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Inside the Matchup
Week 6
10/11/17; Updated: 10/13/17

By: Andy Swanson | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | Jake Gordon



PHI @ CAR | LAR @ JAX | IND @ TEN | MIA @ ATL

CLE @ HOU | DET @ NO | CHI @ BAL | GB @ MIN

TB @ ARI | PIT @ KC | LAC @ OAK | NYG @ DEN

SF @ WAS | NE @ NYJ

Notes:
- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)

Eagles @ Panthers - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Carson Wentz has had a volatile open to the season yet he may be on the upswing. The second-year starter has thrown at least 30 passes in every game and he is coming off his third game with over 20 fantasy points (standard scoring). Two more factors that I feel boost his fantasy stock this week are the suddenly high scoring Panthers offense and the less than stellar Eagles defense. That combo should force Philadelphia into a higher scoring affair and/or a game where the Eagles are trailing by halftime. Throwing more passes doesn’t necessarily guarantee a great fantasy outing but it helps knowing Carolina has only recorded one interception on the year. Zach Ertz has broken out and become one of the game’s elite fantasy tight ends. He currently paces the position in targets (48), receptions (32) and receiving yards (387). The fantasy top tight end through five weeks of action will square off against arguably his toughest opponent to date. His role in the offense makes him a mainstay in most fantasy lineups but don’t be surprised to see a subpar outing. If Philly struggles against a pass rush that has generated 17 sacks this season, Ertz may spend more time blocking than usual.

One of the reasons Wentz has looked for his tight end so often this year has been the attention given to Alshon Jeffery on the outside. The Eagles could get Jeffery more involved by using the quick screen pass. I like his chances of improving upon last week’s season-low four targets but I’m not too bullish on much more. If the Eagles can pass protect, Torrey Smith should find himself open in this game. That doesn’t mean he will get targets or connect on any deep balls meaning there is extreme downside if you gamble with the speedster. One bet worth considering this week is Nelson Agholor. As I mentioned above, I do like the Philly offense to throw the ball and I’m not sure Ertz will see quite as many targets. I don’t think Agholor is going to “go off” by any means but there’s enough upside to put him on the flex radar for Week 6.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: Wendell Smallwood missed two days of practice on a short week and has been labeled a game-time decision with his ongoing knee injury. While it is possible he will play, fantasy owners should probably avoid him for another week. LeGarrette Blount won’t be impacted much if at all by Smallwood’s status. After a slow start, he has been productive with his 12-15 touches per game. Most teams don’t force the run against Carolina so his workload might be on the lower side this week. He’s an option in deep leagues but I’d steer clear in leagues with twelve and fewer teams. Corey Clement hasn’t seen a spike in production without Smallwood in the lineup and that’s not likely to change considering the Eagles are on the road with a short practice week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Carson Wentz
RB2: LeGarrette Blount (deep leagues only)
WR2: Alshon Jeffery (low-end)
TE1: Zach Ertz
Flex: Nelson Agholor
Bench: Torrey Smith, Corey Clement

Passing Game Thoughts: Carolina ranks 17th in the NFL with 228.6 passing yards per game. That may not seem impressive but for a team that has struggled through Cam Newton’s rough patches that is a huge improvement. Kelvin Benjamin hasn’t been the workhorse type of receiver fantasy owners would like him to be but his catch rate is far better than it was at the end of last season. In the Panthers’ final six games of 2016, Benjamin caught only 45.9 percent of the 37 balls thrown his way. This year he is catching 68 percent of his targets. This team still likes to control the clock via the ground but they might find better success leaning on Cam Newton’s improved efficiency. That should help Benjamin and fellow wideout Devin Funchess quality WR2/flex options for Week 6. Funchess has been a top twenty fantasy receiver this year, partly aided by the loss of TE Greg Olsen. Nevertheless, Funchess’ involvement in the offense doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Since Week 2, Funchess has averaged at least eight targets and hasn’t posted fewer than 53 receiving yards in any single game. That type of consistency makes him a solid WR3 most weeks but in a favorable matchup and coming off two straight games with touchdowns, I’d bump him into the top twenty or so fantasy receivers.

The harder decision facing fantasy owners this week is what to do with Cam Newton. The Panthers QB is coming off back-to-back 300-yard performances. The risks are the same, however, as Carolina doesn’t attempt a lot of passes (averaging less than 30 pass attempts in the past three games) and Newton has rarely kept his completion percentage above 60-percent let only the ridiculous 75-percent he’s done in his past two games. The Panthers and Newton have clearly taken a step forward, but they haven’t changed the focus of the offense. Ed Dickson has seen nine targets over the past two games. Despite his 175-receiving yard outing against the Lions, he’s a fringe starter this week.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: Jonathan Stewart continues to hold down the lead role in the Panthers backfield but his numbers haven’t added up. His 77 carries this season place him in the top ten but he sits outside the top 25 running backs in overall fantasy points (standard scoring). He’s been tough to love this season and he is facing a Philly team that has seen the fewest rushing attempts per game this year. That number could take a hit with the Panthers almost stubbornly running the ball regardless of how many yards they gain. Christian McCaffrey is the only other Carolina running back worth starting. He has been a slight disappointment on the ground. After opening the year with a 13-carry 47 rushing yard effort he hasn’t finished with more than 16 rushing yards in a single contest making him a fring flex option in standard leagues. He has caught at least four balls in every game this season so continue to run him out there in PPR leagues as a high upside RB2 in Week 6.

Value Meter:
QB1: Cam Newton
RB2: Jonathan Stewart (standard only), Christian McCaffrey (PPR only)
WR2: Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess
TE2: Ed Dickson
Bench: Russell Shepard

Prediction: Panthers 26, Eagles 23 ^ Top

Rams @ Jaguars - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Sammy Watkins has been held to two or fewer catches in three of five games this season. He’s not happy about his usage in the offense but I don’t see Jared Goff ever committing to Watkins as a premier receiver on a team that continues to feed the ball to its younger franchise players Todd Gurley and Cooper Kupp. Watkins may have more talent but he doesn’t have the confidence of his quarterback so continue to deploy Kupp as the better option this week. Those owners saddled with Watkins could look to package him to an optimistic owner or simply hold him and hope things change for the better.

The Jags secondary is leading the league in interceptions so don’t expect the Rams to stray from their run heavy ways in Week 6. Robert Woods is flirting with WR4 upside after filing his second game with at least five catches and third straight with at least six targets. I like where his usage is trending but can’t endorse him in a tough matchup during the same week Watkins is going to expect a little more love from his quarterback. Raise your hand if you thought Jared Goff would have outscored Matthew Stafford, Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger after five games played? Maybe Dalton but certainly not for the other two. Don’t let that mislead you into believing he is a top 15 option this week. Until last week’s dance with the Seahawks pass D, he had only thrown one INT and notched at least one touchdown pass in every game. I’ll give him a mulligan and plan on a slightly better outing against the Jags. Slightly better means, instead of benching everyone except Gurley, there is a little room for Kupp too!

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: Todd Gurley owners are hoping the copycat nature of the NFL doesn’t keep the running back bottled up like the Seahawks did in Week 5. The Rams tailback was held to a season low five fantasy points and surely cost his owners a win in more than a few leagues. He’s traveling east to play the Jags on the road in what should be another close contest as each team tries to control the ground game. Tavon Austin now has twelve carries over the past two games. He’s the closest thing in fantasy to a backup at this point. That’s more carries than Malcom Brown has touches since Week 1. Austin always flirts with being a useful fantasy asset due to his ability to turn a short pass into a highlight reel play. Consequently, he best viewed as a “Hail Mary” fantasy player unless his role increases.

