The difficult bye weeks—those with four teams out of the schedule—have finally arrived and that means decisions will be harder to make. There are no powerhouses on a bye during Week 6, but every team sitting this weekend still carries a few fantasy-relevant player in its roster (Josh Allen, Marlon Mack, Allen Robinson, or Darren Waller among others). If those players are off the board for you, it’s time to start someone else at their positions. Now is the time when you must prove yourself as the best GM of your league by playing a lineup full of win-not-kill studs for Week 6.
Whether you’re playing in an 8-, 10- or 12-team league, you must have doubts about who to put in that widely open flex position, who to stream at quarterback, or how you could address all of the uncertainty surrounding the tight end slot. Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst options you should consider.
Kirk Cousins, MIN (vs PHI) - START
No, Cousins hasn’t been a league-winner so far, but in Week 5 he proved that if he takes to the task at hand he can easily be at least a weekend-winner. We must account for the Giants being at the other end, which made things easier, but Cousins delivered the goods finishing with 306 yards on 22 completions (27 attempts) for two touchdowns. He broke the 10 Yards Per Attempt for the first time this season (11.3), looked downfield—favoring Adam Thielen over Steffon Diggs—and put up his best performance so far with 23.6 fantasy points. Cousin’s floor is as low as they come (remember, Minnesota keeps running more than passing), but against the Eagles this week he will have a good chance to repeat this type of outcome. Philadelphia has allowed the fifth-most passing yards and excluding the Jets in Week 5, every other team they have faced has been able to pass for 200-plus yards and score between one and three touchdowns through the air.
Matt Ryan, ATL (at ARI) - START
It sounds ridiculous, but Matt Ryan could make history this season. With Atlanta starting the year 1-4, Ryan is on pace to finish with the worst win/loss record for a starter averaging 22 or more fantasy points per game. Nobody seems to be paying attention to the Falcons and their middling game so far, but Ryan is currently the QB6 overall, has thrown for the second-most yards through five weeks, and is also tied at second with five other players on the touchdown leaderboard at 11. In a high-scoring game against Houston last week he was able to—for the sixth consecutive time going back to last season—surpass the 300-yard mark and tossed three touchdowns. Although his seven interceptions aren’t a good lok, five of them came in the first two games of the season and he has limited his mistakes. Arizona is the fourth-worst team against QBs in fantasy — they have allowed two or more touchdowns in four games and at least 240 yards each contest.
Marcus Mariota, TEN (at DEN) - SIT
For someone in his contract year, Mariota is having quite a disappointing season. He has only one game with 20-plus completions and 300-plus yards. He hasn’t thrown any picks yet but it all comes down to his hyper-conservative game, which cuts down his upside. In a tough game against Buffalo this week Mariota never found his place, was stripped of a touchdown for throwing the pass over the LOS, and finished the game with a season-low 13 completions for a paltry 183 yards. The problem is that this kind of performance is becoming the average for him, and Denver is next on the schedule. The Broncos’ defense struggles mightily against the run but is the second-best in points allowed to QBs this season. Everything points to a run-heavy day for the Titans—remember, they have Derrick Henry on roster and he’s a WR1 by all means—so I’ll pass on Mariota this week.
Jared Goff, LAR (vs SF) - SIT
While Jared Goff fits the profile of Matt Ryan (read his blurb above), I’m not trusting him this weekend. Yes, Goff comes from playing two games in which he has tallied 912 combined yards on 74 completions. He has also added three touchdowns to those numbers, but he also has four interceptions in that span. On the same volume, Goff is hitting receivers on a lower percentage than Ryan, he’s scored four fewer touchdowns overall and has lost three-of-four fumbles. Two 400-yard performances can’t hold for long, so I don’t expect another such game from Goff. On top of that, there is history. The only time he’s faced a top 10 defense this season—in Week 1, against the Panthers—he could only pass for 186 yards. He’s facing San Francisco in Week 6, the fifth-best defense against QBs in fantasy. The 49ers limited Baker Mayfield to 100 yards and eight completions, and only one team has passed for more than 194 yards against hem.
Tevin Coleman / Matt Breida, SF (at LAR) - START
I was debating between which 49er to include in the column, but ultimately settled for both of them. If you have either Coleman or Breida, they should be in your lineup no matter what. Although San Francisco is clearly using a running back committee, they have the best one in the league. Raheem Mostert took on Coleman’s duties before the latter came back last week and no longer looks like a threat to eat from Coleman’s touches. Both Breida and Coleman are primed to get around a 50/50 split of opportunities, offer upside in the passing game and on the ground, and their floors shouldn’t be lower than 10 fantasy points per game at the very least. The Rams have been average at stopping running backs this season and are vulnerable to tailbacks both rushing and receiving. If I had to pick one of the two, I’d favor Breida for this weekend’s game until Coleman gets at his true 100 percent again.
