Week 6 Fantasy Tiers & Rankings: Start Making Your Start/Sit Decisions

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Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Kenny Golladay.

Go to the updated version of Sean Koerner’s Week 6 fantasy tiers.


If you want to contend for your fantasy football championship, you have to be diligent about in-season management. And a big part of that is making start/sit decisions.

To help you start strategizing for Week 6, I’ve outlined the early version of my fantasy football rankings into tiers so you can better visualize the drop-off in expected production at each position.

As always, there will be a ton of volatility in how I adjust my rankings up until kickoff, so be sure to check my updated rankings before making final decisions. I’ll also publish an updated version of these tiers before Sunday’s kickoff, but for now, let’s dive into the initial version of my Week 6 tiers!

Week 6 Fantasy Tiers

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QB | RB | WR | TE | K | DEF

QUARTERBACKS

Tier 1

Patrick Mahomes (@ BUF)
Kyler Murray (@ DAL)
Josh Allen (vs. KC)

Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen face off in the highest totaled game of the week at 57.5 points (compare real-time odds here).

Allen faces a Chiefs defense that coughed up 40 points to the Raiders in Week 5. He should bounce back from a mediocre game last week, and having John Brown return from his one-game absence will only help.

I’ve previously mentioned a few factors that would elevate Mahomes’ ceiling even higher in 2020, and they seem to be lining up as we speak:

  1. The Chiefs defense has taken a step back, forcing the offense into more shootouts. (See: The 40 points they just surrendered to the Raiders.)
  2. He continues to flash the “true” rushing upside that we saw in the 2019 playoffs, with 20 or more rushing yards in four straight games.
  3. With Sammy Watkins out indefinitely, it will force Mecole Hardman onto the field more.

Sit back and enjoy the ride if you have Mahomes.

Tier 2

Lamar Jackson (@ PHI)
Deshaun Watson (@ TEN)

Lamar Jackson has quietly been one of the biggest busts of 2020. His passing output has been more reminiscent of 2018 than 2019, failing to pass for more than 210 yards in four straight games. To make matters worse, he rushed for only three yards in Week 5. We can only hope this was due to the illness and knee injury that limited him in practice last week.

I wouldn’t start to panic unless he fails to throw for 200+ yards and/or rush for 40+ again this week.

Tier 3

Cam Newton (vs. DEN)
Aaron Rodgers (@ TB)
Gardner Minshew (vs. DET)
Matthew Stafford (@ JAX)
Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. NYJ)

Cam Newton is expected to return after being out with COVID-19 for the past two weeks. He has a lowered ceiling in a matchup in which the Patriots are installed as 10-point favorites. Newton has thrown for 155 and 162 yards in their two wins, with 397 yards coming in their Week 2 loss.

I wouldn’t blame you for playing another QB from this tier over Newton.

Minshew and Stafford will face off in what should be a shootout and are high floor/ceiling QB1 options this week. I bet the over at 52.5 once the opening line came out, and now it’s up to 55 — which, if you didn’t know, you can follow me in the Action app to get alerts on all my early-week picks.

Tier 4

Kirk Cousins (vs. ATL)
Tom Brady (vs. GB)
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. CLE)
Ryan Tannehill (vs. HOU)
Matt Ryan (@ MIN)
Andy Dalton (vs. ARI)
Jared Goff (@ SF)
Teddy Bridgewater (vs. CHI)

Kirk Cousins is my recommend quarterback streamer this week. He has a cupcake matchup against the 0-5 Falcons and has the weapons in Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson to take advantage of it.

As for Ben Roethlisberger, he should have no issues attacking the pass funnel Browns defense. The Chase Claypool era has officially begun in Pittsburgh, and his increased role in this offense will only elevate Big Ben’s ceiling.

Andy Dalton will do his best to replace Dak Prescott in the Cowboys’ high-octane offense. Dalton should provide stable QB2 value as long as Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup are all healthy.

Tier 5

Daniel Jones (vs. WAS)

Daniel Jones was a complete flop against the Cowboys. He’s failed to score a touchdown in four straight games now, which is unacceptable for a quarterback.

He can go off any given week, but until he establishes a higher floor, we can’t trust him in our lineups.

Tier 6

Joe Burrow (@ IND)
Baker Mayfield (@ PIT)
Carson Wentz (vs. BAL)

All three of these QBs are Week 6 fades with brutal matchups.

Carson Wentz’s schedule will open up starting next week with vs. NYG, vs. Dal, @NYG, @CLE and vs. SEA on tap. He should have most of his weapons return over that stretch, too, so let’s consider him a potential Week 7 streamer option.

