Wed Oct 9 9:35am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Chark has become must start
This week starts the week with more than two teams on a bye. It gets even harder to set lineups with these byes and injuries. So my big advice is to plan ahead. If you know you are going to be needing a receiver or defense the next week or the week after that, start looking at options that could help. It is better to plan ahead in advance than wait until the week of to fill that lineup out. Be a proactive owner. Don’t sit back.
With that said, here are my random thoughts for the week. . . . .
I’m not ready to release Baker Mayfield just yet but he is not going in my starting lineup until he starts to do something on the field. He is a mess right now. Mayfield is not progressing like most expected, taking a step back from his play late last year. He just isn’t making quick decisions and retreating in the pocket way too much. The fantasy industry, including myself, really missed on this guy this year. He has been a huge bust.
Christian McCaffrey is just unbelievable. I know. Great analysis, right? Well, he is as fun to watch as any player in the game. And he is about 26 fantasy points from the next rated back, sitting firmly in first place in fantasy running back scoring. He has been getting a lot of work, which is a concern, but he held up last year. Here is to hoping he can hold up once again. He is on his way to one of the best fantasy seasons of all time for a running back.
For at least one week, it seems the Chargers are going to go with a pretty even timeshare at running back with Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon. Gordon will get more work running the ball while Ekeler will be used more in passing situations. This probably is a bigger blow to Gordon’s fantasy value, getting fewer chances to catch the ball. Ekeler might not keep his current pace as a fantasy back, but he can still be at least a top No. 2 back in his current role. He is going to catch a lot of passes.
Aaron Rodgers failed to score a touchdown last week and now ranks below Marcus Mariota in the fantasy quarterback rankings (19th overall). He is not having the season many expected but this could be the norm for him in this offense. The Packers are putting much more emphasis on the run and playing good defense. Plus, Rodgers is without his top receiver right now (Davante Adams) and the rest of the options have been very ho hum. Rodgers is still going to have a few big games this year but he might be mediocre more often than not, especially compared to past years for Rodgers.
Rookie Josh Jacobs is really starting to hit his stride. He had his first 100-yard rushing game of his career last week against a very good Bears defense. He has two straight games with 100-plus yards and topped that mark three of five games. Jacobs is getting a ton of weekly work and has five receptions the last two games compared to just one catch his first three. This all adds up to Jacobs being a low-end No. 1 fantasy back with big-time future at the position.
His fantasy numbers aren’t off the charts just yet but I’m super impressed by Colts running back Marlon Mack. He is a very impressive back. He runs with power but also has the patience to wait for the hole to open. He looks like an elite back and is starting to perform like one. Mack ran for 132 yards last week and has two games with 100-plus rushing yards. He also runs behind a very good offensive line, which is another huge plus for Mack. I think he is setup for great things going forward.
As always, don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Week 6 rankings.
News and Notes: The Bills traded receiver Zay Jones to Raiders for a fifth-round draft pick in the 2021 draft. Jones could quickly move his way up the depth chart with his new team. . . . .The Broncos signed cornerback Coty Sensabaugh on Tuesday, adding some more depth to their secondary. . . . .The Patriots released tight end Benjamin Watson. He was just taken off the suspended list, so he will be free to sign with a new team. . . . .The Titans are making a switch at kicker. The team released kicker Cairo Santos and signed Cody Parkey to take over the kicking duties. . . . .The Chiefs signed defensive tackle Terrell McClain on Tuesday.
Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals. Murray hasn’t posted eye popping weekly numbers his rookie year but has been very consistent. He is eighth overall in fantasy quarterback scoring, having at least 20 points every game this season. If he had a few more scores, he could be a top-five option. But right now, Murray has six total touchdowns, which is holding back his numbers. Murray is a great play this week against the Falcons, though. Atlanta allows the fifth most fantasy points to quarterbacks and allow 30 points per game. Murray is a solid No. 1 for Week 6.
