Week 6 Fantasy Football Recap: 6 Most Important Players to Analyze
I'm not sure anybody can really say they had a great week. Sure, you have Aaron Rodgers. OK, I'll give Shonn Greene his props as well. And RGIII always deserves the love. But past that, the landscape was as barren as the New Mexico desert hurtling below during Felix Baumgartner's descent.
Figure this: the fourth-highest rushing yardage total from week 6 (pre-Monday Night Football) is DeMarco Murray's 93. The second-highest is a quarterback, Robert Griffin III's 138. The third-highest quarterback, Sam Bradford, did not have a single passing touchdown, and the guy he was tied with, Josh Freeman, only had 15 completions on the game. Only three receivers had double-digit catches for the week; only five receivers had more than seven. This is numberFire's week 6 fantasy recap, where the fantasy world most closely resembles a triage.
Locked on Target, Sir
Ray Rice - Baltimore Ravens
Week 6 Final Points: 22 (#2 RB)
numberFire Projected Points: 17.63 (#1 RB)
Your top five fantasy running backs from week 6, using ESPN's standard scoring system, are Shonn Greene, Ray Rice, Ahmad Bradshaw, Felix Jones, C.J. Spiller. The fantasy football gods got a little bit tipsy on Thursday night and decided that this would be fun, I guess.
Still, despite the absolute chaos at the top, Ray Rice stands out a beacon of consistency among the hopeless landscape. We thought he would be the best running back and fifth-best player in all of fantasy football this week. We got close; he ended as the second-best running back and the eighth-best player in all of fantasy. This now means Rice has scored double-digit fantasy points (FP) in five of his six games so far this year; the only outlier was an eight FP game in week 4. Even if Rice is stopped on the ground - and his 3.9 yards per carry on Sunday was one of his worst on the season - you can always count on two keys. First, he will always get his carries; he has not had less than 16 rushing attempts in a game since week 1. Second, he will get his work in the passing game; the four targets Flacco threw his way were only two off Anquan Boldin's team lead. Rice should be at the top of the charts no matter the matchup this season.
Wes Welker - New England Patriots
Week 6 Final Points: 19 (#4 WR)
numberFire Projected Points: 12.56 (#5 WR)
The wide receiver charts make a little bit more sense than the running back charts, with Jordy Nelson, A.J. Green, and Dez Bryant at the top. OK, in my defense, I did say only a little bit. But that guy sitting at the #4 slot has become standard as the weeks have gone on.
Remember back in week 3, when the fantasy world was freaking out over Welker's combined eight catches and 10 FP from the first two games? Back when Julian Edelman's poaching was supposed to (snicker) ruin Welker's season? Well, even though Edelman has not played since week 3, I think it's safe to say that nobody's ruining Welker's season this year.
Welker's 14 targets were second in the NFL in week 6, which nicely follows his 15 targets from week 5 and 11 targets from week 4. Over the past four weeks, Welker has now averaged 10 receptions, 128 yards, and over 16 FP per game. And this upcoming week, the Patriots faced a New York Jets defense minus Revis Island and that allowed Reggie Wayne to be the only-fantasy relevant Colts player this past week. I don't think Welker's quite done with his amazing streak yet.
Where Did That Come From?
Sam Bradford - St. Louis Rams
Week 6 Final Points: 23 (#3 QB)
numberFire Projected Points: 11.20 (#26 QB)
numberFire's pretty good with stats analysis; fortune reading and senseless predictions are not our forte. If you had Sam Bradford as the #3 QB in the fantasy world for week 6, I can't even commend you. This game had no basis for happening whatsoever. I'm not even sure that Sam Bradford expected to get 20 FP.
Want to know how a Bradford 20 FP game happens? First, mix in a little no-interception syrup. That's hard to find; Bradford had at least one interception in his four previous games entering this past weekend. Next, add in a touchdown. But not any touchdown, you see; you'll need a special six-point QB sneak touchdown. Those might be a little tough to come by as well; Sunday's rushing touchdown was the second of Bradford's NFL career. Finally, mix it up with a close game against a poor secondary (the Dolphins had allowed the sixth-most passing yards in the NFL entering the weekend), and ta da! You have a Sam Bradford 20 FP game. Eat it up while you can; numberFire projections only have him scoring more than a dozen FP twice over the rest of the regular season.
