[sc name=”Author – Chris Mangano”]
Welcome to our Week 6 matchups analysis and starts/sits column for fantasy football. We’ll be covering every matchup from every Sunday game to help you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups.
Let’s get to the matchups for Week 6.
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NFL Week 6 Matchups – 1:00 PM ET Games
Bears at Ravens
Matchups We Love:
Jordan Howard (RB, CHI)
The Bears have returned to doing what they do best, which is pounding the rock with Howard as often as they can. Howard has averaged 20 carries per game over the past three weeks, and although the yardage hasn’t necessarily been stellar outside of his 140-yard game against the Steelers, he has been able to find the end zone three times. Over that same three-week span, the Ravens run defense has been on the decline without defensive end Brandon Williams, who looks like he is in line to miss his fourth straight game. With Williams out of the lineup, the Ravens are surrendering 149 yards on the ground per game to go along with four scores. The Bears have recommitted to an increasingly healthier Howard, and he should be able to turn in solid RB2 numbers with the potential for a lot more.
Matchups We Hate:
Joe Flacco (QB, BAL)
Flacco has now thrown just one touchdown in his last three games, and has completely fallen off of the fantasy relevancy map. When you take a closer look at the Bears’ middle-of-the-pack pass defense, outside of Aaron Rodgers, they have held all of the quarterbacks they have faced this year to just one touchdown. The argument can be made that the Bears haven’t faced elite quarterbacks on their way to these numbers, but Flacco has been anything but elite this year so he would actually fall comfortably within this wheelhouse. Avoid Flacco as even a bye-week streamer in this matchup if possible.
Jeremy Maclin (WR, BAL) will be going up against Bryce Callahan who has quietly been one of the Bears’ better corners in coverage this year, allowing only one touchdown on the season. Maclin’s volume has been surprisingly low considering the fact that the Ravens had been the most pass heavy team in the league for two straight seasons. Fellow receiver Mike Wallace (WR, BAL) has now started to stretch the field more effectively, so there should still be enough opportunity for Maclin to produce low end flex numbers, particularly in PPR formats. He will be very hard to trust in standard leagues though, with his highest yardage output of just 56 yards coming what now seems like an eternity ago in Week 1, and his last touchdown coming in Week 2. Wallace has now managed to put together two back-to-back fantasy relevant games after starting the season with three straight one-catch outings, catching his first touchdown in Week 4 and racking up 133 yards in Week 5. His low volume is still a concern though, as you will basically be relying on him to catch a deep ball for meaningful fantasy output. That makes Wallace a boom-or-bust flex option for this week against a Bears defense that is currently ranked tenth in the league for receiving yardage allowed (223), and have yet to allow any team’s receiving corps to combine for more than 200 yards in a single game.
The Ravens backfield has been and will continue to be a headache for owners. With Terrance West (RB, BAL) re-aggravating his calf injury and drawing a doubtful tag for this week’s matchup, the opportunity will again be there for the taking for both Javorius Allen (RB, BAL) and Alex Collins (RB, BAL). If West is indeed unable to go, Allen would likely continue to be used as the team’s every down with Collins coming in to spell him. Allen got the majority of the work last week, out-snapping Collins 47-16, but Collins has continued to be more efficient with his touches. Against the Dolphins, Collins averaged 4.6 yards per carry compared to Allen’s 3.5, and this could be the week that the coaching staff feels comfortable enough to give him more touches. While the Bears’ rush defense might be tougher than many give them credit for after holding both the Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman combo and Le’Veon Bell under 70 yards, they have allowed a rushing touchdown in each of the past three weeks and have yielded 100.2 yards per game. Allen’s volume and goal-line touches will give him solid flex appeal and he can even push for borderline RB2 numbers in PPR formats, while Collins could slowly be creeping towards some flex value of his own if he can continue to prove that he can hold on to the ball.
Ben Watson (TE, BAL) has seen his production slowly start to taper off, but there is still some optimism for him in this Sunday’s matchup. The Bears have allowed at least six catches to tight ends in the past two games and gave up their second tight end touchdown of the season to Kyle Rudolph on Monday night. Watson saw a season high 89% of Baltimore’s snaps last week, and he should be able to rebound with a better showing than his two-catch, two-yard showing last week.
Trying to figure out which bears receiver will emerge as a viable fantasy option has been futile so far, as no one has consistently stood out amongst the pack from game to game. Zach Miller (TE, CHI) has been the only reliable pass catcher for the team, and drew seven targets from Mitch Trubisky in his first career start. Miller could very well end up being Trubisky’s safety blanket in an offense that will try to control the game on the ground, and he is certainly worth a look against a Ravens defense that gave up three touchdowns to a tight end in Week 3 that hasn’t even had three catches since. Tarik Cohen’s (RB, CHI) snaps have decreased significantly since Week 2, and his touches have subsequently been on the decline as well. With Howard seemingly much healthier and Benny Cunningham now seeing work on passing downs, it is hard to tell just where Cohen will fit in this offense going forward. He is still a firecracker that has the potential to break off a huge run at any moment, but even in a favorable matchup against an ailing Ravens’ run defense, it is hard to trust that Cohen will be able to add anything to your team’s lineup this week. Mitch Trubisky (QB, CHI) is still an unproven fantasy commodity, and he probably won’t be a factor this week. He is a good addition for this team’s long-term outlook, but he is still raw and it could be some time before he becomes worth the add in non-dynasty leagues.
49ers at Redskins
Matchups We Love:
Kirk Cousins (QB, WAS)
The 49ers defense has been burned bad over the past two weeks, giving up 357 yards and 314 yards to opposing quarterbacks in back-to-back games. Coming off of a bye, Cousins is a surefire QB1 in this matchup, as he has finally begun stringing some meaningful games together, with five touchdowns and 292.5 passing ypg over his past two games to go along with zero interceptions.
Chris Thompson (RB, WAS) / Semaje Perine (RB, WAS)
With Rob Kelley looking like he will miss his second game of the season, it will again be on Thompson and Perine to carry the load for the Redskins. They will both have a great matchup against the 49ers who are giving up the 4th most points to the running back position. There will be an opportunity for both players to shine, as the Niners are giving up 116.6 yards on the ground with four touchdowns, and have allowed receiving backs to go for 50.5 yards per game and two scores as well.
George Kittle (TE, SF)
Kittle had his coming out party last week against the Colts, catching 7-of-9 targets for 83 yards and a touchdown. He has a great matchup this week and will try to replicate that success going up against a Redskins defense that is giving up the third most points to the tight end position. In addition to giving up an average of 88 yards per game to opposing tight ends on a whopping 88% success rate, they have also allowed tight ends to score in each of their last two games. Kittle is at the top of the list for tight end streamer for the week, and could be someone worth stashing beyond this game as well.
