Fantasy Football Week 6 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
Injuries are decimating fantasy football rosters, even if the bye weeks are not.
Just the Falcons and Dolphins are on bye, so you might only need to replace Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez and Mike Wallace in fantasy lineups. You already should have been prepared to do without Julio Jones (foot), Roddy White (ankle/hamstring) and Steven Jackson (hamstring).
There are a number of game-time decisions looming on premium fantasy options like Calvin Johnson (knee) and Rob Gronkowski (arm/back). Since yours truly is not a doctor, we will point you to Sports Injuries Lead Writer Will Carroll. Let the big man keep you updated there.
Otherwise, your Week 6 fantasy football starts, sits and position-by-position rankings are right here in this perfectly packaged, six-part slideshow.
Quarterbacks: Keep the Faith on the Next-Generation Quarterbacks
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
Despite ranking just 18th among quarterbacks in scoring, RG3 should be labeled a must-start option in most weeks. This is especially true against the worst team in fantasy versus quarterbacks. The Cowboys have allowed a league-high 145 completions and 14 touchdown passes.
RGIII also has the healthiest set of receivers he has had since he has been in the NFL, and Alfred Morris (ribs) still feels some effects of his pre-bye rib injury. Less Morris should mean more RGIII, as he tells the Washington Post's Mike Jones:
It's not frustrating. Even if it's not running the ball, maybe I can get in on the passing game, or keep blitzes off of Robert so he can have time to make his reads and make the throws. Whatever I can do to help my team win—even if they want me to run down on special teams, I’m fine with that.
RG3 was a monster at Dallas on Thanksgiving a year ago. Expect another classic shootout here.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Speaking of struggling signal-callers, Newton is just 22nd in scoring per game to date. The good news is he faces a Vikings defense that is seventh worst in fantasy against quarterbacks and has made Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Ben Roethlisberger into productive fantasy starts in their past three games. Newton is clearly better than any of them and should be kept active amid his struggles.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
He hasn't gotten going yet, but he has played some fairly tough defenses in his team's first five games. Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and New England can be considered tough defensive opponents, and the Packers aren't as bad defensively as you might think.
Dalton gets it going against the suspect Bills to the tune of 280 yards and three touchdowns. Consider him the best bye-week replacement option for Matt Ryan, unless you already started Jay Cutler or snagged Philip Rivers off waivers.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Yes, we just got done saying Green Bay is not that bad defensively, but it does allow for some wide-open games—something the Bengals game was not. Flacco has a red-hot Torrey Smith and might be getting his No. 2 receiver, Jacoby Jones, (knee) back from injury. It won't necessarily mean 300 yards and four touchdowns, but Flacco still rates as one of our top-15 players at the position.
Note: Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have been disappointing to date too, but you need to stick with these mobile, young quarterbacks you drafted to be your starter, particularly through the bye season.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
He has had some moments this season, and he has a pretty diverse set of weapons, but a matchup at Houston against a Texans team coming off a bad loss looks too dangerous to trust him. The Texans are the third-best team in fantasy against quarterbacks, even amid their slow start, so you should consider the likes of Dalton and Flacco over Bradford in one-quarterback formats this week.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers needed to play some wide-open games before their bye, but the return of Le'Veon Bell should help them slow the pace back down, play conservatively and rely on what still can be a good defense. The Jets want to do the same, so consider this a bad week for Big Ben owners. There were 20 options on the board more promising than him here.
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
His surprising play is justifiably raising some eyebrows, but a matchup at red-hot Kansas City is not one you should mess with right now. The Chiefs have allowed just four touchdown passes through five games. Only the Browns (two) and Panthers (three) have allowed fewer, but the Panthers have only played four games. As much as Pryor has excited us for his future prospects, this might be the week the Raiders get shut out.
