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Fantasy Football Rundown: Starts, Sits, & Everything In-Between for Week 6

At least one sentence on every single fantasy football relevant player for Week 6. Starts, sits, sleepers, busts, you name it, I talk about it here.

Welcome to the Fantasy Football Rundown: a weekly article written by yours truly in which I give at least one sentence on every single fantasy relevant player for Week 6. Starts, sits, sleepers, busts, you name it, I talk about it here. Be warned, this is a beast of a piece. If you’re looking for a specific player, I recommend using your web browser’s search function to head straight to said player. Otherwise, enjoy reading!

fantasy football starts sits sleepers week 6

Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars

Miami Dolphins

QB Tua Tagovailoa — Tua will start for the Dolphins in Week 6. As a whole, Jacksonville’s pass defense is fairly porous. Their 296 passing yards allowed per game are 8th most in the NFL and their 26.7% NEFF pass defense rating is dead last but their pass rush is decent (47 QB hurries, T-14th). With Tua active, he could probably produce mid-range QB2 numbers.

WR Preston Williams — DeVante Parker’s hamstring flared up late last week and Williams operated at the team’s X-receiver. Assuming Parker is out again this week, Williams is a WR5.

WR Jaylen Waddle and TE Mike Gesicki — Slot receivers Waddle and Gesicki both flopped last week but they get the all-healing slot CB Tre Herndon to toy with in Week 6. Active through just two games (Weeks 4 and 5), Herndon has allowed 10 of 11 targets for completions, 112 yards, and 1 touchdown per PFF.com. Waddle is a high-end WR4 and Gesicki is a typical boom/bust TE1.

RBs Malcolm Brown, Salvon Ahmed, and Myles Gaskin — In a move that more of us should’ve seen coming, HC Brian Flores opted to utilize Gaskin’s pass catching ability as an outlet pass against Tampa Bay’s pass rush this week. Jacksonville’s pass rush is decent but it’s nowhere near Tampa’s. Don’t expect a repeat performance from Gaskin this week. If he’s on your roster, try to sell-high. Jacksonville is allowing 26.1 .5PPR PPG to opposing RBs each week (5th most). But, as evidenced by their 39.0% NEFF run defense rating (28th), the vast majority of that sum is coming via rushing. Expect a three-way timeshare this week. No Miami back is better than a middling RB4.

Jacksonville Jaguars

QB Trevor Lawrence — Lawrence has officially activated his rushing floor over the last three weeks. The rookie has 21 carries for 91 yards and 2 touchdowns during that time. Miami’s Nos. 1 and 2 CBs Bryon Jones and Xavien Howard are phenomenal players but both are a  little banged up. Lawrence is a high-end QB2 with QB1 upside, given his newfound rushing floor.

Update, 10/15/21: Miami CB Xavien Howard has been ruled out. This is helpful for the Jags’ passing game components.

WRs Marvin Jones Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. — HC Urban Meyer seemingly schemed up more targets for CB-to-WR convert/return man Jamal Agnew and failed gadget boy Tavon Austin than he did his Nos. 1 and 2 WRs last week. Meyer was undoubtedly enticed by their identical 4.34-second 40 times as the flailing coach is used to having athletic players win for him at the collegiate level. Both Jones and Shenault, of course, made the most of their paltry workloads with Jones taking his lone reception for 25 yards and Shenault making mind-bending moves on a 58-yard reception where more than half of the yardage came via his open-field maneuverability.

Facing a tough pair of CBs and inhibited by poor play-calling, the Jr’s can only be started as boom/bust WR3s this week.

WRs Tavon Austin and Jamal Agnew — Boom/bust WR6s. They are very bad at football but may see decent target shares because of Meyer’s need for speed.

TE Dan Arnold — Arnold is looking like a featured part of the Jaguars’ offense, three weeks after being via trade. Per PFF.com, his route total jumped from 11 in Week 4 to 30 in Week 5 and his 8 targets were tied for the team lead last week. Arnold actually lost a fumble on the third play from scrimmage but the team went right back to him, cementing his status as an Urban Meyer Favorite. Treat Arnold as a volume-based mid-tier TE1.

RBs James Robinson and Carlos Hyde — Hyde returned to action last week, resuming his normal role from a snap perspective, but Robinson was still able to get the job done, finishing as last week’s .5PPR RB10. That rascal Urban Meyer tried his damndest to keep Robinson from fantasy gold though, giving Hyde four of his five carries in the red zone, two of which came inside the five-yard line. Thankfully, Hyde failed to convert any of them and Robinson was able to make a one-yard end zone plunge. Miami’s front-seven pure run defense is of the “bad, not awful” variety, ranking T-22nd in NEFF run defense rating. On the whole though, they can’t stop dual threat RBs to save their lives, giving up 28.3 .5PPR PPG (2nd most in the NFL). Robinson fits the bill. He’s a mid-to-low RB1. Hyde is a TD-dependent RB5/6.

Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Football Team

Kansas City Chiefs

QB Patrick Mahomes — Washington’s defense is the prime example of how volatile defensive performance is year-to-year. They’re loaded with phenoms but can’t stop anyone. Over the last three weeks, Josh Allen, Matt Ryan, and Jameis Winston have all thrown for four touchdowns and just one combined interception (Winston). Mahomes should get back on track as a top-3 fantasy QB this week.

WR Tyreek Hill — Hill was initially reported as having suffered a mild knee injury in Week 5 but is currently listed on the injury report with a quad contusion. He was unable to practice on both Wednesday and Thursday. Contusions are no joke and his availability for Week 6 should not be taken as a given. Its possible Hill sits this week. If active, he’s an elite WR1 as always though.

WRs Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, and Byron Pringle — Hardman saw 12 targets last week, beating his previous career high (9) by a whopping 3 looks. With Hill potentially missing Week 6’s contest, Hardman is a must-add. We’ve been here before with the volatile speedster though. Even with Hill out, Hardman would only be a boom/bust WR4. The match-up is there for a thunderous outing though. Robinson and Pringle are just wishy washy WR6s.