Value Meter:
RB1: Todd Gurley
WR3: Cooper Kupp
Bench: Jared Goff, Sammy Watkins, Tyler Higby, Robert Woods, Tavon Austin

Passing Game Thoughts: Jacksonville is averaging the fifth most points scored in the NFL heading into their date with the Rams. Yet the team has only seven passing touchdowns to its credit and four of those came in one game. Jacksonville has constrained Blake Bortles to limit turnovers and put more markers in the Win column. That’s great for Jags fans but it’s sapped the fantasy value out of Jacksonville’s receiving options. Allen Hurns has played better at home than on the road but that’s not saying much. He has one game with more than four catches and that is starting to look like the norm. Meanwhile, Marqise Lee has similar stats to Hurns this season except he has yet to find the end zone. The Rams defense isn’t the greatest so there should be an opportunity for one of the two top receivers to have a good outing but it’s a coin flip choosing between the two. On the bright side, TE Marcedes Lewis hasn’t been stealing away many targets. The longtime Jag has only five receptions on the year and is a nonfactor in the fantasy realm.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: Tom Coughlin’s fingerprints are easily seen on this football team. Once the team drafted Leonard Fournette it became clear that the team was going to turn back the clock in the face of the pass happy ways of the NFL. Over a month into the season, the plan has worked. Jacksonville is running the ball on a tick over 56-percent of its offensive plays-more than any other team in the league. Their opponent this week has been fantasy’s friendliest foe for running backs and they are traveling all the way across the country to accommodate Mr. Fournette in Week 6. If Blake Bortles can do anything in the passing game, there is immense upside for the Jags rookie to finish the week near the top of the running back scorers. Look for Chris Ivory to beg at the table for a few table scraps too. Jacksonville’s run heavy scheme means they need their backup a little more than the usual team. As a result, he has seen at least eight touches in every game this year. Given LA’s propensity for giving up touchdowns to running backs it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ivory score his first touchdown of 2017 this week.

Value Meter:
RB1: Leonard Fournette
Flex: Chris Ivory, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee
Bench: Everyone else

Prediction: Jaguars 22, Rams 14 ^ Top

Colts @ Titans - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Fantasy owners needed a jolt from this passing attack and that is exactly what Jacoby Brissett accomplished a week ago. Last week’s performance showed just how high the ceiling is for this offense and should have fantasy owners excited for the return of Andrew Luck. The franchise quarterback has already been ruled out for this week but almost anyone can pass against the Titans these days. I’m starting all my healthy Colts for Monday Night Football in Nashville as both teams rank in the top ten friendliest defenses for opposing receivers and quarterbacks. Brissett should pick up where he left off last week but I doubt he finishes the game without a touchdown this time around. The Colts should have TE Jack Doyle back from a head/neck injury for this matchup. He should help the Colts inside the red zone and could be a nice under the radar starter in season-long leagues as well as DFS formats. Donte Moncrief has scored touchdowns in two of his past three games against the Titans. He hasn’t had more than three receptions in a single game this season and his fantasy value remains on life support. I’d view him as a risky touchdown or bust player for Week 6. If you are choosing between guys with similar projections at your Flex spot, I’d lean towards Moncrief in a potential high scoring affair.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: It’s all about Marlon Mack this week. One of the week’s most popular FAAB additions is coming off his strongest start of the year and whispers of more work headed his way are becoming more frequent. Frank Gore may not be in his prime but he has gone over 80 total yards in each of the past two games and hasn’t done anything to suggest he can’t be effective. Indy’s offense should do well enough to afford Gore a quality scoring chance in this game even if it doesn’t become a shootout on the scoreboard. I would continue to plug him in as a low end RB2 or Flex this week with confidence. Mack has earned more carries in the offense while moving ahead of Robert Turbin on the depth and it appears that the coaching staff will try to make that reality. This is a good week to take a chance on the rookie if your other options don’t offer much upside but he is far from a certainty to see more than the eight to ten touches he has received when healthy in 2017.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jacoby Brissett
RB2: Frank Gore
WR1: T.Y. Hilton
TE1: Jack Doyle
Flex: Marlon Mack, Donte Moncrief
Bench: Robert Turbin

Passing Game Thoughts: The word on the street is that Marcus Mariota will be able to play when the Titans take the field Monday night. That’s great news for fantasy owners because the Titans have looked like a ship lost at sea with Matt Cassel at the helm. A lot of lineup decisions are dependent on Mariota playing in this game so be sure to check for the latest update on his hamstring before rolling out anyone in this passing attack. Assuming Mariota does play, the Titans’ fantasy assets would find themselves in their most favorable matchup of their young season. That should translate into a solid game from the safest fantasy receiver on the team, Rishard Matthews. Mariota’s favorite target should be active and ready to make an impact after suffering through Cassel’s time under center. Tennessee has their own version of Donte Moncrief in Eric Decker. The Titans are waiting to see the guy they thought they were signing this offseason. Mariota’s injury aside, he hasn’t caught a touchdown pass or gone over 50 yards receiving once this year. As I stated with Moncrief, he’s a risky WR4 knocking on the door as a flex option in deeper leagues. TE Delanie Walker hasn’t been as involved this year. He still has the talent to post a double-digit game but the offense has had trouble finding ways to move the chains let alone get near the goal so his numbers are down. Rookie wideout Corey Davis is already being ruled out for the game. He has struggled to stay healthy and is tough to hold on to as bye weeks require fantasy owners to use their roster slots for other positions.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: The Titans are averaging the second most yards per carry and have the second most rushing touchdowns in the NFL so the team is executing as well as can be expected. The team just can’t generate enough in the passing game to keeps drives alive and defenses honest. The end result has been a less dominating DeMarco Murray plodding along to be an unspectacular RB2 most weeks. Tennessee has had an ugly schedule to open the year but they finally get to play against a team that doesn’t boast a sound defense. That might not be enough to make Murray a full blown RB1 but it sure boosts his prospects as a quality fantasy starter this week. Derrick Henry didn’t get nearly as many touches as he had earlier in the season. This could be a sign that he is nursing an injury or it could simply mean they want to ride Murray as their workhorse. The situation bears monitoring as Henry could become a true difference maker for fantasy owners if anything happened to Murray.

Value Meter:
QB2: Marcus Mariota
RB1: DeMarco Murray
WR3: Rishard Matthews
TE1: Delanie Walker
Flex: Eric Decker
Bench: Derrick Henry, Corey Davis (out)

Prediction: Colts 24, Titans 21

Dolphins @ Falcons - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Jay Cutler continues to put on a jersey and play football while the rest of us spend the work week wishing he didn’t. I’m not sure Miami has a better alternative but I hope they are looking for one because Miami’s offense has the talent to produce much more for their fantasy owners than they have through five games this year. A popular breakout candidate during the preseason, DeVante Parker is barely passing as a WR3 these days. He wasn’t able to finish the game last week; exiting with an ankle injury. He didn’t practice Wednesday and it’s starting to look like he may sit out Week 6 so his owners should plan accordingly. That would give Kenny Stills a chance to find a flex spot in some deeper leagues. Like everyone else in the passing game, Stills’ fantasy upside is tied to Cutler having a rare good day so you might want to let someone else take a shot if Parker is ruled out for this game.

