Sat Sep 18 9:43am ET
By CHARLIE WIEGERT
With Week 1 in the books, use some caution with some of the strange things we saw. Green Bay is not that bad, and New Orleans is probably not that good. Houston might have won their only game of the year, and Jacksonville might not win any. So as I look at the best offenses and worst defenses, I’ll still factor last year in some as one game doesn’t give you a good picture. . . . most of the time!
The top passing team this week should be the Los Angeles Chargers at home against Dallas, who were torched by Tom Brady and Tampa Bay last week. Justin Herbert is no Tom Brady (yet!), but should have his way against a weak Dallas secondary. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Jared Cook all have a chance to top the century mark in receiving yardage.
The Atlanta at Tampa Bay game should be a big arial show. Both teams gave up huge passing yards last week, and Tampa reciprocated to win the game. It’s doubtful that Atlanta can hold with them, but they’ll need to get a huge game from Matt Ryan to stay close.
Green Bay gets a great get well card with Detroit coming to visit. While Green Bay should be able to do whatever they want offensively, meaning Aaron Jones could run wild, I expect the Rodgers to Davante Adams show to be the feature attraction.
My other favorite for passing yards based on a bad passing defense is Teddy Bridgewater at home against Jacksonville. If Tyrod Taylor and Houston can dominate the Jags, Denver should light them up at Mile High. With Jerry Jeudy out, look for Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton and KJ Hamler to have big days.
The tough passing defenses to stay away from if you can this week are Rams (no Carson Wentz), Steelers (no Derek Carr), Broncos (no Trevor Lawrence), Patriots (no Zach Wilson) and Bills (no Tua Tagovailoa).
Christian McCaffery is always the guy you look to be number one, and of course you play him if you have him, but he’s not a good DFS play at his high salary this week going against a Saints defense that contained Aaron Jones last week. As mentioned above, though, Jones could rebound this week and have big numbers against Detroit. The Chiefs gave up a lot of yards to Cleveland last week and are soft against the run. The question is who on Baltimore will get those yards. Lamar Jackson will probably lead the team, but Ty’Son Williams gets a chance for a big day, also.
Minnesota showed it could be run on last week, which means Kyler Murray could challenge Jackson for the most rushing yards from a quarterback this week. Chase Edmonds should lead the Cardinals rushing attack, but he’ll split time with James Conner, making both good, but not great plays.
It doesn’t get any easier this week for Tennessee’s Derrick Henry going against the Seahawks. And don’t expect a repeat performance from Houston’s Mark Ingram at Cleveland. Mike Davis and Atlanta will have tough going at Tampa Bay.
It’s not always finding the defense giving up the most passing yards. Sometimes it’s finding the weak cornerbacks, and staying away from the shutdown corners. Such was the case for Bears’ Allen Robinson with Rams Jalen Ramsey covering him last week. This week should be different for Robinson and Darnell Mooney going against a Bengal secondary that gave up 59 points to wide receivers last week. The Bears secondary wasn’t a whole lot better giving up the fifth most points to wideouts last week, so the Bengals receivers should have good days. Slot receiver Tyler Boyd should fair the best, but Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase will get theirs, too.
As mentioned above, the Lions have no way to stop Packers’ Davante Adams. As bad as the Lions were last week, they lost top defensive back Jeff Okudah, so Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdez-Scantling also could have good fantasy days.
There will be an interesting battle as Arizona takes on Minnesota. Former Cardinal Patrick Peterson tries to shut down former teammate DeAndre Hopkins. AJ Green and Christian Kirk might be the better plays. Odell Beckham Jr will miss the game, opening the door for Donovan Peoples-Jones to have a big day as Jarvis Landry will draw tighter coverage.
It could be tough going for Bills wideouts Stefan Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders as the Dolphins could shut them down. And the Colts Zach Pascal will get shadowed by Rams Jalen Ramsey.
