One Big Thing – AFC – Week 6

Updated: October 24th 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

AFC EAST

 New England

If everyone was confused about how Zach Ertz’s usage rates compare to his fantasy output, Julian Edelman has to be the AFC’s version of Ertz. Edelman is the most targeted receiver on the Patriots but only has 54 PPR points for the season, half of which came in a single game back in week 2. He has been nursing a knee injury for much of the season so that may be why he is only playing 70 percent of the snaps right now but he still should be more successfully involved in the offense than he currently has been. Hopefully, as Cam Newton gets back into the groove he was in pre-COVID so too can Edelman become more involved.

 Miami

Another big win against the hapless Jets puts Miami just a game out of the division lead. Heading into their bye it sounded like the team had reached the agreed-upon time with Ryan Fitzpatrick to rescind his starting role to rookie Tua Tagovailoa. That was not the plan that Fitzpatrick believed was unfolding though and now the coaching staff may be put into a bind for the rest of the season. To bench a locker room presence like Fitzpatrick unrelated to his performance may not work with a lot of the players and if Tua was to struggle, it would be pretty awkward to ask Fitzpatrick to bail them out. This team looked like they were heading in the right direction with two straight wins, but this is the kind of decision that could sour a season real fast.

 NY Jets

If the Jets are not going to put in an effort to show anything meaningful on the field I am not going to waste my time with giving summaries on their performances. Start Crowder while he is healthy.

 Buffalo

It was another struggling performance for Josh Allen after he started the first four (4) weeks of the season so strong. The running game gave him no help in the tough weather conditions either so it cannot all be blamed on Allen. Still, to be considered a contender in the AFC you have to beat the contenders and thus far the Bills are 0-2 against the Titans and Chiefs. They have a tune-up game against the Jets this week so hopefully, the coaches can try some new things to restart this offense that averaged over 30 points per game in their four wins.

AFC NORTH

 Cincinnati

The start of week 6 was great for the Bengals as they looked like they were going upset a good Colts team after being up 21-0 early. The problem was they did not score a touchdown after the first quarter and the defense allowed three (3) touchdowns themselves in the second quarter. There will be some growing pains like this but it is encouraging to see the team at least competing with playoff contenders right now. It will be tough without Joe Mixon, who has been ruled out for week 7, but if Joe Burrow wants to show he can carry the team these are the moments playing an up-and-down Browns team.

 Pittsburgh

As they say in the Simpsons, “Everything is coming up Milhouse” for the Steelers right now. Their Hall of Fame quarterback has returned to his pre-elbow injury form and the defense is looking the best it has been since Troy Polamalu, James Harrison and the Bearded-one Brett Keisel was roaming the field. The only thing that is killing fantasy players right now is that the abundance of talent surrounding Ben Roethlisberger at receiver has forced Juju Smith-Schuster to near obscurity. I talked a few weeks ago about if they really should sign him to a contract extension when they could afford to move him and play three (3) other really solid options instead. I think now fantasy fans want to see him moved too, just to hope that he can rebound his production. Sorry to those who resigned him two weeks ago when he was costing over $70M.

 Cleveland

There is no way that this team should be picking up Baker Mayfield’s fifth-year option with the way he played against Pittsburgh last week. He is not the worst starting quarterback in the league but when the cost to retain him is going to likely be a long-term commitment over $100M you cannot pay the fourth-best quarterback in your division that kind of money. Mayfield himself could probably continue to be a starter for teams that need a stop-gap option until ultimately drafting another rookie quarterback but his long-term future in the league may be that of a backup past 2021. Superflex leagues you should be moving on from him as soon as he shows another rebound performance against a mediocre team.

 Baltimore

Lamar Jackson finally had one of his trademark long touchdown runs and went over 100 yards for the first time this season. He continues to struggle as a passer though as he had his fourth straight sub 200 passing yard game. It has caused the players around him to be hard-pressed to produce in fantasy over the last month. Either this team has been so dominant that it looks mundanely routine in the stat sheet or their efficiency is so high that they do not need to do much on offense to continue winning. Whatever the reason is, as long as it is working we should not expect the game plan to be changing until necessary.

AFC SOUTH

 Indianapolis

The disappearing act of T.Y. Hilton has been surprising to many this season. Philip Rivers made former PPR machine Keenan Allen a fantasy star so it is strange to see Hilton struggle to produce at the same levels. Hilton has played 95 percent of the snaps the last two weeks and in a game where his team was trailing big right away, he only managed once reception in week 6. A free agent at the end of the season, Hilton is looking like so many receivers before him that just fade out of fantasy relevance.

 Jacksonville

Keelan Cole has been a breath of fresh air in what has otherwise been another wasted year for the Jaguars. With D.J. Chark bouncing in and out of the lineup the last couple of weeks, Keelan Cole has been the primary receiver for Gardner Minshew and has had at least 8 PPR points in every game so far. He currently is the WR20 which is great for a fantasy player that was free for the first couple of weeks and he should continue to produce for the rest of 2020.

 Tennessee

All hail the King! Two (2) touchdowns and 264 total yards, DeShaun Watson knew as soon as they lost the coin toss in overtime that the game was over because the Texans could not stop Derrick Henry on Sunday. While many of the other top dynasty running backs have been sitting on the sideline with injuries in 2020, Henry has planted the seeds to be in the conversation for the dynasty RB1 heading into 2021. Many will point to his age and his running style as a deterrent for his chances of providing long-term value but even two or three more years of production at this level would be hard for another running back to compete with.

 Houston

DeShaun Watson had his best performance of the season by far and it still was not enough to give his team a victory. A team that used to be one of the league’s best defenses has allowed 28 or more points in five (5) of six (6) games this season and is getting destroyed by the opposing rushing attack week after week. I guess good for fantasy though as the defensive woes have allowed three (3) wide receivers to become fantasy relevant each week to try and keep up. At least this team likely will have a top 10 pick to fix some of their problems… oh wait.

AFC WEST

 Denver

Drew Lock returned after missing several weeks with his shoulder injured and helped get the Broncos their second consecutive victory, although without many offensive stats to show it. Like Travis Fulgham in Philadelphia, it has been great to see Tim Patrick continue to have sustained success week after week as an alumnus of the Street FA report. Patrick has had three (3) consecutive weeks scoring at least 14 PPR points and is the current WR36. Even with players returning from injuries around him it would be great to have him continue as a primary option for this offense the rest of the season.

 Kansas City

So what role is Le’Veon Bell going to play in this offense when Clyde Edwards-Helaire is rushing for over six (6) yards per carry and 161 yards in week 6? The rookie’s first career 20 PPR point performance reminded everyone why he was the 1.01 pick after two “meh” performances against New England and Las Vegas. When this offense gets rolling downhill it seems like there are not many teams that will stop them from cruising to the AFC Championship.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews