Checking on last week: Christian Ponder, Philip Rivers, Alex Smith – all good weeks. Blaine Gabbert, Ben Roethlisberger, Mark Sanchez – not so much. Reggie Bush, Marhsawn Lynch, Ryan Mathews? Check. Buffalo RBs, Carolina RBs and Rashard Mendenhall – just Mendy with a good game. The San Diego WRs had nice days, especially Robert Meachem. Julio Jones put those concerns to rest. Michael Crabtree came up huge, and Anquan Boldin and Domenik Hixon provided value. The Jets WRs, outside Jeremy Kerley, were worthless, Pierre Garcon disappointed, Andre Roberts did little and Larry Fitzgerald was held in check. Kyle Rudolph scored the eighth tight end TD against the Tennessee defense, Dennis Pitta didn’t do much, and Heath Miller and Greg Olsen put up duds.
The only misses on this list are Rashard Mendenhall and Dennis Pitta. Out of 30 players touched on last week, only two contradicted their matchups. That is 93-percent accuracy! Once again, Given Up is the most useful tool in deciding whom to start and sit.
Quarterback Points Allowed
|1||Pittsburgh Steelers||TEN||20.6||15||Kansas City Chiefs||TB||16.0|
|2||Arizona Cardinals||BUF||22.8||16||Indianapolis Colts||NYJ||12.8|
|3||Atlanta Falcons||OAK||22.0||17||Washington Redskins||MIN||15.4|
|4||Minnesota Vikings||WAS||19.6||18||San Diego Chargers||DEN||16.6|
|5||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||KC||17.6||19||Baltimore Ravens||DAL||11.8|
|6||Cleveland Browns||CIN||16.4||20||St Louis Rams||MIA||14.6|
|7||New York Jets||IND||17.3||21||Dallas Cowboys||BAL||10.4|
|8||Tennessee Titans||PIT||15.3||22||Oakland Raiders||ATL||12.4|
|9||Cincinnati Bengals||CLE||19.6||23||Miami Dolphins||STL||11.6|
|10||Seattle Seahawks||NE||19.4||24||Buffalo Bills||ARI||11.0|
|11||San Francisco 49ers||NYG||15.6||25||New York Giants||SAF||12.2|
|12||Houston Texans||GB||18.2||26||Green Bay Packers||HOU||9.2|
|13||Denver Broncos||SAD||17.6||27||New England Patriots||SEA||8.6|
|14||Philadelphia Eagles||DET||14.0||28||Detroit Lions||PHI||10.2|
ACES IN THE HOLE
As mentioned above, Big Ben had a tough go of it in Week 5, and it’s understandable as Philly ranks as the toughest D for QBs. In Week 6, Ben gets exactly the opposite. Pittsburgh heads to Tennessee who allows the third most Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) to QBs and rank as the easiest opponent overall. Look for Roethlisberger to reach the Top 10 for QBs again.
The second and fourth-best matchups involve QBs that are not owned in the majority of leagues: Kevin Kolb and Christian Ponder. While Kolb has the better opponent with Buffalo, I’d rather grab Ponder if looking for a bye week fill-in or otherwise. They both have three good games and two poor ones, but Washington has been more consistently bad (if that’s a thing) where as Buffalo has at least done well versus mediocre QBs (Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel).
It’s good to be a Matt Ryan owner, and boy, will it continue to be. This week, Ryan gets the dreadful Raiders defense, and only faces one Top Five QB defense for the rest of the season (Philly). Meanwhile, he gets New Orleans twice and has four additional games versus teams in the top half for favorable matchups. Back to this week, Oakland is allowing 288.3 yards and 2.3 TDs passing per game. Can you be both hot and ice at the same time? Ryan sure seems to be.
Matthew Stafford isn’t providing near the value owners hoped to see. In fact, Stafford is averaging 5.5 less FPPG compared to 2011, certainly not worthy of a second round pick. Unfortunately, Detroit leaves the bye week with a matchup that does no favors. The Eagles rank as the most difficult defense for QBs to face, and while last year’s Stafford never had you worrying about such matchups, the 2012 version is a different story.
It’s going to be hard for anyone to bench Stafford – unless you ended up with two top-end QBs – and the same goes for the next three matchups: Tom Brady vs. Seattle, Aaron Rodgers vs. Houston, Eli Manning vs. San Francisco. In truth, you can’t bench any outside of having another QB1, but be forewarned about less-than-stud-like numbers. However, the fifth QB (heading backwards from toughest matchup) is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who faces Arizona. You can certainly bench Fitz this week, as Arizona is allowing just 11.0 FPPG and have given up just five passing TDs through Week 5.
