The Primer: Week 6 Edition (Fantasy Football)
As I sit here on this early Saturday morning going through the injury reports from Friday, I’ve thought about how nice it would be to have an extra day to the week. When writing The Primer throughout the week, there are things that get lost in the shuffle, because when writing over 25,000 words, they must be spread over the course of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, which is before a lot of the injury reports come out.
It’s not just writing 25,000-plus words, either. It’s going through last week’s game film, looking through the snap counts, updating my excel spreadsheets, and organizing it in a way that’ll allow me to easily pass that information on to you. You may not believe me, but I’d write double what I do now if I were able to get all my thoughts out in a shorter amount of time. Why? Because there’s things I find even after The Primer is published that I’d love to pass on to you, but time is of the essence.
While my wife, daughter, and son are out at the local town parade, I’m sitting here writing the intro to the Week 6 edition of The Primer. Why would I write the intro on a Saturday prior to the games taking place? Time. Now that I’ve gone through everything I possibly could for Week 5, I really want to get a jump-start on Week 6 because it’ll allow for more research time Monday through Wednesday. Maybe it’s only 15-30 minutes, but that can be the difference between missing something and finding something.
But here’s the thing – I love every minute of what I do. During the NFL season, I tell my wife that she loses me to football and she understands that, provided I come back in the offseason, which leads to my next problem. You already know there is no offseason in football anymore. So, back to where I started… it would be very nice to have an additional day to the week. While I’d like to say that I’d spend that day with the family, I always know that there’s something out there I could be learning, which, in-turn, would allow me to give you better information. I cannot even promise myself that I’d stay away from football if we had an extra day. So, in the end, maybe it’s better that we only have seven days in a week.
In case you’ve missed it, I’ve been going back into The Primer on Saturday morning trying to update you on the injury reports that impact your decisions. While I cannot write a whole new article, I do talk about a lot of these things on our Sunday morning livestream, which is FREE to everyone. It’s where I discuss all the latest injury news and then take your questions live from 11-12am EST. Click here to be taken to our YouTube page where you can get notifications when we go live.
If you’re new here, here’s what you can expect out of this article each and every week: Numbers, facts, stats, opinions, and some shenanigans here and there. It’s my unbiased opinion about everyone on your roster. Whether it be season-long advice, DFS advice, or wide receiver/cornerback matchups, it’s all covered. The idea here is to give you as much information as possible and give you as much confidence as possible when you hit that ‘submit lineup’ button each week. Who should be in your lineup this week?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
Line: ATL by 3.5
Jameis Winston: If you sit close to your TV, you may want to get your eye protection on because the Falcons/Bucs game is going to produce plenty of fireworks. Winston has been announced as the starter and he couldn’t ask for a better game to walk into. The Falcons defense has now lost safety Keanu Neal, linebacker Deion Jones, safety Ricardo Allen for the season and were then left without stud defensive tackle Grady Jarrett last week. It’s a mess. It’s also whey they’ve allowed at least 37 points to each of their last three opponents. We don’t know if Garrett will return for this game, but it seems unlikely (Update: he’s out). The Falcons defense has allowed exactly three passing touchdowns in each of their last four games and the Bucs will come into the dome having two weeks to prepare. Winston was arguably the best quarterback in the preseason and now having more weapons than ever, he needs to be started as a rock-solid QB1. He’s both cash-game and tournament viable.
Matt Ryan: It was a bad showing for the Falcons offense against the Steelers last week, but they’ll have an even better matchup to get-right in Week 6 when the Bucs come to town. The Falcons defense isn’t going to suddenly stop an offense like the Bucs, so Ryan is destined to throw the ball 40-plus times this week. Through four games, they Bucs defense has yet to hold a quarterback to less than 334 passing yards, and that includes both Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky, who had their best games of the season against them. They start two rookie cornerbacks, which should open up plenty of opportunities for Ryan to get the ball to Jones, Ridley, and Sanu. The Bucs have also done well against opposing run-games, not allowing more than 81 yards to any one team, so it’s not one where we have to worry about Freeman and Coleman stealing all the production, either. Ryan is an elite QB1 for this game who should be used anywhere possible. He’s a bit pricier than Jameis Winston, but he’s also cash-game viable.
