1:00 PM ET Games
Chicago @ Baltimore
Team Totals: Ravens 23, Bears 16.5
Bears-Ravens projects as a fantasy-unfriendly affair with the second-lowest game total of Week 6 (39.5). Joe Flacco hasn’t posted a weekly finish above QB15 this year and has three straight results outside the top 20. In a matchup the Ravens should be able to approach conservatively and lean on their running game, Flacco is mid-range to low-end two-quarterback-league start who hasn’t shown a high floor or ceiling five weeks in. … As Terrance West exited last week’s win in Oakland with what looks like a multi-week calf strain, Buck Allen resumed dominating backfield snaps (71%), touches (25), and targets (5) and punched in a second-quarter goal-line run. Allen quietly ranks sixth in the NFL in red-zone carries and seventh in carries inside the ten (7). Allen is also second on the Ravens in red-zone targets (3). Allen’s weekly workloads weren’t reliable with West in the lineup, but that should change moving forward. He is a confident RB2 start as a significant home-favorite running back facing a middling Bears run defense that ranks 16th in DVOA. … Alex Collins is the Ravens’ top interior runner, but that doesn’t mean much when all he offers is 7-12 carries per game without receiving involvement and Allen hogs scoring-position work. Collins has yet to catch a pass across 51 snaps as a Raven. Even as West exited last week’s win early and Baltimore experienced positive game script, Collins played just 24% of the offensive snaps. Collins hasn’t helped himself with one drop on two targets and two lost fumbles among 37 carries.
Flacco’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Jeremy Maclin 28; Allen 24; Mike Wallace and Ben Watson 22; Breshad Perriman 16; Nick Boyle 11; Michael Campanaro 9. … Even as the Ravens’ target leader, Maclin is barely WR4/flex worthy with fewer than 60 yards in 5-of-5 games. Maclin runs over 60% of his routes in the slot, where the Bears have limited Adam Thielen (5/34/0), Randall Cobb (4/44/1), JuJu Smith-Schuster (2/39/0), Adam Humphries (2/18/0), and Mohamed Sanu (6/47/0). A stat line like Cobb’s would appear to be Maclin’s ceiling at this point. … Wallace’s box scores have shown signs of life over the past two weeks, although he has topped five targets in just 1-of-5 games. With that said, Chicago’s secondary is more vulnerable on the perimeter than interior. I still think Wallace is a point-chasey, low-floor, WR4 play at best. … Badly missing ILB Jerrell Freeman (pectoral) and FS Quintin Demps up the middle, Chicago yielded Kyle Rudolph’s season-best game (6/45/1) in last Monday night’s loss to Minnesota. The Bears do get ILB Danny Trevathan back from suspension this week. Watson has reached 45 yards in just 1-of-5 games and has targets totals of 3 > 6 > 4 over the past three weeks. He’s just a deep-league streamer.
Since the beginning of the 2016 season, the Ravens allow 24.0 points per game on the road. They allow 15.4 points per game at home and host the rookie-quarterbacked Bears this week. While I am optimistic on Mitchell Trubisky’s long-term prospects from a skill-level standpoint, this is about as tough a spot as it gets for his second NFL start. It’s also an opportunity to fire up the Ravens’ D/ST. … While Tarik Cohen continues to lose snaps to Benny Cunningham, Jordan Howard’s role has stabilized with 19-plus touches in three straight games. Putting the ball in Howard’s belly gives the Bears their best chance to compete with the Ravens, who have yielded a generous 106/473/4.46/4 rushing line to enemy backs in the past month. … Cohen’s weekly touch counts are in descent (16 > 10 > 7) since Cunningham got over his early-season high ankle sprain. The Ravens have allowed the NFL’s fourth-fewest receptions to running backs (20). … Zach Miller led the team in targets (7) in Trubisky’s debut and is the Bears’ only fantasy-viable pass catcher against a Ravens defense allowing the NFL’s tenth-most fantasy points and 14th-most yards (256) to tight ends. … No Bears wideout exceeded five targets in last week’s loss to the Vikings. Playing time was distributed as follows: Markus Wheaton (75%), Tre McBride (69%), Kendall Wright (54%). With Wheaton (groin) out indefinitely, the Bears re-signed Tanner Gentry off their practice squad this week to make the picture even less clear. Josh Bellamy is also in the mix for snaps.
Score Prediction: Bears 21, Ravens 20
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Cleveland @ Houston
Team Totals: Texans 29, Browns 18
Deshaun Watson has made four NFL starts, in them recording fantasy finishes of QB9, QB16, QB2, QB1 by constantly pressing the issue and envelope regardless of score or down and distances. His fantasy outlook elevated by J.J. Watt (tibia) and Whitney Mercilus’ (pectoral) year-ending injuries, Watson is a legitimate top-three QB1 play at home against the hapless Browns, who have allowed each of their first five quarterbacks faced to post top-15 results including top-five performances by Jacoby Brissett and Andy Dalton. Watson’s floor and ceiling are raised by his mobility, leading the league in quarterback rushing yards (179) at 40.8 yards rushing per start. Watson-to-DeAndre Hopkins should be this week's highest-owned DFS stack. … Another reason to like Watson is Cleveland’s pass funnel. The Browns rank 31st in pass-defense DVOA but third against the run, holding enemy backs to a combined 113/333/2.95/2 rushing line. While the matchup isn’t ideal, I’m sticking with Lamar Miller as a low-end RB1 who’s tallied 15-plus touches in 5-of-5 games with raised efficiency since Watson took over. While the DFS public understandably goes all in on Watson, Miller seems likely to go overlooked as a high-ceiling tournament play favored at home by more than a touchdown. … D’Onta Foreman lost a fumble and set a four-week low in touches (5) in last week’s loss to Kansas City as the Texans played from behind. Foreman would be a dart-throw flex, but he needs to be rostered in all season-long leagues as a player who is one Miller injury away from flirting with every-week RB1 value.
Watson’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: DeAndre Hopkins 56; Bruce Ellington and Ryan Griffin 15; Miller 13; Stephen Anderson 11; Will Fuller 9; Foreman 4. … This is about as obvious a blowup spot as it gets for Hopkins against a Browns defense so far flamed by Antonio Brown (11/182/0), T.Y. Hilton (7/153/1), A.J. Green (5/63/1), Jermaine Kearse (4/38/1), and Jeremy Maclin (4/31/1). Like Watson, the Texans’ defensive losses enhance Hopkins’ outlook. … For contrarian purposes, it is notable that Jason McCourty is PFF’s No. 2-rated cornerback and the Browns have used him to shadow No. 1 wideouts at times. In the unlikely event McCourty keeps Hopkins in check, a possible off-the-radar beneficiary is Griffin. Cleveland has been torched by Jesse James (6/41/2), Ravens TEs (13/121/0), Bengals TEs (7/79/2), and Jets TEs (7/63/1), essentially begging tight ends to gash them by keeping FS Jabrill Peppers 20-25 yards deep of the line of scrimmage on pass plays and proactively creating mid-field gaps in their own defense. Griffin hasn’t been heavily targeted, but he plays 89% of the Texans’ offensive snaps and is Week 6’s streamer tight end du jour. … Fuller’s four TDs on nine targets the past two games are obviously unsustainable, but he’s not someone to bet against this week. Based on where they normally align, Fuller will run most of his routes at struggling LCB Jamar Taylor, whom PFF has charted with the NFL’s sixth-most yards allowed (338) and second-highest passer rating when targeted (140.8) among 109 qualified cornerbacks.
Kevin Hogan is a DFS sleeper and two-quarterback-league starter against an injury-riddled Texans defense. Although Hogan has never started an NFL game, he did post a top-14 finish off the bench last Week 7 and was last week’s QB11 upon replacing DeShone Kizer. A Jeff Garcia-level talent, Hogan was drafted by Andy Reid and is an underrated athlete who completed over 65% of his college throws. Here is a list of defensive players the Texans have lost since last season: DE J.J. Watt, OLB Whitney Mercilus, CB A.J. Bouye, CB Kevin Johnson, NT Vince Wilfork, ILB Brian Cushing, FS Quintin Demps, OLB John Simon. … Isaiah Crowell has played his way out of RB2 contention with sustained ineffectiveness, reaching 4.0 yards per carry in three of his last 17 games. The Texans have held enemy backs to a 119/407/3.42/1 rushing line and league-low 107 receiving yards. … Duke Johnson’s touch counts over the last month are 7 > 8 > 13 > 9. He’s scored a touchdown in three straight weeks to stay afloat, but Johnson has week-killing potential the next time he doesn’t hit pay dirt. Still, I’m riding with Johnson as a PPR flex play despite what appears to be an unfavorable draw. The Browns project to play from behind, enhancing Johnson’s target outlook.