WR Josh Gordon — Gordon ran 4 routes (PFF) on 9 snaps and caught his lone target for 11 yards. He’s still just a bench stash.

TE Travis Kelce — Elite TE1.

RB Darrel Williams — Williams will lead the backfield charge until Edwards-Helaire returns and we’ve got some data on hand to help project his usage. When Williams operated as the lead back in Week 16 of 2020, he took 10 carries for 46 yards and caught 4 of 6 targets for 27 yards. While not gaudy, the usage was ample. Williams quickly filled in as a near-full-time player, catching 3 of 4 targets and carrying the ball twice for 14 yards. Treat Williams as a back-end RB2 this week.

RBs Jerick McKinnon and Elijah McGuire — No. 2 back McKinnon will fill in as a passing game specialist and may even see a handful or carries but Williams should safely operate as a 15-touch dual threat in coming weeks. McKinnon should be considered an RB4. KC signed McGuire to the practice squad this week and while he’s unlikely to be deployed in Week 6, he’s a savvy add in deep leagues. McGuire hasn’t been able to find steady work in his short career but did flash as a capable dual threat during his 2017 and 2018 seasons with the New York Jets.

Washington Football Team

QB Taylor Heinicke — The mobile downfield passer was finally slowed by Sean Payton and Co. last week but KC offers major bounce back potential in Week 6. The Chiefs’ 1,482 passing yards allowed are 4th-most in the NFL and their dreary 31.2% NEFF pass defense rating is the only unit with a worse score than Urban Meyer’s flaccid Jags. The match-up specifically suited for Heinicke to thrive in as Kansas City is allowing both the most fantasy points per game to opposing signal callers (28.7) as well as the most QB rushing yards per game (47.2). Heinicke is a QB1 for Week 6.

WR Terry McLaurin — “F1” is going to leave tire tracks all over this one. Owner of the NFL’s fourth-largest team-air yards share (44.91%), McLaurin should dismantle a KC CB group that’s currently allowing 33.3 .5PPR PPG to opposing WRs, 10th most in the NFL. He’s an elite WR1.

WR Curtis Samuel — The do-it-all WR re-injured his groin for the third time this year which, per Dr. Edwin Porras, means surgery has to be on the table. Do not expect him to contribute again in 2021.

WRs DeAndre Carter and Adam Humphries — The NFL’s No. 1 return man, DeAndre Carter was the man to step up in Samuel’s place, not Adam Humphries as many would’ve expected. After Samuel exited part way through the second-quarter, Carter got all he could handle. While maintaining return duties, the journeyman also saw five targets and one carry come his way. He finished with 4 catches, 73 yards from scrimmage, and 58 return yards. As evidenced by his NFL-leading 381 return yards—KC’s Byron Pringle is in No. 2 with 321—Carter is a dynamic mover with the ball in his hands and needs to be rostered as a borderline WR4/5 in all formats, especially where production in the return game counts. Humphries is a WR5.

TE Ricky Seals-Jones — RSJ stepped right in, efficiently replacing the injured Logan Thomas (8 targets, 5 catches, and 41 yards). He’s firmly on the TE1 streaming radar vs. a KC defensive unit that’s currently allowing 14.8 .5PPR PPG to opposing TEs, T-4th most in the NFL.

RBs Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic — Both WAS backs are must-starts this week—Gibson as a mid-tier RB1, McKissic as an RB3. I broke down the backfield in my running back rankings this week.

Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants

Los Angeles Rams

QB Matthew Stafford — Best to expect a QB10-15 finish from Stafford this week. NYG’s defense isn’t particularly good but both the Rams and Giants are in the bottom-half of the league in offensive plays per game. Not likely to be a shootout.

WRs Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods — Positive regression to the mean took it’s time but Woods bounced back in a big way last week (12 catches on 14 targets for 150 yards) and it puts the G-Men in a tough position. Do they have stud CB James Bradberry shadow one of Kupp or Woods or just stick to the perimeter, where he’s taken 276 of 342 2021 snaps (PFF)? We won’t know until curtains close but both Kupp and Woods are too good to consider as anything other than as a WR1 and a WR2 respectively.

WRs Van Jefferson Jr. and DeSean Jackson — Jefferson Jr. and Jackson continue to rotate in the downfield, Z-receiver role. This weekend is as good a day as any to roll the dice on one of them as a boom/bust WR4. NYG’s 10% explosive pass rate allowed sits T-11th in the NFL through 5 weeks of the season, per SharpFootballStats.com.

TE Tyler Higbee — NYG’s 13.3 .5PPR PPG allowed are the 7th most in the NFL. For a typical boom/bust TE1 like Higbee that’s the kind of match-up that you’re looking for.

RBs Darrell Henderon Jr. and Sony Michel — LAR split up the RB workloads purely by drives last week, with each back “owning” a given drive. There were 11 offensive drives total for the Rams and Michel had two of them (Nos. 5 and 9). Notably, HC Sean McVay did not cycle Henderson in when the team entered scoring position which allowed Michel to see red zone work on both drives. The latter received 4 carries inside Seattle’s 20-yard line and converted his lone carry inside the 5. Henderson also saw work in scoring position though; one target, two red zone carries, and one of said red zone carries was inside the five-yard line which he also converted for a touchdown, per PFF.com. Henderson’s 17 carries comfortably led Michel’s 11 and for anyone concerned with Henderson only seeing 1 target come his way, he ran 23 routes to Michel’s 9 (PFF.com). The Giants’ 42.6% RDNEFF run defense efficiency score is T-22nd in the league and their 24.7 .5PPR PPG allowed to opposing RBs is 9th most on the whole. Henderson is a mid-tier RB1 while Michel is a borderline RB3/4.

New York Giants

QBs Daniel Jones and Mike Glennon — Jones suffered a concussion at the end of the first-half last week and his status for Week 6 is entirely up in the air. Supposedly barred from participating in practice at this stage of the concussion protocol, Jones was seen throwing the ball in full pads on Wednesday. We’re in wait-and-see mode as to what unfolds. If active, Jones would be a high-end QB2. Glennon would be a QB3 if Jones is inactive.

