Season Preview: Denver Nuggets
Quietly, the Denver Nuggets have turned into an offensive juggernaut led by a budding superstar in center Nikola Jokic.
With passing and scoring records falling each week, it’s getting harder to predict which quarterbacks will break into the top 12 or fall below the pack.
Performances that gave passers a respectable place in the QB-8-12 range last season are wallowing closer to the 20s this season.
When Mitchell Trubisky is the high scorer and Tom Brady and his 3 touchdowns come in at QB-16, you know it’s a wacky NFL Fantasy season.
So, which high scoring passers will fall behind Brady this week? And who will climb out of the pack with a top-ten performance? Here are the guys we're starting and sitting:
Oakland’s quarterback broke through against the Browns defense last week with 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. A pair of interceptions kept his TD:Int ratio at an unacceptable 6:7 for the season.
But this week he faces a Chargers team who can’t maintain a pass rush without Joey Bosa and allows the third most touchdown passes. Jon Gruden will script the game to take advantage of that.
Los Angeles could have an easy time of it against the Oakland defense, too. Antonio Gates scored a touchdown last week, so the only hole in their offense might be closing.
It all adds up to a big passing game for Carr and the Raiders. He can easily give us a second consecutive top-5 NFL Fantasy quarterback stat line.
Before you start yelling at the computer, I told you it was getting tough to pick sit ‘ems. But hear me out.
Denver put up a valiant effort against the record-setting passer from Kansas City before they faltered down the stretch. Denver’s defense is the 17th ranked unit in (real life) football.
Jacksonville enters the week on top of the defensive rankings against the pass and run. Andy Reid will resort to tricks and schemes, but the Jaguars are disciplined enough to maintain containment.
There is also the Kansas City game plan to consider. Reid got Kareem Hunt back into the flow last week. Look for that to continue against the Jaguars to protect Mahomes’ exposure to the defense.
Meanwhile, Bortles will continue his effective, if unspectacular passing attack with enough TJ Yeldon rushing yards to keep the ball from the Chiefs offense.
Bet the under and watch for Mahomes’ first sub-20-point NFL Fantasy game. He won’t stink, but he’ll fall to the QB-14-15 position this week thanks to the game plan, a tough defense, and less possessions in Week 5.
Green Bay’s defense racked up 23 NFL Fantasy points against Buffalo to take top honors in Week 5. Facing Matthew Stafford in Detroit will be different.
Stafford quietly provided 21 NFL Fantasy points last week, but in this era of explosive passing attacks, that was only good for the QB-14 ranking. That was on the road.
Stafford not only plays better at home, but he faces an angry Aaron Rodgers who knows the urgency of winning this NFC North division game. That means points could be flying.
Flying as in passes to the likes of Adams, Cobb, and Graham… and Tate, Jones, and Golladay. Look for a shootout to put Stafford back among the top ten NFL Fantasy quarterbacks.
Carson Wentz is another quarterback who put up over 20 NFL Fantasy points only to find it was barely the 15th best total for the week. Watching the way Minnesota has allowed opposing passers to have their way over the first few weeks would make normal folks expect more in Week 5.
But I’ve never professed to being normal. Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer was livid about the Vikings’ defensive performances. He called everybody out and went to work regrouping his defense. I expect Minnesota to come out looking like the NFL Fantasy D/ST we expected when many of us made them the NFL Draft day D/ST 2.
Carson Wentz might be as talented as Jared Goff, but he does not have the same carefree attitude about opposing egos, nor the offensive line or vast array of skill players around him. Wentz gets hit, picked, and frustrated in another game I expect to yield less points than predicted.
Nothing points to how crazy this NFL Fantasy season has been than me getting away with “advising” you to start the consummate #1 quarterback in NFL Fantasy drafts. But after his QB-19 performance in Week 4, a pronounced limp, and his cranky attitude after a 22-0 victory, many owners are questioning his NFL Fantasy value.
Green Bay travels to Ford Field and their artificial surface to take on the Lions. That can work both ways. The turf is true under the passers’ feet, providing less worry about a divot or plug bending Rodgers knee funny. On the other hand, it could be a harder and less-forgiving surface, resulting in higher risk on tackles and a jarring impact with every step.
I never stepped on the turf of Ford Field, but it looks nice on TV. So, I am betting Rodgers has less worries this week and cuts loose in an important division game. Matthew Stafford’s bevy of weapons will force the Packers to chase points.
Rodgers said his post-game comments about the “terrible” Packers offense were not a reflection of any problems between him and the coaching staff. He was smiling when he said everything was fine. "Fine" is code for, “Guess who is going to make a run at the NFL Fantasy QB-1 rating in Week 5?” Start ‘im.
Tennessee pulled off its third straight upset, thanks largely to 390 total yards and 3 touchdowns from Marcus Mariota. Imagine what he could do if he could feel all his fingers?
Mariota’s effort was all the more praiseworthy in that it came against the solid defense of Philadelphia. At first glance, he appears to have a more favorable matchup against the Bills. But I don’t think so.
Buffalo’s defense has put it together the past two weeks. First, they held Kirk Cousins to a QB-23 standing for week 3. Then the Bills made Aaron Rodgers angry, holding him to a pair of touchdowns a QB-19 ranking.
Buffalo’s defense is eager to show the home fans they are better than what they showed in their first two games. Mariota will have a tough time climbing back into top NFL Fantasy scorer territory.
Here’s a bold prediction for you: Blake Bortles will have more NFL Fantasy points this week than Pat Mahomes. I’m not sure it will be enough to make him a top-12 quarterback, but I have both passers on my roster, and I am starting Bortles this week.
Baker Mayfield strikes me as a guy who will feed off the crowd in Cleveland. That will work well for him this week. However, if Oakland could take the ball from him four times and hold him to 12 NFL Fantasy points, I suspect he is in for a long day against the Ravens’ defense.
What if I told you there was a quarterback who scored 3 touchdowns with 300 yards the last few times he faced the Patriots… and then put up a whopping ZERO NFL Fantasy points against them last week?
Ryan Tannehill failed me gloriously in Week 4, but Joe Flacco (QB-12) and Andy Dalton (QB-9) hit the mark. On the other side of the ledger, Aaron Rodgers (QB-19) and Baker Mayfield (QB-22) were good sit ‘em calls, but if you sat QB-3 Andrew Luck and his 30 NFL Fantasy points… sorry?
My extra points were split. Eli Manning turned back into a pumpkin. The popular sleeper pick came in at #21. Josh Allen woke from his dreams, too. As predicted, he fell to the depths of NFL Fantasy relevance at the QB-32 spot.
This week’s start ‘em and sit ‘em are a bit bolder than usual. Take a leap of faith and go with them. I mean… crazier things have happened in NFL fantasy, right?