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Fantasy

2017 STATS Fantasy Football: Week 6 Tiers

By: STATS LLC

We’re heading into Week 6 of the NFL season, and already we have a rookie quarterback jumping into the top tier. That’s pretty fitting when another rookie has the running backs’ No. 1 tier all to himself.

I would like to point out the projections below aren’t meant to be gospel. There is assumed to be a certain level of error/uncertainty in even the most accurate projection systems. What I use for my weekly rankings are “median projections” and these are essential for choosing which player is more likely to score more points. When playing season-long head-to-head fantasy football, your goal every week is to score more points than one other team in your league – your opponent. This is why I always stress to go with the “safer” play and prefer volume over talent alone. When it comes to playing daily fantasy, specifically large tournaments that have top-heavy payouts, that is when you need to shift your strategy to going with the higher “upside,” more talented back, even if it means taking on added risk.

Keep this in mind when using the rankings below and how to react to news that may come out later in the week. If someone like Ty Montgomery is ruled out, you better believe Aaron Jones will shoot up a tier or two, based on those extra touches being up for grabs.

And don’t forget, these tiers reflect non-PPR scoring. The number in parenthesis next to the player’s matchup indicates how many tiers they’d move up or down in PPR scoring. Without further ado, here are the Week 6 tiers.

Quarterbacks

Drew Brees and rookie Deshaun Watson join Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in the tier that they live in – Tier 1. Watson has exploded into a QB1 over the past couple weeks, which is why I emphasized in preseason that he was an ideal backup to take late because of his sky-high ceiling. This week seems almost too easy with a dream matchup at home against the Browns. I almost feel like he could be a bit of a letdown simply due to having lofty expectations, but he’s still a top QB1 for the week.

This week particularly, we have to be a bit careful of QBs who could be in blowout games. You ideally want a QB that is playing in a tight game or trailing in order to keep them in a game script that requires throwing the ball. Of course, in order to get into a blowout situation, the team needs to score several TDs. In these cases, you need the QB to have a large TD share early on. If they get up early off rushing TDs or defensive/special teams TDs, that QB could be in line for a below-average week despite their team putting up 30+ points.

The QBs that could fall into this group in Week 6 are Brady, Watson, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins and Trevor Siemian. This makes them all higher-floor/lower-ceiling plays in a sense, which is fine for season long H2H formats. If you are trying to win a large DFS tournament, you might want to go with QBs in matchups where they will be required to throw for all four quarters.

Marcus Mariota’s status needs to be monitored carefully. Tennessee doesn’t play until Monday night, so if he’s still a game-time decision heading into the weekend I’m saying to bench him. Since he is dealing with a hamstring injury, it could limit his rushing stats considerably even if he plays, which crushes his value. Right now I’m projecting him to be about 80 percent healthy come game time in a great matchup, but just know I don’t think the risk is worth it, especially considering an in-game tweak is very possible – just like we saw with Sam Bradford in Week 5.

Mariota’s M.A.S.H. unit pal, Derek Carr, is also expected to return from injury this week. He is in a “prove it” spot where I am not starting him with confidence this week. His return is more of a boost to his teammates, especially Amari Cooper.

Eli Manning gets the bottom tier all to himself. He lost three WRs for the season last week including his top target Odell Beckham Jr., and there’s still no indication of Sterling Shepard playing this week. On top of that, he has to play at Denver, which is still one of the worst draws you can get for a QB. You also have to wonder if we will see Geno Smith start games or at least see the Giants eye the No. 1 pick next year in an attempt to get Sam Darnold and develop him with Beckham.

Tier 1

Aaron Rodgers (@ MIN)
Tom Brady (@ NYJ)
Drew Brees (vs DET)
Deshaun Watson (vs CLE)

Tier 2

Kirk Cousins (vs SF)

Tier 3

Cam Newton (vs PHI)
Jameis Winston (@ ARI)
Matt Ryan (vs MIA)
Matthew Stafford (@ NO)

Tier 4

Alex Smith (vs PIT)
Marcus Mariota (vs IND)
Philip Rivers (@ OAK)
Carson Palmer (vs TB)

Tier 5

Carson Wentz (@ CAR)
Jacoby Brissett (@ TEN)
Trevor Siemian (vs NYG)
Derek Carr (vs LAC)

Tier 6

Case Keenum (vs GB)
Ben Roethlisberger (@ KC)
Kevin Hogan (@ HOU)

Tier 7

Josh McCown (vs NE)
Blake Bortles (vs LAR)
Joe Flacco (vs CHI)
Brian Hoyer (@ WAS)
Jared Goff (@ JAX)

Tier 8

Mitchell Trubisky (@ BAL)
Jay Cutler (@ ATL)

Tier 9

Eli Manning (@ DEN)

Running Backs

Running back is the most volatile position in fantasy football. In order to best approach the position, you need to embrace that volatility and understand how value works at the position. Far too often I see people get way too excited over the “talent” aspect of a running back. The most important factor when forecasting the immediate value of a RB is expected workload. Talent can help maximize the potential of that workload and often times can lead to a compelling case for a coach to increase that workload. But basing decisions on talent alone can backfire.

