NFL Week 6 Power Rankings

The NFL season continues to move along. Week 5 saw some surprising finishes, but there are still a pair of undefeated teams that remain. After those two powerhouses, the NFL power rankings are muddied a bit. We take a look at teams 1-10 again this week, trying to sort out who is for real and which teams still have a bit more to prove:

1) The Los Angeles Rams           2018 Record: 5-0          Previous Week: 1 ( – )

The Rams were able to hold off their division rival, the Seattle Seahawks, to move to 5-0. Jared Goff converted a crucial 4th-and-1 late in the 4th quarter on a QB sneak to end the game. The Rams offense has been amazingly efficient, as they lead the NFL in yards per offensive play (7.4) and rank T-4th in fewest turnovers lost (5). Goff ranks 2nd in the league in passer rating (119.7); behind only Drew Brees. The Rams defense also currently ranks 6th in points allowed (19.6 PPG) and has allowed the 3rd fewest attempts inside the red zone (12).

2) The Kansas City Chiefs          2018 Record: 5-0          Previous Week: 2 ( – )

The Chiefs rolled right through the Jags 30-14 and remain one of two unbeaten teams. Kansas City’s defense stepped up big, intercepting Blake Bortles four times. The Chiefs defense came into the game with only two interceptions in the team’s first four games. Patrick Mahomes  had his first game this year without a TD and threw his first two interceptions of the season, but was able to get enough offense going to down the Jags. The Chiefs offense ranks 2nd in points per game (35.0) and ranks T-1st in fewest turnovers (3). The Chiefs are also the 3rd most efficient team at scoring inside the red zone (76.2%).

3) The New Orleans Saints        2018 Record: 5-0         Previous Week: 9 ( +6 )

Drew Brees, this week, became the new all-time leader in passing yards in the NFL. He did so in a 43-19 drubbing of the Redskins in the Superdome. Brees leads this Saints offense that ranks 1st in points per game (36.0) and 2nd in first downs (128). The Saints also got RB Mark Ingram back this week from suspension, and he contributed immediately rushing for two TDs. Brees found rookie WR Tre’Quan Smith three times for 111 yards and two scores, the first of which a 62 yard TD that gave his QB the all-time passing yards record.

4) The Chicago Bears            2018 Record: 3-1            Previous Week: 3 ( -1 )

The Bears had a week four bye after their week three win over the Bucs. For a team that came into the season with modest expectations, the Bears find themselves ranking 2nd in scoring defense (16.3 PPG) and have allowed the fewest trips inside the red zone (7). The Bears’ next matchup is a Dolphins team that ranks 28th in scoring (19.8 PPG).

5) The Cincinnati Bengals           2018 Record: 4-1          Previous Week: 5 ( – )

The Bengals moved to 4-1 after overcoming a 17-0 2nd half deficit to beat the Dolphins. A Bengals defense, which has struggled this season, blanked the Fins for the final 24 plus minutes of game time. The Bengals’ only blemish thus far was a loss on the road in Carolina. The Bengals rank 4th in scoring offense (30.6 PPG) and continues to have a top five scoring offense in the red zone (70.6%).

6) The New England Patriots        2018 Record: 3-2           Previous Week: NR

The Patriots, after some early season offensive struggles, have rebounded with back-to-back wins. They dominated the Dolphins last Sunday, and then beat the Colts last Thursday on a short week to move to 3-2. In the process, the Pats have moved to 6th in red zone scoring (68.8%) and rank 9th in points per game (26.6). The Patriots defense also ranks 9th in scoring (21.6) and has forced 10 turnovers (6th).

7) The Los Angeles Chargers         2018 Record: 3-2         Previous Week: NR

The Chargers took down the Raiders this past week to move to 3-2. Philip Rivers currently ranks 3rd in the NFL at QB rating (116.4) and leads this Chargers offense that ranks 8th in scoring (27.4 PPG). The Chargers offense has also taken care of the football, ranking T-4th in turnovers lost (5). The 2018 Bolts’ defense are T-10th in turnovers (8), and their only two losses have come against the Chiefs and Rams.

8) The Carolina Panthers          2018 Record: 3-2          Previous Week: NR

This past Sunday, the Panthers held off a Giants team desperate for a win. Graham Gano kicked a game-winning 63 yard FG with 0:01 remaining. The Panthers offense ranks 12th in scoring offense (26.0 PPG), and have only committed four turnovers thus far, which is good for 3rd in the NFL. The Panthers defense is ranked 15th in scoring defense (22.8 PPG) and is T-5th best at stopping conversions on 3rd down (30.8%).

9) The Jacksonville Jaguars         2018 Record: 3-2         Previous Week: 4 ( -5 )

The Jaguars hit a lofty speed bump in their 2018 season last week, falling to the red hot Chiefs 30-14. The Jags have had trouble scoring this season; their 20.4 PPG ranks 26th in the league. That said, they still rank T-3rd in scoring defense (17.2 PPG) and are the 2nd stingiest team on defense inside the red zone (33.3%). That defense is also the 6th best in the NFL at getting off the field on 3rd down (30.8%).

10) The Baltimore Ravens           2018 Record: 3-2           Previous Week: 6 ( -4 )

The Ravens lost a tough, divisional game on the road in OT this past week to a reinvigorated Cleveland Browns team. The Ravens struggled mightily on 3rd down (4/16) against their division foe. The Ravens defense, however, still ranks 1st in scoring defense (15.4 PPG) and 1st at getting off the field on 3rd down (28.8%). Their defense is also T-3rd fewest red zone attempts allowed (12). The Ravens offense has come up big inside the red zone, ranking T-8th in converting red zone scores (65.0%).


