Fantasy Football Week 6 Rankings: Position-by-Position Breakdown

Alex Dunlap@AlexDunlapNFLContributor IOctober 10, 2012

Fantasy Football Week 6 Rankings: Position-by-Position Breakdown

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    We are scared of snakes and spiders, yet we walk obliviously down the sidewalk as speeding cars pass. 

    Our ancestors didn't worry about speeding cars, driven by idiots, that could kill them at any moment.

    There were no cars. They worried about snakes and spiders that could bite them. A natural ally in reality, but a mortal enemy in their ingrained fiber. The fiber we still carry today—thousands of years later. 

    There are parts of our brain that haven't caught up. Evolution happens slower than innovation, evidently. 

    This is why your stomach hurts if you are 1-4. This is why you feel utterly defeated. You have entered a competition. In your mind, your assets are on the verge of being forfeited to others who will use them to their caveman-like benefit. It hurts.  

    The good news is, you still have time. A 7-6 record generally gets you into the playoffs. I've even seen 6-7 teams make it in 12-team leagues numerous times.

    Teams that get hot toward the end of the season seem to always make the big late-season runs for championships. Fantasy mirrors reality. 

    The 4-1 and 5-0 owners know this, and they can't afford to sit back, either. (They aren't, trust me.)

    This is your Week 6 Fantasy Breakdown.   

The Fine Print

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    Please note that these are my matchup rankings.

    These are not my weekly rankings, as those will not be final until Thursday Night Football kicks off. 

    These are matchup rankings for the most and/or least favorable defensive teams to opposing fantasy players by position. I use this system as a tiebreaker tool for players who project closely to one another when making my weekly player rankings. 

    My comments here are regarding expected beneficiaries of the good matchups and fantasy victims of the bad ones. 

    The matchup rankings are derived via a simple algorithm fraught with difficult variables. These include traditional fantasy points against metrics, but also averaged, weighted variables added for defensive personnel grouping grades obtained via individual player scouting research averaged from three independent scouting services. 

    Each position gets assigned the coverage unit they will face, player by player, and the average of those scores is then used as a variable along with traditional fantasy points/against.

    The reason being, "fantasy points allowed" to a position on its own does not account for outliers or differences in strength of schedule and/or positional opponents faced. Basically, it doesn't predict the unpredictable, which the NFL often is from week to week. 

Running Back

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    Top 4 RB Matchups for Week 6

    1. Arizona Cardinals RBs vs. Buffalo Bills

    A great matchup with near-universally unowned players set to possibly benefit production-wise.

    We're starting out with a doozy here, so let's just lay out the facts:

    Ryan Williams is done for the season.

    Beanie Wells is on IR past a point in time at which you should be rostering him in most every circumstance.

    The Cardinals are crazy if they don't trade for an RB or pick up an unsigned veteran runner. 

    For now, duties will be broken up between William Powell, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Alfonso Smith. 

    Powell looked great in preseason, but I have a feeling Stephens-Howling is the guy to own here if he can come back healthy this week.

    Owners facing bad bye-week situations could do much for worse for a matchup-based, high-upside flex play, especially if someone else claimed Powell, who seems like the hotter name on waiver wires.

    2. Indianapolis Colts RBs at New York Jets

    Only fantasy analysts and Donald Brown owners likely know how dependable Brown has quietly been as a flex play this season (9.55 points a week in standard leagues).

    That is a dependable rock in your flex that serves as a low-end RB2 option. If you look at the TD-dependency ratios, you will see that when/if Brown starts scoring touchdowns, look out. This is a week where you want Brown in your lineups. 

    UPDATE: October 10, 11:35 a.m. CST

    Donald Brown underwent surgery Tuesday for a previously unreported torn-cartilage condition in his knee. OC Bruce Arians has put the timetable for return at two to three weeks, which indicates a minor scope. Run, don't walk, to your waiver wires to scoop up Vick Ballard, who will start in his absence. 

    3. Cleveland Browns RBs vs. Cincinnati Bengals

    Welcome to the NFL, Trent Richardson. I was wondering where you had been.

    What a great display Richardson put on versus the New York Giants on Sunday, making cuts that look like they should tear the artificial surface right off the ground and breaking tackles.

    Richardson also finally got to show off one of his best talents as a pass-catcher, getting targeted seven times and becoming heavily involved in the screen game.

