Tue Oct 19th 2021
2021 Week Six Review
It was another fun week in the NFL. There were fewer close and exciting games than in recent weeks, but the few that came down to the wire were pretty impressive, including my Dallas Cowboys win in overtime.
My fantasy week was just as exciting as the Cowboy game, with five games coming down to the wire on Monday night. Even though I had Monday night guys playing for and against me, I threaded the needle and won four out of the five and finished the week 7-3. As always, at the end of the weekend, I remind myself that win or lose, it's a joy to watch football all weekend and cheer on all of my dynasty teams.
After following all of the games this week, here are a few of my thoughts on players and situations and their impact on our dynasty teams. Unless a player or situation demands it, I try to write about teams and players that I have not written about in recent weeks.
Ten Observations From Week Six
A Wave Of Running Back Injuries
- A rash of injuries and health downgrades caused this to be a very tough week for running backs. Christian McCaffrey was finally placed on IR, as was Chris Carson and Clyde Edwards-Hellaire. Saquon Barkley was ruled out early in the week, and Nick Chubb was declared out late. These injuries combined with the first four-team bye week meant that a lot of backup running backs were inserted into fantasy lineups this week, and some of them performed pretty well for their teams and dynasty managers. Chuba Hubbard scored a modest 13 points and Devontae Booker just 8.9. Darrel Williams scored twice and totaled 22.4 fantasy points and Alex Collins compiled 16.3 points after his 100-yard, one-touchdown night on Sunday. Kareem Hunt, who is more like a 1-B than a backup, had 9.3 points before injuring his calf, and now he's expected to miss several weeks. In one league this week, I picked up D'Ernest Johnson to start him because my entire running back room was injured or on bye weeks. I don't remember a week when there were so many injuries and questionable tags on players. At least some of them were cleared to play at the last minute, like Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Chase Edmonds, Melvin Gordon, and DeAndre Swift. Otherwise, this would definitely be the worst injury week in history. Next week, things will not improve when many of the same players carry questionable tags and six teams are on bye.
Hurts' Future Is Uncertain
- Hurts did not look good on Thursday night. While he racked up fantasy points in garbage time for his managers, he did not look like a competent NFL starting quarterback. I think his future with the team is very uncertain. He completed less than 50% of his passes and missed wide-open receivers like he did the week before. Philadelphia fell to 2-4 on the season and now trails Dallas by three games. Another loss or two like this, and the Eagles may be forced to see what they have in Gardner Minshew so they can evaluate what they need to do with their three first-round draft picks in April. As of last Sunday, the three draft picks would have all been in the top ten. If Houston and Indianapolis continue to play as poorly as the Eagles, they could remain top ten picks. Indianapolis is improving, but the Eagles and Texans seem sure to finish among the worst teams in the league. With what is sure to be two top-ten picks and one more first-round pick after that, the Eagles would be foolish not to draft one quarterback. The three first-round picks make them the only team with a package of picks big enough to merit a trade for Deshaun Watson. Hurts will continue to help dynasty teams this season, or at least for the next few weeks, but those banking on him being one of their dynasty teams' starters for the next decade ought to make other plans.
The Ravens Are On Fire
- I didn't get to comment on the Ravens' game last week because I had to post the article before the Monday Night Football game, but their offense looked terrific on Monday night in their ridiculous comeback game. This Sunday, their offense stayed just as how while their defense stifled the Chargers, rendering every Charger a fantasy bust this week. The Ravens showed the last two weeks that they could win, throwing the ball 43 times for 443 yards in comeback mode or by throwing the ball 27 times for 167 yards in control-the-clock mode. All three of their veteran running backs had touchdown runs - Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, and Le'Veon Bell. Rashod Bateman saw his first action of the year and right away led the wide receivers in targets and had the same number of receptions as Marquise Brown. Bateman was not eased into the lineup. Instead, he played 45 snaps in his first game. His addition will make the Ravens even harder to defend, so they'll continue to dominate their opponents. It isn't easy to start any Ravens' running back, but Rashod Bateman will soon be added to Ravens to start every week alongside Lamar Jackson, Marquise Brown, and Mark Andrews.
Life Without CMC
- Carolina is experiencing what I'm experiencing in three of my ten dynasty leagues. It's hard to win without Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers are 3-0 with CMC playing, and they are 0-3 without him. CMC scored 50 fantasy points in nine quarters of play before he was injured in the first quarter of week three. Chuba Hubbard has scored 47 total points in the 15 quarters since. There's no replacing CMC. Sam Darnold had one good fantasy week without CMC, but his quarterback ranking dropped from 99 in the first three games of the season to 62 since. D.J. Moore had one good fantasy day without CMC in their comeback effort against the Cowboys, but in his last two weeks, he's averaged just seven fantasy points per game. All the dropped passes on Sunday certainly can't be blamed on CMC, but Carolina's 306 yards of total offense on Sunday show that something is wrong with Joe Brady's offense. I believe that CMC makes that big of a difference. He unlocks the whole offense, and now that he's on IR, it's going to be difficult to trust any Panthers players.
