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%).


12 NFL Trends To Note

We’ve hit the quarter-mark on the season and it’s time to look at some players that are trending in the right direction and some that are heading the wrong way:

  1. Nyheim Hines has played on 70.5% of the Colts offensive snaps during the past two games. Marlon Mack missed both of those contests and three out of four this season with injury woes.
  2. Hines is averaging 8.3 targets per game when Mack sits. Mack is also not expected to play on Thursday.
  3. Over the past two weeks, Eric Ebron has run the second-most routes of all tight ends. He saw 21 targets over that span and should be in all lineups at least until Jack Doyle returns to full health.
  4. Sony Michel accounted for 69.4% of the Patriots’ backfield carries on Sunday, producing 112 yards.
  5. Michel received nine red zone carries over the last two weeks, which is six more than the next highest back (James White).
  6. Kerryon Johnson continues to look good when he’s on the field, gaining 55 yards on nine carries against the Cowboys in week 4. He only saw 20 snaps, running just seven routes, seeing just one target. On the plus side, he handled on the Lions‘ only red zone carry.
  7. Larry Fitzgerald only made three catches during Josh Rosen‘s first start, though better times may be on the horizon. The future Hall-of-Famer recorded a team-high 26% target share from the rookie. Expect brighter days, especially with a soft schedule approaching.
  8. Nelson Agholor is nice buy-low candidate. Alshon Jeffery stole the receiving show for the Eagles in his first game back, but Agholor actually had more targets. Agholor is still running nearly 70% of his routes from the slot, averaging 8.5 targets per contest.
  9. Jordan Howard has seen his snap rate decline in each of the past three weeks, going from 72.7% to 62.2% to 54.1% from weeks 2-4. The Bears were up big in the first half thanks to Mitchell Trubisky’s miracle 6-TD game, though Howard only saw one carry.
  10. Melvin Gordon is averaging 8.4 targets per game and his increased use in the passing game (something he was already a big part of last season) makes him a top-five player in all fantasy formats.
  11. What is going on with Kenyan Drake? He was only on the field for 44.9% of Miami’s offensive snaps on Sunday and ran just one more route than Frank Gore. The Dolphins just lost starting center Daniel Kilgore for the season so the sledding won’t get any easier for Alabama product.
  12. In five games without Leonard Fournette in the lineup, Blake Bortles is averaging over 34 pass attempts per game, including 45 and 34 attempts in weeks 2 and 3, respectively.

AFC Notes: Colts-Ravens, Futures, Win Totals

Andrew Luck played two series during the Colts’ first preseason game and he might play just a bit more in the team’s second on Monday night.

“Yeah, the plan will still be the same,” coach Frank Reich told reporters Friday. “It will be similar to last week and maybe a little bit more, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Luck will play into the second quarter, according to an ESPN report.  The QB went 6-for-9 during the game against the Seahawks last week, leading Indy to a pair of field goals. Here were the receivers he targeted:

The Colts opened as a 1.5-point favorite with the line moving toward Baltimore, as the public poured money on the Ravens. At William Hill in Atlantic City, The Ravens are now a 2-point favorite with the O/U coming in at 43.0.

Here are more tidbits to help you bet tonight’s game as well as NFL futures this season:

  • Ravens coach John Harbaugh is 30-12 in the preseason, having won every game since the summer of 2015.
  • Joe Flacco looked sharp in his only drive on the preseason, leading the team to a 70-yard TD drive. Flacco heard all offseason how the team may select a replacement then he watched the team do exactly that. He appears motivated after a few years of solid ho-hum job security.
  • Lamar Jackson has completed just 11-of-28 for 152 yards and a touchdown. He’s also thrown one interception. His raw numbers aren’t great and if the first two games are any indication, he won’t be taking over the starting job anytime soon.
  • Jordan Wilkins will get an opportunity to push for the starting gig with Marlon Mack nursing a hamstring injury. My money is on Mack to produce at a much higher level during the regular season. That’s more a product in having faith in Mack than being bearish on Wilkins, as we’ve seen just six NFL carries from the rookie.
  • The Colts won’t trade away QB Jacoby Brissett. Indy knows he can step in an help the team win and they don’t want to undergo another lost season should Luck’s injury woes sideline him again.
Regular Season Ravens Colts
Win Total 8 6.5
Over -165 -170
Under 135 140

*Odds via Bovada.


Undervalued Fantasy Asset: Colts Ryan Grant

Ryan Grant has emerged as the Colts No. 2 WR in an offense that should be rather pass-friendly.

T.Y. (Hilton) and Ryan Grant have really separated themselves,”coach Frank Reich told reporters on Sunday (via the team’s website).

Grant made headlines this offseason after the Ravens signed him to a four-year contract worth $29MM and the general consensus was that the wide receiver market had ballooned and Baltimore badly overpaid to add much-needed pass-catching help. The criticism seemed logically sound, as the Ravens were paying a premium for a player who topped 60 receiving yards in a game just three times during his four-year career in Washington. Baltimore voided the deal just days later after Grant failed his physical.

Players who land big deals and grab headlines in free agency tend to get the attention of fantasy football participants and can often be over-drafted as a result of media attention. With negative news, as was the case with Grant, the opposite can exist.

The Tulane product later found a home in Indianapolis, signing a one-year deal that didn’t gain nearly as much media attention as the voided Ravens deal. In reality, it likely should have gained more attention, as the Colts will likely provide him with a much better situation for pass catchers than the Ravens would have in 2018 and the Redskins have in the past.

The Colts played with the lead in only 32% of their snaps last season (per PFF) and that figure was heavily derived by the team’s defense, a unit that finished 29th in DVOA last season. The Ravens played with the lead on 46% of their snaps with 24% of them coming with at least a two-score lead (6th highest in the league), meaning Baltimore was in dire passing situations much less frequently than the Colts (the Skins were tied with the Cowboys for 14th in percentage of snaps with the lead).

With the Ravens expected to put out a top-5 defense and the Colts expected to be among the worst yet again, Grant appears to be in a better spot based on projected in-game situations.

In Washington, Grant was buried behind the likes of DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder, and Terrelle Pryor among others on Kirk Cousins’ pass-catching totem pole. Over his four seasons with the club, he only drew 141 total targets. He’ll have much more opportunity this season with the Colts, as he’s currently listed as the Colts’ No. 2 wide receiver.

Grant’s advanced stats are kind to him and imply that he’ll produce with greater opportunity. According to Football Outsiders, Grant is one of only five receivers to finish in the top 20 in both receiving plus-minus and YAC+, which estimates how many yards after the catch receivers gained compared to what would have been gained by an average receiver. Golden Tate, Keenan Allen, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Sterling Shepard are the other four players with that distinction.

The return of Andrew Luck adds even more potential-fuel to the opportunity-fire in Indy. Luck is averaging 37.9 passing attempts per game throughout his career, a figure that ranks second all-time behind only Matthew Stafford. The availability of the former No.1 overall pick will undoubtedly dictate the exact value of the pass-catchers around him, but there’s still an opportunity to be had regardless of who is under center for the Colts.

Grant is currently not being drafted in most leagues, according to CBS Sports data. However, he could easily be a nice matchup-dependent fantasy option this season and if Luck returns to form, he has the upside of a WR 2.

The chatter of him not being worth his contract in the voided Ravens deal may be the only major piece of information that casual fans have of Grant and it has negatively impacted the perception of his value. Sharp fantasy players can combine misleading perception with their data and intuition to find an edge and Grant’s roller coaster offseason provides fantasy owners with an opportunity to find a late-round steal.