Week 5 and the NFL getting weirder. There was a Tuesday night game and because of that, there is no Thursday game for Week 6 since the Bills would have only had two days between games. The schedule underwent several changes as a ripple effect from Tennessee not playing in Week 4 because of the COVID-19 problem. We lost the current No. 1 fantasy quarterback when Dak Prescott made the NFL-watching world wince when his ankle fracture was shown the obligatory 85 times.
Let’s hope that the injuries can subside and the COVID-19 virus stays away from the 1,696 currently rostered players despite the fact that they are young, rich and always did whatever they wanted in their off-time.
Six things I am thinking about heading into the weekend:
- Wide receivers are safe picks – Used to be that grabbing one of those Top-10 wide receivers was a way to get a safe, consistent fantasy starter in a position that is hard to get right outside of the elite players. Ends up, none of them is a safe pick.
Only two of the first seven wideouts have delivered anything close to what was expected. In just five weeks, we’ve seen knee sprains and hamstrings hit all positions, but none so badly as wide receivers.
- Running Backs get hurt the most – It has only been five weeks and much is yet to happen. But most of the running backs picks have been pretty rewarding so long as they haven’t landed on injured reserve. This may be the first year that both earliest picks in the draft (Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley) hit the injured reserve after just two weeks into the season.
It is also unprecedented that two of the Top-20 running backs are on different teams from when they were drafted this summer. And maybe best of all, two of the current Top-10 running backs were not even being drafted until the final week of the preseason – Mike Davis (No.8) and James Robinson (No. 9). There’s a reason to delay your fantasy draft.
- RB Le’Veon Bell – Was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs and his head will explode if he tries to comprehend the difference between the Jets and the Chiefs. It’s a reasonable question to ask – does the 28-year-old Bell still have the skills that made him a star for the Steelers? And what will the backfield look like since the Chiefs already have Clyde Edwards-Helaire?The rookie only averaged 3.7 yards per carry over the last four games but faced the defenses of the Chargers, Ravens, Patriots, and Raiders. Bell cannot play this week as he has to pass COVID-19 tests for five straight days, but he’ll be available in Week 7 when the Chiefs face the Broncos. The expectation is that Week 7 will be a feeling out of how well Bell can integrate and which back looks better. Then in Week 8, bench Edwards-Helaire because the Chiefs play THE JETS. I’d guess Bell would play for free that week.
Overall, this is a bad thing for Edwards-Helaire. It may be only a minor issue with Bell taking over those four combined carries per game away from Darrel Williams, Damien Williams, and Darwin Thompson. There is a chance that this ends up more of a split backfield with Bell assuming more of a third-down role. Or – he could look better than Edwards-Helaire and kill the rookie’s fantasy value. Week 7 results are the ones to watch.
- Jet’s backfield – In the wake of Le’Veon Bell’s “squeaky wheel gets fired first,” what does it mean for the rest of the season? Well, Bell only played in the first and fifth games, so there’s not much change to consider until HC Adam Gase gone which could be anytime between next year and 15 minutes before you read this. 35-year-old Frank Gore is the primary back despite never scoring and averaging 3.2-yards per carry.Kalen Ballage has been the receiving back with only nine catches for 67 yards and no touchdowns. And fourth-rounder La’Mical Perine with only 15 carries on the year. At this rate, worth watching but keep expectations low with a bad offensive line and spending the next month spinning through all three AFC East opponents and the Chiefs. Perine is the most untested of the backs and more interesting since we’ve seen much less of him. But the Jets overall have already lost an engine and every light is blinking in the cockpit.
- QB Andy Dalton – Terrible break for Dak Prescott, who was having his best season while making that pending contract get bigger and bigger. Now the Cowboys fall back to Andy Dalton who left the Bengals after nine years. The last four were losing seasons and Dalton missed eight games over the last two years due to injury.But – he’s never played with anything remotely as talented as the current wideouts on the Cowboys. And a rushing offense to support him. He lacks the mobility of Prescott but did run in four scores just last year.
The Cowboys schedule is softer than most and the only elite defense showing up soon are the Steelers in Week 9. It is easy to write-off Dalton as a major step down, but that terrible Cowboy’s defense isn’t going to stop any game from being a potential shootout. He’s one to watch for the week, not only for what he can do for his value, but for a sense of what his impact is on all those Dallas fantasy stars.
- RB Duke Johnson – Have to see what Duke can do on the Texans offense with David Johnson the current primary back. Current interim head coach Romeo Crennel talked Duke up a few days ago, saying that Duke has every-down talent. He noted that Duke could figure into games more in the future, if only in response to the particular defense they were facing.The Texans traded a third-round pick for Johnson last year. And while David Johnson ran well last week in the Texan’s first win of the season, he symbolizes the Bill O’Brien regime. David Johnson should remain the starter, but Duke Johnson should see at least occasionally a higher workload. If David Johnson gets another 19 touches to only four for Duke Johnson, then likely no significant changes will happen. But if Duke Johnson gets more work in Tennessee for Week 6, David Johnson’s stock falls.