Week 5 in the NFL is over and with it came more heroic performances, duds, and injuries. If you want to check out how I did with my Hot Plays and Hesitations, you can find the article here.
As we head into Week 6, there’s more of an established foundation for who you can and can’t trust.
Week 6 Fantasy Football Hot Plays and Hesitations.
Tom Brady, Patriots (@ Giants)
Brady is currently ranked as the QB7 in terms of total scoring, though this is largely due to a 150 yard/no touchdown performance in Week 4. If you take out that outlier, he’s averaging 314.8 passing yards, 2.5 passing touchdowns and 23.6 fantasy points per game. In Week 6, he gets a matchup with a Giants pass defense that has allowed 279.4 passing yards per game (5th-worst) to go along with 10 touchdowns through the air (tied for 4th-worst). Brady is playing as if he’s a 25-year-old and don’t expect that to change against the struggling New York Football Giants. Start him with confidence.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings (vs. Eagles)
I am not a believer that Cousins’ Week 5 performance against the Giants (22-of-27 for 306 yards and two touchdowns) is indicative of how he will play the rest of the year. As mentioned previously, the Giants have a bad pass defense. Know who else has a poor pass defense though? That would be Minnesota’s Week 6 opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Yes, the Philly defense just stomped all over the Jets in Week 5, but the Jet offense without Sam Darnold isn’t a legitimate NFL offense. Despite a 31-6 route in which the Eagles allowed 120 yards through the air and picked off Luke Falk twice, they still have allowed 271.2 passing yards per game (6th-worst) to go with nine passing touchdowns (5th-worst).
On the flip side, the Eagles have allowed 63 rushing yards per game, best in the NFL. Ironically, the matchup against the Jets actually hurt this average, as the Jets rushed for 67 yards in the contest. Dalvin Cook‘s volume is elite and he’s playing at an All-Pro level, but the Bears proved that a good run defense can contain him (14 carries for 35 yards in Week 4). I don’t see Cousins ever throwing for 350 yards and four touchdowns. But is 275 and three out of the question against a porous Eagles secondary? I certainly don’t think so.
Kyler Murray, Cardinals (vs. Falcons)
The Falcons do feature an improved pass defense compared to last year. However, they just got torched by Deshaun Watson, who completed a perfect passer rating while throwing for 426 yards with five touchdowns. Watson also added 47 yards on the ground. Kyler Murray meanwhile enters Week 6 as the QB8 in scoring. He’s been remarkably consistent and has scored on the ground in consecutive weeks. It’s a favorable matchup at home against an Atlanta defense that now has allowed 12 passing touchdowns in five games and has only generated two interceptions. I like Murray to have a big game in the air and on the ground this week.
Matthew Stafford, Lions (@ Packers)
In the midst of a nice rebound year, Stafford ranks as the QB8 in terms of per-game scoring. While he’s no longer a given to throw 50 passes on a weekly basis, he’s nevertheless been a solid starting option through the first five weeks of the season. The Lions have exceeded expectations, but I wouldn’t go anywhere near Stafford this week. Detroit travels to play a Green Bay squad that is one of the hottest teams in the NFL. After allowing Dak Prescott to pass for 463 yards on 44 attempts, the Packers still are only allowing 238.6 passing yards per game. They’ve also totaled seven interceptions (2nd in the NFL) through the early going. The game is in Green Bay, the crowd will be raucous, the weather will be cold, and the Packers will roll. Look for safer options.
Jared Goff, Rams (vs. 49ers)
In what should be a good matchup, the Rams will host the 49ers in Week 6. The 49ers just destroyed the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football. To me, that defense is legit. Through four games, San Francisco has allowed 175.8 passing yards per game (2nd-best) to go along with only five passing touchdowns (tied for 4th-best). They’ve totaled seven interceptions (tied for 2nd-most) despite already having their bye week. Jared Goff scares me in this one. He enters Week 6 as the QB16 in terms of per-game scoring but has been rather hot and cold. Against the two top-10 pass defenses that he’s played (Carolina and Cleveland), Goff passed for a combined 454 yards with three touchdowns, three interceptions, and a fumble. He scored 23.5 fantasy points combined in those two games. If you’re in a deep league and are desperate, take the chance on him. If you have options and there is anyone worth streaming available, do it.
