Let's take a look at which players are HOT over the last three weeks (PPR scoring). I'll research their expected outcome over the next few weeks based on schedule strength and defensive efficiency rankings. This week I'll examine quarterbacks and running backs. Next week will be wide receivers and tight ends.
QUARTERBACK TOP 15 (WEEKS 4-6)
The Top 15 quarterback rankings are taking form after six weeks of action. See any surprises over the last three games? Andrew Luck is No. 1. Patrick Mahomes is 6th, and check out C.J. Beathard in 9th. Some notable drops include Deshaun Watson 12th and Philip Rivers 14th. Where is Cam Newton and Drew Brees? They are 26th and 27th respectively. Both had a bye in the last three weeks.
Top 10 quarterbacks Overview
Andrew Luck: Luck has over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns over the last three games, which has catapulted him to the top quarterback in that span. Luck has a home game vs. Buffalo and a road game at Oakland before his Week 9 bye. He may not keep that torrid pace, but he's looking good in the near future and should be a weekly starter for your team.
Tom Brady: The Patriots have a tougher schedule against the pass coming up, which could slow Brady down. You're starting him if you have him, but the next few games are all against opponents who have fared well against the pass. At Chicago, at Buffalo, Green Bay, at Tennessee, bye, at NY Jets
Matt Ryan: If there's a quarterback in the Top 5 who could launch into the top spot, it's Ryan. Game scripts are favoring the pass, due to their struggling defense, and questions running the ball with consistency. Ryan and the Falcons host the Giants Monday night then they have their bye, followed by a road game at Washington and Cleveland. The Cleveland game may be a bit lower scoring for Ryan, but the other two are strong matchups for the passing game.
Carson Wentz: Aside from the upcoming game at Jacksonville in Week 8, Carson Wentz has a favorable schedule starting this week hosting Carolina, then the Jacksonville game, then the bye week. After the bye, Philadelphia is home for Dallas and then on the road to New Orleans. It took Wentz a few games to get comfortable again, but it's looking like we may see more of the 2017 Wentz in the coming weeks.
Patrick Mahomes: The last three games saw Mahomes come back down to earth with 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions with 969 yards passing. He also added two rushing touchdowns. If that's his low, his owners are going to be pleased. The next few games are against opponents who have played well against the pass, however, in Mahomes' advantage, three of the next four are at home - vs. Cincinnati, vs Denver, at Cleveland and home vs Arizona.
Mitchell Trubisky: The Bears second-year quarterback has 9 touchdowns and 1 interception in the last two games. He's the only quarterback in the Top 20 who has played only two games in the last three weeks. He followed up his six-touchdown game with three touchdowns. Oh, and he has 100 yards rushing in those two games. Trubisky has been a pleasant surprise. He has another favorable game this week vs. New England, followed by two tougher matchups vs. NY Jets and at Buffalo. After that, his schedule opens up with several positive games against the pass. Trubisky should continue to play well and provide good production for us.
Kirk Cousins: The Vikings quarterback has only five touchdowns over the last three games, which has kept him from being higher on this list. He still is averaging over 300 yards per game in that span which is something to take note of, considering his opponents over the last three games were at Los Angeles Rams, at Philadelphia and home for Arizona. All three combined average 12th in pass defense efficiency. After this week's game at NY Jets, Cousins and the Vikings will host New Orleans and Detroit - two favorable matchups for the passing game. Look for a spike in production coming after this week.
C.J. Beathard: The 49ers surprise at quarterback has performed well over the last three weeks despite playing against tougher pass defenses in Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona and Green Bay - Average of 13th in pass defense efficiency. The near future continues to be rough with a home game this week against the Rams, followed by a road game at Arizona. After that, his schedule opens up with two home games against Oakland, NY Giants, the bye and then at Tampa Bay. You could do a lot worse in two-quarterback leagues, but he may not be starter worthy in one-quarterback season long games. Not yet at least. Wait until Week 9.
Jared Goff: Goff might be 10th on the list over the last three games, but he's only 6 points from being 5th. There's not much variance between 12th and 5th. Over the last three games, he's been good, but not spectacular. Goff has 987 yards passing in that span or 329 yards per game. Six touchdowns and three interceptions are good, but not great, and he has zero rushing touchdowns with 36 yards. Looking ahead, the Rams have a road game at San Francisco, home vs. Green Bay and at New Orleans. Overall, the average pass defense efficiency is 21.6, which is above average. It would not be a surprise to see him take a step up in production in the near future.
running back TOP 15 (WEEKS 4-6)
There are not many surprises in the Top 5, but James Conner at 6 and T.J. Yeldon at 8 stand out. Sony Michel is a pleasant surprise at 9 and there's even a David Johnson sighting at 10. Tarik Cohen, Nyheim Hines have worked their way into the Top 12, followed by Alvin Kamara (in two games) 13th and Mike Davis and Phillip Lindsay 14th and 15th. Other notables like Christian McCaffrey and Joe Mixon played only two games in the last three weeks.
