Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws in the pocket against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) makes a touchdown catch against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby (21) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Indianapolis Colts cornerback Quincy Wilson (31) breaks up a pass intended for Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) to end the Titans' final drive in the final seconds of the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) flips as he is hit by Indianapolis Colts defenders including Clayton Geathers (26) and Pierre Desir (35) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II understands this week's challenge each time he pops in an Atlanta Falcons tape.
He sees quarterback Matt Ryan, the 2016 league MVP, adjusting on the fly to new wrinkles posed by defensive coordinators. He sees Julio Jones , the fast, physical two-time All-Pro receiver, and the emerging Calvin Ridley, who posted his second career 100-yard game last weekend, stressing secondaries. He sees Mohamed Sanu, the perfect complementary piece to Atlanta's home-run hitters, and tight end Austin Hooper exposing the middle of the field.
It helps Moore recognize what he and his teammates must do to keep Ryan and his receivers under control Sunday.
''They're very talented, very crafty receivers,'' Moore said. ''Everybody knows what Julio brings to the table. We just have to be on point.''
For Moore and most of Indy's young defense, game tapes are all they have. Only six players have ever faced Ryan up close and personal, and safety Clayton Geathers is the only one in the Colts' back seven to experience it.
Moore recognizes it may take a few series to adapt to the Falcons' potentially high-scoring offense at game speed.
But that's only one potential problem for the Colts (1-1). They could be short-handed, too.
All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard spent this week in the concussion protocol. Indy's top cornerback, Pierre Desir, was limited in practice by a bruised right knee. Starting defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who has played Ryan twice including in New England's fifth Super Bowl win, returned for a light practice Wednesday after missing eight weeks with a knee injury.
If the defense can't slow down Falcons receivers, there could be other options.
Indy could rely on its suddenly strong ground game to control the clock. The Colts could use a vastly improved pass rush to make Ryan uncomfortable as they did the last two weeks with Phillip Rivers and Marcus Mariota. Or, perhaps they'll take advantage of the Falcons' biggest early season bugaboo: turnovers.
After throwing seven interceptions all of last season, Ryan already has five this year, including two in the red zone.
''It's not the start you want, but it's like that sometimes,'' said Ryan, now in his 11th season. ''You've just got to weather the storm and keep making good decisions and be aggressive.''
And keep finding Jones and Ridley, Sanu and Hooper.
''It's going to be a big test,'' Colts cornerback Quincy Wilson said. ''We just have to make sure we're staying on our details, making sure our techniques are on point and don't walk past any mistakes.''
With Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning both retired, the Colts have taken advantage of a run-first philosophy that's reflected in fashionably impressive numbers.
Indy and Minnesota are tied for second this season in yards rushing, Marlon Mack ranks No. 3 among all runners and Indy's 370 yards are the franchise's highest for two games to start a season since 1971. Equally strange is the fact Indy ranks No. 32 in passing offense.
Nobody minds. All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson keeps a hat with the phrase ''Run The Damn Ball'' in his locker and quarterback Jacoby Brisset t appreciates the impact the running game has had.
''Our guys up front sense that and they like when that happens,'' Brissett said when asked about seeing defenses wearing down. "They ask for more runs, so they get more runs.''
The Falcons, in contrast, are 28th in rushing at 65 yards per game. Devonta Freeman has only 41 yards with no run longer than 9. Freeman looked quick early in last week's win over the Eagles when he had three carries for 18 yards in Atlanta's first five plays. But after he was tackled for losses twice, Atlanta changed course.
Injuries, which derailed Freeman last season, don't seem to be the problem, either.
''He showed the speed, the burst, the finish,'' coach Bob Quinn said. ''He looked stronger in a lot of ways.''
CHANGE OF DIRECTION
Indy returns to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since Aug. 24, when fans booed as Andrew Luck left the field before announcing his retirement.
Players acknowledge it will seem strange without Luck on the sideline or field.
''I hadn't really thought about that but it will be different,'' longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo said. ''I think it will be a good atmosphere, I think it will be rockin'.''
The Falcons may make a late decision on the status of punter Matt Bosher, who strained his groin in warmups before last week's game. Atlanta signed Matt Wile to the practice squad as a possible backup on punts and kickoffs.
