The sixth week of the fantasy football season is upon us, and the winners are starting to separate themselves from the guys who drafted Jake Delhomme. The waiver wires and trade proposals are heating up, so be sure to check out some of the emerging players in this week’s game-by-game breakdown. And as always, check back Sunday morning for last-minute injury updates before finalizing your lineup. One point can mean one win, one win can mean the playoffs, and the playoffs can lead to glory. Source: George Gojkovich/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are not expected to play for the Detroit Lions. As anticipated, Daunte Culpepper will get the start.
Willie Parker is expected to play today against the Cleveland Browns. It's unlikely that he'll see more carries than Rashard Mendenhall, but for anyone looking to put in a last minute running back due to injuries - against Cleveland, Parker may be an adequate option.
Jerricho Cotchery is officially out today in the Jets' game against the Buffalo Bills.
Mike Bell of the New Orleans Saints is expected to play today against the Giants. It's uncertain what type of workload he'll receive against the Giants, but he will be suiting up for the highly-anticipated match-up.
Dallas Cowboys – Tony Romo, Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, Jason Witten, Miles Austin, Felix Jones and Roy Williams won’t be in action this week.
Indianapolis- Peyton Manning, Anthony Gonzalez, Reggie Wayne, Joseph Adai, Donald Brown, Dallas Clark and Pierre Garcon will get the week off to celebrate their undefeated start.
Miami Dolphins – After a thrilling Monday night win over the Jets Chad Henne, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Tedd Ginn Jr., Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo will have a week off before hosting the New Orleans Saints.
San Francisco 49ers – Shaun Hill, Frank Gore, Glen Coffee, Vernon Davis, Josh Morgan, and Isaac Bruce will take a break to reflect on their humiliating week five loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Start - Assuming Matt Schaub’s arm isn’t sore from the 50 pass attempts he had last week, expect the sixth year starter to continue his impressive fantasy campaign in Cincinnati. In his last four games, Schaub has twice thrown for 300 yards and put up 10 touchdowns over that span. As long as he has Andre Johnson, whose “Anything you can do, I can do better” battle with Larry Fitzgerald in week five was must-see television, Schaub and the Texans aerial assault will roll against the Bengals’ 23rd ranked pass defense. Give Owen Daniels the nod at tight end and put Steve Slaton on the start list as well. Ray Rice and Jerome Harrison ran all over the Bengals in consecutive weeks, so a talented back like Slaton should have no problems producing big fantasy numbers against them.
For Cincinnati, it’s time to begin penciling Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco, and Cedric Benson into the starting lineups a little more often than anybody outside of the Palmer family or Benson’s court ordered rehab group would have thought. Palmer has seven touchdowns in his last four starts, Ochocinco has broken 15 fantasy points in three of his past four games, Benson has yet to be held under 75 yards – and most importantly, all three of them will be playing a Houston defense that gives up 360 yards per game.
Sit –Kevin Walter has gotten off to a slow start after returning from injury, totaling just 78 yards with no touchdowns against the Raiders and Cardinals. Both he and the Bengals’ Andre Caldwell have shown flashes of brilliance, but not enough consistency to make it onto a starting fantasy lineup just yet.
Start – Aaron Rodgers is finally becoming the fantasy stud we assumed he would be at the beginning of the season. His 378 yard, two touchdown day against the Vikings was a treat for Packers fans, and most importantly, fantasy owners. Rodgers now has five touchdowns in his past two games and should add to his totals against the Lions’ 27th ranked pass defense. He’ll be able to spread the ball around to Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, and Jermichael Finley. Finley is an especially good play since the Lions have given up more fantasy points to tight ends than any other team in the league. Also look for Ryan Grant (106 yards the last time he played the Lions) to finally break out of his mediocre shell.
The only Lions’ player worth starting here is Kevin Smith. With injuries to their passing game, and Detroit’s desire to slow this one down, it’s likely that the Lions will lean on Smith (92 yards and one touchdown in his last start against Green Bay) throughout the course of the game.
Sit – As Detroit heads into the bye week after this game, most reports (except for ones from the team’s head coach trying to keep his job) claim that Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson will sit this one out in order to get healthy. And with Daunte Culpepper and Bryant Johnson at the helm, don’t expect the Lions’ passing game to do too much.
