The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 6: Vikings get break against Panthers

·7 min read

Oct. 16—UPDATE: 9:32 a.m. Saturday

When we picked the Carolina Panthers to beat the Vikings in Sunday's editions of Minnesota's First Newspaper, it was because of our assumption that Carolina would be getting back all-world running back Christian McCaffrey, while the Vikings were still not certain to have their injured running star, Dalvin Cook.

Well, it turns out we had it all bass ackwards ... CMC has been ruled out for Sunday, but Cook is expected to return as the Minnesota starter. So things are looking a little dicier for the Panthers, and for fantasy mavens who were hoping to get another big week out of Alexander Mattison.

When you combine that with the bad-beat finish of Thursday Night Football (Buccaneers win by only six), and it's already been a dicey week for The Loop.

More bad news out of Cleveland, where the Browns' running back tandem of Nick Chubb (out) and Kareem Hunt (questionable) will be diminished when they take on unbeaten Arizona. Also ruled out this week are Baltimore wideout Sammy Watkins and Miami WR Devante Parker.

Seattle made it official, putting both QB Russell Wilson and RB Chris Carson on injured reserve, meaning neither will play for at least three weeks.

Players listed as questionable as of now include Denver RB Melvin Gordon and three top receivers: the Chargers' Mike Williams, the Bears' Allen Robinson and Washington's Terry McLaurin.

On the positive side, Tennessee is expected to get WR Julio Jones back, while Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa is set to return to the field in London against sad-sack Jacksonville. And Gophers fans will be interested in the debut of Ravens wideout Rashod Bateman.

One other roster note: Arizona's trade for Philly tight end Zach Ertz will not help the Cardinals this week, as he already played Thursday night against Tampa Bay. But Ertz will be an extremely popular fantasy waiver pickup next week as he joins the Cardinals' prolific offense.

ORIGINAL POST: 9:20 a.m. Wednesday

The bane of NFL fantasy mavens' existence, Bye Week Season, begins this week. And you better be ready.

The Week 6 quartet of bye teams, the Falcons, Saints, 49ers and Jets, isn't too much of a loss. New Orleans RB Alvin Kamara is the only first-rounder who will be idled this week, though the absences of Cordarrelle Patterson, Calvin Ridley and Deebo Samuel are significant.

Things will be much worse next week, the Bye-mageddon, when more than a dozen top fantasy standouts are off. In addition to your hometown Vikings, the Bills, Cowboys, Chargers, Steelers and Jaguars will be watching Week 7 from home, or Cabo, or some other far-flung locale.

So now is the time to get ready for the bye week potholes in your lineup. Better a week early than a week late. For this week, here are your best free-agent options

Devontae Booker (Giants RB) — New York lost Saquon Barkley yet again last week to a sprained ankle, so Booker will be the No. 1 back in blue for at least a couple of weeks. He ran for one touchdown and added a TD catch after replacing Barkley against Dallas. His biggest liability: this week's opponent: the powerful Rams defense.

Darrel Williams (Chiefs RB) — Clyde Edwards-Helaire's knee sprain elevates Williams into the starting role in Kansas City. He has two TDs off the bench this year on only 26 carries, and he's facing a very malleable defense this week in Washington. A Williams score this Sunday is one of the week's safest bets.

Samaje Perine (Bengals RB) — With Joe Mixon slowed by injury, Perine stepped up last week against Green Bay, with 15 touches for 83 yards and a TD. The former Oklahoma Sooner has another good opportunity this week against the winless Lions in Detroit, assuming he makes it off the COVID list.

Kadarius Toney (Giants WR) — The rookie from Florida had his coming-out party Sunday for the injury-ravaged Giants. Ten catches and 189 yards later, the first-round pick is firmly on top of New York's receiving pecking order. But again, the Giants' matchup with Aaron Donald and company this week is no picnic.

Jakobi Meyers (Patriots WR) — New England's top receiver is still looking for his first score of the season, but he has quietly risen to seventh in the league with 31 receptions. He is clearly the favorite choice of Pats QB Mac Jones, so Meyers could see a lot of work Sunday in what will likely be an offensive shootout with the Cowboys up in Foxboro.

