Ten Things We Learned in Week 6 (Fantasy Football)
Footclan, it’s hard to believe, but after Monday night’s game between the Chargers and Cowboys we will officially be through six weeks of the NFL season. We’ve been riding the fantasy rollercoaster through ups and downs, through breakouts and injuries, letdowns and pleasant surprises. But the focus remains on guiding our teams to fantasy championships. Week 6 brought with it a number of new developments that we need to explore so we can stay locked in on the end goal.
1. Isiah Pacheco Heading Toward RB1 Status
Isiah Pacheco has already surpassed his receiving numbers through six games this season than all of last year. He has 17 receptions this year for 135 yards compared to just 13 catches for 130 yards all of last season. Pass-catching backs are ideal for fantasy and Pacheco is falling into that category, giving him top-12 potential. He is currently the RB12 on the season and should remain there if he keeps getting targets.
2. Conner-less Cardinals Backfield Yields Little Results
Losing James Conner was extremely tough both for the Cardinals and for fantasy managers, because Conner was the sole proprietor of Arizona’s backfield. In his first game out, the bulk of the carries went to Keaontay Ingram and fantasy hero of yesteryear Damien Williams. The hot waiver add, Emari Demercado, saw just three total opportunities. Rondale Moore saw one more carry than Demercado, further complicating the backfield rotation. Based on this game, it seems that Ingram would be the RB to roster, but really no Arizona back is worth starting at this point until Conner returns from injury.
3. Tight Ends on the Rise
Every week brings a mishmash of results at the tight end position, and Week 6 was no different. A handful of TEs who have been basically irrelevant for fantasy put up meaningful numbers on Sunday, giving fantasy managers more potential options at the position moving forward. Of the three names that made waves on Sunday, Dalton Schultz, Michael Mayer and Trey McBride, I think Schultz is the only TE worth picking up. Mayer was highly-drafted and it was nice to see his involvement in the offense (five catches for 75 yards) but it felt more like an illusion than a repeatable scenario. Same goes for McBride, who has to compete with Zach Ertz in an insubstantial offense. Schultz has a proven track record, has scored a touchdown three weeks in a row and is part of a Houston offense that is ascending. Scoop up Schultz and start him, but wait to see if Mayer and McBride can replicate their performances.
4. Miles Sanders May Have Lost His Starting Job
It hasn’t been pretty for Miles Sanders in Carolina, and things may have just gotten worse without him suiting up on Sunday. Chuba Hubbard has looked good in a backup role through the first few weeks and played well given the starting nod against the Dolphins in Week 6, rushing for 88 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. That one game may have been all that’s needed for Hubbard to take on a more prominent role, even if Sanders returns healthy after next week’s bye.
5. Roster Curtis Samuel, not Jahan Dotson
A few weeks ago I argued that Jahan Dotson should remain on fantasy benches until we saw improvement, but unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. He’s been non-existent for fantasy, despite running the second-most routes on the team after Terry McLaurin. In Week 6 he had just one target he didn’t catch. Curtis Samuel has outscored Dotson every week and exploded onto the scene with a touchdown in three consecutive weeks. It’s painful to say, but Dotson should be moved from the bench to the waiver wire and Samuel should take his spot on fantasy rosters.
6. Top-3 RB Finish in the Cards for Travis Etienne
Travis Etienne is the complete package for the Jaguars and for fantasy football. He has one of the safest floors for the RB position while also having extreme boom potential week in and week out. His worst game of the season (6.2 fantasy points) came against a stout Kansas City run defense in Week 2, but he’s put up double-digit fantasy points in the other five games, including a 36.4 point performance in Week 5. He’s scoring on the ground, seeing a substantial amount of targets and Jacksonville’s offense is starting to click. Etienne, who ADP was in the third round, is heading toward a top-3 RB finish.
7. Rachaad White Trending in Wrong Direction
The hope coming into this year was Rachaad White would volume his way into fantasy relevance. The Buccaneers have little depth at the RB position, so White was going to see a ton of work on the ground and in the passing game. That’s been true to a certain extent, but he’s been so inefficient that even volume hasn’t equated to much production aside from a spike game in Week 2 when he scored 18.8 fantasy points. He’s coming off his worst game of the year (just 5.3 fantasy points) and we’re starting to see more involvement from Ke’Shawn Vaughn. He’s got a decent schedule the next three weeks before grueling matchups with the Titans and 49ers, so if has another spike week it might be best to sell high at that point.
8. JSN SZN Upon us?
It’s been a frustrating start of the season for Jaxon Smith-Njigba managers. It was a surprise to see the rookie play in Week 1 coming off surgery in training camp to repair a broken bone in his wrist. It’s fair to attribute his slow start to the injury recovery, but by Week 4 he still hadn’t shown much on the field. For the sake of JSN managers, we needed to see him more involved coming off Seattle’s Week 5 bye. The result wasn’t pretty, but he did have his best game with four catches for 48 yards. What’s more encouraging is his snap count and routes ran.
Nothing crazy in the box score but we did see a small post-bye rookie bump for JSN's usage
Weeks 1-4: 52% snaps, 70% routes
Week 6: 71% snaps, 81% routes
— Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT) October 16, 2023
If you’ve stayed the course with JSN this season, your patience might finally pay off in the coming weeks. We may not see a league-winning breakout, but at this point, JSN having flex potential is better than nothing.
9. Jalen Hurts Struggling in Passing Game
For fantasy purposes, Jalen Hurts has been fine, thanks in large part to 253 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. But his passing numbers have been pedestrian, to say the least. He’s completed just 66.2% of his passing attempts and has a QBR of 84.7, which is 21st in the league among starting quarterbacks. He’s tied for second with seven interceptions and has only thrown seven touchdowns. He’s coming off a three-interception performance against the Jets, sealing the Eagles’ first defeat of the season. As long as Hurts keeps flourishing in the running game he will continue to be a fantasy stud, but be weary of his passing game moving forward.
10. Injuries Continue to Plague San Francisco
No matter who your allegiances lie with, you have to feel bad for the San Francisco 49ers. Every year this team always seems to be dealing with injuries. Whether it’s the quarterbacks with Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance, or Brock Purdy. The running backs, Raheem Mostert or Elijah Mitchell. The pass-catchers, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk or George Kittle. Key players seem to get injured every year. On Sunday, it was Samuel once again and Christian McCaffrey who had to leave the game with injuries. Star offensive tackle Trent Williams even left the game but was able to return. The 49ers have enough offensive firepower to hold down the fort while dealing with injuries, but it feels like the team can never go through a season unscathed. It’s important to monitor the status of Samuel and McCaffrey in the coming days and we could see a boost for Aiyuk or Kittle if either player has to miss time.