Matchups We Hate:
Carlos Hyde (RB, SF)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan stating that the team will take the hot hand approach at running back is the last thing that Hyde owners wanted to hear. While he is still very much the guy in SF, if Hyde continues to be a bit gimpy coming off of limited practice sessions this week, Brieda could have yet another chance to see some meaningful work. Even with Hyde developing as more of a pass catching threat this year than in seasons past, he is going up against a stingy Redskins front seven that is only giving up 88 yards per game on the ground, with only three touchdowns on the year (one rushing, two receiving). You shouldn’t necessarily be looking to bench Hyde, as his projected volume should still put him somewhere in the RB2/flex range, but expectations should be tempered for this tough matchup.
Pierre Garcon (WR, SF) has been up and down this season, following up three games of at least six catches and 80, yards with two sub 50-yard performances. The one thing that hasn’t changed for Garcon is his volume, as he is averaging just under nine targets a game and has seen no less than five targets in any matchup. Garcon is fortunate enough to be facing the Redskins without their best defender in Josh Norman, and the projected game script would have the 49ers looking to air it out for most of the game again making him a solid play for the week, with a bump in PPR formats. Matt Brieda’s (RB, SF) snap percentages have been on the rise for the past three weeks (20%, 31%, 49%) and in Week 5 he out-touched Hyde 13-8. The rookie has continued to put pressure on Hyde in the backfield for more playing time, and if Shanahan sticks with his hot hand comments from earlier in the week, Brieda will certainly be worth an add across all formats. He probably isn’t a great start this week though until we have a little more clarity on just how the 49ers backfield will shake out, but needy owners in PPR leagues could give him a look if absolutely necessary.
If you are looking for a solid QB streamer, Brian Hoyer (QB, SF) might not be your guy this week. While he has been the king of garbage time for a while now, the Redskins have the fifth ranked passing defense in the league, have allowed a quarterback rating of just 87.5 in four contests, and have held every quarterback they have faced since Week 1 to just one touchdown. After a 116-yard effort in Week 5 in which he saw 11 targets, Marquise Goodwin (WR, SF) could find more success against a Redskins defense whose only glaring weakness is in vertical yards per attempt (12.4) Still, he will be a leap-of-faith flex option at best.
Terrelle Pryor (WR, WAS) has been a disappointment to start the season, but there is some hope that he can build on his Week 4 performance in which he caught his first touchdown of the year. Pryor will draw a mix of 49er cornerbacks that have been torched for a combined 63 catches, 878 yards, and four touchdowns on the season, but his struggles with drops and declining volume make it extremely difficult to trust him as more than a flex play. Jamison Crowder (WR, WAS) owners are hoping that head coach Jay Gruden sticks to his word to get him more involved, as he has also offered owners little to no output with only 106 yards and no touchdowns through four games. It will be tough to trust Crowder despite his head coach’s sentiments, but gutsy PPR owners can give him a shot as a flex in a plus matchup against slot corner K’Waun Williams who is allowing a 76% catch rate in coverage, which ranks as fourth worst in the league. The one strength of the 49ers defense is their coverage of opposing tight ends. They have yet to let a tight end score, and have only given up a total of 107 yards to the position all season. That could change this week though, with Jordan Reed (TE, WAS) avoiding the injury report for the first time in two weeks. When Reed is healthy he is by far the Reskins’ most talented option on offense, and he can be started this week despite the tough matchup. With Reed more or less healthy and likely to receive his normal allotment of snaps, Vernon Davis (TE, WAS) will be nothing more than a boom-or-bust option that should only be deployed by extremely desperate owners.
Dolphins at Falcons
Matchups We Love:
Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)
Ryan and the Falcons are coming off of their bye week, and have had plenty of time to try to hash out some of their more glaring inconsistencies so far this season. Ryan has already tossed five interceptions on the season, but he should be able to get back on track against a Dolphins defense that still hasn’t picked off an opposing quarterback through five games. Outside of Matt Cassel in Week 5, Miami has also allowed at least 249 passing yards with at least one touchdown in all of their matchups. If Julio Jones is active this week, there is no reason to believe that Ryan can’t easily achieve these numbers and then some. He is locked in as a QB1 for this matchup.
Matchups We Hate:
Jay Cutler (QB, MIA)
Cutler has thrown only one touchdown and a combined 256 yards in his past two games, and will again struggle to move the Miami offense against a defensive unit that is only allowing 318.3 total yards per game (10). Even though the Falcons D’ is a little banged up on the line and at linebacker, Cutler can’t be trusted to produce any kind of meaningful fantasy output.
The nervousness that comes from seeing Julio Jones (WR, ATL) listed as a limited practice participant with a questionable tag for Sunday is upon us, as he was slowed down in Week 4 with a hip flexor injury. There is optimism out of Atlanta that Jones will be able to go this week, and if he does he will have a juicy matchup against a Dolphin secondary that has yet to find its way. The Dolphins stats were boosted by a matchup against a struggling Tennessee Titans offense, but make no mistake about it that if Jones is on the field, he will be able to feast on a secondary that has allowed 171.3 passing yards to receivers in their three other matchups. Mohamed Sanu (WR, ATL) opened the week with two missed practices, and it appears as though he might be held out of Sunday’s game. If Sanu sits out, Taylor Gabriel (WR, ATL) would likely see an even larger increase to his snap percentages that have already been on the rise for the past three weeks (47%, 53%, 80%). Even with this increased playing time, Gabriel will continue to be a boom or bust option, making him a risky flex play with promising upside. Austin Hooper (TE, ATL) would likely be one of the biggest beneficiaries if Sanu can’t go, as he saw a season high six targets in Week 4 when both Jones and Sanu went out, after seeing only six total all season. Hooper would be a solid streaming option against a Dolphins defense that is allowing a 77% completion rate and 60.5 ypg (20) to tight ends.
For all of the troubles that this Miami Dolphins team has had, their run defense has not been one of them. They are allowing the ninth fewest points to the position in standard scoring formats on just 3.1 ypc, and haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown since Week 2. You obviously are not benching Devonta Freeman (RB, ATL) here, but he has only averaged 70 ypg and his fantasy day might come down to him getting into the end zone this week (which he has been able to do in every game this season). Tevin Coleman (RB, ATL) has been flex-worthy in all of his matchups so far this year, and in addition to his 13 receptions, his rushing totals have increased in every game this season (16,42,46,77) While the Dolphins run defense is surprisingly stout, they have allowed some big gains in the passing game to running backs, and Coleman should be able to make his mark as a safe play in PPR formats with his 4.8 targets per game.
Jay Ajayi (RB, MIA) has been over 25 carries in Miami’s two wins this season, and seemingly has a good matchup against a Falcons defense that is giving up the 11th most points to running backs. The only problem is, the majority of that damage has been done by passing catching backs. Ajayi has been increasingly losing third down snaps in the team’s efforts to limit his workload, as he will be without a bye for the rest of the season. If the chances of the Falcons jumping all over a struggling Dolphins team early weren’t so great, Ajayi would be a good start here. As it stands though, he is a risky play, but he might have a shot at finding the end zone for the time this year.
