Thumbs Up of the Week: Deshaun Watson (v CLE) | Rank: #3
How good has Deshaun Watson been this season? He didn’t become the starter until Week 2, but he’s still the second-best fantasy quarterback through five weeks, and he’s averaging 26.25 fantasy points per game in his four starts—which would make him easily the top fantasy player so far this season. Now, he faces a Cleveland team that has allowed multiple touchdown passes in four out of five games, despite facing a struggling Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Jacoby Brissett, Andy Dalton, and Josh McCown. Oh, and the Browns passed on Watson twice in the draft, so he should have a chip on his shoulder this Sunday.
Thumbs Up: Cam Newton (v PHI) | Rank: #5
Newton looked done after he threw for 167 yards and three interceptions against the Saints in Week 3, but he’s turned things around with 300-yard, three-score performances in each of the past two weeks. Once he gets going on the ground, Cam will be really tough to stop, and while Philadelphia has forced him to toss three picks in their past two meetings, that was against a different defense. The Eagles will have a difficult time containing Newton if the four-man rush doesn’t get to him on Thursday night.
Thumbs Up: Carson Palmer (v TB) | Rank: #9
Last year, the Cardinals destroyed the Buccaneers, and Carson Palmer threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns. This year, the Bucs are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, with three of those games coming against Mike Glennon, Case Keenum, and Eli Manning. Palmer is throwing it a whopping 45.4 times per game this season (most in the league), and he’s due for a multi-touchdown performance. I think it will come against Tampa Bay.
Thumbs Up: Jacoby Brissett (@ TEN) | Rank: #15
With Andrew Luck still working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, Jacoby Brissett is going to be starting for at least one more week. On Monday night, he gets a tremendous matchup with the Titans, and like Palmer he could be due for a multi-touchdown performance. I like Brissett better than some notable names that I have as “Thumbs Down” for Week 6.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Ben Roethlisberger (@ KC) | Rank: #17
I had a couple big misses last week—namely Carlos Hyde and DeVante Parker—but they were due to a coaching decision and injury, respectively. I also had Big Ben as my “Thumbs Down of the Week” facing the Jaguars, despite many people labeling him a “Love” or “Start,” and he turned in a zero-touchdown, five-interception performance at home. This week, he hits the road to face the Chiefs in Arrowhead. I think the Pittsburgh offense will find their explosiveness at some point this season, but until then, it’s time to get Roethlisberger out of your lineup.
Thumbs Down: Jameis Winston (@ ARI) | Rank: #16
Carson Wentz just torched the Cardinals with four touchdowns last Sunday, but back at home, I would be shocked if Arizona didn’t play a lot better defensively. When Winston traveled to face the Cardinals in 2016, he was 27/52 for 243 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. I expect he will be better than that, but he’s not worth a fantasy start in Week 6.
Thumbs Down: Jared Goff (@ JAC) | Rank: #22
Quarterbacks facing the Jaguars are averaging 4.6 fantasy points per game this season, so with no games against Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers on the schedule, they should be avoided every week. Jared Goff struggled against the Seahawks a week ago, and while I can actually see Sean McVay scheming up some success against their man-to-man coverage, Goff has a low single-digit floor with limited upside against Jacksonville.
Thumbs Down: Eli Manning (@ DEN) | Rank: NR
This one is obvious, but with Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall done for the year, Eli obviously shouldn’t be rostered anymore. And unfortunately, things could get really ugly this week, as the Giants will face the Broncos… in Denver… coming off a bye week… on Sunday Night Football.
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Thumbs Up: Mark Ingram (v DET) | Rank: #8
The single biggest beneficiary of the Adrian Peterson trade on Tuesday morning is Mark Ingram, as he went from a low-end RB2/FLEX option to an RB1/RB2. The former Heisman winner will now see an increase in carries and should get all the goal-line and short-yardage work in an explosive offense, and that starts this week in a potential shootout against Detroit. Even with Alvin Kamara seeing significant playing time, Ingram is in a better situation than he was last season with Tim Hightower stealing between-the-tackle carries.
Thumbs Up: Ameer Abdullah (@ NO) | Rank: #11
Abdullah is on the other end of a hopefully high-scoring contest between the Saints and Lions, and his touches should be back in the 17-20 range after he saw just 10 in last week’s loss to the Panthers. Detroit is at their best with a balanced offensive attack, so Abdullah will get his opportunities—including as a receiver—against a defense allowing 4.5 yards per carry.
