Sunday Scene, Week 6: Cam Newton, off and running

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Cam Newton is still a bad dude, just in case you were wondering. He passed for 284 yards at Cincinnati on Sunday while also delivering the week's fifth-highest rushing total (107). He didn't target himself in the passing game, unfortunately, so we can't quite call him a triple-threat QB. But we can say with relative confidence that Cam is back to being Cam — the upper-tier fantasy weapon with the S on his chest.

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Newton passed for a pair of touchdowns against the Bengals, connecting with usual suspects Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen, and he targeted ten different receivers on the day, connecting with nine. Cam also ran all over Cincy, read-optioning them to death, crossing the goal-line on this grown-man carry, with various defenders clinging to him. He appeared to tweak the thumb on his throwing hand late in regulation, but he remained in the game through overtime.

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Basically, whatever you needed to see from Cam before trusting him again, you surely saw it on Sunday. Next week, he gets a Green Bay defense that's had very little success stopping anyone's run game. Newton won't need another 17-carry outing to satisfy the fantasy community, but it's nice to know it remains a possibility.

The Panthers have an incredibly friendly second-half schedule, you'll note, loaded with the weak defenses of the NFC South, plus the Eagles, Vikings and Browns. Newton has an excellent shot to again finish among the top-five players at his position, despite the slow start to his season.

If you're a Panthers fan, you can at least feel good about the play of your quarterback this week, even if the result of the game was ... perplexing. Unsatisfying. Semi-unreal. Carolina and Cincinnati battled to the highest-scoring tie in NFL history (37-37), with both teams forfeiting game-winning opportunities. Ron Rivera chose to kick a short field goal on 4th-and-1 in OT, leaving the Bengals with over two minutes of clock, essentially choosing a tie as his best-case scenario. If that was playing-it-by-the-book, then Ron needs new books. Mike Nugent had a shot to win the game for Cincy with two seconds remaining, but his 36-yard attempt sailed wide right. And at that point, no one quite knew how to feel.

Like this guy, for example...

Philip Rivers had the day we all expected against Oakland, passing for 313 yards and three scores, doing nothing to halt his Player of the Year momentum. Branden Oliver also justified the waiver hype, finishing with 124 yards on 30 touches, with a game-deciding score included. But the actionable fantasy news from this unexpectedly entertaining game was the performance delivered by Raiders wideout Andre Holmes, who caught four balls for 121 yards and two TDs on eight targets. Holmes is a field-stretcher with good size (6-foot-4) and respectable speed, and he clearly enjoys rapport with Derek Carr. He's a reasonable pickup, for those in need.

As Julius Thomas was catching his second TD pass on Sunday, an on-field mic caught him yelling, "It's too [expletive] easy!" So that was pretty awesome, if you happened to be on the right side of a fantasy matchup involving Thomas. (Honestly, if you started Julius this week and didn't immediately send that Vine to your opponent, I don't even know why you play fantasy.) He's now up to nine touchdowns in five games, which of course is absurd. Ronnie Hillman dominated touches in the Denver backfield (27 for 116 yards), with Juwan Thompson looking good in a supporting role (8-38-0). So Hillman it is. He put the ball on the ground once (recovered by his own team), but otherwise impressed.

Joe Flacco went shock-and-awe on the Tampa Bay defense, roasting the Buccaneers early, often and with impunity. It got ugly in a hurry. Flacco needed only 17 minutes of game time to throw five touchdown passes — yup, FIVE — against the lifeless Bucs. You can find a few highlights right here. Here's what Flacco looks like on your fantasy bench, if you're interested...

sad trombone
sad trombone

Nice work, fantasy expert.

Torrey Smith emerged from exile to catch the first and second of Flacco's TD tosses. Justin Forsett was again the Ravens back to own (assuming you care to own one), finishing with 111 rushing yards on 14 carries. Forsett got the touches when it mattered. Tampa's defense has now given up 35-plus points in three of the team's last four games, so that's clearly a unit you'll continue to pick on, fantasy-wise.

Giovani Bernard, post-TD (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Giovani Bernard, post-TD (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Giovani Bernard showcased pretty much all the important running back traits on his early 89-yard TD against the Panthers, shedding tacklers, stiff-arming, and out-racing defenders to the end-zone. Gio finished his day with 157 scrimmage yards and one score, and he managed to return following a shoulder injury that seemed likely to end his day. Bernard's understudy Jeremy Hill was useful as well, giving us 35 yards and a score (followed by a spot-on Ickey Shuffle. Well-played, rookie.)

Did the Titans really give a goal-line carry to Jackie Battle? Of course they did. Because Ken Whisenhunt hates you, personally. Bishop Sankey wasn't a complete dud — he gave us 68 yards on 19 touches — but he certainly didn't lead your fake team to victory in Week 6. If Sankey couldn't shine against Jacksonville ... well, that's not a good sign. At least Storm Johnson delivered a touchdown while disappointing us (10-21-1).

New England's win at Buffalo was marred by knee injuries to Stevan Ridley and Jerod Mayo, and the early speculation isn't good. Ridley owners, this seems unlikely to end well. Shane Vereen obviously stands to gain value, but Brandon Bolden will take carries as well. And BenJarvus Green-Ellis is lurking out there somewhere, unattached. The Pats backfield has been a messy committee in the past, and that seems likely to remain the case.