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Yeah, right. He is a bad play even in two-quarterback leagues now. Schaub is closer to the bench for the Texans in lieu of T.J. Yates than anyone's fantasy lineup.
|1||Tony Romo||Dal||vs. Was||2||+1|
|2||Peyton Manning||Den||vs. Jac||1||-1|
|3||Aaron Rodgers||GB||at Bal||3||0|
|4||Drew Brees||NO||at NE||4||0|
|5||Tom Brady||NE||vs. NO||9||+4|
|6||Robert Griffin||Was||at Dal||5||-1|
|7||Colin Kaepernick||SF||vs. Ari||13||+6|
|8||Philip Rivers||SD||vs. Ind||8||0|
|9||Matthew Stafford||Det||at Cle||11||+2|
|10||Cam Newton||Car||at Min||7||-3|
|11||Andrew Luck||Ind||at SD||6||-5|
|12||Russell Wilson||Sea||vs. Ten||12||0|
|13||Jay Cutler||Chi||vs. NYG||10||-3|
|14||Andy Dalton||Cin||at Buf||20||+6|
|15||Joe Flacco||Bal||vs. GB||15||0|
|16||Alex Smith||KC||vs. Oak||14||-2|
|17||Terrelle Pryor||Oak||at KC||17||0|
|18||Brandon Weeden||Cle||vs. Det||25||+7|
|19||Sam Bradford||StL||at Hou||23||+4|
|20||Eli Manning||NYG||at Chi||16||-4|
|21||Ben Roethlisberger||Pit||at NYJ||19||-2|
|22||Geno Smith||NYJ||vs. Pit||24||+2|
|23||Chad Henne||Jac||at Den||21||-2|
|24||Matt Schaub||Hou||vs. StL||18||-6|
|25||Carson Palmer||Ari||at SF||27||+2|
|26||Nick Foles||Phi||at TB||22||-4|
|27||Mike Glennon||TB||vs. Phi||26||-1|
|28||Ryan Fitzpatrick||Ten||at Sea||32||+4|
|29||Matt Cassel||Min||vs. Car||29||0|
|30||Thaddeus Lewis||Buf||vs. Cin||28||-2|
Running Backs: Preseason Fringe Backs Becoming a Lot More Important in Fantasy
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
There is some danger with starting Moreno against the worst rushing defense in the NFL, believe it or not. The Broncos figure to blow this one out early and might turn to the likes of Ronnie Hillman and rookie Montee Ball in garbage time. After all, the Broncos need to establish their power-running game, and there is no better time to do it than here.
Here is a vote of confidence Moreno picks up 60 yards and a touchdown before he gives way to the younger backups, though. Start Hillman and even Ball in leagues too. Each of the three might be good for 50-plus yards and a touchdown apiece.
DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
Jonathan Stewart (ankle) might be nearly ready to practice off the PUP list, but Williams is the Panthers' feature back for at least a couple more weeks. This one figures to be bountiful against a Vikings defense that has allowed the second-most points to fantasy running backs thus far. Williams can rack up a high-carry total for a 30-year-old back, especially if the Panthers are confident Stewart will be a second-half reinforcement.
Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
Ryan Mathews (concussion) returned to practice Friday, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune's Kevin Acee, but that doesn't mean he will be cleared for Monday night's game against the Colts. If Mathews is held out, Woodhead becomes a top-10 fantasy back. Heck, because of his receiving numbers of late, he might be that already regardless in PPR formats.
Ben Tate, Houston Texans
We didn't expect to be this excited about the prospects of a backup running back, but Arian Foster (thumb and chest) has been limited in practice this week.
Foster is going to play and star against a Rams defense that has been a sieve against running backs (third worst), but there should be ample time for Tate to rack up 60 yards and a touchdown spelling the feature back. It certainly helps that the Texans' Matt Schaub is struggling in the passing game. It should be a lot of handoffs Sunday in Houston.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets
No, the Steelers are not as bad against the run as their dead-last standing against fantasy running backs suggests, but you cannot ignore the feature back in a run-heavy scheme against Pittsburgh at this point.
Powell will have to contend with Chris Ivory and even Mike Goodson for carries, but 20 touches for 100 yards and a touchdown is a reasonable expectation for Powell this week in a game that should be a slobberknocker.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
We have to admit the Bills are better against the run this year (seventh best against fantasy running backs), but the Bengals should have control of this game throughout, especially with Thad Lewis starting at quarterback off the practice squad. There should be ample touches for both of the Bengals' time-share backs, even if Bernard has had issues with fumbling of late. Both are top-25 options this week.
Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
When you have three running backs (or four), you really have none. The Rams are going to a power back in Stacy, but a matchup against the Texans run defense is not a great one for Stacy's fantasy owners, despite what the numbers suggest.