Kenyan Drake, MIA (vs WAS) - START
Am I crazy? Probably. Am I putting a Dolphin in my lineup this week? Absolutely. This is a gamble, but you might have been holding onto Drake for a while now hoping for a trade or a magical resurgence from Miami’s tanking machine. I’d keep on doing for the first reason, and I’d start Drake this weekend for the second. Don’t get me wrong, Miami is going nowhere. But this weekend the Dolphins face Washington in the worst possible game ever scheduled. These two teams are bad, the matchup has an implied 41 total points to it, and Miami could have a chance to build a solid lead and run the ball a few times. In fact, Drake hasn’t been that bad. Drake has played all four games as the leading back of the team, is averaging around 10 fantasy points per game, and even with Miami trailing often he is still third in targets (only behind Preston Williams and DeVante Parker) with 20, catching 13 for 107 receiving yards. If there is a week to start a Dolphin, it is this one.
Miles Sanders, PHI (at MIN) - SIT
Much like other rookie running backs (hey there, David Montgomery!), I’m disappointed in Sander’s season and his usage so far. Although Sanders doubled Jordan Howard in snaps in the first two weeks, they’re now playing the same amount and Sanders is slowly but surely losing the efficiency battle to Howard. Sanders has the edge in receiving yards (133 to 47) but loses on the ground (193 to 248). The most important difference between Sanders and Howard, though, comes down to scoring. While Howard has already put five balls in the end zone, Sanders is still looking to get his first touchdown of the season. What is concerning for Sanders’ owners is the fact that Howard is getting all the good looks over the rookie — Sanders has only nine rushes in the red zone while Howard already has 14 (six inside the five-yard line to Sanders’ one). Coach Doug Pederson has given the reigns to Howard and said he will keep leading the backfield, so no matter the matchup you should fade Sanders until he starts outperforming Howard.
Devonta Freeman, ATL (at ARI) - SIT
Arizona is allowing the seventh-fewest points per game to running backs, which could be reason enough to pass on Freeman. The fact that the yardage they give up to the position mostly comes from rushes instead of passing plays straight crosses Freeman from any of my plans. Through five games, Freeman has surpassed 30 rushing yards once, yet he has carried the ball eight-plus times every game. On the other hand, Freeman has posted three 40+ receiving yard games already. He is, to me, the perfect RB2 for a team with a bellcow in place. Sadly, he’s the RB1 of his team and plays in a role he doesn’t look good to fill. I expect Matt Ryan to rack up yards and Freeman is a reception-dependent running back, so that could help. At the same time Arizona struggles against TEs — Austin Hooper will be a prime target — and has held four of five times to under 108 yards this season. Combine that with a middling rusher in Freeman and you get a solid sit decision.
Curtis Samuel, CAR (vs TB, London) - START
If you haven’t been paying attention, the Bucs are this close to four consecutive games giving up 200 yards to opposing receivers (the Giants ruined it in Week 3 finishing with 193). They did, though, concede 378 (!) yards on 29 receptions to the Rams in Week 4 and allowed three touchdowns just his past weekend. More to the decision of starting Samuel, Carolina already hung 207 yards on them in Week 2, which was the second-best fantasy performance of the season for the sophomore. Samuel finished that game with 91 yards on five receptions for a good 14.3 points. Both Samuel and D.J. Moore are the clear go-to receivers—other than do-it-all CMC—as they are virtually tied in snaps and targets, although Samuel has only 19 receptions and 227 yards to Moore’s 352 in 26. I expect a little rebound in efficiency from Samuel, and Tampa Bay could be the bad-enough defense to help him have it this week.
Dede Westbrook, JAX (vs NO) - START
The arrival of D.J. Chark has been so unexpected that everybody has forgotten about Dede Westbrook! Only 26 wide receivers have as many targets as Westbrook (27), which makes him a borderline WR2 just on opportunities alone. Yes, he has underperformed in comparison to his peers (he only has 23 catches for 227 yards) and is the WR42 in fantasy points per game, but he’s getting all of the chances he can handle to put on good performances and the explosion must be just around the corner. The Saints—seventh-most points allowed to WRs through five games—could mark a good start for his comeback, and the aforementioned Chark might help him. Chark is expected to draw shadow coverage from Marshon Lattimore and the cornerback has shut down both Amari Cooper and Mike Evans the last couple of weeks. In an easier WR/CB matchup Westbrook should be able to make the most of his chances and has WR1 upside this weekend.
