By Gary Davenport
Gary Davenport

One of the biggest contests across the NFL will take place in Baltimore, where the 4-1 Los Angeles Chargers and 4-1 Ravens will meet in a battle for AFC bragging rights. The game features some of the hottest offensive players in the NFL, and right now none are hotter than Chargers wideout Mike Williams.

After scorching the Cleveland Browns for 165 yards and two scores on eight catches. Williams ranks fifth in the NFL with 471 receiving yards. His six touchdown passes over five games lead the league. And as Shelley Smith wrote for ESPN, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley thinks that Williams' ridiculous early start is only the beginning.

"The guy's a fantastic receiver," Staley said. "He can beat you in the deep part of the field, he can beat you in the first or second level. He can move you throughout the formations and what you're seeing is a guy who, when you need a win, can. He can."

Were Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters healthy, we would be in for quite the treat-one of the game's most physical man corners against a big-bodied receiver playing at an astronomical level. But he's not, so it will fall to Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett to at least try to slow Williams down.

If Baltimore plays straight-up, it would be Averett on Williams most of the game. But it's not hard to imagine John Harbuagh wanting to get Humphrey (a Pro Bowl talent in his own right) on the Bolts' hottest wideout as much as possible.

The problem is that while Humphrey is talented player, he's also maybe six feet tall standing on his tiptoes. Williams is 6'4".

Williams didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday with a knee issue, so there is at least some risk he won't be able to play Sunday (cue the uncontrollable sobbing of fantasy managers). But provided he's active, Williams could be in for another massive day against a Ravens defense that has been more susceptible to the pass than in past seasons.

Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars (Byron Jones vs. Marvin Jones)

The aforementioned Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey are the only cornerback duo in the NFL that make more money in terms of average annual salary than Byron Jones and Xavien Howard of the Dolphins, but the pair didn't look it while getting smoked by Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. Now Howard is hurt and in danger of missing Sunday's trip to London.

Meanwhile, after a hot start to the 2021 season, Marvin Jones of the Jaguars has been on milk carton duty since D.J. Chark got hurt-four catches for 49 yards the past two games combined. Per Kyle Yates of Fantasy Pros, which makes the veteran wideout awfully hard to trust, even in a top-five fantasy matchup for receivers.

"Featuring Jones gives the Jaguars the best chance to see a victory, but that's apparently not something that this coaching staff understands," he said. "This matchup against Miami is an incredibly tantalizing one for opposing WRs so far this season - especially after last week's routing by Tampa Bay - but Jones simply cannot be trusted in starting lineups as anything more than a high-end FLEX play due to his usage. Could Jones come through with a big performance here if he is force-fed targets? Absolutely. Will the Jaguars do that? It's impossible to say."


Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers (Justin Jefferson vs. Donte Jackson)

When the top cornerbacks in the NFL are discussed, you don't usually hear Donte Jackson's name mentioned-a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by the fourth-year veteran. In an interview with the Charlotte Observer, Jackson didn't mince words about the fact he feels underappreciated by fans and the media.

"I feel disrespected," Jackson said. "At first I used to get caught up, like 'Damn, I'm balling out and nobody is even talking about me,' I hold this dude to one catch, 6 yards, and you don't hear nothing about it. But let him go get two touchdowns on me or catch some good passes on me, and everybody in Carolina going to be talking about it. Like dang, nobody gives me any love. If this is any other corner that did this, that went and tackled Alvin Kamara in the open field by himself, you would have seen it everywhere."

The Panthers have enough confidence in Jackson to have him shadow the likes of Brandin Cooks of the Houston Texans and DeVonta Smith of the Philadelphia Eagles this season. But given that that duo combined to average an 8/85/0 line in those contests, there isn't much concern for Jefferson's fantasy managers this week. If Jackson really balls out, maybe we'll have our first Adam Thielen sighting in a while.




Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants (Robert Woods vs. James Bradberry)

For most of the first month of the season, Robert Woods watched Cooper Kupp dominate the target share and receiving work. But after a pledge from head coach Sean McVay to get Woods more involved last week against the Seahawks, the ninth-year veteran exploded for 12 catches and 150 yards on 14 targets. Woods told reporters after the game (via the Orange County Register) that getting the win was more important than his stats.

"Just being a competitor, just trying to do everything, being a part of helping this team win," Woods said. "(I got) an opportunity to get my number called and have some plays, and capitalize on those opportunities."

For a team that has so much invested in its cornerbacks, the Giants haven't been especially stout against the pass in 2021, allowing the 15th-most PPR points to receivers. Still, Bradberry is easily the best corner on the team and a veteran who has shown the ability to hold his own in battles with some of the NFL's very best receivers. Don't be surprised if the fantasy pendulum swings back to Kupp this week and Woods finishes closer to WR3 territory than the top 10.




Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns (DeAndre Hopkins vs. Denzel Ward)

There has been a lot said (and written) about DeAndre Hopkins' target share this season-after averaging 10 targets a game in 2020 the 29-year-old has yet to see 10 targets in a game this season. But as he told Darren Urban of the team's website, so long as the Redbirds keep winning the 29-year-old really doesn't care.

"Locking in on my job, it's not just catching the football, but blocking also," Hopkins said. "Things like that aren't on the stat sheet but that's what great receivers take pride in. I feel great about it. This is my first time I've been on a team where there are receivers that are reliable consistently. For me, that's great. That's championship football. You got four other guys who can go out and take that pressure off of me and make plays when they are one-on-one."

Hopkins may feel great about Arizona's 5-0 start, but fantasy managers aren't loving that he ranks outside the top-15 wide receivers in PPR points. Cleveland's Denzel Ward can be had through the air-he's allowing over 60 percent of the passes thrown in his direction to be completed with a passer rating against of 98.6. But if the target volume isn't there, that won't matter as much.




Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants (Jalen Ramsey vs. Kadarius Toney)

Toney was the darling of waiver wires across fantasy football this week after blowing up against the Dallas Cowboys to the tune of 10 catches for 189 yards. Unfortunately, Toney was also booted from that game after throwing a late punch, and given Jalen Ramsey's penchant for talking smack teammate Sterling Shepard told the team's website he's confidant the Rams corner will do everything he can to get under Toney's skin Sunday.

"I mean, he's probably got a target on him just because of what happened last week," Shepard said. "He knows that, and I mean everybody has talked to him. He'll be fine. Jalen likes to talk - everybody knows that around the league. We're not going to shy away from anything. We're going to play our game and we're going to do what we do, no matter who's out there. That's that."

Fantasy managers should be more worried about Ramsey's coverage skills and Daniel Jones' concussion than what's being said during plays at Met Life Stadium. Ramsey isn't invincible-DK Metcalf of the Seahawks had himself a game last week. But we are talking about a rookie wideout taking on arguably the best man coverage corner in football. Another 30 (or 20)-point fantasy outing from Toney isn't likely.




Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans (Tre'Davious White vs. Julio Jones)

There's good news and bad news for Julio Jones' fantasy managers in Week 6. The good news is that after practicing Wednesday and Thursday, it appears the veteran wideout is on track to return to the field Monday night. The bad news is that it's against a Buffalo defense allowing the fewest PPR points to wide receivers. As Titans head coach Mike Vrabel told reporters via Nick Fierro of Sports Illustrated, that defense is driven from the back.

"I think they have good players," he said. "I think anybody that [blows out Kansas City on the road], they have good players and they've been together, you know? I mean, these are some familiar faces. On the back end, it starts back there with [safeties Micah] Hyde and [Jordan] Poyer, [cornerback] Tre'Davious [White]. The inside guys, I mean I can remember playing against these guys since I've been here. Now the front's different, but it's young, it's athletic."

It's possible given Jones' layoff that the Bills could have White shadow A.J. Brown, but the team has played straight up more often than not this season. That means White vs. Jones. Assuming he's active you have to start Jones in a game where the Titans will likely have to throw more than usual. But it's a brutal matchup for his first game back.