The Patriots will attempt to hang the first 2018 loss on the Chiefs in Gillette Stadium Sunday night in a game with the highest projected total of the season. New England’s offense is starting to come together with two straight 38-point outings the last couple of weeks. The Chiefs still rank second in points and yards per drive on the year. It’s easy to see why this total is as high has it is. Patrick Mahomes faces his greatest test yet going into Foxboro against Bill Belichick. While the longtime coaching master knows how to “figure out” a young quarterback, it’s hard to imagine this offense being bottled up against a defense that ranks dead last in sack rate. At the very least, those 3.5 points you get with the Chiefs are interesting.
The Chargers and Browns come into this just a game, or a half depending on how you want to view a tie, apart in record. Vegas reflected this as well, with the Browns getting just one point at home against the 3-2 Chargers. The 44.5-point total here feels relatively low. Los Angeles has Philip Rivers playing at an MVP-level right now, as he ranks third in the NFL in passer rating and touchdown rate with a 70.1 percent completion rate. The Baker Mayfield-led offense has shown the ability to push 40 total points when facing a middling to poor defense, which the Chargers certainly qualify as. Mayfield hasn’t completely hit just yet but has shown the ability to make big plays. The No. 1 overall pick currently carries the fifth-highest yards per completion figure with 13.3.
Keenan Allen makes for one of the best buy-low candidates here in Week 6, having slipped down to $24 in Yahoo DFS. While the running backs have turned into a feature part of the passing game, Allen still leads the team with a 27 percent share of the team’s air yards but has mostly just been used as a short receiver with a 7.4 average depth of target. Remember, this is an elite receiver who cleared the 97th percentile in success rate vs. man coverage in Reception Perception for both 2015 (77.1%) and 2017 (77.6%). Given how much man coverage Cleveland plays, he gets a great matchup in Week 6 to turn in some high-end WR1 numbers. The Browns give up a 94.9 passer rating in the short middle of the field and their weakest corner lines up in the slot, as T.J. Carrie has allowed a 72 percent catch rate this season.
5. Seattle Seahawks (2-3) “at” Oakland Raiders (1-4)
While the #RevengeGame narrative will be the talk of the town with Marshawn Lunch facing off against his old team, the current Seahawks running back is in a prime position. Chris Carson has cleared 120 total yards in his last two games played and has handled a massive workload. The Seahawks are keeping to their offseason promise and are the second-most run-heavy team in the league. Carson should get fed in this spot with his team a 2.5-point favorite. As bad as the Raiders are at defending the pass, they can’t hold down running backs, either. The Raiders allow 156.2 total yards to running backs on the year, a bottom-10 figure.
6. Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at Tennessee Titans (3-2)
Baltimore and Tennessee have each offered a handful of flashes that would make you believe they could be true AFC contender. They’ve also handed over public duds. Both teams are coming of Week 5 showings of the latter variety. The Ravens’ defense is without question the best unit in this contest and it’s easier to plot their path to points. The Titans offense has performed at peak form in just one of five games and going against the best pass defense in the league is no recipe for success. However, Tennessee has demonstrated mental fortitude and toughed out uglier wins than this contest projects to be. With them getting 2.5 points at home, they’re a tempting proposition in Week 6.
John Brown saw a whopping 14 targets in Week 5 but came in under 60 receiving yards. He’s a prime buy-low in this spot. Brown leads all receivers with 871 air yards in the year. Tennessee should provide him with a soft-landing spot to convert some of that opportunity back into the big plays we all know he can make. The Titans pass defense has vulnerabilities, especially in outside cornerback Malcolm Butler. The prized free agent signing has allowed more yards in coverage (405) than any other cornerback this year.
