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Week 6 Wrapup and Week 7 Fantasy Football Prep

Missed practices due to COVID-19 and injuries haunting fantasy football owners until the final minutes before kickoff have been clockwork in 2020. After a matchup between the top-tier Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs was pushed out of Thursday night and into Monday, all Week 6 NFL action was down to Sunday and Monday and for the first time in a few weeks, no Sunday games were pushed back. This weekend, unlikely tight ends and extreme performances from big names in both directions took over the headlines. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the weirdness that was Week 6 in this week’s fantasy football wrapup. Note that, as usual, every mention of rankings in the week are as of the end of Sunday Night Football, so they do not account for the two Monday games. 

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Week 6 Wrapup: Tight Ends Tore It Up

If I told you that 9 of the top 13 PPR tight ends of Week 6 were players that were unrostered in a majority of leagues, would you believe me? Probably because it’s 2020 and this year has really been about that life. With household names like Evan Engram, Mark Andrews, and Jonnu Smith nowhere to be seen in Week 6, it was quickly the week of the waiver-wire-caliber tight end ruining dreams for fantasy owners needing big days from their regular stars. 

  • In the thrilling shootout between the tough-luck Houston Texans and still-undefeated Tennessee Titans, owners of Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill had themselves a day but the pass-catcher that shone most out of that game was Harvard product Anthony Firkser. No game in his career thus far has come close to what he did this Sunday, when he caught 8 of his 9 targets for a career-high 113 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Firkser was the #1 PPR TE in the week — because of course. In some leagues, there will certainly be claims on Firkser for owners desperate at the position. However, you still shouldn’t invest any FAAB or waste waiver priority in a rolling league, considering that Jonnu Smith has been one of the best fantasy tight ends this season and A.J. Brown has been balling since coming back from injury.
  • In the absence of Mo Alie-Cox, who was the third-best PFF grade offensive player through Week 3, both Colts tight ends out-did their fantasy projections. Jonathan Taylor owners were seething early on when the Indianapolis Colts rushed for a touchdown and it was via Trey Burton, who found the end zone twice (one via rush and one via reception). He finished as the PPR TE3 of the week but should not be sought after for your fantasy team considering the volume (4 catches on 5 targets).
  • Jack Doyle also checked in with 3 catches on 3 targets. Even though he totaled only 29 yards, his touchdown made those who started him pleasantly surprised. It has been clear over the years that Phillip Rivers likes tight ends but with a bye in Week 7, it’s possible he could be dealing with Alie-Cox, Doyle, and Burton when back on the field and it remains to be seen if any of them are worth trusting in fantasy.
  • Darren Fells was relevant in the pass-catching game for the third time this season but broke out with his best total fantasy game of the season. He caught a season-high 6 passes for a season-high 85 yards and scored his third touchdown of the season to finish as the PPR TE4 in Week 6. The volume is set to be unreliable but Fells is a possible target if you need help at tight end. He has touchdown potential and in a week where you are scouring for a high-upside tight end, Fells might fit in your lineup in the future.
  • I’m a Patriots fan so this one will be emotional. For the first time in 679 days, Rob Gronkowski found the end zone. In vintage Brady to Gronk style, they took advantage of a one-on-one mismatch to score on 3rd down via a jump ball. For fantasy owners of Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski, it was refreshing to see the connection. Gronkowski finished as the PPR TE5 of the week.

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick threw touchdowns to two different tight ends on the Miami Dolphins — neither of them was Mike Gesicki. In fact, Gesicki was targeted a season-low 2 times and put up a fat 0 for his fantasy owners. Instead, Durham Smythe caught one of his two targets for a four-yard touchdown and Adam Shaheen had multiple catches for the first time this season, finishing with 3 catches for 51 yards and his second touchdown of the season. Neither should be heavily targeted in any lineups but Shaheen’s appearance in the end zone in back-to-back games could mean a quick look in deep leagues heavy on tight end scoring after the Dolphins surpass their Week 7 bye. Shaheen and Smythe finished as the PPR TE7 and TE18, respectively, both obviously ahead of “Goose-Egg Gesicki.”
  • Nick Boyle was Lamar Jackson‘s tight end of choice in the end zone on Sunday. While Mark Andrews remained quiet with only 2 catches for a season-low 21 yards, Boyle finished as the PPR TE9 of the week thanks to his touchdown to cap off a 3-catch, 33-yard performance. Boyle reaching the end zone for the second time in the season should not scare off Mark Andrews owners, as Andrews is still the top red-zone target for the reigning MVP.
  • Irv Smith Jr. was fantasy-relevant in a second straight week. In Week 5 against the Seahawks, he caught 4 of his 5 targets for 64 yards. In Week 6 against the dominant Falcons, he caught 4 of his 5 targets for 55 yards. He has still not found the end zone this season but it is noteworthy that his one target that didn’t end in a reception was at the goal-line and a play that he, arguably, should have made had Deion Jones not made a great timely swipe to prevent the score. If you’re looking for a tight end pickup starting Week 8, Irv Smith Jr. should not be ignored. 