WR Kadarius Toney — The G-Men WR corps has been badly banged up in recent weeks and an opportunity for the raw first-round rookie Toney to emerge in emphatic fashion. He did so thunderously. Over the last two weeks, Toney has seen a team-high 22 targets, caught 16 of them for 279 yards, while carrying the ball twice for 8 yards on the ground. Per PFF.com, Toney lined up both in the slot and outside 32 times apiece, along with one snap in-line as a tight end. Although Toney is still very undisciplined, both as a route runner and as a player overall (he threw a punch last week), his production is too gaudy for the team to relegate back to the bench. Treat Toney as a volatile WR3

WRs Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton — Golladay (knee) is sure to miss Week 6 but slot receiver Shepard (hamstring) and downfield receiver Slayton (hamstring) returned to practice in a limited fashion on Wednesday. While the team should continue to force feed Toney touches, Shepard might be in trouble as his production has long been dependent on his slot snap share. He’s been pushed to the perimeter in the past and the results weren’t great. Assuming Daniel Jones can play, treat Shepard/Slayton as WR4s.

WR John Ross — Ross is not a fantasy factor.

TE Evan Engram — Engram couldn’t make any noise even with all the three starting WRs out. He’s a low-end TE2.

RB Devontae Booker — Starting RB Saquon Barkley suffered a lateral ankle sprain and should miss one-to-two weeks, per Dr. Edwin Porras. No. 2 back Booker should take on full-time RB duties in his absence and can be started as a borderline RB2/3 this week.

Any questions as to Booker’s intended usage was quickly erased after Barkley left part way through the first-quarter of NYG’s Week 5 loss to Dallas. The journeyman back saw all 16 of his carries and all 4 of his targets in relief of Barkley and ran a promising 29 routes per PFF.com. Booker hoarded scoring position touches, with two red zone targets and four red zone carries, three of which came inside Dallas’ five-yard line.

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Houston Texans 

QB Davis Mills — Borderline QB2/3.

WR Brandin Cooks — The Pats blanketed Cooks last week and a couple of the other Texans benefitted. It was likely a flash in the pan. Cooks is a WR4 this week, in an albeit decent matchup. Indy is allowing 35.1 .5PPR PPG to opposing WRs, 8th most in the NFL.

Indianapolis Colts

QB Carson Wentz — Wentz and his weary ankles should find a brief respite against the Texans. Their front-seven is bottom-2 in both sacks and QB hits. Wentz is a top-5 play at the QB position this week.

WR Michael Pittman Jr. — Pittman Jr.’s 35.87% team-air yards share is 16th in the NFL and his 40 targets are 17th overall. There’s no one on the Texans’ roster that can hang with him. Pittman is a high-end WR2 for Week 6.

WRs Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell — Texans’ slot CB Desmond King is playing like a shell of his former self. With the Chargers, King was a man to be feared. Through five games with Houston, King’s let 10 of 13 slot coverage targets get past him for 99 yards and 1 touchdown for an NFL passer rating of 123.6, per PFF.com. Slot man Pascal is a high-floor WR4 as a result. Campbell is just a dart throw WR6.

WR T.Y. Hilton — Hilton has been designated to return from Injured Reserve (neck). He can now be promoted to the active roster at any time over the next 21 days. He’s likely to bounce Campbell to the bench but isn’t more than a coin-toss WR5 at the moment. That said, his field-stretching ability is sorely needed.

TE Mo Alie-Cox — Alie-Cox may actually be separating from Jack Doyle and Kylen Granson. The problem is, the latter two are still on the roster and all it takes is one misstep by Alie-Cox or one good practice for Doyle or Granson to get more reps. That said, Houston is allowing 17.2 .5PPR PPG to opposing tight ends, a full 2 points more than any other team in the NFL. If in need of tight end help, Alie-Cox is a good place to start. He’s a must-use guy in DFS.

RBs Jonathan Taylor — Taylor looks like he might actually be heading back towards the dual threat usage that we saw from him in Week 1. Week 6 marked the highest routes run total (16, per PFF.com) and target total (4) that we’ve seen for Taylor since Week 1. Of course, Taylor’s also keeping a sizable lead in the carry department as well—a good thing given Indy’s Week 6 match-up against a Texans defensive-front that ranks dead last in NEFF run defense rating (37.1%). He’s a locked-in RB1.

RBs Nyheim Hines and Marlon Mack — Mack has been on the game day roster from three of the five 2021 games Indy’s played thus far and each time it’s come at the expense of Hines’ snaps and target totals, but not Taylor’s. Hines is a borderline RB3/4. Mack is a DFS-only guy this week. He’s not good enough, nor seeing enough volume, to warrant redraft consideration but he could get some decent run late in the game if the Colts are able to blow the Texans out early.

Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions

Cincinnati Bengals

QB Joe Burrow — Burrow went to the hospital after last week’s tilt due to a throat contusion. He’s said to be fine but HC Zac Taylor may opt for clock-killing in this one as his QB is less than 100%—a trend we explored deeply over the summer. He’s a borderline QB1/2 this week.

WR Ja’Marr Chase — Chase’s 47.68% team-air yards share ranks second in the NFL through five games. The Lions are down two CBs, cut their best linebacker, and stud pass rusher Trey Flowers is battling a knee injury. Burrow should have all day to throw and he’ll be looking for Chase constantly. The rookie WR is a fantasy WR1 once again this week.

WRs Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd — These two hurt each other’s target shares to a significant degree but they should be able to get the job via efficiency — there’s also a chance that the two shallow defenses allow for a low-key shootout. Treat both Higgins and Boyd and high-floor WR3s.

WR Auden Tate — DFS-only.

TE C.J. Uzomah — The return of Higgins nuked Uzomah’s fantasy relevance.