Every week it’s going to be the same five guys - Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, George Kittle, Mark Andrews and T.J. Hockenson. This week the edge goes to Kelce against the Ravens defense that allowed the third most fantasy points to tight ends in Week 1. He is followed by Hockenson against the Packer defense that was fifth in points allowed. The “sleeper” picks could be Chargers Jared Cook against the Cowboys, a team that allowed the most points (29), or Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert against the 49ers, a team that was fourth in points allowed. A really, really deep sleeper would be Texans Pharaoh Brown or Jordan Akins going against the Browns, a team that was second in points allowed last week, although that probably had more to do going against Travis Kelce. And don’t forget Rob Gronkowski, who is on the same page with Tom Brady right now, going against the Falcons.
The teams that allowed the most points last week were Tennessee (take Seattle), Detroit (take Green Bay), New York Jets (take New England), Tampa Bay (take Atlanta) and Green Bay (take Detroit). So this is where Week 1 stats can be misleading. You don’t want Atlanta or Detroit.
The defenses that scored the most Week 1 were Arizona, San Francisco, Washington, Carolina and Dallas. After all those stats, the team I like the most this week is Denver, playing at Jacksonville against a rookie quarterback and coach. I’m expecting two to three picks, and hopefully one returned for a pick six.
Charlie Wiegert was the sixth person to be inducted in the Fantasy Sports Hall Of Fame in 2001. He is a founder of CDM Fantasy Sports and Fantasy Sports Trade Association. He has been playing and winning fantasy baseball leagues since 1984. If you have any questions for Charlie, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GFFantasySports.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) was placed on the Injured Reserve Saturday, sidelining him for the next three weeks. McCaffrey was able to practice in a limited fashion for four straight sessions spanning from last week to the beginning of this week but was downgraded to a non-participant on Thursday and Friday, suggesting a setback likely occurred at practice. It's an eerily similar situation to last year for the All-Pro running back, who missed a total of 13 games due to a variety of injuries, with the team constantly deeming him "hopeful" to suit up but later ruling him out. It's fair to question if this move is something that should have happened a few weeks ago, given McCaffrey's recent injury history. The Panthers may have to seriously consider reducing the workload of their $64 million star halfback when he returns to preserve his body. In the meantime, Chuba Hubbard, coming off his first career 100-yard game, will be an every-week starter at running back for those lucky enough to scoop him up off waivers.
The Panthers placed Christian McCaffrey on Injured Reserve on Saturday, meaning he will be out at least the next three games.He apparently had a setback with his hamstring injury this week, leading him to land on Injured Reserve.
The Indianapolis Colts activated wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (neck) from Injured Reserve on Saturday, and he's likely to make his season debut in Week 6 against the Houston Texans. It remains to be seen how many snaps Hilton will actually play this Sunday after Hilton was pumping the brakes earlier this week on whether he'd actually play in Week 6. The 31-year-old should eventually return to a starting role on the outside across from second-year receiver Michael Pittman Jr., and his return is bad news for Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell moving forward. The four-time Pro Bowler started off excruciatingly slow in 2020 before picking things up late, and he finished with 56 catches (93 targets) for 762 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games. It wouldn't be wise to throw Hilton into starting lineups immediately, and his chemistry with quarterback Carson Wentz will be worth watching.
The Indianapolis Colts placed kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (groin) on Injured Reserve on Saturday and elevated kicker Michael Badgley and safety Jordan Lucas from the practice squad to the active roster in corresponding moves. Blankenship had already been ruled out for Week 6 against the Houston Texans, but he'll now be forced to miss at least an additional two games now. The 24-year-old had been a weekly streaming option at the kicker position by making 11 of his 14 field-goal tries (5-for-7 from 40-plus yards) and seven of his eight extra points. Badgley was cut by the Tennessee Titans after he missed his only field goal and one of his two extra points in the season opener. He should be avoided for fantasy purposes while Blankenship is out.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton on Saturday, Oct. 16, was activated off the Reserve/Injured list, and is expected to play Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Fantasy Spin: You'll need to make sure he's active first, but Hilton is finally looks ready to go after recovering from a neck injury. Plug him in if you're desperate for wide receiver help, but otherwise it might be best to keep him on the bench this week and see how he fits into Indy's plans.
