Thumbs Up of the Week: Matt Ryan (@ ARI)
The Falcons have been extremely disappointing this season, but fantasy owners can’t complain about Ryan, who is the QB6 heading into Week 6 and has put up at least 15.7 fantasy points in every game. This week, Matty Ice is a high-end QB1 against a Cardinals defense that is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks and is still without Patrick Peterson (suspension) for a probable shootout.
Thumbs Up: Kirk Cousins (v PHI)
Dating back to his time with the Redskins, Cousins has really played well against the Eagles (over 300 yards per game with a 17:5 touchdown-interception ratio in eight meetings), and after catching fire a bit last week in New York, he should be able to keep it going at home versus a secondary that will ask Craig James—making his second career start—to cover Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. I’m typically lower on Cousins as a fantasy option, but Sunday sets up perfectly for a breakout.
Thumbs Up: Gardner Minshew (v NO)
Through four career starts, Minshew has thrown for seven touchdowns and zero interceptions, and he’ll now face a Saints defense that’s allowing 8.2 yards per attempt, which ranks in the bottom quarter of the league. A sub-par performance will come at some point for the rookie, but you might as well ride the Minshew Mania while you can, and the Jags could get into another high-scoring game if Jalen Ramsey sits again.
Thumbs Up: Baker Mayfield (v SEA)
The offensive line and overall offensive philosophy have not helped, but Mayfield looks like a completely different player from last year, and the most recent showing (8-of-22 for 100 yards and two interceptions) was easily the worst of his career. That said, while he can no longer be trusted as a QB1 option, Mayfield may be a solid QB2 for a potential shootout against a Seattle defense that has struggled to generate consistent pressure in 2019.
Others: Kyler Murray (v ATL), Sam Darnold (v DAL)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Carson Wentz (@ MIN)
Wentz’s numbers from last season’s matchup against the Vikings (311 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions) may lead to optimism for those keeping him in lineups this week, but I would recommend looking elsewhere. Through five weeks, Minnesota is the only team in football to not allow a pass of 40+ yards, and their 6.2 yards per attempt allowed would have led the league in 2018. Also, both of the touchdowns for Wentz last year came in the fourth quarter of a comeback attempt.
Thumbs Down: Jared Goff (v SF)
I still have Goff as a top-ten option this week, but based on the Rams’ struggles in pass protection, the floor needs to be lowered against San Francisco’s ferocious defensive line. While Goff had six touchdowns and zero interceptions in two meetings last season, he threw for just 200.5 yards per game and was sacked once, so the pressure should be increased for a key matchup in the NFC West.
Thumbs Down: Andy Dalton (@ BAL)
Surprisingly, Dalton has had success against the Ravens throughout his career (8-7 overall record with a 9:0 touchdown-interception ratio over the past three matchups), and Baltimore has been uncharacteristically bad on defense. However, Cincinnati is very thin at the skill positions right now, so it’s difficult to trust Dalton as he throws to Auden Tate and Alex Erickson with Tyler Boyd potentially shadowed by Marlon Humphrey.
Thumbs Down: Daniel Jones (@ NE)
This is obvious in a shallow week for “Thumbs Down” options at quarterback, but those who wanted to gamble on Jones this week because of the potential rushing production need to rethink their position after the string of injuries for New York. The offensive line is about all that’s intact for the Giants, as Saquon Barkley (ankle), Wayne Gallman (concussion), Sterling Shepard (concussion), and Evan Engram (knee) all won’t play—making the quarterback an easy avoid against the Patriots.
Others: Matthew Stafford (@ GB), Joe Flacco (v TEN)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Kerryon Johnson (@ GB)
The Packers have been a run defense to attack all season, and the only thing that saved them from Ezekiel Elliott last week—when he had 62 yards and a touchdown on 12 attempts—was Dallas abandoning the run after a 31-3 deficit. Detroit was clearly committing to Johnson before the bye (21 touches in Week 3 and 28 touches in Week 4), so Johnson should be locked into a heavy workload for a primetime showdown in the NFC North. Kerryon is a no-doubt RB1 for me.
