Sometimes all it takes in fantasy football is one good or bad managerial decision to dictate whether a winning or losing week is on the horizon. With Week 6 about to commence, making the right choice is more imperative than ever.
Every week is seemingly more important than the last, and with most leagues nearing the midway point of the season prior to the fantasy playoffs, everyone is jockeying for position. Whether you're undefeated, winless or anywhere in between, picking up a victory in Week 6 could be huge for your playoff prospects.
Here is some analysis regarding borderline fantasy plays who could make or break your week and your season in Week 6.
Start: Jay Cutler (CHI)
After a solid, calm start to the season, the mistake-prone Cutler of old reared his ugly head against the Detroit Lions in Week 4 as he threw three interceptions, but Cutler bounced back last week to the tune of 358 yards, two touchdowns and no picks. Cutler has largely kept the miscues to a minimum this season, and that certainly shouldn't be an issue on Thursday night against the New York Giants.
The G-Men have allowed teams to move the ball at will on them, and although most of the damage has been done on the ground, they are surrendering better than 269 yards per game through the air as well. Chicago is a versatile team that can beat opponents in a number of ways offensively, and the receiver tandem of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery is becoming something special. With that in mind, Cutler should be in for a big night.
Week 6 Projection: 324 passing yards, three touchdowns, one interception, 15 rushing yards
Sit: Terrelle Pryor (OAK)
Pryor has provided a big-time spark to an otherwise moribund franchise, and he has become a viable fantasy option as well, but it would be wise to pump the brakes when it comes to starting him this week. Pryor's owners may be feeling pretty good as the Raiders signal-caller accounted for better than 250 total yards and two touchdowns in a Week 5 win over the San Diego Chargers, but he won't be able to replicate that performance in Week 6.
Oakland will have to contend with the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, who are allowing just 198 passing yards per game. The Chiefs can be run on as they are giving up 115 yards per contest on the ground, so Pryor may do some damage in that manner, but don't expect an aerial attack. If you have similar or better options than Pryor this week, it would probably be a good idea to leave him on the bench.
Week 6 Projection: 163 passing yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, 57 rushing yards
Start: Willis McGahee (CLE)
The Browns were left for dead a few weeks ago when they decided to trade running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts, but they have done the unthinkable since then by winning three games in a row. It's arguable whether or not they will be able to defeat a solid Detroit Lions team in Week 6. However, McGahee should be in for a solid game on the ground.
It took McGahee a couple weeks to get his legs under him, but he finally produced against the Buffalo Bills last week as he ran for 72 yards and a touchdown. It wasn't a dominant performance by any means, as he had to grind out much of the yardage, but it was encouraging. With the Lions surrendering nearly 125 yards per game on the ground, McGahee should be in line for his best game yet.
Week 6 Projection: 89 rushing yards, one touchdown and one reception for seven yards
Sit: Le'Veon Bell (PIT)
Pittsburgh was on the bye last week, but Bell gave the Steelers the threat of a running game for the first time all season long one week earlier as he rushed for 57 yards and two scores against the Minnesota Vikings. He didn't show shades of Jerome Bettis or Franco Harris, but Steelers fans probably felt like Bell was all over the place due to the team's failure to run the ball effectively over the first few weeks of the season.
The Steelers are likely to remain committed to the run in Week 6, but it will be tough sledding for the rookie out of Michigan State. Pittsburgh will take on a New York Jets defense that is allowing 76 rushing yards per game and a league-best three yards per carry. With that in mind, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may resort to a high-volume passing game. If that is the case, Bell's potential will be capped this week.
Week 6 Projection: 41 rushing yards and three receptions for 22 yards
Start: Justin Blackmon (JAC)
Blackmon made his return from suspension last week with a bang as he lit up the St. Louis Rams with five receptions for 136 yards and a score. Jacksonville's offense is far from ideal, but with a date against the 5-0 Denver Broncos on Sunday, the Jags figure to be throwing the ball a ton. Jacksonville is a +28 underdog, and the Broncos stand a solid chance of covering that spread, which means the Jaguars will be playing catch-up all day long.
While Blackmon's long touchdown came courtesy of quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the quarterback out of Missouri is expected to be out for the foreseeable future, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
Jaguars may lose QB Blaine Gabbert for an extended period of time. Source says he heard his hamstring pop. No definitive time table tho— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 7, 2013
That means Chad Henne is in line to start against Denver. Most of Blackmon's production came with Henne under center last year, so that shouldn't be an issue. The Broncos allowed more than 500 passing yards to Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5, so Blackmon should be able to put up some nice numbers.
Week 6 Projection: Six receptions for 124 yards and one touchdown
Sit: Tavon Austin (STL)
Which player will have the worst Week 6 performance?
Many fantasy owners expected Austin to make an instant impact, and while he has certainly had his moments, his explosiveness hasn't translated to great production. Austin did catch at least six balls in each of the season's first three weeks, and he has two touchdowns to his credit as well, but he has yet to break 47 receiving yards in a single game, which is obviously a bit disconcerting.
With Austin Pettis and Chris Givens occupying much of quarterback Sam Bradford's attention, Austin has been a forgotten man over the past two weeks. Even if the Rams want to get the ball in Austin's hands on Sunday, it's unlikely that he'll be able to do much against the Houston Texans. The Texans are tops in the league against the pass as they are allowing a measly 134 yards per game, which means Austin will be lucky to make it to 47 yards this week.
Week 6 Projection: Four receptions for 28 yards
Start: Garrett Graham (HOU)
The Texans boast elite offensive talent such as Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins and Arian Foster, but beleaguered quarterback Matt Schaub has always had a thing for his tight ends. Owen Daniels had been having an excellent season, but he will be out for four to six weeks, according to Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com, which makes backup Garrett Graham an instant fantasy darling.
Owen Daniels' injury is a non-displaced fibula fracture. That is likely to keep him out 4-6 weeks. Tough blow for #Texans.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) October 8, 2013
Graham's numbers this season don't jump off the page due to Daniels' presence, but he has been a favorite target of Schaub's in the red zone with three touchdown catches. Houston will face the Rams this week, and while St. Louis is in the middle of the pack against the pass at just over 256 yards per game, look for Schaub to be conservative after making several mistakes over the past couple weeks. This should lead to a big game for Graham.
Week 6 Projection: Six receptions for 65 yards and one touchdown
Sit: Jared Cook (STL)
After reeling in six passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1, fantasy owners probably felt as though Cook was a major steal. Cook has just 125 yards total in four games since that outburst, however, and he hasn't caught another touchdown either. With that in mind, it is very difficult to trust Cook as a fantasy starter right now. The physical tools are certainly there, but the production hasn't been.
Cook could easily break out on any given Sunday, but it's hard to imagine it happening in Week 6. As previously mentioned, the Rams are facing the Texans and their top-ranked pass defense, so there won't be much to go around in terms of yardage for the Rams pass-catchers. The tight end position is really tough to decode this season aside from the top few guys, but you're better off finding someone else than rolling with Cook.
Week 6 Projection: Three receptions for 30 yards
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