Biggest fantasy football questions: NFL reporters give advice

After six weeks of the season, the leading scorer in ESPN fantasy leagues is Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry.

No deficit is out of reach when he’s on your team; no lead is safe when you’re facing him. As much as he wrecks psyches of defenders who end up on the wrong end of his stiff-arm, he wrecks fantasy scores. If you were a fantasy manager with a 35.5-point lead going into Monday night against Henry, you lost.

Henry has 10 touchdowns through six games. No one else has more than seven. He has three three-TD games (all rushing); the REST OF THE LEAGUE has four (one each for Austin Ekeler, Tyreek Hill, Aaron Jones and Cordarrelle Patterson). The last time a player had three games with three rushing touchdowns in a season was 2006, when LaDainian Tomlinson did it for the Chargers.

In short, congrats to fantasy managers who drafted Henry. Can he do even more? Well, don’t look now but it’s possible. As ESPN fantasy sports researcher Kyle Soppe, who generates the fantasy questions, inquires, the Titans are about to get a healthy A.J. Brown back in the fold. More room for the running back?

Speaking of A.J., we also have questions about A.J. Green and AJ Dillon, plus much more. Six teams have byes this week, so don’t look for anything about Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, the Chargers, Dallas or Minnesota.

AFC EAST

Three big games and three slow games for Jaylen Waddle. Do you anticipate an uptick in consistency as his rookie season wears on?

As long as Tua Tagovailoa is under center, Jaylen Waddle has fantasy value. In just two full games together, Tua has targeted Waddle 18 times — which represents 37% of his season total. There’s obvious chemistry between them dating to their time together at Alabama, so continue to start Waddle with confidence as the Dolphins attempt to right the ship. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

play

1:47

Field Yates and Matthew Berry discuss the pros and cons of starting Jaylen Waddle.


Has Hunter Henry‘s scoring prowess allowed him to carve out a sustainable fantasy viable role, understanding that the TE position leaguewide is a bit weak after the top tier?

Yes, for sure. Henry has a TD catch in each of the past three games and that is reflective of how he has shown a knack of running precise routes that get him open. Contrast that to Jonnu Smith, who usually needs to be the beneficiary of scheme (e.g. quick pass etc.) as he transitions into the Patriots’ offense after four years in Tennessee. — Mike Reiss


Are we working toward a feature role for Michael Carter?

No, the Jets don’t believe in having a so-called feature back. They prefer the committee approach, but that doesn’t mean Carter’s carries won’t increase. He’s averaging a team-high 9.4 attempts per game. That will go up proportionately if the Jets, ranked 31st in rushing, can figure out how to sustain a ground attack. — Rich Cimini

AFC NORTH

Six targets for Rashod Bateman in his NFL debut. Can this offense support three fantasy-viable pass-catchers (Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews the others)?

Probably not, especially with the Ravens’ schedule in November. After next week’s bye, Baltimore plays the Vikings, Dolphins and Bears — all of whom rank 18th or worse in run defense. That probably means the Ravens will run the ball more and Lamar Jackson will throw the ball less. Andrews will consistently put up strong numbers because he’s Jackson’s No. 1 target. But the production for Brown and Bateman could vary week to week. — Jamison Hensley


Consecutive poor games from Tyler Boyd: blip on the radar or clearly WR3 in this offense?

It’s something fantasy managers should be concerned about. Boyd’s lack of targets with the emergence of Ja’Marr Chase is turning into more than a trend. It weakens Boyd’s viability as a starter until further notice. — Ben Baby

play

1:27

Field Yates and Matthew Berry reflect on Tyler Boyd’s disappointing fantasy performance so far this season.


With a strong showing on Thursday Night Football, what sort of role do you see D’Ernest Johnson playing when Nick Chubb is active?

