As bye weeks and injuries continually put fantasy football owners in untenable positions, finding last-minute sleepers becomes key to keeping playoff dreams alive.
Coming into Week 6 action, that's once again the case as four teams (Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars) are on bye, leaving a cavalcade of lineup spots empty.
Luckily for those owners desperately looking for replacements for Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Maurice Jones-Drew (among others), there are some fantastic under-the-radar options with strong matchups this week.
With that in mind, here are a few sleepers that will have fantastic performances in Week 6.
Fred Davis, TE, Washington Redskins
After looking like a bust candidate early in the season, Davis has connected with Robert Griffin III lately and should be easily in the Top 10 among tight ends the rest of the way.
The fifth-year veteran has grabbed 16 receptions for 214 yards and could be a vital part of the offense on Sunday as the team looks to shield its star quarterback from suffering a second concussion in as many weeks.
While the Redskins may have a difficult time overall against the Minnesota Vikings' vaunted defense, the opposition has a glaring weakness in tight end coverage. Opposing tight ends have caught an average of 5.7 receptions for 52.3 yards over the last three weeks, while also adding two touchdowns as well.
For owners who might have another mid-tier right end on their roster, stick with Davis and reap the rewards as he should find the end zone on Sunday.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
With every-week starters Drew Brees and Cam Newton on bye this week, there are plenty of owners out there desperately searching for a replacement.
Well, with a tasty matchup against the Cleveland Browns coming up on Sunday, there are a ton of options worse than Dalton. The second-year Bengals quarterback has avoided almost any talks of a sophomore slump thus far, improving his numbers across the board and becoming a a solid downfield passer.
Nonetheless, the true calling card of Dalton as a fantasy option this week is that we have already seen him pick apart the Browns' defense this season. When the two teams faced off in Cleveland in Week 2, the Bengals signal-caller went 24-of-31 passing for 318 yards and three touchdowns.
Cornerback Joe Haden's return will surely bolster the Browns' secondary, which currently ranks 25th in the NFL, giving up an average of 280.6 yards per game.
Nonetheless, Haden will undoubtedly be rusty after four games off and Dalton still should find some gaping openings. Playing at home, the Cincinnati passing game should be in store for second huge game against the Browns this season.
If you're looking for a Brees/Newton replacement and Dalton is on your roster, feel free to deploy him and expect another 300-plus yards.
LaRod Stephens-Howling (RB, Arizona Cardinals)
Ravaged by injuries to Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, the Cardinals' running game is now in the hands of Stephens-Howling and William Powell.
Though the former is still recovering from an injury of his own, Stephens-Howling is the Arizona back you want in your lineup this week against the Buffalo Bills.
The 5'7" former Pitt Panther is a shifty back who can provide quarterback Kevin Kolb with a versatile option out of the backfield in both the running and passing game.
That should come in handy facing a Bills defense that has been abhorrent in both facets, ranking 24th in the NFL against the pass and 30th against the run.
Additionally, while mostly being considered a third-down back, Stephens-Howling looked fantastic in Week 17 last season when replacing Wells. He rushed for 93 yards on 21 carries against the Seattle Seahawks and was a vital cog in the Cardinals' overtime victory.
With Powell coming into Sunday's contest with just three career carries, stick with the man who knows the offense. Stephens-Howling might not be among the Top 10 in fantasy running backs this week, but for those looking for a bye week replacement, he could get just enough points to be a serviceable fix.
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