Start 'Em or Sit 'Em for Fantasy Football Week 6
The 2019 fantasy football season is five weeks old, and the world has already been turned on its head.
Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers emerging as the No. 1 running back in fantasy isn't especially shocking. It's another story entirely that he's joined in the top five by Aaron Jones of the Green Bay Packers and Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs isn't the No. 1 quarterback in NFL.com default fantasy scoring. Chris Godwin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the top-scoring wide receiver in that scoring system. The No. 1 tight end is Will Dissly of the Seattle Seahawks.
Of course, there's a disappointment for every pleasant surprise. Aaron Rodgers of the Packers. Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants. Odell Beckham Jr. of the Cleveland Browns. Whether due to injuries or game flow, all three have come nowhere near expectations.
It's all enough to make you dizzy.
We have no time for vertigo, though. Whether your season has gone well or you're trying to prevent things from coming completely unraveled, you have to keep your head on a swivel and move with the constantly changing fantasy landscape. You must make the lineup decisions that give you the best chance to win in Week 6.
I'm here to help. I've taken a look through the start/sit questions on the Bleacher Report app and selected some that will help offer insight into players who could be in for huge games or disappearing acts during this week's action.
Still can't figure out your fantasy football lineup for the week? Check out Your Fantasy Fire Drill with Matt Camp, and he'll solve your problems live. Submit your questions and tune in every Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET, only on the B/R app.
We might as well kick things off with a question regarding one of the most-talked-about players of Week 6.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V posted the sort of ridiculous stat line in Week 5 that single-handedly wins weeks: 14 receptions, 217 yards and three scores against the Atlanta Falcons.
However, that line was wasted on benches in more leagues than not because Fuller had 14 catches for 183 yards and no touchdowns over the first month of the 2019 season. That one would leave a mark.
But that's Fuller in a nutshell. Talented as he may be, he's the clear No. 2 to DeAndre Hopkins in the Houston passing game. He's the king of booms and busts, scattering the occasional huge game among several less-than-impressive ones.
That makes Fuller risky in any given week, but he's a start here.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tailback Peyton Barber is a touchdown-dependent plodder with limited upside. Terry McLaurin has been impressive as a rookie, but he's trapped in the fourth circle of football hell known as the Washington Redskins.
The Texans are going to need to air it out Sunday against a Kansas City Chiefs team still seething over its first loss of the season. Roll the dice on Fuller's sky-high ceiling.
The Call: Fuller
Howard and Who?
Well, the good news here is that you at least have a decent quartet of options from which you can choose two flex starters.
More often than not, I tend to favor running backs over wide receivers in situations like this for one simple reason: touches.
So Jordan Howard of the Philadelphia Eagles gets one slot. While he draws a brutal matchup against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6, he has 28 carries for 149 yards and three scores over the past two weeks. He's also Philly's goal-line back. If the Eagles get close, he's a good bet for an easy short-yardage score.
That leaves a trio of wide receivers: Brandin Cooks of the Los Angeles Rams, Courtland Sutton of the Denver Broncos and Jarvis Landry of the Cleveland Browns.
Cooks plays in a high-octane offense, but he's coming off a miserable one-catch game and hasn't found the end zone since Week 2. He's also in the concussion protocol.
Landry is undoubtedly a talented veteran receiver. But if you watched the San Francisco 49ers shell the Cleveland Browns on Monday night, you know the Cleveland offense is a hot mess.
Sutton has posted an impressive 10/154/3 stat line over the past two outings and had Denver's longest touchdown catch since 2008 in last week's win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Among the receivers listed here, he's the best Week 6 play.
The Call: Howard and Sutton
Gordon vs. Ekeler
Fantasy owners were no doubt hoping this question would have answered itself by now.
And by "fantasy owners," I mean Melvin Gordon III owners.
In his first action of the season last week against the Denver Broncos, Gordon carried more of the water on the ground, out-touching Austin Ekeler 12 to three on rushes. But Ekeler was a much bigger factor in the passing game, hauling in a jaw-dropping 15 receptions compared to just four for Gordon. Ekeler also won the yardage battle by a count of 93 to 38.
And yet, Gordon should get the start.
Per ESPN's Eric D. Williams, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers insisted the team still has the utmost confidence in Gordon: "It was his first game back and his first game touching the ball live, full speed since January. He played hard and ran hard, like we know him to do."
Gordon was as much a victim of game flow as rust. The Chargers were down 14-0 in the blink of an eye and spent almost the entire afternoon in catch-up mode.
If Ekeler got the benefit of a point for each reception, it might be a different story. But facing a Pittsburgh Steelers team that could be starting an undrafted rookie third-string quarterback, the Bolts should have a much better opportunity to get Gordon going.
The Call: Gordon
A Two-Fer from Bizarro World
That these questions were posed at all shows just how weird fantasy football can be.
Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers was just about universally drafted as a top-five fantasy option under center. But through five weeks, he's 19th in fantasy points among quarterbacks.