The Raiders Rebound
- After a tumultuous two weeks in the Raiders' organization and the resignation of their head coach, John Gruden, the team rallied together on the road to beat down the Broncos. Derek Carr was back to his 300-yard-throwing self. The only problem for fantasy managers is that he spread the ball around so much. After week one, when Darren Waller received 19 targets and 40% of the target share, he's settled down to an average of 7 targets per game. This Sunday, he had a season-low with only five targets. This trend is very upsetting for Waller managers who expected him to win weeks for their teams. Henry Ruggs, Hunter Renfrow, and Bryan Edwards consume the bulk of Carr's remaining targets, which have been distributed pretty evenly. Renfrow has had a couple of high-targeted weeks and is a viable WR-3 in PPR leagues, while Ruggs is the deep-threat that will be hit and miss if inserted into starting lineups. Edwards, fourth on the team in targets, is not startable, and dynasty managers are rightfully frustrated that he's not breaking out this year. Dynasty managers likely have to start Josh Jacobs when he's healthy because he averages 16 touches per game, but his upside is limited, while Drake, who had a better fantasy day this Sunday on fewer touches, is the man they prefer to have in on passing situations. I am happy for the Raiders and their team's success but frustrated that it's not resulted in at least one other player having a breakout season.
Baker Mayfield Is A Trailer, Not A Truck
- If you listen to the Move The Sticks podcast with Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks, you've heard them describe quarterbacks as trucks or trailers. Trucks can pull the load while trailers are along for the ride. Mayfield is a trailer. This week, when the Browns needed to rely on Baker after falling behind and when playing without Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, he proved that he could not carry the team on his back. Apart from the surprising shootout with the Chargers last week, primarily based on big plays in the run game and a 71 yard run after the catch by David Njoku, Mayfield has been a below-average quarterback in fantasy and reality. He's really going to have to face the test the next few weeks while Chubb and Hunt are sidelined with injuries. Two weeks Mayfield played terribly, missing touchdown passes. This week he would have scored just ten fantasy points if a touchdown catch did not bail him out on a Hail Mary at the end of the first half. The Browns produced just 290 yards of offense on Sunday while playing in front of their home crowd. Their next two games are at home against the Broncos and Steelers. If Mayfield can't improve, he'll start to hear the boo-birds. His shoulder injury may be just what the Browns need to give Case Keenum a chance in this offense.
Top Two Rookie Picks Are Proving It
- Like most analysts, my top two rookies in the 2021 class were Ja'Maar Chase and Najee Harris. They are proving to be even better than expected. Both were in their teams' starting lineups from day one, as they were in dynasty lineups. Chase is averaging 16 fantasy points per game, while Najee is averaging 17. Chase is winning on the back of big plays, and while he did not score this week, he had another 50-yard catch. He's had the second-most receiving yards in his first six games. Only Anquan Boldin had more. Najee Harris is winning with the sheer volume and his involvement in the passing game. He is the most targeted running back in the league, with more than seven targets per game. He's seventh in the league in carries per game. I am not breaking any news by mentioning these players, but I just wanted to point out how great it is to see the top-tier players in a class not only make an immediate impact but a historical impact.
Leonard Fournette and Darrell Henderson Are RB-Ones
- Over the last three weeks, Fournette and Henderson's workload has increased, and they are producing like RB-Ones. If they continue at this pace, they will end the season as top-twelve running backs even though their dynasty values were far outside that range when the season began. Over the last three weeks, Fournette has been averaging 22 touches and 20 fantasy points per game. Henderson is close behind in the same timeframe, averaging 20 touches and 18 fantasy points per game. Ronald Jones and Sony Michel pose no threats to their playtime and have only been used sparingly to give Fournette and Henderson small bits of rest in the games or when the games are out of hand. Both are reliable starters for the rest of this season and will have a chance to increase their dynasty value significantly. Henderson has one more year on his contract and will have to compete with Cam Akers if he can recover from his Achilles injury. Fournette is in the final year of his contract but could earn a new contract with the Buccaneers if he keeps up this pace. It's rare to see running backs regain dynasty value once it's been lost for a year or so, but these two are on the rise again.
