Burrow, Chase Ready to Lead Bengals over Lions
NFL Week 6 - The move to an 18-week schedule delayed the start of bye weeks, and Week 6 is more of a soft opening than grand opening with the four teams on bye—the Jets, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers—mostly lacking in top-tier fantasy options. But whether or not you need to replace a normal starter with a streamer, the matchups offer compelling opportunities in both traditional and daily formats.
The following tables feature the players with the best and worst matchups of the week. Each listed player shows a true-talent (TT) ranking that represents how I would rank him with a perfectly neutral game context. Then, that ranking is adjusted by adding the context of the venue (Ven)—home and road and dome and outside—the forecasted weather (Wea), and opponent tendencies (Opp). The line beneath those rankings shows how much those contextual factors move projected PPR fantasy points. That total (Tot) number gives you a comprehensive estimate of how many fantasy points the player will score this week more or less than his typical total.
You can see our full weekly projections with projected stats, matchup adjustments and fantasy points by subscribing to FO+.
|Best Week 6 Matchups - Quarterbacks|
At quarterback, opportunities center on second-year players and expatriates in London. Tua Tagovailoa is in the middle of that Venn diagram, facing a Jaguars team that boosts yards per pass attempt by 23% and cuts interceptions per attempt by 69%, both top-five in football. And the Jaguars don't even enjoy the normal home benefits across the pond. But as bullish as I am on Tagovailoa, whom I believe has been unfairly maligned for not being Justin Herbert, I'm not sure I would trust his matchup-aided QB1 ranking this week since we don't know how healthy he is attempting a return from broken ribs. The Jaguars are the No. 2 increaser of opponent run plays at 22%. And if game script allows it, I suspect the Dolphins will aim to ease Tagovailoa back with an eye on extra rest and recovery on their bye in Week 7.
If I needed a fill-in starter in a shallow format, I would lean on Joe Burrow or Taylor Heinicke. And frankly, I'm on the brink of considering Burrow an every-week option. He's up to 13th in my true talent rankings with standout efficiencies in his 71.7% completion rate, 8.8 yards per attempt, and 7.6% touchdown rate. I suspect the slow movement on Burrow's roster rates is a product of the Bengals' run orientation. They are top-10 with a 46.5% run rate, just between the Ravens (47.6%) and 49ers (46.5%) of all teams. I expect that Bengals' number to change now that Burrow has demonstrated the health of and his confidence in his repaired knee. He has set season highs with 32 and 38 pass attempts the last two weeks, palatable totals for fantasy that justify his top-eight ranking this week in the dome in Detroit. The Lions may cut pass plays (9%), but they increase passing yards and touchdowns by 39% and 30%, both top-six in football.
Best DraftKings Values: Joe Burrow ($700 underpriced at $6,300), Taylor Heinicke ($400 underpriced at $5,800), Justin Herbert ($100 underpriced at $7,300)
Best FanDuel Values: Joe Burrow ($600 underpriced at $7,400), Trevor Lawrence ($600 underpriced at $6,800), Justin Herbert ($400 underpriced at $8,000)
If you prefer to be in the elite quarterback market, this is a tougher week. Patrick Mahomes enjoys a small plus matchup facing a Washington defense that has looked much worse than expected this year with the 29th-ranked pass defense DVOA. But Mahomes also suffers his usual DFS markups and only just justifies his $9,000 FanDuel price with matching projected salary.
As such, I think your best expensive bet remains Justin Herbert. He faces a difficult matchup on the road in Baltimore. Herbert has averaged 1.5 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road in his career, and the Ravens cut passing touchdown rate by 14%. But even as Herbert's DraftKings salaries have crept up from $6,700 in Week 1 to $7,300 this week and his FanDuel salaries have done the same from $7,600 to 8,000, they continue to undersell a player I believe has become the fourth-best true talent fantasy quarterback. His salaries this week are sixth- and eighth-highest in the respective platforms.
|Worst Week 6 Matchups - Quarterbacks|
I may not have trusted the Bills' No. 1 defensive DVOA rating before the Chiefs game, but I certainly do now. They are a top-three cutter of passing yards (29%) and touchdowns per attempt (43%) and are the No. 1 increaser of interceptions by an outrageous 138% per attempt. Ryan Tannehill may be at home and have the biggest home/road split at his position at 7.2 more fantasy points per game. But he still falls outside of my top 20 quarterbacks this week because of his opponent.
