As a Giants fan (spare me the insults, I’ve heard them all), I drafted Tony Romo this year with the idea that he’d have games EXACTLY like the one he had last week against Denver -- amazing for fantasy purposes, but a blunder at the very end of the game which leads to his team’s defeat. Now, I’m not going to jump on the hate bandwagon like so many others (although it’s REALLY fun). That interception wasn’t entirely his fault. It was an amazing play by Denver’s linebacker (wasn’t he the same dude who dropped the ball before going into the end zone in Week 1?). So here’s hoping Tony Romo continues to be an amazing fantasy quarterback yet still puts his team in positions to lose the game! Here here!
Before I get into Week 6, I’d like to share a story. As you all know by now, Julio Jones is most likely out for the year. I’m in a fantasy league with my coworkers. The Julio Jones owner found out about the injury, and immediately tried to trade Julio straight up for the WR1 of every team in the league, hoping that we wouldn’t hear about the injury news (since we were working and all) and make the trade. He offered me Julio not only for Dez Bryant, but also in a separate trade for Julius Thomas. One guy who owned Brandon Marshall (he had actually just traded Matt Forte for Marshall earlier in the day) fell for the trap and made the trade. In this league, trades aren’t up for review; if it’s accepted, it goes through immediately. The now-former Jones owner went to the new Jones owner and immediately informed the new Jones owner about the boneheaded move he had just made. When the league complained to the commissioner (and rightly so), the commissioner blamed the Marshall owner claiming “buyer beware.” So while this trade was technically legal, it was shady as all hell. So the other owners in the league did the only thing we could do: we verbally berated the original Julio owner by claiming (correctly) that he was a dirtbag and we would never trade with him no matter how sweet the deal was for us (he was offering rip-off trades all year before, so I wasn’t a willing buyer regardless). Eventually, we shamed him into making the trade back, although he did snag Greg Jennings and gave up Leonard Hankerson as a stupidity penalty for the Marshall owner.
I know we play for money and it’s a form of gambling, but fantasy is supposed to be fun, and cut-throat tactics like this really ruin the game for everybody. I'm going to really reconsider joining the league next year unless trades have a review period. With that, on to Week 6.
Note: “Comfortables” can be started in all leagues. “Cautions” may be started in 12-team leagues and should definitely be started in 14-team leagues, but might be bench considerations for 10-team leagues or lower. “Casualties” shouldn’t be started in any leagues. “Sleepers” are meant for FLEX spots in 12- and 14-team leagues
New York Giants vs. Chicago Bears
Comfortables: Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Chicago Defense
Cautions: Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks
Casualties: Eli Manning, DaRell Scott, Brandon Jacobs, Michael Bush, Earl Bennett, Brandon Myers (if active), Kellen Davis, New York Defense
Sleeper: Reuben Randle
It just gets worse and worse for Big Blue. Not only are they 0-5, but just as David Wilson was starting to become fantasy relevant, he hurts his neck and is out for this Thursday’s game. The G-Men signed DaRell Scott back to their team, possibly because he knows the schemes and can pick them up quickly. But you want nothing to do with the Giants backfield…or even the Giants as a whole if you can help it. With Chicago’s D not worried about the run and covering up Nicks and Cruz, Reuben Randle becomes an intriguing FLEX play coming off a big game against the Eagles, who basically had the same gameplan. Thursday night games in general don’t bring the offense considering the short week (with last week’s game between the Browns and Bills being the weird exception), and I think this one has clunker potential. You have to start all the starting Bears (including Alshon Jeffery, who is a must start), but there’s a distinct possibility somebody who usually gets theirs (Marshall, Forte, Bennett) might be left out in the cold.
Prediction: Chicago kicks New York while it’s down and wins another Thursday night stinker.
