I'm starting to feel a little jinxed with my Start of the Week calls this year. Of the five we've recommended so far this season, two have been knocked out due to injuries in the first quarter with Eddie Lacy in Week 2 and David Wilson last week.
The good news is Wilson found the end zone before leaving with a neck injury, and he actually finished as a Top 24 running back for the week, which was at least something for the 80 percent of owners who started him. It would have been nice to see how he finished, however, after that hot start.
I had a lot more success with my sleeper picks after listing two Top 7 quarterbacks (Jay Cutler and Terrelle Pryor), three Top 11 running backs (Pierre Thomas, Willis McGahee and BenJarvus Green-Ellis) and three Top 15 receivers (Alshon Jeffery, Austin Pettis and Jeremy Kerley). If only those guys were in the start category.
As for the bad calls, T.Y. Hilton had his breakout game when I called him a sit, and Jacquizz Rodgers found a solution for the Jets tough run defense with two touchdowns. I also continue to struggle projecting Russell Wilson, who had another stellar game, and we'll see if he can do it again this week.
|Player||Fantasy Pts. (proj.)||Fantasy Pts. (actual)||Start %||Pos. rank|
|David Wilson, RB, Giants||14||7||80||24|
|Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers||22||22||54||9|
|Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars||11||19||56||7|
|James Jones, WR, Packers||11||18||77||8|
|Steve Smith, WR, Panthers||10||6||63||41|
|Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs||7||3||52||58|
|Coby Fleener, TE, Colts||8||1||39||35|
|Cam Newton, QB, Panthers||24||6||80||27|
|Jared Cook, TE, Rams||10||2||77||28|
|Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins||10||1||70||51|
|Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks||16||26||30||6|
|T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts||7||26||32||2|
|Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Falcons||7||17||38||6|
Start of the Week: Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins
Griffin comes into Week 6 in need of a good matchup, and the Cowboys present the perfect opportunity to turn around his roller coaster year. He should get back to posting quality stats this week.
The Redskins had a bye in Week 5, and Griffin probably needed the time off. He started the season with at least 23 Fantasy points in his first two games against Philadelphia and Green Bay, but he struggled in his last two outings with 28 points combined against Detroit and Oakland. Heading to Dallas should get him going in the right direction again.
|Matthew Stafford||at CLE|
|Colin Kaepernick||vs. ARI|
|Russell Wilson||vs. TEN|
|Philip Rivers||vs. IND|
|Terrelle Pryor||at KC|
His first trip to Dallas last year was on Thanksgiving, and he lit up the Cowboys for 304 passing yards, four touchdowns and an interception and seven carries for 29 yards. He also did well coming off the bye in 2012 with 200 passing yards and four touchdowns and 12 carries for 84 yards against the Eagles.
Dallas has allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season with Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning all throwing for at least 400 yards and three touchdowns. Along with Alex Smith, those four quarterbacks all scored at least 25 Fantasy points.
Griffin might not score that many Fantasy points, but he should do well enough to be a Top 10 quarterback this week. We hope this is the start of another magical run for Griffin to close the season.
Andrew Luck (at SD): Luck did well against a tough Seattle defense in Week 5 with 21 Fantasy points, and he now has at least 21 points in three of five games this year. This is his first ever game on Monday night, and he should light up the Chargers. San Diego has allowed all five opposing quarterbacks -- Matt Schaub, Michael Vick, Jake Locker, Tony Romo and Terrelle Pryor -- to score at least 22 Fantasy points. The Chargers have just one interception on the season, and Luck is averaging 240 passing yards and two total touchdowns in his past five road games.
Jay Cutler (vs. NYG): Cutler has been nothing short of spectacular this season with at least 20 Fantasy points in four of five games. He has adjusted well to new coach Marc Trestman's offense, and he's maximizing all his talent with Brandon Marshall, Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte. He has a great matchup this week against the Giants and their beat up secondary, which has allowed every opposing quarterback to score at least 20 Fantasy points (Nick Foles and Vick combined for 30 last week). The Thursday night games have been tough on passing games this season, but we'd gamble on Cutler being a Top 12 quarterback this week.