Shonn Greene - New York Jets
Week 6 Final Points: 34 (#1 RB)
numberFire Projected Points: 8.67 (#22 RB)
Over the past couple of weeks, I have openly speculated in this space whether Bilal Powell would begin to see an increased workload in the Jets' backfield. I think it's safe to shelf that thought for now.
Shonn Greene now has 61 FP on the season. He had 27 entering the game. For those not paying close attention, that means he more than doubled his season output in one game (in week 6!). That's not a bad outing. Of those 61 points, 49 came in only two of his six games played, with the other being a 15-point affair in week 1. The Colts' rushing defense is not good in the least, but the numbers would seem to indicate this as a one-hit-wonder for Greene.
Or is it? Greene's two solid games this season have one thing in common: a large number of carries. The logic is so simple, it's somewhat dumb: the more carries Greene has, the better he's going to do. Thanks, John Madden.
But it's the wide distance between his good and bad games that requires a closer look. Greene has averaged 3.5 yards per carry in two games so far this season. In both of those games, weeks 1 and 6, Greene had at least 20 carries. In his games with at least a dozen carries so far this season, Greene is averaging about 18 FP per game. Meanwhile, when he doesn't get his consistent carries, he simply can't get going. He has received 11 rushing attempts or less in a game three times this season. In those games, he only averages 2.8 yards per carry and 2.3 FP per game. If the Jets want to turn Greene into a viable option, they have to give him a consistent amount of carries. It worked well against the Colts on Sunday.
But You Were Supposed To Do So Well!
Alex Smith - San Francisco 49ers
Week 6 Final Points: 2 (#27 QB)
numberFire Projected Points: 16.98 (#7 QB)
Out of 26 starting NFL QBs yesterday, Alex Smith managed to finish 27th. That's about all you need to know about his day.
Out muscled by even teammate Colin Caepernick's three FP on Sunday, Alex Smith played absolutely dreadful. The matchup was there: the Giants came into the game as numberFire's #24 opponent-adjusted defense and had just allowed two QBs in the bottom five of NEP per pass (Michael Vick and Brandon Weeden) at least 15 FP a piece the previous two weeks. Smith's efficiency numbers were there as well: his 0.22 NEP per pass ranked seventh in the NFL entering the weekend.
However, two key factors of the game doomed Smith: turnovers and the lack of a run game. Smith's three interceptions quadrupled his season total and was, amazingly, his first multi-interception game since week 5, 2010. Meanwhile, Frank Gore's 36 rushing yards his least as a primary back since week 11, 2010 (strangely, also against the Giants). That combination of keys leads me to see this particular game as a fluke. But beware: three of his next four games (Chicago, Arizona, St. Louis) come against teams with top ten defenses in numberFire's opponent-adjusted rankings, and the fourth (#17 Seattle) didn't look too bad this past weekend.
Marshawn Lynch - Seattle Seahawks
Week 6 Final Points: 5 (#33 RB)
numberFire Projected Points: 14.680 (#5 RB)
It was about time for Lynch to be due for a bad game; he was the only running back with at least 85 rushing yards in every single game so far this season. And if it was going to happen, Lynch owners probably should have looked at this Patriots game as a candidate.
Only one running back has broken at least 60 yards rushing against New England so far this year; that was Ray Rice back in week 3. Some other top backs, including Willis McGahee and the two-headed Buffalo tandem of C.J.F. Spiller-Jackson have been shut down in short order. They also shut down Chris Johnson and Beanie Wells, but, to be fair, that's not exactly extraordinary.
One of the main reasons for Lynch's poor game wasn't just the opponent, though. Through the first five games, Lynch had not finished a single game with less than 20 carries. This week, however? A much more pedestrian 15. The Seahawks opened up the playbook against the Patriots, and it worked to the tune of three Russell Wilson passing touchdowns. I would not be worried, though; in fact, it should be a good omen for Lynch moving forward. If Wilson can throw the ball downfield, defenses will be prevented from stacking the box. With a Niners defense that looked below-average against the Giants looming, followed by three straight games against defenses numberFire has ranked #15 or lower, any room for Lynch could prove to be a mammoth boon. Don't even think about going away from him yet.