Ronald Jones, Peyton Barber, and Jacquizz Rodgers: It hasn’t been confirmed at this time, but it’s likely to be Jones as the starting running back for the Bucs in Week 6. He was active for his first game in Week 4 and came on in relief of Barber, who’s been struggling to get anything going. Not that it’s all Barber’s fault, either, as the offensive line has gotten no push up front. Still, Jones is likely the best back suited for this offense, as they need homerun potential, as you’re not going to be able to get it done on a consistent basis behind that line. The Falcons have now allowed multiple rushing touchdowns in 3-of-5 games, though they held both Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara scoreless. It’s odd because they’re two divisional opponents, but maybe there’s something to it. Remember when everyone was doing victory laps on Jay Ajayi after his Week 1 performance that netted 18.2 PPR points? Well, the Falcons have not allowed less than 25.6 PPR points to any starting running back since that time. Depending on which running back is named the starter (I’ll update the article Saturday morning), you’ll want to play them as an RB3 with upside. Rodgers may actually have value in this game, too, as he’s the primary passing-down back and the Falcons have now allowed a massive 46 receptions for 385 yards and a touchdown to running backs. If you’re in a real pinch and are looking for lightning in a bottle, Rodgers may be that guy against his former team.
Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman: You were warned that it wasn’t a great matchup last week, but seeing Ito Smith out there for more than a few plays was quite shocking. You should know the Bucs haven’t allowed a team of running backs more than 81 yards in a game, so we have to look at the passing game for most of the production, as that’s where value can be had in this game. The Bucs have allowed at least seven catches and 61 yards to running backs in 3-of-4 games, including two games with 112 or more receiving yards. That’s the reason they’ve allowed at least one top-24 PPR running back in each of their four games, including three top-eight performances. Freeman ran 14 pass routes last week while Coleman ran 11 routes, so it appeared Freeman was healthy enough to be trusted. But here’s the issue… he was held out of practice on Wednesday with what’s being described as a bone bruise on his knee, and that his status for Sunday is quite murky. At this point, we shouldn’t expect him to play. Coleman has been struggling as of late, totaling just 99 yards on his last 36 carries and totaled eight catches for 55 yards in his last three games, which included two where Freeman was out. Still, this matchup screams his name in the passing-game, so trot him out there as a rock-solid RB2. Provided Freeman is held out, Smith becomes an interesting RB4 in PPR formats, but just a desperation option in standard leagues. Update: Freeman has been ruled out this week, so it’ll be Coleman and Smith sharing the workload.
Mike Evans: It’s been a great start to the season for Evans, as he’s totaled at least six catches in each game which led to two games with more than 135 yards. His matchup in Week 6 is another one that should produce great results. The Falcons have shifted their secondary around and are now playing Desmond Trufant in the slot, which means Evans won’t see him more than 30 percent of the time. Instead, he’ll match-up with both Robert Alford and rookie Isaiah Oliver. That duo has now allowed 20 catches for 280 yards and five touchdowns on 33 targets in coverage. Though they’ve had some tough opponents, Evans doesn’t give them a break. In two matchups against a fully-healthy Falcons team last year, Evans totaled 6/78/0 in the first meeting and then 5/79/1 in the next one. It’s safe to say that you should get Evans back into lineups as a solid WR1 this week who has cash-game consideration.
