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We bring you the Sunday Six Pack, an article featuring six of the biggest storylines heading into each and every week of the season. Keeping tabs on these events will keep you prepared and informed throughout the season – just don’t drive within six hours of reading this.
- Trying Your Andrew Luck
I know this is surreal. Colts QB Andrew Luck is just the QB17 in terms of average FPs per game (seven spots higher than Matt Hasselbeck for those keeping score). Assuming that he comes back from injury this week, he gets a New England Patriots defense that is ranked 11th in league, giving up an average of 229.8 passing yards per game. Moreover, the Pats are tied for sixth in the league with six INTs and Luck, despite having missed two games, is still tied for second in the league with seven INTs. TY Hilton also apparently has a groin tweak. While it is a home game for the Colts, in four career games against New England (two in the regular season and two in the postseason), Luck has completed just 50.3% of his passes for an average of 274 yards, 1.5 TDs and 2.5 INTs. Luck is still a QB1 this week, but it wouldn’t shock me if his AFC South compatriot Blake Bortles outscored him this week. Conversely, LeGarrette Blount has averaged 27 carries for 115.7 yards and 3.5 TDs in his two starts for New England against Indianapolis. With Dion Lewis questionable with an abdomen injury, this game is shaping up like another Blount-fest, Tom Brady revenge narrative be damned.
- Peyton Manning’s Demise is Not Hard to Explain
He says the right things, but acts the wrong way. Remember that second half against the Chiefs in Week 2 when Peyton Manning weeble-wobbled his way to a win after a rough first half? That turned out to be the anomaly (and the only game that Manning has thrown three TDs in). Through five weeks, Manning is ranked 32nd in terms of average FPs per game with just 15.74 per week. In last week’s dream matchup against a Raiders pass defense that is ranked 31st against the pass, Manning mustered just 266 yards, no TDs and 2 INTs. Age and injury have caught up with Manning at this point. If you couldn’t trust him against the leaky Raiders, why trust him against the middle of the road Browns passing defense (18th in terms of average passing yards per game at 251)? I’d feel more comfortable with the aforementioned Bortles, Sam Bradford, or even Colin Kaepernick, who was at least able to take advantage of a good matchup last week against the Giants. On the other side, Josh McCown is ranked fifth with an average of 24.16 FPs per game. This is a very tough matchup for him and will be be a good litmus test for whether Chicago or Tampa was the outlier.
- Every Quarter with Matthew Stafford is 15 Minutes of Pain
His whole career, is it a dream? Lions QB Matthew Stafford checks in just ahead of Peyton Manning at 31st in average FPs per game and has been a drag on the Lions skill-position players, most notably stud WR Calvin Johnson all season. Johnson is just the PPR WR22 through five weeks and deserves much better. Stafford is averaging just 241 passing yards per game and just 9.56 [inlinead]yards per completion. Compare that to McCown who has averaged 384.67 yards per game in three starts and 12.02 yards per completion. While McCown certainly won’t keep that pace up, he also doesn’t have nearly the talent as Stafford does with Johnson and Golden Tate. I wondered out loud on Twitter during the week whether Megatron would be better off with 29 other QBs (excepting out just Stafford, Nick Foles and Jameis Winston) and didn’t get any serious pushback. Stafford’s days of being a QB1 are gone at this point. It’s not unsalvageable, but it’s not looking good. Bears QB Jay Cutler, however, continued to look good in his return from a hamstring injury last week and has scored more than 20 FPs for two weeks in a row now. Alshon Jeffery may not return this week, but when he does, Cutler’s outlook will improve even more. Detroit is ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of pass defense at 17th (248.8 yards per game) and that makes Cutler as low end QB1/high end QB2 this week.
- Taken for a Fool by Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins v. Titans)
You’re so gullible, but he doesn’t mind. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill comes out of the bye week ranked 15th in terms of average FPs per game. Not as horrible as you might have expected if you’ve actually watched Lauren’s husband play this year, but not what was expected from the popular preseason breakout candidate. I question whether the mid-season coaching change will actually improve the Dolphins offense, which remains in the hands of Bill Lazor, but perhaps placing the team in the hands of a defensive coach will refocus the offense on Lamar Miller and the running game, which currently ranks last in the league with just 16.2 runs per game (along with Detroit at 17.4, one of just two teams under 20 runs per game). If that happens, perhaps the threat of a running game could help open up the passing game. Marcus Mariota, on the other hand, is ranked right in QB1 territory — 12th — in average FPs per game, even after his Week 5 dud against the Bills’ aggressive defense. The most impressive part of Mariota’s game is that it has not relied at all on his rushing skills. In fact, his 47 rushing yards against the Bills was the only time he’s been over 20 yards this year. Mariota is firmly ahead on the struggling Jameis Winston in the 2015 rookie QB race.
- The End Has No End and Neither Does Carson Palmer
For him it’s easy, for him it’s relaxed. Cardinals QB Carson Palmer is ranked a healthy seventh in terms of average FPs per game and has been remarkably consistent in each of his five starts this year. He’s thrown 13 TDs to just 3 INTs. That 4.33 TD to INT ratio is good enough for fifth in the league behind Aaron Rodgers (13:2; 6.5), Josh McCown (6:1; 6.0), Andy Dalton (11:2; 5.5) and Elisha Nelson Manning (10:2; 5.0). Palmer will continue to be a QB1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers 20th ranked passing defense (257.0 yards per game), and will continue to prop up the value of the revitalized PPR WR2 Larry Fitzgerald and low end WR2/high end WR3 John Brown. He can’t do much for the flailing Michael Floyd however, who received just three targets of which he caught one for fifteen yards in Week 5 against the Lions. Ben Roethlisberger can’t get back soon enough for Antonio Brown. After posting three games over 20 PPR FPs to start the season, Brown has laid two eggs (on the Antonio Brown-stud WR scale) with Michael Vick at QB the last two weeks, averaging just four receptions for 43.5 yards and no TDs on 7.5 targets. Big Ben will be inactive again for week six, but here’s to hoping for a return against the Chiefs’ 27th ranked passing defense (284.6 yards per game) in week seven.
- Cam Newton Never Needed Anybody (Panthers v. Seahawks)
He’s in between love and hate. Panthers QB Cam Newton is currently the QB4 in terms of average FPs per game and he’s done it despite losing WR Kelvin Benjamin to a torn ACL in the offseason and not getting any meaningful production from rookie Devin Funchess. Newton has done this by making Ted Ginn a viable WR4 (PPR WR37 in average FPs per game with 12.65) and, of course, with his legs, having topped 50 rushing yards in three of his four games. Jonathan Stewart has been predictably injured is averaging just 7.38 PPR FPs per game, good for just the PPR RB55. Even Greg Olsen is just the PPR TE10 in average PPR FPs per game, having had two of his four games under five PPR FPs. Olsen is still a clear cut TE1 in a shallow TE pool, but Newton has showed us that his supporting cast is not a factor in his fantasy success. Russell Wilson, however, is just the QB15 in terms of average FPs per game and has been a QB streamer rather than an every week QB1 (I’ve been platooning him with Eli in one league). His rushing yards have been in the 20-40 yard range in four of his five weeks and this week he gets a Panthers defense that has been playing well and is ranked tenth in the league in total yards allowed on defense at 339.0. Wilson is not having a bad year, and has been fairly consistent, but he hasn’t had a dominant game, something that we usually expect from a two-way QB on a good team.