Ranking the Week Six defensive matchups
The Lions and Saints are on bye this week. Neither of these DSTs should hurt your chances of winning this week. In other weeks however, losing your DST to a bye can force you to make a tough decision. There are very few DSTs t,hat I will roster through their bye week. You usually can find a solid one on the waiver wire to get you through the remainder of the season. I don’t like to roster two DSTs, not unless I have a dead roster spot. I don’t want to release a backup WR or RB just to protect my DST. I also don’t want to spend FAAB money to pick up a DST through the bye week. Not unless that DST that I’ll be claiming is one I’m planning on keeping through the ROS and even then, I’m not spending more than a few dollars.
As always, the top of this list are teams to make sure you start players against, while the bottom are defenses you want to start.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (against Atlanta): The Falcons were disappointing last week, as much more was expected of them versus a poor Steelers defense. Matt Ryan had his foot x-rayed, but they were negative, so he’s good to go. All of the pass-catchers go for me here, and that includes TE Austin Hooper. I’m more worried about the run game, as rookie Ito Smith is eating into the touches of both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. You still likely have to start both vets (if Freeman is healthy enough to play), but their value does take a slight hit.
- Kansas City Chiefs (against New England): This could be Josh Gordon’s week. He’s had another 10 days to gain the trust of Tom Brady and learn the playbook. Julian Edelman is back, and Rob Gronkowski’s ankle has to be in better shape. This offense may finally be ready to hum. Oh, and the Chiefs’ defense is terrible.
- Atlanta Falcons (against Tampa Bay): Jameis Winston will start for TB in this game and could instantly become a Top 10 Fantasy QB. In years past he hasn’t used DeSean Jackson as much as Ryan Fitzpatrick did early this season, but he does throw to Cameron Brate. If you need TE help and Brate is on your waiver wire, he’s a Top 10 TE this week as O.J. Howard is questionable to play. I’m not touching the run game this week, but if Ronald Jones is on your WW, you may want to pick him up in hopes of him getting the starting job at some point this season.
- New England Patriots (against Kansas City): All of your Chiefs start here and that includes Sammy Watkins, for those that are still worried about him.
- San Francisco 49ers (against Green Bay): As of this writing, we still don’t know if Randall Cobb and/or Geronimo Allison will play Monday. The fact that this is a Monday night game makes it all the trickier for Fantasy owners as we may not know their status before your players start Sunday. If you have Marquez Valdes-Scantling, then no problem. If Allison is out, you just start Scantling, but if not, and the information doesn’t get any clearer, you may have to play it safe here and not start Cobb or Allison. As for the run game, I do believe Aaron Jones is the best RB for the Packers, but until he starts to get the majority of the touches, and does something with them, I’m looking elsewhere, if possible.
- Buffalo Bills (against Houston): Deshaun Watson took a beating in the Texan’s OT victory Sunday but will be good to go here. It was disappointing that Will Fuller had a quiet game, but at least the hamstring injury wasn’t serious. Keke Coutee is in flex consideration. I’d rather not touch the run game if possible. Lamar Miller may be healthy and may start here, but he has done little to nothing all season long and what happens if he has to leave the game early because of his chest injury?
- Washington Redskins (against Carolina): Outside of Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton, it’s difficult to trust anyone else in Carolina. This includes Devin Funchess, who is no more than a WR4 for me. You just don’t know which WR will be Newton’s favorite week in and week out.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (against Cincinnati): Gio Bernard is likely out again this week so it will be the Joe Mixon show once again. We know the deal with the Steelers: they can’t stop the pass, so Andy Dalton is once again a streaming QB option, and C.J. Uzomah could be a streaming TE, should you need one.
- Arizona Cardinals (against Minnesota): Dalvin Cook has been a colossal bust so far this season. He is practicing, however, and should play Sunday. It’s a good matchup for him and you have to play him if he starts.
- New York Giants (against Philadelphia): The big question this week is what the Eagles will do at RB with Jay Ajayi (ACL) out for the season. Will it be Corey Clement or Wendell Smallwood that Fantasy owners will want to start? The truth is no one really knows. Perhaps Clement’s role doesn’t change and the Eagles just give Smallwood the touches that would normally go to Ajayi. Maybe they split the role. What we do know is that Smallwood is now a pickup off the WW as he is likely to see double digit touches each game.
- Cincinnati Bengals (against Pittsburgh): This may be the last game in which Fantasy owners can feel comfortable starting any Steeler RB. Le’Veon Bell is scheduled to return after the bye week. Ben Roethlisberger on the road in Cincinnati is probably a no for me along with both TEs.
- Los Angeles Chargers (against Cleveland): Baker Mayfield could be a streaming QB play here. The Chargers defense isn’t quite the sieve it was earlier this season, but it is far from a finished product. It’s hard to trust any of the receivers, however, outside of Jarvis Landry.
- Denver Broncos against (Los Angeles Rams): As of this writing, both Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp are still in the concussion protocol, but both are expected to play. Assuming they do, I have to start them, along with Robert Woods.
- New York Jets (against Indianapolis): The Colts will likely be without T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle this week. This means that Eric Ebron is once again a must-start with Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers not to far behind. Marlon Mack is back at practice and will likely play Sunday. It should be interesting to see how the Colts integrate him and Nyheim Hines into the offense. If I could only choose one for this week, it would be Hines.
- Miami Dolphins (against Chicago): Mitch Trubisky will not throw six TD passes this week; I’m sure that’s breaking news. The point is that Trubisky is no more than a QB2 once again, but one worth watching. I would expect the Bears to get Jordan Howard more involved in the offense this week. The only pass catchers I would trust are Allen Robinson and Trey Burton.
- Cleveland Browns (against Los Angeles Chargers): You’re always starting Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen and Phillip Rivers; it’s everyone else that can give you a headache. Antonio Gates is only valuable if you’re desperate, as his Fantasy day relies upon scoring a TD. As for Mike and Tyrell Williams, Mike is a WR4 and Tyrell a low-end WR3. Neither one is a must start.
- Indianapolis Colts (against New York Jets): Can the Jets follow up their big offensive performance from last week? Well, they are getting the right opponent. Isaiah Crowell is certainly a start (if he’s healthy) and Bilal Powell is likely also. I’d like to see Robbie Anderson put up another good game before recommending him. Anderson had highlight catches last week but still isn’t targeted all that often by Sam Darnold.
- Seattle Seahawks (against Oakland): Derek Carr is once again a possible streaming QB. It’s hard to trust this offense, but it is playing better than the defense. If you believe in the “every other week” theory for Amari Cooper, then he goes off this week. I prefer Jordy Nelson to Martavis Bryant. I’m still ticked that Carr threw that interception from the 1-yard line on first down. Just give the ball to Marshawn Lynch.
- Green Bay Packers (against San Francisco): Alfred Morris is a least a flex play with Matt Breida likely out for the game with an ankle injury. I don’t like the Packer’s secondary, but I also can’t trust any of the 49ers’ receivers outside of George Kittle.
- Oakland Raiders (against Seattle): If I had the choice, I’d rather start Mike Davis than Chris Carson, but this is one of those situations that can change after one bad series by Davis. If the Raiders had a better secondary, I would sit Doug Baldwin, but I can’t against that defense. Tyler Lockett is in Flex consideration as well.
- Philadelphia Eagles (against New York Giants): The Eagles can be beaten through the air. You’re always starting Odell Beckham, but Sterling Shepard also goes for me. Evan Engram, however, is once again out with a knee injury. I’m not starting Eli Manning, as I do worry about that Eagles’ pass rush making life difficult for him.
- Tennessee Titans (against Baltimore): I still prefer Alex Collins to Javorius Allen, but It’s close and neither one is anything more than a low-end RB2 in this game. John Brown and Michael Crabtree also drop in my rankings as this is a tough matchup versus a solid TEN defense.
- Carolina Panthers (against Washington): Who can we trust in this offense? Answer: nobody. Maybe Chris Thompson. Alex Smith has even made Jordan Reed an unexciting player despite his perfect health this season. Reed is still a start, though, as TE is desolate this season. Reed is the only receiver that I want to start here. As for Adrian Peterson, whether he has a separated or sprained shoulder, he is no more than a Flex play this week.
- Dallas Cowboys (against Jacksonville): This should be another defensive slugfest. Leonard Fournette is out this week so you’re starting T.J. Yeldon. I expect the Jaguars to play it conservative here, as they know the Cowboys’ offense can’t put up points on their defense. The only way they lose is if the offense puts that defense in bad positions.
- Chicago Bears (against Miami): Kenyan Drake may have had a good Fantasy day last week, but that was through the air, as he only had six carries. I wouldn’t look at that as a sign of things to come. This is not the best matchup for the Miami offense.
- Los Angeles Rams (against Denver): Like the Eagles, the Rams’ defense is better against the run than the pass. Royce Freeman is a sit for me here. I’m not starting Case Keenum either, but Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas go for me. Phillip Lindsay likely does as well, as I expect a few passes to him in the flat.
- Houston (against Buffalo): We all saw what the Texans’ defense did to Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday. They weren’t worried about the pass game, so they sold out to stop the run. They will do the same here. LeSean McCoy is a low-end RB2 at best.
- Minnesota Vikings (against Arizona Cardinals): It’s David Johnson here and that’s it.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (against Dallas): The Cowboys have no pass game and the offensive line is nowhere near the best in the league. This will be another rough game for Elliott. He’s still a must start, but not a Top 10 RB this week.
- Baltimore Ravens (against Tennessee): Who can you trust this week on the Titan’s offense? Outside of maybe Dion Lewis, no one.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.