Start – In two of the worst games of his young career, Adrian Peterson put up a combined 130 yards and three touchdowns on 40 carries. No, this isn’t a “look how good he is” stat, but rather a disclaimer that you should absolutely never sit this guy – even against the Ravens’ fourth-ranked defense. He has scored touchdowns in four of his five 2009 starts, and notched 100 total yards in the one game he was kept off the scoreboard. Start him! And while you’re at it, give Brett Favre (six touchdowns in his last three games) the nod. It doesn’t make you a bad person, just a profiteer. Sort of like companies that build weapons. They’re not the ones invading defenseless countries, just making money off it. And besides, Favre isn’t due for his usual second half collapse for another few weeks. So put Vinsanthe Shiancoe (touchdowns in his past two games) on the start list as well.
Don’t look now, but a guy who cultivated his skills in the Big East – and specifically Rutgers University, is a fantasy football stud. In his last two games, Ray Rice has put up nearly 300 yards of total offense and become a threat both on the ground and through the air. Against a Vikings’ team that let Steven Jackson rush for 80 yards against an eight-man front, Rice should break the century mark for his third straight game. He and Todd Heap have become two of the best fantasy players at their positions and will also be the focal points of the Ravens offense this week.
Sit – None of the Vikings’ receivers have been consistent enough to start, especially against the Ravens’ defense. One of them will have a great game, but it’s a crap shoot picking which of them it will be. Avoid the risk if at all possible. After a fast start, Joe Flacco has slowed down a great deal recently with just one multiple touchdown performance in his past three starts. Against a blitzing Vikings team that will put a tremendous amount of pressure on him, Flacco (not the most mobile of quarterbacks) will be forced into a lot of check down situations and not be able to utilize his receivers. Bad news for the Derrick Mason (zero points last week), Kelly Washington and Mark Clayton crowd.
Start – This is the game that everybody has had circled on their calendars for weeks. Two of the best offenses in the NFL battling it out in what could be a preview of the NFC Championship (re; Brett Favre second half collapse). Drew Brees, Devery Henderson, Marques Colston, Jeremy Shockey and the passing game have had two weeks to put together a game plan to find holes in the Giants defense and will come out with their guns blazing, because Sean Payton knows that if the Saints are going to win this battle they can’t turn it into a close, defensive struggle. Also look for Pierre Thomas (three touchdowns in his past two games) to have a nice afternoon despite the opposition.
Eli Manning is healthier and ready to go. In about 20 minutes against the Oakland Raiders last week he put up 177 yards and two touchdowns with only 10 pass attempts. Now that he has Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham (combined five touchdowns in their last two games) and a reliable tight end in Kevin Boss clicking on all cylinders he’s become one of the top fantasy producing quarterbacks in the NFL. And even against a defense that has been great against the run this year start Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw (third ranked rushing attack in the NFL). Both have looked impressive this season and will become invaluable assets as the Giants look to control the game clock. We lean heavier towards Bradshaw, who has been running like a man possessed.
Sit – The only disappointing player on the Saints’ roster this season has been their most highly publicized player. Reggie Bush has just one touchdown in the 2009 season and has encountered three straight rough fantasy outings. Apparently Kim Kardashian saw something the fantasy world didn’t this summer when she dropped him from her rotation.
Start – Even after holding the Bills to three total points last week, the Cleveland Browns still have the NFL’s 29th ranked defense (23rd in scoring as well). This should be good news for Ben Roethlisberger (who showed he loves beating up the special needs teams with a three touchdown day against Detroit last Sunday), Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Heath Miller, and Rashard Mendenhall.
Sit –The only thing more depressing for Cleveland fans than Derek Anderson’s 2-17 performance on Sunday was seeing Braylon Edwards look like Andre Johnson the next day on Monday Night Football. Things are bad in Cleveland. Very bad. As always, sit the passing game. Jamal Lewis is coming off a 117-yard game. However, against the Steelers’ fourth-ranked defense and no help from the aerial attack, Lewis won’t have much room to run in this one. He may get a garbage goal line TD if that helps you.
Start – If the Carolina Panthers can’t put things together against the NFC’s worst defense, it might be time to start fishing for trades. DeAngelo Williams has been a major disappointment thus far, but was able to put up 186 yards on the ground the last time he played the Bucs and is clearly the best player on this anemic offense. John Fox has to see this, right? He has to understand that giving the ball to your most talented player is at least sometimes a good idea… So, with that in mind give Steve Smith the nod as well. He may have one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL, but he’ll still be working in coverage against one of the worst secondaries in the league. He should snag at least one deep ball for a TD. Dante Rosario is also a nice pick at the tight end position with two touchdowns in his past three games.
For whatever reason, Cadillac Williams has become the feature back in the Tampa Bay backfield. He’s had almost 35 percent more carries than Derrick Ward this season, and will see the ball a lot against Carolina’s 30th ranked rush defense that seems to have a “tackling optional” policy.
Sit – It’s possible that he excels against the Buccaneers awful pass defense, but are you really willing to be the guy who starts Jake Delhomme? Of course not. Friends don’t let friends start Jake Delhomme. So give him yet another rest and put Mushin Muhammed (still no touchdowns this year) and Jonathan Stewart (19 fantasy points… all year) on the bench as well.
As for Tampa Bay, Josh Johnson may be a long term solution for the Buccaneers at quarterback, but this won’t be the week he proves it. Despite a very impressive fantasy showing against the Eagles, Johnson will have to face the league’s second ranked pass defense when Carolina comes to town. The Panthers only give up 165 yards per game through the air and have not allowed a big fantasy performance by any opposing QB yet this season. So sit Johnson, Kellen Winslow (despite his insane game last week), Michael Clayton, and Antonio Bryant. Besides, when it’s so easy to run, why bother passing?
Start – Fun fact: The Washington Redskins have played a winless team in every single one of their first six games. Seriously, look it up. It’d be even more hilarious if despite this fact they were sitting on a 2-3 record. What does this mean in fantasy terms? Not much, but it should result in Jim Zorn getting fired if he can’t salvage a .500 record in what is the easiest schedule in NFL history (literally, this is the only time this has happened). So expect Zorn to rely on his best player, Clinton Portis, against Kansas City’s 25th ranked rush defense that just gave up 92 yards on eight carries to the Dallas Cowboys third string running back last week. Also look for Jason Campbell, a terrible quarterback but decent fantasy player, to take advantage of Kansas City’s laughably bad pass defense. In his last two games against teams in the bottom half of passing defense statistics, Campbell has four touchdowns and over 500 yards. Give him a chance to continue this trend along with his top targets Santana Moss and Chris Cooley.
For the leader of the NFL’s worst team, Matt Cassel has actually looked pretty good lately. He’s had three straight multiple touchdown games and developed some nice chemistry with Dwayne Bowe. Both should play well in what may end up being a surprising shootout in D.C.
Sit – How many more weeks of “3 catches for 21 yards” do we have to sit through before Antwaan Randle El doesn’t even need to be talked about anymore? And speaking of guys that used to be effective, unless you’re playing in some kind of retro 2004 fantasy football reverse keeper league, keep Larry Johnson on the bench. He’s coming off a 1.8 yard-per-carry performance and hasn’t seen the end zone all year. He looks old and slow despite the poor blocking. Keep Bobby Wade (less than 75 combined yards in his last three games) on the sidelines as well.
Start – The Jaguars 41-0 loss in Seattle may have been one of the most embarrassing game in Jaguars history. David Garrard, who seems to be a reasonably competitive guy, will want to bounce back against a weaker, near defenseless opponent when the Rams travel to Florida to play the Jags. The Rams have the second worst scoring defense in the NFL and have given up countless big fantasy days to nearly everyone that’s played them. Garrard, Mike Sims-Walker (provided he doesn’t violate any last-minute team rules and earn another suspension), Marcedes Lewis, and even Torry Holt are great starts against the Rams.
You know that situation where a Pro Bowl quarterback takes on the league’s best defense, and something has to give. Well, picture that - only the exact opposite here. One of the league’s worst passing games against the NFL’s third worst pass defense. Give Donnie Avery the nod. He’s coming off an 87 yard, one touchdown week, though he got all that in garbage time, and will get behind the secondary on nearly every play. That should probably give him at least a couple of chances for a big day. And start Steven Jackson, too. This may be his week to finally get into the end zone (lord knows everybody else is doing it against Jacksonville), plus he’s put up 100 –plus total yards in three of his last four games. Your patience is about to be rewarded.
Sit – Marc Bulger isn’t exactly the answer in St. Louis, even though he did come in last week and look competent once the game was well over. This is the Jags, though. He actually makes a very sneaky play here if you’re absolutely desperate.
Start – If these two teams met in the NFC Conference championship there would be a Vegas prop bet asking “Which will be higher, the combined age of both starting quarterbacks, or the final score?” A tough choice, but given the 69 combined points the Seahawks surrendered to Indianapolis and Chicago in successive weeks, Kurt Warner (600 yards and three touchdowns in his past two games), Larry Fitzgerald (four touchdowns this season) and Anquan Boldin (80 yards per game in his past two starts) should help cover that fictitious spread.
For Seattle, Matt Hasselbeck made a serious statement against the Jaguars last week in his first game back from injury. The veteran QB threw four touchdown passes for 241 yards and finally gave TJ Houshmandzadeh a big day--which should continue against the Cardinals’ NFL worst pass defense. Start John Carlson as well and Nate Burleson is money in the bank.
Sit – Tim Hightower has seen his yardage decrease every single game this season, and during a press conference earlier this week Cardinals’ head coach Ken Wisenhunt told reporters that he plans on utilizing Beanie Wells more often. A big part of that is that they’re not running the ball much, but it’s not a good sign. Put Steve Breaston on the bench as well unless you’re in a point-per-reception league. He hasn’t been in the end zone this season and looks to still be a tad on the injured side, even though he’s had solid catch and yardage totals every game he’s played. Julius Jones has had two disappointing weeks and will now be splitting time with Justin Forsett and Edgerrin James.
Start – Nothing says “thank you for the week six fantasy win” quite like having your marquee players matched-up against the Raiders’ defense. After their 44-7 loss to the Giants last week, it’s pretty evident that Oakland has given up on the season with 10 games left (shattering their previous record of quitting with seven remaining contests) and will be a consummate doormat for any team fortunate enough to have them on their schedule. Donovan McNabb (three touchdowns last week), Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, and Brett Celek should all excel, while DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin could take advantage of a terrible Raiders’ defense provided Kevin Curtis doesn’t return to take his spot back from Maclin. In Oakland, there’s plenty of fantasy points to go around this week.
Zach Miller may be the best tight end in the NFL. Of course, there’s no idea of knowing this because he hasn’t had a legitimate quarterback throwing to him. He is, however, worth starting this week as the only receiving threat for a team that will need to throw its way back into a lopsided game.
Sit – JaMarcus Russell has gone four straight games without a touchdown. That’s an embarrassing stat for a receiver, let alone a quarterback. Sit the Raiders’ passing game against the Eagles third-ranked defense (and don’t think about Michael Bush or Darren McFadden either). Neither have shown anything that resembles the talent it will take to succeed against Philadelphia and it’s looking like McFadden is still out this week.
Start – If anybody’s seen Tom Brady’s ability to throw touchdowns, please return it to the New England Patriots’ locker room. It’s been missing for over a year now, and the folks in Boston are getting nervous. He’s thrown just six touchdowns in his first five games and has only broken 300 yards once. However, this week Brady will have the chance to get back into the good graces of his fantasy owners against the Titans’ AFC worst pass defense that gets lit up more often than a Berkeley grad student. Expect Brady to take advantage of a favorable matchup and finally get re-acquainted with Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
In Tennessee, with all the controversy swirling around the debate of “who should start – an aging recovering alcoholic or Prozac poster boy,” Jeff Fisher is going to rely heavily on his running back Chris Johnson to get the Titans’ their first win of the season. With 20-plus carries it’s almost a sure thing that Johnson breaks 100 yards and gets a sniff of the end zone.
