Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 6
It was a complete waste of time.
My in-laws gave me a Super Nintendo a couple of years ago. I had a Sega growing up (the better of the two -- this isn't an argument), so having an SNES was a little awkward. Plus it was 2013, and I wasn't used to playing video games without using a controller that had a joystick.
One of the only games the Super Nintendo had with it was Aladdin. Now, I used to ball out when I played the Sega version of the game circa 1994. In 2013? I was horrible.
I got to the level where you ride the magic carpet through falling rocks all while trying to escape a wave of lava coming right at you. It was basically the equivalent of starting Jeremy Hill each week this season -- at times I felt like I was going to beat the level, just to be hit in the face by 2,000-degree liquid.
It was only Stage 3, but I couldn't get passed it it. I played it for well over two hours, having to start the entire game over plenty of times, and I just couldn't beat it. I wasn't a child playing a 1990's console. I was an adult doing it, and I was terrible at it.
No matter how long I played that game, I kept losing. And I was never going to win.
Remember that, Peyton Manning owners.
Quarterbacks to Sit
Peyton Manning (at Cleveland): Sit Peyton Manning? Against the Cleveland Browns? What? Why?
Well, let this excerpt from this week's 15 Transactions column send some logic your way.
In Week 1, Manning scored 4.9 standard fantasy points, when the Ravens have allowed 21.96 to the position this year per contest. Week 2 saw Manning post 20.24 points, but the Chiefs are surrendering a league high 22.83 to quarterbacks per game. Against Detroit in Week 3, Manning scored just 0.43 points above average, while Weeks 4 and 5 watched him put together fantasy performances that were 5.38 and 10.15 points below average, respectively.
That's one good performances from Manning, fantasy-wise, in five weeks of play. And that one "good" game saw him score less than half of a fantasy point more than opponents were averaging against the defense.
So far this year, Cleveland's allowed 20.10 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. That may be a lot, but it's not enough for the underperforming Manning.
Cam Newton (at Seattle): In Newton's three contests since Week 1, he's finished as the 3rd, 3rd and 14th best quarterback in weekly scoring. He's been great, and you shouldn't drop him because of his tough Week 6 matchup.
But it is a difficult matchup for him. The Seahawks have played two games at home this year, and held both of the quarterbacks they faced to a combined 11.94 standard fantasy points. Yeah, yeah -- it was just Jimmy Clausen and Matthew Stafford, but it's not as though this isn't an extension from what we've seen in year's past. The fact is, despite their mediocre play at times this year, the Seahawks still have the 12th best schedule-adjusted pass defense in the league according to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. This is no cakewalk for Cam.
Start These Quarterbacks Instead
Blake Bortles (vs. Houston): Since a tough matchup against the Panthers in Week 1, Bortles has ranked 10th, 16th, 6th and 3rd in weekly fantasy scoring at the quarterback position. Things haven't been tough on him, but that sort of scoring consistency isn't easy to accomplish.
This week, Bortles faces a Houston secondary that ranks 17th against the pass according to our numbers while surrendering the 6th most fantasy points to the quarterback position this season. And, guys, it's not like Alex Smith and Matt Hasselbeck, who ranked 4th and 14th against this defense in weekly quarterback scoring this year, are world-beaters. Bortles should continue his hot streak.
Jay Cutler (at Detroit): So far this year, every quarterback who's gone up against Detroit has finished with at least 15.48 standard fantasy points. What's remarkable about this is that the Lions have seen Peyton Manning and Teddy Bridgewater, who rank eighth and fourth to last in the league in Passing NEP this season. Cutler, meanwhile, has been really undervalued -- on the year, his 0.12 Passing NEP per drop back is better than Cam Newton and Drew Brees', while he's scored over 17 fantasy points over his last two games. And both were plus matchups like this one.
Running Backs to Sit
Jonathan Stewart (at Seattle): There are so many reasons to bench Jonathan Stewart this week. Let's start with Stewart himself. So far this season, he's failed to reach seven -- just seven -- PPR fantasy points in three of four games played. This is despite the fact that he's touched the ball at least 10 times in each contest.
