Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 6
Every week, start-or-sit decisions determine winners and losers in fantasy football. Starting the right player over the wrong player -- even just one single decision -- can determine the outcome of your fantasy matchups.
Leaving a player on the bench who scores twice and starting a player who gets 10 yards is a frustrating feeling, but if you can feel confident in why you made that choice, it helps. A little, at least.
Start-or-sit dilemmas get hard in small leagues, like 8-, 10-, and even some 12-team leagues because the best options are rostered. In those leagues, I'm not deciding between Christian Kirk and Taywan Taylor this week. It's more like Corey Davis against a tough Ravens secondary or Amari Cooper against the Seahawks in London. And just how far up the list should we bump Sammy Watkins in a shootout against the Patriots?
In deeper leagues, unless we're blessed with an elite team, we're starting pretty much whomever we can.
For this -- and many other reasons -- I like to bucket players into groups when deciding who we should start or sit in a given week. To me, no player is ever a must-sit, but there are players you should want to sit if you have any other viable options. That's the goal here, as well as to show why we should feel certain ways about players.
So, based on market shares, snap counts, betting lines, and defensive matchups, I'll be grouping players into three tiers to help with start-or-sit decisions: players we should be confident about starting, players we can consider playing whenever we don't have better alternatives but who aren't must-plays, and players we should try to bench whenever we do have better alternatives.
These players are listed in order of confidence and preference (so higher on the list means more startable; these aren't rankings, but they're close), and the groupings reflect a 12-team, single-quarterback league with the following hypothetical in mind: if I had other viable options on my bench, should I start this player this week? Players not listed should be presumed sit-worthy in a shallow or standard-sized league, and all fantasy points references and rankings reflect half-PPR scoring.
Start With Confidence
- Tom Brady: Brady gets a matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs at home for Sunday Night Football. The game opened with a total of 58 points and has moved up in some places already. The only concern for Brady owners is that the Chiefs can generate pressure, but Brady's lack of deep attempts and reliance on short passes should neutralize that. The Chiefs had let up 8.29 adjusted yards per attempt until facing Blake Bortles.
- Patrick Mahomes: Mahomes gets a matchup with the New England Patriots with a massive total of 58 points at the open. The Chiefs did lose Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, but Pats' mediocre pass rush shouldn't pose enough of a threat to feel anything other than confident in Mahomes, who has averaged 26.6 fantasy points per game.
- Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers has produced at least 16 fantasy points in every game so far and has 3 top-12 weeks to his name in 5 weeks, despite playing without some of his best weapons. The San Francisco 49ers rank 22nd in adjusted yards per attempt allowed and had let every passer from Weeks 1 through 4 get to 20 fantasy points.
- Deshaun Watson: Watson has ripped off four straight top-10 weeks, each including at least 22 fantasy points. He's averaged 40.2 rushing yards per game, an extra passing touchdown's worth to help make up for his cap of 2 touchdowns in a single game this season. The Buffalo Bills could generate pressure against here and are 13th in adjusted yards per attempt allowed, but as a 10-point favorite, Watson could operate from a positive script for a change and make good on his 9.0 adjusted yards per attempt since Week 2.
- Kirk Cousins: Cousins opened as a 10.5-point favorite over the Arizona Cardinals, who are a middle-of-the-pack matchup for opposing passers but boast no pass rush. Cousins has been kept clean on just 57.5% of his attempts, 33rd among quarterbacks with at least 65 drop backs, and has 7 touchdowns and 1 pick on such passes, according to ProFootballFocus.
- Matt Ryan: Ryan bookended 3 boom weeks (31.7, 40.2, 29.3 fantasy points) with two duds (9.8 and 14.4 fantasy points). The two duds came on the road, and he now returns back home to face a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that, while coming off a bye, ranks 31st in adjusted yards per attempt allowed to opposing quarterbacks.
- Cam Newton: Newton gets dinged in a matchup against Washington, who ranks 12th in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play. Newton, though, has topped just 237 yards once and has still secured at least 18 fantasy points in every game, due to his rushing floor.
- Jameis Winston: Winston is a primo streamer this week against a Falcons defense that ranks 27th in pass defense by numberFire's metrics. They've let up 29.4 fantasy points per game to starting quarterbacks not named Nick Foles.
Consider If Needed
- Andrew Luck: Luck's average depth of target is trending up, and he parlayed that into a second straight QB3 outing in Week 5. The New York Jets are a top-10 pass defense, yet they haven't been getting to the quarterback. No team has thrown more frequently than the Indianapolis Colts (because they can't run the ball), and that's been generating big games for Luck.
