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

One Big Thing – NFC – Week 6

Updated: October 22nd 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.

NFC EAST

  Philadelphia

It appears that the Eagles have taken the crown from the Chargers for the most injury-prone team. Another two starters (Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz) will be out until at least after their week 9 bye, leaving Carson Wentz without many reliable options till then. It was encouraging to see that Travis Fulgham was more than just a one week fling, recording six (6) catches for 75 yards and another touchdown. He will continue to be a big part of this offense for the remainder of the season hopefully.

 NY Giants

The Giants’ defense had another big performance with their second straight week with a touchdown and the team recorded their first win of the season. The offensive woes continue though as the team only had 112 yards passing yards. Darius Slayton scored his first touchdown since week 1 but only recorded two catches. In any other division, a 1-5 record would be a reason to pack it in but anything is possible in the NFC East so who knows whether the Giants have a shot or not.

 Washington

It was a better showing in his second start for Kyle Allen but it was not enough for Washington to keep their division rival from getting their first win. J.D. McKissic has been a breath of fresh air for those working the waivers each week scoring an average of 11.6 PPR points over the last three (3) games. His use in the passing game on a team that often has to be in passing situations has worked greatly in his favor. Washington does not play a strong defense until Pittsburgh in week 13 so he should continue to have RB3/Flex appeal for the rest of the fantasy regular season.

 Cowboys

The expectation was that there would be a slight drop-off in the fantasy production between Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton but I do not think that many thought it would be as bad as it was Monday night. It does not help when Ezekiel Elliot fumbles twice on consecutive drives to give the opposition two easy touchdowns but not many expected the Cowboys first touchdown to come with under three (3) minutes left in the game. The team should rebound with two (2) division matchups coming up before playing the Steelers in week 9 but that nice scoring floor seems to be much lower with Dalton under center now.

 NFC NORTH

 Chicago

Carolina had a slight comeback against the Bears but this win was Chicago’s first convincing victory during their impressive start to the season. Much of their success last week should be given to their defense that had three (3) turnovers and four (4) sacks to give Carolina fits. For fantasy though it is frustrating to see David Montgomery be on the field for 85 percent of the snaps and have 100 percent of the week 6 running back touches to only average 3.1 yards per carry. He missed his chances at scoring when he had a touchdown overturned on replay but he has not proven to be a bell-cow back thus far. He is the ideal sell candidate before the bottom falls out when the team drafts another rookie runner this offseason.

 Minnesota

I was happy, and probably the Minnesota Vikings were to, that the take away from their game in the week 6 beat down that Dalvin Cook is worth the money they paid him and Alexander Mattison is not just a plug and play replacement. Kirk Cousins looked dreadful throughout the game and only bailed out his fantasy owners by having over 300 yards passing and three (3) touchdowns after he dug his team into a huge hole. At least Justin Jefferson looks every bit as awesome as he did at LSU as he recorded his third 100-yard receiving game already and currently is the PPR WR7. Hopefully, everyone who drafted him got him before the end of the first round so they can start planning for that fifth-year option already.

 Detroit

D’Andre Swift finally had his breakout game! The rookie runner had his first 100-yard rushing performance and led the backfield in touches for the first time this season. Knowing the Lions they will now give Adrian Peterson 20 carries this week to drive everyone crazy. For now, though, it appears they are letting the rookie slowly take control of the backfield and could be a late-season bloomer for RB2 purposes.

 Green Bay

It was a tough way to end a game for Aaron Rodgers after racing out to a 10-0 lead last Sunday. His third career pick-six and his first multi-interception game since week 15 of 2017 looked to rattle the veteran quarterback and greatly reduced his trust to throw downfield like he usually does. He is a pro, and a future Hall of Famer so we should not expect this to be more than a blip on his otherwise strong start to the season. Their matchup against a struggling Texans team seems like a classic bounce-back game. Expect 300 yards passing and at least three (3) touchdowns from Rodgers to silence his critics.

