NFL Nation Fantasy Fallout: Making sense of Baltimore's crowded backfield, Seattle's offense


Our NFL Nation reporters answer fantasy football questions every Tuesday during the NFL season. Here’s what they had to say following Week 6.

DeAndre Hopkins is back in Week 7 and now Marquise Brown is out. What do you expect from Hopkins, new arrival Robbie Anderson, and Rondale Moore as we approach the “second half” for this Cardinals team?

I think Hopkins will have a big game or two and then defenses will figure out — yet, again — what the Cardinals are doing, and how important Hopkins is to Arizona’s engine, and shift even more coverage his way. That should, in theory, open up the field for Anderson and Moore, if coach Kliff Kingsbury can use Anderson as a deep threat. Kingsbury has talked about moving Hopkins around, but the issue with that is that wherever he goes, so goes the coverage. Anderson could have a major impact if he can operate away from Hopkins. — Josh Weinfuss

Caleb Huntley out-touched Tyler Allgeier despite playing 12 fewer snaps. Who is the RB1 in Atlanta, or is it a hot-hand thing that will be maddening to fantasy managers?

It’s going to be a running back by committee at least until Cordarrelle Patterson returns from injured reserve — and maybe longer than that. The short answer is to expect a timeshare from Allgeier and Huntley with some work for Avery Williams as well. The immediate question would be how Damien Williams could fit in if the team is able to bring him back off injured reserve, but even with Williams it’ll be committee work. The good news for fantasy? The Falcons really, really want to run the ball, so even in a committee, Atlanta’s offense could offer enough work for two backs to truly thrive. — Michael Rothstein

Do you think either running back in this offense can be fantasy viable on a consistent basis?

No. For the second straight season, the Ravens’ backfield is too difficult to predict. Baltimore has been extra cautious with J.K. Dobbins, who has expressed frustration about his limited workload. But Dobbins is not at full strength and didn’t play the entire second half Sunday because his surgically repaired knee tightened up. Kenyan Drake earned some more playing time after breaking three runs over 20 yards, but it could soon be an even more crowded backfield. Gus Edwards (knee) and Justice Hill (hamstring) are expected to be ready to play again soon. — Jamison Hensley

Justin Fields set a season high in both pass (27) and rush (12) attempts on Thursday night. Ten teams go on their bye in Weeks 10-12, a stretch in which the Bears face the Lions, Falcons and Jets. Could Fields provide a spike performance or two in those plus matchups?

I’d like to say the Bears are more evenly matched with those three teams, but the Falcons are coming off a big upset of the San Francisco 49ers (a team Chicago beat, but with Trey Lance at QB) and the Jets have won three straight, two of which came against formidable opponents in Miami and Green Bay. The Bears best chance to earn wins are against teams like Washington, who defeated Chicago 12-7 on a night where Fields and the offense ran 11 plays inside their opponent’s 6-yard line and didn’t come away with a single touchdown on three red zone trips. Fields’ attempts may be increasing week to week, but if the Bears can’t find a way to scheme around their quarterback in a more efficient manner and exile their red zone woes, it won’t matter how poor the opposition is. — Courtney Cronin

Ugly game, but TE Robert Tonyan (10 catches for 90 yards) shined. Can we count on him at a position that is so lacking production across the league?

The fact that Aaron Rodgers trusts him and that he’s only getting stronger in his return from last year’s torn ACL suggests that’s a yes. That the Packers have had a different leading receiver in every game this season tells you Rodgers still doesn’t have a go-to guy in the passing game. But Tonyan’s snap counts keep increasing, and so should his opportunities. — Rob Demovsky

After an impressive showing by Deon Jackson (121 total yards, TD), should fantasy managers worry about Jonathan Taylor‘s elite role being there for him when he returns?

Jackson was surprisingly good on Sunday, but Taylor’s rare home run ability likely trumps whatever potential Jackson possesses right now. It’s up to the Colts to get some consistency in their run blocking to allow Taylor to get on track. But is Jackson deserving of some limited playing time in the future? That’s a very fair question. — Stephen Holder

How much should we read into JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s best game as a Chief?

Probably not a lot. Marquez Valdes-Scantling had the Chiefs’ big wide receiving game the week before against the Raiders but was held without a catch in three targets against the Bills. Patrick Mahomes said it earlier in the season, and he’s been right so far: It’s a guessing game for fantasy players with regard to which player will be his go-to wide receiver each week. — Adam Teicher

Brandon Aiyuk had the best fantasy half of his career and George Kittle‘s usage is trending up. Can this offense sustain three viable pass catchers on a weekly basis?

To be blunt, the 49ers would prefer not to have to lean on three pass catchers to put up big numbers every week. They are built to run the ball and throw off play-action, but Sunday’s game was an example of the type of game the Niners don’t want to have offensively. They ran the ball only 16 times for 50 yards in the loss to the Falcons and spent much of the day throwing to try to catch up. It’s a safe bet that this probably won’t be the norm every week. — Nick Wagoner

Did the clock strike midnight on this offense, or was Week 6 simply a blip on the radar? How many of these receivers can we count on weekly?

Some of the issues the Seahawks had against Arizona were concerning, like the five sacks of Geno Smith, the lack of a downfield passing game and their 4-of-14 performance on third down. But the Seahawks played too well on offense in four of their first five games to write off their hot start as a fluke, so it feels more like the latter. It speaks to the surprisingly high standard they’ve set so far that 19 points feels like an offensive clunker. But even on a bad day, they didn’t turn the ball over. — Brady Henderson

Are we safe to cut ties with Antonio Gibson or was the second half touch count (10 for Brian Robinson Jr., 8 for Gibson) enough to warrant a fantasy roster spot?

Ron Rivera said the second half is how he envisions the ideal splits for them; Gibson gave them a boost and provides a change-of-pace. But Robinson will still be the primary ballcarrier — for now. Their offense struggles so much on third down that it’s hard to always get that ideal split, which means that Gibson’s touches will vary game to game. The hard part with Robinson is that it’s not like he’s had any great games, even in preseason. He’s had tough runs and is physical, but there’s still more to learn with him as well. — John Keim



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