Thumbs Up of the Week: Joe Burrow (v SEA)
Burrow said the calf issue was behind him entering Week 5, and the results were difficult to argue with as he threw for 317 yards and three touchdowns (one interception) in a 34-20 victory over Arizona. Now taking on a Seattle defense that has allowed 323+ passing yards in all but one game this season (the terrible Monday night showing from the Giants), Burrow should be back as a comfortable QB1 option for a potential shootout.
Thumbs Up: Jared Goff (@ TB)
Tampa Bay will be fresh coming out of the bye week and could be a challenge for Detroit’s offense, but Goff has been playing perhaps the best football of his career to remain a top-ten option at quarterback. Even without Amon-Ra St. Brown (abdomen) in the lineup last week, Goff still put up 27.44 fantasy points, and he’s thrown for 446.5 yards per game in two matchups against Todd Bowles’ defense (both with the Rams). If somehow still available, Goff should be added immediately.
Thumbs Up: Dak Prescott (@ LAC)
Whether it be due to a tough opponents or Dallas easily winning, the schedule has not been favorable for Prescott to begin 2023—but he’ll now take on a Chargers defense that has already been torched by Tua Tagovailoa (466 yards and three touchdowns) and Kirk Cousins (367 yards and three touchdowns) this year. While Prescott needs to play better, he’s in a great spot for that to happen, and I get the feeling CeeDee Lamb will have a monster game on Monday night in a high-scoring affair.
Thumbs Up: Russell Wilson (@ KC)
Last year was obviously not the best season for Wilson, but he did have two of his top performances against the Chiefs—including a combined eight carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. And this year, Wilson has not been the problem for the 1-4 Broncos, so I like him as a borderline QB1/QB2 in a game that Denver will need to score points in if they want to at least keep it close. Just keep an eye on the weather leading up to kickoff with rain and wind currently in the forecast.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Sam Howell (@ ATL)
The raw numbers last week for Howell—with 388 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception—are very misleading, as Washington was playing from behind all night while facing soft coverage in the second half. Atlanta has mostly been able to play low-scoring games this year, and Howell needs to stop absorbing sacks to stay ahead of the sticks and keep the Commanders on the field in what will be a ball-control game on Sunday. I’d view the second-year passer as a low-end QB2 play.
Thumbs Down: Deshaun Watson (v SF)
The shoulder injury for Watson has been a bit of a mystery, but if he suits up this weekend, it won’t be a good spot as the ferocious San Francisco defense comes to town. In addition to being less than 100% throwing the ball, Watson would probably be less likely to be aggressive as a runner, which is a big reason to consider him as an option in the first place. Having been sacked 12 times in three games, there is also the possibility of Watson getting pulled early if the offensive line doesn’t hold up versus Nick Bosa and company.
Thumbs Down: Gardner Minshew (@ JAX)
Minshew led the Colts to a win over the Ravens in Week 3, and he’s been a very steady hand in relief for Indy’s other two wins this year. That said, Jacksonville has growing confidence as a defense and team after a successful trip across the pond, and Minshew absorbed five sacks in his first start, which could lead to another huge day for Josh Allen on the edge. Fantasy owners should probably go with an option that has more upside.
Thumbs Down: Brock Purdy (@ CLE)
As the overall QB5 on the season, Purdy is hot enough to start versus a Cleveland defense allowing just 11.6 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks; but if there was a time to have him benched, this is it—especially if Deshaun Watson is out to decrease the overall scoring potential of the matchup. Purdy’s success has come with 20 or fewer completions in all but one game this season, so not hitting on chunk plays and/or scores could lead to a modest fantasy output in Week 6.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Raheem Mostert (v CAR)
De’Von Achane (knee) has been placed on injured reserve and will be out until November, so Mostert is now the clear lead back for Miami—and his touchdown potential should be increased again after beginning the season with seven scores in three games. Carolina has perhaps the worst run defense in the league (Achane would have been a top-three play if he was healthy), so Mostert is at least a borderline RB1/RB2 that needs to be locked into lineups.
Thumbs Up: Rhamondre Stevenson (@ LV)
Stevenson didn’t pan out as a recommended start last week with the Patriots getting shutout, and he’s down to 2.8 yards per carry on the season. However, I think Bill Belichick “starting over” will mean a heavy dose of Stevenson against a Las Vegas defense that allowed Green Bay’s rushing attack to wake up last week, and New England’s starter went off with 19 carries for 172 yards and one touchdown in this matchup last December. I’d give it one more week to see if Stevenson can get on track as an RB2 option.
