NFL Week 6 Hot Takes
Howard Bender offers up some hot takes on what went down during the Week 6 NFL games and how you should interpret for fantasy football purposes.
Apologies for the delay in this week’s Hot Takes article. After broadcasting on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports radio until 1am ET, I needed to sit and watch all of Sunday’s Jets win over the Cowboys without interruption. While the game was under three hours in length, I probably hit the rewind button at least a few dozen times to re-watch a variety of plays. And, I’m pretty sure I watched Robby Anderson ’s 92-yard touchdown about 40 or 50 times as well. In fact, I overslept because when morning came, my wife found me passed out, sitting upright on the couch, remote control in hand and the game paused somewhere in the third quarter. What can I say? Beating the Cowboys brings joy to my life and the anticipation of needling Jim Bowden on the show had me wide awake throughout most of the night.
But let’s get to it now, shall we? Lots of ground to cover for this week.
Revenge-Game Narratives Work Every Time
Actually, “Revenge Game” is brought to you by the same folks who delivered us Sex Panther where, 60-percent of the time, it works every time. Take Carlos Hyde , for example. The stage was set for him to walk back into Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium and show Andy Reid and the Chiefs exactly what they were missing when they traded the 28-year old running back for a back-up offensive lineman. On the Texans first play from scrimmage, he took that hand-off from Deshaun Watson and ran straight up the….whoops! Where’d the ball go? Oh. Into DL Frank Clark ’s hands, I see. It was far from the start Hyde, the Texans or any of us who used him in fantasy or DFS were looking for when we bought into the narrative, but fortunately, coach Bill O’Brien is a forgiving man. He went right back to the well, stayed with Hyde throughout the game and the results were fantastic as he rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown. He even caught a 14-yard pass. We did get a mini-scare as the first Texans touchdown went to back-up Duke Johnson , but with the Texans hanging 31 points on the Chiefs, there was clearly enough to go around. Like the tag line says, 60-percent of the time…
As for actual revenge-game narratives, no, they don’t always work, but if you’re looking at the right players for them, they can certainly be fun. Hyde was a great example as he’s been bounced from three other teams in the last two years and wouldn’t have even had this opportunity had it not been for the season-ending injury to Lamar Miller . He had something to prove. Ego is a dangerous thing sometimes, but if you can find the right one and exploit it in fantasy, it makes for great smack talk. Just ask the DeSean Jackson owner who’s been holding onto the injured wideout since his Week 1 explosion against the Redskins.
If Patrick Mahomes Also Played Defense, the Chiefs Would Win Every Game
Listen, we get it. Mahomes can be a very exciting player to watch. When everything is clicking, he can lead this Chiefs offense up and down the field and hang 30 points on a defense in the blink of an eye. But he did not invent the no-look pass, he is not the first guy to throw sidearm and he most certainly is not going to lead these Chiefs to the Super Bowl because he doesn’t play defense. Until we can be assured that cloning Patrick Mahomes to create defensive players won’t turn out to be something like we saw in Michael Keaton’s Multiplicity, this team is going to have to do something to fix their defense in a major way. Yes, they were without Anthony Hitchens Sunday and yes, they lost Kendall Fuller as well, but this defense has been a disaster all season, allowing 24 points and 406.2 yards per game through six weeks. The points allowed sits in the middle of the pack, but the yardage is the fifth-most allowed. Obviously, this is fantasy we’re talking about so it works out for us – the more they allow the more they have to score. Game-stack bonanza! But if you were laying bets each week or thinking the Chiefs might be good for a Survivor Pool, think again.
