Now that the Jaguars have had a week to look at film, reflect on what did and didn't work, and adjust their gameplan to fit, I am picking the Week 6 matchup against the Bears sieve-like defense for the passing game to take center stage once again. Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Julius Thomas, Marqise Lee (in deeper PPR formats), and T.J. Yeldon (PPR formats) are all worth playing this week, and would consider doubling them up if you own more than one of them.
As seems to be our custom this season, fantasy owners are officially without another player they drafted due to another Injured Reserve move. The Jets officially placed WR Erik Decker on the I.R., which means owners can cut him and pick up a hot FA like Cameron Meredith, Sammy Coates, or Jeremy Kerley. I like Meredith and Coates far more than Kerley, given the 49ers' offensive problems and their move back to Colin Kaepernick at QB. Be aware and beware.
This week the Vikings and Bucs are on a bye, so make sure you get Sam Bradford, Jameis Winston, and Mike Evans out of your lineups. Speaking of the Bucs, I've gotten a lot of questions about Bucs RB Jacquizz Rodgers. Should you pick him up, drop him, or hold him? I'd cut him with Doug Martin coming back after their bye this week, and grab a guy like Broncos RB Devontae Booker.
The Broncos haven't shown much loyalty to C.J. Anderson in the past, and Booker's snaps are increasing. I don't think the Broncos make a drastic move on the depth chart, but if you are desperate for RB depth… Booker is worth grabbing if you own Rodgers.
P.S. Redskins TE Jordan Reed didn't practice Wednesday, and is being evaluated for a concussion. The NFL is taking no risks when it comes to concussions these days, so this development puts his Week 6 availability in doubt. Go grab Vernon Davis just in case!
Russell Wilson – Seahawks: It has been hard to find reasons to keep Wilson on your fantasy roster this season given the numbers he put up in Weeks 1-3. Week 4 was much better as Wilson lit up the Jets for 309 yards and 3 touchdowns. Wilson has been a slow starter in the past, and it is my belief that he will find a new gear now that he is past his bye.
This week the Seahawks get the Falcons, a defense that generously gives up 26.8 fantasy PPG to QBs this season. In case you were wondering, that number ranks them dead last for fantasy defenses against QBs. Wilson is my #1 ranked QB for Week 6.
Blake Bortles – Jaguars: Bortles is my sleeper nominee for Week 6 against a leaky Bears defense. If the Jaguars can commit to the passing game, Robinson, Hurns, Thomas, and even Lee (again, in deeper PPR formats) have a real chance to put up numbers. And since nobody outside of Jacksonville seems to give the Jaguars offense any credit, they could all be dirt-cheap for those who play DFS formats.
The Bears give up 19.2 PPG to QBs this season, putting them right around the middle of the pack. Bortles, though, is an above average QB with great weapons around him to really take advantage of a Bears defense that is riddled with injuries. I'm looking for at least 300 yards and 3 TDs from Bortles this week.
Jonathan Stewart – Panthers: Stewart is back, and not a moment too soon for owners who were sick of trying to figure out if they should start Cameron Artis-Payne or Fozzy Whittaker, or sit them both. On top of that, he gets a dream matchup against a Saints defense that seemingly lets RBs run up and down the field on them at will.
With the Saints giving up 30.4 PPG to RBs, 5.0 more points than the #2-ranked Chargers, it is hard to imagine why those big box websites are ranking him as an RB2/Flex. Even with it being his first game back, I am looking for a big game this weekend from Stewart.
Lamar Miller – Texans: Speaking of defenses that give up a ton of fantasy points to RBs this season, the Colts are 3rd on that list with 24.6 PPG allowed. The Texans get the luxury of facing the Colts at home, and the matchup couldn't come at a better time given the horrific play of Brock Osweiler at QB, and the loss of J.J. Watt at DE. They need a confidence builder, and this should be just that.
