Every week, Scott Barrett and Graham Barfield team up to make some of their favorite start/sit calls of the week for shallow (10-team) and deep (12- and 14-team) leagues. And, good news! It looks like there aren’t any Week 6 games that are in jeopardy of being postponed or moved due to any COVID outbreaks this week. Hopefully that sticks. As a reminder, there isn’t a Thursday night game this week. Instead, we get another double-header on Monday night between the Chiefs-Bills and Cardinals-Cowboys.
Note: The Chargers, Saints, Raiders, and Seahawks are out on BYE this week.
Here’s the Week 6 start/sit:
Start: Cam Newton vs. Broncos
This Broncos-Patriots game was rescheduled because of the Patriots COVID outbreak, causing a slew of changes across the NFL mid-season schedule. The good news is that Newton is off of the COVID list this week and it looks like he’ll return after a one-game absence. Sure, Cam struggled badly in his last start back in Week 3 against the Raiders, but we can safely plug him back into lineups this week. The Broncos defense is a shell of itself because of all of their injuries and have allowed a top-16 fantasy performance to Ryan Tannehill, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, and Sam Darnold in all four of their games so far. Keep in mind, the Broncos play man coverage at the league’s sixth-highest rate – which helps Newton this week because it’s much easier to scramble against man. Newton is a high-floor QB1 start in all leagues this week as he leads all QBs in rushing fantasy points per game (13.0) ahead of Kyler Murray (11.9).
Sit: Carson Wentz vs. Ravens
Outside of Patrick Mahomes’ 40 fantasy point explosion back in Week 3, the Ravens have been making life incredibly hard for opposing quarterbacks. Baltimore’s front-seven is extremely aggressive – they blitz at the league’s second-highest rate and create pressure at the sixth-highest rate – which should spell trouble for a completely banged-up Eagles offensive line. If RT Lane Johnson misses this week with continued ankle issues, Philly will be down four of their five starters with Jason Peters, Brandon Brooks, and Andre Dilliard all on injured-reserve. Wentz will be under duress all game long this week.
If turning to the waiver wire to start a QB this week, you’re faced with a somewhat difficult decision. My top streaming recommendation is either Dalton or Cousins. If you’re solid at QB – you need a one-week replacement for Russell Wilson, who is on bye – I’d lean towards Cousins, and would start him with confidence as a high-end QB2. Atlanta ranks worst in FPG allowed to opposing QBs (30.9) and worst in passer rating allowed (118.3), while seeing opposing QBs outscore their season-long average by a league-high 8.0 FPG.
If you’re less solid at QB, I’d turn to Dalton who offers more full-season upside. Through 5 weeks, Prescott was averaging 21.2 passing FPG and 6.6 rushing FPG, which is to say, if Dalton can be just 90% of who Prescott was as a passer and 20% of who he was as a runner, he has a really good chance to finish as a low-end QB1. And of course, playing in the fastest-paced offense in the NFL, while throwing to a generationally-great 3-WR set certainly doesn’t hurt. This week’s matchup looks pretty good as well – opposing QBs are out-scoring their season-long average by 3.4 FPG when playing Arizona (8th-worst).
Note: Though I’d prefer Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Tannehill, I’m assuming they are already rostered in deeper leagues.
Sit: Teddy Bridgewater vs. Bears
Bridgewater was one of our go-to streamers last week, and he rewarded us nicely with 20.8 fantasy points on a 27/37-313-2-0 line against Atlanta. But I want no part of him this week – Chicago ranks top-3 in passer rating allowed (77.1), fantasy points allowed per pass attempt (0.33), and FPG allowed to QBs (12.5).
Start: David Montgomery at Panthers
Look, no one is excited to play Montgomery. Ever. But if there ever was a week for Montgomery to go off, this is it. The Panthers run defense just gave up 150 scrimmage yards and a touchdown on 18 touches to Todd Gurley after allowing a top-3 fantasy performance to Josh Jacobs, Leonard Fournette, and Austin Ekeler in Week 1-3. Kenyan Drake is the only runner to fail in this matchup this year. Montgomery has struggled to really get going yet, but the Panthers 29th ranked run defense in FootballOutsiders DVOA should let him roll – especially with DT Kawaan Short (shoulder) out for the season and DE Brian Burns (concussion) questionable. Montgomery has been used as a true bell-cow since Tarik Cohen (ACL) was put on IR, playing on 83% of Bears’ snaps in Week 4-5. We have Montgomery plugged in as a top-8 RB play this week.
