2022 Fantasy Football Week 6 Sleepers Heat Check

by Malcolm McMillan
2022 Fantasy Football Week 6 Sleepers Heat Check

Week 6 of the 2022 NFL season is here! This means it's time for the 2022 Fantasy Football Week 6 Sleepers Heat Check!

No episode of The Lateral Show this week, but stay tuned for next week. At that point, The Lateral Duo of Herms and McLateral should no longer be Out — though we're always questionable.

Anyway, the big takeaway from last week is I hope you listened to last week's heat check and picked up Geno Smith. Despite (out of context) reports of Drew Lock nipping at Smith's heels, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback had a killer week against the New Orleans Saints.

Even though the Seahawks ultimately lost the game 32-39, Smith threw three touchdowns and zero interceptions en route to a 24.0-point finish. Don't look now, but Smith has been the best quarterback not named Josh Allen in fantasy football over the past three weeks.

Too bad he's no longer available in most leagues.

2022 Fantasy Football Week 6 Sleepers Heat Check

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Week 5 Heat Check Recap

Aside from advising you to pick up Smith, I also said to scoop up New York Jets wide receiver Corey Davis in the 2022 Fantasy Football Week 5 Sleepers Heat Check. Unfortunately, while Davis still led the Jets in targets against the Miami Dolphins in Week 5, it only led to 4.8 half-point-per-reception (half-PPR) fantasy points. As long as Zach Wilson remains either the starter or a bad quarterback, Jets receivers could be in trouble.

Luckily, I managed to be two for three in Week 5. Will Dissly was a dud for the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5, though through no fault of his own. Smith may be a great quarterback so far in 2022, but until the Seahawks stop using multiple tight ends, Dissly is boom or bust. Keep staying away.

As always, I covered my methodology for the Heat Check in the Week 1 article, so read that if you want to know how the Heat Check is done. The only difference is this week our sample size is strictly Week 3 to Week 5 of the 2022 NFL season.

Wide Receivers

Alec Pierce, Indianapolis Colts

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Week 5's Thursday Night Football matchup may have been a slog, but Alec Pierce put up some great numbers. The Indianapolis Colts wide receiver led the team in targets, receptions and receiving yards in their win over the Denver Broncos. Pretty good considering he outperformed Michael Pittman Jr., the team's top wide receiver.

Still, this has done nothing to sway the experts — or fantasy football managers. Pierce is rostered in 36% of Yahoo leagues and just 21% of ESPN leagues. This is despite being the WR27 over the past three weeks, which was just ahead of Ja'Marr Chase. But the experts cannot be swayed; Pierce is half-PPR WR43 in Week 6 FantasyPros expert consensus rankings (ECR) and WR63 in rest of season (ROS) ECR. So who is right? The experts or the numbers?

Alec Pierce 2022 Fantasy Football Week 6 Sleepers Heat Check

A lot of the antipathy regarding Alec Pierce probably comes down to the Indianapolis Colts' offense. The Colts surprisingly have the seventh most plays through five weeks in the NFL, but are dead last in points and 25th in total yards. It also probably doesn't help that quarterback Matt Ryan leads the league in interceptions.

Here's the thing though: this tells us the Colts generate opportunities. They are currently eight in total pass attempts, which suggests that they can feed multiple receivers. Over the past two weeks, Pierce has seen as many targets as Pittman Jr. or more in each game. He also sees significantly less difficult coverage from opposing defenses, leading to the 13th-best target quality rating according to PlayerProfiler.

If you have the roster spot, I would add Pierce now. He is one of the better WR2s in the league and he definitely has the potential to be a WR3/WR4 for the rest of the season.

Russell Gage, Tampa Bay Buccanneers

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People were excited when Russell Gage decided to team up with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Then the Bucs proceeded to sign Julio Jones, got Chris Godwin back fairly early and have underwhelmed on offense the first couple of weeks of the season. This allowed Gage to fall to the wayside despite an ADP of WR53 in half-PPR leagues.

Since Week 3 though, Gage has started to turn things around, performing as the half-PPR WR32 over that time. The Bucs still have one of the highest-volume passing offenses even if it isn't translating into points on the board, which probably hasn't hurt Gage.

Experts are less convinced that Gage can sustain this performance. Week 6 ECR has Gage at half-PPR WR53 despite Jones likely missing another week and a tasty matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But WR53 is still slightly better than half-PPR WR55, which is where Gage sits in ROS ECR. Are the experts right to fade Gage?

Russell Gage 2022 Fantasy Football Week 6 Sleepers Heat Check

Russell Gage, shockingly, leads the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in targets through five weeks. That matters when you're on the fourth-highest volume passing offense in the NFL.

Unfortunately, it also matters how those targets are spread out, and for Gage, they mostly came in Week 3 against the Green Bay Packers. Even worse for Gage, it is pretty easy to see why he got so many targets that week. No Mike Evans, no Chris Godwin and no Julio Jones meant there was no competition for Gage. Gage saw 13 targets that week and scored 18.7 half-PPR points. He's scored just 16 half-PPR points in the other four weeks combined.

Gage can maybe be used if he's guaranteed to be a number one or number two target for Tom Brady. But otherwise, fantasy football managers need to stay away. When everyone is healthy, Gage is a fourth target at best.

Tight End

Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers

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Tight end is a wasteland. New Orleans Saints tight end Taysom Hill was the half-PPR TE4 over the past three weeks. He saw literally zero targets during that time and even missed a game. So it's surprising that Robert Tonyan, a Top 12 tight end who actually catches passes, is rostered in just 39% of Yahoo leagues and 27% of ESPN leagues and Hill can't be found on a waiver wire.

Plus Tonyan has done this before. In 2020 Tonyan finished as the TE3 in half-PPR. He has brand name recognition and a Hall of Fame quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. So why do the experts think so little of him? Surely Tonyan should be ranked higher than TE13 against the New York Jets and TE20 rest of season in half-PPR leagues, right?

Robert Tonyan 2022 Fantasy Football Week 6 Sleepers Heat Check

First, I am actually surprised Tonyan is ranked TE13 this week. The Jets are just the 17th-best matchup for opposing tight ends, which is league average. Tonyan is not seeing a ton of targets that suggest he will outperform those expectations. Currently, Tonyan is 17th in targets at the tight end position.

If you are not getting targets at tight end, you need to score touchdowns. Tonyan has not done that either. He only has one touchdown through five weeks. The one thing Tonyan has going for him is red zone targets. He is second on the Packers in red-zone targets, which suggests Rodgers likes to look for Tonyan when the Packers need a score.

Ultimately, Tonyan is a streaming option. Against the Jets, I would pass on playing him unless you do not have a better option. The one time I may look at Tonyan is a stretch of games from Week 9 to Week 11. He gets the Detroit Lions (eighth-best matchup for opposing tight ends) in Week 9 and the Tennessee Titans (sixth-best matchup for opposing tight ends) in Week 11. Unfortunately, that means you may need to hold Tonyan for Week 10 when the Packers play the Dallas Cowboys (25th-best matchup for opposing tight ends). Regardless, I'm not dying to get Tonyan on my roster anytime soon.


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