Worst DraftKings Values: Kyler Murray ($1,000 overpriced at $7,900), Aaron Rodgers ($900 overpriced at $7,200), Dak Prescott ($600 overpriced at $7,100)
Worst FanDuel Values: Matthew Stafford ($700 overpriced at $7,900), Dak Prescott ($500 overpriced at $8,100), Kyler Murray ($300 overpriced at $8,400)
I wouldn't ever bench top fantasy quarterbacks such as Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, or Jalen Hurts because of their matchups. But when price is a factor like in DFS, Murray and Prescott are less appealing this week. Murray has obscured his broader trend with some rushing scores this season, but he has averaged 3.7 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road in his career. I still think of him as a home-only DFS option and don't love his $7,900 and $8,400 price tags on the road against a Browns team that even after a shootout with the Chargers projects to cut pass plays by 3% and completion rate by 11%. I would be less scared of the Patriots for Prescott if not for the defense's extreme split with the No. 8 pass and No. 22 run defense DVOA rates. With that sort of split, it's little surprise to see the Patriots cut their opponents' pass plays by 3% and increase their run plays by 11%. This could be an Ezekiel Elliott- and Tony Pollard-heavy Cowboys offensive attack, to the detriment of Prescott's fantasy prospects.
|Best Week 6 Matchups - Running Backs|
The Lions have the 28th-ranked run defense DVOA. They increase rushing yards and touchdowns by 9% and 53% per attempt. With the team's general poor play, they allow their opponents to build leads and increase their run plays by 12%. All told, they are by far the best opponent for a fantasy running back, and I want to load up my daily lineups with Joe Mixon this week. Sadly, I'm a bit afraid to. Mixon is playing through an ankle injury and managed just 28% of offensive snaps last week compared to his standard of at least 74% from his first three healthy weeks. I still probably would sprinkle Mixon into a few of my tournament lineups—perhaps the injury will scare down his lineup percentages and open up a contrarian play. But this decision would probably be easier if Mixon missed the game entirely. Or rather, it would be if his backup Samaje Perine hadn't landed on the COVID reserve list this week. I guess it might be Chris Evans flier time! Or more reasonably, time to load up on Burrow and the Bengals passing attack.
Best DraftKings Values: Joe Mixon ($1,400 underpriced at $6,400), Darrel Williams ($800 underpriced at $4,900), Javonte Williams ($600 underpriced at $5,000)
Best FanDuel Values: Darrel Williams ($1,300 underpriced at $5,200), Joe Mixon ($1,100 underpriced at $7,000), Javonte Williams ($800 underpriced at $5,600)
The not-brothers Darrel and Javonte Williams are my favorite Week 6 values at the position without a looming health threat. Darrel should be the temporary lead Chiefs back with Clyde Edwards-Helaire sidelined with a sprained MCL. His and teammate Jerick McKinnon's 43% and 31% snap rates in relief of Edwards-Helaire on Sunday night suggest to me they may share the work more evenly than that game's totals of eight and three touches would indicate. But the 219-pound Williams will likely take the touchdowns. He led the team with 1.6 versus 1.3 expected rushing and receiving touchdowns in Weeks 1 to 4 even before Edwards-Helaire suffered his injury.
