Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 6
You may still feel as though the 2018 season is still crawling out of its infancy, but five weeks in the books means you need to look yourself in the mirror. What does your team need and how can you best address that? While everyone scurries about the waiver wire, which is undoubtedly important, it will boil down to pulling the trigger on crafting the perfect starting lineup. That’s where this picks up.
Catering to all formats is impossible, but I’ll do my best to provide context as I go. The ECR given is for standard leagues since that’s what we are scored on. Please note that I’m using Tuesday night’s ECR and updates will surely roll in from Wednesday morning on, as well as injury news. I’ll use players that I’m higher or lower on against the consensus within a reasonable start/sit range from 10- to 14-teamers, or so. Let’s dive in.
Carson Wentz (at NYG): Mariano Rank: 11, ECR: 14
As you may be painfully aware, the Eagles lost running back Jay Ajayi to a torn ACL this past week. While they’re getting a dinged-up Corey Clement (and possibly Darren Sproles) back, the ground game is not in tip-top shape. Meanwhile, Alshon Jeffery has a couple of games under his belt and Zach Ertz is one of the top tight ends in the game. The Giants are a bottom-10 defense (per FootballOutsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) and the only worry for me is that the Eagles defense vultures TDs thanks to Eli Manning. Wentz looks comfortable in and out of the pocket and I am here for it.
Blake Bortles (vs. DAL): MR: 14, ECR: 18
The Cowboys defense will be without Sean Lee again in Week 6, and while that’s peachy for T.J. Yeldon and the run game, any offensive success will help Bortles. And let’s not forget that most of Yeldon’s great Week 5 came through the air (8-69-1). While Byron Jones has impressed with an 87.8 PFF grade so far, slot DB Anthony Brown (65.8) and Chidobe Awuzie (53.8) are far more vulnerable for receivers like Dede Westbrook to scorch. I know the floor is low with an erratic guy like Bortles, but Deshaun Watson just put up 415 total yards while giving Dallas its first interception of the season.
Philip Rivers (at CLE): MR: 22, ECR of 15
Over their first five games, the Browns have picked off Big Ben three times, held Drew Brees under 250 yards and kept both Sam Darnold (169 yards/two INTs) and Joe Flacco (298 yards/one INT) off of the scoreboard. Yes, Derek Carr had a great game in Week 4, but I’m letting the larger body of work speak and that was on the road. Rivers is great, but Cleveland’s defense is ranked second overall per the same FootballOutsiders’ DVOA metric, with Chicago No. 1 and Jacksonville No. 3. I’ll let someone else have Rivers this week if they want him.
Phillip Lindsay (vs. LAR): MR: 21, ECR: 26
Lindsay remains the running back du jour for Denver as they enter a tough home matchup with the Rams. Denver is a seven-point home underdog with a 52.5 over/under, which sets up best for Lindsay’s change-of-pace work compared to Royce Freeman’s two-down mold. I realize it’s annoying that Devontae Booker won’t go away, but game script favors those two and the Rams did yield 202 total yards to Mike Davis and Chris Carson in Week 5.
Jalen Richard (vs. SEA): MR: 44, ECR: 53
Richard played on 26-of-52 snaps for the Raiders in a rough Week 5 loss to the Chargers and now has 165 yards after contact, good for eighth out of all running backs. The only names ahead of him are all consensus top-10 RBs, and his 29 targets are third on the team behind Amari Cooper and Jared Cook. Head coach Jon Gruden isn’t shy about using him and Oakland sits as three-point underdogs at home. 2018 is seeing more receiving work for RBs, though those types are still undervalued in most leagues.
Chris Carson (at OAK): MR: 25, ECR: 17
Carson is outside of my RB2 conversation (assuming 12 teams) because there’s nothing trustworthy about Seattle right now. Even Doug Baldwin couldn’t buy more than one target in a full game! Mike Davis is a thing and while I wouldn’t ever want to rely on Rashaad Penny to contribute on my team, Mr. Pete Carroll could suddenly give him 15 touches. Both Carson and Davis did well in Week 5, with Carson playing 58% of snaps compared to Davis’ 42%, so it’s possible this works out. But it’s also possible the Seahawks keep us guessing with their RB usage.
LeSean McCoy (at HOU): MR: 28, ECR: 20
This goes out of the window should Buffalo trade McCoy to Philadelphia, but for now, I cannot condone playing any Bills. I applaud their finally giving him 24 rushes (and two receptions on three targets) for 108 total yards, but he barely averaged 3.5 yards per carry on a low-scoring offense. He can’t be in my top-20 here, and I don’t suggest his being in your starting lineup either. Houston just held Ezekiel Elliott to 54 yards on 20 carries in a similarly-profiled offense.
Tevin Coleman (vs. TB): MR: 34, ECR: 26
The Devonta Freeman injury wound up hurting Coleman’s stock in the long-term, as Ito Smith showed he’s deserving of play and now Atlanta has a three-man committee. The Falcons should enjoy more success against a reeling Tampa squad in Week 6 compared to their 41-17 defeat to Pittsburgh in Week 5, but Freeman’s narrowly edging Coleman out in snaps despite coming off of an injury absence isn’t promising.
Corey Davis (vs. BAL): MR: 19, ECR: 25
Davis’ snaps cranked up a notch to 91% in Week 5 after 84% in Week 3 and 85% in Week 4. None of Tajae Sharpe, Taywan Taylor, Nick Williams or Jonnu Smith are standing out alongside him. Davis stood tall against Tre White’s coverage in Week 5 and will have another tough assignment against Baltimore’s Jimmy Smith, but he’s the entirety of Tennessee’s offense right now for as long as they can’t make the rushing game work.
