Six weeks down and we’re growing confident in some areas.
Yet, question marks remain. Understanding the game of fantasy football
can be a difficult task, but here at the Buzz, we give it our best
Adrian Peterson is washed? Perhaps not.
The 32 year-old RB rushed for 134 yards and 2 TDs in Week
Once a Saint, Still a Saint
Two stories dominated the landscape in fantasy football on Sunday.
The first came out of Arizona where a mid-week trade granted new
life to future Hall of Fame RB, Adrian Peterson. I think most expected
Peterson would fare slightly better as a Cardinal than Chris Johnson
or Kerwynn Williams, but few (outside of maybe Peterson himself)
expected a multi-TD game that also included 134 rushing yards on
26 touches. The departure from Bourbon Street to the Valley of the
Sun was apparently just what the doctor ordered for the longtime
fantasy football stud. Tampa Bay came into the game as a top ten
run defense, so it wasn’t just a case of ideal matchup. Peterson’s
departure from New Orleans also apparently opened up doors for former
running mate, Mark Ingram. Ingram garnered 150 yards on 30 touches
and like Peterson, scored two touchdowns. Like people, sometimes
players perform better apart than together. Consider both players
on the rise after big Week 6 games that re-defined their status
in fantasy football.
Down Goes Rodgers (And Winston Too)
On Sunday, you likely fought an uphill battle if your starting QB
was either Aaron Rodgers or Jameis Winston. Both went down in the
first half and neither returned to their respective games. But,
while Winston should be back in a week or two (shoulder sprain),
Rodgers’ injury has more lasting consequences. Not only did
you miss out on what would have likely been a productive day on
Sunday, you’ll now be missing one of most explosive players
in all of football for at least the remainder of the fantasy regular
season, if not longer. When a QB is lost for an extended period
of time, the ripple effect is much bigger than just one man. Teams
will defend the run more vigorously without having to respect the
passing game nearly as much. The value of the Green Bay wide receivers
also take a hit, including Jordy Nelson whose high standing has
always been directly tied to Rodgers. If Martellus Bennett can avoid
drops, he may actually see an increase in targets with the Brett Hundley checking down much more frequently. Whatever the case, this
is no longer a top ten offense…or even a top fifteen one.
Rodgers was that good. Bummer.
Good News From the Big Apple
Turning to brighter headlines, I think we have found the diamonds
in the rough in New York. With the wide receiver position reduced
to guys that wouldn’t start on any other team, both Big Apple
franchises are targeting their respective tight ends with regularity.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins was the apple of Josh McCown’s eye
11 times on Sunday while Evan Engram was singled out 7 times. Both
scored TDs and Seferian-Jenkins was robbed of a second TD by one
of the worst calls I’ve seen in the TV replay era. This is
not necessarily a case of two tight ends being top ten based on
talent alone. This is all about supply and demand and their teams
will be demanding a lot from both of them moving forward. Expect
both to be top ten at their positions by season’s end barring
injury. Take that to the bank and if you’ve got one of them
and you’re not starting him, time to trade your starter (unless
High Volume Heroes
Fantasy football is often about quantity more than quality. Some
running backs average far more per carry than their contemporaries,
but because they carry the ball far less, they’re simply not as
valuable. On Sunday, the best running backs were all guys whose
touches numbered at least 25 and in some cases, well over 30. So,
who were these heavy lifters? Jordan
Howard (37 touches), Le’Veon
Bell (35 touches), and Melvin
Gordon (34 touches) top the list while the previously noted
Peterson and Mark
Ingram also fit the bill. Typically, teams manage the pitch
count in games after such a high number of carries has taken place
unless there’s a bye week upcoming. Le’Veon Bell, for example, has
carried the ball just 15 times a game this season after getting
25+ carries the week before. As for who next week’s high volume
“heroes” will be, look no further than Jacksonville’s Leonard
Fournette. With a Week 8 bye looming, they’ll let Fournette
tote the ball a lot with a week off to follow.
