Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 6
Week 5 was a great week for fantasy and regular football, but more importantly it was a great week for this column. After a slow start, we finally hit on not one but two different predictions.
The Green Bay Packers dusted the Dallas Cowboys by 10 points and looked comfortably in the lead for most of the game. Will Fuller absolutely finished in the top-six among wide receivers on the week -- he finished with the most fantasy points of any player in Week 5. Those were two big wins that went down exactly as we laid them out last week.
We even narrowly missed on two others. The Jacksonville Jaguars very nearly came back in their one-score loss to the Carolina Panthers, and George Kittle finally found the end zone but couldn't get there a second time in what turned out to be an absolute blowout. The only mildly disappointing prediction was that Chris Thompson failed to finish as an RB1. He did end up leading his team in receptions and tied for second on the squad in receiving yards, but the New England Patriots defense seriously bottled up the entire Washington offense.
We're riding high on the success of last week's predictions, so let's carry that momentum forward into Week 6. Here are five bold predictions for Week 6.
Josh Gordon Will Finish as a Top-3 Wide Receiver
It's been a pretty slow start to the 2019 season for Josh Gordon. He's averaging a decent 56 yards per game and 8 yards per target through the Pats' undefeated stretch. However, that same undefeated stretch has held Gordon down for fantasy football purposes -- the Pats just haven't needed to use him through Week 5, as they have easily stomped almost every opponent they've faced.
That trend will probably continue in Week 6 -- the Pats are currently 16.5-point favorites over the New York Giants for this Thursday's tilt -- but the winds could start blowing Gordon's way this week.
The Pats' defense has been airtight dating back to the end of last season, but it's worth noting that they haven't played any good offenses this year since their Week 1 destruction of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Giants' offense hasn't quite been electric in the Daniel Jones era, but it's still probably the best offense the Pats have faced in a while. According to numberFire's schedule-adjusted power rankings, the Giants' passing offense clocks in at a roughly-average 18th place in the NFL. That's fine, but it's quite a step up from the New York Jets (32nd) and Miami Dolphins (31st).
If the Giants can apply any pressure to the Patriots on the scoreboard, get ready for Gordon to break out. Using those same schedule-adjusted rankings, the Giants passing defense ranks as the second-worst in the league. This has translated directly into fantasy points for wide receivers -- the Giants have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts, including huge games to Mike Evans (41 fantasy points) in Week 3, Adam Thielen (28.5) in Week 5 and a combined 38.9 fantasy points to Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper back in Week 1. I think you get the picture.
The Pats' target share should be relatively consolidated in this one, as well, with Phillip Dorsett expected to sit with a hamstring injury. This sets Gordon up perfectly for a huge game in Week 6. Currently ranked as numberFire's WR23 heading into Thursday's game, he'll finish the week as one of the top three wideouts in fantasy points.
Josh Rosen Will Finish as a QB1 and Lead the Dolphins to a Win
The Miami Dolphins organization seems to be all in on the fish tank -- but that doesn't necessarily mean their players are. Josh Rosen is definitely playing like his career is on the line -- because it is. He's doing the best he can with what he has, and in Week 6 he's going to be a surprise name at the top of the quarterback leaderboards.
Let us not forget that the Dolphins very briefly held a lead over the Los Angeles Chargers the last time we saw them. Rosen is chucking the ball down the field, averaging 9.6 intended air yards per pass attempt in 2019, the sixth-most among active quarterbacks this season. Part of this has to do with the ridiculous game scripts the team has faced due to their utter incompetence on defense. The 'Phins have played one fewer game than all but three other teams and have still allowed 11 more points than any other defense in the league. It would take a total catastrophe for the Dolphins to overcome their complete lack of a defense.
And that's exactly what Washington is -- a total catastrophe.
Head coach Jay Gruden is out. He's been replaced by Bill Callahan, their offensive line coach, who believes they need to run the ball more despite having one of the worst rushing offenses in the league. Like his predecessor, he too is somehow struggling to decide on naming a starting quarterback, but firmly ruled out giving Dwayne Haskins a shot. In summary, it's terrible business as usual in Washington.
This iteration of the Washington offense might actually struggle against the Dolphins' defense. And their own defense is arguably even worse than their offense -- they are one of four teams that have surrendered over 2,000 scrimmage yards to opposing offenses. That's great news for Rosen, as Washington has allowed opposing quarterbacks to score an average of 22.11 fantasy points per game.
The Dolphins' front office executives are going to be pulling out their hair this weekend as they watch a team they built to fail conquer a team that definitely wasn't trying to lose in 2019. Rosen will lead the 'Phins to their first -- and possibly only -- win of the year on his way to a QB1 finish in Week 6.
Baker Mayfield Will Bounce Back Against the Seahawks
Anyone who has watched a Cleveland Browns game this season has probably noticed the Browns' biggest weakness -- their offensive line. And as far as weaknesses go, it's a pretty glaring one that's evident every time Baker Mayfield drops back to pass. This has set Mayfield, whose 16 sacks rank sixth-most in the league, up for a rough sophomore year. His 1:2 touchdown-to-interception rate is virtually the worst in the league (excluding obvious backups and the Miami quarterbacks) and his eight interceptions lead the league.