Start: James Robinson vs. Lions
The RB9 in fantasy points per game through five games, Robinson has been a true revelation from out of nowhere for the Jaguars. Robinson looks better than Leonard Fournette ever did in Jacksonville and runs with a high level of anticipation, vision, and balance. Robinson draws a top matchup this week against the Lions weak front-seven that ranks seventh-worst in YPC, seventh-worst in rushing fantasy points per carry, and fourth-worst in rushing yards per game allowed. The Jaguars are 3-point underdogs, but even if they fall behind to the Lions, Robinson should remain involved. Over the last four weeks, Robinson has out-targeted scatback Chris Thompson 21 to 13.
Sit: David Johnson at Titans
David Johnson is a fine FLEX play this week. He will get his bankable 14-18 weekly touches, but he has limited touchdown upside and Duke Johnson’s return has hurt his passing down work over the last two weeks. With Duke back in Week 4-5, David Johnson’s involvement as a receiver has dwindled as Duke has run 25 routes to D.J.'s 38 and both backs have four catches. Meanwhile, Houston has been incredibly pass-heavy when they get into scoring range so far this season, calling a pass on 76% of their plays inside of the opponent’s 10-yard line. In 10-team leagues, you probably have a wide receiver or two with a higher ceiling to play in your FLEX spot.
Start: Myles Gaskin vs. Jets
Gaskin totaled 25.4 XFP in Week 5, which ranked 3rd-most on the week, and represented a season-high for him. I don’t think it was uncoincidental that this came in a week Jordan Howard was as a healthy scratch. Despite averaging just 4.5 carries per game, Howard was averaging 0.99 XTD per game (4th-most), serving as the team’s goal-line back. In Week 5, that role went to Gaskins, who saw all 5 of the team’s 5 opportunities inside the 5-yard-line. Through the first 4 weeks, Gaskin averaged 14.1 XFP per game (17th-most), earning just 53% of the team’s XFP out of the backfield. In Week 5, that shot up to 77%. If that was the case throughout the full season (77% of Miami’s RB volume going to Gaskin), he’d be averaging 21.5 XFP per game, or what would rank 5th-most. So, now, along with this new boost in volume, Gaskin draws a near-ideal matchup against a Jets defense that is giving up the 5th-most FPG to opposing RBs.
Start: Raheem Mostert vs. Rams
Raheem Mostert? More like Raheem Must-Start, amirite?
Adjusting for the fact that he missed the entirety of the second half in Week 2, but not the fact that he was limited in last week’s game, Mostert is averaging an astounding 13.6 carries, 4.0 targets, 150.8 scrimmage yards, and 23.5 fantasy points per four quarters this year. Of course, 150.8 scrimmage yards on 17.6 opportunities per game seems highly unsustainable, but then again, we have a long history of sustained hyper-efficiency from Shanahan RBs, including Mostert, who – believe it or not – leads all RBs all-time in career YPC (6.17). The Rams look like a middling matchup on paper, ranking 17th-worst in FPG allowed to RBs (17th), but once schedule-adjusted they jump to 8th-worst (+4.0).
Sit: Damien Harris vs. Broncos
Harris broke out in a big way in Week 4, earning his first career start and totaling 100 yards on 17 carries. That’s great, and good for him, but that represented just 49% of the team’s total rushing attempts, and he ran zero routes on the day. New England is favored by 10.0-points, but Denver also has a top run defense, ranking top-10 in YPC allowed (3.86) and rushing FPG allowed to opposing RBs (10.0). He’s just a mid-range RB3 this week.
Start: Robert Woods at 49ers
Woods’ campaign has been pretty up and down so far, but this is a spot where he can be started as a borderline WR1. Without Richard Sherman (calf), the 49ers defense has been terrible against boundary receivers so far this season and are allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to receivers aligned out wide. That’s where Robert Woods runs over 50% of his routes. Keep in mind, it’s not like the 49ers have faced a tough slate of opposing wide receivers since seeing DeAndre Hopkins in Week 1. Over the last four weeks, the 49ers have faced the Jets, Eagles, Giants, and Dolphins. On the flipside, this matchup is far tougher for slot man Cooper Kupp. San Francisco’s interior defense is allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game through the slot.
Start: DeVante Parker vs. Jets
This matchup really couldn’t get much better for Parker. The only concern this week is that the Dolphins completely smoke the Joe Flacco-led Jets and don’t have to throw all game long. Still, even if Parker doesn’t see massive volume, he should have no problem going off against this bottom-3 secondary. The Jets have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers aligned out wide – which is where Parker runs 80% of his routes. Parker is a confident WR2 this week.
