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Week 6 Fantasy: “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down”

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Tom Brady (v GB)

Brady and the Bucs struggled last Thursday night in Chicago, but fantasy owners need to keep him in lineups with the supporting cast hopefully getting close to full strength ahead of a probable shootout against Green Bay. Despite no preseason action and a shortened offseason, Brady is on pace for 4,400 yards and 38 touchdown through five games, and he should only continue to get better as the season progresses. I have TB12 as a top-five option in Week 6.


Thumbs Up: Jared Goff (@ SF)

Some may have the prior struggles against San Francisco in the back of their mind, but the Rams are a much better offense than they were this time last October, while the 49ers are drastically different than the defense that limited Goff to 78 passing yards in the first meeting of 2019. Ryan Fitzpatrick just ripped San Francisco for 350 yards and three scores, and Goff should be given time with the 49ers—sans Nick Bosa and others on the defensive line—ranking in the bottom third of the league in sacks.


Thumbs Up: Kirk Cousins (v ATL)

The Falcons have been a dream matchup for opposing passing attacks this season (30.1 fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks), and Cousins should be able to take advantage coming off season-highs—by far—in completions (27) and pass attempts (39) in a close loss to Seattle. One thing to keep in mind is that Minnesota only threw it ten times last year in their 28-12 victory over Atlanta in the opener, but this week’s rematch profiles as more of a back-and-forth shootout.


Thumbs Up: Andy Dalton (v ARI)

No one is counting out the Cowboys with Dak Prescott (ankle) done for the year because they have a very capable backup in Dalton, and all the weapons are there for him to put up numbers on Monday night and beyond. Off the bench last week, Dalton completed nine-of-11 passes for 111 yards, so we’ll see if the strong start allows him to have success against an Arizona pass defense that—although they’ve played well—doesn’t have the depth to slow down Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb. Dalton is worth considering as a top-15 option.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Teddy Bridgewater (v CHI)

Carolina is another team that has more than enough weapons to produce against anyone, but I’d still rather avoid Bridgewater with the Bears having extra time to prepare for Joe Brady’s offense. Including last week against a falling-apart Atlanta squad, Teddy has just six passing touchdowns in five games, and the offensive line could have problems keeping him upright with edge rushers Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn both rested. I have Bridgewater as more of a low-end QB2 option.


Thumbs Down: Carson Wentz (v BAL)

Wentz again had a passable fantasy performance in a difficult on-paper matchup last week, and those who have been rolling with him might not want to look elsewhere, which is fine. However, the Baltimore defense is a suffocating unit—allowing just two passing touchdowns this year to players not named Patrick Mahomes, so Philadelphia’s pieced-together supporting cast will really be tested on Sunday. Going with a streamer seems like a wise move.


Thumbs Down: Jimmy Garoppolo (v LAR)

Garoppolo was pulled last week after a rough start at less than 100%, and I would say he’s in danger of the same thing happening on Sunday night if Aaron Donald has his way with a weakened interior for San Francisco. Perhaps it will turn into a shootout, but even last year in the Niners’ 34-31 win, Garoppolo had just 248 passing yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions while being sacked six times. Jimmy G is a very risky bet in Week 6.


Thumbs Down: Philip Rivers (v CIN)

Rivers has thrown for one or zero scores in all five games to begin his Indy career, and I would be surprised if the Colts didn’t come out and try to get the ground game going against a Bengals team they should beat. Not having Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr. takes away the firepower for Rivers, so he’s a low-upside option that ideally won’t have to air it out much. Baker Mayfield (against Pittsburgh) or even Kyle Allen provide a higher ceiling for those desperate at the position.


Running back


Thumbs Up of the Week: Jonathan Taylor (v CIN)

Those who have invested in Taylor obviously aren’t considering putting him on the bench, but he has been slightly disappointing since Marlon Mack (Achilles) went down in the opener, and a monster game feels like it will come this weekend. As stated, the Colts may want to keep the ball on the ground at home, and defensive tackle D.J. Reader (quad) going down is a huge loss for a Cincinnati defense that was already allowing 5.2 yards per carry and 159.0 rushing yards per game. I have Taylor as my overall RB2 for Week 6.


Thumbs Up: Ronald Jones II (v GB)

Coming off back-to-back 100-yard games, Jones II has a firm hold on the lead role in Tampa Bay, and the receiving opportunities (14 targets over the past two weeks) have been very encouraging despite some struggles there. Most teams have had to abandon the run versus Green Bay because they are simply playing from behind, but I think the Bucs can go toe-to-toe with them, so Jones II is a borderline RB1/RB2 for a projected high-scoring affair.