Jameis Winston, Bucs (vs. Panthers)
Winston had a terrible start to the season, putting up 20.3 combined points against San Francisco and Carolina in the first two weeks. Since then, he’s averaged 24.1 points per game against the Giants, Rams, and Saints. Unfortunately for Winston, he gets another divisional matchup against the Panthers in Week 6. Carolina is only allowing 197 passing yards per game(4th-best) while racking up 20 sacks (2nd-most). They’ve only allowed six passing touchdowns so far (tied for 5th-best in the NFL). Winston is the ultimate boom or bust option, but I think the latter is a much more likely possibility this week. Until he plays well against a good secondary, I’m hesitant to trust him. Look for more favorable matchups elsewhere.
Kerryon Johnson, Lions (@ Packers)
Yes, the Green Bay pass defense has been stingy but the run defense has been another story. The Packers have allowed 138.2 rushing yards per game (7th-worst) and seven rushing touchdowns (tied for 2nd-worst). They’re allowing 5.2 yards per carry (tied for 3rd-worst). Johnson enters Week 6 as the RB25 in terms of fantasy points per game, but volume certainly isn’t the issue. He’s the clear bell-cow back in the Detroit offense, averaging 18.5 carries per game, seventh-most in the NFL. With 46 carries over his last two games, Johnson is trending in the right direction. From volume alone, he’s a solid starting option this week and the matchup only helps.
Carlos Hyde, Texans (@ Chiefs)
I can’t believe that I am writing this. All year, I’ve been anti-Hyde because why wouldn’t you be? He’s not usually efficient at all and to me, there’s a reason that he’s been on so many teams in such a short period of time. However, I like the matchup that much. Don’t misunderstand me, I am NOT saying to plug Hyde in as an RB1 and I’d be very uneasy about starting him as an RB2. But to me, he’s a big-time boom candidate for your Flex spot.
He’s gotten double-digit carries in every game and has had 20 twice, including last week. The Chiefs have gotten gashed on the ground this year, allowing 155.8 rushing yards per game (3rd-worst in the NFL). Kansas City is also allowing 5.3 yards per carry, second-worst in the league. They’ve allowed 100-yard rushers in three out of five games so far (Josh Jacobs ran for 99 yards in one of the two non-100 yard games). I don’t trust Hyde and he doesn’t offer much of anything as a receiver, but if you can afford to take the risk, start him at your Flex because the Kansas City run defense is that bad.
Mark Ingram II, Ravens (vs. Bengals)
Death, taxes, and running on the Cincinnati defense. The Bengals have allowed at least one rushing score in every game and they’ve allowed a total of seven on the season, tied for worst in the league. Mark Ingram has had somewhat of an up and down season. In the three games in which Ingram has at least one rushing score, he’s averaging 23.7 fantasy points per game. In the other two games, he’s averaged 8.9. The former New Orleans Saint is tied for second in the NFL with six total rushing touchdowns. I like Ingram this week against a bad Bengals team that can’t seem to stop anybody. Cincy is allowing 5.0 yards per carry (5th-worst). Ingram has big-time breakout ability this week and is a legitimate RB2 start.
Phillip Lindsay, Broncos (vs. Titans)
Lindsay had an outstanding Week 5 on the road against the Chargers and he usually has enough work in the passing game to keep him relevant regardless of his success on the ground. However, I don’t like the matchup against a Tennessee defense that’s allowed only two rushing scores all year, tied for 3rd-fewest in the NFL. They’ve been slightly above average in terms of rushing yards allowed per game (104.8) and yards per carry allowed (4.4). The Titans haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher yet this year and I don’t like how boom or bust Lindsay has been. In two games against the Packers and Chargers, he’s totaled 36 carries for 195 yards and three touchdowns. In the other three games, Lindsay has carried the football 33 times for 132 yards and no scores. I’d hesitate to start him if you have other options.
Todd Gurley II, Rams (vs. 49ers)
Please note, I am not saying to “sit” Gurley. But, do not pencil him in as your RB1 this week. The volume is nowhere near where it used to be to the point where he’s somewhat touchdown-dependent. Gurley has not totaled more than 16 carries in a game this season and has benefited from some goal-line work. He doesn’t look “bad”, but we’re just not seeing the efficiency that we’re used to with this guy. He’s scored four times over the last two weeks but has done so on 20 carries for 67 yards.
The 49ers are allowing 81.8 yards per game on the ground (5th-best) and have yet to allow a rushing score this season. They’re allowing less than four yards per carry and I just see this being a very touchdown-dependent game for Gurley. Of course, he could get three goal-line carries and score three touchdowns, but I’m extremely uneasy about the matchup and his lack of volume. If you can get away with running him out there as your RB2 or even a Flex (somehow) then do it.
