- Fantasy basketball, NBA analyst for Insider
- NBA, MLB analyst for Rumor Central
Being a fantasy manager is trickier than ever this season. As always, we are here to make sure you stay up to speed on everything you need to know to win.
The ESPN+ cheat sheet provides a rundown of the best tips from all of our fantasy football content. You’ll find answers to the biggest questions of the week, along with injury updates, matchup advantages and wild-card plays from Matthew Berry, Eric Karabell, Mike Clay, Tristan H. Cockcroft, Field Yates, Jim McCormick and Al Zeidenfeld. It’s all the best advice in one handy article.
Here’s what our experts are saying about Week 6 in the NFL:
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins
“In a surprising drubbing of the 49ers on Sunday, the bearded one joined Miami legend Dan Marino as the only players in franchise history to compile at least 350 passing yards with three scores and no turnovers,” McCormick writes in the streaming pickups column. “Fitz is 13th in air yards per target among qualified passers, so he isn’t afraid to push the ball vertically to his young receivers. If the Harvard product made easy work of the 49ers’ respected defense last week, it will be compelling to see how he performs against a Jets defense that rates 20th in pressuring passers and has allowed the third-most net yards per dropback to opposing arms. Momentum and matchup merge this week to support streaming value for this veteran signal-caller.”
Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee Titans
“In a disastrous year for tight ends, Smith remains one of the lone bright spots,” Berry writes in Love/Hate. “With two more touchdowns on Tuesday night, and at least seven targets in three of four games, Smith is TE2 on the season on a per-game basis, trailing Travis Kelce by just 0.6 points per game. And for the rest of the season, the only tight ends I’d prefer over him are Kelce, George Kittle and Mark Andrews. He’s basically right there with Darren Waller, and I prefer him over Zach Ertz and anyone else, especially this week against Houston. The Texans have allowed a touchdown and 13-plus fantasy points to an opposing tight end in two of their last three games. A locked-in top-four play this week.”
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
“The Lions’ backfield has been mired in a maddening committee, with no one individual earning more than 62% of the rushing attempts (Adrian Peterson, 54 of 87) or playing more than 40% of the offensive snaps (again Peterson, 99 of 248). What has been clear about their arrangement, however, is that Swift is their preferred passing-down back, running a team-high 49 routes and seeing 16 of the team’s 27 total running-back targets,” Cockcroft explains in his in-depth Matchup Map writeup. “That’s a good thing when facing a matchup like the Jaguars, who have allowed 1.9 PPR fantasy points per target to running backs (fourth most in the league), including big receiving days by Nyheim Hines (18.5 PPR fantasy points receiving in Week 1), Joe Mixon (15.0, Week 4) and Jonathan Taylor (12.7, Week 1).”
Playing the matchups
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
“Stafford is only QB21 on the season. Don’t love that. But in his past 10 games with Kenny Golladay active, Stafford is averaging 20.7 fantasy points,” Berry writes. “I definitely love that. I love it even more against a Jaguars defense that allows the fourth-most passing yards and allows opposing QBs to complete 75.8% of their passes (that’s the highest rate in the NFL). Three of the four quarterbacks they’ve faced this year have put up at least 24 fantasy points (Phillip Rivers in Week 1 was the only one not to do it). With two weeks to prepare for, ahem, this defense, I like Stafford to have a top-10 day in Week 6.”
Mike Davis, RB, Carolina Panthers
“You can’t spell “Christian MkCavfred” without M-I-K-E D-A-V-I-S. OK, fine, it’s not exactly a fit, but it’s close,” Berry quips. “And that’s kind of my point: Davis has provided production very close to what Christian McCaffrey used to churn out every week. At least 22 fantasy points and a touchdown in each of his past three games, and he already has three different games with at least eight receptions — tied for the most among all running backs. And while I expect the Bears to shut down Teddy Bridgewater (he’s on the “hate” list for a reason), he’s still going to check down. Four of the five running backs to get at least 14 touches versus Chicago so far this season have scored at least 14 fantasy points. Playing his former team, I expect another MkCavfred-esque performance from Davis this week.”