Teddy Bridgewater of the New Orleans Saints, on the other hand, opened the season as a clipboard caddy for Drew Brees. But he's coming off a 314-yard, four-score effort in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Because of course he is.
Rodgers could also again be without his No. 1 wide receiver in Davante Adams, who is battling a toe injury.
Still, I just can't bring myself to sit him at Lambeau Field in prime time. I just can't do it. The Detroit Lions are going to sell out against the run after what Aaron Jones did to the Dallas Cowboys last week.
Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and ride with your stars.
Speaking of stars, Odell Beckham Jr. was supposed to be one in Cleveland. But he's in full-on milk-carton mode after a pair of two-catch efforts in a row.
The Cleveland offense is in a free fall. Unless you can get OBJ for a bag of kettle chips and a sixer of Old Style, let him remain someone else's problem.
The Call: Rodgers
RB or Not RB
Before we get to answering this question, I have one of my own: Any chance you can trade me a running back or two?
The first slot is an absolute no-brainer. Mark Ingram II of the Baltimore Ravens has been a top-10 fantasy option this season and draws a leaky Cincinnati Bengals defense that has surrendered the most point-per-reception fantasy points to running backs.
The second running back slot belongs to Derrick Henry, who has effectively been the offense for the Tennessee Titans through five games. Henry is averaging almost 20 carries and nearly 80 rushing yards per game with four scores, numbers that land him inside the top 12 at the position.
After watching Matt Breida peel off an 83-yard run that was the fastest an NFL player has been clocked in two years, it might seem tempting to plug him into that third slot. But Breida is also just one part of a committee in San Francisco that includes Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert.
On the other hand, Le'Veon Bell of the New York Jets doesn't have to share touches with another back. And while the Jets have been absolutely dreadful (and then some) as a team in 2019, Bell has quietly been the 11th-ranked fantasy back in PPR points per game.
LeSean McCoy has had his moments with the Kansas City Chiefs. But after an early fumble last week and with Damien Williams back, he had just two touches against the Indianapolis Colts.
Breida and Shady get the week off. Unless you want to trade them to me, of course.
The Call: Ingram, Henry, Bell
The Bye Week Blues
This is a legitimate puzzler. Except once you think about it for a second, it's really not.
Yes, the New York Jets will finally and mercifully get quarterback Sam Darnold back against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday after his bout with mononucleosis.
The Jets also draw a relatively favorable matchup. The Cowboys rank inside the top 10 in PPR fantasy points given up to the tight end position in 2019.
But Darnold hasn't seen game action since Week 1. Herndon hasn't seen game action since last season. Much has changed in New York since the finale of Herndon's impressive rookie season, and the Cowboys can't be pleased about getting thumped at home by the Green Bay Packers in Week 5.
Never mind that he's also now listed as week-to-week after injuring his hamstring while working out on his own. Looks like we'll be waiting a little longer for that 2019 debut.
Eifert might be worth a look...if this were 2015. But in 2019, he has just 13 catches for 95 yards and hasn't had more than two receptions or a touchdown since Week 2.
Two weeks ago against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gerald Everett of the Los Angeles Rams reeled in five passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. Last week against the Seattle Seahawks, he posted seven catches for 136 yards.
It's an admittedly short span, but no tight end has more PPR fantasy points than Everett over the last two weeks. Ride the hot hand.
The Call: Everett
The Bye Week Blues, Part 2
OK, now this one is the bye week blues: a choice of running backs that's the lineup equivalent of choosing between a colonoscopy and a root canal.
Either way, it's not going to be a fun afternoon.
In one corner, we have Jon Hilliman of the New York Giants, who's the last man standing in Big Blue's banged-up backfield. With both Saquon Barkley (ankle) and Wayne Gallman (concussion) iffy at best for Thursday's trip to New England, Hillman may be the lead back for the Giants by default.
In the other corner, we have Kenyan Drake, who has the dubious distinction of being the top back for the worst offense in the league. Through five games, Drake has a whopping 220 total yards and no touchdowns. He's averaging a mediocre 3.6 yards per carry.
Of course, that's better than the 2.2 yards per carry Hillman averaged against the Minnesota Vikings last week.
Neither of these backs inspires much confidence. Or any confidence. But there is one glaring difference. Drake's Dolphins face a Washington team that ranks seventh in PPR fantasy points surrendered to running backs. Hillman's Giants face a Patriots team that's dead last in the AFC in that regard.
That matchup difference is enough for me.
The Call: Drake
Hollywood Brown vs. James White
Sometimes, writing this column is emotionally painful for me, especially when I compare the tattered remains of some of my rosters to the questions posed in the Bleacher Report app.
Take this one, for example. A pretty good argument can be made that it's a no-lose situation. Both options have favorable matchups and a decent chance to post a solid stat line.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown has quickly become the No. 1 option for Lamar Jackson. The rookie is on pace to post a line of 67/1,043/10 in his first NFL season. And on Sunday, Brown and the Ravens get a Cincinnati Bengals team that is, once again, among the worst defenses in the NFL.
