By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
So last week, we had one game pushed back a week (DEN-NE), a game played on Tuesday (BUF-TEN), a star running back abruptly released (Le’Veon Bell), and another running back busted for a DUI (Melvin Gordon).
Since we’re only five weeks into the season, I can only imagine the type of chaos that lies on the horizon.
We’re now heading into Week 6 and I feel like I’ve seen it all. 2020 has been a wild ride, quite the roller coaster. Kind of like my Confidence Plays picks, as a matter of fact. I went 9-11 last week, down after a solid Weeks 3 and 4. The upside? I’m over 50% on my picks on the year. But when I’ve been down, I’ve bounced back so there’s optimism this week.
In non-NFL news, I want to give a shout out to our newest writer, Kyra Wiaterowski. Her first article with us — Kyra’s Kash Grabs — was an absolute hit and I can’t wait to read more from her! If you’ve ever thought about writing fantasy football content, or any kind of content, let her serve as inspiration. This wasn’t just her first article for us. It was his first article period. You love to see it.
Now, onto my Week 6 picks.
If you read this column last week or in the preseason, you have a good idea as to what my Confidence Plays represent. It’s essentially a start/sit column featuring players I think will boom (play) versus those I think will bust (fade). I try to focus on some middle-of-the-road and streaming options, as you’re likely playing your top guys regardless of the matchup, but some of those top guys may land on the Fade side. (Some matchups suck — what do you want me to do?) Don’t interpret this as “I have to sit Patrick Mahomes to play Derek Carr because Carr is a Play this week.” Don’t be that fantasy player. But maybe put some of them in your DFS lineups to maximize upside or play them as your RB2 or WR2 or in your FLEX. Or, you know, stream them.
QB Cam Newton (NE) – Guess who’s back in the saddle! After missing the Chiefs game due to COVID and their matchup with Denver being pushed back a week, Cam Newton should be well rested. The Broncos are allowing two touchdowns per game to quarterbacks and have allowed 25+ fantasy points to QBs in back-to-back games. Add in Newton’s rushing upside, you have an easy QB1 this week.
QB Kirk Cousins (MIN) – Is it much of a secret at this point to start your QBs against the Falcons? They allow the most fantasy points to QBs and have allowed the most passing TDs through five games (three per game). Cousins set a season-high in pass attempts last week with Dalvin Cook going down with an injury and as he’s expected to miss this week as well, I wouldn’t put it past Cousins to throw it 30 plus times and hit the end zone 2-3 times as a result. Easily one of the top streaming options this week. **Editor’s note: The Falcons shut down their facilities Thursday morning due to a positive COVID test. Please monitor this game for Sunday because if more tests pop up, this game could move to Tuesday or potentially be postponed to a later week.**
RB David Montgomery (CHI) – In four out of five weeks, the Panthers have allowed a running back to top 25 fantasy points against them. Carolina has been abysmal stopping the run for a year plus so if this isn’t a smash matchup for David Montgomery and the Bears, I don’t know what will be. He’s miraculously RB24, but he hasn’t topped 29 yards rushing the last two weeks. What he does have though, is 10 receptions and a touchdown. His floor is lower than most, but he should do enough to warrant top 15 consideration this week.
RB Ronald Jones (TB) – Anyone else realize that the Packers are allowing the 2nd most fantasy points to running backs this year? I know much of that came against Alvin Kamara, but Dalvin Cook, Todd Gurley, and D’Andre Swift all topped 12 fantasy points against them. Ronald Jones has back-to-back 100 yard rushing games and, perhaps more surprisingly, 14 targets and nine receptions in those two games. Leonard Fournette continues to be limited in practice, giving RoJo the leg up. Receiving work may be inefficient, but his rushing alone makes him an RB2 this week.
