(Each week, the Sunday Study Session will feature a quick-hit look at our top fantasy football advice of the week to help you prepare for that week’s fantasy slate, as well as links to our full writeups. For last-minute research and prep, this is the place.)
This time of year in fantasy football, planning ahead is essential. It’s easy to focus on a single week’s matchup and make moves to maximize that particular situation, but it’s harder — but no less important — to look down the road.
Bye weeks are picking up now. Do you know how many players you are losing to bye in Week 7? Chris Godwin, Christian McCaffrey, James Conner, Odell Beckham Jr., and more will be gone. Maybe you can’t do anything about it now. But maybe you can. With some notable names on bye this week, there’s every chance someone else in your league has had to drop someone important to themt o fill a vacant slot. You can wait and pick that player up next week, but be subject to the vagaries of the waiver wire or FAAB, or you can do it now and have no risk.
Build your lineup for Week 6, but keep an eye on Week 7 and beyond.
Season-long league advice
These are the pieces that will help you build your roster and set your lineup each week. On Tuesday, Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the best waiver claims of the week, while Scott Barrett breaks down the streaming defense candidates and Lee Sifford picks out streaming quarterbacks. Daniel Kelley looks at the players rising and falling in this week’s rankings. Wednesday is Jeff’s top 150 flex rankings, Daniel’s peek at the best and worst matchups of the week, and Scott’s Expected Fantasy Points metric. There’s also the indispensable trade value chart. Thursday, Daniel returns with his weekly sleepers and busts, while Scott Barrett breaks down the key start and the sits of the week. And finally, Jeff is back Friday with his weekly focus, taking a full look at the whole weekly slate from every angle.
For most of these pieces, we’ll pull a blurb to highlight and offer up a key takeaway. For this piece, though? It’s worth a full read. Beginning to end, Jeff brings the crucial info.
27. Mike Evans, TB vs CAR (WR12) — Sure, he put up a goose egg last week, but Evans is still 14th among receivers in fantasy scoring.
28. James Conner, PIT @ LAC (RB15) — The entire Steelers offense gets a downgrade with Mason Rudolph out this week.
29. Joe Mixon, CIN @ BAL (RB16) — It’s tough to trust Mixon as anything more than an RB2 until further notice.
30. Tyler Boyd, CIN @ BAL (WR13) — Boyd is coming off a strong performance and remains Andy Dalton’s top target.
START Melvin Gordon in medium-sized leagues: Gordon might not be the bell cow his owners were hoping he’d be. Even so, he’s at least the team’s early-down workhorse and primary goal-line back. That means, this week, as 6.5-point home favorites against Pittsburgh, he should out-score Austin Ekeler and yield mid-range RB2 returns.
START Preston Williams in deep leagues: If desperate for a spot-start, you could do worse than Williams, who has been Josh Rosen’s favorite target in both the regular season (24% target share) and preseason (26%) this year. Over the last four weeks, Williams ranks 11th among all wide receivers in XFP per game (16.2).
SIT Dalvin Cook in shallow leagues: Cook shouldn’t be benched, but we shouldn’t expect much from him this week. The Eagles rank best in yards allowed per carry (2.81), and for the second-straight season they rank top-five in rushing fantasy points allowed per game.
SIT Jordan Howard in medium-sized leagues: On Monday, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Howard will get a higher percentage of the carries moving forward. That may be true, but that won’t matter much this week. The Vikings are home favorites who rank top-six in yards allowed per carry and rushing fantasy points per game allowed.
SLEEPER: Adrian Peterson: We won’t really know what to expect out of the Washington offense under Bill Callahan until we see it in action, but one of the first things he said after being named the interim head coach is that he wants to go run-heavy. The Dolphins have allowed almost 40 PPR points per game to opposing running backs (largely because of gamescript, but still), which could mean big things for Peterson.
BUST: Nick Chubb: Only the Buccaneers (82.3%) and Eagles (81.1%) have allowed a higher percentage of their yards on passes this year than the Seahawks (77.2%). Chubb has been good this year, especially when compared to the overall disappointing Browns, but he’s not much of a contributor to the passing game.
BEST: Matt Ryan: The Falcons allow the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. The Cardinals allow the fourth-most. Both of these teams are top-10 in offensive plays per game this season. Dating back to Week 17 last year, Ryan has passed for 300-plus yards in six straight games, already tied for the sixth-longest streak in NFL history.
WORST: Carson Wentz: There have been 27 quarterbacks to start each of the last two weeks. Of those, Wentz ranks … 27th in passing yards, at 349. Four different quarterbacks had more passing yards in Week 5 than he has in those two games combined.
ADD Devin Singletary in shallow leagues: Buffalo is on bye this week, so there’s still a chance to stash Singletary if you haven’t already.
