Raise your hand if you predicted that Ryan Fitzpatrick, Pierre Thomas, Alshon Jeffery, Terrance Williams and Rueben Randle would all exceed 20 fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues.
Yeah, me neither.
While a few huge performances saw unexpected players crack the top 10 in the positional rankings, sanity prevailed atop the rankings in general. Peyton Manning and Tony Romo won fantasy matchups by themselves. Ray Rice returned to form. Dez Bryant exceeded his teammate Williams in fantasy points. Jimmy Graham hit double-digit points for the fifth straight week.
Surprises emerge in fantasy, but the cream still rises too. With that in mind, let's take an early look at which players will crack the top 10 at each position in Week 6.
Peyton Manning will remain No. 1 on this list until further notice. In fact, expect to see a lot of Denver Broncos this week with the Jacksonville Jaguars next on the schedule. After all, the Broncos scored 51 points this week, which is the same total as the Jaguars have scored...all season.
Dallas (326 passing yards per game allowed, 31st in NFL) and Washington (298 passing yards per game allowed, 27th) have two of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, so Tony Romo and Robert Griffin III will have a field day.
I really like Jay Cutler this week against a New York Giants defense that made Nick Foles look like a stud in little over a half of play (16-of-25, 197 yards, two touchdowns) after he came on in relief duty for Michael Vick.
Foles and Vick totaled 26 fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues, the fourth week in a row the Giants have given up at least 20 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Cutler has quietly scored 16 or more fantasy points in four of five weeks and put up 22 this week in a loss to the New Orleans Saints.
If you've got him, don't be afraid to start him.
Running Back Notes
Arian Foster has a brilliant matchup against the St. Louis Rams, a team that has given up 21 or more fantasy points to opposing running backs three times this season. Foster remains a consistent source of production for fantasy owners, and with Matt Schaub struggling mightily in the passing game, expect the Houston Texans to run early and often.
After a 19-point performance, Ray Rice has returned to RB1 status, while Knowshon Moreno should have another big week against the Jaguars.
Neither Fred Jackson nor C.J. Spiller makes the list, in part because the Cincinnati Bengals are tough against the run (95.6 rushing yards allowed per game, 11th in the NFL) and in part because they'll probably stack the box against new starting quarterback Thad Lewis.
Yes, Thad Lewis. From the Buffalo Bills' official Twitter account:
Beyond that, there aren't too many surprises on the rankings this week.
Wide Receiver Notes
Has anyone seen A.J. Green lately? After registering 28 fantasy points in Week 1, he's managed to hit double-digit points just once since. But against a Bills team that has allowed 29 or more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in four of five weeks, Green will reemerge as a dynamic fantasy producer.
Dez Bryant is going to eat the Washington secondary alive, though Pierre Garcon will elevate himself to the land of the WR1 this week against an equally shaky Dallas secondary.
At this point, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker are all must-starts each week for the Broncos, while in Green Bay, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones are the same. Don't be surprised if up to four of those six receivers crack this week's top 10.
Two players that have cracked this list in the past but miss out this week are Vincent Jackson and DeSean Jackson. The former is recovering from a rib injury and has a rookie quarterback in Mike Glennon, so expectations should be tempered there, while Jackson will surely be shadowed by Darrelle Revis all game long when the Philadelphia Eagles play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Honestly, Jackson is really the only major threat in the Eagles' passing offense. If Revis doesn't blanket him all game long, the Bucs need to seriously change their scheme.
Tight End Notes
At this point, Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron and Antonio Gates are no-questions-asked starters every week. The possible return of Rob Gronkowski vaults him into the top 10, though it's fair to expect some rust.
Jason Witten should exploit a great matchup against a shaky Washington defense, while Vernon Davis faces an Arizona Cardinals defense that was torched by Jared Cook (24 points) in Week 1 and Jimmy Graham (25 points) in Week 3.
Defense/Special Teams Notes
Trey Wingo of ESPN lets you know precisely why the Chicago Bears defense will have a big week for fantasy owners against the Giants:
The Broncos will demolish the Jags, while the Bengals should eat Lewis and the Bills alive. The most boring game of the weekend—the New York Jets facing the Pittsburgh Steelers—should ensure both defenses provide a decent output for fantasy owners.
It's hard to imagine a shootout materializing in that one.
Picking a kicker is like ordering sushi—you don't always need the highest quality to enjoy the experience, but if you choose poorly you're going to pay.
This week alone (prior to the Monday night game), 15 kickers had double-digit points in standard-scoring leagues. On average, 11.8 kickers per week (we'll round it up to 12) score at least 10 points for fantasy owners.
The point is this—you don't need to find the best kicker week in and week out, but you better make sure you have one who is scoring double-digit points, or you're going to be behind the eight ball. Make sure you go after the most consistent performers, not necessarily the boom-or-bust prospects.
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