NFL Week 6 fantasy football start 'em or sit 'em

For fantasy managers sitting at 2-3 or 1-4 heading into Week 6, this week is critical when it comes to start/sit decisions. Injuries continue to ravage fantasy lineups, and bye weeks have us scrambling to find replacements for the likes ofJosh Jacobs,Alvin Kamara,Russell Wilson,DK MetcalfandTyler Lockett. Many rosters won’t be at 100% in Week 6, so we need to squeak out wins however we can.


QUARTERBACKS


START: RYAN TANNEHILL, TENNESSEE TITANS

Ryan Tannehill arrived in Week 5 fresh off the bye week, just in time to destroy the Buffalo Bills’ defense. He totaled four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) to post exactly 30.0 fantasy points.

It’s a very short week for the Titans coming off a Tuesday-night game, but Tannehill draws a solid matchup versus the Houston Texans. They've allowed the league’s third-highest passer rating (117.2) and Tannehill played well against them last season (21.2 fantasy points per game).

The Titans’ quarterback could also get back key receivers Adam Humphries and Corey Davis, which would further bolster his positive outlook for Week 6.


START: RYAN FITZPATRICK, MIAMI DOLPHINS

Over the past four weeks, Ryan Fitzpatrick has averaged 26 fantasy points per game and has scored the fifth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks. He is the overall fantasy QB6 and the QB5 in expected fantasy points over that time span.


Due to scheduling changes, Fitzpatrick draws the New York Jets at home in Week 6 — they've allowed over 300 passing yards per game and the fifth-highest yards per attempt (9.1) over the past two weeks. 

In Fitzpatrick’s home start against the Jets in 2019, he threw for three touchdowns and 288 passing yards. The Jets have also allowed the second-most rushing attempts to opposing QBs this season — Fitzpatrick ranks fourth among quarterbacks in scrambles and fifth in total rushing yards (26 yards per game). 

PlayerRushing yards per gameKyler Murray59Cam Newton50Lamar Jackson48Russell Wilson31Sam Darnold29Mitchell Trubisky29Ryan Fitzpatrick26

START: KIRK COUSINS, MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Kirk Cousins hasn’t been great in fantasy over the past two weeks, averaging just 16 fantasy points per game despite plus matchups versus the Houston Texansand Seattle Seahawks.

But it's going to be hard to ignore him as an easily attainable option off the waiver wire ahead of a matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, who have allowed the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks and a league-high 125.1 passer rating. 

The Falcons’ 30.14 points per game allowed to quarterbacks is more than five points higher than the next-closest team. 


SIT: GARDNER MINSHEW, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

This “sit” destination comes with the caveat that Gardner Minshew shouldn’t be started this week if D.J. Chark isn’t out there or hasn’t logged full practices. We have a limited sample size this season of Minshew playing well in four games with Chark (27.5 fantasy points per game) and a disaster game in the one Chark missed (eight fantasy points).

But these splits also date back to the final three games of last season when Chark missed time or was limited. Minshew averaged just 11.2 fantasy points per game during that final stretch.

The Detroit Lions’ defense has been most susceptible to deep balls this season, but we have hardly seen a high-flying vertical offense from the Jacksonville Jaguars.  

Minshew ranks 22nd in aDOT (7.8) and in deep ball throw percentage (10.7%) through the first five weeks of the season. In Week 3 — without Chark — Minshew went 0-for-5 on deep ball attempts. 



RUNNING BACKS

Sep 20, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones (27) stiff arms Carolina Panthers strong safety Juston Burris (31) to score a touchdown during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


START: RONALD JONES II, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

There’s a chance that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get Leonard Fournette back in Week 6, but that’s not reason enough to shy away from RoJo. 

He is one of only five running backs to have two 100-yard rushing games this season and faces the Green Bay Packers who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to the running back position.

Tom Brady ranks second in the NFL in passing attempts to running backs this season, so regardless of how underwhelming Jones looks as a receiver he should be able to add a few receptions to his final stat line. And he could easily turn one of his catches into a huge gain — Green Bay has allowed the second-highest yards per attempt (7.91) to running backs this season. 


START: DARRELL HENDERSON, LOS ANGELES RAMS

After the Los Angeles Rams’ victory over the Washington Football Team, head coach Sean McVay said that Cam Akers will see an increased workload next Sunday versus the San Francisco 49ers

That may have fantasy managers too afraid to strut out Darrell Henderson in their lineups, but I see it more as Akers leapfrogging Malcolm Brown in the offense. As PFF's Nathan Janke pointed out, in Akers’ return to the offense in Week 5 cut more into Brown’s first- and second-down snaps than Henderson’s. Akers also saw most of his touches in garbage time. 

Henderson still has a grip on receiving work and goal-line work, so he will be my highest-ranked Rams running back in Week 6 and worth a starting spot. The 49ers’ defense was exposed by the Miami Dolphins last week, which led to a career fantasy day for Myles Gaskin (20 fantasy points).

The San Francisco defense has also allowed 100% of runs inside the 5-yard line to convert into touchdowns, so that bodes extremely well for Henderson’s fantasy outlook as the team’s primary goal-line back.

If you have Akers, you could also deploy him as an RB3/FLEX play this week because he should see 12-15 touches. 


SIT: JERICK MCKINNON, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Raheem Mostert made his faithful return to the lineup in Week 5, wiping out Jerick McKinnon’s fantasy value. McKinnon saw just one carry in Week 5 after dominating the touches the three weeks prior. 

He still saw some usage in the passing game (four targets, two catches), but that alone won’t be enough to warrant starting him in Week 6 outside a desperation play, considering Mostert also saw three targets himself.