The good news for Mayfield is that he's catching a break in Week 6. The once-scary Seattle Seahawks defense has coasted more off of reputation than actual production in 2019 -- it has actually been pretty weak overall. According to numberFire's schedule-adjusted power rankings, the Seahawks' defense ranks 12th-worst in the NFL. They aren't on the same level as teams like Miami, Washington and Cincinnati, but they are a lot closer to those teams than we might realize.
And their biggest weakness aligns perfectly with Cleveland's -- Seattle can't rush the passer. Through Week 5, Seattle ranks third-worst in quarterback hits (18), despite playing the second- and third-most sacked quarterbacks in the league in Kyler Murray and Andy Dalton, and is tied for second-worst in tackles for a loss. Essentially, they can't get through even the most porous offensive lines.
Mayfield will be set up with more pristine pockets than he's seen all year. He's currently projected for 276 yards and 1.69 touchdowns -- I think he'll break 400 passing yards and toss 3 touchdowns in this prime bounce back spot.
Green Bay and Detroit Will Have the Lowest Combined Points in Week 6
Monday Night Football this week is going to feature what should be a fiercely contested divisional matchup between the Green Bay Packers (4-1) and the Detroit Lions (2-1-1) for the top spot in the NFC North. On paper this sounds like an awesome matchup -- Aaron Rodgers squaring off against Matthew Stafford? Sign me up. But this matchup is going to put fans of high scores to sleep.
The over/under for the game is currently set at 47, tying it for the fourth-highest total of the week. I think it's going to go the other way -- this game will have the lowest combined points total of any game on the slate.
Both of these teams have been playing terrific defense in 2019. Green Bay's defense ranks fourth overall in numberFire's schedule-adjusted ranks, while Detroit ranks ninth-best. Detroit especially has played a very difficult slate of opposing quarterbacks, including Patrick Mahomes, and has managed to play solid football despite their opposition.
I predict they're going to shut Rodgers down this week. It's true the Packers haven't quite had to rely on Rodgers as much as they have in years past, but he also hasn't been playing quite like elite quarterback he's been in the past. His 3.3% touchdown rate in 2019 is the lowest it's ever been over his career, and he ranks mostly around the middle of the pack in other quarterback metrics like adjusted yards per attempt (7.7) and ESPN's total quarterback rating (55.4). With Rodgers playing the way he has been, the Packers rank just 20th in the league in the percentage of their drives to end in a score (34.4%).
The Lions' offense (35.4%) isn't that far ahead of them in that department, either. For how well Stafford is playing, the Lions are firmly entrenched in establishing the run. Per SharpFootballStats.com, their pass-to-run ratio in neutral game scripts ranks seventh-lowest in the league. They've been running the ball quite well, but that stylistic decision limits their upside offensively. It's obviously worked out pretty well for them so far in 2019, but it means we probably won't get to see the high-scoring shootout you would imagine when you hear that Stafford and Rodgers are facing off.
Instead, these two defenses are going to dictate the flow of the game. Get ready to see a lot of punts and not a lot of points on the scoreboard. This will end up being the lowest-scoring game of Week 6.
Noah Fant Will Finish as a Top-8 Tight End
Noah Fant hasn't earned quite the same hype his former teammate and fellow 2019 first-rounder T.J. Hockenson has -- and for good reason. While both Iowa Hawkeyes products have hit the field instantly in their rookie seasons, Hockenson -- in one fewer game -- has just 1 fewer reception, 30 more receiving yards, and 1 more touchdown than Fant. Hock has definitely been better than Fant to date, but really they've been a lot closer than you might think at first.
What I'm trying to say is that if you're interested in Hockenson in fantasy, Fant has to at least be on your radar. He's played on over 60% of the Denver Broncos' offensive snaps in every game this year and is the clear lead tight end on his team. And we know that quarterback Joe Flacco loves to target the tight end -- he connected with Dennis Pitta 86 times in a single season back in 2016. Flacco has favored low average depth of target passes over the course of his career, and his 6.4 average intended air yards per attempt this season ranks as the fourth-lowest in the league.
He's going to connect with Fant a lot in Week 6 against a Tennessee Titans defense that ranks sixth-best according to numberFire's metrics but still allows the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. The only week in which the Titans did not surrender a touchdown to an opposing tight end, they gave up 130 receiving yards to Austin Hooper. The Titans have played stout defense against the run this year -- the strong point of Denver's offense -- and their corners have fared quite well considering they've squared off against the likes of Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Calvin Ridley and T.Y. Hilton. The Titans are going funnel targets to the middle of the field, where Fant is going to feast on targets from Flacco.
We haven't seen Fant flash his elite athleticism yet this season, but that is going to change in Week 6. Fant is going to break out against the Titans this week and finish as a top-eight tight end in fantasy football.