Hello, Week 6. Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes, as these are players I’ll likely have some exposure to over the weekend.
Start of the Week: Deshaun Watson vs. Browns: Since taking over as the starter in Week 2, Watson is the overall QB1, with a 7.4-point lead over Tom Brady in that span. However, some remain skeptical of Watson. Sure, he can be a great fantasy player and mid-level real-life quarterback, but we really only care about the fake football stuff here. Watson did a heck of a lot of his damage in the final quarter of last week’s loss to the Chiefs, but he was dealing and did so the previous two games against the Patriots and Titans in wins. Houston is at home for the third-straight week on Sunday and welcome in Cleveland’s bottom-barrel pass defense. The Browns are the definition of a pass-funnel defense, as in they struggle badly against the pass (31st in DVOA and 28th in fantasy points allowed to QBs) while performing well against the run (3rd in DVOA and 10th in fantasy points to RBs). Jacoby Brissett managed the overall QB4 finish against the Browns in Week 3, and Andy Dalton followed that up as the QB3 in Week 4. Josh McCown had his best finish of the season (QB14) last week in Cleveland. This is just a delicious spot for Watson with his arsenal stocked and loaded at home in a dome with the Texans sporting the third-highest implied total of Week 6 at 28.25 points. Watson should be planted in season-long lineups and will be very high-owned in DFS.
Carson Palmer vs. Bucs: Palmer and the Cardinals opened the season with 3-of-5 games on the road in the eastern time zone with 1 PM ET starts. That’s tough for West Coast clubs, and Arizona predictably comes out of that five-game stretch with a 2-3 record. Palmer hasn’t been bad, but he also hasn’t been great. He’s the QB17 in points per game and the QB12 overall. The Cardinals have left numerous touchdowns on the board and flopped again in a plus spot last week at Philadelphia. But coming back home, where Arizona plays three of its next four and six of eight, Palmer has a chance to right the ship a bit with the Bucs. Like the Browns above, Tampa Bay is an extreme pass-funnel defense. The Bucs are 27th in pass-defense DVOA and 30th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, while checking in at 6th in DVOA versus the run and allow just 3.27 YPC to running backs. This plays right into Arizona’s hands offensively. The Cardinals are the most pass-happy team in the league at 71.1% pass plays to 29.9% runs. Palmer has attempted 25 more passes than second-place Eli Manning. Palmer has also been sacked a league-high 19 times. Still, this one looks like a potential shootout with a rising 45-point total and two-point spread in favor of the road Bucs. Palmer’s schedule gets really tough after Week 6 — vs. LAR in London , BYE, @ SF, vs. SEA, @ HOU, vs. JAX, vs. LAR — before getting the Titans, Redskins, and Giants in Weeks 13-16. This may be the last week to use Palmer confidently as a streaming option before December.
Matt Ryan vs. Dolphins: Predicted by some over summer, Ryan has regressed badly after his MVP season last year. He is currently the QB20 in fantasy points per game, scoring less than Case Keenum, Jared Goff, and Trevor Siemian, among others. Ryan has just one multi-touchdown game and threw five interceptions across the two games leading up to last week’s bye. Just 3.7% of Ryan’s passes have resulted in touchdowns, which is well below his career average of 4.7% and a long way off from his absurd 2016 mark of 7.1%. Ryan is due for a progression to the mean. He gets a tasty home date with the Dolphins right out of the bye, and Miami is another one of those pass-funnel defenses. The Dolphins are 29th in pass-defense DVOA despite allowing the eighth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. That’s because they’ve faced Philip Rivers, Josh McCown, Drew Brees in London, and Matt Cassel to this point. Not exactly a murders’ row. With the highest projected team total of the week at 29 points, this looks like a get-right spot for Ryan, especially with Julio Jones fully expected back off his hip injury suffered in Week 4. Ryan is a surefire QB1 play Sunday.
