Yesterday was a pretty wild day in Fantasy Football land. Justin Jefferson and James Conner were placed on IR, and De'Von Achane joined them Wednesday morning, knocking out three must-start options for at least the next month, including the 1.01 pick in nearly every draft and a guy who was shaping up to be one of the best waiver-wire claims of the past few seasons.
And now, we have to soldier on. That's life in the NFL. Injuries happen, and our Fantasy Football game has to deal with the fallout of that. , but the continued effects of those injuries are going to be a big storyline for the rest of the week as we prepare for our first games without Jefferson, Achane, and Conner.
Today's newsletter is going to spend a lot of time on that. We've got Heath Cummings' position preview series for Week 6 here for you, along with my thoughts on some players to target if you're looking to make some trades -- four to buy, and four to sell, at the bottom of the newsletter. The goal here is to make sure you're lineup's ready for Week 6 and beyond, whether you've been bit by the injury bug or not.
Let's get to it.
Before you make any trades,. Here are some buys and sells to help get the conversation started:
Three to buy-low
Diontae Johnson, WR, Steelers
I'll admit, I just kind of forgot to include Johnson in my list of buy-low wide receivers when I wrote about Justin Jefferson's injury Tuesday, and that was a mistake. George Pickens has really exceeded expectations so far, sporting a 25% target share through the first five games of the season and generally looking like a win for those of you who were bullish on him. That being said, there's still a lot of room for another wide receiver in this offense; Allen Robinson is second on the team with 26 targets, and he's made even Johnson's usual level of inefficiency look good. Even if Pickens' emergence as a No. 1 option is sustainable, Johnson could still spot a 25% target share and be a very valuable Fantasy option when he comes back from the Week 6 bye, as expected. I'm trying to buy.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Colts
I'm sorry, but the Colts didn't get Jonathan Taylor $42 million so he could sit behind Zack Moss. Moss should still have a role, and it might be enough to keep Taylor from that 20-carry-per-game role we've been hoping he would have. But that doesn't mean Taylor can't be a must-start Fantasy option moving forward; it doesn't even mean he can't be a top-five guy. If Taylor is still Taylor – a non-zero "if," I suppose – he's still a home run hitter in a fast-paced offense that has run the ball very well with a much less talented back in the lead. If you want Taylor on your team, Week 5 might have been the best possible outcome.
Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Lions
The vibes are not great with Gibbs right now. He's a clear No. 2 behind David Montgomery, who looks awesome as the Lions lead back and doesn't seem likely to give up that role anytime soon. But the thing is, we're only four games into Gibbs' career, and I think pretty much everyone agrees he looks the part – he's a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands, and this Lions offense looks phenomenal. Which means he's probably only a Montgomery injury away from being a top-12 RB in Fantasy, and he'll have standalone value if you need him before then – let's not forget he had nine targets in Week 3 with Montgomery active and the Lions in a shootout. Coming off an injury, this might be the lowest Gibbs' value might ever be again.
One to buy-high
Justin Fields, QB, Bears
The fun thing about this little run Fields is on is, he hasn't really done much as a runner. He hasn't had more than 6.3 points as a runner in any game this season, something he did nine times. The Bears haven't used him as much on designed runs, which means pretty much all of his value has come on straight dropbacks. He's taken a big step forward as a passer over the past couple of weeks, and while I don't expect him to sustain all of that, the preseason theory that the addition of DJ Moore would elevate Fields as a passer looks spot on. Given how poorly Fields fared to open the season, there might still be some lingering resentment, but as I said in my Week 6 rankings piece, I think he's back to the elite tier at QB.
Three to sell-high
Emari Demercado, RB, Cardinals
In the three games James Conner missed last season, Eno Benjamin scored 9.5, 21.3, and 8.5 PPR points. You'd take that from a waiver-wire add you got for free, surely, but the point here is that there's no guarantee that Demercado will be a valuable Fantasy asset for the time Conner is out … especially because we're not even certain Demercado will be the team's lead running back with Conner out. Keaontay Ingram was out last week, but he went from a DNP Wednesday to limited Thursday and Friday with his neck injury, a sign he may not need much longer to get back to it. Flipping Demercado as soon as you add him might be a wise move, especially if you could turn him into someone like Johnson.
D.J. Moore, WR, Bears
I made the case for why Moore is a sell-high candidate in more extended form in my WR rankings piece for Week 6, but the short version of it is: There's basically no precedent for a player sustaining the kind of efficiency Moore has at any kind of volume, and there's not much reason to think the volume is suddenly going to get much better to make up for it in this offense. He's a fine Fantasy WR2, who will have huge smash weeks because he's a stud real-life player; if you can get stud Fantasy WR1 value for him, you probably have to move him.
