Thumbs Up of the Week: Tom Brady (@ PIT)
Brady has owned the Steelers throughout his career (12-3 record and a 34:3 touchdown-interception ratio, including playoffs), and he should again put up big-time numbers after throwing for 385 yards and 351 yards over the past two weeks. Aside from Julio Jones (knee), the wideouts all being healthy makes Brady a borderline top-five quarterback option every week, and the Bucs should keep their foot on the gas after nearly blowing a 21-0 lead last week against the Falcons.
Thumbs Up: Geno Smith (v ARI)
The overall QB6 through five weeks, Smith has forced himself into the QB1 conversation, and we have him ranked as a top-ten option versus Arizona at home. Since opening up the offense in Week 3, the veteran passer has thrown for 304.3 passing yards per game with a 7:1 touchdown-interception ratio, and having DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett—combined with consistently delivering accurate passes—has made it a legitimate career resurgence for Smith.
Thumbs Up: Jimmy Garoppolo (@ ATL)
As expected, Garoppolo is back to looking like himself with wins against the Rams and Panthers over the past two weeks, and the aggressiveness of Atlanta’s defense could be in San Francisco’s favor on Sunday; one missed tackle versus Deebo Samuel or another pass-catcher could provide a major boost to Jimmy G’s numbers. Overall, the Falcons are allowing the fourth-most passing yards per game in the league (278.2), so Garoppolo should be a solid QB2.
Thumbs Up: Carson Wentz (@ CHI)
Finding a fourth option isn’t easy with the bye weeks kicking in, but Wentz cracks the top 15 at quarterback with 313+ passing yards in three-of-five games to begin the year—and he could have a bit of a chip on his shoulder following comments made by Ron Rivera this week (despite the clarifications). For his career, Wentz has played extremely well on Thursday nights with a 6-0 record and 15:2 touchdown-interception ratio.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Matthew Stafford (v CAR)
Perhaps facing a team that just fired their head coach will be a get-right opportunity for the Los Angeles offense, but Stafford is the QB26 through five weeks—and Carolina has a bunch of promising players on defense to make it another long day. Although it’s worth noting that the Panthers have recorded the third-fewest sacks in the NFL (eight), I’d much rather turn to a possible streamer like Geno Smith or Carson Wentz for Week 6.
Thumbs Down: Marcus Mariota (v SF)
Rushing production is always a factor for Mariota, and the 49ers potentially being without Nick Bosa (groin) would make the matchup more favorable on Sunday. That said, Atlanta’s quarterback has thrown for just 185.2 yards per game for a run-first offense, and San Francisco’s defense—with DeMeco Ryans calling the shots—has been stingier than ever with more interceptions (five) than passing touchdowns allowed (two). It’s probably best to look elsewhere.
Thumbs Down: Matt Ryan (v JAX)
The Jaguars dominated the Colts less than a month ago, and an ugly win over the Broncos last Thursday night isn’t reason to believe Indy has things figured out offensively. In the first meeting, Ryan was 16-of-30 passing for 195 yards, zero touchdowns, and three interceptions while being sacked five times, and Denver getting him to six sacks in Week 5 isn’t a good sign for the outlook this weekend. The Colts finally giving Jonathan Taylor opportunities as a pass-catcher in space is the best chance for Matty Ice to return QB2 value.
Thumbs Down: Kenny Pickett (v TB)
Pickett facing the Bills and Buccaneers in his first two career starts is an unenviable position for a rookie quarterback, and Tampa Bay—currently third in the league with 19 sacks—could be in his face all afternoon versus a shaky offensive line. More concerning than losing individual matchups up front is the fact that Todd Bowles will be sending the house with creative blitzes that Pickett will need to handle, so he carries a very low floor for Week 6.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Melvin Gordon III (@ LAC)
Gordon turned 18 touches into 103 yards last week, and while I’m worried about his long-term workhorse potential with Latavius Murray on the team (and Mike Boone playing well), Monday night feels like a spot where he might be featured against his former team. Any changes made for the Chargers to correct their run defense from a season ago haven’t worked, as the unit is allowing an NFL-high 5.8 yards per carry—so I have Gordon as a low-end RB1 that can have a great night if he holds onto the ball and remains involved as a receiver.