Myles Gaskin, RB, Miami Dolphins
“Here we are in mid-October with a Dolphins-Jets matchup, and Gaskin is a running back on the Love list while Le’Veon Bell isn’t even in the league,” Berry writes. “I can’t say I predicted that in the preseason. But I could have predicted that the Jets’ defense would be terrible. It has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs this season, which sets up well for Gaskin to produce: He has averaged 20.3 touches per game over the past three weeks. The one knock on Gaskin was that Jordan Howard would vulture him at the goal line, but with 19 red zone rushes and six goal-to-go carries over the past three games, that worry is no longer relevant. And not for nothing, the Jets have given up seven rushing TDs to RBs, tied for second most. Huh? Fitzy and now Gaskin? Apparently I’m a Miami fan this week. Fins up!”
DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk, WRs, Arizona Cardinals
“Another week, more picking on a Cowboys’ defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points, including the third-most to the perimeter, and a league-high nine touchdowns to wide receivers,” Clay explains in his writeup of the best and worst WR/CB matchups. “Only four corners have allowed more fantasy points in coverage than Trevon Diggs (71) this season, and he’ll be joined by Daryl Worley and Anthony Brown (who was activated from injured reserve last week) on the perimeter this week. Hopkins has aligned outside 91% of the time this season, so fantasy’s top wide receiver is all systems go for another big week. Kirk remains a tough sell for a flex spot, but he’s been outside 84% of the time and will also benefit from the matchup.”
Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers
“Anderson has a tough matchup this week but, for me, volume will always win out,” Zeidenfeld writes in his DFS Best Buys column. “Beyond that, the Bears create pressure at the seventh-lowest rate in the league and, when Teddy Bridgewater isn’t pressured, Anderson gets 37% of the Panthers’ receiving yards, 30.2% of their receptions and 29.1% of their targets. I’m confident that the volume is sustainable even with a tough WR/CB matchup here in Week 6. So, while his efficiency may fall slightly, Anderson can still get us 18 points without scoring a touchdown.”
DeVante Parker and Preston Williams, WRs, Miami Dolphins
“On the surface, the numbers don’t look very poor as it pertains to the Jets’ ability to slow wide receivers,” Clay writes. “They’re midpack in fantasy points allowed and have allowed the 10th-most points to the perimeter. A ‘light’ schedule has distorted the numbers, however, as New York was crushed by the Buffalo, Denver and Arizona wide receiver rooms but didn’t face much volume against Indianapolis or San Francisco. A deeper look shows the Jets have allowed 40 more points than expected, which is third highest in the league. This isn’t a surprise considering the Jets’ shaky personnel, with Pierre Desir allowing the sixth-most fantasy points among corners and Blessuan Austin, who has missed the past two games with an injury, struggling in coverage (Austin’s replacement, UDFA Lamar Jackson, allowed the most fantasy points in coverage among corners in Week 5). Parker (80% perimeter) and Williams (93%) will see Desir and Austin (or Jackson) on nearly every snap this weekend and should obviously be upgraded.”
Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
“Andrews has had an end-zone target in three straight games — and nine such targets in his last eight contests,” Zeidenfeld writes. “There have been four tight ends to see five-plus targets against the Eagles this season, and they have posted an average of 23.1 DraftKings points in their games.”
Sam Darnold, New York Jets: Darnold (shoulder) isn’t expected to be available for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. He is listed as out.
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings: Cook (groin) didn’t participate in Thursday’s practice and is officially listed as questionable against the Falcons.
Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns: Hunt (thigh) was limited in practice Thursday and is questionable against the Steelers.
Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Fournette (ankle) was a limited participant at Thursday’s practice. He is questionable against the Packers.
LeSean McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: McCoy (ankle) was a limited participant in practice Thursday. He is questionable against Green Bay.
Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions: Peterson didn’t take part in Thursday’s practice due to an illness and is questionable against the Jaguars.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons: Jones (hamstring) was listed a non-participant on Thursday’s injury report. He is questionable against the Vikings.
Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons: Gage (shoulder) was listed as limited on Thursday’s injury report and is questionable against Minnesota.
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Godwin (hamstring) was limited at practice Thursday. He is questionable against the Packers.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Evans (ankle) practiced in a limited capacity Thursday. He is questionable against Green Bay.
Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns: Beckham (illness) was sent home by the Browns on Thursday. He is questionable against Pittsburgh.
Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns: Landry (ribs/hip) didn’t practice Thursday and is questionable against the Steelers.
Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs: Watkins (hamstring) didn’t participate in Thursday’s practice and is doubtful against the Bills.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals: Green (hamstring) was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice. He is questionable against the Colts.
DJ Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars: Chark (ankle) didn’t participate in Thursday’s practice and is questionable against Detroit.
Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars: Shenault (hamstring) was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice. He is questionable against the Lions.
Darius Slayton, New York Giants: Slayton (foot) was a limited participant at Thursday’s practice. He is questionable against Washington.
A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans: Brown (knee) didn’t practice Thursday and is questionable against the Texans.
John Brown, Buffalo Bills: Brown (knee) participated in Thursday’s practice but is questionable against the Chiefs.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles: Jackson (hamstring) was limited in practice Thursday. He is questionable against Baltimore.
Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles: Jeffery (foot) was limited at Thursday’s practice and is questionable against the Ravens.
Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans: Smith was listed as a limited participant in Thursday’s practice with a quadriceps injury. He is questionable against the Texans.
Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts: Alie-Cox (knee) did not practice Thursday and is questionable against the Bengals.
Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons: Hurst (back) was listed as limited on Thursday’s injury report. He is questionable against the Vikings.
Noah Fant, Denver Broncos: Fant (ankle) was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice. He is questionable against the Patriots.
Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gronkowski (shoulder) was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice. He is questionable against Green Bay.
Andy Dalton, QB, Dallas Cowboys
“The Cowboys will hand the keys to their offense to Dalton, a player they brought to Dallas this offseason with a deal reflective of his standing as a capable player, as he can make up to $7 million this season,” Yates explains in his writeup of the top waiver-wire pickups of the week. “Dalton won’t replicate Prescott’s production this season, but he’s set up for success with a talented group of pass-catchers and a defense that has no answers for even the most average of offenses. Real points will be needed for the Cowboys to win, and that should lead to opportunities to pile up fantasy points too.”
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
“By going with Golladay on both sites this week, I’ll be chasing volume, TD expectancy and upside,” Zeidenfeld writes. “On DraftKings, he can get us there with volume — even if he doesn’t get into the end zone. On FanDuel, I feel Golladay is more of a tournament play, with higher-volume WR options at cheaper prices. Still, like Vegas, I have expectations for this game to be one of the higher-scoring contests of the day. As such, Golladay’s overall volume and his red-zone/end-zone usage is exactly what we’re looking for to give us an opportunity to capture a tournament-winning ceiling.”
Travis Fulgham, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
“One of the great recent stories in the NFL is Fulgham’s rise, as perhaps no team could use the receiver boost more than Philly,” Yates writes. “Fulgham put on a show in Week 5 with 10 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown as the Eagles continue to navigate the reality of a razor-thin and banged-up depth chart. It would appear that Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are due for a return soon, but there’s no certainty of when, and Fulgham might be needed as one of Carson Wentz’s go-to targets in Week 6.”
Eric Ebron, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
“Earning a spot in this space for the second straight week, Ebron’s surge in opportunity rates helps his case as a viable streaming candidate at a relatively fickle fantasy position,” McCormick writes. “Since splitting routes and targets with Vance McDonald in Week 1, Ebron ranks second on the Steelers in both routes run and targets. Now a savory matchup with a Browns back seven allowing 17.6 fantasy points per game to tight ends is next.”
Big question of the week
How much concern should there be about Lamar Jackson after back-to-back subpar performances?
“Jackson has already (through five weeks) had more games with under-60 rushing yards than he did all last season,” Karabell writes in his Stock watch column, moving the Ravens’ quarterback down to No. 31 in his rest-of-season rankings. “Yes, he remains a clear-cut fantasy starter. However, if he is not running with the football — and we acknowledge a knee injury could be the issue, but it all counts the same — then he is not in the running with Patrick Mahomes to be fantasy’s “signature quarterback.” Wait for him to destroy the Philadelphia Eagles defense in Week 6 and then consider trading him.”
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