I’m writing this in the aftermath of watching my Yankees lose to the Red Sox in Game 4 of the ALDS. My heart aches. Though I find it hard to find any meaning in a world where the Sox are in the 2018 ALCS, I’ll try my best to not let my emotions seep into this week’s QB/TE Starts. Allow me to take a step back from this emotional precipice. If you’re new to this article series, the let me offer you a brief refresher on its purpose. The idea is to highlight low-owned/lower cost quarterbacks and tight ends you can take advantage of in your season long leagues as well as your DFS games week in and week out.
This week is proving to be a challenge for both the quarterback & tight end positions. Tough match-ups have me shying away from the usual suspects, injuries have thinned out the field of players to choose from, and inconvenient byes have all combined to create a perfect storm of uncertainty. We’ll soldier on nonetheless. Let’s get to it:
Jameis Winston @ Atlanta Falcons – FD: $7,400 | DK: $5,800
Let us start this week off with a bang, shall we? Winston has seen two quarters of play so far this season. It wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t awful. We know how effective Winston can be, but also how embarrassingly poor his play can be. He is coming out of the bye on the road against a team that failed to stop James Connor and the Steelers. This is a favorable situation for the young gun who is dangerously close to the chopping block. It’s also important to remember just how electric the Tampa Bay offense can be when it’s revving on all cylinders. Fitzmagic was sensational under center for the first three games of the season. It’s not a far jump to think that Winston can be capable of that level performance against the Falcons this week. He’s only 16.8% owned in leagues, and comes at a great value in DFS. There’s also a lovely pairing to consider here that we win explore in just a few short paragraphs **hint hint**.
Derek Carr vs. Seattle Seahawks – FD: $6,900 | DK: $5,100
It seems to be another season of on week off week performances from Derek Carr and the Raiders. Oakland was relatively silent against the Bolts on Sunday. Amari Cooper performed his famed vanishing act that we’ve all grown so fond of, and even Jared Cook had a pedestrian day. All around disappointing from a team coming off a high scoring 45 against what could actually be a good Browns’ defense. Fortunately, week 6 falls into what should be an ‘on week’ for Carr. He’ll be facing the Seahawks this week. Their defense is not what it once was, and was being exploited by Jared Goff and the Rams’ pass catchers before they were all concussed. Carr should be able to put up some numbers this week while the Raiders still try to figure out some semblance of an offensive identity. He’s not my favorite streamer/DFS option, but I wouldn’t put it past him to have an annoyingly relevant Sunday.
Sam Darnold vs. Indianapolis Colts – FD: $6,800 | DK: $5,300
This is, after all, a game of matchups, with a dash of recency bias, is it not? Yes? Good. Then hear me out. Sam Darnold is worth a start against the Colts. He’s not my first option, but the pieces are all there for a startable fantasy outing. Though the Colts’ defense is weak, Andrew Luck hasn’t forgotten how to put up points. Oddly enough it smells a little like a shootout. With Robby Anderson out of timeout, anything is possible. Enunwa will be looking for a bounce back performance, as well. The Jets do have weapons. Darnold just needs to keep the train rolling into Week 6.
Eli Manning vs. Philadelphia Eagles – FD: $6,800 | DK: $5,300
Is there a more frustrating quarterback in football other than Eli? The man won two Super Bowls, and will occasionally look as if he’s taking his first ever snap under center. Regardless, something snapped inside him in the second half of Sunday’s game, and he started putting together some respectable drives. He finished with 326 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Obviously those interceptions stand out as a dark spot in his stats, but overall it was a much needed improvement compared to his first four outings. The reasons for listing him here are twofold. I think Eli will build on the improvements we began to see against the Panthers, and he’ll be able to do that against an Eagles defense which is nowhere near as dominant as last year’s Super Bowl winning roster. Obviously he’s a risk of reverting back to his old self we saw for 4.5 weeks already this season, but who are we kidding, it’s a week that seems dained for risk.
Case Keenum vs. Los Angeles Rams – FD: $6,700 | DK: $5,500
I feel dirty just typing this, but Keenum is worth a look this week against the Rams. The Rams defense is not infallible. They’ve had a three game string of poor performances against the quarterback coming into week 6. Now it’s worth noting that those games were against Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins, and Russell Wilson. So, a notable downgrade at the position. But, the point remains. There are weaknesses that can be exploited by Denver at Mile High Stadium. Even if the game is an absolute route by the Rams, Keenum will still be in a prime position to deliver some garbage time points. Every season there’s a “garbage time quarterback”. In season’s past that has been Blake Bortles’ primary function. This season could be Keenum’s turn.