It’s All About the Gronk
As was mentioned earlier, there are some tight ends emerging that
make others at the position expendable. And, then there’s
Rob Gronkowski. Gronk reminded us all this past weekend why he’s
a dynamic difference-maker, scoring two TDs and nearly gaining 100
yards in the process. When Gronk is 100%, there are fewer balls
to go around and targets for James White and Chris Hogan in particular
decrease dramatically. If you sold high on Hogan last week, you
made a great call. He’ll still be a solid contributor moving
forward, but not at the pace he was on with Gronk and Danny Amendola
less than 100%. Right now, it’s Gronk, Zach Ertz, and then
everyone else at this position. Travis Kelce lacks the consistency
to join that tier.
Ends of the Spectrum: Larry Legend vs.
It truly amazes me year after year how great players sometimes get
discounted because they are in the “twilight” of their
careers while others become first-round picks based solely on a
promising rookie season. That backdrop sets up what happened on
Sunday with respect to Arizona and New Orleans. Both teams won their
games with the Saints netting a whopping 52 points and Arizona scoring
38. If you had known beforehand that the Saints would top 50, wouldn’t
you have started Michael Thomas in every league possible? Of course
you would have. And yet, Thomas only caught 3 balls for 11 yards
on 6 targets. Say what? Thomas remains a viable borderline WR1/2,
but he hasn’t topped 100 yards yet this season and his numbers
could stagnate further if/when the Saints assimilate Willie Snead
back into the offense. In stark contrast, Larry Fitzgerald was a
huge part of what Arizona did on Sunday. It was the second time
this season that Larry caught 10 or more passes in a game for 135+
yards. Only Antonio Brown can make that same claim in 2017. Fitzgerald
is on pace for 112 catches and 1,240 yards. Legends never die.
Weird Times in Washington
In the nation’s capital, the formula for success this year
was supposed to be a lot of Kirk Cousins to Terrelle Pryor and/or
Jordan Reed. Both Pryor and Reed have been huge disappointments
through six weeks, but Cousins has lived up to his end of the bargain,
especially in Week 6. Only five other QBs have a higher points-per-game
average than Cousins, but he’s getting it done largely with
both of his projected top targets missing in action. His secret?
I guess in part it would be Chris Thompson as Thompson’s receiving
yards are almost exactly double what he’s done as a runner.
Throw in some good games from Vernon Davis (averaging 71 yards receiving
in last three games) and the picture becomes even clearer. It’s
unorthodox, but Cousins seems to be on his way to another fine fantasy
season even if his supporting cast is in a state of flux.
No Steps Forward, Two Steps Back
At what point is it okay to say that we're a little worried about
the Falcons offense? Conventional wisdom suggests that Atlanta will
get back on track sooner than later, especially with the Patriots
next on the schedule, but Matt Ryan and Julio Jones clearly aren't
the same players they were at this stage last season. Jones not
having a single touchdown to his name after five games is simply
hard to grasp. So, is it time to cut bait? Hardly. The Falcons still
have perhaps the greatest fantasy playoff schedule in history with
the Buccaneers and Saints each up twice over that period of time.
If you can get to the playoffs with key contributors from the Falcons
on your roster, they'll pay dividends at that point. In reality,
the running backs are doing just fine. It's more Ryan to Jones that
can't seem to get off the ground. I smell a flight coming soon,
however. Like... Week 7 soon.
This is Why Fantasy Football is So Beloved,
Yet So Frustrating…
Before we close up shop for the week, just wanted to give a kudos
to anyone who started the D/ST's this weekend from New Orleans or
Detroit. All in all, the game featured no less than 5 touchdowns
with defenses or special teams as the source. Only two other games
featured more OFFENSIVE touchdowns than that. It seems that every
week, something turns on a dime. Cam
Newton goes from awful to great. Adrian
Peterson rises from the ashes. And, the New Orleans Saints defense
is now the second best unit in fantasy football in weekly scoring
average. Sometimes, what's down is up and what's up is down.
The wild ride that is 2017 in fantasy football continues next
week. Until then...