Miller is the Texans' lead dog in the backfield, and the Colts are fresh out of electronic collars to keep him in line. If the coaching staff buys into the run, and the defense can keep the game close, Miller has the prime matchup to get back to his RB1 numbers after last week's hiccup.
Allen Hurns – Jaguars: Allen Robinson is the big dog in the Jaguars kennel, but Hurns is a pit bull that nobody sees coming until it is too late. Hurns was solid as a rookie, racking up a 51/677/6 line, but broke out as a sophomore with his 64/1,034/10 line. This year has started slow for Hurns, managing just one touchdown through 4 games, but he has been able to grab a respectable 15 passes for 226 yards.
This week he gets a Bears secondary that has been liberal against No. 2 WRs Will Fuller (5/107/1), Nelson Agholor (4/42/0), Cole Beasley (7/73/0), and Terrance Williams (4/88/0) this year. They are very burnable, and I am hoping Bortles hits the field throwing lit matches on Sunday!
Brandin Cooks – Saints: Outside of his Week 1 performance of 6 receptions, 143 yards, and 2 touchdowns, Cooks has been more of a bust than a boom for owners who drafted him as their WR1. It's hard to own a WR in an offense that spreads the ball around as much as the Saints do. But it's also hard to pass up their No. 1 WR because you know those Week 1 games are possible.
This week I am looking for Cooks to get back to his winning ways against a Panthers secondary that showed every weakness they had against Julio Jones (12/300/1) in Week 4. No, I don't think it is even in the realm of possibility that Cooks goes off for 300 yards this week. But could he revisit that 6/143/2 line from Week 1? Yes.
Coby Fleener – Saints: When Fleener came to the Saints, it was hoped by most that he would fill the old Jimmy Graham role of being Drew Brees' go-to guy in the redzone. Fleener started the season slow as he was finding it hard to adjust to the Saints offense, but found his groove in Week 3 when he reeled in 7 of 11 targets for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Fleener did regress in Week 4 against the Chargers (3/19/0), but the Saints were sure to work on getting him involved during their bye week. TE coach Dan Campbell said, "I feel like over the last two or three weeks here, he's really starting to say, 'OK, I got it, I understand what's going on. I know what Drew's (Brees) looking for.'" I'm looking for Fleener to put up TE1 numbers this week, and feel confident starting him as such.
Tennessee Titans defense: The best way to pick a fantasy defense this year is to download the Browns schedule, and just pick up whoever they play. This week it happens to be the Titans, who are putting up low-end Def1 numbers so far this season. They have 12.0 sacks (12th in NFL), and their 6 interceptions and 87 points allowed are both ranked 7th.
Josh McCown is back on the practice field, but throwing the ball and taking hits in a game is a different thing. Cody Kessler will start this week, and he is easily the worst starting QB in the NFL. It's not all his fault, but I am positive the Titans are going to pressure him all game long. I'd put the Titans right up there with the Bills and Cardinals defenses as must-starts for Week 6.
Eli Manning – Giants: Manning started the season hot, throwing 3 TDs against the Cowboys in Week 1. Since then he has managed to throw more INTs (3) than TDs (2). What's more, the Giants have lost 3 straight games, and they have a real mess on their hands with this whole Odell Beckham Jr. situation. The way that ownership spoke about ODB to the media is sure to rub him the wrong way, and that tension is bound to spill out on the field.
Manning needs Beckham playing at 100 percent, and you really have to wonder where his head is after the recent problems on the field. Victor Cruz is a No. 2 WR at best, and more like a No. 3 in fantasy, and Sterling Shepard is a rookie and will continue to be up and down as all rookies are.
Matt Ryan – Falcons: Ryan has been en fuego for most of this season, ranking out as fantasy football's #1 overall QB right now. This week, however, he runs into the #1-ranked defense in the NFL when it comes to stopping the QB, the Seattle Seahawks. Their Legion of Boom is back in full effect, as they've allowed just one passing TD to their 4 INTs this season.
