No nonsense this week! Let's get straight to the games. As always, just because I don't include a team or player in here doesn't necessarily mean that I don't think they're going to have a good fantasy game this week. These are just the games I think are most likely to produce some good stats for a lot of the players involved in them.
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars - Oct. 18 1:00 p.m. ET, Over/Under: 43
Houston Texans: Surprised by this one? Don't be. It looks like Brian Hoyer is going to make his second straight start and he's played well for the past two weeks, scoring 21 and 24 fantasy points, respectively. He'll go up against a Jaguars defense that gives up the 11th most fantasy points per game to opposing QBs -- as well as the 12th most passing yards per game -- and only has 1 INT so far this season. Hoyer is definitely a sneaky pick in DFS tournaments and is a useful streaming option this week.
If Brian Hoyer is going to be any good you know he's going to target DeAndre Hopkins approximately 8 billion times in this game. Ok, I may have exaggerated just slightly, but only slightly! Hopkins leads the NFL with 74 targets and is outpacing the guy with the second most, Julio Jones, by 12. He's also leading the league in receiving yards with 578 and is one of only four WRs averaging at least 100 receiving yards per game. The dude is a monster. Besides some passes being thrown to Arian Foster out of the backfield, there's not much else to see in the passing game here. Hopkins will likely be the first and second options, especially since Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts are both questionable to play this week.
Speaking of Foster, Jacksonville has given up the 5th most fantasy ppg to opposing RBs. As I said previously, look for Foster to get some catches out of the backfield to go along with his carries, as the Jaguars have given up 37 receptions and 301 yards to RBs. He hasn't looked great running the ball since coming back from his injury, but look for that to change this week. He's a Top-5 option.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Who's this Blake Bortles guy?! Bortles has actually played better in his sophomore season and last week was his best performance yet, as he finished with 303 yards and 4 TDs on 23-of-33 passing. Houston's defense has allowed the 6th most fantasy ppg to QBs, which also makes Bortles a viable streaming option this week, as well as a cheap play in DFS.
The guys helping Bortles put up some good numbers have been the Allen Bros., Robinson and Hurns. Allen Robinson is the true #1 WR on this team, but Bortles isn't afraid to go to Hurns at any time either. Robinson leads the team in targets with 49 and is averaging a whopping 18.3 yards per catch on 22 receptions with 4 TDs, while Hurns is no slouch himself with 27 catches on 36 targets for 430 yards and 3 TDs. What has been particularly nice to see is that both guys have had some nice numbers in a few of the same games, so you know that if one of them goes off in any given week then the other one isn't necessarily going to be a dud. Now, Hurns is questionable this week with ankle and thigh injuries, so if you plan on playing him as your WR3, keep an eye on the situation. Robinson is a solid WR2 every week.
Did you see?! There was actually a Julius Thomas sighting last week and he did come down with 2 catches for 20 yards in limited action. I doubt Thomas will be back to full strength or get as much playing time as he would otherwise, but he's an interesting guy to keep an eye on and could open things up even more for this offense and guys like Robinson, Hurns and whoever is playing RB. I don't think you can start him yet, but he's definitely roster-able and fantasy owners should be paying attention to his situation.
I wasn't very high on T.J. Yeldon coming into the season and he hasn't been great so far, but he's at least proven that he will get the majority of the touches in the Jaguars' backfield as long as he's healthy. The Texans have given up almost as much fantasy production to RBs as the Jaguars, as they allow the 7th most ppg to the position. Yeldon is working through a groin injury he sustained in last week's game, so be sure to monitor the situation going into game day. If Yeldon is unable to go, I'd expect Denard Robinson to get the majority of touches out of the backfield. In this match-up, Robinson could get some good numbers, especially based on what he did last year. He'd be a great value in DFS if Yeldon is out.
San Diego Chargers at Green Bay Packers - Oct. 18 4:25 p.m. ET, Over/Under: 50.5
San Diego: Philip Rivers has been great this season and has had less than 20 fantasy points in standard leagues only once through 5 games and has 25 or more in 3 of the other 4 games. It helps Rivers' cause that future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates returned last week to the tune of 9 receptions for 92 yards and 2 TDs. Now, the Packers' pass defense has actually been good so far, as they're 6th in passing yards allowed and have given up the 7th least amount of fantasy points per game to opposing QBs. Despite that, I like Rivers this week because the Chargers might have to score some points to keep up with the Packers at home, especially since the Chargers haven't been able to move the ball on the ground.
