A big thanks to Mo Brewington for covering the week five 3M report so I could make my wife happy by taking her to Harry Potter world. We had a blast but standing in line for 30 minutes to pay $7 for Butterbeer (essentially cream soda with butterscotch syrup) is not my finest moment. Let’s get to the magic, mayhem and mishaps from week six.
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I was lucky enough to attend the Thursday Night game thanks to my father in law who sent us club level seats. What a different experience an NFL game is on the club level. When we first arrived there were lines out the door already for the men’s restrooms on the other levels, but plenty of open urinals without a line awaiting you on the club level. I’m not sure I’ll ever pay for a regular seat at a football game again.
Not only were we living it up in business class at Qualcomm Stadium, but we were also treated to a great Broncos at Chargers divisional rivalry game. Primetime games this season have seen more misses than hits, but this one did not disappoint. The Chargers passing offense dominated in the first three-quarters, which makes offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt’s decision to take the air out of the ball in the fourth quarter all the more puzzling. I get what they are trying to do. Slow the game down, run clock, and force timeouts. However, when you have lost multiple games this season in the fourth quarter after leading at the two-minute warning using this very strategy, maybe it’s time to reconsider the game plan? Your passing game put you in a position to win these games so stop going away from it. My Packers do this too. Every time the Packers offense is rolling, McCarthy takes his foot off the gas in the fourth quarter, often allowing the other team to make a comeback. Stop the insanity. Keep scoring points.
Hunter Henry is proving to be the exception to my personal rule of not investing in rookie tight ends since they generally take several seasons to become productive enough to start. Henry has fallen into the perfect offense to blow that paradigm out of the water. Clearly ahead of Gates at this point, Henry finished with six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown, while leading the Chargers to a victory they needed to stay relevant in the AFC West.
Denver’s offense looked out of sorts for most of the game with Trevor Siemian not as efficient as he was before the injury. CJ Anderson had several long runs called back on holding penalties, including one in the fourth quarter which at the time would have given the Broncos the lead. My favorite thing about this game was seeing Devontae Booker’s role continue to grow. Booker gained more yards on the ground than Anderson (46-37) on half as many carries.
In Detroit, Case Keenum spit in the faces of Todd Gurley fantasy owners when he faked a handoff to Gurley on the one-yard line and then ran it in for the touchdown himself. The real nut kicker? On the previous play, Gurley caught a pass out of the backfield down to the one-yard line and just missed hitting the pylon for the touchdown. More heartbreak came late in the second quarter. This time, his touchdown opportunity was snuffed out when the line couldn’t generate any push and he failed to get in the end zone on fourth and goal from the one.
If you happened to stream Keenum for some reason (like I did in a superflex league) then you are loving life. While it wasn’t quite enough to get the Rams a victory, Keenum’s 321 yards and four touchdowns helped fantasy teams forced to start him get a win in week six. Most of that production went to a resurgent Kenny Britt who looked like the pre-injury Titan’s version of himself with seven catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
Matthew Stafford continues to thrive under the illustrious JBC. He threw four touchdowns passes to four different receivers on his way to a 139.8 passer rating. Golden Tate ended his disappearing act Sunday and rematerialized with eight receptions, 165 yards, and a touchdown while leading the team in targets for the first time in 2016. Both Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington missed the game so the Lions relied on the wholly ineffective Justin Forsett who managed five yards on five carries after being signed off the street last week, Zach Zenner was better with 77 total yards on 16 touches.
I heard Scott Hanson say on the red zone channel say that the average ticket price for Tom Brady’s first home game of the season exceeded $400. Four hundred dollars *on average* for a non-playoff game ticket? Welcome to Crazytown, population: rich white people.
Did you guys ever play the arcade classic Rampage? Watching Brady and Gronk rain hellfire down on the Bengals today made me think of the duo as George and Lizzy from that 80s arcade machine. I expect we’ll see more of Angry Tom leaving nothing but rubble in his wake as he continues marching the Pats through NFL defenses each week. James White’s eight receptions and two touchdowns gets me excited for the return of Dion Lewis on many of my own fantasy teams, but at this point with White playing so well, I have to wonder if Lewis will actually go back to the same centerpiece role he had when healthy in 2015.
Giovani Bernard out-touched Jeremy Hill for the second straight week but was stuffed at the goal line on a fourth and goal from the one early in the game resulting in a turnover on downs. You can’t miss on opportunities like that and expect to beat the Patriots or be better than a 2-4 team.
Brian Hoyer has thrown for 300+ yards in four straight games but only has one win to show for it. Beating the Jaguars this week should have been the second win, but fantasy zombie Arrelious Benn who has spent the last three seasons on injured reserved woke up and caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from fourth quarter hero Blake Bortles giving Jacksonville the one point victory. I was expecting a big game from Allen Robinson coming out of the bye week but he disappointed with only three catches for 49 yards.