Marquise Brown, BAL (vs CIN) - SIT
Baltimore as a team led the league in fantasy points during the first two weeks of the season and the Ravens are still third overall through five weeks. It is not time to panic yet, but things have gone downhill for some of their players. One of them is rookie receiver and bad-team-exploiter Marquise Brown. Brown put up 31 fantasy points against Miami and 17 against Arizona. After that: 49 yards on two receptions for 7 points, 22 yards on four receptions for 6 points, and 22 yards on three receptions for 11 points. Since Week 2 Brown’s targets have gone way down from 13 to nine, seven, and then five against Pittsburgh. Not only is Brown banged up (his ankle isn’t at 100 percent though he won’t miss time), he will also go against Cincinnati this weekend. The Bengals are 0-5, sure, but they are allowing the fifth-fewest points per game to WRs. Even worse, Cincy gives up 38 points per game to RBs (league-worst) and have surrendered 152 yards on the ground to quarterbacks (second-most). Lamar Jackson will run as much as ever, Ingram could be in for a monster game, and the game script can be a horrid one for Brown.
Will Fuller, HOU (at KC) - SIT
A stud. A beast. An all-time performer with a game for the ages. Yes, I get it, and if you look at Fuller’s season stats now you’ll lean toward starting him: 400 yards on 28-for-39 receptions and three touchdown? Starter numbers! Now consider his stats from Week 1 to Week 4: 183 yards on 14 receptions in 23 targets with no touchdowns. No so good, right? Fuller’s 53.7 points in PPR formats are the best fantasy performance since 2013, and you’re telling me he’s about to have another monster day like that? Considering his stats through four weeks!? Yikes... Playing against Kansas City could help Fuller as the O/U is at a massive 55 total points and Houston enters the game as a five-point underdog. Watson won’t be afraid to pass, but I highly doubt Fuller reaching such heights again. Just on volume alone, DeAndre Hopkins should bounce back and eat from Fuller’s chances, and if the Texans happen to get the lead don’t rule out a rush-heavy, run-out-the-clock approach such as Indy used to beat KC in Week 5, limiting Fuller’s upside.
Austin Hooper, ATL (at ARI) - START
Take a quick look at the tight end situation in 2019 and you’ll understand why I’ve had to include Hooper (not a member of the TE Big Three, but still quite chalky) here — only nine tight ends are averaging 10 or more points per game and two of them are on a bye this week. On the other hand, 19 tight ends have had at least one game of 15-plus fantasy points. Quick summary: no one knows how the position works and who is going to put on a show next. What we know, though, is that Arizona is bad at covering tight ends. Yes, they stopped Tyler Eifert last week, but it was Eifert after all. Every other player at the position has caught passes for at least 75 yards against the Cardinals and has scored one or two touchdowns. Hooper has three 15-plus fantasy points performances already and “fell” to 11 points against Houston last week so I expect him to get back to his usual 20-point self this weekend.
Greg Olsen, CAR (vs TB, London) - START
Last week I fell for Tyler Eifert and this week I’m all in for Greg Olsen just purely on matchup. The Cardinals defense made it a must-start for Eifert, the same as Tampa makes it a lock for Olsen. Look, tight ends are proving incapable of sustaining long runs of good performances, but that doesn’t mean they can’t rebound as plastic bouncing balls. Olsen chained 7-, 17- and 25-point performances to start the season and then, all of a sudden, flopped to two- and zero-point performances. But I’m betting on a bounce-back from the veteran this weekend. The Bucs just allowed Jared Cook to have his best game of the season and surrendered a touchdown to him. Every tight end to face Tampa in the past four games has seen at least nine targets and posted 80-plus yards, and three of them have scored a touchdown. I’m back in Olsen’s bandwagon.
Jared Cook, NO (at JAX) - SIT
Last season Cook found the Fountain of Youth, drank all it held, and called it a season. This year, though, things aren’t that rosy. And no, you shouldn’t bank on hot tight ends because there is no such thing at the position. When Teddy Bridgewater took the reigns of the Saints we could have though that maybe there was a chance for Cook to find his place in the offense, taking advantage of a backup quarterback looking for easy passes and options. Well, turned out that wasn’t the case. Cook is still seeing a moderately high number of targets per game (12 combined in the last two) but he’s not doing much with them (62 yards). His only fantasy points-saver last week was a touchdown, otherwise he would have put up his fifth consecutive game under 10 fantasy points. I’m not buying into him repeating that performance. His floor is at ground level, his ceiling is not higher than 10-to-15 points, and this weekend matchup against the Jaguars doesn’t look any good either.
Gerald Everett, LAR (vs SF) - SIT
Everett keeps betting on himself and winning at it weekly. Fantasy owners are also drooling on what he has been able to do lately. After being out-targeted and out-performed by Tyler Higbee in the first two weeks of the season, Everett has steadily improved his game every week and now has back-to-back performances of 15 and 20 points. But take a look at the Rams passing game during the last two games and maybe you start understanding such outcomes. Los Angeles has logged 68 (!) and 49 pass attempts for 490 and 395 yards. All those balls and yardage had to go someone’s direction, and Everett just happened to be there. No tight end has completed a streak of three or more games scoring 15-plus fantasy points. In fact, Everett only has two other performances over ten fantasy points in his career. Sorry, but I’m betting on a dud.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is chapulana) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.