My claim to fame is winning my $100 dollar money league fantasy football championship against nine other guys over the age of 45 the semester before I started college. I used my $232 dollars of earnings to buy all my college textbooks that semester.
This is my 13th season playing fantasy, and if you’re like me, you over obsess over who you should start each week. Do I know everything there is to know about the players you should start? Absolutely not. But, I know enough that many people throughout the week come asking me for advice, and follow it.
Now, while I’ll still be reading Jamey Eisenberg’s “Start Em, Sit Em” every week, probably more than once, I was talked into making my own predictions and giving it a shot.
I’ll do my best to keep to just three starts, three sits, one sleeper and one bust alert per position weekly (aside from kickers and defensive units), unless the matchup is just too good. My predictions will be based off of 10 team, No PPR leagues. But let’s be honest, if a receiver has a top-ten matchup, they’re going to be catching balls anyway. Might as well still read whether this is your exact set up or not.
Here are my top three starters by offensive position for week six:
1) Kyler Murray, Arizona vs Atlanta
Here comes the second win in a row for Arizona. The Falcons have to have everyone in their organization this year at this point. The talent on Atlanta’s offense can’t showcase because its defense is arguably the worst in the NFL. Atlanta gave up 592 yards last week in Houston, 365 in week four and 379 in week three. It has also given up 1,053 yards passing alone in the last three weeks. With Cardinals’ running back David Johnson likely coming into this game less than 100-percent, Murray will have more opportunities through the air. Murray will also most likely have wide receiver Christian Kirk back in the lineup, and as always, will be able to rely on WR Larry Fitzgerald. Did you see Will Fuller’s stat line in week five? Someone’s likely in for a day. Atlanta needs Jesus.
2) Matthew Stafford, Detroit @ Green Bay
The Lions are 3-1 in their last four meetings in Lambeau, including a week 17 31-0 shutout win on Monday Night Football last season. I think this game will require Stafford to play at the level he played during the Lions’ game vs the Chiefs to pick up a win and I’m encouraged that that will happen. Green Bay’s defense has improved, but the Packers showed their daunting history last week when six players either exited the game or missed some time due to a small injury against Dallas. I think Detroit is a better executed team than Dallas, and with a banged up Green Bay team, I trust Stafford in another primetime showdown. Stafford hasn’t thrown an interception since week two and has a 9:2 TD:INT ratio this season.
3) Matt Ryan, Atlanta @ Arizona
I don’t think Atlanta wins this game, but Ryan is proving again why he is important to fantasy lineups week in and week out no matter if the Falcons win. I mean come on, Atlanta scored 10 points in week four at home against Tennessee and Ryan had 397 yards. Ryan has eclipsed the 300-yard mark in every game this season even though Atlanta has won just once. He clearly has the offensive weapons to produce, but the play of the Falcons’ defense makes many people turn their noses up at them. How’s that big contact working out for WR Julio Jones? He isn’t worth all the money and Atlanta could use that money to get defensive players. Hot take, but true. Arizona gives up monstrous numbers outside to receivers in every week, and Ryan’s fantasy production will benefit once again.
1) Baker Mayfield, Cleveland vs Seattle
It doesn’t matter that Cleveland is at home, Seattle is playing on another level. The Seahawks’ defense is getting better despite their yardage totals given up per game. Seattle’s offense is proving it can keep pace in games and doesn’t need its defense to be lights out. That being said, when it happens, the Seahawks look unstoppable. The Browns are not the Rams and Mayfield will fall victim to the interceptions again. He has eight on the season and Seattle has one pick in each of its last two games. The Legion of Boom has enough info on how to stop Mayfield now that he’s in his second year in the league and I think Seattle wins big.
2) Teddy Bridgewater, New Orleans @ Jacksonville
Bridgewater eclipsed the 200-yard mark for the first time in four tries last week in the Saints’ divisional home game against Tampa Bay. But, his 314 yards and 4 TDs are an outlier from where I sit and I think the Jaguars will do more damage even though I think they’re the underdogs. I think there are better options out there this week, and I don’t see Bridgewater getting more than 200-250 yards or more than two TDs. New Orleans needs to use RB Alvin Kamara more than Bridgewater in this game in my opinion.
