Technically, this is the beginning of the “Bye Weeks”
portion of the schedule which is set to run through Week 13. This
is 2020, however, a year full of surprises, so plan for the unexpected.
This could just be the year that depth wins out over a better starting
Bye Teams: Detroit, Green Bay
“Power tempts even the best of men to take liberties
with the truth.” – Joseph Sobran
1) There were four unexpected byes in Week 4.
True. Pittsburgh and Tennessee were forced to sit out the week
due to the Covid-19 virus. However, apparently the Falcon’s Calvin
Ridley and Texan Brandin
Cooks thought they were also on a bye week. On a night when
Atlanta threw the ball 39 times and Julio
Jones sat out the entire second half, Ridley’s zero catches
on five targets might have been the most disappointing of the
weekend. Meanwhile, Cooks, who newly unemployed former Houston
GM/coach Bill O’Brien thought could replace DeAndre
Hopkins, ran 39 pass routes, was targeted three times and
caught none of them against a Minnesota Vikings defense that has
allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts. While
Ridley’s excuse might be a talented Jaire
Alexander covering him most of the night, I see no reasonable
explanation for Cooks’ failure.
2) Joe Burrow is on pace to break Andrew Luck’s rookie passing
Fact. Burrow has produced 1,121 yards in four games which translates
to 4,484 yards over 16 games while Luck’s 2012 record is
4,374 yards. What do both players have in common? Quality receivers?
Luck had Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton and Burrow has … no
one of that quality. A.J. Green is a shadow of the elite receiver
he once was. Tyler Boyd is solid and the jury is still out on
fellow rookie Tee Higgins. If Burrow keeps this pace up he will
have had a better season than Luck. Except Luck went 11-5 and
made the playoffs. Burrow is competing in the tough AFC North
division and isn’t likely to match Luck’s winning
ways this season. Burrows will be severely tested the next two
games facing Baltimore and Indianapolis so beware of overvaluing
his future production.
3) No Ravens running back has seen more than 10 carries in a
This is RBBC at its worst. Through a quarter of the season, no
Ravens back has more than 12 touches in a game or more than 77
combined yards from scrimmage. In fact, of the 12 player games
to date between Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins, 75%
have seen less than 45 totals yards. Three of the next five games
are against teams ranked in the top-10 for fewest fantasy points
allowed to opposing RBs (Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and New England).
Stay away from this backfield. Even quarterback Lamar Jackson
is down 6.9 FPts/G from last season.
4) Bill O’Brien the general manager got Bill O’Brien
the coach fired.
Sadly true. The GM thought Brandin Cooks and Kenny Stills were
an adequate replacement for an elite wideout like Hopkins. Traded
Jadeveon Clowney for a pittance. Then traded away the Texans’
future to get OT Laremy Tunsil. O’Brien the coach had five
winning seasons in six years heading into 2020, made the playoff
two straight seasons and won a playoff game last year. O’Brien
is a decent football coach, but as a GM let his personal feelings
(he and Nuk apparently didn’t see eye to eye) get in the
way of long-term team goals and strategy. Let this be a lesson
to fantasy owners to not let short-term issues change your season-long
goals. If you are in need of players due to byes, injury or Covid-19
don’t trade away your team’s future to fix one week.
One loss won’t kill you. At least not until the playoff
5) The Green Bay Packers have finally found a receiver opposite
True. It’s tight end Robert Tonyan. “Baby Kittle”
exploded for fantasy owners Monday night when he was the only
reliable option outside of the Packers’ running backs to
consistently catch the ball. The undefeated Packers came into
this game missing both Adams and Allen Lazard (out 4-8 weeks due
to core muscle surgery) so Aaron Rodgers went to “Plan B.”
Throwing to Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams out of the backfield
and tight end Tonyan. All played well, but Tonyan, who many fantasy
owners had picked up in case Adams was a late scratch, came through
with a breakout 6-98-3 line that produced a spectacular 33.8 fantasy
points. Even when Adams returns after the bye, Tonyan should be
the No.2 option for the next month or more, ahead of Marquez Valdes-Scantling,
who once again caught a low percentage of targets (4-of-8). MVS
has caught only 48% of his targets in 2020 after hauling in 46.4%
in 2019. Tonyan has caught 13-of-14 targets this season (92.9%).
