Part of me wants to use this space to work out my feelings on the US Men's National Team missing out on the 2018 World Cup, but I still don't think I've processed everything enough, nor do I want to waste too much of your time. For a synopsis on where I'm at, check out my Twitter thread after Tuesday night's loss. Anyway, the NFL machine continues to roll along into an interesting Week 6 slate of games. We have big injury losses to account for, rising superstars to adjust expectations on, and so much more. We've been treated to consecutive electric weeks of professional football, so here's to hoping Week 6 makes it three in a row.
As always, this is where I go game-by-game and player-by-player for every Week 6 contest. Those looking for quick-hitting start/sit/flex/stream analysis will find that listed for the main players for every team. Below that, I do my best to preview the game with additional insight, stats, and analysis to contextualize my recommendations.
Now, enough blathering on. We've got lineups to set and matchups to explore. Time to dive in.
Chicago Bears at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Mitchell Trubisky looks like he can be a fine NFL quarterback, but it's hard to truly assess his outlook/fantasy potential while he's piloting an offense lacking dynamic receiving options. Trubisky posted a 5.12 yards per attempt in his NFL debut, and shouldn't be trusted on the road against the Ravens. Jordan Howard is leading this backfield once again in playing time and carries. He's the workhorse they'll lean on to protect Trubisky and he has a solid matchup against a Ravens defense allowing seventh-most rushing yards per game (109.6) to opposing backs. Electric jitterbug Tarik Cohen is losing playing time and touches at an alarming rate. From Weeks 1 to 3, Cohen played 49 percent of the snaps and averaged 14.7 touches per game. In Weeks 4 and 5, he's only played 27 percent of the snaps while averaging 8.5 touches per game. He's always a big-play waiting to happen, but that usage is sit-worthy in fantasy. Zach Miller led the team with seven targets in Trubisky's first start and remains on the streaming radar, especially in PPR formats. The Bears defense is fighting through some injuries and doesn't make for the best streamer on the road, even though they'll face a struggling Ravens offense.
Joe Flacco has yet to throw for more than 240 yards in a game and currently sports a 4-6 TD-INT ratio. The Bears allow just 223 passing yards per game, making Flacco even less attractive as a streaming option. Terrance West is battling a calf injury, which leaves the workload to be split by Javorius Allen and Alex Collins. Allen has led this backfield in playing time in all five weeks and in touches in four of five weeks. He's the best start of the bunch with the safest floor thanks to his usage in the passing game (24 targets, second on the team). Collins can be flexed in deeper leagues, as he's currently sporting a 7.1 yards per carry average and has been making a case for more opportunities. He's received just two targets all year, though, so his floor is ghastly. I advised addingMike Wallace this past week if he was available just in case, but I'd be hesitant to start him this week. The Bears allow a mere 58.3 percent catch rate to opposing wide receivers and rank 13th in yards allowed per game to the position (133.4). Wallace saw 10 targets two weeks ago, but just three this past week. Jeremy Maclin has averaged fewer than 10 yards per catch in each of the last four weeks and isn't a startable fantasy asset. Benjamin Watson looked like a promising streamer but has yardage outputs of 12, 43, and two in his last three weeks. There are better TEs to chase for streaming. The Baltimore defense has three double-digit performances through five weeks and will be a great play against rookie Mitchell Trubisky in his second career start.
Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Kevin Hogan replaced DeShone Kizer last week and gave this offense some juice, but trusting him in fantasy (he was named the Week 6 starter) feels far too risky. Isaiah Crowell had a "season-best" performance last week with 60 yards, but still should be benched until further notice. Duke Johnson, on the other hand, continues to do so much with so little it hurts my heart a bit. Despite seeing a measly 30 combined touches over the last three weeks, Johnson has found the end zone three times and accounted for nearly 25 percent of the team's total scrimmage yards. He's a strong flex play, especially in PPR formats. Desperate tight end streamers could roll the dice with David Njoku and hope he catches a touchdown in his fourth-straight game, but he's only played 50-plus percent of the offensive snaps once this year (Week 4, 51 percent), so his scoring chances are more limited than others at the position. We're not touching the Browns wide receivers or this defense against a red-hot offense, so let's move on.