Buffalo Bills LB Matt Milano (hamstring) on Saturday, Oct. 16, is practicing for a third straight day after missing Week 5.
Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King (shoulder) has been ruled out in Week 6 against the Chicago Bears because of a shoulder injury he suffered in last week's win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Green Bay will also be without starting corner Jaire Alexander (shoulder) after he went on Injured Reserve last week. It may not matter, though, as Chicago has the fewest passing yards (566) in the league and the second-fewest pass attempts (122) through five games. The Packers will only have one of their top three corners available on Sunday in first-rounder Eric Stokes. Stokes and Yiadom will likely start on the outside, with Chandon Sullivan in the slot in nickel packages. Green Bay will obviously be more vulnerable in the secondary this weekend, but they'll still be worth streaming consideration in Week 6 against rookie quarterback Justin Fields.
Former New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton is now fully vaccinated and is still looking to find a team in 2021, according to sources. The topic of Newton not being vaccinated was a big topic of discussion in the preseason when he was still a member of the Patriots after he was forced to miss five days due to the league's COVID-19 testing protocols. Some wonder whether the Patriots decision to cut Newton had anything to do with the fact that he was not vaccinated at the time. It's questionable how much the 32-year-old has left in the tank, but he could latch on with another team as an experienced backup or emergency starter. It remains to be seen if Newton will find another team in 2021, but the fact that he's now vaccinated should make him more attractive to interested teams.
The Miami Dolphins officially activated quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (ribs) off Injured Reserve on Saturday, and he is on track to start in Week 6 against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The Dolphins also elevated wide receivers Isaiah Ford and Kirk Merritt from the practice squad to the active roster for this weekend's game. Tagovailoa returned to practice this week and avoided any setbacks, so the 23-year-old second-year signal-caller will take over as the starter after fracturing his ribs in Week 2. His return is good news for the offense, but the dual-threat QB has largely underwhelmed since becoming the starter in Week 7 last year. Tagovailoa was 16-for-27 for 202 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the season-opening loss to the New England Patriots. The Jags are a nice matchup to return to, but Tagovailoa will remain a low-end QB2 until further notice.
New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith hasn't been able to make much of an impact with his new team. Through five games, Smith has 15 receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown. Smith has failed to surpass 28 yards in each of the last four games, which is certainly frustrating considering the amount of upside he possess. Fellow tight end Hunter Henry has scored in each of the last two games. He appears to be the much better option between the two. Smith will be a deep league TE2 for their Week 6 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson (neck) hasn't had any setbacks in his recovery from a neck injury, according to a source, but he's still not 100 percent symptom-free. The Seahawks wanted to give him more time to heal, which is why they placed him on the short-term Injured Reserve on Friday, which will keep him out for at least the next three games. Carson also missed last Thursday's loss to the Los Angeles Rams, and the earliest he'll be able to return is Week 10 against the Green Bay Packers. The 27-year-old should be stashed in the majority of formats while he heals. In the meantime, Alex Collins should continue to operate as the primary back, with DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer serving as change-of-pace backs. Collins has a low ceiling as an RB3/flex with quarterback Geno Smith taking over for Russell Wilson (finger), who is also on IR.
New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry has scored a touchdown in each of the last two games. He appears to be finally getting into a groove after a slow start to the season. Now, he'll get a matchup against a Dallas Cowboys defense that has struggled to contain tight ends. This could be a pass-heavy type of game for New England, which should be good for Henry. Quarterback Mac Jones is beginning to build chemistry with his teammates. Fantasy managers should consider Henry a low-end TE1 for their Week 6 matchup with Dallas.