The Texans are a lot more stout than their fourth-worst rush defense (tied) suggests. Stacy also has to deal with the rib issue that knocked him out last week and the rotation that will still include former starter Daryl Richardson, former back-of-the-future Isaiah Pead and even Benny Cunningham.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Like we said above, Mathews is at risk of missing Monday night or at least being limited. Heck, he has been limited all season, if not for his injury-plagued career. The Colts have been surprisingly good against fantasy backs despite allowing the third-most rushing yards per game to date. A lot of that damage has come against quarterbacks Terrelle Pryor and Russell Wilson, who both went over 100 yards against them.
Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals
He has held up fairly well as Bruce Arians' feature back despite some hiccups, but this is a bad week to trust him. The 49ers are a lot better against the run than they have shown, so consider their seventh-worst standing against running backs fantasy fool's gold right now. Mendenhall is a bad play, especially at San Francisco.
LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
The Pats tried to make do with this combo in place of Stevan Ridley (knee) last week, but it didn't go well. Ridley is expected to play Sunday against the Saints, according to NFL insider Albert Breer.
We cannot be sure of how the rotation's touches will be distributed, but we are pretty sure you should have better options than the plodding Blount or Bolden this week. The Saints defense has been much better under Rob Ryan, and it is in the top 10 of fantasy against running backs.
Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
Granted, Bell is more pass receiver than running back, but the Browns have one of the top-10 rush defenses in the NFL, and they figure to take the backs away, especially with Calvin Johnson (knee) at less than 100 percent. Bell hasn't been starter-quality the past two weeks, and this is the toughest matchup he has faced yet. Look elsewhere.
|Rank||Running Backs||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Adrian Peterson||Min||vs. Car||1||0|
|2||Arian Foster||Hou||vs. StL||3||+1|
|3||Jamaal Charles||KC||vs. Oak||2||-1|
|4||DeMarco Murray||Dal||vs. Was||7||+3|
|5||LeSean McCoy||Phi||at TB||4||-1|
|6||Matt Forte||Chi||vs. NYG||6||0|
|7||Doug Martin||TB||vs. Phi||8||+1|
|8||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||vs. Ten||5||-3|
|9||Ray Rice||Bal||vs. GB||9||0|
|10||Trent Richardson||Ind||at SD||13||+3|
|11||Alfred Morris||Was||at Dal||10||-1|
|12||Frank Gore||SF||vs. Ari||14||+2|
|13||Reggie Bush||Det||at Cle||11||-2|
|14||Knowshon Moreno||Den||vs. Jac||12||-2|
|15||DeAngelo Williams||Car||at Min||15||0|
|16||Danny Woodhead||SD||vs. Ind||21||+5|
|17||Darren Sproles||NO||at NE||18||+1|
|18||C.J. Spiller||Buf||vs. Cin||16||-2|
|19||Chris Johnson||Ten||at Sea||23||+4|
|20||Le'Veon Bell||Pit||at NYJ||20||0|
|21||Bilal Powell||NYJ||vs. Pit||26||+5|
|22||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||at Den||25||+3|
|23||Eddie Lacy||GB||at Bal||17||-6|
|24||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||at Buf||30||+6|
|25||Giovani Bernard||Cin||at Buf||19||-6|
|26||Willis McGahee||Cle||vs. Det||24||-2|
|27||Fred Jackson||Buf||vs. Cin||22||-5|
|28||Stevan Ridley||NE||vs. NO||28||0|
|29||Ben Tate||Hou||vs. StL||33||+4|
|30||Darren McFadden||Oak||at KC||37||+7|
|31||Zac Stacy||StL||at Hou||31||0|
|32||Ryan Mathews||SD||vs. Ind||35||+3|
|33||Brandon Jacobs||NYG||at Chi||40||+7|
|34||Pierre Thomas||NO||at NE||27||-7|
|35||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||at SF||32||-3|
|36||Joique Bell||Det||at Cle||29||-7|
|37||Ronnie Hillman||Den||vs. Jac||34||-3|
|38||Montee Ball||Den||vs. Jac||46||+8|
|39||Brandon Bolden||NE||vs. NO||38||-1|
|40||Daryl Richardson||StL||at Hou||47||+7|
|41||Bernard Pierce||Bal||vs. GB||45||+4|
|42||LeGarrette Blount||NE||vs. NO||41||-1|
|43||Kendall Hunter||SF||vs. Ari||56||+13|
|44||Michael Bush||Chi||vs. NYG||53||+9|
|45||Andre Ellington||Ari||at SF||36||-9|