New England Patriots running back James White, on the other hand, hasn't quite lived up to expectations in 2019. Through five games, he ranks outside the top 25 running backs in PPR fantasy points. But Thursday night, the Patriots play host to a New York Giants team that ranks eighth in overall fantasy points per game allowed.
This is a call for which potential game flow becomes important. But both the Ravens and Patriots are likely to be leading in the second half, and that situation wouldn't benefit either a vertical receiver or a third-down back.
That means we need a new biggest consideration: which player has a better chance of helping his team get staked to that lead in the first place.
In my opinion, that's Hollywood. There is, however, a caveat.
Brown didn't practice Wednesday as the result of an ankle injury he suffered last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He returned to that game, and head coach John Harbaugh indicated the injury wasn't serious. Still, if he's a DNP again Thursday, you may not want to risk sitting White.
But if it looks like Brown is a go (and indications are he will be), he's your guy.
The Call: Brown
Fear the Yips
Enemies lurk in the shadows and evildoers who will take advantage of any opportunity to derail your fantasy season and prevent you from achieving the glory you seek. Among the most nefarious is the insidious beast known as the yips.
The yips create doubt. The yips make you second-guess obvious lineup calls. The yips will destroy you.
And this is most assuredly a case of the yips.
Yes, Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys had a rough game in Week 5 against the Green Bay Packers. He was picked off three times in a loss that was a lot more lopsided than the 34-24 final score. Over the past two weeks, he has twice as many interceptions as touchdown passes.
But even in defeat, Prescott did pretty well for fantasy owners last week. Thanks largely to the fantasy delight known as garbage time, he threw for 463 yards and two scores. Even in scoring systems that heavily punish interceptions, that outing slotted him well inside the top 10 at his position.
Even after his minislump, Prescott is a top-five fantasy quarterback this season in NFL.com default fantasy scoring. Said slump also came against two teams (the Packers and New Orleans Saints) who are a combined 8-2.
This week's opponent (the New York Jets) is 0-4 and vying for the title of the NFL's worst team.
It's a prime "get right" spot for Prescott.
The Call: Prescott
This week's Rapid Fire is going to feature quite a bit of trade talk, if only because the question thread in the B/R app was brimming with those types of inquiries.
Gotta give the people what they want.
jelly27 wants some wide receiver help: "[DJ] Moore, [Mike] Evans, [Kenny] Golladay, Hollywood Brown. Need 2 full PPR."
Despite last week's goose egg, Evans is a start alongside Golladay, who has 60-plus receiving yards and a score in two of his last three games. Brown is a close third.
zach_21 wonders if this is as good as it's going to get in Green Bay: "Should I sell high on Aaron Jones?"
Well, if ever there were a time to do it, this is it. It depends on what you can get and what your team needs, but Jones' value likely isn't getting any higher than it is right now.
This comes down to whether you believe his huge Week 5 was an aberration or the start of a trend. With Jamaal Williams lurking in the shadows once he clears the concussion protocol, I lean toward the former...at least in the long term.
jedistone has quarterback questions: "Help. Tom Brady or Lamar Jackson. This is hard for me."
Wow. I thought you Jedi were more even-keeled. The New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals are both favorable matchups for respective quarterbacks, but Jackson's rushing ability seals the deal. Go with the sophomore.
byuh got a trade offer: "Would you trade [DeAndre] Hopkins for Dak [Prescott] and [Tyreek] Hill?"
It would certainly help to know your situation at quarterback. But if you're looking to upgrade there, the drop-off from Hopkins to Hill isn't that steep, especially with Hill on the verge of a return.
oklaplayer has to pick between two Washington players: "PPR league…do I start Chris Thompson or [Terry] McLaurin at my flex."
Ugh and double-ugh. It's next to impossible to trust any Redskins pass-catchers given the state of their offense. Thompson could at least see a lot of dump-offs out of the backfield. Go with him.
domdc87 needs trade help: "Should I trade Courtland Sutton and Ito Smith for Kerryon Johnson and Auden Tate?"
Unless you really need a bump in the backfield, this is a hold. Sutton has top-15 fantasy upside, and it's entirely possible Smith will get more work moving forward given how underwhelming Devonta Freeman has been. Johnson is an OK RB2, and Auden Tate is essentially a throw-in.
therealGM needs a WR2 and a flex: ".5PPR. [Michael] Gallup, Alshon [Jeffery] and Calvin Ridley."
Jeffery will probably draw Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes in coverage Sunday. That's not a good thing. Start Gallup and Ridley.
One more trade question, this time from walkernixon: "Trade [DJ] Chark and Greg Olsen for Mike Evans?"
In one final example of how weird the 2019 season has already become: No.
Chark is fifth in PPR fantasy points (almost 10 slots ahead of Evans) among wide receivers, and there's been no sign the youngster is going to slow down any time soon.
Have other fantasy football start/sit questions? Post them here, on the Bleacher Report app or on Twitter @IDPSharks, and I'll do my best to help.
Gary Davenport was the Fantasy Sports Writers Association 2017 Football Writer of the Year.