After six weeks in the NFL, the best two teams in the NFL are the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers, setting up a Tom Brady/Jimmy Garoppolo showdown in the Super Bowl.
New England Patriots
For the first time in Tom Brady’s career, the Patriots have the top defense in the league in both points allowed (48) and yards allowed (234.7 per game). At the same time, New England leads the NFL in scoring (31.7 per game) on offense.
Through six games, the Patriots have allowed only two field goals and six touchdowns on 79 possessions. Of those six touchdowns, three were allowed by their offense and special teams. New England’s defense already has six defensive scores with 14 interceptions and 25 sacks.
Now the downside in their success is their weak schedule (PIT, MIA, NYJ, BUF, WAS, and NYG). These six teams have a 10-23 record, and have been outscored by 312 points or 9.5 points per game.
The Patriots have five remaining home games (CLE, DAL, KC, BUF, and MIA) plus one layup on the road (CIN). Their most significant three tests away from home will come against Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Houston. Needless to say, but home-field advantage looks to be almost a lock even with some questions at the wide receiver and tight end positions.
San Francisco 49ers
As for the 49ers, they beat up on two weak opponents (TB and CIN) on the road to start the year, with the second win laying the foundation of their style of play in 2019.
Against the Bengals, San Francisco ran the ball 42 times, leading to 259 yards rushing with two TDs, plus success in the passing game (313 yards and three touchdowns). Over the last three games, the 49ers ran the ball 40 times or more in each win over Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and the Los Angeles Rams. San Francisco’s running backs have scored two touchdowns in each of their previous four contests while controlling the time of possession in each game (32:10, 36:17, 37.43, and 38:52).
Just like New England, their defense is a big part of their success. The 49ers have held opponents to 12.8 points per game and have produced 17 sacks, five fumble recoveries, seven interceptions, and two defensive scores.
Over the last two games, the 49ers held Baker Mayfield and Jared Goff to 78 yards passing each with no TDs.
Week 6 Winners
In Week 6, the biggest winners in real football and fantasy football were the combination of Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs.
Cousins passed for 333 yards and four TDs, which was his best day of the season. We had him as top value at QB in the daily games with this outlook:
The Vikings’ passing game finally had a spark in Week 5 (306/2) with three straight games of growth in his completion rate (71.4, 75.0, and 81.5). Even with his success, he’s averaging only 25.2 pass attempts per game with a rebound in his completion rate (68.3) and his yards per pass attempts (8.3). The Eagles struggled in three games vs. QBs (380/3, 320/3, and 422/2) and WRs (15/225/2, 17/227/3, and 16/279/1). The glowing signal here is the success of Philly stopping the run (3.2 yards per rush). No team has rushed for over 86 yards vs. the Eagles. Minnesota has the talent at WR to win in this matchup, plus Philly should at least put up a fight on the scoreboard. Worthy value play in Week 6.
Diggs finished Week 6 with his best day of the season (7/167/3 plus two rushes for 18 yards). Even with his success, Cousins missed him on another wide-open bomb by about three feet for a fourth score. Diggs had two drops with the first resulting in the Vikings’ only interception. We had Diggs rated as the third-highest WR in Week 6 with this outlook:
Diggs had his fourth shallow game (3/44 on four targets) against the Giants while seeing his Adam Thielen shine. His best game came in Week 4 (7/108) with emptiness over the first three games (2/37, 1/49/1, and 3/15). On the year, Diggs averages only 4.6 targets per game compared to 9.9 targets in 2018. CB Rasul Douglas is a risk/reward type player. So far this season, Douglas allows a low catch rate with some risk in big plays and a pair of TDs. I sense it’s his turn to soar in Week 6. The Eagles will give up big plays to WRs, and I expect Diggs to shine in this match up.
I know Kyler Murray played one of the weakest pass defenses in the league in Week 6, but that shouldn’t dismiss his growth as a player. He threw for a season-high three touchdowns and totaled 372 combined yards from scrimmage. Over his past three games, he’s turned to his RBs in the passing game (8/99, 6/83, and 8/101/2) to force defenses to defend the first ten yards past the line of scrimmage. Last week he completed passes to nine different receivers. Look for Murray to continue to push his way up the rankings at QB in the Fantasy market with his next step coming in the deep passing game.
Week 6 Losers
Kansas City Chiefs
There are two things we learned about the NFL last week. The first is that the Chiefs don’t have the defense to get a good offense off the field, which will be a massive problem if they want to make a deep playoff run.
The Texans fell behind 17-3 in the first quarter, but they dominated the rest of the game. Houston outscored Kansas City 28-7 over the final three periods while winning the time of possession battle (39:48 to 20:12). The Texans ran 83 plays compared to 47 by the Chiefs.
Kansas City has now lost the time of possession battle in four straight games while struggling to run the ball in their previous two games (14/36 and 11/53).
Los Angeles Rams
The high flying Rams’ offense isn’t the same without Todd Gurley playing at a high level. Los Angeles ran the ball seven straight times on their opening drive, which led to a TD. Malcolm Brown gained 40 yards on five carries, and Robert Woods ran for 16 yards on two runs from the WR position. For the remainder of the game, Brown failed to gain any more yards on six rushes.
Brown would not be the answer at RB for the Rams if Gurley were to miss an extended period of time. Darrell Henderson flashed (48 yards and one catch on seven touches), but he did miss a handoff leading to a costly turnover. I would much rather own Henderson in Fantasy leagues as the handcuff to Gurley going forward.
For LA to get back in the hunt in the NFC West, they need to feature their stud RB. The success of Gurley running the ball and receiving sets up the success of the Rams’ WRs. At 3-3 with three straight losses, Los Angeles is closer to last place in their division than a playoff berth.
Week 6 Slam Dunk
The slam dunk of the week in the daily games was Austin Hooper against the Cardinals’ defense. He finished with eight catches for 117 yards and one TD on eight targets. After six games, tight ends have 46 catches for 599 yards and seven TDs on 56 target vs. Arizona. Here’s his writeup for Week 6 in the daily games:
The stats geeks will be all over Hooper in Week 6 based on his start to the year (top scoring TE – 16.86 FPPG), and the disaster coverage of TEs by the Cardinals’ defense (23.62 FPPG – 36/461/6 on 46 targets). Over the first four games, Arizona allowed six TDs to TEs and four impact games (DET – 7/146/1, BAL – 10/127/2, CAR – 6/75/2, and SEA – 9/83/1). The Bengals ended the gift-giving party last week when their TEs caught only four balls for 30 yards on six targets as their coaching staff failed to get the memo on the Cardinals’ weakness in TE defense. Hooper had success in two chaser games (9/77 and 9/130) while adding a third game of value in Week 3 (6/66/2). Over 41 games in the NFL, he has 12 TDs while showing growth in each in the league. Hooper is on pace for 109 catches for 1,161 yards and six TDs. A great matchup on paper with a reasonable salary, but favorites fail week in and week out in the daily games. He may score 20.0 Fantasy points this week, which fills his salary bucket, but I expect one of the top three TEs to go off, making Hooper a bridesmaid option at best.
My failure in the daily games in Week 6 can be attributed to trying to beat Hooper’s matchup by the intrigue of Travis Kelce in what was expected to be a high scoring game.