By Matt Citak
Another week resulted in another slew of injuries. While the New York Giants have disappointed fantasy football owners across the country through the first five weeks of the season, many were left scrambling when wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard were all lost to injuries, including the first two for the rest of the year. Other injuries to players such as Charles Clay and DeVante Parker have also left people looking for temporary replacements. Well, you have come to the right place.
Here are CBS Local Sports’ Week 6 Fantasy Football Starts and Sits.
QB: Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
With the way he has been playing the last three weeks, it’s hard to tell that Watson is just five weeks into his NFL career. The rookie quarterback has thrown for 845 yards, 11 touchdowns, and three interceptions over the last three games, adding 96 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown. This week, Watson faces a Cleveland defense that has allowed at least 29 fantasy points to an opposing quarterback in two of the past three games (to Jacoby Brissett and Andy Dalton). Facing the Browns at home, Watson should be in for another huge fantasy performance.
QB: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Stafford has not been great this season, as he has yet to reach 300 passing yards in Detroit’s first five contests. But that could all change this week as the Lions head to New Orleans to take on the Saints and their 28th ranked passing defense. In Stafford’s last two games in New Orleans over the past two years, the QB has averaged 27.5 fantasy points with 595 passing yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions. The return of No. 3 wide receiver Kenny Golladay should help Stafford cross the 20-fantasy point threshold that he’s failed to reach since Week 1. Even with an ankle injury bothering him, Stafford should have plenty of opportunities come Sunday, as this match has the looks of a real shootout between him and Drew Brees.
QB: Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
Rivers has scored at least 23 fantasy points in each of his last two outings, despite the fact that he has not looked that sharp. The 35-year-old quarterback completed a total of just 52.4 percent of his passes over that span, against the Giants and Eagles, but did throw for five touchdowns and only one interception. The Chargers will make the short trip to Oakland this week to take on a struggling Raiders team. Oakland has allowed three quarterbacks to score 18 or more fantasy points this season, and Rivers is likely to become the fourth. Trust Rivers as a No. 1 QB this week.
RB: Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings
McKinnon helped Vikings fans temporarily forget that they had lost their star rookie running back, Dalvin Cook, for the season last week when he shined against the Bears on Monday Night Football. It certainly helped that by the end of the game, Chicago had lost almost all of their linebackers. But even so, the fourth-year back proved that he can be a very valuable part of the passing game with six catches for 51 yards. With a matchup against the Packers on the horizon, McKinnon will likely play a large role in Minnesota’s offense yet again. Green Bay has allowed six different running backs to either score or gain 100 total yards this season. Get McKinnon in your lineup.
RB: Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens
Similar to McKinnon, Allen has played a significant role in his team’s passing game, as the back is currently ranked 12th among running backs in targets. Allen will go up against the Bears’ defense this week, who, as we just discussed, let McKinnon run wild on them last week. Terrance West is likely to miss some time, which should have the Ravens using Allen in an even larger capacity this week. Through five games, Allen is averaging 18.7 carries and 4.0 targets per game in victories, and 5.0 carries and 6.0 targets per game in losses. Las Vegas has Baltimore as 6.5-point favorites at home this week, which bodes well for Allen’s outlook.
RB: Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots
Gillislee has been incredibly frustrating for fantasy owners this season. After scoring four touchdowns in the first two games, the running back hasn’t found the end zone since, while failing to top 52 rushing yards over that span. There is no doubt Gillislee has turned into a touchdown-or-bust player in New England, but this week, he should get his red zone opportunities. The Patriots are 9.5-point favorites against the Jets in a surprising battle for first place in the AFC East. Despite the Jets’ solid start to the season, their rush defense has been awful, surrendering 143.0 rushing yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry. Look for Gillislee to bounce back this week.
WR: Will Fuller, Houston Texans
Fuller has had a great start to his 2017 season, catching six of nine targets for 92 yards and four touchdowns in two games. By no means will he be able to sustain this two touchdown per game rate throughout the season. But against the Browns this Sunday, don’t be shocked if Fuller finds the end zone for the third consecutive game. DeAndre Hopkins will likely be shadowed by Cleveland’s top corner, Jason McCourty. This will leave Fuller to be covered by Jamar Taylor, who has surrendered two touchdowns and is giving up a catch on 79 percent of balls thrown into his coverage.