Jarvis Landry (WR, MIA) has led the Dolphins receivers in targets in all but one game this season, and he was still targeted seven times in that Week 4 matchup. While the Falcons secondary has only allowed 120.5 yards per game to opposing receivers, the majority of that yardage has come on slot corner Brian Poole who has allowed a 70% catch rate in coverage through four games. Landry’s production would only be aided if Parker does not suit up, and he is settled in as a WR2 in PPR leagues, with a slight dip to a WR2/flex starter in standard due to his modest yardage outputs in his last three games (48,44,40). DeVante Parker (WR, MIA) was spotted in a walking boot as he nursed an injured ankle, and it now appears after missing two straight practices that his Week 6 status could be in doubt. If he is able to go he will have a tough matchup against a pair of stingy Atlanta cornerbacks on the outside, but his 30% target share of the Miami offense would keep him in the WR2/flex conversation. If Parker is unable to go, Kenny Stills (WR, MIA) could see a boost in volume. Although Stills has been a big play, boom or bust player for most of his career, he has been struggling this year with only one touchdown and has only amassed 114 yards through four games. If he soaked up some of Parker’s targets he would still be difficult to trust, but could be worth a shot in the flex spot for owners needing a high upside play. Julius Thomas (TE, MIA) has yet to produce much of anything, and it will be hard to employ him in lineups even against a Falcons defense that has been vulnerable to the tight end position and is giving up just under 70 yards per game. Thomas is just barely over 70 total yards on the year, and can be left on the bench for this matchup.
Lions at Saints
Matchups We Love:
Theo Riddick (RB, DET)
After seeing his snap count almost doubled by Abdullah in Week 4, Riddick returned the favor in Week 5, getting more burn than his counterpart as the Lions played from behind for the majority of the second half. While the Saints defense has played the run well this year, they have been particularly vulnerable to skilled pass-catching backs of late, allowing an average of 123.5 yards to backs out of the backfield with one touchdown in the past two games. Riddick should make a solid flex play for the week, with RB2 potential if the Lions find themselves down again.
Golden Tate (WR, DET)
Tate has averaged eight targets over the Lions’ past three games, and has emerged as Stafford’s clear go to guy, with nine yards per catch over that time span. While owners would certainly like to see his yardage output increase, he has a great matchup against the Saints slot corner Kenny Vaccaro, who is allowing a 71% completion percentage and over 2 yards per route covered which is 3rd worst of all cornerbacks. Tate can be started with confidence in PPR formats, and should be a similarly safe flex option in standard leagues as well.
Matchups We Hate:
Eric Ebron (TE, DET)
Ebron again disappointed owners last week, and it will likely be more of the same as he goes up against a Saints team that has held opposing tight ends to under 30 yards in three out of four games. Both his targets and snap percentages have declined, and he has been vastly outplayed by predominantly blocking tight end Darren Fells in two straight weeks. Ebron really isn’t even a good boom/bust option at the tight end position anymore, and there are likely better streamers for the week on the wire
Matthew Stafford (QB, DET) suffered injuries to both his ankle and hamstring in Week 5, but opened the week with two full practices, and looks to be on track to play Sunday. After getting shredded in the first two games of the season to the tune of 346 and 447 passing yards, the Saints secondary has tightened up and only gave up 348 total passing yards combined in Weeks 3 and 4, while intercepting four passes and allowing zero touchdowns. This game still projects to be a shootout though, and Stafford should be deployed as a low-end QB1 with the hope that he will be able to make it through the game without any setbacks.
The matchup for Ameer Abdullah (RB, DET) isn’t great, but it isn’t awful either. Coming off of season lows in both snaps (22) and touches (11), Abdullah will look to get back on track in a game that projects to be closer than their loss to the Panthers last week. Outside of Dalvin Cook in Week 1, the Saints have not allowed a back to rush for more than 69 yards against them, and they have also not allowed a score since then either. This is right around Abdullah’s yards from scrimmage average (71.2) this year, and all signs are pointing towards him being able to return to the weekly flex appeal he had before a disappointing week 5 outing. Marvin Jones (WR, DET) has drawn some tough cornerback matchups over the past few weeks, and as a result hasn’t done much of note since Week 2. We will have to wait and see if Kenny Golladay suits up on Sunday, but if he doesn’t go Jones could have a decent day against a pair of Saints cornerbacks that are second to last in yards per vertical attempt allowed (16.0).
The Lions pass defense came off the rails against Cam Newton last week, paving the way for Drew Brees (QB, NO) to have a big day on Sunday. Although the Lions are only allowing the eighth fewest points to quarterbacks this year, they are allowing a healthy 256 passing yards per game (27), and Brees should be able to continue to build on a great start to the season as a QB1 for this matchup. Michael Thomas (WR, NO) has found his groove over the past three weeks, reeling in 20 passes for 265 yards with two touchdowns. He will draw a tough matchup in Lions’ cornerback Darius Slay, who finally gave up his first touchdown of the season to Kelvin Benjamin last week. Despite his one-on-one matchup, Brees will be looking for Thomas every chance he gets, and his volume and ability to find the end zone should be enough to keep him in the high-end WR2 range for this matchup.
The biggest beneficiary of Adrian Peterson’s departure will probably be Mark Ingram (RB, NO), as Kamara’s role as the pass catching back was pretty much safe even when the backfield was muddled. Unfortunately for Ingram, this isn’t the greatest matchup for him to be cut loose in. Detroit has only surrendered 373 total rushing yards through five games, while allowing only three scores. Ingram did see eight targets last week, which will help boost his production against a defense that has allowed at least 50 receiving yards to running backs in three of five games. Ingram will at the very least be able to continue delivering solid flex production, with RB2 upside in PPR formats. While Ingram will likely see the largest volume increase, Peterson’s release signals the Saints’ belief in their dynamic rookie Alvin Kamara (RB, NO). He will remain heavily involved in the passing game, and will likely see a few more carries as he tries to get in the end zone for the third straight week.
Ted Ginn (WR, NO) has seen his production and usage evaporate through four games this season, and with Willie Snead (WR, NO) set to make his season debut, these numbers could continue to decline. Ginn has not gone over 53 yards this season, and with the emergence of Kamara and Snead’s return, it is unclear just how and where Ginn will fit in. He is probably best suited on your bench this week until a clearer picture of the Saints’ offense comes in to focus. How much Snead will be used against the Lions is also cloudy, as he is coming off of both a suspension and hamstring injury that have caused him to miss all of the Saints’ game so far this season. Snead should only be rolled out for owners that are particularly needy for a bye-week fill in. Coby Fleener (TE, NO) has been very quiet since opening the season with a touchdown in Weeks 1 and 2, and it will be hard to trust him even going up against a Lions defense that is giving up 70.5 yards to tight ends this season. Even though the Lions let Ed Dickson run wild for 175 yards on five catches last week, Fleener’s usage with the Saints doesn’t seem conducive for this kind of success. You could certainly do worse at the tight end position this week, but you could also do much better, and should seek out alternative options if possible.