Thumbs Up: Damien Harris (v DEN)

Postponement of Broncos-Patriots will undoubtedly help New England’s offense with Cam Newton (COVID-19) expected to be cleared, and Harris is trending towards low-end RB2/FLEX status as the lead back on a run-first offense. Denver has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing runners, but I think Vic Fangio will want to focus on stopping Newton, which would open up some running lanes for Harris. The second-year back rushed 17 times for 100 yards in his season debut two weeks ago.


Thumbs Up: Chase Edmonds (@ DAL)

He’s only rushed 19 times this season, but Edmonds has taken full advantage of his touches—doing enough damage as both a runner and receiver to be ranked as the current RB30 (one spot ahead of teammate Kenyan Drake) in 0.5 PPR leagues. It’s probably only a matter of time before Edmonds handles closer to eight-to-ten carries per game based on how effective he’s been, so he has standalone value as a low-end RB2 option for Monday night against a Dallas defense that’s been shredded on the ground.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Miles Sanders (v BAL)

Sanders isn’t a player fantasy owners will bench, but a lack of involvement in the passing game (he’s on pace for just 44 receptions for 388 scoreless yards) combined with the matchup against Baltimore should have you lowering expectations on Sunday. Just last week, it took Joe Mixon 30 touches to reach 94 total yards; especially because the offensive line is less than 100%, Sanders is more of an RB2 than the usual RB1 ranking, and I’ll be avoiding him in DFS play.


Thumbs Down: Melvin Gordon (@ NE)

Gordon was here last week before Broncos-Patriots was moved, and the matchup is even tougher now that New England is expected to get Cam Newton back—likely slanting the game script further in their favor. I think having Noah Fant (ankle) and/or K.J. Hamler back would be more important than Drew Lock (shoulder) in order to stretch the defense, but if they’re out, the Pats will really be able to focus on taking away Gordon.


Thumbs Down: Malcolm Brown (@ SF)

Since operating as the lead back in the opener, Brown has averaged just 3.6 yards per touch in four games, and he may end up being the third wheel for an offense that has two explosive options in Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson both showing more flashes. All the Los Angeles backs carry risk, but Brown is the one with the lowest combination of floor and ceiling.


Thumbs Down: Ravens RBs (@ PHI)

If the Eagles are going to upset the Ravens this weekend, it will be due to their defensive line controlling the game up front, and that’s a definite possibility based on their play over the past two weeks. Amazingly, an 11-carry outing from Mark Ingram last week was the first time this season that a Baltimore running back had surpassed ten carries in a game; Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, and Gus Edwards are all shaky FLEX options that you need to find the end zone.


Wide receiver 


Thumbs Up of the Week: Chris Godwin (v GB)

This is another obvious start like Jonathan Taylor is at running back, but similar to A.J. Brown as the “Thumbs Up” headliner for Week 5, fantasy owners should have zero hesitation about getting Godwin (hamstring) back in lineups if he plays. In fact, I have Godwin as my overall WR1 for this week, and he should be fed looks with Tom Brady looking to keep up with Aaron Rodgers in a shootout. The sample size is small, but Godwin has averaged 11.0 yards per target catching passes from Brady.


Thumbs Up: Justin Jefferson (v ATL)

Jefferson was very quiet in a home-run spot versus Seattle last Sunday night, but the matchup is even better in Week 6 against the Falcons, who have allowed huge games to nearly every top receiver they’ve faced: D.K. Metcalf (4/95/1), Tyler Lockett (8/92), Amari Cooper (6/100), CeeDee Lamb (6/106), Allen Robinson (10/123/1), Robby Anderson (8/112), and D.J. Moore (4/93/1). Consider the first-round pick a low-end WR2 for this week.


Thumbs Up: Mecole Hardman (@ BUF)

Sammy Watkins (hamstring) is expected to miss a game or two, so Hardman will get a chance to shine in a full-time role—which could lead to fantasy gold on Monday evening for a Chiefs-Bills matchup that has the highest over/under (58) of the week. I would say Tre’Davious White (back) returning to defend Tyreek Hill would be a boost to Hardman’s matchup, and all it might take is one play for him to pay dividends against a Buffalo defense that hasn’t played up to expectations so far in 2019.


Thumbs Up: Deebo Samuel (v LAR)

The results were nothing to write home about last week (two receptions for 19 yards), but there were encouraging signs for Samuel’s rest-of-season outlook, including playing 89% of the team’s offensive snaps in a blowout loss to Miami—which proves he is fully healthy. Also, Deebo saw eight targets against the Dolphins, and the combination of talent/opportunity should make him a solid FLEX with upside for more. Shadow coverage from Jalen Ramsey is unlikely based on Samuel’s unique role.


