Derrick Henry rumbles and humbles, a trio of zeros: Week 6 recap

October 20, 2020

The Falcons and the Giants claimed their first wins on Sunday, leaving the Jets as the frontrunners to win the Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. But you’re here to recap some fantasy and talking about the Jets won’t do that. Let’s dive in!

Game of the week:

Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans (36-42)

Derrick Henry, take a bow. The 2019 rushing leader was the star of the day, rushing for over 200 yards on 22 carries with a couple scores. Interestingly, he also saw a season-high five targets, although he only caught two of them. There were acres of running room for Henry to soak up; even backup Jeremy McNichols got in on the fun (five carries, 51 yards). It was the week-winning move that you drafted Henry to have.

Ryan Tannehill was not limited by Henry, surprisingly. He threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns, connecting with A.J. Brown, Adam Humphries and Anthony Firkser all game long. The Titans may have lost three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan for the season (torn ACL). Firkser was a revelation after Jonnu Smith left the game with an ankle injury, catching eight of his nine targets for 113 yards and a touchdown. Should Smith miss time, Firkser should be a priority pickup for the tight-end needy against a Steelers defense that just lost their best coverage linebacker in Devin Bush (torn ACL).

The Texans deserve their fair share of credit too, though definitely not the defense. Deshaun Watson proved me wrong and smacked one of the toughest matchups against the fantasy quarterback to the tune of 335 yards and four touchdowns. This marks two weeks since Bill O’Brien was fired; consequently, this is two straight weeks of being a top six option. Continue to fire him up as a QB1.

Brandin Cooks continued his resurgence, catching all nine of his targets for 68 yards and a score. Of course, Will Fuller V did more with less, averaging over 20 yards-per-reception on the way to six receptions, 123 yards and a touchdown. Fuller continues to be a must-start, especially with Watson suddenly hot again while Cooks is off to a promising start in the post-Bill O’Brien era. View him as a FLEX.

Player of the week

D’Andre Swift (14 carries, 116 rushing yards and two touchdowns)

Are you telling me that Swift, who ran at a beautiful 8.3 yards-per-carry, deserves more work than Adrian Peterson?

It may have taken six weeks for Matt Patricia to watch some film, but the transition seemed to have been made as Swift saw his most carries to date by a good margin. Should the rushing volume continue, Swift is a weekly RB2 with RB1 upside due to his involvement in the receiving game, although that was limited in Detroit’s win over Jacksonville. But it’s worth noting that Swift only played 38% of snaps, which barely surpassed Kerryon Johnson (31%) and Peterson’s (27%). Patricia could leave fantasy owners extremely burned next week, but there’s no reason to expect that… right?

Bust of the week

Cam Akers

No stat line. Nothing but a single snap.

Is that what constitutes an “increased workload” Sean McVay? Akers left a lot of owners expecting the breakout Swift had, only to be left with a fat goose egg in their lineups. Who knows what Akers did to deserve this, but Akers is the third-string back here. No question. Third-string backs do not need to be owned in most fantasy formats. He will certainly flash his talent like he did last week and remains an intriguing buy-low in dynasty but for traditional redrafts, exercise your tilt. Let him go if you need to add someone.

Honorable mention to Mike Gesicki who saw every Dolphins tight end produce fantasy value but him, and Mecole Hardman who is a speed-guy and nothing more. Ugh.

Storyline to watch

Is Juju Smith-Schuster still a weekly start?

The breakup of the wide receivers in Pittsburgh has been incredibly interesting to watch. This is Ben Roethlisberger’s first real season without Antonio Brown, and the impact of that is glaringly positive for the offense. Roethlisberger isn’t forcing throws; these are well-scripted, smart passes. It is unheard of for Roethlisberger to enter Week 7 with only one interception. The result of this conservative style has kept the high-scoring nature of years past but without the high attempts and high yardage. Thus, fantasy options around Roethlisberger have been heavily reliant on touchdowns.

