Let’s dive into the most intriguing points heading into Week 6:
1. The Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery connection has underwhelmed. I just traded Jeffery straight up in the Stopa Law Firm league, for Chris Hogan to Mark Stopa (who already had Brandin Cooks). So far Wentz averages just 6.65 yards per attempt when throwing to Jeffery, which is terrible. But yes, Jeffery has drawn some tough corners. On the other hand, he’s supposed to be a franchise-level receiver who can hold his own against top corner. Jeffery needs to step up this week against the Panthers.
2. Deshaun Watson has made a monkey out of arm-strength analysis (and me) by posting a league-leading 85.5 QBR on a 100-point scale. That includes his running, which of course we care about. On throws of 10-plus yards, that QBR sinks to 71.6, according to ESPN. That ranks 21st. On throws less than 5 yards from scrimmage, it’s 89.0, second to Alex Smith.
Will defenses adjust by taking away short throws? The problem is that you can usually do this with tight man coverage but it’s hard to play man against a running quarterback since that can leave entire areas of the field without a defender to contain him.
3. Who is the Patriots No. 1 target? On 32 targets to Brandin Cooks, Tom Brady has a 119.1 rating and is averaging over 11 yards per attempt. But 32 targets is light. When Brady throws to Chris Hogan, those numbers are 114.6 but just 7.8 yards per target. Of course, Hogan is the man in the red zone (four of his five touchdowns), where Cooks is ignored. Incredibly, Danny Amendola has caught 23 of 27 targets — teams can’t bother worrying about Amendola very much.
I’d go Hogan barely over Cooks, and Amendola a distant third. But all three are playable.
4. Jay Cutler is a horror show right now. He’s one of only 22 passers since 2000 to average less than 5.5 yards per attempt through their first four games. Drew Brees is one who rebounded in 2007, finishing at 6.8 and throwing 28 TDs. Less relevant for fantasy, 2003 Donovan McNabb also rebounded (but had to make a living with his running then). The certifiably terrible Joe Flacco is also on this list this year. As is DeShone Kizer.
Bottom line: I would not count on Cutler being able to generate production for himself or his receivers.
5. Matt Ryan is an easy hold. Ryan has an 8.2 YPA that’s sixth best. We keep saying that YPA is the dog wagging the TD percentage tail. Ryan has earned a TD% of about 6.0 meaning he should have about 8 TDs right now in his 135 attempts. And that’s actually conservative. Ignore his five actual TD passes.
6. What about the Saints running situation with Adrian Peterson gone?
Many are going with Alvin Kamara. I’m a Mark Ingram man. Here’s my reason. The first and second down job is worth an expected 73% of points. Ingram and Peterson have 79% of those runs. I think Ingram gets them all now. Ingram has 13 catches on first and second down, too. The Saints as a team have only two carries inside the opponent’s three-yard-line, with Ingram and Kamara splitting them. I expect most of those to go to Ingram. I would thus expect that Ingram gets 79% of the 73% of 1st and 2nd down value and 70% of goal-line value. So bottom line, Ingram is projected to get exactly two-thirds of Saints RB points with Kamara the rest. Easy call.
7. You don’t want to play Stefon Diggs when he’s on the injury report, according to colleague Gram Barfield. We need to watch Case Keenum closely to see how he impacts not just Diggs, but the healthy Adam Thielen, who as Scott Pianowski noted on our @breakfast_pod, really needs to find the end zone.
8. I’m eager to see the Redskins off the bye. Will Terrelle Pryor, who I did not like but kinda feared in the summer, finally find some consistent involvement? There is nothing softer than the 49ers pass defense, so it’s now or never. Also, will Chris Thompson, the Redskins best offensive player by far, get 15-ish touches off the bye instead of 7-ish?
9. There are questions about whether Ben Roethlisberger is done. The historical comps say no. More coming from me on this later in the week at another site so stay tuned on Twitter @michaelsalfino. Bottom line: Antonio Brown has not been nearly as effective this year. The NFL says his average separation has dropped from 2.9 yards to a below-average 2.4. That’s a foot and a half target window. So he needs to play better. As does Le’Veon Bell, both as a runner and receiver.
10. Can Amari Cooper get anything doing? I wanted cheaper Michael Crabtree but did not think for one minute that Cooper would be a slug. He has the yips when it comes to catching the football. — one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy football history through five games given he’s been healthy and dropped so many passes. Cooper’s average separation of 1.7 yards puts him between Coby Fleener and Kenny Britt. Yuck.
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