Running Back Points Allowed
|1||Arizona Cardinals||BUF||25.4||15||Minnesota Vikings||WAS||11.8|
|2||Cleveland Browns||CIN||20.2||16||Denver Broncos||SAD||14.8|
|3||Atlanta Falcons||OAK||22.5||17||San Diego Chargers||DEN||16.0|
|4||Pittsburgh Steelers||TEN||20.6||18||Baltimore Ravens||DAL||12.8|
|5||Indianapolis Colts||NYJ||22.2||19||Philadelphia Eagles||DET||10.3|
|6||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||KC||20.4||20||Kansas City Chiefs||TB||12.8|
|7||New York Jets||IND||21.0||21||Green Bay Packers||HOU||12.8|
|8||Oakland Raiders||ATL||17.8||22||Seattle Seahawks||NE||9.8|
|9||Cincinnati Bengals||CLE||18.4||23||Detroit Lions||PHI||12.4|
|10||Tennessee Titans||PIT||13.0||24||Buffalo Bills||ARI||10.8|
|11||Miami Dolphins||STL||16.4||25||St Louis Rams||MIA||11.4|
|12||San Francisco 49ers||NYG||14.6||26||Washington Redskins||MIN||6.4|
|13||Dallas Cowboys||BAL||17.2||27||New England Patriots||SEA||7.2|
|14||Houston Texans||GB||14.0||28||New York Giants||SAF||6.0|
ACES IN THE HOLE
Ryan Williams is done for the season and now Arizona turns to William Powell, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Alfonso Smith. I said “and” and not “or” because it’s likely all three shares touches. Powell is returning from a head injury and has eight career touches. LSH is too small to handle a full game’s pounding (5’-7”, 185) and Smith is good for short yardage, but that’s it. Even with the best RB matchup (Buffalo) this week, none is worth more than a swing-for-the-fence play, as Arizona could use the committee approach, and even if they don’t, the running game is averaging just 63.4 yards. Powell appears to be the best bet, but truthfully, no one really knows.
Every week Trent Richardson continues to impress and my smile gets bigger. It should, as I called him the next Adrian Peterson back in 2010 – yes, that far back. After four straight games with a TD, Cleveland and TRich face Cincy at home. The Bengals allow 20.2 FPPG to RBs and 130.4 rushing yards. Richardson could easily be a Top Five RB play in Week 6.
Michael Turner is proving that a pass-first, high-octane offense can actually help the running back. Turner slowed the second half of 2011 but has impressed in 2012, and he is currently the 11th best RB. Oakland is allowing 22.5 FPPG to RBs, and as mentioned earlier for Matt Ryan, presents one of the best Week 6 matchups for any team.
[Insert running back facing San Francisco here.] This week, it’s Ahmad Bradshaw. Sure, he looked mighty impressive against Cleveland, but I think we all know the Browns are not even in the same league as San Fran defensively. The 49ers have (yet again) kept RBs out of the end zone and allow just 57.4 rushing yards per game. I’m not sure many Bradshaw owners can afford to bench him, but I’d exhaust all my options to try.
The Seattle defense is starting to earn more respect, and Fantasy owners – specifically those who have Stevan Ridley – should take note. While the Seahawks have allowed two rushing TDs, they are actually allowing the least amount of rushing yards per game at 43.0. That’s crazy. What is also crazy is not worrying about Ridley after his hot start. After fumbling for the second week in a row, we have to worry, as Bill Belichick doesn’t tolerate fumbles. Brandon Bolden has proven himself capable, and Shane Vereen made a TD-vulture appearance. With more shared touches due to a frustrated Belichick and a game against Seattle, it’s going to be hard to give Ridley flex value.
There are actually three scary run defenses so far, and Minnesota checks in as the third. Like San Fran, they have yet to allow a rushing TD and give up just 55.8 rushing yards. Alfred Morris, that means you’re likely in for your worst performance of 2012. We can only hope Mike Shanahan understands and doesn’t decide to change his RB rotation after a rough week… please Mike, we’re asking nicely.
Wide Receiver Points Allowed
|1||Minnesota Vikings||WAS||33.8||15||Cleveland Browns||CIN||15.0|
|2||Arizona Cardinals||BUF||29.2||16||Dallas Cowboys||BAL||19.0|
|3||New York Jets||IND||27.3||17||St Louis Rams||MIA||23.4|
|4||Atlanta Falcons||OAK||22.5||18||Buffalo Bills||ARI||21.6|
|5||Pittsburgh Steelers||TEN||20.2||19||San Diego Chargers||DEN||21.0|
|6||Kansas City Chiefs||TB||31.3||20||Washington Redskins||MIN||16.6|
|7||San Francisco 49ers||NYG||25.0||21||Indianapolis Colts||NYJ||14.4|
|8||Seattle Seahawks||NE||25.2||22||Detroit Lions||PHI||18.6|
|9||Cincinnati Bengals||CLE||31.6||23||Baltimore Ravens||DAL||13.8|
|10||Tennessee Titans||PIT||17.8||24||New England Patriots||SEA||15.4|
|11||Denver Broncos||SAD||24.6||25||Miami Dolphins||STL||14.8|
|12||Philadelphia Eagles||DET||19.0||26||New York Giants||SAF||14.6|
|13||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||KC||17.0||27||Oakland Raiders||ATL||14.0|
|14||Houston Texans||GB||23.6||28||Green Bay Packers||HOU||13.8|
ACES IN THE HOLE
Heading back to Minnesota for their matchup with Washington, the receivers should be more excited than Ponder is. No one is allowing more points to WRs than Washington (33.8) due to 246.8 yards per game and eight TDs allowed. Unfortunately, Jerome Simpson’s back issue will likely have him sidelined. That leaves… Mike Jenkins?… alongside Percy Harvin for a chance to exploit this matchup. There is actually a more interesting scenario: Kyle Rudolph benefiting again. In the first three games pre-Simpson, Rudolph had 30 points. In the two games with Simpson on the field, he has eight – all last week and including a TD. Food for thought.
