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Jesse Pantuosco

Power Rankings

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Week 6 Power Rankings

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


Most of the time, fantasy football is an exercise in pain and suffering. Even the best among us aren’t batting 1.000. Inevitably, whether it’s this week or the next, one of my five season-long teams will get its teeth kicked in. There was a time when being a fantasy football analyst (or whatever it says on my LinkedIn page) served as some sort of advantage over my friends. But that was back when the general public treated fantasy as a fun way to pass the time on Sundays. Now it’s war.

 

The point may have gotten lost in my elaborate build-up, but if you’re going to take away one major bullet point from all this self-indulgent silliness, here it is—thank you, Matt. Seriously dog, I owe you one. This man is my silent protector, an angel sent down from Fantasy Football Heaven. He is also a complete and utter fool. Let me explain.

 

So, I co-run a team with one of my buddies from college and this week we were going against the aforementioned Matt, whose last name I’ve omitted to protect his identity. Anyway, when Sunday wrapped up, the good guys (that’s John and me) were ahead 143.6-143.1. I texted John, “Phew, we squeaked out a close one.” He texted back, “No, we didn’t.”

 

See with Chicago on its bye week, Matt didn’t bother to start a defense. But all he had to do was scoop up either Washington or New Orleans off the free-agent wire and coast to an easy win (assuming neither scored negative fantasy points). If John and I had roster spots to spare we could have boxed him out by picking up both defenses, but with lineups already locked, our fate was sealed. Defeat was imminent.

 

But as Lee Corso would say (with or without the assistance of a mascot head), NOT SO FAST. Occasionally, you’ll catch a fantasy owner snoozing, so I was still holding out a sliver of hope that maybe, just maybe Matt would get caught up in something else and forget to check his lineup. But because fantasy football is nothing without its requisite dose of weekly back-stabbing, a fellow league member alerted Matt of his mistake. Except it wasn’t a mistake. Matt said he had made a conscious choice to punt his defense rather than dropping the Bears and losing them to the waiver wire.

 

To quote the incomparable Lil Jon, “WHAT?!!!” I understand that the Bears, led by quarterback-devouring swamp monster Khalil Mack, have been the highest-scoring defense in fantasy this year. But imagine having a victory in your grasp and saying, “Nah, I’m good.” IT’S JUST A DEFENSE, YOU PSYCHO.

 

It’s worth noting that Matt was 4-0 going into this matchup and obviously didn’t care about the result, but how can someone just accept defeat? Also, if Matt was so bullish on Chicago, why didn’t he just bench them and pick up another defense during the week? I try to be as forward-thinking as possible when it comes to fantasy but I find it hard to see the logic in this. Forfeiting the week just to keep the Bears from falling into the wrong hands is bold with a capital B.

 

So maybe the fantasy gods aren’t as cruel as we all thought. Wherever you are Matt, you beautiful, tropical fish, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Despite your inexplicable kindness, know that I would NEVER do the same for you because fantasy is war and I play for keeps. On that note (heartwarming as always, Jesse) let’s kick off the Power Rankings with the Rams, who hold the top spot for the fourth straight week.

 

1. Los Angeles Rams

Record: 5-0

Last Week: 1

 

Sean McVay’s brilliance was on full display Sunday against Seattle. The Doogie Howser of the NFL showed what good coaching looks like by calling a QB sneak on fourth-and-one from the Rams’ 44, sealing the win with 1:39 remaining. Todd Gurley continued his scoring binge, obliterating the Seahawks with three touchdowns in the victory. He’s having another video-game season with 645 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns through five contests. With Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp in the concussion protocol, Robert Woods will have to step up against the Broncos in Week 6.

 

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2. Kansas City Chiefs

Record: 5-0

Last Week: 2

 

Patrick Mahomes threw his first interceptions of the year in Week 5 but it wasn’t all bad for The Patural (as Rich Eisen calls him). The 23-year-old extended his streak of 300-yard passing games to four while improving to 6-0 as an NFL starter. Kareem Hunt dropped some knowledge on Sunday, going for 87 rushing yards and a touchdown—his fifth in four games—versus Jacksonville. Next the Chiefs will head to Foxboro for a Sunday night tilt with the Patriots. Hunt fared pretty well in his last primetime game against New England, tallying 246 yards and three touchdowns in last year’s season opener. 

