juliojonescbs.jpg
USATSI

We'll start today with the latest injury news you need to know before moving on to the biggest winners and losers from Sunday's action -- and make sure you check out my early waiver-wire targets column from Sunday evening and Heath Cummings' breakdown of the top storylines from Week 6, including some buy-low and sell-high targets for this week.

Injury Updates

cordarrelle-patterson-1400.jpg
  • Kareem Hunt (calf) has been placed on IR and the Browns have signed RB John Kelly from their practice squad-- Hunt left Sunday's game with the injury, and coach Kevin Stefanski told reports he's probably looking at a multi-week absence with the injury. The question now is whether the same is true of Nick Chubb, who missed Sunday's game with a calf injury of his own. Chubb didn't practice all last week and never seemed close to playing, and with the quick turnaround, it seems like a long shot that he'll play this week. That makes D'Ernest Johnson the prospective starter for the Browns, and the only running back on waivers this week you'll likely be able to use. He's relatively unproven and the Broncos are a tough matchup, but he should be the lead back. Demetric Felton is technically listed as the No. 3 RB on the team's depth chart, but doesn't have a carry this season, so he figures to be more of the pass-catcher and change of pace back if Chubb is out. Felton has lined up in the backfield on just two of his 34 snaps this season. 
  • Dawson Knox left Monday's game against the Titans after breaking a bone in his hand, but according to NFL Network's Mike Garofolo, he is not expected to miss much time with the injury. Garafolo hinted Knox has a chance to play in Week 8 after the Bills' bye.
  • Julio Jones left Monday's game against the Bills was a hamstring injury.
  • Kadarius Toney may be dealing with an ankle injury that "could be more serious than a simple sprain" according to Pat Leonard of the Daily News. Leonard expects Toney to be ruled out for Week 7. 
  • Antonio Gibson (shin) had an MRI taken Monday -- Gibson has been fighting through this injury for the last few weeks, and it finally cost him serious time in Week 6. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he missed Week 7 against the Packers, which would put rookie Jaret Patterson into a larger role -- though J.D. McKissic would probably start and play more snaps. Start making alternate plans if you've been relying on Gibson. 
  • Calvin Ridley (personal) was back at practice Monday -- It's good to see Ridley back. He'll be a must-start WR against the Dolphins without question. 
  • Michael Thomas (ankle) is believed to be a few weeks away, still -- Thomas is eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list, but NFL Network reports that isn't likely at this point. That's disappointing for those of us who have been hanging on to Thomas, but you've just gotta keep him stashed and hope he's ready sooner rather than later. 
  • Jerry Jeudy (ankle) isn't looking good for Week 7 -- Jeudy is making progress and should see more time on the practice field this week, but Vic Fangio told reporters, "the chances of him playing are less than 50%" for Thursday's game. Week 8 against Washington's porous defense seems like a better target. 
  • Baker Mayfield (shoulder) expects to play in Week 7 -- Mayfield got tackled awkwardly in the second half of Sunday's game but told reporters he's going to play through it. Remember, Mayfield is also playing through a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Although earlier reports suggested it was partially torn in Week 2, Mayfield told reporters on Tuesday that it was fully torn. He's actually played pretty well over the past two weeks, but it'll be tough to trust him against the Broncos as anything more than a QB2. The injury is not expected to require season-ending surgery. 
  • Rashaad Penny (calf) is an option to start for the Seahawks if Alex Collins (hip/glute) has to sit -- Seahawks coach Pete Carroll did express optimism about Collins, but if you'll remember last Monday, he also expressed optimism about Chris Carson's chances of play -- he was added to IR a few days later. I'm not saying you can't trust anything Carroll says, but you have to understand that the next time he publicly expresses something less than optimism about one of his player's health will be the first time. It's just who he is. Penny is expected to return from IR this week and is worth a look on waivers. 
  • Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) is "day to day" -- That doesn't mean he's going to play in Week 7 against the Cardinals, and it's not even necessarily a guarantee Taylor will return as the starter for the Texans. However, it's a good sign for a guy on IR that he is ramping up activity. Davis Mills has five touchdowns to seven interceptions and I don't think there's any question Taylor gives them a better chance to win right now; he would also be a much better Fantasy streamer than Mills. 
  • Parris Campbell's foot injury is "significant" -- This guy just can't catch a break, and this injury could potentially be a season-ender. He's played in just 14 games in three seasons since being drafted, with a hernia, fractured hand, broken foot, MCL/PCL injury, and rib injuries before this one. 
  • Trey Lance (knee) didn't practice Monday -- It looks like the bye wasn't quite enough time for Lance to get back from his sprained knee. Jimmy Garoppolo did return to practice from his calf injury and looks likely to return to the starting spot against the Colts

So who should you start and sit this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 7 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that has out-performed experts big-time.

Biggest Winners and Losers

Here are the top five from Sunday's action: 

Winners

These players come out of Week 6 looking better than they did coming in.

