If you drafted wisely and have a strong bench, you will likely face lineup decisions on a weekly basis. Those decisions can often make or break fantasy seasons. For example, owners who started Kyler Murray over Carson Wentz or Lamar Jackson may have won in Week 5 because of it. However, if you decided to play Mike Evans or Keenan Allen over Will Fuller or Michael Gallup, the decision may have cost you a victory. It’s small lineup decisions like those that can leave fantasy owners saying the dreaded words “my bench outscored my starters.” Well in order for that not to happen, it’s vital to be aware of players drawing tough matchups who pose a significant risk to your fantasy success. Let’s take a look at several players who check that box in Week 6.
As always, I’m not telling you to bench all of these guys. But take a look at your bench and consider whether you have a better option.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (vs SEA)
Mayfield (owned in more than 91% of leagues) continued to frustrate his fantasy owners in Week 5, hitting a new low by posting a woeful 3 fantasy points last week in the SI Fantasy Football World Championships. Mayfield’s offensive line is among the worst in the league, thus leading to the second-year signal caller failing to throw multiple touchdowns in any game this season. The brash quarterback is teetering on being rosterable at this point. Even with bye weeks and massive injuries at the position around the league, Mayfield is a massive risk this week against the Seahawks. He will now face a Seattle defense that has held opposing quarterbacks to under 241 yards passing in four-of-five games this season. If you can afford to hold onto Mayfield through bye weeks, he could reward owners down the stretch with favorable matchups against the Dolphins in Week 12, and the Bengals and Cardinals in the playoffs in Weeks 14 and 15.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (at GB)
Stafford (owned in more than 80% of leagues), has performed at an elite level this season when facing bad pass defenses. In games against the Cardinals and Chiefs, who have surrendered 19 passing touchdowns combined, Stafford shined. However, against the Eagles and Chargers, Stafford struggled to match those heights. In Week 6, he will travel to Lambeau Field in a Monday Night Football showdown with a Packers’ secondary that has more interceptions (seven) than touchdown passes allowed (six) through five games. This is a bad spot to trust the veteran quarterback and the numbers point to other quarterbacks such Kyle Allen, Kirk Cousins or Gardner Minshew ahead of Stafford in Week 6.
LeSean McCoy, Kansas City Chiefs (vs HOU)
It’s hard to endorse benching any member of the Chiefs’ prolific offense. However, McCoy (owned in 97% of leagues) has become hard to trust now that fellow RB Damien Williams is healthy. McCoy was great in the two games Williams missed with a knee injury, scoring three touchdowns en route to posting 17-plus PPR points in both contests. In addition to Williams’s return cutting into Shady’s touches, it was revealed that McCoy was only on the field for 13 snaps last week against Indianapolis because of significant deficiencies in his ability to pass protect. The Chiefs saw star QB Patrick Mahomes take a pounding in the loss to the Colts. Mahomes was seen hobbling from the game with an injured ankle. If Kansas City is going to view the veteran back as a liability to the health of Mahomes, he thus becomes a risk to all fantasy owners in Week 6 with limited flex appeal.
Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs CAR)
Jones (owned in more than 89% of leagues) has quietly been solid this season, posting double-digit PPR fantasy points in three-of-five games. However, he now faces a Carolina defense that held him to 0.9 fantasy points back in Week 2. In addition to a near even split in touches with Peyton Barber, Jones poses as a risky start in Week 6 against an underrated Panthers team that currently ranks eighth overall in defense. My model highlights that desperate owners needing a flex start are better served employing Adrian Peterson or Carlos Hyde in Week 6 instead of trusting Jones to attain his fourth double-digit PPR performance.
Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles (at MIN)
Jeffery (owned in more than 99% of leagues) has seen more than seven targets in his three games played this season, and turned them all into double-digit PPR fantasy performances. However, Jeffery is now expected to draw Vikings All-Pro CB Xavier Rhodes in Week 6. The fourth-ranked Minnesota defense has been particularly stingy against opposing passing attacks, allowing only 204.2 passing yards per game. The Vikings have only allowed one 100-yard receiving game in five contests, while collectively allowing the third-fewest yards per catch (10.3) to opposing wideouts. Jeffery is a risky WR3/flex start in Week 6.
Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers (vs PIT)
Williams (owned in more than 85% of leagues) had his second double-digit PPR fantasy game of the season last week against Denver. However, the talented wideout has yet to find the end zone in 2019 and faces a tough Pittsburgh defense in Week 6. The Steelers have only allowed two opposing wideouts to top 83 receiving yards all season while not allowing any wide receiver to top 51 receiving yards in the last three games. Williams poses a significant risk against Pittsburgh, and desperate owners in need of help could be better served looking at Jamison Crowder, Mohammed Sanu or Terry McLaurin in Week 6.
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs CAR)
Howard (owned in nearly 90% of leagues) is averaging just 4.8 PPR fantasy points through five games, and has only topped 33 receiving yards once. Howard has failed to catch a touchdown in any game this season and Week 6 presents a rematch with the team that help him completely off the stat sheet in Week 2. The Panthers have held opposing tight ends to just 28 receiving yards per game while only allowing one opposing tight end to find the end zone this season. There is major risk potential in trusting Howard, who has been a total bust in fantasy football in 2019. My model downgrades him outside of the top 12 tight ends for the third straight week.
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions (at GB)
Fantasy owners were so excited about the rookie tight end after his record-setting performance in Week 1 against Arizona. However, Hockenson (owned in more than 77% of leagues) has just five receptions in his last three games combined. Unless you own Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, George Kittle, Zach Ertz or Austin Hooper, you may be forced to start Hockenson. Owners should beware that in Week 6 he faces a Packers defense that has held every opposing tight end, other than Zach Ertz, to 37 or fewer receiving yards.
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