NFC SOUTH

 Atlanta

Julio is back, we think? After missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury and having only six (6) catches between weeks 2 and 5, Jones exploded for eight (8) catches and two touchdowns to finish as the PPR WR2. Whether it was inspiration after letting go of their head coach, a change in the offensive game plan, or just a bad Minnesota defense it appeared more evident that Julio was the primary option once again for Matt Ryan. The Falcons should continue to be in shootout games with their below-average defense so hopefully, Julio’s injury is behind him and he can continue to perform at the level that most expect out of him.

 Carolina

Mike Davis suffered his first sub 20 PPR point game last week and also lost his first fumble of the season. Davis has been the bell-cow since week 2, averaging 80 percent of the snaps and backfield touches while replacing Christian McCaffrey. There is talk that McCaffrey could make his return for the Panthers’ Thursday night game against the Falcons in week 8. If that is the case, it has been a great run for those who scooped Davis off the street in week 3. Hopefully, he can have one more solid performance this week before fading into the backdrop.

 Tampa Bay

Last week I criticized Tom Brady for being out of sync with his partner in crime, Rob Gronkowski, and they immediately turned back the clock to have a vintage performance, connecting on five (5) catches for 78 yards and a left-handed “Gronk spike” touchdown. Ronald Jones also showed that he probably is the primary ball carrier regardless of Leonard Fournette making his return to the lineup in week 7. His three (3) consecutive games with 100 yards rushing have likely cemented his role even further and with cupcake defenses on the horizon for the fantasy playoffs he is poised to be a fantasy playoff MVP candidate.

 NFC WEST

 LA Rams

Sean McVay, before last week’s game, had this to say regarding rookie running back Cam Akers, “He had some good tough runs and it’s a good way to get Cam going. So, with that, I think you can expect his workload to increase next week against the 49ers.” Someone should let McVay know that playing a single snap on offense is in no way an increased workload. Whether McVay’s post-game excuse about not being able to get him in the game due to the negative game script is true or Akers’ rib injury is more serious than the team is letting on he has been a huge disappointment through the first half of the season. It would likely take an injury to Darrell Henderson or Malcolm Brown before Akers sees any meaningful touches.

 San Francisco

The 49ers got back to what got them to the Super Bowl last year with running the ball and letting their pass catchers make plays in space with yards after the catch. Over 84 percent of Jimmy Garoppolo’s passing yards came after the catch which shows that his ankle may still not be fully healed to stretch the field just yet. It was also concerning that Raheem Mostert went down with yet another injury that appears will keep him out of the lineup for now. It will be interesting to see what Bill Belichick does to shut down this offense as he probably knows Garoppolo as well as an opposing coach can.

 Arizona

Looking directly at the stats for DeAndre Hopkins over the last two weeks would not give the full story of how his fantasy owners must have felt heading into the fourth quarter of both games. Coming into the fourth quarter Hopkins stat lines against terrible defenses has been 4-49-0 and 1-13-0, with 70 percent of his total production coming after the game has already been decided late. I do not expect it to be an issue as Hopkins continues to be the most targeted receiver on the team but it just stood out over the last two weeks as something to keep an eye on. His floor may not be as safe as his value would perceive.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

RSO Staff Picks 2020: Week 6

Updated: October 18th 2020

Stephen’s Picks

Matt’s Picks

Kyle’s Picks

More Analysis by Stephen Wendell

One Big Thing – NFC – Week 5

Updated: October 17th 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.

NFC EAST

Philadelphia

What has happened to Zach Ertz? He has averaged 92 percent of the Eagles’ snaps and earned at least five (5) targets in each game this season but is the current TE15 on the season. It hit a low point last week when he was targeted six (6) times but only caught one (1) pass for six (6) yards and finished as the TE41. This all comes while the receiving core of the Eagles is out with injuries to which makes even less sense. The only explanation is that the opposing defense is hyper-focusing on covering Ertz as the only real threat. Fantasy owners can only hope that with other players returning around him, Ertz can provide close to where his RSO contracts likely are valued.