WR: Terrelle Pryor, Washington Redskins
Pryor hasn’t lived up to Washington fans’ expectations after signing a one-year, $6 million contract with the team in the offseason. It took until the Redskins’ fourth game for Pryor to catch his first touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins, while he also reached 70 receiving yards for the first time in 2017 in that game. The receiver is finally starting to develop some chemistry with Cousins, which is great news for fantasy owners of both players. The good times should keep on rolling this weekend as the Redskins will welcome the 49ers and their poor secondary to FedEx Field. Seven opposing receivers have either scored or gained 100 total yards against the SF defense this season, and Pryor could easily be the eighth.
WR: Danny Amendola, New England Patriots
Amendola has been great in three of the four contests he has played in this season, and has really helped the Patriots avoid suffering in the passing game after the loss of Julian Edelman for the year. In each of those three games, the 5-foot-11 receiver has at least six receptions and either a touchdown or 77 receiving yards. Amendola has also proven to be incredibly clutch. Five of the wide receiver’s eight catches last week against Tampa Bay resulted in first downs. Tom Brady went so far as to call Amendola “uncoverable” this week. With Brandin Cooks likely being shadowed by Morris Claiborne, the Jets’ top corner, Amendola could be in for a big game.
TE: Evan Engram, New York Giants
Engram was already rising up fantasy football boards prior to last week, but the loss of three of the Giants’ top four receivers for the season has catapulted him near the league’s top tight ends. The rookie tight end ranks fifth at his position in targets and first in routes run, and should see his opportunities increase even more throughout the remainder of the year. The Giants travel to Sports Authority Field at Mile High to take on the Broncos on Sunday night. While the matchup may seem daunting, the Broncos defense is actually not great against opposing tight ends. Denver is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, so there’s a good chance Engram finishes the game as New York’s leading receiver.
TE: Zach Miller, Chicago Bears
Miller didn’t do much while Mike Glennon was under center for the Bears. But last week, with rookie Mitch Trubisky taking over as Chicago’s starting quarterback, the tight end was targeted a game-high seven times and caught three of them for 39 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Yes, the touchdown was fluky as the Vikings defender tipped a pass that should have been intercepted right into Miller’s hands. But you’ve got to like the number of targets Miller received in Trubisky’s first start. With no talented receivers left, the franchise QB should continue to rely on his tight end. Miller is a solid option for those that may have lost Charles Clay.
QB: Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
After his tremendous start to the season, Goff fell back to earth in Week 5 when he finally faced a tough defense. The second-year QB thrived in the first four games against the Colts, Redskins, 49ers, and Cowboys, but had by-far his worst game of the season against the Seahawks last week. Things are unlikely to get any better this week as the Rams are traveling to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars and their suddenly elite pass defense. The Jaguars rank third in the NFL with 178 passing yards allowed per game, and lead the league with 10 interceptions. Goff looks like a different player under Sean McVay, but I would be looking for another option at QB this week.
QB: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Roethlisberger made headlines for all the wrong reasons last week. First, he threw a career-high five interceptions in a disappointing loss to the Jaguars. Then following the game, Roethlisberger raised a lot of eyebrows by questioning his skills to the media, wondering aloud if he still had “it.” That is not what you want to hear from your Super Bowl-winning quarterback. While Big Ben is certainly better than last week’s performance, it’s hard to imagine things getting much better this week as the Steelers are on the road taking on the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. Roethlisberger’s career Passer Rating drops 10 points when on the road. Start him if you must, but be prepared for a possible disappointing performance.
QB: Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
I don’t think anyone would have predicted that five games into the season, Alex Smith would be right in the middle of the MVP race. But that has been the case as Smith has completed an astounding 76.6 percent of his passes for 1,391 yards, 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. However Smith will have to pass on Pittsburgh and their No. 1 ranked pass defense on Sunday. The Steelers have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, as they’re averaging a mere 140 passing yards allowed per contest. With the way he has been playing, it will be hard to bench Smith. If you do roll with him this week, I would at least temper your expectations.