ADD Auden Tate in medium-sized leagues: Cincinnati’s offense doesn’t offer much for fantasy purposes, but Tate could give you another week or two of rental production with A.J. Green still out.
ADD Ricky Seals-Jones in deep leagues: Seals-Jones posted a fantasy goose egg in Week 5 but had a longer catch overturned. His upside is appealing in deep leagues.
RISER: Will Fuller: After a quiet start to the season (14 receptions, 183 scoreless yards) in Weeks 1-4, Fuller exploded for 14 more catches, 217 yards, and 3 touchdowns Sunday. His season line is now about where we’d have guessed it’d be, even if he got there unpredictably. Fuller’s a strong weekly flex play.
FALLER: Julio Jones: The fact that he set a season-low in targets (7) and receptions (4) in Week 4, then went below that (6 and 3, respectively) in Week 5, even as Matt Ryan was topping 300 yards in both games, is disappointing. Jones is still a WR1, but maybe not the WR1 that he looked like a couple weeks ago.
Washington: By nearly every measure, the Redskins have a below-average defense. That is true, but the Miami Dolphins might have an offense that is historically bad. They’ve scored just 26 points this year, which is the fewest of any team through four games this past decade. They also rank bottom-three in points per drive, yards per play, yards per pass attempt, yards per carry, sacks per dropback, turnovers per play, and a number of other metrics.
Teddy Bridgewater: Bridgewater played like he did when he wearing purple and gold Sunday in an impressive victory over Tampa Bay. With four touchdowns, Bridgewater had his best fantasy game since 2015. Against a potentially Jalen Ramsey-less Jaguars secondary, Michael Thomas should feast, which bodes well for Bridgewater.
Robert Woods: Woods is a near-perfect buy-low candidate. Yes, Jared Goff has attempted 117 passes over his past two games. And, yes, it’s true that’s inflating the numbers for Cooper Kupp and Woods, but it’s also true that Los Angeles’ defense has regressed, and Todd Gurley isn’t the workhorse he once was.
Russell Wilson OVER 300.5 passing yards: This is an interesting one. Wilson isn’t projected to top this line, with just 236 passing yards in the PFF fantasy projections. However, the odds really change things and put the over in play. At +300 we have an implied total of just 225.4 passing yards on this line.
Scott Barrett’s DFS Focus piece will highlight all the key daily fantasy tips and tricks from one of the industry’s best, but that isn’t all, as our team tackles the main DFS slate from every angle.
SALARY RISER: Kirk Cousins: The pass funnel that the Eagles run defense presents should give Cousins a much better ceiling this week. It is easy to forget just how good a receiving tandem Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs is this year, but both have major advantages in coverage against the Eagles secondary.
Titans vs. Broncos: Situationally, this sets up as a Tennessee bounceback spot and Denver letdown, which would lead to a lot of Derrick Henry, who ranks fourth among all running backs with 333 rushing yards after contact.
Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets: Darnold is a guy who put up decent numbers against a tough defense in his one game this season before his bout with mononucleosis. The Cowboys have a middle-of-the-pack defense when it comes to pass-rush and coverage grades, but at this price Darnold is worth a look to spark the uninspiring Jets defense.
Preston Williams, WR, Miami Dolphins: He hasn’t been overly efficient — catching only 15 of his 29 targets — but he has turned that into 201 yards and a touchdown for an average of 8.4 points per game on Fan Duel and 10.3 on DraftKings. These aren’t blow-you-away numbers, but he won’t cost you much, and the Dolphins continually face a negative gamescript and need to pass a ton — they rank 18th in pass attempts per game while ranking 31st in total plays per game.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald has 180 yards on deep (20-plus yards downfield) targets so far this year. We’re only through five weeks, but it’s already his highest full-season total since 2011. His usage has changed with Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray. The Falcons have been the most burnable team on downfield targets this year, allowing 11 touchdowns on balls targeted at least 10 yards downfield, three more than any other team.
Geoff Swaim, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars: Swaim and James O’Shaughnessy would be a top-10 TE so far this year if they were one guy, and now that O’Shaughnessy is on IR with a torn ACL, they kind of are one guy.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers: Despite the 49ers sitting at 4-0 and winning three of their games by at least two touchdowns, Garoppolo hasn’t been a big fantasy contributor. He’s only reached even 15.0 fantasy points once in four games, and his 15.4 fantasy points per game ranks only 22nd, behind guys like Kyle Allen and Case Keenum.
Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans: Walker has plenty of name value that isn’t really reflected in his fantasy value. He’s totaled 4 targets the last two weeks, gaining only 14 yards on his 2 receptions. Denver has allowed only one tight end all year to reach even 25 yards.