<
>

Fantasy's best and worst: Thielen and Trubisky shine, while the Texans' Watson and Fuller struggle

play
Winston a QB1 the rest of the season (1:20)

Matthew Berry checks off all of his reasons why Jameis Winston is a top-tier quarterback moving forward. (1:20)

As we do each week, we recap the week's winners and losers from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks of the week's best and worst.

Winners

Todd Gurley II, RB, Los Angeles Rams: The top PPR fantasy point total from Sunday's games (entering the night game) came from the Rams superstar and No. 1 overall pick on average this preseason, as Gurley's 36.5 led the way. It represented the sixth consecutive game that he scored at least 20, helping him join DeMarco Murray (2014) and Saquon Barkley (2018) as the only running backs since at least 1950 to score at least that many points in each of their teams' first six games of a season. With it, Gurley now has 176.0 points for the season, giving him the lead across all positions thus far. Those 176 points are also the seventh-most by any player through six team games since at least 1950:

Incidentally, turning things to the defense Gurley shredded, his 208 rushing yards against the Denver Broncos meant that the Broncos' defense has now allowed at least a 200-yard rusher in back-to-back games, as Isaiah Crowell had 219 yards against them in Week 5. Going back to 1950, they are the first defense to ever surrender 200-yard rushers in consecutive games. The Broncos, by the way, face David Johnson and the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7 and Kareem Hunt and the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8.

Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings: His 29.3 PPR fantasy points on Sunday helped him extend his position lead in the category with 153.2 for the season -- and that's the third-most by any wide receiver through his first six team games this century, trailing only Wes Welker's 167.4 (2011) and DeAndre Hopkins' 156.6 (2015). What's more, Thielen reached 100 receiving yards for the sixth consecutive game, joining Charley Hennigan (1961) as the only players in history to do that; Hennigan's streak extended to seven games before it ended. Thielen caught 11 passes to push his total to 58 for the season, which, per the Elias Sports Bureau, is the most by any player through six team games in NFL history. Thielen's season is off to an extraordinary start, and he has a trio of favorable matchups ahead before his bye in Week 10: @NYJ (Week 7), NO (Week 8), DET (Week 9).

Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers: The top scorer from Sunday's 1 p.m. ET games, Gordon's 35.0 PPR fantasy points gave him a new season high. In fact, that's the fourth-most points he has had in a single week in his 49-game NFL career. That also gave him at least a temporary lead over Todd Gurley II (139.5), who is playing during the 4 p.m. ET block, as the top scorer at the position with 162.5 points. Gordon has now improved his point total by a substantial margin through six team games in each of his four NFL seasons; after scoring 45.5 using PPR scoring (32.5 in non-PPR) through six games in 2015, Gordon had 103.5 (and 89.5) in 2016, 127.8 (and 99.8) in 2017 and now 162.5 (and 132.5) in 2018.

James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: His 28.9 PPR fantasy points on Sunday ranked second-best among running backs from the 1 p.m. ET games, and they represented the third time in his six games this season in which he has scored at least 25 points. Conner now has 141 PPR fantasy points for the season, which practically guarantees he'll remain among the top five scorers at the position by week's end -- and it should make for an awfully interesting next 14 days now that the Steelers enter their bye week. Will Le'Veon Bell rejoin the team during that time period, and if so, will Bell be handed his starting job back? Or could the Steelers potentially trade Bell? To put Conner's fill-in performance into perspective, consider that Bell had just 124.6 PPR fantasy points through six team games in 2017, and he never had more than 138.3 points through the first six games played in any of his first five NFL seasons.

Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons: For the second consecutive week, Hooper drew at least 10 targets, and for the second consecutive week he scored more than 15 PPR fantasy points; Hooper's 22.1 points on Sunday represents the position's most from the 1 p.m. ET games. That's also a new personal best for him, exceeding his 20.8 from Week 1 in 2017, and hints that the breakthrough we have long anticipated might finally be here. Of course, it's also worth pointing out that, for the second consecutive week, he faced an extremely favorable matchup, so it's possible that tougher defenses will hold him more quiet. Hooper was, however, started in 36.7 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 6 -- 11th-highest among tight ends -- and he certainly warrants more attention than that.

Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears: He scored 27.3 fantasy points in a tough-luck overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, meaning that in consecutive games he has scored at least that many points. Trubisky has broken through in a big way in those contests, and the near-repeat performance from a fantasy perspective should help build confidence among his managers. He now has at least three passing touchdowns in each of his past two games, after having never passed for that many TDs in any of his first 15 career NFL starts (and having passed for as many as two TDs only once, in Week 2). He was started in just 11.7 percent of ESPN leagues, 19th-highest among quarterbacks, but that was still a career high for Trubisky -- and he should see that number increase significantly in Week 7 in a game in which he should be throwing early and often against the New England Patriots.

Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In a matchups-driven performance most everyone seemed to see coming -- he was the No. 8 quarterback in the weekly ESPN rankings and was almost universally ranked a top-10 quarterback, regardless of your source -- Winston scored 30.9 fantasy points against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, his best single-game performance in 47 career games. His performance was somewhat erratic, as it often is -- he was intercepted twice -- but as has often been the case in his career, he put up a good fantasy point total in the end. Winston's 43 percent start rate in ESPN leagues was his highest since Week 9 in 2017.

Albert Wilson, WR, Dolphins: Where did that come from? Wilson scored a career-best 33 PPR fantasy points on nine targets against a good Bears defense on Sunday (and it wasn't driven entirely by the game going into overtime, as he added only one catch for 1 yard during the extra period). While he has been a serviceable wide receiver all season, with healthy target totals of six, six and nine in his past three games, Wilson's involvement and his quarterback are simply not good enough to propel his weekly fantasy point totals into this tier most weeks. He was started on just 0.68 percent of ESPN Fantasy teams and rostered in 5.99 percent of ESPN leagues at the time of the game's kickoff. While those will both surely rise entering Week 7, they shouldn't by a substantial amount.

Jason Myers, K, New York Jets: It's rare that a place-kicker winds up one of the week's fantasy highlights, but then, it's rare for a place-kicker to score as many as the 27 fantasy points that Myers had on Sunday. That's tied for the third-best individual score by the position since 1950, trailing only Rob Bironas' 29 in 2007 (Week 7) and Jay Feely's 28.5 in 2010 (Week 14), while matching Cairo Santos' total from 2015 (Week 4) and Greg Zuerlein's from 2017 (Week 4). Remarkably, Myers accomplished it without a single field goal conversion of 50 yards or greater, which is what grants the maximum number of bonus points using ESPN's standard scoring (five points, or two more than the usual three for a shorter field goal), though his 7-for-7 performance on field goals makes him only the seventh placekicker since 1950 to be perfect on seven or more such attempts. Unfortunately, few in fantasy reaped the benefits, as Myers was started in just 0.75 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 6.

David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns: His usage appears to be ramping up over the past two weeks, and Njoku's position-high (among the 1 p.m. ET games) 12 targets helped him to an 18.5 PPR fantasy point total on Sunday, setting a new personal best. It marked the second consecutive week that he was targeted at least 10 times -- he saw 10 targets in Week 5, trailing only Jarvis Landry's 11 on the team -- and represents the kind of usage he'll need in order to secure weekly TE1 status going forward. Njoku, who was started in 38.3 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 6 (10th-highest among tight ends), now gets three consecutive outstanding matchups in Weeks 7-9: @TB, @PIT, KC.

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants: Though his production hasn't resulted in much success for the Giants on the gridiron -- they've lost five of their six games, have allowed the eighth-most points per game and have scored only 11 touchdowns on offense (six of them by Barkley) -- Barkley's performance thus far has been nothing short of phenomenal. On Thursday Night Football, he scored a career-best 37.9 PPR fantasy points, and he extended his streak to six games in a row with at least 20 points to begin his career. Totaling those performances, Barkley has 157.1 PPR fantasy points, which is the second-most by any player at any position since at least 1950 (the earliest season for which we have verified data) through six career games. He's already more than halfway to the 300-point plateau for the season, which has been reached by only 15 rookies in NFL history, and Barkley is on pace for 418.9 points, which would easily shatter Eric Dickerson's rookie record of 392.2 (1983) and be the seventh-largest total by any player at any stage of a career.

Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas Cowboys: He nearly set a new personal best by scoring 31.1 PPR fantasy points on 11 targets, falling just short of the 32.2 he scored in 2015 Week 9, and Beasley did it against the vaunted Jacksonville Jaguars defense. It couldn't have been much less expected, as he was started in only 1.3 percent and rostered in only 8.4 percent of ESPN leagues at the time of the kickoff, the latter his lowest such percentage since 2016 Week 2. Those low percentages made sense, considering the struggles of the Cowboys' passing game so far this season, as well as his own lack of production. Beasley had gone 30 consecutive games before this without scoring as many as 20 points, and he averaged 7.5 points across that 30-game span. He's still only a fill-in consideration for his Week 7 matchup at the Washington Redskins.

Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys: He has gotten so close to the 30-point plateau in fantasy, but just like his two oh-so-close games in 2017 (29.96 in Week 7, and 29.7 in Week 5), Prescott's 29.5 points fell just short this week. Still, it was an outstanding effort considering it came against the Jaguars, and he was completely in command during the game's first half, including showing some of the chemistry he had in seasons past with Beasley. Few benefited from the performance, though, as Prescott was started in a mere 3.9 percent of ESPN leagues, 22nd-highest among quarterbacks.

Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: The top scorer from Sunday's action, Hill's 39.2 PPR fantasy points propelled him into second place for the season among wide receivers with 136.4 points through six games. That's due in large part to his posting the two greatest point totals of his career this year, his 42.3 in Week 1 the only one greater than his performance from Sunday night. Hill continues to thrive working with cannon-armed Patrick Mahomes his quarterback, and he's likely to put up another big score in Week 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs: He scored 29.5 PPR fantasy points on Sunday Night Football, third-best among running backs from the Sunday games. Though a small sample of only two games against them, Hunt certainly seems to have the New England Patriots' number, as two of his three best fantasy point totals have come against them -- he also had a career-high 46.5 points against them in his NFL debut in 2017 Week 1.

Losers

Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans: He was bound to have a disappointing game at some point, having averaged 24.9 fantasy points in his first 11 career NFL starts and 22.2 in five games so far this season. But few could've seen Watson scoring just 5.3 points against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday -- even with Tre'Davious White active for the Bills to potentially cause headaches for Watson's top target, DeAndre Hopkins. For Watson, it was his worst single-game score in his 13 career appearances, including his 2017 Week 1 relief appearance (5.7 points in that one), and it let down his managers who started him in 64.8 percent of ESPN leagues (seventh-highest among quarterbacks). Worse yet, he draws a tough-as-nails matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 7, minimizing his chances of a quick rebound.

Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders: The No. 4-scoring tight end entering Week 6, Cook managed just 3 PPR fantasy points on his two targets in a miserable performance by the Raiders at Wembley Stadium in London, England. It was his second consecutive score of six points or fewer, which is of particular note because his team now gets its bye week and the tight end position as a whole seems to be on the mend with Greg Olsen returning to action and Evan Engram not far behind. Cook, who was started in 70.8 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 6 (sixth-most among tight ends), will probably be only a borderline TE2 once the Raiders return from bye to face the while Indianapolis Colts in Week 8.

Jordan Howard, RB, Bears: That's two extremely disappointing fantasy performances in a row for Howard, as he scored just 4.9 PPR fantasy points on 14 rushing attempts on Sunday. Even worse, fellow Bears running back Tarik Cohen scored 23.1 points on five rushing attempts and seven receptions of his own, which makes it seem that Cohen's start percentage in ESPN leagues (38.6) should look more like Howard's (71.3, 15th-highest among running backs) in future weeks, and vice versa. The Bears do seem committed to Howard on first and second downs, but not necessarily that often in scoring position, and they're moving noticeably away from him on passing downs. Both factors diminish Howard's value, and game flow could therefore cause problems for him in Week 7 against the Patriots.