|46||Donald Brown||Ind||at SD||48||+2|
|47||Da'Rel Scott||NYG||at Chi||43||-4|
|48||Mike Goodson||NYJ||vs. Pit||58||+10|
|49||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||vs. Det||55||+6|
|50||Robert Turbin||Sea||vs. Ten||68||+18|
|51||Bryce Brown||Phi||at TB||54||+3|
|52||Ronnie Brown||SD||vs. Ind||50||-2|
|53||Roy Helu||Was||at Dal||49||-4|
|54||Rashad Jennings||Oak||at KC||39||-15|
|55||Anthony Dixon||SF||vs. Ari||82||+27|
|56||Chris Ivory||NYJ||vs. Pit||44||-12|
|57||Knile Davis||KC||vs. Oak||72||+15|
|58||Jordan Todman||Jac||at Den||84||+26|
|59||Mark Ingram||NO||at NE||66||+7|
|60||Lance Dunbar||Dal||vs. Was||78||+18|
Wide Receivers: You Don't Know Diddly About Bowe; Keep Him Active
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
This one is either a function of stubborn genius or pure stupidity, but the bet here is Bowe gets more involved against a Raiders secondary that was ripped by the San Diego Chargers last time out. No one likes Bowe right now—except this guy. MMQB's Greg Bedard even goes so far to suggest this without any tangible support:
The Chiefs have a big problem with receiver Dwayne Bowe. Not sure what has happened to him, but he lacks explosion and can’t beat man coverage anymore. Defenses don't fear him at all.
Go ahead and ignore him. Head coach Andy Reid will find a way to get the ball to his biggest threat.
It is far too easy to look at the stats and suggest Bowe cannot get open, or Alex Smith cannot get him the ball. We are closer to what the Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger believes is reality with the struggling Bowe after re-watching the Titans game:
All this talk about Dwayne Bowe being off, remember he stepped, maybe, an inch out of bounds on what would've been an extra 30 or 40 yards on that sideline catch in the fourth quarter. He was also a foot away from a touchdown on a play near the goal line.
Bowe puts up five catches for 90 yards and a touchdown this week. Sit him, cut him or trade him if you think you're a football genius and know what is wrong with Bowe and Smith. You don't.
Danny Amendola, New England Patriots
He wasn't great in his return, but he should still rate among the fantasy starters because of his high volume of targets from Tom Brady, particularly if Rob Gronkowski (arm/back) doesn't play. With Drew Brees expected to push the pace, expect Amendola to be good for 10 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rookie Mike Glennon is a shaky proposition at quarterback, but Mike Williams (hamstring) did not practice Friday, according to the Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud.
That should leave a big part of the game plan in Jackson's hands against an Eagles defense that has given up the most points in fantasy to wide receivers. You probably cannot expect a touchdown, but a busy day of seven catches for 100-plus yards keeps Jackson among the fantasy starters this week.
Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
You have to expect a lot of garbage time for the Jags in Denver, and the fact that Chad Henne is starting over Blaine Gabbert (hamstring) helps too. Henne is far more capable of getting the ball downfield and posting a 300-yard, three-touchdown day against a Broncos defense that has been ripped for four 100-yard receiving games in five weeks.
Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have been more of a running team than anyone might have expected this season, but expect fireworks between Andrew Luck and Philip Rivers on Monday night. The Chargers have surrendered the fifth-most points to fantasy wide receivers to date, and only the aforementioned Eagles have allowed more receptions to wideouts. Both Wayne and Hilton are set for 100-yard nights.
Tavon Austin, Austin Pettis, Chris Givens, fill in the blank, St. Louis Rams
Not only can you not be sure where the fantasy points are going to come from with the Rams receivers, you also are facing a Texans defense that has been No. 1 in fantasy against wideouts. There are just too many reasons to avoid these guys, mostly because they are interchangeable on offense.
Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals
You shouldn't sit Larry Fitzgerald in any league, in any matchup, but the 49ers are tough on receivers, not allowing either a 100-yard performance or a touchdown since their Week 1 shootout against the Packers. Neither of these fringe options is viable in this matchup.
Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse or any non-Golden Tate receiver, Seattle Seahawks
Tate is the only Seahawks receiver who can be trusted against a surprising Titans secondary that has allowed the fourth-fewest points to wide receivers through five games. Tate is merely a low-end flex play because someone needs to pick up the yards off play action for a quarterback we consider a starter in Russell Wilson.
Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Kenny Britt, Damian Williams and Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans
This group has had its moments in the early part of the season, but not only does Seattle have arguably the best secondary in football (third against the pass), the Titans will also be relying on Ryan Fitzpatrick to try and get the job done on the road. One of these guys will wind up with five catches for 65 yards, but good luck guessing which one.
Steve Johnson and Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
The Bengals secondary is getting healthier, and the Bills are starting Thad Lewis. That latter point should be enough to sit either Bills starting wideout.
|Rank||Wide Receivers||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Dez Bryant||Dal||vs. Was||1||0|
|2||Brandon Marshall||Chi||vs. NYG||4||+2|
|3||A.J. Green||Cin||at Buf||3||0|
|4||Demaryius Thomas||Den||vs. Jac||2||-2|
|5||Calvin Johnson||Det||at Cle||5||0|
|6||Andre Johnson||Hou||vs. StL||12||+6|
|7||Jordy Nelson||GB||at Bal||11||+4|
|8||Torrey Smith||Bal||vs. GB||7||-1|
|9||Randall Cobb||GB||at Bal||8||-1|
|10||Wes Welker||Den||vs. Jac||6||-4|
|11||Danny Amendola||NE||vs. NO||20||+9|
|12||Eric Decker||Den||vs. Jac||15||+3|
|13||Vincent Jackson||TB||vs. Phi||16||+3|
|14||Victor Cruz||NYG||at Chi||10||-4|
|15||Larry Fitzgerald||Ari||at SF||24||+9|
|16||Josh Gordon||Cle||vs. Det||13||-3|
|17||Anquan Boldin||SF||vs. Ari||29||+12|
|18||Pierre Garcon||Was||at Dal||9||-9|
|19||Justin Blackmon||Jac||at Den||19||0|
|20||Reggie Wayne||Ind||at SD||14||-6|
|21||T.Y. Hilton||Ind||at SD||25||+4|
|22||Alshon Jeffery||Chi||vs. NYG||22||0|
|23||Dwayne Bowe||KC||vs. Oak||30||+7|
|24||Antonio Brown||Pit||at NYJ||18||-6|
|25||DeSean Jackson||Phi||at TB||17||-8|
|26||Marques Colston||NO||at NE||21||-5|
|27||Hakeem Nicks||NYG||at Chi||28||+1|
|28||James Jones||GB||at Bal||27||-1|
|29||Cecil Shorts||Jac||at Den||23||-6|
|30||Steve Johnson||Buf||vs. Cin||35||+5|
|31||Greg Jennings||Min||vs. Car||37||+6|
|32||Steve Smith||Car||at Min||26||-6|
|33||Miles Austin||Dal||vs. Was||46||+13|
|34||Vincent Brown||SD||vs. Ind||33||-1|
|35||Tavon Austin||StL||at Hou||52||+17|
|36||Golden Tate||Sea||vs. Ten||42||+6|
|37||DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||vs. StL||32||-5|
|38||Julian Edelman||NE||vs. NO||39||+1|
|39||Eddie Royal||SD||vs. Ind||57||+18|
|40||Mike Williams||TB||vs. Phi||31||-9|
|41||Brandon LaFell||Car||at Min||60||+19|
|42||Denarius Moore||Oak||at KC||34||-8|
|43||Emmanuel Sanders||Pit||at NYJ||43||0|
|44||Michael Floyd||Ari||at SF||38||-6|
|45||Robert Woods||Buf||vs. Cin||47||+2|
|46||Keenan Allen||SD||vs. Ind||36||-10|
|47||Rueben Randle||NYG||at Chi||44||-3|
|48||Kenbrell Thompkins||NE||vs. NO||41||-7|
|49||Andre Roberts||Ari||at SF||65||+16|
|50||Stephen Hill||NYJ||vs. Pit||48||-2|
|51||Chris Givens||StL||at Hou||58||+7|
|52||Jeremy Kerley||NYJ||vs. Pit||51||-1|
