Week 6 Fantasy Football: Running Back and Wide Receiver Sleepers
This has been a prime year for sleeper candidates. It seems that every week a new name emerges and has the waiver wire buzzing.
This is largely in part due to the big names that are going down nearly every week with injuries. So if you are in that boat, fear not.
If you lost a key player like Jamaal Charles early in the year. Or suffered in the beginning with setbacks from Frank Gore, Arian Foster, Miles Austin and a slew of other receivers. Or were dealt a blow recently with the injuries to Andre Johnson, Joseph Addai and LeGarrette Blount.
Now is the time to curse a little bit, settle down and start shopping for the fantasy football hit, that is sure to pop up in Week 6.
Follow along for the list of running backs and wide receivers that I like to perform higher than expected this week. Who knows, one might be available in your league.
Earnest Graham, Running Back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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LeGarrette Blount is down with injury and it is not at all far-fetched to imagine Earnest Graham making a big impact in the Bucs Week 6 matchups with the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints have allowed 107 rushing yards per game to opposing backs, and we have seen in the past, then when healthy and given a good dose of carries, Earnest Graham can deliver. Even more intriguing is Graham's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Graham has 23 receptions this season for 143 yards.
I expect to see the majority of Tampa's ground work to go to Graham, and he should finally be seeing the end zone for the first time this year. I think that a rushing performance of 80 yards is not out of the question, if the Bucs can establish a passing game and keep it close. Add his receptions and receiving yards, and Graham is a good fill in for Blount or any player you have on bye.
He is currently owned in 30 percent of Yahoo fantasy football leagues. Graham is listed in my running back rankings as No. 22, making him a great pickup this week and a good man to plug in if you need him.
Danny Woodhead, Running Back, New England Patriots
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If you wanted a deep, unowned sleeper then you have come to the right place. Danny Woodhead exploded last season as a fantasy star as the Patriots utilized him to convert first downs and add an elusive receiving threat from the backfield. He posted 34 receptions last year, most of them coming in the second half of the season.
Squaring off against the No. 1 run defense, the Dallas Cowboys, Bill Belichick and company will need to get creative when it comes to the backfield. The one area that the Cowboys have shown weakness in, is their ability to cover the screen.
It is a long-shot, but if they opt to take Green-Ellis and Ridley off the field and lineup Woodhead in the slot or behind Tom Brady, then they will have a great short-range receiving threat.
If you are in a pinch, or have everyone on bye in a damn deep league, or just looking to flaunt your 5-0 record in everyone's face, then he is an incredibly risky, but a high-reward running back option.
Woodhead is owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues. This might be the week to start him.
Victor Cruz, Wide Receiver, New York Giants
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Coming into the season, all the buzz around the Giants' receivers were going to Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. And with good reason.
2010 set us all up to believe that both players could net over 1,000 yards each and put up a hefty number of touchdowns behind the arm of Eli. But injuries to both opened the door for previously unknown Victor Cruz.
Like many, I wrote off his Week 3 110 yard, two touchdown performance against Philadelphia as a fluke. But he followed that up with six receptions for 98 yards in Week 4 and eight receptions for 161 and a score in Week 5.
Cruz has been picked up in most leagues, only available in 20 percent according to Yahoo. If he is available, get him, and if he has been collecting dust on your bench, now is the time to throw him in the starting lineup.
Cruz will be squaring off against a Buffalo team in Week 6, that has given up 283 yards per game and they are tied for third worst, giving up 10 touchdown receptions. Cruz has proven to be more than a deep threat, with his receptions going up each week.
I have Cruz steadily climbing my rankings, landing this week at No. 24.
Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens, Wide Receiver
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Like Cruz, Torrey Smith had a breakout performance in Week 3. He pulled down five receptions for 152 yards and three touchdowns. However, he was practically silent the following week with a single one-yard catch.
There will definitely be some hesitance to put Smith in your lineup this week, but I expect the Ravens to embrace the pass against a heavily-injured Houston team.
Mario Williams is out for the season, striking a blow to the pass rush. While a lot of receptions are going to go to Boldin, Rice and Dickson, it would not be the least bit shocking to see Smith step up again and have a surprising game.
With Lee Evans having missed the last two games, and admitting that he is not 100 percent, I expect to see Smith ending with more than five receptions, and you have to like those odds after he has scored on half of his catches this season.
Torrey Smith is owned in 38 percent of leagues, so if you are in a pinch with injuries or byes, he might just be the next best thing.
I have him sitting at 39 on my wide receiver rankings.
Harry Douglas, Wide Receiver, Atlanta Falcons
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If you are looking to turn some heads with a deep sleeper this week, then look no further than Harry Douglas.
It was just reported that Julio Jones will miss the Week 6 matchup against the Carolina Panthers, meaning that Douglas will be stepping in to take over the receptions.
At the WR2 slot, Julio Jones has pulled down 25 receptions, putting him in the top 20 in the league. Stepping into that role, Douglas will be adding to his 11 catches this season and will definitely see an increase in his yardage.
Against the 18th ranked Carolina pass defense, Roddy White will be taking a good amount of heat, leaving Matt Ryan looking for a playmaker. If Douglas can show flashes of his junior and senior seasons in Louisville, then expect him to have a big impact on the game.
Douglas is owned in just one percent of Yahoo fantasy football leagues.
He is sitting at number 42 on my wide receiver rankings.
Other Sleeper Wide Receiver and Running Backs to Start
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Look for these players to also put up numbers higher than expected:
Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys
Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants
Delone Carter/Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
Greg Little, Cleveland Browns
Derrick Mason, Houston Texans
Jabar Gaffney, Washington Redskins
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