The key to this game lies with how Washington reacts to getting embarrassed on Drew Brees’ record-breaking night in Week 6. The Panthers are hot right now after a miracle finish to their last game and handing the Bengals their only loss of the season. These two teams are stylistically similar from an approach standpoint, ranking inside the bottom-20 in passing play percentage and pace of play in neutral situations. However, whereas Washington is dealing with injuries and lacks a consistent week-to-week identity, the Panthers are only becoming more dynamic and healthier the farther we get into the season. Carolina can take this road spot.
Cam Newton is currently pacing to set a career high in rushing attempts, averaging 9 carries per game. That gives the former MVP a pristine floor to lean on as a weekly starter. In addition, the Carolina passing game is stocked to the brim with intriguing weapons. Both Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore stuck out against the Giants last week for their ability to make plays in space. Not to mention, Newton looks likely to get his favorite security blanket back for Week 6 with Greg Olsen potentially back in action. Newton’s play action percentage (28 percent) is back up to his career expectations after it dipped below 20 percent in both 2016 and 2017. His completion rate is a full 14.4 percent better on play action throws. This is by far the most intriguing offense we’ve seen in Carolina for quite a few years and they’ll take this unit up to Washington for a date with a defense that was absolutely smoked on Monday night against the Saints.
The Vikings enter this game as massive home favorites against the largely hapless Arizona Cardinals. The 10.5-point spread is the largest of the Week 6 slate. The Cardinals snagged their first win of the season against an excruciatingly banged-up 49ers squad last week but are still one of the least inspiring teams in the NFL. The last time Minnesota was a huge home favorite they failed to show up against Buffalo and were shellacked 27-6 in the season’s biggest upset. Yet, the passing game has found its groove since then and is playing well enough to get this type of line. Kirk Cousins has been under pressure on a whopping 42.5 percent of his dropbacks this season, per Pro Football Focus, but has managed a stellar 98.4 passer rating on those plays. That’s third-best in the NFL. While we know Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs should smash, if the Vikings do indeed smash this spread, Latavius Murray will come into play if Dalvin Cooks sits again. Cook could use another week of rest and while the Vikings have not cleared 80 yards rushing as a team since Week 1, but Murray could get fed if the team lives in positive game scripts. He’s a consideration for DFS tournaments.
Life hasn’t been easy for Josh Rosen since taking over the starting job. He’s been under pressure on an outrageous 47.7 percent of his dropbacks, per Pro Football Focus, which leads all quarterbacks that have started multiple games. The fact that he hasn’t looked overwhelmed while facing heat on almost half of his dropbacks is a marvelous sign. He has found a clear running mate in fellow rookie Christian Kirk at wide receiver. Larry Fitzgerald leads the team in total targets by just one since Josh Rosen took over as the starter in Week 4, Kirk maintains a massive lead in the yards with 113. Fitzgerald ranks second with 63. Kirk runs about 40 percent of his routes from the slot and another 30 percent at right wide receiver. That should keep him away from Xavier Rhodes this week and put him in the crosshairs of Mackensie Alexander and fellow rookie Mike Hughes, who have allowed a 100 and 77 percent catch rate, respectively.
The Packers are far from firing on all cylinders but get a cupcake spot against a consistently hurt 49ers squad. It’s a shame. A season that should have been filled with steps forward and hope has been fraught with health misery for San Francisco. The Packers should be able to control this one. Positive game script would bring running back Aaron Jones into focus. Despite a strong matchup, Jones was undone by game script in Week 5, playing the fewest snaps in the backfield with the Lions getting stomped by Detroit. If Green Bay maintains a lead on the Niners, Jones could push for a season-high in carries.
A return by Randall Cobb and/or Geronimo Allison would shake things up in the receiving corps but getting another look at these young wideouts wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Rookies Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling combined for over 150 yards and a score last week. They each took cracks at the slot but Valdes-Scantling was the primary interior receivers, taking 64.3 percent of his snaps inside. He also ran more routes overall (56 to 46) than St. Brown. The 49ers have been smashed in the middle of the field this year, giving up a 113.9 passer rating on those throws.
