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Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

Start Jonathan Taylor Against the Bengals

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: October 16, 2020, 2:16 am ET

Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.

 

QUARTERBACK

 

Start of the Week: Cam Newton vs. Broncos -- Fantasy’s overall QB7 in points per game, Newton is fresh off the COVID-19 list after getting two weeks off. This is an absolute smash spot for Cam. The Broncos are 31st in opponent plays per game, 23rd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and are fresh off allowing 84 yards and a 46-yard touchdown on the ground to Sam Darnold last time out in Week 4. Denver’s front seven has been ravaged by injuries, missing Von Miller (ankle, I.R.), Jurrell Casey (biceps, I.R.), Dre’Mont Jones (knee, I.R.), Mark Barron (hamstring, pec, I.R.), DeMarcus Walker (calf, I.R.), and Jeremiah Attaochu (quad). New England is No. 10 in offensive pace and fourth in offensive plays per game. Doubling as the Patriots’ goal-line back, Cam is a top-six QB1 play this week. New England’s implied team total of 27.5 points is on the higher end most week and tied for ninth-highest of Week 6.

 

Starts

 

Ryan Tannehill vs. Texans -- Coming off a four-touchdown drubbing of the Bills at home as the week’s overall QB2, Tannehill now catches a Texans unit that has yet to pick off a pass, surrendering a perfect 9:0 TD:INT ratio and 69% completion rate. Picking up right where he left off a season ago, Tannehill is the overall QB9 in fantasy points per game through five weeks. A.J. Brown is back healthy, Jonnu Smith is taking the next step forward as one of the game’s premier tight ends, and Adam Humphries has been activated from the COVID-19 list. Tannehill’s pass-game arsenal is as healthy and strong as it's been all season. The Titans are No. 6 in offensive plays per game, and the Texans check in at 29th in opponent plays per game while both offenses are top-nine in offensive pace. This game has some shootout appeal with a 53-point total. And Tennessee’s implied total of 28 points is tied for the week’s seventh-highest.

Andy Dalton vs. Cardinals -- Dalton entered Week 5 with 6:33 left in the third quarter following Dak Prescott’s gruesome broken ankle. In relief, Dalton went 9-of-11 for 111 yards against the Gants. He didn’t do much of note before hitting Michael Gallup on a pair of big gains on the final, game-winning drive that set up Greg Zuerlein’s field goal as time expired. Dalton is no Prescott, but this is easily the best supporting cast of skill players Dalton has ever played with, and he’s very much on the streaming radar. Dallas and Arizona are the two fastest-paced offenses in football, and both are top-nine in offensive plays per game with the Cowboys No. 1. This game’s 55-point total is second-highest of Week 6, behind only Chiefs-Bills at 57.5. Arizona surrendered the QB4 day to Teddy Bridgewater in Week 4 before easily eliminating Joe Flacco in Week 5. This is a beatable defense that lost stud DE Chandler Jones (biceps) for the year.

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Jets -- FitzMagic went into San Francisco and pasted the Niners for 350 yards and three touchdowns through the air in a 43-17 ass-whooping en route to the overall QB3 finish for the week last Sunday. Consistently inconsistent as any player in the league, Fitzpatrick is the overall QB10 on the season coming into this #revenge spot against the Jets. Fitzpatrick has no more ties to the current Jets’ brass, but surely he’d love to stick it to a former team and divisional foe. It’s a good spot to do just that with the Jets coming in at 22nd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 31st in pass-defense DVOA despite facing Brett Rypien, Philip Rivers, and Jimmy Garoppolo/Nick Mullens in 3-of-5 games thus far. This is a Cadillac spot against a dysfunctional team from top to bottom. Miami’s implied team total of 28.25 points is tied for fourth-highest of Week 6. Fitz is never comfy in fantasy, but the upside is there.