Case Keenum vs. Packers: Sam Bradford re-injured his surgically-repaired left knee this past Monday night against the Bears and was benched late in the second quarter. Keenum came on to lead the Vikings to a win by completing 17-of-21 passes for 140 yards and a score. He’s yet to turn the ball over in 3.5 games of action and has a pair of strong games sandwiched around two mediocre outings. A home game against a Packers defense that was just shredded by Dak Prescott last week as the overall QB2 looks like a nice spot for Keenum to potentially squeak into top-12 territory for Week 6. I wanted to get a quarterback who might be on the free-agent wire in a lot of leagues mixed in here for those streaming the position, and Keenum fits the bill. With a 47-point total, Packers-Vikings has the third-highest total of the slate and a 3.5-point spread. Prescott was Green Bay’s first or second real test of the season after seeing Andy Dalton and Mike Glennon in Weeks 3 and 4. This Packers pass defense just isn’t very good and hasn’t been for a while. Keenum has 250-yards and two-touchdown upside who can also run a bit, which would put him in the QB1/2 convo. Personally, I would prefer Keenum over fellow streaming options Jacoby Brissett or Bruan Hoyer, who are both coming off big games but going on the road to Tennessee and Washington, respectively.
Ben Roethlisberger at Chiefs: It’s been a complete disaster for Big Ben and the Steelers’ pass offense through five weeks. Roethlisberger is the overall QB25 and is coming off a QB28 finish at home against the Jaguars where he threw five interceptions on 55 attempts. It left Big Ben openly wondering that “maybe I don’t have it anymore” after the game. He has since backtracked on that, but it’s pretty clear he’s no longer a mid-range QB1. The Chiefs haven’t been great against the pass by any means, allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, but it’s impossible to feel comfortable with Big Ben heading out on the road into Arrowhead. Antonio Brown could have a big day, as he should avoid CB Marcus Peters a lot of the time, but we’ve seen Brown have massive stat lines already this season only for Roethlisberger to still be bringing up the rear of fantasy quarterbacks. The 46-point total on Steelers-Chiefs seems a bit high. Pittsburgh’s offense is broken. The Chiefs are firing on all cylinders, but the Steelers’ defense has played well as a whole. This looks like a game to avoid outside of stars like Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Kareem Hunt, and Tyreek Hill.
Brian Hoyer at Redskins: Hoyer is coming off a QB7 finish against the Colts last week, easily his best game of the 49ers’ 0-5 start. The two best games of Hoyer’s career have both been in Indianapolis; with the Bears last season, Hoyer threw for 397 yards and two scores against the Colts. The matchup this week doesn’t look all that scary for Hoyer, especially with the Redskins missing CB Josh Norman (ribs, lung), but Washington is still No. 7 in pass-defense DVOA and middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Plus, this is on the road, and the Redskins shut down Derek Carr in D.C. back in Week 3. They also held leading MVP candidate Alex Smith to just one touchdown pass in Week 4 at Arrowhead. The loss of Norman hurts, but Washington has capable bodies on the back end and a strong pass rush up front. The 49ers’ implied team total of 18.25 points is the fourth-lowest of Week 6, and San Francisco is currently a 10-point underdog. Don’t chase the box score numbers from Hoyer last week. Leave him on the wire in most formats.
Eli Manning at Giants: This one doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation. Manning has been okay to this point as the overall QB10 and second in the league in pass attempts, but his pass-game arsenal was ripped to shreds last week after losing Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall to season-ending ankle injuries. Sterling Shepard also hurt his ankle in Week 5 against the Chargers and was in a walking boot Tuesday before not practicing Wednesday. Roger Lewis is the new No. 1 receiver followed by some combination of Tavarres King, Travis Rudolph, and Ed Eagan. Who? Exactly. Good luck taking that group into Denver and finding much success. Evan Engram is going to have to carry the pass offense. The Giants’ implied team total of 13.75 points is the lowest I’ve seen through six weeks of the season. Manning doesn’t stand a chance with these receivers behind this O-line.