Every week Nic hosts his Fantasy Football Rundown on Twitter were he hits on every single NFL game and every single player that’s fantasy relevant. Tune in every Thursday at 3 PM EST to watch the Fantasy Football Rundown live and join the conversation.
A brutal matchup for Daniel Jones. The Patriots have yet to allow a passing touchdown. He’s also lacking in the pass-catcher department, due to injury. Leave him on your bench. Jonathan Hilliman gets the starting nod. He’s a low ceiling flex option. Both Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard are Out this week. Engram’s has a sprained MCL while Shepard is back in the concussion protocol. Shepard’s absence could be lengthy, given that this is his second concussion of the season. Golden Tate should see double-digit targets for the duration of Engram and Shepard’s absence. He’s a WR2/3 option in PPR leagues, given the matchup. Do not start Darius Slayton, Rhett Ellison, or Cody Latimer outside of leagues with preposterously long starting lineups. Slayton could be a 3rd flex option in Standard scoring leagues.
Tom Brady can be expected to rack up QB1 numbers against this giant weakness -- **Giants’ defense. He’s my QB6. Sony Michel was one of my “Starts” last week on the Fake Teams podcast (#140) and we highlighted his near-guaranteed end zone meeting in both the video and written Rundowns last week. He’s got a similar prognosis this week against a paper towel-esque run defense and a lock for 15+ carries. Start him confidently as an RB2. James White remains a high floor flex option in .5PPR and PPR leagues. Brandon Bolden is back to special teams now that Rex Burkhead is back. Burkhead is a 2nd flex option is deep leagues, given the likelihood of a blowout here. Both Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon are WR2s this week -- Edelman every has WR1 upside. Gordon has not had a ceiling game in a while but the usage has been right for it. Explore your options but this should be the week he scores again. Consider Jakobi Meyers to be Brandon Bolden’s receiving counterpart. He’s not an option in most leagues but given the matchup, desperation usage in a deep league as a 2nd flex could be warranted. Ignore Ryan Izzo.
Update: Per Adam Schefter, Rex won’t play after all. Attach the advice previously given to Rex onto Bolden.
Kyle Allen is a back-end QB2 upside. This is a good secondary matchup so if you’re feeling lucky, you could roll the dice with him. Christian McCaffrey is nursing a back injury. Wednesday DNP’s (Did Not Participate) are not all that worrying. It’s the typical rest day for veterans, regardless of injury. If he’s a DNP tomorrow, that will be worrying. It’s worth adding Reggie Bonnafon right now. As long as CMC is active, he’s the overall RB1. Both DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel should be considered boom/bust candidates in the WR2/3 neighborhood, with Moore more likely to produce on a weekly basis than Samuel. This is a decent matchup to take a flyer on one of them. Greg Olsen is still a TE1, albeit a low-end one.
Jameis Winston remains a QB1 in this so-so matchup. Ronald Jones II and Peyton Barber are low-end RB2s and 3s, respectively. Jones should continue to incrementally pull ahead, but Barber will remain a part of this backfield for the foreseeable future. Sadly, Dare Ogunbowale is ignorable. Chris Godwin is a WR1 in fantasy and the WR1 in Tampa Bay. Mike Evans is the Sonic Boom/Spontaneous CombusBustion WR1. I’d still roll with him but if you know any Bucs’ fans, see if they’ll take him at his name value. OJ Howard can safely be dropped for someone likely Hunter Henry (who has returned to practice in a limited fashion), Gerald Everett, and Chris Herndon (although Herndon is Out for the next two weeks).
Washington at Dolphins
Case Keenum is a QB3 with slight QB2 upside. Adrian Peterson is a RB3 with 25-30 carries in his range of outcomes -- the higher total makes him a sneaky blowup candidate. He can be started as a flex or a risky RB2 with big upside. It’s Washington though, so this could all implode. Ignore Chris Thompson in this spot as his pass catching skills are unlikely to be called upon. Terry McLaurin is a rock-solid WR2 though. This week is a boom week for him, facing the ever-giving Miami Dolphins. Trey Quinn, Vernon Davis, and Jeremy Sprinkle can all be ignored.
Josh Rosen is similarly a QB3 with slight QB2 upside. Kenyan Drake can be started as a 2nd flex option, while Kalen Ballage is ignorable after having been passed by the also ignorable Mark Walton on the depth chart. Preston Williams: This is it. He’s a flex option with a WR2 finish well within his range of outcomes. Expect 10 targets against the porous Washington secondary. DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson are 2nd flex option dart throws. Parker in PPR, Wilson in Standard. Mike Gesicki belongs in free agency.