If the Cowboys are somehow going to finish this season 8-8, they've really got their work cut out for them. Because that team looks good. Dallas traveled to Seattle in Week 6, beating the Seahawks in a notoriously unfriendly environment. Tony Romo passed for 250 yards and two TDs, DeMarco Murray had his typical million carries for 100-plus yards, and the team's O-line was pretty much an impenetrable wall. Also, Terrance Williams made an absolutely silly third-down catch, following an even more ridiculous scramble by Romo. If you're not a believer in Dallas this season ... well, fine, I get it. Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones, a rich history of mediocrity, etc. But the team is now 5-1, and 3-0 on the road. They've cleared the toughest stretch on the schedule, too.

Cordarrelle Patterson, without football. Naturally. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Cordarrelle Patterson, without football. Naturally. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Remember that whole anxious-to-get-Cordarrelle-the-ball thing? Yeah, well, that played out exactly as you knew it would. Patterson saw three touches in Minnesota's loss to the Lions on Sunday, gaining 17 total yards. He actually saw a team-high eight targets, but hauled in just two. The hip malfunction is reportedly impacting him, but it's not as if he was dominant in the early weeks, before the injury. The Vikes really got nothin' going against Detroit in Week 6, gaining just 212 total yards and giving the ball away three times via interception. Not good. It's worth noting, however, that Jerick McKinnon dominated the backfield touches, finishing with 17 to Matt Asiata's three. McKinnon is clearly the most explosive player — he was a combine freakshow, you'll recall — and he belongs on a roster in nearly all leagues.

Jets rookie tight end Jace Amaro saw 12 targets on Sunday, catching 10 for 68 yards and a score in the loss to Denver. He had some camp buzz surrounding him months ago, but drops have been a persistent issue. Still, the usage is notable, even if the team context is unfortunate.

Ben Tate feasted again, carrying 25 times for 78 yards and two TDs against the Steelers. Isaiah Crowell continued to impress as well, gaining 77 yards on only 11 carries, breaking the plane once. Cleveland QB Brian Hoyer completed only eight balls on 17 attempts, yet finished with 217 yards (102 of them belonging to Jordan Cameron). The Browns beat Pittsburgh for the first time since, like, Brian Sipe-vs.-Mark Malone in '83, I believe. Nice work, Cleveland. I have nothing positive to say about the Steelers at this time, so let's just move on...

The Bears apparently will only win games when they're on the road and victory is unexpected/undeserved. But whatever, I'll take it. Matt Forte had the monster day we all imagined he'd have against Atlanta's not-so-stout defense, gaining 157 yards, catching ten balls and finding the end-zone twice. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery dominated the Falcons DBs, each topping 100 yards, and Jay Cutler passed for a season high 381 yards while avoiding game-altering turnovers.

All Antone ever does is score. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)
All Antone ever does is score. (Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

Obviously Antone Smith scored again for Atlanta. That's kinda his thing. If you're going to be one-dimensional, it's an awesome dimension. This time it was a 41-yard reception for Smith. His season-high in touches is only six, yet he's already delivered five touchdowns — all from distances of 38 yards or more, which is nuts. It's tough to start a guy in fantasy if he only rarely sees the ball, but it's tough to sit a guy who never fails to score. If you're among the few Yahoo owners who used him in Week 6, we salute you.

Carson Palmer was excellent in his return from shoulder/nerve issues, completing 28 of 44 throws for 250 yards and two scores. He connected on touchdowns with both Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald, so, at least for now, you can feel good about all your Arizona skill players. Palmer's upcoming schedule is plenty appealing for fantasy purposes — Oak, Phi, Dal, STL — so he's in the waiver discussion this week.

This week's Aaron Rodgers clinic involved a few new wrinkles, as he only gave Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb one TD apiece. He found tight end Andrew Quarless for a game-winning walkoff score in the final seconds, not long after completing a fake-spike throw to rookie Davante Adams. The Pack pulled out a game they probably would have lost with anyone else behind center. It's good to be the cheese, I suppose.

Brutal injury news here from the Sunday night game...

So let's hope for the best for Cruz in his recovery. Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle are the Giants primary receivers moving forward. Darren Sproles also suffered a knee injury of as-yet-unknown severity; we'll presumably know more about his outlook on Monday.


QB Carson Palmer, Ari (at Oak)
QB Joe Flacco, Bal (vs. Atl)
RB Jerick McKinnon, Min (at Buf)
RB Jonathan Stewart, Car (at GB)
RB Brandon Bolden, NE (vs. NYJ)
RB Antone Smith, Atl (at Bal)
WR Andre Holmes, Oak (vs. Ari)
WR Cecil Shorts, Jac (vs. Cle)
WR Malcom Floyd, SD (vs. KC)
WR Brandon LaFell, NE (vs. NYJ)
WR Mohamed Sanu, Cin (at Ind)
WR Davante Adams, GB (vs. Car)
TE Jace Amaro, Was (at NE)
DEF Cleveland (at Jac)

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