 

Sits

 

Teddy Bridgewater vs. Bears -- Coming off back-to-back multi-score games against the Falcons and Cardinals, Bridgewater is the overall QB8 in fantasy points per game the last two weeks. Carolina is 3-0 in the three games Christian McCaffrey (ankle, I.R.) has missed, and Bridgewater has been a big part of that. But this looks like a spot to avoid him in one-QB formats. The Bears haven’t allowed a quarterback to post a fantasy finish better than QB20 and are fresh after playing last Thursday night. No defense has allowed fewer passing touchdowns or fantasy points to quarterbacks. Chicago has effectively shut down Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, and Tom Brady in 3-of-5 games to open the year and easily stamped out Daniel Jones and Philip Rivers in the other two. This game’s 44.5-point total is the second-lowest of Week 6.

Joe Burrow at Colts -- Fantasy’s overall QB24 in points per game, Burrow is coming off arguably his worst performance of the season last week against the Ravens. He averaged just 6.1 yards per attempt, turned the ball over twice, didn’t toss a touchdown, and absorbed seven sacks. It was his Welcome-to-the-NFL game at the hands of a division rival. Things don’t get any easier this week on the road against a stiff defense. The Colts are No. 2 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA, and No. 1 in opponent plays per game. Cincinnati’s 18.5-point implied team total is the second-lowest of the week.

Baker Mayfield at Steelers -- Mayfield is expected to play through his shoulder/ribs injury after practicing Wednesday and Thursday. But the overall QB26 in fantasy points per game this season has yet to top 247 yards in a game. He’s 19th in total pass attempts, 26th in completion percentage, and 26th in yards per attempt, showing no real signs of improvement from last season despite the Browns being 4-1 headed into this one. New coach Kevin Stefanski has installed an extremely run-heavy approach, as no team runs the ball at a higher rate than Cleveland. Pittsburgh’s pass defense hasn’t been as elite as it was last season, but Mayfield has shown nothing to consider him anything more than a low-floor, two-QB league option. Cleveland’s implied team total of 23.75 points is the ninth-lowest of the week.

 

RUNNING BACK

 

Start of the Week: Jonathan Taylor vs. Bengals -- After touching the ball 28 times in Week 2, the Colts’ first game without Marlon Mack (Achilles’), Taylor has averaged just 15.3 touches over the last three weeks and is seeing very minimal pass-game work (7 targets) since Week 2. At least Jordan Wilkins (4% of the snaps) was removed from the game plan last week and is battling a calf issue. That allowed Taylor to play a three week-high 55% of the Colts’ snaps. This sets up as a breakout spot for Taylor against a Bengals Defense that lost NT D.J. Reader (quad) to I.R. this week and remains without fellow DT Mike Daniels (elbow, I.R.). Cincinnati is hemorrhaging 5.26 yards per carry to running backs and is 21st in fantasy points allowed to the position and 21st in run-defense DVOA. With Philip Rivers struggling so badly that there have been cries to have him benched, this sets up as a spot for coach Frank Reich to ride the rookie running back. The Colts are 9.5-point home favorites and have a juicy implied team total of 28 points. Taylor managers have been frustrated some in recent weeks, but he’s a top-12 play.

 

Starts

 

Myles Gaskin vs. Jets -- Gaskin has played at least 63% of the Dolphins’ snaps in all five games and handled 21 touches for the second time in three weeks last Sunday against the 49ers with Jordan Howard healthy-scratched. The Dolphins appear to have (hopefully) settled on Gaskin-Matt Breida as their one-two tandem, and Gaskin punched in a one-yard score against San Francisco after Howard was the guy stealing all of the goal-line looks in previous weeks. Gaskin now gets a Jets Defense that has lied down and is 27th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Gang Green has no motivation under this current regime, and nobody wants to be there. If Howard continues to sit, Gaskin will be a safer-floor RB2 moving forward. The Dolphins are implied to score 28.25 points against the Jets, the week’s fourth-highest team total.

