Fantasy Football Projections 2012: Best and Worst Plays of Week 6
We've hit Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season, which means that this upcoming weekend will mark more-or-less the halfway point of fantasy football leagues that play 13-game regular seasons.
With the season nearly halfway over each game takes on additional importance, especially if your fantasy campaign didn't begin as you'd hoped and you're desperately trying to get things on track.
Regardless of whether you're 1-4 and freaking out or 4-1 and talking junk every fantasy football team wants to get the best lineup on the "field" this week, so here's a look at some players who should be strong fantasy plays this week as well as some you may want to seriously reconsider.
Strong Play: Christian Ponder, QB, Minnesota Vikings (at WAS)
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The Minnesota Vikings have been one of the surprise teams so far this year, getting off to a 4-1 start in large part due to the play of quarterback Christian Ponder, who appears to have matured considerably in his second NFL season.
Ponder has posted a quarterback rating of over 95 and thrown six touchdown passes as opposed to only two interceptions. The 24-year-old could easily have his best statistical showing of the season this week against a Washington Redskins team that is allowing the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2012.
Weak Play: Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions (at PHI)
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Whereas the Minnesota Vikings have been a pleasant surprise in the NFC North this season, the opposite holds true for the Detroit Lions. The team has struggled on both sides of the ball and stands at 1-3 after winning 10 games and making the playoffs a year ago.
At least part of the reason for that early swoon lies with quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has looked out of sync, throwing only three touchdown passes and four interceptions over the season's first four games.
Unfortunately for Stafford's fantasy owners it's unlikely that the fourth-year pro will rebound this week against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have been stingy to opposing signal-callers so far this year.
Strong Play: Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (at TEN)
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Given the sad state of the Pittsburgh Steelers running game to this point, the team had to be hopeful that running back Rashard Mendenhall would provide a spark when he returned to the lineup for the first time last week since suffering an ACL tear late last season.
The 25-year-old did just that, showing no ill effects from the knee injury and topping 100 total yards and a touchdown against a Philadelphia Eagles team that hadn't allowed a score on the ground this year.
The fourth-year veteran has an excellent shot at keeping that momentum going Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans, who have surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year.
Weak Play: Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans (vs. PIT)
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After averaging less than 2.5 yards per carry in four of his first five games this year, it seems like fantasy owners of Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson are going through the five stages of grief where their first-round pick is concerned.
Denial: "This isn't Chris Johnson. He'll pull out of it."
Anger: "Come on you lazy bum! Gain some yardage!"
Bargaining: "Please have one good game and I'll take back everything bad I said about you."
Depression: "Oh well. There's always next season."
It's time to move on to the final stage: acceptance. Accept the fact that for whatever reason the fifth-year pro flat-out sucks this season and glue him to the bench.
Strong Play: Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers (vs. NYG)
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It sometimes gets lost in the spotlight shined on their stellar defense, but the San Francisco 49ers offense has improved greatly in 2012, ranking third in the NFL in scoring at nearly 30 points per game.
That jump can be mostly attributed to a much better passing attack in the Bay Area, and one of the main beneficiaries of that has been fourth-year wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
For the fourth time in five games Crabtree had at least six catches last week against the Buffalo Bills, topping 100 yards for the first time this year. The 25-year-old could easily make it two 100-yard games in a row this week against a suspect New York Giants secondary.
Weak Play: Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers at (HOU)
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The NFC North has been the Twilight Zone of NFL divisions this season, where up is down, right is left and good teams are bad, including the 2-3 Green Bay Packers.
Many Green Bay players are struggling from a fantasy perspective as well, including wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who has managed only one touchdown catch after reeling in 15 a year ago.
The fifth-year veteran's fantasy owners need a big game from Nelson as badly as the Packers do. The odds are against it happening against the Houston Texans, who have given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts in 2012.
Strong Play: Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers (at TEN)
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Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller is off to one of the best starts of his eight-year NFL career in 2012, with as many touchdown receptions already this season as he had in 2010 and 2011 combined.
The table is set for Miller to continue that hot start this week when the Steelers travel to face the Tennessee Titans, who are not only the friendliest fantasy matchup for opposing tight ends but who have also allowed nearly five full fantasy points more a game to the position than the next closest team.
Weak Play: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Detroit Lions (at PHI)
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Granted, the Detroit Lions may have been somewhat disappointing to this point in the season, but it hasn't been the fault of tight end Brandon Pettigrew. He is on pace for over 90 receptions and nearly 900 yards this year.
However, the fourth-year pro could be hard pressed to keep up that pace this week when the Lions travel to meet the Philadelphia Eagles, who have surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position so far this season.
Strong Play: Atlanta Falcons Defense/Special Teams (vs. OAK)
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The Atlanta Falcons are one of two undefeated teams remaining in the National Football League. While their high-octane offense has garnered most of the headlines, the defense has been solid as well, ranking second in the league in takeaways.
That nose for the football bodes well for the Falcons in this week's matchup with the Oakland Raiders, who have been a very favorable matchup for defenses this season, allowing the third-most fantasy points per game.
Weak Play: Green Bay Packers Defense/Special Teams (at HOU)
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The disappointment surrounding the Green Bay Packers this year has extended to their defense again. Not only have they struggled on that side of the ball but the turnovers that increased their fantasy value in the past have seemingly deserted them to a large extent as well.
The Packers presently rank in the middle of the pack among fantasy defenses. It's highly unlikely that that ranking will improve this week against a Houston Texans squad allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses.