While a few fantasy football elites might seem matchup-proof, critical start-or-sit decisions often hinge on which defenses your players are up against.
If you exploited the Seattle Seahawks-Los Angeles Rams showdown in Week 5, you probably laughed your way to the fantasy bank following that 59-point display. If you stacked your lineup with Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans, you fared even better as they combined for 85 points and a wealth of fantasy riches.
With the Week 6 slate offering the usual allotment of potential shootouts and grind-it-out defensive struggles, we'll help steer you in the right direction with start, sit and sleeper recommendations at the three most critical spots in fantasy football.
Start: Tom Brady, New England Patriots vs. New York Giants
Tom Terrific hasn't always looked the part this season, but give him an exploitable defense and he'll tear it to shreds.
In fact, if you could erase the Week 4 nail-biter against the Buffalo Bills, his average output has been 25 completions for 314.8 yards and 2.5 touchdowns. Provided you aren't rostering Patrick Mahomes, those are statistics you'd take almost any week.
And that might only be the 42-year-old's basement for Week 6, with the Giants coming to town on Thursday.
New York has been on the wrong end of three different quarterback eruptions already. Dak Prescott and Jameis Winston both cleared 350 yards with ease and combined for seven passing touchdowns. Even Kirk Cousins snapped out of his season-long fantasy funk to put up 306 yards and two scores on Sunday.
Expect Brady to make several trips through the all-you-can-eat buffet against this defense.
Sit: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
If the streaming route has steered you to Matthew Stafford at any point this season, chances are you've been pleased with the results. He's had multiple passing touchdowns in three of his four outings and topped 240 passing yards in each of those contests.
But Green Bay's defense could keep his output in check.
While the Packers just allowed 463 passing yards to Prescott, they also picked him off three times, giving them the No. 2 spot with seven interceptions. They also allowed just one touchdown strike through the first three weeks, and despite surrendering three touchdown tosses to Carson Wentz, they still held him to 160 passing yards.
There are too many ways for this game to go south to recommend trusting Stafford.
Sleeper: Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New Orleans Saints
Gardner Minshew II might possess the best mustache in the business, but that doesn't help your fantasy team. What could, though, is a date with a New Orleans defense that has surrendered multiple scores to four of the five quarterbacks it has faced.
Admittedly, this is a desperation play. Minshew quarterbacks a team built to win with defense and rushing. His receiving core and offensive line both leave much to be desired.
That said, he's thrown two touchdowns in four of his five games, and he's coming off a 374-yard, two-score performance. If you need a streamer, he's available in 77 percent of Yahoo leagues, per Fantasy Pros.
Start: Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
When is it worth buying into a rusher trapped in a running-back-by-committee situation? When said rusher's team just racked up 40 rushing attempts in a single contest.
While we won't venture to guess which running back is favored in Kyle Shanahan's offense, we will note this run-heavy approach can support multiple fantasy-relevant backs.
Matt Breida barely garnered a quarter of the team's carries Monday night (11), but he still supplied 114 rushing yards, three receptions for 15 yards and two touchdowns.
With jets like his, he doesn't need a ton of carries to make a massive impact. He's had at least 88 scrimmage yards each of the past three weeks, and now he's drawing a Rams defense that's allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing rushers, per Yahoo Sports.
Sit: Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers
Feeling gutsy? Like sitting-your-first-round-pick kind of gutsy? Then, consider giving Todd Gurley a week off during this critical NFC West collision.
The Rams clearly have him on some kind of pitch count, as he's yet to top 16 rushes. That has made him more touchdown-reliant than you might think. He hasn't topped 70 rushing yards since Week 1, and he's only produced double-digit receiving yardage once.
Maybe his fantasy owners haven't noticed, since he's already put five touchdowns on the table. But if you're needing him to find the end zone, the stat sheet says this is the worst possible matchup.
The 49ers are the only team that hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown this season, and the next running back to clear 100 scrimmage yards against them will be the first.
Sleeper: Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins vs. Washington Redskins
Wait, are we really recommending trotting out a player who's trapped in the Dolphins' fish tank? For this week and this matchup, yes, we're really going there.
Kenyan Drake is good, and not just good for a Dolphins player. Miami could surely stand to lean on him harder, but that's difficult when this team is constantly playing catch-up.
That may not be the case Sunday when the winless, Jay Gruden-less Redskins visit South Florida. Washington is almost as anemic on offense (281 yards, 14.6 points per game), so the Dolphins should have a chance to establish their ground game.
Drake's ability as a rusher (3.6 yards per carry) and receiver (8.2 yards per catch) give him RB2 upside this week—and maybe this week alone.
Start: Josh Gordon, New England Patriots vs. New York Giants
Choosing the right Patriots wide receiver for fantasy purposes can sometimes feel like picking a name out of a hat. There isn't always a rhyme or reason to the process, and Josh Gordon's week-to-week numbers reflect that.
The 28-year-old has laid a few eggs with sub-50-yard, scoreless performances. He's also topped 70 yards twice, scoring in one of those contests and grabbing a season-high six receptions in the other.
Two things stand out as positives for Week 6.
The first is a juicy matchup against the Giants. Five different receivers have found the end zone against New York, and four have reached the century mark. This pass defense just made Cousins fantasy-relevant for crying out loud.
The second plus for Gordon is his increasing involvement in the offense. While it would help if he hauled in more of his targets (19 catches on 35 passes), at least balls are coming his direction. After being targeted nine times in the first two weeks combined, he's been targeted 26 times in the three games since.
Sit: Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles
This is tricky.
Week 6 should look encouraging for Stefon Diggs. The matchup is great—no team allows more fantasy points to receivers than the Eagles—and his quarterback just played his best game of the season.
But how can anyone feel comfortable with whatever is going on with the 25-year-old? The Vikings have fined him more than $200,000 for "unexcused absences from practices and meetings," per ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter, and he was largely left out of this passing attack's awakening on Sunday (three catches on four targets for 44 yards).
Diggs might have been a fantasy monster just last season, but the only thing scary about him this year are his stats. He's only found the end zone once, and he has all of one game with more than 50 receiving yards.
Sleeper: Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets
Either fantasy owners are slow to react to this fast-starter, or they're still catching up to the fact Michael Gallup returned in Week 5 after only a two-game absence following knee surgery.
No matter the reason, it is wild that he's still available in more than 30 percent of leagues on Yahoo and ESPN, per Fantasy Pros.
The 23-year-old looked special in Week 5, not only in snaring seven receptions for 113 yards and a score, but also doing so against a Green Bay Packers defense that had been elite at limiting opposing wideouts.
As CBS Sports' Chris Towers noted, though, Gallup's appeal reaches far beyond Sunday's Week 5 outburst:
"Gallup drew rave reviews for his performance in training camp, was a third-round pick just a year ago, and started to come on toward the end of last season, too. In fact, in his last seven games, including the playoffs, Gallup has 34 catches for 579 yards, and three touchdowns. Play that out over a 16-game pace, and you've got a solid No. 2 Fantasy wide receiver, at least."
Four different receivers have scored against the Jets. Six receivers have at least six catches against them. This team has already had its bye week, too, so all of that production was piled into four games. If you're planning on stacking Cowboys against the Jets, make sure Gallup is part of that strategy.