Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.
Start of the Week: Matthew Stafford at Giants — Fantasy’s overall QB8 on the season, Stafford is coming off back-to-back slow games against divisional opponents Arizona and Seattle with a combined 3:2 TD:INT mark across those two starts. He’s been fantasy’s QB16 over the last two weeks. But Stafford now draws a New York defense that is 25th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 22nd in pass-defense DVOA, and 25th in opponent plays per game. Pocket passers Teddy Bridgewater (264 yards, 2 TDs), Matt Ryan (243/2), and Dak Prescott (302/3) have all met or exceeded expectations against this Giants unit. And only Prescott has the level of skilled supporting cast with which Stafford plays. This game’s 48.5-point total is very middle of the pack for the week, but the Rams’ implied team total of 29 points is the fourth-highest of Week 6. Los Angeles heads on the road as 10-point favorites.
Taylor Heinicke vs. Chiefs — We’ve seen the highs and lows of Heinicke since he took over midway through Week 1 for an injured Ryan Fitzpatrick. Heinicke is the overall QB12 the last four weeks and has a 7:5 TD:INT mark in that span. He’s coming off a total clunker last week against the Saints when Heinicke completed just 20-of-41 passes with no touchdowns and two picks. But this week’s matchup is much softer with the Chiefs playing some of the worst defense in the league. Kansas City is 31st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 31st in pass-defense DVOA. Washington is No. 7 in offensive pace with the Chiefs checking in at No. 15, and this game sports a 54.5-point total, the highest of Week 6. This looks like a spot for Heinicke to use his dual-threat ability, as Kansas City is dead last in rushing yards surrendered to quarterbacks after Lamar Jackson (16-107-2), Jalen Hurts (8-47), and Josh Allen (11-59-1) all led their respective teams in rushing against the Chiefs this season. Four straight quarterbacks to face this Kansas City defense have produced top-four fantasy weeks.
Trevor Lawrence vs. Dolphins — The overall QB25 in fantasy points per game through five rookie starts, it’s been a struggle for Lawrence. Only fellow rookie and No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson has thrown more interceptions, 9 to 8, but Lawrence has dialed the turnovers back the last two weeks with just one interception and no lost fumbles in that span. He’s also posted his two best completion rates of the season and is using his legs more; there are signs Lawrence is finding his footing headed into a cake Week 6 matchup against Miami. After running the ball just three times Weeks 1-2, Lawrence has averaged seven carries per game the last three weeks and has scored on the ground in back-to-back contests. That definitely raises his floor in fantasy. And now the Dolphins are on tap in a game across the pond in London. Miami is 26th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 23rd in pass-defense DVOA, 22nd in adjusted sack rate, and 31st in opponent plays per game. Tom Brady just lit the Dolphins up for a flawless 411 yards and five touchdowns last week. Carson Wentz (228/2), Derek Carr (386/2), and Josh Allen (179/2) have all thrown multiple touchdowns against this defense. In a game between two bad teams with bad defenses, I like this game to go over the 47-point total.
Ryan Tannehill vs. Bills — Tannehill hasn’t flashed the upside and big-play ability he did under ex-OC Arthur Smith. He’s the overall QB21 on the season with just one multi-touchdown passing game on the year. Tannehill’s 3.5% touchdown rate is his lowest since his rookie year. It seems Derrick Henry is punching in every Titans touchdown. But Tannehill also hasn’t had a healthy supporting cast since Week 1. That will change this week, with both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones practicing fully ahead of Monday night’s showdown with the Bills. Tennessee is going to have to keep up with Josh Allen’s group. And while the Titans are likely to try and slow things down with Henry, Tannehill is going to have to play well if the Titans have any chance at stealing this one. All the numbers are against Tannehill with Buffalo No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA, but this game’s high total (53 points, second-highest of Week 6) and the Titans being 5.5-point underdogs point to Tannehill having to take more on his plate. It also helps he has top wideouts Brown and Jones back in the lineup. This projects to be one of the more fantasy-friendly environments on this week’s slate.
