. Winston failed to have a touchdown pass in Week 2 after having five passing touchdowns in the opener. He has thrown for just 259 yards in two games. Winston is a scary fantasy play right now. He needs to show more consistency and can only be used in the right matchup. And a matchup this week against the Patriots is not a good one for Winston. The Patriots just made rookie Zach Wilson look silly last week. Winston could have similar struggles, so just stay away.
Amari Cooper, WR, Cowboys. Cooper is a little bit of a scary play this week. He is battling a rib injury but also gets a tough matchup with the Eagles. In two games against Philadelphia last week, Cooper had five receptions for 126 yards on 11 targets. He also did not score a touchdown against the Eagles. It is tough to bench Cooper but if you have viable options on the bench, you might want to consider them in Week 3.
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Texans. Lindsay has found the end zone each of his first two games. He has been a bright spot in the Texans backfield. Unfortunately, despite the scores, Lindsay still hasn’t topped double-digit fantasy points in a game this year. That is a concern. He just isn’t producing enough with his touches to be worth using just yet. And a matchup this week against the Panthers is not a good one for Lindsay. Carolina has not allowed double-digit fantasy points to running backs in any game this year. The Panthers allow the second fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Henry Ruggs, WR, Raiders. Ruggs had a huge game last week, hitting the 100-yard mark for the first time this season. He showed his high ceiling as the top big-play threat in this offense. Ruggs is not a sure thing, though. He can be up and down. Remember, he did not top 50 yards in Week 1. He gets a tough matchup this week against the Dolphins, a team with two of the best cornerbacks in the game. Miami allows the ninth fewest fantasy points to receivers. Ruggs is probably best left on benches this week.
Darrell Henderson, RB, Rams. Henderson has found the end zone each of his first two games. He has played pretty well for fantasy teams. His overall numbers aren’t great, though. He has not topped 70-rushing years in a game just yet and has 29 carries on the season. Things won’t get easier for him this week. Henderson plays the Bucs, a team that allowed just 57.5-rushing yards per game. Henderson is likely to be bottled up in this game and produced little. Plus, it would not surprise to see Sony Michel get a few more carries after showing well late in the game last week.
Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, Falcons. Patterson is starting to emerge in the Falcons offense. He has seven carries each of his first two games and totaled five receptions last week. Mike Davis isn’t exactly running away with the starter’s job, so Patterson should continue to get double-digit touches per week. He might post his second straight big game this week, playing the Giants. New York allows the ninth most fantasy points to running backs. Patterson has some flex appeal in Week 3.
Zach Pascal, WR, Colts. Pascal has found the end zone two straight weeks to start his season. He doesn’t have 50 yards in a game, but been targeted 11 times and has nine receptions. He is getting weekly work as a starter for the Colts. Expect more of the same this week against the Titans. Tennessee has struggled defensively, allowing the most fantasy points to receivers. The Titans allow 300-passing yards per game.
Dan Arnold, TE, Panthers. Arnold is starting for the Panthers high-powered offense and showed his potential last week, catching three passes for 55 yards. He has been targeted seven times and has five receptions. He is not a sure thing by any means, but has a chance to have a big week every once in a while. And a big game could come this week against the Texans, a team that has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to tight ends.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Broncos. Bridgewater has been fantastic to start the season as the starter for the Broncos. He has 23-plus fantasy points each of his first two games. He has four touchdowns without a turnover and a 300-yard game. Bridgewater can produce some big games in this talented offense. He should keep it going this week against the Jets, a team that is middle of the pack against the pass.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Bills. Sanders has not produced great just yet but he is getting work, having 14 targets his first two games. He plays in a high-powered passing game that is yet to reach their potential just yet. There were signs of life last week, though, which is encouraging. And it seems like Sanders is close to getting on the same page as Josh Allen. It would not surprise to see Sanders post a big game this week against Washington, a team that has struggled to stop the pass to start the year. Washington allows 281-passing yards per game and the sixth most fantasy points to receivers.
High/Low Scoring Games
Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.
High Scoring Games: Chargers/Chiefs, Cardinals/Jaguars, Bucs/Rams, Seahawks/Vikings, Eagles/Cowboys.
Low Scoring Games: Chicago/Cleveland, Jets/Broncos,.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at [email protected] Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
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.