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Week 6 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Fantasy Football Stars to Play and Bench

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    Fantasy football is a star-driven pastime, much like the NFL itself. While sleepers, role-players and waiver-wire targets can make or break a fantasy week, managers aren’t going to reach the championship round without a few standouts carrying the team.

    There’s a reason, after all, why players like Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara and Davante Adams rarely last beyond the first few draft selections. These are must-start players who are essentially matchup-proof when healthy.

    Unfortunately, second-tier stars don’t carry the same reliability, and even third- and fourth-round choices can find themselves on the bench in certain situations. Some of those situations are going to present themselves here in Week 6.

    In this edition of start ’em, sit ’em, we’ll be looking specifically at players rostered in at least 60 percent of Yahoo and/or ESPN leagues, according to FantasyPros.

    These picks are based on factors like projected role, past production and matchup. All picks are based on point-per-reception (PPR) scoring.

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    Roger Steinman/Associated Press

    Start ‘Em

    Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

    Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

    James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos

    Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Stelers

    Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts

    Dwson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills


    Sit ‘Em

    Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans

    Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings

    Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots

    Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals

    Cole Beasley, WR, Buffalo Bills

    Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers

    Robert Tonyan, TE, Green Bay Packers

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson is officially back to being a fantasy powerhouse. After seeing a lack of usage early in the season—only 16 carries in the first two games combined—Robinson has emerged as an offensive centerpiece.

    This was the role Robinson had as a rookie in 2020, when he racked up more than 1,400 scrimmage yards with 10 combined touchdowns.

    Robinson has logged at least 15 carries in each of the past three games. He had 18 carries for 149 yards and a touchdown in Week 5.

    The one issue with Robinson is that he hasn’t been heavily involved in the passing game. With just three targets and three receptions over the past two weeks, Robinson doesn’t carry the PPR upside managers would like to see.

    Still, Robinson has four touchdowns over the last three weeks and an enticing matchup against the Miami Dolphins. Miami has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs so far this season.

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The good news for Ryan Tannehill managers is that injured wideout Julio Jones (hamstring) returned to practice this week. The bad news is that Tannehill hasn’t flashed the same chemistry he had with wideout A.J. Brown in 2020.

    Brown racked up 1,075 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns last season. In four games this year, he has 130 yards and one score.

    Tannehill, meanwhile, has thrown one or fewer touchdowns in four of five games.

    A turnaround could come at any time, of course, but this is not the week in which to bet on a Tannehill resurgence. The Titans take on the surging Buffalo Bills, who have been anything but friendly to opposing quarterbacks.

    Buffalo has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing signal-callers this season.

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Pittsburgh Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster is out for the year following season-ending shoulder surgery. With Smith-Schuster no longer in the lineup, fellow receiver Chase Claypool should be in store for a big fantasy surge.

    Arguably Ben Roethlisberger’s best home-run target, Claypool has the potential to score every time he touches the ball. He showed off that ability in 2020 with nine receiving touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns to go with 879 scrimmage yards.

    Claypool hasn’t been consistently great in fantasy this year, but change is coming. In Week 3, he caught nine passes for 96 yards. In Week 5, he had five receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers are still adjusting to Matt Canada’s offense, and Claypool is going to be a big part of it.

    Expect Roethlisberger to target Claypool early and often against a vulnerable Seattle Seahawks defense. Seattle has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.

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    Justin Rex/Associated Press

    Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson developed plenty of chemistry with former quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and became fantasy gold as a result last season. He finished 2020 with 95 receptions, 1,096 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

    Unfortunately, the same chemistry hasn’t been present with Sam Darnold. Anderson had a 57-yard touchdown reception in Week 1 but has been relatively quiet since—and he and Darnold do not seem to be on the same page.

    In Week 4, for example, Anderson was targeted 11 times but only had five receptions for 46 yards.

    At this point, it’s best not to trust Anderson in anything less than an ideal matchup. The Minnesota Vikings have allowed the 16th-most fantasy points to opposing receivers and only six passing touchdowns on the season—making this a less-than-ideal matchup.

    The potential return of star running back Christian McCaffrey is all the more reason to lean away from Anderson here.

    “It’ll be a game-time decision,” coach Matt Rhule said, per Darin Gantt of the team’s official website. “He’s still limited. It could go one way or another right now.”

    *Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference. Fantasy roster info and points against via FantasyPros.

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