    Great matchup at home versus the Bengals. Roll with Richardson and feel good about it.

    4. New York Jets RBs vs. Indianapolis Colts

    Ugh. These guys. The only thing I hate about being a fantasy writer is having to worry about guys like Bilal Powell and Shonn Greene when I would rather not focus any of my energy on their life-sucking fantasy ineptitude.

    But, it is a good matchup, and Shonn Greene did run hard and look like an NFL running back on a few plays to end the nightmare Monday night versus the Houston Texans.

    I view Powell as, basically, Shonn Greene.

    I don't see that much of a difference in the two backs. However, I have seen Greene show a small bit of burst lately, so I would favor him in this matchup if having to choose between the two.

    Powell played one more snap than Greene on Sunday, so the split looks fairly even otherwise. 

    Worst 4 RB Matchups for Week 6

    1. New York Giants RBs at San Francisco 49ers

    Ahmad Bradshaw went off for 200 yards and a TD on Sunday against the Browns and looked like an All-Pro doing it.

    Fantasy owners then realized, when looking at Bradshaw's Week 6 matchup, that this streak of dominance may be short-lived.

    We have seen runners have success against the 49ers like Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch, but I do not put Ahmad Bradshaw in that same category.

    However, Roy Helu did have a big game against San Francisco last season when getting heavily involved in the passing game, which Bradshaw can certainly do. That is all wishful thinking. Downgrade expectations, and not from last week's 26-point outlier, either.

    From the usual. From 11 points.  

    2. Washington Redskins RBs vs. Minnesota Vikings

    So much for Shanny and his fantasy RB shenanigans.

    Alfred Morris has been nothing short of a dream come true for fantasy owners; thus far, a welcomed painkiller for RBBC headaches past in Washington.

    Morris is fantasy's sixth-best runner and is rostered in many leagues by owners who picked him up off of waivers or at the tail end of drafts.

    I have noticed Morris owners have been among the most active in my re-draft leagues in shopping trades for other high-end talent on rosters.

    They have an unexpected RB1 in Morris, whom they rightfully believe in. Now, in this game we play, the correct move is to transfer your bench depth into depth you can use on your starting roster.

    Squash the competition as they struggle with bye-week nightmares.

    Morris owners should be shipping away guys like DeMarco Murray and Dwayne Bowe in packages for Calvin Johnson and the like. 

    All that said, I hate this matchup, and I am seriously tempering expectations for Morris this week. I'm a little worried about Robert Griffin III's "mild" concussion and how it will effect his ability/confidence to sell some of the moves that create such space for Morris. 

    3. St. Louis Rams RBs at Miami Dolphins

    Steven Jackson has been terrible this season, but he has at least come through with a few very suspect-looking, yet semi-serviceable fantasy days for his owners.

    This should not be one of them.  

    4. Buffalo Bills RBs at Arizona Cardinals

    Fantasy football is brutal, and so is this NFC West.

    We all knew the Seahawks were physical and had two 6'4" chess pieces at the corners with nasty safety play. Add Bruce Irvin to the mix; we knew to expect this. We knew exactly what the 49ers would continue to be.

    But when looking at schedules in preseason, many fantasy owners figured that in facing the NFC West, at least their fantasy players would get to face Arizona and St. Louis. Two cream puffs.

    And yet here we are. Now even these two give opposing fantasy players fits virtually across the board.

    It's tough to love C.J. Spiller or Fred Jackson in a game in which they will once again travel all the way west to play an NFC West opponent. We saw how that went last week.  

Wide Receiver

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    Top 4 WR Matchups for Week 6

    1. Minnesota Vikings WRs at Washington Redskins

    Percy Harvin lit the fantasy world on fire last week, and there is no reason to believe it will stop this week against such a terrific WR matchup.

    The fact that Harvin lines up in the backfield and gets involved all over the field to attack the defense's weakness makes him an absolute must-start every week. Harvin owners may not quite get a repeat of last week's 24-point monster in standard leagues, but then again, they just might.

    Harvin's owners should have a big smile on their faces again in Week 6, as Harvin squares off against the friendliest fantasy defense to face thus far. 

