Baker Mayfield (at Tampa Bay)
The Tampa Bay defense has been one of the most reliable things going in fantasy football this year. They have allowed at least 334 passing yards in every game, and only Nick Foles failed to throw for at least three touchdowns against them. There is no help on the way against the Browns, with the only worry being the shaky chemistry between Mayfield and his receivers. With the ideal conditions the Buccaneers defense creates for opposing passing attacks, this should be a get right game for everyone.
C.J. Beathard (vs Los Angeles Rams)
This isn’t really that bold of a call with the quality execution by Beathard and game planning by Kyle Shanahan since Jimmy Garoppolo went out. The Rams have allowed multiple pass touchdowns in each of their last four games. The Rams offense creates high-scoring game scripts with their offensive efficiency. Marquise Goodwin is back to soup up the potential of the 49ers passing game. The 49ers played the Rams tough last year even with Brian Hoyer, who accounted for three scores and over 300 yards passing in a 41-39 loss.
Mitchell Trubisky (vs New England)
Trubisky put together another solid stat line on the other side of his bye last week, even if it was an up and down performance. The Patriots defense isn’t scaring anyone, but their offense is, which should force the multi-faceted and creative Bears offense to stay in wide open mode. Trubisky may throw more interceptions than touchdowns, but both numbers should crooked if this one goes the way the trends point at this time.
Eli Manning (at Atlanta)
After last week, there was a consideration to never put Manning in this column again, but the matchup is too good, and Evan Engram is set to return to boot. The Falcons have allowed at least three passing scores in every game except the opener against Philadelphia, and they have allowed an average of over 340 passing yards in that span, with no less than 250 in any game. Manning has the weapons and the Falcons lack the pass rushers and coverage to frustrate any competent passing game. Odell Beckham Jr, Saquon Barkley, and Sterling Shepard should be enough to make the Giants a competent passing game Monday night.
This one will require rational coaching, as the Broncos should be seeking to test the Cardinals run defense until they prove they can stop Denver’s talented duo. Opposing backs have tallied at least 27 rush attempts in every game. In the six occurrences of Freeman or Lindsay getting at least 12 rush attempts, five have resulted in double-digit PPR point games. Adrian Peterson, Mike Davis, and Latavius Murray have all had their best game of the season against the Cardinals, surpassing 20 points even in nonPPR leagues. Lindsay and Freeman have the highest ceiling of any committee backs this week.
Peyton Barber (vs Cleveland)
Barber was finding bigger holes to run in against the Falcons last week, but he was also more involved as a pass catcher, and looking good playing the ball in flight in the process. The Browns have been gashed Melvin Gordon III and Marshawn Lynch over the last three weeks, and they’ve also allowed seven scores to running backs this year. Barber is still dominating touches in the Bucs backfield and last week he finally showed that he deserves to. He might not be a sleeper for much longer.
Duke Johnson Jr (at Tampa Bay)
Baker Mayfield remembered Johnson last week and he posted his stat line of the year, with multiple chunk plays to help a Browns offense that has been the victim of inconsistent wide receiver play. Rational coaching would dictate that Johnson get more work in the passing game, even as a receiver and certainly be the target of more Mayfield passes going forward, but especially this week at Tampa. Alvin Kamara and Tarik Cohen both had over 100 yards and a score as receivers out of the backfield against them, Corey Clement posted 5-55 and Tevin Coleman had a score as a receiver against them last week.
Kenyan Drake (vs Detroit)
Drake has fallen to the lowly status of sleeper after being a fourth-round pick, but he could wake up against the Lions this week. He has the adrenaline rush of being redeemed after fumbling away a win at the goal line and faces a Lions defense that has repeatedly run over except when facing a rusty Sony Michel and jumping ahead 24-0 on the Packers. The Dolphins should seek to play it conservative and rely on the run and short passing game, which should keep Drake involved enough to have a solid PPR floor and plenty of opportunities to make big plays.
Ito Smith (vs New York Giants)
Tevin Coleman is going to be the Falcons back that is considered first with Devonta Freeman on injured reserve, but it is Smith who has scored in three straight weeks. The Giants have allowed a running back score in every game this year, so look for that streak to continue. It’s not even clear that Coleman is ahead of Smith at this point, as Smith had more touches and only seven fewer snaps than Coleman last week.
