Five Burning Questions for Week 6 (2020 Fantasy Football)
Week 5 was certainly an odd week. We saw rotating schedules and our first Tuesday night game featuring the Bills and the Titans after numerous positive COVID-19 cases in Tennessee. Because this game was pushed to Tuesday night, the Bills and the Chiefs were rescheduled to next Monday, October 19th at 5:00 pm EST in a double-header Monday evening.
We also have a surprise bye week for the Chargers who join the Saints, Raiders, and Seahawks. The Patriots, who were scheduled to have a bye this week, have already had their week off due to COVID-19 rescheduling. They will face the Denver Broncos on Sunday, October 18 at 1:00 pm EST.
Let’s get into five burning questions as we look ahead to Week 6.
1. What Should We Expect From Le’Veon Bell?
It’s a little too early to start the dirges for the Clyde Edwards-Helaire managers now that Bell is signing with the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s not great for Helaire’s fantasy production, but it may not be as bad we think.
Helaire and Bell are two completely different running backs. Helaire has seen 81 rush attempts for 344 yards and only one touchdown so far while his yards per attempt at been under five yards. It’s not the explosive impact the Chiefs and fantasy managers expected from him.
Remember, RB Damien Williams opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Over 11 games in 2019, Williams saw 37 targets, 30 receptions, 213 yards, and two touchdowns. He had an 81% catch rate and was used in short-yardage situations, averaging 5.76 yards per target. Despite working Helaire into the passing game, he has been less productive seeing 27 targets, 17 receptions, and 169 yards, but his yards per receptions are over nine with a 63% catch rate.
These numbers aren’t horrible, but it’s not what the Chiefs are looking for in a pass-catching back. This is where Bell will be a near-perfect fit in Kansas City. He is not just a patient runner, but an excellent receiver. In 2017, Bell saw 106 targets, 85 receptions, and 655 yards, averaging 6.18 yards per target.
With Helaire as the ground-and-pound, line-from-scrimmage back, Bell can finally make an impact in the passing game that he’s been seeking. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a Melvin Gordon/Austin Ekeler-type relationship between the two running backs as the season progresses.
One thing is clear, Bell will not be eligible to play this Monday night against the Bills. Once he signs the paperwork, he will need to wait at least six days to clear COVID protocols. I would imagine that it takes at least another week to get comfortable in Andy Reid’s system. Helaire managers have at least one week to rest easy before Bell starts cutting too deeply into his workload.
2. Will Alexander Mattison Step Into Dalvin Cook’s Fantasy Role?
Fantasy GMs held their collective breaths as Cook grabbed at his hamstring/groin area in the middle of the game against the Seahawks last week. After heading toward the locker room, Cook was spotted on the sideline but only came back into the game for a single snap.
In his place, backup Mattison rushed 20 times for 112 yards and saw three targets and three receptions for 24 yards. Twenty rush attempts are nothing to sneeze at in only one half of a game.
It was a common thing to see Mattison drafted earlier than other backup running backs with Cook’s injury history. However, with so many injuries and games being rescheduled due to the pandemic, it may have been difficult to hang onto him. He is expected to be the workhorse for the Vikings in Week 6.
Head coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t so quick to rule out Cook. When asked if the Vikings were planning on resting the running back a week before heading into their Week 7 bye, Zimmer replied, “No, I talked to him today and he said he’s feeling really good, so we’ll see,” in a tweet sent out by Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. We’ll need to keep a close eye on what happens with Cook in practice leading up to this weekend’s game.
Minnesota will face the beleaguered Falcons on Sunday. Atlanta has allowed 99 rush attempts for 378 yards and two rushing touchdowns so far this season as well as 43 receptions on 50 attempts for 317 yards and four receiving TDs to running backs. That leads the league in receptions and touchdowns allowed to running backs and is 31st in receiving yards allowed. Mattison should be in an excellent position, especially in PPR formats, to score points if you are hurting from injuries or bye weeks.
3. Can Robert Tonyan Stay In The TE1 Conversation?
I know it was two weeks ago, but in case you forgot, Packers tight end Robert Tonyan busted off a three-touchdown game on six receptions and 98 yards. He scored 33.8 points, second to only George Kittle at the position.