Aaron Rodgers at Bears — While Rodgers has played extremely well with four straight multi-touchdown games and a 10:1 TD:INT mark in that span, he’s still just the overall QB19 on the season and 21st in pass attempts playing in a slug of an offense that is 24th in pace. On the other side of this one, the Bears play even slower at 28th in pace. Volume is highly unlikely to be a thing in this divisional tilt with a 44-point total, the fourth-lowest of the week. The Bears are No. 8 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and No. 4 in pass-defense DVOA. They’ve successfully shut down Derek Carr (206/0/1), Jared Goff (299/2), Baker Mayfield (246/1), and Joe Burrow (207/2/3) over the last four weeks. None of those guys are Rodgers, but Green Bay’s offensive nature as a slow-paced, low-volume team keep Rodgers subdued more than his actual talent and the opponent. Rodgers could easily go out there and throw three touchdowns Sunday, but this doesn’t have the makings of a ceiling game. He’s more of a 2-QB league play.
Kirk Cousins at Panthers — Fantasy’s overall QB6 with three straight multi-touchdown games to open the season Weeks 1-3, Cousins has totally face-planted with a combined two touchdowns and two interceptions against the Browns and Lions the last two weeks. He’s fantasy’s QB28 in that span. And now Cousins draws a Carolina defense that is No. 10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, No. 2 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 1 in opponent plays per game, and No. 1 in adjusted sack rate while facing the second-fewest pass attempts. Dak Prescott successfully penetrated this secondary with four touchdowns in Week 4, but he had just 188 yards through the air that day and attempted a season-low 22 passes. Cousins is no Prescott and is unlikely to see elevated pass volume in a game where both offenses prefer to run the ball and field above-average defenses. This game’s 45.5-point total is the fifth-lowest of the week. Playing bad football, facing a solid defense, and in a bad fantasy environment, Cousins is off the streaming radar for this one.
Sam Darnold vs. Vikings — The overall QB9 on the year, Darnold has shown cracks in his game the last two weeks with five interceptions against better competition. He’s coming off the QB29 week last Sunday against the Eagles, throwing for just 177 yards and a 1:3 TD:INT mark. And a large portion of his season production has come via five rushing touchdowns. That’s obviously an abnormality for Darnold, who has just 62 yards on the ground all year. He’s looking like a fantasy fraud who picked on low-hanging fruit against the Jets and Texans early in the year. Darnold now draws a Minnesota defense that is No. 9 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and No. 6 in pass-defense DVOA. Jared Goff (203/0/1), Baker Mayfield (155/0), and Russell Wilson (298/1) have all been held in check by the Vikings the last three weeks. Nothing here would suggest Darnold is going to have a ceiling game this Sunday. Both teams want to run the ball and play defense, and this contest has a fantasy-unfriendly 45.5-point total.
Start of the Week: Zack Moss at Titans — Moss has been a pleasant surprise in fantasy as the overall RB17 in half-PPR points per game after being a surprise healthy scratch in Week 1. He’s the Bills’ preferred back when they’re winning games, and Buffalo is on fire right now. Moss played a season-high 74% of the snaps in Kansas City last Sunday night and has double-digit touches in all four games he’s played in, and he’s seeing the “money” touches with 14 red-zone carries to lead the team. The Bills are 5.5-point road favorites against the Titans Monday night. Tennessee is yielding 4.7 yards per carry to opposing running backs and is 27th in run-defense DVOA. Moss has four touchdowns in four games and has boosted his floor with multiple targets in the passing game in 3-of-4 appearances. James Robinson just hung an 18-149-1 rushing line on these Titans last week. Jets rookie RB Michael Carter found the end zone with 13-38-1 the previous week. Jonathan Taylor averaged 6.4 YPC against Tennessee in Week 3 after Chris Carson scored twice the week before. Moss should be treated as an every-week RB2 going forward, and the Bills have the week’s second-highest implied team total at 29.5 points.
