There are five teams in the NFL that are still undefeated, and of the five, three were either in jeopardy of losing on the final play, took overtime to secure the win, or both. The Broncos are perhaps the worst undefeated team after six weeks, and that’s because their offense can be woeful. Peyton Manning gave up a pick six (in the same week his brother, Eli did – can someone call Elias to see if that’s the first time two brothers have managed that feat?), and barely escaped Cleveland with a 26-23 overtime win. Meanwhile, the Packers avoided their first lost thanks to a key stop on the Chargers’ last play that would’ve won it for them, and, more surprisingly perhaps, an excellent performance from James Starks, out-rushing Eddie Lacy 112 yards to three. Finally, the Panthers upset the ‘Hawks in Seattle thanks to a late Cam Newton pass to Greg Olsen with just 32 seconds remaining that proved to be the winner in a 27-23 game. It’s also worth noting that Jonathan Stewart has his best game of the year, his most carries in a game since Week 16 of 2014, and helped keep the Seattle offense at bay when the Panthers needed that.
Now, a look at some of the backs and backfields that are making things easier for some, and others who have made the first six weeks of 2015 much, much worse.
LeSean McCoy (17 carries, 90 yards, 1 TD; 2 rec. 4 yards): Returning from the hamstring injury that kept him out for the last three weeks, Shady returned in a big way for the Bills, dominating all RB carries en route to a nearly 100-yard game. It remains to be seen what role Karlos Williams will play once he returns from the concussion protocol, but this week proved that, when healthy, McCoy is a legitimate Top-10 back who deserves his 18-20 touches a game. With games against the Jaguars and Dolphins over the next two weeks, McCoy is a mid-range RB1, and could see even greater success once QB Tyrod Taylor returns from injury. TRENDING UP
Andre Williams (5 carries, 6 yards): I had picked Williams to take over the lead duties on the Giants by Week 7, and it looks like I’m going to eat that one. He’s been awful the last couple of weeks, particularly in contrast to the rejuvenated Rashad Jennings, and the ever-surprising Shane Vereen. The Giants need to figure out where they go after a very one-sided loss to the Eagles on Sunday night, and it’s going to start this coming Sunday against the Romo-less, Dez-less (perhaps?) Cowboys’ team, which will start Matt Cassel at quarterback. The recipe for success? Blitz packages on defense, and sustained drives that keeps the Cowboys’ defense on the field and gassed all afternoon. But, Williams is no longer ownable as a lottery ticket with upside. He’s been garbage, so you can throw him out. TRENDING DOWN
Jeremy Hill (16 carries, 56 yards; 1 rec. 13 yards, 1 TD): Hill dominated the carries at a 2:1 ratio over Gio Bernard, but managed just six more rushing yards on the day. Both backs scored, which makes owners of each player happy, but Bernard owners have to be saying to themselves, “How much longer until Marvin Lewis realizes who the better back is?” This backfield reminds me of the Titans’ in 2008 when Chris Johnson ruled the roost because of his playmaking ability – he amassed nearly 1,500 total yards and scored 10 TDs as a rookie – but the gone-but-not-forgotten LenDale White (who, today, is only 30 years old!) still managed to score an eye-popping 15 touchdowns to go with 773 rushing yards. I think Hill is a far better player than White ever was, but it’s about knowing your team’s strengths, and playing to them. I think Bernard should be seeing 15-plus carries a game, and Hill should be the one peppered in. Nevertheless, his ability to score, and his coaches’ thickheadedness keep Hill in the RB2 mix. HOLDMelvin Gordon (7 carries, 29 yards, 2 Fumbles): His long carry on the day was a 25-yard scamper. Anyone over six years old can do the math on this, but that means his six other carries resulted in just four yards. Of course, fumbling on nearly 29 percent of your carries is not going to win you the coaches’ confidence. Gordon might have to take his lumps and sit for a large percentage of this next game against Oakland, in which case Branden Oliver gets a slight bump. The biggest benefactor, though, will be Danny Woodhead who is always a factor in the passing game, and has proven to be a really nice red zone package player. Gordon is still the future in San Diego, but he may not yet be ready to be the present, at least not on his own, without the help of a committee. Gordon is an RB3 moving forward. TRENDING DOWN
Jonathan Stewart (20 carries, 78 yards, 2 TDs; 1 rec. 8 yards): As mentioned, this was the most carries J-Stew has had since Week 16 of last season, and the Panthers really needed all 20 from their workhorse. Not a terrible YPC for the game, and the two scores really gives Fantasy owners who drafted him thinking he was an RB1 on the cheap exactly what they were looking for. It remains to be seen if this becomes a trend, but it could be exactly what the Panthers need to do to keep their QB healthy, and sustain their fast start to ensure they stay atop the NFC Central. TRENDING UP
Any Washington D.C.-area Running Back (16 carries, 33 yards): Operating without Matt Jones this past weekend, the ‘Skins took on the Jets in what was as one-sided a game as you’ll see. They totaled just 13 offensive points (that’s one offensive touchdown and two field goals) amassed just 14 first downs, and managed a putrid 225 yards of offense as compared to 474 for the Jets. Alfred Morris was the lead back on the day, but he managed to generate 21 yards on 11 carries. Move away from this mess quickly unless you’re a dynasty owner who has stock in Jones. Otherwise, this is a recipe for disappointment. TRENDING DOWN
Lamar Miller (19 carries, 113 yards, 1 TD; 2 rec., 5 yards): Now, that’s the Miller that Fantasy Football fans expected when they drafted the guy in the third-round this past summer! In Coach Dan Campbell’s first game at the helm, Miller was given 19 carries (his most on the year), and managed more than double his best yardage total on the season with 113. That’s good for a 5.9 YPC average, again, best on the season. He also scored on a nifty seven yard run in the second quarter, his first touchdown on the year. Bully for any owner who stuck by their guy, and started him against what was thought to be a tough Tennessee defense. Miami is past their bye, and they have three tough run defenses coming up in Houston, followed by two road games against division rivals, the Patriots and the Bills. Miller is worth RB2 consideration, and his usage is trending in the right direction, but if you could peddle him to an owner for someone with greater upside because your RB stable is in okay shape without his services, I’d pull the trigger. Perhaps Demaryius Thomas, or Dez Bryant can be had? TRENDING UP
Notes: If it wasn’t clear enough already, it became crystal clear this weekend that C.J. Anderson is droppable in all formats. He joins Joique Bell, any back on the Titans, and possibly the scrap pile that is the Chiefs’ backfield as entirely replaceable pieces on your road to the playoffs. If there’s someone who can produce for your team now sitting on the wire, by all means cut bait. It’s evident that none of these players will help you win games this season, so I would rather have a good tight end, or a receiver like Kamar Aiken than waste a bench spot on someone who is giving my team nothing. Also, and this is just a hunch, watch LeGarrette Blount take a big chunk out of Dion Lewis’ touches moving forward. He’s had 18, 13, and 16 carries in his last three games, and has four touchdowns over that span. He’s a legitimate RB3 right now with RB1 upside if Lewis’ injuries linger and he’s forced to take a back seat, or miss time. Blount is built for contact, and should hold up much better than the under-sized Lewis. There’s enough to go around for both of them, but I think Lewis’ workload could be scaled back if Blount performs as expected. I like him as a big-time buy right now, so go get him if you can!