Chubb will obviously go back to being the lead back when he returns, which could be as soon as Cleveland’s next game against Pittsburgh. But with Kareem Hunt (calf) still expected to miss multiple weeks, Johnson should get opportunities out of this run-heavy offense over the next few games as Chubb’s backup. Given how well he ran the ball against the Broncos, that might be worth a look if you’re starved for help at running back. — Jake Trotter

AFC SOUTH

Mark Ingram II dominated the touches without dominating the snap count … safe to call him the RB1 for this offense?

Yes. Although coach David Culley has said multiple times that he thinks there is a role for all three veteran running backs in the office — Ingram, David Johnson and Phillip Lindsay — it’s clear that Ingram is RB1 right now. Unfortunately for people with Texans players on their fantasy rosters, there hasn’t been much production for the offense as a whole, especially on the road. — Sarah Barshop


Carson Wentz has been viable in deep leagues in five of six weeks. Can he continue to produce decent value with the pass-catcher limitations of this roster?

The Colts will continue to take shots down the field, especially after their success over the past two games, but they took a hit in the speed department when receiver Parris Campbell went on injured reserve with a foot injury. And now there’s a “50-50” chance that receiver T.Y. Hilton will not play against the 49ers because of a quad injury. Expect Wentz to lean more on second-year receiver Michael Pittman Jr. if Hilton is out against San Francisco. — Mike Wells


Was the second half of Week 6 an early indicator of a big A.J. Brown production run coming?

Yes. Brown is getting closer to being fully healthy. There hasn’t been any mention of his knees being sore, but his hamstring is still on the mend. Brown and Ryan Tannehill can continue to take advantage of the play-action passing game because defenses focus on trying to limit Derrick Henry‘s effectiveness. Brown showed his explosiveness with the ball in his hands last week. Those lanes should continue to be open so expect Brown’s receptions and yards after the catch numbers to climb over the coming weeks. — Turron Davenport

play

0:50

Field Yates and Matthew Berry evaluate A.J. Brown’s performance vs. the Bills.

AFC WEST

Do you see Javonte Williams earning more touches with time, or is his current role what we should expect for the rest of his rookie campaign?

Until the Broncos commit to the run more than they have in the four-game losing streak, Williams’ touches as a runner will stay about the same. He has recently gotten more work as a receiver, however, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater seems to trust him a little more each game in the patten. Overall, the Broncos had Bridgewater under center far more in their three wins than they have in their four losses; until they return play-action — with Bridgewater under center — the run game will be ornamental. Rushing attempts in their wins: 28, 30, 37. Rushing attempts in their losses: 17, 18, 23 and 14. — Jeff Legwold


Under 3 yards per carry, but two scores. Did Darrel Williams do enough to secure the feature role as long as Clyde Edwards-Helaire is sidelined?

The Chiefs like what they got from Williams. If you take away his last five carries, when the Chiefs were trying to milk the clock and he was merely trying to stay in bounds and not fumble, Williams gained almost 4 yards per carry to go along with the two TDs and 27 receiving yards. The Chiefs will gladly accept that kind of production. — Adam Teicher

play

1:17

Field Yates and Matthew Berry wonder if Darrel Williams will continue as the starting running back in KC after Clyde Edwards-Helaire returns.


Two scores from Kenyan Drake in the first post-Gruden game … something or nothing when projecting the rest of the season?

How about … a lot of something. Look, hours before Gruden resigned, he was asked if it was a priority to get Drake more involved. “No,” was the answer. Gruden said he wanted to get “everyone” more involved. New playcaller Greg Olson obviously saw something he liked and results usually yield more opportunities, no? “I’ve just got a nose for the end zone,” Drake said. “If I get there, I’m hungry for it. I’m starving for it.” — Paul Gutierrez

NFC EAST


Given the injuries through six weeks, are the 11 targets for Dante Pettis something fantasy managers should take note of?

