Week 6 Sleepers

A look at the best under the radar starts for Week 6.

Quarterback

Trevor Siemian, DEN (vs NYG) - Siemian has the good luck of facing the Giants defense right after Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was suspended and Eli Apple was on the verge of being benched. As long as he doesn’t throw at Janoris Jenkins, Siemian should have success, especially when throwing to the tight end. The Giants two best edge rushers are banged up, and so is top safety Landon Collins. The Broncos defense should also set him up with short fields and lots of scoring opportunities. This has all of the makings of an offensive bonanza for Denver at home in prime time.

Josh McCown, NYJ (vs NE) - Every single quarterback that has faced the Patriots this year has passed for over 300 yards and accounted for at least one score. McCown hasn’t had a ton to work with in the passing game, but he predictably had a solid game against the poor Browns pass defense last week, so that helps us trust him this week. We know the Patriots will score enough to force the Jets to open up their offense. Combine that with McCown’s competent play so far this year, and you have a solid bye week/injury coverage option.

Kevin Hogan, CLE (at HOU) - What will the Houston defense look like without JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus? Hogan will be the first to find out in his first NFL start. This is the same quarterback that had over 100 rushing yards in a partial game last year, and threw for over 100 yards and a score in partial games this year. He posted 194 passing yards and two scores on a highly efficient 16-for-19 completion rate in a half last week against the Jets. Hogan is a good bye week/injury coverage quarterback, and he might even be better than your middling first option with his added fantasy upside as a quality running quarterback.

Running Back

Jalen Richard, OAK (vs LAC) - The Chargers have been terrible against the run this year, among the league’s worst in missed tackles and generally giving up big days no matter how the opponent is doing against other competition - even Jay Ajayi had 122 yards against them. Richard has had three plays of 20 yards or more on only 29 touches and he had his highest touch total of the season in Week 5. This should be a good Marshawn Lynch week, but the Chargers have been generous enough to allow two relevant running back performances in each of the last two weeks.

Theo Riddick, DET (at NO) - New Orleans defense has allowed two huge games to receiving running backs already this year - 8-85 to James White and 9-101 to Christian McCaffrey. They also allowed six running back receptions to Minnesota in Week 1. This week against the Saints, the Lions could be more inclined to lean on short passing to protect their banged up quarterback, and if they fall behind in the Superdome, Riddick could be on the field more and exploiting the shaky linebacker group in coverage.

Elijah McGuire, NYJ (vs NE) - Matt Forte has gotten back on the field for practice this week to muddy the water, but McGuire is still set for a big workload with Forte probably still limited by his turf toe. McGuire is an accomplished receiver and he showed the burst and moves to break a 69-yards score against the Jaguars earlier this season. The Patriots have already given up six scores to opposing running backs this year, and opposing running backs have combined for at least 130 total yards in every game against them this season. McGuire is likely to get the majority of the yards they give up this week.

Samaje Perine, WAS (vs SF) - Rob Kelley is a longshot to play this week, leaving Perine as the lead back going into a home game where Washington is favored and should be able to nurse a lead in the second half. Perine hasn’t been impressive in extended duty so far this year, but he’s facing a 49ers defense that allowed the best game by a Seahawks back this year (20-93 to Chris Carson), over 160 total yards and a score to Panthers backs, 149 yards and three scores to Todd Gurley, and 198 total yards and a score to Colts backs last week. Perine should get 15-20 carries and a good shot at a goal-line touchdown this week. Make sure to play Chris Thompson if you’ve got him too.

Aaron Jones, GB (at MIN) - Ty Montgomery is practicing, but it is no sure thing that he will return to the field this week with multiple broken ribs. Jones’ performance last week only reinforces that possibility, as the typically conservative Packers medical staff can feel free to ease Montgomery back on the field with a more than capable lead runner in his stead. It is fair to wonder if the team will go back to leaning on Montgomery after Jones looked better as an early down runner than Montgomery has at any point this year. Expect Jones to get a big opportunity whether Montgomery is ready or not, and expect him to do well against a Vikings run defense that allowed Ameer Abdullah’s biggest game of the year, and still gave up 76 yards to Jordan Howard last week despite facing a rookie quarterback.