 Washington

It was a nice story to have Alex Smith back in an NFL game for the first time in two years but it did not provide any kind of spark to the offense as the team only recorded 108 total yards against the Rams. This team is likely going to the well for a quarterback again in the 2021 draft as it appears that Dwayne Haskins is all but an afterthought to this coaching staff. We will see whether he is traded or released and can find a backup role to continue his development. For those who drafted him in the mid-first round of Superflex leagues with all the receiver talent that has started to blossom, this has to sting.

 NY Giants

The Giants offense was able to take advantage of a bad Dallas Cowboys defense to the delight of those who started Darius Slayton and Devonta Freeman. Specifically, with Freeman, he seems to slowly be taking over the backfield (not that surprising) as he becomes more familiar with the play calling and pass protections. He played on 54 percent of the team’s snaps and accounted for 17 of the 25 rushing attempts. Another below-average matchup against Washington in week 6 could provide a second opportunity for both Slayton and Freeman to provide adequate fantasy numbers.

 Dallas

Can Andy Dalton save the Cowboys’ season? That is the question that everyone has been talking about this past week. Dalton was unceremoniously ushered out of Cincinnati for first overall pick Joe Burrow as his production had significantly dropped off in recent years. To be fair to Dalton he did not have the strongest support around him in his final years as he does now in Dallas. The last time Cincinnati had three strong receivers and a steady backfield (2015) Dalton threw for 25 touchdowns to only seven (7) interceptions and a 106QBR. In the weak NFC East, even 80 percent of that production should be enough to win this division.

NFC NORTH

 Chicago

Regardless of whether it is Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles at quarterback, it is the one-man-band show in Chicago for Allen Robinson. The wide receiver was tied for the most targets in week 5 with 16 and leads all receivers this season with 57. The question is will anyone step up and be the second option consistently enough? After week 1 it looked like Anthony Miller might have his breakout season but he has been quiet over the last month since. Jimmy Graham has looked much better in Chicago than he did in Green Bay, with four (4) touchdowns in five (5) games so maybe he can be the second option. The team is surprisingly 4-1, so what they are doing already maybe will be enough to make the playoffs.

 Minnesota

Kirk Cousins looked pretty good in the first half against the Seahawks and then came out in the second half so flat that the Seahawks scored three (3) touchdowns in 2 minutes and 27 seconds. He rallied to give the team a late lead but Russell Wilson had a spectacular final drive to win it. Dalvin Cook has already been ruled out for week 6’s game against the Falcons so it may be on Kirk Cousins to win this game for the Vikings. This team is not as bad as their 1-4 record shows but the losses all count the same when looking ahead to draft positioning. It would be interesting to see this team with a top 5 pick and what decision they would make with Kirk Cousins with guys like Justin Fields and Trey Lance potential available to draft.

NFC SOUTH

 Tampa Bay

Tom Brady has yet to have his full arsenal of weapons through the first five (5) games of the season but he seems to be out of sync with everyone, including Rob Gronkowski. Whether it is conflicting ideologies on the play calling with Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich or timing with receivers, the team looks too inconsistent to be a serious Super Bowl contender at this point in the season. Ronald Jones has been great for fantasy owners the last two weeks with Leonard Fournette sidelined with an injury and Mike Evans has been a touchdown machine with at least one in each game this season. If the Bucs get inside the five-yard line, expect at least one end zone fade pass from Brady to Evans.

 Carolina

The Panthers have suggested that they may hold out Christian McCaffrey through week 8 and possibly till after their week 9 bye. You cannot blame them for wanting to get their All-Pro running back healthy with how well Mike Davis has played in his absence. The team has rattled off three straight wins and find themselves in a three-way tie for first in the division. Robbie Anderson has to be this year’s biggest surprise thus far as he has been a fantasy gold mine as the PPR WR7. He likely is on a single-year contract so he is an ideal buy candidate for any contender.