The Packers have allowed the 4th most total rushing yards this season at 5.0 yards per carry (ypc), however, does that really make you more confident in starting Melvin Gordon? Gordon hasn't looked particularly good through the first few games of his NFL career and I don't really see that changing on the road at Lambeau (although his rookie classmate, Todd Gurley, ran for 159 yards on 30 carries in Green Bay last week). For some reason, Gordon got 10 targets in the passing game last week, which he turned into 7 catches for 52 yards. His running mate, Danny Woodhead (who is better known for his receiving ability), pulled in 5 catches for 66 yards on 7 targets. Gordon out-touched Woodhead 22 to 9 last week, and yet Woodhead still produced the same amount of fantasy points, as Gordon also had a fumble. The guard is changing in San Diego and I think Gordon is who I would rather have for the rest of the season, but I'd still take Woodhead over him this week.
Since they're so good against QBs, it makes sense that Green Bay has defended opposing WRs well, as they're only allowing 17.3 fantasy ppg, good for 4th in the league. Keenan Allen is the obvious #1 WR in San Diego and he should continue to see his targets, as he still got 10 last week with Gates back. The problem with Allen is that he seems to be only a possession receiver at this point, because he's only averaging 11.4 yards per reception. So, he has to get a lot of targets and catches to be really effective unless he scores a touchdown. I don't see him breaking off a big one here, but he's still a solid WR2 that you're not benching.
As I've already said, Gates came back from suspension with a bang last week and although he'll probably slow down as the season progresses due to his age, he doesn't have as many games to go through since he missed the first four. Green Bay is middle of the pack (unintentional pun there) against TEs and I'm not afraid to start one against them, especially someone like Gates. The tight-end position hasn't been what we expected this year and I like Gates as right around a Top-5 option for the rest of the season, including this week. I really liked that Ladarius Green got 5 catches for 50 yards even with Gates back on the field, as I've been saying that they should go to more two-TE sets once they could play both of them to get their best players on the field. If you're taking a shot on a lower-ranked guy at the position, why not somebody with talent like Green?
Green Bay: The Chargers are Top-10 in the league in fantasy ppg allowed to opposing QBs...but they're playing against Aaron Rodgers. That being said, Rodgers has actually had mediocre fantasy days for the past two weeks, but one was on the West Coast against San Francisco and the other was against the Rams' defense, which is legit. You're never benching Rodgers and you can't be scared to play him in tough match-ups.
Eddie Lacy has been a huge issue for fantasy owners through most of the beginning of the season, similar to the situation Lacy owners faced early in 2014. He's averaging 4.1 yards per carry, which isn't absolutely awful, but he's only had 63 carries through 5 games, which is at least partially due to his health. You have to think Lacy gets on track and this is a good game to do it, as the Chargers are all the way down at 30th in the league in rushing defense and are giving up 5.1 ypc. If he can't get it going this week, there is a legitimate reason to panic if you have stock in Lacy.
WR Randall Cobb hasn't exactly been the stud WR1 most people were expecting to get when they drafted him in the second round. I'm sure that has at least something to do with his preseason shoulder injury, but I also think it's partially due to Jordy Nelson being absent from the offense and Rodgers just spreading the ball around. It doesn't help that CB Jason Verrett will likely be shadowing Cobb all over the field, as Verrett is one of the best up and coming corners in the league and did a nice job on Antonio Brown last week. Cobb will get his, but I'm not expecting a huge day. James Jones has been a pleasant surprise all year and I think he has as good a chance to score a touchdown as anybody in any given week. He's at least a solid WR3 or flex. You're not starting Richard Rodgers (unless you're desperate) and I'm not sure what to make of Ty Montgomery here against the strong Chargers' pass defense. It seems likely that the Chargers will focus more on Cobb and Jones in the passing game and allow Montgomery to get some passes thrown his way, which could result in a nice day for him. But I don't have confidence in him as anything more than a deep league WR3 or flex.
New England at Indianapolis - Oct. 18 8:30 p.m. ET, Over/Under: 54.5
New England: Yeah, so you should start Tom Brady. ....Were you expecting to see some actual reasons start him? Do you really need them? Fine, I'll give you one, but that's it. The Colts pass defense is ranked 28th in the league. And the Patriots have passed for the 9th most yards so far this season in only 4 games...which is one less game than every other team in the Top-25 for passing yardage! There, I actually gave you two reasons, are you happy?
The pass catching duo of Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman has basically been unstoppable so far this season and the Colts' pass defense isn't going to slow it down. In fact, I'm not sure any defense is going to slow it down. Gronk is the #1 TE with 60 fantasy points through 4 games in standard leagues, which is 1 more point than the #2 TE (Tyler Eifert) through 5 games. What can defenses even do with the guy? Edelman is averaging almost 12 targets per game and that's after only getting 5 last week. Yes, he is mostly a dink-and-dunk kind of player, but when he gets so much volume does it matter? Automatic start at this point. You aren't starting any of the other options in the passing game, but it's interesting to note that WR Brandon LaFell should be coming back from injury sometime in the next few weeks. Just keep your eye on the situation.