Devontae Booker vs. Rams — Saquon Barkley played just nine snaps last week before leaving with a sprained ankle that’s expected to cost him 1-2 games. In Barkley’s absence, Booker played 88% of the offensive snaps and handled every backfield touch, turning 20 combined carries and targets into 58 yards and one touchdown against the Cowboys. Look for Booker to step right into Barkley’s role as a three-down back who can run the ball and catch it. Booker was the top waiver-wire add of the week for a reason. The Rams are a middling 16th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 15th in run-defense DVOA. They’ve shown a willingness to cede rushing production while focusing on their pass coverage. Chase Edmonds and James Conner combined for a massive 30-170-2 rushing line against L.A. in Week 4. And David Montgomery (16-108-1) went over 100 yards earlier in the year. But this isn’t really isn’t a play based on the Rams; it’s more that Booker is going to be on the field a ton in a game that features two offenses that are top-10 in pace. Booker should have a floor of 15 touches.
Khalil Herbert vs. Packers — David Montgomert is out with a knee injury, and Damien Williams tested positive for COVID on Thursday. It’s looking like it’ll be Herbert and deep-cut backups Ryan Nall and Artavis Pierce on Sunday. The Bears run the ball at the league’s highest rate, and Herbert turned in a productive 18-75 rushing line last week against the Raiders while splitting time with Williams. There’s no feasible reason Herbert shouldn’t see at least the 18 carries he saw last week, even if the Bears fall behind in this one. Like Devontae Booker above, Herbert is a pure volume play who will be on the field a ton thanks to injuries ahead of him. It certainly helps that the Packers are 18th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 29th in run-defense DVOA. Herbert should be treated as a back-end RB2.
Jamaal Williams vs. Bengals — Not the most exciting group of “starts” at running back this week, but we’re trying to dive a little deeper here. Williams is the overall RB26 on the season in half-PPR points per game, averaging a strong 4.4 YPC and 14 touches per game as the early-down grinder in Detroit’s two-man backfield. D’Andre Swift is clearly the much better fantasy play, but this is a week Williams could pop up and see heavier usage with the Lions installed as just 3.5-point home underdogs against a Bengals team that is 17th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Detroit should be able to keep this one close enough that OC Anthony Lynn can execute the game plan he wants, which is working through Swift and Williams. Williams and Swift each have 11 red-zone carries, and Williams has multiple catches in 4-of-5 games. There’s enough meat on the bone here for Williams to post a useful top-25 week.
Damien Harris vs. Cowboys — After missing practice Wednesday with his ribs issue, Harris was back on the field Thursday and should play Sunday. But after posting 100 yards on 23 carries in the Week 1 opener, Harris is averaging just 10 carries for 32.5 yards per game over his last four. Playing at less than 100% health and at risk of losing more reps to rookie Rhamondre Stevenson after Stevenson handled 11 carries last week, Harris is an extremely scary RB3 who doesn’t see pass-game work with Brandon Bolden absorbing the old James White role. The Cowboys are No. 8 in fantasy points allowed to running backs and No. 8 in run-defense DVOA while facing the fewest rushing attempts in the league. New England’s implied team total of 23.25 points is the 10th-lowest of the week.
Chase Edmonds at Browns — Edmonds has yet to sniff the end zone this season while James Conner has taken advantage of goal-line and red-zone work to punch in five short touchdowns over the last three weeks. Conner has out-carried Edmonds 15-7 inside the 20-yard line and 6-1 inside the five. Edmonds has seen 26 targets in the passing game to help buoy his fantasy numbers as the current RB29 in half-PPR points per game, but the lack of touchdowns is hurting his stock. And he now gets a Cleveland defense that is No. 6 in fantasy points allowed to running backs, No. 5 in run-defense DVOA, and No. 2 in opponent plays per game. The Browns have surrendered the fourth-fewest catches to Edmonds’ position. Edmonds is an RB3.