No team has scored more points per game this season with one starting quarterback than the Texans have with Deshaun Watson (34.3). The Browns are tied for 25th in scoring defense and have allowed 20-plus points to every opponent aside from the Jets (17) so far this season. Their 11 passing scores allowed also ranks second in the league, trailing only the Patriots and Titans. Watson is a top-five passer for me this week. Lamar Miller is averaging 4.3 yards per carry over his last three games versus just 3.6 in the first two. He's a solid flex play this week thanks to his decent volume, but the Cleveland defense has been stout against the run, allowing just 66.6 yards per game to opposing rushers. DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller combined for six catches last week but scored five touchdowns. That outrageous efficiency isn't likely to continue, but as the top two targets for an ascending young quarterback, we want both of these players in lineups. The Browns allow 132.2 yards per game to opposing wideouts so far and are in the bottom 10 of the league in touchdown percentage allowed to the position as well (5.6). The Browns have been routinely beaten by opposing tight ends, allowing four top-13 fantasy finishes at the position in five games. They're tied with the Giants in most touchdowns allowed to the position with five, making Ryan Griffin a solid streaming option. The Texans defense just lost two of its top players in J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, but gets the added benefit of playing at home against an inexperienced quarterback, making them fantasy viable.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
In six games against the Mike Zimmer-led Vikings defenses, Aaron Rodgers averages 238 yards per game and has thrown 13 touchdowns versus two interceptions. However, on the road, he averages one less touchdown as opposed to when he's in Lambeau Field (1.67 vs. 2.67). You're not benching Rodgers in standard leagues, but manage expectations against a very good opponent. The Packers might have found something in rookie running back Aaron Jones. After an impressive debut in relief, the rookie averaged over 6.5 yards per carry against the Cowboys, taking his 19 totes for 125 yards and a touchdown. Per Next Gen Stats, Jones averaged 4.8 yards after a defender was within 1-yard of him, fifth-best on the week, and 91 of his 125 yards came after that close contact. After playing 53 snaps to just two for Jamaal Williams, we should be able to trust the rookie again here. As is usually the case with this wide receiver group, if you have Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams or Randall Cobb on your team, you're starting them. Nelson sat out the team's final drive with an undisclosed injury, but was practicing all week and should be good to go. He or Davante Adams is likely to draw a significant amount of coverage from Xavier Rhodes, but unless the Vikings reveal their defensive gameplan early it's not worth sitting either player. Martellus Bennett has three-plus catches in every game but has yet to find the end zone or go over 55 receiving yards. He's a low-end streamer against a Vikings defense with the ninth-highest touchdown rate versus tight ends (8.1). The Packers defense is still banged up and playing on the road against a quarterback who hasn't thrown an interception yet this year.
Which Case Keenum will show up on Sunday? The one who carved up the Buccaneers defense for 369 yards and three touchdowns? Or the one who completed under 55 percent of his passes with no touchdowns in his other two starts this year? Those in a pinch could stream Keenum at home against the Packers, as two of their top secondary players (Morgan Burnett, Kevin King) are battling injuries. Speaking of injuries, Stefon Diggs injured his groin on Monday Night Football, which is concerning as that was the same ailment that plagued Diggs throughout the 2016 campaign. He's officially out for this contest, so expect more targets headed toward Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph. Thielen has five-plus catches in every game this year and eight-plus targets in four of five. An increased workload could set him up for a monster outing. Rudolph has been frustrating in fantasy this year, with up-and-down target totals. He's only seen six-plus targets twice after seeing six-plus in 13 games last year. Still, he's probably worth streaming against the Packers, especially if Diggs is out or limited. As for the backfield, the prevailing wisdom following Dalvin Cook's injury was that veteran Latavius Murray would assume most of the workhorse role. That wasn't the case against the Bears, as Jerick McKinnon (finally) broke out. Fantasy fans have been wishing for this for years, and it may finally be a reality. I'd flex McKinnon and bench Murray this week, as while the genie may be out of the bottle, another week could tell us a whole lot about how the Vikings plan to use these two moving forward. Normally the Vikings at home are a fantasy must-start, but not when facing a red-hot Aaron Rodgers.