St. Louis Rams vs. Houston Texans
Comfortables: Sam Bradford, Arian Foster, St. Louis Defense, Houston Defense
Cautions: Zac Stacy, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Andre Johnson, Garrett Graham
Casualties: Matt Schaub (if starting), Daryl Richardson, Isiah Pead, Ben Tate, Austin Pettis, DeAndre Hopkins, Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks
Sleeper: TJ Yates (if starting)
Poor Matt Schaub. Dude is done for. Not only did he throw his fourth pick-six in as many games, but he lost his security blanket in Owen Daniels for a few weeks (which means Garrett Graham gets a bump). Plus, it’s possible that he might be benched for this game (TJ Yates would be a deeeeeeeeeeep sleeper if that happens). I don’t like any of the passing options in Houston, so Foster becomes a big-time play. Sam Bradford had a good game last week against the hapless Jaguars, so it’s possible that the Rams D might put him in good position to throw some touchdowns, but much like in Seattle, guessing who out of Austin Pettis, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Jared Cook or Lance Kendricks is going to be on the receiving end of those touchdowns is an exercise in futility. I don’t expect a lot of offense in this one either.
Prediction: St. Louis shocks an overmatched Houston team and steals one on the road in a defensive struggle.
Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland Browns
Comfortables: Matthew Stafford (if Calvin Johnson is active), Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson (if active), Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron, Detroit Defense, Cleveland Defense
Cautions: Matthew Stafford (if Calvin Johnson is inactive), Brandon Weeden, Joique Bell, Willis McGahee, Ryan Broyles, Brandon Pettigrew
Casualties: Chris Ogbannaya, Brian Rainey, Greg Little, Davone Bess, Tony Scheffler
Sleeper: Kris Durham (if Megatron is inactive)
We got a good idea of just how valuable Calvin Johnson is as a player due to his surprise inactivity last week. With Megatron, Matthew Stafford is one of the top fantasy QBs in the league. Without him, he’s a shell of his former self and the entire Lions offense suffers as a result. Megatron will likely go in this game, plus it’s at 1 PM so you have time to sub him (and Stafford) out if he’s sidelined another week. Kris Durham didn’t have a very good game in Megatron’s absence, but he did catch a garbage time TD, so maybe that’ll give him some confidence. For the Browns, it’s possible that Josh Gordon might get traded to Atlanta in Julio Jones’s absence, but he and Jordan Cameron are still must-starts. Willis McGahee is a must start in a point-per-carry league (they do exist…I’m actually in one), but bulk is all you’ll get with him. It’s possible he could get a short-yardage touchdown, but you’re really reaching if you have to bank on that.
Prediction: It’s simple. If Megatron plays, the Lions win. If he doesn’t, they lose.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills
Comfortables: Giovani Bernard, Fred Jackson, CJ Spiller, AJ Green, Cincinnati Defense
Cautions: Andy Dalton, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Tyler Eifert, Jermaine Gresham, Buffalo Defense
Casualties: All Bills Except Starting Running Backs and Defense
Sleeper: Mohammad Sanu
I’m not a believer in Thad Lewis. There’s a reason he was on the practice squad to begin with. The Bengals D is legit, as they (and a rainstorm) shut down Tom Brady last week. That’s bad news for Stevie Johnson owners. Both Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller are good to start. Jackson will get the bulk and Spiller’s always a threat to break a big one like he did last Thursday. Plus, they’ve both had 10 days to rest up. AJ Green has been quiet and Andy Dalton’s been worrisome with his lack of production, but you’re not going to bench Green. Just hope for the best.
Prediction: Bengals pound on Thad and keep the momentum going with another win.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Comfortables: LeSean McCoy, Doug Martin, DeSean Jackson, Vincent Jackson
Cautions: Bryce Brown, Jason Avant, Mike Williams, Brent Celek, Philadelphia Defense, Tampa Bay Defense
Casualties: Mike Glennon, Peyton Hillis, Riley Cooper
Sleeper: Nick Foles
Michael Vick is out. Nick Foles is in. Unfortunately, this matchup isn’t the best. Darrelle Revis and company have actually created a pretty good defense down there in Tampa. On the other side, Josh Freeman is gone and Mike Glennon is the last man standing (other than the pride of Shelton CT, the “Shelton Sensation” Dan Orlovsky!!!). For all of these reasons, the only guys you can seriously start comfortably are the two RBs and the two WR1s. Anybody else, and you’re playing with fire.