Meanwhile, he'll face the Seahawks in Seattle, a team surrendering the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. There's no reason he should be in your lineup.
Alfred Morris (at New York): Similar to Stewart above, Morris just hasn't done nearly enough to warrant a start in fantasy. Yet, he's currently being started in over 37 percent of ESPN.com leagues. Why? I have no idea. Not only has his volume been inconsistent, but his highest point total on the year in PPR leagues is just 12.1, while failing to reach the double-digit mark in four of five contests. Oh, and he faces a Jets rush defense this week that ranks second in the NFL according to NEP. No thanks.
Jeremy Hill (at Buffalo): If Tyrod Taylor can't go for Buffalo, then that may bode well for Hill, who could see more touches as the game winds down with the Bengals having a hypothetical lead. But let's pretend Taylor's playing. According to Vegas, the Bengals are 3.5-point favorites, meaning the game should be fairly close. That's not a terrible thing for Hill, but so far this year, teams facing Buffalo have thrown 2.15 passes to every run, which is the most in the NFL. As a result, the Bills are a top-10 team at stopping opposing fantasy running backs, while just one single running back, Andre Williams, has seen more than nine carries against them.
Start These Running Backs Instead
Charcandrick West (at Minnesota): I wouldn't say I'm bullish on West, but I do think his profile as a leaner, agile back fits the mold of a Jamaal Charles replacement. In Week 6, the Chiefs face Minnesota, a team that's been middle-of-the-road in terms of fantasy points allowed to the position. However, per our sweet metrics, the Vikings are 29th against the run when adjusted for strength of opponent. That makes a lot of sense, considering they've faced San Francisco, Detroit, San Diego and Denver, four teams who've struggled running the ball this year. The matchup for West is actually pretty nice.
Duke Johnson (vs. Denver): The only Cleveland player I'd trust this week is Duke Johnson, who keeps making appearances in this column.
Over the last three weeks, Johnson has 25 targets, which is more than what all but seven running backs have seen all season long. Meanwhile, the Broncos stout defense has allowed the second most running back receptions in the NFL this season, while six different backs versus the Broncos have seen five or more targets. That's more than one per game. If you're in a PPR league and own Johnson, don't be scared off by the matchup.
Danny Woodhead (at Green Bay): I'm not overly concerned about Melvin Gordon's nine targets against the Steelers in Week 5 -- it makes sense Gordon would be on the field in a tighter game, and Woodhead still saw seven targets of his own. The Chargers' game in Green Bay this weekend is setting up to not just be a high-scoring contest, but one where the Packers should take and hold a lead. After all, they're 10.5-point favorites. That bodes well for Woodhead, who's had just one game with fewer than 12.6 PPR points this season.
Wide Receivers to Sit
Travis Benjamin (vs. Denver): I mentioned that the only Cleveland player I'd be comfortable playing this week is Duke Johnson, so it shouldn't surprise anyone to see Benjamin's name on this list. It's been fun -- Benjamin has been a pretty reliable option at wide receiver, seeing double-digit targets in each of his last three games.
And while that volume may be there again in Week 6, I wouldn't feel comfortable trotting him out against the best secondary in the NFL. So far this year, the Broncos have allowed just one top-20 performance in PPR formats, all while facing wide receivers like Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith and Amari Cooper. Playing Benjamin this week is beyond risky.
Pierre Garcon (at New York): Garcon has had a decent floor this year, scoring double-digit fantasy points (PPR) in all but one contest. But his ceiling just isn't there, despite being the only "real" option at receiver for Kirk Cousins. Now you add in the fact that the Redskins face the Jets and their fourth-ranked pass defense, and you've got yourself a player to avoid.
James Jones (vs. San Diego): I understand many of you can't bench Jones, and I don't want you to think I'd be benching him in 12- or 14-team leagues. But in shallower formats where there may be decent bench options? I'd consider it.
