Start vs. Sit: Who to Play, Who to Bench Week 6

Start vs. Sit: Who to Play, Who to Bench Week 6

This article is part of our Start vs. Sit series.

Welcome into the Week 6 installment of Start vs. Sit. We're a little light on ranked matchups once again, but we still have a handful of games with major conference implications, headlined by Auburn at Florida, Iowa at Michigan and Michigan State at Ohio State. The Central Florida at Cincinnati matchup Friday sets up as a nice appetizer going into the weekend, too. Let's get into this week's start/sit decisions for each conference.

AAC

START

Johnny Ford, WR, South Florida at Connecticut

South Florida is terrible, but Connecticut is somehow a lot worse. The Bulls enter this game as heavy favorites and Ford is positioned to have a strong game. 

Ford leads the team in targets with 22 in just three games, doubling the number of targets for the team's second-leading receiver (Bryce Miller). He's caught 13 of those targets for 149 yards (6.7 YPT) and has added 45 yards and a score on the ground (he's a former running back, after all). 

Connecticut allows 9.2 YPA to FBS opponents (118th) and can't hold a player like Ford in check if he gets his expected heavy target volume. Ford is the lone bright spot, and Saturday might be the last time he has true starter utility considering how South Florida's season is going. 

SIT

Darius Bradwell, RB, Tulane at Army

Although Bradwell leads the team in rushing attempts (54) and yards (255), this might be a week to leave him on the bench. Tulane employs a

Welcome into the Week 6 installment of Start vs. Sit. We're a little light on ranked matchups once again, but we still have a handful of games with major conference implications, headlined by Auburn at Florida, Iowa at Michigan and Michigan State at Ohio State. The Central Florida at Cincinnati matchup Friday sets up as a nice appetizer going into the weekend, too. Let's get into this week's start/sit decisions for each conference.

AAC

START

Johnny Ford, WR, South Florida at Connecticut

South Florida is terrible, but Connecticut is somehow a lot worse. The Bulls enter this game as heavy favorites and Ford is positioned to have a strong game. 

Ford leads the team in targets with 22 in just three games, doubling the number of targets for the team's second-leading receiver (Bryce Miller). He's caught 13 of those targets for 149 yards (6.7 YPT) and has added 45 yards and a score on the ground (he's a former running back, after all). 

Connecticut allows 9.2 YPA to FBS opponents (118th) and can't hold a player like Ford in check if he gets his expected heavy target volume. Ford is the lone bright spot, and Saturday might be the last time he has true starter utility considering how South Florida's season is going. 

SIT

Darius Bradwell, RB, Tulane at Army

Although Bradwell leads the team in rushing attempts (54) and yards (255), this might be a week to leave him on the bench. Tulane employs a deep rotation with six backs averaging double-digit carries through four games, and that's not even including quarterback Justin McMillan. Furthermore, Bradwell is the least efficient of the Tulane backs, and that's partially a function of his role, it still is a bit of an eyesore that he averages half the yardage of some of his other backfield counterparts and that he still doesn't have a rushing touchdown.

In terms of the matchup, Army is built to stop this Tulane run game and its option principles. There's also the matter of Army holding opponents to just 3.1 YPC. And the game flow is another concern, as Army ranks 22nd in the nation in time of possession. There are just too many factors working against Bradwell to make him a viable starter this week. 

ACC

START

Chatarius Atwell, WR, Louisville at Boston College

A player with Atwell's explosiveness (10.1) and command of his team's offense (36.5 percent target share) deserves more attention. Although he's undersized (5-foot-9, 153), Atwell dominates defenses using his superior speed and short-area quickness. The efficiency could be better as he's catching just 54 percent of his targets, but the per-target production shows that he's doing damage when he reels it in. 

Boston College has been a defense to target this season. The Eagles rank just 79th in defensive S&P+ and have allowed 27.5 points to conference opponents. Atwell will be the focal point of the Louisville offense against a suspect defense, making him a viable WR3 for Week 6.

SIT

Ryan Willis, QB, Virginia Tech at Miami

Miami might not be a great team, but its defense is nothing to sneeze at. The Canes rank 23rd in our defensive efficiency metric and 21st in S&P+. The secondary holds quarterbacks to a 54 percent completion rate and 209 passing yards per game to boot. 

Willis, meanwhile, has hit a skid lately. He started out hot, completing 60 percent of his passes with a 8.2 YPA and six passing touchdowns in his first two games. His next two outings — against Furman and Duke at home — paint a different picture. The Duke game was particularly bad as he went 7-for-18 for 112 yards with a touchdown and a pick, and a lot of those yards came on a long touchdown to Damon Hazelton Jr.

I'm usually inclined to give a player like Willis the benefit of the doubt, especially when his 24-touchdown 2018 gave hope for quality production in 2019. But this Virginia Tech offense, for whatever reason, is hitting a tailspin of which I'm not sure it can pull out. And Willis facing a rested Miami team on the road does not set up well for a turnaround for him and the Hokies offense. 