AJ Dillon at Bears — The Packers have made it a point to get Dillon more involved the last two weeks, whether that’s by design or has something to do with Aaron Jones being limited in practice with an ankle injury. But Dillon has produced with his touches, turning 28 of them into 176 total yards and one touchdown over the last two contests. Dillon is the overall RB17 in that span and has been a hot pickup off waiver wires. However, his playing time rate hasn’t really changed, getting in on 40% of the snaps in Week 4 and 33% last week. That falls right in line with his 32% season average. Aaron Jones is still running far more pass routes and getting money touches at the goal line and in the red zone. Dillon now will face a Chicago defense that is 12th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, 11th in run-defense DVOA, and 13th in opponent plays per game. As the clear No. 2 behind Jones in a game that projects to be one of the slowest of the week between two of the nine-slowest offenses, Dillon is a hard sell as anything more than a back-end RB3/FLEX play. This game has a 44-point total.
Start of the Week: Chase Claypool vs. Seahawks — JuJu Smith-Schuster (shoulder) is out for the season after getting hurt last week against the Broncos. JuJu went down after 25 snaps and hadn’t been productive all season. With JuJu going down, Claypool turned six targets into a 5-130-1 line, scoring his first touchdown of the season in a tough on-paper matchup. Claypool is now expected to be an every-down wideout alongside Diontae Johnson with James Washington stepping into three-wide sets for the pass-happy Steelers. Claypool has one of the highest ceilings at the position and now gets a Seattle defense that is 25th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, surrendering the fourth-most yards to the position while checking in at 28th in pass-defense DVOA. The Seahawks just cut former starting CB Tre Flowers, who played 100% of the snaps Weeks 1-3. Claypool is dripping with upside as a WR2 in a mouthwatering spot.
Michael Pittman vs. Texans — Pittman scored his first touchdown of the season last week, going 6-89-1 on seven targets against the Ravens, ripping a deep-ball touchdown away from CB Anthony Averett, looking like Randy Moss in the process. Pittman is up to the WR28 on the season and has registered at least six catches in four straight games, averaging 9.75 targets per game in that span. The Texans are No. 6 in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers and No. 9 in pass-defense DVOA, but they’ve faced the 11th-fewest pass attempts. The Colts are expected to employ an extreme run-heavy approach this week as 10-point home favorites, but Pittman is the alpha in this wideout room and should be ran out there as a solid WR2/3 with upside to build on his touchdown last week against another soft pass defense.
Jaylen Waddle vs. Jaguars — Will Fuller (finger) is still on I.R. and DeVante Parker (shoulder, hamstring) will miss his second straight game. With both out last week against the Bucs, Waddle was a popular DFS play but turned his six targets into just two catches for 31 scoreless yards with a drop. But Waddle did play 80% of the snaps and will now get Tua Tagovailoa back under center after the quarterback missed the previous four games. In Week 1, with Fuller out and Tagovailoa under center, Waddle went 4-61-1 on five targets and 80% of the snaps against the Patriots. He hasn’t scored since the opener. Waddle now gets a Jacksonville defense that has surrendered the seventh-most yards to wide receivers and is dead last in pass-defense DVOA. Waddle is a rebound candidate following back-to-back slow outings. I like this game to go over its 47-point total across the pond in London.
Laviska Shenault vs. Dolphins — Much like Waddle above, Shenault was a popular punt play in DFS last week and ended up catching just one pass for 58 yards on three targets despite playing 73% of the snaps. Shenault is expected to be a beneficiary in the wake of the D.J. Chark season-ending broken ankle suffered in Week 4. Shenault went 6-99 on seven targets after Chark went down on the opening drive of that game. Shenault now gets a Miami defense that will be without top CB Xavien Howard for this London tilt between two bad teams. The Dolphins are 29th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, surrendering the fifth-most yards to the position. As mentioned above, I like this game to go over it’s 47-point total, and for Shenault to be more involved against an inferior coverage unit missing its top player.