  1. Khalil Herbert -- With Damien Williams inactive due to a COVID diagnosis, the sixth-round rookie had a big opportunity Sunday and he took full advantage of it. He rushed for 97 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown, and he added a couple of catches for 15 yards on three targets. With Williams likely to return in Week 7, Herbert may not get another chance at quite that kind of a role, but he's proven in consecutive weeks he can handle it, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he were the lead rusher for the Bears until David Montgomery returns, which may not happen until Week 10. 
  2. Joe Mixon -- Week 6 was another glimpse of the kind of upside Mixon could have if the Bengals ever trusted him as a regular contributor in the passing game. He had just one target in each of the last four games, after having four in the season opener, and was target six times in Sunday's game against the Bengals. He caught five of them for 59 yards and a touchdown on a really nifty 40-yard catch-and-run -- featuring some impressive downfield blocking from Ja'Marr Chase. Mixon led the team in routes run at running back, and if he actually had this kind of usage normally, he could be a top-five back consistently. The upside is there; whether the Bengals will trust him with it if Samaje Perine is active in Week 7 remains to be seen. 
  3. Kyler Murray -- I had some concerns about Murray after he suffered a shoulder injury in recent weeks and was a non-factor in the running game in Week 5 -- just like we saw in the second half of last season when he hurt his shoulder. And, hey, he wasn't great in the running game, rushing for just 6 yards on seven carries. However, he still dominated the Browns in the 37-14 win, throwing for 229 yards with four touchdowns. It was good to see him still pass the ball effectively despite the injury, and while I would still like to see him run more than he has the past few weeks, I'm less concerned about the shoulder than I was a week ago. 
  4. Jonathan Taylor -- You'd like to see more than 15 touches in a 31-3 win for Taylor, but when he has over 150 yards, you can overlook it. Plus, Taylor was part of why the Colts ran just 48 offensive plays Sunday, as he an 83-yard run to set up one touchdown drive -- they also had another drive that lasted just two plays and another one that went four plays. In a game where the Colts didn't have quite as many big plays, maybe Taylor has more touches, but this game is also a reminder -- as last week was -- that you have to have patience with Taylor when things are going well, because he's a home-run hitter, and you want to be there when he connects.
  5. Adam Thielen -- I've been skeptical of Thielen going back to camp, but after four straight games with no more than 51 yards and two in a row without a touchdown, it felt like the rest of the Fantasy community was coming around to my side this week. So, of course he had arguably his finest game of the season Sunday, catching 11 of 13 passes thrown his way for 126 yards and a score. He was heavily involved early and often and lead the team in every receiving category against the Panthers. I still think Thielen is going to be tough to rely on as much more than a WR3 moving forward, but this was an indisputably great game, and if you were inclined to still have faith in him, you probably still should. Me? I think this is a sell-high opportunity, though of course, I thought you should be selling him before this, too. 
  6. Joe Burrow -- The pass volume still isn't where we want it to be -- 32 or fewer attempts in all but one game so far -- but he's really playing at a very high level, averaging 8.9 yards per attempt for the season with an 8.0% touchdown rate. He probably won't be able to keep those kind of rates up, but he'll probably be doing more passing in the future than he has been when the Bengals are playing in closer games or from behind. It's the fact that he has been playing so well that is noteworthy, with multiple touchdowns in every game so far. Armed with one of the best receiving corps in the game, Burrow should be in the top-12 discussion moving forward. 
  7. Mike Gesicki -- The thing about Gesicki is, he really isn't a tight end in any common sense understanding of the word. That's where he is listed on the roster, sure, but he rarely asked to put his hand in the grass and block or even line up in-line with the offensive line. He ranks sixth at the tight end position in routes run overall, but leads the position in snaps from the slot while ranking third on the outside -- just 15 of his 238 snaps have come at the classic tight end spot. Which is to say that, Miami's plethora of wide receiver injuries has been a very good thing for Gesicki, who has at least six targets in every game since Week 1. And he had his best game of the season in Week 6 with Tua Tagovailoa back from his rib injury, hauling in eight of nine targets for 115 yards. He is on a near 100-catch, 1,100-yard pace since going without a catch in that first game, and probably has to be viewed as a top-six tight end or something close to it. 
  8. Darrel Williams -- One thing you'll occasionally see when a backup running back replace the starter is that backup getting a bigger role than the starter, and the reason for it is usually pretty straightforward -- that backup doesn't have a comparable player taking touches from him. We saw that with Williams getting the start in place of Clyde Edwards-Helaire Sunday, as Williams played 72% of the snaps and got 21 carries and four targets. McKinnon had four targets in the game but just three carries and one catch. With Williams getting that kind of work, he might actually end up being a better Fantasy option than Edwards-Helaire was even if he's a less efficient runner overall (and I think he will be), though it's worth noting that the Chiefs played a season-high 82 offensive plays and didn't hit their typical big plays, creating more volume than normal in a game where the defense also finally showed up. I still expect Edwards-Helaire to return as the lead back when he's healthy, but Williams has at least a few weeks as a lead back ahead of him now. 

