Analysis Paralysis: Week 6 Start & Sit
As we move into another week of the "Gronk Watch," we've also encountered a few other injuries we need to account for (Julio Jones, David Wilson, Owen Daniels, Blaine Gabbert). Ok, so that last one was a bit of a joke, but keep reading and you'll see that there is actually some truth to that humor.
Since we're about a third of the way through the NFL season, fantasy points against are starting to mean something and are a statistic that (while sometimes misleading) should be leaned upon as a tie-breaker in those tough start-sit decisions that we all face every week.
12-Pack of Goodness
(12 players who are primed to outplay their normal value this weekend)
Mike Glennon: I can’t say that I trust Glennon as far as I can throw him, but I figured telling you all that Robert Griffin III is a good play against the Cowboys might have you all calling me Captain Obvious. Glennon will face an Eagles defense this weekend that is allowing 21 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks and hasn’t allowed less than 13 fantasy points as part of that average. If Glennon can keep his turnovers down, he could make for an interesting (read: cheap) daily play this weekend.
Chad Henne: This recommendation boils down to two words: garbage time. Henne is on a bad team and facing a good defense on their home turf, but hey, at least he’s not Blaine Gabbert. With Justin Blackmon back in the fold, Henne has two legitimate weapons (along with Cecil Shorts) and should be able to take advantage of a Broncos defense that is allowing almost as many fantasy points per game to quarterbacks (20.8) as the aforementioned lowly Eagles defense.
Willis McGahee: McGahee and his 2.6 yards per carry certainly won’t inspire fear when your fantasy opponent sees him in your starting lineup this weekend (more likely chuckles), but there are things to like about the former Hurricane going into Week 6. He’s been receiving a steady amount of carries since his off-the-street signing (over 20 carries per game over his past two contests) and gets to face a Lions defense that has given up the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs this season and has allowed five touchdowns in as many games.
Bilal Powell: It seems strange to talk about the “vaunted” Steel Curtain defense like this, but the Steelers run defense straight up stinks right now. They’ve allowed the most fantasy points per games to running backs so far this year, have allowed over 100 rushing yards to opponents in three of four games (the fourth was 96) and have allowed six rushing touchdowns on the season (which is tied for the most in the league). Powell owners should feel really good about his matchup this weekend.
Andre Ellington: Like the Steelers, the 49ers have been a tough defense to run on over the past several years. But like the Steelers, the 49ers haven’t exactly been able to stop the run this season. They’ve allowed three games of 100-plus rushing yards and are right behind the Steelers with five rushing touchdowns allowed. Ellington isn’t the lead back in Arizona, but Rashard Mendenhall can’t be inspiring confidence in the Cardinals coaching staff. While Mendenhall had more carries in Week 5, he and Ellington split snaps evenly against the Panthers. Ellington is more of a bye-week flex option this week, but he’s a good option nonetheless.
Vincent Jackson: Coming off three-straight single-digit fantasy games, I wouldn’t blame Vincent Jackson owners for being a little gun shy about starting him this weekend. But as we covered above, the Eagles pass defense has as many holes as a piece of Swiss cheese and is the same team that Jackson put up 131 yards against last season. Mike Williams should make for a good play this weekend as well, but Jackson should be cemented into your Week 6 lineup with confidence.
Marlon Brown: I’ll begin this with the caveat that Brown has been limited in practice all week, but he’s said he’ll be ready to play this weekend, so I’ll trust him until I hear otherwise. While he hasn’t been an absolute fantasy stud this season, Brown does have three touchdowns in the four games in which he’s played and gets to face a Packers defense that is allowing over 26 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Keep an eye on his playing status, but Brown is a good option for your flex or WR3 spot this weekend.
DeAndre Hopkins: With only seven targets over his past two games, it’s tough to feel good about starting Hopkins this week. However, he gets to face a Rams defense that was absolutely torched by the lowly Jaguars last week and is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers so far this year. Combine that with the fact that Owen Daniels’ absence should create some more opportunities for Hopkins and you have a recipe for a big week from Hopkins.
Garrett Graham: Speaking of Owen Daniels’ absence… Graham is already among the league’s Top 10 tight ends in red zone targets and is tied for fifth among tight ends in terms of receiving touchdowns. With three-quarters of Matt Schaub’s passing touchdowns going to his tight ends so far this season, Graham could make for a sneaky play this weekend.
Jordan Reed: I’ll admit my wrongs just this once and tell you that I thought Fred Davis would be a good late-round tight end sleeper this season, but Jordan Reed has taken over as the Redskins top tight end option and proven me wrong. With Logan Paulsen questionable for this weekend, Reed may only have to content with Davis for targets (he’s more than doubled him so far this season in that category) and should be able to take advantage of a Cowboys defense that is allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to tight ends this year.