Thumbs Up: Ken Walker III (v ARI)
The second part of a regal combination at the top of the Thumbs Up options for running back, Walker is set to draw his first career start this weekend with Rashaad Penny (leg) done for the year—and the rookie showed what he could do last week on a 69-yard touchdown run. Walker should immediately handle 15+ touches, has underrated ability as a pass-catcher, and played 30 snaps (compared to ten for DeeJay Dallas) in Week 5. He’s a rest-of-season RB2 option.
Thumbs Up: Brian Robinson Jr. (@ CHI)
Robinson Jr. immediately led the Washington backfield in his career debut, and now he’ll get a chance to breakout on Thursday night for a matchup versus a Chicago defense that’s allowing the second-most rushing yards per game in the league (170.0). I’d anticipate any goal-line opportunities will go to Robinson Jr. because of his reliability in terms of ball security, and he should be a clear FLEX that could play his way into the RB2 ranks.
Thumbs Up: Eno Benjamin (@ SEA)
The speculation is that James Conner (ribs) will suit up this week, but Benjamin—talked up all offseason—should get a bigger chunk of the work as the only healthy running back standing for the Cardinals. Seattle is the only team in the league allowing more rushing yards per game than the Bears (170.2), and Benjamin turned 11 touches into 53 yards and a score in last week’s loss. Consider him a quality FLEX as a standalone option and a top-20 play if Conner is out.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Najee Harris (v TB)
Harris is the opposite of Melvin Gordon III as the Thumbs Up of the Week for me, as I’m still optimistic about his long-term outlook for the season—but wouldn’t feel good about his RB1 chances against the Buccaneers. Even with them showing some holes, Tampa Bay is allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, and the overall struggles for Pittsburgh could lead to them falling behind early and not giving Harris a chance to get going. He’s more of a low-ceiling RB2 in Week 6.
Thumbs Down: Cam Akers (v CAR)
Coming off a game in which he saw 13 carries with Darrell Henderson seeing zero had to be encouraging for those hoping Akers can get going—but he rushed for just 33 yards and is now down to 3.0 yards per carry on the year. As stated, the Panthers have some good, young pieces on defense, so them coming out fired up to stop the Rams is very possible. I’d recommend listening to this week’s episode of The Fantasy Consigliere Podcast to get more thoughts on the LA backfield (and offense in general).
Thumbs Down: Chase Edmonds (v MIN)
Since handling 16 touches in the opener, Edmonds has seen touch totals of six, seven, seven, and one over the past four games—making it impossible to trust him in lineups. I’d hold onto Edmonds with the hopes that he becomes more involved (including as a pass-catcher), but backups like Joshua Kelley and Tevin Coleman are better options at the moment.
Thumbs Down: Falcons RBs (v SF)
I had the Atlanta running backs here last week, and it turned out to be a headache for fantasy owners with Tyler Allgeier (13 carries for 45 yards) and Caleb Huntley (eight carries for 34 yards) struggling while Avery Williams found the end zone on one of his three carries. Now, Damien Williams (ribs) is eligible to return from IR, so this is a situation to avoid altogether against a tough San Francisco defense on Sunday.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Tyler Lockett (v ARI)
The numbers for Lockett against the Cardinals over the past two seasons speak for themselves, as he’s gone for lines of 15/200/3, 9/67/1, 4/115, and 5/98/2—doing so with extreme efficiency by catching 33-of-39 targets over that span. Plus, Lockett has cleared 76 receiving yards in every game since Week 1, and the play of Geno Smith gives him both a high floor and ceiling for what’s turned into a high-powered offense.
Thumbs Up: Darnell Mooney (v WAS)
Mooney only has 21 targets through five games, but I’m hopeful that his highlight catch last week will lead to more opportunities for a guy that had a 1,000-yard campaign in 2021. The Commanders allowed a career day to DeVonta Smith earlier this season (8/169/1), and Mooney has a similar skillset with the ability to make plays down the field. He’ll carry a low floor as the part of a struggling passing attack, but I get the feeling that Mooney will come through on Thursday night.
