Start 'Em or Sit 'Em: Week 6
By Joel Dehls
Whether you’re 5-0, or 0-5, the season is not over yet. Making the right start/sits, playing the waiver wire, and executing the right trades can turn your season around. Let's get into my favorite starts, sleepers, and busts for week 6!
QB Start: Ryan Tannehill vs. Houston Texans
Before we start, lets get one thing straight - Ryan Tannehill is not a good quarterback, he's a GREAT quarterback. It seems that any player that had the misfortune of playing under Adam Gase has a dark cloud over their head until they break out. I’m not sure if you realized, but Ryan Tannehill broke out last year and it was not a fluke. Since Week 7 of 2019, Ryan Tannheill has been the QB6. He’s QB16 through 5 weeks, but has already had his “bye” due to COVID hitting the Titans locker room. With AJ Brown back in the fold, Tannehill is fringe QB1 weekly and should be an autostart in 2QB leagues.
What makes Tannehill a great start this week is his matchup versus Houston. While the Texans have been decent against fantasy QB’s, giving up 18 fantasy points per game, Vegas expects this to have a ton of scoring. The line currently sits at 53 points, which is the 6th highest of the week and the Titans have an implied point total of 28, which is 6th highest among all teams. Sign me up.
QB Bust: Joe Burrow @ Indianapolis Colts
Joe Burrow was one of my favorite late round QB targets going into draft season. The combination of his talent, an above average supporting cast at WR/RB, and a terrible Bengals defense led me to believe he would be an asset in fantasy leagues. That has been true for the most part. In plus matchups versus the Chargers, Browns, and Jaguars, he is averaging nearly 20 points per game.
The issue with Burrow is when he plays a great defense - see last week against Baltimore. While I dont project Burrow to get sacked 7 times, the Colts have had the stingiest defense against QB’s. They have given up an average of 12.5 points per game to opposing quarterbacks, best in the NFL. Vegas also projects a tough game for Cincy, as they have an implied point total of 19 points. For reference, the hapless Jets are projected to score 18.5 points. I would look elsewhere at QB for this week.
QB Sleeper: Matt Stafford @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Do you need a replacement for Joe Burrow this week? Look no further than Matt Stafford. In his 2 games with Kenny Golladay back in the lineup, he has thrown for 476 yards and 5 TD’s. He is averaging 4 more fantasy points per game with Kenny G back, and coming off a bye, Golladay should be 100%.
You can also count on the Lions doing absolutely nothing to help Stafford outside of their receiving core. The Lions defense is 4th worst in points per game, giving up nearly 32 on a weekly basis. Matt Patricia is slowly creeping towards Adam Gase territory with his RB usage as well. Instead of using highly-touted, 2nd round rookie, D’Andre Swift, he is insistent on giving Adrian Peterson the bulk of the touches. AP has seen an average of 14.5 touches per game, while Swift is only seeing about 6 touches per game - leading to a bottom 10 rushing attack.
The Jaguars are a great matchup for Stafford to exploit. They are bottom 10 against fantasy QB’s, giving up 22 points per game. Vegas also expects a shootout between two bad defenses. The line is set at 52.5, the 5th highest line this week. Lastly, Detroit has the 3rd highest implied point total of 28.5. Stafford is a top 15 play this week.
RB Start: Alexander Mattison vs ATL
If you are a Dalvin Cook owner, I hope you handcuffed yourself with Alexander Mattison. In the year and a half of tape we have on Mattison, one could argue he is the best backup running back in the NFL (sorry Mike Davis truthers). He has averaged 4.7 yards/carry on his career and is averaging 5 yards/carry in 2020. While the majority of his snaps came in the second half against Seattle, he still managed to put up 20 carries for 112 yards. I expect similar production for this week.
It's not just the skill that has me excited for Mattison, but he has a juicy matchup. The Falcons are bottom 10 in the league against fantasy RB’s and there will be a ton of scoring. Vegas has the over/under set at 56.5, the 2nd highest of the week. The Vikings also have the 2nd highest implied point total of 29, only trailing the Chiefs. I want every piece of the Vikings offense this week.
RB Bust: Phillip Lindsay vs New England
With the recent news of Melvin Gordon being ruled out of week 6, you might see Phillip Lindsay on your bench or waiver wire. Please, do not start him. Lindsay has not played since week 1 and has a brutal matchup against New England.
The Broncos have a lower implied team point total than the New York Football Jets. They are projected to score a measly 17.5 points. Also, the Patriots are top 10 against fantasy RB’s giving up 18 points per game to their opponents backfield. You are crossing your fingers and praying that Phillip Lindsay sneaks into the endzone to be fantasy relevant.
RB Sleeper: David Montgomery @ Carolina Panthers
Without Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery has turned into a top 20 RB on a weekly basis. Since Cohen went down in week 3, Montgomery is RB19, just ahead of guys like David Johnson and James Connor in ½ PPR leagues. If you just look at his last two games, it's not impressive. He has played the Colts and Bucs, two of the best rushing defenses in the NFL and has 20 carries for 56 yards. What has me excited for Montgomery is his uptick in the receiving game. With Cohen in the lineup, he averaged 3 targets per game. With Cohen out of the lineup, he is averaging 7 targets. I expect this trend to continue, which will dramatically increase his floor.
Montgomery also has the luxury of playing the Carolina Panthers - the worst team against fantasy RB’s. Last week, they made Todd Gurley look like his old self, with 150 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. This is a game that the Bears should win, as they are 3 point favorites, leading to more opportunity for Montgomery.