3) Marcus Mariota, Tennessee @ Denver
Mariota faces another tough defense through the air when Tennessee travels to Denver on Sunday. Despite a 1-4 record, the Broncos have the fifth-best pass defense in the league. They allow just over 200 yards per game and have surrendered less than one TD per game through the air this season (four total). The lack of weapons for Mariota is still concerning and while a big play to a WR like A.J. Brown could happen, it won’t save the Titans or Mariota’s passing day.
Sleeper: Case Keenum, Washington @ Miami
Keenum is back under center after missing a week with a foot injury. The winless Redskins head to Florida to face the winless Dolphins who are 31st against the pass. Keenum has WR Terry McLaurin back healthy and McLaurin’s play should mirror WR Marquise Brown’s play from week one against Miami. This could be one of the highest scoring contests of the day and Washington should have multiple scores through the air. Keenum will be able to utilize pass-catching-back Chris Thompson a lot and hopefully TEs Vernon Davis and Jeremy Sprinkle finally make a difference.
Bust Alert: Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco
Goff has been racking up the yards recently, but with the way the 49ers run the ball and eat up the clock, LA should find themselves rushed when its offense is on the field. If Goff is forced to play hurry up it’s likely he turns the ball over or fails to pick up needed first downs to keep the drive alive. I’m most worried that San Francisco’s run game will continue to have seven-to-nine minute drives, causing less opportunities for LA and Goff than they had in recent games.
1) Kenyan Drake, Miami vs Washington
I really feel like this is Drake’s game coming off the bye. This is the first time this year that Miami can have some game control and not throw on every down. Washington has allowed four rushing TDs in its last two games and an average of 144 yards per game on the ground. I’d be surprised if Drake eclipses 100 yards, but he’s going against the 28th ranked run defense. He also needs to prove that he won’t fumble at the goal line and redeem himself from week three in Dallas. RB Kalen Ballage has fallen off the committee talk as well as of late, and I don’t see Mark Walton crunching into Drake’s time even though he’ll most likely get carries. The Dolphins will be able to move the ball in this game.
2) Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson, Washington @ Miami
If they’re still on your team, you saved them for this week. This is either team’s game with the way both defenses struggle stopping opponents and have an abandoned offense. Miami is last in the league against the run, and a big bodied guy in Peterson won’t help matters. Jay Gruden is out as head coach in Washington, so maybe now Peterson can be praised for his North-South running again like he should be. With Case Keenum back under center, Thompson will be used heavily as a pass-catching back. I especially like his play in PPR this week. The Dolphins have also given up seven rushing TDs in four games, including one to backup Tony Pollard in Dallas.
3) Sony Michel and James White, New England vs New York Giants
Red zone work-horse Rex Burkhead will be questionable at best Thursday night in New England. With the Patriots going against such a depleted offense, and overall team, against the Giants, both backs should eat up clock once New England has a comfortable lead. They could even set game pace throughout and steal the TD scores. White is typically used, as history shows, to be used more in games early and often when a team is depleted, especially through the air. I like him more knowing Burkhead is limited and WR Phillip Dorsett is out, along with Josh Gordon not being 100-percent.
1) Jordan Howard, Philadelphia @ Minnesota
The Eagles FINALLY named Howard as their starting RB, but his matchup against Minnesota this week is awful. The Vikings have allowed just one rushing TD this season and three total scores to RBs. Unfortunately, even being named the starter, Philadelphia is adamant about keeping rookie Miles Sanders involved with carries. I think this will be a low scoring games as well, so all these factors hurt Howard this week.
2) LeSean McCoy, Kansas City vs Houston
Damien Williams is back and head coach Andy Reid elected to barely use McCoy last week against Indianapolis at home. McCoy got just two catches on as many targets last week and had zero carries. He was getting around 10 carries per game with Williams out, but in a shootout scenario again this week his only usage will come in limited fashion through the air. You can find better guys that are free agents this week and possibly for the remainder of the season if this trend continues.
3) Royce Freeman, Denver vs Tennessee
I’m a huge believer in Phillip Lindsay and am angered at the fact that the Broncos still have as much faith as they do in Freeman. When it comes to fantasy though, I don’t care that they’re splitting time because Lindsay is clearly the better back who produces in whatever time he has. Freeman isn’t getting the red zone carries and his looks through the air are diminishing. Tennessee’s rush defense is middle of the pack at 14, but with them allowing just over 100 yards per game, a duo of backs will fail in fantasy without a TD. The score(s) will go to Lindsay and not Freeman.