Terrelle Pryor (at KC): It's amazing the hoopla for Pryor since he's made just five NFL starts, but he's been a standout Fantasy option over that span with at least 20 Fantasy points in four of those outings. The Chiefs will be the toughest defense Pryor has faced in his career, but we still expect him to shine. Pryor is limiting his mistakes with only two interceptions on the season, and Kansas City has already allowed two quarterbacks -- Vick and Ryan Fitzpatrick -- to run for at least 50 yards, which is something Pryor has already done twice this year. Pryor remains a great bye-week replacement for Matt Ryan or an injured Vick (hamstring).
Philip Rivers (vs. IND): Rivers had one of his worst games of the season in Week 5 at Oakland. He had a season-high three interceptions, but he still managed 411 passing yards and two touchdowns to finish with 22 Fantasy points. He has scored at least 22 points in four of five games this season, with three games of at least 30 points, and he should play well again this week. The Colts have allowed just Pryor and Wilson to score at least 21 Fantasy points, but both of them had over 100 rushing yards in those matchups. Rivers has run for just 29 yards on the season, but his arm will be good enough to help Fantasy owners again this week.
Cam Newton (at MIN): I'm sticking with Newton this week, and he's about to take off. In the next four weeks he has matchups with three terrible pass defenses in Minnesota, St. Louis and Atlanta sandwiched around a meeting with Tampa Bay. This stretch will likely define his season, and he should start off playing well against the Vikings, who he torched in 2011 for 290 passing yards and three touchdowns and six carries for 53 yards. Three quarterbacks have scored at least 23 Fantasy points against Minnesota, and the Vikings are allowing 338 passing yards a game this year. Newton had his worst game of the season in Week 5 at Arizona, but this matchup screams rebound game. Don't hit the eject button on Newton just yet because he could be ready to explode.
|Ben Roethlisberger||(at NYJ)||Three QBs have scored at least 21 Fantasy points vs. NYJ in past three games.|
|Alex Smith||(vs. OAK)||OAK has allowed three QBs to score at least 22 Fantasy points this year.|
|Chad Henne||(at DEN)||Don't laugh. Three QBs have already scored 20 Fantasy points vs. DEN.|
Eli Manning (at CHI): Manning is the type of quarterback capable of a big game at any moment. He has at least 334 passing yards in three of five games, and he has two games this season with multiple passing touchdowns. But he has an interception in all five games and 12 on the season, most quarterbacks on Thursday night have been abysmal and Manning has a battered offensive line. The Bears have just eight sacks on the season, but only Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees have scored at least 20 Fantasy points against this defense. He's just too risky to trust right now and is worth benching in the majority of leagues.
Sam Bradford (at HOU): Don't underestimate this Houston defense just because the Texans have allowed at least 23 points a game this year. That's more about Matt Schaub and his four-game pick-six streak than anything else. Houston has yet to allow a quarterback to pass for 200 yards, and in the past three games against Joe Flacco, Wilson and Colin Kaepernick they have one passing touchdown allowed, with those three quarterbacks combining for 26 Fantasy points. Bradford was great last week against Jacksonville with 26 Fantasy points, but in his previous two games he combined for 25 points against Dallas and San Francisco. He was sacked 11 times in those games, and he's in for a similar outing this week against an angry Texans defense at home.
Colin Kaepernick (vs. ARI): I'm nervous calling Kaepernick a sit because he could easily exploit the Cardinals defense, especially at home. In his lone meeting with Arizona last year at home he had 276 passing yards and two touchdowns. But the 49ers seem content with Kaepernick being a game manager of late, especially if they build a lead. He's attempted just 38 passes the past two games, with only four carries for 25 yards over that span. He's had just one game with more than 22 rushing yards this year, and he hasn't topped 17 Fantasy points since Week 1. Again, he could easily beat up this defense if coach Jim Harbaugh allows him to throw, but if the past two games are an indication, Frank Gore will lead the way for the 49ers this week.
