Fantasy Football Week 6 Projections: RB Upgrades, Downgrades and Sleepers

Fantasy Football SpinCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2011

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 27: Steven Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams rushes against Nick Barnett #56 of the Green Bay Packers at the Edward Jones Dome on September 27, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Each week, we analyze fantasy matchups and provide our take on which RBs you should start and which should be benched.

These are based on difficult matchups, injuries, potential weather problems, conduct code violations (Benson lives to see another week), etc.

Be sure to check out our recommendations for the Quarterback and Wide Receiver positions for Week 6.

Through five weeks, the most stout run defenses—allowing fewer than 15 fantasy PPG to opposing run offenses—can be found in San Francisco, Dallas, Baltimore, Green Bay and Detroit.

The Week 6 San Francisco-Detroit battle of first place teams is shaping up to be a defensive struggle.

Conversely, the following defenses have been carved up by opposing ground games and are allowing 25+ fantasy PPG: Philadelphia, Oakland, Carolina, St. Louis and the NY Jets.

The Eagles' wide-nine defense has been shredded on the ground and this week's beneficiary will be the Redskins' three-headed unit (likely led by Week 4 breakout performer Ryan Torain).


Week 6 Byes

Arizona, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, Seattle and Tennessee

Other than Chris Johnson and Ryan Mathews, no other top RBs will be out this week.

On the injury front,  Rashard Mendenhall's hamstring is expected to be at close to 100 percent when the Steelers host Jacksonville.

Week 5 breakout performer BenJarvus Green-Ellis missed a Thursday practice with a toe injury, which could bring Stevan Ridley back to fantasy relevance in Week 6.

Tampa’s LeGarrette Blount took a helmet to the knee and will likely miss at least a week.

Colts RB Joseph Addai suffered a first quarter hamstring strain and will be very questionable to start.

Finally, the Giants' Brandon Jacobs has a bad knee which resembled a volleyball, according to teammate Antrel Rolle. He is likely out another week.

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 3:  Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs away from Jamie Silva #40 of the Indianapolis Colts during the preseason game on August 3, 2009 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images


Upgrade: Cedric Benson versus Indianapolis

The Colts just served up a 119-yard performance to Jackie Battle.

You think Cedric Benson is licking his chops? Benson's three-game suspension might not take effect for another few weeks, meaning he should remain a solid second RB.

That is, of course, provided he can avoid another bar room brawl.

The Colts' run defense is allowing the sixth most fantasy points to opposing RBs (23 FPG), while yielding 130 YPG and five TDs on the ground.

Through five games, the Bengals' 28-year-old model citizen is averaging 20 carries for 80 YPG but has only reached the end zone once.

Benson struggled against the Colts last season (14 carries for 24 yards), but the Bengals' offensive line is playing much better in 2011. Expect 100 yards and a TD this week.


Plus Matchups

 Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles at Tampa Bay

Ryan Torain and Tim Hightower versus Philadelphia

Daniel Thomas versus NY Jets


Downgrade: Steven Jackson at Green Bay

Much like the rest of the Rams' offense, Jackson has struggled out of the gates. He is averaging a meager 41 YPG in three games.

More disturbing is the fact he has only four catches for 19 yards in an offense that was expected to be pass happy under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Hopefully, the Rams used the Week 5 bye to improve an offense that is averaging only 12 PPG through four games.

This week, the Rams travel to Lambeau to face a Green Bay defense that allows the fourth fewest points to RBs. The Pack are allowing only 56 YPG on the ground and have yielded only one rushing TD.

Jackson should be close to 100 percent but is a flex play at best this week in a very difficult road matchup. The Rams will likely be forced into pass mode in the second half to play catch-up.

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 26:  Running back Earnest Graham #34 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images


Temper Expectations

Jahvid Best versus San Francisco

Delone Carter and Donald Brown at Cincinnati


Sleeper: Earnest Graham versus New Orleans

The veteran has been all but anointed the starter this week as starter LeGarrette Blount is expected to sit out at least a week with a knee injury.

The 31-year-old Graham will face a New Orleans defense that ranks 15th against the run (108 YPG).

Graham had five carries for 30 yards in Week 5 and has only 34 carries and 30 receptions over the past two seasons. But he is averaging 4.8 YPC on the ground.

The lifetime Buc’s last productive season was in 2007, when the Florida alum totaled 222 carries for 898 yards with 10 TDs and 49 catches for 324 yards.

He’s worth a look as a lower end RB for those looking for a bye week fill-in.

Graham should see 15-18 carries as the lead back this week, but Kregg Lumpkin and rookie Allen Bradford could also get a few touches.


Sleeper Potential 

Stevan Ridley at Dallas

Kendall Hunter at Detroit


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