Ryan has the weapons to be successful, but the Seahawks have the players to stop them. I'd bet more on the Seahawks shutting them down than I would on the Falcons finding the holes nobody else could in their defense. Ryan is a QB2 this week.
Jeremy Hill – Bengals: It's been a tough season for the Bengals as a whole, struggling to find their identity under new OC Ken Zampese, while being without their star TE, Tyler Eifert. Hill owners are especially frustrated because outside of his RB1 game in Week 3 game against the Broncos (97 yards and 2 TDs), he hasn't given them much in the way of a return on their investment. I do believe that he will return to those RB1 ways when Eifert is back, because people underestimate just how much he opens up the passing game when on the field. Open the passing game, and you back defenses up and also open up those running lanes.
This week the Bengals get Tom Brady and the Patriots, in his second game back from suspension. The Browns were just a tune-up for Brady (406 yards and 3 TDs), and my gut tells me the Patriots take off the training wheels this week and push him down a steep statistical hill. If the Patriots get out in front, Hill's role goes right out the window. I'd play Giovanni Bernard long before I'd play Hill this week.
Todd Gurley – Rams: I get a ton of questions asking about trades involving Gurley, so I've been digging into his stats a little more than normal this week. Did you know he ranks 1st for positional players with an Offensive Percentage (rushing attempts and targets a player has, divided by total offensive plays for that team) number of 42 percent? He also ranks 3rd in the NFL with 105 carries, yet drops all the way down to 19th for rushing yards (288).
The Lions haven't given up a rushing touchdown this season, and are allowing just 15.2 PPG to RBs this year, the 12th-fewest in the NFL. The Rams passing game is in shambles, which means defenses can just key in on stopping Gurley all season long.
Jeremy Kerley – 49ers: Kerley is going to be a popular waiver wire addition this week, as he has clearly taken the 49ers No. 1 WR role after posting 14 catches, 190 yards, and 2 TDs the past two games. With that said, the Niners are making a switch at QB, going from Blaine Gabbert to Colin Kaepernick. Because of that, there are very real concerns about how the offensive production will go against a very tough Bills defense.
Kaepernick is more known for not standing for the national anthem than he is for his football skill on the field these days, so it really is anyone's guess as to what happens this week. I'd pass on playing anyone on the 49ers outside of Carlos Hyde if at all possible.
Terrelle Pryor – Browns: For all the same reasons I think the Titans defense is a great play this weekend, I think Pryor is a bad play. Cody Kessler is banged up, and the worst fantasy QB in the NFL so far, and Josh McCown isn't ready to return from injury.
The reality about Pryor is he's had one good game so far (Week 3: 8/144/0), causing owners to chase those stats in Weeks 4 & 5. Pryor's fantasy floor seems to be about 5/50/0, putting him in the WR3 talk in PPR formats, and WR4 rankings in standard leagues.
Hunter Henry – Chargers: With Antonio Gates back in the fold for the Chargers, Henry's targets and snaps come into serious question. He will remain a factor in the redzone, but Gates is obviously the top man on the totem pole.
With the TE position already being a boom-or-bust gamble in fantasy football, you can't afford to have a guy in your lineup that is No. 2 on his team's depth chart. Henry owners are going to have the same dilemma that Martellus Bennett owners are this week: do we play him, hold him, or cut him? As for me, I'd hold and play the guy you drafted.
Carolina Panthers defense: The Panthers were expected to be a top-5 fantasy defense this year by most, but have shown the chinks in their armor after trying to build a secondary with the Moneyball philosophy. So far they've given up fewer than 20 points in just 1 game this year, and have currently allowed the 8th-most points (127) in the NFL.
It's not that their defense has been terrible, but teams have been shown the blueprint of how to burn them, and they are following it. This week they head to New Orleans to take on a Saints offense that is averaging 28.5 PPG (real life), and coming off their bye. I'd pick up the Titans if possible and play them.