Sit: Robby Anderson vs. Bears
Make no mistake: Anderson is the Panthers No. 1 wide receiver. Over the last three weeks, Anderson has out-targeted D.J. Moore by a massive 29 to 15 margin. This just isn’t the week to roll him out as a WR2 in 10-team leagues. While Anderson has cleared 90 yards in 4-of-5 games this year, the Bears have only allowed one receiver to hit 90+ yards against them – and Calvin Ridley needed 13 targets to do so when he went for 5/110 in Week 3. Chicago has limited opposing receivers to the third-fewest fantasy points per game as their zone coverage is keeping everything in front of them.
Maybe this isn’t a great matchup for Crowder. Miami has been pretty stout against opposing slot WRs. Whatever. Maybe the same could be said for Lamb against the Cardinals – though Crowder just dropped 25.6 fantasy points against them last week. Or, maybe the loss of Dak Prescott massively dings Lamb. Whatever.
Volume and production, from both WRs, has been too good not to start them. Too good not to treat them as anything less than a low-end WR2. Crowder ranks 2nd in FPG (22.50) and 6th in XFP per game (16.9). Since Week 2, Lamb ranks 4th among all WRs in XFP per game (17.6), ahead of Amari Cooper (16.3) and Michael Gallup (16.3), and 10th in FPG (18.7).
Start: Chase Claypool vs. Browns
So, uhhh, yeah…. Claypool scored 43.6 fantasy points last week. You can’t just leave that on your bench this week, can you? Similarly, Pittsburgh can’t just put that genie back in the bottle, can they? Especially not with Diontae Johnson (back) questionable this week. Against a Cleveland defense that’s giving up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing WRs, you can start Claypool with confidence as a mid-range WR2 if Johnson sits out, or as a mid-range WR3 if Johnson plays.
Sit: Tee Higgins at Colts
Higgins has been quite the pleasant surprise, averaging 14.8 XFP per game (17th) and 14.7 FPG (29th) since A.J. Green’s funeral in Week 3. Still, this isn’t the week to start him. Indianapolis, playing at the slowest pace in the league, has allowed just one outside WR to reach even 60 yards against them, despite facing some fearsome opponents in Allen Robinson, Odell Beckham, Adam Thielen, and DJ Chark.
Start: Eric Ebron vs. Browns
After somewhat flopping in a pristine matchup last week against the Eagles (5/43 receiving), Ebron finds himself in another top spot here in Week 6. The Browns are allowing the third-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game and the eight-most yards per game to opposing tight ends. After being eased into the offense in his Steeler debut in Week 1, Ebron is actually second on the team in targets (18) over their last three games. Ebron has a reasonable path to 4-5 catches and 50 yards and that’s all we need at tight end these days.
Start: Jimmy Graham at Panthers
Look, tight end is a dumpster fire. Unless you have Kelce, Kittle, or Andrews – you’re playing the TD-or-bust game and Graham at least has scoring upside. Among tight ends, Graham ranks second in both red-zone (11) and end-zone targets (6) among tight ends behind only Mark Andrews (14 RZ targets; 7 EZ targets) according to PFF.
Sit: Hayden Hurst at Vikings
Outside of a handful of highlight-worthy plays, Hurst has been somewhat of a ghost so far this season. Even with Julio Jones (hamstring) out of the lineup for most of Week 4 and all of Week 5, Hurst has managed just 6 receptions for 59 yards on 12 targets. Maybe it’s the lack of a true offseason that has limited Hurst’s rapport with Matt Ryan? Regardless, I’m not sure how you can start Hurst with any confidence this week. The Vikings have allowed the third-fewest schedule-adjusted fantasy points to tight ends.
Start: T.J. Hockenson at Jaguars
Hockenson might not be the lock-and-load every-week TE1 you thought he would be when drafting him a few months ago, but he should be viewed as a TE1 this week. Hockenson’s target-volume hasn’t been great (5.0 targets per game), but he has seen his route share jump from 62% to 80% over his last two games. Ultimately, we should expect Hockenson to be highly successful on however many targets he does get, as Jacksonville ranks worst in fantasy points per target allowed to opposing TEs.
Sit: Logan Thomas at Giants
I think it’s time we called it – Thomas shouldn’t be rostered in most leagues. He’s no doubt seeing very good volume, ranking 2nd in routes run per dropback (89%), 7th in targets per game (6.4), and 9th in XFP per game (11.0), but he’s done very little with it, averaging just 6.1 FPG (35th). And that’s in spite of the 2nd-softest schedule at the position (+4.0). Now, against a Giants defense that ranks 2nd-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing TEs (-8.8), he’s an easy fade.