Aaron Jones, RB, Packers. His huge game last week has moved him all the way up to fourth overall in fantasy running back scoring. Jones was producing pretty well even before that monster game, though. He has touchdowns four straight games and two 100-yard games this year. Jones also is becoming a bigger factor in the passing game, having 13 receptions his last two games. This really improves his fantasy value. Jones won’t repeat last week but he can have a good showing against the Lions. Detroit struggles against the run, allowing the fourth most fantasy points to running backs.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys. Prescott had his second 400-yard game of the season last week, getting a chance to air it out often because his team got down big. Prescott was picked off three times but threw for 463 yards and two scores. Prescott has multiple touchdowns four of five games and is fifth overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. He is setup for another big game this week against the Jets. The Jets are just 21st against the pass and allow 25 points per game.
Chris Carson. RB, Seahawks. Carson had his second straight 100-yard game of the season last week. He has at least 15 carries every game this year, getting consistent work in the offense. He is 14th overall in fantasy running back scoring but can inch up even farther with a few more scores. You have to like his chances to find he end zone this week against a Browns team that was run over by the 49ers rushing game last week. The Browns are 29th against the rush, allowing 151-rushing yards per game.
D.J. Chark, WR, Jaguars. Alright, it is time to move Chark into must-start territory for all fantasy teams. This guy just keeps posting big weekly numbers, ranking fifth overall in fantasy receiver scoring. He had a career best game last week, catching eight passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns. He has scores four of five games. Chark is setup for more good things this week against the Saints, a team that allows the seventh most fantasy points to receivers.
Jordan Howard, RB, Eagles. Howard is showing some signs of life after a slow start. He has touchdowns three straight games and topped 100 total yards in Week 4. He has fewer than 65-rushing yards all but a game, though, and six total receptions. He is a touchdown dependent player, making him a risky weekly fantasy play. And we aren’t sure he finds the end zone this week against the Vikings, a team that allows the fourth fewest fantasy points to receivers. Minnesota has allowed just one rushing touchdown all year.
Demarcus Robinson, WR, Chiefs. Robinson has been very quiet since his huge Week 2 performance against the Raiders. Robinson has fewer than 45 yards three straight games. He is capable of a huge game in this offense but his recent production is a concern for any fantasy team looking to use him right now. It is hard to justify a spot in your lineup for Robinson. The numbers don’t lie. Robinson also plays the Texans this week. The Texans don’t have a great pass defense but haven't been too bad defensively, allowing 22 points per game. It is probably wise to just leave Robinson on your bench.
Daniel Jones, QB, Giants. Jones has played well since entering the starting lineup for the Giants. He has led his team to wins and made the offense much better. His fantasy numbers haven’t been off the charts, though. He has just one touchdown each of the last two games and failed to hit 200-passing yards last week. Jones has his toughest test of the season this week, facing the Patriots. New England allows the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and have yet to allow a passing touchdown. Plus, Jones will be without his top receiver, Sterling Shepard, which is another strike against using him.
Corey Davis, WR, Titans. Davis has all sorts of talent but continues to be wildly inconsistent for his fantasy owners. He has fewer than 50 yards in all but a game. He does have a 20 point fantasy performance, though, showing his big-time potential when getting the ball. The issue is Davis doesn’t get the ball enough. He does not have more than six targets in any game. Until he starts getting more work, don’t bother with Davis, especially this week. Davis plays the Broncos, which is a tough matchup for him. Denver allows the second fewest fantasy points to receivers and are fifth overall against the pass.
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams. You can’t bench Gurley because of his huge weekly potential in this offense but you might want to temper your expectations for him. The only thing saving him right now are his touchdown totals. He has multiple scores two straight games. His other numbers are not good, though. He has more than 100 total yards just once all year, which came in Week 1. He has fewer than 65-rushing yards four straight games and more than 10 receiving yards in just one game. He has been a disappointment in an offense that has struggled to run the ball. It could be more of the same for the Rams this week against the 49ers. San Francisco has been great against the run, allowing the fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Gardner Minshew, QB, Jaguars. Minshew has been super consistent for fantasy teams since entering the starting lineup. He has multiple scores four of five games and at least 18 fantasy points every game. He had a career-high 374-passing yards last week. Minshew has a lot of confidence and seems to be getting better each week. He has legit fantasy value as a spot starter. He is worth a look this week against the Saints, a team that allows the fourth most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins. Parker is one of the few Dolphins worth considering for fantasy teams. Parker scored his first touchdown of the season his last time out and has 70 or more yards two of four games. Parker is always capable of the huge game because of his big-time ability. A matchup this week against the Redskins gives Parker a chance for one of his big games. Washington allows the third most fantasy points to receivers and are 23rd overall against the pass.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins. Peterson has not been good this year, especially compared to last year in this same offense. He has yet to top 40-rushing yards in a game and has just one touchdown. He also has just three receptions. The only good news is he is getting most of the carries, having three games with double-digit carries. If he is ever going to have a big game, it will be this week against the lowly Dolphins. Miami is dead last against the run, allowing 176-rushing yards per game. This is the week to take a chance on Peterson.
