Welcome to Week 6! This is my favorite time of the fantasy year. We get to reflect on the last five weeks, figure out the missing pieces that are needed to take our fantasy game to take the next step, and act upon those missing pieces. If things have gone bad for you, don’t worry about it, and if things have gone pretty terribly, don’t worry about it as well. Some situations such as those with C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker have fantasy owners asking themselves, “Who do I stash?”, or “Who has the better future in hold”? Questions like these might make or break your fantasy year based off of timing and effective Waiver Wire maneuvering. However, not all running backs are being threatened of workload to an up-and-coming rookie in the fold. Some backs have the job locked up, and are even moving on to an increasingly larger workload based off of numerous factors. So let’s head out to L.A. and get started!
Start of the Week: Todd Gurley
At the beginning of the regular season, and even before hand in August and early September, I was extremely off of Gurley. Why? Because he seemed to be very game-script depended, and also, not upside with catches out of the backfield. However, that has seemed to have changed as we head into Week 6.
Gurley has started to do two thing. What? Gurley seemes now to get his workload that is become very predictable, as even if the Rams are winning or losing, or even in a specific way, he will get his carries and therefore still have a great chance to produce week in and week out. Another thing that is crucial is that Gurley has started to see passes being thrown his way out of the backfield on a consistent basis, raising his floor, especially in PPR leagues, while keeping his floor the same. I like Gurley as a buy-low candidate if you can get him due to recency bias.
The reason why I am so confident in Gurley this week is due to everything said or mentioned above or in the introduction to why I like Gurley ROS.
Also, he’ll get a great chance to explode against this Lions defense that ranks 28th in the NFL against the run, and for another straight week, the Lions will be without LB DeAndre Levy, and now, will be without DT Haloti Ngata, which is one of the main reason why Gurley is my Start of the Week.
Note: I will be more than happy to answer specific lineup questions below, but I won’t be selecting the “obvious” plays unless I don’t think they are so obvious. Regardless of a great matchup, you won’t see names like Tom Brady, David Johnson or Antonio Brown. Those are no-brainers. Fire ’em up with confidence.
Carson Palmer (vs. NYJ)
Palmer has not looked like himself to start the year, but make no mistake, everything is still there for him to succeed. John Brown has fully recovered from concussion issues, Michael Floyd is slowly getting more snaps and targets his way, and Larry Fitzgerald has continued to dominate. After coming back from a concussion a few weeks ago, we may see the “true” Carson Palmer of 2016 for the first time Monday night as he’ll face off against a true funnel defense of the New York Jets, a team that ranks 3rd against the run and 32nd against the pass according to Football Outsiders, at home.
Ben Roethlisberger (@ MIA)
Like always, Big Ben Roethlisberger has been tearing it up against opposing defenses with arguably the greatest offense in the NFL thus far. With Antonio Brown being Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell going right back to his old ways after the suspension, and with the new vertical presence of Sammie Coates, Roethlisberger should have no issues against a secondary that gives up on average close to 260 yards and 1.6 TD’s per game, and just yielded the #2 fantasy QB performance to Marcus Mariota, who, in theory, should only be a game-manager in Mike Mularkey’s “Exotic Smashmouth” offense that likes to pound the football constantly. Yeah, you’re not thinking twice.
Alex Smith (@ OAK)
Streamer. Yes, in theory, it is a little risky to be rostering Smith, as Andy Reid tends to play a very conservative style of offense that has had some copy-cats (i.e. Mike Mularkey’s offense in Tennessee) over the years. However, if you need a streaming option, you could do a whole lot worse with a QB that rarely makes critical mistakes in a game, a QB that will face off Sunday against a Raiders secondary that just yielded close to 400 yards and 4 TD’s (albeit, Rivers threw two picks in the process).
Matt Ryan (@ SEA)
Okay, I’ll admit it: I was wrong about Matt Ryan to not only start the year, but even last week against Denver. He and the rest of the Atlanta offense looks good. But I think it is safe to say that this is a different scenario than the previous weeks, as Ryan will face off against Seattle in Seattle. This is a Seahawks secondary that not only ranks 1st against the pass according to Football Outsiders, they also rank 4th in the NFL against opposing #1’s. Yes, QB’s in the past have had success against Seattle in Seattle, but QB success against them have been very unpredictable. If Ryan and Co. end up having success Sunday, it will most likely end up in a 150 yard, 1 TD performance, and those aren’t good fantasy numbers. There are safer options with higher floors (I would take Alex Smith or even Carson Wentz before I would take Ryan).
Kirk Cousins (vs. PHI)
Kirk has been pretty good in the last few weeks than he has to start the year. In the past two weeks he has averaged 222 yards with 2 TD’s and 1 INT, posting a 73.53% completion rate. But he is in some trouble for this week. As Matthew Stafford proved to us last week, the way to have a good game against this Philadelphia secondary (ranks 3rd in the NFL against the pass according to Football Outsiders) is by utilizing short, quick passes over the middle to beat their linebacking corps. But who can do that for Washington come Sunday? Jordan Reed is ultimately their only option, but he will most likely miss Week 6 due to a concussion. DeSean Jackson? Maybe, but his successes have come as a vertical threat. This is still a good group of cornerbacks, and with Reed being out, I am off of Cousins altogether.