Carolina Panthers: There aren’t a ton of great “sleeper” defenses out there this week, but I like Carolina’s matchup against a Vikings squad whose quarterback situation is a complete mess. The Panthers have surprisingly allowed the third-least amount of points per game this season (real, not fantasy) and are coming off a 20-point fantasy performance against the Cardinals.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have been a Top Six fantasy defense to date so their inclusion on this list is no surprise, but I think they have a very good chance at finishing in the Top Three this week (if not that top spot). Facing a Bills offense who is rolling out Thad Lewis in his first career start should have fantasy owners licking their chops, and the Bengals should make for the best daily fantasy play of the week as long as you can lock them in at a cheaper price than the Broncos or Seahawks.
6-Pack of Sorrow
(Six players you should think about benching if you have better options)
Terrelle Pryor: Pryor has been a fantasy wonder so far this season, but this is the week to sit him as long as you have better option. Playing the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium is never an easy feat, and doing so against a Chiefs defense that is allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks makes the task all that much harder. Furthermore, the Chiefs don’t have an offense that will put teams away early, so garbage time points may be tough to come by this week. I’d look elsewhere (like Joe Flacco or Matt Schaub).
Eddie Lacy: While I like Eddie Lacy a lot (and was glad to see him come back with a nice game last week), it hasn’t been a wise move to start a running back against the Ravens this season. The Bills managed to buck that trend in Week 4, but the Ravens have held the Broncos, Texans, and Dolphins to less than 100 rushing yards and are the only defense in the NFL that is allowing single-digit fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. If you own Lacy, you probably don’t have a better option that will allow you to bench him, but temper your expectation this week.
Le’Veon Bell: I don’t hate rookie running backs. I just hate their matchups this week. Coming off a two touchdown performance against the Vikings, Bell faces the unenviable task of running against a tough Jets defense this week. The current best team in New York (how weird is that to say?) is allowing the fourth-least amount of fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, which makes Bell a risky play this week. Like Lacy, his owners probably don’t have a better option, but also like Lacy, expectations should not be high.
Larry Fitzgerald: Poor Larry. While Carson Palmer has been a (slight) improvement over the likes of Jon Skelton, Ryan Lindley, and Kevin Kolb, this Cardinals offense is still horrendous. It hasn’t been for lack of trying (Fitzgerald has just as many targets as Randall Cobb and one more than Calvin Johnson), but Fitzgerald unfortunately seems destined to suffer wide receiver purgatory. Things don’t get much easier this week as he faces a 49ers defense that has allowed the second-fewest points to opposing wide receivers this season.
Kyle Rudolph: With the amount of good tight end options out there right now, Rudolph shouldn’t be an option for any fantasy roster at the moment, but I’ve still seen questions coming in about him. He doesn’t have any good throwing the ball to him, he’s currently the 24th-best tight end in fantasy, and he faces a Panthers defense that has stifled tight ends so far this season. Avoid Rudolph as best you can this weekend and going forward.
New England Patriots: The Patriots have been a good fantasy defense so far this season (and have allowed the second-fewest amount of real football points in the NFL), but this might be the weekend that the wheels come off. The run defense has been compromised with the loss of Vince Wilfork and the Saints high-scoring offense (26.8 points per game) coming into Foxborough isn’t a good thing either. The Patriots are worth hanging onto for future weeks, but this is not a week to start them.
Your Questions. My Answers.
@sippinhenn: Willis McGahee, Bilal Powell, or Darren Sproles? Non-PPR
Nick: If you had said PPR, I’d go with Sproles, but I’d rule him out of this trio since it’s not. I like McGahee as you saw above, but I’d have to lean towards Powell just because of the fact that I (strangely) trust the Jets a little more than I trust the Browns.
@salman_merchant: Eddie lacy or Gio Bernard this week, both flex options
Nick: This one is close. Mostly due to matchups, I’d have to lean towards Bernard. He won’t get as many carries as Lacy will, but the Bills can be run on. They haven’t given up a ton of rushing touchdowns this season, but the yards have come in bunches for opposing running backs.
@Parksy6: Robert woods, Keenan Allen, or Larry Fitzgerlad starting WR2?
Nick: There’s a very big part of me that wants to go with Allen here (especially after talking about Fitzgerald’s tough matchup). That said, Allen has a difficult matchup against the Colts this weekend, and I’d have a hard time going against the “start your studs” adage this weekend. I’d go with Fitz.
@stanj62: Brandon Bolden, Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd, Heath Miller, Maurice-Jones Drew. Need 1 rb, 1 wr and 1 flex
Nick: Ridley looks like he’ll be playing this week, so Bolden is out (go Jones-Drew). As for the WR and flex spots, I’d have to go with Miller at flex due to the bad matchups that Floyd and Wright have. It’s almost a coin flip between those two for me at the WR spot, but Hilton had a good game against the Seahawks last week, so I’ll avoid the 49ers and take Wright.
@hellohalberstam: Le'Veon Bell or Chris Johnson this week? standard scoring
Nick: Man, those are two bad matchups to choose between. I’d lean towards Bell, however, as I’m having a tough time envisioning how Johnson is able to do anything against the Seahawks on the road this week unless he busts a long one. It’s tough to go into a matchup relying on a player to break a long run, so I’d go with Bell this week.
As always, I’ll be checking the comments section for start-sit questions all week, so drop them in there below this post and I’ll make sure I get back to you!