10 Definitely Interesting, Possibly Helpful NFL Notes for Week 6
This NFL season, I’ll work to uncover some interesting bits of information that might shed some light on players from that week’s slate of NFL games. This is not a picks column, nor is it a “fun facts” article – it’s something in between.
I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it helps you think about this week’s NFL plays in a new way as you build your DFS lineups. Here are 10 notes for Week 6.
1. Since joining the Saints in 2006, Drew Brees has exceeded 20 DraftKings points in 57 of his 89 home games; that’s 14 more games than second-place Aaron Rodgers (43) during that span. He’s put up 30 or more DraftKings points in 28 of 87 home games; that’s 12 more games than Tom Brady, who comes in a distant second with 16 such games during that span. In a home matchup against the Lions, who rank ninth in pass defense DVOA but gave up 355 yards and three touchdowns to Cam Newton in Week 5, Brees presents a rare combination of reliable floor and week-winning ceiling. The Saints/Lions game is the only game of the week with an over/under above 50, so clearly, the shootout potential is there, and as a -5 favorite at home, it’s possible Brees and company are playing from behind, always a positive for passing stats. And what’s more, Week 6 offers a slew of cheap running backs (Elijah McGuire, Jerick McKinnon, Alvin Kamara to name a few), which means paying up for a high-end QB like Brees is viable both in tournaments and in cash games.
2. Matthew Stafford is averaging 35 passing attempts per game in 2017 (34.6, but we’ll round up). In the 11 instances where a visiting QB has thrown 35+ passes in the Superdome since 2015, a QB has reached 40 DraftKings points twice, 30 DraftKings points six times, and 20 DraftKings points three times (not to mention a 19.8-point effort by Matt Ryan). One of these games belongs to Stafford himself, as he went 30-for-42 for 341 yards and two touchdowns last season. At just $6,500 at DraftKings, it’s very unlikely Stafford fails to reach value in this matchup. One caveat: Stafford suffered ankle and hamstring injuries in his matchup with the Panthers last week, so he’s unlikely to be at full health. Even so, a Stafford / Golden Tate pairing is an intriguing (though likely popular) option for tournaments.
3. The New England Patriots have allowed five consecutive QBs to throw for 300+ yards, setting an NFL record for most such games in a row; last season, 29 of 32 NFL teams allowed five or fewer 300-yard passing games for the entire year, and the Patriots have already allowed five such games (not to mention allowing four of the five QBs they’ve faced to throw for multiple touchdowns). It’s difficult to find a new adjective to describe Josh McCown without running into cliche territory – uninspiring? pedestrian? putrid? He’s sort of all of those rolled into one, I guess. But here’s the thing: it just doesn’t matter. With the Patriots installed as 9.5-point road favorites, this is one of those rare times where we can be assured of game script: the Jets get behind, Angry Brady doesn’t care and angrily keeps chucking passes to run up the score, the Jets get more behind until they decide to have McCown throw 40 times in a desperate effort to lose 35-21 instead of 35-7. With lead backs Bilal Powell and Matt Forte likely out, the Jets will be forced to turn to the air. It may not be pretty, but McCown (whose 81.4% adjusted completion percentage ranks second in the NFL), should get his numbers, and he still has a cash-game-friendly price across the industry.
4. Since 2010, the Minnesota Vikings have allowed a QB to post a 130+ passer rating (min. 15 attempts) on 13 occasions; seven of those games belong to Aaron Rodgers, and no other QB has done it more than twice. Sure, this stat may say more about the uninspiring (pedestrian? putrid?) state of NFC North quarterbacks over the last seven years – Rodgers is the only NFC North QB with such a game against the Vikings since 2010. Even so, it’s fair to say that Rodgers, who is as matchup-proof as they come, has been, well, matchup proof in this matchup (if a kid in my class wrote that sentence on an essay in my class, I’d write “awkward phrasing,” or, “weird sentence construction” in the margins, but whatever – this is my article and I’ll write what I want). With so many mid-range and high-end QBs in ideal spots this week (Brees, Stafford, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan), Rodgers’s ownership should be reasonable. In tournaments, I’m very interested in pairing him with…
5. Davante Adams, who recorded his fourth multi-touchdown game since 2016 last week against the Cowboys. That number is second-most in the NFL, trailing only Jordy Nelson (5). Just to illustrate how difficult it is to score twice in a game as a wide receiver: Adams’s four multi-TD games is the same number as Michael Thomas (2) and Dez Bryan (2) combined. And it’s no fluke; one year after finishing fifth in the NFL with 25 red zone targets, Adams leads the NFL this year with 11. With Jordy Nelson likely blanketed by Xavier Rhodes, who has allowed opposing wideouts to catch just 12 of 24 targets for 165 yards and zero touchdowns this year, Adams could see an increased target share, particularly when Green Bay is in scoring range. What’s more, if you play at DraftKings, Adams’s salary has inexplicably dropped by a hundred bucks to $5,700, even after his stellar Week 5 performance. He may be too touchdown-dependent for cash games, but Adams makes a lot of sense in tournaments.