Hogan’s 2017 target distribution: Ricardo Louis 9; Rashard Higgins 7; Seth DeValve 6; Johnson and David Njoku 4; Crowell and Kasen Williams 2; Bryce Treggs and Kenny Britt 1. … Louis has commanded the highest number of Hogan’s targets on snap rates of 75% > 86% > 76% in the last three weeks. A 4.43 speedster out of Auburn, Louis is an opportunity-driven WR3/flex in Houston. … Hogan has thrown four touchdowns on the year and two have gone to Njoku. Unfortunately, Njoku continues to share time with DeValve and has an uneven Week 6 matchup. The Texans have given up big games to Rob Gronkowski (8/89/1) and Travis Kelce (8/98/0) but slowed Delanie Walker (3/51/0), Tyler Eifert (3/42/0), and Marcedes Lewis (0/0). As a part-time player, Njoku is an exciting but high-risk streamer. Njoku ran only 15 pass routes compared to DeValve's 18 in last week's loss.
Score Prediction: Texans 30, Browns 20
Green Bay @ Minnesota
Team Totals: Packers 24.75, Vikings 21.75
Aaron Rodgers draws his toughest to-date challenge against a Vikings defense that gave up just one top-15 quarterback finish in the first five games and has held Rodgers to weekly results of QB20, QB11, QB13 in Minnesota since Mike Zimmer became coach in 2014. Just 2-of-21 enemy passers have reached 300 yards against Zimmer’s defense since the beginning of 2016. Rodgers remains someone to bet on and not against with 300-plus yards and/or multiple touchdowns in ten straight games and top-eight weekly finishes in four straight. Rodgers should be played with full confidence in season-long leagues and will have low DFS ownership. … With Ty Montgomery (ribs) likely limited if he plays, Aaron Jones is slated for another week of lead-back usage after dominating snaps (88%) and touches (20) over Jamaal Williams (1, 3%) in last Sunday’s win over the Cowboys. This matchup will be far tougher than last week’s against a lights-out Vikings run defense that has held enemy running backs to a combined 109/362/3.32/1 rushing line and the NFL’s sixth-fewest receiving yards (147). Firing up Jones as an RB2 is a bet on his workload and Green Bay’s high-scoring offense as a whole. Jones has already equaled Weeks 1-4 starter Montgomery as the Packers’ team leader in red-zone carries (7) and is just one behind Montgomery in carries inside the ten-yard line (4) and carries inside the five (2).
Rodgers’ Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Davante Adams 39; Randall Cobb and Martellus Bennett 31; Jordy Nelson 28; Montgomery 23; Geronimo Allison 15. … The Vikings have checked Michael Thomas (5/45/0), Antonio Brown (5/62/0), Marvin Jones (2/42/0), and Mike Evans (7/67/0) with Xavier Rhodes’ shadow. It’s unclear whether Rhodes will shadow Nelson, however, and Jordy runs 28% of his routes in the slot, where Rhodes plays only 4% of the time. Beginning with most recent, Nelson’s last four stat lines against Zimmer’s Vikings are 9/154/2, 5/73/1, 8/68/0, and 1/66/1. … On the off chance Rhodes does chase Jordy, Adams would stand to benefit against swinging-gate No. 2 CB Trae Waynes. Albeit with only one 70-yard game in five, Adams has been more boom than bust due to his continued scoring binge. Including January’s playoffs, Adams has 18 TDs in 24 games since the start of last season. … Cobb will run most of his routes at 39-year-old slot CB Terence Newman. The diversity of Green Bay’s passing game has caused Cobb some inconsistencies. I like him as a WR3/flex in PPR, but wouldn’t consider him a reliable bet. Since suffering a Week 2 chest injury, Cobb’s target totals have fallen from 13 and 9 in Weeks 1-2 to 4 and 5 in Weeks 4-5. … Bennett has frustrated because he is scoreless through five games, but I still find him tough to fade with the sixth-most targets among NFL tight ends and three targets inside the ten-yard line, which ranks second on the team behind Nelson (5). The Vikings have been gashed by tight ends, yielding 5/54/1 to Coby Fleener in Week 1, 6/50/1 to Bucs tight ends in Week 3, 7/82/0 to Lions tight ends in Week 4, and 4/56/1 to Bears tight ends last week.
This will be another Case Keenum start, lowering Vikings offensive expectations and making all their skill-position players riskier bets. With the exception of Week 3 against an injury-ruined Bucs defense, the Vikings have managed point totals of 9, 7, 20 in Keenum’s appearances. Particularly with Stefon Diggs (groin) ruled out, Green Bay’s D/ST is an underrated Week 6 streamer, while Keenum is a low-end two-quarterback-league dart. Just 1-of-5 signal callers to face Packers DC Dom Capers’ defense has finished above QB14 on the week. … As last Monday’s win over the Bears wore on, the Vikings progressively turned over their backfield to Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon wound up out-snapping Latavius Murray 67% to 31% and out-touching him 22 to 14 in an exciting all-purpose display that saw McKinnon lead Minnesota’s offense in both rushing (16/95/1) and receiving (6/51/0). The Packers play mediocre run defense, ranking 20th in DVOA and allowing a combined 128/520/4.06/3 rushing line to enemy backs. McKinnon is an RB2 play in all formats with RB1 upside in PPR. … Continuing to battle an ankle injury he had surgically repaired in the offseason, Murray has been a predictably poor fit in Minnesota. He has 69 yards on 26 carries (2.65 YPC) and has run 25 pass routes to McKinnon’s 68 on the year. Murray is a dangerously low-floor flex option.
Keenum’s Weeks 2-5 targets: Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen 25; Kyle Rudolph 20; McKinnon 13; Jarius Wright 5; Murray 4; Michael Floyd 1. … Last week, Nick Mensio forecasted Rudolph would be the main beneficiary of Dalvin Cook’s (ACL) loss. Rudolph promptly delivered a season-best game (6/45/1), drawing eight of his nine targets from Keenum. The Packers played stout tight end defense in the opening month, then gave up eight catches to Jason Witten last week. Rudolph's outlook is elevated by Diggs' loss. … Thielen is an intriguing DFS tournament play after he shredded the Packers last Week 16 (12/202/2). In Diggs’ three missed games last year, Thielen drew target totals of 8, 11, 1. Thielen runs 65% of his routes in the slot, where Mohamed Sanu (5/85/0), Kendall Wright (4/51/1), and Cole Beasley (4/23/2) have all paid dividends against Green Bay. … Laquon Treadwell (59%) and Floyd (46%) shared time as the Vikings’ third receiver in Week 5. They will start across from each other on the outside.
Score Prediction: Packers 24, Vikings 17
Detroit @ New Orleans
Team Totals: Saints 27.5, Lions 22.5
Lions-Saints is the second-highest-totaled game on the Week 6 slate (50.0), welcoming back Drew Brees from his bye to face a Detroit defense that overachieved in September before being flamed by Cam Newton for last week’s QB5 result on 355 passing yards, Cam’s highest single-game sum since his rookie year. Fantasy’s overall QB6 entering the open date, Brees recorded a perfect 8:0 TD-to-INT ratio in the opening month despite playing 3-of-4 games on the road. Back in the Superdome, Brees is a shoo-in top-five QB1 play. … Alvin Kamara broke out for 96 yards and a touchdown on a season-high 15 touches in the Saints’ pre-bye London win over Miami. The Saints’ coaching staff reevaluated their backfield during the bye and decided to trade away Adrian Peterson, freeing up 7.3 touches per game for Kamara and Mark Ingram to divide. Over half of Kamara’s to-date touches have come in the passing game, where Detroit has allowed the NFL’s fourth-most catches (32) and fifth-most receiving yards (291) to enemy running backs. … The fantasy results haven’t been there because he hasn’t scored any touchdowns, but Ingram’s touch counts have risen each game (11 > 12 > 16 > 18), and he set a season-high 62% snap rate in New Orleans’ pre-bye win over Miami. As Ingram leads the Saints in red-zone carries (5), carries inside the ten (3), and carries inside the five (2), his to-date opportunity suggests the touchdowns will come. While Kamara is the more exciting fantasy option, Ingram is an underrated RB2 play against a Lions defense missing WLB Paul Worrilow (MCL) and DT Haloti Ngata (elbow) in this potential shootout.