 

3. New Orleans Saints

Record: 4-1

Last Week: 4

 

Drew Brees added another league record to his resume on Monday night by taking over first place on the NFL’s all-time passing yards list. Mark Ingram buried the Redskins in his return from a four-game suspension (73 yards and two touchdowns) while reducing Alvin Kamara to milk carton status. Michael Thomas became the latest receiver to beef with Josh Norman, calling him out on Twitter after Monday night’s win. Rookie Tre’Quan Smith shined in Week 5, contributing 111 yards and two touchdowns in place of injured deep threat Ted Ginn (knee).

 

4. New England Patriots

Record: 3-2

Last Week: 5

 

Tom Brady made history by becoming the third member of the 500-touchdown club in Week 5, reaching the milestone on a 34-yard strike to Josh Gordon. That was Gordon’s first touchdown since joining New England last month. Nobody on the Patriots has been as consistent as James White, who has scored in all but one game this year while ranking second among running backs with 32 catches. With his 75-yard performance in Week 5, Rob Gronkowski now ranks second on the Patriots’ all-time receiving yards list.

 

5. Carolina Panthers

Record: 3-1

Last Week: 8

 

The Panthers nearly blew it against the Giants on Sunday but were bailed out by the right leg of Graham Gano, who knocked home this insane 63-yard field goal—the longest in franchise history—as time expired (losing on heartbreaking field goals has become a frequent occurrence for the G-Men). Christian McCaffrey found the end zone against New York, scoring for the first time since Week 15 of last season. Curtis Samuel’s 25-yarder on Sunday marked his first career touchdown. That was his season debut after missing the first three games with an irregular heartbeat. 

 

6. Cincinnati Bengals

Record: 4-1

Last Week: 9

 

The 4-1 Bengals are off to their best start since 2015, which was also the last time Cincinnati qualified for the postseason. Reports suggested Joe Mixon would be limited in his return from arthroscopic knee surgery. So of course, he played a career-high 47 snaps in Sunday’s win. A.J. Green got the better of Dolphins corner Xavien Howard in Week 5, compiling 112 yards on six catches in the victory. That was the 32nd 100-yard receiving game of Green’s career, which broke a team record previously held by Chad Johnson

 

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

Record: 3-2

Last Week: 3

 

The Jaguars grinded their way to the AFC title game on the strength of a power running game last season, but this year they may have to get creative with Leonard Fournette (hamstring) and Corey Grant (foot) both down for the count. Jamaal Charles, who has now entered the “I’ll play for anyone as long as it pays” stage of his career, was signed as veteran depth behind interim starter T.J. Yeldon. Blake Bortles set a career-high in passing yards for the second straight week, but also threw four interceptions in an abysmal performance against Kansas City. Only Derek Carr (eight) has been picked off more times than Bortles (seven) this year.

 

8. Chicago Bears

Record: 3-1

Last Week: 10

 

Back from their bye week, the Bears now begin a stretch of four straight games against the AFC East. That will be a good litmus test for Mitchell Trubisky, who is coming off a miraculous six-touchdown performance in Week 4. Chicago’s next stretch will also go a long way toward solving the Bears’ backfield puzzle. Jordan Howard has out-touched Tarik Cohen 74-41 for the season, though Cohen showed him up with a monster effort in Week 4, compiling 174 yards from scrimmage in a win over Tampa Bay.

 

9. Minnesota Vikings

Record: 2-2-1

Last Week: 12

 

The Vikings got their you know what handed to them when they squared off against the Eagles in last year’s NFC title bout, but that was with Case Keenum at quarterback. With Kirk Cousins steering the ship, Minnesota took care of business against the Eagles, winning the rematch 23-21 in Week 5. Philadelphia had no answer for Adam Thielen, who became just the third receiver in NFL history to start a season with five straight 100-yard games. Unfortunately, the Vikes’ ground game is still a mess—Minnesota is the only team in football without a rushing touchdown.

 

10. Baltimore Ravens

Record: 3-2

Last Week: 6

 

We knew coming in that John Brown would be hit or miss, but unfortunately for Baltimore, he’s been a lot more miss than hit lately. The 28-year-old has made good on just seven of his 21 targets over the past two weeks, though the few catches he’s managed during that span have all been for big gains (24.9 yards per reception). At the time, it felt like the Raiders were making a mistake by moving on from Michael Crabtree, but now it looks like they knew what they were doing. The veteran has contributed a league-high eight drops including three in Sunday’s overtime loss to Cleveland.

 

11. Los Angeles Chargers

Record: 3-2

Last Week: 14

 

Melvin Ingram had himself a game in Week 5, registering a team-high seven tackles along with a sack and his first career interception in a win over Oakland. He also got a goal-line carry for some reason. It’s time we start looking at the Melvin Gordon/Austin Ekeler pairing in a historical context. They’re on pace for a combined 3,216 yards from scrimmage, which would go down as the most by a running back duo in NFL history, bettering the current mark held by the Bears backfield tandem of Roland Harper and Walter Payton (3,207 combined yards in 1978).

 

12. Philadelphia Eagles

Record: 2-3

Last Week: 7

 

Philadelphia didn’t measure up Sunday against the Vikings, falling short despite another goliath effort from Zach Ertz, who pulled in 10 catches for 110 yards on 11 targets. That puts Ertz on pace for 1,398 receiving yards, which would eclipse the current tight end record held by Rob Gronkowski (1,327 in 2011). With Jay Ajayi (ACL) done for the year and Darren Sproles still nursing a hamstring injury, might the Eagles consider a reunion with LeSean McCoy? Reports say they’re thinking about it. How do the Eagles right the ship after losing three out of four? Gary Cobb has an interesting solution.

 

13. Pittsburgh Steelers

Record: 2-2-1

Last Week: 16

 

James Conner gave the Falcons all they could handle in Week 5, busting out of a mini-slump with 185 yards (110 rushing, 75 receiving) and two touchdowns. T.J. Watt has made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks this year, registering six sacks in the early going. That ties him with Geno Atkins and his older brother J.J. for the league lead. Remember a few weeks ago when people were losing their mind over Antonio Brown’s slow start? Well he’s fixed that in a hurry, piling on four touchdowns over his last three contests.  

 

14. Green Bay Packers

Record: 2-2-1

Last Week: 11

 

Marquez Valdes-Scantling made DFS players some loot by delivering 68 yards and his first career touchdown in Week 5. Not bad, and all for the bargain price of $4,800 on FanDuel. Aaron Rodgers had a field day against Detroit, ethering the Lions for 423 yards, an impressive feat considering he was playing without two of his top wideouts (Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison). Mason Crosby cost his team Sunday by missing four field goals and an extra point, but after spending the past decade in Green Bay, the Packers aren’t ready to give up on him, at least not yet.

 

15. Tennessee Titans

Record: 3-2

Last Week: 13

 

After scoring upset wins over the Jaguars and Eagles in Weeks 3 and 4, the Titans let their guard down with an ugly loss to Buffalo in Week 5. Marcus Mariota looked mediocrity square in the face with another dismal performance on Sunday, connecting on just 14-of-26 throws for 129 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Malcolm Butler was a game-changer for New England but he hasn’t been the same since moving his operation to Nashville. The first-year Titan has already been burned for four touchdowns this season, second-most in the league behind Marcus Peters.

 

16. Miami Dolphins

Record: 3-2

Last Week: 15

 

The Dolphins dominated early in Week 5 but couldn’t finish the job, coughing up a 17-point second-half lead to Cincinnati. At least Kenyan Drake gave fantasy owners their money’s worth, piling on a season-high 115 yards from scrimmage while out-touching Frank Gore by a razor-thin 13-12 margin. Miami’s ill-fated DeVante Parker experiment seems to be nearing its end. The Dolphins are reportedly shopping the former first-round pick, though it’s doubtful they’ll find any takers. Injuries have limited the underachieving 25-year-old to just one game this season.

 


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Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



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