Each week of the NFL campaign we will sift through the deeper options at each position with an eye on identifying streaming fantasy commodities with valuable matchups to consider.
Do you need replacement options for injured or suspended players? Or are you merely dealing with depth issues, especially during these bye weeks? We have some choice names to consider for those seeking widely available options at each position.
Since becoming the Colts' starting quarterback in Week 2, Brissett has posted the 13th-highest fantasy point total at the position. Considering that he was traded to the Colts less than two weeks before becoming the starter, his production is downright impressive. He's starting to throw the ball down the field more, too, as he's thrown 11 passes that traveled 20 or more yards in the air during his past two starts, compared to just four attempts during his first two starts. Obviously those deep chances increase his potential for long scoring plays, which is a definite plus for fantasy purposes.
In Week 6, Brissett draws the Tennessee Titans, who have been something of a disappointment to begin the season. The injury to Marcus Mariota isn't the sole reason for this, as the Titans' defense has allowed the second-most points in the league. This has been a good situation for opposing quarterbacks, who have scored more than 20 fantasy points per game. Brissett should continue to look for T.Y. Hilton on deeper routes, allowing him to finish among the top 10 scorers at the quarterback position this week. -- Daube
I know what you're thinking, which is, "no, never, not a chance," when it comes to considering McCown as a starting fantasy option. Consider this, though: The New England Patriots are the first team in league history to have allowed at least 300 passing yards in each of the first five games of the season, per Elias. There is real risk in deploying McCown, who has one or fewer touchdowns in three games, but the game script should be pass-happy for New York as substantial home underdogs against a defense that has allowed the most points per drive in the NFL. -- McCormick
Elijah McGuire, New York Jets
First, if you have an available roster slot, you should be grabbing Alfred Morris because of the restoration of Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension (at least for now). With the Dallas Cowboys on bye, he's still being overlooked, as he's out there in 60 percent of leagues upon updating this file on Friday afternoon.
For this week. though, McGuire is the recommendation. He stepped into the "1B" running back role for the Jets after Matt Forte went down to injury. McGuire is making the most of his opportunities by averaging 5.2 yards per carry, which is the eighth-best rate for running backs and almost a half yard more than Bilal Powell, the Jets' "1A" back. He is rostered in just 33 percent of leagues and, based on his matchup this week, that needs to leap significantly.
If there's any defense you want your skill position players facing, it's the Patriots. New England has surrendered the most points to both opposing quarterbacks and running backs. In fact, the Patriots have allowed at least one running back to score double-digit points in each of their five games this year. Factor in that two quarterbacks also ran for 40 yards and it's apparent that this defense is friendly to opposing rushing attacks. Don't be shocked to see McGuire post 12 or more fantasy points despite not being the first option in the Jets' backfield. -- Daube
Available in slightly more than half of ESPN leagues, Ellington is second in the NFL in targets over the past two weeks. With point-per-reception formats in mind, Ellington's surge in passing usage reveals a new high-floor fantasy role. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have surrendered 57.5 yards to tailbacks this season, seventh most in the league, providing Ellington a nice matchup this week.
Digging deeper at the position, the Colts' Marlon Mack has proved prolific on limited opportunities so far. It's difficult to project more than 10 touches for the emergent rookie, but at least this lottery ticket comes with splash play potential for those in desperate need of a deep-league flex candidate. -- McCormick
Over the past four games, Smith-Schuster has been targeted 20 times, which is only four fewer than Martavis Bryant's 24 opportunities. Bryant is rostered in 86 percent of leagues while Smith-Schuster is available in almost 95 percent. For the one-target-per-game difference, that makes no sense whatsoever. If Smith-Schuster meets his season average of five targets this week, he has a good opportunity to post a starter-worthy line.
Smith-Schuster's opponent this week, the Kansas City Chiefs, may be the lone undefeated team in the NFL, but they've gotten torched by wide receivers this season. Through five weeks, they've allowed an average of 39.2 points to opposing wideouts. Furthermore, they've given up an average stat line of four catches for 71 yards to their opponent's second wide receiver (Travis Benjamin, Danny Amendola, Torrey Smith, Will Fuller V and Josh Doctson) while also surrendering two touchdowns to that group, making a secondary receiver for the Steelers a sneaky good play. -- Daube
Jermaine Kearse, New York Jets
Is there anything particularly inspiring about Kearse's production profile in New York? Not really, but as injuries and bye weeks build, it's reasonable to pursue steady opportunity rates over talent and upside. One of just 40 NFL players with at least 20 percent of his team's total targets, Kearse has at least four catches in four games this season.