Wide Receiver

Ricardo Louis, CLE (at HOU) - Louis is the closest thing the Browns have to a #1 wide receiver right now. He caught three passes for 43 yards in the second half of last week’s game with Week 6 starter Kevin Hogan at the helm. This week he is part of a Browns offense facing a Texans defense that just lost two of their three best pass rushers. Their secondary is middling at best and might have been masked by the pass rush that just evaporated in Week 5.

Taylor Gabriel, ATL (vs MIA) - Mohamed Sanu is out for Week 6, so Gabriel should get starter snaps and targets against a Miami secondary that just benched Byron Maxwell, their best cornerback in 2016. Rookie Cordrea Tankersley will start for the Dolphins at corner, and all it takes is one mistake for Gabriel to make your whole week with a long touchdown.

Terrelle Pryor, WAS (vs SF) - Pryor was drafted to be an everyweek starter for our fantasy teams, but was not worth the investment in the first three weeks of the season. He bounced back for a long score against Marcus Peters in Week 4, and he is primed to do that again, if not multiple times against the 49ers. Their secondary just allowed T.Y. Hilton to go off for 7-177 last week, and they had given up three 100-yard games and three scores to wide receivers in the two weeks before that.

Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, NYJ (vs NE) - The Patriots defense has allowed 13-15 receptions to wide receivers every week, and that trend should continue this week against the Jets. Their pass rush is non-existent and their offense scores enough to keep opposing offenses in pass-first mode. DeSean Jackson, Bruce Ellington, Brandon Coleman, Tyreek Hill, and Kelvin Benjamin all broke free for long plays against them this year, and Robby Anderson is the best candidate to do that for the Jets this week. The Patriots have given up five scores to wide receivers this year, and Kearse is the best candidate to find paydirt for the Jets via the pass this week.

Juju Smith-Schuster, PIT (at KC) - The Steelers pass offense cratered in Week 5 against the Jaguars, in part because of overaggressiveness by Ben Roethlisberger throwing downfield into coverage. There is talk that the team will use Martavis Bryant less, which would point towards more targets for Smith-Schuster. The Chiefs have given up nine scores and nine games of at least 50 receiving yards to opposing wide receivers this year, so the way is paved for more than Antonio Brown to matter in the Steelers passing game this week.

Tight End

Hunter Henry, LAC (at OAK) - Henry was able to score last week, and he scored in both matchups with the Raiders in his rookie year. The Raiders have given up scores and big games to AJ Derby and Vernon Davis already this year, and Delanie Walker had 7-76 in the Week 1 contest against them. Henry’s snaps and targets both hit season highs in Week 5, priming him for a Week 6 breakout.

George Kittle, SF (at WAS) - Kittle took over in the passing game in the second half last week, and there’s no reason to think that can’t carry over to Week 6. Washington has been very vulnerable to big games by opposing tight ends, allowing 8-93 to Zach Ertz, 3-95 to rookie Gerald Everett, 4-43 and a score to Jared Cook, and 7-111 to Travis Kelce. The 49ers are likely to be playing from behind, so the pass attempts will be there for Kittle.

Austin Hooper, ATL (vs MIA) - Hooper has a chance to play a much bigger role this week with Mohamed Sanu out. He had 5-50 against Buffalo as the wide receiver injuries piled up, and this week he gets a Miami defense that gave up ten catches to Titans tight ends last week, including a score plus another long score to Delanie Walker that was called by a questionable penalty. Hunter Henry also had 7-80 against them earlier this year, taking advantage of the Dolphins ragtag linebacker corps.

David Njoku, CLE (at HOU) - Kevin Hogan has only played a little over a full game this year, and Njoku has already caught two scores from him. All of Njoku’s 3-48-1 line last week came in the second half when Hogan was in. The Browns are likely to have to pass a lot this week against Deshaun Watson and the Texans, putting Njoku in the middle of the bullseye for a season high in targets and hopefully catches and receiving yards.

A.J. Derby, DEN (vs NYG) - The Giants have allowed six tight end touchdowns already this year, and they haven’t gone a week without allowing one. Derby is the most likely Broncos tight end to catch a score (or two) this week, coming off of his best game of the year in Week 4 with 4-72 and a score against the Raiders. The Giants have also allowed at least five tight end receptions to the opposing team and at least 42 receiving yards to the leading opposing tight end in every game this year, so Derby has a solid floor this week as long as Trevor Siemian targets him