 Atlanta

The game started so well for the Falcons, going down the field for a touchdown on a long Todd Gurley touchdown. Then, as it seems to every game this season, the flood gates on their defense opened up and they could not do enough to keep up with their opponents. Matt Ryan has not been his usual backend QB1 and has failed to score a touchdown in consecutive games for the first time in his career. Julio Jones has once again been hampered with injuries and forced him to miss weeks 3, 5 and half of week 4’s game. Other than his week 1 performance with 157 receiving yards it has been difficult for fantasy owners to start him with any confidence. After five consecutive losses to start the season it has finally forced owner Arthur Blank to fire both his head coach and general manager. It also opens the door to questions about how much of a rebuild this team may be in for.

 New Orleans

There is a certain ratio of talent to diva that teams are willing to deal with before it just becomes not worth it. Antonio Brown’s talent slipped slightly and it became necessary for three (3) teams to tell him to go away in ten months. Hopefully, we are not seeing the same thing with Saints receiver Michael Thomas but he is making a pretty easy case to dislike him. The Saints suspended him this past week for throwing a punch at a teammate during practice and then mouthing off to Head Coach Sean Payton afterwards after he was set to return from the ankle injury that has kept him out since week 1. He will play this week and will continue to be an elite WR1 when on the field, but it will be interesting once Drew Brees retires to see whether Payton and Thomas can continue to co-exist if he continues to act out.

NFC WEST

 Arizona

It must have been nerve-racking for DeAndre Hopkins fans heading into the fourth quarter of last week’s matchup. The elite wide receiver, against one of the worst teams since the 0-16 Browns, had only four (4) catches for 49 yards. Then he and Kyler Murray connected on two deep passes for 82 yards total and scored a touchdown to turn what could have been a let-down game into the PPR WR8 of the week. Through their first five games, it appears that the Cardinals can bully the bad teams (San Francisco, Washington, NY Jets) but have struggled with teams that show even a little bit of resistance (Detroit and Carolina). Murray is having a stellar start to fantasy season and should continue to put up great numbers playing against two of the worst pass defenses over the next two weeks.

 LA Rams

The Rams have started the season off great, with a 4-1 record that could easily be 5-0 if not for a questionable pass interference call against the Bills. Looking deeper though, all four (4) of their wins have come against the NFC East, a division that currently has a 4-15-1 record. Not that we should devalue them since you can only play the teams that you are scheduled against but the second half of their season should be much closer games than their first half. Jared Goff has also had a nice bounce-back start to the season scoring three (3) total touchdowns in three (3) games thus far compared to only two (2) such games all of last season.

 San Francisco

Who knows whether it was the injured ankle or just an off day for Jimmy Garoppolo but he was bad, scoring negative fantasy points in week 5. The whole team was dominated by the Dolphins in a 43-17 beat down but Jimmy G’s performance was so bad that he was benched at halftime for it. The good news is that offense is getting healthier and so they should have a full complement of weapons available to them soon. The problem is that if they do not get better quarterback play it will be difficult for this team to make a comeback in a tough NFC West. This may be a make or break season for Garoppolo as his guaranteed money runs out in 2021. Much like Atlanta and Minnesota, if the 49ers find themselves in a spot to draft one of the two other great quarterbacks of this rookie class would they move off of Garoppolo a year removed from making the Super Bowl?

 Seattle

It does not matter who their opponent is the Seahawks are going to put on a show of theatrics with Russell Wilson. The offense looked flat for the first half of Sunday Night Football against the Vikings only to come back, lose the lead again, and then regain it on the final drive of the night. D.K. Metcalf is looking like the reincarnation of Calvin Johnson with his freaky size and speed dominating defenders. He has at least 90 yards receiving in each game this year and five (5) touchdowns. If he is not the dynasty WR1 by the start of the 2021 season it would be a shock.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – AFC – Week 5

Updated: October 15th 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

NY Jets

I guess we have to talk about the elephant in the room, or should we say not in the room, as the Jets shopped and then quickly released former All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell this week. The Jets have been bad with or without Bell in the lineup and with his contract, it was unlikely that any team would offer much in the way of trade value. Still, releasing him a third of the way through a season suggests that he and the coaching staff were not getting along and decided that removing him from the team was best for what they are trying to do. A timeshare between Frank Gore and rookie Lamical Perine is most likely the go-to for Adam Gase this week. Former Detroit Lion Ty Johnson also will be mixed in after being claimed off waivers early this month. None are fantasy relevant at this point.