The matchup this week really drives increased value for Kearse, as the Patriots have allowed the third-most yards (194.6) and fifth-most fantasy points to wideouts this season. As the top target on a team that should prove pass-heavy attempting to pace the Patriots' elite offense, pairing Kearse with McCown could prove profitable for daily fantasy and deep redraft leagues this weekend. -- McCormick
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, New York Jets
I'm breaking my 20 percent rostered guide because I am all in on Seferian-Jenkins, not just as a weekly substitute but as a steady option moving forward. Since returning from a league-imposed suspension, Seferian-Jenkins is seventh among tight ends in targets, fourth in receptions and is catching more than 83 percent of his opportunities. He's rostered in about a third of ESPN.com leagues, and with the Jets not having a clear star wide receiver, the opportunity for Seferian-Jenkins to finish as a top-10 option for the season definitely exists.
Going against the Patriots' sieve-like defense this week is an added plus. They've allowed at least 60 receiving yards to at least one of their opponents' tight ends in each of their past three games. They've also surrendered four touchdowns to tight ends this season. Seferian-Jenkins is all but guaranteed for a top-10 finish this week, so get him before it's too late. -- Daube
Tight end is an incredibly shallow and fickle fantasy position. This season, only 11 tight ends are averaging at least 40 yards per game, with Davis among them. With Jordan Reed's variant health, Davis is third on the team in routes run and second in yards per game since Week 3. For a stroll down Narrative Street, it helps to consider Davis is facing his former team this week.
If Reed's potential return to a fuller batch of routes proves too risky for you, consider the 49ers' George Kittle enjoyed a breakout in Week 5 and now faces a Washington defense allowing the most yards per game in the league to tight ends. -- McCormick
When you are thinking of dominant defenses, it's unlikely that the New Orleans Saints, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans come to mind. Those three teams though, are the Miami Dolphins' past three opponents, and each has scored at least 11 fantasy points. The Falcons will have the added benefit of coming off their bye, which should translate to success against a Dolphins team that just can't seem to get out of its own way. -- Daube
The Redskins' defense is arguably the most underrated unit in the NFL right now; it's ceded the ninth-fewest points per drive and has the seventh-highest sack rate (per dropback) in the NFL. The 49ers could be a rewarding matchup to target this week, as they've netted just 5.32 yards per dropback (fourth fewest in the league) and the second-lowest touchdown rate (per attempt) in the NFL. -- McCormick
Individual defensive players
Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Redskins
The Redskins are a popular inclusion in this column for Week 6 given how ownership rates understandably dip for teams that have early-season bye weeks. This proves especially true in IDP formats, where hoarding depth is often difficult. Kerrigan is now rostered in just 22 percent of ESPN leagues despite having 2.5 sacks this season while ranked 22nd in the NFL with a disrupted dropback rate (hit, hurry, pass defended or interception) of 2.3 percent. On a sizable home favorite, Kerrigan could tee off as game script proves pass-heavy for the 49ers. -- McCormick
Manning the middle of the Packers' front seven, Martinez has posted at least 13 fantasy points (using ESPN's standard IDP scoring) in four straight games and just set a career best with 12 total tackles in Dallas. A meeting with Minnesota should lead to more tackle opportunities given the Vikings' conservative short-passing approach.
You can also look to San Francisco's Ray-Ray Armstrong for help at linebacker, as his penchant for big plays and a heavy snap rate supports streaming upside this week. -- McCormick
With at least seven tackles in four games and five tackles in every outing this season, few defensive backs match Tartt's high fantasy floor. With Eric Reid still ailing, Tartt is a fine plug-and-play safety for this looming meeting with an efficient passing game (Washington rates fourth in the NFL in passer rating).
Tennessee's Kevin Byard is another under-the-radar high-floor fantasy asset, as he's produced at least 12 fantasy points three times this season. -- McCormick