6 Fantasy Football sleeper picks to consider in Week 6

Gardner Minshew #10 of the Indianapolis Colts
Gardner Minshew should enjoy a solid revenge game in Week 6. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) (Justin Casterline via Getty Images)

Sleeper is a nebulous term in fantasy football. One size never fits all with any column.

My goal with this piece is to help you consider fantasy players that might be overlooked or under-appreciated, be it as temporary fill-ins, possible depth grabs or maybe the impetus for a prop play or DFS slot. As always, your mileage may vary, and you know your league — and particular needs — better than an outsider ever could.

It was an ordinary return for the sleeper page last week. Curtis Samuel came through (and is worth another shot this week; just 31% rostered) and Zach Ertz was a semi-hit, as someone mentioned in passing. The other plays were a net loss, but that’s life in the sleeper streets. We know what we’re dealing with.

QB Sam Howell (36%, at Atlanta)

Howell has turned into a fantasy quarterback you can sometimes play, but you might not want to watch. He’s taking far too many sacks, and sometimes he’ll trust his athleticism too much and it will take him down a bad road (witness the touchdown he gifted Arizona in Week 1). But the Falcons have one of the worst pass rushes in the league (just five sacks), so perhaps Howell will have more time to operate this week (just be aware, sacks are generally more of a quarterback stat than a blocking stat).

Washington OC Eric Bieniemy isn’t afraid to steer into a pass-heavy script, especially if the Commanders fall behind. I won’t advise you to watch three hours of Washington football (and the Falcons can drive you crazy too), but I’ll approve Howell for a deeper-league start or streaming consideration.

QB Gardner Minshew (6%, at Jacksonville)

A Gardner Minshew revenge game? I’m here for it. The Colts offense has interesting pieces — a legitimate downfield target hog in Michael Pittman Jr., an emerging (and sleeper-worthy) option in Josh Downs, a backfield that now features Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss, and the creative schemes of new head coach Shane Steichen. The Jaguars are below average in YPA allowed, and they’re about league average in passer rating allowed.

The timing of the game also favors the Colts — Jacksonville returns to America after a two-game London junket and a big upset win over Buffalo. It’s possible the Jaguars come out flat in this spot. I expect the Colts offense to keep this competitive, and at least meet their implied total of 21 points. Minshew is approved if you need to dig deep.

Derrick Henry managers don’t like to think about this, but Spears has a meaty role in the Tennessee offense. Spears has absorbed 37 touches in four weeks, including a 12-touch, 69-yard game (with a touchdown) last week. Spears is obviously the preferred receiving option of the two backs, and it’s possible Tennessee might have to chase the game a bit against Baltimore. This isn’t merely a contingency pick for your backfield; Spears now has to be seen as someone who offers standalone value. And if Henry ever encountered an injury, Spears could be a needle-moving pick, especially considering some of the juicy matchups Tennessee has set for the second half of the year.

Even if Spears is rostered in your league, keep him at the top of mind. Tennessee has a Week 7 bye, and unless he blows up in this spot, he could be dropped in some groups next week. If so, be ready to pounce.

We mentioned Curtis Samuel and Josh Downs in passing above, and both of those plays are preferred to Cooks. But maybe you need to drop a level, and that’s where I’ll consider the Dallas receiver. The Cowboys offense has looked lost in two recent losses, but the Chargers defense is a get-well unit — it’s allowing 8.3 YPA and the most fantasy points to wide receivers. And although Cooks hasn’t popped in any game, it’s not like he’s been completely ignored — he’s absorbed 15 targets in three weeks. If he moves that usage up a little bit, he could sneak into WR3 territory at a time when the receiver landscape is especially barren.

(If you’re looking for a Minnesota wideout in this space, note that Jordan Addison is already over 90% rostered in Yahoo, and K.J. Osborn has chased to 61%. They’re fine plays, they just don’t fit the aim of this column.)

The Saints defense is often a group to avoid, but Schultz still is worth considering. He’s coming off a season-best 7-65-1 return (on 10 targets), and the Texans receiver room is dealing with cluster injuries. C.J. Stroud obviously trusts Schultz in key spots, and especially at the goal line (touchdowns in two straight weeks). Schultz is another player I’d consider holding through his Week 7 bye — the Houston schedule has a ton of green matchups (that is, plus matchups) in the second half of the year.

Raiders D/ST (36%, vs. New England)

The Falcons defense will get plenty of fantasy chase with Sam Howell’s sack problem coming to town, but maybe Atlanta’s pass rush can’t take full advantage. I’m interested in a Raiders defense that was surprisingly active in the Monday win over Green Bay. And I simply don’t trust Mac Jones to make good decisions right now; the Patriots offense appears broken. Streaming defenses usually comes down to picking on weak offenses and riding on a home favorite whenever you can. The Raiders check both of those boxes.

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