I just picked out a nickel from the little spare change jar I keep on my desk at home, and I flipped it 10 times. Heads came up seven times. That's kind of what the run Davis is on right now is like, with four touchdowns in his last four games on just 22 targets total. It's an oversimplification to compare any athletic event to flipping a coin, because there are so many variables at play, but in Davis' case, it's not that much of an oversimplification; after all, his career catch rate is 56%. He's a talented wide receiver who plays with an elite quarterback, but that was true last year, and you surely remember how infuriating it was to rely on him on a weekly basis. His usage hasn't really changed from last year – he's actually seeing fewer targets on a per-game basis, at the same average depth, but his catch rate has jumped from 51.6% to 69.2%. My general thought process with Davis can be summed up like this: When the coin comes up heads a few times in a row, sell; when the coin comes up tails a few times in a row, buy.
One to sell-low
I have quite a few shares of Sanders, I'll admit. I bought into the idea that he would be a legitimate three-down back for the Panthers, and that actually hasn't been the issue for him so far – he's on pace for 82 targets and 207 carries, which would be the most and second-most in his career, respectively. The problem is, he's just been awful. That's not entirely his fault, because the Panthers have gone from running the ball quite effectively last season to just not doing anything particularly well right now. I did say, it's not entirely his fault, though, because he's continued to be quite poor as a pass-catcher (62.5% catch rate, 3.4 yards per target, while the average for RBs this season are 78% and 5.4, respectively). But the bigger issue is that he lost another fumble in Week 5, and took a significant hit in playing time as a result. Sanders was always supposed to be a volume play, and if the volume isn't there, he might not even be worth the roster spot you're using on him.
🔍Week 6 Position Previews
Every Tuesday, Heath Cummings previews each position, providing injury insights, key stats to know, the best waiver-wire adds, DFS targets, and more for, , , and . Here's a brief rundown of each position, along with some key details you need to know before you go read Heath's full breakdowns:
"Arbitrary cut-offs annoy me more than most people, even if I have to rely on them myself at times. For instance, I've set 65% rostered as the cut-off for the waiver wire section below. Matthew Stafford is 67% and probably the top add at QB for 25% of you, but he gets left out of the waiver wire section. So we'll talk about him here.
Stafford is coming off his second-worst game of the season in terms of yards per attempt but also his first two-touchdown game of the year. He's averaging 40.6 pass attempts and 290 yards per game through the air, but he's been mostly irrelevant in Fantasy due to his inability to get the ball into the end zone. With Cooper Kupp up to speed and Puka Nacua maintaining his level of play, I would expect the touchdown problem to end sooner rather than later. Week 6 game against the Cardinals team that just gave up three touchdowns to Joe Burrow feels like the perfect breaking-out party."
- On a bye: Jordan Love, Kenny Pickett.
- Injuries: Anthony Richardson (shoulder), Daniel Jones (neck), Justin Herbert (finger), Deshaun Watson (shoulder), Geno Smith (knee), Kyler Murray (knee).
- Number to know: 6.7% -- Patrick Mahomes' pass catchers have the third-highest drop rate which helps explain his lack of Fantasy brilliance.
- Matchup that matters: Kirk Cousins @CHI (32nd vs. QB)
- Waiver add/streamer: Baker Mayfield, Buccaneers: "Mayfield has hit 19 Fantasy points or more in three of four starts and the Lions have allowed at least 19 Fantasy points to every quarterback but one this season, Desmond Ridder. The Buccaneers can't run the ball efficiently, and the Lions have been much stingier against the run than the pass. Coming off a bye week this Tampa offense should have a good plan that calls for a high number of pass attempts. As long as Mike Evans is back, Mayfield is a borderline QB1."
- Stash: Kyler Murray, Cardinals: "Murray's roster rate is ticking up as we get closer to his return. Once it is announced it will probably be too late to add him for free. Expect Murray to be a borderline top-12 QB once he's healthy."
"Tuesday morning was a bleak one from a Fantasy Football perspective. Justin Jefferson went on the IR, and running backs James Conner and De'Von Achane were reported to be out for multiple weeks. There are thankfully only two teams on a bye this week and we're used to not having Aaron Jones or Najee Harris in our starting lineups, but still, we're probably going to have to go back to some backs who make us uncomfortable. You'll find waiver wire info below, but here are two backs who are rostered, who you may want to give at least one more chance.
Rhamondre Stevenson is facing a Raiders defense that has allowed the most receiving yards to running backs. They are funneling short-area targets and Mac Jones should be pleased to take them with the way his forward passing has gone the past few weeks. The team is also giving up 4.45 yards per carry. This is the defense (other than the Broncos) to get right against."