I guess it's time to believe in Dion Lewis. He's been nothing short of fantastic for owners who bought into him early on, as he's been able to maintain his role as the #1 back in New England. Lewis hasn't averaged less than 4.6 ypc in any game this season and has gotten at least 11 fantasy points in each game. While the Colts have given up a lot of volume on the ground as the 22nd ranked rush defense, they've only given up 3.8 ypc and are just about average in fantasy points given up to RBs. Either way, you're not afraid to play Lewis here. His running mate, LeGarrette Blount, has received 18 and 13 carries in the Pats' last two games and it looks like this offense could have the potential to support two backs in fantasy. Lewis is definitely the preferred option, but Blount can be a flex if you need him to be.
Indianapolis: If you have Andrew Luck on your fantasy team this year...I'm sorry. Luck has basically given his owners nothing for investing a first- or second-round pick in him and it may be too late for many of the teams that roster him. It looks like he has a good chance of getting on the field in this game after missing the last two with a shoulder injury and if he does, you have to like him against a weak pass defense in a game where the Colts will probably be chasing points. If Luck plays, you're starting him.
The ageless Frank Gore has been able to put together a couple solid games in 2 of his last 3 and could have had four very good fantasy games out of five if not for some unusual and unfortunate red-zone fumbles. Gore is averaging 4.3 ypc, is getting carries when they get near the goal-line and had his best game from both a carries and yards perspective last week (22 carries for 98 yards). New England is only 20th against the run, as they're giving up 112.8 yards per game on the ground. As long as Indy can keep it competitive, Gore should have a nice game here.
Through four games, the wide receiver position in Indianapolis seemed to have clarified itself in that T.Y Hilton and Donte Moncrief appeared to be the top two options in the passing game...and then Week 5 happened. Andre Johnson took full advantage of the revenge factor against the Texans and had 6 catches for 77 yards and 2 TDs with Matt Hasselbeck at QB. Hilton still got 5 catches for 88 yards and led the team in targets, but Moncrief was an afterthought, with only 1 catch for 3 yards on 3 targets. I don't buy it. Moncrief has looked better than Johnson in every game except that one and both Luck and Hasselbeck looked to Moncrief to make plays in every other game. You can still count on Moncrief as a WR2 and I'm not putting Johnson anywhere near my starting lineup -- even at flex -- if I can help it. Hilton is an every week starter and always has the potential for a huge day. It certainly helps that the Patriots have given up the 9th most fantasy ppg to opposing WRs.
If both Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener are active in this game, you can't trust either one of them. It's unfortunate because if either one of these guys had the job all to themselves I think they could be something special for fantasy, but it just doesn't look like that's going to happen right now.
There are actually a lot of games that look like they could be great for fantasy this week, but certain things -- mainly injuries -- are holding them back.
The Giants @ Eagles is an obvious choice here, but how many Giants are you really starting? Eli looks like a good play here and if Odell Beckham Jr. is able to play through a hamstring injury, he's a no brainer. But after that? You're not excited about any of the RBs, Rueben Randle has a hamstring injury as well and Victor Cruz is still banged up. Not the ideal situation to have going into a potentially high-scoring game against Chip Kelly and an Eagles' offense that looks to have gotten things back on track.
Arizona @ Pittsburgh would definitely make the cut if not for the Ben Roethlisberger injury, but Michael Vick has just destroyed any consistent value you were getting from the passing game, even Antonio Brown's! In what was -- and will be again -- a juggernaut of an offense with Big Ben, the only safe starting option right now is Le'Veon Bell. Look for Carson Palmer to carve up the Steelers' secondary here with Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown.
After going through the gauntlet in terms of defenses through Week 5, Detroit comes out on the other end with a 0-5 record and a Week 6 game against the Bears. Chicago's defense hasn't been as bad as we all expected, but I could just see Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and the Lions finally putting up a big game in this one. I think Stafford and Johnson are an especially sneaky stack in DFS tournaments. On the Bears' side, you have to hope Alshon Jeffery gets back on the field soon, but there's a good chance he misses this game since Chicago has their bye next week, which would give him two more weeks to recover from calf and hamstring injuries. Eddie Royal also missed last week's game against the Chiefs and Jay Cutler still put up a decent game. If either or both of those guys are active this week I could see another good game from Cutler.
Even Baltimore @ San Francisco has great potential this week to be a high scoring game, as both teams have very porous defenses, especially against the pass. Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco could be great options as bye week replacements or deep league starters this week, as well as their receivers, especially if Steve Smith is able to play through the pain of his broken ribs. Carlos Hyde and Justin Forsett would be good starts here too, but Forsett could miss the game with a sprained ankle.
Good luck to everyone in Week 6!