Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes. Anybody can tell you to start the Deshaun Watsons, Mark Ingrams, and Robert Woodses of the world. That’s not what I’m doing here. I’m looking deeper at legitimate mostly-borderline candidates who owners may truly be contemplating using in lineups.
Start of the Week: Kyler Murray vs. Falcons: Even as a relative disappointment in terms of passing touchdowns (4, 27th), Murray is still the overall QB7 through five weeks on the back of the fourth-most attempts and 11th-most yards while playing in the league’s second fastest-paced offense and showing off his dual-threat ability with 206 rushing yards and two scores as a runner. He’s scored on the ground in back-to-back games and is averaging 63 yards rushing over his last three outings. Murray’s Weeks 1-5 schedule was littered with plus matchups to which he underwhelmed as a thrower, but Murray gets yet another one Sunday. The Falcons are 20th in overall pass defense and 28th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. They represent a true pass-funnel, as Atlanta checks in at 30th in pass-defense DVOA and 7th versus the run. Their corners are slow, and the defensive front gets no pressure. The Falcons are tied for last in sacks with the lowly Dolphins, who have played one fewer game. So, the atrocious Arizona offensive line at least gets a bit of a break here. Atlanta is fresh off surrendering the overall QB1 day to Deshaun Watson in Week 5. The last four quarterbacks to square off with the Falcons have managed top-12 weeks. The Falcons and Cardinals are top-five in offensive pace, and this game’s 51.5-point total is second-highest on the slate and will be played under the roof in perfect “weather” conditions. While Murray has left a lot to be desired in the box score, he’s a lock-and-load QB1 and needs to be owned where he was dropped. There’s a fairly good chance this game finishes as the highest-scoring Week 6 affair.
Kyle Allen vs. Bucs: Since hanging 261 yards and four touchdowns on the Cardinals as the overall QB6 in Week 3, Allen has completed 41-of-64 passes (64.1%) for 413 yards (6.5 YPA) and a meager 1:0 TD:INT mark as the QB30 in Weeks 4-5. He took six sacks and fumbled four times, losing three, against the Texans and Jaguars. Allen obviously isn’t as good as the player we saw in the cupcake matchup against Arizona. He’s a one-read thrower who tends to collapse if his first read isn’t there. Cam Newton will have his job back when healthy. That’s clear. But Allen gets another plus draw ahead of the Panthers’ bye. The Bucs have shut down opposing running games but have struggled mightily in pass coverage. Tampa Bay is 32nd in overall pass defense, 31st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and 22nd in pass-defense DVOA. Nine of the team’s 11 sacks have come from OLB Shaq Barrett. Daniel Jones put the QB2 day on the Bucs in Week 2, Jared Goff was the QB4 in Week 4, and Teddy Bridgewater came alive for the overall QB4 afternoon last Sunday on the back of 314 yards and four scores. Both the Panthers and Bucs are top-14 in offensive pace and bottom-four in opponent plays per game. When these two teams met in Week 2, Carolina fired off a season-high 75 plays. More plays obviously leads to more chances at fantasy points. The Panthers’ implied team total of 24.5 points is ninth-highest of Week 6. This game’s 47-point total is the fourth-highest on the slate.
Kirk Cousins vs. Eagles: The Vikings are dead last in pass attempts and 29th in passing yards five weeks into the season. Just how coach Mike Zimmer prefers it. But Cousins is coming off his first 300-yard and multi-touchdown game of the year last Sunday against the Giants as the overall QB9. Minnesota is unlikely to change its big-picture offensive philosophy, but Week 6 presents another opportunity to sling the rock through the air. The Eagles are the premier run defense, allowing the fewest rushing yards, but they’ve been eviscerated via the pass. Philly is 27th in pass defense and 22nd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Only the Bucs and Texans have faced more pass attempts. Luke Falk helped those rankings tremendously last week by throwing for just 120 yards and tossing a pair of picks, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Weeks 1-4, Case Keenum (QB6), Matt Ryan (QB8), and Aaron Rodgers (QB2) all produced top-eight fantasy weeks against the Eagles. Cousins should flirt with 30 attempts in this one as long as it stays close, and the three-point spread suggests that will be the case. Cousins is unlikely to revert to his early-2018 pass-heavy self, but there’s enough meat on the proverbial bone here to prop Cousins up as a top-12 streaming option in a dome environment.