Courtland Sutton (at Arizona) **Thursday**
Sutton could be a prime target for Case Keenum in Week 7 with Patrick Peterson likely playing Emmanuel Sanders or Demaryius Thomas on most plays. Sutton has shown prowess in the deep passing game, which should have a better chance of clicking this week with Cardinals centerfielder Tre Boston out. The Broncos should be able to move the ball on Arizona, which could also translate to some red zone targets for the rookie.
Kelvin Benjamin (at Indianapolis)
We’re stretching here, but Derek Anderson might actually improve the quality of the Bills passing game, and he goes way back with Benjamin. The two combined to post 6-92-1 and 8-104 lines in Benjamin’s rookie year of 2014 and Benjamin put up 5-70 in Anderson’s one start of 2016. The Colts corners are one of the weaknesses of their defense, so look for Anderson to try to rekindle this old connection to test them this week.
Willie Snead IV (vs New Orleans)
Snead has been steady this year, only falling below 10.4 PPR points once in six games and three of his four highest target games have come in the last three. He’s facing his old Saints squad, which has been vulnerable to slot receivers after suffering injuries in the secondary. Sterling Shepard posted 10-77-1 against them, and they’ve also had two games where they allowed four touchdowns to opposing wide receivers. Marshon Lattimore will likely be on John Brown or Michael Crabtree, which increases the chances of any opposing wide receiver touchdowns this week going to Snead.
Josh Reynolds (at San Francisco)
Reynolds should be a full-time player in the Rams offense which runs three-wide almost exclusively. The Rams chose to lean on Todd Gurley last week, but in Week 5 against Seattle when Reynolds replaced a concussed Cooper Kupp, he had 49 total yards on three touches - in one drive. The 49ers secondary has allowed multiple receiving scores to wideouts three times already this year, and they are coming off of tough Monday night loss at Green Bay. Reynolds won’t need much opportunity to come through as a bye/injury replacement off of the waiver wire.
Jermaine Kearse (vs Minnesota)
Kearse is the healthiest Jets receiver and he’s facing the best matchup in the Vikings secondary this week in the slot. He’ll get the short and intermediate routes vacated by Quincy Enunwa that he turned into a 9-94 line last week against a Minnesota defense that is stingy against the run, encouraging more pass attempts. Cooper Kupp had the biggest game of his career out of the slot against Minnesota earlier this year, so Kearse has a high ceiling to go with his high floor.
Damion Ratley (at Tampa Bay)
Ratley should get a ton of snaps and targets as the #3 receiver for the Browns against the worst pass defense in the league. He might actually be more reliable than Antonio Callaway at this point, and Jarvis Landry hasn’t completely clicked with Mayfield to this point. Both Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley were on their way to big games before leaving with injuries last week, so Ratley could go straight from the waiver wire to your lineup this week.
C.J. Uzomah (at Kansas City)
Uzomah looked good with the receiving tight end role all to himself against the Steelers last week and came through with TE1 numbers. This week he gets a Chiefs defense that has made Jesse James, Jeff Heuerman, and Niles Paul viable plays at the thin position. He’s a slam dunk streamer as long as his shoulder issue doesn’t threaten his availability.
Chris Herndon (vs Minnesota)
The rookie had two outstanding plays last week, one as a receiver and one as a runner, to put up a TE1 week on only two targets. He could get more this week against a Vikings defense that has encouraged tight end involvement by the opposition. George Kittle, Zach Ertz, and Jimmy Graham all went for 90 yards or more against them, and Ricky Seals-Jones posted a robust 5-69 against Minnesota last week with Jermaine Gresham adding 1-26 on a nifty catch and run. The Jets also have a banged up wide receiver group, which could force them into using the tight end more this week.
Gerald Everett (at San Francisco)
The 49ers didn’t give up a score to a tight end last week, but they did allow over 100 yards to Jimmy Graham and another 37 to Lance Kendricks on two receptions after giving up a score to a tight end in each of the first four games. Everett could see more run this week with Cooper Kupp out as Kupp runs a lot of tight end-esque routes and Everett has an overlapping skill set with Kupp.
Nick O’Leary (vs Detroit)
It was O’Leary, not rookie Mike Gesicki who stepped up with Brock Osweiler at quarterback in Week 6 and Osweiler will return for another start this week. The Lions have allowed three tight end scores this year - to Geoff Swaim, Lance Kendricks, and Garrett Celek. O’Leary is a reliable, if unathletic, target and his blocking prowess should keep him in a large role this week.