RBs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine — The Bengals played Mixon (ankle) on a snap count last week and luckly he made it through unscathed. No. 2 RB Samaje Perine who produced 83 yards from scrimmage, 4 catches, and 1 touchdown started the week by testing positive for COVID-19 and has yet to register back-to-back negative tests. It does not appear as though he’ll play this week. As a result, Mixon is likely to resume the roughly 20-touch workload he was operating on prior to Week 5. Mixon is a back-end RB1, playing at less than 100%.

RB Chris Evans — Evans slides into No. 2 RB duties. Evans is a mid-tier RB4 with slight RB3 upside in full-point PPR formats.

Detroit Lions

QB Jared Goff — The Bengals get most of the pass rush production from DEs Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard with a little blitz action from linebacker Logan Wilson and slot CB Mike Hilton. They’re great players but it’s not a long list to plan for. Goff should maintain mid-to-high QB2 viability in Week 6.

WR Amon-Ra St. Brown — While slot CB Hilton has been impressive as a blitzer, he’s recorded just one pass breakup and zero interceptions in slot coverage (per PFF.com). Slot receiver St. Brown should stay hot as a WR4 with WR3 upside in this one after banking back-to-back 10.0 .5PPR-point performances against the Bears and Vikings over the last two weeks.

WR Kalif Raymond — Inside/outside WR Raymond had a down week in Week 5 but should bounce back in Week 6. Raymond has run routes from the slot 35.3% of the time this year (PFF), affording him ample time to bask in CB Hilton’s glow. When he’s not waxing Hilton, Raymond should also be running free on the perimeter vs. journeyman CB Eli Apple. Raymond is a borderline WR3/4.

WR KhaDarel Hodge — Perimeter man Quintez Cephus landed on IR this week after breaking his collarbone in Week 5. Former Cleveland Brown Hodge was his full-time replacement but caught just 1-of-5 targets for 17 yards. Hodge has always been more of an athlete than a wide receiver. He’s just a WR6 this week.

TE T.J. Hockenson — Battling a knee injury and running slightly fewer routes than he did to start the season, Hockenson is not a recommended TE1 in redraft this week. He’s also likely to be asked to help block DEs Hendrickson and Hubbard.

RBs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams — Swift has 52 carries and a team-leading 35 targets this year. Williams’ 55 carries are No. 1 in Detroit and his 16 targets are nothing to shake a stick at. Cincy’s allowing 8.2 RB receptions per game (2nd most) and 50 RB receiving yards per game (T-6th most). Williams was concerningly downgraded from LP to DNP, Wednesday to Thursday though (hip) and is now trending towards be Out on Sunday. If both backs are active, Swift is a borderline RB1/2 and Williams is a borderline RB2/3. If it’s a solo show for Swift, he launches safely into the mid-tier RB1 group.

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers

QB Aaron Rodgers — Rodgers is a mid-range QB1 this week. In two games against the Bears last year, Rodgers went 21-of-29 for 211 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions and 19-of-24 for a remarkably similar 240 yards, 4 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Those outings resulted in the veteran passer finishing as the QB4 and QB7, respectively.

WR Davante Adams — Elite WR1.

WRs Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, and Amari Rodgers — Someone named Kindle Vindor will cover Lazard while a man named Duke Shelley will cover rotational slot receivers Cobb and Rodgers. All five players are bad but Rodgers can blame his performance on being a rookie. The WRs are all boom/bust WR6 candidates and should not be started in redraft. One of them could get loose enough that they hit but it’s a DFS-only situation.

TEs Robert Tonyan and Mercedes Lewis — Do not start either in redraft.

RBs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon — Jones has lost some work to Dillon in recent weeks and that’s looking like the norm from here on out. He’s still an elite dual threat lead back though so don’t panic. The Bears play solid defense but they’re fairly banged up. Edge rusher Khalil Mack is battling foot and rib injuries and stud DL Akiem Hicks (groin) has played just one snap over the last two weeks and kicked off Week 6 with a DNP. Jones is a top-15 RB. Dillon has a standalone role in this offense now. His Week 4 numbers are a little inflated due to game script but overall, he is seeing more snaps, carries, and targets than he was early in the year. He’s an RB3.

Chicago Bears

QB Justin Fields — With OC Bill Lazor calling plays for Fields over the last two weeks, the Bears have thrown the ball on just 36% of first-half early-downs (FH/ED), the lowest rate in the NFL (per SharpFootballStats). Green Bay will still be without studs CB Jaire Alexander and DE Za’Darius Smith but Fields can’t be trusted as anything more than a volatile QB2 with a QB25-36 finish unfortunately in his range of outcomes.

WRs Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney — Robinson and Mooney are sharing No. 1 target duties and both are nursing injuries. Mooney’s been managing a groin injury but was fine last week and Robinson showed up on the injury report with an ankle injury and was unable to practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Sans Alexander, the Packers shouldn’t be able to cover Robinson but the usage has left a lot to be desired. If both are active, consider both Robinson and Mooney as WR3s this week. Mooney would rise to the WR25-ish realm if Robinson were inactive.

WRs Jakeem Grant and Marquise Goodwin — Not relevant in redraft.

TE Cole Kmet — TE2 bench stash.

RBs Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert — As expected, Williams got the start in place of the injured David Montgomery, taking 16 for 64 yards and 1 touchdown and caught 2-of-3 targets for 20 yards. Unexpectedly though, No. 2 back Herbert actually out-snapped (53% to 48%) and out-carried Williams (18 attempts for 75 yards) on the day. News broke on Thursday afternoon that Williams had been placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list following a positive test result, putting his availability for Sunday decisively in jeopardy. Herbert would launch from a back-end RB2 with Williams to a high-end RB2 without. Williams would also be a back-end RB2, if active.

Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens

Los Angeles Chargers

QB Justin Herbert — Elite QB1 every week. LAC will pick on BAL’s undermanned CB group.