Sleeper: Jon Hilliman, New York Giants @ New England
This choice is solely for fantasy. Hilliman will start with Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman both out and he will be used as a passing option for Daniel Jones with both Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram out. The Patriots have allowed RBs to catch at least four passes in all games this season and whenever the Giants are on offense Hilliman is likely the guy. There’s no way New York wins this game, but Hilliman becomes intriguing in PPR and if you have Barkley or Gallman you’re down a RB and there are key run teams on bye this week and you may need someone.
Bust Alert: Devonta Freeman, Atlanta @ Arizona
Freeman has been a let down this season and is on a team that falls behind early and often. I expect Sunday’s game to be pass-heavy again for the Falcons and Freeman is slowly losing more and more carries to backup Ito Smith. Smith had a season-high 11 touches last week and played 47-percent of the snaps. However, Arizona has allowed at least 100 yards or a TD to RBs in the last three weeks and are 27th in rush defense.
1) Terry McLaurin, Washington @ Miami
McLaurin is by far the best offensive player any QB under center for the Redskins has. His outlier game came against the current best defense in the NFL in the Patriots in week five, but prior to that, all the games he played in he scored a TD. Miami has shown numerous times this season already that it’s prone to big plays and McLaurin has shown he’s a deep threat and can put space between him and defenders. With both teams’ struggling run games, Washington should lean heavily on McLaurin.
2) DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, Houston @ Kansas City
Last week’s shootout boded well more so for Fuller than Hopkins, as Fuller erupted for 14 catches on 16 targets for 217 yards and his first three TDs of the season. However, Hopkins was due for a score for the past three weeks after not finding the end zone since week one. Each week he doesn’t score, this niche only grows. Hopkins is due, and this game isn’t going to end up the way the Chiefs and Colts did last week. Houston will come guns blazing through the air, and aside from the Texans’ red zone target TE Darren Fells, Hopkins and Fuller are the only healthy options with Kenny Stills still dealing with a hamstring injury.
3) Kenny Golladay, Detroit @ Green Bay
Golladay has four TDs in five games, and although the Packers’ defense has shown improvements this season, they still rank 14th against the pass. Detroit has won each of the last two meetings away in Green Bay and three of four overall. The Lions have something cooking with Stafford, Golladay, WR Marvin Jones and RB Kerryon Johnson. The squad almost handed Kansas City its first loss and have shown spurts in each game of the power they have working together. Golladay has a chance to exploit the Packers and help Detroit make its win streak in Lambeau reach three in a row.
1) Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia @ Minnesota
Minnesota has allowed just over 200 yards in the air to opposing teams this season and has held Jeffery to just three catches in the last two games against them. I’m surprised Jeffery didn’t score against the New York Jets last week and his chance for production only goes down significantly against the Vikings.
2) Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati @ Baltimore
Cleveland came into Baltimore two weeks ago and lit up the Ravens, but did it on the ground. Baltimore allowed just 20 yards to WR Odell Beckham Jr. and Boyd is coming in as the Bengals’ No. 1 wideout. Cleveland doesn’t have the problems the Bengals have, and this is a game the Ravens can bounce back in a big way on defense like they’re known for.
3) Brandin Cooks, Los Angeles Rams vs San Francisco
For whatever reason Cooks is still listed as the No. 1 WR on the Rams’ depth chart. He’s clearly outshined by Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods each week and has three catches or less in three of five games this season. The 49ers are 4-0 for the first time in more than a decade and have a lock down defense. This could be the first game where San Francisco can’t just rely on its run game, but even in a picked-up back and forth game Cooks will be used as a third receiver at best and could fall victim, especially in the red zone to emerging TE Gerald Everett. Cooks is also worth monitoring because he is currently in concussion protocol.
Sleeper: Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers vs Pittsburgh
Williams benefitted from fellow WR Keenan Allen getting a lot of attention last week in Denver where he had 13 targets. Even without QB Ben Roethlisberger/Mason Rudolph, this game could still get interesting in prime time especially if whoever is under center for Pittsburgh can connect with the first team. Williams will be a good deep-ball threat and the way the Chargers offense can run when successful will potentially allow Williams to find big plays or PPR points. I think this game will be high scoring and Williams will be a factor.