Tyler Lockett at Steelers — After back-to-back 100-yard games to open the season with three touchdowns in that span, Lockett has scoreless receiving lines of 4-31, 4-24, and 5-57 as the overall WR66 since Week 3. Now Russell Wilson (hand) is expected to miss multiple games, leaving Geno Smith under center. It’s about as steep of a downgrade as there is in the league, even after Smith provided a spark last week before reverting to his normal self with a game-ending interception. It’s just so difficult to trust Lockett with the quarterback drop-off, even if he’s an obvious lock to see targets. The Steelers are 27th in fantasy points allowed to receivers and 24th in pass-defense DVOA, but I’m betting on Pittsburgh’s defense at home over Smith. Lockett was a WR5 with Wilson the last three weeks. Why expect better with Smith?
Henry Ruggs at Broncos — Out is coach Jon Gruden, and it’ll now be OC Greg Olson calling the plays for the Raiders. We’re going to need a game or two to get a read on Olson, but he should make more of a point to get the ball in Ruggs’ hands closer to the line of scrimmage. After Derek Carr’s torrid start to the season, he’s gone back to the quarterback we’ve grown used to, with 196- and 206-yard games the last two weeks to go with a 2:2 TD:INT mark. Ruggs has six catches for 111 scoreless yards on nine targets in that span. He now gets a Denver defense that is 14th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts, 12th in pass-defense DVOA, and No. 3 in opponent plays per game. This game’s 43.5-point total is the third-lowest of Week 6.
Darnell Mooney vs. Packers — Allen Robinson (ankle) being out would be a boost to Mooney, who would become the default No. 1 receiver. But he’ll still be playing in the league’s most run-heavy offense in one of the slowest games of the week with a minuscule 44-point total. Mooney went 5-125 on seven targets two weeks ago with Justin Fields against the Lions but answered it with 3-35 on five targets last week versus the Raiders. The Packers have allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points to receivers. The slow nature of this game coupled with the Bears running the ball as much as possible will be more of a drag on Mooney than the actual matchup.
Start of the Week: Ricky Seals-Jones vs. Chiefs — In the first game without Logan Thomas (hamstring), Seals-Jones played 99% of the offensive snaps and was targeted nine times. He went 5-41 on those looks, but the underlying usage was obviously very promising for the athletic former college wideout. This is a #RevengeGame for RSJ after spending last season in Kansas City. Playing every snap and running plenty of routes, Seals-Jones is an elite streaming option in a game with the highest total of the week at 54.5 points. Terry McLaurin may also be either out or hampered after being downgraded to DNP on Friday with his hamstring issue.
Mike Gesicki vs. Jaguars — Gesicki was second on the team with seven targets last week against the Bucs, seeing three fewer than Myles Gaskin, but only caught four for 43 scoreless yards. The good news is Gesicki was in on a season-high 78% of the snaps and is seventh among all tight ends in pass routes. Since his zero-catch Week 1, Gesicki is the overall TE8 in half-PPR points per game and now draws a Jacksonville defense that is 24th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. C.J. Uzomah famously ripped this defense for 5-95-2 two Thursday nights ago. Noah Fant burned the Jaguars for 4-33-1 two weeks before that. And Pharaoh Brown had 4-67 in Week 1. Gesicki is a strong back-end TE1 in a game that has sneaky fantasy appeal with a 47-point total.
Jared Cook at Ravens — Cook has been held below 30 scoreless yards in 3-of-5 games but is sixth among all tight ends in pass routes and plays with one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Justin Herbert. He now faces a Ravens team that is 30th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Cook has been losing some red-zone looks to Donald Parham but still remains involved in the scoring area for the Chargers. This is a game to attack with a 51-point total.
Dan Arnold vs. Dolphins — In his second game with the Jaguars following his trade from the Panthers, Arnold’s snap rate jumped to 73% last week, seeing eight targets, turning them into a scoreless 6-64 line. It was good enough for the TE15 week. Coach Urban Meyer seems to love Arnold after trading last year’s first-round pick, CB C.J. Henderson, for him. The Dolphins are 19th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends but 31st in opponent plays per game. This Jaguars-Dolphins game is one of my favorites of the week.