Fantasy football Week 6 preview

Fantasy owners already know who their must-start players are, but everyone has a few decisions to make when it comes to setting a lineup. We’re here to help with those tough decisions.

Each week this space will be dedicated to whom you should start or sit for your upcoming fantasy matchups.

Starts

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals — This game will be telling. If he produces against a poor Jets pass defense, then he can be trusted after enduring a concussion and a couple of poor outings. If not, this top-tier QB could slip down a tier.

Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a pass during the second half of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 17-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a pass during the second half of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 17-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks — It appears as if he’d be a must-start every week, but he started the season terribly. He righted the ship in Week 4 and has had a bye week to prepare for a bad Falcons defense.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars — He’s had two weeks to prepare for a Bears defense that is ranked in the middle of the road against quarterbacks.

Lamar Miller, RB, Texans — Don’t hold his poor performance against the Vikings against him. They’re shutting everyone down. He should bounce back against the Colts, who are 29th in points allowed to running backs.

Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) runs the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Minneapolis. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) runs the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Minneapolis. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks — Michael is even proving to be effective in the passing game as he caught a TD pass in his last game. His matchup is great, and it should be apparent in his point total.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers — He’ll be back in the lineup for the Panthers and gets to face the team ranked last in points allowed to running backs, the Saints.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles — Despite getting just 16 touches last week, Mathews produced a touchdown, and he has a great matchup against Washington. If he’s productive in the passing game, he could have a big week.

Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Mathews (24) rushes against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game at Ford Field in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Mathews (24) rushes against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game at Ford Field in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks — He’s been alternating between good and bad weeks, and he’s due for another big week.

Will Fuller, WR, Texans — You were right to sit him last week against the Vikings as he was shut out. This week’s matchup is much more favorable. The Colts are 19th in points allowed to wideouts.

Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks — This could be a record for the number of players suggested as starts from one team, but when the Falcons are 31st in points allowed to tight ends, it’s justified.

Sits

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons — Didn’t like him starting last week, and I suggest he not start again as he faces the Seahawks in Seattle. They’re the best at limiting quarterbacks’ fantasy points.

Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers — You might be interested to see what he’ll be able to do after not starting for quite a while, but that’s no reason to start him until you see some positive signs.

Terrance West, RB, Ravens — He has a tough matchup against the Giants. They allow 96 yards rushing per game and have surrendered just three rushing touchdowns. Expect low-end flex numbers if you have to start him.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals — With his pass-catching ability, Giovani Bernard has a better chance to contribute since the Pats are stout against running backs.

Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals is injured after a hit during the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals is injured after a hit during the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Arian Foster, RB, Dolphins — Even if he’s 100 percent, I’d sit him until he has a really good game as a Dolphin. That backfield is ridiculously crowded right now.

Jeremy Kerley, WR, 49ers — With the quarterback change, I’d wait until we see how that affects the suddenly relevant receiver.

Victor Cruz, WR, Giants — Sterling Shepard is getting targeted heavily, and Cruz was held without a catch last week. No need to start someone who appears to be the third-best option on a struggling offense.

Fantasy football Week 3 preview

Fantasy owners already know who their must-start players are, but everyone has a few decisions to make when it comes to setting a lineup. We’re here to help with those tough decisions.

Each week this space will be dedicated to whom you should start or sit in your upcoming fantasy matchups.

Starts

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins — He gets to face the Cleveland Browns’ defense and actually put up great numbers against New England last weekend (387 yards, two TDs). The biggest fear here is that Miami will get too far ahead and stop throwing.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill celebrates a touchdown during a NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill celebrates a touchdown during a NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans — He was a pretty decent start in his past two games, but he should be very good against the Oakland Raiders, who are worst in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.

Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers — With Doug Martin sidelined for about three weeks, Sims could really shine. His pass-catching ability makes him a decent start against the Rams, a team in the bottom half in points allowed to running backs.

Tajae Sharpe, WR, Titans — Facing the Raiders, the team ranked last in points allowed to wide receivers, Sharpe should have success. He’s been targeted at least seven times in each game so far.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) is chased by Detroit Lions linebacker Antwione Williams (52) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) is chased by Detroit Lions linebacker Antwione Williams (52) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

Theo Riddick, RB, Lions — Riddick looks to be the top choice to take over for an injured Ameer Abdullah. He was already competing for playing time and is better at catching the ball than the bigger rookie Dwayne Washington.

Jacob Tamme, TE, Falcons — He’s facing a bad defense that happens to defend tight ends well, but the number of targets he gets (eight per game) is encouraging.

Marvin Jones, WR, Lions — He’s taken over as the main receiver in Detroit, having been targeted at least 10 times in each of the first two games. He faces a Packers defense that allowed Sam Bradford and the Vikings’ pass attack to have some success.

Dolphins defense/special teams — They’re facing a Browns offense that’s starting Cody Kessler. Enough said.

Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso, right, hits New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) after he threw a pass during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. Garoppolo was injured on the play and did not return to the game. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso, right, hits New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) after he threw a pass during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. Garoppolo was injured on the play and did not return to the game. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

Sits

Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers — He’s getting comfortable in this section as this is the second week in a row I’ve had him sitting. Last week he had just 52 total yards, and this week he faces a Seattle defense that is third in points allowed to running backs.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles — Mathews rushed just nine times for 32 yards Monday night, but two short touchdowns saved his week. With Carson Wentz doing well through the air, the Eagles aren’t relying on the running game as much.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals — He hasn’t carried the ball more than 11 times in a game this year and has to face the Broncos’ defense this week.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (94) during an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers defeat the Bengals 24-16. (Doug Kapustin/AP Images for Panini)
Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (94) during an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers defeat the Bengals 24-16. (Doug Kapustin/AP Images for Panini)

Golden Tate, WR, Lions — He’s clearly behind Jones in the pecking order, and Eric Ebron is even finding some success at the tight end spot. Give Tate a seat until he proves he can be productive.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills —If he’s cleared to play, be aware that he won’t be at full strength because of a foot injury. He hasn’t been good so far this year, and he will be facing Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals’ secondary. I’d sit him.

Gary Barnidge, TE, Browns — Things were looking up when Josh McCown was set to play quarterback, but with his injury I’d wait and see on Barnidge.

Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars — He led the Jags in targets in a blowout loss last weekend. The Jags won’t get blown out by the Ravens, and the defense Hurns faces is fifth-best in limiting WR production.

Fantasy football Week 1 preview

It’s finally here.

The NFL season starts Thursday night as the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos in a Super Bowl rematch. With that kickoff, another fantasy football season gets underway.

Even if you’re not a fan of either team, it’s likely you’ll still be watching closely as a fantasy football owner.

If you drafted Cam Newton, you’ll be a Panthers fan for at least this season. And you’ll be rooting for the Broncos if you picked up Demaryius Thomas, Denver’s top wideout.

The opener represents a tough matchup for both of those players. Newton will have to withstand solid pressure from the Broncos’ pass rush while Thomas will have to help break in a new quarterback while also getting over last year’s case of the drops.

Regardless, both players have to be considered must-starts, alongside Greg Olsen and both defenses.

Moving on to Sunday’s action, one of the best matchups will pit Derek Carr against the Saints pass defense. The game is indoors, and Carr has Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Latavius Murray at his disposal. The third-year quarterback finished just outside the top-12 in standard leagues last season, and I expect him to enter that QB1 status this season.

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Another great situation this week could be the Chiefs’ Spencer Ware facing the San Diego run defense. The Chargers were 29th in points allowed to running backs last season, and Ware is getting the start for Jamaal Charles, who continues to recover from a torn ACL.

Switching to wide receivers, there’s no doubt that Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins will be must-starts all season, but don’t forget about Dez Bryant just because his starting quarterback is sidelined. Bryant is a proud competitor and desperately wants to show the NFL that he’s still a top-tier wideout.

He faces a Giants pass defense that was 26th in points allowed to wide receivers last season. And rookie quarterbacks like Dak Prescott tend to rely on their star players whereas veterans like Tony Romo will try to get the ball to the open receiver. Prescott may do well to just give Bryant chances to make plays.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) warms up before taking on the Houston Texans in a preseason NFL football game, Thursday Sept. 1, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) warms up before taking on the Houston Texans in a preseason NFL football game, Thursday Sept. 1, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

On the other side of the coin, Alshon Jeffery will face a tough defense this week. I’m not sold on him returning to previous form after an injury-plagued 2015 season. The Texans were fifth best in slowing receivers in fantasy scoring last year.

One running back I’d avoid starting this week would be Jeremy Hill. He’ll definitely split time with Gio Bernard and he’s facing the Jets, who were third best in points allowed to running backs last season. I do expect him to deliver more even output this season, not just one reliant on goal-line plays, but this is a bad matchup for him.

Finally, you may have to sit a typically solid fantasy quarterback if you’re a Philip Rivers owner. He’s not projected to do well against a good Chiefs defense that was fifth best in points allowed to quarterbacks last season. The Chiefs will be without Justin Houston, who is out with a knee injury, but if you have another QB with a better matchup, make that play instead.

More fantasy football mock draft notes and trends

With NFL training camps in full swing, I decided to take another stab at a mock draft to help prepare for the upcoming fantasy football season. This time I entered a standard league, 12-team draft on ESPN’s website. Last time out, I drafted in a 10-team standard league on NFL.com. Here’s a look at the team I selected this time around.

  • Round (overall pick) Player, Pos., Team
  • 1st (4) Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
  • 2nd (21) Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets
  • 3rd (28) Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders
  • 4th (45) Jeremy Maclin, WR, Chiefs
  • 5th (52) Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals
  • 6th (69) Drew Brees, QB, Saints
  • 7th (76) Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles
  • 8th (93) Ladarius Green, TE, Steelers
  • 9th (100) Willie Snead, WR, Saints
  • 10th (117) Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons
  • 11th (124) Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers
  • 12th (141) Texans defense
  • 13th (148) Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
  • 14th (165) Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings
  • 15th (172) Matt Prater, K, Lions
  • 16th (189) Jordan Cameron, TE, Dolphins

With 12 teams in this mock league I decided to make sure I went with running backs in two of my first three picks. Interesting to note is that before I selected Adrian Peterson with the fourth pick, three receivers were already off the board (Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr., in that order). Also of note, the next three running backs selected were Todd Gurley (5th), Ezekiel Elliott (6th) and David Johnson (8th). Dez Bryant went 7th overall, which is a bit high in my estimation, since he went ahead of DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Jamaal Charles.

Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at TCFBank Stadium on January 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at TCFBank Stadium on January 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

It was a little surprising that the suspended Le’Veon Bell, who’s set to miss the first four games of the season, managed to sneak into the first round at no. 12 overall. That seems a little high for a player that will miss a quarter of the season. I’d look for him early in the second round of a 12-team league. He can put you over the top, but not if you’re using your first pick on him.

My WR1 is Brandon Marshall, and I see no reason he’d  drop off, especially now that he has Ryan Fitzpatrick back behind the center. Fitzpatrick knows how to get the ball to his big receivers and Marshall going at 21 overall went right about where he probably should. I selected Jeremy Maclin as my WR2 and if he’s targeted 124 times, like he was last season, he could prove to be a solid pick at 45th overall.

Jeremy Maclin #19 of the Kansas City Chiefs bobbles the ball at Arrowhead Stadium during the third quarter of the game agains the Cleveland Browns on December 27, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jeremy Maclin #19 of the Kansas City Chiefs bobbles the ball at Arrowhead Stadium during the third quarter of the game agains the Cleveland Browns on December 27, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

I was able to grab an aging Drew Brees with the 69th overall pick, so I have to hope he stays healthy and that his young receivers come along. Derek Carr, who I picked in the 13th round, is my backup and we’ll see if he makes a big jump with weapons like Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray. Murray, who I selected in the 3rd round is expected to be a do-everything back for the Raiders if he doesn’t let rookie DeAndre Washington take away touches.

That leaves me with Jeremy Hill and Jordan Matthews as my flex options. I feel good about both, hoping Hill has a bounce-back season, though he did score 11 rushing touchdowns last year. Matthews has scored eight touchdowns in each of his first two seasons and looks to go over 1,000 yards for the first time. If he’s around in the seventh, you’d be lucky.

Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Baltimore 24-16. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Baltimore 24-16. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Ladarius Green, the tight end who I selected at 93 overall, should excite some owners as he joins a prolific Steelers offense.

Other notes from this mock draft:

  • Seven wide receivers were selected in the first round, including Allen Robinson.
  • Jamaal Charles was taken in the second round, he should go higher.
  • Jordy Nelson went 14th overall and I’d be nervous about that if I made that selection early in the second. I’m in the minority.
  • Lamar Miller, who the Texans will let loose on the field, went 16th. Wouldn’t be surprised if he goes higher in most drafts.
  • There are options at RB in the third round, with Eddie Lacy, Matt Forte, Murray and Carlos Hyde all going in that round.
  • T.Y. Hilton, who went 39th overall, might be undervalued if Andrew Luck returns to previous form.
  • The Cardinals defense was the first to go at 89, followed by the Broncos at 95 and the Seahawks at 113.