Important Week 6 Fantasy Storylines to Watch, Potential Sleepers to Emerge

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2010

We get our first glimpse of the new Patriots offense in Week 6 without Randy Moss. Who will step up and become a solid option, both for the Pats and for fantasy owners? Tons of fantasy implications are at stake.
We get our first glimpse of the new Patriots offense in Week 6 without Randy Moss. Who will step up and become a solid option, both for the Pats and for fantasy owners? Tons of fantasy implications are at stake.Marc Serota/Getty Images

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” - Chinese proverb

There are a lot of fantasy football sites on the Internet these days, and a lot of different styles of providing advice and commentary on the game in preparation for each week’s worth of games.

Some sites are big on providing direct advice. Start Marshawn Lynch. Bench Ryan Torain. Trade Kyle Orton for Matt Schaub. They cater to the casual fantasy football owner who could care less about the reason behind making a move or learning more about being self-sufficient in fantasy circles. strives for something different.

We hope to give you plenty of advice on who to sit and start, or who to trade while their hot or deal for while cold. But we also strive to provide the reasons why. The goal is to help you become more adept at noticing trends, making decisions and dominating the competition.

For example, for Week 6 action, there are a number of story lines worth watching that could have long-reaching fantasy impact. Here are a few I’m personally keeping an eye on, and what they could mean.

New England Offense sans Randy Moss

With a Week 5 bye, we haven’t seen the Patriots play anything meaningful yet without Moss after he was dealt to Minnesota. This week’s matchup against the Ravens is a tough one, so expect the Pats game plan to surface quickly for us all to inspect.

We already know the team’s running game is a weekly crapshoot, although injuries have relegated BenJarvus Green-Ellis into the primary back for the time being. However, the receivers could soon be playing a similar game of musical chairs.

Will Wes Welker still be able to be a PPR mainstay, or will defenses key off him more without Moss drawing coverage? Who will develop into the deep threat option—whoever does could have immediate and long-term value. Some suggestion Brandon Tate. Others wonder if it will be split among several pass catchers.

Also at stake is the Patriots tight end cluster. Aaron Hernandez has shown flashes of brilliance and if the team struggles without Moss, Brady may lean more than ever on the tight end. Hernandez could be a very nice option moving forward.

Pittsburgh Offense with Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben morphed into a big-play fantasy QB last year, breaking team records and making a major splash. The team has changed since then, but the elements are in place for Big Ben to produce well out of the gate.

Who will become the primary receiver for Roethlisberger now that Santonio Holmes has exited stage left? Early money is on Mike Wallace, and there is little to doubt Wallace will see a nice value spike with Ben Ben back under center. Hines Ward will see a value boost, too.

How will the newly forged running game, and Rashard Mendenhall in particular, be affected by Roethlisberger’s return? Will Big Ben’s presence open more running lanes for Rocket Rashard, or will his passing tendencies take potential scores and yardage away from Mendenhall?

One player who will see a definite boost in value is Heath Miller. Quietly a consistent fantasy starter when Big Ben was on fire last year, Miller is a valuable safety blanket for Roethlisberger, and someone who could mature once again into a solid option.

St. Louis Passing Attack Without Mark Clayton

Clayton made an immediate impact when he joined the Rams earlier this year and was a trusted target for young Sam Bradford.

The question here is who will step up now that Clayton is done for the season? If it was based solely on logic, Danny Amendola and his solid reception totals would find his way into that role. However, the NFL isn’t always a "two plus two equals four" league.

Some sources suggest Brandon Gibson has the best chance to excel in that role. Laurent Robinson was a favorite here, but a lingering foot injury has taken away his ability to separate. Marty Gilyard is a dark horse candidate.

Whoever does emerge as Bradford’s favorite deep-play toy will have immediate fantasy impact. Watch Sunday action and be ready to pounce.

Minnesota and Dallas Offenses in Must-Win Atmosphere

Arguably the two biggest disappointments of the season are going head-to-head to see who will start to resurrect the ship and who will be mired with a 1-4 record. It isn’t the players as much as the atmosphere and how the teams react to a game with long-reaching implications.

For Minnesota, how does Favre and Moss’ chemistry develop in the second week of playing together? Does Percy Harvin continue to excel in a secondary role, or was last week a fluke performance? Does Visanthe Shiancoe’s value, especially near the red zone, take a hit with Moss in purple again?

And the Cowboys—will they continue to keep their promise and give Felix Jones more of the carries and attention? He did well last week in a more featured role, but how quickly will Dallas call Marion Barber’s number if Felix misses a hole or struggles? How short is that leash?

Seattle Offense After the Addition of Marshawn Lynch, Loss of Deion Branch

Lynch won’t be the official starter in his first week as a Seahawk, but he will get plenty of carries and hopefully give us enough of a glimpse into what he can or can’t do in a more prominent role.

One thing to note is that Seattle’s matchup with Chicago isn’t exactly RB friendly, but Seattle sees a much more RB favorable schedule after this week. Lynch could be a good buy-low candidate for just a little longer.

How does Lynch’s presence help the Seattle passing game? Does he keep defenses honest, and who emerges as the best receiving options for Seattle, especially now that Deion Branch is back in New England?

Houston Offense After Major Week 5 Struggles

Arian Foster couldn’t run. Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson were nearly non-factors. Now, a Texans team that has very little defense also has major offensive questions.

One would assume the matchup this week with Kansas City would cure their woes, but the Chiefs have been pretty solid under the radar.

If Foster struggles again, do we start to worry that his early season success was a mirage? Will the WR2 in Houston ever be consistent enough to produce a solid fantasy option, or will Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones continue to flip-flop in that role?

San Francisco Offense with Alex Smith in Limbo

Few teams have shocked more than the Niners after their 0-5 start. Mike Singletary and the rest of the organization is under the gun, and no one is really that safe.

Alex Smith is the biggest question mark at the moment. He’s been publicly called out by Singletary and was almost benched last week mid-game. He has one last chance now against Oakland.

His success or failure has direct ramifications for Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore and a host of lesser known quantities. Smith has the potential and the weapons to be a sleeper fantasy QB, but his window of opportunity is nearly past.

Chicago Passing Attack with Jay Cutler Back Under Center

Much was expected among fantasy circles after Mike Martz was brought into the Chicago fold. The passing attack was expected to be elevated into super-good status, and sleeper options were supposed to come out of the woodwork.

However, Cutler has looked mortal behind a questionable O-line and was knocked out of action two weeks ago via concussion. This week is his first back, and a lot of questions remain.

The biggest to me continues to be who will emerge as the best receiver from a fantasy standpoint. Johnny Knox is the quick answer with his solid yards after catch numbers, but Devin Hester, Devin Aromashodu and Earl Bennett have all chipped into that production.

Word out of Chicago is that Hester will see a diminished role in the offense and more focus on the return game, and Knox or Aromashodu could see a significant jump in value.

Be sure to check out my list of players you can snag and start in Week 6 matchups.

And our free game-by-game fantasy projections:  ATL@PHI | SD@STL | NO@TB | DET@NYG | MIA@GB | SEA@CHI | BAL@NE | CLE@PIT | KC@HOU | NYJ@DEN | OAK@SF | DAL@MIN | IND@WAS | TEN@JAX

Or, our one writer's positional rankings for Week 6: QB | RB | WR | TE

Want to pull off a league-changing trade? Check out my sell high, buy low candidates.


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