Let’s take the Colts for example. Marlon Mack is the most talented back on their roster and I think we can all agree on that at this point. He also proved in college that he is capable of handling a full workload, and his 5-foot-11, 210-pound frame is nearly optimal for that as well. However, we have to temper our expectations on someone like him. Frank Gore and Robert Turbin, whether we agree with it or not, are going to take up roughly 55-60 percent of the available touches this week. Until we start seeing one or both of them missing any time or the coaching staff outright sitting them, we have to realize that Mack will be extremely volatile since he has to produce with limited touches to hit value.

Meanwhile, the values of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara go up immediately this week after the Saints traded away Adrian Peterson to Arizona. In my model, that is nearly 6-10 touches freed up and distributed among these two backs. From a projections standpoint, that is a fairly big spike. Not to mention, the threat of a possible AP “vulture” TD is wiped out, increasing their TD odds.

On the flip side, Peterson now gets to be the feature back in Arizona until David Johnson is able to return. I think those of us who are savvy fantasy football players realize “All Day” is a shell of his former self and is probably not going to light up the box score in the high desert. Having said that, we will likely get volume and goal-line chances from AP. To put things into perspective, if you are in a tight matchup and need to decide whether or not to play Adrian Peterson or Marlon Mack, it would be a no-brainer, on raw talent alone, to start Mack. But let’s use a hypothetical projection set to illustrate why expected volume should always be the first factor considered:

Player A: the old/washed up workhorse back: 16-18 carries with a 3.7 yards per rush + 40 percent chance for a TD

Player B: the young/talented flashy back in a 2-3 man RBBC: 6-10 carries with a 5.5 yards per rush+ 30 percent chance for a TD

Assuming both receiving projections are nearly identical, I would be projecting the bad workhorse player to rush for about 20 more yards, or two more projected fantasy points. Once you factor in the higher TD odds as well, Player A will be nearly three projected points higher than Player B.

Tier 1

Kareem Hunt (vs PIT)

Tier 2

Leonard Fournette (vs LAR)
Le’Veon Bell (@ KC)
Todd Gurley (@ JAX)

Tier 3

Devonta Freeman (vs MIA)

Tier 4

C.J. Anderson (vs NYG)
Lamar Miller (vs CLE)
Melvin Gordon (@ OAK)

Tier 5

Mark Ingram (vs DET)
Jordan Howard (-1, @ BAL)
Jay Ajayi (-2, @ ATL)

Tier 6

DeMarco Murray (-1, vs IND)
Javorius Allen (+1, vs CHI)
Marshawn Lynch (-1, vs LAC)
Jerick McKinnon (vs GB)

Tier 7

Carlos Hyde (@ WAS)
Ameer Abdullah (+1, @ NO)
Doug Martin (@ ARI)
Alvin Kamara (vs DET)
Mike Gillislee (-1, @ NYJ)
Aaron Jones (@ MIN)
Chris Thompson (vs SF)
Tevin Coleman (vs MIA)
Elijah McGuire (vs NE)
Christian McCaffrey (+2, vs PHI)
Jonathan Stewart (vs PHI)

Tier 8

Rob Kelley (-1, vs SF)
Duke Johnson Jr. (+1, @ HOU)
LeGarrette Blount (-1, @ CAR)
Isaiah Crowell (@ HOU)
Wayne Gallman (@ DEN)
Alex Collins (vs CHI)

Tier 9

Andre Ellington (+2, vs TB)
Frank Gore (@ TEN)
Derrick Henry (vs IND)
Adrian Peterson (vs TB)

Tier 10

Jamaal Charles (vs NYG)
James White (+3, @ NYJ)
Latavius Murray (vs GB)
Tarik Cohen (+2, @ BAL)

Wide Receivers

Instead of simply talking about how a player has a “good” matchup or is a “bad” play this week, I wanted to touch on some more advanced thought processes that I go through at each position when it comes to making projections. I’m talking about some of the decision-making that I feel some may not perceive the correct way based on a lot of the questions I get asked every week.

