Week 6 brings about the first week with four teams on bye. Buffalo, Chicago, Indianapolis and Oakland all get the week off. That means that the bye week replacement-level talent in your league becomes that much more valuable. The other option that I start advocating at this stage of the season is fishing for trades. Trading from positions of strength and depth to supplement your team and then backfilling with free agents makes it stronger overall. Look to the owners that have a bye week issue in the near future for potential trade targets. Then run to the waiver wire to grab the best targets.
All of the options recommended last week were solid except for one. Nick Kwiatkoski ended up being a one week wonder as Roquan Smith drew back into the lineup, leaving him with no stats for the week against Oakland. Those who were able Very little was resolved in terms of details on the situation but hopefully, Smith is beyond whatever issues caught up to him in week 4. David Mayo played every snap but two for the Giants in week 5 against the Vikings. He was able to log 9 total tackles to lead all linebackers in that game. He remains a minimum LB2 if he gets that kind of tackle volume on a go-forward basis. Nicholas Morrow once again filled in for Vontaze Burfict admirably with 4 solo tackles and a critical interception to help seal a Raider win against the Bears. Similarly to Mayo, Morrow missed only two snaps on Sunday which should give would-be owners some confidence in his usage beyond this week. Finally, DeVondre Campbell was the top option among the recommendations last week with 10 total tackles (8 solo) on every-down usage. He remains firmly in LB2 territory with that production.
Devin White / Kevin Minter TBB LB – 3-4 ILB Value: LB1 – LB2
2019 fifth overall draft pick Devin White has had a bit of a rocky road early in his NFL career. He’s basically only played one game before succumbing to a knee injury early in week 2. After missing weeks 3 and 4, he practiced in full prior to week 5 against the Saints but did not play. Former Cardinal Kevin Minter has stacked up 30 total tackles and 2 PDs in replacement duty over those four weeks. Decent fantasy numbers but ultimately, Minter is not a starting-caliber linebacker in the NFL. My gut says that White was held out as a precaution and that White will be starting against the Panthers in week 6. Carolina has been a very good matchup for opposing 3-4 ILBs with an average of over 34 fantasy points per game allowed over the four 3-4 defenses they’ve seen. If White has been dropped in your shallow league, grab him because fifth overall picks don’t stay benched if they are healthy. If the coaching staff thinks that White needs another week off, Minter is a plus play this week.
Troy Reeder LAR LB – 3-4 ILB Value: LB2 – LB3
With Bryce Hager suffering a shoulder injury that caused him to miss much of week 4 as well as week 5, undrafted rookie free agent Troy Reeder ascended to a 73% usage in week 5 against the Seahawks. He was able to pile up 13 total tackles as the Rams played in their base defense more than any other game to this point in the season. That may be partially because of the run-heavy opponent and partially due to Taylor Rapp missing week 5. The 49ers in week 6 should be a similar opponent in terms of base defense usage so I expect a similar result to week 5 provided that Hager misses another game. Watch the injury report for this one.
Damien Wilson / Ben Niemann KCC LB – 3-4 ILB Value: LB2 – LB3
Another injury replacement option, Anthony Hitchens left his week 5 game against the Colts with a groin injury. There isn’t much information regarding his availability for week 6 against the Texans out yet so you’ll have to check the injury report to see if his practice participation gives you a clue on whether he’s able to go or not. Damien Wilson has been around 80% all year and figures to handle the majority of the defensive workload if Hitchens is out. Wilson scored 12 total tackles against the run-heavy Colts on 81% usage whereas Niemann logged 10 total tackles on 86% usage. Niemann is the first player to be marginalized on a Hitchens return to the lineup but is virtually unowned in fantasy, making him a cheap add. The Texans are an above-average matchup so I’d consider adding one or both to your lineup.
AJ Johnson DEN LB – 3-4 ILB Value: LB2 – LB3
Similar story to many of the other options, AJ Johnson stood in for an injured Joset Jewell who missed week 5 against the Chargers with a hamstring injury. Johnson played 93% of the snaps and logged a very impressive 9 total tackles, 2 PDs and an interception. The Titans visit Denver in week 6 which is a decent matchup for run-stuffing LBs but might offer a lesser play count. Watch the injury report to see if Jewell practices. If it looks like he’ll miss a second game, then Johnson is a cheap add for a decent return.
Defensive Lineman Plays
I knew better than to trust Bill Belichick and the Patriots with fantasy commodities and I went against my gut. John Simon was the only recommendation that played in week 5 and his zero points on 23% usage stings a bit after the Week 4 that he had. Defensive lineman adds get really few and far between at this point in the year. Trading for a defensive lineman isn’t a bad option if you are struggling for a player. Don’t forget about Taco Charlton this week.
Jonathan Bullard ARI DE – 3-4 DE Value: DL2 – DL3
Former Bear Jonathan Bullard has emerged as a solid 3-4 run-stuffing option for the Cardinals. Returning in week 4 from a hamstring injury, Bullard has piled up 10 total tackles and a sack on an average of 53% usage. In tackle-heavy or balanced leagues, this is easy DL2 territory with a decent floor. The Falcons aren’t the best option in terms of a matchup for a run-defender but I’d still have a look at him in case the Falcons manage to get a lead on the Cardinals.
Matt Ioannidis WAS DE – 3-4 DE Value: DL2
Matt Ioannidis is a solid but unspectacular option at defensive line. He has scored either 9 or 10 fantasy points in each of the last four weeks with between 76 and 87% usage over that time. Ioannidis is a matchup play for me though. He has a high floor but this week he is a matchup play. The Redskins face the Dolphins in week 6. Miami is offering an average of 4.5 sacks per game over their first four weeks. Grab him and start him this week.
Defensive Back Plays
Erik Harris was the only recommendation that bore fruit for would-be fantasy owners. He scored 6 solo tackles and a PD along with 4 rushing yards on a 4th down run that was almost ruled a fumble. Once again, Oakland used Harris 100% of the time in a base three safety set. With Rodney McLeod returning to the Eagles, Andrew Sendejo returned to his reserve role and offered nothing for fantasy production. Recently acquired Jonathan Cyprien was not given a full complement of snaps with the Falcons in his first game with the squad. He scored 2 total tackles on 33% of the snaps, splitting with Kemal Ishmael. Owners might have to wait a week or two to see a clear winner here.
Deionte Thompson ARI S – 3-4 SS Value: DB3 – flex (stash value)
With the release of DJ Swearinger, Deionte Thompson received the majority of snaps at strong safety in week 5 against the Bengals. While 3 total tackles on 67% usage isn’t very inspiring from a fantasy owner standpoint, Thompson was very highly touted out of Alabama and many think that Thompson had starting safety potential throughout the majority of the draft process. Add in the fact that the Falcons, Arizona’s week 6 opponent, are averaging over 27 fantasy points per game given up to opposing safeties this year and I like a getting solid redraft and dynasty player for the cheap before he potentially blows up.
Jahleel Addae / Tashaun Gipson / Justin Reid HOU S – 3-4 S Value: DB1 – DB3
In week 5, Texans safeties combined for 21 total tackles, 2 PDs and a pick six against a Falcons offense that completed 32 passes on 46 attempts. The Chiefs host the Texans in a grudge match of AFC contenders. While Atlanta leads the league in passes per game with 44. 4, Kansas City is not far behind with 39.2 passes per game, good for sixth in the league. I wouldn’t pass up Addae or Reid in tackle heavy leagues whereas Gipson would be a consideration for big play leagues as Matt Ryan’s seven interceptions over five games is one behind league leader Baker Mayfield.
Will Redmond GBP S – 3-4 SS Value: DB2
Another injury replacement offering here, second-year man Darnell Savage left the Packers week 5 game against the Cowboys with a tweaked ankle. While the original prognosis was far more dire than the actual injury was, I still don’t think the Savage plays in week 6 against the Lions. Former 49er and Chief Will Redmond drew into the lineup in Savage’s stead, scoring 9 solo tackles on 76% usage. The Lions are a plus matchup for any secondary but Redmond’s value takes a big hit if Savage plays. Watch the injury report to give you an idea of how Savage progresses through the week. Redmond is free in almost every format at this point.