Can you believe it’s already Week 6? With bye weeks in full effect, these decisions are as crucial as ever. Last week was reasonably successful as Dak Prescott finished as the overall QB2, Carson Palmer returned top-12 numbers, Pierre Garcon caught eight for 94, Duke Johnson was the RB7 and both recommended tight end starts found the end zone.
You probably fared well if you listened to my sit recommendations where every single one was a smash hit outside of Jimmy Graham and Joe Mixon, neither of whom had monster games. Ideally, you avoided my predicted duds from Big Ben, Ameer Abdullah, Alshon Jeffery, Amari Cooper and Sammy Watkins. Heck, maybe you even listened to the streamer advice and went with Jacoby Brissett or Brian Hoyer at quarterback. Let’s aim for more success with a microscope on key players for the Week 6 slate.
Starts Record: 42/67 (62.7%)
Sits Record: 43/61 (70.5%)
Sleeper Record: 11/21 (52.4%)
*Note: These statistics do not include injured players or players who are essentially a wash and did not really help you or hurt you if you started them.
**Assume .5 PPR scoring for any reference to a player’s season-long ranking or in-week ranking
Start: DeShaun Watson vs. Cleveland
Hopefully, by now you don’t need me to tell you to start Watson. The wunderkind from Clemson is the leading quarterback point scorer this season despite missing half of week one. I wasn’t fully convinced about his fantasy prowess until he passed the test against a legitimate top-ten defense in Kansas City last week. Now the Browns have to fly across the country for an early game against the hottest quarterback in the league. It’s just a boost that he has deep threat Will Fuller back. Watson should post top-five numbers this week at home against a pass-funnel defense.
Start: Carson Palmer vs. Tampa Bay
It might seem like I have some weird affinity for Palmer but I promise that’s not the case. Dude simply delivers consistent weekly numbers and as a result is the overall QB11 on the season. Even with the addition of Adrian Peterson to the offense, it seems like Arizona will struggle to run the ball with stud guard Mike Iupati on Injury Reserve. Palmer has thrown at least 44 pass attempts in all but one game this year and will likely have to air it out again as a 2.5-point home underdog. Palmer is averaging 19.54 points per game at home this year versus 14.81 on the road, which is a difference of more than one passing touchdown per game. With John Brown back healthy and Andre Ellington acting as an extension of the running game with his catching ability, Palmer has a solid cache of weapons to throw to and Tampa has allowed the fifth-most points to opposing quarterbacks.
Other Recommended Starts:
–Matthew Stafford @ New Orleans: If he’s healthy then this is a no-brainer playing in the Coors Field of NFL stadiums (h/t Rich Hribar) in a game with the highest projected point total on the week.
-Matt Ryan vs. Miami: Ryan has disappointed thus far but is due for some positive touchdown regression as his touchdown percentage this year is below his career norm. Miami has been surprisingly stout against running games and has a very exploitable secondary.
-Cam Newton vs. Philadelphia: Is he back in the circle of trust? It appears so after posting back-to-back 300+ yard passing games for the first time since his rookie year. Philly is a pass-funnel defense that has allowed four consecutive top-12 QB performances and Cam is at home.
Sit: Eli Manning @ Denver
Eli would’ve likely made this spot before losing his top three receivers, one of whom is in the elite tier of pass-catchers in the league. Now he has to travel to Denver and face the No Fly Zone with Roger Lewis as his number one wide receiver. It’s ok if you’ve never heard of Roger Lewis before. While Denver has actually been about average against quarterbacks, some of that production came in garbage time in Week 1 and they’ve faced Philip Rivers, Dak Prescott, Tyrod Taylor (in Buffalo) and Derek Carr so far on the season. Manning is the QB13 in points per game so far on the year so he’s already a fringe starter as it is and the Giants have the lowest implied point total of the week. Unless his receiver situation drastically improves, he’s likely unusable the next two weeks as well (@Seattle, bye).