In deep leagues, some of these names may be picked up in the coming weeks but don’t waste roster spots on one-time end zone booms; instead, keep an eye on targets and the health of the regular tight end studs. And I beg of you — please, please, do not waste FAAB on tight ends that get one target and score. 

Big Name Shockers by Runners and Receivers

  • The Minnesota Vikings offense, via the brutal image that was Kirk Cousins, put themselves in a deep hole early against the Atlanta Falcons and for a while it looked like Cousins’ day was complete. Instead, owners of Cousins and Vikings pass-catchers utilized their garbage time scoring streak to see some eye-popping performances.

    With the loss of Dalvin Cook to a groin injury, Alexander Mattison was set to be the lead back but he was ineffective to say the least. He finished the game with only 30 yards from scrimmage and the Vikings quickly had to turn this into a passing game, yielding a 3-catch, 51-yard, 1-touchdown performance from top wide receiver Adam Thielen, but an explosion from rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who has turned into a weekly start for many in all formats. Jefferson was the go-to man for garbage-time Cousins and finished with a season-high 9 catches on a season-high 11 targets. His 166 yards wasn’t even his season/career-best but he scored twice to give his fantasy owners his best performance of the season. The Vikings will have a bye in Week 7 and could very well get back their star running back Dalvin Cook, but the fantasy outlook will remain bright for both Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, who caught all 3 of Cousins’ touchdown passes in Week 6.

  • The man many have argued is the most talented wide receiver in football made his return from a nagging hamstring injury in Week 6 in the game we just mentioned between the Falcons and Vikings. Julio Jones came back with a vengeance, going off for 137 yards on 8 catches and scored his first and second touchdowns of the season to finish as the PPR WR2 of the week (worse than only the other JJ in the game — Justin Jefferson).
  • After the breakout game of Chase Claypool in Week 5, many questioned the situation of the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver corps and who to trust. While some sat tight for a bounce-back game from JuJu Smith-Schuster, others invested in Chase Claypool. Indeed, in the 38-7 rampage by the Steelers, the rookie came out on top of the Steelers fantasy WR stack. He caught all four of his targets and continued to be the “huge play” guy for Ben Roethlisberger, totaling 74 receiving yards. He also rushed the ball twice, one of which got him into the end zone. James Washington also had his best fantasy game of the season, catching 4 of his 7 targets for 68 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Smith-Schuster posted his worst fantasy game of the season, catching 2 of his 4 targets for just 6 yards.

    Many trust issues continue to surround the dynamic duo of JuJu and Mapletron and whether James Washington will now make the mix even more complex.
  • The Detroit backfield, generally one of the most ineffective operations in fantasy football, ended up playing a major role in the Detroit Lions beatdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Adrian Peterson continued to check in with some volume that kept him relevant, carrying the ball 15 times and scoring once, but was inefficient, totaling only 58 yards from scrimmage. However, the second-best PPR running back of Week 6 came from the explosion of rookie D’Andre Swift, who rushed 14 times for an absurd 8.3 yards per carry efficiency and scored twice. He totaled 123 yards from scrimmage, which included a 3-catch performance, helping him into the RB2 spot for Week 6.
  • It is only apt to end on a note that requires very few words to express. Derrick. Freaking. Henry. For the third time since the beginning of 2018, Henry rushed for at least 200 yards in a game (in that time span, all other NFL running backs have combined for three total). He did so on 9.6 yards per carry and two touchdowns for the third straight game, one of which ended the game in overtime after a direct snap. And just for fun, he caught 2 passes for 52 yards total to make him the runaway PPR RB1 of Week 6.

Which sleepers surprised you in Week 6? Which studs gave you relief this Sunday? Which big names busted for you? For many leagues, we are already halfway through the regular fantasy football season. It’s time to make some decisions. What did you learn from Week 6? 

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