Is Tom Brady still on to Cincinnati? Those were Bill Belichick's immortal words, but it was Brady's career that appeared on the brink following that Week 4 blowout loss to the Chiefs in 2014. One 10-2 finish later, Brady and the Pats were back in the playoffs and on their way to the Super Bowl.
Amazingly, the crossroads the 45-year-old finds himself at now isn't as dire as the one he confronted eight years ago. His numbers, though declined in the past two seasons, are just fine. He remains PFF's No. 7 rated passer and has thrown only one interception in six games. But whereas the stats were bad but the vibes good following that fateful day nearly a decade ago, the opposite is true this time around.
Although it could be fans and fantasy managers projecting what they have learned about Brady's personal life onto his play, the question keeps coming up: Does he even want to be doing this anymore? Perhaps more importantly, will his team still rally around him? The FOX cameras caught a rather vicious Brady dressing-down of his offensive line near the end of the first half on Sunday. Nothing changed after the break. Afterward, coach Todd Bowles not so subtly alluded to players “living off the Super Bowl.” “You've gotta get your hands dirty and go to work like everybody else,” Bowles intoned. “We've been working hard and we've gotta work harder. Nobody's gonna give us anything. Nobody's gonna feel sorry. We've gotta go back as coaches, as players — the time for talking is over. You either gotta put up or shut up."
Gee, I wonder who Bowles could be referring to. Could it be the quarterback who skipped out on nearly two weeks of training camp and attended his ex-owner's wedding two nights before a Week 6 loss? It is the kind of barely-veiled callout not even Belichick would have proffered. The good news is, for all the sniping, for all the bad feelings, it all remains right there. That includes in fantasy, where the early-season runfest is over. Brady is averaging 47 attempts over the past month, and 48 since Chris Godwin returned three games ago. His 3.2 percent touchdown rate is artificially low. The offense isn't humming. It's definitely not struggling. One day, Tom Brady really will stop coming back. This day, in this division, does not feel like it. Brady is on to Charlotte for Week 7.
Five Week 6 Storylines
Robbie Anderson wears out his welcome in Carolina. It wasn't quite an Antonio Brown moment. Unlike Brown, Anderson was doing everything in his power to get back on the field. It turned out to be too much. His second confrontation with WRs coach Joe Dailey was one too many for interim coach Steve Wilks, who was unequivocal as he sent Anderson to the locker room in the fourth quarter of a game that remained within reach. Well at least on the scoreboard. In reality, P.J. Walker probably couldn't have led the Panthers to victory over USC or UCLA on Sunday. And therein lies the source of Anderson's frustration. He wasn't expecting his quarterback play to somehow get even worse without Baker Mayfield. That is where he finds himself, but not much for much longer. In grave danger of being released, Anderson has instead "earned" a trade to Arizona, where he could take over as the field-stretcher with Marquise Brown battling a serious foot issue. Rostered in only 11 percent of Yahoo leagues, Anderson is grudgingly worth a WR4 flier as a proven deep threat.
Kenyan Drake runs circles around J.K. Dobbins after Dobbins' knee flares up. Dobbins' knee “tightened up” on artificial MetLife Stadium turf the Ravens had already complained about this season. Dobbins took the rock just seven times for 15 yards, paving the way for Drake's inexplicable 10/119/1 outburst. Drake provided four runs of 20-plus yards in New Jersey, including a 30-yard touchdown. By far the best day by any Ravens running back this season, it casts new doubt on Dobbins' ability to carve out RB2 value after what has been an extremely shaky four-game unveiling. Drake won't necessarily immediately seize lead-back duties, but coach John Harbaugh won't be returning the car to the garage, either. Worth a flier in these ever-confusing running back times, Drake can be deployed as a Week 7 FLEX against the Browns.
Struggling Packers continue to keep the restrictor plate on Aaron Jones. Jones is the Packers' best skill player. Perhaps he should have seen more than 12 touches in a loss to the New York Jets. That is especially true since AJ Dillon tallied 14 sleepy handles, including four receptions that gained 11 yards. In a year where the Packers have no receivers, elite pass-catching back Jones has somehow drawn only 23 targets. It is making him a shaky RB2, but what it is really doing is making the Packers inefficient on offense. Coach Matt LaFleur has gotten too fixed on his two-back vision. With the season, and perhaps an era, on the line, it is time to recommit to Jones and redefine Dillon. Rather than a co-equal partner in a 50-50 backfield, Dillon needs to be relegated to bruising change-of-pace.
Marquise Brown booted up ahead of DeAndre Hopkins' Week 7 return. Brown's left foot injury has come at a time of maximum chaos for both the Cardinals and fantasy managers. For the Cardinals because their season is already on the line. For fantasy managers because one-time target hog Hopkins is finally off suspension. For both because Arizona is playing on Thursday evening, and even if Brown receives good MRI news on Monday there is almost no way he will be ready to suit up for the short-week tilt. Brown's injury is serious enough that the Cardinals have already gone and acquired field-stretching fill-in Robbie Anderson. It is beginning to feel like a good outcome for Brown would be a minimum four-game stay on injured reserve.
Wan'Dale Robinson finds the end zone in his first game since Week 1. Although his snaps were sparse, the rookie made them count. He converted a pair of third downs across his first four plays, one of which was a five-yard touchdown. He was targeted on 36 percent of his limited routes. When he was in the game, he was a focus, and he rewarded the Giants with some of their biggest plays of the day. The snaps, targets and the like will all be increasing going forward. Robinson is a must-add ahead of a soft portion of the schedule that features @JAX, @SEA, vs. HOU and vs. DET over the next month.
