In our Week 6 fantasy football start ’em and sit ’em, we let the data give you another perspective that likely varies from the expert consensus.
Key 2023 Fantasy Stats Through Five Weeks
For the third year running, let’s continue a tradition as we approach the one-third mark of the season.
Before we get to this week’s Yays and Nays, here are five numbers that have defined the fantasy football season so far, beginning with the top running back in standard, half and full PPR scoring formats.
That’s how many consecutive games (including last year’s postseason) in which Christian McCaffrey has scored a touchdown.
To say the marriage between McCaffrey’s overwhelmingly versatile talents out of the backfield and Kyle Shanahan’s offensive wizardry has gotten off to a perfect start would be an understatement. Since his first start for the San Francisco 49ers in Week 8 of last season, McCaffrey leads the NFL in scrimmage yards (1,826) and touchdowns (18).
This season, CMC is currently on pace for 455.6 PPR points, which would be the highest total by a position player since… McCaffrey’s legendary 471.2 fantasy point 2019 season – which still holds water as the highest single-season output by a player in at least a decade, even better than Cooper Kupp’s triple-crown 2021 season.
McCaffrey has been a smashing success in a 49ers uniform for his fantasy managers, and as long as he stays healthy, he looks like the unquestioned favorite to lead all players in fantasy points this season.
5.38 and 12.11
That first number is how many yards Raheem Mostert averages per carry in his career.
Among all running backs with 500 or more rushing attempts, that number is second in NFL history! Behind only the great Bo Jackson (5.40). This year, Mostert is averaging 5.41 yards per rush.
That second number is how many yards De’Von Achane is averaging per rush. We promise, that number is not a typo. There are only four quarterbacks (Tua Tagovailoa, Brock Purdy, C.J. Stroud and Justin Fields) that average more yards per completion than Achane averages per rush. Said another way, every Achane run so far this year has produced, on average, more yards than a completed pass from the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts (11.17), Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen (10.99), Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes (10.46), or any of the other 25 starting quarterbacks that aren’t one of the four listed above.
It is borderline maniacal what that Miami Dolphins offense has done to start the season. They are first in the NFL in rushing yards per play and passing yards per play, and as a result have gained 546 more yards than the next closest team.
Mostert and Achane through five weeks are RB2 and RB3 respectively, and both were to be had in drafts in the later rounds (Achane was likely on the waiver wire after Week 1). Unfortunately, Achane is out for the next few weeks with a knee injury, but Mostert is more than capable of picking up the slack starting this week against the Carolina Panthers. And when Achane returns, he’ll be healthy and ready to rush for more than 12 yards per carry for the rest of the season (or so his fantasy managers can only dream).
That’s how many different wide receivers have posted a 40-point PPR outing.
Tyreek Hill (Week 1), Keenan Allen (Week 3), Davante Adams (Week 3) and DJ Moore (Week 5) have all scorched earth in a game through five weeks, doing their very best to singlehandedly deliver a win for their fantasy managers. The latest performance came courtesy of Ja’Marr Chase in the Cincinnati Bengals’ win over the Arizona Cardinals, when all three of Joe Burrow’s touchdown passes went to Chase in a 50-point performance.
Meanwhile, in 2022, that 40-point benchmark was only cleared four times – three of which happened all the way back Week 2. There’s been a clear outburst of individual performances through five weeks this season, so if you’re trailing in your fantasy matchup by a big number, you might still be in it, this year more than previous years.
That is Kirk Cousins’ league-leading mark in pass attempts to begin the season, one more than Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford.
If you roster a quarterback that lacks in mobility, as Kirk does, the main way to overcome that deficiency is to have your quarterback come out of the locker room chucking it. But with Kirk specifically, it isn’t just volume. His 13 passing touchdowns lead the NFL, and he is second in passing yards per game (299.6), numbers that help explain how Cousins checks in after the first third of the fantasy regular season as QB4.
Cousins has finished inside the top 12 at the quarterback position in each of the last three years, including a QB7 finish last season, so it’s no surprise that the perennially underrated fantasy quarterback has turned into one of the late-round QB steals. With Justin Jefferson out and Jordan Addison and K.J. Osborn stepping in to pick up the slack, things might get trickier for Cousins, but until we see something otherwise, the signal caller for the Minnesota Vikings should be thought of as a top-10 QB option for the remainder of the season.