Others: John Brown (v KC), Tee Higgins (@ IND)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Jerry Jeudy (@ NE)

It looked like Jeudy may have escaped a matchup with Stephon Gilmore (COVID-19), but the game now being played in Week 6 could obviously change that, and the opponent is brutal either way. As stated for Melvin Gordon, not having Noah Fant and K.J. Hamler in the lineup will make things more difficult on everyone else, so the rookie’s streak of 55+ receiving yards in every game to start his career may come to a close on Sunday.


Thumbs Down: Marquise Brown (@ PHI)

Darius Slay certainly struggled some last week in Philly’s loss to the Steelers, but he will still be a difficult draw for Marquise Brown, and the passing attack for Baltimore hasn’t shown enough consistency for me to feel as confident about him as the consensus does based on his WR14 ranking. And I know Chase Claypool just dominated the Eagles last week, but Jim Schwartz’s defense has actually limited No. 1 wideouts so far this year.


Thumbs Down: Jamison Crowder (@ MIA)

The numbers for Crowder in three appearances are tough to argue with (he has at least seven receptions and 100+ yards in every game), but I would be shocked if Brian Flores—based on his background working under Bill Belichick in New England—allowed the 27-year-old to beat them on Sunday. It’s worth noting that Miami was able to hold Crowder to 29 scoreless yards after being stung for a 9/83/1 line in their first meeting last year, and Flores’ defense has the personnel to finally slow down New York’s top offensive weapon in 2020.


Thumbs Down: Cooper Kupp (@ SF)

Again, Rams-49ers will be different than it was last year with Los Angeles trending up and San Francisco trending down, but Kupp’s history against the Niners (5.8 fantasy points per game; 5.4 yards per target) is reason for concern. Plus, two of the matchups came in shootouts, so it’s not like general offensive struggles were holding Kupp back. He remains a top-20 play, but I don’t have Kupp as a surefire WR1.


Others: Eagles WRs (v BAL)


Tight end


Thumbs Up of the Week: Robert Tonyan (@ TB)

The last time we saw Tonyan, he scored three touchdowns on Monday Night Football, and he’s forced his way into the TE1 conversation with five trips to the end zone over his past three games. This week, a shootout against Tampa Bay should mean plenty of fantasy points to go around, and you can do worse than an emerging pass-catcher in a high-powered, Aaron Rodgers-led offense. Tonyan is a top-ten play at the position.


Thumbs Up: Hayden Hurst (@ MIN)

Hurst is coming off his worst game of the season with two receptions for eight yards against Carolina, but the playing time (83% snaps played) was a career-high, and better days will certainly be ahead for the Atlanta passing attack. I expect Mike Zimmer is going to place a priority on stopping Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, which would open things up for Hurst to do damage as an intermediate target for Matt Ryan. I have the former first-round pick as a low-end TE1.


Thumbs Up: Cameron Brate (v GB)

For those who didn’t hear it on last Thursday night’s broadcast, Tom Brady has apparently been clamoring for Brate to get more playing time, and his showing against the Bears (five receptions for 44 yards on six targets) was a good start as Tampa Bay adjusts the offense to play without O.J. Howard (Achilles). Now, the probable return of Chris Godwin will lower Brate’s floor, but he is still worth a flier for those hurting at the position.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Zach Ertz (v BAL)

There are two big things working against Ertz this week as a top-five option. First of all, he has personally struggled with just five receptions for 15 scoreless yards over the past two games. Secondly, the Ravens have bolstered their pass defense to allow just three receptions for 30 scoreless yards against tight ends (after 70+ yards allowed in each of the first three games). The state of the position is the only thing keeping Ertz in TE1 range at this point.


Thumbs Down: Gerald Everett (@ SF)

Everett is coming off his best game of the year with four receptions (on four targets) for 90 yards, but the inconsistency projects to be highlighted against a San Francisco that has limited him to six receptions for 20 scoreless yards in six career matchups. Sean McVay’s evolving offense could end up being more aggressive targeting the perimeter on Sunday night to avoid Fred Warner and the playmakers in the middle.


Thumbs Down: Colts TEs (v CIN)

The tight end version of Baltimore’s backfield, Jack Doyle, Trey Burton, and Mo Alie-Dox essentially cancel one another out in Indy’s tight end group, and it’s anyone’s guess as to who might produce in any given week. We’ll see what happens, but the aforementioned breakout game I expect for Jonathan Taylor could leave little room for the passing attack to produce in Week 6.


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