Eli Manning (vs. BAL)
First off, I am an Manning owner myself, and I traded for Russell Wilson, mostly because I had an embarrassment of riches at the HB position, and could get a better option at QB. #AccentuateThePositive. However, I am still not giving up on him, but in general now as a Razzball writer, I want to see him fix some things out before I think about starting him. Let’s face it, last week was supposed to be a 40-point outing against a Green Bay secondary that was hurting. He failed to do so despite having Victor Cruz (did not register a catch in the first half), Sterling Shepard and Odell at his disposal. He even missed a wide-open Will Tye that would have resulted in a TD. It was very frustrating to say the least. This week he’ll face a Baltimore secondary that ranks 12th against the pass. Definitely middle of the road, but I want to see Manning start to look like himself again (I’ll definitely take last year’s Eli Manning) before I start him, and I would advise you to do the same.
Lamar Miller (vs. IND)
Well, if there is one way for the struggling Miller to get back to his normal ways, a healthy dose of the Colts should do the trick. The great thing about Miller rest of season, and a reason why you should not panic on him is because he is a bell-cow: you can pretty much lock him in for 20+ carries without any threat to his workload against any team, even against Minnesota. Indianapolis as a defensive unit ranks 31st against the run according to Football Outsiders, giving up close to 100 yards on the ground per game on average. With a great matchup and a healthy and consistent workload, Miller should be fine. More than fine.
Jonathan Stewart (@ NO)
If you aren’t 100% sold on the idea of running him out there this week after his recovery from injury (although I think you should), I wouldn’t argue against you if you only wanted to start him as a flex play. Stewart will be going out against a New Orleans front seven that would be in much better shape if it took Me and the first six people that comment on this article and ran us out there. I don’t think we’d give up close to 112.8 yards and 2.0 TD’s per game on average, while ranking 30th in the NFL against the run. You’d be surprised. Stewart should return to his usual workload, and I like him a lot this week.
Ryan Mathews (@ WAS)
First off, Ryan Mathews has proved absolutely nothing to the Philadelphia Eagles that he should be the starting HB after another mediocre performance that ended in a game-defining fumble. However, if there is any reason to feel confident about him, even as a flex play, this is the week to do so. He’ll face off against a Washington front seven that has seen better days, ranking as the absolute worst team against the run, per Football Outsiders. Mathews will face a front seven that on average, gives up 128 yards and 1.5 TD’s per game. Mathews has not instilled confidence in anyone thus far, but if you are hurting due to injuries or bye, he makes for a solid flex play.
BEWARE: Ezekiel Elliot (@ GB) and David Johnson (vs. NYJ)
Because they are both absolute freaking studs, you can’t bench them, but I am saying to limit expectations of them. Both of these elite backs are facing funnel defenses, in that their rush D’s are stout, but their secondaries have seen better days. The reason why I bring this up (or continue to bring it up in general) instead of saying that they are facing bad matchups, is due to the fact that the predicted game-script is not in their favor. I see a path of success for the Cardinals and Cowboys through the air, limiting the upside of each back. But again, they are freaking Ezekiel Elliot and David Johnson, their floors are still pretty much in tact, but I would make sure you don’t have high expectations, and a bad game might be coming for both of them.
Matt Jones (vs. PHI)
I talked about Jones on the podcast with Jay and Mike on Thursday, as they asked me what I thought of him. I pretty much said that the only way you are starting Matt Jones is if he is going against a really, really bad front seven. Other than that, I would stay away. Well, the Philadelphia Eagles have a pretty good front seven, a rush D that ranks 7th in the NFL according to Football Outsiders, and on average, surrenders only 54 rushing yards. No thanks.
Jeremy Hill (@ NE)
Jeremy Hill might be one of the most frustrating fantasy players of all time. Rarely does he produce on a consistent level; rather, he’ll score 3 TD’s from the one-yard line, and then you think to yourself, “Okay, let’s see if we can start him against New Orleans and feel good about ourselves!” Nope. And this matchup against New England, of whom plays a very distinct “bend but don’t break” style of defense, ranking 8th in the NFL against the run in the process. I am fine with Giovani Bernard as a FLEX play (especially in PPR leagues) just because of his production out of the backfield, but this game script is not setting up for Hill’s success at all, as it is safe to say that Hill might ride on our bench’s for the rest of the season.
Brandin Cooks (vs. CAR)
Continuing our theme from last week, I think it is a very strong move to start Cooks this week. Around this time last year, Cooks found himself breaking out a bit after their bye week as Brees started to become healthier. Now is a perfect time to buy-low on him if you can, as not only recency bias kicked into full effect with the fact that the last three weeks as him versus shutdown corners and a bye week, so many will feel like the usual “What has he done for me lately?” will kick into full effect. Well, Cooks will face off against a Panthers secondary that not only ranks 22nd in the NFL and 26th against opposing #1’s, per Football Outsiders, but they play a lot of zone, something the Raiders did (and what Cooks plays the best against) and look what happened in Week 1. Oh, and did I mention that he’ll play the Bucs twice in the playoff weeks (14-16). I love him rest of season.