When it comes to WR, I am seeing people start to overreact to CB matchups alone. As always, there is literally no stone left unturned when it comes to what I base my projections off of. You better believe the WR/CB matchup is important, but I find too often people over-weigh it. The fact is, most teams have a fairly good No. 1 CB. Therefore, if we shy away from a WR simply because he is facing a decent CB, we won’t have many WR left to choose from. Also, any sort of ratings/stats on CB coverage usually regresses towards the average when doing a split-half reliability type analysis. In layman’s terms, much of the perceived greatness of a CB can be chalked up to simple randomness, or is short-lived. Having said that, we certainly need to be cautious of a boundary WR being shadowed by a Patrick Peterson or a slot WR being matched up against Chris Harris. I’m well aware of these high-end talents, and they are always factored into my projections.

Mike Evans will likely get the Peterson shadow treatment this week. This is why he isn’t a top-3 type play at the position this week, but he should see enough volume to be a WR1 still. Winston typically doesn’t care who is on Evans and will force him the ball if needed, since he trusts Evans to win most battles. On the flip side, we may see DeSean Jackson getting matched up with burnable Justin Bethel, making him a solid WR2 this week, which is much higher then he normally is in my rankings due to his often high risk/reward weekly outlook. This means he will very likely be part of some sit/start decisions, but I better NOT be getting any sit/start questions involving Evans unless your other WRs are Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Michael Thomas.

Tier 1

Antonio Brown (@ KC)

Tier 2

Julio Jones (vs MIA)
DeAndre Hopkins (vs CLE)
Michael Thomas (vs DET)
Mike Evans (@ ARI)
Jordy Nelson (@ MIN)

Tier 3

Keenan Allen (@ OAK)
Brandin Cooks (@ NYJ)
Chris Hogan (@ NYJ)

Tier 4

T.Y. Hilton (@ TEN)
Tyreek Hill (vs PIT)
Michael Crabtree (vs LAC)
Larry Fitzgerald (vs TB)
Golden Tate (@ NO)
Stefon Diggs (vs GB)
Kelvin Benjamin (vs PHI)
Adam Thielen (vs GB)
Pierre Garcon (@ WAS)
Davante Adams (@ MIN)
Amari Cooper (vs LAC)
Demaryius Thomas (vs NYG)

Tier 5

Jarvis Landry (@ ATL)
Devin Funchess (vs PHI)
Emmanuel Sanders (vs NYG)
DeSean Jackson (@ ARI)
Rishard Matthews (vs IND)
DeVante Parker (@ ATL)|
Alshon Jeffery (@ CAR)
Terrelle Pryor Sr. (vs SF)
Randall Cobb (@ MIN)

Tier 6

Taylor Gabriel (vs MIA)
John Brown (vs TB)
Jermaine Kearse (vs NE)
Jeremy Maclin (vs CHI)
Sterling Shepard (@ DEN)
Marvin Jones Jr. (@ NO)

Tier 7

Eric Decker (vs IND)
Martavis Bryant (@ KC)
Danny Amendola (@ NYJ)
Will Fuller V (vs CLE)
Allen Hurns (vs LAR)
Robby Anderson (vs NE)
Cooper Kupp (@ JAX)

Tier 8

Jamison Crowder (vs SF)
Mike Wallace (vs CHI)
Tyrell Williams (@ OAK)
Willie Snead (vs DET)
Jaron Brown (vs TB)
Nelson Agholor (@ CAR)
J.J. Nelson (vs TB)
Marqise Lee (vs LAR)
Sammy Watkins (@ JAX)
Ted Ginn Jr. (vs DET)
Ricardo Louis (@ HOU)
Albert Wilson (vs PIT)

Tight Ends

I keep trying to hammer home that the TE position is a bit of a disaster this year. This should be no surprise considering the position relies on TDs more than yardage output. Touchdowns are much less reliable/predictable than expected yardage and volume. The early season value MVP has to be Zach Ertz. He was drafted much later than Gronk/Kelce and has been a reliable play at a very volatile position all season, with either 80+ yards or a TD in all five games so far. The preseason sub-elite tier of Jordan Reed, Jimmy Graham, and Delaine Walker have been rather disappointing, which has given the elite TEs a boost.

