How has the start of the season treated you? Regardless of your record, this year has been more chaotic than any other. Week 6 will present its own set of challenges. Whether you’re looking to stay undefeated, jockeying for position in the fantasy playoff race, or fighting back after a rough start, this column is for you. Let’s take a look at some players flying under the radar who are sneaky starts in Week 6 (please note, all players below are currently starting in fewer than 20% of leagues):
Andy Dalton (QB - DAL)
Dalton will take over as the starting quarterback for the Cowboys following the horrific injury to Dak Prescott against the Giants. If you rostered Prescott or are in a pinch with bye weeks, Dalton is a worthy top-15 play this week against the Cardinals. Although Arizona’s defense has been above average against fantasy quarterbacks this season, the loss of Chandler Jones will cripple their pass-rush and give Dalton a lot more time to throw and Dallas’ receivers more time to separate from coverage. On a per-game basis last season in Cincinnati, Dalton was the QB18. Now, he has more weapons than ever before and a defense so bad it’s going to force him to throw early and often. That’s a recipe for fantasy success.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB - MIA)
Surprise! Due to significant schedule reshuffling, the Dolphins no longer travel to Denver to face the Broncos and are instead blessed with the opportunity to beat the Jets at home in Week 6. After an absolute thrashing of the 49ers in Week 5, the Dolphins opened up as more than a touchdown favorite over their AFC East rival. And guess who ranks as a top-10 fantasy quarterback through five weeks? Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets’ defense is only slightly below average against fantasy quarterbacks this season, but the eye test says Fitzpatrick should thrive. The wily veteran is coming off a 350-yard, three-touchdown game, and the Jets allowed an 81% completion percentage to Philip Rivers, 242 yards and two touchdowns to Brett Rypien, and 27.3 fantasy points to Kyler Murray over the last three weeks.
D’Andre Swift (RB - DET)
It’s easy to forget about players coming off a bye week—especially those who are yet to make a major impact—but Swift could be a solid play this week if you’re in a pinch at RB2/flex. If we throw out his inexplicable one-touch game against the Cardinals in Week 3, Swift is averaging 12.9 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues in his other three contests. That’s good enough to be a top-30 running back and is equal to the weekly outputs of Antonio Gibson and Ronald Jones and 0.2 fantasy points per game more than David Johnson. The Jaguars are allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs this season, making Swift and Adrian Peterson both top-30 plays at the position.
Chase Edmonds (RB - ARI)
While he’s not getting a ton of touches just yet—he’s averaging 7.4 per game this season and 8.5 over the last two weeks—Edmonds looks like the most explosive runner in Arizona’s backfield. Kenyan Drake is still the starter and will get the majority of the touches, but I expect Edmonds to continue to eat into Drake’s work. Beyond that, Edmonds’ workload in the receiving game is what makes him a sneaky RB3 this week, as he has 10 catches over the last two weeks. The Cardinals-Cowboys Monday Night Football game feels like a shootout in the making and Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury may ride the hot hand in Edmonds, who’s been in on a lot on passing downs. Edmonds ranks as a top-36 running back for me this week.
J.D. McKissic (RB - WSH)
McKissic makes this list for the second week in a row after leading Washington in receiving with six catches and 46 yards in the team’s loss to the Rams—he was the only player who appeared to be unaffected by the change at quarterback from Dwayne Haskins to Kyle Allen to Alex Smith. He’s averaging eight touches per game over his last four and has 13 combined catches over the last two weeks. Washington is going to be down in games a lot, and McKissic is seeing plenty of work in the traditional third-down, pass-catching, hurry-up running back role. If you’re in a bind in a full-PPR league, McKissic can get you by.
Laviska Shenault (WR - JAX)
You can pretty much bank on 6-8 touches per game for Shenault at this point. He’s averaging 6.8 per game over his last four and has the highest weekly floor of any Jaguars wide receiver. D.J. Chark’s status is a bit up in the air for Week 6, which only makes Shenault even more exciting. The Lions have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers so far this season, and Gardner Minshew has been very solid outside of his poor Thursday Night Football performance against the Dolphins a couple weeks ago. Shenault is averaging 12.3 fantasy points per game this season and should be able to match that total this week. If Chark is out, Keelan Cole is also a sneaky start.
Travis Fulgham (WR - PHI)
I guess it’s tough to call someone a “sneaky” player after a 31.2-point performance the week prior, but there’s always a marked difference in the percentage of fantasy managers willing to pick up a player off of a breakout week and those willing to put them in their starting lineup—especially in a bad matchup. I have Fulgham ranked in the low-end WR3 range after his 10/152/1 game despite him playing Baltimore this week. The Ravens allow the seventh-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season, but the ball has to go somewhere and Carson Wentz seems to have a rapport with Fulgham over these last two games. In deeper leagues, I wouldn’t be afraid to play Fulgham.
Jerry Jeudy (WR - DEN)
Unlike last season, you’re not running away from a matchup against the Patriots. New England ranks among 10 most favorable defenses for a fantasy wide receiver to face so far this season. Jeudy is the No. 1 in Denver for the rest of the season and I expect Pat Shurmer to find ways to get him as involved as he was in the first three games of the season. The quarterback situation scares me a little, but he’s averaging seven targets and 11.1 fantasy points per game in 2020—that’s more than Jarvis Landry, Brandin Cooks, and others that might be in consideration for starts this week.
Eric Ebron (TE - PIT)
A fumble subdued what would’ve been a fairly solid fantasy day in Week 5, but the fact remains that Ebron is becoming a significant piece of the Steelers’ offense. He’s averaging six targets per game over the last three weeks and is averaging 10.3 fantasy points per game in that same span. He’s ranked as a low-end TE1 against a Browns team allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to the tight end position this season.
Irv Smith Jr. (TE - MIN)
This one is for really deep leagues or for those who need a cheap DFS dart-throw, but there isn’t a better matchup for Smith to have than the Falcons this week. Atlanta is not only the worst defense in the NFL against fantasy tight ends, they’re allowing nearly two fantasy points per game more than the next worst team (Saints). After being largely ignored in the first quarter of the season, Smith had five targets and four catches in another good matchup for tight ends against Seattle on Sunday night. He has a good chance to replicate his 10.4-point performance this week.