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Quick Grades Week 6 (Fantasy Football Start or Sit Advice)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Oct 16, 2020

It’s been a crazy five weeks already, and we’re just now starting to hit scheduled byes and unexpected COVID-related cancellations. Monday night double-headers have become a regular occurrence, Tuesday night games are a thing, and sometimes we don’t have Thursday night games at all.

This is one of those weeks. The week doesn’t kick of on Thursday as usual, and we’ll be treated to two games on MNF. With no Thursday game to speak of, all of the week’s matchups are in front of us.

Once the season begins, the most difficult part of any fantasy manager’s week is start or sit decisions. These lineup choices can make or break a week, but unfortunately, not everyone has time to sit down and read lengthy fantasy advice articles. That’s where Quick Grades comes in. Each week of the football season, I’ll be providing a condensed and easily digestible chart of grades for over 250 fantasy-relevant players based on the following four criteria:

Fantasy Ability
Despite a tough matchup, Miles Sanders broke through on a long 74 yard TD run last week

Expected Volume
Travis Kelce is always heavily targeted as one of Kansas City’s top pass-catching options

Matchup
Tyreek Hill got loose for 200 yards against Cincinnati’s porous secondary

Surrounding Talent
Sam Darnold has one of the weakest receiving corps in the league

Each of those criteria will be graded on a scale of 1-25, with the cumulative total resulting in a final grade (A+ to F) and a recommendation based on that grade. The criteria are weighted differently based on position, so it’s not a direct 1-for-1 conversion. Surrounding talent refers to offensive line for RB, quarterback play for WR and TE, and skill-position talent for QB.

The players are sorted by grade in descending order with the highest grades at the top and the lowest at the bottom. The highest-graded players receive A+ (Must start), and the lowest receive F. However, there are varying degrees of the F grade, and some players with this grade are flex plays, desperation plays, Hail Mary plays, or should remain on your bench, depending on the grade and position.

I’ll also include D/ST grades, and just like the skill-position players, there will be four criteria used for grading on a scale from 1-25, and final grades will be from 1-100. The four criteria for a D/ST grade are: Matchup, Turnovers, Sacks, and Points Allowed.

The charts are screenshots of a spreadsheet, but the link to the original can be found below. Because players are not searchable within the sheets in this article, they’ve been added to the bottom of the page so that they can be searched and referenced quickly. In addition to the player grades, I’ll provide:

  • Start of the Week: A player outside of the elite, weekly must-starts who could have a big week
  • Stream of the Week: The best player who will likely be available on your waiver wire
  • Deep-League Stream of the Week: The best player who is less than 5% rostered in Yahoo leagues
  • Fade of the Week: A notable player who could be in for a let-down performance
  • Tough Calls: Two similarly valued players who may give fantasy managers difficult decisions

Link to Full Quick Grades Document

It’s easy to see that an ‘A+’ or ‘A’ grade makes a player a must-start, but it might not make sense at first glance why some players are rated ‘C’ or worse and still have ‘Start,’ ‘Strong Start,’ or ‘Flex’ attached to their names. Because of all the different variables that go into a player’s performance in any given week, only those players with the absolute highest potential, best matchup, and strongest talent get ‘A+’ or ‘A’ grades. Therefore, even solid plays will earn grades that may appear sub-optimal on the surface, but it’s all relative from position-to-position. The hard cutoff is 50 for every position, as grades lower than this will earn a ‘Desperation’ or ‘Hail Mary’ tag in every situation.

Now that I’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the grades. Best of luck in all your matchups this week, and if you have any questions, please hit me up on Twitter @ZaktheMonster.

Note: As always, remember to check back on FantasyPros ahead of kickoff to get the latest injury news. I’ll provide “what-if” grades in the event that an injured player doesn’t suit up, but otherwise, these grades assume full health at the time the article is published on Friday morning. 

Additional note: The Atlanta Falcons had to shut down their team facility after a positive coronavirus test. Sunday’s game against Minnesota is still expected to be played, but this is a situation to keep a close eye on. 

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Running Backs

Our top-graded running backs of the week feature some new faces in the top-10. Ezekiel Elliott and Aaron Jones are fixtures among the elite backs, but Alexander Mattison makes an appearance among the top-5 thanks to a solid matchup and the absence of Dalvin Cook. Mike Davis earns a spot in the top-10 thanks to his huge PPR output as of late, and Kareem Hunt is a solid RB1 with a featured role.

Start of the Week: Ronald Jones II

Stream of the Week: Lamical Perine

Deep-League Stream of the Week: Royce Freeman 2% rostered

Fade of the Week: Frank Gore

Tough Calls: Tw0 often unheralded backs come in with nearly identical grades for Week 6. David Montgomery finds himself with an every-down role without Tarik Cohen on the field, and he’s in a smash spot against the Panthers in Week 5. Coming off back-to-back 100-yard performances, Ronald Jones II has a strong matchup in Green Bay, too. Monty’s matchup is a little bit better, and he gets a slightly higher grade here.

