Earlier in Week 6, Heath Cummings asked a simple question: "Are we sure everything is OK with Patrick Mahomes?" The answer seems to be, "No, but it probably doesn't matter."
Mahomes continued to look hobbled by his lingering ankle injury Sunday, often failing to step into his deep attempts and simply looking significantly less sharp than we're used to seeing. However, he also threw three touchdowns and averaged 7.8 yards per attempt, in what would have been a banner day for 25 other NFL quarterbacks.
That performance amounted to 24.8 Fantasy points, again less than we're used to, but plenty to keep anyone from complaining too much. He's at 28.4 Fantasy points per game on the season, a step behind his historic 2019 season, but still plenty good when taking into account the natural regression we were expecting anyway.
What's interesting is that Mahomes ranks just fourth in the NFL in Fantasy scoring at 28.4 points per game, while the No. 2 quarterback in 2018 had just 25.8 points per game. Mahomes currently trails Russell Wilson (30.6 Fantasy points per game), Deshaun Watson (29.0), and Lamar Jackson (29.0), all of whom put together 30-plus Fantasy point efforts in Week 6. Matt Ryan — that No. 2 QB from 2018 — isn't far behind at 27.8 Fantasy points per game.
Usually when we see a number of standout performances like this in a partial-season sample, we can explain it away by the unsustainability of small-sample sizes, though that doesn't explain it away this time: Mahomes and Matt Ryan were the only quarterbacks averaging at least as much as Jackson through Week 6 last season.
More likely, we're witnessing the culmination of a handful of league-wide trends coming to a head: Rules that make it easier to pass; offenses that prioritize efficiency and spreading the field; and quarterbacks who can make plays with their legs as well as their arms.
We saw the latter on full display Sunday, with Russell and Watson both rushing for a touchdown and Jackson becoming just the third quarterback to rush for 150-plus yards in a regular season game. All three are threats to add 10-plus Fantasy points with their legs in any given game, and that might be what makes it toughest for Mahomes to distinguish himself this season, as his ankle injury seems to be making it tougher for him to make plays with his feet.
That doesn't mean Mahomes is bad, obviously. Or that he isn't still the best quarterback in Fantasy. Or that you should ever consider sitting him. However, based on what we've seen, he may not be quite as far ahead of the pack as we thought coming into the season.
With three other passers joining him in the elite tier, that's not a bad thing for Fantasy players.
Winners and Losers
Stefon Diggs WR
BUF Buffalo • #14
Age: 29 • Experience: 9 yrs.
The squeaky wheel narrative doesn't always work out, but when it works out like this, people are obviously going to keep chasing it. It took some time to work out — Diggs had just three catches for 44 yards after missing meetings and practice in Week 5 — but Diggs had his biggest game of the season by far Sunday as the Vikings' offense came to life in a big way. Kirk Cousins threw for four touchdowns, and three of them went Diggs' way; he had seven catches on 11 targets for 167 yards. It was Diggs' second 100-plus yard game of the season, and second in three games, so maybe things are starting to turn around. The only question is whether this is a sell-high opportunity for those of you who have Diggs. His breakout game came with Cousins still throwing the ball fewer than 30 times, and while Diggs was the top option today, Thielen has been the No. 1 in Minnesota for a lot longer. If you still think Thielen is likely to be the No. 1 moving forward, this might be an opportunity to move Diggs for something of real value.
Mike Evans WR
TB Tampa Bay • #13
Age: 30 • Experience: 10 yrs.
There is still plenty of room in this offense for multiple Fantasy viable wide receivers, though it is clear that Evans' role is a bit less consistent than that of Chris Godwin, who had another 100-yard game Sunday. Evans had 17 targets Sunday, one week after being targeted just three times, and he caught nine of them for 96 yards. That gives him at least 89 in three of his past four games and 464 yards through six games. That puts Evans on pace for 1,200-plus yards, and if that isn't quite what you hoped for from him, it's plenty. Evans might not be the best Fantasy receiver on his own team, and he left plenty of points on the field in Week 6 with uncharacteristically poor plays on a handful of deep balls. But as long as the Buccaneers' running game remains non-existent and Jameis Winston continues to air it out, you're keeping him in your lineup every week.
WAS Washington • #17
Age: 28 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Not much has gone right for Washington this season, and its chances of getting the No. 1 pick in next year's draft took a significant hit Sunday. But their third-round pick is looking like one of the steals of the draft. McLaurin had just 75 catches in four years at Ohio State, but he is already showing he can be more than just a big-play role player. McLaurin is the team's no-doubt-about-it top option in the passing game, and he hauled in four more passes for 100 yards and a touchdown in Week 6 against Miami. He now has 23 catches for 408 yards and five touchdowns in as many games, and with how productive McLaurin has been with Case Keenum under center, he looks like a must-start Fantasy option moving forward.
SEA Seattle • #21
Age: 38 • Experience: 14 yrs.
Washington interim coach Bill Callahan talked about wanting to run the ball more, and then he went out and did it in his first game in charge. The quality, or lack thereof of the opponent certainly helped that strategy, but Peterson at least showed he could do it against a bad team, rushing for 118 yards on 23 carries. There might not be another game Washington can count on having a lead for the entire game again, and consecutive matchups against the 49ers, Vikings, and then Bills could make things very tough for him before the bye week, but it's hard to take this kind of workload as anything but a win for Peterson, who should continue to be a focal point with Callahan in charge.
BAL Baltimore • #34
Age: 31 • Experience: 9 yrs.