Thumbs Up: Tevin Coleman (v MIA) | Rank: #12
The Falcons offense was struggling a little bit heading into the bye week, but it’s not because of sub-par play from Tevin Coleman, whom might have been the team’s best player through the quarter-mark of the season. In standard leagues, Coleman is averaging an insane 0.86 fantasy points per touch, and I would be surprised if Atlanta didn’t give the dynamic back more work against the Dolphins and for the rest of the season. Miami is allowing just 3.1 yards per carry in 2017, so I think the Falcons will try to get Coleman the ball in space this week.
Thumbs Up: Elijah McGuire (v NE) | Rank: #23
McGuire has been someone that I’ve advised fantasy owners to keep an eye on, and he looks to be in line for the majority of carries against New England on Sunday. Even if Bilal Powell (calf) or Matt Forte (toe) play—both seem highly questionable—New York will likely feature the rookie, and after watching Doug Martin shred the Patriots last Thursday night, I think McGuire can have success, too. He’s a solid FLEX option that will jump to low-end RB2 status if both Powell and Forte sit.
Thumbs Down of the Week: LeGarrette Blount (@ CAR) | Rank: #31
After being held without a carry in Week 2, Blount has gone on to rush for 277 yards on 42 attempts (6.6 average), looking powerful and quick for his size. However, he’s splitting carries with two other running backs, and this week he will face a Carolina defense that’s allowing the sixth-fewest rushing yards per game. If Blount isn’t able to convert a goal-line plunge, I think you’ll be angry that you played him come late Thursday night.
Thumbs Down: Doug Martin (@ ARI) | Rank: #17
Doug Martin looked as good as Tampa Bay could have hoped in his return from suspension, but it came against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. This week, he’ll face an Arizona team allowing just 3.3 yards per carry, and as stated, the Bucs lost 40-7 against the Cardinals in 2016. With game-flow concerns against a stingy front, Martin is more of a low-end RB2 than borderline RB1 for Week 6.
Thumbs Down: Jonathan Stewart (v PHI) | Rank: #32
The Eagles have a middle-of-the-road run defense, but Stewart is a veteran player that will be playing on a short week following a 21-touch game, and he’s yet to rush for 70 yards or a touchdown this season. Also, I think this may be the week that Carolina gives Christian McCaffrey more work as a runner, as 13 of his 34 carries this season came in the season opener, and the Panthers could use a spark in a matchup that may have potential playoff implications.
Thumbs Down: Adrian Peterson (v TB) | Rank: #43
Adrian Peterson getting traded to Arizona was great for his fantasy outlook the rest of the way, but I think it’s asking a lot for him to be able to play a full-compliment of snaps with just a handful of days to learn the playbook and blocking scheme. I absolutely love the move for the Cardinals and AD, but he should stay on the bench against the Bucs.
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Thumbs Up of the Week: T.Y. Hilton (@ TEN) | Rank: #6
Considering he is still waiting for his quarterback to be active for this first time in 2017, T.Y. Hilton has been awesome for fantasy owners through five weeks. Hilton just burnt the 49ers to a crisp with 177 receiving yards, and he gets another easy matchup with the Titans this week. Last year, T.Y. went for 7/133/1 and 5/97/1 against Tennessee, and he should make some people very happy against them on Monday night.
Thumbs Up: Demaryius Thomas (v NYG) | Rank: #15
At first glance, this looks like an imposing matchup for Demaryius, but it’s actually a really good one. New York typically plays sides with their cornerbacks, and top corner Janoris Jenkins is their RCB. With Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie suspended on Wednesday, that leaves a struggling Eli Apple on the left side for Thomas to feast on, and Mike McCoy will want to start things strong coming off the bye week—I think that could mean a patented screen pass to DT.
Thumbs Up: DeSean Jackson (@ ARI) | Rank: #19
DeSean paid off for fantasy owners last week with five catches for 106 yards, and after watching Nelson Agholor and Torrey Smith get behind Arizona’s defense on Sunday, he’s probably excited to face the Cardinals on Sunday knowing that Patrick Peterson will take away Mike Evans. When Xavier Rhodes took out Evans in Week 3, Jackson went for 84 yards and a score.