BIG 12

Start

Charlie Brewer, QB, Baylor at Kansas State

Brewer's performance against a tough Iowa State defense is worthy of some major praise. He surpassed 300 passing yards for the second straight week while throwing three touchdowns for the third time this season. And the fact that it was against Iowa State is all the more impressive given that the Cyclones had a top-20 defense in S&P+ entering the weekend. 

Now he has to go on the road against a respectable Kansas State defense, but it's time to start trusting Brewer beyond just the cupcake matchups. Kansas State might scare people after it held Spencer Sanders to 153 yards and a touchdown through the air, and that's understandable. It's just that an experienced quarterback with a strong track record like Brewer's is enough to make him worth starting.

SIT

Sam James, WR, West Virginia vs. Texas

Admittedly, Texas has shown some cracks in its secondary this season, allowing 314 passing yards per game with a 65.1 completion percentage. I'm just not sold that West Virginia can take advantage of those cracks. 

James is the clear No. 1 in this offense, holding a 28.4 percent market share while no one else is north of 15 percent. He also averages just 6.6 YPT, and even if the game flow leads to West Virginia leaning heavily on the pass,  his minimal damage on a per-target basis makes it easy to bench him in standard or 0.5 PPR formats.

BIG TEN

START

Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota vs Illinois

I don't know how they're doing it, but the Gophers are undefeated and we're into October. The results have been uncomfortable each week with a combined win differential of 20 points against the likes of South Dakota, Fresno State, Georgia Southern and Purdue. The offense hasn't been the problem, though, and Bateman is a big reason why.

The P.J. Fleck offense is finally taking shape and Bateman is perfectly suited to thrive within it. He has a target share higher than 32 percent and averages an absurd 15.5 yards per target. Only Clemson's Tee Higgins averages more per target among receivers with at least 30 targets. Now Bateman  faces Illinois's shaky defense that ranks 87th nationally in S&P+. Green light for Bateman, and if you're really pinched for options, you could probably do worse than Tanner Morgan at quarterback this week. 

SIT

Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan vs. Iowa

The Hawkeyes rank ahead of Florida and just behind Clemson in terms of fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks at 12.6. Patterson obviously got back on the right foot against Rutgers last  weekend, but his showings against tougher defenses dating to last season should give investors  pause. He averaged just 18.3 fantasy points against Big Ten competition in 2018 and  struggled against Wisconsin on the road in Week 4. And, frankly, his numbers against Rutgers were inflated by some goal-line touchdown runs. Even with this being a home game, it's difficult to trust Patterson versus good defense, and Iowa's defense certainly qualifies. 

C-USA

START

James Morgan, QB, Florida International vs. Massachusetts

A slow start and an ankle injury derailed Morgan's start to the season. When he returned to form with 394 yards and three total touchdowns against Louisiana Tech, it should have signaled that Morgan was back to being a useful fantasy quarterback.

He's had the week off and now draws a home matchup against Massachusetts, which still ranks 130th in defensive S&P+ despite pulling off the win over Akron in Week 5. Morgan, who threw for 26 touchdowns last year, is in a prime spot to start paying off for those who drafted him in deep leagues or scooped him off waivers after the Louisiana Tech game.

SIT

Gaej Walker, RB, Western Kentucky at Old Dominion

Walker has established himself as the lead back for the Hilltoppers, but his production had already started to wane before the Steven Duncan injury. The Week 5 outing against UAB painted a bleak picture of what this run game might look like. Walker was held to 19 yards on 12 carries against the Blazers and now faces Conference USA's second-toughest run defense in Old Dominion, which allows just 2.8 yards per carry and 94.0 rushing yards per game. 

MAC

START

Jon Wassink, QB, Western Michigan vs. Toledo

The Rockets have gotten off to a strong start, entering MAC play at 3-1. The defense hasn't had much to do with that success, though. Toledo allows 300 yards per game and opponents are completing 64 percent of their passes against its secondary. 

Enter Wassink, who sports a 9.3 YPA with a 293.2 yards per game average. This game has one of the higher over/unders on the board this week and Wassink's ability is a big reason why. With all his top weapons at his disposal, including ace tight end Gio Ricci, Wassink is a must-start in two-quarterback formats Week 6.

SIT

Justin Hall, WR, Ball State at Northern Illinois

This is a consideration for standard and 0.5 PPR leagues as Hall's target volume (9.8/game) is too bankable to leave on the bench in full PPR formats. But in the aforementioned scoring systems, Hall doesn't project to do enough with those targets to be worth a start. He averages just 6.0 yards per target and has just one touchdown on 39 targets. Riley Miller, Antwan Davis and Yo'Heinz Tyler are more explosive options with higher touchdown upside than Hall. Northern Illinois doesn't have a prohibitively good defense, but Hall's role and production to this point suggest that he's a bench candidate in Week 6.

Mountain West

START

Nate Craig-Myers, WR, Colorado State vs. San Diego State

Craig-Myers has officially found his stride with his new team after sitting out the first three games of the year to satisfy transfer requirements. Through two games, he has eight catches for 185 yards on 14 targets. Warren Jackson's iffy status further increases Craig-Myers' importance in the Rams' passing attack, so even with this being a tough matchup against the Aztecs, the Auburn transfer still has the green light. 