The Colts Are Improving
- The Colts have had some heartbreaking losses this season, including the crazy Monday night game last week, but they are improving as a team and have every chance to come back to win their lousy division even though they have started the season 2-4. As the team improves, so too has the fantasy value of some of their offensive weapons. Michael Pittman had a bad week this week, but mainly because the Colts dominated the Texans on the ground and did not need to pass. However, in the prior weeks, Pittman established himself as Carson Wentz's favorite target with 12, 12, 8, and 7 targets in the previous four weeks. He had the incredible touchdown catch in the Monday night game before the Ravens' wild comeback. This week T.Y. Hilton made his return from injury and immediately was involved as a deep threat. He only played 24 snaps, but he led the team in targets, meaning, so far, he's a top target when he's on the field. Similarly, Mo Alie-Cox continues to be out-snapped by Jack Doyle, yet Alie-Cox is receiving more targets. He scored a touchdown again this week. I don't think he's reliable as a starting tight end until the snap counts switch to his favor, but he's a guy to keep monitoring. Jonathan Taylor is everything we thought he would be, even though the Colts don't give him near enough touches. He made the most of them again for the second week in a row and logged the longest run from scrimmage of the season this week with an 83-yard burst. He's a big play waiting to happen, which is why he's a fantasy superstar without being fed like some of the other leading dynasty running backs. The Colts are improving, and I believe they will catch the Titans eventually and find themselves in the playoffs.
- Miami has been one of the most surprisingly bad NFL teams this year. It felt like coach Flores was building a solid team and improving, but this year has been a disaster. This week, Tua Tagovailoa returned to play, and they were playing the hapless Jaguars, who had not won a game in 399 days. Even so, the Dolphins found a way to lose on a last-second field goal. Last year, Myles Gaskin or Salvon Ahmed touched the ball 20 or more times per game; whichever running back was healthy. This year, not only have the Dolphins not committed to anyone as the lead back, they added a third back in the rotation in Malcolm Brown. A week after Gaskin had the heaviest workload of the season and seemed to return to form from last season, they come back this week with the evenest split snaps of the season - 25 for Gaskin, 25 for Ahmed, and 19 for Brown. While no Dolphin running back can be trusted, their pass catchers have established clear roles, even though the roles may change once DeVante Parker and Will Fuller return from injury. For now, it's the Waddle and Gesicki show. Waddle is the underneath guy with an ADOT of 4.65, while Gesicki is the seam-stretcher with an ADOT of 9.64. Gesicki's ADOT is third-highest among tight ends, with 15 or more catches this season just behind Darren Waller and Mark Andrews. Most people don't know that's the kind of company he's in this season. He's called a tight end but is more of a receiver than any tight end in the league. For the second time this year, Waddle had 13 targets, catching 10 for 70 yards and two touchdowns in red-zone plays designed for him. Gesicki and Waddle are the only startable players on this dreadful team, but they are about as high-volume players as you could get, at least until Parker and Fuller return.
Week Six Waiver Wire
As a reminder, I play in 27 to 30-man roster leagues, so the players I list here are for deep leagues only. If you play in shallower leagues, there are certainly better players than these to pick up off the waiver wire, but if you're in deep dynasty leagues, these are the players I would make bids on this week. I list them in the order that I would prioritize them.
It's a pretty bad week this week, but there is one player I am very interested in and two more that I would consider.
- As I already mentioned, I pick Johnson up in one league where I roster Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. I am glad I picked him up there, at least, because he will be the hottest player on the waiver wire this week and justifiably so. Hunt will miss at least three weeks of play, and Chubb is likely to miss another week or two. I don't think Demetric Felton has the size to be an every-down back. He will be active in the passing game while Johnson gets the bulk of the carries, making him a startable player during this long stretch of bye weeks ahead. It's rare to get a starting running back off the waiver wire in dynasty leagues, but for the time being, that's what Johnson is for the Browns.
- I added Moore in a few leagues last week, and I hope to pick him up in a few more leagues this week. Moore got the second most wide receiver snaps this week behind only Brandin Cooks. It was Nico Collins' first week back after injury, so Collins could become the WR-2 over the next few weeks, but with one week together, Moore out-snapped Collins. Moore and Collins had four catches each and will compete to be the second-targeted man on a team that will be trailing in most games this season. The Texans have draft capital in Collins, so he's likely to win the job, but I'd still be willing to add Moore as the last man on my roster.
- Latavius Murray scored a touchdown early in Sunday's game but then left with an ankle injury. Freeman was the next man up ahead of LeVeon Bell and should be the starting running back if Murray cannot recover from his injury. Baltimore shares the running back load more than most teams and will do so even more with the older men in their backfield, but Freeman looked the best on Sunday. He's still available in a few of my leagues. I would only add him on teams where the injury bug has devastated my running back room.
