Fantasy Football Week 6: Early Advice for Your Roster
We've just about hit the midpoint of most fantasy leagues, and it could be sink or swim for your squad.
As playoffs tend to take place starting in Weeks 13 and 14, if you're down, you've only got a few more weeks to really turn it around.
As always, we've gathered up a ton of injury information, updated the bye-week list and put together matchups for every position that we really like and which might not be obvious.
This week, we also added two more slides—players you should be trying to acquire through trade and some you might want to dump while their value is good.
With that in mind, let's take a look at our advice for your fantasy roster.
That's a pretty severe gut punch for fantasy owners, as Jones was having a great season and was a high draft pick. There's no quick and easy replacement for him.
The repercussions of that could be significant.
Without Jones in the lineup, defenses can key on the already-injured Roddy White or Tony Gonzalez. While it's very hard to shut down Gonzalez in particular—and the all-time-great tight end will see a lot more targets—more attention is going to make it hard even for him to put up great numbers.
Roddy White, by the way, is only 50-50 for Week 7 coming out of this week's bye.
All of the above will hurt Matt Ryan as well.
Meanwhile, more injuries hit the rest of the league.
The Indianapolis Colts lost Ahmad Bradshaw, and while the oft-hurt running back was probably not integral to your fantasy plans on a week-to-week basis, he had been good for a strong spot start here and there.
Other injuries include David Wilson of the New York Giants missing at least Thursday's game; Mark Sanchez' season-ending surgery; the Texans placing Owen Daniels on the Injured Reserve/Designated to Return list, which puts him on the shelf for eight weeks or more; and Blaine Gabbert, who may not keep his job when he comes back from his hamstring injury.
Nobody was using Gabbert (we hope) or expecting Sanchez to return, but losing Daniels and Wilson isn't good.
Keep an eye on the injury news the rest of the week and make your moves as soon as you can for the long-term injuries.
This Week's Bye-Week Bench
We're back to two teams off this week (though a pair of weeks in which we lose six teams each is looming), but we're still losing a few studs.
We covered that Julio Jones is done for the season in the last slide, but you'll do without Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez and Jacquizz Rodgers as well. Hopefully the week off will help Roddy White, but as we said, he may not play in Week 7.
From Miami, you'll wave goodbye to Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hartline. You can hand a "wish you were here" card to Mike Wallace, but there is an even chance he'll drop it. One hopes that the week off gives the coaching staff time to watch the film and realize Lamar Miller should get the ball more.
|Week 4||Green Bay , Carolina|
|Week 5||Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington|
|Week 6||Atlanta, Miami|
|Week 7||Oakland, New Orleans|
|Week 8||Chicago, Tennessee, Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Houston|
|Week 9||Denver, Detroit, New York Giants, Arizona, San Francisco, Jacksonville|
|Week 10||Cleveland, Kansas City, New England, New York Jets|
|Week 11||Dallas, St. Louis|
|Week 12||Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle|
Bye-Week Quarterback Matchups to Like
Jay Cutler vs. New York Giants
In last week's outing, Cutler had a rough game and then salvaged it with some garbage-time fantasy points. It should be a much easier day against the doormat New York Giants, as their secondary is shaky and they can't seem to find the quarterback with their defensive front.
Brandon Marshall had a "come to Jesus" meeting with Cutler and should be more involved this week. Alshon Jeffery might not top 200 yards this week, but he's definitely emerged as a great No. 2 in this offense. Meanwhile, Martellus Bennett is going against a defense which has been beaten up by tight ends lately. All this spells good news for Cutler's fantasy owners.
Matt Schaub vs. St. Louis
Yes, Matt Schaub is playing badly enough that moronic Houston fans are showing up at his house to give him a piece of their mind (which, let's be honest, they probably can't spare)*. That said, his job is on the line, this is not a nationally televised game (the type he wilts in) and the Rams are not playing well defensively. Yes, Daniels being gone (as mentioned in the injury slide) is bad, but Schaub will definitely come out firing in this game and I expect a bounce-back effort.