In the three games when Mostert and McKinnon have both been active, Mostert has run more routes and seen the same amount of targets (10). 



WIDE RECEIVERS

Oct 11, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (17) is defended by Las Vegas Raiders inside linebacker Cory Littleton (42) in the second quarterat Arrowhead Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


START: MECOLE HARDMAN, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

If you had Mecole Hardman stashed on the bench or added him off the waiver wire, you deserve congratulations. Sammy Watkins is expected to miss the next few weeks with a hamstring injury, which makes Hardman a startable fantasy asset with insane upside. 

Hardman has already been seeing increased usage — season-high of snaps (71%) in Week 5 — and he should see plenty of time in the slot. He and Tyreek Hill both have played 58% of their snaps from the slot this season — and that is the Buffalo Bills‘ biggest weakness.

This season, Buffalo has allowed the most yards after the catch, the second-most receptions and the third-most targets to slot receivers. 


START: MICHAEL GALLUP, DALLAS COWBOYS

Michael Gallup was listed as a “sit” in Week 5 and was heading for a poor fantasy day before a long catch down the sideline from backup quarterback Andy Dalton. He finished the day with four catches for 73 yards on four targets, three of which came from Dalton.

It’s hard to pinpoint whether Gallup is a winner with a QB change, but Dalton’s confidence to target him frequently on the game’s final drive gives me confidence in rolling the dice on Gallup versus the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals present two outside cornerback matchups that Gallup owns the advantage in. Dre Kirkpatrick should cover Gallup most of the time — he is PFF’s third-worst graded CB in 2020. 

It’s also noteworthy that Dalton did not target the tight end position once he entered the game, and Gallup’s two best fantasy games in 2020 (Weeks 3 and 5) coincided with Dalton Schultz’s two worst games. 

This correlation trends back to last season — in the two games in 2019 when Gallup finished the week as a top-five wide receiver, Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin totaled three targets. 

Additionally, the team ran more 12 personnel (two-tight end sets) with Dalton (21.7%) than it had with Dak Prescott (12.4%), which was probably a coaching adjustment to give extra protection for their quarterback. 

If this continues and the team leans on the tight ends more as blockers rather than receivers, Gallup’s outlook could be better than expected. 


SIT: D.J. MOORE, CAROLINA PANTHERS

It’s great that D.J. Moore scored a touchdown and had 90-plus receiving yards in Week 5, but that was in a layup spot versus the Falcons. This game against the Chicago Bears is hardly that. They’ve allowed the second-fewest points to wide receivers this season.

Moore isn’t the No. 1 receiver in Carolina and needs to be a matchup-based play. The Bears rank sixth in pressure percentage and seventh in explosive passing play percentage allowed this season, which is going to limit Moore’s overall upside. 



TIGHT ENDS

October 4, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) is congratulated by quarterback Carson Wentz (11) after scoring a two-point conversion against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


START: ZACH ERTZ, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

It’s been tough sledding for the former star fantasy TE over the past two weeks. Owners might be panicking and looking to pivot off Zach Ertz after back-to-back dud games, but you need to keep him in the starting lineup. 

The Eagles are obviously banged up (per usual), so Ertz does still project to see anywhere from five to seven targets, which is the average amount the Baltimore Ravens have allowed this season.

The problem with Ertz hasn’t necessarily been the lack of volume, but his lack of efficiency with the targets he’s seeing. His yards per target (7.3) ranks dead last among tight ends with at least 20 targets this season.

But I like things to change for Ertz in Week 6 versus Baltimore because they haven't been efficient against tight ends. On throws to tight ends this year, they rank 27th in yards per attempt (8.9) and 26th in passer rating (123.6).

Travis Fulgham’s emergence, along with the potential returns of Alshon Jefferyand DeSean Jackson, could free up coverage for Ertz to easily bounce back in Week 6. The Ravens rank top-10 in fantasy points allowed against every position except for the tight end, so it’s hard to imagine the targets not flowing toward Ertz.


START: HAYDEN HURST, ATLANTA FALCONS

Hayden Hurst hasn’t stepped up in the absence of Julio Jones, and that has fantasy owners concerned. He needs a big play or a touchdown to salvage fantasy production, but the Minnesota Vikings could provide exactly that.

This season, Minnesota has allowed the highest explosive pass percentage (34.6%) and deep pass percentage (27%) to opposing tight ends. Among tight ends that have played at least 50% of their team’s snaps, Hurst ranks fifth in aDOT (10.5), fifth in total air yards (273) and first in deep ball targets (five).


SIT: EVAN ENGRAM, NEW YORK GIANTS

The matchup against the Washington Football Team might look enticing for Evan Engram, but you cannot trust any Giants offensive player right now. The offense can barely move the football and Engram would have been a major bust last week had it not been for a rushing touchdown.

A week after he had 10 targets — for a whopping 15 air yards — Engram had just one catch for 16 yards against the worst defense in the NFL in Week 5.

He is running more short routes closer to the line of scrimmage under offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, which is killing his fantasy performance. Sixty-six percent of his catches have come on ins, outs, hitches or crossing routes. 

Engram’s aDOT (4.5) ranks 31st out of 33 qualifying tight ends that have played at least 50% of their team’s snaps this season. He also has the third-worst matchup per PFF’s TE Matchup Chart


SIT: ROBERT TONYAN, GREEN BAY PACKERS

Robert Tonyan has surely benefited from the absence of Davante Adams, but I'm not so sure that his fantasy production will continue upon Adams' return. He has been heavily touchdown-dependent in his last three games and the Buccaneers have allowed just one touchdown reception to tight ends this season.

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