Hello world and welcome to Betting the Spread Week 6! I promise every game won’t be as wretched as Commanders-Bears was on Thursday. More games mean more bets and more fantasy analysis. A disappointing 6-9 week drops us back to 30-43-2 on the year. However, a few games were decided by a point or half point. But, that’s life. Enough about last week. Let’s get the Week 6 picks rolling!
(Lines provided via PlayerProfiler EDGE)
New York Jets (+7.5) vs Green Bay Packers
Pick ATS: New York Jets
Happy Breece Hall dance party! We’ve been marching toward the breakout with Hall’s gradual increase in playing time and workload, but we officially got there last week. And to be honest, this breakout happened even sooner than I thought it would. Remember back in Week 1 when I wrote about how second-round rookie running backs start slow? Well, for a brief summary: rookie second-round running backs since 2012 leading up to the 2022 season that registered at least 150 touches averaged 9.8 PPR points per game in their first career NFL games. In the last five games of their rookie season? 15.62.
Through his first five games, Breece Hall is averaging 16.36 PPR points per game! And that’s with him barely playing in Weeks 1 and 2, and Michael Carter, Zach Wilson, and Braxton Berrios rushing and catching four touchdowns the last two weeks from the one-yard line.
As I also mentioned in that article: second-round rookie running backs almost always see expanded workloads at the end of the season. Only two didn’t meet the previously-stated criterion: T.J. Yeldon and Ameer Abdullah. Hall is currently averaging 17 opportunities (carries + targets). The only two second-round rookie running backs to see more in their first five games were Jonathan Taylor and Le’Veon Bell. Hall is currently the RB9, and it is more than possible we haven’t even seen him hit his ceiling yet. He’s a locked and loaded RB1 the rest of the way.
Baltimore Ravens (-5.5) vs New York Giants
Pick ATS: Baltimore Ravens
The New York Football Giants are the blitz-happiest team in the NFL. They rank No. 1 in blitz percentage (43.3-percent) and No. 2 in total blitzes (77), according to Kevin Oestreicher on Twitter. Former Ravens and current Giants’ Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale *loves* to blitz. That could be a big problem this week.
The QB with the highest passer rating this season against the blitz? None other than Lamar Jackson.
The QB with the lowest? Some guy from New England. pic.twitter.com/lPxo0BbA6W
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) October 12, 2022
Yeah. Lamar Jackson, the guy who has practiced against this defensive scheme for four years, is the best QB in the NFL against the blitz. Rashod Bateman looks unlikely to play again this week, but it might not matter. Lamar Jackson is going to bounce back this week after two pedestrian performances in the last two weeks.
San Francisco 49ers (-5.5) vs Atlanta Falcons
Pick ATS: San Francisco 49ers
Brandon Aiyuk was a popular breakout candidate for many, myself included, when we were under the belief that Trey Lance was going to be under center. With Deebo Samuel cannibalizing carries from the backfield and gobbling short-to-intermediate targets to simply get him the ball in space, the idea of Lance sending Aiyuk bombs downfield definitely sounded appetizing.
Alas, we can’t have nice things. Lance is hurt, and Jimmy Garappolo is back under center. That has hurt Brandon Aiyuk‘s breakout chances. Aiyuk’s 10.9-yard average depth of target ranks No. 47 among receivers. His 26.8-percent air yards share isn’t much better: No. 36. Aiyuk’s 20.5-percent target share is solid but ranks only No. 33 among receivers, and it isn’t all that encouraging that can sustain.
In the 21 games he, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle have played together. Aiyuk has averaged just 5.14 targets per game. Granted, those include games he was in Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse last year, but he’s seen more than six targets in five of those 21 games. Aiyuk is still a fine start; he’s seen at least five targets in 13 of those 21 games. But without an excess of volume when those two are healthy, and a lack of deep targets with Garappolo under center, it’s hard to see a super-high ceiling for Aiyuk.