Sit: Ben Roethlisberger @ Kansas City
It’s never comfortable recommending you sit a Hall of Fame quarterback coming off a down game, but I’m in prove-it mode with Big Ben at the moment. He notoriously struggles on the road and Arrowhead is one of the least-friendly road environments in the league. Ben’s confidence seems low after admitting his time may be up following last week’s five-interception meltdown at home against Jacksonville. This could backfire as Kansas City hasn’t been a stay-away matchup for quarterbacks and Roethlisberger did shred them at home last year, but Big Ben has yet to surpass 18 fantasy points in a game.
Other Recommended Sits:
-Mitchell Trubisky @ Baltimore: Scroll all the way down for the tweet, but Baltimore has made a living destroying the souls of rookie quarterbacks at home. Trubisky is playing with the least-talented pass-catching group in the league.
-Jared Goff: Even in two-quarterback leagues I want to see Goff prove he’s a reliable fantasy commodity on the road against top-ten defenses.
-Jacoby Brissett: Back to the well here as Brissett has proven the ability to take advantage of good matchups, and now gets to play the third-worst defense at defending quarterbacks. Beware his status is actually downgraded if Mariota is out.
-Josh McCown: Risk takers in need of a stream can hang their hat on McCown playing at home against a Patriots defense allowing the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Every quarterback to play New England this season has thrown for at least 300 yards and one touchdown.
Start: DeSean Jackson @ Arizona
With Patrick Peterson expected to shadow Mike Evans, this is the ideal spot to start DeSean Jackson and also play him in DFS tournaments. Peterson is even traveling into the slot now and has held Dez Bryant, Alshon Jeffery and Pierre Garcon completely in check. Jackson will battle with human sieve Justin Bethel who Torrey Smith roasted for a 59-yard touchdown last week and grades 93rd out of 109 qualified cornerbacks per Pro Football Focus. This game has shoot-out potential in a dome, Jackson is coming off a nine-target, 100-yard game and Arizona has been super forgiving to wide receivers.
Start: Adam Thielen vs. Green Bay
Thielen has been a model of usage consistency this year garnering eight targets in three straight games and catching at least five balls in every game this season. He’s yet to score on the season (which feels bound to change soon) and though his ceiling is lowered by playing in the slot, it’s raised his floor considerably. He’ll face the Packers’ leaky secondary at in Minnesota on Sunday, where both of his best games of the season have occurred (9/157 and 5/98). Green Bay lost promising rookie corner Kevin King to a concussion on Sunday and there’s no guarantee that he’ll suit up this week. Cole Beasley burned them for two touchdowns last week (his first scores since Week 11 last year), while slot receivers Kendall Wright and Mohammed Sanu both had their best games of the season against Green Bay. Stefon Diggs battled a groin injury last week after struggling with a similar injury last year, so if he’s at all banged up it only raises Thielen’s floor and ceiling. I think Thielen finishes with top-20 PPR numbers this week.
Other Recommended Starts:
-Larry Fitzgerald vs. Tampa Bay:
-Pierre Garcon @ Washington: Game script, matchup and volume should all be working in Garcon’s favor. WR24 by points per game so far this season (.5 PPR).
Sit: Randall Cobb @ Minnesota
Cobb has never managed a WR2 or better week against Mike Zimmer’s Minnesota defenses and he bombed in a much better spot last week. With Martellus Bennett slowly getting more integrated into the offense Cobb now has more competition for targets in the middle of the field. This suggestion would change if Jordy is questionable, but he got in a full practice on Wednesday and seems to be 100%. Rodgers has always struggled on the road against Zimmer dating back to his Cincinnati days, which lowers the ceiling of Green Bay’s playmakers.
Sit: Sammy Watkins @ Jacksonville
Watkins has only had one usable game this year anyway and now faces the Jags elite perimeter cornerback duo. I’d sell now if you can as Watkins will continue to see awful matchups from here on out.
Other Recommended Sits:
-Mike Evans @ Arizona: I know you’re not sitting him but make sure to temper expectations as it took Evans a mind-blowing 18 targets to reach 70 yards against Patrick Peterson last year and that was with tons of negative game script.
-Demaryius Thomas vs. New York Giants: Janoris Jenkins continues to shut down opposing receivers and Thomas doesn’t travel into the slot as much as Manny Sanders does. He is due for some positive touchdown regression so this may be a good buy-low opportunity if his owner is soured after this week.