WRs Mike Williams and Keenan Allen — Williams was unable to practice on Wednesday (knee) but as long as he’s able to get in a limited practice on Friday, he’ll be good to go. Neither Anthony Averett, nor Marlon Humphrey can slow BMW. He’s a fantasy WR1. Once-promising slot CB Tavon Young is no match for Allen. Allen may not be operating as the clear-cut in LA now but he’s a top-15 WR at worst this week.

WR Jalen Guyton — Guyton continues to fruitlessly run cardio on downfield.

TEs Jared Cook and Donald Parham — Cook gets it done when volume comes his way but Parham is making too much noise to continue running as the No. 2 receiving TE in LA. Over the last two weeks, Parham’s caught 4-of-5 targets for 46 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 2-point conversion. If you need a tight end, Parham should be at the top of your list. Baltimore is allowing 15.3 .5PPR PPG, 2nd-most in the NFL. Parham can be boldly started as a TE1 in redraft formats this week and should be in a bevy of DFS lineups. Cook is a high-end TE2.

RB Austin Ekeler — Ekeler’s 90 touches are 7th among NFL RBs and Baltimore is allowing 25.8 .5PPR PPG, 6th most in the NFL. Ekeler’s dual threat skill set is perfectly suited to carve through Baltimore’s front-seven. The Ravens’ are also allowing 68.4 RB receiving yards per game, 2nd-most in the NFL. Ekeler is an elite RB1 this week. Joshua Kelley ran ahead of the lead-legged Larry Rountree with Justin Jackson (groin) out last week. Jackson returned to practice this week and should resume No. 2 RB duties.

Baltimore Ravens

QB Lamar Jackson — Jackson is a head and shoulders above the rest of the NFL in the race for the 2021 MVP award. His performance on Monday night of Week 5 was the stuff of legends.

He’s an elite QB1 each week.

WR Marquise Brown — Brown has scored touchdowns in 4 of 5 games and cleared 90 yards 3 times. He is an every-week WR2.

WRs Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman, and Devin Duvernay — Watkins exited Week 5 after 20 snaps with a hamstring injury and is not looking like he’ll play in Week 6. Duvernay is a capable spot-starter with blazing speed but activating Bateman to the active roster is the obviously desirable outcome, if he’s ready. Both Bateman and Duvernay are shaky WR4s this week, if active. Bateman needs to be rostered in all formats.

TE Mark Andrews — Andrews outscored the rest of the NFL’s tight ends last week with a whopping 36.2 .5PPR points, nearly 12 more than the rest of the field. Facing an LAC D that’s currently allowing 14.8 .5PPR PPG to opposing TEs, T-4th most in the league, Andrews is once again an elite TE1 this week.

RB Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, and Ty’Son Williams — Murray again paced the backfield in both snaps (49%) and touches (8) last week, but it didn’t amount to much. Freeman and Williams flailed behind him. The Chargers are allowing the 7th-most .5PPR PPG to enemy backs (25.3), but even Baltimore’s lead back (Murray) can’t be trusted as more than a middling RB3. Williams is on the RB3/4 fringes. Freeman shouldn’t be on redraft rosters.

Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers

Minnesota Vikings

QB Kirk Cousins — Cousins flopped last week but it was mostly due to Minnesota getting up early and never relinquishing the lead. They opted to ride fill-in starter Alexander Mattison instead. The Vikings won’t be afforded that luxury against the Panthers though so fire up Cousins as a high-end QB2.

WRs Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen — Jefferson (ankle) and Thielen (foot) failed to practice on both Wednesday and Thursday this week. That’s a bad sign. If active they can still be started as their respective WR1 and WR2-selves but it’s important to note that CAR’s CB group is improving. CB A.J. Bouye has returned from suspension and is playing well, Donte Jackson is alright, and in-season trade acquisition C.J. Henderson is learning the system more and more each week.

WRs Dede Westbrook and K.J. Osborn, and TE Tyler Conklin — It appears as though Osborn and Conklin couldn’t separate from each other so now Westbrook’s been thrown into the mix and may be taking over as the full-time slot WR. Westbrook and Osborn are both just WR5s this week if Jefferson and Thielen are active. The pair could rise to the WR4 ranks should Jefferson and/or Thielen sit. Conklin is a TE2 if JJ/AT are inactive but a sneaky back-end TE1 if they are not.

RBs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison — Cook (ankle) was a full participant in practice on Thursday, despite openly battling a high-ankle sprain, putting him on track to play this weekend. Mattison went DNP to LP (shoulder). If Cook is active, he’s a top-15 RB with serious volatility. Mattison is likewise quite volatile as an RB4 in that scenario. If Cook is inactive, Mattison is a locked-in RB1.

Carolina Panthers

QB Sam Darnold — Tough match-up but he’s still a back-end QB1.

WR D.J. Moore — Every-week WR1.

WRs Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall — Marshall’s snap share continues to climb but Anderson also saw his highest snap share of the season last week. Vikings’ perimeter CBs Patrick Peterson and Breshaud Breeland are allowing respective passer ratings of 122.3 and 147.2 (PFF) this year and both have been had for long gains. This matchup looks like a prime spot for Anderson and his 15.5 average air yards per target to get right as a WR3. CB Mackensie Alexander’s slot coverage (PFF) has been welcoming this year, allowing 12-of-16 targets to get by him for 140 yards. Treat Marshall as an upside WR5.

TE Tommy Tremble — Just a TE2 bench stash.

RB Chuba Hubbard — Christian McCaffrey was practicing in a limited capacity on Wednesday but suddenly popped up with a Did Not Participate on Thursday. Not only does this put him on track to miss Week 6, we now have to wonder if he suffered a setback. Vikings’ stud DT Michael Pierce (elbow) failed to play last week and the DET RB duo of D’Andre Swift (4.6 yards per attempt) and Jamaal Williams (4.4 YPA) both ran well as a result. Pierce kicked off Week 6 with a pair of DNPs which means lead back Hubbard should have some room to run on the interior. Expect dual threat lead back usage for Hubbard this week. He’s a mid-to-low RB2.