New England Patriots (+2.5) vs Cleveland Browns
Pick ATS: New England Patriots
Damien Harris suffered a hamstring injury in the Patriots’ Week 5 rout of the Detroit Lions. Do you know what that means? It’s officially Rhamondre season! Rhamondre Stevenson saw over 15 opportunities the last two weeks before Week 5 *with* Harris in the fold. But we’ve already seen a glimpse of Stevenson’s upside when Harris is on the mend. Last week, Stevenson dropped a 25 rushes for 161 yards with two targets, two receptions for 14 yards against the leaky Lions defense after Harris left the game early.
In Week 10 last year (ironically against the Cleveland Browns), Stevenson gashed them and delivered a 20 rushes for 100 yards and two touchdowns along with five targets, four receptions for 14 yards. He only ran for 36 yards on ten carries in Week 15 against the Colts without Harris, but twice we’ve seen Stevenson hammer opponents. He ranks No. 10 among running backs in true yards per carry, No. 1 in juke rate, and No. 7 in yards created according to PlayerProfiler.com. The Browns rank dead last(!) in Football Outsiders’ rush defensive DVOA metric. Rhamondre Stevenson is about to explode and be an RB1 while Harris is out.
Sidenote: keep an eye on rookie running backs Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris. We are talking about the Patriots’ backfield, after all. Both are good players and could get some work while Stevenson takes a breather.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+2) vs Indianapolis Colts
Pick ATS: Jacksonville Jaguars
How about Alec Pierce? I was not a big fan of Pierce before the NFL draft and in the summer, but he’s playing well and you have to respect it. He ranks No. 22 among receivers in yards per route run (2.41), and No. 16 in expected points added (+19). Since returning from a concussion in Week 3, he’s been the Colts’ best receiver.
Since Alec Pierce returned in Week 3:
Target per route run rate:
28% — Alec Pierce
18% — Michael Pittman
Yards per route run:
3.08 — Pierce
1.28 — Pittman
The only player with a higher yard per route run rate than Pierce during that time is Chris Olave (3.39).
— Jacob Gibbs (@jagibbs_23) October 11, 2022
No, I don’t think he’s actually better than Michael Pittman Jr. He did benefit from Pittman getting the Patrick Surtain II treatment for most of that putrid Thursday Night game. However, Pierce has outperformed Parris Campbell, and The Podfather’s beloved Ashton Dulin was just placed on injured reserve. I personally am not expecting a breakout from Pierce, and I think the Colts’ offense is in no state to support another fantasy-relevant receiver. But he’s definitely worth adding and seeing if this production is sustainable.
Minnesota Vikings (-3) vs Miami Dolphins
Pick ATS: Minnesota Vikings
Raheem Mostert is the Dolphins’ RB1. I can’t believe it either, but it’s happening. Chase Edmonds handled 16 opportunities in Week 1 but hasn’t exceeded more than eight opportunities in a game since. Meanwhile, Mostert has yet to see below 10 in a game since Week 2 and has seen at least 14 opportunities in three of the last four games. Dwain McFarland of Fantasy Life broke down Mostert’s takeover of the Miami backfield even further.
Raheem Mostert's takeover of the Dolphins' backfield is complete ✅
57% short yardage
60% long down distance
19.2 fantasy points — mid-range RB2 moving forward.
Chase Edmonds only 15% of snaps 💀
Myles Gaskin challenging Edmonds for RB2
— Dwain McFarland (@dwainmcfarland) October 9, 2022
I loved Chase Edmonds as a breakout candidate in the summer, but he’s nothing more than a handcuff at the moment. Raheem Mostert has never been much of a receiving threat, but he’s seized that work over Edmonds as well. Feel free to start Mostert as long as he’s healthy especially if the Dolphins need to rely on the run game more while both Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater are injured.
Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) v New Orleans Saints
Pick ATS: Cincinnati Bengals
What the hell do we do with Taysom Hill? It might be the weirdest quandary in all of fantasy. On the one hand: the guy barely plays. Here are the percentage of snaps Hill has played in four of New Orleans’ five games this season: 26-percent, 9-percent, 20-percent, and 30-percent. Yet, Hill has scored six times in total this season (five rushing, one passing) and has rushed for at least 81 yards in two of his four games. Hill has four red-zone carries and has scored on all of them and a few more on the outskirts of the red zone (he threw a 22-yard touchdown last week).
Think about it this way: Irv Smith Jr. is No. 10 among tight ends with four red zone targets. Alvin Kamara has played in one fewer game than Hill, but he only has one more red zone touch than Hill does. The Saints clearly view Hill as a weapon especially in the red zone. If we’re merely hoping for *a* touchdown from tight end, for the most part, outside of Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews, how many have better odds at one than Hill? I wouldn’t go crazy getting Hill, but he’s absolutely worth the shot as a tight end. He won’t replicate this weekly, but no one else in his tier can replicate Kelce and Andrews’ production. Hill at least showed he can on any given Sunday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9) vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick ATS: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s time to start George Pickens. Pickens was getting the playing time in Weeks 1-3 (he’s played at least 70-percent of the team’s snaps in every game this season), but he wasn’t getting fed. In the first three weeks of the season with Mitchell Trubusky, he secured 12 targets. He’s hauled in the same number of targets in the last six quarters he’s shared the field with fellow rookie Kenny Pickett alone.
Diontae Johnson is still the number one in this offense (he makes for a nice buy-low right about now), but Pickens is now fantasy viable. He’s No. 11 in air yards among wide receivers (497), No. 7 in average depth of targets (17.1), and No. 2 in deep targets (12). The Bucs rank first in pass defense DVOA, but No. 16 in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Rookies Chris Olave (13-5-80) and Drake London (7-4-35) were heavily involved against the Bucs in their matchups. This might not be *the* George Pickens breakout game, but one is on the horizon.
Carolina Panthers vs Los Angeles Rams (-10)
Pick ATS: Los Angeles Rams
Last week, we covered how dreadful the Baker Mayfield experience has been. Mayfield suffered a high-ankle sprain last week and will likely miss multiple games. Unfortunately, Mayfield’s replacement this week, P.J. Walker, isn’t much better. Walker has played the majority of snaps in two games in his NFL career. His combined numbers in those games: 46-63 completions, 425 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. He’s averaged 167.5 air yards in those two games. The Rams are in the middle of the pack in pass defense DVOA but also have prevented opposing offenses from scoring more than 17 points in a game since Week 2. Carolina’s offense hasn’t met that threshold once since Week 1. Christian McCaffrey is the only Panther you should be starting.
Arizona Cardinals vs Seattle Seahawks (+2.5)
Pick ATS: Seattle Seahawks
First of all, I love the over in this game. This game has the second-highest over/under on the week, and the Seahawks’ last two games have combined for 164 points. Second of all, I hope you guys added Rondale Moore and Geno Smith after I’ve talked about them repeatedly because both are now every-week starters in your lineups. Thirdly, Kenneth Walker is in a smash spot after Rashaad Penny‘s unfortunate season-ending injury.
Penny has averaged over six yards a carry this season. Walker is no slouch either. He is No. 2 among running backs in yards created per touch (5.24), No. 14 in yards per touch (5.5), No. 8 in juke rate (41.4-percent), and No. 10 in breakaway run rate (8.7-percent). He’s fresh off a 1600+ yard season in college and is comparable to LaDainian Tomlinson athletically. Start him and keep him in your lineup forever.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ backfield is banged up too. Eno Benjamin was literally the last man standing last week after James Conner (ribs), Darrel Williams (knee), and Jonathan Ward (hamstring) all due to injury. Williams is already ruled out for Week 6, and it sounds like Conner and Ward will soon follow. Benjamin has yet to be featured as a bell cow. In Week 2, after Conner left that game, Benjamin and Williams split reps.