-Taylor Gabriel vs. Miami: If Sanu is out Gabriel is a great way to save DFS money, and he sneakily leads Atlanta in red zone targets this year, per Evan Silva.
Start: Alvin Kamara vs. Detroit
Kamara was already going to make a guest appearance in this spot and now should have a safer touch floor with Adrian Peterson shipped out of town. AP was always an odd fit in New Orleans’ up-tempo offense and often tipped the offense’s hand prior to the play. Ingram will still get his touches (and is also start-worthy) but historically we’ve seen this offense support two fantasy-relevant backs and this should be no different as both Kamara and Ingram are capable in the running and passing games. Kamara is coming off easily his best game of the season and his numbers have improved every week so far. Detroit is right in the middle of fantasy points allowed to running backs, but is especially vulnerable to backs in the passing game as they rank bottom-five in receptions and receiving yards-allowed to backs. This game has the highest implied point total of the week (50.5) and Detroit just sent run-stuffing nose tackle Haloti Ngata to IR.
Start: Jerick McKinnon vs. Green Bay
Although Latavius Murray was the hot waiver add last week, it was McKinnon who stole the show Monday night and literally ran away with the starting running back job. Despite Murray getting the start, McKinnon outsnapped him 47 to 22 and averaged over three more yards per carry. Green Bay is about average as far as matchups go but the defense does rank bottom-eight in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns allowed. Importantly, McKinnon caught all six of his targets last week for 51 yards, and will likely be the primary the pass-catching back should the Vikings face negative game script as 3.5-point underdogs. McKinnon logged 21 touches and wasn’t even the starter last week. If that’s his touch baseline moving forward then he’ll be an every week RB2 at worst.
Other Recommended Starts:
-Buck Allen vs. Chicago: Home running back favored by seven and is now sixth in the NFL in red zone carries.
-Andre Ellington vs. Tampa Bay: Second on Arizona in targets and has had his target share rise each week. Tampa is tied for tenth in running back receptions-allowed despite already having a bye week, and just gave up seven receptions to James White last week.
Sit: Tarik Cohen @ Baltimore
This isn’t Cohen’s fault, but merely a byproduct of John Fox not realizing who his most talented offensive weapons are. Baltimore has been forgiving to fantasy running backs and the game script should set up nicely for Cohen, but the Ravens have allowed the fifth-fewest receptions to running backs and Cohen’s snap and touch shares are decreasing at alarming rates.
Sit: Wayne Gallman @ Denver
Gallman was a solid streamer here last week but now plays on the road in Denver, the team allowing by far the fewest points to opposing running backs. If New York is unable to sustain drives then the entire offense needs to be downgraded. Also hurting Gallman’s opportunities is the likely return of Orleans Darkwa who practiced in full on Wednesday and actually outplayed Gallman last week before suffering a calf injury. At the very least I want to see what this offense is going to look like without Odell and Brandon Marshall before I feel confident in starting anyone besides Evan Engram.
Other Recommended Sits:
-LeGarrette Blount @ Carolina: Blount still only played 39% of the snaps in last week’s blowout victory and despite running well he’s pretty much a touchdown-or-bust RB2. On the road as a three-point underdog against a top-eight rushing defense doesn’t feel like a good spot to chase a touchdown. Philadelphia will also be missing difference-making right tackle Lane Johnson to a concussion.
-Theo Riddick @ New Orleans: Riddick has disappointed thus far but New Orleans is bottom-four in receptions and receiving yards allowed to running backs, and Detroit may face negative game script as four-point underdogs. We always want to target offensive players on both sides of the ball in New Orleans. Riddick is still second on the team in targets.
-Elijah McGuire vs. New England: McGuire is an obvious DFS play if Bilal Powell and Matt Forte sit, and both missed practice on Wednesday. McGuire has run well so far this season and came into the league as a pass-catching back so he should stay on the field in negative game scripts. No team has allowed more receiving yards to running backs than New England this season.