    2. Cincinnati Bengals WRs at Cleveland Browns

    I am not buying this matchup ranking completely, as my algorithm cannot account for the return of Browns lockdown CB Joe Haden and still rely solely on 2012 fantasy points against and scouting metrics as dictated in The Fine Print page.

    With that said, we know Haden will be on A.J. Green. We also know that Green has been decent against Haden in his short career, managing 10.1 points in standard leagues for fantasy owners in his 2011 NFL debut at Cleveland, adding an 11-pointer in Week 10.

    I am not sold on Green as a top-three WR in Week 6, however, as the expert consensus at dictates.

    Green will have a serviceable game for owners, but those facing bye weeks should take a long look at Andrew Hawkins and Armon Binns, in that order. Both are due for relative breakouts, and the situation as presented represents a high-upside waiver play. 

    3. Kansas City Chiefs WRs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    I have never put myself in position to rely on anything connected to Matt Cassel's arm in fantasy and certainly haven't and will never trust anything connected to Brady Quinn's.

    While the matchup is great, it is hard to peg Dwayne Bowe as a candidate to continue what has been an above-average fantasy display, given his surrounding cast thus far.

    Jonathan Baldwin seems like he has been "poised for a breakout" for two seasons now, and I'm tired of waiting on it.

    Regardless of the great matchup, those who watched Kansas City last week understand my concerns. It just seems like the kind of game in which Greg Schiano will have the Bucs defense pinning its ears back and attacking. I'm downgrading all Chiefs WRs this week, even given the favorable matchup.

    I don't like a backup QB facing a new head coach coming off a bye week. 

    4. San Francisco 49ers WRs vs. New York Giants

    Another situation that represents great value for fantasy owners looking for bye-week trash to turn into treasure.

    I love starting 49ers WRs under head coach Jim Harbaugh when East Coast teams come to visit, especially when they are playing terrible football in the secondary. It makes for lots of second-half, dink-dunk production once the run game has the front seven lubed up.

    Michael Crabtree will be owned in your league, most likely, and if you own him, roll with him. In Week 5 versus the Buffalo Bills, the action was distributed among the 49ers WR corps like this:

    Michael Crabtree, seven targets, on 43 percent of snaps

    Mario Manningham, five targets on 48 percent of snaps.

    Kyle Williams, two targets, on 30 percent of snaps

    Randy Moss, two targets, on 27 percent of snaps.

    Worst 4 WR Matchups for Week 6

    1. Green Bay Packers WRs at Houston Texans

    It looks as if Jordy Nelson owners may have to wait another week in what has likely become a very frustrating waiting game.

    Even with the intermittent nature of Greg Jennings' presence due to the groin injury, it has been James Jones snagging the touchdowns left and right.

    It looks like Jennings is very iffy at best to return this week, so if Jones is on your waiver wire, he is worth a flier to hold onto, as the Jennings issue could linger all season. Jones is extremely touchdown-dependent, but Aaron Rodgers seems to find him close in.

    I'm downgrading all Packers WRs this week, however. 

    2. New England Patriots WRs at Seattle Seahawks

    Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are relatively matchup-proof, but let's give credit where credit is due. The Seahawks are an unbelievable group defensively, and they play much better at home than they do on the road.

    We've seen that the Patriots have it in them to put up a fantasy stinker for owners already this season when they faced an NFC West opponent in Arizona. I like Wes Welker in this game much more than Brandon Lloyd against Seattle's tall, physical corners.

    As a Welker owner, however, I would prepare for the possibility that Belichick might "stick it" back in Welker's face this week in favor of Rob Gronkowski and the likely-to-return Aaron Hernandez.

    3. Miami Dolphins WRs vs. St. Louis Rams 

    Brian Hartline has shown he can shine in the face of tough matchups, setting the Dolphins' single-game receiving record against a stiff Arizona Cardinals secondary.

    Davone Bess is a player who should be garnering roster consideration in 12-team leagues as the bye weeks approach. Bess is quietly, statistically, a legitimate WR3 in fantasy currently, and he is very non-reliant on TDs for his performance.

    This is not the week to make that play, though. You have to start Hartline given the upside we have witnessed, but I'm not thrilled about any Dolphins receiving options in this one.

    Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan play some dirty, dirty football. 

    4. New York Giants WRs at San Francisco 49ers

    Victor Cruz is an elite NFL WR and an elite fantasy option, but I am not sure he belongs in the same sentence as Calvin Johnson.