Losers

It's hard to feel better about these players coming out of Week 6 than you did coming in.

  1. DeAndre Hopkins -- Hopkins scored two touchdowns Sunday, giving him six to match his total from all of last season, but it's hard to get enthusiastic about his performance so far this season overall. The Cardinals are spreading the ball around more than ever, which fits in with what we expected all along from Kliff Kingsbury's offense. Hopkins has more talent at wide receiver than he did last season around him, and now the Cardinals added Zach Ertz to the receiving group. Hopkins should remain very efficient with the targets he does get, but I'm expecting more like No. 2 production from him; if someone still values him as a No. 1, now may be your best opportunity to trade him for someone elite. 
  2. Antonio Gibson -- Gibson continues to deal with the stress fracture in his shin and had an MRI taken on the injury Monday. We're waiting for the results of that test, but it sure doesn't look like this injury is going away, and it's clearly affecting him, as he missed much of the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss. My expectation at this point is this injury is going to cause him to miss some time. Maybe not in Week 7 -- though that seems possible -- but eventually. This is an issue for Gibson because he relies on volume -- and especially rushing volume -- more than most other high-volume running backs. Hopefully, he can take a week or two off and get back to full strength, and this might be the perfect opportunity with Washington's bye looming in Week 9. If that doesn't happen, he'll probably just be a touchdown-dependent RB2 moving forward. 
  3. Chase Edmonds -- Maybe Edmonds' shoulder is a bigger issue than the team is letting on. He played a season-low 37% snap share Sunday and had a season-low seven touches in this game. That's two in a row where Edmonds has seen his touches stay below 10, which isn't what we want to see. He's a much more dynamic playmaker than James Conner, though we can assume Conner is going to keep seeing plenty of carries and goal-line work. Still, Edmonds was over double digits in carries in three of the first four games and looked like a must-start Fantasy RB. He may still be that for Week 7 against the Texans, though that might be as much about how much attrition there has been at the position as anything else. It's a disappointing turn for someone who looked like an early-season breakout. Though I will note, I very much would be looking to buy low on Edmonds right now, too. 
  4. Michael Pittman -- Pittman still played his usual allotment of snaps and ran nearly every route for the Colts Sunday, but he went from being targeted on a very healthy 22.5% of his routes in the first five games of the season to just three times on 22 routes Sunday. By contract, T.Y. Hilton was targeted on 25% of his 16 routes in his first game back. Pittman looked like he was having a breakout, but this does throw a bit of doubt on whether he'll be able to sustain that moving forward. That's not to say you should panic -- Hilton is 31, has had a ton of injuries in recent years, and left Sunday's game with a quad issue -- but it does make him harder to trust moving forward. 
  5. Myles Gaskin -- It sure seemed like it took a perfect series of events to fall into place for Gaskin's big Week 5, and Week 6 seemingly confirmed it wasn't sustainable. Gaskin had five carries for the second game in a row but saw his targets fall from 10 to six, despite Miami throwing it nine more times than they did the previous week. Malcolm Brown matched him in snaps, the second time in three games Gaskin has not led the team in snaps among running backs. You probably shouldn't drop Gaskin, but you probably shouldn't be planning on starting Gaskin unless you are desperate. 
  6. Jamaal Williams -- It seems like everyone had just accepted Williams as a viable flex option for Fantasy, but I'm not so sure he is even that. He has just nine targets in his last five games, and the Lions have shown they're perfectly willing to go away from him when the game script isn't in their favor. When they keep it close, Williams might give you 60 yards, but you're hoping for a touchdown on top of that for him to be worth starting, and he really doesn't have a path to production otherwise. 
  7. Taylor Heinicke --  It seemed like Heinicke had a chance to lock himself into the starting role for the Football Team with Ryan Fitzpatrick out, but he has done no such thing. He has six interceptions in his five games, and had arguably his worst game Sunday against the Chiefs, throwing for just 182 yards on 39 attempts in what was one of the league's worst defenses coming into the game. Fitzpatrick could be cleared to play this week, and it wouldn't be a surprise if they turned back to him with Heinicke struggling. That would probably be good news for Terry McLaurin, at the very least. 
  8. Tyler Lockett -- I don't come to bury Lockett, who still had seven targets Sunday and struggled against a tough matchup, but it's pretty hard to be optimistic about the Seahawks offense at this point. Part of what made Lockett and DK Metcalf so good for Fantasy was the connection with Russell Wilson and the ease with which they were able to make the deep ball work consistently. Geno Smith attempted just three passes that traveled more than 15 yards down the field in his first start, so that element wasn't there in this one. Maybe he'll be more aggressive moving forward, but I think at this point you have to view Metcalf as more of a lower-end WR2, while Lockett is more in the fringe WR3 discussion moving forward.