The COVID-19 situation seems to get a little worse each week, with more teams reporting a staffer or player testing positive and then the guy sitting next to him on the plane is out too. But so far, the NFL season progresses without any change to the schedule other than a minor bit of moving a few games around.
The NFL East lost another quarterback to a visible, wince-evoking ankle snap. Dalvin Cook is driving an 18-wheeler through a bicycle race. And fantasy playoffs are starting to get close. Let’s hope COVID-19 leaves your roster alone.
Okay, six things to think about…
- RB Cam Akers (LAR) – Whatever happened to the fourth running back taken at the 2.20 pick in the NFL draft? The answer? Not much. He opened his career as the primary back with 14 carries for 39 yards but injured his ribs in Week 2. After missing two weeks, he returned to a backfield settled on Darrell Henderson as the main rusher and Malcolm Brown as the third-down back that mostly blocks. He popped up with nine rushes for 61 yards in Week 5, then not again until nine carries for 35 yards in Week 8 when Henderson was injured. What gives? He’s gained 4.2 yards per carry but they’ve tethered him to a rarely used No. 3 role.HC Sean McVay said he would use him more in Week 6 and then nothing (“game flow”). Just prior to the bye week, he said ““I just want to continue to see him … learn how to compete without the ball.” So pass protection needs to improve. He added, “I think particularly without the ball in his hands are the things that we’re looking to see and I do have trust that he’s going to have a really good second half of the season for us.” So, perhaps he won’t spend his rookie year rotting on the bench, waiting for an opportunity every few games. Then again, he looked great in Week 5 and never found the field in Week 6 or 7. Akers has naturally landed on many fantasy league waiver wires. We’ll see if he stays there.
- QB Tua Tagovailoa (MIA) – Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert were drafted right before and after Tagovailoa who is only now getting his career started after two week. He turned in a very low-key debut with only 93 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Rams in Week 8, but then offered 248 yards and two scores in the win at the Cardinals and their No. 10 defense versus quarterbacks. Better yet, he ran for 35 yards on seven rushes. He looks like he belongs in that trio already.I want to see what he does this week versus the No. 22 defense versus quarterbacks in the Chargers. He faces the No. 20 Broncos and the #30 Jets after that. Two weeks in and he already relied on all three starting wideouts more than other receivers. I can understand why Ryan Fitzpatrick is upset, but we can already see why the rookie is starting.
- Replacing WR Preston Williams (MIA) – He injured his foot and landed on injured reserve, so he’s gone until at least Week 13. In his place and playing with the suddenly sharp Tua Tagovailoa should be Jakeem Grant with a dash of Mack Hollins. But a new, young quarterback may just rely more on DeVante Parker or Mike Gesicki who was thrown four targets for three catches and 42 yards last week at the Cardinals. If the rookie is going to step up, he’ll need receivers to help and that doesn’t neccessarily remain the same from the first half of the season.In a year where tight ends have been so marginally productive, it would be great to see Gesicki deliver more on his promise and forge chemistry with his rookie quarterback.
- WR Michael Pittman (IND) – He played last night in the Colts win over the Titans and that bears mentioning. The 2.02 pick of the Colts missed three games after needing calf surgery and was minimally productive up through Week 8 when he played. But he was thrown seven targets for four catches and 56 yards against the Ravens and then the Colts with eight targets for seven catches and 101 yards versus the Titans. That just what they wanted to see when they drafted 6-4 USC star.Notable too is that he still has to play the Titans again and the Texans twice by Week 15. The Colts have waited for a receiver to step up and mesh with Philip Rivers. Looks like that is finally happening.
- WR Allen Lazard (GB) – Was on injured reserve since Week 3 after needing core surgery, but may be activated as early as this week. He’ll provide a boost to the Packers offense that must rely on Davante Adams. Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a freakish two-touchdown effort in Week 9 at the 49ers but hasn’t been a factor otherwise with five games as the starter. Lazard’s final start had him catching six of eight targets for 146 yards and a score at the Saints.The Packers don’t need him to beat the Jaguars this week, but it would be good to see him back and shaking off rust. The Packers face the Colts and Bears immediately following this week and all of the fantasy fortunes of the team will be better served with more than just one receiver of any note. This would be a great spot to get him back into playing mode versus a softer secondary.
- Primary running back count down – After nine weeks – eight games for most teams – here’s a quick look at each NFL team and how many different running backs have turned in the most fantasy points for their backfield in a game:
Todd Gurley, James Robinson, Josh Jacobs and Derrick Henry are the only four running backs that have been a No. 1 back in every week for their teams. The AFC East has been the worst, with 34 games played by the division resulting in a total of 14 different running backs that scored the most for their team in a game. That’s of 40% of their games featuring a different lead back.