Bust Alert: Stefon Diggs, Minnesota vs Philadelphia
The controversy continues in Minnesota and in my opinion Kirk Cousins still hasn’t done enough to prove we can rely on him or any wideouts in Minnesota. Every other game this season though, Diggs’ targets have jumped to seven in a game, and if the pattern continues, he’s due for seven more. His only TD this season came on his solo snag in week two (also when he had seven targets) for a 49-yard score. However, that was his brightest fantasy day (in non-PPR) with 9.9 points. Philadelphia has given up a lot of yards through the air however to teams like Washington and Atlanta, so Diggs could have a solid outing. That’s why he’s a bust and not a sit.
1) Austin Hooper, Atlanta @ Arizona
Arizona cannot defend the tight end position and it has allowed monster games to guys like T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews and Greg Olsen already this season. Hooper is on an Atlanta team who really needs to begin winning at all costs to have any hope for an extended season. It’s offensive talent is being wasted by the horrific play of its defense, but Hooper has really come on to be the most consistent and productive air threat for Matt Ryan. This will likely be a close game and Hooper should be relied on. Like Hopkins, Hooper is due for a TD.
2) Will Dissly, Seattle @ Cleveland
You can’t have Dissly on your team and keep him on the bench. Dissly has at least 12 PPR points in his last four games and QB Russell Wilson relies on him all over the field. He didn’t have a TD last week against the Rams, but he had four TDs in three games prior to that. Cleveland is also 27th against TEs and I expect Dissly to get back on the board. He’s a gift that has turned Seattle into more than a rushing team.
3) Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams vs San Francisco
Everett has 12 catches for 180 yards and a TD in his last two games and with Cooks potentially missing time Everett could be the third best passing option on the field before the game even begins. I’m nervous that Jared Goff won’t attempt as many passes and the 49ers will try to eat up as much clock as possible by running the football, but the 6’3, 240-pounder should be able to mob his defenders and take hits while still holding onto the ball in the end zone. This will probably be a more pass-heavy game for LA and Kupp and Woods could have their targets limited a tad more. You probably took a gamble on him on waivers this week and you have a prime time to use him, especially with Cooks possibly out.
1) O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay vs Carolina in London
Nope, this isn’t his week either. This is the second time in four weeks these two teams will see each other, and last time, Howard wasn’t even targeted. Funky things seem to happen in games overseas, but him dominating in the game seems to not be the crazy thing that happens in my opinion. Howard has just five catches this season in as many games and I hope you snagged someone on the waiver wire. If you haven’t, Chris Herndon for the Jets is no longer suspended and Hunter Henry for the Chargers will likely return in week seven. Drop Howard.
2) T.J. Hockenson, Detroit @ Green Bay
Hockenson may not even take the field as he is still in concussion protocol, but even if he does he’s still a “Sit Em” in my books. Hockenson looked like the guy week one against Arizona, but now we know that’s simply because the Cardinals cannot cover TEs even if it was 11 against one. Hockenson had just 27 yards against Kansas City, but a TD saved his day. In the games between Kansas City and Arizona he managed just two catches for eight yards. Hockenson won’t be 100-percent if he plays and Detroit has already practiced all week with the notion that it has to win without him.
3) Jared Cook, New Orleans @ Jacksonville
Cook had four of his six targets in the game in the first quarter last week against Tampa Bay and it looked like he finally emerged as a reliable option for the Saints’ pass game. However, he barely made anything of his looks and head coach Sean Payton changed the game plan and went away from Cook. He did score, but he had just 10.1 points in standard leagues. Jacksonville has a better defense and Cook just can’t seem to get yards after a catch or catch it to begin with.
Sleeper: Darren Fells, Houston @ Kansas City
I think there will be a lot of TDs in this game and that’s why Fells is here. Last week he had two targets that both resulted in TDs in the high scoring affair with Atlanta. Kansas City struggles against the pass and I think the likely guy open with poor defensive coverage is Fells when he has guys like Hopkins and Fuller out on the field with him. Fells also has three TDs in the last three games and when Houston gets in the red zone, Watson will be looking for him.
Bust Alert: Zach Ertz, Philadelphia @ Minnesota
Ertz finally paid dirt in week five when he picked up his first TD this season against the New York Jets. He has no less than seven targets in any game so far this season, but you likely took him high in your draft and he has been a disappointment. Minnesota’s defense is stingy against the passing game, and it doesn’t matter if guys like DeSean Jackson are back from injury, because when wideouts were out in weeks prior, Ertz still didn’t find the end zone.