2019 Fantasy Football Notes – week six

The theme of the 2019 fantasy football season has been a rash of multiple-touchdown games, often by players nobody expected to have big days. Week six continued the trend:

  • Tom Brady, who ran for 20 touchdowns in his first 274 career games (one per 13.7 games) scored twice.
  • The Patriots defense scored twice, the second time they’ve done it in 2019.
  • Stefon Diggs, who had just one touchdown and a single 50-yard game all season, caught 11 passes for 167 yards, scored three times and put up the highest week-six fantasy score at any position.
  • Carolina wide receiver Curtis Samuel, who came into Sunday’s game in London with one touchdown, scored once on the ground and once through the air.
  • Terry McLaurin and Tyreek Hill, coming back from multi-week injuries, each scored twice.
  • Hunter Henry, also coming off a multi-week injury and only started in 44 percent of ESPN leagues, scored two garbage-time touchdowns for the Chargers and led all tight ends in total fantasy points.
  • Running back Devante Freeman, who has yet to score a rushing touchdown in 2019, scored twice on three receiving targets.
  • Jaron Brown, who had eight catches and no touchdowns going into week six, scored twice for the Seahawks.

Christian McCaffrey, Nick Chubb, David Johnson, James Connor and Desaun Watson also scored twice; that made it 13 double-TD scorers in 13 games. I don’t know why this is happening so much, but my guess is that it’s two-fold:

  • Offensive coordinators are game-planning to win matchups against weak defenders from unexpected directions, with unexpected players
  • Defensive coordinators are more committed to game plans, less inclined to make quick adjustments

If you can spot trends in the multi-TD data, you might be able to find some nice sleepers going forward. Mike Clay of ESPN and the guys at NFL Outsiders do a lot of good  work related to this sort of thing.

Game notes:

NE 35, Giants 14 – The Patriots defense has been the 14th best player in fantasy football so far this season. The 06010 guys are talking about them as if they are worth a fifth round value (Field Yates) or even a third round value (Mathew Berry).

Don’t be fooled, though; they have played what might be the most defense-friendly schedule in the history of fantasy football. Starting in week nine, they play five consecutive games against good offenses (@Bal, @Phi, Dal, @Hou and KC) before finishing with three potential cupcakes in weeks 15-17. If you own them, this is a tremendous time to sell them. If you don’t own them, keep an eye out for them hitting the waiver wire about week 13 or 14, when they face Houston and Kansas City back-to-back. And grab ‘em for the later rounds of the playoffs, when they gets Cincinnati, Buffalo and Miami to close the season.

Also: If Evan Ingram plays this week, he’s potentially the number one tight end play. This is the game log for every starting tight end this season against Arizona:

  • Week one (T.J.Hockenson, Det): 6-131-1, 25 fantasy points
  • Week two (Mark Andrews, Bal): 8-112-1, 25 fantasy points
  • Week three (Greg Olsen, Car): 6-75-2, 25 fantasy points
  • Week four (Will Dissly, Sea): 7-57-1, 18 fantasy points
  • Week five (Cincinnati doesn’t have a receiving tight end to speak of)
  • Week six (Austin Hooper, Atl): 8-117-1, 25 fantasy points.

Four of six scored 25 fantasy points, one 18, and one without a receiving tight end. Keep in mind that Cincinnati’s slot receiver (Tyler Boyd) went for 28 points in that game, easily his best game of the season.

Carolina 37, Tampa Bay 26 – Jameis Winston threw for 400 yards and five picks. That has to be a rare occurrence, but were you surprised that Winston did it? I wasn’t. He’s the new Jay Cutler, an unrepentant gunslinger who never met a triple-coverage he didn’t like. Last year’s fellow Buc Ryan Fitzpatrick is the same basic model, a guy who has made a career out of putting points on the board in a hurry. The trick is knowing whether he’s going to do it for his guys or the other guys.

Seattle 32, Cleveland 28 – I pretty much hate NFL officials anyway, so I’m not the one to ask. But I’ve seen a lot of complaints online about the officiating in this game. My own thought, during the game, was that the guy with the mic seemed overly in love with his own voice.

Also – Odell Beckham Jr. is one of those guys who is better at making the tough catch than the easy one. Usually this is followed by “he doesn’t concentrate,” but I don’t think that’s the issue. I think he concentrates too much, trying to think ahead and create something before he gets the ball in his hand. It’s frustrating to watch, but OBJ will figure it out.

It’ll help if he spends more time with his quarterback; both of them spent the summer branding themselves instead of working on their chemistry, and it’s pretty obvious that they need more work together.

Houston 31, Kansas City 24 – Andy Reid, long known as a one-runner coach, needs to get back to that. Right now he’s shuffling three of them in and out; all the shuffling in and out is messing up the team’s offensive flow. It doesn’t much matter which one he picks, but he needs to let one stay in long enough to get into the swing of the game.

Washington 17, Miami 16 – Josh Rosen is not an NFL quarterback. Two NFL teams have wasted first-round picks on him, but nothing about his game even suggests he’s an NFL quarterback. Maybe in 3-5 years, in a good system with a good coach and good teammates, he can be ok. Rich Gannon became an MVP after playing like Rosen early in his career. But most of the guys who suck this bad never get any better.

Also – Miami did not want to win that game; Kenyan Drake did a decent acting job – pretending he was unhappy that he dropped it – but he knocked down that 2-point conversion pass like he was defending a Hail Mary. Oh, and Terry McLauren is really, really good. He’s DeSean Jackson without all the annoying arrogance.