 Miami

All I had to do was bash on Preston Williams to ignite a fire in him. After suggesting that many were disappointed with how he has started this season he earned his first 100 yards receiving game of the season and put up over 20PPR points. Ryan Fitzpatrick also had another FitzMagic-type performance with 350 yards passing and three (3) touchdowns. The 49ers are not the team they were last year but any time a team puts up 43 points credit should be given to the offense. The Dolphins schedule plays out favorably through to December with two matchups against the lowly Jets and Broncos, as well as the Rams, Cardinals and Chargers three weeks in between. If the team can keep its mojo going and they are in the playoff hunt, there may not be a need to turn to Tua this season.

 Buffalo

That was quite the wake-up call for the Bills in a game that they probably thought they would be able to take advantage of a team that had barely practised over the last two weeks and was missing several contributing players. From a fantasy standpoint, Stefon Diggs had his usual strong performance with 10 catches and over 100 yards but the rest of the team struggled to keep up with the Titans offense. Josh Allen also had a down night (by his standards) with his first game under 300 yards passing and throwing two (2) interceptions. Other than the Chiefs and Patriots, the schedule is rather favorable in terms of opponent’s pass defenses so just forget last week’s game and hopefully, Allen and Co. continue their strong offensive performances.

AFC NORTH

 Cleveland

So the Browns are for real? Last week I wanted to see them win a game with more than just running the ball 35 times a game and to see if Baker Mayfield can make some plays. They still ran the ball 30 times but Mayfield made enough plays to convince me that this should be at least a wildcard team in 2020. Against an opponent that many thought might be one of the best defenses in the league, Mayfield passed for almost 250 yards and two (2) touchdowns. This week’s matchup against the Steelers will be more focused on the line’s play but it may come down to Baker having to duel with Ben Roethlisberger for AFC North supremacy.

Baltimore

Another easy victory for the Ravens who had no struggle beating the Bengals. It was disappointing that Lamar Jackson once again failed to throw for over 200 yards and only had three (3) rushing yards. The upcoming schedule features some of the best teams in the AFC (Pittsburgh twice, New England, Tennessee, Indianapolis) which likely forces the Ravens to have to play their best football. Hopefully, this can shake the offense out of the fantasy funk they have had since week 3.

 Cincinnati

This was Joe Burrow’s first “Welcome to the NFL, rookie” game as neither he nor the entire Bengals offense could get anything done against the Ravens’ defense. A.J. Green once again re-injured his hamstring and it remains to be seen how long his role will continue on this team. With Tyler Boyd becoming the focal point of the targets and rookie Tee Higgins showing improvements each week, Green may be a trade deadline acquisition for a team in need of receiver help. This of course assumes that he can be healthy and show some production to boost his value to another team. It seems unlikely he will be with the Bengals in 2021.

 Pittsburgh

Hey MapleTron, we see you! After having only nine (9) targets and 151 yards through the first three (3) games Chase Claypool exploded against the Eagles for seven (7) catches on eleven (11) targets for over 110 yards and three (3) touchdowns. He also started the day with a jet sweep, rushing for a fourth touchdown, the first Steeler to do so in half a century. Dionte Johnson leaving early in this game likely had something to do with the amount of targets Claypool earned but a week after Juju Smith-Schuster was one of the most resigned players across RSO, some owners may already be having buyers remorse.