Lions top CB Darius Slay is a high-end NFL corner, but he’s not quite a shutdown force. Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess both beat Slay for touchdowns last week, and over the last month PFF charged Slay with a 68% completion rate allowed on throws into his coverage. Over the last three weeks, No. 1 wideouts to face the Lions are Benjamin (4/58/1), Stefon Diggs (5/98/0), and Julio Jones (7/91/0). Michael Thomas led the Saints in targets in each of their first four games (8, 10, 8, 10) and has cleared 85 yards in five of his last six. … Willie Snead’s unclear usage creates a conundrum for not only him but the rest of New Orleans’ non-Thomas pass catchers. Fill-in slot WR Brandon Coleman will go back to the bench whenever Snead gets up to speed. As we’ve discussed repeatedly in this space, Coby Fleener has significant splits with and without Snead in the lineup. Ted Ginn’s role could take a hit when Snead resumes a major place in the offense. Snead missed Week 4 with a hamstring injury after returning from his three-game suspension. At least one of the Saints’ complementary pass catchers will likely have a useful game, but I’m treating this as a wait-and-see week for everyone beyond Thomas.
New Orleans’ defense got torched for top-three fantasy results by Sam Bradford and Tom Brady in Weeks 1-2 before facing a still-struggling Cam Newton in Week 3 and consistently-struggling Jay Cutler in Week 4. While the Saints are probably better defensively than they’ve been in sometime, I’m not yet ready to treat them as a matchup to fear, especially when DC Dennis Allen’s unit is still permitting the NFL’s second-most yards per pass attempt (8.6), third-highest completion rate (72.7%), and fifth-most passing yards per game (265.2). Matthew Stafford’s riskiness is increased by last week’s hamstring and ankle ailments, although he played his best football with the injuries in the fourth quarter of Detroit’s loss to Carolina. I’m standing behind Stafford as an upside QB1 option whose best DFS stack partner is Golden Tate. … Despite his disappointing Week 5 against run-tough Carolina, this is a good spot to fire up Ameer Abdullah against a Saints defense allowing a mediocre 85/373/4.39/1 rushing line to enemy running backs and the NFL’s fourth-most catches (32) and second-most receiving yards (303) to the position despite an early-season bye. Abdullah has 17 or more touches in 4-of-5 games. He is in the higher range of RB2/flex options this week. … This game also sets up well for Theo Riddick theoretically, but the usage simply hasn’t been there. Riddick has reached double-digit touches in just 1-of-5 games with touch counts of 4 > 5 > 6 over the past three weeks. Riddick is a high-risk, PPR-specific flex option.
Stafford’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Golden Tate 40; Riddick and Marvin Jones 26; Eric Ebron 23; T.J. Jones 16; Kenny Golladay 15; Abdullah 12; Darren Fells 9. … With RCB Marshon Lattimore and LCB Ken Crawley excelling on the boundaries, the best place to attack New Orleans is in the slot. Slot men Adam Thielen (9/157/0), Chris Hogan (5/78/1), and Jarvis Landry (6/40/0) all met or exceeded expectations against the Saints in the first month. Tate runs 80% of his routes inside. … Jones has been held below 60 yards in all five weeks and has a pedestrian 46/632/4 receiving line over his last 16 games. As Jones runs over 90% of his routes outside, I think this matchup could become overrated for him against underrated Lattimore and Crawley. … Ebron’s poor blocking was already costing him playing time, and he may lose more going forward for his pass-catching struggles. Ebron let a surefire touchdown bounce off his chest in the first quarter of last week’s loss to Carolina and has caught just 5-of-15 targets over the past three weeks. Now losing open-field and red-zone looks to Fells, Ebron is tough to stomach as a streamer, even against the Saints. … Fells blocks on nearly 70% of his snaps and isn’t much of an option, either.
Score Prediction: Saints 27, Lions 21
Miami @ Atlanta
Team Totals: Falcons 29, Dolphins 17
The Falcons return from their Week 5 bye in beatdown position against the road-tripping Dolphins, who played their first four games in Los Angeles, New Jersey, London, and Miami, and now visit Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium as 12-point road underdogs. Matt Ryan posted top-12 fantasy results just once in the first month, but his completion rate (65.2%) and YPA (8.2) are both above his career norms. Only Ryan’s touchdown rate (3.7%) has failed to cooperate. A prime positive-regression candidate, Ryan now draws a pass-funnel Dolphins team that ranks No. 29 in pass-defense DVOA compared to No. 2 against the run and is likely to have an especially hard time stopping Julio Jones. The Dolphins are also allowing the NFL’s second-highest completion rate (73.3%). … Miami has shored up its run defense under first-year DC Matt Burke, holding enemy running backs to a combined 84/281/3.35/2 rushing line four games in. I still don’t view the Dolphins as a matchup to fear for Devonta Freeman, who has out-touched Tevin Coleman 65 to 30 over the last three games, clearing 20 touches in all three of those weeks. Since the beginning of the 2016 season, Freeman has scored a whopping 14 of his 18 all-purpose touchdowns at home (78%). … Including January’s playoffs, Coleman has gone nine straight games without reaching 15 touches. Coleman’s touch counts this year are 12 > 8 > 9 > 13. Playing the exact same role he did under outgoing OC Kyle Shanahan, Coleman is just a high-variance flex option versus Miami.
Ryan’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Julio Jones 30; Mohamed Sanu 24; Coleman 19; Taylor Gabriel 18; Austin Hooper 13; Freeman 9; Justin Hardy 8. … Prior to facing inept Titans backup Matt Cassel last week, the Dolphins were flamed by enemy No. 1 wideouts Michael Thomas (8/89/1), Robby Anderson (3/95/1), and Keenan Allen (9/100/0) in their first three games. Sanu’s (hamstring) loss may not seem like a big one for fantasy purposes, but it is. He ranked second on the team in targets and out-targeted Julio 3 to 1 in the red zone in the opening month. This is a potential breakthrough spot for Jones against struggling Dolphins RCB Xavien Howard and rookie LCB Cordrea Tankersley. … Gabriel’s usage also figures to elevate in Sanu’s absence. Just a 59% player to this point, Gabriel handled 79% of Atlanta’s offensive snaps when Sanu missed last Week 14 with a groin injury. Now likely to be bumped into two-receiver sets, Gabriel is a long-play threat who also quietly leads Atlanta in red-zone targets (5). … I am tempted to buy into the narrative that Sanu’s injury also helps Hooper, who played 79% of the Falcons’ snaps in Week 4, setting season highs in routes run (35), targets (7), and catches (5). The Dolphins were creamed by Chargers tight ends in Week 2 (10/101/1) and Titans tight ends last week (10/62/1), even though Delanie Walker had a long TD negated by his own teammate’s offensive pass interference flag.
I mistakenly and regrettably expressed some optimism on the Dolphins’ offense entering Week 5. I’ll be streaming defenses against them moving forward. Despite a favorable early-season schedule, Miami is dead last in yards per play (3.9) and points per game (10.2). Especially with 2016 NFL sacks leader Vic Beasley back from his early-season hamstring injury, Atlanta’s D/ST is a recommended streamer. Jay Cutler is someone to avoid. … The Falcons played run-tough defense in their last three games, limiting Packers, Lions, and Bills backs to a combined 58/198/3.41/1 rushing line. As a road-dog running back facing a suddenly-stout Atlanta run defense, Jay Ajayi is a risky RB2. Ajayi is scoreless four games in with a 71-total-yard average. Ajayi has gained ten yards or more on just 3-of-76 carries (4%) behind a penetration-allowing Dolphins offensive line that ranks 27th in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards.