HAIL MARY QUARTERBACK OF THE WEEK
Baker Mayfield vs. Los Angeles Chargers – FD: $7,100 | DK: $5,500
The Los Angeles Chargers defense is good. It’s not great. They allowed CJ “Drops the Beat Hard” Beathard to throw for nearly 300 yards with two TDs in week 4. I think Mayfield is a better QB than Beathard, and the Browns a better offense as a result. It’s 2018, and that’s a sentence I just wrote. Mayfield has improved in each of the games which he’s appeared or started. That’s a positive trend I can get behind. Especially when he’s got such weapons in Jarvis Landry, Duke Johnson Jr., and Njoku. In a week with such mediocre quarterback play to choose from Mayfield worth considering in your leagues.
Cameron Brate @ Atlanta Falcons – FD: $4,700 | DK: $3,700
Listing Brate in this article has been a long time coming. His counterpart, OJ Howard, got some love a few weeks ago, but is out for at least a week dealing with a knee injury. It’s high time we remember Brate for the TE1 talent he is. Brate finished the 2017 season as the TE #9 in Half-PPR scoring with 6 touchdowns. He was Winston’s favorite red zone target, with 13 targets on the season, and every one of his touchdowns came within the 20s. He’s essentially a healthy Tyler Eifert. Brate’s 2018 season was essentially nonexistent until Winston reclaimed the reins of the Bucs’ offense against the Bears in Week 4 where he caught Winston’s first TD pass on the season. It didn’t take long for these two to rekindle their relationship, and that’s what we’re looking to take advantage of this week. The Falcons aren’t exactly the easiest matchup for opposing tight ends, but Brate’s expertise in the red zone and his connection with Winston gives him the best chance of finding the endzone out of his TE peers this week.
Austin Hooper vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – FD: $5,600 | DK: $3,500
If you took a chance on Hooper last week it paid off. Relatively. Nine receptions for 77 yards is nothing to sneeze at, especially when considering how weak tight end performances have been so far this season. Hooper has just two startable weeks in 2018, only one touchdown, and is currently the TE #9 in Half-PPR scoring leagues. It’s tough out there for tight ends. Playing him this week against the Bucs is just implementing the same logic we used for starting him against the Steelers, but somehow even more favorable. The Bucs are the worst defense against the tight end position, and I expect this to be a high scoring affair. This should bode well for our Hooper Trooper.
C.J. Uzomah vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – FD: $5,100 | DK: $3,300
Opportunity first; talent second. Uzomah is the guy in Cincy this week with Tyler Kroft likely sitting Week 6 out with a foot injury. He’ll have the advantage of facing off against the Steelers, a truly woeful defense against the tight end position. There’s your opportunity. Talent, well, that to be determined. We did see some flashes of talent and efficiency in Week 5 where he hauled in both of his targets for 43 yards. My only hesitation with starting him is that this match-up has been a notorious bloodbath, and a fantasy graveyard for Andy Dalton. (Note his absence from this list). Despite my pause, I still think Uzomah could be a good sneaky play. It could be his best, and only, opportunity for a breakout performance.
HAIL MARY TIGHT END PLAY OF THE WEEK
Nick Vannett @ Oakland Raiders – FD: $4,900 | DK: $2,900
We’re forced to dig deep in order to find value at the TE position this week. You know it’s slim pickin’s when you’re considering Nick Vannett as a legitimate option at TE. But here we are. The fact of the matter is, Nick will continue to be the team’s primary TE until Ed Dickson returns in Week 8. The Seahawks’ defense can’t seem to stop opposing offenses, which should force Wilson to keep throwing the ball. This favorable game script would mean more meaningful targets for Vannett who is looking to expand his role from the ‘dink-and-dunk’ type targets he’s been seeing to something more substantial.
QB/TE COMBO OF THE WEEK
This pairing should come at no surprise. The Winston-Brate express has left the station, and is building up steam for Week 6. The match-up is great for both players, and has all the tell tale signs of a high scoring affair. Winston is pretty much a lock for at least an interception, so he’ll have his vintage frustrating moments. Still, Winston’s favorite red zone target is Brate, and Brate shouldn’t have an issue getting his share of targets with Howard sitting out this week. It’s a no brainer. Stack these Bucs!