DeSean Jackson: It’s been a crazy start to the year for Jackson who has now totaled at least 112 yards in 3-of-4 games. While you shouldn’t expect that to continue, he should be able to post some great results in this game. He primarily lines up at RWR, which means he’ll see rookie Isaiah Oliver most of the time. Oliver was forced to start after the Falcons moved slot cornerback Brian Poole to safety, so it’s not as if he’s so good that the Falcons knew they had to play him. He’s only seen five targets in coverage, though two of them produced touchdowns. The veteran Jackson should be able to do well against the rookie, though Evans and Brate have solid matchups, too. The only concern is choosing which way to go with the Bucs offense, as there’s so many opportunities. Whatever the case, Jackson needs to be plugged-in as a low-end WR3 who relies on big plays, though there should be opportunities here.
Chris Godwin: Despite playing just 143-of-260 snaps (55 percent) this year and already having had his bye week, Godwin remains a top-50 wide receiver in fantasy football. He’s overcome a lot, though the Bucs still don’t seem to realize what they have in him. He played a season-low 49 percent of the snaps in Week 4, though I’m hoping they used the bye week to work him into the offense a bit more. The Falcons have shifted around their secondary and have Brian Poole playing safety, though he’d likely be the one to come down and cover Godwin when they go four-wide. It’s tough to say Godwin should be trusted as anything more than a WR4/5, but his upside in what could be a high-scoring game should not make him forgotten. He makes for a great tournament play in DFS.
Julio Jones: If you missed the Falcons/Steelers game, you could’ve waited until the fourth quarter to see all of Jones’ production. Seriously, he didn’t have a catch in the first three quarters. Ugh. What good is a Ferrari if you only take it out on Sundays and drive the speed limit? He’s got another great matchup this week against the Bucs who’ve been starting two rookies where Jones typically plays, so if the Falcons throw him the ball, he should do work. Coming off a game that was an embarrassment, I’d like to think they’ll do that. To give you an idea as to how good of a matchup this is… the duo of Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart have allowed 37 receptions for 433 yards and five touchdowns in their coverage through four games, which came on just 45 targets. Jones is an elite WR1 play who we cannot get too upset with over one game, though he may not be as cash-game safe as we’d hoped. If there was one game where we could project Jones for a touchdown, it’s this one. Why? Because Jones has played 12 career games against them and has scored 10 touchdowns, including four touchdowns in his last four games against them.
Calvin Ridley: We knew that Ridley had what may have been the toughest matchup of the Falcons wide receivers last week, so it wasn’t too shocking to see him come back down to earth. He may have the toughest matchup on the field once again in Week 6, though, as he primarily lines up at RWR, which is where Brent Grimes has played. Grimes isn’t the biggest cornerback which hurts him against bigger wide receivers, but Ridley isn’t big. But here’s the thing… The Bucs play a lot of man coverage, which is where Ridley feasts, as his route-running chops are ridiculous. In man coverage this year, he’s totaled 179 yards and three touchdowns on nine targets. Grimes is definitely not going to allow him to do that, but if they trust him in single man coverage against Ridley, he’s not going to shut him down. Consider Ridley an upside WR2/3 this week.
Mohamed Sanu: Since the Falcons defense went down the tubes, Sanu has been a stud. Over the last three weeks, he’s totaled 23 targets that have amounted to 14 receptions for 220 yards and two touchdowns. This isn’t too crazy to those who examined the numbers last season, as Sanu posted 10 games with at least 10.5 PPR points, which was the average number of points it took to finish as a WR3 in 2017. There were just 11 wide receivers who did it more often than him. Sure, Ridley was going to cap his numbers, but knowing the pass attempts are on the rise, Sanu should continue to be a weekly consideration. Most don’t realize he has more targets than Ridley through five games. His matchup against M.J. Stewart this week is a great one, as he’s been targeted once every four snaps in coverage, which leads all slot cornerbacks. Why would he be targeted so often? Because he allows 2.61 yards per covered snap, which ranks as second-most among slot cornerbacks. The matchup is great, so consider Sanu as a WR3 this week, but one who should have a really solid floor.