- Ben Roethlisberger: Roethlisberger has had 3 ceiling games (39.0, 25.0, 22.6 fantasy points) and 2 letdowns (12.0 and 15.9), though if you factor out a rainy debut in Week 1, he's averaged 25.6 fantasy points. We generally want to keep expectations in check when he goes on the road, but this game opened with a 54.5-point total in Cincinnati against the Bengals.
- Andy Dalton: Dalton gets a pretty stellar matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers at home in Week 6 in a game with a high over/under of 54.5 points at the open. Pittsburgh ranks 26th in adjusted yards per attempt allowed and hasn't put too much pressure on passers, which helps Dalton while center Billy Price remains out. Even while keeping Matt Ryan in check, the Steelers let him get to 285 passing yards, and quarterbacks have averaged 316.4 yards against them.
- Jared Goff: Goff is expected to getBrandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp back in the lineup, which would've been big losses against a Denver Broncos defense that ranks a lowly 25th in adjusted yards per attempt allowed to quarterbacks. Goff has shown a high floor (16.3 fantasy points and 25.8 points on average) but isn't a slam dunk here. He's also not someone we should be afraid of starting in a promising matchup. Given the return of his receivers, we can bump him up a bit. However, snow is expected to be a factor this week.
- Russell Wilson: Wilson's matchup with the Oakland Raiders is promising, as they're unable to get pressure on opposing passers and are letting up the 29th-best adjusted yards per attempt mark in the league. Wilson has a 113.9 passer rating when not under pressure, 9th-best in the NFL.
- Carson Wentz: Wentz is trending up (12.2, 20.7, 21.0 fantasy points) and faces a weak pass rush. However, it's a short week after a letdown loss, and the New York Giants have limited passers (12th in adjusted yards per attempt and just one passer to get over 237 yards).
Bench If Possible
- Philip Rivers: Rivers hits the road to the face the Cleveland Browns, who are 3rd in adjusted yards per attempt allowed, and the total trended down immediately after opening at 46.5. Other than Derek Carr in a Week 4 overtime game, just a single quarterback has finished inside the top 24 (Drew Brees was the QB14 in Week 2). Rivers isn't a guarantee to come through here, and in a 12-team league, you don't have to start him.
- Alex Smith: He's yet to finish as a top-12 passer but has had a fine floor of 13.1 points. Smith hasn't surpassed 20 fantasy points, 300 passing yards, or 20 rushing yards. The matchup is fine against the Carolina Panthers (23rd in pass defense by our metrics), but his pass-catchers are almost all banged up.
- Blake Bortles: Bortles netted a fine fantasy outing in Week 5 despite 4 interceptions because he threw 61 times to get to 430 yards and ran for a touchdown (plus 34 total rushing yards). The Dallas Cowboys have faced an average of 34.0 attempts, even with an overtime outing in Week 5 that generated 44 attempts from Deshaun Watson. Don't bank on volume bailing out Bortles, who lost yet another left tackle in Week 5.
- Derek Carr: The Seattle Seahawks aren't the defense they used to be, but they've still done well to limit opposing passing and rank 4th in adjusted yards per attempt. Their pass rush doesn't grade out well, but there's no reason to get excited about Carr, who has surpassed 16 fantasy points just once (33.6 in Week 4, an overtime game against Cleveland).
Start With Confidence
- Todd Gurley: Gurley has been a top-9 running back in every week and has a low-water mark of 22.1 fantasy points. There's nothing that needs to be said about him. Snow concerns in Denver could funnel even more touches his way.
- Melvin Gordon: Gordon has averaged 22.2 opportunities per game, 7th-most among running backs, to help quell any concerns about Austin Ekeler eating into his workload. Gordon has played at least 70.3% of snaps in 4 of 5 games and has been a top-14 back each week.
- Ezekiel Elliott: Elliott's 24.4 opportunities (carries plus targets) rank 2nd among all running backs, and he's finished as a top-24 running back in all 5 games, despite his offense maxing out at 26 points. That helps us not care that his team's implied total is just 19.0 points against the Jacksonville Jaguars' top-5 rush defense by Rushing Success Rate allowed to running backs.
- Christian McCaffrey: McCaffrey is in a slam dunk spot here because of his snap rate (85.1%, 94.0%, 100.0%, 97.2%). You can't get much better than that, and he's had 23.8 opportunities per game (4th among running backs). Washington ranks 31st in Rushing Success Rate allowed to running backs, as well.
- Joe Mixon: Mixon has been the RB3, RB25, and RB10 in his 3 games and has seen at least 22 opportunities in every game (24.0 per game, 3rd-most among all running backs). Cincy is a slim home favorite in a game that opened with a total of 54.5 points (and has fallen a bit since). There aren't many backs with a better workload than Mixon right now.