Prediction: Shady carries the Eagles to a win.
Green Bay Packers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Comfortables: Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Ray Rice, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Torrey Smith
Cautions: Joe Flacco, Bernard Pierce, Marlon Brown (if active), Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Defense, Baltimore Defense
Casualties: James Starks (if active), Jonathan Franklin, Tandon Doss, Dallas Clark
Let’s not downplay the injury to Clay Matthews. He is undoubtedly the Packers’ best defensive player. That’s good news for Ray Rice owners. But aside from Ray Ray and Torrey Smith, I can’t trust any Ravens offensive player. Joe Flacco should only be started in two-QB leagues this week. The linebacking corps may be decimated but the secondary is still intact. On the Packers side, I like Eddie Lacy, who looks like the only game in town after Jonathan Franklin fumbled AGAIN. You also still have to roll with Cobb, Nelson and James Jones. At least two of those three will go off. I’m still not sold on Jermichael Finley as an every-week starter at tight end.
Prediction: The Pack take care of business on the road.
Carolina Panthers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Comfortables: Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson, Steve Smith, Greg Jennings, Carolina Defense, Minnesota Defense
Cautions: Matt Cassell, DeAngelo Williams, Greg Olsen, Kyle Rudolph
Casualties: Josh Freeman, Mike Tolbert, Toby Gerhart, Brandon LaFell, Jerome Simpson
Sleeper: Cordarrelle Patterson
The Vikings signed Josh Freeman late Sunday night, but will not play him this week against Carolina. I like picking Freeman up as a speculative add if you have Tony Romo or Russell Wilson, as he might make a good bye-week fill in for weeks 11 and 12 when he’s starting and knows the Vikings system. The Vikes are coming off a big win in London two weeks ago before their bye, and I expect them to keep the momentum going against a Panthers team who can’t seem to travel well. As long as Matt Cassell is starting, Greg Jennings is a must-start. Cassell isn’t afraid to go to him. For the Panthers, you have to start Newton and Steve Smith, but you don’t have to like it. The Carolina Defense is also still legit, so I’m not too worried after Arizona lit them up last week. Jonathan Stewart might be returning in a couple weeks, so if you have a deep bench, look to stash him.
Prediction: Minnesota eeks out a victory at home in a low-scoring affair.
Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Comfortables: Terrelle Pryor, Alex Smith, Marcel Reese (if Jennings is inactive), Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Defense
Cautions: Rashad Jennings (if active), Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, Donnie Avery, Shaun McGrath
Casualties: Knile Davis, Mychal Rivera, Oakland Defense
Sleeper: Jeremy Stewart (if all other Oakland running backs are inactive)
The running back situation in Oakland is a nightmare. Darren McFadden is hurt (in other news, grass is green). Rashad Jennings got hurt in relief (in other news, the sky is blue). Apparently Jennings wasn’t as injured as badly as first thought and might be able to play for this game. If he doesn’t, Marcel Reese (who is no picture of health himself at the moment) becomes a good start. If you recall he contributed nicely in a featured role last year. If both Reese and Jennings end up inactive for whatever reason, Jeremy Stewart can be a Hail Mary play. However, regardless of who is in the backfield, the matchup isn’t great against the Chiefs. Plus, it wouldn’t surprise me if Terrelle Pryor (who is the real deal) didn’t end up leading the Raiders in rushing yards this week. Good luck figuring out if Rod Streater or Denarius Moore will get the touchdown this week. Along with Peterson and Shady, Jamaal Charles seems to be one of the only first round running backs to actually net a return on the investment paid, so he’s a must start every week. I’m willing to give Dwayne Bowe one more chance to contribute. If you need a bye week fill-in for Tony Gonzalez or Charles Clay, Shaun McGrath looks interesting, and I’m actually starting him in a league I have Clay.
