Alex Smith (at OAK) - Smith has been a good fantasy play this year when he falls behind and has to furiously pass to catch up. That could be the case this week against the Raiders, who have allowed opposing quarterbacks to notch multiple touchdowns in every game this year except when they faced the Titans and Marcus Mariota. Jamaal Charles is going to play the largest role in the Chiefs offense he has all year, and he once scored five times in Oakland, including four on receptions.
Marcus Mariota (vs CLE) - Mariota is coming off of his best game of the year, and this week he draws another minor league defense in the Browns. They have allowed multiple pass touchdowns in every game this year, and that includes facing Kirk Cousins and Ryan Tannehill. Cousins threw three scores on only 27 attempts. Mariota was also more involved as a runner last week, which raises his fantasy ceiling in a game the Titans should control.
Brock Osweiler (vs IND) - Osweiler is bad against good defenses and ok against bad ones. The Colts qualify as a bad pass defense, allowing three games over 330 or more passing yards, and three multiple pass touchdown games. Osweiler has also been much better at home this year, with at least 230 passing yards in every home contest, and multiple passing scores in two out of three. Andrew Luck is playing well and could also turn this one into a shootout.
Brian Hoyer (vs JAX) - Hoyer is playing some of the best football of his career right now. He has gone over 300 yards with two pass touchdowns in each of his three starts, and only one of those really benefited from garbage time. This week he draws a Jaguars pass defense that has given up multiple passing scores in three of four games, and in the other they allowed a quarterback rushing score and 20+ completion streak. There’s no reason to think Hoyer will slow down this week at home.
Terrance West (at NYG) - When the offensive coordinator gets fired for not running the ball enough, it’s a good time to play the lead back. West was running hot last week against Washington and should get a lot more than the 11 carries he turned into 95 yards last week. The Giants allowed two rushing scores in Week 4, and last week Eddie Lacy was rolling (11 carries for 81 yards) before he got hurt. Kenneth Dixon also does not look 100 percent yet, so West’s workload shouldn’t be threatened by his presence this week.
Giovani Bernard (at NE) - Jeremy Hill has his arm in a sling before practice, but he is getting first-team snaps in practice. Either way, the Bengals are unlikely to lead for much of the game in Foxboro, and Hill does not fit in the Bengals “catch up” game plan. Bernard started and outplayed Hill last week, and Hill also left that game with a flare up of a shoulder injury, which is liable to happen again this week and leave Bernard as the lead back. Look for a big second half from Bernard as the Bengals try to play catch up against Tom Brady’s juggernaut offense.
Arian Foster (vs PIT) - Foster is back this week just in time for the Steelers, assuming he is on the right side of his game-time decision status. While he comes with an in-game injury risk, Foster has a high PPR ceiling against a Pittsburgh defense that has already allowed 9-100 to Giovani Bernard and 6-128-1 to Darren Sproles. The Dolphins pass defense is going to have a hard time slowing down the Steelers and the Dolphins offensive line is being rebuilt, so Ryan Tannehill will have to rely on a lot of short throws to the likes of Arian Foster and Jarvis Landry.
Darren Sproles (at WAS) - Washington has already allowed seven rushing touchdowns to opposing backs this year and two different backs have scored on them in two of five games this year. Sproles already has five red zone carries and two targets inside the opponent’s 20. This week, he’s much more likely to score if his number is called in a high leverage fantasy situation. He’s a better runner than Ryan Mathews right now, and if Mathews gets dinged during the game, Sproles could also benefit and get a bigger opportunity against the porous Washington run defense.
Bobby Rainey (vs BAL) - Rainey has stepped into the Shane Vereen receiving back role and turned it into 13 receptions in two games, with no less than six in either. Rashad Jennings is likely back this week, but he had been struggled to produce before his thumb injury. The Ravens run defense is a clear strength and their pass defense has looked shaky against good passing attacks, so the Giants should stay in pass mode for a lot of this one, favoring Rainey.