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Since his Week 1 fantasy explosion (292 yards, four TDs) Matthew Stafford is averaging 206 yards per game with just five touchdowns in four games. The Saints defense has typically been one to target in fantasy, but this group played well heading into their bye, allowing just 6.5 points and 237 yards per game over their last two games. Add into this the fact that Stafford suffered multiple injuries last week (hamstring, ankle), and he's probably better left as a sit. The Saints allow a league-high 75.8 receiving yards per game to backs on 10.2 targets per game, which puts Theo Riddick into the mix as a flex option (especially in PPR). One week after it seemed like Ameer Abdullah was taking over this backfield, his nightmare fantasy usage returned (11 touches, 34 yards). He was vultured at the goal line by Zach Zenner and lost receiving work to Riddick. I'd avoid starting him if you can help it. Only two Lions wide receivers have had more than 65 yards in a game this year, and both came in Week 1 (Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay). Golladay has missed the last two weeks with a hamstring injury, but is back at practice and could help unlock this passing attack. It's tempting to start all of these wide receivers because "Saints defense," but I'd proceed with caution. Tate feels like the player to trust the most as he leads the team in targets (40), receptions (29) and receiving yards (269), but this group isn't the most inspiring at the moment. Eric Ebron is losing playing time and targets to Darren Fells. You can safely drop him. Only fools play road defenses against Drew Brees.
We're starting Drew Brees at home. End of story. The departure of Adrian Peterson (via trade to the Cardinals) clears up what was a frustrating backfield committee. Both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are flex-worthy at worst. Peterson was hogging over seven touches per game on average, which will now fall back to the aforementioned duo. While Kamara is the pass-catching dynamo, Ingram only trails him by six targets on the year. The Lions look tough on paper against running backs, but that's because they've faced a few teams without a running game (Cardinals, Giants). When they faced Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman (in Detroit), that duo carved them up for 227 total yards and a touchdown. Michael Thomas might see plenty of Darius Slay, but is Brees' No. 1 target and still needs to be started, especially after posting 15 catches, 176 yards and two touchdowns over his most recent two games. He did face Slay once last year, though, and posted just one catch for 14 yards on two targets. Willie Snead is still fighting through his hamstring injury and will face talented slot man Quandre Diggs in his season debut. I'd bench him this week until we see him in action. Coby Fleener is a risky play, but the Lions were just gashed by Ed Dickson for 175 yards on five catches, so there are worse streamers to target. Speaking of streaming, don't overlook the Saints defense this week. They've notched 10 sacks in their last three games and are facing an injured Matthew Stafford who's been sacked 18 times already (tied for third-most). Home favorites are always good targets for streaming.
Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Jay Cutler is crippling this offense and I'm not going to spend any more time on him in a fantasy football column because he's not a startable player. The volume was there for Jay Ajayi last week (25 carries, three targets), but unfortunately for fantasy managers, the yardage and scores didn't come along with it. Still, 28 opportunities are impossible to turn away from at the running back position, so I'd keep the faith with Ajayi for now. DeVante Parker missed practice early in the week with an ankle injury and could be limited even if he plays. Jarvis Landry remains a usable flex option in PPR formats, as he has five-plus catches and 40-plus yards in every game so far. If Parker is out or limited, Landry's ceiling rises. Kenny Stills has seen a combined five targets the last two weeks and should be off the fantasy radar at this point. Julius Thomas averages four targets and 21.5 yards per game, which is a hard pass in fantasy.
