Best Matchups for NFL Week 6

I’m predicting Week 6 is going to have a slight dip in scoring, because the Falcons/Saints play on Thursday and the Bucs/Raiders are on bye. With two of the best offenses and two of the worst defenses out of the mix, scores should dip.

That’s an opportunity for the smart owners. If you can find good matchups, the bar should be set a little lower than usual. The question is finding the players with the best exploitable game situations.

Below is a list of the best matchups for NFL Week 6. I’ve divided each position into the top tier fantasy starters, along with lesser players in good matchups. Draft your starting lineups accordingly. Nothing is guaranteed, especially with the secondary position players, but having a weak opponent usually helps.

Before we begin, I wanted to make a note of a couple of situational match-ups. The number might not indicate a big chance for fantasy points, injuries and other factors should make for exploitable weaknesses.

Note on Broncos versus Browns

Defensive backs Joe Haden and Tashaun Gipson are injured and will not be available in Week 6. This should give Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and Peyton Manning free rein to post big games.

Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine said, “That’s tough to have two guys that are Pro Bowl guys not out there for you, but we’re confident in the depth in the room and we’ve gotten a lot of quality reps with those guys.

While Peyton Manning isn’t the fantasy football force he was in the past, this should be a chance for the Broncos passing game to shine. Expect Thomas, Sanders, and Manning to have a field day. Any game in which former 1st-round pick Justin Gilbert might actually be on the field as a cornerback is a good one for the other team.

On Sunday morning: 15 M.P.H. wind were reported on the field, which could have an effect in the passing game on both sides.

Note on Falcons versus Saints

I’ve included the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons for those DFS owners who enter contests with Thursday Night Football included. Owners playing in more traditional Sunday-only contests should disregard. In other words, don’t flip out if you don’t find Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones on the list of players.

Now, let’s get to the position players with the best match-ups in Week 6.

Quarterbacks with Exploitable Matchups

  • Tom Brady @ Indianapolis Colts (#28 Pass)
  • Drew Brees vs Atlanta Falcons (#29 Pass)
  • Andy Dalton @ Buffalo Bills (#24 Pass)

It goes without saying that Tom Brady is a good matchup these days. Brady is the only starting NFL quarterback without an interception at this point. He and the Patriots are playing angry, because of the Deflate-Gate fiasco. They want to make a point.

This week, the New England Patriots face the team which started the Deflate-Gate scandal: the Indianapolis Colts. Whatever ability they might have to show up the Colts, they are going to take it. Expect to see Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to cook up something especially wicked for the Colts, who have had a couple of off-the-bench wins from Matt Hasselbeck, but still don’t look like an AFC runner-up at this point.

Drew Brees might not win the game this week, but he’s slowly healing and he gets a good defense to work his voodoo on. The Falcons are winning with an overwhelming offense, but their defense still has holes to fill. Meanwhile, Drew Brees is starting to find targets. Amazingly, after all the talk of Brandin Cooks and Brandon Coleman in the preseason, it is Willie Snead who is emerging in the passing game. The Saints ahve their backs against the wall at home in the Superdome. Expect to see their best effort. While the Saints Defense still looks lost, their offense should score in an attempted comeback.

Andy Dalton is having a career year to this point. He is back to 2013 form (and then some). This week, he gets a Bill pass defense which is still figuring things out. Like most teams transitioning from the 4-3 defense to the 3-4 defense (or vice versa), their personnel still isn’t quite right. Kyle Williams finally showed signs of life in Week 5, but he’s playing out of position. Also, the defensive backfield is still having troubles. Expect to see the hits keep on coming for Dalton and Green, as the Bills continue to figure out Rex Ryan’s complex scheme.

Bargain Basement Fantasy Quarterbacks

  • Teddy Bridgewater vs Kansas City Chiefs (#27 Pass)
  • Blake Bortles vs Houston Texans

If you want a bargain basement quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater plays a reeling Kansas City Chiefs team. The Chiefs already have one of the worst pass defenses. Now they are dealing with losing their franchise runner, Jamaal Charles, to a season-ending knee injury. The Chiefs are likely to focus on stopping Adrian Peterson, which should leave space for Teddy Bridgewater. I’m not suggesting you play him, but he’s got a good matchup.

While the Houston Texans pass defense isn’t terrible on paper, sometimes the numbers lie. Yes, they have J.J. Watt and he remarkable. Otherwise, this is a team on the ropes. Meanwhile, Blake Bortles is starting to look like he’s figured it out. He has an amazing shootout versus the Bucs last week. That was the Bucs, but Bortles is still a low-end quarterback starting to shine in the passing game.

Running Backs with the Best Matchups

  • Devonta Freeman @ New Orleans Saints (#30 Rush)
  • Eddie Lacy vs San Diego Chargers (#29 Rush)
  • Arian Foster @ Jacksonville Jaguars (#16 Rush)
  • Danny Woodhead @ Green Bay Packers (#28 Rush)
  • Charcandrick West @ Minnesota Vikings (#28 Rush)
  • Dion Lewis @ Indianapolis Colts (19/28)

What can I say about Devonta Freeman? He is leading the NFL in touchdowns and is leading most local leagues in fantasy points. This came out of nowhere, especially since he was injury-prone in his rookie season and had lost the starting RB position to Tevin Coleman in training camp. The Tevin Coleman rib injury opened the door and Devonta Freeman darted through. With the Saints lousy defense on the docket, expect to see Freeman continue to dominate. Keep in mind that Tevin Coleman is healthy again and could take snaps. The Falcons have to worry a bit about Freeman’s size and durability issues moving forward. For the daily fantasy owners, those concerns are minimal.

Eddie Lacy gets a Chargers defense which has given up a lot of yards on the ground. Also, the Packers play a Chargers team which is dangerous, despite the late loss to the Steelers and a short week. Mike McCarthy is likely to want to test the Chargers’ stamina and shorten the game a bit for his defense. Also, teams tend to do badly these last few years after playing Pittsburgh, which still has a rough-and-tumble style of football.

The Jags are middle of the road against the run, but they are likely to be without Paul Posluszny for a second week in a row on defense. That turns an improving defense into a bad one, especially against the run. This is the defense which gave up a career game to Doug Martin last week, while also giving Charles Sims production. Arian Foster is healthy again and you know the Texans are going to lean heavily on their workhorse, given the state of their quarterback play right now.

Danny Woodhead continues to put up big PPR totals. He is an integral part of the Chargers offense. Playing Aaron Rodgers and the Pakcers at Lambeau Field, I expect the Chargers to be behind all day. Woodhead should get plenty of targets.

Charcandrick West is apparently the first man up to replace Jamaal Charles. He’s the Chiefs running back who most resembles Charles, though Andy Reid still hasn’t exactly said who the starter is. Knile Davis came up huge in fantasy football last year when Jamaal Charles was hurt, but Knile Davis is a liability in the passing game. If you want a running back likely to give you the combination of running/pass-catching ability, it’s Charcandrick West, who was already getting time ahead of Knile Davis through the first 5 weeks. Andy Reid running backs always score a lot of fantasy points, and the Vikings Defense gives up a lot of yardage to runners. Everything points to West having good numbers.

It’s hard to know whether you should cite rushing stats or passing stats for Dion Lewis. I’ve cited both. Again, the Patriots are angry and the Colts are going to pay for it. Dion Lewis should be good for big numbers. LeGarrette Blount also isn’t a bad play, though the #19 rushing defense is more of a true indicator for him.

Bargains at Running Back

  • Antonio Andrews vs Miami Dolphins (#32 Rush)
  • Melvin Gordon @ Green Bay Packers (#28 Rush)
  • Knile Davis @ Minnesota Vikings (#28 Rush)
  • Ronnie Hillman @ Cleveland Browns (#31 Rush)
  • C.J. Anderson @ Cleveland Browns (#31 Rush)
  • Lamar Miller @ Tennesse Titans (#23 Rush)

For the remaining running backs, I’d say any of these could be a sleeper. Antonio Andrews is marginally the best option against the worst rushing defense in the NFL, but I wouldn’t start him. Melvin Gordon should be a factor in a game the Chargers are going to want to hold the ball, but he had a fumble last week, which could be fatal in Green Bay. The rookie has shown flashes, but he’s still unreliable.

Knile Davis could replicate last year’s numbers, which had many believing he was the best backup running back in the NFL. But he’s still the backup, it would seem. If you can guess whether Hillman or Anderson is the starter this week for Denver, they get an excellent matchup versus the Browns. This is one of those situations you might want to field two fantasy lineups and change-out Hillman for Anderson in them. One is due to have a good game. As for Lamar Miller, he is coming off a 2-week layoff and is playing a mediocre Titans run defense. But Lamar Miller has done nothing in fantasy football in 2015: less than Bishop Sankey!

Wide Receivers with Good Matchups

  • Julian Edelman @ Indianapolis Colts (#28 Pass)
  • Jordan Matthews vs New York Giants (#32 Pass)
  • Willie Snead vs Atlanta Falcons (#31 Pass)
  • Brandon Cooks vs Atlanta Falcons (#31 Pass)
  • Steve Smith @ San Francisco 49ers (#30 Pass)
  • A.J. Green @ Buffalo Bills (#24 Pass)
  • Odell Beckham Jr. @ Philadelphia Eagles (#26 Pass)

I sound like a broken record, but Julian Edelman should have big numbers against the Colts this week. It’s “death by a thousand cuts” with the Patriots, and Edelman is one of Tom Brady’s sharpest katanas.

Jordan Matthews gets the Giants worst-ranked pass defense. He should have an excellent game. The Philadelphia Eagles offense came to life in Week 5, scoring 39 points. Now that the team is settling into the Chip Kelly style, expect to see them stay hot.

Meanwhile, Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks are going to be playing catch-up all day, I imagine, as the Saints play the Falcons. The Saints Defense has no chance of slowing down Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman. That means Snead and Cooks should be needed. Don’t sleep on Willie Snead. His production has grown week-to-week and Snead’s now Drew Brees’s favorite receiver.

Steve Smith (if healthy) gets a dream match-up versus the Niners. Check his injury status before making him your starter.

A.J. Green is among the top pass catchers in the league right now, and the Buffalo Bills appear to be in disarray a bit. They won a tightly contested game with the Tennessee Titans in Week 5, but their offense put up totals of 10 and 14 the past two weeks. E.J. Manuel replaces an injured Tyrod Taylor, so things should get worse. Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams remain injury questions.

Odell Beckham is a top selection of the week. The Giants/Eagles showdown on Monday Night Football should be one of the week’s biggest shootouts, if it’s on your DFS contest’s list of playable games.

Good Deals at Wideout

  • Kamar Aiken @ San Francisco 49ers (#30 Pass)
  • Nelson Agholar vs New York Giants (#32 Pass)
  • Riley Cooper vs New York Giants (#32 Pass)
  • Rueben Randle @ Philadelphia Eagles (#26 Pass)

Kamar Aiken has a good matchup and he could take on added responsibilities, if Steve Smith is “Out” or ineffective, due to injury. Even if Steve Smith plays, Kamar Aiken might receive more targets. In fact, that might be the best scenario, because Steve Smith would draw away most double-teams and Aiken might be fed the ball more often, to save the veteran some wear-and-tear.

Nelson Agholar and Riley Cooper either one could garner big numbers against the NFL’s worst pass defense. While I wouldn’t necessarily want to depend on either one, they could be do for a one-week uptick. Speaking of which, Rueben Randle has a good matchup versus the Eagles and is still taking Victor Cruz’s production. Earlier this year, I heard the Giants say Randle would be their #2 straight out, if he did not have a chronic knee injury. As it is, he seems to be the better receiver than Victor Cruz right now.