Jordan Howard, Eagles (@ Vikings)
Before you laugh, he’s owned in 83.1% of leagues and is RB19 in terms of scoring on the year. Howard has performed especially well the last two weeks (44.7 points) and Head Coach Doug Pederson insinuated that Howard should see an increasing amount of work over the next few weeks. He’s a good option to have on your bench and a viable Flex play moving forward, but don’t risk starting him this week. The Vikings have only allowed one rushing touchdown in five games and are allowing 88.2 rushing yards per game, good for 9th-best in the NFL. They’ve surrendered an uninspiring 3.6 yards per carry (4th-best) as well. There are safer Flex options out there.
Calvin Ridley, Falcons (@ Cardinals)
Matt Ryan is tied with Jared Goff for the league lead in pass attempts with 222. That kind of volume is extremely valuable for all of his pass-catching options. Even Mohamed Sanu, arguably Atlanta’s fourth option in the passing game, is a top-30 WR this year.
Ridley has been very boom or bust this year. In the three games in which he’s scored a touchdown, Ridley has totaled 17 catches for 257 yards and three touchdowns, an average of 20.2 fantasy points per game. In his other two games, Ridley has four catches for 38 yards.
This week, Atlanta will take on an Arizona defense that’s allowed 269.2 passing yards per game (ninth-worst). Also, they’ve allowed 12 touchdowns (2nd-worst) and have yet to pick off an opposing Quarterback. Arizona has allowed 19 completions of 20+ yards which bodes well for Ridley. Obviously, Julio Jones, Austin Hooper, and Sanu will take away targets. But, I think Ryan has a huge game and I have a feeling that Ridley will as well.
Tyler Lockett, Seahawks (@ Browns)
This one may seem obvious, but consider that Lockett hasn’t been that great aside from a Week 3 matchup against the Saints, in which he caught 11 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown. In the other four games, Lockett is averaging 4.8 catches for 56.3 yards and has scored twice. Solid numbers for sure, but not WR1-caliber.
However, Seattle will travel to take on a Cleveland squad that has allowed 10 passing touchdowns (tied for 4th-most). The Browns have been good from a yards-allowed perspective, but they’ve also played the Titans, Jets, Rams, Ravens, and 49ers…not exactly high-octane passing attacks aside from Lamar Jackson‘s performance (and considering how uneven Goff has been this year).
Russell Wilson, meanwhile, has been anything but inconsistent. He’s yet to throw an interception, leads the NFL in passing touchdowns and is top-10 in completion percentage and passing yards. Lockett is almost a must-start due to how well Wilson is playing. However, the matchup this week is favorable and Cleveland is reeling. Expect a big week out of Lockett.
Julian Edelman, Patriots (vs Giants)
Again, one that might seem obvious at first glance but it isn’t if you look deeper into the numbers. Edelman had an outstanding Week 5 performance against a terrible Washington defense (eight catches for 110 yards and a touchdown) but has averaged 5.3 catches for 56.5 yards with only one touchdown in his other four games. Not the volume or performance that we’re used to seeing from Edelman.
However, this week New England gets an inviting home matchup on a short week against the New York Giants. As mentioned previously, I expect Tom Brady to torch the Giants and I think he’ll go to Edelman early and often. The Giants have given up the 5th-most passing yards per game (279.4), are tied for the 4th-most passing touchdowns allowed (10) and are giving up 9.7 yards per completion, 2nd-worst in the NFL. I can easily see Edelman snatching double-digit catches and a score in this one. Start him with confidence.
Golden Tate, Giants (@ Patriots)
Yes, the Giants will likely be without Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, Wayne Gallman, and Sterling Shepard. So, it stands to reason, who else besides Tate will Daniel Jones have to throw to? Nevertheless, I wouldn’t go anywhere near this one. Even if Tate is technically the number one target on Thursday, he’s on the road facing a New England defense that has allowed a league-low 60.4 passing yards per game. The Patriots have yet to allow a passing touchdown through five games! They also lead the league with 11 interceptions and 24 sacks.
What does this mean for the New York offense? A whole lot of pain. I like Daniel Jones and believe that he will, in time, be a decent Quarterback at the very least. However, I don’t like him this week and I like Tate even less. There are much safer options out there for you.