Carson Wentz is a back-end QB1 in a very tough matchup. Jordan Howard is the 1A in this backfield now and Doug Pederson plans on increasing his touch total. Miles Sanders is still producing a high-volume of yardage though. If Sanders can get things to click, he’ll take the lead gig back. Howard is the RB19, given the tough matchup. Sanders is the RB30. Alshon Jeffery slides back to the WR2/3 fringes as he prepares for Xavier Rhodes. Zach Ertz is a top tier TE. Sadly, DeSean Jackson is unlikely to play this week. Nelson Agholor and Dallas Goedert are not startable.
Kirk Cousins is a playable QB2, facing one of the league’s most vulnerable secondaries. The D-Line will harass him though so we’re only moving him up to the QB15. Dalvin Cook remains a Top 5 option, despite the tough matchup. His workload is just too good to discount. Alexander Mattison is a solid handcuff but won’t be usable here. Adam Thielen is on the WR1/2 borderline, edging towards the former. This is as good of a week as any for Stefon Diggs to appear in the box score. He’s a flex option who should be immediately traded if he produces, both in fantasy and real life. Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. can be ignored.
Deshaun Watson nabbed the overall QB1 finish in Week 5 and he’s got a good shot to do it again in Week 6. He’s currently ranked as the QB2 but we’ll monitor Patrick Mahomes’ ankle issues to see if that should remain the case. Last week, Carlos Hyde carried the ball 21 times for 60 yards and a score. That’s a yards per carry average of 2.9. Duke Johnson Jr. was given 9 carries for 59 yards, good for a YPC of 6.6. He also secured his lone target for an 8 yard gain. Hyde did not catch his. No matter how soundly Duke outplays Hyde though, Bill O’Brien remains committed to wasting touches on Carlos Hyde. It’s a travesty, but it’s our reality. Carlos Hyde is my RB28. Duke Johnson Jr. is my RB38. DeAndre Hopkins is tied as the 8th-most targeted player in the NFL. He’s a WR1 and should be aggressively targeted as a buy-low trade option. Will Fuller’s touchdown regression finally hit and boy, oh boy, was it worthwhile. If you followed the video and written Rundowns from last week, you started him. Go back to him again this week as a WR2 with sky-high upside. Regarding the Texans’ slot receivers, Keke Coutee is likely a viable starting flex option again, in PPR leagues. Kenny Stills is battling both ankle and hamstring injuries that cropped up in Week 4. A Week 6 turnaround could happen but it’s likely he’d be limited. If he’s ready to roll, relegate Coutee to your bench. Stills would replace him as a flex option. The tight end duo of Jordan Akins and Darren Fells have taken turns being fantasy viable. Fells has maintained snap count superiority over Akins in Weeks 2-5, making him the slightly more bankable streaming option in this surefire shootout.
Patrick Mahomes has played very well with this ankle injury before. It’s not a cause for concern. Unless he’s significantly limited in practice this week, he’ll remain my overall QB1. Damien Williams was gifted his starting gig back, upon his return from injury. He’s my RB20. LeSean McCoy has slid to my RB33. Given Williams’ inability to do much last week, I think McCoy gets back his 10-12 touches per game that he was balling out with previously. Given the matchup, I think Williams is bankable, however it would not be a shock to see McCoy takeover the lead back role as the season progresses. As of this writing, on Wednesday 10/9 at 2:36pm, I’m calling my shot based on the wise words of Dr. David Chao: Tyreek Hill will not play this week. Being able to run routes is much different that taking a hit -- he’s not ready for that yet.
With Sammy Watkins likely out this week (hammy), here’s how I’d rank the KC WRs:
- Mecole Hardman (the most established and productive receiver of the bunch)
- Demarcus Robinson in PPR leagues. Robinson is much more of a short-to-intermediate field receiver, whose athletic profile helps him excel in and out of his breaks, rather than burning it up downfield.
- Byron Pringle in Standard. Pringle, on the other hand, has more top-end speed than he does short-area quicks. I like him in a complimentary downfield role in this high-flying offense.
Toss-up in .5PPT between the latter two. A hat tip to The Podfather, Mr. Matt Kelley, of the Rotounderworld Podcast for turning me onto Pringle in his July 18 episode Derrick Henry belly button lint. Hardman is a WR2/3 with massive upside. Robinson and Pringle are flex options with excellent shots at finding the end zone. Travis Kelce is a no-brainer TE1. Darrel Williams belongs on benches.
