B/R Pro Football Challenge Week 6: Ravens' Joe Flacco Could Be Key to Success

Nick Caron@@nicholascaronAnalyst IOctober 16, 2010

B/R Pro Football Challenge Week 6: Ravens' Joe Flacco Could Be Key to Success

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    PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 03: Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens throws a pass behind LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 3, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Baltimore won the game 17-14. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty I
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The more I play it, the more I find that the Pro Football Challenge here on B/R is a great way for fantasy players of all types to come together and prove their fantasy prowess.

    It's free to enter, and the grand prize is two tickets to this year’s Super Bowl.

    Miss a week? No problem—you’re still eligible to win the weekly prize, which is a jersey of your choice.

    Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

    But as I’ve recommended this contest to friends and some family members, I’ve heard quite a few people saying “I don’t understand the rules,” or “I don’t know enough about fantasy football.”

    I’m here to help, friends. Maybe it'll cost me a jersey one week, but I like a challenge.

    Let’s start with the rules. Each week, players will choose a lineup that includes one of each of the following:

    • Quarterback
    • Running Back
    • Wide Receiver
    • Tight End
    • A Team That Will Win Its Game

    The catch is that players only get to choose the player once throughout the season—so picking the right matchup for each player is of significant importance.

    The NFL is a somewhat of a crapshoot from week-to-week, but understanding matchups and opportunities is an area that can be used to help make informed decisions throughout the Quick Picks contest here at Bleacher Report.

    One major thing to keep in mind with this contest is that the perceived top players may not be the best players to put in your lineup early in the year.

    Because we only get to use them once throughout the season, players should consider that there may be better opportunities for the top players as the season goes along.

    Although strictly copying my picks will likely not lead you to win this contest, these picks may be a good guideline for visitors who might be wondering what to do at a position or two.

    On to the picks!

QUARTERBACKS—Play: Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens (at New England Patriots)

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    BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 10: Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens looks for a receiver during the game against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. Players wore pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness M
    Larry French/Getty Images

    Coming off of two straight below-average games against the Steelers and Broncos, it’s probably hard to pull the trigger on putting Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in your lineup this week—but don’t the Patriots name fool you—this is an excellent matchup for the third year quarterback.

    Currently conceding the fourth-highest amount of points per week to opposing quarterbacks, the Patriots have allowed multiple touchdown passes against them in every game this season and they are yet to play against even a top-10 quarterback.

    While the New England defense has forced six interceptions in the past two weeks, the positives far outweigh the negatives in this matchup. If Ryan Fitzpatrick can throw two touchdowns, imagine what a quarterback with talent can do.

    Other good options:

    Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts (at Washington Redskins)

    Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers (at St. Louis Rams)

    Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants (vs. Detroit Lions)

QUARTERBACKS—Avoid: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots (vs. Baltimore Ravens)

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is hit by Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Ravens won 3
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Brady’s first game in a long while without his big-play receiver Randy Moss. Though he’ll have a new weapon in Deion Branch and he has been successful before without Moss, we have to remember that this is an offense that is going to change dramatically without one of the biggest deep-threat targets of all-time. Though Brandon Tate is expected to see more playing time and he does have a skill set that could allow for big plays, he’s simply not Randy Moss.

    As if the lack of Moss wasn’t concerning enough, we should also remember what happened the last time these two teams squared off, in the 2009 playoffs. Though he threw for two touchdowns, Brady turned the ball over four times, was sacked three times, completed only 55% of his passes, and had a 49.1 quarterback rating as the Ravens trounced the Patriots in New England.

RUNNING BACKS—Play: Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Cleveland B

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    PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 03: Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after carrying the ball during the game against the Baltimore Ravens on October 3, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    With three games out of four with 19-or-more fantasy points already in 2010, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall is making a serious case as an elite fantasy running back.

    On the surface it looks like the Browns have done an amazing job of stopping opposing running backs this season, ranking fourth in the league in points allowed to them. But a further examination shows us that these numbers are fairly skewed. While they have kept the running backs out of the end zone, having allowed just one total touchdown to them this season, they have also allowed three games of 140+ total yards to running backs.

    While the backs have been kept from scoring touchdowns, it has been more of a matter of chance than it has been skill. Mendenhall is a fine play and he should get into the end zone at least once.

    Other good options:

    LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Atlanta Falcons)

    Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (at Houston Texans)

    Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants (vs. Detroit Lions)

RUNNING BACKS—Avoid: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. Tennessee

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    ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 10: Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. Jacksonville won 26-36. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Last week’s “Play,” Maurice Jones-Drew did absolutely nothing to show us that he is still an elite fantasy running back. Despite playing the Buffalo Bills, who were allowing a league-worst average amount of points to opposing running backs, Jones-Drew was held out of the end zone for the fourth time in five games and failed to crack 100 total yards.

    With David Garrard having one of the hottest streaks of his career and the Titans being entirely beatable through the air, the Jaguars will likely not be relying on Jones-Drew nearly as much as they have in the past.

    In addition, the Titans have allowed the fifth-least amount of points to opposing running backs, including week four performance against the Broncos when they allowed just eight yards on the ground.

    There may be a time for us to get Jones-Drew into our lineup yet, but this is not that time.

WIDE RECEIVERS—Play: Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts (vs. WAS Redskins)

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 26:  Wide receiver Reggie Wayne #87 of the Indianapolis Colts makes a first down reception as Champ Bailey #24 of the Denver Broncos defends at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 26, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Colts defeated the
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Colts offense has unexpectedly struggled this season, culminating in a game in which Peyton Manning—for the first time in recent memory—failed to throw a touchdown pass. But the one piece of consistency in this offense outside of Manning, as it has been for many years now, continues to be wide receiver Reggie Wayne.