AFC SOUTH

 Houston

The Texans played inspired football for their new head coach and earned their first victory of the season. The passing offense also seemed more open with three (3) receivers having six (6) or more targets and DeShaun Watson throwing for over 350 yards and three (3) touchdowns. His two (2) interceptions are still a sore spot that one would hope an elite quarterback would avoid but if risking a few passes to get his receivers more opportunities to make plays is needed, I think both fantasy and Texans fans would take it. The schedule does not get much easier with games against Tennessee and Green Bay next but hopefully, the success they had after changing coaches can build as the season goes along.

 Jacksonville

This offense needs D.J. Chark in the lineup if they are going to have any success. Much like two weeks ago, the Jaguars were unable to consistently move the ball downfield and relied on secondary options like Laviska Shenault and Keelan Cole to try and claw their way back against the Texans. James Robinson has also been trending the wrong way since his big primetime performance in week 3. With Devine Ozigbo set to return soon from the injured reserve, this may become more of a timeshare backfield than some would have thought three weeks ago. It may not matter if the offense cannot muster more success though.

 Indianapolis

Is it midnight already for Philip Rivers? He seemed to turn back into a pumpkin against the Browns last week throwing two (2) interceptions, one that was so telegraphed the cornerback easily took it back for six,  and no touchdowns. The defense is playing at a high level and will help win them games against inept offenses like the Bears and Jets but the offense (especially Philip Rivers) need to figure it out if they are going to have any chance at making the playoffs. Only Jonathan Taylor is worth starting in fantasy right now.

 Tennessee

At one point I was watching this game and the stat came across the screen that Derrick Henry had something like 12 carries for 15 yards total and I thought, “Man, the Bills defense is shutting down Henry tonight”. Then he stiff-armed Josh Norman so hard it made everyone forget Earl Thomas and before you knew it he had 19PPR points and the Titans had scored 42 points. This offense is one of the most underrated in real life and fantasy. It has been great to see Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith finally put it together and with a healthy A.J. Brown now back, this team should be one of the final four contenders for the AFC Championship.

AFC WEST

 Kansas City

The so-so play of the Chiefs finally cost them a win last week as the defense kept letting the Raiders go up and down the field on them, both with quick scores and long sustaining drives. After a big week 1 that made everyone gush taking him at 1.01 in rookie drafts, Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been very pedestrian in the last two performances. With rumors of Le’Veon Bell potentially signing with the Chiefs his arrival would make Chiefs fans rejoice, but the CEH drafters miserable. We will have to see what happens. Maybe this is a buy-low window.

 Las Vegas

Derek Carr finally got his first-round receiver, Henry Ruggs, back and he immediately made a splash play with his speed on a 72-yard touchdown. Nelson Agholor also scored his third touchdown of the season on his own deep throw touchdown. Jon Gruden clearly wants to do three things: run the ball with Josh Jacobs (20+ carries in 3 of their first 5 games), work the sticks with Darren Waller (leads all tight ends with 47 targets and 34 receptions), and take deep shots (at least one completion of 34 or more yards in 4 of 5 games). If the Raiders can do all three successfully, they will keep the AFC West race competitive down the stretch.

LA Chargers

The Chargers lost in yet another heartbreaking way that only can be described as “That’s so Chargers”. You cannot, however, pin it on rookie quarterback Justin Herbert who if not for Chase Claypool’s performance would have been the AFC rookie of the week. The rookie has gone toe-to-toe with two of the best quarterbacks in the past two weeks and has thrown seven (7) touchdowns to only one (1) interception and over 260 passing yards in both. Fantasy owners that drafted Herbert in the late first or early second round of Superflex drafts are thrilled at the prospect of having a potential top 10 quarterback coming up. If the talent around Herbert can stay healthy there could be some great duels between him and Mahomes for the AFC West crown heading into the next decade.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – AFC – Week 4

Updated: October 10th 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

 NY Jets

It was good to have Jamison Crowder back as it made watching this offense at least have some purpose for fantasy. We will have to wait and see if Le’Veon Bell can make his return in week 5 and present some balance to the Jets’ offensive game plan. Fantasy owners are also hopeful that Denzel Mims can return to do something before we consider this a lost season for him. The Jets looks completely flat right now and thus outside of Crowder and maybe Bell, there will not be much reason to roster Jets players in 2020.