Vikings at Packers
Matchups We Love:
Davante Adams (WR, GB)
Adams draws a plus matchup this week going against cornerback Tre Waynes, who has been responsible for two of the three receiving touchdowns that the Vikings secondary has allowed this year. Adams has seen no less than five targets in any game this season, and should be on the WR2/flex borderline coming off of a two touchdown effort in Week 5.
Adam Thielen (WR, MIN)
It is still unknown if Stefon Diggs will suit up for Sunday’s matchup, but in the chance that he is not able to go, Thielen would be the direct beneficiary. Although his receiving yardage has tailed off in Sam Bradford’s absence, he is still ninth best in the league with an eight target per game average. He will be on the WR2/flex borderline for this matchup with the upside for a lot more against slot corner Quinten Rollins, who has allowed a 79% completion rate and two touchdowns so far this season.
Kyle Rudolph (TE, MIN)
Rudolph finally came through for fantasy owners last week, catching his first touchdown since week 1, while fielding nine targets after seeing just 12 total over his past three games. Despite the fact that the Packers are only allowing the second fewest points to the tight end position, Rudolph’s volume and individual matchup with cornerback Josh Jones is favorable, and he should be a solid start, especially in PPR scoring. He would also receive a bump should Diggs miss this week’s game.
Matchups We Hate:
Jordy Nelson (WR, GB)
Nelson will be facing by far his toughest matchup of the year going up against Xavier Rhodes and the Minnesota Vikings defense in Week 6. While Nelson has caught at least one touchdown in every game this season outside of Week 2 when he exited on the open drive, Rhodes has yet to allow a 100-yard game or a single touchdown to any receiver in coverage so far. Nelson is also coming off of a season low four target game, and is dealing with an apparent hamstring injury. Nelson is a stud and you likely aren’t sitting him, but you should at the very least be weary of the probability that he is shadowed by Rhodes on Sunday.
Although the Vikings held rookie Mitch Trubisky to just 128 yards in Week 5, they have shown that they can be beaten by quality quarterbacks, and have not been nearly as stingy as they were last season. Despite allowing the seventh fewest points to quarterbacks, they are allowing 11 yards per pass and a 65% completion rate, and Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB) will be a clear QB1 for this matchup coming off a four touchdown outing in Week 4 with three more in Week 5. Rodgers will have his full complement of receivers this week and he should be in line for another big game. Randall Cobb (WR, GB) has a so-so matchup going up against Terence Newman this week, who has allowed only one touchdown on the year. After seeing nine targets in Week 2, Cobb has had just nine targets in his last two games, and hasn’t been able to top 50 yards in that time-span. He is a decent flex option in PPR leagues, but owners in standard leagues might want to see if they have any more promising options. With all three of Green Bay’s top receivers set to be active this week, Geronimo Allison (WR, GB) offers no fantasy value in this matchup, and barring injury likely won’t be relevant any time in the near future either. The curious case of what will happen in the Green Bay backfield on Sunday is anybody’s guess.
Aaron Jones (RB, GB) broke out last week with his first career 100-yard game, and has scored in his last two contests. Meanwhile Ty Montgomery (RB, GB) has been practicing in full this week, and might be able to give it a go against the Vikings while wearing extra protection for his ribs. If Montgomery does play, it is unclear how much the Packers will ask of him with Jones currently holding down the fort. If he is productive and doesn’t run the risk of re-aggravating his rib injury, we could be looking at a committee situation. Regardless of which back garners the most touches in this matchup, the Vikings defense is allowing the second fewest points to running backs this year on just 3.32 ypc, and neither player is a great start going up against one of the league’s toughest defensive lines and linebacker corps.
Martellus Bennett (TE, GB) continues to enjoy great volume, and his 6.2 targets per game is good for 8th best for the tight end position. He hasn’t been able to turn that into any viable fantasy production however, as he has yet to get in the end zone and has gone over 50 yards only once. The matchup is moderately favorable though, and if any of the Packers’ receivers struggle to get open, Bennett could be the beneficiary in the red zone where all three of the touchdowns that the Vikings have allowed to tight ends have come.
With Bradford unlikely to play this week, Case Keenum (QB, MIN) could be worth a look as a streaming option this week, as he goes up against a Green Bay Packers defense that has allowed seven touchdowns and have only picked off three pass through five games. Keenum has been serviceable in fill-in status this year, and could have another decent outing against a Packers defense that is giving up 218 yards per game with a 66% completion percentage. How the Vikings backfield will shape up both in this game and for the rest of the season is still unknown. It would seem like a given that the 6’3″, 230-pound Latavius Murray (RB, MIN) would be a lock for the early down work, but in the first game without Dalvin Cook he was both out-snapped (47-22) and out-touched (22-9) by Jerick McKinnon (RB, MIN). Murray is still the favorite to get the goal line touches if the Vikings get down close, making him a touchdown dependent flex option for the week against a Green Bay team that has allowed five total touchdowns (three rushing, two receiving) to opposing backs this year. McKinnon is a solid flex start if he continues to see heavy volume, and he could even make a case for RB2 status in PPR formats. Stefon Diggs (WR, MIN) has yet to log even a limited practice session this week, but the receiver did come out and say that he expects to play on Sunday. A declaration such as this from a player is never the most trustworthy source, but if he is able to go he will have a favorable matchup against Damarious Randall is allowing nearly 2 yards per route run and a 63% completion rate on passes thrown his way.
Browns at Texans
Matchups We Love:
Deshaun Watson (QB, HOU)
Ever since taking over for Tom Savage in the second half of Week 1, Watson has taken the league by storm and has been putting up absolutely preposterous numbers. While it isn’t 100% guaranteed that he will be able to sustain this production through an entire season, the good times should definitely keep on rolling at home against Cleveland. Since Week 3, Watson has thrown for at least 261 yards in every game, adding 11 passing touchdowns and two scores on the ground. He is locked in as a QB1 for a Week 6 tilt against a Browns team that is giving up the fourth most points to quarterbacks, with 228 ypg and multiple touchdowns in all but one matchup.
Ryan Griffin (TE, HOU)
Griffin has quietly dominated the snaps and target share for the Texans for the majority of the season, and will have a tasty matchup against a Browns defensive unit that has allowed either a touchdown or 100 receiving yards to the tight end position in all but one game this year. While Griffin’s numbers haven’t been mind-blowing, the Browns defense has served as a cure-all for the tight ends they have faced so far this season, and Griffin will have a decent chance to find the end zone this week.