Sit – The Patriots have developed a communistic running back by committee rotation with Fred Taylor, Laurence Maroney, and Kevin Faulk. Now sure, that may be all fine and dandy while you’re holding hands in the locker room or splitting a milkshake with three straws after the game, but for fantasy owners this is bad news. Take that crap back to Russia Czar Belichick, because you’ve eliminated all three of your backs from the fantasy world. The Titans have had less than 200 passing yards in two of their last three games, one touchdown reception in their past eight quarters, and will be playing the 11th ranked pass defense in the NFL that finds itself in an unusual must-win situation. If it’s Kerry Collins (or Vince Young after halftime) facing the Patriots defensive packages things won’t be pretty for Justin Gage, Nate Washington, or Kenny Britt. Washington is the only one worth a look, and that’s in really deep leagues.
Start – After a devastating loss to the Miami Dolphins, the New York Jets (and every columnist that thought they could cover 2.5 points against a team led by Chad Henne) will look to bounce back against their cross-state “rival” when they welcome the Buffalo Bills to a city most of their roster secretly wishes they were playing in. The player most excited to see the Bills come into town should be Thomas Jones, whose impressive streak of three touchdowns in his last two starts, should continue against a Bills rush defense that surrenders 156 yards per game and is letting any running back not wearing a Cleveland Browns’ uniform run all over them. In the passing game, Mark Sanchez seems to have found an exciting new toy in Braylon Edwards. Along with Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller, Rex Ryan may have formed one of the best young passing games in the NFL. (Plus think about what can happen now that they have a full week of practice under their belts.) Just keep an eye on Cotchery as he’s still not confirmed to play this week. Marshawn Lynch seems to finally be in midseason form after putting up 125 yards of total offense in his second game back from a random thuggery suspension. And with the way the Dolphins shredded the Jets last Monday for 150 yards, it seems plausible that Lynch could do the same.
Sit – Trent Edwards went 16-31 for 152 yards and no touchdowns against the Cleveland Browns. If after reading that, you still have to ask “Should I start Terrell Owens or Lee Evans” you’re an idiot and are probably 0-5.
Start – The Atlanta Falcons utterly destroyed the San Francisco 49ers last week and will try to keep the momentum rolling at home against a Bears team that has won three straight games (Great non-Brett Favre Sunday night matchup here). Michael Turner has five touchdowns in his past three games and will try to add to his resurgent fantasy run against the Bears. He will be helped by Matt Ryan (three of his four games this season have been for multiple touchdown passes), Roddy White (coming off a 210 yard, two touchdown performance) and Tony Gonzalez as well.
Chicago will counter this game with Matt Forte (who despite injury concerns has been practicing all week). Forte is coming off of a 121 yard, one touchdown game and has had 100 total yards of offense in each of his past two starts. The aerial assault coming out of Chicago should also help the Bears’ cause with Jay Cutler (seven touchdowns in his last three starts) taking on Atlanta’s 22nd ranked pass defense. He and Greg Olsen (touchdowns in his last two starts) get the nod here.
Sit – Earl Bennett hasn’t been in the end zone yet this year, Johnny Knox has 38 combined yards in his last two starts, and Devin Hester still appears in the dictionary under the word inconsistent. We don’t recommend flirting with starting any of these guys even though one of them will have a big game here.
Start – Ah, the ever-popular Phillip Rivers vs. Kyle Orton Monday night showdown. Rivers enter the game off of a bye week and three touchdown performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last season he threw for five touchdowns in his two starts against the Broncos and seems to enjoy playing on national television. Give him the start along with his favorite targets, Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson (broken 12 fantasy points in three of his four games). For Denver, Brandon Marshall has decided to become dominant again with four touchdowns in his past three games. He and Knowshon Moreno (rushing against San Diego’s 27th ranked rush defense) are solid starters.
Sit – The Denver Broncos have the number six rush defense in the league and usually don’t allow big fantasy performances. Sit Darren Sproles and LaDanian Tomlinson (if he decides to hobble into the stadium). If you get points for receptions, Sproles is worth a flex start, though. San Diego has an effective pass defense, which means Kyle Orton should have an average day at best. Sit the moustache-clad quarterback along with Eddie Royal (who’s finally starting to come on), Brandon Stokely, and an injured/hurting Correll Buckhalter who probably won’t play anyway.