Prediction: Lighting can’t strike twice for the Raiders and the Chiefs continue their unbeaten streak.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets
Comfortables: Geno Smith, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Defense, New York Jets Defense
Cautions: Ben Roethlisberger, Bilal Powell, Chris Ivory, Emmanuel Sanders, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley
Casualties: Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Felix Jones, Mike Goodson, Alex Green, David Nelson, Kellen Winslow
Sleeper: Jeff Cumberland
How ‘bout them Jets? Another fourth quarter comeback! Between the Bucs and Falcons, Gang Green pwns the NFC South, right? Unfortunately for all my Jet fan friends, I’m still not buying it. Fortunately for them, though, they’re playing an 0-5 Steelers team with an offense that’s struggled, but is getting better. I love love LOVE Le’Veon Bell in this matchup. The Jets got gashed by Jacquizz Rodgers of all people last week, and Bell showed some wiggle in his debut against the Vikes two weeks ago. I also like Heath Miller a lot as well as he’s getting healthier and the bye week only helped him. I’m actually flexing Miller over Willis McGahee because I think Ben will look early and often to his security blanket. This’ll keep defenses honest and will help Antonio Brown get open. Geno Smith is still a rookie and will make some mistakes, but he’s extremely talented, so I’ve bumped him from caution to somebody you can comfortably start in a 2-QB league or with Matt Ryan on a bye.
Prediction: When I pick the Jets to win, they lose. When I pick the Jets to lose, they win. So…Jets win!
Tennessee Titans vs. Seattle Seahawks
Comfortables: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Defense
Cautions: Chris Johnson, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Zach Miller (if active), Tennessee Defense
Casualties: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jackie Battle, Robert Turbin, Christine Michael, Kenny Britt, Delaine Walker
The Seattle Seahawks are two completely different teams on the road and at home. If I own any Titans (and I don’t), I’d be very nervous about starting any of them in this matchup. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a bit of a renaissance last week (albeit with some dumb luck on a broken shuffle pass to Chris Johnson who took it to the house), but I’m not buying it. Russell Wilson has been incredibly inconsistent for fantasy purposes this year, and Tennessee’s defense is very good, but I think he’ll lean heavily on Marshawn Lynch to set the pace. He’ll also probably pass for two touchdowns, but again, how do we know for sure who’s catching them? I’m starting Golden Tate and praying this week.
Prediction: C’mon…it’s the Seahawks at home.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Denver Broncos
Comfortables: Peyton Manning, Knowshown Moreno, Demariyus Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas, Denver Defense
Cautions: Chad Henne, Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon
Casualties: All Jaguars Except Henne, Shorts and Blackmon (including Defense), Montee Ball
Sleeper: Ronnie Hillman
Okay, forget for a second about how the real game will shake out. This game will be over by halftime. Think about this for fantasy football purposes. In fantasy, there’s no such thing as garbage time. The yards and touchdowns count regardless of when they come in the game. Chad Henne, Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon are sneaky plays. The concern you have to have is that not only will Denver bench its starters in the second half, but Jacksonville will as well to prevent injury (treating this like a preseason game). That’s why I REALLY like Ronnie Hillman in this game. Hillman might get some serious second-half work against a second-string Jags D which isn’t that great to begin with. One guy I don’t like at all is Maurice Jones-Drew. He’s barely been involved in the passing game, and with Jacksonville behind, they’ll abandon the run immediately. Yes, maybe they’ll get to the 1 and MJD can punch it in from there, but I’m not relying on that. MJD is a big-time Casualty for me.
Prediction: UPSET OF THE CENTURY! JAGS WIN! Yeah, okay…
Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers
Comfortables: Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, San Francisco Defense
Cautions: Carson Palmer, Andre Ellington, Rashard Mendenhall, Michael Floyd, Arizona Defense
Casualties: Alfonso Smith, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Andre Roberts, Quinton Patton, Rob Housler
Sleeper: Anthony Dixon
Colin Kaepernick gets one last chance. I’m shocked at how much San Fran has gone away from letting him use his talent to score points. They’re content with just running the football. Sooner or later defenses will figure it out, and when that happens, the Niners will have to rely on Kaep to air it out. I think this is the game where it happens. I don’t think this is the kind of game where you get cute and start a second-stringer unless you absolutely have to. The Cardinals backfield is a full-on committee between Andre Ellington and Rashard Mendenhall. Ellington’s involved in the passing game so he has some PPR value. Carson Palmer has really struggled lately (even with the win last week), and on the road against Carlos Rogers, Donte “Hitner,” and the Niners D, I don’t expect the sledding to get any easier. You’re starting Larry Fitzgerald because you probably can’t afford to bench him. I myself just traded Fitz for Tony Romo.
