6 Interesting Tidbits for Week 6 (Fantasy Football)
We’re officially five weeks into the NFL season, and five happens to be the same number of kicks Mason Crosby shanked this past weekend. As if there wasn’t enough weekly variance in fantasy football to begin with, why do we torment ourselves with kickers again? This isn’t to say an edge can’t be found in streaming the right kickers, such as picking ones with good offenses that are highly favored, playing at home, and/or are in a dome. But let’s face it, no one likes losing because a kicker like Crosby gets the yips for a game, or on the flipside, because their opponent’s kicker drops nearly 20 fantasy points, like Graham Gano did in many scoring formats last week.
But enough about kickers (who are people too). As always, let’s take a look at the surprises, stats, and trends entering Week 6, and how they might affect your fantasy football teams moving forward.
Sound the alarms! We all knew Ingram would steal back some work from Kamara upon his return, but opinions were mixed as to how much. Would Ingram return to a role similar as last season, or would Kamara continue to see the bulk of the work moving forward?
Well, those who enjoyed the feats of Kamara through the first month of the season got their first taste of schadenfreude in Week 5, as Ingram came in and not only doubled up Kamara in touches (18-9), but he rushed for two touchdowns to Kamara’s zero. Ingram also saw 55% of the snaps, compared to 47% for Kamara. It was about the worst case scenario for Kamara backers.
But if one is optimistic, this may have been a game-specific situation, with the Saints electing to lean on a fresh Ingram after Kamara received such a heavy workload over the first four weeks, and particularly in a blowout victory. Still, Kamara’s floor has apparently dropped from where it was a week ago, and there’s no question Ingram is going to get his fair share of work in this offense.
Like we saw in 2017, that doesn’t mean Kamara can’t still be great, but dreams of him being this year’s top overall fantasy player took a significant hit. New Orleans has a bye this week, and it will be interesting to see how the touches are split in a tough matchup at Baltimore in Week 7.
John Brown leads the league in air yards (871)
Brown is coming off his worst fantasy result of the season, with a modest four receptions for 58 yards against the Bills. But despite the disappointing output, Brown saw impressive volume with a season-high 14 targets, while leading all Week 5 pass catchers with 209 air yards, per airyards.com.
Brown now leads all pass catchers in air yards for the season (871), with DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones being the only other players to exceed 800 this season. That’s some elite company, and with Brown now averaging 10 targets a game over the past four weeks, he continues to demonstrate that he’s the man you want in this Ravens offense. Brown doesn’t necessarily draw the most exciting matchup against the Titans this week, but he’s looking like a potential every week starter in most formats.
Joe Mixon plays 78% of the snaps in his first game back
After Giovani Bernard filled in admirably for the Bengals during Mixon’s absence, there was the possibility of a backfield timeshare upon his return. But as fate would have it, that question would quickly hit the back burner entering Week 5, with Bernard suffering from his own multi-week injury, essentially trading places with a now healthy Mixon. That set things up perfectly for Mixon against the Dolphins, but comments from Marvin Lewis suggested he wouldn’t return to his full workload right away.
Naturally, that proved to be coach speak, as Mixon picked up right where he left off, tallying 22 carries and four targets (three receptions), while seeing the field for 78% of the snaps, right in line with his volume in a healthy Week 1. With Bernard presumably still out of the picture, Mixon should keep the good times rolling with a potentially high-scoring affair at home against the Steelers on tap for Week 6 (53.0 over/under).
Jameis Winston is making his first 2018 start in a game with a 57.5 over/under
Speaking of high over/unders, Winston couldn’t ask for a much better situation for his first start of the year, coming off a bye week against a Falcons defense that’s given up the second-most points per game (32.6), ranks 30th in DVOA, and has allowed four straight quarterbacks to throw for three touchdowns. Of course, the Falcons aren’t the only reason for this lofty total, as the Bucs happen to be that one team that’s allowed more points per game (34.8) and ranks dead-last in DVOA. Both teams are walking shootouts waiting to happen, so the scoring should be fast and furious in this one.
While Winston only has one half of football under his belt this year, the extra time to prepare for this plum spot can’t hurt, and we have to be excited about his prospects following Ryan Fitzpatrick’s historic run with offensive coordinator Todd Monken calling the plays this season. Winston is arguably the week’s top quarterback streamer, and he may have long-term value if he can conjure up some of his own FitzMagic in this offense.
Skill players on both sides of the Tampa Bay-Atlanta game will experience a big boost, but one spot that will be difficult to trust is Atlanta’s backfield.
Freeman finally returned to action last week, but Freeman fantasy teams didn’t rejoice for long, as we were treated to a dreaded running back by committee. Before the game, a 40/40/20 split backfield was reportedly the Falcons’ plan, and that’s almost exactly how things played out, with Freeman (39% of the snaps), Tevin Coleman (38%), and Ito Smith (17%) all getting pieces of the pie. As a result, none of the backs saw significant volume, as Freeman barely edged out the other two with 10 touches, compared to nine for Coleman, and four for Smith. To make matters worse, it was Smith who would score the lone rushing touchdown of the three. Perhaps the Falcons just wanted to ease Freeman in after missing time, and getting blown out by the Steelers certainly didn’t help, but overall this is a dire turn of events for fantasy.
That being said, unless you’re in a very shallow league, this matchup is too good to pass on Freeman after just one underwhelming game, as only the Chiefs-Patriots game has a higher over/under. We’ve seen Freeman and Coleman co-exist as fantasy assets in this backfield before, and if volume tips even slightly in Freeman’s favor, he’ll retain his value as a reliable RB2. Still, with Smith remaining in the mix, we have to acknowledge that this could also continue to be a fantasy headache moving forward.
172 NFL players have a receiving touchdown this season, and Julio Jones is not one of them
In one what has seemingly become a weekly tradition in this space, or maybe a broken record at this point, we’ll stay with the Falcons to once again address the confounding case of Julio Jones. Odell Beckham finally got that elusive touchdown this past week (and threw for one as well), but Jones remained scoreless, and you have to go a long way down before reaching his name on this year’s receiving touchdowns leaderboard. That’s right, 172 different players have caught a touchdown in the NFL this season, while Jones remains stuck at zero.
Granted, as one might expect, most of the names on that list sit at just one score, but it’s yet another indication of how crazy it is that Jones has made it this far without a single touchdown. We’re talking about a receiver with the seventh-most targets in the league (55), third-most receiving yards (564), and third-most air yards (831). Heck, Tre’Quan Smith caught two touchdowns off just three targets for the Saints on Monday night, and he’s seen seven targets all season.
Now if we’re nitpicking, we do have to acknowledge that Jones still sits at just three red zone targets, and all of them came in Week 1. The Falcons have no problem spreading the ball around in the red zone, but Jones still sees about 30% of Atlanta’s overall targets, so his lack of red zone usage shouldn’t stay stagnant forever. There’s little reason to think Jones is somehow adverse to touchdowns when all his other receiving numbers continue to be among the best in the league. Another possible shootout awaits against the Bucs, so maybe this is finally the week…again.