A Cool Moustache and 70’s Disco Clothes Can Only Take You So Far
It’s official. The Gardner Minshew Love-Fest can now fold up its tents and move along to the next flavor-of-the-month. Minshew’s antics – the cheesy Uncle Rico moustache, the throwback disco outfits and the dancing around like the Keebler Elf in only a jockstrap – are great, so long as he is producing and the Jaguars are winning. Take one of those away and it’s all gone. Take them both away and it’s time for a new game plan. Minshew is a game-managing quarterback, nothing more. His numbers, in both fantasy and reality, are pedestrian. Sure, he popped off for 374 yards and two touchdowns in Week 5, but take that game away and guess what you have? A guy who averages 213.6 passing yards per game and maybe gets you two touchdowns if he’s lucky. Those are Ryan Tannehill numbers, at best. Trent Dilfer, maybe. Now that the Saints have wiped away all the pomp and circumstance that comes with the Minshew-image hype machine, we can get back to business with the Jaguars. It’s all Leonard Fournette with a splash of D.J. Chark (doo doo doo doo doo) and nothing more for fantasy.
Ryan Tannehill has no FitzMagic
Speaking of Tannehill, what a disaster in Tennessee, right? It only took how long for the Titans to tire of Marcus Mariota ’s sub-mediocrity. Unfortunately, they traded one lice of Wonder Bread for another as Tannehill took the field and put Titans fans to sleep just as quickly as Mariota does. There is no spark. There is no excitement. And there is no hope. At least when Ryan Fitzpatrick took the field in Tannehill’s old stomping grounds, people got excited. Of course, FitzMagic doesn’t have a very long shelf-life, but at least he brought the Dolphins back and could have given them the win had they nailed the two-point conversion at the end. Tannehill took the field and all you got was a big yawn from the Titans’ faithful. No word yet on whether Mike Vrabel is going to stick with Tannehill, but does it really even matter? No one is using Mariota in fantasy and no one, not even in a superflex league, would be crazy enough to roll with Tannehill.
Sam Darnold Will Lead the Jets to the Promised Land
Well you have to admit it – the Jets look ridiculously better with Darnold under center. Not that we’re matching him up with anything exciting, right? Trevor Siemian was a joke and didn’t last one quarter and Luke Falk rightfully got his walking papers the other day. As a Jets fan, it’s sometimes difficult for me to look at Darnold objectively, simply because years and year of losing has left this film of pessimism that coats everything I hear and see. However, I was not alone in watching Sunday’s win over the Cowboys and sounding like the assistant coach of the T.C. Williams Titans the first time Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass took the field against Groveton. While I will temper my overall enthusiasm, as a fantasy player, I will start to endorse more Jets now. Obviously, Le’Veon Bell is a must-own, but now both Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson become solid plays. When Chris Herndon takes the field, he will be a tight end worth owning. And if you want to splash a little Revenge game behind your ears, the Jets take on the Patriots on Monday Night in Week 7 and Demaryius Thomas may want to get some love.
The Only Big D in Dallas is the Guy Who Still Thinks the Cowboys Will Win the Super Bowl
We’ve all heard the term “paper champion,” right? Remember when we watched the montage at the start of Rocky III? Eye of the Tiger was blaring, we were getting all sorts of pumped up for the movie and Rocky Balboa was knocking guys out at a rapid rate. Then along comes Clubber Lang and we learned that not only was Rocky overmatched, but apparently his trainer Mickey set up a bunch of tomato can opponents for him to pad his record as the Heavyweight Champion. Well, we can now call the NFL schedule-makers Mickey and we can all look to the Cowboys as the Rocky who got whupped by Mr. T. Wins over the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins gave the Cowboys a nice, little cushion to open the season, but then the Saints came marching in. And then the Packers slapped them around. And now the Jets land an uppercut that sends the Cowboys reeling to a 3-3 record and a whole lot of question marks.
Can the Cowboys, like Rocky, regain the Eye of the Tiger and bounce back? Of course, they can. But they need a healthy offensive line and they need healthy playmakers. Losing Tyron Smith and La’el Collins leaves a serious problem for the Cowboys offense as Dak Prescott is having trouble getting himself out of the collapsing pocket. The run-blocking isn’t the same either. Ezekiel Elliott is talented enough to get by, but on the whole, it’s easy to see the Cowboys don’t have strong offensive line depth nor do they look like a contender without them. I still expect the Cowboys to be a playoff contender, but the way they look right now, it’s a happy day for those of you who sympathize with the amount of Dallas love I have to endure from Jim Bowden.