Matchups We Hate:
Isaiah Crowell (RB, CLE)
The Texans’ defense was dealt a devastating blow last week as they lost both J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the season. This means that in theory there should be opportunities for Cleveland to run the ball, but it is just about impossible to love Crowell based on the numbers he has put up this season. He has yet to score a touchdown, and has not been able to gain over 60 yards on the ground in any game this season. With the Texans’ allowing only 1.56 yards before first contract, starting Crowell as even a flex is dicey.
As bad as the Cleveland defense has been at times this year, their rushing defense is still holding up, despite the fact that many teams have had the luxury of spending the majority of the second half killing the clock with the run. That presents a surprisingly difficult matchup for Lamar Miller (RB, HOU) this week, as the Browns have only allowed 76.6 ypg (5), and the seventh fewest points to running backs. Miller should still be able to put up RB2 numbers in this matchup though, as he is averaging 19 carries per game on the year. With snap counts of just 17, 24, and nine over the past three weeks, D’Onta Foreman (RB, HOU) is firmly cemented behind Miller and might not have much fantasy utility this week, although he could see some added touches in the second half if the Texans can run the score up early.
DeAndre Hopkins (WR, HOU) has returned to elite fantasy production with Watson under center, but he will spend most of Sunday going up against Jason McCourty, who has been one of the league’s top corners in coverage through five games. McCourty is coming off of his best game this season, in which he allowed only 22 yards on seven targets, while also nabbing his second pick of the year. Hopkins volume and weekly touchdown upside will keep him in the WR1 conversation, but owners should at least be prepared for the possibility that Hopkins could come back down to earth this week. With nine targets since returning to action, Will Fuller (WR, HOU) is still widely a boom or bust flex option, but boom he has. In his two games back from a preseason collarbone injury, he has had four touchdowns on six catches. In a favorable matchup, he will have the opportunity to display his speed and go after another touchdown against a Browns secondary that is giving up an average of 300 air yards per game.
Duke Johnson (RB, CLE) has shaped up as the back to own in Cleveland, averaging 9 yards per touch and easily being the most efficient player on the offense despite being out-touched by Crowell in every game except for a Week 4 loss to the Bengals. He has RB2 upside in PPR formats, and can safely be rolled out as a flex/RB2 fringe in standard against a Texans defense that gave up two receiving touchdowns to Charcandrick West in the red zone last week, and is down two key defenders.
Kevin Hogan (QB, CLE) played well in relief of DeShone Kizer in Week 5, but Hogan has been on the Browns’ roster for two years now and has not come remotely close to winning the starting spot outright. There’s a reason for that, and he likely won’t have any sustainable fantasy relevance. With Hogan making his first career start, along with the general inefficiency that has plagued the Cleveland offense for years now, there aren’t many pass catchers on this team that you should have in your lineup either. Kenny Britt (WR, CLE) re-aggravated his groin injury in practice on Thursday, putting his game day availability in question, which could again open things up for Ricardo Louis (WR, CLE). In Britt’s absence last week, Louis stepped up and hauled in 5-of-8 targets for 71 yards. He now has 11 catches for 145 yards over the past three weeks, and could be worth a look as a bye week fill-in with hopes that he can get in to the end zone against a Texans defense that has given up 9 touchdowns to receivers this year. Seth DeValve (TE, CLE) and rookie David Njoku (TE, CLE) continue to split snaps evenly, with the former seeing a slight advantage on the year (34.8-32.22). While DeValve has the edge in targets and receptions, it is Njoku who has caught 3 touchdowns so far this season. Both players have a tough matchup, with the Texans only giving up only 44.6 (4) yards a game to tight ends, and it will be hard to roll out either with much confidence.
Patriots at Jets
Matchups We Love:
Tom Brady (QB, NE)
Brady has been a no-brainer play all season and that will remain the case this week against a weak New York Jets pass defense. New York ranks 18th in pass defense DVOA, although that number may be a bit inflated after their gift matchup against the Cleveland Browns last week. Brady, as usual, is a high-end QB1 this week.
Josh McCown (QB, NYJ)
McCown draws a second consecutive plus matchup as he will square off against a New England defense that has been one of the worst units in the league through five weeks. While McCown didn’t shred the Browns in Week 5, he did manage two passing touchdowns on just 30 pass attempts. The game script in Week 6 should force New York to throw more often as the Patriots will have no issues scoring on Gang Green. McCown is on the radar as a flex play in standard leagues and is a lock in two-quarterback formats.
James White (RB, NE)
White has been the most consistent running back for the Patriots this season. He has caught at least seven passes in three of his past four games. While trying to predict the rest of New England’s backfield can be frustrating, White remains a solid RB2 in PPR leagues based on his heavy usage. The Jets have struggled against pass-catching backs this season, ranking 26th against them. That includes a 41-yard touchdown reception from Duke Johnson in Week 5.
Elijah McGuire (RB, NYJ)
McGuire is a “love” as long as Bilal Powell is unable to suit up on Sunday. Powell left Week 5’s game against the Browns with a calf issue and is being considered day-to-day. If Powell sits, McGuire is worth firing up as a low-end RB2 against a Patriots run defense that is ranked 27th in DVOA this year. If Powell plays, downgrade McGuire to a flex option.
Brandin Cooks (WR, NE)
Cooks has underwhelmed through his first five games with the Patriots, but he and Tom Brady have just missed connecting on a few long touchdowns. With a little better luck on deep passes, Cooks would be a locked-in WR1 in fantasy this season. Cooks still ranks eighth in the league with 379 receiving yards and will run some of his Week 6 routes against Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne, who doesn’t have the speed to keep up with the lightning fast Cooks. Cooks is a low-end WR1 in a great matchup this week.
Chris Hogan (WR, NE)
Hogan is well on his way to a career year, posting 288 receiving yards and five touchdowns through the first five weeks. At some point, some of his touchdowns are going to start going to other receiving options on New England, but the Jets pose a favorable enough matchup to consider Hogan as a high-end WR2. He’s entrenched as the No. 2 option for Tom Brady and has drawn 10 red zone targets this season, second-highest in the league behind Davante Adams.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE, NYJ)
After being suspended for the first two games of the year, Seferian-Jenkins has emerged as one of Josh McCown’s favorite targets. The massive tight end has drawn 6, 4, and 8 targets in his three games played. The Patriots are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to enemy tight ends.
Matchups We Hate:
None. With the lack of performance out of these two defenses this season, everyone is at least on the fantasy radar.