Cameron Brate: The Falcons have fallen apart on defense as the injuries continue to pile up. Over their last four games, they’ve allowed four top-10 quarterbacks, four top-10 running backs, seven top-36 wide receivers, and two top-12 tight ends. Brate is a must-play TE1 if OJ Howard is out and I’ll include this chart I put together last year which highlighted just how great the tight ends were when Winston played the majority of snaps. (Update: It appears Howard may give it a go this week, which adds some risk to Brate’s projection, but he’s still a TE1 this week)
Austin Hooper: We talked about Hooper being a great streamer last week, though we didn’t expect him to see a career-high 12 targets against the Steelers. After scoring just 17 points on the weak Steelers defense, maybe the Falcons go back to their old play-calling ways? The Bucs are a team that can be exposed against tight ends, as they’ve yet to have a game in which they didn’t allow a top-12 tight end. Three of the four tight ends who’ve played them have totaled at least 86 yards and they lost starting safety Chris Conte prior to Week 4, which led to Trey Burton‘s 86 yards and a touchdown on just four targets. With the lack of predictability at tight end, you have to chase matchups and targets, so while I don’t want to plant my flag on Hooper for the remainder of the season, he’s a low-end TE1 streaming option once again this week.
Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland Browns
Line: LAC by 1.5
Philip Rivers: It’s been a great start for Rivers, as he’s averaging 8.6 yards per attempt (his highest mark since 2010) and has thrown 13 touchdowns (ranks 2nd in NFL) compared to just two interceptions. The defense has been struggling and it would typically lead to more pass attempts, but he’s averaged just 34.8 attempts per game due to his efficiency. The Browns pass-rush is slowing down a tad, though they’ve still had at least two sacks in every game. They’ve also posted eight interceptions through five games and that’s been a big reason they’ve stayed close in games. They’ve also held opposing quarterbacks to 17.6 points or less in 4-of-5 games, which included Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees. The only week they did allow more than that was to Derek Carr who threw the ball 58 times. Playing against a worse version of the Browns defense last year, Rivers totaled 344 yards and one touchdown in their matchup. Knowing they’ve allowed just one passing touchdown in three home games, it’s tough to say that Rivers is anything more than a low-end QB1 who may disappoint.
Baker Mayfield: Things are only going to get better for Mayfield, who didn’t see any first-team reps in practice while Tyrod Taylor was healthy. Last week, Mayfield just hung 342 yards on a Ravens defense that hadn’t allowed a passer more than 274 yards since Week 14 of last year. He doesn’t have the prototypical No. 1 receiver in the offense, but he’s making it work by spreading the ball around. The Chargers shut-down Derek Carr last week, but they haven’t been a great defense without Joey Bosa this year. They allowed both Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff to finish as top-six options and have allowed at least 245 yards and one touchdown to every quarterback they’ve played. Mayfield is going to be great in the NFL and this is just the beginning. Knowing the Chargers have allowed just one running back to rush for more than 49 yards, Mayfield should be considered a high-end QB2 this week who can be considered for streaming.
Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler: The combination of Gordon and Ekeler has been the best in football through five weeks, as they’ve now combined for 198.5 PPR points. That puts them on a pace for 635.2 PPR points at season’s end, which would be more than the 592.4 PPR points that Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram scored last year. Crazy, right? The Browns also have a weakness against the run, though the Ravens didn’t exploit it. Browns opponents are averaging a massive 75.6 plays per game, which leads the NFL, and that’s going to allow both Gordon and Ekeler to receive significant touches. Prior to the Ravens giving Alex Collins just 13 touches, the Browns had allowed every starter to post at least 15.9 fantasy points against them. Despite the Chargers averaging just 61.4 plays per game (23rd in NFL), the duo of Gordon/Ekeler has averaged 32.4 combined carries/targets per week. Knowing the Browns allow their opponents so many plays, it should pique your interest. Gordon is a must-play RB1 as always, while Ekeler should be considered a high-end RB3 who has now totaled at least seven touches in every game, but has also reached 14 touches in a game earlier this year.
Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson: It’s now been 4-of-5 games where Hyde has averaged 3.7 or less yards per carry. I’m not saying he’s played poorly, but he also hasn’t been a game-changer for their offense. When you have a high second-round pick on the bench who’s flashed at times, you need to do better than the current 3.5 yards per carry on the season. The Chargers have struggled against the pass this year, but they’ve played the run extremely well and got defensive tackle Corey Liuget back last week. Outside of Todd Gurley (who runs on everyone), the Chargers have yet to allow a running back more than 49 yards on the ground. That’s included Kareem Hunt, LeSean McCoy, Matt Breida, and Marshawn Lynch. Of all those running backs, Gurley was the only one able to score more than 10.8 PPR points, which should give Hyde owners cause for concern. The reason for hope, though, is that the Chargers have allowed 26.0 points per game, which ranks 12th-most in the league, so it’s possible that Hyde gets a goal-line plunge. I’d consider him a high-end RB3 this week who will disappoint if he doesn’t score. Johnson went back to his barely-used role, so he’s nothing more than a “hope he’s used more” RB4 option. There have been five running backs who’ve totaled at least 29 receiving yards against them, but Johnson’s usage is just so disappointing.
Keenan Allen: For those concerned about Allen, you really shouldn’t be. His quarterback is playing well and he ranks 12th in targets among wide receivers. The production will come sooner rather than later. Allen plays a lot of his snaps in the slot, which means he’ll evade Denzel Ward in coverage a majority of the time. That’s great because it means Allen will match-up with T.J. Carrie on over half of his routes, and that’s the slot cornerback who’s allowed 11-of-15 targets to be completed for 113 yards over the last two weeks. Against the same defense (same coordinator) last year, Allen tagged them for 10 catches, 105 yards, and a touchdown. With the amount of plays that the Browns opponents run, it’s hard to see a scenario where Allen doesn’t finish as a WR1 this week.
Mike Williams: After a hot start that had him total 189 yards and three touchdowns over the first three games, Williams has hit a drought, though it’s not really his fault. He’s seen just seven targets over the last two weeks, which will limit production for anyone. The Browns have Denzel Ward staying planted at LCB, which is where Williams will be roughly 33 percent of the time. He’ll see E.J. Gaines on the majority of his snaps, which is a much better matchup than Ward. The Browns were forced to go with Gaines once Terrance Mitchell went down for the year, and although he’s not bad, he’s also been extremely hit-or-miss throughout his career. He played well in Buffalo last year, but we can’t forget he allowed nine touchdowns on 72 targets in coverage back in 2016. He’s just 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, so Williams should be able to use his size to his advantage. It seems like a matchup Williams can bounce-back in, making him an upside WR4 this week and a solid tournament play as he can score multiple touchdowns with opportunity.
Tyrell Williams: He’s totaled 114 yards over the last two weeks, but similar to the other Williams (Mike), he’s seen limited targets (8), which will limit production. Knowing that he’s going to see Denzel Ward in coverage more than anyone else on the Chargers, he’s not someone you should be trying to strike gold with this week. He’s turned into the primary deep threat in the offense, but it’s unlikely Rivers will have time to get the ball downfield with the Browns pass-rush. Williams is just a deep-league only WR5/6-type option.
Jarvis Landry: He’s now played five games with the Browns and has seen at least 10 targets in 4-of-5 games. You definitely have to love the willingness to target him a ton, as it will ultimately lead to consistent WR2 production from a player who doesn’t need to score a lot of touchdowns. Even with Josh Gordon gone, Landry is running 73 percent of his routes from the slot, which will help him evade Casey Hayward‘s coverage most of the time. Desmond King is the primary slot cornerback for the Chargers and he’s allowed a perfect 14-of-14 attempts to be completed in his slot coverage, though they have gone for a mediocre 116 yards and no touchdowns. It’s probably the best matchup on the field of the Browns receivers, so there’s little reason to think Landry’s targets take a dip this week. Consider him a rock-solid WR2 who has now totaled at least 69 yards or scored a touchdown in every game.