    The 49ers held Megatron in relative check for a pedestrian 94-yard outing and limited Percy Harvin to only 89 yards through the air. Hakeem Nicks is seeming likely to return for Week 6, which adds a few interesting dynamics.

    It marks the first time this season the 49ers have faced off against two Tier 1 WRs in the same game. It also renders Ramses Barden, Domenik Hixon and Rueben Randle to be relatively worthless, Hail Mary-type fantasy players. 


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    Top 4 QB Matchups for Week 6

    1. Kevin Kolb (Arizona Cardinals) vs. Buffalo Bills

    I will never be able to recommend anyone to start Kevin Kolb without feeling very strange. There are bye weeks, though, and Kolb does have one of the best WRs of the decade to throw to, as well as an emerging scoring threat in Andre Roberts. 

    2. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) vs. Oakland Raiders

    The Raiders are horrible when traveling to the Southeast to play an early game, and furthermore, the Raiders are currently horrible, period.

    Ryan is easily my No. 1 QB for Week 6.

    3. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) vs. New England Patriots

    Bill Belichick will come into Seattle and try to take away its best weapon in Marshawn Lynch. This could either go relatively well or really badly for Russell Wilson.

    I'm avoiding the situation entirely, even given the matchup. 

    4. Christian Ponder (Minnesota Vikings) at Washington Redskins

    Opposing QBs have carved up the Washington Redskins this season, and it's not like they have all been elite.

    Sam Bradford and Josh Freeman both had big games versus the Redskins, as did Andy Dalton. Drew Brees and Matt Ryan added insult to injury.

    Week 6 marks the first week in which the Redskins will be facing a QB who poses a legitimate run threat out of the backfield, and Ponder is the perfect bye-week fill-in QB for Week 6. He is a player you should roster moving forward to matchup play if necessary. 

    Worst 4 QB Matchups for Week 6

    1. Tom Brady (New England Patriots) at Seattle Seahawks

    Nothing to see here; just downgrade expectations a bit. Tom Brady is Captain America, and even facing the worst matchups, he should serve as more than a serviceable option week in and week out. 

    2. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) at Houston Texans

    I normally would not be worried, but with Cedric Benson now lost for the season, I am hesitant about this matchup.

    That said, Aaron Rodgers, like Brady, isn't bench-able. You drafted him to start him every week he plays. J.J. Watt is not a friend of Rodgers owners this week.

    Greg Jennings is still very iffy, and it may be a while before we see Jermichael Finley again. Simply put, it's not only a bad matchup, but there are a lot of new pieces in a lot of different facets of the game that must be accounted for and managed.

    Not always easy on the signal-caller, even the best in the business. I'm not at all expecting a signature Aaron Rodgers fantasy monster this week, and I am tempering my expectations.

    3. Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) vs. Dallas Cowboys

    A lot of great QBs are facing tough matchups this week.

    I like the Dallas defense much better at home than I do at M&T, however, and feel like the Cowboys will have Brandon Carr predominantly focused on Anquan Boldin due to his physical nature of play.

    Rookie Morris Claiborne is many things, but physical is not one of them. Claiborne should be able to turn and run with Torrey Smith, but I'm not sure he can keep up.

    Flacco will get his shots downfield as long as his offensive line lets him. Ray Rice is an elite equalizer to the Rob Ryan "Blitzkrieg" mentality that has been known to pop up on occasion.

    Be wary of the matchup, but don't freak out and bench Flacco for a scrub. 

    4. Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins) at St. Louis Rams

    Thank goodness you're not even thinking about starting him. 

Tight End

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    Best TE Matchup of Week 6

    Heath Miller (Pittsburgh Steelers) at Tennessee Titans

    The Titans have been absolutely murdered by opposing TEs all season at a rate almost double their nearest competition for the dubious honor.

    Heath Miller has returned to fantasy prominence thanks to new Steelers OC Todd Haley's "tweaks" to their offensive system. Miller should be considered for starting status every week.

    I have Miller slated for a top-six day at the position this weekend. Get him in your lineups.

    Best Widely Available TEs for Week 6 Bye-Week Fill-Ins

    Dallas Clark, Tampa Bay Bucs vs. Kansas City Chiefs

    Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets

    Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks vs. New England Patriots