RB Alexander Mattison (MIN) – 20 carries and over 100 yards just last week after Dalvin Cook hurt his groin. The Vikings as an offense feed their running backs and Mattison will have no issue picking up the slack this week. Wait, the opponent matters? Fine. The Falcons have allowed the 7th most fantasy points to RBs and allowed four RBs to top 20 fantasy points — Chris Carson, Ezekiel Elliott, Aaron Jones, and Mike Davis. Three of the four finished as RB7. Davis was the RB1 last week. Pencil Mattison in for an RB7 finish, at least. **Editor’s note: The Falcons shut down their facilities Thursday morning due to a positive COVID test. Please monitor this game for Sunday because if more tests pop up, this game could move to Tuesday or potentially be postponed to a later week.**
WR Jamison Crowder (NYJ) – Because he plays for the Jets and his name is Jamison Crowder, you’re probably not of the assumption that Crowder is a must-start at this point. But all he’s done is put up WR2 numbers on a points per game basis this year. And that’s not WR2 as in top 24– that’s WR2 OVERALL numbers. Slot receivers in an Adam Gase offense have always performed well and with the abundance of injuries to Jets pass-catchers this year, Crowder is the last weapon standing. Miami has been better of late against WRs — 6th fewest points allowed the last three weeks in games against Jacksonville, Seattle, and San Francisco — but don’t let that sway you to keep someone of Crowder’s caliber on your bench.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) – Man, JuJu let me down last week. (Well, as an Eagles fan, he was perfect, but I digress.) He has a chance to redeem himself this week. He’ll likely avoid Browns CB Denzel Ward as Smith-Schuster is running almost 80% of his snaps from the slot. That means he’ll see a lot of Tavierre Thomas, who has allowed the 9th most receiving yards from the slot this year. After Chase Claypool’s big breakout, you have to think the Browns will take notice and put Ward on either him or Diontae Johnson (if the back injury doesn’t force him to miss a week). The Browns as a team have allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to WRs this year so look for Smith-Schuster to be in the WR2 conversation, with WR1 upside.
WR Christian Kirk (ARI) – Kirk has been quiet this year with the arrival of DeAndre Hopkins (and his 29.3% target share to date). Kirk is strictly a matchup play at this point and that just so happens to be this week. The Cowboys have allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to WRs through five weeks, and on three occasions have allowed more than one receiver to post 15+ fantasy points. Kyler Murray is currently 10th in pass attempts, at 36.2/game, so don’t be surprised if Kirk has at least 8 targets. He scored two weeks ago and topped 70 yards on five catches last week. I think he’s finding his groove opposite Hopkins. WR2 upside this week.
TE Mark Andrews (BAL) – Okay, I concede. The Eagles can’t cover tight ends. No, Eric Ebron didn’t have a great game, but Chase Claypool did. Guess what? Claypool was a TE in college and the Eagles treated him as such by putting a linebacker on him for two of his receiving TDs. **face palm** We know Mark Andrews is great, but if Jim Schwartz puts a linebacker on Andrews this week, he may go for three or four touchdowns this week (he has two multi-score games already this year). Andrews should be the TE1 this week and I highly recommend paying up for him in DFS.
TE Irv Smith Jr. (MIN) – If you haven’t figured out by now, the Falcons defense is bad on all three levels. Irv Smith Jr. hasn’t been utilized the way many of us hoped, but he had more usage last week than any week this season (5 targets, 4 catches, 64 yards). Any coincidence it occurred during the same week as Dalvin Cook getting hurt? With Cook likely out this week, I think we’ll see more Irv Smith Jr. usage to compensate. To help matters, the only TE the Falcons have shut down is Panthers TE Ian Thomas, who has all of five receptions this year. This is a matchup to take advantage of. **Editor’s note: The Falcons shut down their facilities Thursday morning due to a positive COVID test. Please monitor this game for Sunday because if more tests pop up, this game could move to Monday/Tuesday or potentially be postponed to a later week.**
QB Jared Goff (LAR) – Ryan Fitzpatrick became FitzMagic last week in the best performance the 49ers defense has allowed all season. Still, they’ve allowed only six passing touchdowns on the season — three were last week to FitzMagic — which is tied for the 3rd fewest in the league. Jared Goff has only eight touchdowns on the season and has only one career game with over 300 passing yards against them. It’s a division game, so I expect the 49ers to bounce back. Remember, four of the Rams’ games have come against the NFC East (6-2 TD:INT in games against teams with a combined record of 4-15-1), so they’ve basically had the equivalent of a six month hibernation to start their season.
QB Joe Burrow (CIN) – The Colts are the best secondary in the league, statistically. They allow the fewest passing yards, and have played one game more than the other two teams that have allowed less than 1,000 passing yards. Burrow is going to sling it because the Bengals fall behind early and often each week. He’s currently second in the league in pass attempts, averaging over 40 pass attempts per game. Quantity doesn’t equal quality though. The Colts have nine interceptions on the year and Burrow, as a rookie, can be forced into bad throws. Play at your own risk.