- On a bye: Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Jaylen Warren, Najee Harris.
- Injuries: James Conner (knee), De'Von Achane (knee), Raheem Mostert (knee), Jahmyr Gibbs (hamstring), Khalil Herbert (ankle), Roschon Johnson (concussion), Austin Ekeler (ankle), Saquon Barkley (ankle), Javonte Williams (hip), Elijah Mitchell (knee), Jamaal Williams (hamstring), Jeff Wilson (abdomen), Rashaad Penny (illness), Keaontay Ingram (neck).
- Number to know: 32% -- Nearly a third of Jerome Ford's rushes have gone for zero or negative yards, the highest mark in the league.
- Matchup that matters: Isiah Pacheco vs. DEN (32nd vs. RB)
- Waiver add: Emari Demercado, Cardinals: "The Cardinals run game has been better than expected this season and Demercado just averaged better than five yards per touch against the Bengals. He has good skills in the passing game but doesn't really profile as a workhorse back so it shouldn't be a surprise if he shares with someone. His Week 6 role seems secure unless Keaontay Ingram is able to return."
- Stash: Jeff Wilson, Dolphins: "Wilson is expected to return to practice this week, though we have no reason to believe he'll be activated for Week 6. Assuming he's back before De'Von Achane I would expect both Wilson and Raheem Mostert to be startable when Wilson is active. He scored double-digit Fantasy points in five of six healthy games with the Dolphins in 2022."
"Any time a veteran player exceeds expectations like Adam Thielen has, the calls to sell high are sure to come soon after. Considering Thielen has absolutely smashed his perceived ceiling through five weeks, it should be no surprise if those calls are a bit louder, and maybe even unanimous.
Thielen currently ranks as the No. 10 WR in full PPR scoring and he started the year with two catches for 12 yards against the Falcons. Since he has 36 catches for 382 yards and three touchdowns in four games. His 82.6% catch rate is a career-high, his 8.6 yards per target is his best mark since 2020, and his 78.8 yards per game is his best mark since 2018. All this at 33 years old."
- On a bye: Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, George Pickens, Diontae Johnson.
- Injuries: Justin Jefferson (hamstring), Amon-Ra St. Brown (abdomen), Nathaniel Dell (concussion), Mike Evans (hamstring), Tee Higgins (ribs), Diontae Johnson (hamstring), Zay Jones (knee), Treylon Burks (knee).
- Number to know: 67.7% -- Two-thirds of Matthew Stafford's pass attempts went to Cooper Kupp or Puka Nacua in Week 5.
- Matchup that matters: Zay Flowers @TEN (27th vs. WR)
- Waiver add: Josh Downs, Colts: "Downs could be a legitimate WR3 on a weekly basis with Gardner Minshew leading the offense. He has a 24% target share with Minshew under center and he's caught 70% of those targets. He's a better option in full PPR than half."
- Stash: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seahawks: "It's Week 6 and the consensus best wide receiver in the draft is coming off of his bye week. If you're going to stash any healthy wide receiver, this should be your first look. Smith-Njigba's usage has been borderline hilarious early in the year but he's talented and they didn't draft him to do this. A positive role change could put him on the path to Fantasy production. I still believe he could be the best Seahawks wide receiver late in the season."
"Last week was a hug bounce back for the tight end position as a whole and for Darren Waller, Dallas Goedert, Kyle Pitts, and George Kittle especially. If you stood by your man, you were rewarded. The easiest thing to do, and what I'll do in most instances, is just forget about them again for the next month. Start them without even thinking about it. If there's an exception to that plan, it's Darren Waller.
In fairness, I have been skeptical about Waller ever since he got to New York. I don't trust the Giants passing game to support a difference maker at any position. So naturally, I see his best game of the season as an opportunity to sell."
- On a bye: Luke Musgrave, Pat Freiermuth.
- Injuries: Travis Kelce (ankle), Dalton Kincaid (concussion), Dawson Knox (wrist), Pat Freiermuth (hamstring), Juwan Johnson (calf), Donald Parham Jr. (wrist), Greg Dulcich (hamstring).
- Number to know: 3.7 -- George Kittle has only averaged 3.7 catches per game with Brock Purdy. That makes him TD dependent, thankfully he has 10 touchdowns in 11 games.
- Matchup that matters: Dallas Goedert @NYJ (32nd vs. TE)
- Streamer: Logan Thomas, Commanders: "Thomas has at least seven PPR Fantasy points in all four games this season and two games with eight or more targets. He's coming off his best game of the year against the Bears. He won't likely match the nine catches for 77 yards he had last week but the Falcons have been a bottom five defense against tight ends this season."