 Miami

Preston Williams has been quite the letdown for fantasy owners who may have invested heavily in him this offseason. Williams has failed to have more than two receptions in a game thus far and is averaging just 6 points per game. Surprisingly Isaiah Ford has seen more targets than Williams over the first month of the season too which is not a good sign for his productivity. The Dolphins are not a high powered offense so it will be difficult for more than one player to be relevant at a time. Williams’ owners can only hope that with a potential change at quarterback on the horizon that it can rejuvenate the offense’s effectiveness.

 Buffalo

Fantasy owners survived a scare when Josh Allen looked like he may have injured his arm right before halftime but he looked fine in the second half and has had no limitation heading into the next week. With Zach Moss missing his second game Devin Singletary was able to have another bell-cow performance totalling 89 percent of the running back snaps. These two were in a near 50-50 split during the first two (2) weeks of the season so it will be interesting to see if they go right back to that or if Moss will be more eased into the lineup. This may be a selling window for Singletary if you are one of the few teams that have made it through running back injuries this season.

 New England

Let us start by saying that New England got hosed having to play last week’s game with the short notice that their starting quarterback was going to be unavailable and then having to travel the same day as the game. Regardless of that, the offense was awful without Cam Newton and it warrants asking how bad this team would have been if they did not sign him and stuck with either Jared Stitham or Brian Hoyer.  Some of their unpreparedness may have been from having no reps or notice about playing until the eleventh hour but it still did not inspire a lot of confidence. The Patriots game against the Broncos has also been moved back due to other players now testing positive making their week 5 game a similar circus as week 4. We will see what the team has put together for whichever quarterback is starting… if the game even happens.

AFC NORTH

 Baltimore

The Ravens looked better, albeit not their usual spectacular selves, against an inferior Washington team. Lamar Jackson scored his first rushing touchdown of the season but once again failed to throw over 200 yards. He has now been held to under 205 yards passing in three (3) out of four (4) games thus far and while his rushing totals, much like Kyler Murray’s, is enough to keep him afloat he has not presented the same cheat codes he had a season ago. The backfield is also a mess for fantasy as the Ravens have split carries between all three (3) of their running backs evenly across all four (4) games. This will make it nearly impossible to guess who will have a big week presenting a risky all or nothing fantasy outlook.

 Cleveland

Remember when the sky was falling after week 1 because the Browns were embarrassed by the Ravens? For three straight games since the team has averaged 226 rushing yards and only have one (1) turnover during their three (3) convincing victories. It is unfortunate that Nick Chubb was injured and will miss a significant amount of the regular season though. Luckily, the team already had Kareem Hunt lying in wait so he should now receive the bulk of the carries along with D’Erest Johnson, who almost put up 100 yards once Chubb left the game. Two upcoming games against the fourth and first ranked run defenses in the NFL will be a strong test for whether the Browns can win in multiple ways. If they can, this team may have a shot at making a playoff run.

 Cincinnati

Joe Burrow earned his first victory as a starting NFL quarterback and pushed his consecutive games throwing 300 passing yards to three (3). He is currently on pace to set the rookie record for pass attempts, pass completions, and passing yards which shows the skills that he has as well as the confidence his coaches already have in him to be the focal point of this team. Joe Mixon also came out of the weeds for a three (3) touchdown performance to make all his fantasy owners rejoice. The Bengals play in one of the toughest divisions in football so it will be difficult for them to expand their win total much greater than last year’s but on the field, this team already looks more impressive than those last-place finishers a year ago.

