The Best of Week 6 - Footballguys

Matt Waldman scouts our in-season content and shares five must-knows and his takes on each.

You guys have a ton of articles.

This statement about Footballguys is a blessing but it can feel like a curse. Our staff delivers insights that change seasons for the better yet realistically, no fantasy owner has the time to read everything we publish in a week.

If this describes you, let me be your scout. Here are five insights from Footballguys articles that I find compelling for the weekend ahead. I'll share what should help you this week, touch on the long-term outlook, and sometimes offer a counterargument.

1. Trendspotting Austin Hooper — A Counterargument to the data

Ryan Hester's Trendspotting is one of my favorite weekly reads at Footballguys because his data-based intel gives me an opportunity to see if what I'm noticing on tape is happening with a frequency that I believe it is. It's also a great starting point to dig deeper into a matchup because where people make a mistake with any form of football analysis is to take to always take one methodology as gospel without digging deeper.

Yes, we at Footballguys understand that your life isn't spent doing a ton of research on your own; you often have more questions than time allows you to dig for answers. We're here to help you. However, part of that assistance comes from offering a variety of sources of information so if you have lingering questions, you can explore them to arrive at a satisfactory answer.

This is what I do with Hester's Trendspotting. When he shares a conclusion that doesn't match my film observations, it's time to dig deeper. This week's call to remember and use Austin Hooper against the Buccaneers is a good example:

Follow the Targets

In this section, we'll examine how the worst passing defenses in the NFL allow their production.

RBs WRs TEs
Team Tgt% YdsRk TDs Tgt% YdsRk TDs Tgt% YdsRk TDs
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23.2% 31 2 54.2% 24 9 22.6% 32 2
Kansas City Chiefs 20.9% 32 3 59.0% 23 5 20.1% 31 1
New Orleans Saints 19.3% 14 1 63.2% 32 10 17.5% 2 0
Pittsburgh Steelers 13.4% 2 2 58.7% 31 8 27.9% 30 3
Indianapolis Colts 26.9% 28 1 49.2% 10 6 23.8% 28 1
Cleveland Browns 18.2% 18 0 62.7% 25 5 19.1% 22 2
Carolina Panthers 16.5% 9 2 64.7% 28 3 18.7% 19 2
Minnesota Vikings 17.3% 23 2 58.3% 19 6 24.4% 27 2


Commentary

  • Tampa Bay allows 103.8 yards per game to tight ends, most in the NFL.
  • Tampa Bay allows 27.9% of its passing yardage to tight ends, the third-highest ratio in the NFL.

Action Items

Don't forget about Austin Hooper, as Tampa Bay is yielding huge numbers to tight ends. Atlanta showed a willingness last week to use Hooper if the opposing defense puts more emphasis the wide receivers. Hooper is a low-end TE1 in season-long leagues but just a GPP play in DFS due to his increased price. Uzomah is on the streaming radar in season-long leagues.

Matt's Thoughts: The data, when presented in this fashion, is a compelling argument for Hooper as a productive target on Sunday. However, I write the Falcons' Weekly Game Recaps at Footballguys, so I'm familiar with this team and there's a compelling argument that Mohamed Sanu and the running backs are effectively the Falcons' alternatives to a tight end in passing zones where other teams target the position for big plays.

Hooper is the third-most targeted member of the Atlanta receiving corps with 27 targets. However, that's a deceptive standing because his 12-target affair against the Steelers was 3-6 times the normal volume he's seen this year and since Calvin Ridley became more active in the passing game, Hooper has effectively slipped to No.4 in Atlanta's pecking order.

Hooper earned three red zone targets during the first two weeks of the season but he's only earned one during the past three. The most targeted red zone options in Atlanta have been the running backs and Ridley.

In terms of yardage and usage, Sanu earns a lot of slot time working across the middle or in seams where a tight end might otherwise thrive in the intermediate passing game, earning strong matchups against safeties and linebackers. The Falcons use Hooper as an extension of the ground game in the flats, short routes facing the quarterback, and on the back-side screens set up with play action.

Sanu catches the ball on targets where he's on the move behind much of the defense; Hooper catches targets where he's facing the quarterback with the defense coming downhill for him or in the shallow zones with most of the defense over the top and coming for him.