- Saquon Barkley: Barkley has been a top-13 back in every game and has had at least 18 opportunities in each, with a snap rate above 71.0% in every game. He did tweak his back and is playing on short rest on Thursday, but you can't bench him if he plays, even against the Eagles as a 2.5-point home underdog.
- James Conner: Conner dominated last week despite a season-low snap rate (still a solid 73.8%). The Bengals have let up 2 top-6 performances to backs already, and they rank 26th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs.
- Kareem Hunt: We can worry about the pass-game usage for Hunt (1, 1, 1, 4, 2 targets), but he's had 16, 18, 18, 19, and 22 carries to help overcome that, letting him reel off 4 top-15 finishes in a row. Hunt's Chiefs are road underdogs against the Patriots, but that game has an insane total that is creeping toward 60 points, and Hunt has played at least 57.7% of snaps in every game so far.
- Carlos Hyde: Hyde is a borderline confident start, as we did see his snap rate fall to 35.0% last week. Regardless of playing just 28 snaps, he saw 20 opportunities and has averaged 22.0 for the season (8th-most among all running backs). At home against a weak rush defense, Hyde should return a heavy workload again, which has let him finish as the RB19, RB3, RB19, RB19, and RB31.
- T.J. Yeldon: Yeldon was a workhorse in Week 5, seeing 92.8% of snaps and 20 opportunities, his 3rd game with at least 20 chances. He's been a top-34 back in every week and has consecutive top-12 performances, thanks to 3 touchdowns in that span. Jacksonville's line took yet another hit and will be using their 3rd left tackle of the year, but Yeldon's pass-game usage (7, 5, 7, 3, 10 targets) keep him in the RB2 conversation at worst.
- Sony Michel: Michel has been the RB14 and RB13 the past two weeks, despite playing just 33 and 28 snaps (40.7% and 40.6%) because he's had 25 and 18 carries on those. Michel is a home favorite back in a game with a total that is nearly 60 points.
- James White: One of these days, White is going to bust just because he's a Patriots running back, but he's played at least 48.0% of snaps in every game and has had 18 and 16 opportunities the past 2 games (24 targets), even as the team added pieces to the passing game. In a game where scoring should be abundant, you just have to ride him until he busts.
Consider If Needed
- Jordan Howard: Howard's snap rate fell to 54.1% in Week 4 in a vastly positive script, so that's a mite worrisome. However, he still had 12 opportunities in that game and has averaged 19.0 per game, 12th-most among running backs. Miami has let up 5 top-12 running back performances already this year. This should lead to a strong outing for Howard, but the Week 4 snap count precludes us from assuming such.
- David Johnson: Against the Minnesota Vikings on the road, we can't feel great about Johnson. The Cardinals opened as 10.5-point underdogs, not the best script for any back, let alone one who isn't seeing a ton of receiving work (3.0 targets per game over his past 3). Arizona's implied total sits below 17 points, but Johnson still saw 94.1% of snaps last week and at least 77.8% in the past 3 games. He's a floor play with those snaps.
- Marshawn Lynch: Lynch has seen 13, 20, 23, 25, and 11 opportunities to start the year, making him a borderline workhorse, despite a modest snap count each week. He fell to 40.4% in that regard in Week 5, but in London against the Seahawks, he should get fed again, even as a 3-point underdog. He's been getting touches until the game gets one-dimensional.
- Chris Carson: Carson has been the RB7 and RB19 in games where he's played at least half of Seattle's snaps. Oakland is a bottom-6 rush defense by Success Rate, and they've let up 0.78 fantasy points per carry to backs (2nd-most) and 1.57 fantasy points per target (5th-most).
- Tevin Coleman: In Devonta Freeman's return last week, Coleman played 37.5% of snaps in a negative game script. Logic dictates that the Falcons get out ahead on the Bucs (they opened as 3.5-point favorites), and there's enough scoring potential to go around (57.5-point over/under). The biggest problem is that Ito Smith stole a goal-line score last week, so we can't even guarantee the high-leverage rushing work goes to Coleman with Freeman out. Regardless of the uncertainty, this is a great spot for the Falcons' backfield, as Tampa Bay ranks 28th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to running backs.
- Phillip Lindsay: Lindsay has seen a consistent workload in games where he wasn't ejected: 18, 15, 14, and 16 opportunities (plus 35.1%, 42.2%, 40.0%, and 37.7% of snaps). He's been the RB13, RB18, RB17, and RB27 in those, and he's solidified himself as a viable RB2 or flex play. This week, Denver is a 7-point underdog against the Rams, who have limited receiving efficiency from running backs but have let up rushing production.
- Alex Collins: Collins' snap rate plummeted to 31.0% last week (from 49.4%, 48.6%, 48.1%) in a messy 12-9 loss to the Browns, but he still saw 16 opportunities on 27 snaps, including 4 targets. He's finished as the RB41, RB21, RB16, RB29, and RB37 despite not cracking a 50% snap rate. He's a flex play as a slim road favorite on the Titans.