Thumbs Up: DeVante Parker (@ CLE)
Many will be completely avoiding Parker after he played a season-low 52% of the team’s offensive snaps and didn’t catch a pass last week, but I love the matchup versus Cleveland’s smaller cornerback group—which we just saw Mike Williams take advantage of in Week 5. The increased confidence of Bailey Zappe coming off a win might make him more likely to target Parker in contested coverage, and Cleveland making it a closer game than Detroit did should lead to the veteran seeing his playing time increase.
Thumbs Up: Tyler Boyd (@ NO)
I have doubts about Tee Higgins (ankle)—after spending most of Sunday night on the sideline for a massive game against Baltimore—suiting up this weekend, so Boyd is in position to be the No. 2 wideout for the Bengals. Ja’Marr Chase has been a little too quiet recently and might go off in his first game against the hometown Saints, but there are enough targets to go around for Boyd to be a strong WR3 option, and he will see routine single coverage in the slot.
Others: JuJu Smith-Schuster (v BUF), Rondale Moore (@ SEA)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Drake London (v SF)
The production in October (six receptions for 52 scoreless yards in two games) has fallen off from September (lines of 5/74, 8/86/1, and 3/54/1), and the struggles for London could continue for a matchup against the 49ers. Since the opener, San Francisco hasn’t allowed a touchdown to an opposing wide receiver, but that might be what London needs to pay dividends as a WR2 option.
Thumbs Down: Amari Cooper (v NE)
The Chargers didn’t take away Cooper as I thought might happen last week, but New England—with Bill Belichick as their head coach and coming off a shutout victory—are in much better position to actually accomplish the goal of eliminating a major threat for the opposition. Perhaps heavy boxes will lead to one-on-one coverage that Cooper will take advantage of, but he’s been limited to 27.7 receiving yards per game in three matchups versus the Patriots.
Thumbs Down: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (v BUF)
A season-best performance for Valdes-Scantling on Monday night was encouraging, and he further established himself as the clear No. 2 wideout with six receptions for 90 yards on 81% of the offensive snaps played. However, we are still waiting for the successful downfield shots to be there, and I doubt they come against the shell coverage of the Bills this week. For me, JuJu Smith-Schuster is the preferred play if you start a Kansas City wideout.
Thumbs Down: Allen Robinson II (v CAR)
While I’m still holding Robinson with the belief things will eventually click, he should be kept on the bench for the rest of the month with a bye week sandwiched by matchups against the Panthers and 49ers. Just focusing on this week, Robinson will be matched up against emerging shutdown cornerback Jaycee Horn for much of the day, and the offense will continue to funnel through Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee.
Others: D.J. Moore (@ LAR), Jarvis Landry (v CIN)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Dawson Knox (@ KC)
Fantasy owners have seemed to sour on Knox due to a slow start, but the touchdowns will eventually come—and he’s scored in two-of-three career matchups against the Chiefs (including playoffs). In last year’s regular season win, Knox caught three passes for 117 yards and a touchdown, and he could see favorable coverage this week if Kansas City is focused on not allowing Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis to go off.
Thumbs Up: Robert Tonyan (v NYJ)
Tonyan is another option hoping to find more touchdown luck with just one on the season, but he’s been involved every week by catching multiple passes in all five games. The Jets have allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing tight ends three times this year, and Tonyan can attack the middle of the field to avoid Ahmad Gardner and D.J. Reed on the outside.
Thumbs Up: Irv Smith Jr. (@ MIA)
The targets and playing time for Smith Jr. have been stabilized since a zero-catch opener, and he’s seen a healthy 5.8 targets per game over the past four weeks. Miami has allowed a couple of big games to opposing tight ends this season—including 9/104/1 to Mark Andrews—and Smith Jr. is a quality streaming option if available in your league.
Thumbs Down of the Week: None
I foolishly believed tight end might be deeper this year, but it continues to be a wasteland if you don’t have an elite option or hit on someone like David Njoku or Taysom Hill. With bye weeks now started, Hunter Henry (@ CLE) and Cameron (@ PIT) are among the other options to consider—whether it be for a redraft league or DFS play.