Think of Sanu as the seam and crossing route "tight end" of this team as a big wide receiver and Hooper is a short-range option who will occasionally earn a red zone look or a deep shot on a play-action throwback designed to trick a defense about once a month, at most.

When we examine Sanu's Game Logs, here's his usage against the Buccaneers as a Falcon:

  • 2017, Week 12: 9 targets, 8 catches, and 64 yards.
  • 2017, Week 15: 5 targets, 2 catches, and 23 yards.
  • 2016, Week 1: 8 targets, 5 catches 80 yards, and 1 touchdown.
  • 2016, Week 9: 7 targets, 5 catches, and 74 yards.
Hooper has never earned more than three receptions against the Buccaneers and his best game was a Week 9 affair in 2016 for 3-46-1. When we examine a deeper context with how Atlanta uses its tight end and slot receiver, the data becomes less compelling.
This isn't an indictment of Hester's work; it's an example of how to use his work as a starting point for deeper research. It took me five minutes to example all of these points above with the resources that Footballguys makes available to readers every week, including the Buccaneers' Defensive Game Logs below, which adds further context to the Trendspotting data on tight end usage.

Tight Ends vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NAMEWKTARGRECYDTD
Ben Watson 1 4 4 44 0
Josh Hill 1 1 1 15 0
Zach Ertz 2 13 11 94 0
Josh Perkins 2 6 4 57 0
Vance McDonald 3 5 4 112 1
Jesse James 3 1 1 7 0
Trey Burton 4 4 2 86 1
You could make an argument that Vance McDonald, Zach Ertz, and Trey Burton skew the data that already has an incredibly small sample size and the fact that each of these players are either high-volume options (Ertz) central to scheme or big-play athletes (McDonald and Burton) who earned big plays against a banged-up secondary.
Remember, Buccaneers' safety Chris Conte was playing hurt before McDonald's highlight-reel stiff-arm that accounted for a majority of his production in that game. After that game, Conte wound up on IR. Burton is a speedy tight end used to stretch the deep seam and run wheel routes. The same is true of Josh Perkins, a former wide receiver at the University of Washington.
Hooper is closer to the mold of Jesse James and Ben Watson — somewhere in between their athletic profiles.
When we examine the Buccaneers' game logs against wide receivers, the Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley options look far more compelling:
NAMEWKRSHYDTDTARGRECYDTD
Michael Thomas 1 0 0 0 17 16 180 1
Ted Ginn Jr Jr 1 1 5 0 6 5 68 1
Austin Carr 1 0 0 0 2 2 20 0
Nelson Agholor 2 1 2 0 12 8 88 1
Kamar Aiken 2 0 0 0 6 5 39 0
JuJu Smith-Schuster 3 0 0 0 11 9 116 0
Antonio Brown 3 0 0 0 9 6 50 1
James Washington 3 0 0 0 2 2 25 0
Ryan Switzer 3 0 0 0 3 3 9 1
Taylor Gabriel 4 1 10 0 7 7 104 2
Allen Robinson 4 0 0 0 4 2 23 1
Josh Bellamy 4 0 0 0 1 1 20 1
Thomas, Agholor, Smith-Schuster, and Gabriel all earn a ton of slot time and all of them were the top options against the Buccaneers. In this case, I think the most valuable thing about Hester's Trendspotting on the Buccaneers defense is not to overreact to the Austin Hooper mention.
"Don't forget about Austin Hooper," doesn't make him a must-start. In fact, he's a low-end TE1 at best in a matchup where Jones, Ridley, and Sanu are far more compelling priorities based on the contexts of use and the types of tight ends and slot receivers that have earned success against Tampa Bay. Hooper doesn't fit the current profile.

2. Offensive line rankings and Notes (and its impact on Fantasy players)

At least monthly, I'm asked, "Where do I begin if I want to get better at understanding football?" The starting point is focusing on the center and the guards and then fan out to the tackles.

You don't have to become an expert on blocking technique to gain greater clarity about the performance of quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers.

If you've asked the question above, it is helpful to learn basic running plays that most teams use on Saturdays and Sundays:

  • ISO
  • Off-Tackle Zone
  • Inside Zone
  • Outside Zone
  • Counter
  • Trap
  • Power

If you spend about a week or two during lunch diagraming these plays with pen and paper —or even a napkin at lunch — you'll begin to understand which plays allow for a runner to freelance and make alternate choices and which don't.