RB Royce Freeman and Rodney Smith — Passing game specialist/No. 2 RB Rodney Smith evidently failed his Week 4 audition as he was benched in favor of Royce Freeman last week. Freeman didn’t seem to inherit Smith’s receiving work though, instead taking three carries for a measly two yards and caught just one of two passes for six yards. Hubbard saw 6 passes come his way in Week 5 (catching 6 for 33 yards) after seeing just 2 in Week 4. We don’t yet know how Matt Rhule and Joe Brady have assessed Smith and Freeman after giving each one a chance to separate. What we do know is that Smith’s pass catching skill set is far more valuable than Freeman’s. Both backs are nebulous RB5s this week.

Update 10/16/21: Our fears were confirmed as Christian McCaffrey was placed on Injured Reserve due to a setback in his hamstring rehabilitation. What we know: Chuba Hubbard is the unquestioned lead back for the three weeks at least and the team has alternated between Rodney Smith as a pass catching back and Royce Freeman as a plodding No. 2. If in need of depth, Smith is preferred stash over Freeman.

Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns

Arizona Cardinals

QB Kyler Murray — Murray showed up with a shoulder injury on this week’s injury report but he’s been able to practice in a limited capacity so far, putting him safely on track to play. Cleveland’s defense is extremely talented but as last week showed (LAC), great teams can get the job done. Expect Murray to finish closer to QB5 than the overall QB1. He’s still an elite top-12 option at the position though.

WR DeAndre Hopkins — Hopkins is one of the rare players who truly doesn’t need to practice in order to play. He’s missed both Wednesday and Thursday due to an illness and should be a high-flying fantasy WR1 on Sunday afternoon. We must make note of the fact that Arizona has placed DL Chandler Jones on the COVID-19/Reserve list this week though. Hopkins is unvaccinated and a late-week positive would result in an automatic 10-day quarantine period. He’s fine for now but if Hopkins does test positive on Friday or later, he would miss a minimum of two games.

WR A.J. Green — Green had a down-week in Week 5 after back-to-back finishes as a WR2. Green is a mid-tier WR3 who’s large frame could become the towering target replacement for TE Maxx Wiliams who was lost for the year with a knee injury suffered last week.

WRs Rondale Moore and Christian Kirk — Moore saw a season-high 48% snap share last week while Kirk saw a season-low 54%. Moore also ran 20 routes to Kirk’s 18 (per PFF.com) and out-targeted Kirk 6 to 5. HC Kliff Kingsbury has also continued to increase Moore’s rushing work in each of the last 3 weeks, most notably giving the rookie 3 totes in Week 6 which he took for a studly 38 yards. That’s a big deal. Browns’ slot CB Troy Hill has decent short area quicks but the veteran corner (4.55-second 40) does not have the long speed to keep pace with Moore (4.32). The latter is an enticing WR3/4 this week who would vault to the WR2/3 range should Hopkins miss time. Kirk is no slouch in the speed department himself and is actually running 91.2% of his routes in the slot as compared to Moore’s 77.3%. Kirk is a mid-to-high WR4.

TE Demetirus Harris — Only viable as a TE2 in TE-premium leagues.

RBs James Conner and Chase Edmonds — Lead back Edmonds was severely limited by a shoulder injury last week and even lost a fumble likely as a result. Conner took over as the lead rusher (10 carries for 29 yards and 1 touchdown) but was seldom used in the passing game (1 target, 1 catch, and 8 receiving yards). Kingsbury no doubt wants Edmonds back ASAP as his dual threat dynamism reached a new level this year. The Cards have a very deep pass catching squad though so don’t expect Edmonds to get more work than he can handle. The Browns 56.8% NEFF run defense rating is 8th best in the NFL right now and they’re only allowing 15 .5PPR PPG to opposing backfields (5th fewest) but those numbers may be a little dishonest. Although they’ve largely kept backfields in check, the competition has been subpar. Week 1 offered an underutilized Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Week 2 was the Texans’ clown show. Week 3 featured David Montgomery who they did well against. Week 4 was a banged up version of Dalvin Cook. In Week 5 though, Austin Ekeler hung 119 yards from scrimmage, 5 catches, and 3 touchdowns on them. Consider Conner a mid-to-low RB2 and Edmonds a high-end RB3.

Cleveland Browns

QB Baker Mayfield — Mayfield’s Week 6 outlook would be significantly enhanced were DL Chandler Jones to miss this week’s game. The game-wrecking defensive lineman was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list on Monday and currently accounts for 16 of Arizona’s 45 QB pressures. That sum (45) is the 9th lowest in the league right now. CBs Byron Murphy and Robert Alford have been killing it this year though as AZ currently ranks fourth in NEFF pass defense rating. Mayfield is just a mid-range QB2 this week.

WR Jarvis Landry —  He won’t play this week but should return for Week 7. Add him now.

WR Odell Beckham Jr., Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones — A cadre of highly volatile WR4s that can finish anywhere from a WR3 to a WR6. OBJ should be the top dog.

TEs David Njoku, Austin Hooper, and Harrison Bryant — Njoku broke The Matrix last week, catching 7-of-7 targets for 149 yards and 1 touchdown. It’s likely to be the best game he ever plays as a Brown. Cards’ LB Isaiah Simmons has turned into a great coverage linebacker, aided by safety phenom Budda Baker over the top. As a result, the Cards are allowing just 4.0 .5PPR PPG to opposing TEs, the fewest in the NFL. Do not start any of the Browns’ TEs in redraft. Njoku in DFS is fine.

RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt — Chubb (calf) and Hunt (wrist and knee) failed to practice on both Wednesday and Thursday this week putting them both on track to miss Week 6. If both are active, they’re a pair of high-flying top-15 plays. If only one is active, the other slides into the position’s top-5, no questions asked.