Jarvis Landry should be a PPR maven considering he has received 28 targets over the past three games. Unfortunately, the quick-footed receiver hasn’t topped 50 receiving yards or six receptions since Week 1. There is more in the tank but I’m not sure Cutler can help fantasy owners pick all the fruit on the trees. Landry is a tough matchup for the Falcons and should have ample targets with Parker playing hurt or sitting out. The setup is ideal for him to deliver a WR1 type of performance so plug him in and hope for the best.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: The Falcons rush defense could still use some work but they have been pretty successful at preventing touchdowns (two rushing touchdowns allowed in 2017). That’s not what Jay Ajayi owners want to hear. Entering his sixth game of the year, Miami’s unquestioned starter has yet to touch the end zone outside of warmups and ranks as the 38th best running back using standard scoring. Everyone who warned of his shortcomings in the preseason is feeling pretty good these days but I think this is a powder keg waiting to explode. I’m not sure it will happen this week but I’m not sitting Ajayi and risking a big day on my bench. The coaching staff should know by now that Cutler isn’t their best option when trailing in games. They may not want to use Ajayi like a workhorse but feeding him the ball will lead to far better outcomes than hoping Jay Cutler will realize he’s not retired anymore.

Value Meter:
RB1: Jay Ajayi
WR2: Jarvis Landry
TE2: Julius Thomas
Flex: Kenny Stills/DeVante Parker (whoever starts)
Bench: Jay Cutler

Passing Game Thoughts: Miami has been good on the defensive side of the ball but I don’t expect there to be much drop off in Atlanta’s passing game considering they haven’t been a top-flight unit to open the season. Matt Ryan has only one multi-touchdown game on the year and has five interceptions over his last two. During last season’s strong fantasy season, Ryan threw his fifth pick in Week 10 and had at least two touchdown passes in six of his first seven games. I don’t expect Ryan to see higher than normal passing attempts against the Dolphins so he will likely end up with his usual 250 or so passing yards. That means he’ll need more than one touchdown pass to have a shot at being a top ten fantasy QB. The Bills kept Julio Jones locked down in Week 4 and he has had an extra week to think about his three-catch effort. If Ryan can get his top receiver involved early it will be a long day for Miami’s secondary. Unfortunately, the passing game has proven to be mediocre for everyone else. Mohamed Sanu (hamstring), Taylor Gabriel and Austin Hooper all chip in to some degree. None are likely to rack up much yardage so the risk may be greater than the reward so keep your expectations lowered until Matt Ryan can get the aerial attack back on track.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: One reason the passing game hasn’t been as explosive as last season is the running game. Devonta Freeman has been getting it done in real life and in the fake game. He’s tallied at least 75 total yards and a touchdown in the Falcons’ last three games and that streak should continue against the Dolphins. Miami should put up a good fight but the Falcons’ rushing attack is hard to handle for four quarters. The NFL’s leader in rushing touchdowns should be a top-five fantasy running back this week. Tevin Coleman is coming off his best game of the year as he continues to be a useful flex option in all formats. This probably isn’t the game where Coleman outshines Freeman but Atlanta’s commitment to using both players has led them to victory in three of their first four games. Don’t expect them to change things up anytime soon.

Value Meter:
QB2: Matt Ryan
RB1: Devonta Freeman
WR1: Julio Jones
TE2: Austin Hooper
Flex: Tevin Coleman
Bench: Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel

Prediction: Falcons 20, Dolphins 14 ^ Top

Browns @ Texans - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Cleveland is making a change at quarterback this week opting for 2016 fifth round draft choice Kevin Hogan to lead the way against Houston. The move puts DeShone Kizer on the bench so he can rebuild the confidence he had shown during the preseason. Expect the Browns to keep the passing game simple with one or two-look reads down the field. Hogan isn’t necessarily a huge upgrade for the Browns’ receivers because the receivers have their own limitations. Kenny Britt (groin) may not be able to suit up this week after aggravating his groin injury during practice Thursday. Ricardo Louis earned another shot to start after leading the way for the receivers against the Jets in Week 5. He may be worth a short term add if you have the space to carry him, but he isn’t a preferred choice. Rishard Higgins? Nope.

The quarterback switch makes Duke Johnson a borderline RB1 in PPR formats. Johnson’s skill set fits the solution to Kizer’s shortcomings. Instead of trying to force things down the field the Browns will opt for a more conservative approach. Whether he lines up in the back field or is motioned out wide, Johnson’s quickness will enable Hogan to use quick throws on short routes. I do expect Hogan to use his tight ends, however that work is being split between David Njoku and Seth Devalve. A committee at the TE position? Nope.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: Isaiah Crowell is one of only three running backs with at least 50 carries and no rushing touchdowns on the year. Some might call that a buy low opportunity while others would be trying to sell now before it is too late! I’d be in the latter party due to the inadequacies in the Browns offense but does that mean he is bench fodder in Week 6? Splitting time with Duke Johnson in an offense that is averaging only 89.2 rushing yards per game is not an ideal situation for a fantasy running back. The team’s inability to hold a lead also makes it more likely that Johnson will be used in passing situations further limiting Crowell’s appeal. If you are looking to avoid getting a goose egg out of a RB2 spot then I suppose Crowell is up to the challenge but if you are hoping for much more you will likely end up unsatisfied. I mentioned Johnson’s appeal in PPR leagues above. He’s going to be used in variety of ways and may end up with more touches than Crowell this week.

Value Meter:
RB1: Duke Johnson (PPR only)
TE2: David Njoku (low end)
Flex: Duke Johnson (Standard)
Bench: Everyone not named Duke Johnson

Passing Game Thoughts: My apologies to Houston fans and those who followed my advice last week. Deshaun Watson not only held his own against what I still feel is a pretty good Kansas City defense, he flourished! Houston’s rookie has transformed the offense from a weakness into a strength. Fantasy owners shouldn’t expect five touchdowns from Watson every week, but he is clearly taking shots down the field with great success. All fantasy owners can do is plug in their Texans and hope for more of the same this week with the Browns coming to town. A tired Cleveland defense won’t be able to stop this offense from moving the ball. It’s not a matter of whether DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller can be good, but whether the Browns offense will keep the score close enough to justify Watson throwing the ball in the second half. In a perfect world Watson will collect a pair of touchdowns early to salvage his fantasy line. The Browns represent a golden matchup against the tight end position but Ryan Griffin hasn’t done anything over the last two weeks and this game shouldn’t yield different results.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: Set it and forget it with Lamar Miller. The Texans rushing attack has taken a back stage to the newfound passing attack but its reaping plenty of rewards. Miller is averaging over 4 YPC in Houston’s last three wins but they have still come up short on the scoreboard in two of those three games. If the defense can take advantage of a team searching for its identify on offense, they will be able to let Miller grind away yards on the ground and ticks on the clock this weekend. While his owners would love to see a few more totes each week, it’s nice to know he is being productive without being overworked like he was a year ago. The extra touches are going to D’Onta Foreman. The rookie running back has steadily performed well in his current role as Miller’s caddie but lacks the touches needed to be a starter this week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Deshaun Watson (low end)
RB1: Lamar Miller
WR2: DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller
Bench: Ryan Griffin, DíOnta Foreman

Prediction: Texans 27, Browns 6 ^ Top

Lions @ Saints - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Any team taking on the Saints at home is in for a battle and there is always a chance for a shootout with Drew Brees playing for the opposing team. That being said, Marvin Jones and Golden Tate have made it difficult for owners to start either player with much confidence this week. Jones has gone three straight games without a touchdown and has caught three or less balls in four of the first five outings. Tate has been slightly better than his counterpart but hasn’t played as well in both the Lions’ away games this year. Adding another variable to fantasy owners’ start, sit dilemmas is the likely return of WR Kenny Golladay. The rookie wideout was able to practice this week after missing the last two weeks with a hamstring injury. This is good news for Matthew Stafford, who hasn’t thrown five touchdowns and zero interceptions in his more recent two trips to the bayou but it doesn’t clear things up for the rest of the pass catchers. TE Eric Ebron has the talent to be a solid fantasy contributor but he has not been able to find his groove in 2017. Everyone has the potential for a nice fantasy day considering the Saints are one of the ten friendliest defenses for receivers to face but all have low floors to consider. Tate has a good history in past seasons, while Jones appears to be the better option on the road in 2017. Whomever you prefer, it’s a good gamble to take and there is still hope both players can pay off for their owners this week.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: Ameer Abdullah had his worst game of the year against the Panthers in Week 5 but his fortunes should take a 180 this week. He should get plenty of work in game that could go back and forth a few times before it is over. A quality shot at 100 total yards has him on the fringes of RB2 territory in all formats but he remains a solid flex candidate if you have other higher-rated running backs in Week 6. Theo Riddick could be a deep league flex option this week. He’s getting work almost exclusively out of the passing game but could take a back seat with Golladay back in the lineup.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matthew Stafford
RB2: Ameer Abdullah
WR3: Marvin Jones, Golden Tate
TE2: Eric Ebron
Bench: Kenny Golladay, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner

Passing Game Thoughts: Get ready for a potential preview of a NFC playoff matchup. It may be too early to consider these teams playoff contenders but each has flashed the ability. Drew Brees doesn’t need much help, but there should be some extra motivation getting ready for this home affair as the Saints come off a Week 5 bye. Michael Thomas will likely draw Darius Slay but that shouldn’t stop him from being a low-end WR1 on Sunday. Thomas is averaging about nine targets a game and is easily the Saints most consistent scoring threat. There is some uncertainty behind Thomas on the depth chart. Willie Snead was ruled inactive last week after returning from suspension but he should be reinserted into the mix for Week 6. Sneed was pegged as the team’s likely No.2 receiver prior to the suspension and Ted Ginn Jr. has been holding down the job since. Unless there are other concerns we don’t know about I expect Sneed to reclaim his role in this potent passing game making him an option in deep PPR formats. Nevertheless, check back for updates heading into the game to gain more clarity on the situation.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: New Orleans loved what they have seen from rookie Alvin Kamara because they shipped a guy named Adrian Peterson right out of town. The move only confirms what we have been seeing each week from the Saints. There really isn’t a winner or loser, but anyone owning Kamara or Mark Ingram should feel good about their status as weekly starters now that the team has moved past their bye week. So maybe Ingram isn’t a weekly starter in shallow leagues, but his dip in production has come against some of the above average run defenses (MIN, CAR, MIA). Ingram has a firm grip on the lead role and remains the better fantasy player this week against Detroit. New Orleans will continue to deploy Alvin Kamara in a variety of ways to give him plenty of value in PPR leagues but he’s not an option in standard leagues as long as Ingram is healthy.

Value Meter:
QB1: Drew Brees
RB2: Mark Ingram
WR1: Michael Thomas
Flex: Willie Snead, Alvin Kamara
Bench: Ted Ginn Jr., Coby Fleener

Prediction: Saints 30, Lions 21 ^ Top

Bears @ Ravens - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Mitchell Trubisky era began with a promising first drive against the Vikings on Monday Night Football, with the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft making accurate throws while flashing the athleticism he displayed as the starting QB for the University of North Carolina.

The remaining three-quarters of football were not quite as pretty, highlighted by an interception deep in his own territory with just over a minute of play in regulation. John Fox and the Bears made the right move going with the rookie, as the team could not do any worse with Mike Glennon under center, and Trubisky can start the process of gaining confidence and building rapport with his receivers.

From a fantasy perspective, the increase in mobility and ability to stretch the field with Trubisky now at quarterback is a boon for all skill position players on the Bears. Unfortunately, there are only a few players that you would feel comfortable starting on your fantasy roster, and none of them play wide receiver.

With four catches for 46 yards, Kendall Wright is the only wide receiver to consider this week (only deep leagues) against a Baltimore team that has allowed the sixth-fewest points to opposing wide receivers. If you take away the fluky blowout loss to the Jags in London and a busted coverage deep ball to Michael Crabtree last week, the Ravens would be the stingiest team in points allowed to wide receivers through five weeks of play.

The way to attack the Ravens is on the ground with a power ground game and with the tight end on play action. The Ravens rank in the top-10 in points allowed to opposing running backs and tight ends and have allowed a touchdown in each of the past three games. Trubisky will need to lean on tight end Zach Miller in the seams and Jordan Howard on the ground if the Bears have any hope of pulling off the upset.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: Jordan Howard ranks just outside the top 12 in running back points per game, despite the fact that he has rushed for more than 76 yards in one game this season. With four rushing touchdowns in five games, Howard is tied with Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley, and Mike Gillislee for second place in the league behind Leonard Fournette and Devonta Freeman.

Howard’s matchup this week is a favorable one against a Ravens defense that ranks eighth in points allowed to opposing RB’s while allowing a rushing touchdown in each of the past three games. Look for Howard to be used early and often, with Tarik Cohen and Benny Cunningham mixed in on passing downs. The lingering shoulder injury for Howard continues to be a problem, but his excellent production and above-average matchup makes him a must-start.

On the other hand, Tarik Cohen appears to be a flash in the pan and is no longer worthy of a start in anything other than super deep leagues. Cohen’s snap counts have been in steady decline over the past four games, trailing off from 40 against Tampa Bay Week 2 all the way down to just 17 against the Vikings in Week 5. Cunningham’s superior blocking has earned the veteran more snaps on passing downs and Cohen continues to do too much on many of his carries and receptions, instead of taking what the defense gives him.

Value Meter:
QB2: Mitchell Trubisky (Low-End)
RB1: Jordan Howard (Low-End)
RB3: Tarik Cohen (Low-End)
WR3: Kendall Wright (Low-End
TE2: Zach Miller (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Joe Flacco continues to be a fantasy afterthought after posting his second zero touchdown game in Sunday’s 30-17 win over the reeling Raiders. On a positive note, he completed 73% of his passes with zero interceptions, but his 222 yards for 10 fantasy points is only helpful for owners in deep two-quarterback leagues.

Mike Wallace once again appears to be fantasy relevant after consecutive double-digit performances, including his first 100-yard game of the season last week against Oakland. The only worry with Wallace is the limited passing attempts from Flacco, and the likelihood of a negative game script could limit his targets (1,3,5,10,3 targets per game in 2017). Fellow wideout Jeremy Maclin has benefitted with the most targets among Raven wideouts, but the fact that he appears to be touchdown dependent (no game over 60 yards) makes him a risk as well.

After two games of single-digit duds, Buck Allen came through with 85 yards on 25 touches last week against the Raiders, with a majority of his usage occurring in the second half with the Ravens cruising to victory. A similar game script is likely this week against Chicago, and a similar amount of volume for Allen is a probability. Allen’s 20 receptions rank ninth among running backs this year, and his 9.0 points per game have him just outside of RB 2 status.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: An injury to Terrance West has provided some clarity to the Baltimore backfield, with Alex Collins now in line to work as the first and second down back and Buck Allen working in on passing/third downs. It should be noted that in lopsided games in which the Ravens have been ahead (a likely outcome in this game), it was Allen getting the majority of the closing RB work.

With a 7.1 yard per carry average on 37 attempts for 261 yards, Collins has been one of the most explosive running backs this year. The problem is that none of those big carries have resulted in a touchdown. Another knock against starting Collins is the fact that Allen will occasionally work in the rotation for early-down carries, and will likely be the guy on the field when the Ravens are up by two scores on the Bears.

The Bears are decimated by injury in their linebacking corps, with starting linebackers Jerrell Freeman, Nick Kwiatkoski, and Willie Young all out with significant injuries. John Timu also will be out for a while with a high ankle sprain, leaving third-string backup Christian Jones as the middle linebacker in charge of calling out plays to the defense. The Vikings took advantage of the Bears injuries, running a no-huddle offense to catch Chicago off guard on Jerick McKinnon’s 58-yard run on Monday Night.

Value Meter:
QB2: Joe Flacco (Low-End)
RB1: Javorius Allen (Low-End)
WR3: Jeremy Maclin (High-End)
WR3: Mike Wallace (High-End)
TE2: Ben Watson (Low- End)

Prediction: Ravens 21, Bears 7 ^ Top

Packers @ Vikings - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: In two games vs. Minnesota in 2016, Aaron Rodgers threw for 560 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 42 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground. Any Rodgers owner worried about his production against a tough defense like Minnesota should not be concerned, as Rodgers has a history of putting up elite numbers against his division foe.

The back injury that kept Jordy Nelson out of the final drive in Sunday’s comeback win over Dallas appears to be minor with Nelson a full participant in practice on Wednesday. Much has been made this season about stud cornerback Xavier Rhodes and his success limiting opposing No.1 wide receivers, but Nelson managed an impressive 9/154/2 line last year at home against the Vikings, while Davante Adams posted a serviceable 4/44/1 stat line. Rhodes is a great cornerback, but Rodgers and the Packers have proven to be successful against him, and owners should not shy away from starting Green Bay wide receivers.

Starting tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga were limited in practice on Wednesday with hamstring and ankle injuries, although Bulaga played last week against Dallas and appears ready to play again this week. Only Houston has allowed more sacks per game this season than Green Bay, and Bulaga’s presence on the right side of the offensive line will be vital to the success of Rodgers and the passing game.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: Rookie Aaron Jones played in 88% of Green Bay’s snaps in Sunday’s win over Dallas, posing an impressive 125 rushing yards on 19 carries and one rushing TD. It is unclear how the touches in the Packer backfield will be handled this week with incumbent starter Ty Montgomery a full participant in practice on Wednesday as he recovers from broken ribs. Jones has been impressive in limited action this year, but Montgomery was also successful before sustaining his injury. If forced to guess, I would imagine a 70-30 split in favor of Jones in this game.

Regardless of who carries the ball for the Packers, they will find tough sledding against a Vikings defense that ranks only behind Denver for the fewest points allowed to running backs on the year. No running back has topped the century mark on the season, with Ameer Abdullah coming the closest with 94 yards and a touchdown Week 4.

It should be noted that the Vikings held Green Bay running backs to 77 combined yards and no touchdowns in two games last season and no Packer RB found success in the passing game in those contests. This is not to say that Jones and Montgomery won’t be good plays this year, but it would not surprise me to see this turn into an Aaron Rodgers came with few points scored on the ground.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers (Elite)
RB2: Aaron Jones (High-End)
RB3: Ty Montgomery (Injury Risk)
WR1: Jordy Nelson (High-End)
WR2: Davante Adams (High-End)
WR2: Randall Cobb (Low-End)
TE1: Martellus Bennett (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Sam Bradford’s attempt to come back from a knee injury failed miserably on Monday Night Football, as the former first overall pick was uncomfortable from the opening whistle. Case Keenum relieved Bradford and led the Vikings to victory with 140 yards on a 17-of-21 passing, with one touchdown and zero interceptions. With Bradford clearly not right physically, Keenum will likely earn the start against a Packer team that has allowed the 19th-most points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Owners looking for a bye-week replacement may want to consider Keenum based on the fact that all five quarterbacks who have faced Green Bay this season have managed double-digit fantasy points, including Mike Glennon and Russell Wilson, who each had subpar games at Lambeau Field. Another reason to consider Keenum as a streamer is the positive game script that Aaron Rodgers and the Packer offense will likely present by scoring points against the Viking defense.

A negative factor when considering Keenum for a streamer is the groin injury suffered by top wide receiver Stefon Diggs last week against Chicago. The oft-injured Diggs returned to action after first straining his groin, but he was limited by the injury and has yet to practice this week.

The Packers have found success this season taking advantage of teams with below average offensive lines, like Seattle Week 1 and Chicago (good line but hurt by injuries). Teams with good offensive lines like Dallas and Atlanta have been able to score points due to the fact that the Packer secondary is weak. This bodes well for a Viking team that ranks in the top ten this season in fewest sacks allowed.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: Of the two running backs sharing the backfield duties in the post-Dalvin Cook world, Jerick McKinnon was far more impressive that Latavius Murray in Week 5 against Chicago. McKinnon rushed 16 times for 95 yards and a score while adding six catches for 51 yards. Murray looks slow and old, and may still be limited by a knee injury that forced him to miss the early part of the season, while McKinnon flashed some of the talents that made him a SPARQ score darling.

Teams have found success running the ball against the Packers, as Green Bay ranks 14th in points allowed to opposing RB’s, although those stats are a bit skewed with stud run stopping D lineman Mike Daniels missing time due to injury. Starting Murray could be a risk as you are likely reliant on a rushing touchdown in what could be a negative game script. McKinnon’s work in the passing game makes him the back to start, with the upside of receptions out of the backfield boosting his value.

Value Meter:
QB2: Case Keenum (Low-End)
RB2: Jerick McKinnon (Low-End)
RB4: Latavius Murray (High-End)
WR2: Stefon Diggs (Injury Concern)
WR2: Adam Thielen (Low-End)
TE1: Kyle Rudolph (Low-End)

Prediction: Packers 28, Vikings 17 ^ Top

Buccaneers @ Cardinals - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: Although his final numbers were decent enough for fantasy purposes due to a high yardage output, Jameis Winston was anything but accurate this past week in what should have been a great matchup against a terrible New England defense. Winston has been unable to consistently get the ball to Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, whom he overthrew multiple times on deep passes down the field in Week 5. Jackson finally got his first 100-yard day of the season in what was a down game for Evans, but it was tight end Cameron Brate who had the best overall fantasy day, catching five passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. Thankfully, this unit will have another crack at a bottom-tier pass defense this week as they’ll be up against a Cardinals secondary that has already conceded two four-touchdown days to opposing quarterbacks this season. Jackson and Brate should both be considered viable starters while Evans becomes a low-end WR1 in this extraordinarily difficult matchup where he’s likely to be shadowed by Patrick Peterson, one of the league’s premiere shutdown cornerbacks. Many receivers can’t overcome being covered by Peterson but Evans should still get enough targets to have a chance at producing a WR1 day, especially if he can get into the end zone.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: There was plenty of speculation regarding potential low usage for running back Doug Martin who was coming off of a suspension on a short week in Week 5, but that turned out to not be much of an issue. Martin’s 14 touches led the Tampa Bay backfield by a wide margin and while he didn’t produce a huge fantasy day, he did score a touchdown in his 2017 debut. Martin figures to be the clear feature back going forward with Charles Sims handling some passing downs but Martin still has RB1 upside. Unfortunately, in Week 6 he’ll be up against an Arizona defense that has given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game so far this season. Still, Martin’s role in the backfield adds a high floor to his high ceiling, thus making him a very safe fantasy option even in difficult matchups like this one.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jameis Winston
RB1: Doug Martin
WR1: Mike Evans (low-end)
WR2: DeSean Jackson
TE1: Cameron Brate (low-end)
Bench: Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers, Adam Humphries, O.J. Howard

Passing Game Thoughts: With his receivers finally getting healthy, Carson Palmer is looking more and more like one of the better QB1 streaming options this season. While interceptions remain an issue, Palmer’s yardage totals have been excellent this season as he currently sits at second in the league in that category. This should continue to be a trend as the Cardinals are forced to pass the ball much more often than they would have if David Johnson was still healthy. This plays right into the fantasy production of Larry Fitzgerald who is tied for third in the league in receptions. While his yardage totals (327) and touchdowns (2) are nothing special, Fitzgerald’s floor in PPR formats should not be overlooked. He remains one of the most highly targeted players in the league and should be in line for plenty of looks again this week against a Tampa Bay secondary that has averaged well over 300 passing yards per game against them so far this season.