This is also true with some basic understanding of line protection calls based on the defensive alignment. These get a little more complex but will help you see if there was a likely error in diagnosis and execution — even if you don't become an expert on who specifically made the error.
There's no reason for Matt Bitonti to get into this detail (though I'm confident he could) with his weekly Offensive Line Rankings and Notes, it's this information that's often the invisible lines connecting his analysis and bottom-line impact on fantasy players.
Let's review some of Bitonti's significant changes in his rankings and I'll share the potential impact on fantasy players on each team.

LA CHARGERS UP 10 SLOTS.

Starting tackles Russell Okung and Joe Barksdale were both limited participants in practice this week and there's a sense around the team both could be available for this week's contest at Cleveland. Sam Tevi did an admirable job stepping up, first at right tackle in place of Barksdale and then on the left side for Okung. Tevi played so decently, he could have made his case to be included the team's long-term plans after Barksdale, which has to be sooner rather than later. This Chargers' offensive line looked like one of the most improved this preseason, but early injuries derailed the improvement process. Assuming they are again healthy and can stay that way, this line grades as a solid mid-tier unit.

Matt's Thoughts: This helps the passing game — especially the vertical game — which could mean more love for the receivers, especially Michael Williams and Keenan Allen in the vertical game and fewer targets per game for the running backs. Don't downgrade the backs too much but their ceilings will be a little lower and the receivers could earn a slight bump.

Also note, #9 WAS, #10 SEA, #14 CLE, and #26 BUF were given scheduled cohesion upgrades. For more on how the rankings work, check the explanation in the Methodology section at the bottom of this year's Training Camp article.

Matt's Thoughts: Let's take these in the order they were mentioned...

  • Washington's cohesion grade is good, but injuries to its best backs won't help.
  • The Seahawks rise should be noted and acted upon because the general public is still reading a lot of football analysis bad-mouthing Brian Schottenheimer and this line. The ground game is emerging and both Chris Carson and Mike Davis are viable options. Doug Baldwin is getting healthy and Tyler Lockett has performed well. Whenever Russell Wilson earns more time and greater offensive balance, good things will come. These are four players worth buying low or holding.
  • Cleveland's cohesion upgrade also has a lot to do with Baker Mayfield making quick decisions that don't place extra stress on the offensive line. The Browns' schedule is favorable for the next 4-5 weeks. I don't know who benefits the most from Mayfield in the passing game, but the conditions are favorable enough that formats with deep rosters should invest in rookie Drew Willie while Rashard Higgins is out. The ground game is probably the best investment — if only the Browns would put Duke Johnson Jr in the slot and use him as a receiver.
  • Buffalo's upgrade is a positive but only a small glimmer of sunlight in a bleak and dreary season. LeSean McCoy is a great player deserving a look as a match-up play but that's about it.

KANSAS CITY DOWN SEVEN SLOTS.

Right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif fractured his leg during last week's win over Jacksonville and was placed on injured reserve this week. His injury is estimated to be about an eight week recovery time, and Duvernay-Tardif is eligible for a return later in the season. Jordan Devey took over the right guard spot during the contest and will look to get the start again this week during Sunday Night Football at New England. Devey, a former Patriot, will have familiarity with the defense and the stadium, but the opposing coaching staff will also know his weak points better than almost anyone. Devey is a step down from "the Doctor" and the Chiefs' line also takes a small hit to their previously perfect cohesion. Their new grade lands them at 12, a strong mid-tier unit, but just outside the top-tier.

Matt's Thoughts: This hurts the Chiefs' ability to pass protect against certain twists and blitz looks up the middle but shouldn't be a huge factor for its ability to run the ball. Mahomes may have less time to throw deep without leaving the pocket — but it's a worst-case scenario. Continue to value all Chiefs options you've valued before.

JACKSONVILLE DOWN SEVEN SLOTS.