- LeSean McCoy: It hasn't been pretty, and he hasn't scored, but McCoy has been the RB30, RB36, and RB24 over his past 3 games while playing 48.4%, 60.3%, and 72.3% of snaps. He got fed last week for 27 opportunities after netting 34 in his first 3 games. For all their woes, Buffalo ranks 8th in stuff rate, while Houston is 20th defensively. McCoy could see some room this week.
- Aaron Jones: We can guess that Jones will see more work this week than he did last week (7 carries, 3 targets on 22 snaps (27.2%), as the Packers opened as 9.5-point home favorites on the 49ers. Jones accounted for 7 of the 12 running back carries in the first half before the Packers flipped to comeback mode in Week 5.
- Javorius Allen: Allen handled 2 red zone carries last week but had a fumble of his own. Allen has played at least 44.2% of snaps since Week 2 and hasn't finished worse than RB35 yet, thanks to double-digit opportunities in every game. You could do worse in your flex slot than Allen, a road favorite, with that workload and snap share.
- Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood: There's no way to know how the touches will go, but we do know that the Giants are a bottom-half defense in fantasy points per carry and per target to backs.
- Bilal Powell: Powell's played at least 52.3% of snaps in 4 straight games and has 15 or more opportunities in the past 3 games. He's been a consistent flex-level play (RB36, RB9, RB37, RB33, and RB35) and is a slim home favorite against a mediocre rush defense. Start him if you need to, as the Colts have let up 4 top-14 backs already.
- Alfred Morris: With Matt Breida out, Morris should be featured, regardless of game script. He totaled 23 opportunities (18 carries and 5 targets) on just 44 snaps last week (44.9%).
- Isaiah Crowell: Crowell's alternated boom games with busts (22.2, 4.9, 18.1, 0.8, 29.6 fantasy points) with relatively even opportunity counts of 10, 15, 19, 5, and 16. Indy has let up 4 top-12 performances to backs already, so Crowell is in the flex conversation. Just monitor his injury situation.
- Adrian Peterson: Peterson is detrimental to our fantasy teams in negative game scripts, and Washington is a slim road underdog. Peterson gets a boost, though, from the news that Chris Thompson is expected to be out. Peterson has twice been a top-10 running back this year, given his volume (29, 14, 19, 7 opportunities).
Bench If Possible
- Dalvin Cook: Cook was limited in practice Wednesday, meaning that he's on track to play, but he hasn't been a top-20 back yet and isn't yet practicing in full. He's someone we should hope to bench if we can but who we can play if we must against a terrible Cardinals team that should allow production on the ground again. To update, he's expected to be on a snap count and play roughly half of the snaps.
- Chris Thompson: Thompson is dealing with a rib injury but has been a top-30 back in 3 of 4 games. The Washington receiving corps is dinged up, so he could see elevated targets (though he's already had 7, 14, 2, and 8). However, he is expected to be out.
- Dion Lewis: Lewis has been the RB47, RB44, RB26, and RB49 since opening as the RB12. He's played 55.9%, 48.4%, 67.6%, and 63.0% of snaps and has averaged 14.0 opportunities in that span. The volume has been passable, but Baltimore is top-5 in fantasy points per carry allowed to backs (just 1 touchdown allowed) and are the top defense by fantasy points per target let up to backs.
- Kenyan Drake: Miami opened as a 2-point home underdog and faces the toughest rush defense in football in terms of Rushing Success Rate allowed. Drake has actually played at least 60.0% of snaps in 4 of 5 games but has been up-and-down in the fantasy points column (8.1, 15.0, 2.0, 2.1, 21) and in opportunities (18, 15, 9, 5, 17). He's fresh off an 11-target game if you want to chase it (and he actually leads Miami in targets), but you should try to look for a sturdier workload and a better matchup.
- Austin Ekeler: Ekeler has managed to finish as a top-22 back in 4 of 5 weeks while playing more than 36.0% of snaps just once. His opportunity count (10, 14, 7, 11, 9) requires hyper-efficiency -- which he has shown -- but the Chargers hit the road to face the Browns, a team that ranks 7th in fantasy points per target allowed to backs. He's a flex play in a full PPR, sure, but he's not someone you should be trying to rely on in this spot, given the spotty volume and unenviable matchup.
- Nyheim Hines: Hines' stint as a fantasy-relevant back in standard-sized leagues looks to be about over -- at least from a confidence standpoint. Marlon Mack should be ready to go for Week 6, and that will muddy things for Hines, who has played at least 67.5% of snaps in 3 straight games. It's quite possible he's just their feature back, but we can't feel confident that he sees enough touches to want to play him as a road underdog.
- Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue: Blue played 79 snaps in Week 5 (98.8%) and had 28 opportunities without Miller healthy. With Miller on track to play, it's hard to get excited about either option, as Miller had been very inefficient with his touches, and now we can't know how the snaps will be divvied.
- Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery: Backs tied to a heavy home favorite are tough sits, but this committee in Green Bay is tough to crack. We do know that Williams hasn't cracked the top 30 in weekly scoring yet, despite still playing 30.3 snaps per game with Jones back in the fold. Montgomery also hasn't cracked the top 30 in weekly scoring or topped 5 carries in a game.
- Royce Freeman: Freeman saw his first finish outside of the RB35 last week (RB42) but seen 9, 14, 8, and 9 opportunities since Week 1. Of note, he had 4 targets in Week 5 after totaling 2 through the first 4 games, but with Lindsay in the mix, Freeman can't be a trusted option on a struggling offense as a heavy underdog.
- Tarik Cohen: Cohen saw 21 opportunities for 174 yards and a touchdown in Week 4 and now faces a Dolphins team that's 26th in fantasy points per target to running backs. The concern here is that he had seen 9, 5, and 8 opportunities before that Week 4 game, and he played just 29 snaps when he got 21 looks. That usage rate (72.4%, 3rd-highest among 213 games with at least 25 snaps played this season) probably won't stick around, and we could be left with a dud from Cohen in Week 6.
- Derrick Henry: Henry has averaged 14.0 opportunities per game but hasn't even gotten to 6.0 fantasy points or 60 total yards in a game. He also hasn't scored, in case you weren't adding along. He's averaged 2.0 red zone carries per game but was out-carried 3-0 last week by Lewis.
- Duke Johnson: Johnson's season-long ownership numbers suggest he's on someone's roster, but he shouldn't see our starting lineups. Johnson played 51.2% of the Browns' snaps last week (41 in total) but saw 6 opportunities, his fourth-straight game with 8 or fewer looks.
Start With Confidence
- Adam Thielen: No player has seen more targets or run more routes (via ProFootballFocus) than Thielen, who has returned at least 100 yards in all 5 games this season while seeing at least 10 targets in each contest. He'll avoid Patrick Peterson, and the only concern here is whether the Cardinals can keep it close.
- DeAndre Hopkins: Hopkins has seen 10-plus targets in every game with a floor of 11.1 fantasy points. He's got 14 targets while inside the 10 or in the end zone, tied for the league lead. He'll face Tre'Davious White plenty, but the volume makes him a weekly stud.
- Julio Jones: Jones has averaged 14.9 fantasy points per game despite not scoring and has yet to provide a true dud (low-water mark of 8.7 fantasy points in Week 5). He's had 9 or more targets in every game but one, and Tampa has let up 4 top-12 performances this year already.
- Odell Beckham: Beckham finally converted an end zone target (he has 8 on the year, 6th-most in the league) in Week 5 and faces an Eagles defense that ranks 18th in fantasy points per target allowed to receivers. Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills give a lot of cushion, via PlayerProfiler's data, and that could leave room underneath for Beckham to work.
- Mike Evans: Evans has seen 7, 12, 11, and 9 targets this year and was a top-17 receiver in the first 3 games while scoring in each. He scored the 10.8 and 16.4 fantasy points against Atlanta last year, and they're 28th in fantasy points per target allowed to wideouts.
- A.J. Green: As noted by Rotoworld's Rich Hribar, the Bengals moved Green to the slot on 44.8% of his routes last week, and he's had a rock solid floor with at least 8.3 fantasy points in each game and at least 14.2 in 4 of 5. The Steelers have given up a pair of top-6 receiver weeks already.
- Antonio Brown: Brown came through last week and moves around enough to avoid William Jackson III in Week 6. Brown scored 14.5 and 20.1 fantasy points against the Bengals last year, scoring in each game and tallying 12 catches (albeit on 25 targets) for 166 yards. He's tied for the league lead with 14 targets while inside the 10-yard line or the end zone.
- Davante Adams: Adams has been a top-33 receiver in each week, producing at least 12.1 fantasy points each game. His 12 targets while inside the 10 or in the end zone tie him for 4th in the league.
- Stefon Diggs: Diggs has been a top-16 wideout in 3 of his past 4 games, while seeing 10-plus targets in all of those. He will face Patrick Peterson on some routes, but he's a confident start with his elite volume.
- Julian Edelman: Edelman saw 9 targets in his return and faces the weakest link of the Chiefs' surprisingly tough secondary (Kendall Fuller in the slot) in a game with a massive total.
