Who is a must-start and who is a must-sit this week in the Mayfield vs. Jameis Winston matchup?
It's Week 7 of the fantasy football season and from a quarterback standpoint, this bye week stings a little. There’s no Aaron Rodgers this week. There’s no Ben Roethlisberger this week. There’s no Russell Wilson this week. What there is in Week 7 are a lot of holes on fantasy rosters, especially if you only have one quarterback on yours.
So if you need to stream a quarterback this week (or you stream one every week), ho gives you the best chance at winning your matchup this week?
My suggestions (for DSTs too) are below but first let's see how well the Week 6 start/sit advice fared.
Good Calls for Week 6...
Start Jameis Winston (30.90 fantasy points) – Winston picked up where he left off last season and had a great fantasy day in a losing effort against the injury-plagued Falcons defense.
Sit Marcus Mariota (7.18 FP) – With the way the Titans' offensive line is playing, it might be a good idea to sit Mariota until further notice.
Bad Calls for Week 6...
Sit Dak Prescott (29.52 FP) – Out of nowhere and against the (so-called) best defense in football, Prescott had his best game of the year.
Start Blake Bortles (10.16 FP) – Bortles was fantasy relevant for about a week and a half, now he’s back to being the same old terrible quarterback we are used to seeing.
Teams on bye: Green Bay, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Seattle
START THESE QBs...
Baker Mayfield, CLE (at TB)
If there's any team worse than Atlanta on the defensive side of the ball, it’s Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are giving up the second-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in the last four weeks, just two points shy of the Falcons. Even more problematic, though, is that Tampa Bay's terrible pass defense may actually be getting worse. It's allowing 9.8 yards per pass attempt in the last three weeks, up from its season average of 9.0, which is the worst in the NFL. Mayfield is going to have some ups and downs, and last week was a good reminder of that. He's still being trusted to chuck it around the field plenty and the Buccaneers won't rush the quarterback like the Chargers did in Week 6. Put your faith in Mayfield in Week 7.
Andy Dalton, CIN (at KC)
Dalton has surprised this season and is back to being fantasy relevant like he was in 2016. Even in a game where he had his lowest passing output of the season and the conditions were less than ideal, he was close to QB1 level. He tossed two touchdowns, giving him multiple TDs in five of six weeks. Kansas City's defense is definitely the team's weakness and with the injuries piling up, it has become more noticeable. Kansas City ranks 27th in yards per pass attempt allowed and is giving up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks over the last four weeks. Dalton is needed to deliver against Kansas City and he should have enough trust to put up some volume.
Joe Flacco, BAL (vs. NO)
Believe it or not, the Ravens have the second-fastest offense, which means lots of fantasy opportunities. Flacco is on the cusp of startable territory in 12-team leagues and has a very favorable matchup at home this week against the Saints. The game’s Vegas projected total is still sitting around 50 — making it one of four games to beat that mark. The Saints' defense is ranked first in team Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) against the run and 30th against the pass, according to Football Outsiders. Flacco has averaged 44 pass attempts per game as he looks to turn in his first three-TD performance since Week 1.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Mitchell Trubisky, CHI (vs. NE)
Perhaps you’re one of those guys who is up against it with bye weeks. If you are, Trubisky could be your bye-week savior as a player who may finally be hitting his fantasy stride. Trubisky is coming off two top-five performances in his last two games and up next are the Patriots. Against quarterbacks over the last two weeks, New England has allowed 717 passing yards and seven touchdowns while recording four interceptions. Trubisky may not be on the level of an Andrew Luck or Patrick Mahomes, but he seems to finally be getting comfortable in Matt Nagy’s offense and should finish this week as a top-10 fantasy QB.
SIT THESE QBs...
Marcus Mariota, TEN (vs. LAC, London)
Tennessee’s offensive line allowed Mariota to be sacked 11 times (!) on Sunday in a 21-0 loss to the Ravens. Mariota has had fewer than 200 passing yards in four of his last five starts and Tennessee's offense failed to score a TD for the third time this season. Until the Titans can prove that they can keep Mariota upright, he is just too unreliable to start this week.
Jameis Winston, TB (vs. CLE)
That was a nice Week 6 performance by Winston, but don't trust that again this Sunday. The Buccaneers are having major troubles and despite Winston's fantasy output last week, that won't be the case against the Browns. Cleveland is actually pretty good on defense, as the Browns rank eighth in yards per pass attempt allowed and are giving up the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in the last four weeks. This is a case where you can't count on the results from the previous week. Winston will crash back to earth, while Cleveland will play better on defense.
Dak Prescott, DAL (at WAS)
Last week, Prescott put up his best game in what seems like an eternity (it was actually since last December), producing almost 30 fantasy points in a lopsided win over the Jaguars. Too bad he was either on your bench or, most likely, still on the waiver wire. Now don’t go out and chase the fantasy points. Prescott has scored fewer than 14 in seven of his last eight road contests and the Redskins' defense currently ranks in the top 10 in both points and yards from scrimmage allowed per game.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Deshaun Watson, HOU (at JAC)
Wait a second here, didn’t Dak Prescott just torch the Jaguars' vaunted defense last week? And aren’t Prescott and Watson similar quarterbacks, with the latter having the higher ceiling? This is all true, but it is still too risky starting Watson this week against in Jacksonville against a defense that knows it’s up to it to win the game. The Jaguars had a terrible, awful, no-good day last week but have still held five QBs to fewer than 250 passing yards. The one they didn't was Patrick Mahomes (313 yards), but he also had no TDs and two INTs. Watson also ran the ball just two times for two yards last week, as he has been dealing with a chest injury.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
Detroit Lions (at MIA)
The Dolphins have gifted defenses at least one interception and a fumble recovery in three straight games. They've also assisted in three touchdowns to DSTs this season. The Lions may give up points, but fantasy-wise they’re an aggressive unit that has scored at least eight points in three games.
Indianapolis Colts (vs. BUF)
The Bills may be less volatile with Derek Anderson at quarterback in terms of mistakes, but the Colts DST is still worth a sneaky shot at home.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Chicago Bears (vs. NE)
The addition of Khalil Mack has undoubtedly paid huge dividends for the Bears. That being said, it would best serve you to find a better DST option this week against a Patriots team that is starting to hum offensively. If you have an open bench spot or a player you could afford to drop, you could always stream a DST for one week. After what happened to the Bears against the Dolphins, it’s hard to label this DST matchup-proof.
Baltimore Ravens (vs. NO)
Drew Brees and the Saints can be shakier on the road, but this is a high-risk, low-reward play.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.