Ever since Kevin White was placed on IR, it has been the Cameron Meredith show in Chicago. Meredith followed up last week’s nine catch (12 targets) 130-yard performance with an 11 catch (15 targets) 113-yard game in week six. 27 targets over the last two weeks for a Bears’ receiver not named Alshon Jeffery seems ludicrous, but here we are. Jeffery did get his first double-digit target game of the season and put up a respectable seven catches for 93 yards. For frustrated Jeffery owners, just know that he is playing well through these minor injuries and I wouldn’t expect the touchdown drought to continue much longer.
The Panthers at Saints matchup had the highest vegas scoring total of the week and it did not disappoint. The teams combined for 79 points and everyone who had players in this game were rewarded. Drew Brees erupted for 465 yards and four touchdowns at home with 173 of those yards and one of those touchdowns going to Brandin Cooks. Is the rule for Cooks to start him at home and bench him on the road unless it’s a favorable matchup? Coby Fleener had both a rushing and a receiving touchdown while rookie Michael Thomas contributed 78 yards and a touchdown, catching all five of his targets. The only thing that really wasn’t working today was Mark Ingram who has yet to have a 100-yard rushing game and has just one touchdown in six games this season.
Cam Newton produced for fantasy owners once again, but you have to wonder if the Panthers season is essentially over sitting at 1-5 including two losses in the NFC South. Greg Olsen continues to put up nice fantasy numbers and Kelvin Benjamin had a bounceback eight catch 86-yard performance on a team-high 14 targets. It was nice to see Jonathan Stewart back on the field racking up yards and touchdowns. He looks like a fine fantasy RB2 going forward.
There was a small window over the last couple of weeks where Odell Beckham Jr. was actually attainable in dynasty, but with Sunday’s career high 222 yards and game-winning 66-yard yard touchdown that window has been slammed shut. Eli Manning had his best performance of the season by far and threw his 300th career touchdown pass in the game.
On the Baltimore side, Joe Flacco hit 307 yards passing but didn’t account for a single touchdown. With the release of Marc Trestman, the team appears committed to getting Terrance West 20+ carries a game. He responded with 87 yards and two touchdowns to go with four receptions and 36 yards as a receiver. It seems like we are going to be waiting awhile for Kenneth Dixon becoming anything more than a bench stash.
The Cleveland Browns are off to their worst start since 1999, but for me have been the most fun 0-6 team I have ever watched play football. They came up short again this week, losing to Marcus Mariota and the Titans by two points, 28-26. Tennessee nearly dropped their third straight game to the Browns when Cody Kessler hit Terrelle Pryor for his second touchdown of the game with 2:07 left on the clock. The Browns missed on the two-point conversion attempt but recovered the onside kick and Duke Johnson got into the endzone from one-yard out with 27 seconds to go. Unfortunately, their second onside kick attempt was recovered by Andre Johnson, ending the game.
Entering this game Delanie Walker looked like the best fantasy play as the tight end position has torched Cleveland in recent weeks, but instead, it was Kendall Wright who decided to wake up with eight catches 133 yards and a touchdown. Where have you been Kendall? Mariota was impressive for the second straight game, but let’s keep in mind that both of his good games this season have been against the Dolphins and the Browns. Derrick Henry continues to be an afterthought. He received just four total touches compared to DeMarco Murray’s 21.
In Washington, Eagles’ rookie quarterback Carson Wentz had a rough day, getting sacked five times. Completing only 11 of 22 passing attempts for 179 yards and no touchdowns isn’t going to get a win on the road and it isn’t going to get it done for his targets in fantasy football. With five games of tape on Wentz, will he begin to struggle? It seems likely now that teams know what he is good at and can now take that away, forcing Wentz out of his comfort zone.
Washington used a three-headed backfield of Matt Jones, Rob Kelly, and Chris Thompson to run right at the Eagles defense for 231 combined yards. Despite missing his preferred target, Jordan Reed, Kirk Cousins played relatively well outside of one errant pick-six. He hit Jamison Crowder and Vernon Davis for touchdowns which were enough to get the 27-20 victory. What I’d really like to talk about in this game though is the flag on Davis for excessive celebration. After his touchdown, Davis took a jump shot with the football as if it was a basketball. I’m not sure how this could be considered taunting and the “No Fun League” needs to lighten up and let it’s players have a little fun. I know the fans enjoy it so why are we penalizing them for it. I have all the respect in the world for guys like Larry Fitzgerald who just hand the ball back to the ref, but to take some of the fun out of the game for no discernible reason is a step back in the enjoyment factor of NFL football. Scoring a touchdown is hard. Players should be excited about it when they get one.