Matt Ryan struggled a bit in the Falcons' two games before the bye, throwing three touchdowns to five interceptions while averaging 268 passing yards per game. This should be a spot for him to bounce back, though, at home against a Dolphins stop unit that ranks 22nd in passing defense. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman remain one of the league's top backfield duos. Freeman's usage near the goal line (seven attempts inside the five, tied for third-most) makes him a weekly must-start. Julio Jones is practicing on a limited basis already, which is great news for his outlook this week. On the season the Dolphins allow a 71.4 percent catch rate (second-highest) and 145.5 yards per game to opposing wideouts. If Jones plays, he's starting for your fantasy squad. Austin Hooper still isn't receiving the target volume necessary to warrant starting consideration. Mohamed Sanu (hamstring) is not practicing yet and should probably be a sit anyway if he somehow manages to suit up. TJ Hernandez and Chris Raybon of 4for4 made a compelling case for Taylor Gabriel on their podcast this week, for those in a pinch. Last year, in the one game Gabriel played without Sanu last year he posted a 3-82-1 stat line on six targets. The Falcons defense has multiple sacks in every game so far this year and should get Vic Beasley (hamstring) back. Jay Cutler has tossed an interception in three straight games and is piloting an offense that has scored three touchdowns in four games. Stream the Falcons if you can get them.
New England Patriots at New York Jets, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Tom Brady is authoring another masterful season at quarterback, completing 68.2 percent of his passes, for 340.4 yards per game with 11 touchdowns and one pick. The Jets are coming off a game where they allowed over 400 yards of total offense to the Browns, so even though Brady's non-throwing shoulder is injured there's no reason to worry about sitting him. Mike Gillislee needs a touchdown to be fantasy relevant, and with 12 carries for 52 or fewer yards in each of the last three games he's tough to trust. James White has 21 targets and 17 receptions in the last two weeks, so he can be utilized in PPR formats. Dion Lewis got into the mix more last week and looked like the Patriots best back, but let's watch his usage for another week before starting him. Chris Hogan is the first Patriots wideout to catch a touchdown in four straight games since Randy Moss in 2007. He owns nearly 30 percent of Brady's red-zone targets, helping his chances of making it five in a row. Brandin Cooks is a boom-or-bust option, as he has been for his entire career. He has two games with fewer than 40 yards, two games with 80-90, and one with 131-yards and two scores. If Rob Gronkowski plays, he plays for your fantasy team. If not, don't count on Dwayne Allen or Jacob Hollister as a replacement. The Patriots defense is on the road and can't stop a nosebleed right now. Find a streamer elsewhere.
Every quarterback to face the Patriots has thrown for over 300 yards and four of the five have thrown multiple touchdowns. Josh McCown gets the benefit of playing at home, but has only thrown for 200-plus yards twice this year and has five touchdowns to four interceptions. He's a risky streamer. Bilal Powell (calf) and Matt Forte (toe) could both miss or be limited in this game. Their statuses will need to be monitored, but this puts Elijah McGuire into the flex tier. The Patriots have allowed six total touchdowns to running backs, and only the Chargers have allowed more total yards. Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse are leading the team with 29 and 28 targets, respectively, but their production has been too spotty to trust. If there's a pass-catcher we want from this offense, it's Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He's played 78 percent of the team snaps since returning from suspension in Week 3 and leads the team in targets (18) and catches (15) in that span. He's a great streaming target as the Jets could face a pass-heavy, negative game script if the Patriots jump out to a big lead. It's a good practice to never start fantasy defenses against the Patriots.
San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Brian Hoyer has thrown for 300-plus yards and two touchdowns in two of his last three games, but a road trip to face the Washington defense isn't too appealing. Yes, Josh Norman is out, but they've allowed just 234.3 yards per game with five touchdowns and four interceptions. Carlos Hyde was battling a hip injury last week, but head coach Kyle Shanahan claimed his back's low usage was due to him riding the "hot hand" with Matt Breida. Hyde is off the injury report now, so we'll see how much truth there was to that statement. Expectations should be lowered for Hyde in the interim, but Breida's naturally should get a bump. Hyde still feels like the safer play, but those in a bye week pinch or in deeper leagues could flex the rookie. Pierre Garcon revenge game! Garcon is eighth in the league in targets (44) and receiving yards (379), but has yet to find the end zone. Perhaps a little revenge will help him get there. Marquise Goodwin saw 11 targets last week, catching five for 116 yards, but I wouldn't chase that production. George Kittle's production, on the other hand, is worth chasing. Washington has been gashed by tight ends this year, allowing a league-high 90.3 yards per game. Kittle has been on the field for 73 percent of the team snaps through five weeks, and the 49ers could be forced to the air to keep pace with Kirk Cousins and his high-flying offense. Kittle's a rock-solid streamer.