If you have Rob Gronkowski (TE, NE) on your teams, you are starting him. He’s not in the “love” section because we don’t know how affected he will be by a quad issue which held him out of action last week and out of this Wednesday’s practice. The Jets have actually been good against tight ends this season, ranking second in DVOA against the position. Again, it’s Gronk, so you’re playing him, but he has enough working against him to be downgraded this week. Danny Amendola (WR, NE) turned in a big game in Week 5 against the Buccaneers, but as the fourth or fifth option in the passing game, he’s no more than a flex consideration. Mike Gillislee (RB, NE) has shown fantasy owners both his ceiling (four rushing scores in the first two weeks) and his floor (132 scoreless rushing yards in Weeks 3-5). He hasn’t even drawn a single target in the passing game. He’s a low-end RB2 in standard and a flex option in PPR. At this point you are praying for a score (or more) if you play Gillislee. Of course, he plays for one of the best offenses in the league, so his chances of scoring in any given week are good. In the leagues I have him I’m just playing him as my RB2 and taking the good with the bad.
Bilal Powell (RB, NYJ) is being called day-to-day after straining his calf against the Browns last week. Some who cover the team are predicting he will not play in Week 6. If he does suit up, he and Elijah McGuire will eat into each other’s workloads, capping their ceilings from a fantasy perspective. Robby Anderson (WR, NYJ), Jermaine Kearse (WR, NYJ), and Jeremy Kerley (WR, NYJ) have operated as the Jets’ top three receivers. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, it will be hard to predict who will have the better game against what is a vulnerable New England pass defense. All three set up as desperation flex options this weekend. Kearse has shown the most upside of the bunch, scoring three receiving touchdowns on the year.
NFL Week 6 Matchups – 4:00 PM EST Games
Buccaneers at Cardinals
Matchups We Love:
Jameis Winston (QB, TB)
Winston is in a good spot this week as he will face off against an Arizona pass defense that ranks 24th in the league in DVOA. The Bucs’ quarterback has reached 300 passing yards in three straight games while tallying six passing touchdowns over that span. Unlike in years past, the Bucs have enough passing game weapons outside of Mike Evans for Winston to attack defenses in various ways. Winston is a solid QB1 this weekend.
Carson Palmer (QB, ARI)
Palmer has been one of the busiest quarterbacks in the league this season, topping 44 passing attempts in four of his five games. Once David Johnson got hurt in Week 1, the Cardinals pretty much have scrapped the running game and have become one of the most pass-heavy teams in the league. The Buccaneers have set up as a funnel defense this season, stopping the run effectively but ranking just 27th in DVOA against the pass. Palmer’s receiving corps is finally at full strength and ready to roll. Palmer can be used as a low-end QB1 in Week 6.
Andre Ellington (RB, ARI)
Ellington has been resurrected after several years of fantasy irrelevance. While he hasn’t been great as a runner, Ellington is being used heavily as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. He has caught 18 passes over the past two weeks and will face off against a Tampa Bay pass defense that is ranked 21st in DVOA against receiving backs. Ellington shapes up as a rock-solid RB2 in PPR formats and is flex-worthy in standard leagues.
DeSean Jackson (WR, TB)
Jackson had his biggest game with the Buccaneers in Week 5, hauling in 5-of-9 targets for 106 yards against the Patriots. He should be in line for a big workload again in Week 6. Tampa Bay’s top wideout, Mike Evans, is in for a long afternoon as he will draw shadow coverage from stud cornerback Patrick Peterson. That leaves Jackson to run most of his routes at Arizona defensive back Justin Bethel. Bethel has not performed well this year, earning just a 44.7 player grade from Pro Football Focus. Jackson is on the radar as a solid WR3 this weekend.
Larry Fitzgerald (WR, ARI)
The ageless Fitzgerald draws a fantastic matchup against burnable Buccaneers slot corner Robert McClain. McClain is currently grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 106th ranked cornerback with a 37.5 grade. It’s all systems go for Fitzy in Week 6 in what should be a pass-happy affair.
Matchups We Hate:
Adrian Peterson (RB, ARI)
The Cardinals made a deal with the Saints to acquire Peterson on Monday and instantly installed him as the starter on their depth chart. While this all looks promising at first glance, the Cardinals have boasted one of the worst offensive lines in football this season, ranking 30th in adjusted line yards at Football Outsiders. Without the elite skills of David Johnson, the Cardinals can’t, and don’t, run the ball effectively. Peterson is a lock to disappoint fantasy owners against a Tampa Bay run defense that ranks sixth in DVOA this year.
Mike Evans (WR, TB)
Evans will draw shadow coverage from star defensive back Patrick Peterson. While Evans uses his 6’5″ frame to bully opposing corners, Peterson is fast enough (4.38 40-yard dash) and big enough (6’0″) to hang with Evans all over the field. Check out how other star wideouts have performed against Peterson this year: T.Y. Hilton (four catches, 49 yards, zero touchdowns), Dez Bryant (2-12-1), Pierre Garcon (4-39-0), and Alshon Jeffery (3-31-0). Those aren’t even WR3 numbers. You have to downgrade Evans this week and can even consider benching him if you have another option at receiver.
Doug Martin (RB, TB) showed well in his first game back from suspension, toting the ball 13 times for 71 yards and a score. The Cardinals have been stout against the run this season but we know the Buccaneers want to run a balanced offense. Week 5 showed us that Martin is the team’s clear-cut bell cow. As such, he is a volume-based RB2 this weekend. He’s a better play in standard leagues as Charles Sims (RB, TB) should eat into his opportunities in the passing game. Sims, by the way, finally showed up in 2017, catching five passes in Week 5. He’s a desperation flex play in PPR formats. Adam Humphries (WR, TB) has been surprisingly busy this season, drawing 25 targets through the first four weeks of the season. On pace for 100 targets this season, you could do worse at the flex position in PPR formats, especially with four teams on bye this week. At first glance, it appears Cameron Brate (TE, TB) and O.J. Howard (TE, TB) would be eating into each other’s workloads, but Brate is handily out-targeting Howard, 24-9 this year. Brate would be having an even bigger season but he’s dropped a few catchable balls in the end zone. The Cardinals have been very average against tight ends this season, making Brate a low-end TE1 this weekend. Howard’s time will come in fantasy, but it’s not going to be this year. He shouldn’t be in starting lineups.
Once you get past Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals’ passing game becomes very murky. The ongoing injury struggles of John Brown (WR, ARI) make it hard to decipher how the Cardinals’ pass catchers will be deployed now that he is healthy. Jaron Brown (WR, ARI) is coming off of his least productive game of the season, catching just three balls for 39 yards against the Eagles. Not surprisingly, that slow outing coincided with the return of John Brown to the lineup. John Brown, when healthy, possesses game-breaking speed and multi-touchdown, week-winning upside. John has consistently out-snapped Jaron when both are healthy. Both are nothing more than flex options this weekend with John earning a slight nod as a better play. Jermaine Gresham (TE, ARI) is far off the fantasy radar as he’s drawn just 18 targets in four games.