While Fitzgerald remains the team’s obvious best option in the passing game, the second option has been difficult, if not impossible to predict so far this season. J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown and John Brown all have had their moments, but it’s been Jaron who has been the most consistent of the bunch, if for no other reason than that both Nelson and John Brown have dealt with injuries. All four receivers are expected to play this weekend which does make things difficult to predict, but Jaron Brown still seems like the player to own at the moment until we see something develop on the field to prove otherwise.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: Perhaps the biggest fantasy news of the week came out Arizona this week as the Cardinals opted to trade a conditional late-round draft pick for Saints running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson was an offseason signing by the Saints but had fallen behind Mark Ingram and rookie pass-catching back Alvin Kamara in snaps, leading to some rather vocal responses from Peterson after games. Peterson now heads to Arizona, who cut veteran Chris Johnson in a corresponding move, seemingly to take over as the team’s primary early-down back. While Peterson likely offers more upside for the position, it’s still worth noting that he might not even be the best back to own in this backfield, particularly in PPR formats where Andre Ellington’s pass-catching abilities are highlighted. Peterson didn’t show much of anything in New Orleans and while he’ll probably have a chip on his shoulder, it’d be hard to predict that he’s going to be anything more than a Flex option going forward, and even that is mostly just due to expected workload. The Buccaneers have given up over 100 yards on the ground in half of their games so far this season but Peterson is still brand new to the team and will not have had much time to acclimate himself with the playbook, particularly in pass protection. This could limit his upside in this matchup, thus making him a risky Flex option for this game until we see him get going in this new offense.

Value Meter:
QB1: Carson Palmer
WR1: Larry Fitzgerald (PPR)
Flex: Andre Ellington (PPR), Jaron Brown, John Brown
Bench: Adrian Peterson, Kerwynn Williams, J.J. Nelson, Jermaine Gresham

Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Cardinals 21 ^ Top

Steelers @ Chiefs - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Steelers entered the season with perhaps the league’s most exciting offense, but they’ve stumbled out of the gate with just a 19.8 points per game average – tied for 19th in the NFL. Much of that has been due to the struggles of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who has struggled with his accuracy so far this season. Roethlisberger had perhaps the worst game of his professional career this past week when he threw 5 interceptions with no touchdowns in a blowout loss at home to the Jaguars. Worse yet, four of those interceptions were considered “deep” passes down the field at 15 yards or more, signifying that the QB might be struggling with not only his accuracy and decision-making but perhaps also his arm strength.

This week Roethlisberger and the Steelers passing game will be on the road in Kansas City against a defense that was absolutely decimated by rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson this past week, so there’s some hope that there will be a resurgence of this once promising offense. Antonio Brown remains an absolutely elite option at receiver as he has continued to produce even in games where Roethlisberger has struggled, but fellow wideout Martavis Bryant has really fallen off the radar in recent weeks, having not gone for more than 50 yards or scored a single touchdown since Week 2. Tight end Jesse James has also seen a fall back to fantasy obscurity since his breakout performance in Week 1. Both Bryant and James should probably be on most fantasy benches until we see Roethlisberger get them the ball on a consistent basis.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: While the team’s offensive struggles have meant some terrible production for most of the other players in Pittsburgh, running back Le’Veon Bell just continues to produce. The running back rushed for just 47 yards on 15 carries in the Steelers’ Week 5 loss to the Jaguars but his 10 catches for 46 yards in the passing game meant that he was still a great contributor, particularly in PPR formats. Bell is about as matchup-proof as it gets and while the Chiefs have given up the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, Bell still has to be considered a must-start fantasy RB1. Even if the team does fall behind on the scoreboard, Bell has the ability to contribute an elite RB1 day – something that very few backs in the history of the league can claim to be true.

Value Meter:
QB2: Ben Roethlisberger
RB1: LeíVeon Bell
WR1: Antonio Brown
Flex: Martavis Bryant (high risk)
Bench: Jesse James, JuJu Smith-Schuster

Passing Game Thoughts: Still sitting as the leader of the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL this season, quarterback Alex Smith is making a serious run at the NFL Most Valuable Player award. Smith’s ridiculous 125.8 passer rating leads the league by a wide margin and he’s been doing a great job of distributing the ball to his top targets, particularly superstar tight end Travis Kelce who has now caught 15 passes over his past two contests. Kelce is perhaps the top tight end in all of fantasy football and will be a locked in TE1 in all contests as long as he’s able to play. Unfortunately he’s dealing with a concussion which has held him out of practice for much of the week and he is currently listed as questionable. The positive thing about a concussion injury versus most other types of injuries is that it should not affect his on-field play if he is cleared by doctors.

The team’s other fantasy-relevant option in the passing game is wide receiver Tyreek Hill who continues to put up solid fantasy production this season. While Hill has not scored a touchdown since Week 3 in the passing game, his usage as a return man has given fantasy owners an additional source of fantasy production as he returned a punt for a touchdown in Week 5. While Hill is widely considered one of the higher-ceiling players on the board, his floor has actually been great this season as he’s caught four or more passes in every contest. Unfortunately he’ll be up against a Pittsburgh defense that has conceded the league’s fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, but it’s also worth noting that the Steelers have had perhaps the league’s easiest schedule in that area. With Smith and Hill hitting on all cylinders, this might be the most effective duo the Steelers have played against all season.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: Kareem Hunt’s 107-yard rushing performance in Week 5 was the worst fantasy game he’s had so far as a pro. Let that sink in for a moment. This rookie has been on absolute fire to start the season as he leads the league in rushing yardage by a wide margin and has also been an important piece of the passing game, having already caught 16 passes for 166 additional yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hunt now heads home to face a 29th-ranked Pittsburgh fantasy defense against running backs, which makes him perhaps the top option in all of fantasy football here in Week 6. Opposing running backs have averaged 167 yards from scrimmage per game against this Steelers defense and there’s little reason to believe that Hunt won’t approach or even exceed those numbers in this contest.

Value Meter:
QB1: Alex Smith (low-end)
RB1: Kareem Hunt
WR1: Tyreek Hill (low-end)
TE1: Travis Kelce
Bench: Charcandrick West, Albert Wilson

Prediction: Chiefs 27, Steelers 20 ^ Top

Chargers @ Raiders - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: The San Diego passing game continues to be one of the most volatile units in the league, making it difficult to trust just about every player. The only one who really stands out as a steady producer is wide receiver Keenan Allen who has caught at least four passes in all five games this season, including two 100-yard games. Unfortunately, Allen has scored just once this season and it happened back in Week 1. Still, the Oakland secondary isn’t particularly good and they’ve struggled to contain Allen in the past. Assuming he continues to see the roughly 10 targets per game that he’s been getting, Allen will remain a low-end WR1 with a high floor, making him one of the better fantasy options in the league, especially in good matchups like this one.

The other members of the passing game, particularly receiver Tyrell Williams and tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry, have essentially become touchdown-dependent for fantasy purposes. While a matchup against a bad Oakland defense might look good on paper, each of their floors is also bad enough that fantasy owners could very well be left with essentially nothing at the end of the game. It’s also worth noting that none of them are being targeted heavily enough to truly produce huge fantasy numbers.

OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Finally breaking out with his first 100-yard performance of the season this past week, Melvin Gordon might be turning the corner into once again being an elite option at the running back position. Gordon has struggled to touch the ball in the running game largely because the Chargers have fallen behind in many games, but the positive of that has been that he’s become fairly involved in the passing game, catching five or more passes in three of his first five games this season. The Raiders have been about middle-of-the-pack against opposing running games so far this season, but it’s worth noting that they’ve given up over 140 yards on the ground in back-to-back games against the Broncos and Ravens heading into this contest. With the Raiders themselves struggling to move the ball on offense, this looks like it should be a positive game script situation for Gordon and thus a great opportunity for him to have another big fantasy day.