Prediction: Niners continue their momentum.
New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots
Comfortables: Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston, Danny Amendola, Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski
Cautions: Stevan Ridley (if active), Kenbrell Thompkins, Julian Edelman, New Orleans Defense
Casualties: LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, Lance Moore, Kenny Stills, Robert Meachem, Nick Toon, Aaron Dobson, New England Defense
Sleeper: Khiry Robinson
Fathers, hide your daughters! The Gronk is finally back and ready to impregnate! Combined with Danny Amendola’s return last week, Tom Brady finally has his full offense ready to roll. Because of the extra attention that needs to be paid to the passing game, I actually like Stevan Ridley here if he can suit up. He’s too talented and he’s “due,” but I may be hanging onto him for too long, especially since I traded Trent Richardson for him back in Week 2 (although my team’s been 3-0 since the trade!). As for the Saints, I’m sure you’ve seen the stat going around that Pierre Thomas has two more catches than Darren Sproles so far this season. I think that both backs are must starts, but owners must realize that one’s going to go off at the other’s expense. In such a high-powered offense, I think you have to roll the dice and hope for the best. Jimmy Graham is going to continue to do Jimmy Graham things, and Marques Colston is due for a big game. I expect this one to be reminiscent of last week’s Dallas/Denver game and have a final score of 54-45!
Prediction: New Orleans wins the shootout.
Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys
Comfortables: Robert Griffin III, Tony Romo, Alfred Morris, DeMarco Murray, Pierre Garcon, Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams (if Miles Austin is inactive), Jason Witten, Dallas Defense
Cautions: Miles Austin (if active)
Casualties: Roy Helu, Dallas Backup Running Backs, Washington WRs not Named Garcon, Washington Defense
Sleeper: Jordan Reed
Tony Romo might not be able to do that again this season but against the Skins’ swiss cheese defense, I expect another solid day. Dez all day, and if I’m a Terrance Williams owner, I’m hoping Miles Austin doesn’t ever come back from his hamstring injury, because Williams has been money in his absence. Plus there’s ol’ reliable, Jason Witten. For Washington, you can only start Griffin, Morris and Garcon comfortably. I do like Jordan Reed as a sleeper, although my opponent picked him up this week so I would like to jinx him.
Prediction: Dallas scores early and often and doesn’t allow Romo to blow it in the last couple minutes.
Indianapolis Colts vs. San Diego Chargers
Comfortables: Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, Danny Woodhead, Reggie Wayne, TY Hilton, Antonio Gates
Cautions: Donald Brown, Trent Richardson, Coby Fleener, Vincent Brown, Eddie Royal, Indianapolis Defense, San Diego Defense
Casualties: Ronnie Brown, Darius Heyward-Bey
Sleeper: Keenan Allen
Ahmad Bradshaw is out for the year, so it’s now Trent Richardson’s backfield, and Donald Brown is the handcuff. I don’t really like T-Rich in this matchup, as I expect both teams to be throwing it all game long. I do like Danny Woodhead, especially now that Ryan Mathews may be out with a concussion. Keenan Allen is relegated to sleeper status, because I can’t get too excited over a Chargers receiver after a couple big games. I made that mistake already with Eddie Royal. The only sure thing in the Chargers passing game is Antonio Gates. T.Y. Hilton is the very definition of boom-or-bust player but I’d rather start him during a bust than sit him during a boom (like so many did last week), so he’s a must start. Beware of starting either defense; this will be a shootout.
Prediction: Luck will sling it and the Colts will shine in primetime.
Good luck in Week 6!