- Jackson is a sneaky long-term player to pick up this week. He's the second-string tight end in Philadelphia now that Zach Ertz has departed. He played very well in the preseason, and he's an enormous human at 6'7" and 249 pounds. He's still on injured reserves right now but should return to play sooner rather than later. At the very least, add Jackson to your watch list. I already did during the preseason in case Ertz got traded, and now it finally happened.
Week Six Trades
Trades are hard to grade in a vacuum since scoring systems are different in each league, and every team has a diverse roster construction. That's why I write about trades made in my leagues and give context for why the dynasty owners made the trades. I grade the trade, but in the context of what each team was attempting to accomplish with the trade.
Here are my thoughts on trades that took place in my leagues this week. I hope these trades give you an idea of how other active owners value these players and future picks.
We're getting deeper into the season, and teams are finally starting to make trades. A lot future picks were involved in trades this week.
Zach Ertz <=====> Jonnu Smith and Marquez Callaway
- This week, I made this trade for Ertz in two leagues, one day before Ertz was traded to Arizona. In both leagues, I had Dallas Goedert on the roster. I made the trade for several reasons. I'm in the middle of the pack in each league and needed tight-end help for that week. With Goedert on the COVID list, I wanted Ertz to start that week against Tampa Bay. I also knew about the trade rumors and hoped he would get traded, giving me two future starting tight ends on their teams. They're both questionable starters given Hurts' inaccuracy and the unknown fit for Ertz in Arizona, but I still like my side of this trade. I was willing to move on from Jonnu Smith, given that Hunter Henry has been producing more than Smith in recent weeks, and Callaway was a guy who would never start for my teams in these leagues because my wide receiver depth is solid. Plus, Michael Thomas is coming back soon, and Callaway's value will drop significantly once he's back.
Chuba Hubbard and Ricky Seals-Jones <=====> Dallas Goedert and Mike Davis
I made this trade for Hubbard and overpaid quite a bit for the long-term security of having a handcuff to Christian McCaffrey. CMC's injury is killing this team, as it did last year, unfortunately. Last season, I rode Mike Davis into a playoff run while CMC was out. I hope I can do the same again this year with Hubbard or at least buy a few wins before CMC comes back. I added Ricky Seals-Jones since he can start for me for a few weeks while George Kittle, my starting tight end, gets healthy. If I am honest, I like the other side of this trade. Goedert is still a top-twelve dynasty tight end. Mike Davis's dynasty value has fallen every week this season, and I don't think it will rebound, so I am not concerned about losing him. The other team got the best player in this trade, but I bought the Carolina backfield, which I think was important to do with this particular team.
Khalil Herbert and a 2022 2nd round pick <=====> 2023 1st round pick
- Speaking of securing a backfield, that is just what the manager in this league did by buying Herbert. This manager has David Montgomery on the IR and wanted to add his handcuff for the long term and start Herbert this week. Herbert looked great on Sunday and looks like a far more complete back than Damien Williams. If he plays well again in the next few weeks while both Williams and Montgomery are injured, he could lock up the backup role and relegate Williams to a permanent passing downs role. The team that gave up Herbert and a second-round pick is in a long-term rebuild and added the first 2023 pick that has been traded in this league. He already had multiple first and second-round picks in 2022, so we are willing to give one away to secure a second 2023 first-round pick. In a vacuum, I much prefer the 2023 first-round pick in this trade, but as I said about myself, I enjoy locking up a backfield too, so I like what the other manager did too. He'll have to nail the 2022 second-round pick to feel great about this trade. Unfortunately, it was not the second-round pick of the rebuilding team. Instead, it was a second-round pick of my team, which should make it a late-round pick in this league.
Laviska Shenault <=====> 2022 1st and 4th round picks
- Shenault has yet to meet my expectations of a breakout season this year under his new quarterback, Trevor Lawrence. I traded a 2021 first-round pick for Shenault last year and have bit disappointed while still holding out hope. In the case of these teams, the team that had Shenault already traded away their 2022 first-round pick, so this trade allowed them to get back in the first round, which is understandable. The team that added Shenault is really hurting at wide receiver since Brandon Aiyuk has not been startable this year. His wide receiver corps is in pretty rough shape, but he now has several young players who can develop, like Brandon Aiyuk, Elijah Moore, and Shenault. This trade is an even trade, in my opinion.
Donald Parham <=====> 2022 2nd and 3rd round picks
- I like Parham and his possible long-term future in LA if he can outperform Jared Cook by the end of the year, but I think his future is too uncertain to give up a second-round pick, especially in this 10-team league. A third-round pick is a better estimation of Parham's value right now, in my opinion, so I like the picks side of this trade for the rebuilding team.
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