No. Pettis wasn’t even that productive with those 11 targets (5-48-0) and Darius Slayton probably returns this week against Carolina after missing two games with a hamstring injury. In addition, expect to see more of John Ross and Kadarius Toney (ankle). Kenny Golladay should also be back relatively soon. — Jordan Raanan


Dallas Goedert sat Week 6 and has been underwhelming in three of his past four games. But with the trade of Zach Ertz to Arizona, is it safe to say his best days are ahead? How many targets do you think we can count on moving forward?

His best days are ahead for sure. Goedert has never had a chance to be fully showcased as “the guy” due to Ertz’s presence. He’s eager to prove what he can do, and management wants as many reps for him as possible over the rest of the season as they contemplate signing him to a lucrative extension. He’s averaging 3.8 targets per game. I expect that to jump to around 5 or 6. — Tim McManus

play

1:22

Mike Clay sees Dallas Goedert having more fantasy production now that Zach Ertz has been traded.


Over the next month, two of Washington’s three games come against strong offenses (GB and TB). Should we be valuing J.D. McKissic over Antonio Gibson in those spots (outscored him 19-4.4 in Week 6, with WFT playing from behind)?

Yeah, probably but also because of Gibson’s lingering shin injury; he had to leave Sunday’s game vs. the Chiefs twice and still looked a bit hobbled Wednesday in practice. He has carried the ball only 20 times in a game twice; and he has only one other game with more than 14 runs. That, to me, is an issue but it’s an indication of falling behind, but also the shin. They could run vs. Green Bay, which is 24th in yards per carry allowed, but they have to stay close. Tampa is terrific vs. the run, ranking second in yards per carry and first in yards per game. McKissic has not caught more than two passes in a game in consecutive weeks this season, but given their situation I think that will change in coming weeks. — John Keim

NFC NORTH

It has been an every-other-week thing for Darnell Mooney. With time, will he turn into a weekly asset this season, or will it continue to be boom/bust?

The Bears’ offense is not consistent enough for Mooney to be a weekly threat, but he can light it up certain games. I still feel Mooney is a good play for fantasy managers because of his elite speed, but keep in mind that he plays for the Bears, who have one of the NFL’s worst offenses. That disclaimer applies to every Chicago fantasy player. — Jeff Dickerson


Three straight games with at least seven targets for Amon-Ra St. Brown: Can this volume sustain?

Yes. As injuries continue to mount in Motown, opportunities continue to open for St. Brown at wide receiver, and he’s making the most of the extra targets. With each week, it seems as if Lions quarterback Jared Goff is gaining more trust in the fourth-round pick. Raised by a father who was a two-time Mr. Universe, St. Brown possesses a strong work ethic, which includes staying after practice every day to catch approximately 200 balls on the Jugs machine, so he’s prepared for the moment. — Eric Woodyard


The carry difference is narrowing between Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon: Real concern for Jones managers, or can both be productive?

If you can get both of them on your team, do it. If not, it’s anyone’s guess which guy will be the guy this week. Now that Dillon has shown he can catch, too, he could get more opportunities in the passing game. — Rob Demovsky

play

1:24

Field Yates and Matthew Berry examine Aaron Jones’ productivity after the Packers’ Week 6 win.

NFC SOUTH

We finally got the Kyle Pitts breakout game … Is it a product of Calvin Ridley being inactive or the beginning of a special run?

So this has been the thing with Pitts since before the season. Most people seem to forget exactly how hard it is to transition to the NFL as a tight end — and the Falcons are using Pitts as a tight end in totality instead of just name only. That means there will be peaks and valleys. What Pitts showed against the Jets unlocks some of the possibility there and he should put up consistent numbers from here on out — but don’t begin to expect 100 yards and a touchdown weekly. He’ll be involved in the offense each week and could break 1,000 yards on the season, but understand Arthur Smith is going to look for exploitable matchups and if teams start focusing on Pitts a ton, there are other options for Atlanta to be successful. — Michael Rothstein


Sam Darnold‘s efficiency with Christian McCaffrey injured has plummeted. Should we manage expectations for DJ Moore as long as CMC is on the shelf?