    Wayne has 65 or more yards receiving in every game this season and remains Manning’s favorite target. With the Colts needing to get their passing game going again, look for Peyton to target Reggie Wayne many, many times this week. With the Redskins allowing the 26th most points to opposing receivers this season, quite frankly, multiple touchdown receptions are not at all out of the question.

    Other good options:

    Anquan Boldin, WR, Baltimore Ravens (at New England Patriots)

    Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants (vs. Detroit Lions)

    Malcom Floyd, WR, San Diego Chargers (at St. Louis Rams)

WIDE RECEIVERS—Avoid: Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions (at New York Giants)

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    MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 26:  Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions looks on against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field on September 26, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    It pains me to put a player with this much talent on the “avoid” list against anyone, this is simply not the time to put “Megatron” into your lineup.

    Calvin Johnson is currently listed on the injury report with the dreaded “questionable” tag and will likely be a game-time decision.

    Even if Johnson does play, the Giants have done an excellent job shutting down opposing receivers this season, primarily due to their ridiculously effective pass-rush which has kept opposing quarterbacks from getting the ball deep on them.

    Johnson will be healthy eventually and Matt Stafford should be back soon—we’ll get him in our lineup eventually.

TIGHT ENDS—Play: Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England Patriots (at Baltimore Ravens)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 19:  David Harris #52 of the New York Jets attempts to tackle Aaron Hernandez #85 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter at the New Meadowlands Stadium on September 19, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (P
    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    I know, Tom Brady on the “avoid” list and one of his receivers on the “play” list? It doesn’t make a lot of sense. But hear me out…

    The Ravens defense is currently 3rd in the league in points allowed to opposing wide receivers, having allowed just two touchdowns all season to them. The Patriots are now without Randy Moss and will need to employ quite a few new offensive plays to get other players involved.

    This could mean great things for rookie Aaron Hernandez who has already established himself as one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets. He is likely the player in the Patriots’ offense who benefits most with Moss being out—at least in the short-term—and he will likely be in the game on almost every snap, particularly at the goal line, so don’t be afraid to play him against the Ravens’ stingy pass defense.

    Other good options:

    Dallas Clark, TE, Indianapolis Colts (at Washington Redskins)

    Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers (at St. Louis Rams)

    Kellen Winslow, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. New Orleans Saints)

TIGHT ENDS—Avoid: Chris Cooley, TE, Washington Redskins (vs. Indianapolis Colts)

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    LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 10:  Tight end Chris Cooley #47 of the Washington Redskins is tackled by Charles Woodson #21 of the Green Bay Packers at FedExField on October 10, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins won the game in overtime 16-13.  (Photo by W
    Win McNamee/Getty Images

    Chris Cooley has been pretty productive so far in 2010, but it’s hard to justify playing him against an Indianapolis Colts defense which ranks best in the league in points allowed to opposing tight ends.

    They have held opposing tight ends to 25-or-less yards in four out of five games this year and have allowed just one touchdown to the position.

    Cooley may be the most talented receiving tight end that the Colts have played this season, but why risk it?

    After his bye week in week 7, Cooley gets a Texans defense which ranks 31st against opposing tight ends.

TEAM TO WIN—Play: Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Cleveland Browns)

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    PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 14:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers practices at the Pittsburgh Steelers South Side training facility on October 14, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger makes his much-anticipated return this week after a suspension that held him out of the Steelers’ first four games in 2010.

    With their all-pro quarterback out, the Steelers still were able to go 3-1 with wins over the Falcons, Titans, and Buccaneers—all three of whom have also won three or more games this season.

    At 1-4, the Browns’ are simply no match for this dominant Steelers team. To make matters worse, they will be starting rookie quarterback Colt McCoy in his first NFL game. McCoy left college football as the all-time leader in wins as a quarterback with 45 in four seasons, but the situation has certainly changed in the NFL. While he wore orange at Texas and he wears orange in Cleveland, McCoy will not have the benefit of playing with one of the most talented rosters in the country. In fact, the Browns might be the least talented roster in the NFL.

    Pittsburgh has allowed a league-least 50 points this season and they will punish Colt McCoy all day. This game has blowout written all over it.

    Other good options:

    New York Giants (vs. Detroit Lions)

    San Diego Chargers (at St. Louis Rams)

    Houston Texans (vs. Kansas City Chiefs)

TEAM TO WIN—Avoid: Chicago Bears (vs. Seattle Seahawks)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 03:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears gets sacked by Justin Tuck #91 and Chris Canty #99 of the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 3, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty I
    Michael Heiman/Getty Images

    This game has “trap” written all over it.

    After the Bears defense manhandled the Panthers in week five, there seems to be a lot of hype again about this team. Before you jump on the bandwagon, though, keep in mind that this is a team that just two weeks ago scored three points while surrendering ten sacks to the Giants.

    Chicago’s offensive line is playing as bad as anyone’s in the entire league and although Seattle’s pass-rush isn’t quite on the level of the Giants, they are certainly better than the Panthers, who were in the Bears’ backfield all day.

    Jay Cutler will be back this week after a concussion kept him out of last week’s game, but Chicago needs to be careful with their star quarterback—if he keeps getting hit like he did against the Giants and Cowboys, he won’t make it through the year.