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) – Seriously, how the hell did Edwards-Helaire NOT smash against the Raiders last week? He finished as RB26 last week and was buoyed by seven fantasy points as a receiver (3-40). He has seven carries inside the 5 and has zero touchdowns. Now there are rumors that recently released RB Le’Veon Bell might be heading to KC? Not sure you can be confident in CEH going forward. The Bills gave up two TDs to Derrick Henry last week, but held him under three yards per carry. They’re also tied for the 9th fewest receptions allowed to RBs this year. Maybe CEH will be motivated with the rumors, but we know he’s not scoring a TD so temper expectations this week.
RB Joe Mixon (CIN) – Needless to say, I’m not all that high on ANY Bengals players this week. The Colts defense is stout. Even with Burrow throwing 40+ times each week, Mixon is seeing touches — only one game this year does he have less than 20 touches and has more than 30 in back-to-back games. The Colts are giving up 4.4 receptions per game to running backs and have allowed only one touchdown to running backs. Expect Mixon to finish under four yards per carry and no scores, putting him in the RB20 range or lower this week.
RB Melvin Gordon (DEN) – The Patriots are allowing the 5th fewest fantasy points to RBs this year. They’ve allowed only one rushing touchdown to backs and only 21 receptions. Gordon has been one of the lone healthy options for the Broncos of late, but with Drew Lock and Phillip Lindsay potentially back this week, Denver may decide to lean less on Gordon in the passing game, limiting his upside. You may not have better options this week, but I don’t think he’s anything more than a desperate FLEX against NE. **Editor’s note: Melvin Gordon was charged with a DUI on Tuesday night, putting his standing for Week 6 in question.**
WR Amari Cooper (DAL) – Right now, the Cardinals defense is allowing the 6th fewest fantasy points to WRs. WR1s have done great against them — Terry McLaurin, Kenny Golladay, Robby Anderson, and Jamison Crowder all topped 17 fantasy points and finished better than WR22 — with Patrick Peterson allowing the most receiving yards on the team (239). With Andy Dalton at QB now for Dallas, are we sure Cooper will be the first read? To close out last week’s game, Dalton looked to CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup to put the team in a position to win. Maybe it’s nothing, maybe it’s something worth monitoring, but I’d wager Cooper is more WR2 this week than top 5 WR.
WR D.J. Moore (CAR) – Robby Anderson may have the production as the Panthers WR1, but that role still belongs to D.J. Moore. Teams are putting their best corner on him and he’s running more routes (175 to 165), just not seeing as many targets as Anderson (47 to 37). If the same holds true this week, Moore won’t see a lot of rookie Jaylon Johnson, who has been statistically worse than veteran Kyle Fuller. That means Robby Anderson is likely the more productive of the two this week. And when the Bears are allowing the 3rd fewest fantasy points to WRs, you want the better matchup. Moore doesn’t have that this week.
WR Tyler Boyd (CIN) – Colts slot CB Kenny Moore allows the fewest receiving yards among CBs with 100+ snaps lined up in the slot. Tyler Boyd is a slot receiver. When things make sense, don’t overthink it. Boyd is an easy fade this week against a Colts defense allowing the 7th fewest fantasy points to WRs.
TE Robert Tonyan (GB) – With Davante Adams expected back this week, Robert Tonyan’s TD upside likely evaporates. (I say likely because I’ve been wrong before.) The Bucs have allowed only two touchdowns to TEs this year and while Tonyan has three straight games with at least one score, the Bucs D isn’t as forgiving as the Falcons (who gave up three scores to Tonyan). I’d prefer to see how Tonyan serves as the 3rd option behind Adams and Aaron Jones before believing he’s the guy we saw in Week 4 with a great matchup.
TE Hayden Hurst (ATL) – This isn’t the worst matchup for Hurst and the Falcons. Mo Alie-Cox and Jonnu Smith each topped 11 fantasy points against them, but something doesn’t seem to be clicking for Hurst in Atlanta. He’s run the 5th most routes at the position in the league, and is 2nd on the team behind Calvin Ridley. But his 26 targets have led to only 15 receptions (3/game) and he’s not even averaging one yard per route run (0.99). As the Vikings continue to struggle against WRs (6th most fantasy points allowed), Hurst will likely take a backseat to Ridley and Russell Gage (and potentially Julio Jones if he plays). **Editor’s note: The Falcons shut down their facilities Thursday morning due to a positive COVID test. Please monitor this game for Sunday because if more tests pop up, this game could move to Tuesday or potentially be postponed to a later week.**