|53||Rod Streater||Oak||at KC||66||+13|
|54||Santana Moss||Was||at Dal||62||+8|
|55||Ryan Broyles||Det||at Cle||67||+12|
|56||Kendall Wright||Ten||at Sea||56||0|
|57||Austin Pettis||StL||at Hou||49||-8|
|58||Terrance Williams||Dal||vs. Was||40||-18|
|59||Donnie Avery||KC||vs. Oak||50||-9|
|60||Marlon Brown||Bal||vs. GB||53||-7|
|61||Lance Moore||NO||at NE||76||+15|
|62||Sidney Rice||Sea||vs. Ten||55||-7|
|63||Nate Washington||Ten||at Sea||45||-18|
|64||Riley Cooper||Phi||at TB||82||+18|
|65||Mohamed Sanu||Cin||at Buf||63||-2|
|66||Davone Bess||Cle||vs. Det||78||+12|
|67||Jerome Simpson||Min||vs. Car||54||-13|
|68||Darrius Heyward-Bey||Ind||at SD||70||+2|
|69||Jason Avant||Phi||at TB||68||-1|
|70||Kenny Britt||Ten||at Sea||77||+7|
|71||Doug Baldwin||Sea||vs. Ten||64||-7|
|72||Ted Ginn||Car||at Min||61||-11|
|73||Jerricho Cotchery||Pit||at NYJ||75||+2|
|74||Dexter McCluster||KC||vs. Oak||86||+12|
|75||Marvin Jones||Cin||at Buf||88||+13|
|76||Kenny Stills||NO||at NE||89||+13|
|77||Earl Bennett||Chi||vs. NYG||90||+13|
|78||Leonard Hankerson||Was||at Dal||59||-19|
|79||Greg Little||Cle||vs. Det||71||-8|
|80||Kyle Williams||SF||vs. Ari||93||+13|
Tight Ends: Coby Fleener and Garrett Graham Are Going to Rise the Charts
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
He has run hot and cold for fantasy owners, but count this as a great week to use him. The Chargers have the NFL's sixth-worst pass defense, and Fleener's bad weeks have come against the likes of San Francisco and Seattle, two of the best pass defenses in football. Fleener goes off for 60 yards and a score here.
Garrett Graham, Houston Texans
The extended loss of Owen Daniels (foot) opens the door for Graham to be a solid starter in fantasy every week. The Rams are more susceptible to the run than the pass, but the Texans' use of the tight end comes heavily off play action. It should work brilliantly with the safeties trying to support in the run game against Arian Foster and Ben Tate this week. Graham finds the end zone.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton has struggled, but it hasn’t been because of Olsen. The Vikings have given up an NFL-high six touchdowns to tight ends (in just four games) and the second-most points to the position in fantasy. This might be Olsen's best week of the season.
Jeff Cumberland, New York Jets
He was one of the most-added tight ends off waivers this week and has been hot with rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Also, Kellen Winslow is now out of the way due to a four-game suspension. Now, sit Cumberland. The Steelers are the third-best team in fantasy against the position and have been traditionally tough against tight ends when Troy Polamalu has been healthy, as he is right now.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
We labeled Rudolph a bust this preseason at his draft position because you cannot count on short touchdowns. They are mostly a function of game circumstances.
You especially cannot count on short touchdowns coming from a quarterback in Matt Cassel, who hasn't thrown a touchdown to Rudolph before. The Panthers also happen to be the second-best team in fantasy against tight ends to date. This is a bad week to pray for a Rudolph turnaround.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
Joseph Fauria's red-zone targets have scared fantasy owners off Pettigrew in the early going, but don't jump back on him after the performance a week ago. That was a function of the Lions being without Calvin Johnson (knee). Regardless of Johnson's status, the Browns have a top-10 secondary in the NFL, and they have been fourth best in fantasy against tight ends.
