Fantasy 5: The impact of bye weeks in the NFL
(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to set your lineup or pick your DFS roster.)
We’re back at it again for this week’s Fantasy 5, focusing on the key things you need to know entering Week 7. Here’s a look at the some of the more interesting pieces of fantasy news to know heading into the weekend games.
1. Do Bye Weeks Hurt or Help NFL Players?
I’ve been hearing a significant amount of talk regarding bye weeks recently and whether or not it helps or hurts players. Do the extra days of rest help them if they fall out of their normal routine and come out sluggish the following week? Evan Silva and Ross Tucker had an interesting conversation on the Fantasy Feast: Eatin’ podcast regarding it and thought it merited some more research. I wasn’t shocked at all when I found that PFF had conducted three similar studies on the topic this offseason, all worth reading. Tyler Loechner did a study looking at players that played Thursday Night Football and their performance the following week — not quite a bye week, but 10 days is still significant. He also looked at one of the more pronounced bye week winners — Andy Reid — and his success he’s had with his teams after their bye week. Our Editor Daniel Kelley looked at specifically when a team’s bye week occurred and the results that followed. I won’t spoil the results of their findings, but it’s an interesting topic that merits more conversation.
2. You Sound Like You’re From London!
A sneaky game that flew under the radar for me when first looking at the slate was that the Cardinals-Rams game was being played at London — at 1PM EST kickoff! This is an intriguing game based on how these two teams match up. The Cardinals have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, and have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher. Todd Gurley’s ceiling may be capped in this one if he doesn’t reach the end zone. Adversely, the rejuvenated Adrian Peterson could be in line for another fantasy-relevant day against our seventh-lowest-graded run defense that’s currently allowing 4.8 yards per carry, per Pat Thorman. If Patrick Peterson were to miss this game as expected, Jared Goff could be in line for a big day. Justin Bethel was rumored to be benched heading into this week after allowing a league-high six touchdowns in coverage so far this year. I’m not sold that adding 34-year old Tramon Williams is a major upgrade. Goff’s weapons all appear to be in plus-matchups if Peterson sits. No team is throwing more than the Cardinals to start the year (66.67 percent). It wouldn’t surprise me at all if we see Goff and Carson Palmer dueling it out in the air in London this week.
3. Expect Heavy Passing in Philadelphia Monday Night
Speaking of airing it out, the NFC East rematch between Philadelphia and Washington should feature plenty of passing. Opponents are passing on the Eagles a league-leading 71.5 percent of the time. They’ve subsequently allowed the most completions and pass attempts through the first six weeks. However, Washington is right there with them, ranking second with opponents passing on them 63.8 percent of the time. Considering both teams are likely to be without their top cornerback — Josh Norman (WAS) and Ronald Darby (PHI) — it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if we saw breakout performances from Alshon Jeffery and Terrelle Pryor. This game opened as the second highest-scoring game of the week outside of NE-ATL, and we should expect plenty of passing (and fantasy points) on Monday night.
4. Marshawn Lynch Suspension
During an altercation on Thursday Night Football between the Chiefs and Raiders, Marshawn Lynch jumped to the field to help defend his teammate. Lynch bumped an official then grabbed his jersey, drawing an ejection from the game and a suspension for Week 8’s game against Buffalo. Lynch has appealed the decision, but next week’s game against the Bills isn’t exactly an enticing one from a fantasy perspective. The Bills have allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards to running backs this year, and Lynch has played on just 37.7 percent of the team’s snaps this year. Entering Week 7, he’s averaging just 7.6 PPR points per game and has been nothing more than a desperate flex play.
5. PFF Grade of the Week: Jason McCourty
I wanted to start a new segment in the Fantasy 5, focusing on a player whose grade either really stands out or just surprises me. Six weeks of data gives us plenty of information to allow things to normalize, and as my friend Macho Man Randy Savage likes to say, “the cream always rises to the top”. This week’s spotlight is on Cleveland cornerback Jason McCourty. McCourty is currently our No. 1 graded CB in coverage. He’s picked off three passes so far this year and allowed just 19-of-29 targets against him to be completed. Quarterbacks throwing against McCourty have a 56.3 passer rating. He shadowed A.J. Green in Week 4, allowing just two catches for 31 yards on three targets. Last week, McCourty shadowed DeAndre Hopkins, holding him to just two catches for 19 yards and giving up his first score of the year. A free agent addition by the Browns this offseason, McCourty is flourishing in his age-30 season in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ defense.