Joe Flacco vs. Green Bay
Joe Flacco isn't having a great season, but then again, neither is the Packers defense. Once again this year, the Packers are giving up yards and touchdowns while not generating many interceptions (just two so far). They are getting plenty of sacks (a dozen over four games) but have just lost Clay Matthews (who had three of their sacks this season and brought a lot of pressure). They have been better lately, but losing Matthews is going to hurt, and so Flacco is going to be able to move the ball up and down the field and should see at least one touchdown pass on Sunday.
*Unrelated fantasy sidenote: Going to an NFL players' house—even a punter's—is a great way to get your butt handed to you. It's not only unwise, it's insane. So is harassing someone on Twitter, though without the threat of getting beat to a pulp or shot.
Bye-Week Running Back Matchups to Like
Danny Woodhead vs. Indianapolis
You can run on Indy, sure. The Colts have given up the second-most yards on the ground in the NFL so far this year and four touchdowns to boot. However, Woodhead's value is in the passing game more than rushing the ball, and that's where he'll net you some good point totals. If Ryan Mathews does not pass concussion protocol, Woodhead will split time with Ronnie Brown, who would also become an interesting start.
DeAngelo Williams vs. Minnesota
The Vikings are ranked well against the run, but they are allowing an average of 108 yards per game right now, and while the Panthers offense seems to be a hot mess, Williams is an effective runner with a great matchup here and no competition for carries. He should be a solid No. 2 running back with upside.
Bilal Powell/Mike Goodson/Chris Ivory vs. Pittsburgh
Yes, we're all very excited by the excellent game Geno Smith had, but the truth is that a solid run game was a big help. While none of the three main Jets running backs broke 50 yards, they all carried the ball well, and the Steelers defense gives up an average of 122 yards per game while also allowing the second-most touchdowns on the ground in the NFL.
Now, you can't rely on these backs as more than a flex because this is absolutely a committee. However, all three will get opportunities against a defense which can be run on, and run on hard. Goodson and Powell both got targets in the passing game as well and are on the field more (according to the Gamebook, Powell was on the field for 74 percent of the offensive snaps, compared to 24 for Goodson and 17 for Ivory). More than likely, Ivory is being eased back in, but it seems as though your best flex bets are Powell and, to a lesser extent, Goodson.
Bye-Week Wide Receiver Matchups to Like
Keenan Allen vs. Indianapolis
Rookie wide receivers have a steep learning curve, but it appears as if Keenan Allen is already at the top of it. He's had two very strong games in a row and is actually still on waiver wires in fantasy leagues. Last week, he could have had a second touchdown on an unbelievable catch which was overturned on replay, and he is absolutely growing to be the top option for Philip Rivers. The Colts can be thrown on, and head coach Mike McCoy's offense is starting to come together—Allen is a great start this week.
Alshon Jeffery vs. New York Giants
Before we get into this—don't expect 200-plus yards each week. It's not going to happen—not with Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte also needing their targets as well. That said, you can expect Jeffery to get plenty of targets (he's the second-most-targeted player in the offense behind Marshall), and he combines the speed to get deep with the size, strength and vertical leaping ability to go up and get the ball when he needs to. He should always be in your lineup from here on out.
Jeremy Kerley vs. Pittsburgh
While I don't expect a huge day from Geno Smith, Jeremy Kerley has become his most consistently targeted receiver and certainly his most reliable. Kerley has caught 14 of his 20 targets so far, including nine of his last 11 for 133 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers are not a great defense this year, and while they haven't allowed a 300-yard passer, they are coming off a game in which Jerome Simpson topped 100 yards, while Greg Jennings was within eight yards of it.
Kerley isn't a guy who will stretch the field, but he is dangerous with the ball in his hands and is a mismatch for the Steelers defense. Don't expect huge numbers, but he should be a very good flex or No. 3 receiver with upside this week, especially if Santonio Holmes is out again with his hamstring issue.
Bye Week Tight End Matchups to Like
Garrett Graham vs. St. Louis
We've already covered that Owen Daniels is gone at least eight weeks, so having Graham in your lineup is a smart move. He'd put up three touchdowns even before Daniels went down and, next to Daniels and Andre Johnson, was the third-most-frequently targeted player in the passing offense. Last season saw the Texans throw to their tight ends 124 times, most of them going to Daniels. With him gone, Graham should see a lot of work and be able to put up some really good numbers against the Rams.