Five More Week 6 Storylines
Sean McVay still can't commit to Darrell Henderson in post-Cam Akers backfield. Although it's true Henderson's 14 touches were his most since Week 1, it was a disappointing total in a game the Rams led for the final three quarters, including by two scores in the fourth. Henderson ceded eight handles to the ghost of Malcolm Brown and even lost work to someone named “Ronnie Rivers.” McVay gave carries to not one, not two, not three, but four different wide receivers. He will rent a plane and fly a banner over the beach if that's what it takes to get the point across: He doesn't trust Henderson as a lead back and never will. Headed on bye, McVay now has two weeks to think about his post-Akers running back group. Don't expect him to come back dying to give Henderson 20 handles.
Allen Robinson pops up for best game as Ram. So first things first, it is telling in and of itself that five catches for 63 yards and a score was Robinson's best afternoon in blue and yellow. With that out of the way, we can still give props to an effort that may have included a second touchdown had Robinson not been blatantly interfered with at the goal line on a penalty that wasn't called. In addition to the five-yard score where A-Rob easily bested Donte Jackson 1-on-1 in the end zone, Robinson was finally doing some of his signature work in man coverage, gaining just enough separation and winning in tight spaces for Matthew Stafford, a quarterback who never hesitates to target small windows. It was one game against a terrible team, but part of a desperately needed reset for a Rams squad now heading into its bye week. Scoop Robinson up as a WR4/5 if a frustrated manager justifiably cut him loose.
Dennis Allen predictably tires of the Andy Dalton experience. Week 6 was a Jameis Winston benching by another name. The Saints claimed it was about Winston's health as he returned from back and ankle issues, but the fact remains: He was active and on the 46-man game-day roster against the Bengals. He was healthy enough to play football. The Saints opted to give Dalton another look. He gave them all they needed to see, averaging 5.1 yards on 32 attempts and generating just one score. Dalton wasted 228 yards rushing from his running game. Although it's true he was missing his top-three receivers, it's also true he didn't compensate by creating any offense of his own for his short-handed attack. That is where Winston always comes in. We would expect him to do so on Thursday evening against the Cardinals.
Hot-streaking Alec Pierce scores first NFL touchdown. We would be remiss if we didn't mention that a quarterback attempting 58 passes is going to be a rising tide for all his pass catchers' boats. But Pierce's score was merely the exclamation point on his recent production. His 49 yards were actually his fewest since his debut. He is averaging 68 yards on seven targets over his past four appearances. He is providing a genuine threat outside the numbers and helping to open up what has too often been a moribund offense. Pierce's game does not translate overly well to today's PPR obsession, but his big play and touchdown potential make him an ideal WR4 fill-in with injuries and bye weeks continuing to ramp up.
Chase Claypool revives for best game in over a year. Claypool's seven receptions and 96 yards were both new season highs while his touchdown was his first of 2022. He had only 2/20 at halftime but took over after Mitch Trubisky was forced in after the break, scoring a six-yard touchdown and converting both a 3rd-and-11 and 3rd-and-16 on the Steelers' game-sealing drive with some tight-area work he is not known for. You could call it a red flag that the production came with his backup quarterback, but Claypool also drew a season-high nine targets in Week 5. By necessity, this offense is finally being opened up a bit. Claypool could have a difficult time re-joining the top 36, but he has stabilized his WR4 value and reminded he can't be dropped in 12-team leagues.
1. Of all the random skills he could have acquired, why did Kliff Kingsbury choose “Darrelle Revis every opposing No. 1 receiver”?
2. Has Diontae Johnson ever added a yard after the catch?
3. Did the Saints really need Andy Dalton to tell them this on the field?
Early Waivers Look (Players rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
QB: Jameis Winston (@ARZ), Matt Ryan (@TEN), Jimmy Garoppolo (vs. KC), Ryan Tannehill (vs. IND), Daniel Jones (@JAX), Justin Fields (@NE)
RB: Kenyan Drake, Mike Boone, Rachaad White, Kyren Williams, Malcolm Brown, Latavius Murray
WR: Wan'Dale Robinson, Chase Claypool, Rondale Moore, Alec Pierce, Jameson Williams, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Zay Jones, DeVante Parker, Ben Skowronek, Tyquan Thornton, Kadarius Toney
TE: Robert Tonyan, Evan Engram, Hunter Henry, Eric Saubert, Cade Otton, Daniel Bellinger
DEF: Saints (@ARZ), Chiefs (@SF), Raiders (vs. HOU), Giants (@JAX), Jets (@DEN), Bengals (vs. ATL)
Stats of the Week
Christian McCaffrey's 158 yards from scrimmage were a new season high. He accounted for 77.8 percent of the Panthers' production.
Mike Renner has a telling stat on the Packers' down-field incompetence: “Aaron Rodgers has 37 attempts targeted 15+ yards down field this season. Only five have been to receivers charted as open — dead last in the NFL.”
Tyreek Hill's 701 yards receiving are already 56.5 percent of the way to his 2021 total and 54.9 percent of the way to his 2020 total. It is 81.5 percent of the way to his 12-game total from 2019.
Tweet of the Week, from Michael F. Florio: JaMycal Hasty, who you might know best for not being James Robinson or Travis Etienne, breaks a 61-yard TD run It's the longest rushing play for the Jaguars this season.
The Don't Look It Up, Just Go With It Award: Gabe Davis now owns the all-time record for touchdowns at Arrowhead Stadium.