|Rank||Tight Ends||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Jimmy Graham||NO||at NE||1||0|
|2||Jason Witten||Dal||vs. Was||2||0|
|3||Jordan Cameron||Cle||vs. Det||4||+1|
|4||Julius Thomas||Den||vs. Jac||3||-1|
|5||Antonio Gates||SD||vs. Ind||5||0|
|6||Vernon Davis||SF||vs. Ari||6||0|
|7||Garrett Graham||Hou||vs. StL||11||+4|
|8||Greg Olsen||Car||at Min||8||0|
|9||Jermichael Finley||GB||at Bal||10||+1|
|10||Heath Miller||Pit||at NYJ||12||+2|
|11||Martellus Bennett||Chi||vs. NYG||9||-2|
|12||Coby Fleener||Ind||at SD||13||+1|
|13||Jared Cook||StL||at Hou||14||+1|
|14||Kyle Rudolph||Min||vs. Car||18||+4|
|15||Rob Gronkowski||NE||vs. NO||7||-8|
|16||Brandon Pettigrew||Det||at Cle||19||+3|
|17||Jermaine Gresham||Cin||at Buf||20||+3|
|18||Sean McGrath||KC||vs. Oak||22||+4|
|19||Brandon Myers||NYG||at Chi||15||-4|
|20||Jeff Cumberland||NYJ||vs. Pit||23||+3|
|21||Dallas Clark||Bal||vs. GB||24||+3|
|22||Rob Housler||Ari||at SF||36||+14|
|23||Tyler Eifert||Cin||at Buf||21||-2|
|24||Scott Chandler||Buf||vs. Cin||26||+2|
|25||Zach Miller||Sea||vs. Ten||27||+2|
|26||Jordan Reed||Was||at Dal||16||-10|
|27||Brent Celek||Phi||at TB||17||-10|
|28||Kellen Winslow||NYJ||vs. Pit||25||-3|
|29||Delanie Walker||Ten||at Sea||28||-1|
|30||Tony Scheffler||Det||at Cle||44||+14|
Defense/Special Teams: We Make Sense of a Slew of Streaming Options This Week
San Francisco 49ers
They are starting to pay you back for making them one of the first units off the board in drafts. Against the error-prone Carson Palmer, playing at home, the 49ers should pay you back in droves this week. This is the No. 1 unit on the board, despite failing to score like a starting fantasy unit to date—just 15th in a standard league.
New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers
Two proud defensive teams haven't been great the past couple of seasons, but they are facing each other this week, and that should be a cure for what ails them.
The Steelers are fourth worst in fantasy against opposing defenses, and the Jets are just two notches better at six. This should be a defensive struggle, and perhaps the points will only come off offensive mistakes. We rate both fringe fantasy units as top-10 options this week.
There are a lot of bad quarterbacks to take advantage of among the defensive streaming options this week, and Thad Lewis might be the best/worst of them. The Bengals are a must-start option after being dropped in many leagues last week because they were facing the Patriots.
Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles
Speaking of taking advantage of quarterbacks, the Panthers face Matt Cassel, the Lions face Brandon Weeden and the Eagles face rookie Mike Glennon. You probably don't need to dip this low into the D/ST waiver pool, but if you do, the Panthers are the stoutest of these defensive options.
New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints
The Saints haven't been as stingy against opposing defenses as the Pats (11th best), but you shouldn't consider either of these units good plays against those two quarterbacks. The Pats haven't gotten out of their own way offensively, but you have to figure this game will wind up as a shootout someway, somehow.
San Diego Chargers
One of the surprising fantasy units from a year ago has gotten off to a slow start, and it won't turn around Monday night against the Colts. Not only are the Colts potent offensively with Andrew Luck and a rediscovered running game, but they have been tough against opposing defenses to date (third best). Send the Chargers to the waiver wire for one of the options above.
The defense has played well since that opening-day thrashing in Denver, but this game against the Packers figures to be one of the few weeks to sit the Ravens before the fantasy postseason. A stretch of suspect opponents and quarterbacks loom all the way up until Week 16 versus New England.