Cutler’s Weeks 2-5 target distribution: Jarvis Landry 43; DeVante Parker 28; Kenny Stills 20; Julius Thomas 16; Ajayi 9; Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake 5. … Especially without Parker (ankle), Landry offers volume-based WR2 upside facing a Falcons defense that funnels action into the slot, where Jordan Matthews scored a Week 4 touchdown against Atlanta, Golden Tate went 7/58/1 against them in Week 3, and Randall Cobb totaled 70 yards versus the Falcons in Week 2. Landry is averaging 10.8 targets per game while leading Miami in red-zone targets (4) and targets inside the ten (2). If game script plays out as this game’s spread suggests, Landry will offer 15-plus-target upside. … Stills and would-be Parker fill-in Jakeem Grant have tougher perimeter draws against Falcons LCB Desmond Trufant and RCB Robert Alford. … Thomas’ target totals four weeks in are 3 > 5 > 4 > 4. We need more usage than that.
Score Prediction: Falcons 28, Dolphins 17
New England @ NY Jets
Team Totals: Patriots 29, Jets 18.5
Back from last Thursday night’s narrow road win over the Bucs, Tom Brady had ten days to prepare for Todd Bowles’ Jets defense, which has yielded top-ten fantasy results to Tyrod Taylor (QB9), Derek Carr (QB5), and Kevin Hogan/DeShone Kizer (QB9), facing Dolphins disaster Jay Cutler and low-volume game manager Blake Bortles in its other two games. Brady has shown a high floor with 300-plus yards and/or multiple touchdowns in four straight weeks, and his ceiling is raised by this game’s shootout potential. The Jets’ offense has shown enough competency to move the ball and score on New England’s leaky defense, which would further force Brady’s hand. … Beginning with most recent, James White’s touch totals against the Jets since Bowles took over in 2015 are 4 > 4 > 7 > 5. White’s role is bigger this year, although he is averaging only nine touches per game in the last month. Still, White is a viable PPR flex play against a Jets defense allowing the NFL’s fourth-most receiving yards to running backs (293). … Dion Lewis has earned a longer look by parlaying 14 touches into 90 yards and a touchdown over the last two games, although he’s yet to reach double-digit touches this year and has a near-goose-egg floor. ... Mike Gillislee has remained entirely touchdown or bust with zero targets on the season and zero games of 70 total yards. The Jets have resumed playing solid run defense, limiting enemy backs to a combined 95/361/3.80/3 rushing line in the last month.
Brady’s 2017 target distribution with Rob Gronkowski in the lineup: Gronk 30; White and Chris Hogan 26; Brandin Cooks 24; Danny Amendola 19; Burkhead 7; Dwayne Allen 6; Lewis and Phillip Dorsett 5. … With underrated Jets shadow CB Morris Claiborne likely to chase Cooks, this is another blowup spot for Hogan against Gang Green’s No. 2 cornerback mishmash of Darryl Roberts and Juston Burris, who both missed Week 5 with injuries. Pushing for legit WR1 status, Hogan has five touchdowns in the Patriots’ last four games and seven TDs over their last seven dating back to January’s playoffs. … Cooks remains a high-ceiling WR2 with 4.33 wheels to Claiborne’s 4.50. Browns 4.43 burner Ricardo Louis beat Claiborne for all of his 5/71/0 stat line last week. Cooks runs over 20% of his routes in the slot, where Claiborne won’t travel. … Amendola has caught at least six balls in 3-of-4 appearances and is tied for third on the Patriots in red-zone targets (5) behind Hogan (9) and Gronk (6). For as long as he is healthy, Amendola is a playable WR3/flex in PPR leagues. … The Jets haven’t been a tight end sieve by any means, but they did permit 5/75/1 to Bills tight ends in Week 1 and 6/72/1 to Browns tight ends last week. I like my chances betting on Gronk against rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. Browns rookie David Njoku took Adams to school in Week 5, notably out-muscling Adams for a third-quarter 21-yard TD.
In Week 6’s third-highest-totaled game, Josh McCown offers streamer appeal against a Patriots defense that has allowed 300-plus passing yards in five straight games in addition to the NFL’s second-most points per game (28.4) and a league-high 12 passing scores. Still, McCown should be seen as more of a floor than ceiling play after finishing as a top-15 fantasy passer twice in five games but outside the top 20 in each of his other three starts. McCown has no top-ten results and has yet to clear 250 passing yards this year. … With Bilal Powell (calf) out and Matt Forte (toe) likely still hobbled, sixth-round rookie Elijah McGuire is set up for lead-back work against a pathetic Patriots run defense that has allowed a combined 95/498/5.24/3 rushing line to enemy running backs, plus a league-high 372 receiving yards to the position. The Patriots benched onetime top run-stuffer DT Alan Branch for ineffectiveness in Week 5. Even if New England jumps out to a big lead, McGuire should stay in the game and rack up catches. He caught 129 passes in four years at Louisiana-Lafayette, graduating as the Ragin Cajuns’ all-time leader in all-purpose yards. After Powell left last week’s game early, McGuire set season highs in snap rate (68%), passing-down snaps (23), and touches (13). McGuire should have a shot at 13-17 touches in this game.
McCown’s Weeks 3-5 target distribution: Austin Seferian-Jenkins 18; Robby Anderson 17; Jeremy Kerley and Jermaine Kearse 14; Powell 10; McGuire 5. … This is an unimposing matchup for Seferian-Jenkins against a Patriots defense that allowed tight end lines of 5/68/1 (Cameron Brate), 3/62/0 (Ed Dickson), 5/61/1 (Ryan Griffin), and 3/33/1 (Coby Fleener) in Weeks 2-5. Not only does ASJ lead the Jets in targets since coming off suspension, he already leads the team in targets inside the ten-yard line (2). … Jets wide receiver targets have been spread out with McCown at the helm and ASJ now commanding a big target share. Anderson is the best fantasy bet among Gang Green's wideouts based on his big-play chops and slight target lead on the crowd with an improved matchup in CB Stephon Gilmore's (concussion) absence. Even with Gilmore playing, the Patriots have hemorrhaged receiving production, namely to Tyreek Hill (7/133/1), DeSean Jackson (5/106/0), Kelvin Benjamin (4/104/0), Michael Thomas (5/89/0), Brandon Coleman (4/82/1), DeAndre Hopkins (7/76/0), Devin Funchess (7/70/2), and Bruce Ellington (4/59/1).
Score Prediction: Patriots 27, Jets 24
San Francisco @ Washington
Team Totals: Redskins 28.5, 49ers 18
Kirk Cousins returns from his bye to face a road-tripping, pass-funnel 49ers defense that gave up QB9 (Jacoby Brissett), QB14 (Carson Palmer), and QB9 (Jared Goff) finishes in Weeks 3-5, allowing each enemy signal caller to top 290 passing yards during that stretch. No quarterback to face San Francisco has finished worse than QB17 on the year. It adds up to a high-floor, high-ceiling matchup for Kirk Cousins, who shook off a slow start for QB4 (vs. OAK) and QB12 (@ KC) pre-bye results and will have a full-strength supporting cast after Jordan Reed (chest, ribs, toe), Jamison Crowder (hamstring), and LT Trent Williams (knee) all dealt with early-season injuries. … Fumbling rookie Samaje Perine will take on a bigger role in Rob Kelley’s (foot) absence, although Perine’s ineffectiveness has been sustained since the preseason, averaging 3.1 yards per touch. The Niners’ run defense is no slouch, holding enemy running backs to a combined 132/518/3.92/3 rushing line five games in. Perine is a low-floor flex option whose main selling point is being a home-favorite back. … San Francisco is most vulnerable to backs in the passing game, surrendering the NFL’s third-most receptions (30) and receiving yards (300) to the position. While this matchup theoretically suits passing-game specialist Chris Thompson, it is also true that Thompson has reached eight touches in just 1-of-4 games and scored first-month touchdowns at an entirely unsustainable rate. Thompson is a PPR-specific flex option in Week 6.