Mike Wallace (at NYG) - Steve Smith is looking doubtful for this weekend’s game against the Giants, which should put Wallace in a de facto WR1 role in the Ravens offense. While it should be more balanced after Marc Trestman was fired, Wallace had seven targets in the second half last week, and has had 20 in the last two games after seeing 18 in the first three games. The Giants have allowed four scores to opposing wide receivers in the last three games, and Wallace is by far the most likely Ravens receiver to catch a score this week.
Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin (vs LA) - The Rams top corner is out, so the Lions are sure to pick on Troy Hill and E.J. Gaines. Tate and Boldin’s outlook should also be improved by injuries on the Rams defensive line that have left Aaron Donald as the only healthy starter. Boldin will have a size advantage that Matthew Stafford has been good at exploiting, and Tate was more involved last week, including as a runner. The Lions only passed 25 times in the win over the Eagles. That should go up this week with the Lions possibly having to turn to Zach Zenner and street free agent Justin Forsett at running back.
John Brown (vs NYJ) - Brown was red hot entering the bye with a huge game against the Rams. He should have shaken off any lingering ill effects from losing most of August to a concussion coming out of the ten-day rest after a Thursday night game, and just in time to catch the Jets pass defense. They have allowed deep shot after deep shot to the likes of Brandon LaFell, Greg Salas, Marquise Goodwin, and Sammie Coates Jr. Brown could be in for his biggest game of the year if Carson Palmer can stay upright.
Cameron Meredith (vs JAX) - Meredith got everyone’s attention last week against the Colts, and he could stay in the spotlight against the Jaguars. Jacksonville has already allowed seven wide receiver scores in four games, and Alshon Jeffery is likely to the biggest amount of attention from the Jaguars young secondary. Brian Hoyer has already said he won’t force the ball to Jeffery, and Meredith was repeatedly getting open last week and rewarding Hoyer for targeting him. He goes straight from the wire into your lineup if you are having wide receiver depth issues.
Tyler Lockett (vs ATL) - Lockett has had the bye to get healthy, and the Seahawks have declared their intention to get him more involved this week. Russell Wilson is also healthy now and should have increased mobility to keep plays alive and lower body strength to get maximum distance and feel on deep throws. This week’s opponent, Atlanta, has allowed a wide receiver score in every game. Forces are converging to get Lockett back on track this week.
DeVante Parker (vs PIT) - We hate to count on garbage time in fantasy lineups, but Parker is looking attractive from that angle in Week 6. He had a massive second half against the Patriots when the Dolphins fell behind big, and their defense has little means to keep that from happening this week. The Steelers have allowed at least 255 passing yards in every game this year, so there is likely to be some second half points against prevent defenses to dole out, and
Coby Fleener (vs CAR) - Fleener is going to be a landmine or goldmine player this year. The golden strands in his outlook this week include a home game, which is where he had his one good games this year, and the Panthers defense, which has already allowed four scores to tight ends in five games this year. If you have to take a shot in the dark at tight end, Fleener is not a bad choice and he’s probably on the waiver wire coming out of his bye week.
Jesse James (at MIA) - Ladarius Green could return as early as next week, but Week 6 still belongs to James, who has three scores in five games. James is getting free in the end zone with ease, and that could continue this week against a Dolphins defense that has allowed a tight end to go for at least 66 yards in three of the last four weeks, with only C.J. Uzomah falling short at 4-45. The Dolphins could be without safety Reshad Jones, who would leave the back seven without their best player and chance to slow down the Steelers passing game in the middle of the field.
Charles Clay (vs SF) - Clay has five catches in each game since Sammy Watkins went on the shelf, and this week he faces a 49ers defense that has already allowed two 100-yard plus a score games to opposing tight ends Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen this year. The only other tight end of note to face the Jason Witten had seven catches for 47 yards, so Clay should be able to find room to operate against a defense that lost stud inside linebacker Navorro Bowman for the year.
Lance Kendricks (at DET) - Kendricks already has three gains of 20+ yards this year, and he is facing a Lions defense that has allowed six scores to tight ends this year. He’s not a bad desperation play if you have to turn to a thin waiver wire to cover losing Jordan Reed this week.