In Buffalo, LeSean McCoy must be celebrating tonight after his performance in particular, but also the 45-16 butt-kicking the Bills handed his old coach Chip Kelly and the Niners. Shady rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns. Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 starting debut was rocky. He completed just 45% of his passes and badly overthrew Torrey Smith on what could have been a second long touchdown for the frustrated receiver. Kaepernick did show us he still has wheels, though, leading the team in rushing yards with 66 yards on eight carries.
What’s the deal with Pittsburgh always playing down to horrible teams on the road? How do they go from looking unbeatable the last two weeks to losing to the Dolphins 30-15? This is the same Dolphins team that would have been 0-5 entering the week if it weren’t for a missed Cody Parkey field goal. Ben Roethlisberger got beat up in this one and missed a series after hyperextending his knee. It looks like now he will be missing some time with a surgical repair of a partially torn meniscus. Roethlisberger only had 83 yards passing until a garbage time touchdown drive with five minutes left in the game. Antonio Brown owners were less than thrilled with four catches for 39 yards, but suck it up. Antonio Brown is on your fantasy team.
Did the news that Arian Foster would be playing hurt anyone else or just me? In two leagues I pulled Jay Ajayi out of my lineup because of it, including my #SFB480 team. The outcome of that was Foster getting three carries for three yards and a couple of catches. Meanwhile, Ajayi had a career game with 204 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries sitting on my bench. Kill me.
I guess Andy Reid wasn’t kidding when he said that Jamaal Charles would be “sprinkled” into the game plan this week. It was nice to see him get back in the end zone, but it was clearly still Spencer Ware’s backfield. Ware out touched Charles 26 – 10, put up 131 rushing yards, and ran for a touchdown. Kansas City was content to run all over the Raiders as no one in the passing game received more than four targets and Alex Smith, a popular streaming option this week, threw for just 224 yards and zero touchdowns. He was efficient as hell, though, completing 19 of his 21 pass attempts.
As a Packer’s homer, it pains me to say this, but rookie Dak Prescott outplayed Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau. Rodgers missed throw after throw that prior to 2015’s debacle of a season were automatic. He also potentially cost his team the game when he fumbled in the red zone late in the fourth quarter on a scoring opportunity. The Packers number one rushing defense was gashed by another rookie, Ezekiel Elliott who racked up 158 rushing yards on 28 carries. It was an all-around embarrassing performance from Green Bay on a night that saw hall of famer Brett Favre enter the ring of honor. Cole Beasley continues to be a fantasy force, scoring two touchdowns in this one. Prescott did finally throw his first interception on his 177th pass attempt of his career, but not before soaring past Tom Brady’s previous record of 162 to start his career. The Packers have a short week to get things fixed before facing the Bears on Thursday night.
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones got theirs in Seattle for fantasy owners but came up two points short, ultimately falling 26-24 to the Seahawks. Richard Sherman undoubtedly got away with pass interference while defending Jones on the last play of the game. Julio nearly caught the ball one-handed anyway, but the refs missed the call and it cost the Falcons their fifth win in a row. Russell Wilson played fine but is still clearly hampered by lower leg injuries suffered before the bye week. He didn’t account for any touchdowns but did throw for 270 yards and didn’t turn the ball over. Christine Michael and Jimmy Graham continue to be the focal points of the offensive game plan. Michael scored twice for his owners.
Brock Osweiler is not great at football. He may continue to grow into the position but right now he is not helping the Texans win. Poor decision making and overthrown balls haunted Osweiler most of the game and hurt the fantasy output of DeAndre Hopkins and the rest of the Texans offense. He did engineer a nice drive to tie it up at the end of the game and another one in overtime to put Nick Novak in position for the game-winning field goal. If Lamar Miller wasn’t able to get it done this week at home against the Colts I was going to be very concerned about him going forward. I was in the camp who believed there was a reason why three coaching staffs didn’t give him a bell cow kind of workload and I was skeptical of him becoming that guy in Houston. Owners who believed in him were rewarded tonight with his first two touchdowns as a Texan and his highest yardage total of the season. On Miller’s receiving touchdown he took a short pass on third and seven from the ten yard and made the entire defense miss after cutting back across the field and into the end zone.
Chester Rogers led the Colts in receiving yards and that’s really all you need to know about how this game went for Indianapolis. Andrew Luck struggled against Jadeveon Clowney and the Houston pass rush all game long and rarely had time to get the ball out of his hands before ending up on the ground. Jack Doyle caught the lone passing touchdown for the Colts. It took three and a half years and an overtime game to get it done, but Frank Gore finally got this team a 100-yard rushing game, the first time it’s happened since the 2012 season.
That will do it for the week six wrapup. I’ll be back with you next week. Until then, keep grinding.
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