It's Week 6 and the Bengals, Cowboys, Bills and Seahawks are on a bye. Here's who you should have in your lineups and who you should avoid this week:
DeSean Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you happen to see a receiver getting open for a long touchdown against the Cardinals, chances are cornerback Justin Bethel is the one getting burned. Bethel allowed a 45-yard touchdown to Kenny Golladay in Week 1, a 37-yard touchdown to Brice Butler in Week 3 and got burned badly on a 59-yard touchdown to Torrey Smith Sunday. It gets worse for Bethel as he faces one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL in Tampa Bay’s Jackson. Coming off a poor performance against the Patriots, I like Jameis Winston and the Bucs to bounce back in a big way in Arizona. With Cardinals star corner Patrick Peterson on Buccaneers top wideout Mike Evans, Jackson should reap the benefits of a soft matchup.
John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Apart from Larry Fitzgerald, it’s difficult to know which Cardinals receiver to play. This year fantasy owners have had to choose between Brown, Jaron Brown and J.J. Nelson. Brown has struggled to get healthy this season as he’s been dealing with sickle-cell trait. He has been playing behind Jaron all season until last week when he played the second most snaps among receivers in the league. This Sunday, Brown has an inviting matchup against the Buccaneers who are allowing an average of 69 yards a game to No. 2 receivers (Tampa is giving up an average of 103.5 yards a game to opposing top wideouts so make sure Fitzgerald is in your lineup) on just under nine passes a game per Football Outsiders. If Brown is healthy, start him with confidence.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings
With bye weeks in full swing, LeSean McCoy, Joe Mixon, Ezekiel Elliott (who just had his six-game suspension upheld) and any Seattle backs are out of lineups. McKinnon was one of this week’s waiver targets and he’s got a good matchup as the Vikings host the Packers. Green Bay is giving up an average of 121.4 rushing yards per game. McKinnon showcased his explosive playmaking ability in last week’s Monday night game against Chicago, look for him to shine again in a home tilt against a familiar opponent.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, New York Jets
Fantasy owners in need at the tight end position should take a look at Seferian-Jenkins. The Jets take on the Patriots Sunday. New England has allowed great stat lines to opposing tight ends in recent weeks. Houston’s Ryan Griffin caught five passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in Week 3, Carolina’s Ed Dickson picked up 62 yards on three catches in Week 4 and two Thursdays ago, Tampa’s Cameron Brate caught five passes for 68 yards and a score against the Pats. Start the Jets tight end Sunday.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
Fantasy owners may have a hard time benching Thomas but the matchup Sunday night is ugly. Despite their 0-5 record, the Giants have been pretty stingy to opposing wideouts, allowing just two touchdowns to receivers this year. That’s due in part to the spectacular play of cornerback Janoris Jenkins who has done a good job shutting down top wide receivers this year. My concern here is that Jenkins is very familiar covering big-body receivers like Thomas. He faces Dez Bryant twice a year and did a good job covering Mike Evans earlier this season. Also, the Giants are terrible against the tight end position and the Broncos may opt to take advantage of that matchup with A.J. Derby, Virgil Green and Jeff Heuerman. That may prove especially true in the wake of Denver head coach Vance Joseph telling reporters Monday he won’t force the ball to Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders. The one silver lining in this matchup is that the Giants may be so demoralized from all the injuries and drama surrounding their team, that the pass defense won’t be as good against wide receivers as advertised. Based on the matchup however, I’d sit DT.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Hyde enters Week 6 in limbo. He was essentially benched during the second half of last Sunday’s game against the Colts, with coach Kyle Shanahan saying he had a “couple of bad plays” to reporters on Monday. More troubling is that Shanahan said that he would use a “hot hand” approach in the future, stating that Hyde would be the starter and undrafted rookie Matt Breida would spell him and the team would ride the hot hand after. It’s the kind of talk that drives fantasy owners crazy and rightfully so, but Hyde’s job security is in question at this point. Not to mention, the 49ers’ matchup against Washington is pretty tough for running backs. Through four games Washington has allowed 355 total yards rushing and just two rushing scores on the season. Hyde is a risky play this week.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
Playing on the opposing sideline from Hyde will be Washington tight end Jordan Reed. Reed has recovered from his chest injury following a Week-5 bye, but Sunday’s matchup is nasty, even if it is against the winless 49ers. Through five games San Francisco has allowed 107 yards and no touchdowns to tight ends per Pro Football Reference. They are allowing an average of just of 18.7 yards per game to tight ends according to Football Outsiders. The 49ers' success against tight ends isn’t due to facing teams with bad tight ends either. The 49ers have faced Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen and Jack Doyle. Either bench Reed or heavily adjust your expectations for him.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Kupp’s value has been trending up with him playing more snaps than teammate Sammy Watkins last week. Don’t get too excited however, Kupp has a vicious matchup on tap against the Jaguars Sunday. Jacksonville has allowed just two touchdowns to receivers on the season according to Pro Football Reference. Jacksonville cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye have been playing at an elite level this season and I see little room for Kupp and Sammy Watkins to make an impact in Sunday’s game.