I am expecting Benjamin to get the majority of the work though. He’s played well in the limited time he’s seen the field so far. He’s No. 13 in yards per touch (5.5) and juke rate (33.3-percent) and No. 10 in yards created per touch (3.81). Start Eno Benjamin but be sure to stash sixth-round rookie Keaontay Ingram too. Ingram averaged 5.8 yards per carry in college at 6-0 221-pounds and caught 89 balls over four seasons. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s more involved than we think. But start Eno Benjamin with confidence if Conner misses.
Buffalo Bills (-2.5) vs Kansas City Chiefs
Pick ATS: Buffalo Bills
What do you want me to say? Did you watch the playoff game from nine months ago? Do you really need me to tell you to start your stars in this game? Sit back, relax, and enjoy the fireworks. And stash Khalil Shakir. He stepped right in for Isaiah McKenzie and Jamison Crowder and the Bills’ offense didn’t miss a beat. He scored a touchdown and gained 75 yards on five targets and three receptions. He’s the rare wide receiver handcuff. There. That’s all the analysis you need for this game.
Dallas Cowboys (+6.5) vs Philadelphia Eagles
Pick ATS: Dallas Cowboys
True story: Tony Pollard has two games rushing for over 80 yards this season. Ezekiel Elliott has none. Pollard is No. 4 among running backs in yards per touch (6.3). Elliott? No. 52 (3.9). Tony Pollard also averaged over a yard more per route run (1.48) than Elliott (0.41). Playing against a stout defense in the Rams last week with a true shutdown corner in Jalen Ramsey, the Cowboys scored 16 points on offense. Their only touchdown came on this gorgeous Pollard 57-yard touchdown run.
🎥 MAIS QUELLE SOIRÉE FANTASTIQUE ! @Tp__5 explose pour un TD de 57 YARDS sur cette énorme course ! #DallasCowboys
💻 @beinsports_FR 4 #nflextra
📲 NFL GamePass pic.twitter.com/i6TzeYolqV
— NFL France (@NFLFrance) October 9, 2022
The Cowboys are going to need explosive plays like that to keep with the Eagles’ high-octane offense (fifth in offensive DVOA according to Football Outsiders). If CeeDee Lamb is going to get the Darius Slay treatment, where else are they going to get big plays than Pollard? He needs to be the Cowboys’ feature back already but they refuse to enhance their offense. The Eagles do rank No. 20 in Football Outsiders’ run-defense DVOA metric though, so maybe Elliott can have success. Pollard’s been hit or miss this season for fantasy, but I’d play him simply because I don’t think Dallas wins without another big play or big performance from him.
Denver Broncos vs Los Angeles Chargers (-4.5)
Pick ATS: Los Angeles Chargers
Is there any Bronco you want to start outside of Courtland Sutton and Melvin Gordon? Sutton has yet to go below double-digit points in PPR scoring this season as Russell Wilson‘s first (and many times only) read. With Javonte Williams unfortunately out of the picture, Gordon saw 18 touches in his first game sans Williams and registered over 100 yards of offense. Mike Boone (10 touches for 85 yards last week) and Latavius Murray could put a wrinkle there, but Gordon is still a reliable start for now. But is that it?
Jerry Jeudy has averaged 17.75 PPR points in the two games he’s scored, but only 4.75 points in the games he hasn’t (I’m excluding his Week 2 game where he left early due to injury). KJ Hamler and Albert Okwuegbugnam are afterthoughts. Russell Wilson has two games scoring beyond 12 points and one above 20. He also isn’t playing well at all in actual football. Sutton and Gordon. They’re the only two you can start consistently with confidence.
Bye Weeks: Houston Texans, Las Vegas Raiders, Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions
If you have room on your team, it wouldn’t hurt to stash the following players that fantasy managers may have forgotten about while they’re on their bye week (in no particular order): Nico Collins (20.6-percent ownership in Sleeper leagues), Kyle Philips (3.7-percent), Zamir White (14-percent), Josh Reynolds (43-percent), Craig Reynolds (3-percent), Dontrell Hilliard (17.8-percent)
Good luck in Week 6 everyone!