Antonio Callaway: So much for Callaway playing fewer snaps, eh? He played 55-of-80 snaps, though part of the reason was because Rashard Higgins sprained his MCL and only played half the game. Callaway will continue to play an every-down role until the Browns add another wide receiver, which could be Rishard Matthews, who was visiting with the Browns on Monday. Whatever the case, Callaway has struggled in his rookie season, dropping three passes over the last three weeks with Mayfield under center. He’s also going to have a tough matchup with Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams this week, so it’s unlikely we see him have a turnaround. He’s best left on benches or waiver wires right now.
Antonio Gates: It’s odd, but Gates has not played any more than 23 snaps over the last four weeks. What it tells me is that the Chargers knew he was essentially done playing football and that’s the reason they were moving forward without him prior to the Hunter Henry injury. Virgil Green did suffer a rib injury last week, so if he’s out it could lead to a bigger role for Gates, though we don’t know if he can handle it. Outside of the 110-yard, two-touchdown game that the Browns allowed to Jared Cook, they have been really solid against tight ends. Cook is the only tight end to record more than three catches against them and he’s the only one who’s scored. They were brutal last year under the same defensive coordinator, so it’s possible there’s still points to be had, but it’s tough to suggest that with such minimal snaps and targets (has just 16 through five games). Gates is on the TE2 radar, but he’s no sure thing. Just because it’s the Browns does not mean he should be played in cash lineups.
David Njoku: If you have Njoku, congrats. If you don’t, you should get out there and acquire him if possible. He ranks second in snaps (behind only Zach Ertz), seventh in targets (34), and now has a quarterback who can get the ball to him. His fantasy points have looked like an escalator this season, as they continue to go up, but he can still be traded for because he hasn’t scored. This matchup may not be the one where he goes bananas, as the Chargers have shut down every tight end outside of George Kittle who did most of his damage on one play. Their first-round draft pick Derwin James is the real deal and has been able to hold Travis Kelce to 1/6/0 and Jared Cook to 4/20/0. The Browns need to do a better job of getting Njoku in the slot, as he’s run just 16.6 percent of his routes from there, which ranks 81st among tight ends. He’s just a high-end TE2 this week, but one who I’m trading for wherever I can. If you’re feeling lucky, wait until after this week.
Seattle Seahawks at Oakland Raiders (In London)
Line: SEA by 2.5
Russell Wilson: Who would’ve guessed that Wilson would throw the ball just 21 times in Week 5 with just one of them going to Doug Baldwin, yet end up with three touchdowns against the Rams? It’s what happened, and it’s helped that his run-game has come alive the last three weeks. This is the first London game of the year and they’re always a bit odd to predict because there are so many variables involved. Of the four games that took place there last year, here’s the results: Jaguars 44 – Ravens 7, Saints 20 – Dolphins 0, Vikings 33 – Browns 16, Rams 33 – Cardinals 0. As you can see, there were three teams held to seven points or less, while three teams scored 33 points or more. Tons of variables. The Raiders secondary has been much better than most expected, though their front-seven has lacked a pass-rush, generating just 1.2 sacks per game, which ranks last in the NFL. If you cannot pressure Wilson, he’s likely going to beat you. They’ve allowed at least two touchdown passes in 4-of-5 games, with the only quarterback failing to hit that number being Case Keenum, who has really struggled this year. While I won’t say that Wilson’s slow start is certainly over, this matchup should allow him to post respectable low-end QB1 numbers. Stay far away in cash, though, as the London variables change so much.