Alexander Mattison vs. Falcons -- Dalvin Cook (groin) was injured last Sunday night and missed practice Wednesday and Thursday. He’s taking things day by day but looks like an extreme long shot to face Atlanta. Serving as the Vikings’ lead back in the second half against the Seahawks, Mattison finished the night with 136 yards on 23 touches. He’s a legitimate RB1 play should Cook miss this one. The Falcons are 20th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and come in at 27th in opponent plays per game. There’s no reason Mattison shouldn’t handle 20-plus touches. Minnesota’s implied team total of 29.25 points is the second-highest of Week 6. Mattison needs to be started everywhere he was added this week.

David Montgomery at Panthers -- Montgomery has played 81% and 85% of the offensive snaps in the two games since Tarik Cohen tore his ACL, seeing 14 targets in that span. After a pair of down games with fewer than 30 rushing yards in both contests, Montgomery is a buy-low seeing an RB1 snap share. He’s a Week 6 breakout candidate with the Panthers on deck. Carolina is 31st in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 29th in run-defense DVOA. Todd Gurley (14-121-1, 4-29), Austin Ekeler (12-59-1, 11-84), Leonard Fournette (12-103-2, 4-13), and Josh Jacobs (25-93-3, 4-46) have all crushed the Panthers the first five weeks. This is as good of a spot Montgomery will see all season. He needs to be in season-long lineups.

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Sits

 

Mark Ingram at Eagles -- Week 5 was Ingram’s first with double-digit carries (11) and the most by a Ravens running back in a game this season. That’s pretty much all you need to know about this backfield, as all three of Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, and Gus Edwards are playing between 32-25% of the offensive snaps. They’re all cancelling each other out, and the Ravens are playing a lot slower in 2020. They’re 25th in pace and 31st in plays per game. The Eagles are surrendering just 3.35 yards per carry. Ingram simply has to score a touchdown to be anything more than an RB4. He’s as TD-dependent as any back in the league. It’s a situation to avoid.

Frank Gore at Dolphins -- In the three games Le’Veon Bell missed Weeks 2-4, Gore played 57%, 41%, and 48% of the snaps while handling 21, 15, and 13 carries. But the 37-year-old is averaging a pitiful 3.2 yards per carry and is a zero in the passing game. With Bell now released, expect Gore to be a big part of coach Adam Gase’s offense. That’s obviously not a good thing. Lamical Perine played zero snaps last week, and Ty Johnson was inactive after being claimed off waivers from the Lions. Those two deserve longer looks in a lost season. Perine should probably be added in 12-team formats. But Gore simply shouldn’t be anywhere near fantasy lineups, even if he’s the starter. The Jets are implied to score 18.75 points Sunday.

Melvin Gordon at Patriots -- The Broncos are coming off a bye after their date with the Patriots was COVID-postponed to this Sunday. With Phillip Lindsay (toe) out the previous 3.5 games, Gordon has played at least 62% of the snaps in all three games and is coming off a season-high 80% playing time clip last time out against the Jets when he went 23-107-2 on the ground. He’s been a true workhorse but is stuck in a bad offense that has already started three quarterbacks. Lindsay and Drew Lock (shoulder) are expected back this week, but Gordon has earned No. 1 treatment as a volume-based RB2. However, he was arrested Tuesday night for DUI and was sent home from the team facility Wednesday before returning to practice Thursday. Coach Vic Fangio has hinted at some “consequences” for Gordon. It’s unclear if that will be a team-imposed suspension, benching, or reduced workload. The situation is too risky to trust Gordon against a Patriots Defense that is No. 7 in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Denver’s implied team total of 17.5 points is also easily the lowest of Week 6.