Minnesota 38, Philadelphia 20 – The Eagles defense is a passing funnel. Start your receivers against the Eagles, especially your deep threats. But only play running backs who catch a lot of passes. This usually goes for the Saints, too, but … well, I’ll get to that.

Also – If you have Stefon Diggs, TRADE HIM NOW. He is still a chancy, boom or bust flex option and you might be able to get someone you can trust for him. Find the Christian Kirk owner and offer him Diggs for Kirk and another useful piece; he’ll likely go for it, and I’d rather have Kirk than Diggs, period, the rest of the season.

New Orleans 13, Jacksonville 6 – Predicting whether the Jags are trying in any given week is a frustrating exercise. Against the Chiefs in week one they were 99 percent cheap shots and outright assaults; they didn’t actually defend anyone; they just waited for the whistle so they could sneak in a rabbit punch or step on someone’s hand. Against the Saints, the played like their parents were watching, afraid to even hit anyone hard.

The one thing you can always count on from Jacksonville is that they will hose you if you trust them to do anything. They’ll shut out an offensive juggernaut one week, then give up 45 points to a garbage offense the next. They’ll take half a game off (like last week against Denver) and then play like Super Bowl champs the next (like last week against Denver). I try to avoid them altogether, but this week I got caught up in Minshew’s mustache magic and forgot myself. Lesson learned. Avoid the cheating, tanking, game-throwing Jaguars. Maybe Minshew can get traded to a team that tries.

Also — As I mentioned above, the Saints are normally an extreme passing funnel. Jacksonville’s offense is hard to figure, since they only try sometimes; this week Fournette drew the short straw and had to try while the receivers pretty much took the day off, making it appear as if New Orleans fixed it’s passing defense. Don’t bet on it continuing next week.

Baltimore 23, Cincinnati 17 – The Ravens might have gotten away with one this week, using Lamar Jackson like a taller, less dog-killy version of Mike Vick until the Bengals finally stopped double-covering the day laborers the Ravens were lining up at wide receiver and kept Jackson contained. By then Jackson had 150 rushing yards, the Ravens were up big; the susequent Bengals’ comeback fell one score short.

Without Hollywood Brown, the Ravens might have the weakest set of wide receivers this side of Miami. And their defense has been lit up by some teams that don’t scare anyone else. I think it’s become common wisdom that the Ravens are a Super Bowl contender, but if they lost Jackson I don’t know if they would be able to beat the Dolphins. Ok, that’s too harsh; they would still beat the tanking Dolphins. But they would struggle to beat any good team without Jackson.

And they will struggle to beat the best teams, even with Jackson, unless Hollywood Brown can get back on the field and stay there.

Also – The Bengals are terrible, maybe 31st out of 32 NFL teams, ahead of only Miami. Their offensive line is the worst run-blocking unit in the league, and their defense is a sieve. Andy Dalton, who is maybe the NFL’s 20th or 25th best quarterback, might be their best player. That’s not good.

San Francisco 20, Rams 7 – The Rams  – and Jared Goff – haven’t played well in nearly a year. It might be about time to stop expecting that early-2018 juggernaut to come walking through the door.

Also – the 49ers have the best run-blocking o-line in the league, something the Shanahans are known for. Tevin Coleman gets the goalline carries and the glory, but Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. are all better running backs than Coleman or the always injured, highly paid Jerick McKinnon. The best thing that can happen to the 49ers’ Super Bowl hopes might be that Coleman gets hurt so he isn’t in there getting stuffed, over and over, from the 1-yard-line in the playoffs.

Arizona 34, Atlanta 33 – The Cardinals have a bottom-five defense, but they aren’t completely toast for the playoffs at 2-3-1. Patrick Peterson comes back soon, which will help, and Kyler Murray is a force of nature. The Cardinals’ offense is just now starting to click; Atlanta ain’t exactly a litmus test, so I’ll temper my enthusiasm. But I like their chances. Keep in mind that they aren’t as healthy as they will be soon, with perhaps their best receiver (Kirk) coming back along with their all-pro lockdown cornerback Peterson. I wouldn’t be surprised if they wind up ahead of the Rams by the end of the season.

Denver 16, Tennessee 0 – Denver would be a playoff contender with better luck, and they might be, anyway. Is Philip Lindsay taller than Kyler Murray? It bet it’s close. Tennessee is the most boring team in football, and not even bad boring. Just boring boring. It’s hard to believe they were a playoff team last year.

Jets 24, Dallas 22 — Let’s not go crazy here; the Jets ain’t going to explode and make the playoffs or anything. But Sam Darnold is a good NFL quarterback. They might not win that many games, but they should be competitive. And fun to watch.

Also – The Cowboys’ season might hinge on Amari Cooper’s quad. If he’s out a while, there might not be any real reason for him to come back.

Pittsburgh 24, San Diego 17 – Don’t let that score fool you; the Chargers got destroyed. The garbage time scores count in fantasy, though; Hunter Henry went from waiver wire fodder to top-five tight end in seven minutes of garbage time goodness.

Also – Pundits who talk up Austin Ekeler like he’s better than Melvin Gordon are mistaking fantasy-good with real-life good. Ekeler was a tremendous fantasy player early in the season because (1) he got an assload of passing targets and goalline work, and (2) Phillip Rivers is a master at setting up screens. Ekeler only averaged over four yards per carry in one game this season. He’s a dammed good third-down and change of pace back, but Gordon is the Chargers do not have a running back controversy. Gordon is the guy.

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