Derek Carr: We’re back on the Carr roller coaster that has him throw for 437 yards and four touchdowns one week, only to throw 268 yards and one touchdown the next (in a better matchup). He’s now been intercepted a league-leading eight times, so maybe the Jon Gruden/Greg Olsen offensive gameplan doesn’t work for him? Throughout his career, his worst TD to INT rate was 22:13, so the current 7:8 is a real problem. The Seahawks defense has been decimated since last year and they just allowed the Rams to score 33 points in Seattle despite losing their top two wide receivers for much of the game. Their cornerback trio of Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, and Justin Coleman isn’t very good, and they now have 2017’s second-round pick Tedric Thompson at safety in place of Earl Thomas. If their front-seven can’t generate pressure on Carr, the Raiders have the weapons to beat them. It would definitely help if the Raiders get Pro Bowl guard Kelechi Osemele back on the offensive line, as he was forced to miss Week 5. That came after the Raiders lost right tackle Donald Penn to injured reserve. As always, Carr has upside if he brings his A-game, but if his offensive line can’t stop the Seahawks pass-rush, he could be in trouble. He should be considered a low-end QB2 this week, though I’d likely err on the side of caution.
Chris Carson and Mike Davis: After the Seahawks running backs scored one touchdown from Week 1 of 2017 until Week 2 of 2018, they’ve now scored four touchdowns over the last three games with three of them going to the backup Davis. They’ve made a commitment to their ground-game over the last three weeks, averaging 35.0 rushing attempts per game over the last three weeks, which is the most in the NFL during that time. There have been three 100-yard rushing games against the Raiders through five games, so it’s apparent that their almost entirely-new front-seven is struggling to find any continuity. Knowing there’ve been six running backs to total at least 12.1 PPR points against them through five weeks, Carson should be penciled in as a high-end RB3 for this game, while Davis is now on the RB4 radar, as he totaled 12 carries last week even with Carson toting the ball 19 times. Knowing the run-game could turn back to the way they were at any moment, I’d stay away in cash lineups.
Marshawn Lynch: It was clear that Lynch wasn’t happy with his usage last week, especially when the Raiders decided to throw the ball while on the one yard-line when Carr threw an ugly interception. Going against his old team while playing in London raises a lot of questions with Lynch, though he’s someone who’s fueled by emotion. Knowing the Seahawks moved on from him and struggled to find his replacement, it’s very likely that he’d love to stick it to his old team. They’ve allowed at least 71 rushing yards to 4-of-5 starting running backs this year, including four rushing touchdowns the last two weeks. No starting running back has finished outside the top-30 running backs in any week against them, though a large part of that is because they all totaled at least 14 carries. Knowing all this, it should make Lynch a rock-solid RB2 who’s got more upside than a lot of those in his range.
Doug Baldwin: It was shocking to look at the final box score and see Baldwin with one target against the Rams, though seeing Wilson throw the ball just 21 times makes you feel a smidge better. I wanted to go back and watch the game to see if it was on Baldwin or not, and it was funny to see Baldwin’s one catch came on a shovel pass on their first possession. He didn’t see a single target for the rest of the game, though it appeared to be a gameplan issue because Baldwin was getting separation in his routes. In fact, Baldwin had his hand up in the air wide open down the sideline when David Moore caught his second touchdown. The Raiders got Daryl Worley back from suspension last week, but he played on the perimeter while they continued to play Leon Hall in the slot. That’s a real problem for them against Baldwin, as Hall is a soon-to-be 34-year-old cornerback who’s allowed 14-of-17 targets to be completed for 227 yards this season. It’s tough to say Baldwin is a must-play considering his lack of production in his first two games back, but we have three years of elite production to go off with him. I’m plugging him in as a high-end WR3 and feeling good about it. He makes for a great tournament play this week.
Tyler Lockett: Even with Baldwin back in the lineup, the Seahawks have found ways to get Lockett into the slot and take advantage of some mismatches. His touchdown catch in Week 5 was not that, though. He simply ran right by Marcus Peters who didn’t have a clue what was going on. Lockett is teetering on must-play territory, but his targets aren’t anything that suggest he is. He’s still yet to top seven targets on the season and has relied on the big-play much more than most every-week starters. The Raiders moved Gareon Conley to the bench with the return of Daryl Worley, though I think that’s a mistake because Conley had been playing really well. Lockett will see some of Worley, but mostly Rashaan Melvin, who has also played pretty well through five weeks. He’s allowed just a 51.7 percent catch rate in his coverage, though he has been beat on the deep ball, allowing 15.0 yards per reception. Lockett should be considered a high-end WR4, though I like Baldwin more this week.