That’s how many fantasy points per game Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta is averaging through five weeks.
It has been a dismal year for tight ends not named LaPorta, Mark Andrews or Travis Kelce – the only three averaging more than 13.1 PPR points per game. But if you were able to nab LaPorta, you’re sitting on a potential gold mine.
Despite ranking seventh among tight ends in targets (31), LaPorta is fourth in receptions (25), first in receiving yards (289) and tied for first in touchdowns (3). He has become Jared Goff’s number two option, and rightly so. Among the 48 players with at least 30 targets so far this season, LaPorta’s 87.1% open percentage ranks sixth. Until he hits a rookie wall, it’s LaPorta that’s the clear top option among the strong rookie tight end class, and he’s a borderline top-five option for the foreseeable future.
The Yays: Week 6 Fantasy Plays Projected Higher Than Expert Consensus
Note: We’re comparing our rankings to the expert consensus rankings (ECR) from Fantasy Pros. These rankings update throughout the week (we pulled these numbers from Thursday). Once again, we are using PPR unless noted otherwise.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (LV) vs. NE (ECR: 23, Our Rank: 18, Projected Points: 15.96)
Let’s start with two fundamental truths. Throwing interceptions in real life football is debilitating to your team’s chances of winning. However, throwing interceptions in fantasy is merely a blip on the radar unless your commissioner is some sort of QB purist and outlier when it comes to traditional league settings.
Jimmy G leads the NFL in interceptions, having thrown seven interceptions in just four games. But he’s also finished as a top-12 quarterback twice in four weeks and he finished another as QB19. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots have lost their two best defenders (Matthew Judon and Christian Gonzalez) and are on a very un-Patriots like run, having been outscored 72-3 in their last two games versus the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints.
This has been a rough stretch for the Patriots and with Jimmy G and the Las Vegas Raiders hosting the Patriots, our model projects Garoppolo as a solid QB2 in a matchup against the organization that drafted him.
Josh Jacobs, RB (LV) vs. NE (ECR: 11, Our Rank: 2, PP: 20.08)
How about a Las Vegas double to kick off our Week 6 Yays and Nays? Look, you were already going to start Jacobs regardless because he’s in must-start territory on most rosters, but with an ECR of 11, Jacobs enters the week as one of the players our model thinks is most underrated.
Jacobs is third in the NFL in touches and most critically, he leads all running backs in receptions.
Jacobs enters Week 6 coming off back-to-back performances with a touchdown and 25 touches. With that usage secured, no running back is projected to receive more touches, and only Kyren Williams is more likely to score a rushing touchdown this week. Look for Jacobs, with his heavy usage, to produce a top-three finish this week.
Zay Flowers, WR (BAL) vs. TEN (ECR: 27, Our Rank: 12, PP: 16.78)
If you didn’t see the Baltimore Ravens ugly, disheartening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, just take our word for it that they probably should have scored 30 points and won by three touchdowns. It was about as dreadful a performance from a group of wide receivers as the NFL has seen in a decade. Flowers included.
He dropped a pass on the first drive that would have gotten the Ravens into field-goal range. He dropped a pass in the second half and even more disappointing than that for Ravens fans and Flowers’ fantasy managers, he stumbled while wide open behind the Steelers secondary trying to get to a Lamar Jackson pass that would have likely resulted in a huge touchdown.
If those are the negatives, here are the positives. Flowers leads the Ravens in targets, receptions and receiving yards, and Week 5 was the third game in his young career in which he had 10 or more targets. Now facing a Titans defense that allows the sixth most yards per pass play, Flowers has a chance for redemption. He is an elite WR2 option, with WR1 opportunity if he can find a way to record his first career touchdown.
Cole Kmet, TE (CHI) vs. MIN (ECR: 10, Our Rank: 5, PP: 11.92)
Maybe it’s been lost since the Chicago Bears have played against the Denver Broncos and Washington Commanders over the last two weeks, but Justin Fields has been outstanding. And maybe it’s been lost because D.J. Moore stole the show last Thursday night, but during this little uptick, Kmet has been one of the biggest beneficiaries.
With touchdowns in back-to-back games and 12 receptions over this stretch, Kmet has catapulted himself all the way up to TE4 on the season. Now facing a Vikings defense that has surrendered three touchdowns to tight ends over the last three weeks, Kmet has a chance to continue his hot streak. He’s a top-five play for our model this week.