Thumbs Up: Roschon Johnson (v MIN)
Khalil Herbert (ankle) is set to miss extended time, so Johnson—assuming he clears the concussion protocol—will get an opportunity to be the lead back starting this week against Minnesota. The Vikings are allowing just 3.5 yards per carry on the season, but Johnson should be in line to 15-20 touches, including work in the passing game. Consider the rookie a low-end RB2 with Brian Flores’ defense maybe focusing on stopping Justin Fields.
Thumbs Up: Jaleel McLaughlin (@ KC)
The status of Javonte Williams (quad) is unclear after he missed Week 5 despite a full practice on Friday, and it’s possible Sean Payton simply wants to see more of McLaughlin after he impressed with 89 yards and a score on 12 touches against the Jets. At worst, the undrafted rookie should be an upside FLEX option on a short week, and the Chiefs can be susceptible to production through the air from opposing running backs.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Jahmyr Gibbs (@ TB)
Perhaps he will breakout just when everyone least expects it, but the combination of David Montgomery being the clear workhorse for Detroit and Tampa Bay still having a top-ten run defense pushes Gibbs to the FLEX end of the low-end RB2/FLEX rankings. From a long-term perspective, it might make sense to check in on the value of Gibbs if he is quiet over the next two weeks (@ TB, v BAL) before the schedule lightens up and the Lions potentially find ways to involve him more as a pass-catcher after a Week 9 bye.
Thumbs Down: Jerome Ford (v SF)
It’s been masked by a two-touchdown performance in the first game without Nick Chubb (knee), but Ford has rushed 19 times for 44 yards (2.3 yards per carry) in two starts this season, and I don’t think he’ll suddenly get rolling against a San Francisco defense that’s allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game (64.2) in the league. That’s especially true if Deshaun Watson is out again, so Ford is a touchdown-dependent FLEX that fantasy owners will hope gets work in the passing game, too.
Thumbs Down: Chuba Hubbard (@ MIA)
Hubbard has seen more of an even split with Miles Sanders over the past couple of games, but the offense for Carolina simply isn’t operating at a high level through five weeks. Sunday could get very ugly on the road if Mike McDaniel’s offense gets off to a quick start, so anyone considering Hubbard as a desperation option are probably better off looking at guys such as Jeff Wilson Jr. or Cam Akers.
Thumbs Down: D’Andre Swift (@ NYJ)
After he closed out September with 305 rushing yards across two games, Swift has faced tougher boxes to begin October—averaging 4.1 yards per carry and being boosted by increased work in the passing game (ten receptions on ten targets). New York has performed well below expectations as a run defense this year, but I could see Robert Saleh wanting to be sure they aren’t pummeled on the ground against Philly, and they’ve only allowed one rushing touchdown in 2023. Swift is our overall RB20 for this week rather than a high-end RB2 option.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Chris Godwin (v DET)
Godwin had a strong game before the bye with eight receptions (on 11 targets) for 114 yards, and he’s been a reliable option in fantasy lineups outside of the Week 3 disappointment where Tampa Bay struggled against the Eagles. Ideally, the connection with Baker Mayfield will only grow as the weeks progress, and the Lions have allowed big games to Tyler Lockett (8/59/2), Romeo Doubs (9/95), and Adam Thielen (11/107/1) as wideouts that have at least some overlap in terms of role compared to Godwin. Get him in lineups as an excellent WR2.
Thumbs Up: Jahan Dotson (@ ATL)
Dotson has been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments to begin 2023, but it more to do with the Commanders not playing through him and Terry McLaurin—combined with some struggles for Sam Howell finding them when open—than anything about a lack of ability. At some point, talent will find a way to breakthrough, and Dotson should benefit this week from McLaurin drawing coverage from A.J. Terrell for most of the afternoon. Optimism has faded, but Dotson is a top-30 option for Week 6.
Thumbs Up: Jerry Jeudy (@ KC)
Jeudy is also a top-30 option, and he could have a huge night based on what he did last year in the first matchup versus Kansas City with an 8/73/3 line. Also, the former first-round pick might be getting showcased for a trade with rumors swirling, and he’s at least been a quality start with more than 50 yards in every game since his season debut. Maybe the Broncos will spread the ball around too much, but I think this is a week to get Jeudy in lineups.
Thumbs Up: K.J. Osborn (@ CHI)
Justin Jefferson (hamstring) is out for at least the next four games after being placed on injured reserve, so Osborn is positioned to be a primary target for Kirk Cousins—including this week against a Chicago defense he went for 117 yards against in the 2022 season finale. This year, the Bears have allowed the third-most passing yards per game (295.2) and the second-most passing touchdowns (12) in the league, so Osborn’s proven connection with Kirk Cousins in scoring territory should make him an option to immediately get in lineups with Jefferson down.
Others: Christian Kirk (v IND), Drake London (v WAS)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Garrett Wilson (v PHI)
The Eagles have been exposed a bit through the air this season, but I assume New York not really having a feared option behind Wilson at wide receiver will lead to him getting plenty of attention—putting him in the low-end WR3 ranks on Sunday. So far this season, Wilson has been limited to 60 or fewer yards in all but one game, and that came thanks to a 68-yard catch-and-run versus Dallas (with only one other reception against them). If you have options, it might be wise to use one of them in place of the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year this week.
Thumbs Down: Terry McLaurin (@ ATL)
I get the feeling as I type this that McLaurin might have a big game if Washington simply tries to play through him, but there’s not really an indication of that happening. In terms of the matchup, though, the Falcons have limited top perimeter options Jonathan Mingo (2/17), Romeo Doubs (2/30), Josh Reynolds (0/0), Calvin Ridley (2/38/1), and Nico Collins (3/39) so far this season—putting McLaurin in danger of another quiet game if the trend continues.
Thumbs Down: Amari Cooper (v SF)
Cooper is a “Thumbs Down” even under the assumption that Deshaun Watson will play this week, as he’s already a hit-or-miss option and will be taking on a San Francisco defense that limited him to three total yards the only time he’s faced them in the regular season. If Watson sits again, Cooper will fall even further than his current WR37 ranking for Week 6, so fantasy owners might want to seek alternatives if you can’t afford a low-floor outing.
Thumbs Down: Nico Collins (v NO)
A monster 7/168/2 line for Collins is sandwiched by two sub-par performances, and he is set to draw coverage from Marshon Lattimore this week to make him an option to avoid despite the upside shown. In short order, Houston has proven to be a team that will attack opponents based on matchups under offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, and Collins might not be a priority for this week as part of a balanced attack.
Others: Courtland Sutton (@ KC), Skyy Moore (v DEN)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Hunter Henry (@ LV)
JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) and Demario Douglas (concussion) are both highly questionable for Week 6, but that might allow New England to have the offense refocus on what they do well—which should be plenty of running that can result in play-action success. Henry was shutout last week in a tough matchup, but he cleared 50 yards in three-of-four games before that, and Mac Jones should look to him in scoring territory.
Thumbs Up: Zach Ertz (@ LAR)
Former Eagles teammate Dallas Goedert just went for an 8/117/1 line against the Rams last Sunday, and Ertz—who scored last week—has caught six passes three games already this season. Look for him to be a central part of the offense as a full-time player for Arizona, especially with James Conner (knee) out of the lineup. Ertz is at least a high-end TE2 option.
Thumbs Up: Gerald Everett (v DAL)
Cowboys-Chargers has the highest over/under of the week (50.5), and it’s never a bad idea to take a shot on a tight end in a game where points are expected to be scored. Based on how successful Kellen Moore has been at dialing things up for the position in scoring territory (including with Dallas), Everett is a good upside streamer on Monday night.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Dalton Schultz (v NO)
As mentioned last week, New Orleans allowed a touchdown to Cade Otton in Week 4, but they immediately got back to erasing opposing tight ends by holding Hunter Henry without a catch. Schultz is next on the schedule, so I wouldn’t recommend chasing the points from last week when he caught seven-of-ten targets for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Thumbs Down: David Njoku (v SF)
PJ Walker is slated to start if Deshaun Watson is out, and Cleveland probably is going with him over Dorian Thompson-Robinson because they want a guy that will play more on schedule. That could be a benefit to the pass-catchers, but San Francisco is a brutal draw for opposing tight ends, and Njoku isn’t practicing to begin the week as he deals with what head coach Kevin Stefanski called a “serious injury” from burns suffered a couple of weeks ago (despite Njoku playing through it before the bye).
Thumbs Down: Dalton Kincaid (v NYG)
Similar to Jahmyr Gibbs, it’s easy to imagine Kincaid breaking out on Sunday night—just when everyone jumps off the bandwagon—because the talent level is high. Fantasy owners are better off seeing it first, though, as Kincaid has been held to eight receptions for 49 scoreless yards over the past three weeks, and the emergence of Gabe Davis has limited his fantasy appeal. I’d rather play someone like the aforementioned Hunter Henry or Zach Ertz.