Michael Floyd (vs. NYJ)
Some times when looking at our team, we think to ourselves, “Oh what the hell” and start someone at our flex. If you need a flex option due to injuries or byes, you could do a whole lot worse with Floyd, and I actually like him a lot in this matchup. I talked with Jay and Mike on Thursday’s podcast about the Arizona WR situation, and like many others, expressed my frustration with the uncertainty they bring each week (except for Fitzgerald). But I like Floyd as a flex option simply because of one factor: the deep ball. Floyd, not the Brown’s, seem to be the primary vertical threat for Palmer and Co., and the Jets have a big issue defending it. Not only is their secondary as a unit ranked as the absolute worst by Football Outsiders, they also rank as the 28th-best team in defending the deep ball. I don’t know if Floyd will rack up targets in this MNF matchup, thus lowering his floor a bit, but his ceiling is just as high as ever.
Will Fuller (vs. IND)
Ah yes, the Colts treatment! Had a bad matchup the week before! Well step right on up against a secondary that aside from Vontae Davis, is pretty bad! Well did you know that this is a secondary that on average, gives up close to 190 yards per game? Incredible! Well, anyway, Fuller has carved out a big and respectful role in this offense, and if Vontae Davis does a good job of shutting down DeAndre Hopkins like he has in the previous weeks against Allen Robinson (1st half only) and Alshon Jeffery, more of the target share will go to Fuller, as this is a great matchup for him. He’s a WR2 at the minimum, in my book.
DeSean Jackson (vs. PHI)
As I mentioned with Cousins above, Matthew Stafford proved to us last week that the way to have a good game against this Philadelphia secondary (ranks 3rd in the NFL against the pass according to Football Outsiders) is by utilizing short, quick passes over the middle to beat their linebacking corps. But who can do that for Washington come Sunday? Jordan Reed is ultimately their only option, but he will most likely miss Week 6 due to a concussion. What about Jackson? Maybe, but his successes have come as a vertical threat, something that plays directly to the Eagles’ strengths. This is still a good group of cornerbacks, and with Reed being out, I am off of Cousins altogether.
Quincy Enunwa (@ ARI)
Yes, with the confirmation that Eric Decker could quite possibly be out for the year, this is a big bump for both Marshall and Enunwa rest of season, but for now, I want nothing to do with Enunwa on the road against and Arizona defense looking for blood. The Cardinals rank 5th in the NFL against the pass per Football Outsiders, and with extra attention that he is commanding from opposing defenses, I would not feel good starting him against Arizona.
He looked very good last week when Eddie Royal was banged up all throughout practice, and even due to the fact that Alshon Jeffery wasn’t 100% healthy, but now this is a new and different week, and this Jacksonville defense is a funnel defense by all sense of the term. Ranking 7th in the NFL against the pass compared to 29th against the run, this is a great spot for Jordan Howard, but not so much for the Chicago receivers.
Coby Fleener (vs. CAR)
For those of you who had Jordan Reed in your starting lineup, Fleener might be a great pickup to start until Reed comes back. Fleener gets a great matchup like Cooks, in the fact that he’ll see zone coverage, and should able to exploit it. In general, Carolina has a tough time covering TE’s, ranking 29th in the NFL according to Football Outsiders
Dwayne Allen (@ HOU)
Especially with the increased presence of Brian Cushing from injury to this linebacking corps, this Houston defense ranks 1st in the NFL against TE’s, and after shutting down Rudolph to an extent, this situation does not bode well for Allen Sunday.
Graham Gano (@ NO)
Yes, he’s on the road, but he’ll get a chance to kick indoors in a game listed by Vegas as a shootout, with an O/U of 53. The Panthers offense with a healthy Cam Newton back should have no issues scoring Sunday.
Josh Brown (vs. BAL)
The Ravens defense is pretty legit thus far, and in theory, if Eli cannot capitalize on drives again, they may call on Brown to finish, but with the projected lowest-scoring game this Sunday (according to Vegas), I want to stay away and look for other options.
Defense & Special Teams
Buffalo Bills (vs. SF)
I recommended the Bills last week, and hopefully you have stuck with them thus far (and to continue to do so in the coming weeks as well). Not only have they played very well recently, they’ll be at home against Colin Kaepernick and the Niners. I don’t need to go pretty deep into this one.
Kansas City Chiefs (@ OAK)
On the road against one of the better offenses in the NFL in the Oakland Raiders, with a projected game O/U of 48.5, there are better options from which to choose from (such as the Browns), even though they look good on paper.
Thanks for sticking around to the end for what is shaping up to be a great sixth week of the NFL season. As always, if you agree or disagree with a player above, or have a general question or comment about your team, please do not hesitate to leave one below.
Best of luck, and I’ll talk to you guys next week as we try to get your team to 7-0 on the season.
You Can Follow Zach on Twitter @ohuhave12.