Tier 7

Philip Rivers (vs. CIN)
Jimmy Garoppolo (vs. LAR)
Nick Foles (@ CAR)

I would avoid starting anyone in this Tier if you can help it.

There’s a non-zero chance that we could see any of these three QBs benched in-game. It happened to Jimmy G last week, and there have been rumors about Jacoby Brissett replacing Rivers. I don’t think we’ll see the latter happen anytime soon, but it’s not worth rolling the dice if you can help it.

Tier 8

Kyle Allen (@ NYG)
Joe Flacco (@ MIA)
Drew Lock (@ NE)


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RUNNING BACKS

Tier 1

Ezekiel Elliott (vs. ARI)

Zeke is going to be the centerpiece of the Cowboys offense with Dak out for the season. He gets Tier 1 all to himself with Alvin Kamara on bye this week.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pectured: Ezekiel Elliott

Tier 2

Derrick Henry (vs. HOU)
Mike Davis (vs. CHI)
Alexander Mattison (vs. ATL)

Mike Davis and Alexander Mattison are elite RB1 plays this week as they fill-in for their teams’ injured starters. A reminder that this is unique to the RB position and why it’s critical to stash high-upside backups — to help you identify other potential high-upside backs to stash on your bench, I’ll be publishing a mid-season update to my RB Upside Ratings next week.

Mattison should inherit Cook’s full workload and has a mouth-watering matchup against the Falcons.

Tier 3

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (@ BUF)
Aaron Jones (@ TB)
Kareem Hunt (@ PIT)

The Bucs are a brutal matchup for opposing running backs.

Aaron Jones is a bet on talent RB1 play this week, and after DT Vita Vea’s season-ending injury, the Bucs run defense may regress a bit.

Tier 4

James Robinson (vs. DET)
Jonathan Taylor (vs. CIN)

Jonathan Taylor has yet to provide the top-five value I believe he’s capable of going forward. That could change this week against a Bengals defense that just lost run-stuffing DT D.J. Reader to the IR.

Taylor should thrive in positive game scripts when the Colts are 7-point favorites or better (such as this week). However, Nyheim Hines continues to cap Taylor’s receiving upside, limiting him to 35-40% routes run per dropback on average. That’s going to translate to about only two receptions per game until something changes.

Photo credit: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. Pictured: Jonathan Taylor

Tier 5

Joe Mixon (@ IND)
Miles Sanders (vs. BAL)
Todd Gurley (@ MIN)
Ronald Jones II (vs. GB)
David Montgomery (@ CAR)
Raheem Mostert (vs. LAR)
James Conner (vs. CLE)

The Jets released Le’Veon Bell earlier this week, and it’ll be a huge concern for any of these RBs if their team ends up signing Bell.

We’ll need to monitor where he ends up, but it could create a short-term buy-low opportunity for that team’s starter. For example, if the Bears were to sign Bell, I would give whoever in my league has David Montgomery enough time to freak out over the news then float them an offer for Monty. They would likely give him up for cheap before we truly know how that backfield would shake out.

Raheem Mostert looked close to 100% in his Week 5 return. Not only did he relegate Jerick McKinnon to just a three touch game, but Mostert ran a route on 35% of dropbacks, which led the team. It’s been encouraging to see how much passing game usage he has seen (when healthy) this season, which could mean he’s on his way to becoming a true workhorse back soon.

Tier 6

Myles Gaskin (vs. NYJ)
David Johnson (@ TEN)
Antonio Gibson (@ NYG)
Kenyan Drake (@ DAL)
Devonta Freeman (vs. WAS)

Myles Gaskin has become a true workhorse back for the Dolphins. He’s dominated in terms of carries and targets out of the backfield, but in Week 5, we saw him also inherit goal-line duties. Jordan Howard, who had scored three 1-yard touchdowns on the season, was a healthy scratch in Week 5. That led to Gaskin getting a 1-yard TD run last week, and we can assume he will get the next goal-line opportunity that comes up.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images. Pictured: Myles Gaskin

The Dolphins are 9.5-point home favorites against the Jets, making Gaskin a mid-range RB2 play this week.

Tier 7

Devin Singletary (vs. KC)
Melvin Gordon (@ NE)
Darrell Henderson (@ SF)
Adrian Peterson (@ JAX)
James White (vs. DEN)

It’s unclear if Melvin Gordon will suit up this week after being cited for a DUI. He’s likely going to face a 2-3 game suspension, and the window to “sell high” on him may have slammed shut. Philip Lindsay needs to be added immediately in any leagues he’s available in.

Tier 8

Mark Ingram (@ PHI)
D’Andre Swift (@ JAX)
Damien Harris (vs. DEN)
Nyheim Hines (vs. CIN)
Chase Edmonds (@ DAL)
Frank Gore (@ MIA)
Rex Burkhead (vs. DEN)

All of these backs are involved in two- to three-way committees. It makes it tough to trust any of them unless one of their teammates misses time. I view most of them as high-upside bench stashes and/or emergency bye-week Flex plays.

Tier 9

Malcolm Brown (@ SF)
Jamaal Williams (@ TB)
J.D. McKissic (@ NYG)
J.K. Dobbins (@ PHI)
Duke Johnson Jr. (@ TEN)
Leonard Fournette (vs. GB)
Matt Breida (vs. NYJ)
La’Mical Perine (@ MIA)
Brian Hill (@ MIN)
Phillip Lindsay (@ NE)
D’Ernest Johnson (@ PIT)
Jerick McKinnon (vs. LAR)
Cam Akers (@ SF)
Gus Edwards (@ PHI)

*High-upside backups

Texans interim head coach Romeo Crennel has mentioned he wants to get backup Duke Johnson Jr. more involved. I’m not convinced Johnson will see a large enough role to become a RB2/3 any time soon. However, if David Johnson were ever to miss time, the new coaching staff might trust Duke Johnson to be more of a workhorse back — former head coach Bill O’Brien always seemed to avoid giving Duke a significant workload. Something to keep in mind for the future.

Lindsay is a must-add in all leagues. Gordon is likely facing a potential 2-3 game suspension after getting a DUI.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: Phillip Lindsay

Tier 10

Chris Thompson (vs. DET)
Tony Pollard (vs. ARI)
Kerryon Johnson (@ JAX)
Wayne Gallman (vs. WAS)
Zack Moss (vs. KC)
Michael Boone (vs. ATL)
Jordan Wilkins (vs. CIN)
Darrel Williams (@ BUF)

*High upside backups


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WIDE RECEIVERS

Tier 1

DeAndre Hopkins (@ DAL)
Adam Thielen (vs. ATL)
Davante Adams (@ TB)
Tyreek Hill (@ BUF)

Davante Adams should return after missing two games due to a hamstring injury. We can trust him as an elite WR1 in his first game back.

Tier 2

Stefon Diggs (vs. KC)
Robby Anderson (vs. CHI)
Calvin Ridley (@ MIN)
Kenny Golladay (@ JAX)
Allen Robinson (@ CAR)

Kenny Golladay should be close to 100% health after the Lions’ bye week. He was limited to 80-85% routes run per dropback in his first two games back from injury. I expect his usage to jump to 95-100% in Week 6, and an eruption game shouldn’t catch us off guard.

The Lions have the second-highest team total of the week, elevating Golladay’s touchdown odds.

Tier 3

Terry McLaurin (@ NYG)
Cooper Kupp (@ SF)
Robert Woods (@ SF)
DeVante Parker (vs. NYJ)
Will Fuller V (@ TEN)
Mike Evans (vs. GB)
Amari Cooper (vs. ARI)
A.J. Brown (vs. HOU)
Justin Jefferson (vs. ATL)
D.J. Moore (vs. CHI)
Marquise Brown (@ PHI)
Odell Beckham Jr. (@ PIT)

Amari Cooper’s stock took a massive hit after Dak Prescott’s season-ending injury. The days of being a mainstay in the top-five to -10 of my weekly ranks are likely over. However, he should be a reliable WR2 option going forward, which is right around where his pre-season average draft position.

Justin Jefferson put up a 3/23/0 dud in Week 5 but should bounce back against a Falcons defense that’s allowed seven different receivers to top 90 yards over the first five weeks.

Tier 4

Chris Godwin (vs. GB)
Chase Claypool (vs. CLE)
Jamison Crowder (@ MIA)
CeeDee Lamb (vs. ARI)
Tyler Boyd (@ IND)
D.J. Chark (vs. DET)
Julian Edelman (vs. DEN)
T.Y. Hilton (vs. CIN)
Juju Smith-Schuster (vs. CLE)
Darius Slayton (vs. WAS)
Laviska Shenault (vs. DET)

Hopefully, you followed the advice I outlined in my Week 5 Tiers about Chase Claypool being a must-own “league winning” stash. Never in a million years did I expect him to score four touchdowns in that game, but everyone has seen his upside now. He’s very tricky to project this week until we know Diontae Johnson’s status.

The Steelers are going to have to find a way to make Claypool an every-down player going forward. It’ll likely involve running more 11 personnel while also limiting James Washington’s playing time.

I view Claypool as a WR2/3 going forward with WR1 upside if Smith-Schuster or Johnson were to miss time.

Joe Sargent/Getty Images. Pictured: JuJu Smith-Schuster (left) and Chase Claypool.

Tier 5

Mecole Hardman (@ BUF)
Brandin Cooks (@ TEN)
Jarvis Landry (@ PIT)
Tee Higgins (@ IND)
John Brown (vs. KC)
Curtis Samuel (vs. CHI)
Deebo Samuel (vs. LAR)
Jerry Jeudy (@ NE)
Marvin Jones (@ JAX)
Keelan Cole (vs. DET)

Mecole Hardman was the other “league winning” bench stash I recommended in Week 5. Sure enough, Sammy Watkins suffered what appears to be a multi-week injury, which means we could see Hardman provide WR2/3 value over the next couple of weeks.

Hardman remains a low floor/high ceiling option, but I think we can trust him in our lineups this week (finally!).

Tee Higgins will shoot up to Tier 4 if A.J. Green ends up missing this week due to injury. After seeing Green visibly give up in Week 5, you have to wonder if the Bengals decide to trade him away soon. Higgins is the next rookie we could see have a major breakout soon.

Tier 6

Diontae Johnson (vs. CLE)
Travis Fulgham (vs. BAL)
N’Keal Harry (vs. DEN)
Brandon Aiyuk (vs. LAR)
Michael Gallup (vs. ARI)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (@ TB)
Golden Tate (vs. WAS)
Russell Gage (@ MIN)
Preston Williams (vs. NYJ)
Corey Davis (vs. HOU)
Damiere Byrd (vs. DEN)

Travis Fulgham was one of the biggest Week 6 surprises. He was the lone bright spot in the Eagles’ passing game while posting a massive 10/152/1 stat line. We should be able to trust him as a WR4/Flex option this week (depending on Alshon Jeffery’s and DeSean Jackson’s status), but Fulgham’s long-term value is capped with so many weapons set to return over the next few weeks.

Michael Gallup is likely the biggest loser from Prescott’s season-ending injury. Dalton is less likely to take deep shots to Gallup. However, the two hooked up for two receptions for 57 yards in their game-winning drive, so there is a glimmer of hope, though I fear those two plays were more situational based on the two-minute offense the Cowboys were running.

Tier 7

Cole Beasley (vs. KC)
Randall Cobb (@ TEN)
Zach Pascal (vs. CIN)
Danny Amendola (@ JAX)
Jeff Smith (@ MIA)
Demarcus Robinson (@ BUF)
A.J. Green (@ IND)
Tim Patrick (@ NE)
Julio Jones (@ MIN)
Sterling Shepard (vs. WAS)
Christian Kirk (@ DAL)

Julio Jones is only ranked this low because I’m projecting him for half of his usual workload. He’s one of many WRs who is a true game-time decision that I’m projecting this week.

Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured (left to right): Calvin Ridley, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones

It’s important to remember that all of my player projections are made at a team level. Therefore Jones’ projection impacts all Falcons players. Once his status is known, it will have a significant effect on where he and his teammates end up ranking for the week. That’s why it’s critical to check out my updated Tiers on Saturday before making any final sit/start decisions.

Tier 8

Adam Humphries (vs. HOU)
Larry Fitzgerald (@ DAL)
Isaiah Ford (vs. NYJ)
Darnell Mooney (@ CAR)
Breshad Perriman (@ MIA)
Anthony Miller (@ CAR)


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TIGHT ENDS

Tier 1

Travis Kelce (@ BUF)
George Kittle (vs. LAR)

George Kittle’s Week 5 stat line (4/44/0) was a result of the 49ers’ QB situation being a mess. Hopefully, Garoppolo can get back on track this week and elevate Kittle back to the elite numbers we’ve come to expect.

Tier 2

Mark Andrews (@ PHI)
Jonnu Smith (vs. HOU)

Jonnu Smith has become a reliable red-zone option for Ryan Tannehill and now has five TDs through four games. He should continue to see an increase in targets as long as several Titans pass-catchers remain out due to COVID-19.

Tier 3

Mike Gesicki (vs. NYJ)
T.J. Hockenson (@ JAX)

It may seem a bit odd to see these two TEs ranked so high, but the TE position is a bit thin this week considering Darren Waller, Hunter Henry, Jared Cook and Greg Olsen are all on bye.

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Gesicki

Hockenson’s rank is elevated due to the Lions having the second-highest team total of Week 6. It boosts his touchdown odds significantly.

Tier 4

Zach Ertz (vs. BAL)

Ertz has hit rock bottom the past two weeks by putting up 4/9/0 and 1/6/0 stat lines when he’s practically the only healthy starter. However, he could stumble into a 5-6 catch game this week based on his continued usage. His poor play makes Dallas Goedert a potential IR stash. When Goedert is healthy enough to return, he could become an instant TE1 if Ertz is still struggling.

Tier 5

Evan Engram (vs. WAS)
Eric Ebron (vs. CLE)
Hayden Hurst (@ MIN)
Dalton Schultz (vs. ARI)
Austin Hooper (@ PIT)
Robert Tonyan Jr. (@ TB)
Noah Fant (@ NE)
Jimmy Graham (@ CAR)
Tyler Higbee (@ SF)
Rob Gronkowski (vs. GB)
Logan Thomas (@ NYG)

The massive “streamer” Tier is a grab bag of potential hits and misses.

Hayden Hurst looks entirely out of sync with Matt Ryan right now. I think that will eventually get corrected, but Hurst can’t be trusted in lineups right now.

Dalton Schultz’s value could take a massive hit with Prescott done for the season. However, Dalton has a history of targeting his TE regularly. Let’s give him a few games to see if Schultz is his next Tyler Eifert or C.J. Uzomah.

Tier 6

Irv Smith Jr. (vs. ATL)
Jordan Akins (@ TEN)
Trey Burton (vs. CIN)
Tyler Eifert (vs. DET)
Drew Sample (@ IND)
Chris Herndon (@ MIA)
Cameron Brate (vs. GB)

Irv Smith Jr. came alive with a 4/64/0 Week 5 performance. He has the skill set to become a TE1/2, but we’ll need to see a few more games before taking the bait. However, his underlying data was encouraging as his routes run per dropback shot up to 74% after averaging 55% for the season.

The Vikings may be actively trying to make him a reliable No. 3 target for Cousins going forward.

Tier 7

Kyle Rudolph (vs. ATL)
Mo Alie-Cox (vs. CIN)
Darren Fells (@ TEN)
Ian Thomas (vs. CHI)
Gerald Everett (@ SF)

These TEs are nothing more than TD-or-bust streaming options.


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KICKERS

Tier 1

Harrison Butker (@ BUF)
Matt Prater (@ JAX)
Justin Tucker (@ PHI)

David Eulitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Harrison Butker

Tier 2

Dan Bailey (vs. ATL)
Nick Folk (vs. DEN)
Zane Gonzalez (@ DAL)
Mason Crosby (@ TB)
Stephen Gostkowski (vs. HOU)
Jason Sanders (vs. NYJ)
Rodrigo Blankenship (vs. CIN)
Greg Zuerlein (vs. ARI)

Tier 3

Chris Boswell (vs. CLE)
Ryan Succop (vs. GB)
Sam Sloman (@ SF)
Younghoe Koo (@ MIN)
Tyler Bass (vs. KC)
Ka’imi Fairbairn (@ TEN)
Robbie Gould (vs. LAR)
Jon Brown (vs. DET)

Tier 4

Joey Slye (vs. CHI)
Cody Parkey (@ PIT)
Graham Gano (vs. WAS)
Randy Bullock (@ IND)
Dustin Hopkins (@ NYG)
Cairo Santos (@ CAR)
Jake Elliott (vs. BAL)

Tier 5

Sam Ficken (@ MIA)
Brandon McManus (@ NE)


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DEFENSES

Tier 1

Baltimore Ravens (@ PHI)

Tier 2

Indianapolis Colts (vs. CIN)
New England Patriots (vs. DEN)
Miami Dolphins (vs. NYJ)

Tier 3

New York Giants (vs. WAS)
Carolina Panthers (vs. CHI)
Washington Football Team (@ NYG)

Tier 4

Los Angeles Rams (@ SF)
Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. CLE)
Chicago Bears (@ CAR)
Tennessee Titans (vs. HOU)

Tier 5

Arizona Cardinals (@ DAL)
Minnesota Vikings (vs. ATL)
Detroit Lions (@ JAX)
New York Jets (@ MIA)
Kansas City Chiefs (@ BUF)

Tier 6

Green Bay Packers (@ TB)
Cincinnati Bengals (@ IND)
Dallas Cowboys (vs. ARI)
Denver Broncos (@ NE)
Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. DET)
San Francisco 49ers (vs. LAR)
Cleveland Browns (@ PIT)
Philadelphia Eagles (vs. BAL)
Houston Texans (@ TEN)
Atlanta Falcons (@ MIN)

Tier 7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. GB)
Buffalo Bills (vs. KC)


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