|Rank||Defenses and Special Teams||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||San Francisco 49ers||SF||vs. Ari||3||+2|
|2||Chicago Bears||Chi||vs. NYG||5||+3|
|3||Seattle Seahawks||Sea||vs. Ten||2||-1|
|4||Cincinnati Bengals||Cin||at Buf||4||0|
|5||Kansas City Chiefs||KC||vs. Oak||6||+1|
|6||Denver Broncos||Den||vs. Jac||1||-5|
|7||New York Jets||NYJ||vs. Pit||8||+1|
|8||Pittsburgh Steelers||Pit||at NYJ||11||+3|
|9||Carolina Panthers||Car||at Min||10||+1|
|10||Detroit Lions||Det||at Cle||9||-1|
|11||Philadelphia Eagles||Phi||at TB||14||+3|
|12||Houston Texans||Hou||vs. StL||7||-5|
|13||Indianapolis Colts||Ind||at SD||21||+8|
|14||St. Louis Rams||StL||at Hou||23||+9|
|15||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TB||vs. Phi||13||-2|
|16||New England Patriots||NE||vs. NO||19||+3|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||Bal||vs. GB||17||0|
|18||Dallas Cowboys||Dal||vs. Was||20||+2|
|19||Minnesota Vikings||Min||vs. Car||15||-4|
|20||Arizona Cardinals||Ari||at SF||12||-8|
Kickers: Consider Mike Nugent Among Sleeper Options If You Need One
Garrett Hartley, New Orleans Saints
The Pats have been sixth best in fantasy against kickers, but Hartley is second in kicker scoring and too good to sit in any matchup right now. The Pats are going to do a better job than most teams against Drew Brees in the red zone, especially at home, so expect a few field goals to go with the extra points this week for Hartley.
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals
He is not a kicker at the top of most minds in fantasy circles, especially since he is currently out of the top 25 in scoring, but the Bills have been the fourth-worst team in fantasy against kickers, and their starting of a practice-squad quarterback should leave plenty of favorable field positions. Nugent is going to have a double-digit week despite being owned in just 17 percent of CBS Sports leagues.
Alex Henery, Philadelphia Eagles
As wary of the Bucs defense as you might have been thus far this season, Tampa Bay has still been eighth worst in fantasy against kickers. Henery is hot, and the Eagles should put up points even with Nick Foles at quarterback. Consider Henery a solid start in all leagues.
Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders
He is just 23rd among kickers in scoring, and this might be a week the Chiefs shut the Raiders out in Kansas City. Only the Saints and Packers have allowed fewer made field goals (three) than the Chiefs (five). And only the Panthers have allowed fewer extra points (three)—albeit in four games instead of five. Sea Bass is not worth owning in fantasy, despite being a name-brand among kickers.
David Akers, Detroit Lions
The Browns have a solid defense, and the Lions offensive success might hinge on the health of Calvin Johnson (knee). Akers is a fringe fantasy kicker in most weeks, and this figures to be one of the worst times to trust him for anything more than a few extra points.
Nick Novak, San Diego Chargers
He has had his moments this season among starter-worthy fantasy kickers, but that Colts defense has performed better than expected and has allowed just nine field-goal attempts through five games. Only six teams who haven't yet had their bye have allowed fewer. It is a bad week to play Novak off waivers, outside of the Hail Mary play for some Monday night magic.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.
|1||Stephen Gostkowski||NE||vs. NO||3||+2|
|2||Matt Prater||Den||vs. Jac||1||-1|
|3||Justin Tucker||Bal||vs. GB||4||+1|
|4||Dan Bailey||Dal||vs. Was||2||-2|
|5||Ryan Succop||KC||vs. Oak||14||+9|
|6||Mason Crosby||GB||at Bal||11||+5|
|7||Robbie Gould||Chi||vs. NYG||5||-2|
|8||Nick Novak||SD||vs. Ind||13||+5|
|9||Phil Dawson||SF||vs. Ari||15||+6|
|10||Garrett Hartley||NO||at NE||7||-3|
|11||Blair Walsh||Min||vs. Car||10||-1|
|12||Alex Henery||Phi||at TB||9||-3|
|13||Greg Zuerlein||StL||at Hou||18||+5|
|14||Steven Hauschka||Sea||vs. Ten||6||-8|
|15||Mike Nugent||Cin||at Buf||21||+6|
|16||Adam Vinatieri||Ind||at SD||12||-4|
|17||Shaun Suisham||Pit||at NYJ||27||+10|
|18||Sebastian Janikowski||Oak||at KC||19||+1|
|19||Kai Forbath||Was||at Dal||16||-3|
|20||Randy Bullock||Hou||vs. StL||8||-12|