Fantasy Football Week 6: What you missed Thursday, with Cam Newton and Carson Wentz moving in opposite directions
Carson Wentz thoroughly outplayed Cam Newton on Thursday night. Is he a more reliable Fantasy option at this point?
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What's this? Every Tuesday through Friday, Chris Towers will catch you up on the previous day's biggest news first thing in the morning. Here's what you missed Thursday:
Carson Wentz looks like he's making the leap
He's still racked by inconsistency from one play to the next, but the good is very much starting to outweigh the bad with Wentz. Despite completing just over half of his 30 passes, Wentz picked up 222 yards and three scores, giving him seven touchdowns over the last two weeks he has played. The Panthers made blitzing him a priority, and though they did manage to beat him up a bit, Wentz stood tall in the pocket and delivered yet again for Fantasy players. He has multiple touchdowns in four of six games.
Carson's completion percentage has actually dipped this season, but he's been more efficient overall thanks to better work on passes down the field. Through six games, he has 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions, and really seems to be benefiting from an improved receiving corps. He looks like a solid starting Fantasy option moving forward, including Week 7 against Washington.
Cam Newton is still figuring some stuff out
We thought we got past the concerns about Newton with his strong showings in Week 4 and 5, but he regressed badly Thursday night. Forced to throw by a non-existent Panthers' running game (more on that shortly), Newton ended up getting picked off three times on 52 pass attempts. He had just 239 yards and one passing touchdown, but managed to redeem his game somewhat with 71 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Maybe the short week didn't give him enough time to recover, but Newton was struggling to move the ball down the field a bit. He seemed to not have quite as much velocity, and had multiple passes dropped by defenders as well. He took a nasty shot late while trying to run for a touchdown, and seemed a bit out of sorts after that too, so hopefully the long layoff before the Panthers' Week 7 matchup against the Bears will help him recover. Newton will still be a recommended starter for that matchup.
The Panthers don't have a running game
Between Jonathan Stewart looking about a step-and-a-half too slow and Christian McCaffrey still not looking ready for primetime, the Panthers just couldn't do anything on the ground Thursday. They largely abandoned the running game, with Newton combining for only one fewer run (11) than McCaffrey and Stewart combined (12).
With Newton still doing plenty of work in the red zone, Stewart has been basically useless this season. He has just one game with even five Fantasy points in standard scoring, and would be at risk of losing his starting job if the team looked willing to trust McCaffrey with more rushing opportunities.
That, of course, doesn't seem likely to happen. McCaffrey has been an important part of the offense, but he has been a nonfactor on the ground, rushing for 2.7 yards per carry. And, most concerningly, they've only given him eight or fewer carries in each game since the opener. He has still managed to put himself on pace for more than 1,000 total yards on the season thanks to a health role in the passing game (10 catches in Week 6), but in standard formats, McCaffrey is just a borderline starter until he become more of a factor as a rusher.
- Kelvin Benjamin is looking like someone you can rely on… Looking at his season, Benjamin only really has one bad Fantasy performance, in Week 1. He also did little in Week 3, though an injury helps explain that. Over the last three weeks, he has 261 yards on 17 catches, with a touchdown.
- Devin Funchess continues to get fed… Funchess was a disappointment Thursday, catching just three passes for 36 yards. He did have nine targets, however, giving him 36 over the last four games. He seems to have taken over Greg Olsen's role in the passing game, a good place to be.
- Ed Dickson was a bust… It could have been worse for Dickson, who caught four passes for 36 yards on eight targets, but it was a letdown from the previous two games. Of course, seeing as he had just nine targets in his huge two-week run, it wasn't a hard letdown to see coming.
What else you need to know from around the NFL Thursday
Ezekiel Elliott's suspension was upheld
We're still a way away from knowing exactly what this means in the long run, but for now, Elliott is suspended once again. His team will likely mount another legal challenge with the aim of getting him back on the field after the team's Week 6 bye, but it's impossible to say whether that will work.