Geno Smith (vs. PIT): Smith was great in Week 5 against the Falcons with 199 passing yards and three touchdowns, and he now has at least 27 Fantasy points in two of his past three games. But he's not someone to consider as a bye-week or injury replacement this week. The Steelers are coming off a bye with two weeks to prepare for the rookie, and Matt Cassel in Week 4 is the only quarterback with multiple touchdowns against Pittsburgh this year. We like the way Smith has improved during the early part of his first season, but that doesn't mean you should start him in most leagues this week.
Matt Schaub (vs. STL): I'm not sitting Schaub because of the matchup or because I'm afraid he'll get benched. I see Schaub having a similar game to what Kaepernick had against the Rams in Week 4 when he was just 15 of 23 passing for 167 yards and two touchdowns. The Texans are going to limit Schaub's attempts this week and rely on Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Schaub could still connect for a couple of scores -- especially with Andre Johnson based on No. 1 receivers vs. the Rams -- but coach Gary Kubiak recently said his ideal plan would be Foster getting 25 carries each week and Tate getting 12-15. That could easily happen in this matchup, and Schaub could be handing off more than throwing. We'd keep him reserved even in this juicy matchup.
Bust alert: Russell Wilson (vs. TEN): Wilson has been amazing in two of his past three games with at least 26 Fantasy points against Jacksonville and Indianapolis. But he was a minimal contributor in his three other outings against Carolina, San Francisco and Houston with 16 points or less. So which Wilson will show up this week? He remains one of the toughest quarterbacks to project each week, especially with a suspect receiving corps on a run-first team. My concern is he's not a volume passer with an average of 25 attempts a week on the season, and he's only recently gone back to running the ball with 23 carries for 179 yards the past two weeks. Prior to the season, Wilson said he didn't want to run as much, but offensive line issues have altered that plan. The Titans have only allowed Schaub to score more than 13 Fantasy points against them this season, including matchups with Roethlisberger, Rivers and Alex Smith. I can understand starting Wilson based on what he did last week against the Colts and his immense upside, especially at home, but I'd be hesitant to start him over guys like Pryor, Rivers or even Smith this week.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Gio Bernard (at BUF): We've already seen one time this season where Green-Ellis and Bernard were both productive for Fantasy owners, and that was Week 3 against Green Bay when they each scored touchdowns. They should both be successful again since the Bills have allowed four running backs to score at least eight Fantasy points this season. Bernard has struggled the past two games with 10 Fantasy points combined against Cleveland and New England, but he's due for rebound performance. And Green-Ellis isn't exciting, but he does have at least six Fantasy points in four of five games. He also has a touchdown or 100 rushing yards in three of his past four meetings with the Bills when he was in New England.
Fred Jackson (vs. CIN): At some point Jackson's run as a productive Fantasy option is going to end, and C.J. Spiller will take over, right? Until that happens, enjoy Jackson's consistent output and start him this week. He has at least 10 Fantasy points in all five games this season, and he's scored a touchdown in three of the past four games. The Bengals have allowed three running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points this season, and the Bills will likely lean on their running backs with Thad Lewis starting at quarterback for the injured EJ Manuel (knee). You can consider Spiller at least a flex option for this matchup as well, but if you have both Bills running backs then start Jackson. He's playing better right now, and he deserves recognition for his performance to date.
Le'Veon Bell (at NYJ): This is not an easy matchup for Bell by any means. The Jets have punished running backs so far this year with no one rushing for more than 72 yards in a game, and opposing rushers are being held to under 3.0 yards per carry. But there are still three running backs who have scored double digits in Fantasy points against the Jets in Doug Martin, Jackson and Rodgers. In the game against the Falcons last week, both Rodgers and Jason Snelling scored touchdowns. Bell has played one game this season in Week 4 against Minnesota, and he had 16 carries for 57 yards and two touchdowns and four catches for 27 yards. He should be able to grind his way to about 100 total yards this week, and if he scores a touchdown he'll potentially be a Top 15 running back. I'd still start him in most leagues even with a tough matchup based on his potential.