Javonte Williams may not see the same Week 6 workload benefits. He remains mired in a nearly even touch split with veteran teammate Melvin Gordon. But Williams has wowed me with a 16.7% avoided tackle rate that trails just Christian McCaffrey's 17.3% rate among backs with 50 or more carries. More work is coming. And in a tournament setting, I'm inclined to take that shot on Williams this week at home against the Raiders. As 12%, 6% and 35% boosters of run plays, rushing yards, and touchdowns per attempt, Las Vegas was already one of the better run matchups. But now that head coach Jon Gruden is out, the Raiders have disaster potential that could lead to a multi-score Broncos win with plenty of second-half Williams carries as a means to kill clock.
|Worst Week 6 Matchups - Running Backs|
I know you want to build around Derrick Henry. He has run all over any Curse of 370 concerns with 142 carries this season, 48 more than the closest back behind him. He also won your Week 2 and Week 5 matchups with three touchdowns in each. But those outbursts came against Seahawks and Jaguars teams in the bottom 10 in defensive DVOA. The Bills are No. 1 on defense against the pass, against the run, and overall. It feels like another lifetime, but Henry managed just 17 carries and 58 yards in Week 1 when the Cardinals built a multi-score lead and forced the Titans out of their preferred run-and-play-action offense. The Bills are a threat to do the same to the Titans this week. And while I can't claim Henry is an out-and-out bad tournament option, I see him as $1,500 and $2,700 overpriced in the daily platforms with $9,000 and $10,500 salaries that are his most expensive so far this season.
Worst DraftKings Values: Derrick Henry ($1,500 overpriced at $9,000), Latavius Murray ($800 overpriced at $5,700), Tony Pollard ($600 overpriced at $5,600)
Worst FanDuel Values: Derrick Henry ($2,700 overpriced at $10,500), Ezekiel Elliott ($1,000 overpriced at $8,300), Damien Harris ($400 overpriced at $6,200)
Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, and Latavius Murray are more surprising poor daily values since they have transparently plus matchups. As discussed, the former two face a Patriots defense much better against the pass than the run, shifting opponent run ratios accordingly. But Elliott has suffered his own excessive inflation this season. He's up from $6,700 and $8,000 in Week 1 to $7,100 and $8,300 this week. The Patriots defense isn't that friendly. They actually cut rushing touchdown rate by 73%, fourth-most in football. Meanwhile, neither Cowboys back can enjoy his normal dome boost on the road in New England. Domes increase run plays by 2% and rushing yards by 2% per attempt.
Murray has been the biggest beneficiary of the Ravens' yo-yoing of Ty'Son Williams and Le'Veon Bell. The former back saw an increase in his snap share from between 31% and 36% the first three weeks to 62% and 49% the last two weeks. That makes him decent flex option in traditional formats facing a Chargers team that increases run plays by 15% and rushing yards and touchdowns by 30% and 25% per attempt. But Murray's three targets from Week 5 were his first three of the season. He is to this Ravens team what Gus Edwards was to last year's Ravens team. And that makes a $5,700 DraftKings price tag seem somewhat excessive. It's the 22nd-highest at his position when Murray ranks just 33rd for me even with the matchup boost.
|Best Week 6 Matchups - Wide Receivers|
Ja'Marr Chase is the most obvious receiver beneficiary of the Bengals' previously discussed plus Lions matchup. His 24.6% target share is tied for 17th-highest and justifies his back-end WR1 true talent ranking even in the face of likely regression from a positioning-leading 3.4-touchdown surplus of five actual versus 1.7 expected touchdowns. But I'm in on a stack with Burrow and any combination of Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd this week. The Lions are a booster of yards per target for No. 1 (65%), No. 2 (16%), and slot receivers (21%).