- Robert Woods: Woods loses a potential volume boost, given the news that Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp will play, but he's still a boundary receiver in a spot against a team getting beaten outside while playing for a team expected to score close to 30 points. He's already tied for the team lead in targets (39) and leads in air yards (472). Denver has been just middle-of-the-pack defending wideouts (16th in fantasy points per target).
Consider If Needed
- Jarvis Landry: Landry has been a flex-worthy option in every week but one (WR23, WR46, WR13, WR35, WR35) but hasn't hit his ceiling, despite a deeper aDOT than he's used to. The ceiling game could come this week, though, as the Chargers have let up a full 2.00 fantasy points per target to receivers, most of any team. Desmond King, their primary slot receiver, has let up 17 catches on 19 targets, via PFF.
- Tyreek Hill: Hill hits the road, where he's historically had better touchdown numbers (12 of his 16 career receiving scores have been away from home). Despite playing in an electric offense, he's been the WR50, WR40, and WR28 the past 3 games but has played at least 89.7% of snaps in them. He'll be on the field in a shootout.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster: JuJu has 6 end zone targets and 4 top-26 weeks to start the year. His yardage slipped from 118.7 per game in the first 3 weeks to 47.0 the past 2, yet he's a high-volume receiver in a game with a total of 53.0 points.
- Brandin Cooks: Cooks will play and has an advantage on the outside corners Denver offers, but he is coming off a concussion and playing in snow. He's certainly a WR2-level start with WR1 upside, but he's not without flaws this week.
- Keenan Allen: Allen, despite volume (11, 8, 7, 10, 9 targets), hasn't been a high-floor play (WR9, WR44, WR76, WR41, WR22). He'll face T.J. Carrie in the slot, a matchup that favors Allen turning that volume into production. He just hasn't been the goal-line threat that has boosted his ceiling in the past (3 end zone targets and just 5 red zone targets).
- Emmanuel Sanders: Sanders leads Denver in targets and routes run, and the Rams had forced opponents to throw 36.8 times per game prior to Russell Wilson's 21-attempt outing in Week 5. That volume has led to 6 top-24 receivers already this year, most of any team.
- Alshon Jeffery: Jeffery has had 9 and 8 targets in his return (20.7% of the team's targets in that span), to very different results (8 catches, 105 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 catches for 39 yards), but he did face Xavier Rhodes on 5 targets, per ProFootballFocus. This week, he could be shadowed by Janoris Jenkins, but Jeffery would have a 5-inch, 30-pound advantage, and Jenkins hasn't been particularly good this year, based on PlayerProfiler's coverage ratings.
- Sammy Watkins: Watkins has played at least 82.8% of snaps in his 4 healthy games and has finished as the WR75, WR23, WR16, and WR27 in those, while seeing 5, 7, 8, and 8 targets. We can chase the volume in this shootout.
- Will Fuller: Fuller played 96.2% of snaps last week (77 total snaps) but saw just 3 targets. We should expect more looks his way while Hopkins attracts a tough individual assignment. Fuller has 4 end zone targets in just more than 3 games.
- John Brown: Brown has averaged 10.0 targets per game over his past 4 and has totaled 11 targets while inside the 10 (plus end zone targets), tying him for 6th-most in the league. Combine the goal-line usage with 50.0% of his team's air yards, and he's a solid play in just about any matchup. He moves around enough to avoid Adoree' Jackson.
- Tyler Boyd: Boyd has averaged 9.5 targets per game since Week 2 and faces a secondary that's 25th in fantasy points per target allowed to receivers. He'll have a 5-inch advantage over slot corner Mike Hilton, as well.
- Cooper Kupp: Kupp is expected to play this week but draws the toughest matchup among Rams receivers: Chris Harris. Kupps combo of volume and offense has allowed him to net 4 top-20 receiver weeks already this year, though, and he's always in the flex conversation at worst.
- Tyler Lockett: Lockett had a pair of deep balls that traveled at least 39 yards downfield last week, and Oakland is 21st in adjusted yards per attempt on deep balls. He's had 11 targets since Baldwin's return (23.4%). He might be a better bet than Baldwin, given the downfield looks in a low-volume offense.
- Doug Baldwin: Baldwin saw just 1 target last week in the shadow of his own goalposts (he had 7 in his Week 4 return) but is playing on the 2nd-most run-heavy team in the league. This could be a get-right spot against Oakland, but as a favorite at a neutral site, we should expect volume concerns for Baldwin again.
- Sterling Shepard: Evan Engram is out again, and Shep has seen 7, 5, 7, 10, and 7 targets this year, a solid count. The matchup with Sidney Jones isn't overly promising, but Shepard's volume has been solid enough to keep him in the flex conversation this week.
- Demaryius Thomas: Thomas has run fewer routes than Courtland Sutton but has still averaged 6.0 targets per game in the past 3. As mentioned earlier, the Rams have let up a league-high 6 top-24 outings to receivers because of the high-scoring nature of their games, so Thomas is in play again here -- just not close to a confident start.