Top 10 running backs overview
Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, and Melvin Gordon III are virtually matchup-proof. They are in a category all their own and are capable of multiple score games any given week. Gurley has scored in every game and half of his games have been two to three scores with two three-touchdown games. Saquon Barkley has scored in every game but one, and he has over 100 yards total in all six games. Melvin Gordon III has scored in every game but one, and he has two three-score games. All three belong in the Top 3 and have no reason to think they will drop off from a Top 5 ranking over the next few weeks.
Looking ahead, Gurley has two tough matchups in Week 7 (at SF) and Week 9 (at New Orleans). Both opponents average a combined 5th best run defense efficiency. If there's a lull coming in Gurley's season, it may be these two games in the next three weeks. Barkley, on the other hand, has two solid rushing matchups at Atlanta and home vs Washington. Look for Barkley to keep the momentum. Gordon is home for Tennessee, has a bye, then at Seattle, at Oakland, and home for Denver. Those aren't super favorable matchups, but they aren't bad either. Nothing is in his way from repeating his performance over the last few games.
Kareem Hunt, James Conner, James White, and Ezekiel Elliott make up the next 7 backs over the last three weeks. Hunt has over 400 yards of offense and three touchdowns in that span. Conner has been spectacular replacing Le'Veon Bell, especially recently where he has over 350 yards and four scores. White has been a solid target for Tom Brady catching 23 passes with nearly 300 yards of offense and three scores. Elliott has combined for over 440 yards and two scores with a respectable 12 catches.
Looking ahead, Hunt has two favorable games, both at home against Cincinnati and Denver. The opportunity is there for him to thrive in Week 7 and 8. James Conner has a tough stretch coming up, including a bye this week. Games vs Cleveland, at Baltimore, vs Carolina, and at Jacksonville await in the next five weeks. That is not a favorable stretch. It's not a stretch to say Conner may slow down after the bye, and that doesn't include the possibility of Le'Veon Bell returning to the team. James White has been a top target for Tom Brady, which shouldn't change that much. The running game is led by Sony Michel now, making White a glorified receiver out of the backfield. He'll still get some carries, but for the most part, he's a receiver who can thrive against any opponent, especially if the game script dictates more of a passing attack. Ezekiel Elliott has a favorable schedule coming up starting this week at Washington, then a bye, followed by a home game against Tennessee. A road game at Philadelphia is a tough roadblock, but then at Atlanta and home vs Washington give Elliott an overall favorable schedule against the rush in four of the next five games.
T.J. Yeldon, Sony Michel, David Johnson, and Tarik Cohen round out the Top 11. I say 11 because there are only six points different from 11th place to 8th place and Cohen only played in two games. Yeldon has quietly amassed over 300 yards of offense with three scores and 14 receptions in his last three games. Sony Michel has exploded onto the scene in New England with 316 rushing yards and four scores. He has not been a factor as a receiver, catching only one pass in three weeks. David Johnson has four touchdowns in three games with over 250 yards of total offense. His 7 receptions in that span is a drawback, but he has seen his usage increase, which is a positive sign for things to come. Tarik Cohen, in two games, has 14 receptions, over 300 yards of offense and two scores. The snap counts of Bears running backs has evened out. Jordan Howard's snaps have decreased, while Cohen's has increased. Last week, Howard had 51% of the team's offensive snaps, while Cohen rounded out to 49%. As long as Cohen is productive, that ratio should stay around the same at 50/50.
Looking ahead, T.J. Yeldon has a rough stretch of rushing opponents, not to mention the probable return of Leonard Fournette after the Week 9 bye and possibly before. Yeldon has another week or two of action as the lead back, but it's going to be against unfavorable opponents Houston and Philadelphia. Both are home games, but they average a combined 6th best against the run. Sony Michel will face a tough Bears defense this week, followed by another road game at Buffalo. It may sound favorable, but the Bills are 14th best in run defense efficiency. New England has many weapons that opposing teams have to manage which allows the Patriots to find a weakness and exploit it. Some weeks it's the ground game and others it's particular receiving matchup. Michel is a wildcard in this regard. He has the opportunity to find success any given week. David Johnson could find success at home vs Denver this week. The Broncos will surely look to fix their run defense problems, but they have allowed a back to rush for 200+ yards in consecutive weeks (Isaiah Crowell and Todd Gurley). Before that, Kareem Hunt topped 121 yards rushing. There's definitely an opportunity for Johnson this week in a favorable matchup. After Denver, Arizona will host San Francisco and then they have their bye. Every game following the bye is a favorable matchup for Johnson and Arizona until Week 17 at Seattle. The Bears have a tough stretch of run defenses coming their way, but that may not affect Cohen too much, as he's more of a receiving back. Cohen should see decent production this week vs. New England and middle of the road production in Week 8 vs. NY Jets and Week 9 at Buffalo. Chicago has yet to play Detroit, who they play twice in three weeks in Week 10 and 12. Detroit is the worst defense in defensive efficiency against receiving backs. Overall, the Bears schedule against the run may be tough, but for receiving backs, it's favorable for the next six games. Cohen is one who should benefit the most in this stretch.
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