The Jaguars will have their third starting left tackle of the season, as Josh Wells has already been ruled out of this week's game at Dallas with a groin injury. Josh Walker, who replaced Wells during last week's game at Kansas City, will likely start again this week. Wells had been starting for Cam Robinson who tore his ACL during Week Two. Three other starters missed practice this week, as right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee), left guard Andrew Norwell (foot) and Center Brandon Linder (knee) are all dealing with injuries. The model assumes these three, as well asrightguardA.J.Cann will be in the lineup this week, but overall this line has seen more than its fair share of injuries. This is a still a mid-tier line, but their depth is being tested.

Matt's Thoughts: Blake Bortles wasn't at the top, or even in the middle, of desirable fantasy quarterbacks. These issues hurt the passing game more than the ground game. Keelan Cole, D.J. Chark Jr, and Donte Moncreif'sverticalpotentialtakes a bit of a hit. Dede Westbrook and Cole's use in the middle of the field, as well as T.J. Yeldon's check-down game, are all still viable. Cole might be droppable if things get worse with this line.

TENNESSEE DOWN 15 SLOTS.

Left tackle Taylor Lewan was forced from the contest at Buffalo with a foot injury. Lewan is officially listed as questionable and usually, his tough guy reputation would keep him in the model. However, the language Lewan used after the game was suspicious, specifically the 'pop' noise he heard, coupled with the team's order of an MRI, and the fact this is the same foot which has bothered him for several weeks, all could point to a multi-week recovery. Rookie Taylor Marz took Lewan's place in the game but the team should have Dennis Kelly available this week if Lewan can't go. Kelly has apparently recovered from the mysterious illness which hospitalized him and caused him to lose over 20 pounds. The Titans' line is a top-tier group with Lewan in the lineup but average without him.

Matt's Thoughts: The Titans offense remains inconsistent and these developments don't help. If Lewan misses time, the Titans offense is reduced to a match-up fantasy crew that you want to trot out with confidence against the likes of Dallas, Indianapolis, and the Giants during the second half of the year. If the injury isn't a significant issue (and it looks like it could be, so monitor it), Corey Davis could offer greater consistency as a second or third option on a weekly basis.

OAKLAND DOWN 10 SLOTS.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele missed last week's game with a knee injury and has not practiced this week prior to the team's upcoming contest in London. Judging from coaching comments, Osemele may need another week to recover, meaning it will likely be Jon Feliciano who again is called to make the start. Missing Osemele and right tackle Donald Penn, the new-look offensive line had difficulty protecting quarterback Derek Carr during last week's game against the Chargers. Injuries have taken a toll this season on a usually dominant line. Assuming their all-pro guard is not available, the Raiders' offensive line grades as a low-tier option.

Matt's Thoughts: The ground game should be fine long-term but the passing game could be further reduced to quick-hitters to Jared Cook and Jordy Nelson. Amari Cooper concerns me whereas Martavis Bryant might be a better quick-hitting option who can also get deep targets on shorter drops.

DENVER DOWN 11 SLOTS.

Right tackle Jared Veldheer missed last week's game at New York with a bone bruise and coaches are saying he will likely miss this week's home contest against the LA Rams. Billy Turner got the start in Veldheer's place and gave up two sacks. Right guard Connor McGovern also had an off day, allowing 6 pressures and a sack. Left tackle Garret Bolles was forced from last week's game late with an ankle injury and Elijah Wilkinson took his place. The model assumes Bolles will tough it out but without Veldheer this right side has fallen into shambles. The Broncos' line will likely grade as a low-tier option until their right tackle proves he's healthy.

Matt's Thoughts: The Broncos trust Devontae Booker more as a pass protector than Royce Freeman and use Phillip Linsday more between the 20s as a lead back and passing-down option. These issues hurt Freeman short-term. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas remain good options and Courtland Sutton still offers big-play, bye-week upside. You might hope Freeman gets dropped between Weeks 6-9 and add him for a stretch run if the projection for the line issues is only a month long.

MINNESOTA MINUS 12 SLOTS.

Right tackle Riley Reiff was forced from last week's game at Philadelphia with a foot injury and has not practiced this week. During the game, usual right tackle Rashod Hill slid over to take Reiff's place, leaving rookie second-round pick Brian O'Neill to step up at right tackle. O'Neill had been playing at right tackle all preseason and he is a better option off the bench than most teams have. Look for the team to again use this lineup should Reiff be unavailable for this week's home contest against Arizona. While O'Neill is an interesting prospect, the injury bug has been relentless in Minnesota all season. They are a mid-tier unit with Reiff in the lineup, but assuming Reiff misses this week's game, this line would grade in the low-tier.

