Week 6 Start ’em or Sit ’em: We’re doubling down on the Red Rifle. See who else is trending up (or down) this week. For more start-sit advice, send a tweet to Paul at @pauliep97.
Start ‘em: Quarterbacks
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
After a three games suspension and a bye week, the Ryan Fitzpatrick experiment is over, and Jameis Winston is ready to return to his role as the Buccaneers’ starting quarterback. In his first game back, Winston will face the Falcons. This game features two terrible defenses and should be high-scoring, which bodes well for both quarterbacks. The Bucs, who have no running game to speak of, will have to throw the ball a ton, and with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and Cameron Brate, Winston has the supporting cast he needs to succeed this week.
Andy Dalton, Bengals
Okay, so I was wrong about Andy Dalton last week. My bad. But Dalton is still 13th in fantasy points at the position despite a bad Week 5, and the Bengals offense is 4th in the league, scoring 31 PPG. I’m doubling down on the Red Rifle this week because the matchup is just too juicy. Dalton faces the Steelers, who are allowing the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. I expect a shootout and a good game for Dalton.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Oh, another player that I was wrong about last week (Nothing to see here. Move along). In all seriousness, the lack of rushing is still a cause for concern moving forward, but Wilson and the Seattle offense seem to have found a bit of a groove. Chris Carson and Mike Davis are getting a ton of work on the ground, which takes a few attempts away from Wilson, but more trips to the red zone mean more chances for Wilson to throw touchdowns. Against the Raiders, a below-average defense and the league’s worst pass-rushing team, Wilson is startable.
Other names to consider: Philip Rivers, Chargers; Jared Goff, Rams
Sit ‘em: Quarterbacks
Mitchell Trubisky, Bears
You may have forgotten already, but, in Week 4, Mitchell Trubisky threw six (SIX!) touchdown passes. The Bears had a bye in Week 5, but now Trubisky is back and the question is this: can Mitch continue at this level moving forward? The answer is no. The Bears have a strong defense and a pair of talented RBs in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, so there will be very few games where Trubisky is asked to carry the team with his arm. This has held true so far this season, with the Bears sitting at 24th in passing yards per game and 25th in pass attempts per game. Don’t fall for the hype; seek other options.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars
At times this season, when Blake Bortles has been forced to throw, he has been a usable fantasy asset. This week, however, the script doesn’t look favorable as the Jaguars take on the Cowboys. This should be a fairly low-scoring game, reminiscent of the Jaguars’ Week 3 matchup with the Titans, in which the Jags lost 6-3 and Bortles finished with 155 passing yards. The Cowboys offense will have a ton of trouble scoring against one of the league’s premier defenses, which should allow the Jaguars to hand the ball off to T.J. Yeldon–along with newcomer Jamaal Charles–and chew the clock.
Joe Flacco, Ravens
Joe Flacco is having his best season in years, averaging a respectable 17.7 fantasy points per game, so this call is more about the matchup than the player. The Titans have been 8th best against opposing quarterbacks this season and have been solid at home. Maybe it’s just a gut-feeling, but this game feels like a low-scoring slugfest with a lot of rushing and a lot of turnovers. Avoid Flacco this week.
Start ‘em: Running Backs
T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars
While Leonard Fournette owners are eagerly awaiting the return of their star running back, those that were fortunate enough to scoop up T.J. Yeldon are hoping that he sits out for a few more weeks. In Fournette’s absence, Yeldon has averaged 16 touches per game, including 22 total receptions, and scored 4 TDs. An absolute waiver wire steal, Yeldon is a must-start until Fournette returns to the lineup.
Jordan Howard, Bears
Jordan Howard has been bad this season. He’s averaging only 11 fantasy points per game, and he’s generating a measly 3.2 yards per carry, but there are reasons to be optimistic this week. The Bears are favored against the Dolphins, and Howard is always more likely to get the ball when his team is leading. Furthermore, the Dolphins are allowing the 3rd most points to fantasy running backs after allowing Sony Michel and Joe Mixon to tear them up in back-to-back games. Howard might not ever be the elite asset you drafted him to be, but he’s still worth a start here.
Sony Michel, Patriots
As the Patriots’ lead back, Sony Michel has gotten better every single week. Literally. Here are Michel’s YPC over the past four weeks: 3.4, 3.6, 4.5, 5.4. The first-round rookie has been nothing short of a revelation. Over the past two games, Michel has really turned the corner, carrying the ball 43 times for 210 yards and 2 TDs. That elite level production should continue as long as Michel and James White are the only running backs in New England. Start them both with confidence moving forward.
Other names to consider: LeSean McCoy, Bills; Tevin Coleman, Falcons
Sit ‘em: Running Backs
Isaiah Crowell, Jets
Isaiah Crowell has scored 19 or more points in three games this season and been limited to less than 6 in the other two, making him one of the most volatile assets in fantasy football this season. In Week 5, Crowell went off for 219 yards and a TD on 15 carries; however, let’s look closer at Crowell’s role this season. He has been on the field for only 44% of the snaps, while fellow running back Bilal Powell has played on nearly 54%. Furthermore, he has 57 carries and 6 receptions, while Powell has 59 carries and 10 receptions. While Crowell has been fortunate to find the endzone and make some big plays, his production cannot continue with such limited volume. Crowell has a huge chance to bust this week.
Jamaal Williams, Packers
Jamaal Williams had his chance to be the lead back for the Packers, and he blew it. He has been inefficient (3.7 YPC) and, with a long run of 12 yards, incapable of creating big plays. With Aaron Jones significantly outperforming him, and with Ty Montgomery stealing some of the passing work, Williams looks like the odd man out. He might see 6-10 touches per game moving forward, but at this point he seems unlikely to do anything substantial with them.