Green Bay had their bye week, which may have prevented nearly everyone from picking him up off of the wire last week, but the question will remain in Week 6 about whether or not you should start him. And will he see TE1 numbers again?
We shouldn’t forget that the vast majority of his looks were due to wide receivers Davante Adams being out with a hamstring injury, and Allen Lazard being sidelined after core muscle surgery. Who exactly was left for QB Aaron Rodgers to target? Running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams both saw eight and four targets respectively while wide receiver Marquez Valdez-Scantling saw only four targets for 45 yards. With no clear WR2 on the roster, Tonyan may be the primary beneficiary moving forward after Adams’ return.
To be fair, to stay in the TE1 conversation, he really just needs to be involved and not even score a touchdown. The TE12 last week was the Falcons’ Hayden Hurst who caught four receptions for 51 yards and finished with 9.1 points. It’s a little early to crown Tonyan the next Kittle, Travis Kelce, or Mark Andrews, but I am keeping an eye on his usage with Adams back in the lineup. He has the potential to see targets, especially since he is building trust with Rodgers.
He has an uphill battle against a stout Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense who have only allowed two touchdowns to the position so far in 2020. How well he can perform against a good defense will be a better litmus test than the swiss cheese defense of the Falcons.
4. What Can We Expect From Backup QB Andy Dalton and Dallas Cowboys?
No matter how you look at it, a quarterback other than Dak Prescott is a downgrade for the Cowboys’ offense. However, if ever there was a time to look back and pat yourself on the back for investing in a solid backup, now is that time. What happened to Prescott was horrific, but luckily, he is in good spirits after successful surgery to repair a compound fracture and dislocated right ankle. I am sure we will circle back to this issue next year when his contract is yet again on the line.
For now, the Cowboys are looking at the rest of the year with the best backup in NFL at the helm in Andy Dalton. After relieving the injured Prescott, Dalton threw nine completions on 11 attempts for 111 yards. Two of those passes were critical in driving down the field to score the game-winning field goal.
Of course, leading a team to a single game victory is one thing. It’s another to be the team’s leader and continue to win. Well, Dalton is no career backup and he is no slouch, either. In his own right, Dalton deserves to be a starter in the league. He is a seasoned veteran, used to the bright lights and the pressures of being a starting quarterback.
Wide receiver Michael Gallup, who caught those two massive passes to get the Cowboys in field goal position, revealed what Dalton told the team as he took over. According to Jon Machota of The Athletic, Dalton said, “Focus up. This is what I came here for.” He then later said in the huddle, “I came here to win. I came here to play. So let’s do it.”
Apparently, these were the words the Cowboys’ offense needed to hear to make a final push and beat the Giants 37-34.
Dalton has a tough lineup ahead of him starting with the Arizona Cardinals who have vastly improved their defensive game this season. If the Cowboys plan on winning, the play-makers like Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Gallup will need to step up in the receiving game while running back Ezekiel Elliot will also need to be ready for heavy usage in both rushing and receiving.
I am not ready to downgrade any of the Cowboys’ offensive weapons by much quite yet. There is too much talent surrounding the backup quarterback to quit the team in terms of fantasy. How they bounce back will by key, so keep a keen eye on their development and be prepared to be patient as Dalton works through some bumps in the road.
5. What Should Managers Do About Mike Davis
This is low-hanging fruit, but I am seeing way too many people put their hopes and dreams in Carolina’s backup Mike Davis.
Stop. TRADE HIM.
While Christian McCaffrey ideally wanted to be back this week, it’s looking more possible that the Panthers will keep him off the field for at least another week. This may be the last time that Davis has a fantasy-relevant game. There is a possibility that Davis sees action alongside McCaffrey if he’s not 100 percent, but that will also be short-lived.
This week has the Raiders, Saints, Chargers, and Seahawks on a bye so there should be at least one running back needy team you can target. If Davis is still a tough sell due to McCaffrey returning in the near future, try promoting the need for a productive backup on your league mate’s roster if that sweetens the deal.
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