It’s only Week 6, and already we’ve seen some of the league’s biggest names succumb to injuries, with Justin Jefferson, the first overall pick in most drafts, becoming the latest star to land on injured reserve.
At a time when many might be forced to stream waiver wire pick-ups, it’s always necessary to play your studs, but here’s what to do about some players who you might be on the fence about starting this week:
Start: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys at Chargers / 8:15 p.m. ET Monday
Yes, that Dak Prescott. Despite coming off his worst outing of the season, where he threw for 153 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, Prescott can quickly turn things around in a favorable, high-scoring matchup.
Los Angeles allows 20.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, the fifth-most among defenses. Las Vegas’ Aidan O’Connell, who was making his first career start, was the only signal-caller not to post at least 21 points against the Chargers this season. As the QB21 on the year, Prescott is probably available on waivers and is a viable plug-and-play option this week.
Other starts: Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars; Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
Sit: C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans
Saints at Texans / 1 p.m. ET Sunday
The second overall pick from April’s draft has had no trouble transitioning to the NFL, most recently setting the record for most consecutive passes without an interception to start his career (186). Stroud looks the part of a franchise quarterback, but it’ll be challenging to keep his historic streak rolling into Houston’s Week 7 bye. New Orleans’ seven interceptions are the third-most in the league, and it is allowing only 12.5 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, the sixth fewest.
Other sits: Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks; Joshua Dobbs, Arizona Cardinals
Start: James Cook, Buffalo Bills
Giants at Bills / 8:20 p.m. ET Sunday
Buffalo found itself trailing early in last week’s loss to Jacksonville, which resulted in Cook recording 21 total yards on eight touches, both season lows. Facing an underperforming Giants team that the Bills should comfortably beat, Cook should receive a workload similar to the 16.6 touches he averaged across his first four games this season. New York has made life easy for running backs this season, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to the position (117) and the third-most rushing touchdowns (seven).
Other starts: Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings; Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Sit: Miles Sanders, Carolina Panthers
Panthers at Dolphins / 1 p.m. ET Sunday
The 26-year-old entered the season with a groin issue, and now a shoulder injury has kept him out of this week’s practice sessions. Even so, regardless of his availability, Sanders should be left on the bench. Carolina, listed as a 13.5-point underdog, will likely be forced to abandon the running game.
Blowouts typically lead to running backs earning a substantial amount of receiving work, but Sanders isn’t getting that from quarterback Bryce Young, considering he has just 10 receptions in four games with the rookie. Even if Sanders plays Sunday, Chuba Hubbard might be the Panthers tailback to start.
Other sits: Jerome Ford, Cleveland Browns; Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans
Start: Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lions at Buccaneers / 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday
Given that his Bucs teammate Mike Evans is dealing with a hamstring injury, Godwin is poised to build on his eight-catch, 114-yard performance from Week 4. Not only does Detroit boast an explosive offense, but it is the second-worst matchup for running backs, suggesting Baker Mayfield will need to throw often for Tampa Bay to remain competitive.
Although Godwin hasn’t found the end zone yet, his seven targets inside the 15-yard line are tied for the second most among wideouts, so he’s getting enough volume to trust his first touchdown is on the way.
Other starts: Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts; DeAndre Hopkins, Tennessee Titans
Sit: Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns
49ers at Browns / 1 p.m. ET Sunday
Cooper struggled without quarterback Deshaun Watson in Week 4, catching one of his six targets from Dorian Thompson-Robinson for 16 yards, and it appears his troubles will continue. According to CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson, Watson will miss Sunday’s meeting with the 49ers due to his lingering shoulder injury. Instead of starting Thompson-Robinson, Cleveland will turn to veteran PJ Walker, which doesn’t bode well for Cooper’s fantasy outlook.
While Walker is an upgrade over Thompson-Robinson, it’s unlikely he’ll have much success against San Francisco’s formidable defense, especially since he averaged only seven fantasy points per game with Carolina last season.
Other sits: Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers; Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Start: Logan Thomas, Washington Commanders
Commanders at Falcons / 1 p.m. ET Sunday
Quarterback Sam Howell has helped turn Washington into an effective fantasy offense, which has led to Thomas producing like a top-12 tight end when healthy. On a per-game basis, Thomas’ 6.3 targets rank eighth at the position, while his 45.8 receiving yards are the ninth most. With Atlanta’s defense surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends (9.9) and the sixth-fewest points to wideouts (85.1), Thomas could emerge as Washington’s leading receiver in Week 6.
Other starts: Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers; Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears
Sit: Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
Cardinals at Rams / 4:25 ET Sunday
While the Rams average the second-most passing attempts per game (40.6), it doesn’t seem as if there are enough targets available to keep Higbee fantasy relevant in light of Cooper Kupp’s return and Puka Nacua’s rise to stardom. Last week, Higbee earned three targets, hauling in two of them for just 20 yards. Arizona has quietly excelled at defending tight ends, giving up the third-fewest fantasy points per game (3.9), and without receiving a high volume of targets, Higbee is too risky to rely on.
Other sits: Darren Waller, New York Giants; Dalton Schultz, Houston Texans