The manufactured drama known as Deflategate is now history as the Patriots welcomed back their future Hall of Famer QB Tom Brady, who served a four game suspension to begin the year. Brady came back to a nice gift from the league, the Cleveland Browns defense. By halftime, Brady had already thrown for 271 yards and two scores and the rout was on. Brady finished with over 400 passing yards and three touchdowns, all to TE Martellus Bennett, who enjoyed a career day.
There’s not much more to say about how excellent Brady has been throughout his career. The most impressive thing might be how much better he consistently makes his teammates, especially the pass catchers. While burly RB LeGarrette Blount had his worst statistical day of the season with just 37 rushing yards, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Chris Hogan, RB James White and Bennett all arguably had their best game of the season.
Clearly, Brady is a top-end QB1 going forward for fantasy leagues and basically all of the players surrounding him get a bump as well, except for maybe Blount, who will lose some goal-line opportunities and touches in general.
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In Other News
Many fantasy players, especially those who also enjoy college football, have been waiting for Vikings’ first-round WR Laquon Treadwell to make an impact for his team, and potentially even for our fantasy teams. It seemed like that opportunity would come in Week Five, with the Vikes’ top WR Stefon Diggs out for the game. Treadwell did get on the field, but played just five snaps and didn’t see a pass thrown his way. Instead, the Vikings relied on players like Adam Thielen, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright to carry them, which is precisely what happened. Fantasy players in seasonal leagues should have given up on Treadwell long ago, but if not, this might be the final nail in the coffin. Even dynasty players should be concerned about his lack of usage considering the quality of wideouts playing ahead of him.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott continues to improve with each game. Against the stout Bengals defense, Zeke racked up 134 rushing yards on just 15 carries, including two touchdowns. After a big first half in which the Cowboys took a commanding 21-0 lead over visiting Cincinnati, Elliott broke a 60-yard run for a touchdown on Dallas’ first possession of the second half and the Cowboys never looked back. Elliott has already earned his spot as one of the top RBs in fantasy football.
The Vikings continue to be a defense to avoid. Minnesota has already shut down top WRs like Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Randall Cobb and in Week Five, it was the Texans’ turn. Electric rookie WR Will Fuller hauled in just one of six targets for only four yards and while the Vikes held superstar WR DeAndre Hopkins in check for most of the game, he did save his statline with a late touchdown and finished with five grabs for 56 yards. Simply put, bench any WR against the Vikings, who have earned their bye week in Week Six before visiting Philadelphia.
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Ravens rookie RB Kenneth Dixon made his long-awaited debut, but it didn’t go so well. Dixon had just three carries for a one-yard loss. I guess the Ravens were being honest when saying they planned to bring him along slowly. Meanwhile, veteran RB Terrance West played his best game of the year, rushing for 95 yards on just 11 carries… Titans QB Marcus Mariota played his best game of the season, leading Tennessee to a convincing win over the struggling Dolphins. While Mariota had just 163 passing yards, he totaled four touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 60 yards… The Steelers continue to look like the team we expected upon the return of RB Le’Veon Bell, who totaled 154 yards and had a career high nine receptions… In Chicago, QB Brian Hoyer might be the team’s new starter even when Jay Cutler is healthy. Hoyer posted his third consecutive game of 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns, something Cutler has never done… Texans QB Brock Osweiler continues to show that Houston way overpaid when they signed him to a four-year, $72 million deal this offseason. Osweiler put just 184 yards up against the Vikings defense and his team was never really in the game. The Texans are in a must-win spot next week against Indy… As the last man standing in the Detroit backfield, RB Theo Riddick delivered, but as he often does it was not as a runner. Riddick carried the ball 11 times for 49 yards, but he made an impact as a receiver, catching six passes for 33 yards and two scores. The Lions hope to get rookie RB Dwayne Washington back soon and have been linked to former Raven RB Justin Forsett… Browns RB Isaiah Crowell had been one of the surprises of the early season but couldn’t do anything against the Pats, rushing for just 22 yards on 13 carries. Crowell is tough to consider a weekly fantasy starter considering the poor Browns’ offense… The Falcons’ duo of QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones didn’t even come close to matching their record-breaking numbers of last week. Ryan threw for 267 yards and one score as the offense featured the running backs. Jones carried fantasy teams last week with his 300-yard performance, but