The 2016 season is already flying into Week 6. Fantasy squads have been decimated by injuries, Bye weeks and general ineffectiveness/inconsistency. Even the greats like Julio Jones have left fantasy owners flat a few times this season.
The waiver wire will be churning at a rapid pace ahead of Week 6. Players such as Chris Hogan, Michael Thomas and Jay Ajayi have been discussed in previous iterations of this column. I’ll leave them to the wayside to pull out the sledgehammer and reiterate the power of Sammie Coates and to extol the virtues of a Chicago connection. That’s right. Push all those chips into the center of the table for a Week 6 barrage from Brian Hoyer.
Brian Hoyer, QB, CHI: Hoyer posted nearly 400 passing yards in a loss to the Colts. He found a new go-to receiver in Cameron Meredith (see below), and has finished as a top-11 fantasy QB in three straight weeks. He’s got a tasty date with the Jacksonville defense at home this week.
Marcus Mariota, QB, TEN: I picked the Titans to win in Week 5. I did not expect a four-touchdown barrage from Mariota. It’s still a growing offense, and there’s some question as to the receiving hierarchy behind Delanie Walker. However, Cleveland’s defense is next on the board. Opposing quarterbacks have tossed multiple touchdown passes in every game this season.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, SF: We have no idea what Kaepernick brings to the table in 2016. I dare say that we might say Torrey Smith’s name during a broadcast without asking “Whatever happened to … ?” He’s a speculation stash pickup, hoping that Chip Kelly’s offense clicks with Kaepernick back under center and that the 49ers can turn back the clock.
Tony Romo, QB, DAL: I believe the Cowboys and Jerry Jones have played this “QB controversy” perfectly. They keep Romo sidelined until Dak Prescott struggles, should that ever happen. This is merely a stash option because, well, it’s Jerry Jones.
James Starks, QB, GB: It’s that time of the year. Starks rises back onto the fantasy radar following Eddie Lacy’s ankle injury sustained on Sunday night. He touched the ball 15 times for 52 yards and will have a sizable role in the game plan for the next several weeks.
Justin Forsett, RB, DET: The Lions continued their search for a runner between the tackles to complement Theo Riddick (3.4 yards per carry), who operates better as a receiver. Forsett owns a career rushing average of 4.8 yards per carry, so he’ll get every chance to be the early-down back and establish balance in this offense.
Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, CAR: Artis-Payne’s performance was one of the few highlights in an otherwise miserable Monday Night Football viewing experience. Artis-Payne remains on the radar while Jonathan Stewart continues his comeback from a hamstring injury. Stewart’s expected to go in Week 6 for the 1-4 Panthers, but Artis-Payne is a solid insurance policy.
Sammie Coates, WR, PIT: Coates has been a huge waiver target for the past couple weeks, but fantasy owners haven’t flocked to acquire him. That will change this week following his huge output against the Jets (#1 fantasy wide receiver). I know. Coates left opportunities for an even bigger day on the field, including a walk-in touchdown opportunity. He’ll have plenty of chances going forward as the number two option opposite Antonio Brown.
Cameron Meredith, WR, CHI: We normally see secondary receivers step up and become important cogs in an offense when a backup quarterback is promoted to a starting role. Meredith had logged eight targets this season prior to his breakout performance against the Colts. Hoyer pressed while trying to get him the ball late (go back and watch Alshon Jeffery run that fourth down route), but that’s fine for fantasy purposes. He finished the game with 130 yards on eight receptions, a touchdown and a costly fumble. Meredith’s a back-end WR2 option against the Jaguars.
Adam Thielen, WR, MIN: Thielen posted a breakout game in Stefon Diggs’ absence against the Packers. Before his huge seven-reception, 127-yard output (with a touchdown), Thielen had recorded 13 receptions through four weeks for a grand total of 145 yards. Keep an eye on Diggs’ recovery.
Jesse James, TE, PIT: James’ target count fluctuates, but he remains a frequent contributor in the red zone. James was the beneficiary of Coates’ botched would-be touchdown referenced earlier, as he cleaned up the mess for his third touchdown catch of the year. The Steelers’ offense is clicking, so red zone targets will continue to come his way.
Hunter Henry, TE, SD: Henry scored in his second straight game during Sunday’s shootout loss to the Raiders. That’s the key word for the Chargers. They will be involved in a number of high-scoring affairs, with Philip Rivers continuing to sling the pill. Henry has caught 13-of-18 opportunities this season, topping 60 receiving yards in three consecutive games. Antonio Gates’ presence clouds the red zone target situation, but the tight end position has been fluid in this year’s fantasy realm. On a short week, Henry’s value rises for a showdown with the Broncos.