Eddie Lacy (vs. BAL): Like Bell, Lacy also has a difficult matchup this week. And like Bell, Lacy should still get enough work to be successful. We've seen Lacy play two games so far this season, and he has at least nine Fantasy points in both outings. The Ravens have only allowed one running back to reach double digits in Fantasy points this season, which was Jackson in Week 4, including matchups with Knowshon Moreno, Trent Richardson, Foster, Spiller and Lamar Miller. But the Packers have gotten solid production from their running backs all year, and Lacy has shown he can produce against a tough defense when he had 11 Fantasy points at San Francisco in Week 1. Don't be surprised when Lacy has a similar output in Week 6.
Danny Woodhead (vs. IND): Ryan Mathews (concussion) is likely out this week, which would allow Woodhead to get the majority of carries in a good matchup. The Colts have allowed four running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points, and Woodhead has been hot of late with 30 Fantasy points in his past two games against Dallas and Oakland. He's a must-start option in PPR formats with 29 catches since Week 2, and he should be viewed in similar fashion to Darren Sproles. The Chargers are featuring him in all their passing formations, and he's thriving right now as a go-to weapon for Rivers.
|Ben Tate||(vs. STL)||This should be one of those games where he gets garbage-time production.|
|Ronnie Hillman||(vs. JAC)||Hillman and Montee Ball could play rock, paper, scissor this week for TDs.|
|Marcel Reece||(at KC)||He could be the only RB of note if Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings are out.|
|Brandon Bolden||(vs. NO)||Could be useful PPR option with at least five catches in two of past three games.|
|Da'Rel Scott||(at CHI)||Four running backs already have at least four catches vs. CHI this season.|
Chris Johnson (at SEA): There were two things I liked about Johnson's performance in Week 5 against Kansas City – he scored a touchdown for the first time all year and was used as a receiver. He had a season-high four catches, which could be a result of Fitzpatrick starting for the injured Jake Locker (hip). Whatever the reason, we hope it continues, but it's hard to start Johnson this week. His touchdown against the Chiefs came on a broken play for a 49-yard reception. He could obviously do something like that again, but if he didn't score he would have finished with two Fantasy points. The Seahawks did allow Maurice Jones-Drew and Jordan Todman to score in Seattle in Week 3 in their last home game, but that happened in garbage time. If you're counting on something similar for Johnson then start him this week, but I'm hesitant to trust him.
Zac Stacy (at HOU): You should definitely add Stacy off the waiver wire this week because he could be the best running back for the Rams moving forward. But that doesn't mean you have to start him against the Texans. Houston should be motivated in this matchup after allowing four running backs to score in the past three games, but St. Louis hasn't had a running back score all season. Stacy is also limited as a receiver, so if this game gets one-sided we could see Stacy lose playing time to Daryl Richardson. Stacy could end up being a flex option for Fantasy owners in the future, but this week is a good time to keep him on your bench.
Maurice Jones-Drew (at DEN): It wouldn't be a surprise to see Jones-Drew get a garbage-time touchdown in this game. After all, he scored the last time the Jaguars got blown out in Week 3 at Seattle, and the Broncos have allowed seven touchdowns to opposing running backs this year. But LeSean McCoy is the only running back to top 43 rushing yards against Denver, and Jones-Drew has just one game with more than 45 yards rushing. He's also disappeared as a receiving threat with only five catches on the season. We hope Jones-Drew is traded soon because a change of scenery could help his Fantasy value. As for this week, he's just a flex option at best in the majority of leagues.
Rashard Mendenhall (at SF): Mendenhall is coming off his second game of the season with double digits in Fantasy points and his second touchdown of the season after doing well against Carolina at home. His encore performance could be much worse. The Cardinals haven't had a running back score a touchdown or reach double digits against San Francisco since Week 14 of 2009, a span of six games. Even though four running backs this season have scored double digits in Fantasy points against the 49ers with six touchdowns allowed, we still don't have much faith in Mendenhall. He's losing playing time to Andre Ellington, and if he doesn't find the end zone you're limited to six Fantasy points or less, which is something he's done three times already this year.