Somewhat. Defenses are putting more emphasis on stopping Moore, which they can do with McCaffery out because that’s one less player they have to dedicate a defender. The more comfortable Chuba Hubbard gets with the passing game and the more Robby Anderson regains his chemistry with Darnold will open up things for Moore again. — David Newton


You wrote up the usage patterns of Alvin Kamara last week and inspired him (5 catches and 8 targets in Week 5)! Is that type of usage (he also had 16 carries) here to stay?

Yep, it was all me! I think Week 5 is closer to what we should expect from Kamara going forward than what we saw in Week 4 (zero targets for the first time in his career, thanks in part to backup RB Tony Jones Jr. getting injured early in the game and Kamara’s role changing a bit). I don’t think Kamara will approach his usual 80 catches this year since that obviously isn’t as much of Jameis Winston’s game as it was for Drew Brees. However, Winston has repeatedly insisted it’s a priority for him to develop more rhythm with Kamara, and opportunities should open up once players such as Michael Thomas return from injury. Either way, Kamara will continue to get a high volume of touches in one form or another. — Mike Triplett


Should those with Rob Gronkowski rostered be concerned about O.J. Howard /Cameron Brate eating into his role once he returns?

Gronk will always be a favorite target of Tom Brady because of their history. Brady goes to the guys he trusts in critical moments. I don’t think Gronk fantasy owners will have to worry about their chemistry taking a nosedive because Gronk misses a few games. It’s still to be determined when he comes back, but it was a positive sign seeing him out on the field Thursday doing conditioning work with speed coach Roger Kingdom. — Jenna Laine

NFC WEST

Fountain of youth for A.J. Green: Does it last for all of 2021, or would it be wise to move on from the veteran?

Oh, it’ll last. He’s not the No. 1 option in Arizona so he’s not working harder to get free or separate from double teams. He’s being rotated out at a good pace. He won’t be worn down in Arizona like he was in Cincinnati. It’d be wise to keep him because of his consistency and the chance he could blow up for 100 yards, like he has already once this season. He’s finding his rhythm in the Cards’ offense, having three games with more than 67 yards in his past four. — Josh Weinfuss


Robert Woods caught a TD pass early in the second quarter and was shut out the rest of the game. Can we count on him weekly, or is he simply a risk/reward type of option with a wide range of outcomes?

Expect coach Sean McVay to want to make a statement on Sunday that the Rams made the correct move in trading for quarterback Matthew Stafford and in doing that, keep an eye out for a multitude of playmakers to be involved in what’s likely to be an explosive offensive performance. How that will shake out for Woods? That’s a good guess, week to week. — Lindsey Thiry


What did you take away from Trey Lance‘s first start in Week 5?

Lance’s first start went about as expected. There was good and bad and plenty for Lance to improve. One cause for alarm was the fact he had 16 rushing attempts with more than half of those on designed runs. He suffered a sprained left knee in the process and such a workload is unsustainable in terms of carries. The 49ers seem content to continue with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter when he returns from his calf injury Sunday night against the Colts. That’s probably going to remain the case until or if Garoppolo struggles with turnovers or has another injury issue. But Lance’s first start should position him to have more success the next time he is on the field. — Nick Wagoner


What should we take away from Geno Smith‘s first start when it comes to the weekly viability of his receivers?

As predicted, it was much more of an underneath passing game against Pittsburgh, with Smith throwing lots of screens and checkdowns and not many deep shots, which is usually how Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf make hay. Pete Carroll has made it clear that he wants to run the ball like the Seahawks did in the second half of that game to help Smith. That could open up more opportunities downfield, but it’s hardly a given considering Chris Carson is still out and Alex Collins‘ status is in question. — Brady Henderson

play

1:58

Mike Clay explains why he is downgrading DK Metcalf for Week 7 against Marshon Lattimore and the Saints.