Royce Freeman, Broncos
I’ll admit that I fell for the preseason-Royce-Freeman hype, but talent hasn’t been the problem for Freeman so far. With Philip Lindsay playing so well, the opportunities have been few and far between for Freeman, who is 30th in the league with 49 carries through five games and a non-factor in the passing game. If the usage goes up, Freeman’s 5.1 YPC and nose for the endzone could make him a hot commodity, but, for now, he should be firmly planted on the bench.
Start ‘em: Wide Receivers
Julian Edelman, Patriots
Following a four-week suspension for PEDs, Julian Edelman caught 7 passes for 54 yards. Not bad after missing the entire 2017 season with a torn ACL. Moving forward, Edelman will always have a high fantasy floor because Tom Brady loves to throw it his way, but he’s especially interesting this week against the Chiefs. In order to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and company, the Patriots will have to air it out early and often, which should keep Edelman busy. Start him with confidence.
Mohammed Sanu, Falcons
Last week, I pounded the table for Calvin Ridley, but now it’s time to show some love to his teammate Mohammed Sanu. Ridley’s emergence and unbelievable touchdown production has left Sanu as something of a forgotten man, but the reality is that he is still the undisputed number two wide receiver for Atlanta. He’s been in on 85% of the snaps, while Calvin Ridley has played only 64%, and Sanu has 5 more targets on the season. After two straight top 25 weeks, I’m ready to buy in on Sanu as a flex option, especially against the Bucs who have struggled mightily against slot receivers.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals
Tyler Boyd only had 4 catches for 44 yards last week. What gives? I should drop him immediately, right? Of course not, but when an unproven player like Boyd has a stretch of success followed by a mediocre or poor outing, there is a tendency to overreact. Don’t. Boyd is still 19th in fantasy points at the position. He is also top 20 in targets, receptions, and receiving yards, so his real stats back up the sustainability of his fantasy production. Boyd will bounce back sooner than later, and he’ll have a great opportunity against the Steelers this week, who can’t seem to stop anyone this season.
Other names to consider: Quincy Enunwa, Jets; Sammy Watkins, Chiefs
Sit ‘em: Wide Receivers
Josh Gordon, Patriots
Because Josh Gordon is such a dynamic talent, it was difficult to include him on this portion of the list. Writing this basically guarantees that he’ll catch a 70-yard touchdown this week, but the fact is that Gordon hasn’t been fully integrated into New England’s system yet. In his first two games with the Patriots, Gordon played about 25 percent of the snaps. That number should continue to go up, but for now Gordon is firmly behind Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, James White, Phillip Dorsett, and even Chris Hogan in terms of opportunity. Bench Gordon if you can, or otherwise lower your expectations.
Donte Moncrief, Jaguars
Sure, Donte Moncrief has been the Jaguars receiver to have in the last couple of games, but, if we’ve learned anything so far this season, it’s that the Jaguars’ wideouts cannot be trusted from one game to the next. Keelan Cole had 7 catches for 116 and a touchdown in Week 2, Dede Westbrook had 9 for 130 in Week 4, and Moncrief caught 6 for 76 on a whopping 15 targets in Week 5. The point is that it’s impossible to predict which of the three will break out in a given game, and this week, in what should be a low-scoring game against the Cowboys, the answer might be none of them. Avoid the Jags’ passing attack.
Robby Anderson, Jets
Okay, raise your hand if you predicted 123 yards and 2 TDs for Robby Anderson in Week 5. No hands? Good, moving on. The fact is, Anderson is averaging 4 targets per game–good for 69th in the league. He hasn’t had the same chemistry with Sam Darnold that he had with Josh McCown last season, so, with such low volume, it’s impossible to trust Anderson even after a huge game. Remember, Quincy Enunwa was held without a catch as he dealt with a hand injury in Week 5 and Anderson still caught only 3 passes. Don’t chase the points here. Look elsewhere.
Start ‘em: Tight Ends
Cameron Brate, Buccaneers
Jameis Winston is back, O.J. Howard is likely out, and that means Cameron Brate is fantasy relevant once more. With Winston at the helm, Brate has been a top-10 tight end in each of the past two seasons. Now he’ll be reunited with his quarterback and matched up against a defense in Atlanta that has been gouged by tight ends. I expect great things from Brate this week.
Jordan Reed, Redskins
I know that Jordan Reed let a lot of people down on Monday Night Football. He had just 1 catch for 21 yards in a game in which the Redskins trailed for four quarters. However, Reed’s inclusion here is greatly impacted by the current tight end landscape. Reliable starters are almost impossible to find, so, if you have Reed, you need to roll with the punches here. His talent is undeniable, and Alex Smith has historically utilized his tight ends. Reed should get back on track this week.
Other names to consider: Greg Olsen, Panthers; Austin Hooper, Falcons
Sit ‘em: Tight Ends
Antonio Gates, Chargers
If you’re even considering Antonio Gates this week, you’ve probably had some rotten tight end luck. While I offer my condolences and wish you well, I also have to advise against this decision. Antonio Gates is 6th on HIS OWN TEAM in targets. That’s real bad. Even in the league’s best offenses, you won’t find six fantasy-relevant players. Just for fun, I checked the Chiefs and Rams–two of the league’s top offenses–to see who their 6th-most targeted players were. The answer? Demetrius Harris and Gerald Everett, respectively. Yikes.
O.J. Howard, Buccaneers
This is more of an honorable mention since O.J. Howard will likely be inactive; however, as I’m writing this, he has not been ruled out. Even if he plays, you should only play him in the most desperate of situations. We don’t know what kind of workload he’ll be able to handle, and, given Winston’s past chemistry with Cameron Brate, he might not see many targets even if he’s good to go. Stay away.