6 Fantasy Stars to Watch in Week 6
As the weeks go by, fantasy football becomes less of an adventure and more of a daily ritual. Five games into the season for your team, you certainly have some understanding of what a player is going to do.
You still have to pay close attention to the matchups on defense, but you finally understand what makes your players and roster tick.
If you are a player who likes to take risks with your lineup each week, well, you are probably floating near the bottom of the standings in your league, searching for some sort of lifeline.
Taking risks is a bold strategy, though one that rarely pays off in a big way. No, what you need is some semblance of stability at the top. If there are certain positions where you want to play the odds, go right ahead.
Studs are the life blood of fantasy football. It is no different than in the real NFL—if you don't have superstars producing in your lineup, you are never going to get anywhere.
So as preparation for Week 6, which starts on Thursday with Tennessee traveling to Pittsburgh, here are the fantasy stars we are paying close attention to.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
2012 Stats Through Week 5: 102 carries, 551 yards, 2 TD; 15 receptions, 118 yards, 1 TD
Week 6 Opponent: at Tampa Bay (4th in NFL in Run Defense)
There is not a better running back in the NFL right now than Jamaal Charles. He is the only running back in the NFL with at least 100 carries who averages at least five yards per carry, and he leads the league in rushing yards and scores enough in an offense that doesn't score a lot.
Tampa Bay's problems on defense have been in the secondary, which is a stark contrast to where it has been in recent years—opponents have averaged at least 132 yards on the ground per game in the last three years.
But fantasy owners can rest easy, because Charles has shown no problems picking apart teams that have good defensive fronts. In Week 1 against Atlanta, Charles ran for 87 yards on 16 carries. Last week, he had 140 yards against the Ravens.
The Buccaneers are a team lost on an island. They have no idea what they are doing from week to week. Look for Charles to keep his hot streak going.
Ben Roethlisberger & Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers
Roethlisberger's 2012 Stats: 103-for-157, 1,111 yards, 8 TD, 1 INT
Mendenhall's 2012 Stats: 14 carries, 81 yards, 1 TD; 2 receptions, 20 yards
Whenever you are looking for huge fantasy stats, there are two teams that you can count on to oblige your players: Buffalo and Tennessee.
The good news for the owners of Roethlisberger and Mendenhall is they get to play the Titans on Thursday. Sure, the game is in Tennessee and teams traveling on a short week tend to look bad, but I wouldn't worry too much about that in this situation.
Prior to last week's game against the Eagles, Roethlisberger had thrown at least two touchdown passes in each game this season. He has completely destroyed terrible defenses this season, throwing for 661 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions against the Jets and Raiders.
Mendenhall had a very good debut last week vs. the Eagles. The Steelers needed a spark to rejuvenate their stagnant running game, and they finally got it with the return of their starting back.
The Titans are a mess right now. They are 29th in yards allowed, giving up almost 280 through the air and 144 on the ground. This is a recipe for disaster for them, but fantasy owners will be smiling wide if they have the Steelers' stars on the roster.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
2012 Stats: 136-for-199, 1,507 yards, 13 TD, 3 INT
Before I tell you anything about Ryan, let me give you the numbers for opposing quarterbacks against the Raiders already this year.
Philip Rivers: 24-for-33, 231 yards, 1 TD
Ryan Tannehill: 18-for-30, 200 yards, 1 TD
Ben Roethlisberger: 36-for-49, 384 yards, 4 TD
Peyton Manning: 30-for-38, 338 yards, 3 TD
Two things that jump out are the completion percentages and the fact that the Raiders have not recorded one interception through four games.
Ryan has yet to play even a mediocre game this season. His worst game was probably last week against Washington, when he threw for 345 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
There is no hope in Oakland for the Raiders, so fans out there need to hope that the A's can figure out a way to get back in their series with Detroit.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
2012 Stats: 30 receptions, 513 yards, 2 TD
It hasn't always been a smooth ride for Thomas this season, but working with Peyton Manning has really allowed his talent to shine through five games. He is second in the NFL in receiving yards and is tied for 11th with 30 receptions.
On top of those numbers, Thomas has three 100-yard receiving games already and had his best game of the year in Week 4 against New England with nine receptions for 188 yards.
This week, Thomas has another very favorable matchup in the San Diego Chargers, who rank 20th in the NFL in pass yards allowed. The top receiver for opposing teams has gone off for at least 86 yards in four of the first five games.
We have seen in the past what happens with Manning when he gets comfortable and develops a good rapport with a player. Thomas certainly appears to be the next receiver in a long line of great ones that Manning has established a connection with throughout his career.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
2012 Stats: 97 carries, 437 yards, 1 TD; 18 receptions, 86 yards, 1 TD
I am going to keep saying this until it eventually happens: LeSean McCoy is going to get at least 25 carries this week.
Yes, McCoy already has one game of 25 carries in 2012, but that is not nearly enough considering where the Eagles are at right now and how good McCoy can be when he actually touches the ball.
In fact, if you look at the games the Eagles have won, there is a common theme to all of them: McCoy has gotten at least 20 carries. In the two games they have lost, McCoy has a total of 29 carries.
Ranting aside, McCoy should have no problems finding his groove against a Lions team that is one of the most undisciplined you will see in the NFL. They need everything to go perfectly, or else they will fold like a cheap tent.
This is one case where I am ignoring the opponent's statistical performance, because the Lions haven't really been bad defending the run. They are 13th in the league, allowing 102.8 yards per game, which isn't great but is still respectable.
McCoy has to be the focal point of what the Eagles do on offense, so look for him to have one of his best games of the season.