Cousins’ Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Terrelle Pryor 24; Thompson 21; Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed 19; Ryan Grant 15; Vernon Davis 10; Josh Doctson 6; Perine and Kelley 2. … The 49ers gave up season-best games to T.Y. Hilton (7/177/0), Robert Woods (6/108/0), Sammy Watkins (6/106/2), and Jaron Brown (8/105/0) in Weeks 3-5. This is a sneaky breakthrough spot for Pryor against outside CBs Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson, who carry PFF’s Nos. 104 and 108 cornerback grades among 109 qualifiers. … Crowder’s to-date production suggests he is merely a WR3/flex option, but his matchup is ripe against 49ers slot CB K’Waun Williams, who has PFF’s No. 106 coverage grade. … Doctson’s snap rates were all over the place before Washington’s off week (32% > 41% > 53% > 34%), and the 2016 first-rounder didn’t help himself by dropping a would-be game-winning touchdown in Week 4 at Kansas City. Whereas Pryor is locked in as an 81% player, Doctson, Crowder, and Grant have formed a rotation of complementary receivers, decreasing their reliability. … Reed is matchup proof when healthy, but the 49ers’ stingy tight end coverage remains notable. Keyed by breakout FS Jaquiski Tartt's stiff coverage, the Niners have contained Greg Olsen (2/18/0), Jimmy Graham (1/1/0), Rams TEs (2/21/0), Jermaine Gresham (2/12/0), and Colts TEs (4/30/0). Reed is best approached as a boom-bust season-long play and contrarian DFS tournament option until he puts something substantive into a box score. Reed openly admitted he wasn’t 100% coming out of the bye.
The 49ers conclude their two-game East Coast road trip with a visit to the Redskins, who gave up top-six quarterback finishes to Carson Wentz and Alex Smith in Weeks 1 and 4, but in between held Jared Goff (QB25) and Derek Carr (QB29) to season-worst results. Brian Hoyer’s week-to-week performances have been similarly uneven, but I’m staying with him as a volume-driven two-quarterback-league starter and low-end streamer in a game I believe offers sneaky high-scoring potential. Both teams rank in the top half of the league in points allowed per game, and Hoyer is fifth in the NFL in pass attempts (194). One worry is increasing Bay Area buzz that third-round QB C.J. Beathard’s time may be nearing on an 0-5 team. … Despite concerns about Carlos Hyde’s lingering hip injury, the fact of the Week 5 matter was he got benched for his second fumble in as many weeks – the latest doesn’t show in the box score because Hyde fell on Hoyer’s pitch for a six-yard loss – followed by a blown blitz pickup on the very next snap to get Hoyer sacked. Hyde rode the bench for the next three possessions, then returned in a late-game RBBC with Matt Breida. Coach Kyle Shanahan promised Hyde will start Week 6, but the 49ers will “ride the hot hand,” creating a volatile situation lacking predictability. In addition to their to-be-determined workloads, it doesn’t help that Hyde and Breida are two-score road dogs against a solid Washington run defense that has limited enemy backs to a combined 67/265/3.96/1 rushing line. At least for now, Hyde has to be downgraded from a fringe RB1 to unreliable RB2/flex. Breida remains a low-floor flex option.
Hoyer’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Pierre Garcon 44; Marquise Goodwin 30; Hyde and George Kittle 23; Trent Taylor 21; Aldrick Robinson 19; Breida 14; Kyle Juszczyk 12. … The Redskins’ loss of LCB Josh Norman (ribs) should make Garcon’s life easier, although Garcon would have run half of his routes away from Norman’s side, anyway. All of Washington’s corners have played well enough that expectations should be lowered slightly in this matchup. Alshon Jeffery (3/38/0), Tyreek Hill (5/35/0), Cooper Kupp (3/30/0), Sammy Watkins (2/30/0), Robert Woods (1/8/0), Michael Crabtree (1/7/0), and Amari Cooper (1/6/0) were all contained by the Redskins in Weeks 1-4. … Goodwin cleared 65 yards for the first time in 13 games in last week’s loss to Indianapolis, exploiting a prime matchup for career highs in targets (11) and yards (116). I am betting against Goodwin continuing his success in D.C. … The Redskins were pummeled by Eagles tight ends (9/104/0) in Week 1, Rams tight ends (4/104/0) in Week 2, Raiders tight ends (5/42/1) in Week 3, and Travis Kelce (7/111/1) in Week 4. Coming off a Week 5 breakout, rookie TE Kittle isn’t as point chasey as he may appear to be on initial glance. The Redskins pose one of the top-three tight end matchups in the league, and Kittle is running routes on 64% of his snaps. For comparison, Rob Gronkowski (60%), Kelce (60%), and even Zach Ertz (57%) are doing less route running than Kittle.
Score Prediction: Redskins 27, 49ers 21
4:05 PM ET Games
Tampa Bay @ Arizona
Team Totals: Buccaneers 23.5, Cardinals 22
A high-floor weekly play who ranks second in the NFL in passing yards (1,573) behind only Tom Brady, Carson Palmer enters Week 6 with consecutive fantasy finishes of QB12, QB11, QB14, QB12 to face a road-tripping, pass-funnel Bucs defense that has yielded the NFL’s fifth-highest completion rate (69.5%) and ninth-highest passer rating (97.9). Tampa Bay forces offenses to attack through the air by limiting enemy backs to a combined 93/304/3.27/1 rushing line. The Cardinals play pass-funnel offense, anyway, because they can’t run block and lack backs capable of creating yards on their own. They are dead last in rushing attempts (20.0) and rushing yards (51.8) per game. More of a floor play to this point, Palmer has a chance at a ceiling game in this matchup. … Trade acquisition Adrian Peterson will likely need at least a week to get up to speed in Bruce Arians’ offense. When he does, beat writers expect Peterson to inherit Chris Johnson’s role, which involved 11.3 carries per game. Peterson’s run-blocking downgrade going from New Orleans to Arizona can’t be overstated. Whereas the Saints rank No. 7 in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards, the Cardinals rank a lowly 30th. … Andre Ellington is a better fit for Arians’ offense and should remain the team’s primary back after leading the position group in snaps in three straight games (60% > 53% > 52%) with target totals of 8 > 14 > 10. Running routes on 85% of his plays, Ellington has emerged as an every-week PPR flex starter. Ellington’s dump-off receiving skills are critical in an offense that struggles to protect its statuesque quarterback. The Bucs allowed nine catches to Patriots backs in Week 5, eight catches to Vikings backs in Week 3, and eight catches to Bears backs in Week 2.
Palmer’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Larry Fitzgerald 51; Ellington 40; Jaron Brown 35; J.J. Nelson 25; John Brown 23; Jermaine Gresham 18. … Fitzgerald has stark home-away splits since the start of last year, averaging a 7.9/78.7/0.50 receiving line at University of Phoenix Stadium versus 5.5/51.2/0.27 on the road. Fitz runs 65% of his routes in the slot, where the Bucs permitted at- or above-expectation receiving lines to Danny Amendola (8/77/0), Adam Thielen (5/98/0), Sterling Shepard (5/54/0), and Kendall Wright (7/69/0) in the first month. … John Brown retook the Cards’ No. 2 wideout role in last week’s loss to Philadelphia, logging 80% of the offensive snaps compared to Jaron’s 60% and Nelson’s 53%. John runs the second-most slot routes on the team (48%), and Tampa Bay has struggled to slow perimeter receivers as well, namely Stefon Diggs (8/173/2), Odell Beckham (7/90/0), Brandin Cooks (5/85/0), Chris Hogan (8/74/1), and Deonte Thompson (4/57/1). John has at least seven targets in each of his three appearances and deserves serious WR3 consideration in this favorable draw. … Jaron and Nelson will be harder to trust in part-time roles. Both have enough big-play ability to sporadically overcome lowered volume, but their week-to-week reliability figures to be touch and go at best.
We noted in this space last week how Arizona had a chance to become a pass-funnel defense with a gaping hole at No. 2 corner (Justin Bethel) and No. 2 pass rusher Markus Golden (ACL) out for the year. Carson Wentz proceeded to flame the Cardinals for 315 all-purpose yards and a career-high four TDs, becoming the third quarterback in five weeks to drop top-12 fantasy results on Arizona with only Jacoby Brissett and Brian Hoyer as exceptions. Jameis Winston enters Week 6 with QB7 and QB10 finishes in his last two games and ten days to prepare for the Cardinals’ blitz-heavy, man-coverage scheme following last Thursday night’s loss to the Patriots. … Negative game script limited Doug Martin to 14 touches in his Week 5 debut, but he showed the same burst and downhill decisiveness from preseason games and is clearly in tip-top shape with fresh legs. This matchup isn’t as favorable as what New England posed, of course, against a Cardinals defense that held opposing backs to a combined 119/391/3.29/2 rushing line in Weeks 1-5. Arizona has also yielded the NFL’s fifth-fewest receiving yards (139) to the position. Still, Martin should be fired up as an RB2 in season-long leagues. He would be a contrarian option in DFS.