* With Melvin Gordon out this week, Phillip Lindsay becomes a ‘C Start’
* Le’Veon Bell has been excluded from these grades, as he is excluded from playing for his new team (KC) in Week 6 due to COVID-19 guidelines

Wide Receivers

This week, Davante Adams should be back on the field, and he immediately grades out as a top-5 play at receiver. Adam Thielen – fantasy’s WR1 through five weeks – is a must-start too. There are plenty of familiar faces among the top-graded wideouts, though Jamison Crowder is certainly a new addition. Ranked second in the NFL in PPR points per game, the Jets’ target machine has approached weekly must-start status.

Start of the Week: Laviska Shenault

Stream of the Week: Russell Gage

Deep-League Stream of the Week: Gabriel Davis 4% rostered

Fade of the Week: Michael Gallup

Tough Calls: It may seem odd to see Jamison Crowder so high up on this list, but it’s time to put some respect on this man’s name. He’s currently ranked second in PPR points per game among wideouts and should once again be the focal point of the offensive gameplan. Crowder is just ahead of Amari Cooper, who will have a tough matchup against the Cardinals and get his first full game with Andy Dalton. Crowder gets the edge here.

* If D.J. Chark is out, Laviska Shenault becomes a ‘C+ Strong Start’ and Keelan Cole remains a ‘D+ Flex’
* Shenault is dealing with a hamstring issue, and if he and Chark are out, Keelan Cole becomes a ‘C Start’ and Chris Conley becomes a ‘D Flex’
* With Diontae Johnson out, Chase Claypool becomes a ‘C+ Strong Start’
* If Darius Slay is out for Philadelphia’s D/ST, Marquise Brown becomes a ‘B Must Start’
* If John Brown is out, Gabriel Davis becomes a ‘D Flex’
* Grades exclude Julio Jones, who is up in the air to play 

Quarterbacks 

Patrick Mahomes? Kyler Murray? Deshaun Watson? Yep, they’re all in the top-five as expected. Cam Newton should be back in Week 6 and makes a strong play in his return for a friendly matchup with Denver. Kirk Cousins makes his way into the top-10 thanks to a delicious matchup with Atlanta, and despite recent struggles, Matt Ryan is a worthy play in Week 6, with a ‘B’ grade.

There is no reccomended deep-league stream of the week here, as the quarterbacks who are less than 5% rostered do not have grades higher than ‘F Desperation.’

Start & Stream of the Week: Kirk Cousins

Fade of the Week: Teddy Bridgewater

* If Cam Newton is out, Jarrett Stidham/Brian Hoyer are ‘F Hail Mary’ plays
* If Jimmy Garoppolo is out, C.J. Beathard/Nick Mullens are ‘F Hail Mary’ plays
* If Kyle Allen plays and starts over Alex Smith, he is an ‘F Hail Mary’

Tight Ends

No surprises among the top-five here, except for the absence of Zach Ertz. Ertz’s past excellence and continued injuries to the Eagles’ receiving corps keep Ertz among the top-graded tight ends, but it’s certainly time to temper expectations. Jonnu Smith and Evan Engram find themselves in smash spots, and grade as elite options for Week 6.

Start of the Week: Eric Ebron

Stream of the Week: Trey Burton

Deep-League Stream of the Week: Cameron Brate 4% rostered

Fade of the Week: Chris Herndon

Tough Calls: Hayden Hurst comes in just behind “Big Bob” Tonyan here. Tonyan scored a hat trick in his last game out, and while Hurst has been up-and-down in his production, he should be in for a solid performance against Minnesota, especially if Julio Jones is out. Still, the edge goes to Tonyan, who has a ton of touchdown upside as a favorite target of Aaron Rodgers.

* Tyler Eifert has not practiced this week due to a neck injury, and James O’Shaughnessy appears on this week’s grades instead

D/ST

This week’s top-graded D/ST’s feature some interesting teams. Washington Football Team and the New York Giants face each other this week, and both make great options. Miami’s matchup with the Jets is excellent, New England and Baltimore get solid draws, and the Rams face a 49ers team that is in disarray.

Start & Stream of the Week: Washington Football Team

Fade of the Week: Buffalo Bills

Player Search, Find

Running Back

Wide Receiver

Quarterback

Tight End

D/ST

  • New England Patriots A+ Must Start
  • Baltimore Ravens A Must Start
  • Washington Football Team A Must Start
  • Los Angeles Rams B Must Start
  • Miami Dolphins B Must Start
  • Tennessee Titans B Must Start
  • Indianapolis Colts B Must Start
  • New York Giants B Must Start
  • Cleveland Browns C Start
  • Carolina Panthers C Start
  • Chicago Bears C Start
  • Kansas City Chiefs C Start
  • Pittsburgh Steelers D+ Desperation
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers D+ Desperation
  • Atlanta Falcons D+ Desperation
  • Green Bay Packers D+ Desperation
  • San Francisco 49ers D Desperation
  • Arizona Cardinals D Desperation
  • Philadelphia Eagles D Desperation
  • Buffalo Bills D Desperation
  • New York Jets F Bench
  • Detroit Lions F Bench
  • Jacksonville Jaguars F Bench
  • Denver Broncos F Bench
  • Cincinnati Bengals F Bench
  • Minnesota Vikings F Bench
  • Dallas Cowboys F Bench
  • Houston Texans F Bench

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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