Matt's Thoughts: The ground game has been absent in Minnesota. If Dalvin Cook returns soon, he'll earn quality production as a receiver to keep his fantasy value afloat until the line gets healthier. Kirk Cousins doesn't face serious defensive tests for the next three weeks and the passing game works with two excellent slot receivers who happen to have the skill to play inside and outside. This provides some insulative effects to the passing game regardless of line play. The passing yardage should remain high but the interceptions could climb for Cousins this month because of more throws under pressure.

3. Eyes of the guru

John Norton is practically the grandfather of IDP formats (Sorry John, but we're about the same age and facts are facts). His venerable column, Eyes of the Guru is always a helpful read whether you play IDP or need additional intel for weekly matchups in non-IDP formats.

Here are a few of several team notes that caught my attention this week:

ATLANTA FALCONS (vs. Tampa Bay)

Brian Poole followed three great games to start the season with a pair of stinkers. The only good reason not to cut and move on from him is this week’s matchup with the pass-happy Buccaneers, and that may not even be enough. After seeing some time at safety in week four, Poole was a slot corner against the Steelers, garnering 61% of the snaps. Meanwhile, Isaiah Oliver went back to a minor role with Jordan Richards making the start at safety.

Sit your Atlanta linebackers in week five. The sheer volume will carry these guys on most weeks but both De'Vondre Campbell and Duke Riley are coming off stinkers against the Steelers, and the pass-happy Buccaneers are next. Linebackers have struggled versus Tampa Bay with only one reaching five solo stops against them.

Matt's Thoughts: Tampa will be throwing behind Atlanta's linebackers and going straight for the weak defensive backs. DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans should all be priority plays. Cameron Brate could be a sneaky option based on the above information and of course, O.J. Howard's knee.

BUFFALO BILLS (Vs. Houston)

Tre’Davious White is quickly becoming one of the league’s premier cover corners. As such some teams will look to avoid him. The Texans are not going to be one of those teams. White is likely to shadow DeAndre Hopkins who is currently the league’s top receiver. White will have plenty of opportunity in this one.

With both Micah Hyde and Rafael Bush sidelined by injuries, the Bills turned to undrafted rookie Dean Marlowe at strong safety. Lack of offense by the Titans limited Marlowe to 3-1-0. He will have a lot more opportunity against the Texans if neither Hyde nor Bush can return to action.

Jerry Hughes continues to be highly productive in the Bills surprisingly strong defense. With a 4-0-1 against Tennessee, he now has four consecutive games with double-digit fantasy points. The Texans are allowing 3.6 sacks per game which is yet another good reason to play Hughes this week.

Corner Taron Johnson left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury.

Matt's Thoughts: This is a boom-bust week for the Texans offense because the Bills can earn enough pressure to disrupt a quarterback and stick close to its best receiver. However, a quarterback who can either hang in or create space can generate a big-play and exploit the Bills up the seams and across the middle. It makes Keke Coutee and Will Fuller V compelling plays but deciding which one is the issue. While Hopkins is among the best at winning against tight coverage, he hasn't faced a cornerback with the skills of White this year. If you only start two receivers in your lineups, there's some compelling rationale here bench Hopkins if you have multiple top-20 talents with better matchups. Otherwise, ride Hopkins and stick with Coutee as the hot hand.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (vs. New York Jets)

Colts are so banged up they had to keep Nate Harris and Darius Leonard on the active roster for Thursday’s game because they had no inactive spots available. As of Wednesday afternoon, IDP managers are awaiting news on several players. So far we have heard Darius Leonard is likely to play week six and Clayton Geathers is not, but even those are speculation and did not come from the organization.

Word on Geathers is particularly critical considering he missed 18 games due to a neck injury suffered in week nine of 2016. After the big hit on Thursday, it was initially reported Geathers was in the concussion protocol. It was not until later that we learned of the possible neck issue. Compounding the loss for Indianapolis, backup Mathias Farley left the game in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. With both safeties in danger of missing this week, the Colts added free agent Mike Mitchell early in the week. The veteran may be thrown right into the fire even though he has not played since last year. As a fantasy prospect, Mitchell is worth keeping an eye on. If indeed he will be starting for a while there is some potential for production.