Robby Anderson, Jets (Vs. Cowboys)
Not that he’s done anything to this point, but some will be tempted to start Anderson due to the likely return of Sam Darnold. I’m a big Jets fan and I am very high on Darnold. Robby Anderson will have his occasional monster week, but he’s not reliable on a weekly basis in any way, shape, or form.
The New York offensive line is a disaster and it’s ill-advised to rely on any of their offensive weapons. Even Le’Veon Bell has struggled (through no fault of his own, in my opinion). Combine this with the fact that a struggling Dallas squad comes to town and I expect them to dismantle the Jets.
Dallas features a top-10 pass defense in terms of yards allowed per game (20.4) and has only allowed three passing touchdowns (tied for 2nd-fewest in the NFL). Darnold may play well in his return, but you can’t trust Anderson to put up any semblance of a stable output. At best, he’s a desperation Flex play in very deep leagues.
Mike Evans, Bucs (Vs. Panthers)
This isn’t solely based on his Week 5 performance, or rather, total lack thereof. For the second time in his career, Evans failed to haul in a pass in a loss on the road against the Saints. In that game, Evans was shadowed by Marshon Lattimore, who seems to have really turned it on these last two weeks.
This week, Evans and the Buccs get a matchup with a Carolina defense that has allowed 197 passing yards per game (4th-fewest) with 6.0 yards allowed per completion (3rd-fewest). Evans has been surpassed by teammate Chris Godwin in targets, yards, and touchdowns. He’s the second option on what has the potential at times to be a high-scoring offense, but it’s a bad matchup this week. Evans turned in a pedestrian performance against Carolina in Week 2 and I expect him to do so again. Don’t necessarily bench him, but don’t trust him as your WR1 either. Even WR2 would give me pause.
Mark Andrews, Ravens (Vs. Bengals)
He’s certainly quieted down after an explosive first two weeks. After catching 16 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns in the first two weeks, Andrews has caught 12 passes for 91 yards and one score in the following three games. Week 6 presents an attractive matchup at home against an average Cincinnati pass defense that has allowed eight passing touchdowns while allowing opposing Quarterbacks to complete 70.3 percent of their passes. I think Lamar Jackson and the entire Baltimore offense have a big game and I can easily see Andrews getting into the end zone. Start him this week.
Greg Olsen, Panthers (@ Bucs)
This pick could end up being a complete dud considering that Olsen has two catches for five yards over his last two games. However, Olsen did haul in six passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns in Kyle Allen‘s first start, a Week 3 matchup against a porous Arizona defense. This week, Olsen will face a Tampa Bay defense allowing a league-leading 323.6 passing yards per game (they’re the only team allowing 300 or more). Tampa has also allowed nine passing touchdowns and allowed Olsen to go off for 110 yards in Week 2. The Bucs have given up the second-most fantasy points to Tight Ends this year, so gamble on starting Olsen this week.
Jared Cook, Saints (@ Jaguars)
I can get burned on this one as well but it’s a challenging bye week for Tight Ends (Darren Waller, Eric Ebron, Trey Burton), so owners may be in the market for a Tight End. Call it a gut feeling, but I think Teddy Bridgewater is developing somewhat of a rapport with Cook. He’s been targeted six times in each of his last two games and the Jacksonville pass defense isn’t what it once was.
The Jaguars are middle of the pack in terms of yards allowed per game (245.4) and only have one interception on the season. The absence of Jalen Ramsey doesn’t help matters in this regard. The Saints are rolling even without Drew Brees and I just have a gut feeling that Cook, who scored for the first time last week, has a big game. If you have a top tier option at the position, don’t bench them for Cook. But, if you feel uneasy about your matchup or need someone for the bye week, Cook isn’t a bad option.
Delanie Walker, Titans (@ Broncos)
Walker had a monster Week 1 but has been extremely quiet ever since. In Weeks 2-5, the veteran has 13 catches for 117 yards and hasn’t scored. Especially troubling is Walker’s output over the last two weeks, in which he has two catches for 14 yards combined. The matchup won’t be favorable in Week 6, as the Titans travel to take on a stingy Denver pass defense that has only allowed 202.2 passing yards per game (5th-best) and four passing touchdowns (tied for 3rd-fewest). Denver has a terrible run defense, so I expect the Titans to go with a heavy dosage of Derrick Henry in this one. If I’m a Walker owner, I’m not feeling very confident this week.