The Texans-Colts matchup does not scream fantasy potential like the Lions do for Chase, but I like Brandin Cooks and Michael Pittman just the same. With 33.3% (third) and 24.2% (20th) target shares, Cooks and Pittman are two of the less obvious members of the top 20 receivers in target share. With the byes this week, they are clear WR2s in true talent. Meanwhile, both receivers enjoy matchup boosts for the dome in Indianapolis, and Cooks has one for his opponent. I would have bet anything the Colts would be better defensively than the Texans this year. But in suffering myriad defensive injuries to key players such as pass-rusher Kwity Paye and cornerbacks Rock Ya-Sin, Xavier Rhodes, and Andrew Sendejo, the Colts have declined to 30th in pass defense DVOA this year. They are top-three boosters of No. 1 receiver yards (31%) and touchdowns per target (197%), moving Cooks into WR1 range this week.
Best DraftKings Values: Davante Adams ($1,400 underpriced at $9,000), Brandin Cooks ($800 underpriced at $5,800), Ja'Marr Chase ($500 underpriced at $6,700)
Best FanDuel Values: Michael Pittman ($1,000 underpriced at $5,800), Brandin Cooks ($800 underpriced at $6,500), Davante Adams ($700 underpriced at $8,500)
Cooks and Cooper Kupp came hot out of the gates with massive target shares, but they have fallen back to at least lower orbits with their 33.3% and 33.5% target shares this season. Davante Adams is on another planet at 37.7% and 44.1% the last few weeks with Marquez Valdes-Scantling landing on injured reserve. He has top-two salaries in both daily platforms and faces a Bears defense that is fourth in pass defense DVOA, but I don't even care. Adams is my version of Derrick Henry this week, and I would load up on him in tournaments no matter his prices.
|Worst Week 6 Matchups - Wide Receivers|
Courtland Sutton may enjoy some of the same Raiders-in-turmoil benefits as I proposed for Javonte Williams. But at least on the field this season, the Raiders have been surprisingly good in defending the pass. They are 14th in pass defense DVOA after ranking 26th or worse in each of the previous four seasons. And they cut No. 1 receiver catch rate, yards per target, and touchdowns per target by 28%, 17%, and 113%, all top-10 in football. Sutton matches A.J. Brown in the latter's fearsome Bills matchup with the biggest projected drop of 1.4 PPR points this week. I wouldn't avoid Sutton in traditional formats. But I have lower expectations and would look elsewhere in daily formats.
Marquise Brown suffers a smaller projected decline of 0.9 PPR points against a Chargers defense that invites the run, ranking 27th against the run versus 10th against the pass in DVOA and cutting No. 1 receiver touchdown rate by 111%. But Brown also deserves discussion because of the broader state of the Ravens receiver room. He has a surprising 23.8% target share that is tied for 23rd at the position. Lamar Jackson is throwing a much higher percentage of his passes to wide receivers than he had previously in his career. But the Ravens are poised to debut first-round rookie wideout Rashod Bateman after activating him from injured reserve. I don't expect Bateman to assert a No. 1 receiver role this season, but even a modest projection could eat into the expanded role that has made Brown the No. 6 fantasy receiver so far this year. I have lowered Brown to 24th in true talent, and he falls a few more spots to 28th for the matchup this week.
Worst DraftKings Values: Tyler Lockett ($1,600 overpriced at $6,700), DeAndre Hopkins ($1,500 overpriced at $7,800), A.J. Brown ($1,100 overpriced at $6,100)
Worst FanDuel Values: Adam Thielen ($1,000 overpriced at $7,200), DeAndre Hopkins ($700 overpriced at $7,700), Tyler Lockett ($500 overpriced at $6,800)
This may go without saying, but Geno Smith isn't Russell Wilson. Smith peaked as a starter at a -12.5% passing DVOA in 2014 with the Jets. Wilson has never fared worse than a 2.9% passing DVOA in a season. The entire Seahawks offense will suffer with Wilson out, but Tyler Lockett stands out as the worst of the team's daily values at $6,700 in DraftKings. Since 2018, Wilson's 40.4% deep-pass completion rate is the sixth-highest of current starters, ahead of even Patrick Mahomes' 39.8% rate. Lockett will likely miss out on a typical pair of 40-plus-yard touchdown catches over the next month or more while Wilson is sidelined.