 

WIDE RECEIVER

 

Start of the Week: DeVante Parker vs. Jets -- Fantasy’s overall WR30 in half-PPR points per game, Parker is coming off a 2-50-1 day on three targets against the 49ers last week after posting a 10-110 line in Week 4. Preston Williams was Ryan Fitzpatrick’s weapon of choice last week, but there’s no reason to believe he’s even close to passing Parker as the Dolphins’ top wideout. Fitzpatrick loves Parker, and the duo now gets a date with a lousy Jets team that has already seen its season go up in flames. The Jets are 28th in yards allowed to wideouts and 31st in pass-defense DVOA. DeAndre Hopkins (6-131-1), Christian Kirk (5-78), Tim Patrick (6-113-1), and Jerry Jeudy (2-61-1) have all met or exceeded expectations against the Jets the last two weeks. Miami’s implied team total of 28.25 is tied for the week’s fourth-highest.

 

Starts

 

Julian Edelman vs. Broncos -- The Patriots’ far-and-away leader in targets and air yards, Edelman is the current WR36 in half-PPR points per game. That includes his forgettable 3-35-0 against the Chiefs last time out when it was Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham throwing the passes. Cam Newton is back under center off the COVID-19 list, and he and Edelman have shown a strong connection three games into their existence. Slot wideouts have had plenty of success against Denver, as Jamison Crowder (7-104), Chris Godwin (5-64-1), JuJu Smith-Schuster (7-48), and Adam Humphries (6-47) have all posted useful PPR numbers. New England is No. 4 in offensive plays, and Denver is 31st in opponent plays per game. Edelman averaged eight targets per contest in his three starts with Newton. He’s a strong WR3 option.

JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. Browns -- JuJu has yet to post even 70 yards in a game this season and is seeing a career-low 5.0 yards average depth of target as the Steelers’ slot man. He’s getting by on touchdowns, with three, as the overall WR25 in half-PPR points per game. Pittsburgh is attacking downfield more with Diontae Johnson and rookie Chase Claypool. But this spot against the Browns is one for Smith-Schuster to attack. The Browns are 30th in fantasy points and receiving yards allowed to opposing wideouts. And JuJu gets a tasty draw against third-year UDFA Tavierre Thomas out of the slot. Slot wideouts CeeDee Lamb (5-79-2), Tyler Boyd (7-72-1), and Willie Snead (4-64-1) have all had success against the Browns from the interior. JuJu is more of a WR3 this season, but he’s worth keeping in lineups for Week 6.

Justin Jefferson vs. Falcons -- After going over 100 yards in Weeks 3 and 4, Jefferson came back to Earth last week against Seattle, posting a 3-23 line on five targets. However, he did play a season-high 80% of the snaps and has taken over as the No. 2 wideout to Adam Thielen. This is a definite rebound spot against an Atlanta team that just fired its coach and GM amidst another lost season. The Falcons are 30th in pass-defense DVOA, 27th in opponent plays per game, and 26th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts, surrendering the second-most yards to the position. The Vikings are as run-heavy as any offense in football when things are going right, but this game has some track-meet appeal with a robust 54.5-point total. Minnesota’s implied team total of 29.25 points is the second-highest of the week. Jefferson is an upside WR3 option.

 

Sits

 

Tee Higgins at Colts -- A.J. Green suffered a hamstring injury last week and is expected to miss an extended amount of time. Rookie Higgins was in on a season-high 81% of the snaps against the Ravens and looks locked in as the top outside receiver with Tyler Boyd in the slot. Higgins is averaging 7.5 targets per game over the last four weeks. But a date with the Colts’ zone defense that refuses to allow big plays is on tap, and Indy is No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 1 in opponent plays per game, and No. 9 in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. This just isn’t an ideal spot to be targeting anyone on the Bengals outside of maybe Boyd in the middle. Cincinnati’s implied team total of 18.5 points is the second-lowest of the week.