Chase Edmonds, RB, Cardinals. Edmonds had his best game of the season last week, totaling 86 yards on 11 touches. It was the first time all season he had double-digit touches in a game. David Johnson had his back lock up on him during the game, though, and had to miss some time. This could be an issue moving forward, so his workload could be scaled back. This means more touches for Edmonds, a big-play back. This makes Edmonds worth a look for fantasy teams in Week 6 against the Falcons. Atlanta is 19th against the rush and allow 30 points per game.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Falcons. Sanu scored his first touchdown of the season last week. He has at least five receptions every game this year. His numbers aren’t flashy but consistent in the Falcons pass-heavy offense. You can’t ignore the numbers. He is a good bye-week or injury replacement for fantasy teams. If you need a receiver this week, give Sanu a look. He plays the Cardinals, a team 24th against the pass and allowing 28 points per game.
High/Low Scoring Games
Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.
High Scoring Games: Texans/Chiefs, 49ers/Rams, Falcons/Cardinals.
Low Scoring Games: Eagles/Vikings, Titans/Broncos.
Bye Weeks: Bills, Bears, Colts, Raiders.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
There remains no timetable for a potential return for Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier (back) as he rehabs from spinal stabilization surgery. Shazier has not played for the last two seasons, and it remains to be seen if he'll ever play again. His contract from the 2019 season will not toll over to 2020, but the Steelers continue to support his comeback efforts. If Shazier's contract expires, he will become a free agent when the new league year begins on March 18. The 27-year-old was a force in the middle of the field for the Steelers in the four seasons before his injury. We wouldn't bet against Shazier making a comeback, but it might not be for the Steelers.
Detroit Lions running back Ty Johnson won't be a guarantee to make the team's roster going into training camp, in the opinion of The Athletic's Chris Burke. Johnson, a sixth-round pick in 2019, ended his rookie season with 63 carries for 273 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and no touchdowns on the ground. The Lions notably didn't give him a very big workload when Kerryon Johnson was hurt last year either, and he'll have to compete with Bo Scarbrough, J.D. McKissic, Tra Carson and Wes Hills for depth behind Kerryon Johnson this summer. Even if he makes the roster out of camp, Johnson won't be guaranteed many touches as the second or third running back.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that the team remains undecided on whether to keep quarterback Jameis Winston or move on from the former first overall draft pick. Arians said they probably won't know what direction they are headed until the start of the three-day legal free-agent tampering period from March 16-18. If Tampa uses a franchise tag on Winston, he'll be guaranteed around $27 million on a one-year deal. The fact that the Buccaneers are waiting to see which quarterbacks become available doesn't really inspire much confidence that they want to retain him. Winston led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards and set a franchise record with 33 touchdown passes, but he also tossed a league-high 30 interceptions and lost five fumbles. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at receiver, Winston will have his highest fantasy value as a strong QB1 if he remains in Tampa, but that won't be up to him.
The New York Jets are highly unlikely to re-sign impending free-agent wide receiver Robby Anderson, according to league sources. Anderson is expected to receiver $13 to $15 million annually on a multi-year deal on the open market, but Gang Green would like to sign him for just $10 million annually. Because the 26-year-old will be one of the better receivers on the open market, his price will be driven up despite the fact that he had just 779 yards on 52 catches for five touchdowns. Anderson also has yet to produce a 1,000-yard season in four years in the NFL, but he will get paid, and it's unlikely to come from the Jets. The Temple alum could be a fantasy sleeper if he lands in the right situation next month.
Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (knee), whose 2019 season ended in early December when he suffered a torn ACL, said he got back on an exercise bike earlier this week. The 24-year-old second-year back is ahead of schedule in his recovery, but he still might be a question mark to be ready for Week 1 in 2020. The former first-round pick could be a candidate for the Physically Unable to Perform list if he's not ready, which would keep him out the first six weeks. In 10 games for Seattle last year, Penny had 65 carries for 370 yards and three scores. If he can stay healthy for a full season, Penny has the skills to be relevant in all point-per-reception leagues. Monitor his progress this spring and through the summer.
Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye could be released this offseason to clear $11.4 million in salary cap space. Bouye has two interceptions the last two years, while Tre Herndon, who started opposite of Bouye when Jalen Ramsey was traded to the Rams, had three interceptions last season and will make $660,000 in 2020. Jacksonville could look to the draft in April to try and address their need for a new cornerback. Once one of the top secondaries in the NFL just several seasons ago, it has now become a weakness for the Jags.
The Jacksonville Jaguars must decide this offseason if they will pick up running back Leonard Fournette's $10.1 million fifth-year option for 2021. It's an interesting decision because they are limited for salary cap space, so they could decline the option and wait to see how he performs in 2020 before considering a contract extension. The 25-year-old had 265 carries for a career-high 1,152 yards, but he rushed for only three touchdowns in 15 games. It's Fournette's second 1,000-yard season in his three seasons. Despite the lack of TDs in 2019, he should be seen as an RB1 in a run-first offense next season. He has yet to play in a full season, though, so he's a bit risky as an RB1.
The Jacksonville Jaguars need to continue searching for a franchise quarterback. Rookie Gardner Minshew showed flashes in 2019, but he'll need to prove he's more than just a game manager in a larger sample size. The team could also seek to find a trade partner for Nick Foles, who flopped as a big free-agent acquisition in 2019. Because of the presence of Minshew on the roster, Foles likely doesn't have much of a future in Jacksonville, and his lack of mobility limits his production with Jacksonville's offensive line a work in progress. Foles broke his collarbone in the season opener and played in just four games while being benched after he returned from injury. Even if he wins the starting job heading into next season, he'll be a midrange QB2, at best.
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander (biceps), who had surgery on his pectoral muscle last season, was also dealing with a biceps injury and is undergoing surgery on Friday, according to sources. Alexander should be fully recovered in time for the 2020 season. The 25-year-old played in just eight games in 2019 in his first season with San Fran because of his pectoral injury. In those eight contests, Alexander had 34 tackles (22 solo), half a sack, a forced fumble and an interception. He's played in just 14 games the last two seasons and will need to stay on the field if he wants to remain with the 49ers past the 2020 season.
The Washington Redskins released wide receiver Paul Richardson and cornerback Josh Norman on Friday. Richardson, 27, was due to make $6.5 million this year, but he caught just 48 passes in 17 games in his two seasons and made almost $17 million in that span. Norman, 32, played just 53 percent of the defensive snaps last season and fell down the depth chart late in the year for his poor play. He was scheduled to make $12 million in 2020. Norman didn't make one Pro Bowl in his four seasons in D.C. and had seven interceptions. Richardson could latch on elsewhere as a deep threat and bounce back, but he will need to stay healthy.
The Arizona Cardinals want to retain running back Kenyan Drake, who will be a free agent in March, and placing the franchise tag on him is a possibility if they don't sign him to a long-term deal. Drake took over the starting gig from the injured David Johnson after the trade from Miami, and Johnson would likely play second fiddle to Drake in the backfield if the Cardinals don't trade him. In eight games last year, Drake ran the ball 123 times for 643 yards (5.2 yards per carry) with a career-high eight touchdowns. He fits the Cardinals much better from a fantasy perspective than he did in Miami, despite Arizona's shaky offensive line. If Johnson is on another team come next season, Drake will have RB1 upside.
Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said that the team has had initial contract-extension talks with cornerback Patrick Peterson, who is heading into the final year of his contract. Peterson, a fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft, has been one of the best cover corners in his nine seasons in the NFL. He missed the first six games of last season due to suspension and finished 2019 with 53 total tackles (46 solo), one sack, one forced fumble and two interceptions. He had a falling out with Arizona recently, but he has gone back on trade demands and is willing to remain in the desert.
Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said that cutting running back David Johnson "is not an option." Keim also added that "you can't just have one back," and Kenyan Drake, who took over the starting role in the second half last year, is scheduled to be a free agent in March. Johnson ran the ball just 94 times for 345 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and two rushing touchdowns in 13 games last season. He battled nagging injuries that slowed him down and caused him to lose the starting job to Drake. The 28-year-old looked like a shell of his former self, one that ran for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016. Even if DJ returns in 2020, it seems unlikely that he'll be a bell-cow back with all of his injury concerns.
Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said that quarterback Tyrod Taylor, last year's backup to Philip Rivers, could have an opportunity to win the starting job in 2020. "Tyrod Taylor is a heck of a quarterback," Lynn told AM 570 LA Sports. "We couldn't have a better backup right now, and now he has an opportunity to maybe step up into a starting role." Taking care of the football is a top priority for Lynn after Philip Rivers turned the ball over 23 times in 2019. In his last full season as a starter, Taylor turned the ball over just six times in 2017 while leading the Bills to the playoffs. Taylor can also add an element with his legs on the ground as a mobile quarterback. With the weapons around him if he's the starter, Taylor will have QB1 upside, but he'll be better off taken as a QB2 with upside in fantasy.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (hernia) recently underwent sports hernia surgery. A third-round pick in 2019, Johnson caught 59 passes on 92 targets for 680 yards and five touchdowns in a full season in his rookie year with Pittsburgh. He saw more opportunities during the year with JuJu Smith-Schuster banged up, but he was also hurt by poor quarterback play from Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. If Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) returns healthy in 2020, Johnson could make quite the leap in his second season as the potential No. 2 receiver behind Smith-Schuster. He should be recovered in plenty of time to be ready for training camp this summer.
The Los Angeles Chargers agreed to a one-year contract extension with head coach Anthony Lynn that puts him with the team through the 2021 season. The Chargers are entering a transition now that they have officially moved on from veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, and they're expected to let running back Melvin Gordon walk in free agency as well. Tyrod Taylor could be under center for the Bolts, at least to start the 2020 season, but the Chargers could also upgrade the position through free agency, the draft or a trade. Lynn, 51, led the Chargers to a disappointing 5-11 last-place finish in the AFC West. He's 26-22 in his three years with LA.
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said that "all signs are good to this point" with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (elbow), who will have a medical checkup on Feb. 21. The team's medical staff has constantly been working with Big Ben, and Colbert said Roethlisberger could be better than he was a year ago. The 37-year-old (38 in March) played in just two games in 2019 before requiring right elbow surgery. It will be tough for him to be better than he was in 2018 (5,129 yards, 34 touchdowns), but Big Ben could still have QB1 upside in 2020. The smart play is to take him as a QB2 with some upside in fantasy drafts, though. A healthy Big Ben will be great news for JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was a huge bust in 2019.
The Tennessee Titans agreed on a one-year contract extension with tight end Anthony Firkser on Thursday. Firkser was on track to become an exclusive-rights free agent in March. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed. The Harvard alum had two big touchdown catches in the playoffs and hauled in 14 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown in 15 games during the regular season. Firkser caught three passes for 45 yards and the two scores in the postseason. Tennessee might be moving on from veteran Delanie Walker this offseason, but even so, Firkser will likely back up Jonnu Smith in 2020, making him a fantasy afterthought.
Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn refuted a Wednesday night report that the team is in talks to trade quarterback Matthew Stafford. "100% False!!" Quinn wrote in a text message to the Free Press. Stafford is entering his 12th season in the NFL and threw for 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions while setting a career-high passer rating in just eight games before suffering a back injury that caused him to miss the rest of the season. Detroit has the No. 3 pick in the draft, prompting speculation that they could move on from Stafford and select another QB. Stafford gives the Lions the best chance to win in 2020, and the team would incur a $32 million salary cap hit if they trade him.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford is the subject of trade rumors, but general manager Bob Quinn stated the rumors are '100 percent false.'
Fantasy Spin: Stafford was third in fantasy points per game at the position, but he missed half of the season. He'll be a midrange QB1 with some injury risk next season.