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Case Keenum at Dolphins: This feels gross, but the Redskins are in an obvious plum spot against the Dolphins’ league-worst defense. Despite playing one fewer game than most teams, the Dolphins have allowed the second-most passing scores (12) and surrender the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson (324 yards, 5 TDs) set this unit ablaze in the opener, Tom Brady (264 yards, 2 TDs + 1 rushing TD) did the same in Week 2, Dak Prescott (246 yards, 2 TDs + 1 rushing TD) matched it Week 3, and Philip Rivers (310 yards, 2 TDs) hung the QB9 day in Week 4. Miami is coming off its bye but remains determined to lose. Interim Redskins coach Bill Callahan has turned back to Keenum as Washington’s starter after Colt McCoy got the nod last week in now-fired Jay Gruden’s final game. Keenum is coming off a foot injury but is practicing in full ahead of Week 6. There’s real danger of a mid-game benching, but Keenum should be able to avoid it against this barely-there defense. Miami is dead last in sacks, so the continued absence of holdout LT Trent Williams shouldn’t be felt here. Keenum put the QB6 day on the Eagles in Week 1 and pulled out a QB14 afternoon against the Cowboys the following week. Callahan wants to focus on running the ball more, which should be doable in this one, but the Dolphins haven’t been able to stop the run or pass. Even if Keenum’s attempts are down a bit, he has multi-touchdown upside with Terry McLaurin on his side. This game should actually be somewhat competitive between the NFL’s two worst ball clubs. We can do a lot worse than Keenum when it comes to streamers. He’s also ultra-cheap in daily leagues.
Carson Wentz at Vikings: Fantasy’s QB10, Wentz is top-10 in both pass attempts and touchdowns. However, he has zero 300-yard passing games since the season-opening comeback win over the Redskins. Wentz has been fine for fantasy, but he isn’t single-handedly winning any matchups. And now Wentz gets one of the toughest draws he’ll see all year. Minnesota is No. 6 in passing yards allowed and No. 9 in pass-defense DVOA. The Vikings are also ninth in sacks and seventh in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Matt Ryan, fantasy’s overall QB6, had by far his worst game of the season Week 1 at Minnesota as the QB14, which was heavily-aided by garbage time. Aaron Rodgers was the QB19 against coach Mike Zimmer’s defense in Week 2. And Mitchell Trubisky, Derek Carr, and Daniel Jones all obviously struggled Weeks 3-5 versus Minnesota. Defense isn’t a problem for the Vikings. In two games at home this season, the Vikings have allowed 12 and 14 points to the Falcons and Raiders, respectively. The 44-point total for Eagles-Vikings is the week’s sixth-lowest, and the Eagles’ implied total of 20.5 points is seventh-worst of 28 teams in action. Wentz is more of a floor than ceiling play.
Teddy Bridgewater at Jaguars: Bridgewater is coming off the QB4 afternoon against the dreadful Bucs pass defense last week, but Weeks 2-4, he averaged 178.3 yards per game with a total of two touchdown passes while averaging an scary-low 6.15 yards per attempt. Week 5 was very likely an outlier performance for Bridgewater, as it was just his sixth career 300-yard game across 39 appearances. The Jaguars haven’t been their previous-shutdown selves against the pass, but they are sixth in sacks, 14th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 18th in pass-defense DVOA, and 18th in passing yards allowed. Most of that has been done without top CB Jalen Ramsey, but Ramsey is tentatively expected to get the green light this week off his back injury. Even if Ramsey doesn’t suit up, both the Saints and Jaguars are bottom-six in offensive pace. This game figures to be a slow-moving, ball-control affair. The 44-point total is sixth-lowest of Week 6. Bridgewater is likely to revert to dink-and-dunk pass plays to combat Jacksonville’s pass rush. Those chasing Bridgewater’s Week 5 are on their own with this one.
Jimmy Garoppolo at Rams: Despite the Niners’ NFC-best 4-0 record, Garoppolo hasn’t been the one driving the bus. He’s fantasy’s QB19 in points per game, as San Francisco attempts the third-fewest passes and leans heavily on its run game. Garoppolo is No. 7 in yards per attempt (8.1) and 12th in passer rating, and those chasing this game’s 50.5-point total should be greeted with a spike in attempts for Garoppolo. However, the Niners are missing both starting tackles -- LT Joe Staley (broken leg) and RT Mike McGlinchey (knee) -- on the road against a hungry Rams team looking to end a two-game skid coming off a mini-bye and facing the 49ers on a short week. This is a letdown spot for San Francisco after blowing out the Browns on national television. L.A. will be without OLB Clay Matthews (broken jaw), but that could honestly be an addition by subtraction at this point; Matthews is a mere shell of his former self. Aaron Donald, Dante Fowler, Samson Ebukam, and perhaps even Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, should be enough to put some heat on Garoppolo against this banged-up offensive line. The Niners lead the league in rushing and will likely try to lean on that along with their defense to spring the upset. Garoppolo has shown a low ceiling along with a low floor in fantasy to this point in 2019.