T.Y. Hilton vs. Bengals -- Hilton is coming off season bests in targets (10), catches (6), and yards (69), but he’s yet to find the end zone this season and has looked pretty washed at 31 (next month) with an even more washed Philip Rivers throwing him the ball. The Bengals aren’t an imposing draw, but Hilton has already face-planted in easy matchups with the Jaguars, Vikings, and Jets. As 9.5-point home favorites, look for Rivers to flirt with just 25 attempts and the Colts to run the ball down Cincinnati’s throat. Hilton is a low-floor WR4 play for now.

Travis Fulgham vs. Ravens -- The 184th overall pick by the Lions in last year’s draft, Fulgham (6’2"/215) has appeared to finally find a home in Philly after posting 2-57-1 and 10-152-1 receiving lines in two games with the Eagles. He played 78% of the snaps last week against the Steelers. But with DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Alshon Jeffery (foot) both practicing this week, there’s a chance Fulgham’s snap share takes a hit in an already-tough draw against Marcus Peters and the Ravens. Baltimore is No. 7 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 7 in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Fulgham definitely has upside as the lone playmaker among Eagles’ wideouts through five weeks, but playing time and matchup are potentially working against him.

 

TIGHT END

 

Start of the Week: Jonnu Smith vs. Texans -- Smith is the current TE2 in half-PPR points per game behind only George Kittle. Averaging 6.75 targets per game, Smith already has five touchdowns in four games and is coming off a 5-40-2 Tuesday night stomping of the Bills. He leads the Titans in targets and needs to be treated as an every-week TE1 moving forward. Among tight ends with double-digit targets, only Mo Alie-Cox and Kittle are averaging more yards per route. The Texans are 15th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Tennessee’s implied team total of 28 points is tied for seventh-highest of Week 6.

 

Starts

 

Evan Engram vs. Washington -- As disappointing as any tight end to this point, Engram is 64th among all tight ends in yards per route. Daniel Jones hasn’t thrown a touchdown since Week 1, and Engram had to have a punter throw him one last week in Dallas only for it to be called back on an illegal shift penalty. Despite all that, Engram is in a good spot to jumpstart his season against Washington. The Football Team is 29th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, and only two teams have given up more touchdowns to the position. Gerald Everett (4-90), Mark Andrews (3-57-2), Dallas Goedert (8-101-1), and Zach Ertz (3-18-1) have all managed productive fantasy days against Washington. It’s almost now-or-never for Engram.

Eric Ebron vs. Browns -- The current TE23 in half-PPR points per game, Ebron has played at least 75% of the snaps in three straight games and is averaging six targets per game in that span. He plays in an explosive offense and gets to face a Browns team that has surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends. Trey Burton (5-33), Dalton Schultz (4-72-1), Logan Thomas (4-31), Drew Sample (7-45), C.J. Uzomah (4-42-1), and Mark Andrews (5-58-2) have all met or exceeded expectations against the Browns through five weeks.

Mike Gesicki vs. Jets -- Gesicki is third in air yards and seventh in yards per route among tight ends, but his stat lines have been all over the map with 3-30 > 8-130-1 > 1-15-1 > 1-15 > 5-91 box scores through five weeks. His snap rates also leave a bit to be desired after playing just 45% of the downs last week. Still, this is a defense to attack, as the Jets have given up and lied down. Mo Alie-Cox (3-50-1) and Jordan Reed (7-50-2) have had successful days against this defense, but the Jets in all haven’t had to face strong tight ends to this point. Gesicki is a high-upside, low-floor TE1 with Miami implied to score 28.25 points in Week 6.

 

Sits

 

While tight end is deeper than it’s been in recent years, it’s hard for me to argue against anyone at the position. It’s a crapshoot, and all we’re looking for are tight ends who can find the end zone and/or see volume in terms of targets. Predicting touchdowns is the hardest thing to do in football. Just finding a tight end who is on the field enough and runs plenty of routes is difficult enough. It’s why having Travis Kelce, George Kittle, or Mark Andrews is such an advantage.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for Rotoworld since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.