Winston’s Weeks 2-5 targets: Mike Evans 40; DeSean Jackson 29; Adam Humphries 25; Cameron Brate 22; Charles Sims 12; O.J. Howard 9; Chris Godwin 7; Jacquizz Rodgers 4; Martin 3. … Evans squared off with Patrick Peterson last Week 2. He emerged with 6/70/1 receiving, although Evans needed 18 targets to get there. Obviously, this will be the toughest matchup Evans draws all year. Through five games, no No. 1 wideout to face Arizona has reached 50 yards. … D-Jax has been predictably volatile in four games as a Buc, but this is a blowup spot against Cardinals No. 2 CB Justin Bethel, whom PFF has charged with the NFL’s fifth-most yards (343) and a league-high four TDs allowed among 109 qualified cornerbacks. Speedy perimeter threats Brice Butler (2/90/1) and Torrey Smith (3/70/1) have given Bethel the most trouble. … The Cardinals have been up and down in tight end coverage, allowing big games to Colts tight ends in Week 2 (9/99/0) and Eagles tight ends in Week 5 (9/82/2) and otherwise stymieing Jason Witten (1/3/0), George Kittle (2/35/0), and Eric Ebron (2/9/0). I’m still supporting Brate as a Week 6 fantasy starter with Peterson on Evans and Brate’s usage on the rise. Brate established season highs in snap rate (68%) and routes (40) in last week’s loss to New England and is tied with Evans for the team lead in red-zone targets (6). Dating back to last season, Brate has scored a touchdown in six of his last eight games.
Score Prediction: Cardinals 24, Buccaneers 23
DFS Players: Bucs at Cardinals is the RotoGrinders Matchup of the Week. Some of RotoGrinders' top NFL minds break down this game from every angle and help prepare you to set winning lineups.
LA Rams @ Jacksonville
Team Totals: Jaguars 22.5, Rams 20
The Jags put on a clinic on how to hide a quarterback in last week’s road romp over Pittsburgh, limiting Blake Bortles to 14 pass attempts – including just one in the second half – and salting away the victory with 18 consecutive run plays to close out the game. This is the oldest-school, smashest-mouth team in the NFL, and it should be able to impose its will on a Rams team that is traveling cross country and has struggled mightily in run defense, allowing a combined 132/599/4.54/6 rushing line to enemy backs and the most fantasy points in the league to the position. Favored at home in a mouth-watering matchup, Leonard Fournette is a top-three RB1 play for Week 6. … Bortles has failed to finish inside the top-20 fantasy quarterbacks in 4-of-5 starts and ranks 31st in the league in pass attempts per game (27.0). Regardless of opponent, Bortles is a mere low-end two-quarterback-league option. This matchup sets up poorly for Bortles because the Jaguars’ projected run-game success should allow them to continue to limit Bortles’ involvement to handoffs and the occasional throw on longer down-and-distance plays.
Bortles’ Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Marqise Lee 30; Allen Hurns 27; Fournette 18; Keelan Cole 16; Marcedes Lewis 15; Chris Ivory 11. … Despite being the Jaguars’ “No. 1” wideout, Lee is averaging just six targets per game and 52.0 yards over the last month, and he is the only legitimate candidate to draw shadow coverage from Rams CB Trumaine Johnson. Lee is little more than a desperation WR4/flex play. … The Rams have contained slot receivers Doug Baldwin (4/37/0), Cole Beasley (3/17/0), Trent Taylor (3/32/1), Jamison Crowder (4/47/0), and Kamar Aiken (1/3/0). In a game where Jaguars pass attempts figure to remain limited, slot man Hurns is a touchdown-or-bust WR4. … Outside of his fluky three-TD London game, Lewis has caught 1-of-10 targets for 14 yards and can be safely ignored against the Rams.
This is a worst-case-scenario matchup for Jared Goff on a cross-country road trip to face the Jaguars’ shutdown pass defense, which has yet to allow a single enemy signal caller to finish above QB18. After a hot start, Goff has come back to Earth with three fantasy finishes of QB15 or worse in his last four starts. He is a low-end two-quarterback-league option in Jacksonville. … The Steelers found out the hard way in Week 5 that the Jaguars’ defense should not be attacked in the air. While Le’Veon Bell managed 15 carries against the Jags, Ben Roethlisberger was allowed to drop back to pass 57 times, resulting in five interceptions in Pittsburgh’s embarrassing 30-9 home-game loss. Ideally, Rams coach Sean McVay will watch that tape in addition to his own from Week 5, in which McVay confusingly gave Goff 47 pass attempts and Todd Gurley only 14 rushes against a Seahawks defense that has eliminated the pass but struggled to stop the run. Through five weeks, Jacksonville has been shredded by enemy running backs for a combined 120/650/5.42/4 rushing line while allowing the NFL’s 12th-most receptions (28) to the position. Gurley remains a confident RB1 in season-long leagues and intriguing contrarian DFS play.
Goff’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Robert Woods 30; Gurley and Cooper Kupp 29; Tyler Higbee 21; Sammy Watkins 20; Tavon Austin and Gerald Everett 10; Pharoh Cooper 6. … Through five games, just one wide receiver has reached 60 yards against Jacksonville. It was Antonio Brown, who last week needed 19 targets to get there. Based on their brutal matchups and to-date production, Woods and Watkins are tough to stomach even as WR4 plays. I suspect we’ll see Jalen Ramsey chase Watkins with A.J. Bouye on Woods. … Kupp has the best Week 6 fantasy outlook among Rams receivers, but not by much. Slot men to face the Jags are JuJu Smith-Schuster (4/58/0), Eric Decker (3/32/0), Jeremy Maclin (1/8/0), Jeremy Kerley (5/37/0), and Bruce Ellington (0/0). … Jacksonville’s defense has been most vulnerable statistically to tight ends, surrendering the NFL’s 11th-most catches (24) and 16th-most yards (247) to the position. Out-snapping Everett 78% to 32%, Higbee is Los Angeles’ best bet to capitalize as a dart-throw streamer. A former wide receiver out of Western Kentucky, Higbee has tallied 145 yards over the past two games and set season highs in targets (8) and routes run (26) in last week’s loss to Seattle.
Score Prediction: Jaguars 27, Rams 13
4:25 PM ET Games
Pittsburgh @ Kansas City
Team Totals: Chiefs 25.5, Steelers 21.5
Tipped balls and the Jaguars' shutdown pass defense played the biggest roles in Ben Roethlisberger’s five-interception Week 5 meltdown, but things won’t get much easier in Week 6 at Arrowhead. Including January’s playoffs, the Chiefs have held each of their last eight opponents to 20 points or fewer in home games and a 16.2-point average during that stretch. Roethlisberger would be an interesting bounce-back bet in a more favorable environment. As is, he is very hard to trust considering his own road-game struggles. This is a week to fire up the Chiefs’ D/ST in DFS correlations with Kareem Hunt. … Le’Veon Bell is a lock for unusually low DFS ownership coming off last week’s dud despite having scored 20-of-29 career rushing TDs (69%) in road games and entering Week 6 as a “squeaky wheel” after complaining openly about his workload. Last week’s Steelers squeaky wheel – Antonio Brown – piled up a season-high 19 targets against the Jaguars after throwing a Week 4 sideline fit. Albeit still improved from last season, the Chiefs’ run defense has been mediocre over its last three games, surrendering a combined 63/276/4.38/1 rushing line to running backs. Including playoffs, Bell torched Chiefs DC Bob Sutton’s defense for total-yardage amounts of 178 and 164 last season. Bell and Todd Gurley (@ JAX) are my two favorite pay-up-to-be-contrarian DFS running back plays in Week 6.
Roethlisberger’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Antonio Brown 64; Le’Veon 33; Martavis Bryant 31; Jesse James 25; JuJu Smith-Schuster 20; Eli Rogers 11. … Chiefs stationary LCB Marcus Peters doesn’t pose a matchup to fear for Brown – Peters has given up three touchdowns in the last two games – but it is still notable Brown runs 69% of his routes away from Peters’ side. Brown flamed K.C. in each of last season’s two meetings (4/64/2, 6/108/0). … As ESPN’s Mike Clay noted this week, Smith-Schuster has out-snapped and run more routes than Bryant in three straight games. As Bryant has been held under 50 yards in 4-of-5 weeks and will draw far more of Peters’ coverage, I don’t think it’s crazy to call Smith-Schuster a better Week 6 play. A savvy second-round rookie out of USC, Smith-Schuster is running 62% of his routes in the slot. Chiefs slot CB Phillip Gaines is dead last among 109 qualifiers in PFF’s cornerback grades. I think Smith-Schuster is a legitimate WR3 play, and Bryant a low-floor WR3/flex option amid buzz he could further lose snaps to situational slot man Rogers. … Held under 50 yards in 5-of-5 games to begin the year, James remains a touchdown-or-bust streamer against a Chiefs tight end defense that has been up and down since losing SS Eric Berry (Achilles’). Kansas City is 16th in fantasy points allowed to the position.