Rams at Jaguars
Matchups We Love:
Todd Gurley (RB, LAR)
Gurley disappointed in Week 5 with just 50 scoreless yards but he also suffered from some bad luck as he had what looked to be a touchdown overturned after it was ruled he fumbled the ball off of the pylon. Shake off the slow week and lock Gurley into those starting lineups in Week 6. The Jaguars have been the textbook definition of a funnel defense this season, ranking first in DVOA against the pass and 31st against the run. Why the Steelers only ran the ball 18 times against them in Week 5 will remain a mystery. Gurley is a smash RB1 play this weekend.
Leonard Fournette (RB, JAX)
Fournette is off to a fine start in his rookie season, racking up six all-purpose touchdowns and leading the NFL with 109 rushing attempts through five games. The Rams’ defense splits against the run and pass aren’t as extreme as the Jaguars are but they have been much better against the pass this season. The Jaguars have shown they have no desire to pass the ball unless forced to, meaning Fournette is locked in for another heavy workload.
Matchups We Hate:
Jared Goff (QB, LAR)
Avoid playing quarterbacks against the revamped Jaguars pass defense. The Jaguars have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game in the league to opposing quarterbacks this season. Goff’s improvement this season has been a nice story but this is not the week to use him.
Blake Bortles (QB, JAX)
Bortles has not been a useful fantasy option this season because the Jaguars have been successful in limiting his attempts on the back of a strong running game. Outside of a Week 3, four-touchdown explosion against the Ravens, Bortles has been waiver wire fodder in standard fantasy leagues. Hard pass.
Sammy Watkins (WR, LAR)
Watkins doesn’t have much going for him this weekend. He has posted just one useful fantasy week, has to do battle against Pro Football Focus’ third-ranked cornerback in Jalen Ramsey, and most likely just alienated his teammates a few days ago when he complained on Twitter about his lack of Week 5 targets. Glue him to your bench.
Robert Woods (WR, LAR)
On the positive side, Woods will likely avoid coverage from Jalen Ramsey. Of course, Jacksonville’s other corner, A.J. Bouye is no slouch, either, earning an 86.6 grade from Pro Football Focus. Avoid the Rams passing game this weekend.
Marqise Lee (WR, JAX)
Lee hasn’t done much over the past two weeks. It’s hard to trust anyone in the Jacksonville pass game at this juncture, especially in a game that the Jags should be able to impose their will on the ground this weekend.
Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR) has been the Rams’ most productive wideout this season, hauling in 17 passes for 230 yards and two scores. While the Los Angeles outside receivers have tough matchups, Kupp draws a much friendlier matchup against Jacksonville slot corner Aaron Colvin. If anyone in the Rams’ passing game is going to be fantasy viable this weekend, it’s Kupp. Tyler Higbee (TE, LAR) had the best game of his young career in Week 5, hauling in four passes for 98 yards. Jacksonville has been most vulnerable against the tight end position this season, allowing the 10th-most fantasy points per game. Higbee hasn’t shown enough consistency to trust as a TE1 but he’s on the radar as a deep streamer if you’re desperate.
Allen Hurns (WR, JAX) draws the best matchup of the Jacksonville receiving corps as he will run the majority of his routes against Rams defensive back Trumaine Johnson. Johnson has struggled in coverage this season, earning just a 49.4 grade from Pro Football Focus. That being said, don’t expect Hurns to see more than 5-6 targets this weekend. You should be able to do much better in your flex spot this weekend. Marcedes Lewis (TE, JAX) predictably returned to earth after a three-touchdown performance against Baltimore in Week 3. Since he demolished the Ravens, he has caught 1-of-6 targets for 14 yards in two games.
Steelers at Chiefs
Matchups We Love:
Le’Veon Bell (RB, PIT)
Bell is an RB1 whenever he takes the field, despite some questionable usage this past weekend. The Chiefs have evolved into an explosive offense this season but their run defense remains an issue, just as it was last season. Bell offers as much of a weekly floor as any running back in the league and has week-winning upside if he gets a reasonable workload this weekend. Lock him in as a shoo-in RB1 starter.
Kareem Hunt (RB, KC)
Hunt has reached 100 yards in three straight games and four of his five games played this season. He’s been one of the best fantasy running backs in the league this season and Pittsburgh’s run defense has been just average against opposing running backs this season. The Chiefs boast one of the league’s top run-blocking offensive lines and Hunt’s been an elite performer up until this point. Hunt is an every-week RB1.
Antonio Brown (WR, PIT)
Brown is the best wide receiver in the league and is a must-start whenever he takes the field. Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters has been an above-average performer this season but Brown is as matchup-proof as it gets. The Chiefs also showed vulnerability against the Texans last week, allowing five passing touchdowns, including three to Houston WR1 DeAndre Hopkins.
Matchups We Hate:
Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT)
Roethlisberger is coming off one of the worst games of his career, tossing five interceptions in a home game against the Jaguars in Week 5. Now he goes on the road to take on the Chiefs’ 14th-ranked pass defense. Kansas City is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to the position this season but Roethlisberger is going to have to prove his fantasy worth on the bench before he can be trusted in lineups going forward. He’s a middling QB2 for Week 6.
Martavis Bryant (WR, PIT)
Bryant is in a situation similar to that of Ben Roethlisberger. Much like his veteran quarterback, Bryant has been struggling for most of the 2017 season and has had better career splits at home. The Chiefs don’t pose an especially forbidding matchup for him, but he’s going to need to show more consistency to be start-worthy. Consider him a boom/bust WR4 who is much more likely to bust in Week 6.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT) has overtaken Eli Rogers (WR, PIT) as the team’s starting slot receiver. He has seen a steady stream of targets, averaging five per game over his past four contests. The Chiefs have been beaten soundly by opposing slot receivers, with slot corner Phillip Gaines posting just a 36.5 player grade at Pro Football Focus. JuJu isn’t a must-start but he’s okay as a flex in deeper leagues if you’re in a pinch. Jesse James (TE, PIT) and Vance McDonald (TE, PIT) have been splitting snaps but James is dominating McDonald in targets, 25-4. Neither are particularly useful as fantasy options. James is a low-end, touchdown-dependent TE2 while McDonald should be nowhere near fantasy lineups.
