2021 Season: Week 6 Sunday Storylines

Nate Polvogt (@JeNateJackFF)
The Lateral Contributor

Well y'all, it was another wild week of NFL football. Would we have it any other way? Of course not, because this is supposed to be fun, and fun it was. We had two overtime contests, some close games and some blowouts. We had injuries galore and disappointing performances abound. It was a sight to behold. But what did it all mean? That's a fantastic question and exactly why I'm here! Every week for the rest of the season, I'll be here on Monday to give you my three big takeaways from the Sunday slate for your consideration. So, without further adieu, let's get to it!

Najee Harris Is Elite

I don't think this is even debatable. Playing on a team with a washed-up quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, behind one of the worst offensive lines in football, Harris continues to amaze, not only on the ground, but as a pass catcher as well. So far this season, including his Week 1 let-down against Buffalo, he is averaging 20.2 fantasy points per game. That includes an average of 5.4 targets per game if you remove his huge 19 target outing against Cincinnati in Week 3. For some perspective, Harris' 46 targets are better than Mark Andrews, D.K. Metcalf, Robert Woods and Amari Cooper, just to name a few. 

We've established that he is elite in the passing game. What about Najee on the ground? While that seems to still be a work in progress, the last three weeks have been a massive improvement. After failing to eclipse even 50 rushing yards in Weeks 1 through 3, he is averaging 88.3 yards on the ground in Weeks 4 through 6. From an eye test perspective, he's a shifty, powerful runner that can break tackles and cut on a dime. The more comfortable he gets running against NFL-caliber defenses, the better those numbers are going to get. 

If there was any question that Harris was elite, this past weekend should have erased any doubts. He put up a solid 24.7 fantasy points against Seattle, but that's not what was most impressive. He came through in the clutch when they needed him, getting chunk yardage to set the Steelers up to keep drives alive both on the ground and in the air. He proved to be a safety outlet for his aging leader, a reliable go-to who made the overtime victory possible. Harris will continue to be a featured piece of this offense and you're going to want to keep him on your rosters and in your starting lineups. 

Leonard Fournette Is Here To Stay

Okay, so this isn't a Sunday takeaway, but at least it's still Week 6. I couldn't help myself here. As someone who went hard and fast after RB Ronald Jones II in drafts, I would be lying if I didn't say I'm surprised to see Uncle Lenny leading this Tampa Bay backfield. Yet here we are. He went from being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars just over a year ago to being a playoff darling at the end of last season. Expectations were tempered for 2021 and it started out looking like we were right. 

Enter Week 4, where Fournette posted a respectable 91 yards rushing on 20 carries in addition to three catches for 47 yards with an 82 percent snap share. Since that breakout performance, he has not-so-quietly been an integral part of the defending champs offense. This was punctuated in Week 6 against Philadelphia. If you watched the game, you know what I'm talking about. He had 22 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns alongside reeling in all 6 targets for 46 yards on the way to 30.7 fantasy points and present RB1 overall for the week

Leonard Fournette has cemented his role in Tampa Bay. Tom Brady clearly trusts him. Giovanni Bernard will be there as a change of pace back and Jones will get a few carries in relief. Otherwise, Uncle Lenny is the RB1 in an explosive offense and has receiving upside. Any question about his viability in fantasy football should be erased at this point. 

The Denver Broncos Backfield Is Not To Be Trusted

This is something I didn't see myself saying this season. I think most assumed by this point Javonte Williams would have surpassed Melvin Gordon as the leader of the Denver rushing attack. In reality, this is a 50/50 split and it's not going to change unless there is an injury. 

Gordon and Williams are almost identical in carries (70 and 65), rushing yards (332 and 300) targets (16 and 15), receiving yards (119 and 90) and touchdowns (2 and 1). It doesn't get much closer than that. Outside of Gordon's Week 1 20.8 point outing, he is averaging 9.86 points per game. In that same span, Williams is averaging 10.18 fantasy points per game. Essentially identical. 

I know I was hoping we would see a separation one way or the other this week against the Las Vegas Raiders. We did not. What we learned in Week 6 is that it seems head coach Vic Fangio and offensive coordinator are hell bent on giving them equal opportunity both on the ground and in the air. This makes it difficult to start either over some of the more elite running backs, including the aforementioned Najee Harris and Leonard Fournette. Williams' time will come, but unfortunately it's probably not going to be in 2021 barring an injury to Gordon. 

Heyo! Thanks for reading along for my Week 6 takeaways. You can find me and more of my work on Twitter @JeNateJackFF. Got questions? Shoot me an email at natepolvogt@gmail.com. See you next week! Follow The Lateral on Twitter (@TheLateralFF)