The Chiefs’ high-efficiency offense returns home after dumping 42 points on Houston to face an underachieving Steelers defense that has been gashed by the run, submitting an 86/522/6.07/4 rushing line to enemy backs in the last three games. Pittsburgh has also yielded the NFL’s eighth-most receptions (30) to the position. Favored at home in a soft matchup, Kareem Hunt is tough to argue against as this week’s premier RB1 play. He’s topped 100 total yards in every game this year. … It is difficult to get a firm grip on Pittsburgh’s pass-defense prowess considering they faced DeShone Kizer, Case Keenum, Mike Glennon, Joe Flacco, and Blake Bortles in Weeks 1-5. We do know that betting against MVP candidate Alex Smith has so far been a losing proposition. Engineering an offense that leads the NFL in yards per play (6.6) and points per game (32.8), Smith has been a top-ten fantasy quarterback in 4-of-5 starts with three top-six results. Until something changes, he’s an every-week QB1.
Smith’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Travis Kelce 37; Tyreek Hill 34; Albert Wilson 19; Hunt 17; Chris Conley 16; Charcandrick West 10; Demetrius Harris 8. … Facing such a weak pass-offense schedule is naturally going to skew to-date fantasy results, but it’s worth mentioning Pittsburgh has given up the NFL’s ninth-fewest yards (219) to tight ends. Kelce produced at expectation in last season’s two Steelers meetings on stat lines of 5/23/1 and 5/77/0. Any way you slice it, Kelce is an elite TE1 play each week as the Chiefs’ new target leader and passing-game focus. Through five weeks, only volume-vacuum Zach Ertz (387) has more tight end yards than Kelce’s 353. … No individual pass catcher has reached 60 yards in a game against Pittsburgh, a statistic that should worry anyone trying to stream Wilson or Demarcus Robinson, who is expected to inherit Conley’s (Achilles’) role. It should be less concerning for fantasy owners of Hill, a spiked-week player whose highs and lows we must embrace as an every-week WR2 play with WR1 upside. Continuing his thought-unsustainable touchdown binge from last season, Hill has scored three all-purpose touchdowns in five games and now has 13 TDs over his last 16 appearances.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 27, Steelers 24
LA Chargers @ Oakland
Team Totals: Raiders 28.5, Chargers 23
A top-12 fantasy passer in 4-of-5 games despite a largely difficult early-season schedule, Philip Rivers draws arguably his most-favorable matchup to date versus a Raiders defense that gave up season-best fantasy results to Marcus Mariota (QB6), Josh McCown (QB13), and Kirk Cousins (QB4) in Weeks 1-3 before failing to even put up a fight against Trevor Siemian’s Broncos and Joe Flacco’s Ravens the past two weeks. Oakland is 30th in pass-defense DVOA and has allowed the NFL’s third-highest passer rating (106.6) while struggling to generate pressure, ranking 28th in sacks (10). With Derek Carr back healthy on the other side, this game’s shootout potential is enhanced. Beginning with most recent, Rivers’ four weekly finishes against the Raiders since Jack Del Rio became coach are QB15 > QB4 > QB13 > QB4, showing a decent floor and high ceiling. With the entire world certain to be on Deshaun Watson in DFS this week, Rivers seems likely to fly under the radar. … Apparently, suddenly over his nagging early-season knee injury, Melvin Gordon erupted for season highs in touches (26), total yards (163), TDs (2), and snaps (83%) in last week’s road upset of the Giants, resuming 2016 bellcow usage. The Raiders were creamed on the ground in their last two games, permitting a combined 62/287/4.63/1 rushing line to Broncos and Ravens backs. Oakland has also allowed the NFL’s seventh-most receiving yards to running backs (260) on the season. For as long as Gordon stays healthy, he should deliver high-end RB1 results.
Rivers’ Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Keenan Allen 52; Gordon 27; Tyrell Williams 26; Travis Benjamin 23; Antonio Gates 20; Hunter Henry 18; Austin Ekeler 11. … Allen ranks third in the NFL in targets and fourth in receiving yards (401), showing a safe floor with 60-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 5-of-5 games and nine straight dating back seasons. In Week 6's highest-totaled game, Allen offers blowup potential at The Coliseum. … Seemingly working against each other from a fantasy standpoint, Williams and Benjamin are averaging near-equal per-game target numbers on the perimeter. This matchup isn’t imposing against a Raiders defense that coughed up Mike Wallace’s year-best 3/133/0 receiving line last week, but Williams can only be considered a boom-bust WR3 option and Benjamin a high-variance WR4. The Chargers apparently believe No. 7 overall pick Mike Williams (back) has a shot to make his debut, which would cut into Tyrell and Benjamin’s snaps in a three-man outside receiver rotation. … The Chargers finally wizened up and used Henry as a featured tight end in last week’s first win of the year. Henry established season highs in targets (8), snaps (76%), and routes run (33), and he should smash a Raiders defense that has given up 5/58/1 to Vernon Davis, 7/76/0 to Delanie Walker, and 4/75/1 to AJ Derby. Henry is one of my favorite DFS tight end plays of Week 6. … Gates remained a Week 5 factor with 28 routes run on 53% of the snaps as the Bolts finally embraced more two-tight end packages. Still, Gates has been held to 30 yards or fewer in all five games and offers zero big-play ability at age 36. Gates is purely a touchdown-or-bust dart.
Derek Carr returns to face a run-funnel Chargers defense that ranks 12th in pass-defense DVOA but 26th against the run and has held each of its last four quarterbacks faced to fantasy results of QB16 or below. Although he is expected to be all systems go, Carr’s fractured transverse process and sub-par Week 6 matchup make him a risky investment, albeit one whose ceiling is raised by the chances this game turns high scoring. Ultimately, it would make sense for the Raiders to ease Carr back in so as to limit his exposure to outside rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. I’m viewing Carr as a boom-bust QB1 option. … Los Angeles is more attackable on the ground, giving up a combined 138/755/5.47/3 rushing line to enemy backs. The Bolts coughed up 214 rushing yards to the Eagles in Week 4, and 152 yards to the Giants’ left-for-dead running game in Week 5. Unfortunately, the Raiders’ staff has limited Marshawn Lynch to 13 touches or fewer in four straight games, and Lynch shared time nearly evenly with Jalen Richard when game script turned negative in last week’s loss to Baltimore. While it is my opinion the Raiders should saddle up Lynch for 20-plus carries in this plum draw, the coaches have simply shown no indications of such a game plan being their intention. Lynch is a touchdown-or-bust RB2 option only.
Carr’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Amari Cooper 28; Jared Cook 21; Michael Crabtree 16; DeAndre Washington 12; Seth Roberts 9; Cordarrelle Patterson 8; Lynch 6; Richard 5. … By far Carr’s most-heavily targeted receiver, Cooper is the best buy-low target in year-long fantasy ahead of a soft rest-of-season schedule despite his painfully slow start. In Odell Beckham (5/97/1), Alshon Jeffery (3/29/1), Tyreek Hill (5/77/1), and DeVante Parker (4/85/0), each of the last four “No. 1” wideouts to face the Chargers have produced useful fantasy stats. I get downgrading Cooper to a WR3 play for the time being, but he is a talent to bet on and not against the rest of the way, and beginning this week. It should be noted that Chargers top CB Casey Hayward got burned up badly in last week’s win over the Giants, giving up long scores to Beckham and Roger Lewis. … Crabtree, of course, is the Raiders’ most-stable wideout and has cleared 80 yards in 3-of-4 appearances. He is also less likely to draw Hayward’s shadow if the Chargers opt to go that route. Since signing with Oakland in 2015, Crabtree’s four stat lines against the Bolts are 6/63/1, 6/39/1, 3/47/1, 6/60/1. He’s a rock-solid WR2 play. … Zach Ertz (5/81/0) is the lone tight end to have a productive game against the Chargers in the last month. They shut down Travis Kelce (1/1/0), Julius Thomas (3/26/0), and Evan Engram (0/0), and pose a concerning matchup for inconsistent Cook.