|Best Week 6 Matchups - Tight Ends|
Tua Tagovailoa may be a risky start because of his uncertain health. And ironically, the chance that Tagovailoa is fully healthy makes tight end Mike Gesicki a risky start when on its own a Jacksonville matchup is the best one possible for the position—the Jaguars increase tight end yards and touchdowns by 19% and 118% per target, the latter being the most in football. Gesicki has a top-seven 18.5% target rate for the season, but he has seen disparate 6.5% and 19.9% target shares with Tagovailoa and Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. I have ranked Gesicki eighth in true talent and am hoping that he sees some positive target share regression as Tagovailoa takes more snaps. But I'm not wild about the choice even in the plus matchup. Gesicki had the third-lowest average separation of 2.0 yards in 2020 per Next Gen Stats. Tagovailoa might reasonably prefer to target his big separators such as Jaylen Waddle with his lesser arm strength.
Best DraftKings Values: Dan Arnold ($900 underpriced at $3,000), Ricky Seals-Jones ($700 underpriced at $3,000), Pat Freiermuth ($600 underpriced at $2,900)
Best FanDuel Values: Pat Freiermuth ($600 underpriced at $4,500), Dan Arnold ($500 underpriced at $5,000), Ricky Seals-Jones ($300 underpriced at $5,000)
Especially for daily lineups, Dan Arnold, Ricky Seals-Jones, and Pat Freiermuth strike me as proactive choices. Where Gesicki may lose targets because of changes around him, that trio seems likely to increase theirs. Arnold had eight targets in his second game with Jacksonville last week, doubling his high of four targets with the Panthers in his first outing since the Jaguars lost top receiver DJ Chark to a season-ending ankle injury. Ricky Seals-Jones jumped from between 10% and 18% snap shares the first three weeks to 93% and 99% shares the last two weeks. He contributed five catches and nine targets in Week 5 and could be a major beneficiary of a Chiefs matchup with normal starter Logan Thomas on injured reserve. The Chiefs are a top-two booster of tight end catch rate (20%) and yards per target (62%). Meanwhile, Freiermuth has already passed Eric Ebron for the Steelers' No. 1 tight end role, and he could be a key piece in the team's attempt to replace JuJu Smith-Schuster's 16.0% target share from the first four weeks. And all three tight ends are near the minimum in both daily platforms.
|Worst Week 6 Matchups - Tight Ends|
Normally, I'd call Darren Waller immune to his matchups. But normally, Waller has an experienced head coach. With all of the uncertainty around the Raiders, I think I'll pass on Waller in my daily lineups as he faces a Broncos team that decrease tight end yards and touchdowns by 27% and 101% per target. There aren't many elite options at the position with George Kittle injured and Kyle Pitts on bye, but players such as Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews are better values if you want to spend up at the position.
Worst DraftKings Values: Darren Waller ($1,700 overpriced at $6,600), Robert Tonyan ($600 overpriced at $3,800), Dalton Schultz ($400 overpriced at $4,900)
Worst FanDuel Values: Darren Waller ($800 overpriced at $8,000), Dawson Knox ($600 overpriced at $6,700), Dalton Schultz ($500 overpriced at $6,500)
With those absences, Dawson Knox and Dalton Schultz end up as top-six tight ends by default. They are no-brainer starts in traditional formats, but that doesn't make them good daily values, especially at $6,700 and $6,500 in FanDuel. Knox may be Josh Allen's No. 1 red zone option, but he still leads the position with a 2.3-touchdown surplus of five actual versus 2.7 expected touchdowns. His run of a touchdown per week won't continue. Schultz has a run of seven or more targets in three straight games to shelter some volatility, but he faces that Patriots defense that cuts tight end yards and touchdowns by 39% and 22% per target. This looks like a bad week to rely on the second tier of fantasy tight ends. I'd probably pay up for Kelce or Andrews or look to go very cheap with fliers such as Arnold and Seals-Jones.