AFC SOUTH

 Houston

Will Fuller is the embodiment of Brian Fantana’s famous quote, “60 percent of the time, it works every time”. When he is healthy he is a solid WR2 every time but the problem is he had only played in 65 percent of games over the first four years of his career. This year he has once again score 15+PPR points in three (3) of four (4) games but everyone only remembers his week 2 game where he came up lame with no targets or catches due to an apparent hamstring injury. Even with Bill O’Brien let go there should not be much change in the offense’s game plan so expect Fuller to continue to be the most targeted receiver for DeShaun Watson.

 Jacksonville

What a difference one week and the return of one non-quarterback player can have on an offense. The Jaguars looked awful last Thursday against a not-so-great Miami team but with D.J. Chark returning to the lineup the offense was able to put up 25 points and Gardner Minshew threw for over 350 yards. Both of Minshew’s touchdowns also went to Chark which shows that he not only helps the offense move down the field better but also helps with their scoring efficiency in the red zone. “A rising tide lifts all boats” I guess.

 Indianapolis

The Colts’ defense has been superb over the first four (4) games to the point that it might be hurting the fantasy value of the players on the other side of the ball. Jonathan Taylor has been as advertised coming out of Wisconsin averaging 14PPR points per game but he has been the lone reliable fantasy player from the Colts offense. The biggest disappointment has to be T.Y. Hilton who in the Colts first four (4) games has only gone over 9PPR points once and is currently WR73. For a player in RSO leagues who is likely sitting in the $10-$15MM range, he is an anchor to your roster unless he starts to turn things around. Maybe with tougher opponents on the horizon that will force Philip Rivers to pass more. One can hope.

AFC WEST

 Denver

Jerry Jeudy had a nice coming out party on the national stage last Thursday with a wonderful catch over the defender for a touchdown that likely increased his stock value. Next to him, Tim Patrick also had a strong performance with his first career 100-yards receiving game. Unfortunately for the Broncos, they will not be able to play the Jets multiple times this year so their chances of scoring 37 points in one game may be the high watermark in an otherwise lost year for the team. The is a chance with the extra day that Drew Lock will return which might give the team a fighting chance against what looks like another great Patriots defense. Otherwise, fantasy players can probably leave most Broncos on the bench this week.

 LA Chargers

You have to tip your hat to the kid, Justin Herbert, who was not afraid to go toe-to-toe with the G.O.A.T. by throwing bomb after bomb touchdown to keep his team in the game. Unfortunately for him, he lost his starting running back Austin Ekeler for what seems like an extensive part of the season so even more of the offense may be pushed onto Herbert early. The Buccaneers have one of the better run defenses in the NFL but for Herbert to lead the team in rushing yards with 14 shows that the team was not able to get much once Ekeler went out. Anthony Lynn will have to figure out a way to maintain a better balance with rookie runner Joshua Kelley and veteran Justin Jackson if he hopes to keep his young quarterback upright.

 Las Vegas

After two strong appearances in the first two games of the season, the Raiders have fallen back to .500 following two losses against what is probably two of the better AFC defenses. Much to the annoyance of Eagles fans Nelson Agholor scored the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter and also had another long touchdown earlier in the game called back via penalty. Maybe he just needed a fresh start. Both he and Hunter Renfrew have had surprisingly good starts to the season with both Raider rookie receivers missing some time with injuries. It will be difficult for this team to keep up with Kansas City in the division but they should be in that next tier down of teams that will challenge for the three wildcard spots at season’s end.

 Kansas City

That was the second of the Chiefs’ four games where they did not look great on offense until they needed to turn on the jets in the final quarter. Good teams can “flick the switch” when needed but it gives fantasy owners a small heart attack until they see the final scores. It would have been interesting to see this game with Cam Newton playing on the other side as it appeared that the Chiefs offense was looking to just avoid bad plays knowing that they had a huge advantage rather than taking their usual shots and quick scoring drives. Other than the upcoming Bills game in two weeks, the Chiefs should be able to put up points against five (5) or their next six (6) opponents in spades. We will have to see when this team’s first loss looks like a possibility.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews