Johnson: Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em For Week 6

By Stephen Johnson–

(CBS) “Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em” is a breakdown of some of the best and worst fantasy football matchups to help you navigate setting your lineups for the week.

Following a tumultuous Week 5 that saw injuries take out more top options across the league, Week 6 offers up a healthy dosage of promising matchups.

Bye weeks: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas and Seattle.

Quarterback

START – Trevor Siemian, Broncos (vs. Giants) A lot of the talk about the Giants defense before the season began was how good the secondary would be with Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins and company. Through the first five weeks however, there hasn’t been much to write home about after allowing a 10:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 96.4 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks. Siemian should see plenty of short-field opportunities Sunday night thanks to the Denver defense stopping whatever hodge podge of an offense New York can throw together.

SIT – Alex Smith, Chiefs (vs. Steelers) Following some of its games this season, Pittsburgh is probably the last team you would think could cause a matchup problem. Somehow Smith has found himself as the second-best quarterback in fantasy through five weeks, but that could quickly come to a halt this weekend. Pittsburgh is allowing an average of 8.8 points per game to quarterbacks this season (though its opponents have been subpar this year), and the injury bug has hit Kansas City and may cause serious problems for Smith’s game. Travis Kelce remains in concussion protocol, and Chris Conley is gone for the year with an Achilles injury. The Chiefs will most definitely feature a heavy dosage of Kareem Hunt on Sunday night, but the passing game looks like it may have little to offer.

Running back

START – Marshawn Lynch, Raiders (vs. Chargers) Yes, the return of Beast Mode hasn’t been the most successful through the first five weeks of the season, but Week 6’s matchup with the Chargers could produce the perfect storm. Oakland’s offensive line is tops in the league in yards before contact at 2.5 yards per carry. Los Angeles’ defense, meanwhile, comes in last in that category, allowing 2.25 yards per carry before contact. As long as the game doesn’t get out of hand quickly like last week against Baltimore, Lynch should have every opportunity to put up his best game of the year.

SIT – LeGarrette Blount, Eagles (at Panthers) While the Panthers’ offense seems to be getting all the attention right now, the rushing defense has been lights out this season. It’s allowing just 3.72 yards per carry, and no running back has rushed for more than 56 yards against the Panthers this season. This serves as a “coming back to Earth” game for Blount, who has been fantastic the past three weeks in averaging an insane 6.59 yards per carry. Aside from the matchup, if the Panthers get off to a hot start like they have in recent weeks, the Eagles’ game script may pull the ball out of Blount’s hands quickly. Be cautious of the Thursday night game.

Receiver

START – Golden Tate, Lions (at Saints) Covering the slot has been one of the biggest struggles for New Orleans after getting tattooed by the likes of Adam Thielen and Chris Hogan earlier this season. Tate has struggled to find his footing this year, but a matchup with the Saints’ secondary could be the cure to what ails him. Safety Kenny Vaccaro has been the Saints’ go-to in covering the slot this year, but it’s fair to wonder how much longer that will continue. Not only is he being targeted on one of every four routes he covers out of the slot, he’s giving up the third-most yards per route in the league. Everything looks to be adding up in Tate’s favor for a big game.

SIT – Mike Evans, Buccaneers (at Cardinals) Only one cornerback in the entire league has shadowed his opponent’s WR1 every week of the season thus far: Arizona’s Patrick Peterson. The group of Marvin Jones, T.Y. Hilton, Dez Bryant, Pierre Garcon and Alshon Jeffery have accounted for five receptions, 64 yards and a touchdown when matched against Patterson this year. That’s not an average, that’s a total. It’s been a slow start out of the gate for Evans this season, and his average yards-per-catch is more than two yards fewer than a year ago. It won’t get any easier this week against the league’s premier shutdown corner in Peterson.

Tight end

START – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jets (vs. Patriots) The struggles of the Patriots’ defense this year continue to amaze me following a 2016 season in which they finished as one of the best in fantasy. Nevertheless, the Jets could find themselves playing catchup for the majority of Sunday afternoon, leading to plenty of opportunities for Seferian-Jenkings to make his presence known against a New England team surrendering the fourth-most points to the position. Look for him to surpass his season-high eight targets from last week with a good chance to hit paydirt – New England has allowed tight end scores in four of five games this year.

SIT – Jordan Reed, Redskins (vs. 49ers) If there’s one thing the 49ers have done well this season, it’s shutting down opposing tight ends – a category they lead the league in. Taking advantage of the bye week, Reed will look to make his presence known after fighting a rib injury that limited him against the Chiefs in Week 4. The major question aside from the matchup is how will Vernon Davis be used in conjunction with Reed? Considering the Niners are 0-4 to start the year, it’s possible the Redskins ween Reed back into action, avoiding re-injury. It’s best to avoid this situation altogether.

Stephen Johnson is 670 The Score’s 2017 Fantasy Football Expert winner. He’s a weekly guest on “Chicago’s Fantasy Football Today,” every Sunday morning during football season from 8.a.m.-9 a.m. CT on WSCR-670 and 670thescore.com/listen. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen_Roto.

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