Tight Ends with Excellent Matchups

  • Rob Gronkowski @ Indianapolis Colts (#28 Pass)
  • Zac Ertz vs New York Giants (#32 Pass)
  • Larry Donnell @ Philadelphia Eagles (#26 Pass)
  • Tyler Eifert @ Buffalo Bills (#24 Pass)

It’s about time for Rob Gronkowski to have another stellar game. He’s likely to have a huge game versus the Colts, as I’m (once again) predicting the Patriots are going to skunk Indianapolis.

Zac Ertz has the best matchup. He’s been highly inconsistent in 2015, but the Eagles offense is coming to life and inconsistent players with good matchups are often the best plays in the NFL Sunday Million and the Millionaire Maker events. Few people play them, so when they do hit, you’re gold.

Larry Donnell is starting to regain some of the form he showed in early 2014. For those who didn’t pay close attention, Larry Donnell lost his starting position to Daniel Fells in preseason. Then Daniel Fells went out for the year with a staph infection in his foot. (Doctors thought he might lose the foot, but luckily, that doesn’t appear to be the case.) Now, Larry Donnell is the entrenched starter again and he’s starting to be productive for the first time in nearly a year of games–his numbers suffered when OBD returned from injury in 2014.

Tyler Eifert is part of the NFL’s best pass offense right now. The Bills Defense has been stout recently, but their pass defense is still the weaker part of their scheme.

Best QB Matchups for Team Defenses

  • Cincinnati Bengals Defense vs E.J. Manuel
  • Jacksonville Jaguars Defense vs Brian Hoyer/Ryan Mallett

If you’re looking for a defense to start, finding the unit which plays backup or struggling quarterbacks is always a valid theory. This week, the Bengals Defense plays the Bills, who are starting E.J. Manuel. As I mentioned earlier, the Bills has scored a combined 24 points the last two weeks, and that was with the starting QB. This is an excellent matchup for an average fantasy defense.

The Jacksonville Jags are not an average defense. At the same time, the Brian Hoyer-Ryan Mallett debate is a perfect indication the Texans are in trouble. If you saw the awful interception Hoyer threw late in the game last week, you know that any play can be a disaster for the Texans. Ryan Mallett is even worse, in my opinion. I don’t know that I’d start the Jags against anybody. A team with Deandre Hopkins and Arian Foster is dangerous, and Poz could be out again. The Texans are likely to win, but if you want a cheap-cheap defense, the Texans quarterbacks make them a unit to target.

As you might have guessed, I tend to be in the camp that you skimp the $500 on Team Defense and use it to upgrade another position. While it’s nice having a top defense, the position is unpredictable (if not random) at times. Also, I’ve seen plenty of winning DFS starting lineups that got almost nothing from the defensive position. It’s a boost when you get it, but I wouldn’t scheme for it. Find a unit that has a reasonable chance to do good–at a reasonable price–and focus on the other positions.

Bye Week Teams

  • Oakland Raiders
  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • St. Louis Rams

Keep in mind that one of the worst defenses against fantasy players is off this week: the Buccaneers. It was the Bucs who gave up huge games to Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson, and Allen Hurns last week. The Raiders are also a traditional doormat, though they have been in more compelling games this year. But after giving up back-to-back 33 point games in Weeks 1 and 2, the Raiders had averaged giving up 19 points over the past three weeks.

The Cowboys and Rams have two of the best pass rushes in the NFL right now. While the Cowboys have suffered these past few weeks from playing high-powered offenses when their offense has been non-existent, thus tiring out the defense, neither of those were prime matchups in daily fantasy. Whatever, keep in mind that scoring should be down just a little bit, because a lousy defense or two is on bye week.

NFL’s Best Matchups of Week Six

Thus ends another sneak peak at the coming NFL Sunday. Like most weeks, this schedule offers a number of prime match-up opportunities. If you play in contests which eliminate Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football, then the options narrow significantly. Remember, though, the fewer good options there are, the more skill plays into the game. Good luck.