10. Los Angeles Rams (5-0) at Denver Broncos (2-3)
Even though it’s a road spot, the Rams as only seven-point favorites over this hapless Broncos team feels generous. What does Denver do well right now? Their defense can’t cover, their passing offense is poor, while the pressure and run game come and go in waves. If all goes to script, the Rams could easily smash this team all while giving seven points.
If weather or the home crowd does help to keep this game close, the running back duo of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman could make noise here. The Rams willingly sacrifice their run defense in favor of beating back the passing game but it’s been as bad as advertised. Los Angeles allows five yards per carry to running backs on the year. Freeman and Lindsay are super thin considering the game script concerns and their split backfield but don’t be shocked if one of them comes away with a big game.
11. Indianapolis Colts (1-4) at New York Jets (2-3)
Eric Ebron is about as locked-in as it gets at tight end right now. Over the last two weeks, he’s tied with Zach Ertz for the lead among all tight ends with 25 targets. His 216 air yards are the most at the position and he collected 145 yards and three scores. If he’s on the field, you’re locking him in despite facing a team that has allowed the fewest catches (15) to the position.
12. Buffalo Bills (2-3) at Houston Texans (2-3)
Houston’s biggest Achilles heel is the offensive line. Deshaun Watson has been under pressure on 45.7 percent of his dropbacks, second only to Josh Rosen among quarterbacks to start multiple games. He’s been sacked 17 times and thrown three picks under pressure, per Pro Football Focus. The Bills top pass rusher Jerry Hughes is playing lights out football right now, totaling 25 pressures. He trails only Dee Ford among all edge rushers. If the Bills can get to Watson and keep this offense off schedule, they have a chance to at worst cover the double-digit spread.
13. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
While this game doesn’t have much in the way of sleeper appeal, the plays are pretty straightforward, it’s worth keeping an eye on two injury situations in Jacksonville. With Corey Grant out of the mix, T.J. Yeldon’s lone competition for touches is Jamaal Charles, who looked over the hill with Denver last year and was just signed this week. If he maintains a 90-plus snap percentage role, he is an RB1 the rest of the way. Joining Grant on IR this week was starting tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. One of the players who could replace him is Niles Paul. It’s been years since he was on our radar but back when he was, he had beat out Jordan Reed for the starting tight end job in Washington. Had a nasty injury not ended his season, it was truly set to be his time to rise. That was eons ago but the tight end position is so shallow that this is worth monitoring. Dallas is a soft-landing spot, as well, considering they’ve allowed 30 catches to tight end, fourth-most among NFL defenses.
14. Chicago Bears (3-1) at Miami Dolphins (3-2)
The Dolphins come into this game after dropping two-straight games following a 3-0 start. Their Week 6 opponent is a tough draw coming off a bye. Chicago’s relentless front seven will be rested and ready to rock. Miami has allowed Ryan Tannehill to get sacked on 28.6 percent of his dropbacks, fifth-highest among passers this season. These two teams should keep this contest low-scoring and suck most of the fantasy juice out of this spot.
If you’re thinking about playing Mitchell Trubisky in Week 6 coming off his bye week, you better spend a lot of time meditating on whether his Week 4 eruption was a true sign of progress and things to come, or a mere mirage brought on by the hideous Tampa Bay passing defense. The answer likely lies somewhere in the middle. As for Week 6, Miami’s pass defense has forced a league-high 10 picks but has given up solid passing game production. While this Bears offense should continue to make the leap in spurts over the course of the season, this might be a slow week in a low-scoring game. I think this all adds up to make Trubisky something of a mid-range QB2 play in Week 6. On the plus side for the matchup, the Dolphins allow a beefy 10.6 yards per pass play over the middle of the field. Chicago’s top weapons in receiver Allen Robinson, speedy Taylor Gabriel and tight end Trey Burton all take routes out of the slot and work the middle of the field. You can talk out of both ends on this one.