The World is Onto You, Sean McVay
If you’ve been knocked out of your Survivor Pool because of the Rams, you should probably skip over this paragraph because it’s only going to annoy you further. Just like the in-season bloom is off the rose for the Cowboys and Gardner Minshew, the year-to-year bloom is certainly off the rose for Sean McVay. The Rams have now lost three-straight games and while you have to look at what Wade Phillips is doing wrong on defense (allowing 35 points per game), one of the big problems is the lack of long, sustained drives on offense and no control over the clock. McVay may have been considered an innovative guy coming out of Washington, but in this era of copy-cat in the NFL, everyone is doing the same thing and learning to defend against his game plan in a more efficient way. Not to mention, he may not be the quarterback whisperer everyone was saying. Maybe he knows how to read defenses, but he certainly hasn’t passed along that knowledge to Jared Goff . Sunday’s game was a perfect example as the 49ers continuously disguised their coverage until the play-clock ran down to 15 seconds and the communication between McVay and Goff was shut off. That left the Rams offense struggling throughout the game and you’re not beating anyone going 0-for-9 on third-down conversions or 0-for-4 on fourth.
Dan Quinn’s Time in Atlanta is Over
While you can say the Falcons could have won Sunday’s game had Matt Bryant not missed the extra-point which would have pushed the game into overtime, the fact remains that it never should have gotten to that point. Never. Dan Quinn is supposed to be a defensive specialist and yet the Falcons are allowing the seventh-most yards per game in the NFL and are allowing a 31st-ranked 31 points per game as well. The secondary is complete trash, they have just four takeaways on the season and there is little to no pass rush. Add to that, the fact that this offense sputters its way through most of the game and doesn’t really show up until their backs are against the wall. Some conspiracy theorists are of the mindset that Dirk Koetter is actually sabotaging the offense for the start of the game so the defensive shortcomings are staring everyone right in the face, but let’s just say he takes over for a fired Quinn. Is anyone going to be able to repair this defense in time to salvage the season? This team needs a complete coaching overhaul. We’re getting out fantasy points from Matt Ryan and, now finally Devonta Freeman , but Julio Jones is still killing some owners and there’s just too much talent just wasting away on this team.
It’s All Lollipops, Rainbows and Sunshine in Minnesota Now
Stefon Diggs is happy again. Adam Thielen seems happy. Dalvin Cook continues to smile and now even Kirk Cousins is feeling good after back-to-back 300-yard games in which he’s thrown six touchdowns to just one interception. The Vikings are cruising right now, but for how long? Are we sure that everything is harmonious again? What about Kyle Rudolph ? He seems to be the odd-man out in this passing game lately. What happens when he takes his gripes to the media? What happens then? Ha! I’m just kidding. No need to stir the pot. I think we can all agree that the addition of Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison to the offensive game-planning has been a huge boost and while the passing game suffered a bit while they were establishing their rushing presence in the early weeks, we’ve found the balance we were expecting from this club. It’s never going to always be lollipops, rainbows and sunshine, but the Vikings know exactly what they need to do and they should prove to be a major force in the NFL moving forward.
Cris Collinsworth Needs to Stop Talking
Let’s just wrap this up with one non-fantasy thing that’s been bugging me. I get that broadcasters want to report on some of the lighter moments in sports and the “Duck-Mania” that has taken over in Pittsburgh as fans attempt to embrace Devlin Hodges as their starting quarterback is a feel-good sort of thing. But why the hell is Cris Collinsworth calling the Sunday night game like he’s some high school correspondent calling a game in which his best friend is playing quarterback? Every single time he referred to Hodges, he called him “Duck.” Why? Are they best friends? Do they even know each other? As a national broadcaster, you’re supposed to remain somewhat impartial. Collinsworth already does a horrible job at that. This, though, took his annoyance to a whole other level. Duck you, Collinsworth. Just shut up and call the game properly.