Smith-Schuster has scored just once since Week 3 and his production reflects it. He’s out on the field but he just hasn’t seen many looks. With the emergence of rookie Chase Claypool, it’s fair to be concerned after Smith-Schuster saw no more than five targets in three straight games. However, remember the game script. In Week 5, the Steelers led for most of the game on the back of a ridiculous Claypool performance, which was an outlier performance by any metric. In Week 6, the Steelers smacked the Browns by 31, which led to a season-low in attempts for Roethlisberger. Each of the Steelers matchups in the next three weeks is against a top 10 scoring team. If Smith-Schuster’s troubles persist, that’s when the alarm should be sounding.

Injury roundtable

  • Baker Mayfield (ribs)

Mayfield left the game late after being hit all game long, courtesy of Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward. It was a precautionary measure for the quarterback who was sore after last week’s loss to the Colts. He should be fine entering Week 7.

  • Raheem Mostert (ankle)

Ugh. This was the concern for Mostert, who has never handled a large workload. He suffered a high-ankle sprain that is expected to land him on the I.R. for a minimum of three weeks. It’s a tough break for the 49ers back, who has been great when active but in short stints. A knee injury already sidelined him multiple games earlier in the year. Jerick McKinnon will be the primary benefactor with undrafted rookie Jamycal Hasty a sneaky play as well. Jeff Wilson was inactive last week with a calf injury but might return this week. His return would put a damper on Hasty’s sleeper value.

  • Joe Mixon (foot)

The Bengals running back left the game with a foot injury, but Zac Taylor said Mixon was able to return, which might indicate this isn’t a significant injury. However, the team is awaiting more information about his injury, per ESPN’s Ben Baby. Follow this injury closely, but all indications are that this is a precaution. Should Mixon surprisingly miss, Giovani Bernard would be the immediate play.

  • Miles Sanders (knee)

We all thought the worst when Sanders was ruled out with a knee injury, but thankfully this will not be an extended absence. Sanders will miss this week’s tilt against the Giants given that the teams play on Thursday. The team might also hold him out in Week 8 to rest him through their Week 9 bye, but time will tell if that’s the case. The team does face an important Week 8 tilt against their division rivals in Dallas. In Sanders’ place, Boston Scott will pick up the slack as a solid fantasy option against the Giants, particularly in the receiving game with Corey Clement mixing in on early-down work.

  • Mark Ingram (ankle)

The veteran went down with an ankle injury but is expected to be ready after the team’s Week 7 bye. Should he miss time, there could be viable production out of this backfield rather than the crapshoot it seems to be. J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards would be intriguing options should Ingram miss time.

  • DeVante Parker (groin)

Parker left the game late with the injury after a mediocre showing. Health has been a major factor on Parker’s career to date and 2020 has been another year of playing through the pain. The severity of Parker’s injury is not yet known so stay on top of this. A Week 7 buy allows for some much-needed recuperation.

  • Zach Ertz (ankle)

Dallas Goedert better be back soon because the Eagles are paper-thin at playmakers. Ertz is expected to miss three to four weeks with a high left ankle sprain. If Goedert is activated, he becomes a weekly must-start in Ertz’s absence given his talent and opportunity. Meanwhile, if your league has an IR, feel free to stash Ertz. If not, then send him to the wire and make sure to sweep the trails of dust he left behind.

  • Jonnu Smith (ankle)

A minor ankle injury left Smith sidelined for most of Sunday’s game. He should be fine in future weeks and has an important game against the Steelers coming up, but he is considered questionable for Week 7 already. Smith owners should have a backup plan ready to go in case he fails to suit up — the aforementioned Firkser would be a smart pickup.

A final trio of quick hits:

  • – Travis Fulgham continued his good form, albeit with a costly drop. Whether he can keep it up with DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffrey getting closer to their returns, who can say? But Fulgham sure looks like the real deal.
  • –   A couple of throws and a handoff was all the Dolphins needed to see, apparently, as Tua Tagovailoa is set to make his debut as a starter following the team’s bye week. Poor Ryan Fitzpatrick has played his heart out this season, but at least it’s #TuaTime.
  • –   Ezekiel Elliot has fumbled five times in six games, losing four of those. With Andy Dalton under center, those are mistakes the Cowboys can’t afford. The rest of us, though, can laugh and point every time the Cowboys underperform.