After a slow start to the season, Kirk Cousins put together back-to-back 20-plus fantasy point outings and should be in a good spot to succeed here, as well. The 49ers defense is coming off an overtime loss where they gave up 447 total yards to the Jacoby Brissett-led Colts. The Colts have allowed 100-plus rushing yards in four of five games this year, so with Rob Kelley (ankle) a long-shot to play, Samaje Perine could merit low-end flex consideration. I know Chris Thompson disappointed in Week 4 (seven touches, 27 yards) but he's too dynamic to keep on the bench. I'd still give him a shot in the flex and expect the team to course correct and give him more opportunities again. Terrelle Pryor found the end zone in Week 4, but has target totals of just five, four and four in the last three weeks. The 49ers have allowed 291 yards and two scores to wide receivers on the left side of the field, which is where Pryor lines up 50 percent of the time. Jamison Crowder has been injured and is losing snaps and targets to Ryan Grant. He can't be started until we see him get it together on the field. Jordan Reed is off the injury report and should once again be started. The 49ers have allowed just 107 yards to the position on the year (best in the league), but they've had a fortunate schedule facing injured tight ends (Jimmy Graham, Jack Doyle) or teams that don't feature the position (Cardinals, Rams). The Washington defense has been surprisingly stout this year, and even without Josh Norman make for a great streaming target. Brian Hoyer has been sacked two-plus times in every game and has thrown an interception in four of five games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m. ET on FOX
The Cardinals defense is not the same unit from years past and can be attacked through the air. They're currently allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to the position (18.75), with three of five quarterbacks throwing for two-plus touchdowns against them. The only two to not hit that threshold were Jacoby Brissett (in his first start with the Colts) and Brian Hoyer. Winston is a strong start on the road. Doug Martin looked fantastic in his first game action of the season last Thursday night and is a strong RB2 here. Arizona is tough on running backs, allowing just 3.3 yards per carry and 78.2 yards per game to opposing backs, but Martin's volume and scoring upside (he saw all of the backfield red-zone touches last week) should keep his fantasy value afloat. Mike Evans figures to get the Patrick Peterson treatment here, so I'd steer clear in daily fantasy, but I really can't sit Mike Evans in season-long leagues. He's seen eight-plus targets in every game this year. DeSean Jackson hasn't had quite the impact fantasy fans have hoped for, but he saw nine targets and crossed 100 yards last week. He could have a great matchup this week, as he lines up on the right side of the field 48 percent of the time, which is where the Cardinals are weakest. On the season they've allowed 302 yards and four touchdowns to wide receivers lined up wide right on just 13 catches, for a league-high 23.23 yards per reception. Cameron Brate is paying off his late-round tight end steal status. Through four games he's tied with Evans in red-zone targets (six) and leads the team with three touchdown catches (as well as all tight ends). The Buccaneers defense is getting healthier, but a long cross-country road trip against a strong passing offense feels like a dicey streaming spot.
So far in 2017, Carson Palmer averages 44 more passing yards per game at home than on the road, with a 3-1 TD-INT split versus a 3-4 split. The Buccaneers currently allow the second-most passing yards per game (315.3) and have conceded two top-five fantasy QB finishes in just four games. The team traded for Adrian Peterson, but I can't possibly get behind starting him this week. The Cardinals backs have collectively averaged 2.5 yards per carry behind their shaky offensive line, and Peterson will have had minimal practice time with this group. Andre Ellington is still worth flexing in PPR, though, as his pass-catching role should remain largely unchanged, though he may see fewer snaps with Peterson in tow. Larry Fitzgerald's volume is tough to ignore (51 targets), and he has a nice matchup against a Bucs defense allowing 78.5 yards per game and three touchdowns to slot wide receivers. John Brown out-snapped and out-targeted Jaron Brown last week, and if he's healthy that's what we should expect moving forward. He'll be a low-end flex, while Jaron Brown can head back to the bench. The Cardinals defense has scored eight fantasy points in the last three weeks and shouldn't be used this week.
Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars, 4:05 p.m. ET on FOX
Jared Goff is off to a promising start this season, but the Jaguars defense has become a must-avoid in fantasy. They've allowed an average of 5.45 fantasy points per game to the position with 10 interceptions and three touchdowns allowed. Todd Gurley should be able to get back on track this week facing a Jaguars front allowing 130 rushing yards per game. Per Football Outsiders, the Jags currently rank 31st in rush defense DVOA. If the Rams are going to move the ball here, it'll be through Gurley. The presence of Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye take Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods right out of the discussion. Cooper Kupp could be flexed as he attacks the middle of the field, where the Jaguars are weakest, but it's still a risky gamble. The Rams tight end committee is off the radar as well, as they're the equivalent of a fantasy whack-a-mole game. The Rams defense has multiple sacks in every game this season and has forced two-plus turnovers in four of five games. This figures to be a defensive battle, but we know Blake Bortles has disaster games in his range of outcomes, making the Rams a fine streamer on the road.
Blake Bortles and this passing attack simply cannot be started in fantasy. You shouldn't need me to tell you that, but I felt obligated. Leonard Fournette is the engine driving this offense and remains a must-start in season-long formats. The Rams have allowed seven total touchdowns to running backs through five weeks, with 119.8 rushing yards per game to go along with 46.8 receiving yards. Expect a big day from L4. This defense has scored double-digit fantasy points in every game save one, with two 28-point outings already under their belts. They're a strong start against Jared Goff and the Rams on the road.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs, 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
This has all the makings of a game where Ben Roethlisberger surpasses expectations and lights up the scoreboard (several bad weeks, embarrassing loss, playing the league's best team, etc.), but I'm still not trusting him in fantasy. In fact, the only players worthy of trusting as starters are Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Big Ben hinted that Martavis Bryant could be given "a break", further dampening Bryant's outlook. This could give some upside to rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has out-snapped Bryant in every game since Week 3. Desperate owners could start Smith-Schuster, but I'd be hesitant. Jesse James' season-high in receiving yards is 41, and he hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 1 and has only seen one red-zone target in the last four weeks. The Chiefs have the best offense in the NFL ... don't start the Steelers on the road against them.
As is the case pretty much every week, we're starting our studs in this offense. Alex Smith has been a top-10 fantasy quarterback in four of five games, with his lowest scoring output coming in at 15.1 fantasy points. Kareem Hunt still leads the league in rushing and is facing the defense allowing the third-most rushing yards per game (129.8). Tyreek Hill has four-plus catches in every game this year and could be in line for a big game if Travis Kelce (concussion) is limited or out. If Kelce starts he starts for your fantasy team, but if he doesn't fantasy managers in deeper leagues could look to Albert Wilson as a flex option. Chris Conley ruptured his Achilles' tendon last week, and if Kelce is out more targets could funnel to Wilson, who to this point has been a mere role player for the Chiefs. The Chiefs defense is playing at home and is always a threat in the return game, making them a great start against the Steelers' struggling offense.
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
Aside from his Week 3 debacle (237 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT) Rivers has been quite consistent in fantasy, posting 17-plus points in every game. The Raiders have allowed just 237.6 passing yards per game, but have given up six touchdown tosses and intercepted zero passes. Rivers is a solid start. Melvin Gordon bounced back in a big way last week and gets to face a Raiders defense that ranks in the bottom 10 in terms of rushing yards (113) and receiving yards (52) allowed per game to opposing backs. Keenan Allen has nine-plus targets in every game this year, and should remain a weekly start as Rivers' favorite target. With rookie Mike Williams on track to return this week, it's going to become even harder to trust Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin. I'd leave all three on the bench until we get a clearer sense of how this is all going to shake out. Hunter Henry is now usurping the top tight end role from veteran Antonio Gates and can be streamed this week. He's out-targeted Gates 11 to eight while out-snapping him 70 percent to 57 percent the last two weeks. Most importantly, Henry has the edge in red-zone looks in that span, four to two. The Chargers defense would be a more appealing streamer at home. I'd look elsewhere this week as Derek Carr is tough to sack and the team will likely try to have him focus on quick passes, limiting the Bolts' chances for sacks/interceptions.