Value Meter:
QB1: Philip Rivers (low-end)
RB1: Melvin Gordon
WR1: Keenan Allen
TE1: Hunter Henry (low-end)
Bench: Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Antonio Gates

Passing Game Thoughts: Derek Carr has practiced in limited capacity this week, leading to further speculation that the young quarterback might be able to suit up for Sunday’s game against the Chargers. Carr’s return would be a great thing for wide receiver Amari Cooper who has practically fallen off the face of the planet with EJ Manuel throwing him the ball. Fellow receiver Michael Crabtree seems to have a better connection with Manuel as he was productive this past week, catching six of his eight passes for 82 yards and the team’s only passing touchdown. A deflated LA secondary gives plenty of reason to be optimistic for Crabtree owners but Cooper owners might want to seriously consider looking elsewhere, at least if Manuel is behind center again. Even if Carr is back, Cooper brings significant risk as he has simply been ineffective so far this season even when he’s been getting accurately targeted. Tight end Jared Cook is the only other player in this passing game who should be given fantasy consideration, but he’s nothing more than another name in the large group of potential boom-or-bust tight ends.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: Fantasy production continues to be practically non-existent in the Oakland backfield as the Raiders offensive line has struggled to consistently generate the tremendous push that made them one of the league’s best units in 2016. Veteran Marshawn Lynch is still strongly entrenched as the team’s primary back but that hasn’t meant a whole lot with the offense struggling as much as it has. Lynch has failed to eclipse even 50 rushing yards in four straight contests and his usage in the passing game is only slightly better than completely nonexistent. As long as that continues to be the case – and there’s little to reason that it’s going to change any time soon – Lynch is nothing more than a flier most weeks whose fantasy potential relies on converting short yardage carries into touchdowns. The Raiders have given him enough goal line carries to justify considering him as an RB2, especially in standard scoring formats, but his floor is among the lowest in the league among “starting” running backs.

Value Meter:
RB2: Marshawn Lynch
WR2: Michael Crabtree
TE1: Jared Cook (low-end)
Flex: Amari Cooper (WR2 if Carr plays)
Bench: Derek Carr/EJ Manuel, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, Seth Roberts

Prediction: Chargers 20, Raiders 17 ^ Top

Giants @ Broncos - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: Considered one of the most promising passing games in the league heading into the season, the Giants have now possibly become a bottom-five aerial attack. The losses of superstars Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall for the season, along with the likelihood of Sterling Shepard also being unavailable with an ankle injury this week, means that the team will have to look down the roster for production. On the surface, the player who gets the biggest bump is wide receiver Roger Lewis, who caught a touchdown on his only reception in Week 5. Lewis has quietly been quite effective with the opportunities he’s been given so far this season, but those opportunities have been few and far between. Trusting either he or Eli Manning in this extraordinarily difficult matchup doesn’t look like a great choice, though. The other player who stands to see a potentially significant uptick in usage is tight end Evan Engram who was held catchless for the first time in his career this past week. Engram had previously caught at least four passes in every game so far in his rookie season, so there’s plenty of reason to believe that he’s going to get back on track this week against a Denver defense that has given up the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends in 2017. The Broncos pass rush vs. the terrible Giants offensive line looks like one of the biggest mismatches possible so Eli could be looking to check down early and often in this game.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: The Giants are still looking for any sort of consistent production out of their running game and it seems that, at least for the time being, that a combination of Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman will handle the majority of the team’s carries. Running behind a horrendous offensive line on an offense with essentially no passing game to speak of and matched up against the league’s No. 1 fantasy run defense, this does not look like the time to trust either Darkwa or Gallman for fantasy production. The only back in this offense who should be seriously considered as anything other than a touchdown-or-bust option is pass-catching back Shane Vereen. With the team’s receiving corps completely depleted, Vereen could honestly be considered the best pass catching option remaining on the entire roster. Look for Vereen to see significantly more playing time in this game, especially if the Giants fall behind on the scoreboard as many predict that they will. Six or more receptions is not out of the question for Vereen and that could easily translate into a borderline RB1 production in PPR formats.

Value Meter:
TE1: Evan Engram
Flex: Shane Vereen (PPR)
Bench: Eli Manning, Orleans Darkwa, Wayne Gallman, Roger Lewis, Sterling Shepard

Passing Game Thoughts: One of the hottest fantasy quarterbacks out of the gate this season, Trevor Siemian has cooled off significantly in recent weeks, having thrown just one touchdown pass over his past two contests. Now back after a bye week, Siemian gets a Giants defense that is downgraded after suspending cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The unit wasn’t playing particularly well even prior to that decision, however, as they rank 23rd in the league in fantasy points per game given up to opposing quarterbacks. Things have been particularly bad recently, as well, as they’ve conceded three passing touchdowns in back-to-back games against Jameis Winston and Philip Rivers. Siemian himself is still a bye-week replacement option at best in this contest but his receivers, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, might finally get back into the good graces of fantasy owners this week in what should be a plus-matchup. Both receivers should see plenty of targets in this game which should make them good enough to be high-floor WR2’s, especially in PPR formats.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: C.J. Anderson has seen a resurgence so far this season and a matchup against a Giants defense that is conceding nearly 120 rushing yards per game seems like a great opportunity for him to pick up where he left off prior to the Broncos’ bye. Anderson has conceded between five to 10 touches per week to Jamaal Charles but he’s still seeing enough touches himself to be a strong RB1. On paper, this game looks like one that could quickly get out of hand if the Denver defense beats down the New York offense as many predict that they will. That would theoretically mean an increase in touches for Anderson who could be used as a “closer” in this contest, leading to the potential for a big fantasy day.

Value Meter:
RB1: C.J. Anderson
WR2: Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders
Bench: Trevor Siemian, Jamaal Charles, Devontae Booker, Bennie Fowler, A.J. Derby, Virgil Green

Prediction: Broncos 24, Giants 13 ^ Top

49ers at Redskins - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Despite Brian Hoyer’s season best performance in an overtime loss in Indianapolis last week, he is not an option at quarterback this week. Hoyer’s favorite target, Pierre Garcon, now has 28 receptions through five games. He is a very safe and reliable WR3, but unsurprisingly lacks the touchdown upside to be a true difference maker for your fantasy team. Marqise Goodwin is also coming off his best game of the season, where he saw the same amount of targets (11) as Garcon, catching five for a season high 116 yards, which is only 11 fewer than his first four games combined. Goodwin is a long touchdown hopeful that doesn’t score touchdowns. The third highest targeted receiver from last week is rookie TE George Kittle. This kid oozes athleticism, but is still very raw and caught a combined five passes over his previous three games before catching seven last week. With a bunch of TEs on bye/injured/terrible, Kittle is a worthy dart throw as long as you accept that he is just that – a dart throw. The Redskins are coming off a bye week and have been a pleasant surprise on defense this year, making this matchup more imposing than we would have thought. Other than Garcon, no one in this passing game needs to be owned.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: Carlos Hyde is not only by far the best player on this team, he is one of the 10 most talented RBs in the NFL. Nothing against Matt Breida, who has NFL talent in his own right, but he can’t shine Hyde’s shoes. Nevertheless, brilliant offensive mind Kyle Shanahan decided that Hyde’s years of elite performance weren’t worth sticking by because Breida got the “hot hand,” which is apparently how he intends to handle this backfield going forward. I will believe it when I see it. I have a hard time seeing Hyde splitting time after the man gutted out a hip injury on Thursday night a couple weeks ago to play just about every snap in the second half. It’s very plausible to believe that Shanahan is just trying to hide the extent of Hyde’s injury. Either way, it’s a problem for fantasy owners as it makes Hyde a risky start, but still doesn’t allow you to start Breida. Hyde is averaging 4.5 ypc on the season against Breida’s 4.0. So far, the only RB to rush for 100 yards against the Redskins has been Kareem Hunt. Unless Hyde is seeing volume, he is not a viable fantasy starter. For now, we can operate under the assumption that this is a bit of coachspeak. If Hyde really does split with Breida, then this is going to be a mess of a situation going forward.

