Many of the suspended players return this week and there are only three undefeated teams – the Patriots, Chiefs, and the… 49ers? Let’s take a quick look at six things to think about on a Friday.
Marlon Mack/Jordan Wilkins – Marlon Mack has not practiced this week because of his ankle. He’s been bothered by it for the last two weeks and yet played through it. Last week, he only gained 39 yards on 11 carries versus the Raiders and did not make a catch. If he doesn’t practice on Friday, Jordan Wilkins will take over Mack’s workload (with help from Nyheim Hines). Wilkins averaged 8.1 yards on his 12 rushes this year and would face the Chiefs and their #22 ranked defense versus running backs. If Mack is out – Wilkins makes an interesting Daily play and could help a fantasy team that needs a running back because of bye weeks or injuries. The Colts go on their bye in Week 6, so taking this game off could help Mack to heal up.
Golden Tate – The Giants get Golden Tate off suspension and he returns to a new quarterback in Daniel Jones. Remember that Tate was traded from the Lions to the Eagles last year and ended with a total of 74 catches for 795 yards and four touchdowns between the two teams. He’ll start this season slowly, having never played with Jones and facing the Vikings and then Patriots for these next two weeks. Temper expectations while the Giants struggle through a tough schedule but realize that starting in Week 14, the Giants face the Eagles, Dolphins, and Redskins. His lightest stretch – by far – will come during fantasy playoffs.
A.J. Green/Auden Tate – John Ross was placed on injured reserve and 2018 seventh-round pick Auden Tate will replace him. The Bengals need A.J. Green back badly for an offense that is imploding. Green will be out at least through Week 6. If he does return in Week 7, his next opponents are the Jaguars, Rams, and Ravens. Auden Tate will see more work until Green shows up and at 6-5, he presents a towering target. But the offense struggles and the schedule never improve other than the odd game against the Raiders (Week 11) and Dolphins (Week 16). Tate was a popular pick up this week and someone is waiting on Green in every league, but it all looks worse as the season progresses.
Mike Nugent – Stephen Gostkowski landed on injured reserve with a hip injury and the Pats signed Mike Nugent. The Patriots almost always end up in the top-five in kicker points each year so the move is notable. Nugent was the Bengals kicker from 2010 until 2016 and yet only played in all 16 games in three of seven seasons. He was just a replacement kicker for the Bears (4 games, 2017) and Raiders (3 games, 2018). He’s only kicked in seven games over the last two years. He’s worth owning as the Pats kicker, but if he plays well for the remaining 12 games (or more, if, you know… playoffs), it will be one of the rare times in recent history that the 37-year-old kicker lasted.
Gerald Everett – He just turned in a career-high seven catches for 136 yards in the Monday night loss to the Seahawks. A national game, big yardage – he’ll be swiped off every waiver wire by this time next week. But realize that he only totaled 87 yards over his first four games combined. He was the 2.12 pick by the Rams in 2017 but topped out at 33 catches for 320 yards and three scores last year. If there’s one thing the Rams do not need, in fantasy terms, it is yet another receiver to factor in when forecasting their games. Great game but just one game. No need to assume anything is dramatically changing.
Yards Per Carry – A quarter of the way into the season, it is interesting to see where teams currently stand in yards-per-carry for their backfields:
If you want to win in the NFL, you must have an effective offensive line and a strong rushing game. The bottom-four backfields in yards-per-carry are four of the five win-less teams. Denver is the fifth.
There are seven teams that currently sport over a 5.0-yard average. The Jaguars, Bills, Texans (really?), Ravens, 49ers, and Browns are the top teams. This is only one metric for the value of an offensive line, but some of those top teams are a surprise considering their expectations coming into the season.