Carlos Hyde, RB, Browns: The league's No. 2 player in terms of rushing attempts entering the week (100), Hyde showed on Sunday that he's more of a volume-driven fantasy option as his 3.4 PPR fantasy points on 14 carries was a matchups-driven disappointment. It was the second consecutive week that he was held without a touchdown and fewer than 10 points, and Hyde averaged 3.1 yards per carry in those games combined. Hyde was started in 77.2 percent of ESPN leagues, 13th-highest among running backs, in Week 6. He should, however, find more running room against the Buccaneers in Week 7.

Will Fuller V, WR, Texans: Considering the aforementioned Tre'Davious White was active for the Bills on Sunday, one might've thought Fuller had a better matchup among the Texans wide receivers, but his 5.3 PPR fantasy points on three targets represented the second consecutive week in which Fuller has been held quiet. As mentioned last week, Weeks 5 and 6 are now the only games in Fuller's nine career starts with Watson as the Texans' starting quarterback in which the wide receiver has failed to catch a touchdown pass. That might unfortunately extend to three in a row, as the Texans face the stingy Jaguars defense in Week 7.

Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns: What happened here?! Landry has been a model of consistency throughout his career, thanks in large part to a consistently high weekly target total, but his 3.1 PPR fantasy point performance on Sunday was entirely out of character. It was the first time all season that he fell short of 10 points, and only the 15th time in his 70 career games played that he failed to reach that threshold. The concern here is that Landry's numbers have suffered since Baker Mayfield took over as the Browns' starting quarterback, as Landry has had a combined 28.4 PPR fantasy points behind 11 receptions on 30 targets for 114 yards and one touchdown. The target total from those three weeks is a promising sign, but this was also the first time in those three games that Landry didn't lead the team in the category.

Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans: What a miserable performance this was by the Titans' offense. Considering the team trailed for the entirety of the day in an eventual 21-0 loss, one would've expected Davis to fare better than the 3.4 PPR fantasy points he had on four targets. The opposing Baltimore Ravens, however, sacked Marcus Mariota a franchise-record 11 times, leaving him little opportunity to throw effectively. Davis did lead the Titans in targets, which bodes well for his future usage, but he'll go up against an improving Chargers defense in Week 7 before heading into his Week 8 bye. Consider Davis a midrange WR3.

Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis, RBs, Titans: You'd expect the Titans' running backs to have played a minimal role in a game like this, but Henry and Lewis combined had just 7.0 PPR fantasy points on 12 rushing attempts and a 3-for-3 performance catching their targets. It was the second straight week the duo put forth poor fantasy point totals, and Henry in particular has fallen short of six points in each of his six games thus far. Things don't seem likely to improve against the Chargers' strong run defense.

Jaguars defense/special teams: The Cowboys were in complete command in this game, and the Jaguars' defense paid the steep price for it, scoring minus-1 fantasy points, tied for the week's fourth-worst with the Sunday and Monday night games yet to play. It was the second consecutive week the Jaguars' defense let fantasy managers down, as it scored only two points in Week 5 -- though at least in that case, it was a rational explanation that the team was playing a road game against the league's top-scoring team, the Kansas City Chiefs. This defense is still too talented to doubt and should rebound in Week 7 against the Houston Texans, but it desperately needs to start generating more turnovers or start providing more quarterback pressure.

Jared Goff, QB, Rams: Considering the Rams maintained a healthy lead for much of Sunday's contest and generated 444 total yards of offense, one would've expected Goff to finish his day with more than the 7.4 fantasy points he did. He was, however, missing Cooper Kupp for a decent portion of the game following a nasty leg injury in the first half -- though Kupp did grit it out for a portion of the second half -- and was facing a team with a strong defensive reputation. Chalk this one up more to bum luck and somewhat limited personnel and expect Goff to rebound at the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7.