Thumbs Up: Damien Williams (v HOU)
The results weren’t there as Indianapolis came out fired up to stop the Chiefs, but Williams worked as the clear lead back in his return to the lineup, and he’s narrowly missed at least three long receptions so far this season that would have fantasy owners feeling a lot differently at this point. There should be fireworks everywhere this weekend against the Texans, who have allowed receiving lines of 9/76, 4/40, 11/49, 10/86, and 11/85/1 to enemy backs.
Thumbs Up: Tevin Coleman (@ LAR)
Somehow still ranked as a borderline top-30 option for most of the industry, Coleman should be viewed as a big-play RB2 that should also get the majority of the goal-line work on the most run-heavy offense in the NFL. The Rams aren’t terrible against the run, but San Francisco will want to have the same blueprint as Seattle did by punching them in the mouth to keep Jared Goff and his guys off the field.
Thumbs Up: Carlos Hyde (@ KC)
I’m not the biggest fan of Hyde, but it’s been funny to see all the Twitter “experts” that made fun of him all summer suddenly silent after he started the season with at least 7.9 fantasy points in every game. Even though Hyde’s time in Kansas City was short, he will surely want to prove that they made a mistake in letting him go, and the veteran is a good bet to find the end zone in a game with the highest over/under of the week.
Others: Kenyan Drake (v WAS), Ito Smith (@ ARI)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Joe Mixon (@ BAL)
Mixon played really well last season against a more stout Baltimore defense (11.0 fantasy points per game), but the Ravens still have too much talent to not turn things around defensively, and Cincinnati’s best offensive player will likely see plenty of stacked boxes with A.J. Green (ankle) and John Ross (shoulder) both out of the lineup. A lack of involvement in the passing game (just one reception last week) makes Mixon more of a low-end RB2.
Thumbs Down: LeSean McCoy (v HOU)
The pace of the game should be much different this weekend than it was in Sunday night’s loss, but McCoy just had zero carries for the first time in his career, and Damien Williams will be the top option in Andy Reid’s offense barring a sudden change in Week 6. McCoy remains a FLEX option with upside, but I don’t see how fantasy owners can trust him as an RB2.
Thumbs Down: Miles Sanders (@ MIN)
Sanders’ involvement as a receiver was encouraging last week—he caught four-of-five targets for 49 yards—but Philadelphia never really got going on offense, and Doug Pederson’s decision to announce Jordan Howard would receive more carries moving forward shows that the Eagles are wisely going to simplify things by featuring the veteran while mixing the rookie in. I’d avoid Sanders for a big road spot, especially since Howard has had success against Minnesota in the past.
Thumbs Down: Jonathan Hilliman (@ NE)
It may be tempting to get a cheap starting running back if you’re struggling at the position, but Hilliman is far from a must-start against the Patriots, who have allowed just 1.9 yards per carry at home so far this season. Basically, you’d be hoping for a goal-line score, but even that won’t be easy, and there enough backup options on other teams (like Rashaad Penny or Ito Smith) to feel better about.
Others: James White (v NYG), Dion Lewis (@ DEN)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Stefon Diggs (v PHI)
Being unhappy with his role didn’t lead to a big game from Diggs in Week 5, as he was held below 50 receiving yards for the fourth time in five games. However, if there was a time for the Vikings to finally air it out, it’s this week against a Philly defense that is a) allowing the fewest rushing yards per game (63.0) in the league, and b) extremely thin at cornerback. In last year’s matchup, Diggs caught ten passes for 91 yards and added two carries for 25; I expect similar involvement on Sunday.
Thumbs Up: Mike Williams (v PIT)
Fantasy owners are still waiting for Williams to break out this season, but the wait may not last much longer. Last week, the former No. 7 overall pick saw 13 targets, and he’ll now face a small Pittsburgh cornerback group that’s allowed big games to Josh Gordon (3/73/1) and D.K. Metcalf (3/61/1) this season. Plus, the Steelers were stung by Keenan Allen (14/148/1 on 19 targets) last December, so I’d think they throw some more coverage in his direction on Sunday night.