NFL Week 5 Injury Updates

Dalvin Cook is not expected to play for the Vikings in week 5. Cook has battled hamstring woes all season and sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL Network that it would take an impressive turnaround for him to be on the field.

Here’s a rundown of more updates on player injuries:

  • Tight end Hayden Hurst is expected to make his debut for Ravens against the Browns, according to Adam Schefter’s twitter feed.
  • Larry Fitzgerald, who is dealing with back and hamstring injuries, is expected to play for the Cardinals against the 49ers.
  • 49ers RB Matt Breida is expected to play in the game as well.
  • Aaron Rodgers is no longer on the injury report for the Packers.
  • Davante Adams remains listed as questionable with a calf injury and is expected to play. Randall Cobb is not expected to play in the contest against the Lions.
  • Marvin Jones is expected to suit up for the Lions.
  • Greg Olsen won’t play in week 5, though there’s a chance he suits up for the Panthers in week 6.


Christian McCaffrey Likely To Be Drafted Too High In Your League

Christian McCaffrey is probably going too high in fantasy football drafts.

ADP 17 15 15

Scott Spratt of Pro Football Focus believes in McCaffrey’s talent, but envisions Carolina’s poor offensive line hindering him from living up to his lofty fantasy football draft status. He’s currently being taken in the top-20 on most major sites.

We previously took a look at the fantasy hype surrounding McCaffrey and with the team losing three offensive linemen this preseason (two presumed starters), it’s hard not to see the glaring risk associated with drafting the second-year back.

As PFF notes, McCaffrey averaged just 0.51 yards on the carries where he was contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage last season. That figure was the fifth-worst among backs who took at least 100 carries last season. C.J. Anderson, who’s now McCaffrey’s backup, averaged nearly a full yard more per attempts on such carries last season. If Anderson does more with his carries early, he’ll probably receive more of the rushing share, which puts a ceiling on McCaffrey’s production.

Factor in the threat of Anderson looking better early, the offensive lines woes and Cam Newton stealing touchdowns, and you have a player with a high risk of not to live up to his early second-round pick status.

NFC South Round-Up: Falcons, Ryan, Fantasy Sleepers

Matt Ryan took a step back in 2017 under offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian but a closer look at the number indicates that his decline might be overblown, writes Brett Rollins of Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Ryan had just a 79.0 passer rating on throws over 20 yards in 2017, compared to a fantastic 136.1 rating in 2016. He also was one of the worst QBs in PFF’s big-time throw category. Still, the site gave him the second-best grade overall at the position last season.

2016 2017
PFF Grade 91.1 (2nd) 90.0 (2nd)
Adjusted Completion Percentage 78.1% (4th) 76.4% (5th)
QB Rating vs. Pressure 86.6 (3rd) 70.8 (14th)
QB Rating Deep 136.1 (1st) 79.0 (21st)
QB Rating Play Action 118.2 (4th) 98.3 (19th)
Big-Time Throw % 5.4% (8th) 3.8% (28th)
Turnover-Worthy Throw % 2.4% (11th) 0.9% (1s

Rollins notes that Ryan was subjected to the worst drop rate in the league on third down and six of his turnovers were on non-turnover worthy throws. In all, the use of slightly different personnel and a bit of positive regression should help to get Ryan closer to his peak this season.

Atlanta Falcons
2017 Wins 10
2018 Win Total (Bovada) 9
Total DVOA rank 3rd

Here’s more on the NFC South:

  • The Falcons backfield is one of the best in the league, though when the team uses Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman together, Ryan’s passing suffers. He had just a 54.5 passer rating with the duo on the field last season. That was actually up from the 39.0 he earned in 2016.
  • The Saints have released running back Terrance West. With Mark Ingram suspended for the first four games, the Saints will need someone to step up and West was thought to be the man for the job. After his release, New Orleans is left with Jonathan Williams, Shane Vereen, Boston Scott, and Trey Edmunds behind breakout star Alvin Kamara.
  • The Panthers made a few additions to their wide receiving corp during the offseason, but this season’s fantasy football sleeper at the position might have already been on the roster, Tristan H. Cockcroft of speculates. The scribe lists Curtis Samuel as a player who could break out this season. In the two post-Kelvin Benjamin-trade games prior to his injury last season, Samuel played 64.6% of the snaps and received a 20.3% target share from Cam Newton.

Examining The Christian McCaffrey Hype

The Panthers talked about revving up Christian McCaffrey‘s workload and if their first preseason game was any indication, he’ll see plenty of action this season. The second-year pro was in for all 14 of Cam Newton‘s snaps, Adam Levitan of Draft Kings notes. McCaffrey got four carries and was targeted twice in the team’s melee vs. the Bills last weekend.

Carolina insisted on getting value out of their draft-day investment last season, rolling McCaffrey out on the field for 757 offensive snaps, a figure that only Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and Carlos Hyde surpassed. No RB received more targets in the passing game than McCaffrey last season and although the rookie wasn’t particularly efficient once he caught the ball (ranked 45th in Football Outsider’s YAC+ metric), he remains a centerpiece in the offense as a dual threat out of the backfield. 

If the team hands him more work on the ground this season in addition to his passing duties, he has the potential to compete with the Le’Veon Bells and Todd Gurleys atop the fantasy football running back realm. His average ADP is No. 18 overall, according to ESPN.

Photo Courtesy of McCaffrey’s Instagram (@christianmccaffrey).