The Nays: Week 6 Fantasy Plays Projected Lower Than Expert Consensus
Sam Howell, QB (WSH) vs. ATL (ECR: 18, Our Rank: 22, Projected Points: 14.88)
Howell slots in right behind Jimmy G in interceptions (6) but has been a pleasant fantasy surprise so far this season, ranking sixth in passing yards (1,349) and providing just enough mobility in the run game to enter Week 6 as QB13.
Things are going to get much tougher for the Commanders this week, facing an Atlanta Falcons defense that has been one of the strongest in the NFL. Atlanta ranks seventh in yards allowed per play and per game and are fifth in successful play percentage allowed, which measures anytime the offense gains 40% of the yardage necessary for a first down on first down, 50% of the yardage necessary for a first down on second down or gains a first down on third or fourth down.
The Falcons have allowed exactly one passing touchdown in each of their last three games, and even though Howell has had a strong start to the fantasy season, he only has six touchdown passes in five games.
Jonathan Taylor, RB (IND) vs. JAC (ECR: 23, Our Rank: 35, PP: 8.27)
Taylor is a brilliant player, and he announced his return to the NFL with a monstrous 23 carries for 165 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the Indianapolis Colts win over the incredibly strong Tennessee Titans run defense.
Alas, it’s not that easy for Taylor’s fantasy managers. Because that wasn’t Taylor doing the yeoman’s work. It was Zack Moss putting up those numbers in Taylor’s return. Moss ranks second in the NFL in rushing yards per game and only McCaffrey has produced more carries of 10-plus yards than Moss’ 13.
While Taylor continues to get re-acclimated to NFL speed and physicality, the model thinks Moss will continue to see a significant majority of the backfield work. Taylor had seven touches last week, and our model is projecting him for a slight increase to 11. But that’s not enough to provide RB2 value unless he can fall into the end zone.
Moss is still our model’s highest-rated Colts running back this week against a Jacksonville Jaguars team coming back from London full of confidence, and Taylor remains below other RB2’s like Rachaad White, Derrick Henry, James Cook, Miles Sanders and even Rhamondre Stevenson.
CeeDee Lamb, WR (DAL) vs. LAC (ECR: 7, Our Rank: 23, PP: 14.60)
In case you missed it, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had this banger of a quote when asked earlier this week about getting CeeDee Lamb more involved in the offense: “I don’t know about that… I like seeing the ball go to tight ends.”
You know who else feels that way, Jerry? Every one of the Cowboys’ opponents! Other than an 11-reception explosion in Week 2, Lamb has exactly four receptions in every game, and he hasn’t surpassed 53 receiving yards since that Week 2 game against the New York Jets. Through Week 5 last season, Lamb had 50 targets, compared to just 35 this year.
His ECR this week is more of an indication of his talent and his previous production. Lamb is WR16 this season and has only surpassed 15 PPR points once. This week against the Los Angeles Chargers, he’s a very talented WR2 until Dak Prescott decides to remember that Lamb is his best offensive weapon and to get him the ball.
Deebo Samuel, WR (SF) vs. CLE (ECR: 23, Our Rank: 31, PP: 13.11)
Unlike CeeDee Lamb, the 49ers love getting the ball to Deebo. The problem is, they also love getting the ball in the hands of Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and of course, McCaffrey. The 49ers have opened with five straight games of scoring at least 30 points, and they’ve done it with a different focal point each week.
Samuel’s game in the spotlight was on Thursday Night Football against the New York Giants in Week 3, when he finished with 121 receiving yards and a touchdown. However, what’s important to remember about that game, is that not only was Aiyuk held out with a shoulder injury, but Deebo got dinged up. Since that game, Deebo has three total targets.
After McCaffrey, it’s hard to forecast exactly what the game plan and touch totals will look like for the 49ers each week, and especially this week against a stout Cleveland Browns defense. Without that consistency, Deebo is a flex play that could win you a week with a massive performance or produce a five-point dud.
Looking for more on trending players like K.J. Osborn, Michael Thomas and Russell Wilson? Don’t forget to check out our weekly waiver wire takes, complete fantasy football rankings and start/sit comparison tool, as well as our NFL predictions and statistical leaderboard. Happy exploring. And follow along on Instagram and X.