As the norm most weeks, good QB matchups usually mean good WR matchups. Arizona faces a Buffalo defense that can’t stop anyone right now, and it’s a good opportunity for those owners who grabbed Andre Roberts last week to get some value. Larry Fitzgerald is obviously a must-start, but Roberts has WR4 value and could sneak into WR3 territory depending on the league.
The Jets have the third best opponent for WRs, but even after Jeremy Kerley’s nice Week 4, it’s far too risky outside of deep leagues to risk his use. The Falcons, we know who to start, and the same goes for Pittsburgh. So, let’s jump down to Cincy versus Cleveland. Why do the Browns check in at ninth when they’ve given up the second most points? Well, Joe Haden is back. He’s on par with Darrelle Revis, and Haden makes that pass defense significantly better. No, they aren’t a matchup to avoid, but A.J. Green could be in for his lowest output yet.
Greg Jennings can’t stay on the field, and Jordy Nelson looks as though he needs Jennings to provide the value we’ve seen from him. James Jones has more TDs than all of the WRs and Jermichael Finely combined, but just about all of them are risky plays. Nelson and Jennings are start-worthy if Jennings plays, but if not, there are places where Nelson could ride the pine. Jones continues to be a TD-hope only, and only if GJ is out.
The Raiders get the new-and-improved Falcons defense this week, and that’s bad news for Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey (should he suit up). The Falcons have allowed the least amount of receiving yards per game at 117.2 and the second lowest receptions per game at 8.8. Look elsewhere.
This will be a tough one for the GMen. Not only do they face San Fran, but it’s also on the road, and that always worsens the scenario. Victor Cruz is a must-start no matter the opponent, but those hoping to strike gold with the secondary option (Domenik Hixon, Rueben Randle, Ramses Barden) should stay away, and Hakeem Nicks owners might want to think twice before plugging him in should he try to play.
Tight End Points Allowed
|1||Pittsburgh Steelers||TEN||17.4||15||Kansas City Chiefs||TB||6.3|
|2||Atlanta Falcons||OAK||9.8||16||New York Jets||IND||3.3|
|3||Minnesota Vikings||WAS||11.2||17||San Francisco 49ers||NYG||4.2|
|4||Cleveland Browns||CIN||8.6||18||St Louis Rams||MIA||7.0|
|5||Philadelphia Eagles||DET||10.0||19||Dallas Cowboys||BAL||5.4|
|6||Tennessee Titans||PIT||7.8||20||Denver Broncos||SAD||5.8|
|7||Seattle Seahawks||NE||10.8||21||Oakland Raiders||ATL||6.6|
|8||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||KC||7.4||22||New York Giants||SAF||6.8|
|9||Arizona Cardinals||BUF||7.0||23||Cincinnati Bengals||CLE||4.2|
|10||Washington Redskins||MIN||9.2||24||Buffalo Bills||ARI||5.8|
|11||Indianapolis Colts||NYJ||8.6||25||Green Bay Packers||HOU||7.0|
|12||Baltimore Ravens||DAL||8.0||26||Miami Dolphins||STL||4.6|
|13||Houston Texans||GB||7.8||27||New England Patriots||SEA||4.2|
|14||San Diego Chargers||DEN||8.2||28||Detroit Lions||PHI||4.0|
ACES IN THE HOLE
Those Titans are a tight end’s dream. It looked as though Rudolph would disappoint until – what do you know? – the Titans gave up their eighth TD to TEs late in the game. Now it’s Heath Miller’s turn. Please and thank you.
Any doubts you had about Tony Gonzalez at this point of his career have disappeared completely. What is even better is that Tony G faces that Raiders defense we’ve talked so much about (tied for second in TE touchdowns – four).
Lookie here; Rudolph has a good one again. Keep him plugged in (Washington also has four TDs allowed and 11.2 FPPG for TEs).
Not only have reports surfaced that Brandon Pettigrew might be dealing with an injury, but he has the toughest matchup for TEs with Philly on tap. The Eagles allow just 4.4 receptions and 37.2 yards per game for TEs.
Rob Gronkowski starts, no matter what, moving on.
Anthony Fasano isn’t on your Fantasy team, or at least we hope he’s not… moving on again.
Ah, Jermichael Finley and an interesting situation. Finely is maddeningly inconsistent and Houston allows a paltry 3.2 receptions and 40.2 yards per game to tight ends. While Jennings might sit again, that has done nothing to help Finley’s numbers, and Finely is even questionable to play. Avoid!
(Reminder: You’ll notice the rankings are not in exact order of points allowed. Other metrics are calculated in along with just straight points. It allows for better analysis so one off-week doesn’t skew the opponent difficulty too greatly.)