6. Since 2000, only four running backs have had more carries in their first five games than Leonard Fournette’s 109 in their first 5 games: LaDainian Tomlinson (127), Julius Jones (121), Cadillac Williams (112), and Ezekiel Elliott. (109). Of those five backs, Fournette has the most targets (18) and receptions (13). He’s been a sneaky part of Jacksonville’s passing game, catching three or more passes in three of his first five games, which certainly raises his floor at PPR sites. As a home favorite in a game that shouldn’t get out of hand, Fournette is one of the top running back plays of the week, especially when you factor in matchup: the Rams have allowed 27.06 fantasy points per week to running backs, most in the NFL.
8. Last year, Ben Roethlisberger had a 110.4 passer rating on passes of 20 yards or more, eighth-best among qualified QBs. This year, he ranks last with a 24.5% QB rating on those passes (and surprisingly, he was bad even before last week’s five-interception disaster, with a QB rating just over 33.0% on deep passes entering Week 5). The Steelers’ inability to throw the ball downfield, coupled with Roethlisberger’s well-documented struggles on the road, means that Pittsburgh’s passing game is a tough sell in a difficult environment at Arrowhead Stadium.
7. Last week, Jerick McKinnon posted 95 rushing yards and 51 receiving yards against the Bears; those numbers have been matched in a game by only four running backs this year (Kareem Hunt, Dalvin Cook, Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon). Perhaps more importantly, he saw four red zone carries to Latavius Murray two, and he out-touched Murray 22 to 9 to close out the game. McKinnon has tantalized DFS players with his talent and failed to deliver in the past. But his Week 6 matchup with the Packers is an exploitable one, as Green Bay ranks 20th in rush defense DVOA. There’s a good chance Minnesota will find themselves playing catch-up with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, which could also lead to a few extra catches out of the backfield for the explosive McKinnon. The best selling point, though, is that the sites haven’t adjusted his salary since his breakout(?) performance came on Monday night, when Week 6 salaries were already posted. McKinnon should be chalky based off of a single game, and that alone merits tournament fade consideration. In cash games, though, he’ll be tough to pass up.
9. Arizona’s Justin Bethel has allowed opposing receivers to catch 19 of 33 targets for 343 yards (fifth-most in the NFL); that’s an average of over 18 yards per reception. And that’s not to mention the four touchdowns he’s allowed in coverage, as well. Arizona’s defense tends to funnel targets away from Patrick Peterson and towards Bethel, PFF’s 92nd-ranked cornerback in coverage out of 115 qualifiers. Tampa Bay should be able to take advantage of this vulnerability, as QB Jameis Winston (11.9 yards) and DeSean Jackson (21.3 yards) both rank first at their respective positions in average depth of target. Neither is really a cash game play, but the pair should be very low owned with tournament-winning upside in GPPs.
10. With 12 straight games of 14+ carries, Lamar Miller has the NFL’s longest active streak of such games. While Miller is not an exciting play (hence his spot at #10, the “barely made it in” section of this list), he is an inexpensive one, and he comes with a built-in floor that makes him an interesting play in a game where Houston should have the lead against the Kevin Hogan-led Browns.
Thanks for reading! Stats from this article were pulled from RotoGrinders’ Daily Research Console, Player Profiler, Pro Football Focus, Football Outsiders, NFL.com, and Pro Football Reference.
Check back for more “10 Notes” NFL articles throughout this football season, and feel free to drop a comment below if you want to leave any feedback or keep the discussion going!