Josh Gordon (vs. KC): MR: 32, ECR: 38
Gordon showed off his big-play ability by converting a jump ball into Tom Brady’s 500th career touchdown on Thursday night, and now he’ll face an unassuming trio of Steven Nelson, Kendall Fuller, and Orlando Scandrick. Kansas City’s passing defense has looked better lately thanks to subpar performances from Case Keenum and Blake Bortles, but Tom Brady is more likely to replicate the early dominance of Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. Gordon earned goodwill with the TD and will look to build on his four-target Week 5 in a game fast approaching a 60-point projected total.
Keke Coutee (vs. BUF): MR: 44, ECR: 52
Coutee leads all wideouts with five yards of separation at the time of the catch per NFL’s NextGen stats leaderboard, which has helped him convert 17-of-22 targets into receptions in just two games. Consistency among DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller may be tough, but their presence likely helps him get such ridiculous cushions and put up respectful 11-109-0 and 6-51-1 lines in the past two weeks. He should avoid Buffalo’s Tre White entirely and face Tavon Brown in the slot.
Courtland Sutton (vs. LAR): MR: 48, ECR: 61
Sutton and Demaryius Thomas both saw six targets in Week 5’s loss to the Jets, and while Thomas himself finally had a strong game (5-105-1), his 47 snaps trailed Sutton’s 59. Many have been stumping for Sutton’s replacing Thomas as Denver’s No. 2 WR and it may be starting to play out. The Broncos will surely need all passing-game hands on deck with the high-scoring Rams coming to Denver, which should find Sutton running against Marcus Peters (PFF: 53.5) and Sam Shields (61.5) on the outside.
Mike Williams (at CLE): MR: 46, ECR: 38
It’s reasonable to expect Keenan Allen’s floor to hold up despite my Philip Rivers wet blanket, but Williams’ matchup against Denzel Ward (PFF: 83.1) and E.J. Gaines (71.5) on the outside will make it tough for him to break his slump. Williams has topped four targets in just two-of-five games, and he’s caught four combined balls over his last two contests. The inconsistency, combined with a bad matchup on the road, makes Williams (and all non-Allen WRs) a sit for me.
Chris Godwin (at ATL): MR: 47, ECR: 40
I suspect O.J. Howard’s injury will help Godwin’s floor, but I worry about Godwin’s 50% snap count over their past three games and his two targets in Week 4’s ugly loss to Chicago. My worry stems from Godwin’s mistakes in Week 3’s Monday-night clunker against the Steelers, where his 5-74-1 line helped mask a fumble and some bad drops. I want to believe Dirk Koetter spent the bye week finding ways to get Godwin involved for a dream matchup with Atlanta’s secondary, but it’s risky business believing in Koetter.
Chris Hogan (vs. KC): MR: 62, ECR: 52
Over the last three weeks, Hogan’s 87 air yards ranks 96th out of 165 wide receivers. Despite tallying a WR-high 91% of snaps in Week 5, he only saw four targets to give him nine in his last three games (one being an ugly catch attempt that led to an interception). Julian Edelman saw nine targets while playing on 70% of snaps in his return. Hogan and Gordon may appear to have similar workloads, but the trends are going different directions with Hogan’s “drop” and Gordon’s spectacular go-get-it TD. I don’t doubt Hogan’s ability to chip in a big game or two, but his target share is weakening and he’s yet to top 45 yards in a game.
Cameron Brate (at ATL): MR: 8, ECR: 11
Brate is creeping into the ECR’s top-10 and I won’t be surprised if he’s there by the time you read this, but I can’t understate Brate’s connection with Jameis Winston with O.J. Howard still on the shelf. Even with Howard starting to mix in last season, Brate’s 715 air yards were eighth among TEs.
Ryan Griffin (vs. BUF): MR: 18, ECR: 27
Griffin has steadily turned in between 70% and 80% of Houston’s snaps throughout the season, with Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas hovering closer to 30% each. While the snap counts have been steady, Griffin saw nine targets in Week 5 after combining for 11 in the prior four contests. The Texans are set to face the Bills and sit around 8-to-10 point favorites, though most books have taken the game off of their books with Deshaun Watson’s day-to-day chest injury.
Eric Ebron (at NYJ): MR: 12, ECR: 8
I’m not certain of Jack Doyle’s status for Week 6, but what I do know is that Eric Ebron is facing a Jets defense that has been particularly stingy to TEs. To be fair, the Jets have faced Detroit, Miami, Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Denver. That means David Njoku is the best of the lot, and he only posted a 2-36-0 line in Baker Mayfield’s coming-out party. The collective 15-167-1 line on 25 targets over five games is frightful and Jamal Adams is turning into a force.
Ricky Seals-Jones (at MIN): MR: 24, ECR: 17
RSJ is a fringe TE that you may be forced to consider in 14-team leagues, but he’s caught just 40% of his looks from Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen thus far (10-of-25). Arizona’s 29.84 seconds per play is 30th in the league, though at least they hurry up to 26.16 seconds when down by seven or more points (13th-fastest). Don’t trust this meandering offense that has yet to find any sort of groove, let alone RSJ and Rosen who have yet to establish chemistry.
Geoff Swaim (vs. JAC): MR: 22, ECR: 15
Swaim’s usage on Sunday night was maddening, as he looked solid early and then disappeared. Dallas spread the ball around — five WRs notched three or four targets apiece — but Swaim’s 15 targets over the last three weeks outpace any WR or TE (Ezekiel Elliott’s 19 lead the way). If this were PPR then I’d feel more comfortable that volume could save Swaim, but the Cowboys are three-point underdogs in the week’s lowest over-under projection at 40.5 points.