Jalen Ramsey was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. If he doesn’t play, for injury or Jaguars’ reasons, Teddy Bridgewater might rise from his QB19 ranking. Last week was great, and he’s got a shot to have another decent box score if Ramsey is out. Christian McCaffrey torched the Jags’ D last week, If Alvin Kamara can even have half the performance CMC had, he’ll easily return value on his RB7 ranking this week. Michael Thomas is a matchup/quarterback-proof WR1 across all formats. Ted Ginn Jr. and Tre’Quan Smith should likely be avoided this week, assuming the latter is active. They’re both downfield threats and the Saints dial back their deep pass volume on the road. Jared Cook is a back-end TE1.
Gardner Minshew II has a tall task in front of him -- the Saints defense is no joke. He’s got a litany of playmakers at his disposal though so he maintains his mid-range QB2 designation. Expect Leonard Fournette to come slightly back to earth this week, though he’s still a RB1 given his reliable 25-ish touch workload. Ryquell Armstead is just a bench stash. DJ Chark Jr. deserves to be on the WR1/2 fringes at this point. He’s an outstanding wide receiver who has a stellar connection with Minshew. Saints CB Marshon Lattimore is playing in peak form but he won’t be able to cover Chark all game. Roll with the guy you once started as a dart throw flex option as a Top 15 WR. Dede Westbrook is a flex option in PPR. Chris Conley is better left on benches. Unfortunately, James O’Shaughnessy, our second favorite civil engineer went down with a torn ACL. Geoff Swaim is an all-out-desperation TD-dependent TE option.
Russell Wilson is a Hall of Fame talent and he’s managing to play like it, regardless of the system he’s stuck in. He’s the QB4 this week, with a solid shot to unseat Lamar Jackson from the Top 3. I recently bumped Todd Gurley II out of my RB1 rankings, in favor of Chris Carson and his surefire 22+ touch workload against the Browns. Rashaad Penny is a bench stash. Tyler Lockett remains a low-end WR1. Cleveland has been so-so versus the deep ball this year -- a far cry from last week’s delectable Rams defense that we literally called a “40-yard touchdown” to DK Metcalf for. However, Cleveland’s previously banged up secondary is returning to health, making this more likely a bust than boom week for Metcalf. David Moore and Jaron Brown belong on waivers. Will Dissly is a week-in, week-out TE1.
Seattle’s moderate defensive line should be a breath of fresh air for QB Baker Mayfield after being terrorized all night by San Francisco’s ferocious front. Until he proves otherwise though, Mayfield must be treated as a mid-to-low QB2. Nick Chubb was far from the offensive focal point that we’d seen in the recent past. Expect HC Freddie Kitchens to go with what he knows: pounding the rock. Chubb comes in as my RB10. Dontrell Hilliard is merely a bench stash. The Seattle CB kryptonite is a smaller receiver who’s fast off the line. That’s Odell Beckham Jr. He’s getting 10 targets and lining up all over the field -- especially away from Shaquill Griffin. Seattle’s subpar safety play has their work cut out for them. Jarvis Landry is in a PPR blow up spot, of the flex/WR2 variety. Seattle’s shaky slot coverage is ill equipped to handle a player of his ability. Antonio Callaway looked allergic to the football last week. He should stay a free agent in your league. Ricky Seals-Jones is not a recommended play.
Andy Dalton brings low-key streaming appeal this week as my QB16. Baltimore’s secondary is still a sieve for opposing passing games. CB Jimmy Smith remains “week to week”. Although Baltimore run defense has been friendly to opposing backfields, Joe Mixon, behind his porous blocking unit, cannot be trusted as more than a high-end flex option. Giovani Bernard is a non-fantasy-entity. Tyler Boyd is a volume-based WR2 with decent upside. Auden Tate is a PPR flex option. Tyler Eifert can be soundly ignored.
