Photo: Shalise Manza Young|sports.yahoo.com
Another week come and gone. In the AFC in Week 6, Frank Gore turned back the clock, Albert Wilson turned on the jets, and Brock Osweiler looked like he belonged in the NFL in a Miami (4-2) victory over Chicago. The Chiefs-Pats game was also everything it was hyped up to be, and then some. The only thing that would’ve made it better would have been to see Bill and Tom take the L. Kansas City (5-1) fell from the ranks of the undefeated, while New England (4-2) is undefeated at home this year.
In other news, Baltimore (4-2) and the LA Chargers (4-2) both won in dominant fashion and are looking like they will still be playing meaningful football in January. So does Cincinnati (4-2), despite their stunning last-second loss to Pittsburgh (3-2-1). Cleveland (2-3-1) and the NY Jets (3-3) are confusing teams to figure out, and Houston (3-3) is just plain boring to watch. Oh, and Jacksonville (3-3) sucks! No offense, but they have no offense. And not much defense the last couple weeks, either. I could understand a loss but 40-7? To Dallas??
This week, I’m watching Detroit (2-3) take down the Dolphins in Miami at 1:00 pm. Fresh off a bye and a big victory over Green Bay (3-2-1) the week before, I expect the Lions to come out hot and pull themselves up to .500, keeping themselves firmly in the NFC North playoff conversation. During the 4:00 pm time slot, be sure to tune-in to see New Orleans (4-1) face off against the Ravens in Baltimore. This should be a physical, tightly-contested matchup between an NFC power and an AFC squad trying to assert themselves as a power in their own conference. I think the Saints get the win in the end, however. They’re also coming off a bye and have had two weeks to prepare for this opponent. Either way, should be a good one.
Now it’s time to look ahead to your fantasy matchups this week. Whether your team is winning or losing, just like an NFL team, you make some adjustments and go for it again next week. That’s what these weekly articles are all about, pointing out top performers (some of whom could probably still be nabbed up off the waiver wire) and using that information to help make those roster decisions and adjustments. These are the AFC’s top performers from Week 6.
QB Brock Osweiler, MIA - 28/44 passing, 380 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 picks; 2 carries, 8 yards. If you told me a week ago that Brock fricking Osweiler would not only lead the Dolphins to victory over the Bears, but put up one of the best QB performances in the NFL this week, I would have LOL’d in your face. I have to give the guy his due though. He played a hell of a game against one of the best defenses in football. I don’t see Osweiler having any fantasy relevance going forward, however. He goes back to the bench once Ryan Tannehill is ready to play again.
RB1 Melvin Gordon, LAC - 18 carries, 132 yards, 3 touchdowns; 2 receptions, 18 yards. Yeah, I know I said in the last one I wouldn’t be covering studs here anymore, but there were a couple performances by those no-doubt starters that were too big not to highlight. Gordon’s TD hat trick against the Browns is one of those. Three-TD performances are rare and should be recognized when they occur. Barring bye week or injury, Gordon should never leave your lineup.
RB2 James Conner, PIT - 19 carries, 111 yards, 2 touchdowns; 4 receptions, 18 yards. As Conner continues to produce at such a high level, I find myself wondering why Pittsburgh doesn’t just trade Le’Veon Bell. What are they going to do, keep Conner with his 710 total yards and 7 touchdowns on the bench? Not arguing that Bell isn’t the better player, but he’s yet to play a snap this year, meaning he’s done exactly zero toward helping his team win. As long as Conner’s the lead back for the Steelers, he should be in your lineup.
WR1 Tyreek Hill, KC - 7 receptions, 142 yards, 3 touchdowns; 1 carry, 0 yards. And here’s the other “too big to ignore” performer of the week. Despite his team’s loss, Hill made New England his bi… *erm* I mean, he owns them. In two career games against the Evil Empire, the speedster has 280 total yards and 4 touchdowns. That has to feel good, even if some lowlife Pats fan decides to throw his $12 beer on you.