Pierre Thomas (at NE): Thomas was one of my best calls of the season in Week 6 at Chicago when he scored 20 Fantasy points, but you have to take his whole body of work into account when considering him a starter. Prior to facing the Bears, Thomas combined for 16 Fantasy points for the season in four games. He had a season-high 19 carries, and he hasn't had that many carries since Week 16 in 2010. Darren Sproles was a non-factor against Chicago with six total touches compared to 28 for Thomas, and we expect Sproles to be more involved this week. The Patriots did give up a rushing touchdown last week in their first game without defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (Achilles), which does help Thomas' cause, and four running backs have reached double digits in Fantasy points against New England this year. But I'm expecting a regression for Thomas this week, and I would only use him as a flex option in standard leagues.
Bust alert: Willis McGahee (vs. DET): McGahee was great last week against Buffalo with 13 Fantasy points, and he has a favorable matchup this week since the Lions have allowed six running backs to score more than nine Fantasy points this year. But in looking at the game against Buffalo, McGahee averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. He has yet to catch a pass in three games with the Browns, and if he doesn't score a touchdown his production will be minimal. I'd consider using McGahee as a flex option in standard leagues, but I don't think you can trust him as a must-start running back in any format, especially PPR leagues.
Danny Amendola (vs. NO): Amendola returned in Week 5 at Cincinnati and had modest stats with four catches for 55 yards, but he led New England in targets with nine, which should happen most weeks going forward. Rob Gronkowski (forearm/back) should return this week, which will change the dynamic of this offense, but Amendola's role is defined as Tom Brady's safety outlet. The Saints have only allowed four receivers to score this season, but Amendola should still have success as he continues to get closer to 100 percent. We're excited he's back on the field with the chance to help Fantasy owners after missing three games with a groin injury.
Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts (at DEN): The Jaguars receivers showed what they are capable of as a pair in Week 5 at St. Louis with 10 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns on 19 targets. Blackmon had the better game with five catches for 136 yards and a touchdown, but Shorts also did well with five catches for 74 yards and a score. They should have the chance for a repeat performance. The Broncos allow the third-most Fantasy points to opposing receivers with seven touchdowns allowed, four 100-yard outings and seven scoring double digits in Fantasy points. Jacksonville will be chasing points all game, so look for Chad Henne to target Blackmon and Shorts a lot, which should end up in positive results.
Alshon Jeffery (vs. NYG): You never want to chase huge performances because there's an obvious chance for a letdown, and Jeffery is coming off two huge games against Detroit and New Orleans with 47 Fantasy points over that span. Along with that, Brandon Marshall wants the ball more, which could mean a few more targets in his direction and less work for Jeffery, who has at least eight targets in four of five games and 24 targets the past two weeks. Keeping all that in mind, we still like Jeffery this week. The Giants have allowed four receivers to reach double digits in Fantasy points in the past three games, and Jeffery has the chance to remain hot. He's on the way toward a sensational sophomore campaign, and we expect him to keep rolling Thursday night.
Keenan Allen (vs. IND): I think Allen's performance the past two weeks are a sign of things to come, and I like the outlook moving forward for him and Vincent Brown -- you can consider Brown a high-upside No. 3 sleeper receiver this week. Allen has 15 targets the past two games against Dallas and Oakland, and he has 11 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown over that span. He's emerged as the No. 1 receiver for the Chargers, and the Colts have struggled with No. 1 receivers this year. Denarius Moore, Mike Wallace and Golden Tate all scored touchdowns against Indianapolis, and Shorts in Week 4 just missed a touchdown. Consider Allen at least a No. 3 receiver in the majority of leagues this week, and he can also be started as a flex.