It's insane that Derek Carr is planning to play roughly two weeks after fracturing part of his back, but here we are. I'd sit him, though, as this Oakland offense was struggling even before Carr suffered his injury. On top of that, he's facing a Chargers secondary allowing just 214.2 passing yards per game, fourth-lowest in the league. Marshawn Lynch could be heading into his best game of the year, as the Raiders could rely on him to ease the load on Carr and the Chargers allow the most rushing yards per game in the league (151). In fact, the Chargers have seen the most rush attempts by backs (138) and are still allowing the most yards per carry (5.5). Keep an eye on Jalen Richard, too, as the second-year pro could be pushing for more work soon. Amari Cooper needs to remain on fantasy benches. He told ESPN this week "the ball will find me," which is ringing endorsement of confidence. Until we see him bounce back, keep him out of lineups. Michael Crabtree, on the other hand, continues to ball. Despite missing Week 4, he leads the team in catches (19), yards (252) and touchdowns (four). Zach Ertz is the only tight end to notch more than 45 yards against the Chargers defense. Jared Cook has disappointed in consecutive weeks and is likely to make it three in a row.
New York Giants at Denver Broncos, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Week 5 was apocalyptic for the Giants, who lost Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Harris to season-ending injuries, and Sterling Shepard for at least this game. Now they have to travel on the road to face a rested, vaunted Denver defense coming off its bye. I could load this space with stats, but trust me, you don't want to start Giants this week, with Evan Engram being the lone exception. He's seen four-plus targets in every game this year and is facing a Denver defense susceptible to tight ends working the middle of the field. He's all this offense really has, and he should see plenty of opportunities.
With the Giants in such dire straits, it's all systems go for Denver. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was suspended by the team this week, which opens things up for the passing attack. Trevor Siemian has solid streaming appeal, while Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders should be plug-and-play options coming off their bye. C.J. Anderson gets to face a Giants front allowing 119 rushing yards per game to opposing backs, and will likely have positive game-script on his side all game. He could put up a HUGE performance. The Denver defense is one of the league's best, playing at home against a team lacking playmakers. They're a top D/ST this week.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (Monday)
Since taking over the Colts' starting job in Week 2, Jacoby Brissett is the QB13 in fantasy. He's in a prime matchup against the Titans, who have the second-worst touchdown rate for opposing quarterbacks (6.9), trailing only the Browns. In the last three weeks only Jay Cutler hasn't managed to finish as a top-two (yes, top-two) quarterback against this defense. Brissett's rushing ability (83 yards, three touchdowns) gives him a nice floor with a huge ceiling if the aerial assault falls into place as well. Frank Gore remains the workhorse here, but he's losing work to Robert Turbin and impressive rookie Marlon Mack. He saw just 53 percent of the backfield opportunities in Week 5, his second-lowest market share on the season (Week 1, 51 percent). Gore will be a low-end flex. While Marlon Mack was impressive last week, I'd sit him if you can help it. This was his first game back after missing two with a shoulder injury, and we really don't know what his role will be moving forward. Owners in deeper leagues could flex him and chase the upside, though. T.Y. Hilton owns 24.1 percent of Brissett's targets since Week 2 and has accounted for 43.2 percent of the team's receiving yards in that span. He's a locked-in start. Kamar Aiken has surpassed Donte Moncrief in playing time the last two weeks, seeing 87 percent of the plays to Moncrief's 71. I'd leave both on the bench for now. Jack Doyle is still working his way through the concussion protocol, but if he plays he'll be on the streaming radar. I'd stream the Colts defense against Matt Cassel, but if Marcus Mariota plays leave the Colts on the bench.