San Diego's been kind of awesome against wide receivers this season, allowing the third fewest fantasy points to the position. Markus Wheaton has posted the highest wide receiver score against them in PPR leagues this year, and it came on a one-catch performance. You know, the deep ball he caught from Michael Vick on Monday night -- that's the "one catch" I'm talking about. Wheaton ranked 24th, meaning no wide receiver has actually had a top-20 performance against the Chargers this season.
While that will more than likely change against Green Bay, keep in mind that the Chargers have the 25th best schedule-adjusted rush defense in the NFL per our numbers, meaning a big game for Eddie Lacy, and that Jones himself saw just three targets last week. It wouldn't shock me if he doesn't put up big numbers, despite the team's high implied team total.
Start These Wide Receivers Instead
Anquan Boldin (vs. Baltimore): The Ravens have been terrible against the pass from a fantasy standpoint this year and, naturally, wide receivers have benefited -- only Kansas City is allowing more points to the position. On the year, the Ravens have allowed six top-24, WR2 performances, which, if you like basic math, is more than one per game. As a result, Boldin, who's coming off a big 12-target, 107-yard, 1-touchdown game, is in a good spot.
Kendall Wright (vs. Miami): The Dolphins are a bottom five team against the pass per our numbers, and opposing top wide receivers have really crushed them. In Week 1, Pierre Garcon caught 6 balls for 74 yards. Week 2 saw Allen Robinson go HAM, scoring twice and finishing as a top-five weekly option. Percy Harvin shredded them (in context -- it's Percy Harvin, after all) for 7 catches and 66 yards in Week 3, and then Brandon Marshall had 128 receiving yards in Week 4. This week, it's Wright's turn.
Stefon Diggs (vs. Kansas City): We're "digging" deep here (dads will like that joke), but if Charles Johnson can't go for the Vikings, Diggs isn't a terrible bye week filler. Before the Vikings' bye, Diggs filled in admirably, catching 6 passes on 10 targets for 87 yards. Now he'll (again, hypothetically if Johnson is out) face a pass defense that's surrendered the most points to the position this season. Keep an eye on that injury report in Minnesota.
Tight Ends to Sit
Heath Miller (vs. Arizona): This season, no tight end has ranked higher than 22nd in weekly PPR scoring against the Cardinals. While the only above average tight end they've faced has been Martellus Bennett, it's still a pretty impressive feat. Meanwhile, Miller hasn't seen great volume since Week 1. In fact, over his last four contests, he's failed to reach just four targets. He's not a worthwhile play.
Start These Tight Ends Instead
Zach Ertz (at New York): The trouble with using Ertz is that he's not always on the field -- he's played 50 snaps per game, which is the 29th most in the NFL at the position. The good news, though, is that he's seen seven or more targets in three of five games this season -- he now has the 14th most targets at the position in the league -- and he gets a juicy matchup against the Giants, a team that's allowed a top-12, TE1 performance in PPR leagues every week these season. And that includes to players like Jacob Tamme and Garrett Celek. Ertz is in the best spot you could ask for.
Jacob Tamme (at New Orleans): Speaking of Tamme, if you need a dart throw at tight this week, he could be it. The Falcons are banged up at wide receiver, which means Matt Ryan could look his tight end's way a little more, similar to what we saw against Washington in Week 5. New Orleans, too, has allowed a top-10 tight end performance in PPR leagues each week this year.
Defenses to Sit
Philadelphia Eagles (at New York): It may seem strange that you wouldn't want to play a decent defense against Eli Manning, but the Giants haven't been friendly towards fantasy defenses this season. In fact, no defense against the Giants has ranked higher than 15th in weekly scoring, while four of five units against the G-Men have sacked Manning one or zero times.
Other defenses to sit: Buffalo Bills (vs. Cincinnati), Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Arizona)
Start These Defenses Instead
Minnesota Vikings (vs. Kansas City): The Chiefs play conservative ball, so turnovers aren't always there. Sacks, however, have been -- Alex Smith has been sacked at least twice in every game this year, including seven sacks against the Packers in Week 3. And without Jamaal Charles, the offense won't be nearly as explosive, making the Vikings a really interesting play in Week 6.
Other defenses to start: Detroit Lions (vs. Chicago), New York Jets (vs. Washington)