Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 6
One of the things that makes fantasy football so captivating is the variance. Derrick Henry was the RB1 in all of fantasy in 0.5 PPR in 2020, but Henry himself only had three weeks as the top fantasy scorer. That means, on individual weeks, some very strange players may lead the league in fantasy points at their positions.
That opens the door for some room to be "spicy" and make some fun predictions. In a landscape increasingly set ablaze by "hot takes," it can be difficult to understand the difference between a bold prediction -- based on a particularly strong spot for a team or player -- and a senseless take with the prayer of becoming correct based on variance.
Let's shoot for the former with five interesting spots to target during this weekend's NFL games.
(All predictions are for half-PPR and FanDuel scoring for quarterbacks.)
1. Davis Mills Posts Another Top-15 Week
Am I seriously buying the guy who posted the worst individual game by a quarterback this season just two weeks ago? Yes, I am!
As a result, the Stanford product was sure to rebound against the Patriots, and he was far from historically awful. Mills posted 0.54 Passing NEP per drop back in Week 5, which was fifth amongst qualifying quarterbacks, and that led him to QB6 status for the week in fantasy football.
Mills now has a second straight workable matchup, as a banged-up Indianapolis Colts secondary awaits him. The Colts only had three healthy corners to finish their Monday night loss to Baltimore, and it is not a unit that had success before the cluster injuries. Indy has allowed 0.36 Passing NEP per drop back to opposing quarterbacks this season, which is the highest mark in the league.
Houston is averaging -0.11 Rushing NEP per carry (second-worst in the NFL), as well, and those struggles have forced more work into Mills' hands. In Week 5, he was up to the challenge, and a depleted Colts secondary should be a lighter test in Week 6.
2. Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott Both Produce Over 100 Scrimmage Yards
Still, only the Browns have had a backfield with two confident starts at running back in any format to this point. That changes on Sunday when Dallas has a pristine matchup with the toothless New England run defense.
The Patriots are allowing 0.10 Rushing NEP per carry, which is the second-highest mark in the league behind Kansas City. Dallas should have no problem adjusting to that point of attack, as the Cowboys' 48.0% rush rate is the fourth-highest in the NFL.
Ezekiel Elliott posting over 100 scrimmage yards is not bold to call at all. He has posted over that mark in three straight games and is pegged for 102.62 by numberFire as a median projection. On the other hand, Tony Pollard, playing just 37.8% of the Cowboys' total snaps this season and is definitely not projected for that kind of outing.
Pollard, though, has been the best running back in the NFL in terms of rushing yards over expectation (6.4 per carry), and that matters. He has maximized his opportunities with the ball despite seeing limited touches, and that is how Pollard has posted over 100 scrimmage yards in two of five contests -- including Week 5 against the Giants.
Against a poor run defense, and with Elliott continuing to fight small, nagging injuries that likely see him cede work in non-crucial situations, the prediction is both Zeke and Tony Pollard each cross the century mark again Sunday.
3. Antonio Gibson Returns to Being a Top-10 Running Back
Even with some risk moving forward, Gibson's role returned to normal despite the injury on Sunday. He saw 20 of Washington's 26 rush attempts in Week 5 against New Orleans, and the overall workload could have been better if not for an exclusively negative game script in the second half, and that always leads to more J.D. McKissic.
There are some weeks when managers may have better options than Gibson with the uncertainty around his injury, but this isn't one of them. The Chiefs' run defense -- and overall defense -- has been downright horrific this year, and that means all Football Team members are approaching must-start status heading into Week 6.
Specifically, Kansas City has allowed 0.21 Rushing NEP per carry, which is double the aforementioned mark of the Patriots. Washington has an implied team total of 24.0 hosting the Chiefs, and Gibson's 60% share of Washington's red-zone carries will keep him in play for a matchup-bursting day with multiple touchdowns.
Start Gibson with confidence; the Chiefs have allowed the most rushing touchdowns (9) in the league this season.
4. Zach Ertz Throws it Back and Exceeds His 2018 Fantasy Scoring Average
If Zach Ertz snuck through Tuesday's waivers in your league, snag him immediately.
Only New England (49) has targeted their tight ends more than the Philadelphia Eagles (46) through five weeks. That makes sense with two talented pass-catchers at the position, as Ertz competes weekly with Dallas Goedert for work in the offense with subpar wide receivers. This week, though, Goedert ended up on the COVID list and will miss Thursday night's contest on a short week.
That thrusts Ertz -- along with DeVonta Smith -- into a top role against one of the best matchups in fantasy football. Tampa Bay has allowed 0.13 Passing NEP per drop back this season, which is not a poor mark in a vacuum, but, because of their -0.13 Rushing NEP per carry mark, passing is the only way offenses have sustainably moved the ball against the Bucs this season.
As a result, Tampa Bay has allowed the fifth-most FanDuel points this season to opposing tight ends. Ertz's apex as a fantasy tight end was 2018, where he finished as the TE2 overall after averaging 13.9 fantasy points per game in half-PPR formats.
He will be heavily targeted on Thursday, and therefore the prediction is that Ertz exceeds his 2018 average in the contest with a throwback performance as the lead dog.
5. The Raiders and Broncos Defenses Both Post Top-10 Efforts Head-to-Head
Is anything special going on this week with the Las Vegas Raiders? Hmm...not sure.
Of course, Las Vegas is in a state of panic after head coach Jon Gruden resigned on Monday following a scandal of emails coded with offensive language. Gruden was -- obviously -- heavily involved in the Raiders' offensive structure, and his absence will surely be felt the remainder of this season.
That starts with Week 6's game between the Raiders and Broncos in Denver. The Raiders' offense has been struggling even with Gruden, as they are coming off back-to-back weeks with negative marks in numberFire's Adjusted NEP per play. Now without him against a very solid Denver defense (0.03 Adjusted Defensive NEP per play allowed), the Raiders' struggling offensive line could be under harassment by Von Miller all day long.
Denver is unlikely to run away with this contest, however. Their offense has posted just 0.05 Adjusted NEP per play, as well -- tied for the fourth-lowest mark in the league with these same Raiders. Las Vegas' defense has been dramatically improved this season (0.12 Adjusted Defensive NEP per play), and Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue have contributed significantly to a newfound Vegas pass rush that is currently 11th in pressure rate (30%).
Two solid defenses against two sputtering offenses have led to just a measly 44.5 total for this contest, but for the defenses, that may be the best news of all. Denver may already be taken in a standard league, but Las Vegas is being dropped at the third-highest rate on Yahoo! this week. For streamers in a pinch, the road underdog is still a solid play.
Expect both defenses to be top D/ST units in Week 6.