David Moore: Some may have been saying to themselves, “who the heck is David Moore?” last week, but I mentioned that he’d played 43 snaps in last week’s edition of The Primer. He’s taken Brandon Marshall‘s role in the offense, playing ahead of both him and Jaron Brown. While it may seem odd, we have to follow the trends. Moore has seen six targets over the last two weeks, totaling five catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns, so there’s little reason to think he sees less time going forward. He’s not someone I’d suggest playing in season-long leagues just yet, but he’s worth adding to your bench if you have room.
Amari Cooper: One target. I have no words to describe my feelings on the situation, as Cooper performs when targeted, plain and simple. He ranks 40th in targets among wide receivers, so for those who think Cooper isn’t good, you need to watch a bit more closely. The Seahawks cornerback trio of Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, and Justin Coleman isn’t anything to be worried about, as they’ve now allowed five wide receivers to post at least 14.5 PPR points against them. Missing Earl Thomas over the top could hurt them in this matchup, because if the Raiders offensive line can give Carr time, Cooper should be able to get behind the defense. His biggest opponent is Carr, who simply ignores him from time-to-time, making Cooper a risk/reward WR3 every week, though this week’s matchup is much better than last week’s against Casey Hayward.
Jordy Nelson: With Seth Roberts getting healthier, the Raiders have gone back to Nelson playing on the perimeter, which is not good for his outlook. He caught a touchdown last week, but it was on a play that nobody was covering him, as they snapped the ball before the Chargers were set on defense. If the Raiders continue to try and push Nelson outside, it’s not going to work. During the two weeks he played primarily out of the slot, he saw eight targets in each game. During the three weeks he’s played on the perimeter, he’s seen four targets in each game. Nelson is essentially turning into a touchdown-or-bust option and not a great one when Carr’s struggling. He’ll see both Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin in coverage this week, both younger lively cornerbacks. Nelson is shaping up to be a risky WR4/5 option in this matchup.
Seth Roberts/Martavis Bryant: With Roberts back in a full-time slot role, it’s pushed Bryant out of the starting lineup as he played just 13 snaps in their Week 5 loss to the Chargers. He also lost a fumble, so even though you see 91 yards in the box score, he’s not to be trusted in fantasy. As for Roberts, he’s not someone who you want to play, but we have to pay attention to the fact that he led the team in targets (7) in Week 5. He’s going to see Justin Coleman in coverage, a nickel cornerback who’s allowed a 92.4 QB Rating when targeted. He’s not great, but he’s not so bad that you must target him with someone like Roberts.
Nick Vannett: The thought process was good with Vannett last week, as he saw a solid 19 percent target share against the Rams, but the issue is that Wilson threw the ball just 21 times. If the targets were elevated to the mid-30’s, he would’ve been looking at six-plus targets. He’s got one more week before Ed Dickson returns, and the Raiders have allowed a tight end touchdown in each of their last two games. It’s not all that great against them, though, as they’ve yet to allow a tight end total more than 52 yards, so it’s essentially touchdown-or-bust for Vannett. You could definitely do worse than him as a streamer, but you can also likely do better. He’s a mid-tier TE2 against the Raiders this week.
Jared Cook: Have we learned our lesson with Cook yet? He’s an inconsistent option who plays with an inconsistent quarterback in an inconsistent offense. That’s a whole lot of inconsistency. The Seahawks have had Bradley McDougald covering tight ends this year and he’s done a great job, holding every one of them to 52 yards or less. To be fair, there’s been just one tight end who’s seen more than four targets against them, a number that Cook routinely hits (has six or more targets in 4-of-5 games). Knowing how many targets he’s been getting, it’s tough to bench him, though I’d consider him more of a low-end TE1 in this game and not one who comes with a whole lot of upside.