-Samaje Perine vs. San Fransisco: Rob Kelley didn’t practice Wednesday and head coach Jay Gruden said he’s a “long-shot to play this week.” Perine is in line to get the bulk of the carries against a Niners defense that’s allowed the fifth-most points to opposing running backs this year. Washington is at home and favored by 10.5 points.
Start: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins vs. New England
ASJ was a success in this spot last week with his 6/29/1 line and now gets to face a New England defense allowing the fourth-most points to opposing tight ends. Sefarian-Jenkins led the team in targets last week and posted a 26.67% market share in the Jets offense, an elite number for a tight end. The Jets will likely throw a ton as huge underdogs at home. This game sneakily has the second-highest projected point total of the week. With a dream schedule coming up and at least four receptions in every game he’s played, ASJ has entered every week TE1 consideration.
Start: Evan Engram @ Denver
It’s not easy to trust Engram coming off of a goose egg, but he still managed four targets last week and he’s one of the only reliable pass catchers left on the Giants. Engram had received at least five targets and four catches in each game prior to last week and I’m willing to call Week 5 an outlier based on the absurd amount of injuries to the Giants’ pass-catching corps. Engram is honestly the best offensive weapon on the Giants now and as a terrible blocker he may basically line up as a wide receiver from here on out. Because Denver’s corners are so stingy, targets are typically funneled to the middle of the field where tight ends run the most of their routes. As a result, Denver has allowed the seventh-most points to opposing tight ends.
Sit: Jesse James @ Kansas City
Everyone in this offense outside Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell needs to be downgraded on the road until Roethlisberger proves otherwise. James is a touchdown-or-bust streamer who hasn’t topped five targets since Week 1 and faces a Chiefs defense that’s been stingy to tight ends even without Eric Berry. I honestly prefer any of the streamers below to James this week.
Sit: Jared Cook vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Even with Derek Carr looking like he’s going to play, this isn’t a great matchup against a Chargers defense that’s allowed the third-fewest points to opposing tight ends despite facing Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and Evan Engram over the last three weeks. Cook has averaged 3.5 catches per game over the last four weeks and only has one touchdown on the season and he’s still Jared Cook. Los Angeles is more vulnerable in the running game and whichever side of the field Casey Hayward isn’t on, which is how I expect the Raiders to attack this game.
-Austin Hooper vs. Miami: Finally saw seven targets (for 5/50) with Sanu and Julio banged up in week four and should continue to soak up more interior targets while Sanu is out. Miami is a bottom-ten tight end defense.
-AJ Derby vs. New York Giants: Derby is coming off a 4/75/1 line in week four and is at home against the Giants, who have allowed six top-12 tight end performances in only five games.
-Ryan Griffin vs. Cleveland: Cleveland continues to bleed points to tight ends and Griffin is at home catching passes from the league’s hottest quarterback.
-George Kittle @ Washington: The R-words are allowing the most tight end yardage in the league and Kittle exploded for 7/83/1 in a somewhat similar spot on the road last week. This still feels a bit point-chasey but might be worth the money you’ll save in DFS.
Start: Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago
Going to let Twitter help me save some words here.
Start: Washington Redskins vs. San Francisco and Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami
Other Recommended Starts:
-Houston Texans vs. Cleveland: Even without JJ Watt (leg) and Whitney Mercilus (pectoral) out Houston is a huge home favorite against a Cleveland team starting a new quarterback this week.
-Denver Broncos vs. New York Giants: Duh.
-Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Los Angeles Rams: Jacksonville is the number one fantasy defense this season and feels matchup-proof after eating Big Ben’s soul in Pittsburgh last week. Seattle showed us Goff and the Rams are not a shy-away matchup.
Sit: Arizona vs. Tampa Bay
Never ideal to recommend sitting a talented defense at home but Arizona isn’t even a top-16 fantasy defense this year and Tampa Bay has allowed the sixth-fewest points to opposing defenses. The pass rush has only garnered 10 sacks through five games and the defense as a whole has allowed 28 or more points three times already this year. There are better streaming options available.
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Statistics courtesy of nfl.com, rotoworld.com, Yahoo!, fantasylabs.com, footballguys.com, footballoutsiders.com, profootballfocus.com and pro-football-reference.com