managed less than 10% of that in this outing, with a total of 29 yards receiving… The Raiders and Chargers were involved in a shootout and while San Diego came out on the short end, QB Philip Rivers enjoyed a huge game, throwing for 359 yards and four scores. It was his pair of interceptions that may have sealed the deal… Dallas rookie QB Dak Prescott continues to be one of the big stories of the season as he led the Cowboys to an impressive win over the Bengals. Dak threw for 227 yards and a score, all while extending his NFL record of 155 pass attempts without an interception to begin a career… Rams RB Todd Gurley continues to be a disappointment for fantasy players. He saved his day a bit with a short touchdown, but managed just 72 yards on 23 carries and the worst part is, there is little expectation that things will change… Veteran WR Steve Smith started well for the Ravens, catching three passes for 29 yards, but then was forced to leave the game in the first half with an ankle injury. He was unable to return… RB DeMarco Murray continued his high level of play, adding 16 receiving yards to his 121 rushing yards. Murray is locked in as a top weekly fantasy option going forward… Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger was playing at home, so of course he put up some monster numbers. He threw for 380 yards and four scores. Big Ben spread the ball around as WR Antonio Brown, RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Sammie Coates each saw 11 targets. Coates enjoyed a career day with six receptions, 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It could have been even better if not for a whopping five dropped passes… Bears rookie RB Jordan Howard enjoyed his second consecutive 100+ yard game, with a total of 163 yards and a touchdown. He’s the starter going forward and is quickly becoming a no doubt fantasy starter… When RB Adrian Peterson went down with a serious injury, the hope was young RB Jerick McKinnon would take his opportunity and step up. Although he has shown some bursts, he has failed to establish himself. Sunday, he has just 36 rushing yards on 20 carries… Rookie QB Carson Wentz threw his first career interception and it came in the Eagles’ first loss of the season… Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but the Cleveland Browns lost a QB to injury. Rookie Cody Kessler suffered a chest injury that forced him from the game. The Browns had to resort to using Clipboard Jesus, Charlie Whitehurst, and he could be the team’s starter in Week Six… Falcons RB Devonta Freeman is looking more like his 2015 self as he totaled 123 yards and a score in the team’s win over Denver. The difference is he now has a superb running mate, Tevin Coleman, who led the team in receiving with a 4/132/1 line for the day… The Chargers continue to sling the ball around and WRs Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams have been difference-makers. The pair each accounted for 117 receiving yards on the day… The tide might be turning for the Bengals’ backfield as Jeremy Hill had just four carries on the day for a total of 12 yards… Bills RB LeSean McCoy kept his hot streak going with 158 total yards in the Buffalo win over the Rams… Redskins rookie WR Josh Doctson once again sat out and there are whispers he could be placed on the injured reserve list… Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill has been one of the most disappointing players in the league. In Week Five, he was held to under 200 passing yards and no touchdowns, along with two interceptions. His poor performance had Miami fans chanting for veteran backup QB Matt Moore… Some notes from the Jets’ passing game on a day they were easily handled by the Steelers: Veteran WR Brandon Marshall met expectations with eight receptions for 114 yards and a score, RB Bilal Powell has been the main beneficiary of WR Eric Decker’s absence as he caught six balls for 41 yards and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins made his Jets debut with a 2/17 line… Bears WR Alshon Jeffery continues to disappoint and was outplayed by little-known WR Cameron Meredith, who had a career-best nine receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown. Jeffery may not even be worthy of a fantasy starting spot until things change in Chicago… Eagles TE Zach Ertz made his return to the field after missing multiple games with a rib injury, but managed just three grabs for 37 yards… Raiders WR Amari Cooper played a big role in Oakland’s win, catching six passes for a season-high 138 yards and his first touchdown of the season… It was also a big week for Colts WR T.Y. Hilton, who dominated the Bears defense for 10 catches, 171 yards and a touchdown. His teammate, Philip Dorsett was essentially a non-factor for QB Andrew Luck… After a solid start, Packers RB Eddie Lacy was forced to exit the game Sunday night with an ankle injury. It is fair to assume the injury is not severe since Lacy remained on the sideline rather than going to the locker room… Giants star WR Odell Beckham has come under fire, but in his Sunday night matchup with Green Bay, OBJ got back on track. Not only did he not commit any unsportsmanlike penalties, but he also scored his first touchdown of the year, albeit in garbage time. Beckham finished with a 5/56/1 line…
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