For those of us who don’t own any of the TEs mentioned above, it has been a tough weekly decision as to which TE we should roll out.  When living the life of streaming a TE each week, you need to accept the risk that if they do not score a TD you are very likely going to see an unsightly fantasy point total in your starting lineup. Most TEs can’t give you 50-60 yards in the event they fail to hit pay dirt. Last week I, like many others, got burned by Dwayne Allen’s 0-point performance when Gronk was ruled out for TNF. While it’s unsettling seeing a zero locked into your starting lineup as early as Thursday, I urged people to remember that there will be plenty of TE busts to go around. Sure enough, Delanie Walker, Jared Cook and Evan Engram combined for three standard fantasy points. There is a chance you rolled with Allen against a team that had any one of these sure fire TE1’s, and you didn’t lose any ground.

It’s important to use the entire week to decide which TE to stream since any sort of news involving that player or teammates can help give them a bit of a boost. One solid streamer this week would be Ryan Griffin against the Browns, who have been gashed by TEs for over a year now. Those desperate for a streamer play could certainly do worse than him. Another sneaky play may be Austin Hooper, who I feel could see an increase in targets with Mohamed Sanu likely missing Week 6, which would free up some looks over the middle.

Tier 1

Rob Gronkowski (@ NYJ)

Tier 2

Zach Ertz (@ CAR)
Travis Kelce (vs PIT)

Tier 3

Delanie Walker (vs IND)

Tier 4

Jordan Reed (vs SF)
Cameron Brate (@ ARI)
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (vs NE)
Evan Engram (@ DEN)
Jared Cook (vs LAC)

Tier 5

Martellus Bennett (@ MIN)
Ed Dickson (vs PHI)
Kyle Rudolph (vs GB)
Hunter Henry (@ OAK)
Coby Fleener (vs DET)
Benjamin Watson (vs CHI)
Ryan Griffin (vs CLE)
Zach Miller (@ BAL)

Tier 6

Jack Doyle (@ TEN)
Austin Hooper (vs MIA)
Jesse James (@ KC)
George Kittle (@ WAS)
Eric Ebron (@ NO)
David Njoku (@ HOU)
Julius Thomas (@ ATL)

Kickers

Tier 1

Matt Bryant (vs MIA)
Ka’imi Fairbairn (vs CLE)
Dustin Hopkins (vs SF)
Stephen Gostkowski (@ NYJ)

Tier 2

Wil Lutz (vs DET)
Brandon McManus (vs NYG)
Justin Tucker (vs CHI)
Harrison Butker (vs PIT)
Giorgio Tavecchio (vs LAC)
Mason Crosby (@ MIN)
Ryan Succop (vs IND)
Matt Prater (@ NO)
Graham Gano (vs PHI)

Tier 3

Nick Novak (@ OAK)
Jason Myers (vs LAR)
Kai Forbath (vs GB)
Adam Vinatieri (@ TEN)
Patrick Murray (@ ARI)
Jake Elliott (@ CAR)
Phil Dawson (vs TB)

Tier 4

Greg Zuerlein (@ JAX)
Chandler Catanzaro (vs NE)
Robbie Gould (@ WAS)
Zane Gonzalez (@ HOU)
Chris Boswell (@ KC)
Cody Parkey (@ ATL)
Connor Barth (@ BAL)

Tier 5

Aldrick Rosas (@ DEN)

Defense/Special Teams

Tier 1

Denver Broncos (vs NYG)

Tier 2

Houston Texans (vs CLE)
Baltimore Ravens (vs CHI)
Atlanta Falcons (vs MIA)
Washington Redskins (vs SF)

Tier 3

New England Patriots (@ NYJ)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ ARI)
Kansas City Chiefs (vs PIT)
Tennessee Titans (vs IND)
Jacksonville Jaguars (vs LAR)
Carolina Panthers (vs PHI)
Oakland Raiders (vs LAC)
Green Bay Packers (@ MIN)
Los Angeles Rams (@ JAX)
New Orleans Saints (vs DET)
Arizona Cardinals (vs TB)

Tier 4

Philadelphia Eagles (@ CAR)
Chicago Bears (@ BAL)
Minnesota Vikings (vs GB)
New York Giants (@ DEN)
Pittsburgh Steelers (@ KC)
Los Angeles Chargers (@ OAK)
Cleveland Browns (@ HOU)
Indianapolis Colts (@ TEN)

Tier 5

San Francisco 49ers (@ WAS)
Detroit Lions (@ NO)
Miami Dolphins (@ ATL)
New York Jets (vs NE)