Fantasy Football: Sleeper tight end options to start in Week 6

2T163H9 Los Angeles Rams' Tyler Higbee (89) reacts during an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

• Is Jonnu Smith poised to continue his efficiency?: The Atlanta Falcons tight end surprisingly leads the team in catches and receiving yards through five weeks and has a favorable matchup in Week 6.

Tyler Higbee is our matchup advantage king: Higbee has the most favorable matchup advantage this week, per our matchup tool. Can he take advantage of it?

• Dominate your fantasy leagues in 2023: For up-to-date fantasy draft rankings and projections, check out PFF’s fantasy rankings tool!

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The year of the sleeper tight end is in full effect six weeks through the NFL season. The usual suspects in the top tier of tight ends — such as Travis Kelce, T.J. Hockenson and Mark Andrews — are all plying their trade at elite levels, but not everyone is able to draft an elite tight end in fantasy football. Those of you who missed out on that luxury have likely been here for a few weeks, perusing the deepest darkest channels in search of aid.

If that’s the case, and you took last week's advice, you probably did okay for yourself. Our sleeper picks for Week 5 (Luke Musgrave, Cole Kmet, Tyler Conklin and Jake Ferguson) averaged 10.0 PPR points per contest. Ferguson was the lone disappointment in a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. If you take him out of the equation, we averaged 11.34 points per contest. That’s another good week and something to build on. 

Let’s try to repeat that success in Week 6.

WR:CB Matchup Chart


Logan Thomas, Washington Commanders

Opponent: Atlanta Falcons

Up until Week 5, Thomas had started the season in a solid but unspectacular fashion. He had outscored his PPR points projection each week but hadn’t topped 43 receiving yards or four receptions in a game. However, Thomas had his best game of the season in the Commanders’ Week 5 loss to the Chicago Bears, catching nine-of-11 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown. That big outing gave 19.70 fantasy points and helped him finish as the TE4 in Week 5.

There’s a chance that Thomas’ big performance in Week 5 has opened the door to a rich vein of form moving forward. That could start against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6. Everything points towards that being the case too, even in a tough matchup. Per our Week 6 matchup tool, Thomas has a 13% matchup disadvantage against a solid Falcons defense, but he’s facing off against a unit that is allowing second-most fantasy points per game to tight ends in the NFL. 

Thomas’ 0.35 fantasy points per route is above average for tight ends, and his 65.0 overall grade is average. It’s all fine, but there’s a strong chance Thomas carries on his impressive performance from Week 5 as the Commanders offense gets a little more comfortable with Sam Howell under center.

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

Opponent: Arizona Cardinals

Higbee wasn’t the target sponge we expected him to be in the early weeks of the season without Cooper KuppPuka Nacua occupied that role. However, the Rams' offense has been on a heater through the first five weeks of the season. Matthew Stafford has quietly been an under-the-radar MVP candidate and the Rams are eighth in EPA per play. On some level, there’s room for Higbee to produce even if he is only the TE16 in total points.

Could this week against the Arizona Cardinals be the takeoff point? Quite possibly. Higbee has a 40% matchup advantage this week, the best advantage for any tight end in Week 6 according to our matchup tool. His likely primary defender, Josh Woods, has earned a 26.7 overall grade so far this season – the worst grade among all linebackers in the NFL. But, it’s worth noting that Woods has only played two games for the Cardinals this season.

The competition for targets makes a big Higbee outing unlikely, but he’s run more routes than any tight end this season and is tied for 12th in catches at the position. He could have an efficient outing against a competitive Cardinals defense but could bottom out at any moment due to some talent deficiencies.

Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys

Opponent: Los Angeles Chargers

Death, taxes, and Ferguson being one of our sleeper tight-end picks. You’re probably sick of seeing his name by now, and you’re also probably a little hesitant after the Cowboys' disappointing performance against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5. That was a humbling experience, and Ferguson scored just 5.80 fantasy points in the game — his second-lowest output of the season. 

However, don’t let that deter you from placing Ferguson in your lineups in Week 6. The Cowboys take on the Los Angeles Chargers in the Kellen Moore Bowl in hopes of recovering from the beating they took against the 49ers. The Chargers offense is great and will cause problems, but the defense is 28th in EPA per play this season. We could see a high-scoring game, and if that’s the case, Ferguson will have his part to play. 

Per our matchup tool, Ferguson has the third-highest matchup advantage among all tight ends this week against his primary defender, Eric Kendricks. Ferguson’s 34% advantage is only bettered by Higbee and Travis Kelce unsurprisingly. Until there’s a reason to not consider Ferguson, he’ll likely continue to be here.

Jonnu Smith, Atlanta Falcons 

Opponent: Washington Commanders 

Who would have thought that, through five weeks, the Falcons’ leading receiver in yards and catches would be Jonnu Smith? To the one person that has their hand up right now; put your hand down if it’s up right now because you’re lying. Smith has 21 catches and 246 receiving yards so far this season and is currently the TE14.

Even with Kyle Pitts on the team, Smith is the more productive tight end and he’s doing it with efficiency too. Smith is running a route on just 84.7% of his passing downs, which is 31st among all tight ends in the NFL but he’s averaging 10.65 fantasy points per game since Week 2. He’s firmly on the radar as a sleeper tight end and benefits from a great matchup this week.

The Falcons take on a struggling Washington Commanders defense that is 26th in EPA per play and just gave up 40 points to the Chicago Bears offense. Even if there’s the looming worry of a Pitts breakout for fantasy owners, the Falcons are lining up in 12 personnel more than any other team in the league. Smith’s participation levels are high, and it’s clear that Arthur Smith and Desmond Ridder have trust in the 28-year-old.


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