Alex Smith (QB, KC) has been one of the biggest fantasy surprises this season, ranking as the No. 2 overall point scorer among fantasy quarterbacks and leading one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. He provides a solid floor with his rushing ability, but the Steelers have been excellent against the pass this season, ranking third in DVOA and allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the position. In addition, the Chiefs’ pass protection has been shoddy this season, with Kansas City allowing 18 sacks and posting a 9.8% adjusted sack rate. Smith has been awesome, which keeps him in the QB1 conversation, but he’s more on the low-end of that spectrum this week. Tyreke Hill (WR, KC) draws a tough matchup against a stingy Steelers pass defense, but he can’t be listed as a “hate” because he isn’t used as a traditional wide receiver. Hill should see a few rushing attempts in this game and can take any ball he touches to the house at any time. He’s a solid WR3 for this week. Travis Kelce (TE, KC) is looking unlikely to play this week after sustaining a concussion against the Texans in Week 5. He didn’t practice on Wednesday and still has to pass the concussion protocol. Demetrius Harris (TE, KC) would be his backup but he’s not a fantasy option. Kelce owners should be making alternate plans at the position.
Chargers at Raiders
Matchups We Love:
Philip Rivers (QB, LAC)
Rivers continues to see a heavy workload, topping 38 pass attempts in all but one of his games played this season. He draws a fantastic matchup against a weak Oakland pass defense which is ranked 30th in the league in DVOA. While Rivers doesn’t have a huge ceiling, he provides a steady floor and can be trusted as a low-end QB1 in a great matchup.
Melvin Gordon (RB, LAC)
Gordon finally broke out in Week 5, scoring twice against the Giants and topping 100 yards for the first time this season. He has a good chance to stay hot in Week 6 against a Raiders run defense that is ranked just 19th in DVOA and 32nd against running backs in the receiving game. Gordon’s work in the passing game gives him a high floor and he has as much touchdown upside as any running back in the league.
Keenan Allen (WR, LAC)
Allen continues to be one of the most targeted receivers in the game. Allen has 55 targets, good for third in the league and is tied for fourth with nine red zone targets. That kind of opportunity share is bankable in fantasy. His matchup against Raiders’ slot corner T.J. Carrie isn’t especially advantageous for him but it’s nothing to be concerned over, either. Trust Allen as a low-end WR1 in Week 6.
Matchups We Hate:
Derek Carr (QB, OAK)
Carr is tending toward playing through some broken bones in his back. That really should be all you need to know when trying to decide whether to start him in fantasy. He hasn’t played particularly well since Week 2 and his only two useful fantasy outings have been against the swiss cheese pass defenses of the Titans and the Jets. Carr is in prove it territory before he can be trusted in one-quarterback leagues.
Amari Cooper (WR, OAK)
Cooper’s 2017 season has been bizarre to say the least. Over the past three weeks, Cooper has just four catches for 23 yards and no scores. He’s way too talented to stay down for long but he’s hard to trust short term. The likely return of Derek Carr will help but Cooper is expected to see plenty of Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams, both of whom have been excellent cover corners this season. Cooper is in the same boat as Carr, he’s going to need to prove it on the bench before he can be trusted in starting lineups.
Tyrell Williams (WR, LAC) has had one big game, two marginal ones, and two terrible games from a fantasy perspective. He continues to take a back seat to Keenan Allen in the passing game. He isn’t seeing enough opportunities to be a safe fantasy play and could have to contend with the possible debut of first-round draft choice Mike Williams (WR, LAC). Williams should remain on benches until we see how he will be used in the passing game. Antonio Gates (TE, LAC) and Hunter Henry (TE, LAC) continue to eat into each other’s opportunities. Oakland has been very average against tight ends and one of them is a good weekly bet to score but guessing who it will be is the issue. Henry is a high-end TE2 while Gates is more of a low-end option.
Marshawn Lynch (RB, OAK) hasn’t shown much of a ceiling this season with his best fantasy performance being just 43 rushing yards and a touchdown last week. He hasn’t been able to get much going on the ground as Oakland’s heralded offensive line hasn’t performed as expected, to date. The Chargers’ run defense ranks just 26th in DVOA, which theoretically gives Lynch a shot at a big game but his performance so far keeps him from being a “love” this week. He’s an RB2 this weekend. Michael Crabtree (WR, OAK) is as good a weekly bet to score a touchdown as anyone but Pro Football Focus expects stud corner Casey Hayward to shadow him. If you have Crabtree, you are starting him, but temper expectations in Week 6. Jared Cook (TE, OAK) has been a pleasant surprise this year but he’s nothing more than a streaming option with a less than 100% Derek Carr under center.
NFL Week 6 Matchups – Sunday Night Football
Giants at Broncos
Matchups We Love:
C.J. Anderson (DEN, RB)
Anderson draws a fine matchup against a Giants run defense that Melvin Gordon just ripped for 163 all-purpose yards and two scores. Anderson has reached at least 81 yards in three of his four games this season while also catching at least two passes in three games. New York’s run defense ranks just 28th in DVOA this season and the Broncos are massive 13-point home favorites in this game. Usually running backs on home favored teams perform well. Anderson is a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 this week.
Matchups We Hate:
Eli Manning (QB, NYG)
Poor Eli will square off on the road against a dominant Denver secondary without the services of Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall. This game is going to be ugly for the Giants. He’s a desperation QB2 in two-quarterback formats.
Orleans Darkwa (RB, NYG)
Darkwa had a big game in Week 5 against the Chargers but the Broncos rank first overall in run defense DVOA. Darkwa, Wayne Gallman, and Shane Vereen have combined to form a three-man committee in New York’s backfield. Avoid all three.
Wayne Gallman (RB, NYG)
See Orleans Darkwa above. No thanks.
Roger Lewis (WR, NYG)
Lewis was a popular waiver add this week as he is positioned to become New York’s No. 1 wide receiver following all the injuries. While he is a fine prospect as a receiver, this is not the week to use your new waiver acquisition. He will likely run most of his routes at all-world cornerback Aqib Talib.
Demaryius Thomas (WR, DEN)
Thomas has taken a back seat to Emmanuel Sanders in the passing game. To make matters worse, he’s expected to run most of his routes against star defensive back Janoris Jenkins. Even with the Giants in disarray, Thomas is not in a good spot this week. Downgrade him to a WR3.
Jamal Charles (RB, DEN) is playing second fiddle to C.J. Anderson but he is averaging 5.3 yards per carry when he gets the ball and can still break long runs. He’s a low-end flex play due to workload concerns. Emmanuel Sanders (WR, DEN) should avoid shutdown corner Janoris Jenkins on the majority of his routes and will instead contend with burnable second-year defender Eli Apple. This is a nice matchup for Sanders but the Broncos probably won’t need to throw very often to dispose of the Giants this week. Sanders is a low-end WR2/high-end WR3. A.J. Derby (TE, DEN) had a big game in Week 4 against the Raiders, catching four passes for 75 yards and a score, but he had done nothing in his three previous games this year. He’s off the radar.
Sterling Shepard (WR, NYG) missed practice on Wednesday and is looking doubtful this weekend. Even if he plays, he’s an avoid against Denver’s elite secondary. Evan Engram (TE, NYG) didn’t perform in what looked like a favorable matchup in Week 5. He should become one of Eli Manning’s top targets with all the injuries to the New York receiving corps.