Matt Bryant handled kickoffs last week. Wile was with Minnesota in 2018 and Atlanta briefly in 2016.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis secured three of six targets for 45 yards in Week 6 against the Los Angeles Rams. The stat line is trivial for most wideouts but this was Pettis highest yardage total in 2019. The Niners have leaned heavily on the rushing attack all season, rendering all pass-catchers marginal outside of tight end George Kittle. Positively, Pettis has played progressively more each week and should continue seeing the field regularly. But until it translates into fantasy relevant numbers, Pettis shouldnt be owned outside of the most desperate rosters.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught 7-of-11 targets for 167 yards and three touchdowns in Week 6's 38-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. He also had two carries for 18 yards in the win. Diggs and Cousins were feeling the chemistry today as they connected for scores of 62 yards and 51 yards in addition to a gorgeous toe-tap touchdown for a red-zone score in the third quarter. This week served as a reminder that Diggs is a weekly WR1 threat, but he still remains a volatile play in an offense that likes to lean on the run. Diggs should be viewed as a solid WR2 heading into Week 7's matchup against the Detroit Lions and their tough secondary.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson carried the ball 24 times on Sunday, tallying 124 yards and a touchdown. It makes the third straight game where Carson has cleared the century mark, and the 5.2 YPC was his best mark of the season. Carson also caught four passes for another 35 yards, and his touchdown was the crucial game-winning score late in the fourth quarter. Carson has already racked up 504 yards on the ground this season, and his 19 receptions are just one shy of the total number he had all of last year. Seattle's offense has been rolling this season, and Carson is a critical part of why. Expect him to continue to carry the rock often.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed 24 of 33 passes for 243 scoreless yards in Week 6 against the Los Angeles Rams. He also threw a pick and lost a fumble. Jimmy G was once against careless with the football, committing his seventh turnover in five contests. Fortunately, the Niners secured the victory. The sixth-year signal caller has been extremely shaky this season but his team remains undefeated. With the offenses heavy emphasis on the run game, Garoppolo is a tough trust in fantasy. Hell be a QB2 with upside against the Washington Redskins in Week 7.
Seattle Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise stepped in as the change-of-pace back for Chris Carson on Sunday when Rashaad Penny couldn't go, but he only got to touch the ball four times. Given such limited opportunities, he'd want them to count, but unfortunately, it bit him this week. Prosise was called on to power forward to a first down late in the third quarter, but instead of picking up the necessary yard, Prosise coughed up the football in Seattle territory. Prosise has shown flashes of serious potential in the past, but he always seems to have something go wrong, whether it be an injury or a mistake. He's not fantasy relevant for now, and it's questionable whether he ever will be.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher made three field goals and an extra point in a Week 6 loss to the New York Jets. Maher made field goals from 50, 62, and 32 yards out, but missed a 40-yard kick. Players in long field goal bonus leagues were likely thrilled with Maher's performance in this one. He'll continue to be one of the stronger fantasy kickers going forward.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman handled 18 carries for 45 yards and a touchdown in Week 6 against the Los Angeles Rams, adding two grabs for 16 yards. Coming off his second game from an ankle ailment, Coleman took the reins and out-touched backfield mate Matt Breida 18 to 13. Despite averaging just 2.5 YPC on Sunday, Colemans usage is encouraging for all fantasy investors. He could flirt with RB1 status in a cake matchup against a weak Washington Redskins rush defense in Week 7.
The Dallas Cowboys Defense didn't play very well despite matching up with the New York Jets in Week 6. They allowed 24 points in a losing effort, recording one interception and two sacks. It was considered a cake matchup, with many lists counting the Cowboys as the top defense of the week, but they disappointed as most of the Cowboys did. They'll take on the Eagles next week in a Sunday night divisional matchup.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had another fantastic day on Sunday as he not only led Seattle to their third road win, but he also upped his total to 14 passing touchdowns while still remaining free of interceptions. Wilson completed 69.7% of his passes against the Browns, and he also ran in a touchdown. Wilson has always been a model of efficiency, but he's taken his game to the next level this season. After six games, Wilson has a 14/0 TD/INT rate, three rushing touchdowns, a completion rate of 72.5%, 1,704 passing yards, and a passer rating of 124.7. He's having a phenomenal season, and if he can keep this type of performance up, he could be hoisting his first MVP trophy at the end of the year.