- Mohamed Sanu: Sanu has been the WR27, WR26, and WR18 in his past 3 games while seeing 7, 9, and 7 targets. With the Falcons' implied total above 30 points, he's in play for a touchdown and hasn't been a scoring-dependent threat necessarily.
- Calvin Ridley: Ridley had a blank in the touchdown column in Week 5, breaking a 3-game streak. He provided just 38 yards on his 5 targets. In a game against a dreadful pass defense with a sky-high total, Ridley is worth a play if you need him.
- DeSean Jackson: You can do worse than risking it with Jackson this week, as the Falcons have been about middle of the pack on deep passes in terms of adjusted yards per attempt and this game should feature plenty of scoring.
Bench If Possible
- Corey Davis: Davis has underperformed his volume outside of Week 4, finishing with single-digit fantasy points in 4 of 5 games. The Ravens have let up only 1.21 fantasy points per target to receivers, 5th-fewest.
- Allen Robinson: Robinson's Bears are the 7th-most run-heavy team in the league, and Robinson has surpassed 4 catches in just a single game, which was the only time he topped 10 fantasy points (13.3).
- Amari Cooper: Cooper's floor has been so low (games of 2.3, 2.7, and 1.5 fantasy points) that he can kill your week. In those games, he saw 3, 5, and 1 target. He's also scored 16.6 and 22.8 fantasy points, and fantasy-relevant receivers against Seattle have generally come through this year, but if you can sit him and start a safer option, that's probably the route to take.
- Chris Godwin: Godwin's 6 end zone targets tie him for 7th in the league, and he's playing in a game with a 57.5-point total. You can bet on a touchdown here, but he's also swapping from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Jameis Winston. He's a desperation flex play with a solid ceiling but no floor, given his 50.0% snap rate the past 3 games.
- Michael Crabtree: Crabtree hasn't topped 11.3 fantasy points or finished inside the top 30 in weekly scoring yet, despite target tallies of 6, 10, 10, 8, and 12. His targets aren't even coming near the goal line, really, as he has just 5 red zone targets.
- Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole, and Dede Westbrook: Dallas is actually 16th in situation-neutral pace but 29th in second per play. It took 61 attempts for any one of these three to get to 10 fantasy points last week (Moncrief had 10.6), volume that we can't bank on in Week 6.
- Jordy Nelson: Nelson has been a top-24 receiver the past 3 games and has scored in each. Really, though, aside from a pair of long receptions in Week 3, he's lacked yardage upside (fewer than 50 in 4 of 5 games), and you're baking on a 4th straight game with a score in a game with a good-not-great total of 47.5.
- Josh Gordon: It's scary to bench Gordon in a game with a near-60-point over/under, so I can't blame you if you just risk it, but he's played 18 snaps in each of his two games with the Patriots (22.2% and 26.1%). There could be extra plays in this game, but the snap rate doesn't suggest reliable volume here for Gordon, who has seen 6 targets in his 2 games with New England.
- Jamison Crowder: Crowder's 12 targets over the past 2 games are good for a 20% market share, but he's yet to clear 55 yards. He could flirt with double-digit looks with how injured Washington's receiving corps is if you really need him. He's expected to be out.
- Larry Fitzgerald: Fitz has seen 10 targets from Josh Rosen, third-most on the team, for just 5 catches and 63 yards. He's been shy of 5.0 fantasy points in 4 straight games.
- Quincy Enunwa: Enunwa ran 19 routes last week in a low-volume pass offense and has finished with 8.6 or fewer fantasy points in 3 straight games.
- Robby Anderson: Anderson's big game (123 yards and 2 touchdowns) came despite a season-low 51.6% snap rate. He ran just 18 pass routes, and we can't bank on him (he's been the WR42, WR98, WR104, and WR90 prior to last week).
- Devin Funchess: Funchess has averaged 7.0 targets per game this year but only 9.7 fantasy points per game, just once finishing better than WR38. Now, Greg Olsen is back, dinging Funchess down even more.
- Mike Williams: Williams' upside is always tantalizing, but he's been a top-40 receiver just once this year and has seen just 7 targets over the past 2 games (for 60 yards). With Melvin Gordon the de facto WR2 for the Chargers, Williams is someone we should be benching wherever possible.
- Nelson Agholor: Agholor's volume has dipped in 2 of the past 3 games (5, 12, 4), and he now faces one of 2018's top slot corners in B.W. Webb. It's possible that the Eagles lean on the slot without Jay Ajayi in the fold, but there's no way we can feel confident in Agholor from a ceiling standpoint (or a floor standpoint, for that matter, now that the volume isn't consistently in the double digits).