Thumbs Up: John Brown (v TB) | Rank: #18
Limited to three games due to leg injuries, John Brown has yet to surpass 47 yards this year, but he was able to find the end zone for the first time against the Eagles last week. He also received a handful of deep shots that he had to prevent from being intercepted with Carson Palmer facing pressure all day, so the high-upside targets are there for “Smokey.” This week, he faces a defense that’s allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers in both standard and PPR leagues.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Mike Evans (@ ARI) | Rank: #23
As stated, Patrick Peterson will be shadowing Mike Evans this week, and that’s bad news for the big-bodied receiver. In the matchup between these teams last season that I’ve been mentioning, it took an inefficient 18 targets and garbage time for Evans to catch six passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. He’s talented enough to make plays, but he might also get frustrated like he did against Xavier Rhodes. I think Evans is just a FLEX option that you should consider benching if you have other options.
Thumbs Down: Sammy Watkins (@ JAC) | Rank: #28
Watkins got behind the defense twice against Seattle last week, but the first pass was an overthrow and he couldn’t track the second one in the air for whatever reason. He finished with zero receptions on four targets, and was replying to people (including Rams legend Torry Holt) on Twitter about his displeasure after the game. Like Evans, he has the talent to make plays—and I think with more upside than Tampa Bay’s star—but also has a zero-point floor against Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye.
Thumbs Down: Martavis Bryant (@ KC) | Rank: #40
I had Bryant as a “Thumbs Down” last week against the Jaguars because the Steelers would hide Antonio Brown in the slot over him, and this week, they will most likely keep Bryant on the right side to battle with Marcus Peters and free up AB again. Also, Big Ben is struggling everywhere right now, but the lack of success on the road has been a long-term thing. This probably won’t be the week that Bryant breaks out.
Thumbs Down: Amari Cooper (v LAC) | Rank: #30
Whether or not Derek Carr returns, I don’t see how fantasy owners can trust Cooper as anything other than a limited-option FLEX play. The former first-round pick isn’t playing close to his potential, and he’s having some confidence issues right now. Maybe he’s playing so poorly that the Chargers will put Casey Hayward on Michael Crabtree, but even so, Cooper’s struggles might continue.
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Thumbs Up of the Week: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (v NE) | Rank: #6
Seferian-Jenkins has been a significant target for Josh McCown this season, as he’s caught 15 passes through three games. ASJ was also able to score his first touchdown of the season in last week’s win, and New York will obviously need to score points if they want to upset the Patriots. Look for Seferian-Jenkins to be an important target for his quarterback this week.
Thumbs Up: Coby Fleener (v DET) | Rank: #8
Detroit just allowed low-upside tight end Ed Dickson dominate them with 175 yards in Week 5, and the Saints could look to exploit the Lions in the same way on Sunday. Fleener is always a little risky because you never know what kind of game plan Sean Payton is going to have, but I like his upside.
Thumbs Up: Evan Engram (@ DEN) | Rank: #7
Well, I think Evan Engram is the only pass-catcher left for the Giants… so yeah. Besides that, the Broncos have been vulnerable against tight ends, and the rookie might actually be Eli Manning’s most-trusted receiver at this point.
Thumbs Up: Ryan Griffin (v CLE) | Rank: #11
Tight ends against the Browns are always a top streaming option, so Griffin is definitely worth a look against them with the hottest quarterback in the NFL throwing passes to him. Cleveland is allowing 12.5 fantasy points per game to the position.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Cameron Brate (@ ARI) | Rank: #12
The Cardinals just allowed Zach Ertz to catch six passes for 61 yards and a touchdown against them, but Arizona is typically very tough on opposing tight ends. Brate is a nice player, but he’s not the talent or contributor that Ertz is. He’s outside the top-10 for Week 6.
Thumbs Down: Ed Dickson (v PHI) | Rank: #15
People might see Dickson’s stat line from last week and think they should pick him up and play him against the Eagles, but that would be a mistake. Philadelphia has been one of the best team’s in the league at defending tight ends in recent years, and Cam Newton will probably look to attack their weak cornerback group.
Thumbs Down: Kyle Rudolph (v GB) | Rank: #10
The Packers are allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, and Rudolph has been a better fantasy option with Sam Bradford in the lineup. Anyone who watched Monday night’s game knows that probably won’t be the case on Sunday.
Thumbs Down: Martellus Bennett (@ MIN) | Rank: #16
Mr. Bennett is probably pretty comfortable here by now.
For defense and kicker advice—and all your start/sit decisions—check out our full Week 6 rankings.