Thumbs Up: Dede Westbrook (v NO)
The Saints have been absolutely shredded by opposing slot receivers this season, and Westbrook—who has been more involved in each of the past two games—is next in line to do damage. And while there hasn’t been anyone that can stop the Gardner Minshew/D.J. Chark connection so far, perimeter cornerback Marshon Lattimore just held Mike Evans to zero receptions, and the Jags may want to play through Westbrook on Sunday.
Thumbs Up: Michael Gallup (@ NYJ)
A couple of cupcake matchups paired with last week’s comeback effort has helped his cause, but in three healthy games this season, Gallup has gone for lines of 7/158, 6/68, and 7/113/1 as a key cog in the Cowboys’ spread attack. New York has exceeded expectations on the backend, but they still don’t have the players on the perimeter to take away Gallup. Consider him a high-upside FLEX option, especially if Sam Darnold keeps the Jets in the game.
Others: Calvin Ridley (@ ARI), Courtland Sutton (v TEN)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Mike Evans (v CAR)
Maybe he will have better luck across the pond, but historically, Evans has struggled against James Bradberry, including a quiet four receptions for 61 scoreless yards last month. Overall, Evans has been held to nine receptions (on 24 targets) and 41.7 yards per game in the past three meetings against Carolina’s top corner, and Chris Godwin has emerged as the clear No. 1 option in Bruce Arians’ offense—leaving the Texas A&M product in volatile WR2 territory for this week.
Thumbs Down: Kenny Golladay (@ GB)
Golladay had a 4/98/1 line last against the Packers last season, but it came without Jaire Alexander in the lineup, and the 2018 first-round pick—coming off a disappointing matchup with Amari Cooper—should be determined to shutdown whoever he lines up across from on Monday night. I’m expecting a more conservative game plan centered around Kerryon Johnson with calculated shots for Golladay, so the floor may be lower than fantasy owners would like.
Thumbs Down: Alshon Jeffery (@ MIN)
Xavier Rhodes limited Jeffery to just two receptions for 39 scoreless yards in last season’s matchup, and Mike Zimmer’s top corner—while not dominant in 2019—has been good enough to remain a shy-away matchup for Philly’s big-bodied wideout. Also, without DeSean Jackson (abdomen) taking the top off the defense, Jeffery will have more coverage shaded in his direction to further muddy his outlook.
Thumbs Down: Tyler Boyd (@ BAL)
Boyd is basically the only impact player the Ravens need to worry about in Cincinnati’s passing attack, so he will see a heavy dose of Marlon Humphrey this weekend. Baltimore’s young corner was beat for a score by JuJu Smith-Schuster last week, but he rebounded by punching the ball out to set up the game-winning field goal in overtime, and two weeks ago, Humphrey erased Odell Beckham Jr. (two receptions for 20 yards). Boyd is a risky WR2 play.
Others: D.J. Moore (@ TB), Emmanuel Sanders (v TEN)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Noah Fant (v TEN)
In general, Tennessee has been very stout defensively through five games, but tight ends have given them some problems, as they’ve allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the position, including a touchdown in four-of-five games against them. Those that were hit with the Chris Herndon (hamstring) injury news after waiver claims were placed should target Fant as a top-12 play.
Thumbs Up: Gerald Everett (v SF)
Everett has set a new career-high for targets in back-to-back weeks, and last Thursday night’s performance against Seattle—even considering the dropped pass resulting in a costly interception—was perhaps the best of his career. San Francisco has the athletic linebackers to potentially contain Everett, but he’s talented enough to overcome it as a high-upside intermediate target.
Thumbs Up: Jordan Akins (@ KC)
Tight end looks like a wasteland more than ever, so you can’t go wrong chasing a touchdown in a Texans-Chiefs shootout. It was veteran Darren Fells that had the big game last week for Houston, but Akins still played 66% of the offensive snaps and remains the preferred fantasy play.
Other: Dallas Goedert (@ MIN)
Thumbs Down of the Week: No one
Tight end is so limited this week that basically anyone with a pulse is worth considering. And because I don’t have options listed for “Thumbs Down” at the position this week, we’ll give free advice typically reserved for Fantasy Consigliere members by saying to pick up Hunter Henry (leg) if he’s available.