RB: LeGarrette Blount, Philadelphia Eagles
There’s no denying that Blount has been great since Darren Sproles was lost for the season in Week 3. Over the last two games, Blount has carried the ball 30 times for a whopping 210 yards, good for 7.0 yards per carry. But tonight’s matchup against the Panthers does not set the bruising back up for much success. Carolina has the NFL’s sixth-best rush defense, allowing just 79.8 rushing yards per game. The Panthers defense has also yet to allow a running back to score double digit fantasy points in a standard league this season, with matchups against Carlos Hyde, LeSean McCoy, Mark Ingram, Mike Gillislee, and Ameer Abdullah. Blount is nothing more than a flex play.
RB: Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
Hyde had looked surprisingly spry in the first four games of the season, but that quickly came to an end in Week 5. In San Francisco’s 26-23 overtime loss to the Colts, Hyde carried the ball just eight times for 11 yards (1.4 yards per carry), and wasn’t even on the field for most of the second half. While he was on the sidelines, rookie running back Matt Breida played well, which led to head coach Kyle Shanahan saying he would use a “hot-hand” approach from here on out. Facing the Redskins, who have allowed only one rushing touchdown on the season, I have both 49ers backs on my bench this week.
RB: Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns
Johnson has been the only usable Browns running back this season, as teammate Isaiah Crowell has been one of fantasy’s biggest busts. Johnson has been taking advantage of his opportunities on offense, as he has at least 47 receiving yards in four of Cleveland’s five games. However the back has yet to top six carries in a game, and has four or less rush attempts in four of the five games. Kevin Hogan is now starting at quarterback for the Browns, and Hogan has targeted Johnson at a much lower rate than Deshone Kizer has this year. Despite injuries to several significant players last week, the Texans defense is still good against opposing running backs. I’d still start him in PPR leagues but would be a lot more hesitant in standard leagues.
WR: Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders
Cooper has looked awful this season. In his last three games, the third-year receiver has caught just four of 15 targets for 23 yards COMBINED. Cooper entered the season as a possible breakout candidate, but now fantasy owners are hoping he can become a mere viable fantasy option. Cooper has suffered from a serious case of the drops this season. While the return of Derek Carr will hopefully help the young receiver, he is too tough to trust at the moment. Even if the Chargers No. 1 corner, Casey Hayward, shadows Michael Crabtree, I’d wait for Cooper to have a solid game before putting him back in my lineup.
WR: Sammy Watkins, Los Angeles Rams
If you take away his huge performance against the 49ers, Watkins has a total of eight receptions for 105 yards in four games. While that alone is awful, keep in mind that he is playing in the Rams’ offense, which has been one of the highest-scoring units all year. Goff is having himself a great year, but that has not helped the play of Watkins whatsoever. His season-low came last week when he was held without a catch for the first time as a Ram. And just like Goff, Watkins goes up against the Jaguars this week, whose pass defense has surrendered just one touchdown to a wide receiver this season. Cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye will shut Watkins down.
WR: Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers
The list of wide receiver busts continues with Bryant. After sitting out the entire 2016 season, Bryant has caught just 15 of 31 targets for 204 yards and one touchdown in 2017. Similar to his quarterback, Bryant tends to struggle on the road. In 12 career road games, the receiver has combined for just 37 receptions, 555 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Bryant’s success is dependent on catching deep targets, and Roethlisberger has simply been unable to get him the ball. Between both the receiver and the quarterback’s struggles this season, it’s hard to feel comfortable starting Bryant in Kansas City.
TE: Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders
Cook’s fantasy value has essentially been completely dependent on his ability to score a touchdown. With that happening only once this season, it’s safe to say that Cook has not been a great option for fantasy owners this year. The tight end has topped 50 receiving yards only once, and that came in Week 1 against Tennessee’s poor defense. The Chargers on the other hand have allowed the ninth-fewest receiving yards to tight ends this season, and have also held all opposing tight ends out of the endzone in 2017. This is not the game to roll the dice with Cook.
TE: Ed Dickson, Carolina Panthers
Dickson has come up big for the Panthers over the last two weeks. During that span, the tight end has caught eight of nine targets for 237 yards, and seems to be a big reason for Cam Newton’s turnaround. But it will be tough for Dickson to put up another efficient performance tonight against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have allowed only one tight end to score double digits in fantasy points this year, and that was Travis Kelce. Dickson may be talented, but he is nowhere near Kelce in terms of his receiving skills. With the tight end position proving to be incredibly shallow (yet again) this year, you may be forced to start Dickson this week. Consider him a low-end starting option at best.
Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to email@example.com.