Vincent Jackson (vs. PHI): Jackson is stuck with Mike Glennon as his starter for the rest of this season, and hopefully the two spent time on the bye in Week 5 to get on the same page. In Week 4 against Arizona, Glennon and Jackson were off since they connected on just two of 11 targets for only 27 yards. Jackson has struggled so far this season with only one game with double digits in Fantasy points and no touchdowns, but facing the Eagles is a cure for all woes. Philadelphia has allowed the most Fantasy points to opposing receivers with eight scoring double digits in Fantasy points, including Leonard Hankerson, Eddie Royal, Demaryius Thomas and Rueben Randle topping 20 points. This should be Jackson's best game of the season, and we also consider Mike Williams a sleeper. We just hope Glennon can avoid the turnovers and connect with his two weapons in this quality matchup.
|Terrance Williams||(vs. WAS)||Even with Miles Austin (hamstring) potentially back Williams should shine.|
|DeAndre Hopkins||(vs. STL)||Owen Daniels (leg) injury should increase targets for Hopkins in a plus matchup.|
|Dwayne Bowe||(vs. OAK)||Every No. 1 receiver vs. OAK this year has at least nine Fantasy points|
|Jerome Simpson||(vs. CAR)||Hopefully the rapport with Matt Cassel from Week 4 carries over.|
|Ted Ginn||(at MIN)||He has at least seven Fantasy points in each of his past three games.|
Larry Fitzgerald (at SF): It's obviously difficult to bench Fitzgerald in the majority of leagues because even in a tough matchup he could do well. Case in point was Week 4 at Tampa Bay when he scored a late touchdown against Darrelle Revis. But his hamstring is again an issue, and this is another game where he could struggle -- he has just one game with double digits in Fantasy points since Week 1. The 49ers haven't allowed a receiver to gain 60 yards or score a touchdown since Week 1, including matchups with Reggie Wayne, Hilton and Andre Johnson. And Fitzgerald struggled last season against the 49ers with just seven catches for 65 yards combined in two games. Fitzgerald also hasn't seen double digits in targets since Week 1, and Carson Palmer is struggling to find time to look for his No. 1 receiver down the field. We hope Fitzgerald's hamstring can get back to 100 percent soon, and when he does he should start dominating again. But right now he's just not himself, and it's showing with his limited production.
Hakeem Nicks (at CHI): We liked Nicks last week, and he had his best game of the season with nine catches for 142 yards on 12 targets. He now has two games this season with double digits in Fantasy points, but he has yet to score a touchdown. The Bears have been hit or miss with receivers this season as A.J. Green and Antonio Brown have scored at least 28 Fantasy points against them, but Calvin Johnson, Marques Colston and Greg Jennings combined for 19 Fantasy points. We expect a lot of production from Victor Cruz this week, but Nicks could have another lackluster outing. Consider him just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in this matchup.
Anquan Boldin (vs. ARI): The Cardinals have done a solid job against No. 1 receivers this year, and cornerback Patrick Peterson deserves plenty of credit. Johnson is the lone receiver to reach double digits in Fantasy points, including matchups against Colston, Vincent Jackson and Steve Smith. Those three combined for 15 Fantasy points, and Boldin could continue to fall victim to San Francisco's commitment to the run. He has one game with double digits in Fantasy points in his past four games, and he might not be needed this week even against his former team. Like we said with Kaepernick, Boldin could easily have a big performance at home, but we're skeptical given the way San Francisco has played of late and the matchup vs. Peterson.
Julian Edelman (vs. NO): Edelman's time as a starting Fantasy receiver might be at an end, at least until the next Amendola injury. Edelman had just seven targets against the Bengals with Amendola back, and he finished with a season-low two catches for 35 yards, including a dropped touchdown. I'm also concerned about Kenbrell Thompkins with Gronkowski coming back because now all those red-zone targets -- he's tied for second in the NFL with nine -- should go to the tight end. This game has the potential for a shootout, so consider who you are starting over Edelman and Thompkins, but the best part of their seasons might be behind them.
