7 Interesting Tidbits for Week 6 (Fantasy Football)
As always, in this space we journey through some Interesting Tidbits every week to help you with your upcoming lineup decisions. This can include notable recent performances, changes in playing time, historical matchup trends, and so on. At the very least, maybe we’ll uncover some amusing factoids along the way! So without further ado, let’s see what’s on tap for Week 6 and beyond.
Amari Cooper has just 4 receptions for 23 yards over the past three weeks
We appear to have hit rock bottom with Amari Cooper, who has been absolutely abysmal this season. Following a promising Week 1, in which he caught 5-of-13 targets for 62 yards and a touchdown, Cooper has gone downhill ever since, with yardage totals of 6, 9, and 8 over the past three weeks. Worst of all, he only received 2 targets in Week 5 from E.J. Manuel, the lowest of his career. Derek Carr is expected to return this week, so there’s hope the volume comes back a little, but Cooper only saw target totals of 5, 5, and 8 in Weeks 2-4. Still, we shouldn’t forget that Cooper put up over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons — the talent hasn’t suddenly disappeared at age 23. He rarely leaves the field, leads the Raiders in air yards by a healthy margin, and is seeing red zone targets, so maybe all is not lost. Perhaps it’s a combination of some tough recent matchups (at Washington, at Denver, vs. Baltimore), a knee issue that popped up recently, and/or a drop in confidence. At any rate, it’s hard to see him being this bad all season, and this is actually a good buy-low opportunity. You don’t necessarily have to start him this week against the Los Angeles Chargers, but the rest of the season outlook should be much more promising than these past few weeks would indicate.
Deshaun Watson is up to the QB2 through five weeks, and gets the Cleveland Browns in Week 6
Deshaun Watson’s stock has skyrocketed over the past couple of weeks, totaling 5 touchdowns for the second straight game. The good times should continue to roll in Week 6 against a Cleveland Browns pass defense that ranks 31st in DVOA, and has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Note however that we should temper our rest of season expectations because Watson has an unsustainable league-leading 8.3% touchdown rate. To give context, Aaron Rodger’s career rate is 6.4%, which is the fifth-best all-time. This by no means indicates upyou need to jump ship, but expect the touchdowns to come back down to Earth. Even so, we’ve seen Watson’s immense weekly upside, and the good news is that even in tough matchups, his legs will continue to give him a reasonable floor — he continues to lead all quarterbacks in rushing yards (179).
Adrian Peterson is now a member of the Arizona Cardinals, but should we care?
On Tuesday, the New Orleans Saints moved Adrian Peterson to the running back deprived Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals wasted no time cutting the ineffective Chris Johnson, installing Peterson as their new starter. There’s no doubt Peterson will see more volume by default in Arizona, but will it be enough to make a difference in fantasy? According to Pro Football Focus, he’s going to the lowest-graded offensive line in the league, and the Cardinals have the lowest rushing play percentage. Perhaps that latter point changes with Peterson on board, and there are signs he has something left, but the shaky line is concerning, and he’ll almost certainly remain uninvolved in the pass game with Andre Ellington entrenched as the passing down back. It also doesn’t inspire much confidence that the Saints were willing to move on for just a conditional sixth-rounder. This isn’t to say he isn’t worth a flyer — you never know after all — but as it stands he’s just a desperation play in Week 6 against a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers run defense.
Todd Gurley had a season-low 16 touches in Week 5, but expect him to bounce back in a big way against Jacksonville
I guess Todd Gurley was bound to have a clunker eventually, accumulating just 50 total yards and a lost fumble in Week 5 against the Seattle Seahawks. Everything appeared to line up perfectly for Gurley against the Seahawks — who are much stingier against the pass than the run — but the Los Angeles Rams curiously only gave Gurley 14 carries in a close game at home, after feeding him 28 and 23 attempts the previous two games. Including 2 receptions, he saw just 16 total touches, his fewest since Week 2 (19). The good news is the Rams can make amends against the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, who have allowed the second-most rushing yards per game (146.4), and are proving to be one of the toughest defenses to pass on. The Jags defense ranks 1st in pass DVOA and 31st in rush DVOA. The game plan doesn’t get much more obvious than that.
Ben Roethlisberger threw 5 interceptions in Week 5, but don’t write him off just yet
Yes, the game plan against the Jacksonville Jaguars might seem obvious on paper — run the ball down their throats — but don’t tell that to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers curiously decided that they would rather air it out 55 times with Ben Roethlisberger than run with all-world running back Le’Veon Bell (15 carries), despite Jacksonville being only up 7-6 at halftime. Of course, this doesn’t completely absolve Roethlisberger of his first ever 5-interception game, but he also wasn’t exactly set up to succeed in this one. Big Ben had some troubling words after the game, but quickly expressed renewed confidence on Tuesday. The truth is, aside from a cupcake matchup against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, it hasn’t been the easiest stretch for Roethlisberger (vs. Minnesota, at Chicago, at Baltimore, vs. Jacksonville). You’re probably looking elsewhere at quarterback this week, but a bounce back at Kansas City isn’t unreasonable, as they’ve allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Roethlisberger’s schedule also opens up later in the season (at Indianapolis, vs. Tennessee, vs. Green Bay), so he could prove plenty useful down the line.
Evan Engram is the last man standing for the New York Giants
The New York Giants went through some astoundingly bad luck in Week 5, losing virtually their entire wide receiving corp to injury. They lost Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Harris for the season, and Sterling Shepard looks unlikely to play this week. While that leaves wide receiver Roger Lewis as their defacto number one wide receiver, it’s really tight end Evan Engram who should become the top pass-catching option, despite catching 0-of-4 targets in Week 5. Prior to that, Engram had target totals of 7, 7, and 11 the previous three weeks, and we should expect to see that and potentially more moving forward. The injuries are devastating for the Giants, but it increases Engram’s weekly ceiling and floor in a big way.
Is Aaron Jones the new starting running back in Green Bay?
While it’s way too early to definitely say how the Green Bay Packers will handle their running back situation when Ty Montgomery is healthy, everything is coming up Aaron Jones after rushing for 125 yards and a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys. Coach Mike McCarthy stated that Jones has “earned more opportunities,” and he certainly looks like the better fit as the early-down back, already accumulating 174 yards on 32 carries over two games. However, he’s also only received a single target, so at the very least, Montgomery will remain involved in the pass game. Still, with Montgomery dealing with multiple fractured ribs, it’s hard to see him getting a full workload any time soon. At least for the short-term, Jones looks like the starter, and it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that he runs away with the job.