WR2 Albert Wilson, MIA - 6 receptions, 155 yards, 2 touchdowns; 1 carry, -5 yards. Wilson, the former Chief, was just too fast for the Bears defense on his two long touchdown plays of 43 and 75 yards, respectively. Now he’s suggesting he’s the “best YAC receiver in the league,” a claim I think Golden Tate and a number of others would have something to say about. But, Wilson is great after the catch. Really, he’s been pretty good all year. He has had a few dud games but has scored in three-of-six games and has received at least six targets each of the last three weeks. I’m looking toward Wilson as a flex option.
TE Eric Ebron, IND - 4 receptions, 71 yards, 1 touchdown. WTF, Ebron? Why didn’t you play like this in a Lions uniform? I’m starting to think Detroit had the problem, considering the fifth-year tight end looks like a different player on his new team in Indy. He already has 326 yards and 6 TDs on the year and continues to be heavily targeted by Andrew Luck, especially in Jack Doyle’s absence. Keep on rolling with him if you have him. I’m seeing no reason not to.
D/ST Baltimore Ravens - I don’t normally include a defense here but it’s not every week a defense sacks an opposing quarterback 11 times. Marcus Mariota will be having nightmares of Ravens defenders for weeks. It wasn’t just the sacks though. The overall performance was just plain dominant. They shutout the Titans, holding what is supposed to be an NFL offense to 106 total yards. Absurd.
Tyrell Williams, WR, LAC - 3 receptions, 118 yards, 2 touchdowns; 1 carry, 1 yard. After staying quiet for the first five games, Williams, a former thousand-yard receiver, had his first big game of the year. He only made three catches on four targets but made the most of them. He had a big game in a rout of the Cleveland Browns but I don’t see him having much fantasy viability going forward. The Chargers offense is crowded and I still expect Mike Williams to emerge as the clear #2 behind Keenan Allen at some point this season.
Sony Michel, RB, NE - 24 carries, 106 yards, 2 touchdowns. As much as I dislike the Pats, it has been nice to see their backfield become predictable from a fantasy perspective. This, of course, is partially a product of Rex Burkhead going to the IR. In his absence, Michel has become New England’s primary ball-carrier. Sony has become a human Playstation with three straight weeks of at least 100 scrimmage yards and a score. Start him if you got him.
Players to Watch
Damion Ratley, WR, CLE - 6 receptions, 82 yards. I’ll admit right away that this is a deep sleeper. Jarvis Landry is the obvious top receiver in Cleveland but since Josh Gordon has been traded, the WR2 spot is wide open. Rashard Higgins has flashed potential but is dealing with a knee injury and Antonio Callaway has yet to show up. In a game where the Browns were dominated from the get-go, Ratley still stood out. I’m adding him to my bench in my dynasty league and will continue to monitor his performances.
Courtland Sutton, WR, DEN - 3 receptions, 58 yards. It’s just a matter of time before the rookie from SMU breaks out. It’s coming. His Week 6 stats were quite pedestrian but he is on the field a lot and will continue to gain more targets. If you have roster space, it might not be a bad idea to add Sutton so you have him locked up before everyone knows his name.
This is a new segment I'm launching this week where I’ll be highlighting college players with NFL starter potential. This week, I am covering Alex Barnes, RB, Kansas State. The junior from Pittsburg, KS opened the year on the Maxwell Award and Doak Walker Award watch lists and has more recently landed on Pro Football Focus’ Big 12 Team of the Week after his huge 232 total yard, 4 TD game against Oklahoma State. On the year, Barnes has 926 total yards (788 rushing, 138 receiving) and 9 touchdowns in 7 games. He possesses prototypical NFL size at 6’1” and 225 pounds and from the limited film I have been able to watch on him, he looks like a powerful runner with good speed and vision. Those will always be in style at the NFL level. Barnes’ next game will be at Oklahoma, October 27th on Fox. Looking forward to seeing what he does against a Top 10 team on a national stage.