A look at the fantasy players who stood out in Week 6 and who may be poised to put up big numbers moving forward.
Week 6 of the NFL season has come and gone! This past week’s action saw the bitter return of the NFC Least, the continued rise of the San Francisco 49ers, and the leagues officiating problems took center stage once again. For all of its negatives (and positives), the league gave us some stand-out performers that deserve recognition. Let’s see who impressed us this week:
GOLDEN TATE (New York Giants)
For a guy that missed the first month of the season due to a questionable suspension, Golden Tate sure didn’t look rusty.
The veteran wide-out got off to a running start in his first in-game action as part of Big Blue. Tate caught 6 balls on a team-high (9) targets for 102 yards and registered the Giants only offensive touchdown in a game that lacked any real explosion from either side. The 60+ yard touchdown was significant for being only the second offensive score allowed by the New England Patriots defense so far in 2019. With Tate back in the mix, Daniel Jones will have a reliable target to lean on in the absence of Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram.
Don’t expect him to blow up every week, but Tate can safely be trusted as a fringe WR2/FLEX in primarily PPR leagues due to his target share.
HUNTER HENRY (Los Angeles Chargers)
We saw the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” narrative play-out last week for Adam Thielen in Minnesota, but what do you call 2 TDs for a player returning from injury?
Whatever jargon you come up with to describe it the one word that can unanimously be used to describe Hunter Henry’s return in LA is “Impressive”. The oft-injured young tight end had been one of fantasy football’s biggest breakout candidates heading into the season, and he seems determined to live up to that billing (as long as he’s on the field). Henry re-entered the Chargers line-up fresh off of a knee injury and hauled in 8 balls on (9) targets for 2 TD’s and over 100 yards receiving.
The target share is undoubtedly going to come down on a weekly basis, but there’s no question that LA sees Henry as one of their best red-zone weapons. As long as he’s on the field he should be looked at as a TE1 candidate.
CHRIS CARSON (Seattle Seahawks)
Last week we sang the praises of Matt Breida in the 49ers rushing attack, so it’s only fitting that we highlight a similarly overlooked stud this week.
Chris Carson may be the biggest steal in fantasy drafts through the first month & a half of the 2019 season. Valued as a late 4th round/early 5th rounder in most formats, Carson has obliterated expectations through 6 weeks. He’s rushed for over 100 yards three times (each of his last three games) and scored 4 total TD’s so far (2 rushing/2 receiving). On Sunday afternoon he was leaned on to pace the Seattle offense in a game where they trailed early, and he proceeded to bully Cleveland for 124 yards/TD on the ground.
Carson was nearly unstoppable whenever he touched the ball in this one, and with Rashaad Penny currently dealing with an injury, he’ll be a three-down fantasy beast for the foreseeable future. Kudos if you drafted him on your squad.
CURTIS SAMUEL (Carolina Panthers)
Speaking of 2019 fantasy breakouts, few names were held in higher regard than Carolina Panthers wideout Curtis Samuel heading into drafts.
Seemingly everyone, from Panthers coaches to players and fantasy analysts all saw nothing but dollar signs in this young man’s future…and then Cam Newton happened. The Panthers stumbled out of the blocks with an injured Newton at the helm, but have since regained their footing behind a revitalized defense and competent play from Kyle Allen. Allen took a liking to Samuel on Sunday morning in the UK, targeting him (6) times for (4) receptions and 70 Yards/TD. That yardage total is Samuels’s second-highest of the season, and the TD was his third (1 rushing/2 receiving).
He’s a dual-threat that needs to be utilized more moving forward, but his overall upside will largely depend on the performance of a soon to be returning Cam Newton.
SAM DARNOLD (New York Jets)
HOW BOUT THEM J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!? In one of the biggest upsets of the young season, the winless New York Jets embarrassed the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon at Metlife Stadium.
The man that orchestrated the victory was Sam Darnold. After missing most of the season so far with Mononucleosis, the 22-year-old Jets QB was hardly expected to start a game on Sunday, let alone lead the Jets to their first victory of the season. Yet, despite all of those factors, that’s exactly what he did. Darnold channeled his inner Broadway Joe Namath and threw all over the yard on Sunday, peppering the Cowboys secondary for 338 Pass Yards/2 TD/1 INT.
