Five up, five down for Week 6
Are you scrambling at quarterback or running back due to injuries and bye weeks? Our Nathan Zegura shares his top starting options for owners for Week 6.
Disclaimer ... Before you start reading, please understand that we are not in the business of stating the obvious and wasting your time (or ours), so you won't be reading here why you need to start Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, Calvin Johnson or any other top-tier players. We're here to help you make a decision on players you are on the fence about.
The high-flying offense of the Saints will not be producing for you this week. You will also be without Cam Newton, Steve Smith and the Panthers. Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler of the Bears are also out of your lineups. While that is tough, the Week 6 byes also mean that you will not be able to feast on the suspect defenses of the Saints, Panthers and Jaguars. To help you sort through the mess and stay on the winning track, here are five to start and five to sit for Week 6.
Get 'em active ...
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans (vs. GB)
Current own/start %: 98/49
I'd start him over: Tony Romo (at BAL), Joe Flacco (vs. DAL), Eli Manning (at SF)
Something is wrong in Green Bay right now and that something is the pass defense. It was bad in 2011 and it is worse this year, as the Packers can not stop anyone who can throw the ball (just ask Andrew Luck, who carved them up on a 14-play game winning drive in Week 5). Luck finished that game with 32 Fantasy points and he is the second straight quarterback (Drew Brees was the other) to top 30 points against Green Bay. In the last two weeks, the Packers have allowed 808 yards and five touchdowns passing and while Schaub won't blow up like that, he should have a solid 20-point day. Four quarterbacks have hit at least 18 points against the Packers and three have produced at least 23, with the lone exception being Jay Cutler in an ugly Thursday night debacle. The Packers have allowed multiple passing scores in three straight games and in four out of five to start the season. With Green Bay having to be very concerned about the league's best running back in Arian Foster, look for Matt Schaub to be able to carve up the Packers on play action. I think both Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels will have big days. If you are without Cam Newton, Jay Cutler or Drew Brees, Schaub is a great option for you this week.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Cardinals (vs. BUF)
Current own/start %: 44/18
I'd start him over: Tony Romo (at BAL), Christian Ponder (at WAS), Ryan Fitzpatrick (at ARI)
I am sure no one enjoyed the 10 days to recover after a Thursday night beating at the hands of the Rams more than Kevin Kolb. The reason he enjoyed it so much was that he knew in Week 6 he would get to lick his wounds against the hapless Bills. Buffalo is giving up a league-high 27.4 points per game to opposing quarterbacks and it should come as no surprise that they have also allowed a league high 12 passing scores. Four of the five quarterbacks who have faced the Bills this year have finished in the Top 12 at the position and each of them has produced at least 22 points. Three quarterbacks have thrown for three touchdowns against the Bills this year and in the last two weeks alone, Tom Brady and Alex Smith have thrown for 650 yards and six touchdowns. The Bills have also allowed a quarterback to run for a score (Brady and Colin Kaepernick) in those last two games. Yep, over the last two weeks, the Bills have given up 79 points to quarterbacks, which is more than 11 teams have allowed to quarterbacks all season! With Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells both out, the Cardinals will need to throw it, throw it and then throw it some more this week. Before Week 5, Kolb had posted back-to-back games of 21 and 26 points respectively and he will get back over 20 points this week against the Bills as a tremendous "Bye Week Broski."
Other QBs with favorable matchups: Philip Rivers (vs. DEN), Andrew Luck (at NYJ), Michael Vick (vs. DET), Matthew Stafford (at PHI), Ben Roethlisberger (at TEN), Peyton Manning (at SD) Bye Week Broski: Brandon Weeden (vs. CIN)
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers (vs. TEN)
Current own/start %: 97/64
I'd start him over: Ahmad Bradshaw (at SF), Alfred Morris (vs. MIN), Chris Johnson (vs. PIT)
I have vowed to stay away from Thursday night games, but once again, I just can't help myself. I feel very good about it this week though, because we know which team will dominate the point of attack. The Titans are a bad football team and the Steelers will be able to get the push up front to lead Rashard Mendenhall to a very solid Fantasy day. You have to be impressed with his Week 5 debut against the Eagles, as Mendenhall ran 14 times for 81 yards and a touchdown (the score was on a backwards pass to be fair) and added two catches for 20 more yards. He had 101 total yards with the score and was only the second running back all season to produce double-digit Fantasy points against the Eagles. As Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson have shown us, the ACL injury is not what it once was, so I expect Mendenhall to keep rolling in Week 6 against the Titans. Tennessee is giving up 24.2 points per game to running backs this year -- third most in the NFL -- and no opposing primary ball carrier has produced fewer than 103 total yards or nine Fantasy points. Four of the five opposing starters have produced 14 points or better and I think Mendenhall will find the end zone against a team that has given up 1.2 running back scores per week.