There's been a lot of talk about the threat Ito Smith poses to Freeman, but I'm not sure there's really much reason to worry. Sure, it might be easier to say that after Freeman's two-touchdown showing in Week 6, but even before then, Smith hasn't really been taking many valuable touches from Freeman. As our Ben Gretch's research has shown, most running back Fantasy production comes from touches inside of the opponent's 10-yard line ("Green Zone Touches", as he calls them) and catches, and while Smith does have five touches inside the opponent's 10 to Freeman's four, Freeman now has 29 targets to Smith's 14. Touchdowns could be a concern for Freeman with that split, but as long as he continues to see so much work in the passing game, Freeman is going to be a must-start Fantasy option.
TB Tampa Bay • #6
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
It's getting hard to watch Mayfield at this point. The Browns were in this one until the very end, but Mayfield threw three more interceptions to bury them. In his defense, not all of the picks were his fault — two can be laid at the hands of his receivers — but Mayfield now has 11 interceptions in six games, to just five passing touchdowns. The weapons around him and his talent make it tough to give up on Mayfield entirely, but with the bye week coming in Week 7 and then a matchup in New England in Week 8 make it easy to drop Mayfield this week. What a disappointment.
IND Indianapolis • #10
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Well, the magic had to run out some time, right? Minshew has been a revelation for the Jaguars, possibly giving them their long-sought-after answer at QB even when Nick Foles comes back, so let's just hope this was just a bump in the road. The Jaguars offense just didn't have a ton going for it Sunday, as Leonard Fournette ran for just 72 yards on his 20 carries in addition to Minshew going 14 for 29 for 163 with no touchdowns and an interception. It was Minshew's first pick since Week 1's relief effort, and he's got a great opportunity to turn things around in Week 7 with the Bengals on the way, so expect this to be just a one-week detour.
Joe Mixon RB
CIN Cincinnati • #28
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
There really isn't anything you can do about it, but Mixon's struggles this season make him one of the biggest disappointments in Fantasy to date. It's not like he's just lost the ability that made him an early second-round pick this summer, but it's becoming clear he's not the kind of player who can overcome any circumstances around him. In Week 5, against the lowly Cardinals defense, he could. But facing a more formidable Ravens defense, he rushed for just 10 yards on eight carries, while adding two receptions for 29 yards. We figured this Bengals offense would be bad, and multiple offensive line injuries in the preseason should have made us more wary. Maybe the return of A.J. Green will open things up, but at this point, Mixon looks like a must-start running back in name only.
O.J. Howard TE
LV Las Vegas • #88
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
I don't blame you if you've been holding on to Howard hoping he would turn it around, but it just doesn't seem worth it at this point. On a day when Jameis Winston threw the ball 54 times, Howard had just four targets, bringing his target share for the season to just 8.2%. He's on pace for just 48 targets in 16 games, the same number he had in 2018 in just 10 games. Howard has remained efficient when targeted – nearly 10 yards per attempt yet again Sunday! — but it just doesn't matter if the Bucs aren't going to feature him more, especially in the red zone. You probably don't have another tight end on your roster you feel great about, and there probably isn't an obvious option on the waiver wire either, but it's time to relegate Howard to the realm of the streaming options for good.
Kenyan Drake RB
BAL Baltimore • #17
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
No, not just because he dropped a pass on a potential game-winning two-point conversion — given the Dolphins' tanking hopes, that play will surely endear him to some in the Dolphins' fanbase. The hope was Drake would start to carve out a bigger role in the Dolphins' backfield, and while he did lead the way with 10 carries Sunday, Mark Walton actually got the start, and he and Ballage combined for nine carries, including a Ballage touchdown. Drake was targeted nine times for six catches and 30 yards, but Walton also had five receptions on six targets, so Drake is splitting work in both facets of the game. If Drake was the only Dolphins' back getting work, he'd be a borderline starting option. As things stand, you've got to be pretty desperate to use him even as a flex.
TEN Tennessee • #22
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Henry had been playing with fire in recent weeks. He hasn't averaged even 4.0 yards per carry since Week 2, and doesn't have even two catches in a game in as long, but had rattled off three straight games with at least 10 Fantasy points in non-PPR in five straight coming into Sunday's game anyway. That ended in Week 6, as he rushed 15 times for just 28 yards, with one catch on three targets for a whopping 5 yards. But the biggest difference is he didn't find the end zone as the Titans were shut out by the Broncos, and that gets to the root problem of Henry's Fantasy appeal. Because he doesn't catch passes, he needs to have a big day on the ground or find the end zone to put together a big game, but he plays on a bad offense that just benched their quarterback for Ryan Tannehill. It hadn't been an issue so far this season, because he had four touchdowns from the 1-yard line, but if things start to go south for the Titans offense, expect more performances like this.
Keenan Allen WR
LAC L.A. Chargers • #13
Age: 31 • Experience: 11 year
I don't have a good explanation for what has happened to Keenan Allen's season. Through three games, he had 29 catches for 404 yards on 42 targets and three touchdowns; in three games since, he has 17 targets for 11 catches, 99 yards, and no scores. Surely, he is receiving more defensive attention in that span, but it's not like the quality of opposition is significantly higher in the latter stretch; if anything, a Week 4 matchup against the Dolphins should have tipped things in his favor. One thing to keep in mind is the Chargers haven't had multiple players with 100-plus targets in the same season since 2013, and Allen has to contend with the emergence of Mike Williams (23 targets over the last two games) and Hunter Henry (nine targets in Week 6). Both Henry and Williams missed time with injuries during Allen's dominant early-season run, so their collective return could make him a bit less of a focal point, even if you should expect significantly more than his last three weeks moving forward.