Score Prediction: Chargers 30, Raiders 24
Sunday Night Football
NY Giants @ Denver
Team Totals: Broncos 26, Giants 13
The Broncos return fresh from their Week 5 bye to face a cross-country-traveling Giants team whose outlook is bleak following Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall’s year-ending ankle injuries. This is a beatdown spot for Denver and sets up beautifully for C.J. Anderson against a porous Giants run defense that has surrendered 133/595/4.47/2 rushing to enemy backs and kick started Melvin Gordon’s season last week. With the exception of a predictable Week 3 dud in Buffalo, Anderson has posted touch totals of 21 > 28 > 24 and is playing 70% of Denver’s offensive snaps. He’s a high-ceiling RB1 play. … Although change-of-pace back Jamaal Charles has been effective on his chances, his flex appeal is limited after Devontae Booker rejoined the backfield in Denver’s pre-bye win over the Raiders. Charles finished that game with season lows in touches (6) and snaps (17%) and may have to share No. 2 back duties with Booker here on out. … After unsustainably throwing touchdowns on 10% of his attempts in Weeks 1-2, Trevor Siemian regressed to his game-managing ways with weekly finishes of QB27 and QB19 heading into the bye. The Giants have not been a quarterback matchup to fear, but Siemian looks like a poor bet for significant Week 6 volume as a severe home favorite facing a New York offense that seems unlikely to answer. 21st in the NFL in pass attempts per game (31.5), Siemian is a two-quarterback-league start.
Siemian’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Emmanuel Sanders 34; Demaryius Thomas 30; Bennie Fowler 16; Anderson and AJ Derby 12; Virgil Green 7; Charles 4. … Forecasting receiver-cornerback matchups here is guesswork, but my best guess is Janoris Jenkins would be likelier to chase Thomas based on Jenkins’ superior ability to shut down plus-size wideouts. Sanders is Denver’s top fantasy receiver this season, anyway, with six red-zone targets to Thomas’ two and three targets inside the ten-yard line to Thomas’ none. If my guess is right, Sanders would be positioned to blow up against struggling Giants No. 2 CB Eli Apple, who has allowed a touchdown in 4-of-5 games and the NFL’s eighth-most yards (305) among 109 qualified cornerbacks in PFF’s grades. Slot CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s suspension for violating team rules further improves Sanders’ matchup. … Jenkins chasing Demaryius is not guaranteed, of course, but Thomas needs to be downgraded to a WR3 until we see him pick up more scoring-position work. Thomas’ open-field target upside is already somewhat capped by Denver’s run-first ways. The Broncos rank 23rd in pass attempts per game and second in rushing attempts per game. … The only other Denver pass catcher worth discussion is Derby due to his matchup. The Giants have been dusted by Jason Witten (7/59/1), Eric Ebron (5/42/1), Zach Ertz (8/55/1), O.J. Howard (2/63/1), Cameron Brate (4/80/1), and Hunter Henry (3/42/1). Derby plays only 41% of the offensive snaps, however, so he will have to make the most of his opportunities. I think Derby is best viewed as a boom-bust streamer.
You shouldn’t be surprised to know Eli Manning has significant splits without Odell Beckham in the lineup over the last three seasons, averaging 33.5 fewer yards and 0.65 interceptions more per game when Beckham sits. The way to approach this situation is to fire up the Broncos’ D/ST. … With Roger Lewis and Tavarres King slated to start, Giants wideouts are Week 6 fades against a Denver secondary that has yet to allow a single enemy receiver to reach 65 yards this year. I do think Lewis and Sterling Shepard (ankle) -- whenever Shepard returns -- have improved outlooks in OBJ and Marshall’s absences. … Despite his Week 5 goose egg, the Giants’ best bet for receiving production is Evan Engram against a Broncos defense that gave up 10/97/1 to Jason Witten in Week 2, 7/70/1 to Bills tight ends in Week 3, and 5/61/0 to Raiders tight ends in Week 4. … The Broncos are eliminating ground games again, holding enemy backs to a combined 71/167/2.35/0 rushing line and stymieing Ezekiel Elliott (9/8/0), LeSean McCoy (14/21/0), and Marshawn Lynch (9/12/0) in three straight games leading into their Week 5 bye. While it is conceivable receiving back Shane Vereen takes on a bigger role due to the Giants’ wideout shortage, I think this is a week to wait and see and try to avoid investing fantasy plays into this backfield.
Score Prediction: Broncos 27, Giants 3
Monday Night Football
Indianapolis @ Tennessee
Team Totals: N/A
Jacoby Brissett is worth Week 6 streamer discussion against Tennessee’s pass-funnel defense, which has surrendered top-seven fantasy weeks to Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson, facing low-volume game manager Blake Bortles and Dolphins trainwreck Jay Cutler in its other two games. The Titans have allowed the NFL’s sixth-most rushing yards to quarterbacks (89), notable since Brissett ranks seventh at his position in rush attempts (22) and tied for first in rushing scores (3). Brissett has been a top-ten fantasy quarterback in two of his last three starts, the understandable outlier coming in Week 4 at Seattle. … This is a concerning matchup for the Colts’ running game against a Titans defense that has held enemy backs to a combined 127/439/3.46/2 rushing line and the NFL’s seventh-fewest receptions (21). Colts backs' floors are further lowered by RG Jack Mewhort's year-ending knee injury. Although rookie Marlon Mack is a hot name after dropping 93 total yards and a touchdown on the 49ers last week, Mack played just 22% of the Colts’ offensive snaps and remains a timeshare back along with Frank Gore (51%) and Robert Turbin (28%). Realistically, Mack would need at least an injury to Turbin to become a reliable flex play. He’s a volatile shot in the dark as long as the backfield is healthy.
Brissett’s Weeks 2-5 target distribution: T.Y. Hilton 30; Jack Doyle 20; Kamar Aiken 22; Donte Moncrief 17; Gore 10; Turbin 5; Mack 2. … Inept in the secondary, the Titans bleed wide receiver production, having yielded stat lines of 10/107/1 (DeAndre Hopkins), 10/105/1 (Doug Baldwin), 6/83/0 (Michael Crabtree), 6/82/1 (Allen Hurns), 7/76/0 (Marqise Lee), 5/62/1 (Amari Cooper), 5/44/1 (Jarvis Landry), and 2/30/1 (Paul Richardson) through only five games. Now clearly on the same page with Brissett, Hilton has topped 150 yards in two of his last three games and came very close to a 200-plus-yard Week 5 if not for a few missed opportunities. Tennessee has allowed a league-high 12 passing touchdowns. … Moncrief’s stat lines in Brissett’s starts are 2/18/0, 2/44/0, 3/30/1, and 3/32/0. Last week, Moncrief (70%) was out-snapped by Aiken (88%). Aiken’s stat lines in Brissett’s starts are 3/31/0, 1/9/0, 1/4/0, and 2/22/0. … The Colts’ only other fantasy-viable pass catcher is Doyle, who is back after missing Week 5 with a concussion. The Titans are allowing the NFL’s seventh-fewest fantasy points to tight ends.
The Titans are a difficult team to analyze because Marcus Mariota (hamstring) is uncertain to play and will at best be a game-time decision. Unsurprisingly, the offense collapsed with long-washed Matt Cassel at the Week 5 controls. … All this week, coach Mike Mularkey was publicly insistent Derrick Henry needs more touches, strongly suggesting the Titans plan to resume a near-even RBBC with Henry and DeMarco Murray after Murray out-touched Henry 18 to 4 in last week’s loss to Miami. The Colts have played above-average run defense, holding enemy running backs to a combined 110/399/3.63/4 rushing line. Murray should be downgraded to a mid-range to low-end RB2 play. Henry is a touchdown-dependent flex option. … Even against a porous Colts secondary, you’re entirely on your own trying to throw darts at Tennessee receivers and tight ends. With Cassel quarterbacking 75% of the plays over the past two weeks, no Titans pass catcher cleared 51 yards. No. 3 tight end “Phillip Supernaw” has the lone TD.
Score Prediction: Colts 23, Titans 17