Other casualties from Thursday’s game are Anthony Walker who is currently in concussion protocol, Denico Autry who left with a hamstring after returning from an ankle injury in week four, and Margus Hunt who returned after having his knee looked at early in the game but was not effective. The long week could help some of these guys get back on the field so we need to watch the practice reports late in the week.

Matt's Thoughts: The injuries to defensive backs are particularly compelling for Robby Anderson in the deep game and the running backs. Anderson and Sam Darnold connected well last week and it could happen again this week. However, the greatest benefactors could be Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell (if he's active). The Jets are good at creating soft edges to run outside and had their way with the Broncos defense last week. If Crowell is healthy, he's a must-start and Powell is a reasonable flex play. If Crowell is out, Powell is a must-start.

4. starting stacks

Scott Bischoff provides weekly pairings worth your consideration in DFS formats. Here are two that stood out.

Russell Wilson + Tyler Lockett

FanDuel: Wilson ($7,600) + Lockett ($6,600) = $14,200

DraftKings: Wilson ($5,700) + Lockett ($5,100) = $10,800

Facing the No. 30 ranked DVOA pass defense and the No. 23 ranked pass defense allowing 277.2 yards per game

Game Total - 48

Implied Totals - Seahawks at 25.5 points and Raiders at 22.5 points

Game Line - Seattle Seahawks -3

The Seattle Seahawks travel to Oakland to face the Raiders on Sunday for a Week 6 matchup. Wilson has not been leaned on heavily to start the season, but he is playing efficient football in 2018. He has not had to throw much this year, but he gets a very vulnerable Raiders secondary in Week 6. If the Raiders can push Wilson to open up the offense and throw the ball, then Wilson could put up excellent numbers this week.

The Raiders pass defense is reeling having surrendered an 8.9-yard average. Only three teams across the league have yielded a higher average through five weeks. They have given up 23 passing plays of 20+ yards and only two teams in the NFL have allowed more.

Also, the Raiders have only generated six sacks through five games, and that is the fewest number of sacks in the NFL. Wilson should have time to get comfortable and pick apart a very porous secondary on Sunday.

Lockett has been just as efficient as Wilson as he has scored a touchdown in four of the five games he has played. He has been targeted 28 times, catching 20 passes for 347 yards. Lockett is dependent on the game script just like Wilson is, but he is capable of getting into the end zone at a high rate, and that makes him worthy in Week 6.

The risk you are taking is that this game will be a run-first contest from the Seahawks perspective and that would cap Wilson’s production. Wilson has thrown 10 touchdowns this year, but he has not had to open up the offense and put the team on his back. The stack is intriguing as it can pay huge dividends, but there is risk associated with it.

Matt's Thoughts: Based on the offensive line data we saw from Matt Bitonti's piece and the price of Wilson and Lockett, it's a decent play. You might also consider David Moore at an even lower price as a high-risk stack who could hit and have few buyers, which is the type of advice our Steve Buzzard gave about GPP contests that helped him take down the Sunday Million.

Matt Ryan + Julio Jones

FanDuel: Ryan ($8,300) + Jones ($8,500) = $16,800

DraftKings: Ryan ($6,800) + Jones ($7,900) = $14,700

Facing the No. 32 ranked DVOA pass defense and the No. 32 ranked pass defense allowing 358 yards per game

Game Total - 57.5

Implied Totals - Falcons at 30.5 points and Buccaneers at 27 points

Game Line - Atlanta Falcons -3.5

The Atlanta Falcons are at home versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6, and this game is expected to be a shootout with the second highest total of the week. The implied number has the Falcons scoring more than four touchdowns, and Ryan should be able to exploit a very vulnerable Buccaneers secondary in this contest.

Ryan has thrown for 11 scores and two interceptions to go along with 1601 yards in his first five games in 2018. He has also scored two rushing touchdowns and is performing at a high level for the Falcons to this point in 2018.

Opposing quarterbacks have hit the Buccaneers for a 9.4-yard average which is the worst average allowed in the NFL. Teams are gashing the Buccaneers all over the field, and they are struggling to defend the pass in the short and intermediate areas of the field.

