On a weekly basis, there are many factors that go into starting or sitting a player. Matchups, league formats, bye weeks and injuries—all weigh into those decisions.
For example, those of you with Brandon Marshall and Marques Colston (whose teams have a bye this week) may need to consider a Randall Cobb or a Mike Williams, both of whom are outside of my top-30 fantasy wide receivers for this week.
As a basis for determining who should qualify for a particular side of the start'em, sit'em fence, I am assuming that there are 12 teams starting one quarterback and one tight end each as well as two running backs and wide receivers each.
In other words, all "start'ems" appear in my fantasy football rankings within the top 12 quarterbacks, top 24 running backs, top 24 wide receivers and top 12 tight ends. All "sit'ems" appear outside those ranges.
Here are some players to consider starting in Week 6:
QB—Christian Ponder, Vikings (at WAS)
With the exception of Week 4 (299 yards to Tampa's Josh Freeman), the Redskins allowed four 300-yard passers in their five games. In addition, they allowed all of those four opposing quarterbacks to throw two or more touchdowns.
Ponder is off to a solid start with a completion percentage of 69.0 percent, six touchdowns and only two interceptions. While he is only averaging 216.4 passing yards per game, this week's matchup is very favorable and Ponder has the ability to make plays as a runner (15 rushes for 77 yards) as well.
RB—Vick Ballard, Colts (at NYJ)
With Donald Brown out for the next two to three weeks due to a knee scope, Ballard steps into the starting role at an opportune moment for owners that picked him up off the waiver wire. This week, Ballard has a favorable matchup against the Jets, who have allowed the second-most rushing yards (172.4 per game) and rushing touchdowns (eight).
In fact, if Brown misses three weeks, Ballard will face three bad rush defenses in a row: Jets, Browns and Titans. All three teams rank in the bottom seven in the NFL against the run.
RB—BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals (at CLE)
The Law Firm was completely ineffective last week against the Dolphins, the league's top-ranked rush defense. He finished with only nine carries for a season-low 14 yards.
This week, Green-Ellis has a favorable matchup against the Browns, who allowed Ahmad Bradshaw to rush for a career-high 200 yards last week.
Like in their first matchup (Week 2) when he had 21 carries, Green-Ellis should get a healthy dose of carries this week. He currently ranks ninth in the NFL in carries (91). As a volume rusher, he's a solid RB2 this week.
WR—Denarius Moore, Raiders (at OAK)
In his three games played this season, Moore has 12 receptions for 183 yards and a touchdown. I fully expect the Falcons, who are nearly double-digit favorites, to establish an early lead and force the Raiders into passing situations early and often.
Moore should be the biggest beneficiary if the game plays out as I expect.
WR—Dez Bryant, Cowboys (at BAL)
Despite his poor route-running and some drops, Bryant had a solid fantasy (but disappointing real) football performance in the team's blowout loss to the Bears before the team's bye week.
In fact, it was only Bryant's second 100-yard game of his career. He finished with eight receptions for 105 yards on 13 targets. Given his elite physical tools, he's too talented to bench, for now, and ranks just inside my top 20 fantasy wide receivers for Week 6.
WR—Malcom Floyd, Chargers (vs DEN)
Despite being listed as questionable on the injury report, Floyd was a full participant at practice on Saturday and should be active for Monday's divisional matchup against the Broncos. In addition, coach Norv Turner said (via the San Diego Union-Tribune) "I'm comfortable we'll have our guys" [Floyd and receiver Eddie Royal] for Monday night.
While Robert Meachem scored two times against his former team last week, Floyd also had a strong fantasy performance with his second 100-yard game in the past four weeks. Of the two receivers, Floyd clearly has better chemistry with Philip Rivers and has been much more consistent on a weekly basis.
TE—Owen Daniels, Texans (vs GB)
Despite being drafted outside the top 12 tight ends, on average (using data from MockDraftCentral.com), Daniels has had one of the best starts to the season of any players at his position. Only Atlanta's Tony Gonzalez and San Francisco's Vernon Davis have more fantasy points up to this point. Daniels has double-digit fantasy points in back-to-back games and has scored in three consecutive weeks.
Here are some players to consider sitting in Week 6:
QB—Tony Romo, Cowboys (at BAL)
Coming off a five-interception performance on Monday Night Football, Romo will look to bounce back against the Ravens. While the Ravens rank in the bottom 10 in passing yards allowed (261.4 per game), they have allowed only two passing touchdowns in five games this season.
RB—Steven Jackson, Rams (at MIA)
It has been a disappointing start to the season for Jackson and his fantasy owners. Through five games, Jackson has yet to rush for more than 76 yards in a game, and he has failed to score a touchdown this season.
Averaging only 54.2 rushing yards per game, Jackson has been underutilized in the passing game with only seven receptions this season.
A breakout performance for Jackson is unlikely against the Dolphins, who rank first in the league in run defense (61.4 yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry). With the exception of Houston's Arian Foster in Week 1 (26 carries for 79 yards, 3.0 YPC), no other running back has exceeded 45 rushing yards against the 'Fins.
RB—Shonn Greene, Jets (vs IND)
The Jets running backs have had four tough matchups in a row: Pittsburgh, Miami, San Francisco and Houston. All four of those teams allow under 100 rushing yards per game.
While the Colts provide the Jets running backs with a much more favorable matchup, Greene does not instill enough confidence for fantasy owners to believe that he can capitalize on the opportunity. On the season, he is averaging only 2.9 yards per carry and has 40 yards or less in his past four games.
WR—Brandon Lloyd, Patriots (at SEA)
Lloyd is coming off a season-worst performance with three receptions for 34 yards last week against the Broncos. Facing the Seahawks on the road, things won't get much easier for Lloyd this week. He is just outside my top 24 fantasy receivers this week.
With a big, physical and athletic secondary, Seattle ranks fourth in the NFL in pass defense (192.0 yards per game allowed) and has allowed only three passing touchdowns thus far. Plus, the Seahawks defense has not allowed a receiver to gain more than 63 yards receiving in a game this season.
WR—Anquan Boldin, Ravens (vs DAL)
Boldin has put together solid performances in back-to-back weeks. He had nine receptions for 131 yards against the Browns in Week 4 and four receptions for 82 yards against the Chiefs in Week 5.
Similar to the Seahawks, however, the Cowboys have a strong duo at cornerback in Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Claiborne. With the exception of Brandon Marshall in Week 4, no other receiver has had more than 58 receiving yards against the Cowboys this season.
WR—Brian Hartline, Dolphins (vs STL)
If you added Hartline off of the waiver wire, you have to be thrilled with his performance so far this year. Hartline has 29 receptions for a league-high 514 yards and one touchdown.
Along with the Ravens, however, the Rams have allowed a league-low two passing touchdowns this season. Only one of those was caught by a receiver: Washington's Leonard Hankerson in Week 2. With the exception of Calvin Johnson in Week 1, no other receiver has reached the 100-yard milestone against the Rams.
TE—Jermichael Finley, Packers (at HOU)
While it appears that he will play, Finley is dealing with a shoulder injury and is listed as questionable on the injury report.
The Packers do play the late game on Sunday. In other words, make sure that you have Jacob Tamme or Joel Dreessen as insurance if you plan to play Finley in case he's a late scratch. (I'm assuming if you have Owen Daniels or Antonio Gates, you'd start either of those guys over Finley.)
Even if he does play, Finley hasn't been especially productive this season. Over the course of his past four games, he has 60 yards or less and no scores. Last week, he had only three catches for 11 yards.
Note: All injury designations and practice participation referenced above are via NFL.com's injury page.
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