I’ve rebranded the classic fantasy football start sit column into “Roasts & Ghosts”. A roast is a player who is not only a clear start, but is in for a monster game. A ghost meanwhile is a player who could just be a typical sit, but also might be a star player who gives you less than you were expecting. I have a roast and a ghost for each position to help you set your best lineups for Week 6.
Before we get into this week, big shoutout to Playoff Lenny and TE1 Dawson Knox for living up to their roast titles. Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault reminded me never to trust the Jaguars to do anything you want them to do. Never again. Also, called the Odell Beckham struggles. He’s a cautious start every week until he shows us something. Sorry OBJ managers.
Let’s get into Week 6.
Roast: Matthew Stafford vs New York Giants
In what was a “down week” for Stafford, he still managed to throw for 365 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks in Week 5. I wish my down weeks were that good.
Now Stafford gets to bounce-back from that truly horrid performance against a Giants defense ranked 29th in pass defense (per NEFF rating). Only sixth teams are giving up more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year. And added bonus, Stafford finally knows Robert Woods exists so that’s also great! Stafford has top-5 QB potential in Week 6.
Also, in a sneaky roast spot, Taylor Heinicke is rostered in 32% of Sleeper leagues and gets to face the Chiefs this week. Kansas City is allowing 28 fantasy points per game to QBs.
Ghost: Ryan Tannehill vs Buffalo Bills
Time and time again the Bills have proven to be the best defense in the league. They’re No. 1 in both pass defense NEFF rating and fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs. They’re allowing just 188 yards and 1 touchdown per game through the air so far this year. This is not a defense you want to start against in fantasy.
Doubly so if your name is Ryan Tannehill and your All-Pro wide receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones are still recovering from injury. Tannehill has not been near the QB1 this year as he was under Arthur Smith in 2020. He’s only thrown for over 300 yards or multiple touchdowns once this season so far. Against a legit shutdown defense—one that just held Patrick Mahomes to his worst fantasy performance of the year—Tannehill is best left on your bench this week. (Might I suggest streaming the above Taylor Heinicke if you’re in need.)
Roast: Joe Mixon vs Detroit Lions
I wanted to pick James Robinson facing off against the Dolphins’ abysmal run defense this week but then I remembered the rule I literally just set for myself. So instead, Joe Mixon managers can take solace in knowing their man is about to have a smash week.
Outside of last week when he was still returning from an ankle injury, Mixon has led the Bengals’ backfield in touches, seeing no fewer than 17 in a game. That kind of workload will have major returns against the Lions’ porous run defense. Detroit is giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing backs and have allowed a RB to score in all but one game this season.
Samaje Perine did vulture Mixon’s passing game work against the Packers, but the Bengals placed him on their reserve/COVID list earlier this week. With Perine out, the passing work will likely fall back into Mixon’s lap. This is great news as the Lions have given up the second-most receiving touchdowns to backs as well. Mixon is a confident RB1 this week.
Ghost: Miles Sanders vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I know I’ve sworn off picking roasts and ghosts from Thursday night games but I need to stress the point that Miles Sanders belongs on your bench from now until forever (or at least we see just a glimmer of life from him). Over the last 3 games, the Eagles have handed the ball off to their running backs just 26 times total. That’s roughly nine times per game. While Sanders is seeing the lion’s share of those carries, that’s still a very small workload for a supposed No. 1 back. It doesn’t help that Sanders is facing off against the best run defense in the NFL.
The Buccaneers have allowed just 198 rushing yards over 5 games this season, which is of course best in the league. However, they are weaker at covering backs in the receiving game, allowing the most receptions (42). Double however, rookie Kenneth Gainwell has shown to be the preferred pass catching back, leading the backfield in targets and receiving yards.
It all adds up to Sanders belonging on your bench. (Unless the Thursday Night Football curse is so good that even Miles Sanders can go off for a big game. We’re putting it to the test.)
Roast: Brandin Cooks vs Indianapolis Colts
Let’s all give Cooks a warm round of applause as we welcome him back to the land of the fantasy living. After two brutal matchups against the Bills and Patriots—both of whom’s pass defense are top-6—Cooks will return to the land of the WR1s this week against the Colts. A Colts defense, might I remind you, who just gave up 125 yards and 2 touchdowns to downfield speedster Marquise Brown Monday night. Do those adjectives remind you of someone?
We know Cooks can be an elite elite fantasy WR. He was the WR6 in .5PPR through Week 3 before his string of tough matchups. He might be even better with Davis Mills playing like a top-3 quarterback. Moral of the story, Cooks is primed to bounce-back to WR1 form in a very favorable divisional matchup.
Ghost: Tyler Lockett vs Pittsburgh Steelers
If Russell Wilson were under center, I’d be hammering the Seahawks receivers everywhere I have them. The Steelers are not the elite pass defense they once were, ranking 22nd in NEFF rating and allowing the 3rd-most fantasy points to the position. Unfortunately, Wilson is not under center this week. Instead it’s Geno Smith.
In tracking Smith’s pass attempts last week against the Rams, it’s clear he found the most success targeting D.K. Metcalf, which makes sense. (It’s kind of hard to miss someone who’s 6-foot-4 and roughly the size of a barn.) Smith targeted both Metcalf and Lockett 4 times, with Metcalf catching 2 balls for 37 yards and a touchdown. Lockett meanwhile just caught one ball for seven yards. More damning is that Lockett finished with 10 targets on the game while Metcalf finished with 5. This means Lockett was seeing the majority of targets with Wilson on the field and once Smith was under center, Lockett’s role greatly diminished.
There’s a real chance Lockett gives fantasy managers a complete dud this week.
Roast: Mo Alie-Cox vs Houston Texans
The tight end position is always such a crap shoot, I’m never quite sure who to talk about as a roast. Like the Chargers are giving up the second-most points to tight ends but you’re obviously going to start Mark Andrews. So I’m going bold here and making my roast kind of a sleeper roast. That one you got hiding in the back of the oven just for you because you know your family is going to eat all the turkey and save you nothing.
The Texans defense is bad just generally, but particularly bad against tight ends. They’re giving up the second-most receptions (t-35), second-most targets (45), fourth-most yards (377), and the most touchdowns (t-4). This all culminates in Houston giving up the most fantasy points to tight ends through five weeks.
While the Colts’ tight end group has been confusing in the past, we’ve started to see Alie-Cox pull ahead as the leader in the pack. He’s led the group in targets each of the last two weeks, seeing five and four respectively. He’s also gone for over 40 yards in each game. During that time, he’s been the TE8 in .5PPR. With a good matchup ahead of him, and Carson Wentz playing good football, take a flier on Alie-Cox if you’re in a tight end bind.
Ghost: Dalton Schultz vs New England Patriots
Somehow on a team with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Ezekiel Elliot, Schultz has been Dak Prescott’s go-to target the past three weeks. The tight end is averaging 7.6 targets per game during that time and has either caught a touchdown or gone over 75 yards in each. The Cowboys offense face one of their toughest tests of the season in the Patriots defense this week.
The Patriots are limiting opposing tight ends to just 2.2 catches, 21.2 yards, and 0.2 touchdowns per game so far this year, best in the league. Part of this has to do with them not facing the elites of the elites yet. However, Bill Belichick likes to take away a quarterback’s top option and with that being Schultz recently, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him double Prescott’s top target and force him to look elsewhere.