Zach Ertz, Eagles (@ Vikings)
Ertz is having a solid year but has been a far cry from the dominant force that he was in past campaigns. In Week 5, he found the end zone for the first time in 2019. A Week 6 matchup in Minnesota strikes me as somewhat daunting, as the Vikings have allowed the 6th-fewest passing yards per game (204.2). Ertz has been very solid, if unspectacular, especially in PPR formats. So, I’m not saying to sit him necessarily. I just think it’s plausible that the Eagles get thumped on the road by a hot Minnesota team, which could impact Ertz negatively. He’s the TE7 going into Week 6, so you probably don’t have any better options. But at the very least, the matchup would make me hesitate.
Vance McDonald, Steelers (@ Chargers)
The injury to Mason Rudolph doesn’t bode well for McDonald. Despite Vance’s boom or bust nature, he’s still owned in about 65% of leagues. However, don’t risk starting him this week. The Chargers have been solid against the pass this year, allowing only 215 passing yards per game (8th-fewest). Devlin Hodges is in line to get the start in this one and though McDonald is capable of repeating his great Week 2 performance (seven catches for 38 yards and two touchdowns), it’s best to stay away from him in this one. You’re safer streaming someone for the week.
Cowboys (@ Jets)
Yes, Sam Darnold has been out the last few weeks, but the fact remains that the Jets are terrible. The offensive line is like a revolving door. They’ve allowed 15 sacks over the last two games including 10 against the Eagles in Week 5. The Eagles had three sacks in four games going into the matchup.
Under Darnold, the Jets will be somewhat of a functioning offense, but the Cowboys are a great bet to rack up an ungodly number of sacks and a few turnovers in this one. Christian McCaffrey has personally gained more yards than the entire New York offense. Dallas is arguably the top streaming option of the week.
Ravens (vs. Bengals)
Baltimore’s defense had an outstanding Week 1 against an awful Miami offense but has not performed well since. Over the last three weeks, the Ravens have surrendered 96 points (real, not fantasy) to the Chiefs, Browns, and Steelers). They’ve given up the 4th-most passing yards per game (280) and have allowed 4.7 yards per carry and seven rushing touchdowns (tied for the most in the NFL).
However, I like their matchup this week at home against the Bengals. The Ravens can turn the ball over and generate pressure against a terrible Cincinnati offensive line. Call it a hunch, but despite Baltimore’s poor showing to date (26th ranked defense in fantasy scoring), I think they dismantle the Bengals at home. They’re a solid streaming option for the week.
Saints (@ Jaguars)
The New Orleans defense has been solid lately after two unspectacular weeks to begin the season. They’ve shown a knack for generating turnovers, amassing four over their last three games. Gardner Minshew lost three fumbles last week and the Saints are riding a three-game winning streak. They also feature an effective pass rush. Last week, they racked up six sacks against Tampa Bay. They’re a viable starting option against the mediocre Jaguars.
Jaguars (vs. Saints)
The Saints haven’t been as explosive on offense without Drew Brees. In Teddy Bridgewater’s three starts though, they’ve had two good games (33 points at Seattle and 31 points against Tampa Bay) and one poor game (12 points against Dallas). To me, the Saints feel like a special team and I think they keep rolling against a shorthanded Jacksonville offense that isn’t as good as it’s been in years past.
Alvin Kamara will have a bounce-back game against a Jaguars’ run defense that’s allowed 136.6 rushing yards per game (8th-worst) and six rushing touchdowns (tied for 2nd-most). Who Dat Nation will roll in this one, and I’d look for safer options than Jacksonville for your D/ST.
Seahawks (@ Browns)
In years past, Seattle’s defense has led the way but now the offense is the driving force behind their 4-1 start. Aside from a Week 4 game against Arizona, the Seahawks have allowed 20 or more points to every opponent. Seattle only has 10 sacks on the season (4th-fewest), is allowing the 7th-most passing yards per game (270.6) and only has three interceptions on the year. Baker Mayfield has struggled to say the least, but I could see this being more of an offensive battle than a defensive struggle. Look for better streaming options.
Washington Redskins (@ Dolphins) and Miami Dolphins (vs. Redskins)
Some may be tempted to play one of these defenses because both offenses are so terrible. In fact, ESPN has the Redskins as the second-ranked defense for the week. Stay away. Both defenses are terrible against both the pass and run. While both offenses are pathetic enough that there may be some turnovers and opportunities for defensive scores, you can’t reasonably trust that to happen. The Redskins have given up 25+ points in four of five games and the Dolphins have given up 30+ points in every game. Don’t even think about it.