Start With Confidence
- Zach Ertz: Ertz has retained his heavy volume since the return of Alshon Jeffery and now owns 10-plus targets in every game. He's been a top-11 tight end each week, and he might have the highest floor at the position. The Giants have been tough on tight ends (2nd in Target Success Rate allowed and 7th in fantasy points per target), but Ertz is matchup proof, and they haven't faced anyone worth worrying about.
- Travis Kelce: Kelce has been a top-3 tight end in each game since Week 2, and the Pats are 23rd in fantasy points per target allowed to tight ends. He had 40 yards on 7 targets last year against the Pats, but you just have to take what he gives you at this point.
- Rob Gronkowski: The "with confidence" thing here is throwing me off, as Gronk has been really worrisome to start the year. Still, he's seen 7 targets in each of the past 2 games and was the TE8 last week despite not scoring. The Chiefs have let up a pair of top-6 outings to tight ends already.
- Kyle Rudolph: Rudolph's floor has been elevated this year, thanks to playing on the 2nd-heaviest pass team in the league. Rudolph has been a top-16 tight end each week, and Arizona is 27th in fantasy points per target allowed to tight ends.
- Jimmy Graham: Graham has been a top-12 tight end in 3 of his past 4 games while scoring just one time all season. He's got 2 end zone targets but 8 while inside the 10 in total, and the 49ers have ranked 28th in fantasy points per target this year, letting up 4 touchdowns on 33 targets.
- Eric Ebron: Ebron has 11 end zone targets, tying him for the league lead, and he's returned 4 top-12 tight end performances on the year and has averaged 12.0 targets per game the past 3 weeks.
Consider If Needed
- George Kittle: Kittle has finished as a top-6 tight end in 4 of 5 games despite a single touchdown. His 35 targets rank 6th among tight ends. He's as solid a tight end play as you'll find outside of the big three. The only issue is that he's questionable for Monday night. With it being the late game, start him only if you need to, and make sure you can wrangle a replacement if he does indeed sit.
- Jordan Reed: Reed could be forced into a bigger workload with how injured Washington's receivers are. His 27 routes last week led to a season-low 2 targets (5, 8, 7 before that). Carolina is 26th in fantasy points per target allowed to tight ends and 32nd in Target Success Rate, albeit on just 26 targets.
- David Njoku: Njoku has seen 18 targets over his past 2 games and has at least 7 targets in 4 of 5 games. The Chargers grade out tough on tight ends (4th in Target Success Rate), but Njoku has run the 4th-most routes from the slot among all tight ends, and the volume can't be ignored.
- Jared Cook: Cook has either been the TE1 (twice) or the TE19 or worse (thrice) this year. Seattle ranks 15th in fantasy points per target to the tight end (albeit on 29 targets, the 4th-fewest faced). I'd like to consider him expendable, but with tight end being as dreadful as it has been, you probably need to start him.
- Trey Burton: Miami is 3rd in fantasy points per target allowed to tight ends and hasn't let up a touchdown to them, despite facing Delanie Walker, Jared Cook, and Rob Gronkowski. Burton is averaging fewer than 5 targets per game, too.
- Austin Hooper: Hooper checks the tight end streaming list: he's a home favorite with a heavy implied total (above 30 points, actually). The Bucs have let up 1.91 fantasy points per target to tight ends, 2nd-most in the league, and Hooper is fresh off a 12-target game and has played at least 76.4% of snaps in all 5 contests.
- Cameron Brate: Brate saw 62 of Winston's 442 attempts last year (14.0%), not a bad market share for a tight end streamer. He also saw 10 of 44 red zone targets (22.7%). This year, 2 of his 10 targets have been end zone looks, and he's scored twice.
Bench If Possible
- Greg Olsen: Olsen is an unknown here. He returned last year to play 33.0% of snaps and saw 4 targets (1 catch for 10 yards), and now he's returning sooner than expected.
- Vance McDonald: McDonald's 2 targets were worrisome last week, despite his 60.7% snap rate. The truth of the matter is that he's played modest snaps (45.1%, 48.5%, 61.9%, and 60.7%) and seen 5, 5, 5, and 2 targets while finishing inside the top 20 just once. It's a fine matchup, but we can't consider Vance a 12-team start.
- C.J. Uzomah: Uzomah saw just 2 targets in Week 5 despite playing 91.7% of snaps. If you're desperate, you can roll the dice on a high-snap player in a potential shootout, but he has one career game with more than 45 yards.
- Antonio Gates: Gates' ownership shot up after waivers cleared this week, and I'm not sure why. He hasn't caught more than 3 passes in a game, and he's been over 27 yards just once (45 in Week 3). Cleveland is 12th against tight ends in fantasy points per target, as well.