WR Start: Odell Beckham Jr. @ Pittsburgh Steelers
It took fantasy managers, me included, an entire year to realize Odell in Cleveland is not Odell in New York. We are not going to see the consistent top 10 fantasy WR of years past, but he still holds great upside in plus matchups. In plus matchups (Cincy, Washington, Dallas) he is averaging 21.7 PPR points. In negative matchups (Baltimore, Indianapolis), he is averaging 8 PPR points. Although there is a drastic difference in points per game, Odell has seen a consistent amount of targets, about 8 per game, giving him a decent floor on a weekly basis. Thankfully, he gets a lousy Steelers secondary this week.
This is what WR’s are doing to the Steelers secondary (Receptions/Yards/TD):
- Week 1: Darious Slayton 6/102/2
- Week 2: Sutton (injury game) & Jeudy 7/128/0
- Week 3: Randall Cobb 4/95/1
- Week 4: BYE
- Week 5: Travis Fulgham 10/152/1
The Steelers secondary are letting up WR1 games on a weekly basis and teams aren't afraid to go deep on them too. They let up the second most air yards per game, only behind Seattle. I expect a couple big plays from Odell this week, leading to a top 10 finish.
WR Bust: Terry McLaurin
Terry McLaurin is turning into Allen Robinson 2.0. An amazing talent, but his quarterback will limit his upside year after year. There’s a few reasons why I don't like this matchup for McLaurin. The #1 reason is because of James Bradberry. Although the Giants defense has been abysmal, Bradberry has been a bright spot at CB. Here is what he has let up through 5 weeks (Receptions/Yards/TD):
- Week 1: JuJu 6/69/2
- Week 2: Allen Robinson 3/33/0
- Week 3: Brandon Aiyuk 5/70/0
- Week 4: Robert Woods 6/36/0
- Week 5: Amari Cooper 2/23/0
Giants vs. Washington is also the lowest O/U of the week (42.5) by a full 2 points. With minimal scoring, two bad quarterbacks, and Terry being shadowed by one of the best CB’s of 2020, I’d look for a different flex.
WR Sleeper: JuJu Smith-Schuster vs Browns
Life comes at you fast. Two years ago, JuJu was being drafted as the WR1 in dynasty leagues. Rightfully so, through his first two years, he had 169 receptions, 2,343 yards, and 14 TD’s. He was useless in 2019 due to Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges incompetent quarterback play, and has had a slow start to the 2020 campaign. With that being said, he is still 23 years old, the same age as AJ Brown, and younger than Terry McLaurin. I wanted to include this blurb to tell you to go out and see how the JuJu owner values him in dynasty. He is a great buy-low candidate.
A couple things to take note of before moving onto the matchup. Diontae Johnson, who has been targeted 6.5 times per game has been ruled out. This is a huge plus for JuJu as Diontae has been receiving more targets when healthy. Also, Chase Claypool will come back to earth after his 4 touchdown performance, allowing JuJu an opportunity to get in the endzone.
Now, moving onto the matchup. The Browns are giving up 39 points per game to fantasy WR’s, the 3rd most of any team. Pair that with a Steelers secondary who couldn't stop Randall Cobb, and you have a possibility of a shootout. Vegas agrees with this too. The O/U is set at 51 points, with an implied point total of 27.5 for the Steelers. I think JuJu will have his way with this secondary, it's a matter of if Ben will give him enough targets.
TE Start: Jonnu Smith vs Houston Texans
This might be the last week Jonnu will be allowed in the “start” column. Through 5 weeks, he has had either 60 yards or a TD in every game. He is currently TE4 in PPR leagues while missing a game due to a bye week! Jonnu has officially entered the elite TE category.
Jonnu is averaging nearly 7 targets/game, the 6th highest among TE’s. While there was some worry he wouldn't see the same amount of targets with AJ Brown healthy, that has yet to happen. In weeks 1 and 5 with AJ Brown on the field, he saw 7 targets in each game, giving him a solid weekly floor. In a game where Vegas expects a ton of scoring (52.5 O/U) I want pieces wherever I can get them. Start him every week with top 5 confidence.
TE Bust: Rob Gronkowski vs Green Bay Packers
Hopefully you did not draft Gronk. I was low on him this year because of his age, injury history, and being out of the NFL for multiple years. So far, the Bucs have used him mostly as a blocking TE with minimal passing work. The reason he is in my bust column is because last week was his best week of the season. Gronk saw 6 targets which he turned into 3 receptions for 52 yards. I do not expect this trend to continue.
The Bucs enter week 6 the healthiest they have been in nearly a month. Chris Godwin is expected back in the lineup, Fournette has a real chance of playing, and Mike Evans was able to practice most of the week. I believe Gronk was used as a pass catcher out of necessity last week due to injuries to key pieces on the offense. He will need a TD to be relevant.
TE Sleeper: Dalton Schultz vs Arizona
Does the Cowboys offense regress with Andy Dalton? Of course it does, but that does not mean you sit your Cowboys. In weeks 2-4 (remember Jarwin was playing week 1 and there was a QB change in week 5) the only TE’s who saw more targets than Schultz are Darren Waller and Travis Kelce. Additionally, Schultz has seen a ton of snaps - the 6th most of all TE’s on the season. In a TE landscape that is messy at best, give me the guy who is on the field and getting opportunity.
Cowboys vs. Cardinals have the 3rd highest O/U of the week, set at 55 points. I believe this will give Schultz a safe floor, while still having decent upside.