Marcus Mariota is trying to play but has been quite limited in practice this week. The Monday night game is a disastrous spot to bank on a quarterback with a hamstring injury, so I'd just try to avoid Mariota in general despite the good matchup. DeMarco Murray appears to have reasserted himself in this backfield, as he saw 83 percent of the snaps and 73 percent of the backfield opportunities. He can be started once again, but his resurgence relegates Derrick Henry to the fantasy bench. This passing attack is rather listless, with Eric Decker verging on droppable status. Rishard Matthews has seen his target total fall in three straight games, though he could be flexed if Mariota starts under center. If Matt Cassel is slinging the rock, it's going to be a no for me dawg. Delanie Walker has disappointed thus far, but could bounce back here. The Colts allow 63.8 yards per game to tight ends (ninth-most) and have given up three touchdowns, tied for third-most. The Titans defense shouldn't be trusted, even at home against an inexperienced quarterback.
Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers, 8:25 p.m. ET on CBS (Thursday)
So far the only quarterbacks to score 16-plus points against Carolina's defense are Drew Brees and Tom Brady, and both had the luxury of playing at home. Carson Wentz is off to a promising start to his sophomore season, with 10 touchdowns, three interceptions and an average of 272.4 passing yards per game. The Panthers pass defense has been stout, limiting opposing signal-callers to 214.8 yards per game, but they've allowed seven touchdown tosses with just one interception. Lower expectations for Wentz this week, but he's still a solid low-end QB1 on the road. Wendell Smallwood missed last week with a knee injury, which allowed LeGarrette Blount to lead the way with 14 carries for 74 yards. Since his baffling zero-carry game in Week 2, Blount averages 14 carries and 92.3 yards per game, with one touchdown in that span. He's an OK flex play, especially if Smallwood misses this game, but the Panthers are allowing just 64 rushing yards per game to backs. Both Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor found the end zone last week, but Wentz is spreading the ball between his wideouts pretty evenly, making it hard to pick which wide receiver will have a big week. Alshon Jeffery's target total has dropped in four straight weeks (13, eight, six, four) and he's failed to cross 40 receiving yards in three of five games. It's completely OK to sit him this week as the Panthers boast a young cornerback tandem in James Bradberry and Daryl Worley who are capable of clamping down top receivers. Michael Thomas's 14.7 fantasy points in Week 3 are the most a single wideout has scored against this secondary in 2017. Through five weeks, Zach Ertz leads all tight ends in targets (48), catches (32), and receiving yards (387). He should be a no-brainer start at this point. Stream a defense this week instead of starting the Eagles on the road against a resurgent Cam Newton.
Over the last two games, Cam Newton has returned to MVP form, completing 75.9 percent of his passes for 335.5 yards per game (10.8 yards per attempt) with six touchdowns and one interception. The Eagles are allowing 334.7 passing yards per game in their last three contests, with six touchdowns and two picks. Christian McCaffrey finally found the end zone last week, and remains a viable flex option in PPR formats (four-plus catches in every game). Jonathan Stewart has seen 12 to 18 carries in every game this year, but has yet to cross 70 rushing yards and hasn't scored a rushing touchdown. With center Ryan Kalil (neck) still week-to-week, Stewart might be better left on the bench. Kelvin Benjamin trails Devin Funchess in targets over the last two weeks (10 to 17) but has the edge in yardage (162 to 123) thanks to a whopping 20.3 yards per catch average helped by receiving 24.2 percent of Newton's targeted air yards in that span. Both will be starting options against a banged up Eagles secondary that has allowed four top-10 wide receiver finishes in the past three weeks. Travis Kelce is the only tight end to get over on the Eagles defense this year (103 yards, TD in Week 2) but Ed Dickson is on the streaming radar after his five-catch, 175-yard performance last week. The Panthers defense has three-plus sacks in four of five games this week, though Carson Wentz has been sacked just twice in his last two games. They're a low-end starter at home on a short week.