It’s hard to believe, but we are already on to Week 6 of the NFL season. It has been a strange year for all of us and an equally strange beginning to the football season. Two things have dominated the headlines in the early part of season, outstanding quarterback play and injuries. If you have been fortunate enough to have some of the former and avoid the latter, then your team is probably off to a solid start to the year.
Let’s start with the outstanding QB play. Scoring is up 16% over what it was just a year ago, with the average game total topping 51 points. These numbers are crazy. In a normal NFL week, you would see 1 or 2 games with an implied game total over 50 points. Over the past few weeks, we have seen that number grow to over 5 games a week with projected totals in the 50’s. A direct result of this has been quarterbacks putting up record numbers to start the season. We have seen Russell Wilson pile up 19 TD passes in just 5 games, including some late game heroics that have him in the driver’s seat for MVP honors. We also saw Dak Prescott put up at least 450 yards through the air 3 times in 5 weeks, before a brutal ankle injury ended his season. Patrick Mahomes still looks like the same guy that lead his team to a Super Bowl victory last season and the Chiefs will be right in the hunt again this year. There are only a few “elite” quarterbacks who are not putting up the huge numbers like they have in the past. Lamar Jackson, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees come to mind. I think a breakout is coming for Jackson, since he is far too talented to not put up bigger numbers. Ryan has looked terrible in the early part of the season, consistently missing opening receivers. His accuracy and arm strength don’t look like they have in the past. Sadly for Brees fans, it looks like his arm strength is completely gone.
Photo courtesy of startribune.com
Now on to injuries. If you’re a fan of an NFL team or you just play fantasy football, chances are that your team has been severely impacted by injuries. I feel like the lack of a true off-season has led to more injuries, because never have we seen so many players go down this early in the season. The number of star players that have been injured is also staggering. We have seen season-ending injuries to Dak Prescott, Saquon Barkley, and Nick Bosa as well as serious injuries to star players such as Christian McCaffrey, Michael Thomas, Kenny Golladay, Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Austin Eckler and more. We have also seen several teams heavily impacted by injuries including the Eagles, Saints, Lions, 49ers and more. It’s hard to not blame this on the lack of conditioning and off-season workouts that were missed by each team due to the COVID-19 virus.
Photo courtesy of bloggingtheboys.com
Fantasy football has also been greatly impacted by the increase in scoring and the injuries as well. With quarterbacks putting up crazy numbers, it has led to a change in strategy for both season-long fantasy as well as daily fantasy players. A lot of stronger fantasy players have typically loaded up at RB and WR and found value later at the QB position. Now, if you don’t have an elite QB, your chances of winning your league or tournament are pretty much non-existent. Draft Kings has finally priced up the QB position making it harder to plug and play the higher priced stacking options. As I mentioned on last week’s Fantasy and Gambling show, Patrick Mahomes was typically the only QB that was priced over $7k for most of last year until Lamar Jackson joined him at the end of the season. This year, there are 6 or 7 quarterbacks priced over $7k each week. I personally love this, because I never understood why QB’s weren’t priced higher in the past.
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It’s been a bizarre start to the season, and I expect more of the same as we see the rest of the year play out. It’s clearly a season where strange things can and will happen. It seems like any given team can beat anyone else on any given week. The lack of fans has really taken away home field advantage, which makes high scoring games and crazy upsets very much in play. It will be fun to see how it shakes out in both real football and on the fantasy side. Stay tuned and get your popcorn ready!