San Jose State receivers Tre Walker and Bailey Gaither also get a nod this week going up against a putrid New Mexico pass defense.

SIT

Charles Williams, RB, UNLV vs. Boise State

Williams' knee issue not withstanding, this is a brutal matchup for him and the UNLV rushing attack. He was held to less than 4.0 yards per carry by Wyoming before exiting the game with a knee issue and is now tasked with facing a Boise State defense that ranks 16th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. With Armani Rogers (knee) also dinged up, Boise State will be able to focus on neutralizing the UNLV run game and shutting down Williams. Even if he's good to go, Williams should be left on the bench Saturday.

I probably won't get cute in starting my Utah State options at LSU coming off a bye, even if the Tiger defense has lagged behind the offense for a change.

PAC-12

START

Aaron Fuller, WR, Washington vs Stanford

I can't emphasize this enough: Stanford's secondary is terrible. The Cardinal allow 287 passing yards per game at 9.4 yards per pass attempt. Opponents have thrown 11 touchdowns on Stanford through five games. Oregon State even threw for 337 on the Cardinal. 

Fuller stands out as the Washington receiver to own — his 27.2 percent target share is tops on the team and his 8.2 YPT is tops among Huskies receivers with at least 10 targets. He has seen at least seven targets in every game, including 19 combined targets in his last two games. Fuller is clearly Jacob Eason's favorite target and is a must-start against the Cardinal.

SIT

Cameron Scarlett, RB, Stanford at Washington

Volume is often the starting point when making lineup decisions, and Scarlett has high marks in that regard, ranking 15th in the nation with 18.8 yards per carry. But what happens when that volume simply isn't translating to fantasy production?

Scarlett has just one touchdown from scrimmage on 105 touches and now faces a Washington defense that has surrendered five rushing touchdowns on 94 attempts by running backs. That rate implies that there's some positive regression potential from Scarlett, but with Stanford a 16-point underdog and an implied total of just 18.25 points, the game flow could get away from the run game and leave him light on scoring opportunities once again.

SEC

START

Scottie Phillips, RB, Mississippi vs Vanderbilt

Following the volume once again, Phillips checks in with 18.4 carries per game (16th in FBS) and is now positioned to have that workload pay off with  a matchup against Vanderbilt. The Commodores rank 114th in defensive S&P+ and 115th in yards per carry allowed. 

Now, Phillips has admittedly been a source of frustration if you've started him either of these last two weeks with a combined 21 carries for 81 yards. He'll probably be dangerously close to drop territory if he can't perform in this spot. But this matchup along with Phillips' otherwise strong track record that includes a 102 YPG average in 2018 before an ankle injury suggests that this is a get-right spot for the Ole Miss running back. 

SIT

Lamical Perine, RB, Florida vs. Auburn

This sets up as the best SEC game of the weekend with a pair of top-10 unbeatens squaring off in The Swamp. It doesn't set up as a great game for fantasy purposes, though, at a 47.5 over/under. Perine, the leader of the Florida backfield, averages just 3.6 yards per carry through his 55 attempts this season. That doesn't inspire confidence when Auburn's defense, which allows 3.03 YPC, is coming to town. With a brutal schedule upcoming, Perine might find himself in drop territory now. 

SUN BELT

START

Kaleb Barker, QB, Troy at Missouri

This has to be one of the most fun Sun Belt-SEC matchups possible with Troy's high-flying offense heading to Columbia to face Missouri in a clash where defense might be lacking. Barker obviously has a tougher challenge than his Missouri counterpart Kelly Bryant, but there's still reason to believe he can succeed against the Tigers defense.

Barker checks in with 13 passing touchdowns against just two picks while completing 65 percent of his passes. Now, Missouri's 135.5 passing yards allowed per game might look imposing on its surface, but facing passing offenses like Wyoming's and West Virginia's — not to mention Southeast Missouri's — can make any secondary look good. Even if Missouri's defense stifles Barker on a per-attempt basis. his 41.5 attempt per game average should be enough to carry him to starter-level production.

SIT

Caleb Evans, QB, UL-Monroe vs. Memphis

Memphis is arguably Evans' toughest draw to this point in terms of matchup. The Tigers boast the nation's top pass defense, allowing 5.4 yards per attempt and a 41.6 completion rate over 77 passes.  I know playing Navy helps pad the stats, but still. 

Evans has been improved as a passer and shouldn't struggle to the Memphis season averages, but this still sets up to be one of his worst games of the year. His rushing success, which has been vital to his fantasy value the last two years, will dictate his success Saturday. Unfortunately, he has just one game with more than 32 yards rushing. If Evans is unable to make an impact as a runner, this  likely will end in a disappointing fantasy result from him.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John McKechnie
John is the 2016 and 2021 FSWA College Writer of the Year winner. He is a Maryland native and graduate of the University of Georgia. He's been writing for RotoWire since 2014.
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