Truth be told, it’s impossible to say for certain that a player should start or sit across the board. Every fantasy team is different and calls for decisions that change by the league.
Four teams taking a seat for their bye week and a bevy of injuries, of course, don’t make navigating the fantasy waters for Week 6 any easier. Many owners are scraping the bottom of the barrel during this stretch of the season, leaning on players who aren’t proving consistent and taking a chance on underrated names.
One game is already in the books, as Thursday Night Football has been played, but there are still 13 other matchups worth looking into. Let’s take all of those into account as we predict the top 10 performers at each position.
Start: Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
The schedule-makers haven’t done the San Diego Chargers any favors, as they travel to Lambeau Field on a short week after losing a heartbreaker to Pittsburgh on Monday. But it won’t do anything to quell the production of Philip Rivers.
The Chargers quarterback is settling in, throwing for multiple touchdowns in four of his five games this year. He’s also averaging around 320 yards per game through the air, and this matchup with the Packers won’t be a defensive struggle by any means.
With Antonio Gates returning in full force, Rivers’ production will only continue to climb.
Sit: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
A tough start to the season for the Seattle Seahawks only gets tougher in Week 6 with a visit from the Carolina Panthers, a defense that should frustrate Russell Wilson and keep him on his heels.
The Panthers rank in the middle of the pack against the pass, but that number is skewed due to the fact that Carolina has led during the majority of its games so far. A better indication of their defensive prowess are the eight interceptions against four touchdowns allowed.
Each of the Seahawks-Panthers contests over the last couple of seasons have been defensive slugfests. Expect that trend to continue and lead to a below-average fantasy outing from Wilson.
Start: Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Those of us who bet high on Jeremy Hill and snagged him with an early draft pick—I’m raising my hand regretfully—won’t like this, but Giovani Bernard is quickly proving himself worthier of snaps and touches in the Cincinnati Bengals’ surging offense.
Issues with both production and fumbles have plagued Hill throughout the young season, and Bernard has been willing to pick up the slack. The Bengals’ Week 5 win over Seattle signaled a changing of the guard, as Brad Evans of Yahoo Sports noted:
The matchup also bodes well, as the Buffalo Bills have allowed double-digit outings to two straight running backs—Rashad Jennings of the Giants and Antonio Andrews of the Titans. Bernard is more than capable of scoring for the first time this season, or at the very least generating the yardage that makes him a must-start.
Sit: Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
He’s still getting the ball like the No. 1 option would, but Jonathan Stewart’s inability to find the end zone is quickly turning him from an every-week starter to a flex option.
His 220 rushing yards on the season indicate that he gets his share of touches, but even that number has gone down consistently this season. He’s gone from 18 touches to 17 to 14 to 10 in consecutive weeks this season—all without a touchdown, mind you.
The Seahawks haven’t allowed a rushing score all season and will be intent on forcing Cam Newton to beat them through the air.
Start: Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets
Many will be scared off this weekend by the fact that the Washington Redskins are playing surprisingly well on defense, plus the other fact that the New York Jets are still the Jets. Thus, the Jets are susceptible to a dud performance offensively.
But that trend is beginning to be bucked with the arrival of Brandon Marshall. Generating double-digit targets per game, his presence in the offense has been steady, and the results have been consistent. He has a streak of three straight games with over 100 yards receiving and also has three scores on the season.
New York’s offense has been surprisingly on point for most of this season and will continue by way of Marshall on Sunday.
Sit: Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins
Keeping within the same matchup, Washington Redskins leading target Pierre Garcon isn’t due for the same type of outing as Marshall.
Garcon has proved a bit more reliable than last season so far, catching touchdowns in two of his four games. But with that in mind, he’s only broken double-digit fantasy points once.
While the Redskins defense is hit-or-miss, the Jets defense—especially in the secondary—is legit. Don’t expect Garcon to catch a score against a secondary that has allowed three touchdowns to opposing wideouts.
Start: Richard Rodgers, TE, Green Bay Packers
With a number of his favorite receivers going down to injury, Aaron Rodgers has looked the way of a fellow Rodgers for consistent production. Tight end Richard Rodgers has delivered.
Rodgers has proved himself as a red-zone option with two touchdowns already on the season and has a great shot at making it three—or four—on Sunday. The San Diego Chargers have given up three scores already to tight ends this season, and the Packers gunslinger has a way of exploiting teams’ weaknesses.
Sit: Larry Donnell, TE, New York Giants
Seeing Larry Donnell make that incredible game-winning catch on Sunday Night Football may have fantasy owners looking his way, but expect a quick drop-off from the Giants tight end on Sunday.
His struggles against the Philadelphia Eagles look bound to continue this weekend. Donnell only caught three passes for 32 yards in two contests against Philly last season, and the Eagles have allowed just one touchdown to tight ends this season.
Start: New York Jets
What’s not to like about a nasty Jets defense coming off a bye and playing at home? New York’s squad will be well-rested and ready to bring the Washington Redskins back down to earth. The Jets should add to their 13 takeaways so far.
Sit: Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills defense has a lot of extra weight on its shoulders, with virtually the entire offense (at least playmaker-wise) on the shelf. They did well last week versus Tennessee but will struggle mightily against Andy Dalton and his multifaceted passing attack.
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