The Buccaneers have allowed 13 passing scores this season, and that ranks tied for last in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs. Consider that the Buccaneers have given up 3.25 passing touchdowns per game, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are second-worst in the league, allowing 2.6 touchdowns per game.

The Buccaneers have given up 20 passing plays of 20-plus yards. They allow an average of five of these types of plays per game, and only two teams across the NFL allow more on a per-game basis. Lastly, the Buccaneers have only generated eight sacks in 2018 which is fourth-worst in the NFL.

Jones is one of the game’s elite wide receivers, but he has yet to score in 2018 even though he has been targeted 55 times through five games. He has caught 34 passes and totaled 564 yards to date, and it is just a matter of time before the touchdowns catch up.

Everything lines up for the Falcons passing game in this matchup as the Buccaneers are dreadful versus the pass and the game script is very favorable for each team’s passing attack. This is one of the best games to target for GPP play in Week 6.

Pivot: Wide receiver Calvin Ridley ($6,700 at FanDuel and $6,300 at DraftKings) is a very interesting option in Week 6, but you will be chasing touchdowns if you are playing him. If the Buccaneers try and take away Jones, it will be to Ridley’s benefit. Tight end Austin Hooper ($5,600 at FanDuel and $3,500 at DraftKings) is an incredible value in what looks like a very high scoring game. If you are looking to punt the tight end position, then Hooper should be one of the best options in that scenario.

Matt's Thoughts: Mohamed Sanu's price at FanDuel $5,800 and $4,800 at DrafKings is an even more compelling value and one rooted in better contextual data shared at the beginning of this article. This could allow you to spend a little more on a tight end or go higher risk-reward with a bargain tight end like Erik Swoope (less than $3,000 at either site) against the Jets, who are missing top its safeties and haven't been tested by a quality quarterback-tight end option with the exception of a half of Baker Mayfield and David Njoku.

5. Week 6 Roundtable

Let's wrap up this week's Best Of with some highlights from this week's season-long staff roundtable. Regardless of whether I agree with the views of my colleagues, I found many of these arguments compelling. Here's one from each discussion topic:

CONTRARIAN TAKES

Matt Waldman: Every week, I read analysis that, after watching the games, I disagree with.

A good example was the early-career conclusion that Cooper Kupp was solely a short-range threat whose red-zone volume would disappear in 2018.

Kupp has elite short-area acceleration and stop-start quickness and gets on top of defenders early. He also earned enough targets in the red zone last year and at Eastern Washington that, if not for some drops of multiple targets, he would have been the top rookie fantasy receiver in 2017. Brandin Cooks is not even the red zone threat that Sammy Watkins was for the Rams, which also made it even more likely that Kupp would remain a significant option.

Share your analysis of a player, unit, or team that runs counter to the popular analysis that you've seen during the past two weeks. Include fantasy implications for your take.
Andy Hicks: I’m not sure if this is really a contrarian take or not, but the Chiefs are about to go on a losing streak. Andy Reid is in his 20th successive season as a head coach in the NFL and in a very high proportion of those years has a significant losing run where the scoring dries up.
Take last year where he lost 6 of 7 and scored less than 20 points a game during this period. This has been a trend:
  • 2015: five consecutive losses.
  • 2014: four losses in five weeks.
  • 2013: six losses in eight weeks.
  • 2012: 11 losses in 12 weeks.
I guess all coaches can have periods where the losses pile up and scoring drops, but rarely to a coach with as good a win/loss record as Andy Reid. We all saw during that seven-game stretch last year where Kareem Hunt was affected severely averaging only 3.3 yards a carry with no touchdowns.
I would be tempted to trade Mahomes as his last two weeks have been outside a QB1s performance and it doesn’t take long for opposing defenses to find ways to contain young players. As always, Reid and his team pick up the scoring, but the length of the losing run/scoring drought is always the concern. If it starts this week, maybe it picks up again for the fantasy playoffs. What is certain though is that the current run is going to slow down.
Waldman: That's a good contrarian take, Andy. I completely disagree with it (laughter), but if you're looking at trends and young quarterbacks "getting figured out" by defenses, it's a logical stance.
I've believed Mahomes is a unique entity and while you're correct that he was QB16 in Week 5 against the Jaguars, he was QB12 in Week 4 against the Broncos based on standard Footballguys scoring. Unless you play in small formats, Mahomes has been a legit starter even the past two weeks. Let's also remember that the Jaguars and Broncos are two of the best pass defenses in football and Mahomes figured them out on the field pretty fast.
One thing is certain: If the Chiefs go on another big losing streak with this kind of talent at quarterback that not only executes the complex scheme as well as Alex Smith but is Smith's superior at creating when defenses take the scheme away, then it would make a great subject for further analysis.