The New York Jets Defense had a good game against the Cowboys on Sunday, but didn't put up many fantasy points for their effort. The Jets didn't force a turnover in the game and only had one sack, even with the Cowboys starting two backups on the offensive line. The Jets defense should be getting healthier with the return of middle linebacker C.J. Mosley (groin) and Jamal Adams is a star at safety, but they are still not a recommended start in Week 7 against the Patriots.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida toted the rock 13 times for 36 yards and caught four passes for 27 yards in Week 6 against the Los Angeles Rams. Breida was mostly stuffed on Sunday and yielded the lions share of work to Tevin Coleman, but he still posted a serviceable line with his opportunities. With Coleman looking fully healthy from his ankle injury, Breida has become a clear first mate. But with the Niners deploying a structural rushing committee, Breidas still a recommended RB3 and has major upside in Week 7 against a terrible Washington Redskins Defense.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold completed 23 of 32 passes for 338 yards in his return to the lineup Sunday. Darnold threw two touchdowns and one interception in his first game since Week 1. Darnold missed three games with mono, but provided a huge boost to a Jets offense that had averaged the fewest yards per game in the league coming into today. The big play from Darnold was a 92-yard touchdown to Robby Anderson after the Jets stopped the Cowboys on fourth-and-short. Darnold faces a tough matchup next week vs the Patriots, but looked good enough today to warrant consideration as a bye week replacement starter in deeper leagues or two-quarterback leagues.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup came down with four catches in Week 6, gaining 48 yards. Gallup tied for the team lead with seven targets and could be in for some big games going forward if Amari Cooper (quad) is forced to miss time. The Dallas passing game just wasn't clicking in this one, but Gallup will have WR1 upside if he's leading the passing game next week against the Eagles.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten caught five passes in Week 6, gaining 57 yards. Witten was targeted seven times, tying for the team lead. The most important play involving Witten was one he didn't make though, as he was unable to come up with a last-minute two-point conversion which would have tied the game. Witten continues to be himself, making short catches fairly consistently. He'll be a low-end TE1 with a concerning floor in most games going forward.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle reeled in all eight of his targets for 103 yards in Week 6s victory against the Los Angeles Rams. Kittle didnt find the end zone but dominated target share in the passing attack once again. His long went for 45 yards. After a so-so start to the season, Kittles now posted two premium TE1 performances. Hell draw an excellent matchup against the Washington Redskins in Week 7.
New York Jets kicker Sam Ficken made a 38-yard field goal, and was 3-for-3 on extra points in a win over the Cowboys Sunday. It was a drama-free afternoon in the kicking department for the Jets with Ficken looking good on all of his kicks today. Ficken had a good day, but shouldn't be a kicker owned in fantasy. Kicking opportunities for Ficken will likely be sparse in a tough matchup against an elite Patriots Defense next Monday night.
A Dallas Cowboys wide receiver named Cedrick Wilson caught five passes in Week 6, gaining 46 yards. With Randall Cobb and Devin Smith both inactive then Amari Cooper being forced to leave with a quad injury, Wilson came out of nowhere to show up on the box score for the first time this season. Even if Cooper is forced to miss time, Wilson won't be a fantasy option in any format next week.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin made two catches in Week 6, picking up just six yards. Jason Witten tied for the team lead with seven targets, leaving Jarwin to just pick up the scraps behind him. With the Dallas passing game not really clicking, Jarwin won't be much of a fantasy option next week, even in two-tight end leagues.
New York Jets running back Ty Montgomery made three catches on three targets for 17 yards in a win over the Cowboys Sunday. Montgomery didn't get a carry in the game as head coach Adam Gase continues to feature Le'Veon Bell. Montgomery's three targets were more than Bell today, but Bell had 14 of the 15 running back carries. Montgomery will see sparse work in the passing game, but overall he won't see enough carries or targets to be worth starting in fantasy.
Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard ran the ball just three times in Week 6, gaining 13 yards. Like usual, Pollard looked good with the ball in his hands, but he played only when starter Ezekiel Elliott needed a breather. He's still one of the highest upside handcuffs in fantasy, but Pollard won't be a starting option in most weeks that Ezekiel Elliott plays.