All the Rams receivers (at HOU): Austin Pettis has been the most consistent Rams receiver this season with four touchdowns in his past four games, but between Pettis, Tavon Austin and Chris Givens this is a situation to avoid this week. At least one of them will do well, and the best bet is Pettis. Givens has yet to score this season and has just one game over 100 yards. Austin scored two touchdowns in Week 2 but hasn't reached 50 receiving yards in a game. And while Pettis has found the end zone on a regular basis, he has just one game with more than 60 receiving yards. On top of all that, the Texans have allowed the fewest Fantasy points to opposing receivers. They haven't allowed a receiver to score in their past three games, including matchups with Torrey Smith and Boldin.
Bust alert: DeSean Jackson (at TB): Jackson has been awesome this year, and he's coming off an amazing game in Week 5 at the Giants with seven catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. He has three touchdowns and three 100-yard games this season, but he could struggle this week. Not only will Jackson have to deal with Revis Island, who held Jackson to two catches for 28 yards in their last meeting in 2011, but Nick Foles will likely start for the injured Vick. Foles did throw the touchdown to Jackson against the Giants, but Tampa Bay is a much tougher test. The Bucs have only allowed two receivers to score this season with Thompkins and Fitzgerald. Jackson could easily break a long touchdown, and Foles might end up being better for Jackson's Fantasy value than Vick, but until we see it happen you might want to use caution when setting your lineup this week.
Greg Olsen (at MIN): Olsen had an amazing matchup last week against the Cardinals and posted marginal stats with five catches for 79 yards on six targets. He has an even better matchup this week, so hopefully his production will be higher, especially dealing with an injured foot. The Vikings have allowed a touchdown to three of four tight ends this season with Joseph Fauria, Martellus Bennett and Jordan Cameron scoring six touchdowns combined. Heath Miller in Week 4 had just six catches for 70 yards, and Olsen should score at least seven Fantasy points in this matchup. The last time Olsen faced Minnesota was in 2011 when he had four catches for 73 yards and a touchdown.
Martellus Bennett (vs. NYG): Bennett gets the chance to face his former team this week, and I always like those tie-ins (see Pierre Thomas going to his hometown of Chicago last week or Green-Ellis vs. the Patriots). The last time Bennett was in this scenario was Week 1 last year with the Giants against the Cowboys, and he scored against Dallas. It's no guarantee Bennett will score, and he's dealing with an injured knee even though he's expected to play, but it does help that the Giants are miserable at defending tight ends with five touchdowns allowed on the season. Jason Witten, Julius Thomas, Sean McGrath and Brent Celek have all scored against the Giants, and Bennett should be able to put him name on that list this week.
Heath Miller (at NYJ): Miller played well in his last game before Pittsburgh's bye in Week 5 with six catches for 70 yards on eight targets against the Vikings, and we expect another solid outing this week. He's clearly playing at a high level again after last year's knee injury, and this is a great matchup for him. The Jets have struggled with tight ends all season as Scott Chandler, Delanie Walker and Levine Toilolo all scored touchdowns, and Tony Gonzalez had 10 catches for 97 yards in Week 5. Miller scored against the Jets in their lone meeting last year, and he could have a repeat performance.
|Garrett Graham||(vs. STL)||He's about to become a star with Daniels out for at least a month.|
|Jordan Reed||(at DAL)||Three TEs have already scored double digits in Fantasy points vs. DAL.|
|Brent Celek||(at TB)||Two TEs have scored double digits in Fantasy points vs. TB in four games.|
Brandon Myers (at CHI): The Bears were abused by Jimmy Graham last week for 10 catches for 135 yards, but no tight end is in Graham's category right now, especially Myers. He got off to a great start with 12 Fantasy points in Week 1, but since then he's combined for just 13 points in four games. And even with Graham's big game, the Bears have allowed just one touchdown to a tight end all season.
Brandon Pettigrew (at CLE): The Browns haven't faced many elite tight ends so far this season with matchups against Charles Clay, Dallas Clark, Kyle Rudolph, the Bengals duo of Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham and Chandler. But that entire group has combined for just 20 Fantasy points, which is an average of four points per game. That's about what you can expect from Pettigrew in this matchup. He has been a useful option in PPR leagues the past two games with 11 catches for 113 yards, and his 12 targets over that span are a season best. But he has just two touchdowns in his last 17 games, and we don't see much hope for Pettigrew against this aggressive Browns defense.