GRAB BAG

Waldman: CHOOSE ONE of these topics and share your point of view.

  • Wait Til Next Year: Name a player you're high on who isn't in a position to do much this year, but you can't wait to see him earn a shot in 2018 and /or beyond.
  • Wait Til Next Month: Which one of these players is most worth the long-term stash despite his injury/missed time is clogging up your roster space? Larry Fitzgerald, Dante Pettis, Leonard Fournette, Le'Veon Bell.
  • 2019 Rookie Class: Name a player who has caught your eye who is eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft? Why is he a future fantasy starter?
Give us the goods...

Justin Howe: From a dynasty perspective, I'm absolutely tantalized by the Broncos' young wideouts. Rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton aren't close to edging the Broncos' two dominant wideouts out of the picture. But in 2019, that'll all turn on its head, with both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders looking likely to be elsewhere. Here are their contract situations for next season:

  • D. Thomas (age 31) - 1 year left, $14M base salary, $17.5M against the cap (DEN saves $14M by letting him walk)
  • E. Sanders (age 32) - 1 year left, $10.3M base salary, $12.9 against the cap (DEN saves $8.2M by letting him walk)


The Broncos will probably be thrilled to shake loose $22.2 million as they (presumably) rebuild in 2019, with a new quarterback almost certain to be added. That's almost certainly why they spent two premium picks on Sutton and Hamilton, who have impressed thus far in limited rookie time and look poised to start next season.

Sutton's exploits are known: the 6'4" second-rounder dazzled onlookers in camp with one acrobatic catch after another, and he's leveraged them into 252 snaps thus far (73 percent). Sutton has averaged 16.0 yards per catch, and he's drawn plenty of attention from Case Keenum in the red zone. With his huge body and Dez Bryant-like catch radius, Sutton could ultimately be what Thomas never became: a physical, downfield dominator.

When Sutton left Week 5 early, Hamilton stepped in and immediately caught all 3 of his targets for 44 yards. That included a 24-yard catch-and-run over the middle the showed off Hamilton's polished route skills and underrated foot-quickness.

Hamilton impressed at his combine with a 6.84 three-cone drill that hints at big-time agility, and he's always been a long-legged strider capable of creating separation. With his experienced and diverse game, he has the looks of a long-term NFL possession receiver — Keenan McCardell keeps coming to mind — and he seems poised for a big 2019 role.

He's flying way, way under the radar right now, too, so dynasty-leaguers would be shrewd to go ahead and float pay-nothing deals. If I could swap, say Samaje Perine for him, I'd do it with a smile.

Waldman: Love it, Justin, especially the thoughts on Hamilton and the pro comparison. The only thing that I can't shake is your thought that someone would give Hamilton up for Perine. Still, I get your point...

FOUNDATION OR SHOWROOM WINDOW?

Waldman: Tell us why a player is either...
  • A foundation for specifically re-draft, dynasty, or both formats.
  • A showroom piece you happily use but would trade away to get a foundation talent.
RB - Pick 1
Waldman: My mind says McCaffrey but my heart says, Johnson. The Lions back can do it all and he's working behind a young offensive line with massive physical talent that should mature at the same rate Johnson's growing into his future role as a feature back. This team will eventually consolidate the running back stable and Johnson will be the featured option in 2019.
Tuccitto: I'm going to disagree. This is a good time to trade Kerryon Johnson in both dynasty and re-draft. Based on Matt Patricia and Jim Bob Cooter's history, Johnson's coaches are predisposed to a committee approach. Even if LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick aren't around next season, the names will change, but the philosophy will stay the same. Better to unload Johnson after a trio of productive games.

If this were a situation ripe for a coaching change, I'd think differently, but Detroit just made a coaching change.

Good luck this weekend!