Lamar Jackson should right the ship against the Bengals inefficient, and molasses-slow, front-seven. Expect to see him put more than one linebacker on skates this week, en route to satisfying his QB3 ranking. Mark Ingram II is a locked-and-loaded RB1. Gus Edwards could be started in very deep, Standard scoring leagues as a second flex option given the likelihood that he salts in the clock in the 4th quarter. Marquise Brown is in position to roast. Consider him a WR2 with mammoth upside. HC John Harbaugh has asserted that Hollywood’s injury is “nothing serious” but if he were to miss one could flex Willie Snead in PPR leagues. If one is looking for the deepest of sleepers, Miles Boykin could be fired up as some sort of touchdown-dependent 2nd flex option but this is not recommended. The beautiful thing about Mark Andrews not playing on downs where he’d be asked to block, he’s naturally in a great position to rest his injured shoulder every game. His either-or 42% and 53% snap share will remain constant, as will his TE1 production.
49ers at Rams
Jimmy Garoppolo is a mid-to-low QB2 until an alpha emerges from the wide receiver corps. The backfield looked great last week. Matt Breida is a mid-to-low-end RB2 who would vault into RB1/2 discussion should he ever start seeing 18+ touches per game. Tevin Coleman is two spots below him and can be considered a high-end flex option. The Rams run defense has been subpar on the year so getting both of these guys into your lineups is advised. Losing FB Kyle Juszczyk likely brings a slight uptick in Breida’s passing work. Of the Deebo Samuel, Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis, Richie James Jr. and Kendrick Bourne wide receiver platoon, Marquise Goodwin offers the largest flex appeal as the Rams have been generous to downfield receivers over the last two weeks. He should be considered a zero floor/high upside play though. George Kittle is a top tier fantasy TE option -- and the best tight end in real football.
The 49ers defensive line will put Jared Goff under duress all day. He’s a high-end QB2 for now, but could drop given what we learn about Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley II’s availability. Todd Gurley II did not practice on Wednesday with a quad contusion. We need to see what his practice availability is today and tomorrow. Malcolm Brown should be added in all leagues. Brown would be a high-end RB2 should he get the start. That being said, I’ll take the advice of the ever-prescient Dr. David Chao on this one, who expects Gurley to play this week. (Follow the link from the tweet to his page -- linking issues abound for the site due to its URL). Brandin Cooks is still in the concussion protocol at this time and it would be wise to plan on him being Out. Robert Woods will unfortunately see a high amount of Richard Sherman’s coverage. He should continue to be used as a flex option. I’ve come to terms with it: Cooper Kupp is an every-week WR1. Gerald Everett is a legitimate TE1. He needs to be owned in all leagues. Over the last two weeks, he’s caught 12 of 19 targets for 180 yards and a score.
Matt Ryan and his army of 300 yards marches on. Fire him up as a QB1. Per Vaughn McClure, found on Evan Silva’s timeline, HC Dan Quinn said that he wants to get Ito Smith more touches, without benching Devonta Freeman. He also “likes Ito’s vision down in the goal line”. Freeman is a back-end RB2. Smith is a mid-tier RB3. Julio Jones could go for 200 yards this weekend. He’s a no-brainer WR1 who should be aggressively targeted as a buy-low trade candidate. Consider both Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu WR2s this week -- Ridley with a shot at the high-end of the spectrum, Sanu at the low. Austin Hooper is balling out as a fantasy TE1.
Kyler Murray’s embrace of rushing has vaulted him back into the Top 5 at the QB position. Start him confidently over stalwarts like Carson Wentz and Aaron Rodgers. This matchup is as good as it gets too. David Johnson did not practice yesterday due to a back injury. This situation needs to be monitored closely and Chase Edmonds needs to be owned everywhere. Edmonds would immediately toe the RB1/2 borderline should David Johnson be unable to play. Dr. David Chao believes Johnson will play this weekend. Again, Dr. Chao’s website is a work-in-progress -- use the team search function to locate DJ’s injury prognosis. Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk are both rock-solid WR2s. Kirk’s back at practice this week and should be all-systems go. Ancillary receivers like Damiere Byrd, Pharoh Cooper, and KeeSean Johnson can be ignored. There are noteworthy tight ends to speak of.
Update: David Johnson did not participate in practice on Thursday. Chase Edmonds needs to be added as a plug-and-play RB1 this week, if DJ sits.
Dak Prescott got back on track last week, to the tune of 463 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 INTs, and 27 rushing yards and we can expect another boom performance again this week. He’s my QB7 on the week. The potential return of tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins would be huge. No word yet on their status. The return of Michael Gallup immediately improved this offense. He’s a high-end WR2 every week. Amari Cooper is barely ahead of him as a low-end WR1. Randall Cobb can be considered a low-ceiling PPR flex. Jason Witten is just a TE2.