Value Meter:
RB2: Carlos Hyde
WR3: Pierre Garcon
Bench: Brian Hoyer, Marquise Goodwin, Matt Breida, George Kittle

Passing Game Thoughts: Kirk Cousins has rebounded nicely from a slow start to throw for multiple touchdowns in his last two games. His completion percentage is up to 66% and he hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 1. The 49ers just got shredded to pieces by T.Y. Hilton, which bodes well for Terrelle Pryor’s chances of finally having a breakout game. I understand it’s hard to remain excited about Pryor. He has all this raw physical ability, but it hasn’t come together on the field yet with Washington. After 11 targets in Week 1, Pryor saw just 13 targets in weeks 2-4 combined, posting reception totals of two, two, and three. He needs to get going soon or we may have to write him off as yet another WR bust in 2017.

Speaking of busts, Jamison Crowder has been completely irrelevant. He is droppable in almost all formats. He is not involved in the red zone and he is not seeing anywhere near the volume necessary for an effective fantasy slot receiver. In standard and Half-PPR leagues, you and I finished with more fantasy points (0) than Crowder in Week 4. Hopefully, now having had the bye to rest up, Jordan Reed somehow still isn’t over his chest injury. Reed has yet to score a touchdown has been mostly an afterthought in the offense while dealing with his typical medley of injuries. Reed was significantly out-snapped by Vernon Davis in the Redskins last game. That should change this week with Reed at least healthier than he was two weeks ago, but the elite TE1 we all thought we were getting may no longer exist. He is at no risk of missing this week’s game, but it’s fair to wonder if he will ever be more than a bit player the rest of the season.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: Rob Kelley also had the bye come at a perfect time as he had been dealing with rib and ankle injuries, both of which should have been healed up enough by now to play normally. It looks like the rib injury is a thing of the past, but Kelley did not practice as of Wednesday with his lingering ankle problem. Jay Gruden went so far as to state that Kelley is a longshot to play. At this point, we should assume that Samaje Perine is going to start on Sunday. Perine was mostly ineffective filling in for Kelley, which means Kelley should resume his two-down role whenever he gets back on the field, unless Perine impresses in the interim. However, Kelley is simply not good at football and relies entirely on volume and touchdowns, neither of which he has been getting this season with Chris Thompson being so effective.

Thompson’s miracle run of scoring touchdowns came back down to earth in Week 4, where he posted just 27 total empty yards. Thompson will likely remain the most fantasy relevant member of this backfield, but remember that Week 3’s 14 touches is the outlier. Thompson touched the ball seven, six, and seven times in his other three games. The 49ers are an excellent matchup for the Redskins running backs, but the split backfield renders none of them very useful. With bye weeks in full swing though, you could do worse than Perine and Thompson.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kirk Cousins (mid-range)
WR3: Terrelle Pryor
TE2: Jordan Reed (canít trust him until he shows it)
Flex: Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson
Bench: Rob Kelley (ankle), Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson

Prediction: Redskins 27, 49ers 16 ^ Top

Patriots at Jets - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Note to self: Thursday Night Tom Brady supersedes Angry Tom Brady. On Thursday night, Brady just seems incapable of throwing crisp passes. He has played two Thursday night games this season and thrown just one touchdown. This week, he’s back on the Sunday slate for a road trip to the Meadowlands where the surprising 3-2 Jets are waiting. Brady sprained his AC joint in his left shoulder last week, but will have had 10 days to recover. That, combined with it being his non-throwing shoulder should render the injury a nonissue. Rob Gronkowski is fully expected to return after sitting out last week’s game with a thigh injury. Obviously that is a huge boost to the offense and Gronk will reprise his role as elite TE1. Brady will continue to support three relevant WRs as Danny Amenolda caught all eight of his targets last week for 77 yards, while Chris Hogan remains a model of consistency, having 60 yards and a touchdown in every game since Week 2. Brandin Cooks had a solid outing as well with five catches on eight targets for 85 yards. He has yet to catch more than five passes in a game and has eclipsed 100 yards just once. I still think it’s coming for Cooks and it’s not like you’d even consider benching him so just stick with it and the returns will be there, hopefully this week.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: The Patriots aren’t experiencing as much favorable game script as they have in years past so their running backs outside of James White have been useless in fantasy. Rex Burkhead’s expected return this week only further muddies the waters. Mike Gillislee remains the “lead” back, but, to the surprise of no one, he is of no value unless he scores, which he hasn’t done since Week 2. Gillislee is only averaging 3.6 ypc and his 69 yards in Week 2 are his season high. After his incredibly poor Week 3, James White has bounced back nicely with 17 receptions over his past two games. He hasn’t scored a touchdown yet this season, but his receiving floor remains incredibly high and he’s an excellent PPR RB2. Dion Lewis had been getting more burn with Burkhead out, but still not enough to be fantasy viable. Burkhead’s return only guarantees that it will remain that way, while Burkhead himself will likely be unable to become fantasy viable. The Jets have given up a receiving touchdown to a running back in two straight games. With that being said, this is a game the Patriots should dominate, raising questions about how much the passing game will be needed. I have a hunch Gillislee finds the end zone this week and White just isn’t needed that much.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (high end)
RB2: James White (ppr)
WR2: Brandin Cooks (high end)
WR2: Chris Hogan (mid-range)
WR3: Danny Amendola
TE1: Rob Gronkowski (the number one option)
Flex: Mike Gillislee
Bench: Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis

Passing Game Thoughts: Josh McCown has been serviceable this year. His completion percentage is an impressive 71.4%, which can be attributed to the lack of volume of passes. Given that Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson are his top two receivers, it’s still an accomplishment. Regardless, McCown is not a viable fantasy option along with the rest of the Jets passing game. Aside from one long touchdown against Miami, Anderson hasn’t done anything this season. His highest reception count is four and he only amassed 22 yards in that game. He’s averaging less than three receptions and under 45 yards. Kearse has also been mostly unhelpful. He had his two-touchdown game in Week 2 and he scored last week. In those two games, his yardage totals were 64 and 38, with the former being his best performance of the season. Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a touchdown last week and remains the best fantasy bet of the Jets pass catchers, but he doesn’t have a very high ceiling. ASJ is certainly a back end option at TE, but you’re hoping for 50 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots have allowed a 300-yard passer in every game this season. I’m betting that streak comes to an end with Josh McCown. Avoid everyone.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: Elijah McGuire was looking like a very appealing spot starter when he was the only healthy RB on the team. McGuire only managed 20 yards on 11 carries last week, but is still averaging 5.2 ypc on the season. He was previously in line for a huge workload with Bilal Powell out with a calf injury. McGuire doesn’t have to be efficient to be effective. McGuire is a capable pass catcher and the Jets should be trailing for most, if not all of this game. He could be the catalyst behind a comeback attempt or just purely amass garbage time numbers. The only wrench in the McGuire plan is Matt Forte’s return to limited practice on Wednesday and Thursday. It looks like Forte is going to make his return to ruin McGuire’s coming out party. I still think McGuire sees the larger workload, but Forte is going to steal snaps that would otherwise go to McGuire.

Value Meter:
QB2: Josh McCown
TE1: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (low end)
Flex: Elijah McGuire, Matt Forte
Bench: Bilal Powell (calf), all Jets WRs

Prediction: Patriots 27, Jets 19 ^ Top