New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has done his job whenever he is called upon. Sadly for him, the Patriots have a handful of other options and don't look his way often. Last week, Bourne hauled in all three of his targets for 26 yards in the win. He usually makes the play when targeted, but has only been thrown the ball 22 times through five games. There could be an uptick in value for Bourne heading into the Week 6 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. It'll likely be a pass-heavy gameplan, which means possibly more chances for Bourne. However, he won't be anything more than a desperation PPR option while everyone is healthy in the receiving game.
New England Patriots wide receiver Nelson Agholor hasn't been able to make much noise since the season opener. In fact, he has three receptions or less in every game since Week 1. That's unlikely to change against a Cowboys defense that ranks ninth in pass DVOA so far in 2021. The Patriots brought in Agholor to be their deep threat, but they don't take too many risks with the ball. Quarterback Mac Jones tends to lean on short passes, which cuts Agholor out of the gameplan. He'll be a desperation flex option against the Cowboys in Week 6.
New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers has not scored a touchdown this season, which continues to hinder his value. Despite that, he has been able to hold his own because he appears to be rookie Mac Jones favorite target. Meyers has seen double digit targets twice in five games this season. He might see another with Damien Harris (ribs) questionable for the Week 6 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. The Patriots will likely go pass-heavy, assuming Harris is sidelined. That means, Meyers should be a fine WR3 for this game against a surprisingly decent Cowboys defense.
New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden could be in line for a bigger workload heading into the Week 6 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. Lead back Damien Harris (ribs) is questionable to suit up in this game. That means, Bolden and a committee of others could see increased roles. Last week, Bolden rushed the ball twice, but also hauled in four receptions through the air. No one should compare Bolden to James White, but it seems New England wants Bolden to be their receiving back. There isn't a ton of upside here and Bolden should be considered a low-end streaming option in PPR formats.
New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson finally was able to get into some action last week. Coming into Week 5, Stevenson had one carry on the season, but that changed versus Texans. Sadly, there wasn't much success as Stevenson carried the ball 11 times for 23 yards in the win. Lead back Damien Harris (ribs) is questionable heading into their Week 6 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. That means, Stevenson could be asked to carry the ball 10 or so times again. There isn't much upside here with Stevenson, so he should be considered a desperation deep league option. He wasn't able to move the ball versus Houston, so that's unlikely to change this week.
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has failed to impress over the first five games of the season. He has posted one multi-touchdown game, but has only surpassed the 280-yard mark once through five contests. The rookie quarterback will now head into a tough matchup against the Dallas Cowboys defense. Normally, the Cowboys defense wouldn't be intimidating, but they rank ninth in pass DVOA so far in 2021. It wouldn't be surprising to see Jones struggle to move the ball in this one. He'll be a desperation streaming option, but should be avoided in most formats.
Cleveland Browns running back Demetric Felton could have an expanded role in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals. Browns star RB Nick Chubb (calf) was ruled out ahead of Sunday's game, and RB Kareem Hunt (wrist, knee) is questionable with a knee/wrist injury. Felton will have a complementary role and should see an uptick in carries along with D'Ernest Johnson as the backups to Hunt. The 23-year-old logged three snaps on offense and returned two punts for 17 yards in Sunday's Week 47-42 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. While Hunt is expected to suit up, the Browns have a game scheduled for Thursday next week; Felton and Johnson could see additional touches in Week 6. The UCLA product is worth stashing in deep-league formats while Chubb is sidelined and Hunt is banged up.
Cleveland Browns running back D'Ernest Johnson could have a vital role in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals. Browns star RB Nick Chubb (calf) was ruled out ahead of Sunday's game, and RB Kareem Hunt (knee, wrist) is questionable with a wrist/knee injury. Johnson will have a complementary role on Sunday and is the only other running back on the Browns to see carries this season besides Hunt and Chubb. While Hunt is expected to suit up, the Browns have a game scheduled for Thursday next week; Johnson, along with Demetric Felton, could see additional touches in Week 6. The 25-year-old is worth stashing in deep-league formats while Chubb is sidelined and Hunt is banged up.