David Njoku (Browns TE) — Those waiting for the Cleveland tight end to blossom had to be encouraged with his 149-yard effort last week against the Chargers. As the Browns deal with the injury to Jarvis Landry and the ineffectiveness of Odell Beckham Jr., it's obvious QB Baker Mayfield will be leaning more on Njoku in the next few weeks.

Taylor Heinecke (Washington QB) — The only NFL QB from Old Dominion has posted decent numbers since Ryan Fitzpatrick injured his hip. More than 1,200 yards passing and eight touchdowns in four-plus games. This week, the WFT has the pleasure of facing Kansas City's mediocre defense. Look for another shootout.

SITTING STARS

Tampa Bay's defense has shut down many better running backs than Philly's Miles Sanders, who they will smother Thursday night. ... Travis Henry will continue his MVP campaign, but you probably don't want to start any other Titans vs. Buffalo. ... Green Bay will rely on the passing game vs. Chicago, we're guessing, so Aaron Jones won't break the bank. ... Speaking of broken, Cleveland WR Odell Beckham Jr. will continue to play that way vs. unbeaten Arizona. ... And two mid-level quarterbacks will struggle to reach that level this week: the Vikings' Kirk Cousins against Carolina and Las Vegas' Derek Carr vs. Denver.

MATCHUP GAME

Miami RB Myles Gaskin had a bit of a revival last week, and that will continue in London against the Jaguars. ... Pittsburgh RB Najee Harris will be the latest to rush through the Seattle defense. ... Washington's Antonio Gibson will do enough to keep them in the game against Kansas City. ... New England quarterback Mac Jones will help the Patriots match the Cowboys score for score, at least for a while. ... Indy QB Carson Wentz will rebound from their crushing loss in Baltimore with an easy afternoon against Houston. ... Three receivers who should have big days this week are Tampa Bay's Antonio Brown vs. Philadelphia, Cincinnati's Ja'Marr Chase vs. Detroit and Jacksonville's Marvin Jones vs. Miami.

INJURY WATCH

The big hurt last week belonged to Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson's middle finger. He'll be out a minimum of six weeks, but in none of those weeks should you consider replacing him with Geno Smith. ... Better news could be coming for Carolina's Christian McCaffrey, as the Panthers may get the NFL's No. 1 back in time to face the Vikings, who might get Dalvin Cook back from his ankle injury. ... Pittsburgh WR JuJu Smith-Schuster is done for the season, making Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool more valuable. ... Is this the week we see the return of Tennessee WR Julio Jones or Tampa Bay TE Rob Gronkowski? Maybe Jones, but not Gronk. ... Kansas City's Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce were hurt last Sunday night, but you should expect both to return for the struggling Chiefs. ... Notables listed as questionable include Tampa QB Tom Brady, Giants QB Daniel Jones, Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow, Patriots RB Damien Harris, Giants WR Kenny Golladay and Philly TE Dallas Goedart.

THE DEEPEST SLEEPERS

Last Sunday's loss to the Vikings left Detroit coach Dan Campbell in tears, but not all is lost for the winless Lions. They may have discovered a new receiving star in Amon-Ra St. Brown. He has emerged as a favorite of quarterback Jared Goff. The rookie from Southern California has tallied 13 catches for 135 yards over the past two weeks. The Lions play host to Cincinnati on Sunday, and St. Brown could post good numbers again against the average-at-best Bengals defense.

THE THURSDAY PICK

Buccaneers at Eagles (+7):

Pick: Buccaneers by 17

BREAKING NEWS

We'll be updating our column, based on the latest injuries and innuendo, right up until Sunday's kickoff. Go to TwinCities.com/theloop.

You can hear Kevin Cusick on Wednesdays on Bob Sansevere's "BS Show" podcast on iTunes. You can follow Kevin on Twitter — @theloopnow. He can be reached at kcusick@pioneerpress.com.

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