Tonyan is owned in 31% of all leagues. Beware, however, under
Rodgers, the leading tight end for the Packers has averaged just
41-440-3 since 2015.
“One of the most striking differences between a cat
and a lie is that the cat only has nine lives.” - Mark Twain
1) The San Francisco 49ers are 0-2 in games that George Kittle
has played this season.
True, but irrelevant. This is a statistic that lies. Horribly.
Could anyone have done more for his team than Kittle in the Eagles
upset win on Sunday night? He was targeted 15 times, caught all
15 for 183 yards and a score. He was unstoppable. In fact, he’s
so good that fantasy owners have to lower expectations for 49ers
wideouts Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk when Kittle plays.
2) Lamar Jackson is the best running quarterback in the NFL.
Last year, yes, but not in 2020. And it’s not because he’s
running less, he’s not. It’s because Kyler Murray
is more productive. Jackson has produced 235 yards and one touchdown
through four games and 39 carries, while Murray has amassed 265
yards and four scores on just 32 carries to date. Murray has scored
from 1, 14, 21 and 22 yards out. He averaged 5.8 ypc in 2019,
but that number has jumped to a league-leading 8.3 ypc in 2020.
It’s also well above the 6.9 ypc mark that Jackson led the
league with last season. The Cardinals and Murray have a very
soft schedule in front of them with the Jets, Cowboys, Seahawks
and Dolphins next up - all extremely generous to opposing quarterbacks.
3) The Cleveland Browns are the highest scoring team in the
True, but also giving false hope to Browns fans. Yes, after four
games the Browns lead the conference with 126 points, but they
just finished playing Cincinnati, Washington and Dallas. My Neshaminy
High School football team could run through this Cowboys rush
defense. You can laugh/yell at me (your choice) if the Browns
still lead the conference after Week 6. They are about to get
two weeks of a true test of their offensive ability playing Indianapolis
and Pittsburgh. Yes, I know they lost Nick Chubb, but in Kareem Hunt they have the best “backup” running back in football.
They have a healthy offense and a nice passer in Jarvis Landry
(158.3 QB rating). Sorry, but not a believer in quarterback Baker Mayfield, who is better at making cute commercials than hitting
open receivers. Better he should study the playbook and how to
read defenses than his lines. Given their running game, Mayfield
should be completing more than 62.6% of his passes. His 6.3 yards-per-attempt
4) Clyde Edwards-Helaire is an elite fantasy running back.
He is not. I said it last week, the preseason hype had overtaken
reality in regards to CEH, and I continue to spout this wisdom.
He was not worthy of a No.1 pick and if you can still get No.1
value for him on the trade market, do it. Over the last three
weeks, after his amazing opening game (25-138-1) Edwards-Helaire
has done little. He’s ranked 24th over the three-game span
from Week 2-4. Only his pass-catching ability has saved him from
dropping even lower as he’s run the ball 46 times since
Week 2 for just 166 yards (3.6 ypc) despite favorable game situations.
And television announcers don’t you dare tarnish the great
history of NBA legend Clyde “the Glide” Drexler by
using the name for Edwards-Helaire. He hasn’t earned it.
5) There is a right option for starting a Rams running back.
This is an RBBC that defies a solution. Darrell Henderson exploded
in Week 3 (20-114-1), but returned to earth last Sunday against
the Giants (8-22-0) while Malcolm Brown saw 14 touches in Week
4, including five receptions. Tuesday, Rams coach Sean McVay said
he expects rookie Cam Akers to return to action. Akers has the
best potential to be a three-down back, but I’d expect a
“hot hand” approach through the end of the season.
The only good news is that McVay has used the running game a lot
more this season as quarterback Jared Goff is on pace to throw
the ball just 488 times versus 626 in 2019. If one of the backs
can establish himself, he could become a solid fantasy option.
However, I don’t recommend rostering all three backs and
leaving yourself shorthanded elsewhere.