The Week Six opener on Thursday night was what everyone (except Michael Strahan) expected it to be … a blowout victory for the New England Patriots. It just took a surprisingly long time to get to that point. The Patriots entered as huge home favorites and if the situation was not bad enough, the Giants were playing without several key offensive players, including RB Saquon Barkley, WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram. Despite the odds stacked against them, the Giants Defense started strong, forcing a turnover on downs on the opening drive before forcing multiple punts and an interception from QB Tom Brady during the opening quarter. Unfortunately for them, the Giants Offense wasn’t moving the ball either. In fact, a blocked punt late in the first quarter turned into the first score of the game and another feather in the cap of the Patriots Defense, which is scoring fantasy points like a top-five running back.
A Daniel Jones interception (there were three of those on the night) led to another Pats score and a 14-0 lead and the game looked over already. Jones connected with WR Golden Tate, who made a juggling catch and then outran defenders on his way to a 64-yard touchdown, cutting the lead in half. A Patriots fumble was recovered and returned and soon the game was knotted at 14 and while it was still the first half, fans everywhere were stunned.
The Patriots had an answer, going on an 11-play, four-minute drive that ended with a sneak from Brady, giving New England a 21-14 halftime lead. The third quarter featured slow-down ball by New England, who held the ball for over nine minutes, gaining 47 yards and ending with a missed field goal. The Giants could capitalize and would not score another point in the game. The Patriots added another rushing touchdown from Brady and another defensive score to finish with a 35-14 win over the struggling battered Giants.
Brady brushed off his slow start and while he did not throw a touchdown pass, his two sneaks for scores made for a productive fantasy stat line. Brady passed for 334 yards, while his counterpart Jones managed just 161 yards, along with the one touchdown. RB Sony Michel broke a long 26-yard run late in the game to pad his otherwise pitiful stats, finishing with 86 yards on 22 carries, but no real opportunities near the goal line. Michel did add two catches for 27 yards, a positive trend for his fantasy upside.
The Pats were again led by WR Julian Edelman, who caught nine passes for 113 yards. Rookie WR Jakobi Meyers stepped up with 54 yards on four catches, seeing a ton of work after WR Josh Gordon left the game with a knee injury. His leg bent awkwardly when trying to make a tackle during an interception return. Gordon did remain on the sidelines and was spotted riding the bike, seemingly a good sign for his chances of returning next week.
The veteran receiver Tate led the team with six catches for 102 yards and a score, while rookie WR Darius Slayton’s three catches and 32 yards was the next best on the team. Rookie RB Jon Hilliman rushed 11 times for 38 yards.
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Star RBs Sitting?
As we near Sunday's Week Six kickoff, it appears as if two of the top running backs in the league are in danger of missing their respective games, which would be major news for fantasy players. Rams RB Todd Gurley, who entered this season as a major injury concern, is nursing a quad injury that has now been bothering him for over a week. Gurley’s usage has been somewhat limited but he has scored five touchdowns to keep his fantasy owners happy. An NFL Network report suggested Gurley’s Week Six status is “very much up in the air.” If Gurley can’t go, it would presumably be RB Malcolm Brown earning most of the work, though rookie RB Darrell Henderson would also have a role.
Cardinals RB David Johnson’s status is also in doubt after he missed yet another practice due to a back issue. The Cardinals have already been working backup RB Chase Edmonds into the offense in the past couple of games and he would be handing nearly a full load if DJ is forced to miss the game.
Gronk Open to Return
Former Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski made his debut as part of Fox’s NFL coverage last night and admitted he had not closed the door on returning to the league. Gronk said, “It’s always going to be open in my mind.” It was also reported that Gronkowski never officially filed his retirement paperwork.
Jets TE Chris Herndon (hamstring) is expected to miss two weeks with his injury…Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (abdomen) is not expected to play this week. … Jaguars owner Shahid Khan said that CB Jalen Ramsey would play in Week Six. … Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) did not practice. … Vikings WR Adam Thielen missed practice with an illness. … Redskins veteran TE Vernon Davis (concussion) has yet to clear league protocol but did practice Thursday. … Lions rookie TE T.J. Hockenson was able to fully practice though he has yet to clear league concussion protocol. Expect Hockenson to play in Week Six. … WR Kenny Stills (hamstring) got in a full practice. … Ravens TE Mark Andrews (shoulder) was able to practice, but rookie WR Marquise Brown (ankle) was not. Brown is looking very iffy for a matchup with the Bengals this weekend. … Cardinals WR Christian Kirk (ankle) practiced and is trending towards playing this week. … WR Chris Godwin (hip) was a full participant at Buccaneers practice. … Veteran TE Delanie Walker (knee) practiced on Thursday. … Cowboys WR Randall Cobb (back) did not practice. … Rams WR Brandin Cooks suffered a concussion on last week’s Thursday night football matchup but is expected to play Sunday against the 49ers. … Packers RB Jamaal Williams (concussion) practiced Thursday and is trending towards playing. This would likely hurt the upside of RB Aaron Jones. … Steelers QB Mason Rudolph (concussion) was limited in practice and the team is leaving the possibility open for Rudolph to start. That seems unwise. … RB Alvin Kamara was added to the Saints injury report with an ankle issue. This is new and will be something to monitor as we head towards the weekend. … Broncos WRs Courtland Sutton (leg) and Emmanuel Sanders (knee) got in full practices Thursday. … Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) was a limited participant at practice. … The Seahawks added RBs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny to the injury report, though both are expected to play in Week Six. … WR Davante Adams continued to miss practice and is looking doubtful to suit up for the Packers in Week Six.
There was a small concern when Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey missed practice on Wednesday but HC Ron Rivera later announced that giving CMC a rest day in the middle of the week will be the “new norm” for the star back. McCaffrey was back at practice on Thursday. … Buccaneers OC Byron Leftwich said TE O.J. Howard’s “time is coming”. … The Raiders released WR J.J. Nelson and re-signed WR Marcell Ateman. … New Redskins (interim) HC Bill Callahan plans to build his offense around RB Adrian Peterson, starting with this week’s game against the Dolphins. Despite their poor record and recent coaching change, the Redskins are the favorites against Miami and Peterson looks like a solid play, for this week only.