Vick Ballard, RB, Colts (at NYJ)
Current own/start %: 3/0
I'd start him over: Steven Jackson (at MIA), Alex Green (at HOU), Chris Johnson (vs. PIT)
One man's injury is another man's opportunity and with Donald Brown going down in Indianapolis, Ballard will get the chance to step up. He will also get the chance to step into many lineups now that owners have to deal with bye weeks and injuries to expected Week 6 starters like Brown and Cedric Benson. Brown himself had put up at least nine Fantasy points in three of the first four games of the year for the Colts, so they have been able to generate solid production from the running back spot thus far. Ballard has not done anything in his rookie season, but that should change against the bad run defense of the New York Jets. Through five games, the Jets have been extremely generous to opposing runners and no primary runner has been held under nine points against them all season long. For the year, they have allowed a league-high seven rushing touchdowns to running backs and are giving up 24.6 points per game to the position, fourth most. The Jets are surrendering 172 yards rushing each week, which is second most in the NFL. Already, the Jets have allowed five runners to top 11 points against them and Ballard could easily be the sixth. With some big name runners either on a bye or having a brutal matchup, this is the week to dial up Ballard as a "Bye Week Broski" No. 2 running back or flex option against a Jets team that has allowed at least 27 points to running backs in three straight games.
Other RBs with favorable matchups: DeMarco Murray (at BAL), Trent Richardson (vs. CIN), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at CLE), Doug Martin (vs. KC), Bye Week Broskis: Shonn Greene/Bilal Powell if Tim Tebow starts (vs. IND), LeGarrette Blount (vs. KC), Daniel Thomas (vs. STL)
Andre Roberts, WR, Cardinals (vs. BUF)
Current own/start %: 85/41
I'd start him over: Anquan Boldin (vs. DAL), Brandon Lloyd (at SEA), Denarius Moore (at ATL)
Andre Roberts was on my sit list for Week 5, but he is back on the start list for Week 6 against the Bills. Roberts has scored in six of his last nine games dating back to 2011 and while he did struggle in Week 5, I loved that he saw 10 targets. Roberts is the clear No. 2 receiver in Arizona and since you know I love Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald this week, I also think Andre should get back into the end zone and into your lineups. The Bills have allowed a league-high 10 wide receiver touchdowns this year and six of those have gone to non-primary receivers, also most in the NFL. They are giving up 29.6 points per game to the position this year and they have allowed multiple receiver scores and 31 or more receiver points in three different games. Roberts has seen his targets increase in each of the last three weeks and it will happen again this week due to the fact that Arizona will have to throw the ball on nearly every play. Roberts has a tasty matchup against the Bills and he can help get you through the Marques Colston, Steve Smith and Brandon Marshall bye week blues.
Other WRs and TEs with favorable matchups: Percy Harvin (at WAS), Andre Johnson (vs. GB), Jeremy Maclin/DeSean Jackson (vs. DET), Vincent Jackson (vs. KC), James Jones (at HOU), Sidney Rice (vs. NE), Steve Johnson (at ARI), Mike Wallace/Antonio Brown (at TEN), Heath Miller (at TEN), Owen Daniels (vs. GB), Fred Davis (vs. MIN), Kyle Rudolph (at WAS) Bye Week Broskis: Josh Gordon (vs. CIN), Mike Williams (vs. KC), Dennis Pitta (vs. DAL)
Ride the pine ...
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys (at BAL)
Current own/start %: 97/20
I'd rather start: Ben Roethlisberger (at TEN), Kevin Kolb (vs. ARI), Christian Ponder (at WAS)
The Ravens have not allowed a quarterback to throw for multiple passing touchdowns against them in 23 straight regular season games. That is the daunting trend that Tony Romo has to try and deal with coming off of the bye week, which followed a disastrous five-interception loss to the Bears in Week 4. Romo has not produced 20 Fantasy points in a game since Week 1 when he had 29 against the Giants. Since then, Romo has a grand total of 27 Fantasy points and has been a huge bust. The Ravens are giving up just 11 Fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, due in large part to the fact that they have allowed a league-low two passing touchdowns all year long. Only Michael Vick has topped 20 points against the Ravens in 2012 and he needed nine points with his legs to get there. Tom Brady, who is on a different level than Romo, managed just 19 points against this Ravens team and that is why I don't see any reason to start Tony in Week 6. I do believe in him long term and would absolutely buy low after the stinker I expect him to have this Sunday, but I am not starting him in any league this week.