Update 10/15/21: Nick Chubb has been ruled Out for this week. Kareem Hunt needs to be started as a high-end RB1 in redraft formats.  In DFS, you might want to fade him. Hunt is likely to be the most popularly rostered RB this week which does not bring uniqueness to your DFS lineup. There is “some” amount of risk given his wrist and knee injuries but it’s not enough to make us blink is normal 12-team redraft formats. Hunt has access to the No. 1 RB-scoring outcome this weekend. With Chubb shelved, it’s possible that north/south plodder D’Ernest Johnson is his direct replacement but the dynamic RB/WR/return man Demetric Felton is be able to do more with the ball in his hands than Johnson can.

RBs Demetric Felton and D’Ernest Johnson — If both Chubb and Hunt are out, WR/RB Demetic Felton and D’Ernest Johnson would enter the RB3 conversation. Felton’s dual threat skill set brings far more upside than the north/south rusher, Johnson. Consider Felton the No. 3 back overall but also the direct backup to Hunt. Johnson is Chubb’s replacement but should only Chubb miss Week 6, Felton would not just give way to Johnson. Felton is a must-add for any RB-needy team right now.

Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos

Las Vegas Raiders

QB Derek Carr — Brutal matchup and we have no idea how the team is going to handle the emergency resignation of head coach Jon Gruden after the tranche of his bigoted correspondences with former Washington Football Team GM Bruce Allen. Carr is a highly volatile QB2.

WRs Henry Ruggs and Hunter Renfrow — Denver ranks 3rd in NEFF pass defense rating (59.4%). Ruggs is a volatile WR4. Safety blanket slot man Renfrow could return WR3 value in full-point PPR formats.

WR Bryan Edwards — Not a fantasy factor.

TE Darren Waller — Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia is taking over as interim head coach and is unlikely to be able to put together a comprehensive game plan. 15 targets for the tried and true Waller are totally possible.

RB Josh Jacobs — Jacobs is hogging dual threat backfield work right now with pass catching RB Kenyan Drake all but phased out of the game plan. Denver is allowing just 11.8 .5PPR PPG to enemy RBs, 3rd-fewest in the NFL and their NEFF run defense rating of  61.9% ranks 4th. Still, Jacobs should see 20 or so touches this week, locking him into the RB2 realm.

Denver Broncos

QB Teddy Bridgewater — As mentioned above, the Raiders are in turmoil with Gruden out the door. Now is a great time to fire up Bridgewater as a high-end QB2 in redraft and in DFS.

WR Courtland Sutton — One of the most physically dominant receivers in football today, Sutton should thrash a Raiders’ secondary missing CBs Trayvon Mullen Jr. and Damon Arnette. Sutton is a safe WR2.

WR Tim Patrick — Patrick has posted double-digit .5PPR totals in four of five games this year. This is a great match-up for him to continue his solid season. Treat Patrick as a back-end WR3.

WRs Kendall Hinton and Diontae Spencer — Hinton has stolen the starting slot receiver job from Spencer and he isn’t letting go of it anytime soon. The second-year WR/fill-in QB caught 2-of-3 targets for 25 yards and 1 touchdown while Spencer failed to haul in his lone target and was asked to hold down return duties. Hinton has a nice one-on-one match-up this week with the ever-target-able Nate Hobbs inbound. Hobbs has allowed 15 catches on 18 slot targets for 111 yards this year (per PFF.com). Hinton is just a high-end WR5 in redraft but he belongs in someone’s DFS lineup.

TE Noah Fant — Fellow tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was placed on IR on Saturday and Fant’s underlying usage shot through the roof, posting season-highs in snaps (97%) and routes run (38, PFF.com). Frustratingly, he flopped in the box score but that outcome should depress his DFS rostership this week. Treat Fant as a high-end TE1 against a Raiders’ defense that’s allowing 12.2 .5PPR PPG to opposing TEs, 11th most in the league.

RBs Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams — The fantasy football world understandably continues to fawn over the splashy plays that Denver’s rookie back, Javonte Williams, is making on a routine basis. However, they’re also continuing to overlook his consistent rookie mistakes. Gordon still maintains a slight edge in the Yards per Attempt department (4.7 to 4.6) and his edge over the rookie in the receiving game is even greater. Gordon so far has 10 receptions for 96 yards (9.6 Y/R) vs. Williams’ 11 receptions for 75 yards (6.8 Y/R). The Raiders’ defensive-front ranks currently 27th in NEFF run defense rating with a shamefully low score of 41.3%. Gordon is a mid-tier RB2 while Williams can be used as a back-end RB2.

Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots

Dallas Cowboys

QB Dak Prescott — Expect a mid-tier QB1 finish from Dak this week. He’ll stay efficient but New England’s slower offensive pace should drag the ‘Boys back a bit.

WRs CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper — Cooper continues to nurse injuries to his ribs and hamstring but he’s not missing time and remains one of the NFL’s premier route runners. Lamb appears to be healthy but this is a very tough match-up. New England’s DB group has limited opposing WRs to the 8th fewest .5PPR PPG (26.3) and their 53.3% NEFF pass defense rating is T-6th best in the NFL. Treat the WR duo as WR2s this week instead of their typical WR1 ranking.

WR Cedrick Wilson Jr. — Bill Belichick has largely Musical Chaired his slot coverage this year but veteran CB Jonathan Jones has seemingly emerged as the No. 1 CB for that job but the years are catching up to him. Consider Wilson a WR4/5 with some DFS appeal.

TE Dalton Schultz — Schultz is playing so well right now that Week 1-starter Blake Jarwin didn’t even see a target last week. Fantasy’s TE4 overall, Schultz’s 31 targets are 3rd on the team behind Lamb and Cooper and perhaps most importantly, Schultz is crushing it in scoring position. His 3 TDs on 8 red zone targets (PFF.com) are right up with both Cooper (4 TDs/13 RZ TGTs) and Lamb (2 TDs/9 RZ TGTs). This type of usage probably won’t last forever but you simply can’t bench him. New England is holding opposing TEs to just 4.4 .5PPR PPG, 2nd fewest in the NFL, but at a position that gets so little volume, Schultz remains a mid-tier TE1.