The standout play in this one was a can’t miss 92-yard score from Darnold to Robby Anderson. Darnold put the perfect touch on the ball, and Anderson did the rest. It was a major surprise and a victory that breathed life into a team that many considered dead and buried. Congratulations Jets fans, you’ve got your leader back.
NICK CHUBB (Cleveland Browns)
We would like to humbly offer some free advice to Browns coach Freddie Kitchens.
Give Nick Chubb the ball 20+ times every week, and watch the fireworks. That statement isn’t hyperbole either, it’s based in reality. In games where Chubb has touched the ball 20+ times on the ground, he’s eclipsed 100+ yards every time. The dual-threat rushers star has continued to shine brighter seemingly every week, and he’s been the definitive answer for a Cleveland offense that’s struggled to find an identity.
Even in a losing effort on Sunday Chubb was arguably the best player on the field. He took a combined 26 touches and turned them into 139 yards and 2 TDs, all while carrying multiple Seahawks on his back. This man is a bull in a china shop in that backfield, and the more Cleveland lets him loose, the better they’ll be.
STEFON DIGGS (Minnesota Vikings)
The overwhelming storyline heading into the Vikings Week 6 game was Diggs’ unhappiness in Minnesota, and the exiting narrative couldn’t have been more opposite.
Diggs picked apart a threadbare Philadelphia secondary seemingly at will on Sunday afternoon, connecting for two 50+ yard touchdowns from Kirk Cousins and finishing the day with an ungodly stat line of 7 Rec/167 Yds/3 Tds. We’d say he’s pretty happy wearing the purple after that performance.
While his target share has been all over the place this season (3,7,4,11 over the past four games), Diggs’ re-emergence should boost him back into WR2/FLEX consideration in most leagues. Trade him high if you can, but you can start him again after this with a bit more optimism.
DAVID JOHNSON (Arizona Cardinals)
Well well well…here’s a name we haven’t seen in quite some time!
With all the chatter surrounding Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray heading into the year, it seemed like a lot of people forgot about David Johnson. Those people remembered exactly who he was by the time Sunday’s game finished up. Johnson tore into a soft Falcons defense on the ground and through the air in this one, scoring twice (1 rushing/1 receiving) and leading Arizona to their second straight victory.
The luster had seemingly worn off of Johnson under OC Mike McCoy last season, but with Kingsbury at the helm and Murray under center, the RB is looking like the Top 5 pick many fantasy owners hoped he could be again. With the exception of one week (Week 2) Johnson has scored double-digit fantasy points in every game, and he’s scored a total of 5 TD’s (2 rushing/3 receiving).
His route running ability is what sets him apart from most of the other backs in the league, and his presence is vital to the Cardinals’ success both now, and in the future. Fire DJ up comfortably on a weekly basis as an RB1.
MY MAIN TAKEAWAY FROM WEEK 6
The officiating issues in the NFL have reached a crucial tipping point.
Unless you’ve had your head stuck in the sand for the past six weeks you’ve seen or heard someone complaining about officiating in the NFL. The league has been under fire for years now for the overabundance of penalties, and the shaky management of on-field disputes.
The now infamous no call in last year’s Saints/Rams NFC Championship game flung both the league and fans across the country into turmoil. The result of that turmoil was the establishment of yet another rule, the right for coaches to challenge pass interference. We’ve reached the point where common penalties aren’t enough anymore, teams can now elect to dispute the penalties themselves. It’s absurdity at it’s absolute worst, and it’s doing very real damage to the leagues on-field product.
Nowhere was that damage more evident than in the final moments of this past week’s Packers/Lions Monday Night Football game. With just over one minute left in regulation, Green Bay was driving to get into field goal range to secure a victory. They failed to get a first down but were gifted the conversion due to an extremely questionable penalty on Lions defensive end Trey Flowers. The “hands to the face” penalty was unable to be challenged or overturned, and the Packers used that reprieve to simply run out the clock and kick a chip shot field goal to win.
This latest development led national analysts, fans and even legends of the sport like Barry Sanders to speak up on social media. The league’s reactionary approach to everything from “what constitutes a catch?” to “What is pass interference?” has shrouded a great game in a veil of confusion and frustration. In their efforts to get every call right, the league is effectively neutering the excitement of football, one flag at a time.