Other QBs with tough matchups: Tom Brady (at SEA, but I would not sit him), Robert Griffin III (vs. MIN), Andy Dalton (at CLE), Ryan Tannehill (vs. STL), Carson Palmer (at ATL), Matt Hasselbeck/Jake Locker (vs. PIT)
Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins (vs. MIN)
Current own/start %: 100/82
I'd rather start: DeMarco Murray (at BAL), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at CLE), Donald Brown (at NYJ)
Alfred Morris has been a Top 12 Fantasy running back in four of the first five weeks of the NFL season, which is mighty impressive. Equally impressive is the fact that no running back has finished in the Top 12 or produced double-digit Fantasy points against the unbelievably stout run defense of the Vikings. Minnesota enters Week 6 with the league's second toughest defense on running backs. They are giving up 7.8 Fantasy points per game to the position (second), 57.4 yards rushing per game (fourth) on 3.0 yards per carry (third) and they are one of only two teams that have yet to allow a single running back touchdown. Even scarier for Alfred Morris is that of the 7.8 points per game that the Vikings are allowing this year, more than half of it is coming from receiving totals, as backs are averaging 45 receiving yards per game. Morris doesn't even have 45 yards receiving on the season and has just two catches for 16 yards in five games total. So, all of his production will have to come on the ground against the Purple People Eaters and that is a scary prospect. Robert Griffin III could be out for this game as he recovers from a concussion and if that is the case, it will only mean more defensive pressure on Morris. He has been and is a flat out stud, but this is a week to temper your expectations for Alf and look for other options.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants (at SF)
Current own/start %: 100/80
I'd rather start: Stevan Ridley (at SEA), Rashard Mendenhall (at TEN), Fred Jackson (at ARI)
Fresh off of a career-best 200 yards rushing against the Browns in Week 5, Bradshaw will get brought back to earth against the brick wall known as the 49ers run defense. This year, the 49ers have not allowed a single runner (or group of runners for that matter) to reach 90 yards rushing or score a single touchdown against them. In fact, only one group of running backs has even topped 70 yards rushing against the 49ers, who are allowing a league-low 6.2 Fantasy points per week. Despite facing the talented duo of the Bills last week, the fact still remains that only one runner has even topped six points against them. That runner was Adrian Peterson, who needed 27 touches to get to 10 Fantasy points in Week 3. Keep in mind that only one running back has produced 100 yards rushing against the 49ers in their last 44 games and they have allowed only two running back rushing scores in their last 22 games. With only two runners above 80 yards (AP and Marshawn Lynch) in the last 22 games as well, it will take a big receiving effort from Bradshaw to produce double-digit points in Week 6. In the 2011 NFC Championship Game, Bradshaw did have 12 points against the 49ers on 26 touches and had a season-high 52 receiving yards. Keep in mind that five receiving Fantasy points for Bradshaw is an aberration and it has happened only five times in 74 career games. If you are out of options, you can hope for the best with Bradshaw, but I'd rather take my big Week 5 and run before dialing AB back up in Week 7 against Washington.
Steven Jackson, RB, STL (at MIA)
Current own/start %: 99/52
I'd rather start: Mikel Leshoure (at PHI), Chris Johnson (vs. PIT), Doug Martin (vs. KC)
After holding BenJarvus Green-Ellis to just 14 yards on nine carries in Week 5, the Dolphins remain the league's top run defense, giving up just 61.4 yards per game on the ground. They are ceding just 2.8 yards per carry -- also best in the NFL -- and no running back has rushed for a touchdown or produced double-digit Fantasy points against them since Arian Foster did it in Week 1. When you also consider that no running back has run for 80 yards or averaged more than 3.0 yards per carry (with a minimum of six carries) against this defense, it seems like we are in store for another week of disappointment from Mr. Jackson. After all, Jackson himself has not scored a single touchdown, produced double-digit Fantasy points or run for 80 yards in a single game this year either. I am sorry Miss Jackson, I am for real when I say Steven has to be sitting on the bench in Week 6 against the Fins.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens (vs. DAL)
Current own/start %: 99/55
I'd rather start: Malcom Floyd (vs. DEN), Sidney Rice (vs. NE), Michael Crabtree (vs. NYG)
Over the last two weeks, Anquan Boldin has been the leading receiver for the Ravens, catching 13 of his team-high 22 targets for 213 yards. Boldin has produced at least eight Fantasy points in three of his four games this year -- including the last two -- but also has two stinkers with a combined four points. This week he takes on a Cowboys team that has allowed just two receivers all year long -- Brandon Marshall and Devin Hester -- in the Week 4 blowout, to even top six points against them. In fact, Marshall is the only receiver all year who has even eclipsed the 60-yard mark against this lockdown defense that has had two weeks to prepare for the Ravens. Boldin has been a hot topic given his excellent play of late, but both he and Torrey Smith (who will need a bomb or a score to succeed) will have a long day at the office against the Cowboys, who are giving up 14.5 points (second fewest) and 0.5 touchdowns (fifth fewest) per game.
Some WRs and TEs with tough matchups: Brian Hartline (vs. STL), Domenik Hixon/Hakeem Nicks (at SF), Pierre Garcon (vs. MIN), Nate Washington (vs. PIT), Nate Burleson (at PHI), Davone Bess (vs. STL), Darrius Heyward-Bey (at OAK), Jermaine Gresham (at CLE)
Good luck this week!
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