Kyle Rudolph (vs. CAR): Rudolph needs a touchdown to have a shiny performance in the box score, and he has just one of those this season, which was Week 2. In his other three games he has combined for four Fantasy points, including a zero in Week 4 against the Steelers, which was Cassel's first start. With Cassel under center again this week there should be some caution in starting Rudolph. Along with that, the only tight end to score against the Panthers this season was Arizona's Jim Dray. Granted, the Panthers have faced some mediocre talent at the position in matchups against Zach Miller, Chandler, Myers and Dray, but if Rudolph doesn't score you're looking at a bad day from your tight end in your starting lineup.
Bust alert: Jared Cook (at HOU): I'd like to go back to before the season and call Cook a bust alert instead of touting him as a breakout. It looked great in Week 1 when he scored two touchdowns against the Cardinals with 24 Fantasy points. Since then he's combined for 11 points, and he's been outplayed the past two weeks by backup tight end Lance Kendricks when comparing their Fantasy production. The Texans have allowed two touchdowns to tight ends this season against Walker and Vernon Davis, but Davis is the only one with double digits in Fantasy points. And Cook has just one touchdown in his past five meetings with Houston, all as a member of the Titans. In 2012, Cook combined for seven catches for 87 yards against the Texans in two meetings.
Texans (vs. STL): The Texans defense has the look of a battered unit with at least 23 points allowed in every game this season. But if you consider Schaub and his four-game pick-six streak, along with the Ravens scoring a return touchdown in Week 3, Houston has allowed 30 points without their defense on the field. Now, the Texans could do a better job in the turnover department with only two interceptions and one fumble recovery, but Bradford could help in that category. In his two worst games at Dallas and vs. San Francisco, Bradford was sacked 11 times with an interception and a fumble. With the Texans coming off a three-game losing streak, we expect to see a motivated defense against a suspect offensive opponent. If Schaub can end his pick-six streak here the Texans DST should be solid.
Saints (at NE): The Saints were NFL-record bad on defense in 2012, but what a difference a year and change in coordinators make. Rob Ryan has changed the defense in New Orleans, and the Saints DST is No. 8 in standard leagues coming into this game. They have at least three sacks in four of five games, and they have seven interceptions on the season. The Saints DST had their worst game of the season in Week 5 at Chicago with only a fumble recovery, and this should be another tough week. The Patriots are expected to get back Gronkowski and Stevan Ridley (knee), and Amendola should be close to 100 percent. We've been waiting to see how Brady will do with all his weapons, and the Saints DST could suffer as a result.
|Robbie Gould||vs. NYG|
|Mike Nugent||at BUF|
|Billy Cundiff||vs. DET|
Alex Henery (at TB): Kickers seem to love facing the Bucs this season as three have reached at least 10 Fantasy points in Nick Folk, Garrett Hartley and Stephen Gostkowski. Only Jay Feely failed to reach double digits in points, and he had seven in Week 4. Henery is coming off his best game of the season in Week 5 at the Giants with 18 Fantasy points behind five field goals and three extra points. He won't be that good against the Bucs, but based on their track record so far this season, Henery has a great chance for a solid encore performance.
Sebastian Janikowski (at KC): If kickers like facing Tampa Bay then they hate facing Kansas City. Since Week 2 when Dan Bailey had 14 points against the Chiefs, Henery, Josh Brown and Rob Bironas have combined for 10 Fantasy points with two field goals on five attempts. Janikowski has a good history in Kansas City with 13 of 14 field goals and 10 extra points, but this is a much better Chiefs defense than in years' past. Janikowski also has just two games with double digits in Fantasy points, and both were at home. In two road games at Indianapolis and Denver, Janikowski has combined for one field goal and five extra points, and with the way the Chiefs have limited opposing kickers this season you might want to find another alternative this week.
Disclaimer ... Please understand that we are not in the business of stating the obvious and wasting your time (or ours), so you won't be reading here why you need to start Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson or any other top-tier players. We're here to help you with the tough decisions.