RBs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard — Elliott suffered a rib injury last week and ended up with his lowest snap share of the season, along with Pollard’s highest. Game script was undoubtedly a factor though as the Cowboys blew the Giants out of the water. Zeke got the job done regardless of the dip in snaps, producing 112 yards from scrimmage, 2 catches, and 2 touchdowns. He’s an elite every-week RB1. Pollard is a mid-range RB3 with a capped ceiling. New England’s defensive-front is as sturdy as it always is.

New England Patriots

QB Mac Jones — The Cowboys’ defense is playing great this year. CB Trevon Diggs is in the running for DPOY and the pass rush is getting home. Jones is a mid-to-low QB2.

WR Jakobi Meyers — Meyers’ 46 targets are 19 more than the next closest Patriot. He’s the focal point of the New England passing game. DAL slot CB Jourdain Lewis is having a ho-hum season (11 catches and 137 yards allowed on 19 targets, plus 1 interception) and Meyers should have no problem taking advantage of that. He’s a high-floor WR3 with WR2 upside in full-point PPR formats. Meyers’ six red zone targets are tied for second-most on the team but he’s scoreless through five games. Touchdown regression is on the way.

WRs Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne — Boom/bust WR5s. Cowboys free safety Damontae Kazee (hip) has registered back-to-back DNPs this week which should help Agholor’s chances of hauling in a long ball or two.

TEs Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith — Expected roles have seemingly flipped. Although Smith saw his snap share jump back up, matching Henry’s for the first time in weeks, he only ran six routes (per PFF.com) on 40 snaps. Henry, meanwhile, ran 20 routes on 40 snaps. Henry is the NE TE that you want to have rostered, not Smith. Henry is a back-end TE1 candidate.

RBs Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Brandon Bolden — What we know for sure: Long-time special teamer Bolden has locked up the passing back role in place of James White (IR). White went down with a brutal hip injury early in Week 3’s contest against th New Orleans Saints and Bolden has paced the backfield in routes run (47), targets (14), and catches (13). Harris’ 31 routes, 4 targets, and 4 catches are the second-highest sums in all categories — it’s Bolden’s job and it’s not close. Dallas’ 7.2 RB receptions allowed per game are 4th most in the NFL and their 50.0 RB receiving yards allowed per game are T-6th. Bolden is a safe, back-end RB3 for this one. Lead back Harris suffered a ribs injury in Week 5 and has practiced in a limited capacity this week. The average missed time is one game, per Dr. Edwin Porras, as it’s an extremely painful thing to play through. If active, he’s mid-tier RB3. If not, Stevenson should slide right into his role and even offers a little more pass catching versatility. Stevenson would likewise be a mid-tier RB3.

Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

QB Geno Smith — After taking over for Wilson part way through Seattle’s Week 5 bout, Smith was only able to complete two passes that traveled more than 10-yards. One went for a touchdown to D.K. Metcalf. The other went to Rams safety Nick Scott. T.J. Watt and the rest of the Steelers’ fearsome pass rush are going to make life hell on Smith this week. He’s a borderline QB2/3.

WRs D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett — Metcalf has been battling a foot injury this year and was worryingly downgraded from a limited participant on Wednesday to a Did Not Participate on Thursday. That’s a bad sign. If active, he’d still be a top-15 WR but his availability for Sunday Night Football is seriously up in the air. Smith locked onto Lockett last week, targeting him four times in the one-quarter they played together. Lockett’s short-area quicks fit nicely with Smith’s short-area see-it, throw-it style of play. Lockett is a high-floor WR3 with WR2 upside if Metcalf is held out.

WR Freddie Swain — Smith can’t support too many pass catchers. Swain is a WR6 if Metcalf is active and a WR5 if not.

TEs Gerald Everett and Will Dissly — Like Lockett, Smith locked onto short-area weapon Dissly, sending three of his four targets in the fourth-quarter alone. With Everett back (COVID-19), Dissly will be relegated to TE2 duties. Everett has a sneaky chance at a TE1 finish, operating as a safety blanket for Smith.

RBs Alex Collins, DeeJay Dallas, and Travis Homer — Despite rosey proclamations about Chris Carson’s health from Pete Carroll, Seattle’s lead back has been unable to practice through Thursday of this week. Don’t expect him to play. Collins and Dallas are now the backfield’s Nos. 1 and 2 options, with Homer getting put at the back of the line last week. Pittsburgh’s vaunted front-seven is limiting opposing backfields to just 14.2 .5PPR PPG, 4th fewest in the league.

Pittsburgh Steelers

QB Ben Roethlisberger — Roethlisberger could actually hit high-end QB2 numbers this week. Seattle’s NEFF pass defense rating of 37.0% ranks 27th in the league and similarly not-so-mobile QBs like Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford easily cleared 300 yards passing against Seattle earlier this year. Bank on Roethlisberger as a mid-tier QB2 at worst.

WRs Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson — Claypool and Johnson should see significant upticks in their team target market share with starting slot receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (shoulder) out for the year. Seattle’s 35.8 .5PPR PPG allowed to opposing WRs is T-6th most in the league. The duo can be fired up as safe WR2s this week.

WR Ray-Ray McCloud III — McCloud is the direct replacement for JuJu but he’s really not very good. Fortunately for him, neither is Seahawks slot CB Ugo Amadi who has allowed 10 of the 13 targets in his slot coverage to go for 82 yards and 1 touchdown, per PFF.com. McCloud is a WR4 with some DFS appeal.

TE Pat Freiermuth — Freiermuth just isn’t seeing enough work with Eric Ebron in the mix. He’s a TE2.

RB Najee Harris — Seattle is allowing a whopping 27.8 .5PPR PPG, 3rd most in the NFL and their 6.6 RB receptions and 62.8 RB receiving yards allowed per game are both bottom-5 marks. Harris is a top-5 RB this week. RB Anthony McFarland Jr. should be activated from Injured Reserve this week and would immediately become the primary bellcow backup to Harris. McFarland should be rostered across all formats.