Coby Fleener vs. San Diego
Fleener isn't getting enough targets to warrant regular insertion to your lineup. However, he is a solid matchup guy—such as this week. San Diego can be passed on, especially by a talented quarterback like Andrew Luck. This is a good time to have Fleener in your lineup if you are short on options.
Martellus Bennett vs. New York Giants
Clearly I like the Bears offense this week. With good reason, especially when it comes to tight ends—a position which has been lighting up the Giants all season. Bennett is a huge mismatch for any team, much less one that has been burned by guys like Brent Celek and Sean McGrath.
Bye-Week Team Defense Matchups to Like
New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers offensive line is atrocious in multiple areas, not the least of which is pass protection, as it has allowed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to be sacked 15 times. The Jets' defensive front is among the best in the league and has given fits to stronger offensive lines than what Pittsburgh rolls out. If there is a negative for starting the Jets defense, it's the lack of turnovers. However, it was very close to multiple turnovers against Atlanta, and this situation feels like the place where that dam will break.
Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland Browns
Without Brian Hoyer, Cleveland's offense is just not as good. That's not to say it can't move the ball because it can—especially with the secondary Detroit has. However, the front seven—led by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley—is very dangerous and brings the sort of pressure which makes Brandon Weeden melt down. Cleveland will fight hard, but Weeden should turn the ball over more than once.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers
The Vikings have been underwhelming from a fantasy standpoint, but they aren't bad. This week, they face a very discombobulated offense. Sure, Cam Newton threw for over 300 yards, but he was picked off three times as well and the ground game was beyond lackluster. The Vikings can generate turnovers and are decent against the run. This could be a long day for Newton and the Panthers and a good day for fantasy owners of the Vikings defense.
Nicks hasn't seemed right all season, and it's time to sell off of his first big game. Because even though he has been targeted frequently, he and Eli Manning are not remotely on the same page. In fact, even though he had a great game, he still ditched on at least one route, which resulted in an interception. It also came at the expense of Victor Cruz and that won't last. So turn things over to some more consistent players soon.
I really like Powell and believe that he could be a long-term part of this backfield, but as we saw last week, this could very well be a running back-by-committee approach. You might be able to wait until after this week—as I said earlier, I think he's going to be a solid flex play this weekend (with some upside)—but the time will come when you can't tell who will get the rock for the Jets.
It appears as though McGahee still has fuel in the tank—so dump him before it catches fire and explodes. With Brandon Weeden in there, teams will not respect this passing game and may just stack the box. So McGahee, who carried the ball an awful lot for just 76 total yards last week, is going to struggle. You probably got him off the waiver wire, so almost anything is great, and there are certainly teams in desperate need of his services in your leagues.
It's time to check in on the Brady owners in your fantasy leagues. Are they struggling and losing too much? Are they looking at the scatter-shot Patriots offense and looking for more stability? Are they on the verge of panic? This may be your last chance to get Brady because Danny Amendola is back and Rob Gronkowski will be soon. After that, Brady should become virtually untouchable for trades again.
Maybe the RG3 owner in your league will be too determined to part with Griffin, but like the Brady owner, if he is losing, he might be nervous. I say grab Griffin now, because he is starting to look good again. Sure, he's not running the ball like he did last year, but he's still getting his feet under him. The early part of last season was rough for Adrian Peterson too. Griffin will get back to his old self, right about the time you hit the fantasy playoffs. You'll want him on your team.
At some point, the Miami Dolphins will realize the talent they have in Lamar Miller and use him more. He's already on the field far more frequently than Daniel Thomas and is certainly getting more carries. Once Miami wakes up, he's going to get a ton of carries. The offensive line is a mess and the Dolphins need a ground game to help keep opposing defenses from just pinning their ears back and killing Ryan Tannehill on every down.
Right now, the Miller owner doesn't realize what he has any more than the coaching staff for the Dolphins does. So go get him as soon as you can. This week might be a better time than usual, since Miami is on a bye. Since he's a longer-term investment, not having him this week won't be an issue for you.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.