Ty Montgomery was taking contact at practice
Montgomery sported a flak jacket Thursday, and was able to practice in full while recovering from his broken ribs. He took some hits during practice and declared himself "fine," a good sign for his chances of playing in Week 6.
As for what that might mean for Fantasy players? It's a mess. Aaron Jones looked like a star in Week 5 filling in for Montgomery, but the Packers were showing zero interest in going away from Montgomery before his injury. They obviously love what he brings to the offense, and you have to imagine he isn't going away. We could be looking at a true running back committee, limiting the utility of both Jones and Montgomery. Keep an eye on Montgomery's status Friday, but it looks like he's going to play.
Travis Kelce (concussion) is improving
He still needs to be cleared through the league's concussion protocol, but Kelce took a big step toward playing in Week 6 by simply getting on the practice field Thursday. He was upgraded from not practicing Wednesday to a full participant Thursday. He still needs to be officially cleared, which is more complicated than a typical injury, but it certainly looks like Kelce will be back without missing any further time this week. That's good news.
Derrick Henry could get more involved in the offense
We thought Henry might be on the verge of pushing DeMarco Murray for playing time a few weeks ago, but his role disappeared over the last two games, as he rushed the ball just 10 times in those two games. Murray had 27 carries in that time, as the Titans have tried to get their struggling starter going after a hamstring injury.
Mike Mularkey told reporters Thursday he wants to get Henry more involved in the offense, and Week 6 could provide a great opportunity. The Titans are set to take on the lowly Colts, in a game they should be able to control pretty easily. That could give Henry more opportunities to run within the game flow, especially if they get up early. And, with Marcus Mariota improving from a hamstring injury, the offense should move better than it did in Week 5 against the Dolphins. Henry isn't a recommended start as more than an RB3, but if someone dropped him in your league, now would be an appropriate time to go make a claim.
- DeVante Parker (ankle) continues to miss practice… At this point, most signs point to Parker missing Week 6 as a result of this injury. Adam Gase discussed the need to get Jakeem Grant and Leonte Carroo more involved, but this should be a Jarvis Landry/Kenny Stills game. They're hard to trust, given Jay Cutler's play, but Landry should still be in your lineup, at least.
- Stefon Diggs (groin) sat out practice again… Diggs continues to tell reporters his groin injury isn't as bad as the one he suffered last season, but at this point you have to be expecting him to sit out. Michael Floyd could see an increased role, and isn't the worst option as a desperation play.
- Derek Carr (back) was limited Thursday… We may get a sign of Carr's status for Week 6 Friday when the official injury report comes out, but this could still be trending to a game-time decision.
- Marcus Mariota (hamstring) was limited… Everything I said for Carr applies here, except with a Monday night decision looming. If you don't have a better option, adding Jacoby Brissett as a last-minute Mariota replacement isn't a bad idea.
- Tom Brady (shoulder) was limited… Nobody seems to believe Brady will miss time in Week 6, so I won't either.
- Tyreek Hill (hamstring) showed up on the injury report… He was a limited participant on Thursday, so we'll see what happens Friday before worrying. Given Hill's reliance on speed, this one is a concern, though.
- Sterling Shepard (ankle) was not at practice again… It looks more and more likely the Giants' receiving corps will be led by Roger Lewis. Against the Broncos. This could get ugly quickly.
- Sam Bradford (knee) was not at practice… This doesn't come as much of a surprise after Monday night, but Bradford certainly doesn't look like he'll play this week.
- Markus Wheaton (groin) will miss 4-6 weeks… Wheaton had an opportunity to step up for a depleted Bears receiving corps, but injuries have sidetracked him. He has no Fantasy value.
- D'Onta Foreman (hip) was limited at practice… Foreman saw a more diminished role in Week 5, and the hip could be why. He remains more of a stash candidate for the long term, so this injury shouldn't change how you view him.
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