The return of Sam Darnold should get this offense relatively back on track. Set expectations low for him this week though. He’s a QB3 with legit mid-tier QB2 upside. Le’Veon Bell is a mid-tier RB2 in Standard/.5PPR formats, however, he’s a borderline RB1/2 in PPR. Expect Dump-off City to be relocated to the Meadowlands this week as both Bell and Jamison Crowder absorb 20-25 targets as they attempt to negate the marriage of NYJ’s paltry offensive line and Dallas’ scary D-Line. Robby Anderson can be bench stashed or flex -- but the latter in Standard leagues only. Remaining pass catchers can be ignored. Chris Herndon is likely out for two more weeks with a hamstring injury, per Ian Rapoport.
Incredibly, Marcus Mariota still hasn’t turned the ball over. Against Denver’s unimposing defense, he remains a steadfast QB2 with upside. Derrick Henry is a matchup-proof RB1 across all formats. Set him and forget him. Denver’s run defense is one to target this year, for future reference. It’s likely Corey Davis seems some shadow coverage from Chris Harris Jr., downgrading him to a not-recommended boom/bust flex. That should free up AJ Brown though, who could be started as a flex in Standard scoring leagues. Adam Humphries belongs in free agency. Sadly both Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith are just high-end TE2s.
Joe Flacco and his nasty WR duo are firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, one of those cylinders, Emmanuel Sanders, has to face slot CB Logan Ryan this week. Flacco is a mid-to-low QB2. Sanders is a flex decent flex option. Courtland Sutton is an every-week WR2 though. He’s the real deal. An added bonus for this week, per PlayerProfiler.com Sutton is only running 11% of his route in the slot, which is great for this week because it means he gets to entirely avoid slot CB Logan Ryan. Phillip Lindsay has outproduced Royce Freeman this year by finding the endzone. Tennessee plays solid run defense though so the status quo is likely to hold. Lindsay is a back-end RB2. Freeman is a high-end RB3. Noah Fant continues to see the field often but the fantasy production just isn’t there. He’s a TE-stash.
Mason Rudolph is in the concussion protocol but has resumed some field work. We should expect No. 3 QB Devlin Hodges to get the start though. Neither should be in fantasy lineups. James Conner is likely to get 20+ low-quality touches this week. He’s a mid-tier RB2, based on volume. Benny Snell can be added to benches. JuJu Smith-Schuster has descended to the WR2/3 borderline due to QB play and a brutal matchup. Diontae Johnson is not a starting option. Neither is James Washington as he’s out for a while with a shoulder injury. Vance McDonald could be a safety-blanket borderline TE1/2 in PPR leagues.
Philip Rivers is a back-end QB1 in a delicious matchup. The backfield should be a 50/50 split and it’s likely Melvin Gordon III out-touches Austin Ekeler this week as they keep the ball on the ground in the second half, working the clock. Given Ekeler’s superior ability at the moment, he’s 3 spots higher than Gordon. It’s possible we swap the two as we get more clarity on their expected workload. Keenan Allen is a back-end WR1. Mike Williams is a flex with WR2 upside. TE Hunter Henry has resumed practicing and needs to be immediately added if available. He might not be able to go this week but he’ll instantly be a Top 8 TE option upon his return to live action.
Matthew Stafford is a high-end QB2 with easy QB1 upside. The Packers got roasted last week by Dak Prescott. Green Bay’s run defense has been a pushover for opposing run games. Couple that with Kerryon Johnson’s newfound workloads and it’s easy to see why Johnson’s the RB11 this week. He’s got Top 5 upside. Kenny Golladay is a low-end WR1. A stellar player who’s still criminally underused. Marvin Jones Jr. is a WR2, albeit with as shaky of a floor as a ceiling. TJ Hockenson is expected to be cleared from the concussion protocol, per the fabulously named Tim Twentyman, h/t to Rotoworld.
Aaron Rodgers was slated as the QB11 but probably needs to be downgraded to a high-end QB2, given that we just got word that Davante Adams “didn’t even stretch” for practice today -- h/t Reece Van Haaften. Aaron Jones is in-line for another mammoth workload with Jamaal Williams unlikely to play. He’s the RB6. Tra Carson can be bench-stashed. Davante Adams is likely Out. Marques Valdez-Scantling is the No. 1 WR this week and can be treated as a WR2, given Darius Slay’s week to week status hamstring injury. Geronimo Allison is a PPR flex option. Jake Kumerow should be sadly ignored. Jimmy Graham is a back-end TE1.