On some level, fantasy owners are anxiously awaiting the climate shift into fall. OK, those owners who drafted running backs early and often are anxiously awaiting frigid temperatures and blustery conditions. Others are playing “Go Fish!” off of the waiver wire on a weekly basis while enjoying the pinball-like numbers being turned in by quarterbacks and wide receivers.
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Let’s extol the virtues of this week’s would-be heroes and raise caution flags for a few of the usual suspects.
Exclude: Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Michael Turner, Ray Rice, Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden, Fred Jackson
Bye Weeks: San Diego, Denver, Tennessee, Arizona, Seattle, Kansas City
Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG vs. BUF: The Seahawks’ shocking win eliminated many owners from “Survivor” contests, but Bradshaw owners might have been the most upset by the game’s flow. He amassed 85 total yards on 19 touches, but finished with just 58 yards on the ground (3.4 yards per carry).
Backfield mate Brandon Jacobs remains sidelined because of a knee injury and may be unavailable for Sunday’s tilt against the Bills. The Bills’ run defense has been run over repeatedly this season to the tune of 138.4 yards and a touchdown per game. Bradshaw runs wild and pays fantasy owners back for his mediocre Week 5 effort this week.
Peyton Hillis, CLE at OAK: This is a great spot for Hillis to put the struggles of the first four weeks and the controversy about missing Week 3 to bed. Coach Pat Shurmur has talked openly of getting Hillis more touches, and Joe Thomas is back to full strength to bolster the offensive line. The Raiders surrender 122.8 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and Hillis will continue to be active in the passing game.
Cedric Benson, CIN vs. IND: Benson has yet to receive word on his appeal from the league office and will therefore be available for Sunday’s home game against the run-deficient Indianapolis defense (145.2 yards and 1.2 touchdowns allowed per game). To put things in perspective, opponents are rushing the ball 35.4 times per game.
Andy Dalton will take his shots downfield with A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham, thereby allowing Benson to ground and pound in front of the home crowd.
Daniel Thomas, MIA at NYJ: Check the injury notes on Sunday morning through the ongoing chat with Fowler, Beall and Halpin here on FOXSports.com and our radio work at FOX Sports Radio for information on Thomas. If Thomas returns to action, he’s a tremendous RB2 play against the struggling Jets defense. Opposing runners have barreled over the New York front for 134.8 yards and 1.6 touchdowns per game.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, NE vs. DAL: Green-Ellis missed a mid-week practice because of a toe injury, though it’s not believed to be serious. As always, we need to play the “wait and see” game when it comes to New England injuries.
I don’t fear the top-ranked Dallas run defense in this game (61 yards allowed per game with just a single touchdown). Tom Brady will work the secondary over, and Green-Ellis will be afforded multiple red zone chances at a minimum.
Darren Sproles, NO at TB: Sproles amassed a season-high 16 touches in Week 5 against the Panthers. He’s averaged 89.8 total yards to date and remains a pivotal component of the New Orleans passing game out of the backfield. He’s locked and loaded as a low-end RB2 in this road tilt.
Shonn Greene, NYJ vs. MIA: Nick Mangold. Mangold’s return to the field solidified the New York offensive line last week and allowed Greene to give exasperated fantasy owners relief (83 yards and a touchdown). I anticipate more of the same this week against the struggling Dolphins. Mark Sanchez will have his opportunities downfield against the secondary, but look for the Jets to reestablish the ground-and-pound mentality.
“Remember who you are.” Sorry, my daughter has force-fed me “The Lion King” time and again recently.
Felix Jones, DAL at NE: A healthy Jones returns to the backfield following the Bye week. The Cowboys’ ability to stretch the field with Miles Austin and Dez Bryant back to full strength is paramount to Jones’ success this week. Tony Romo will come out gunning to create running lanes against a New England front that surrenders 4.6 yards per rushing attempt. Additionally, look for Jones to get involved in the passing game early to stretch the Patriots’ front seven.
James Starks, GB vs. STL: Look at where the Rams rank against the run (dead last at 179.8 yards allowed per game). Look at the offensive juggernaut that is the Green Bay offense. Starks runs downhill and piles up numbers as the Packers treat the home crowd to a resounding victory.
I know. The Seahawks shocked the Giants last week. I guaranty that that contest was brought up as the Packers prepared for this contest. There will not be a letdown.
Ryan Torain, WAS vs. PHI: I will readily admit to being afraid of the fickle finger of Mike Shanahan. Tim Hightower has been talking up a big game for Week 6 (Flex it up if he plays), but I don’t expect Torain to be discarded altogether. Hightower averaged just 3.5 yards per carry through the first four weeks of the season to open the door for Torain’s breakthrough.
I’m anticipating a heavy dose of the running game against the heretofore miserable Philadelphia run defense (140 yards and a touchdown allowed per game). Torain rates as a strong RB2 option this week.
Week 6 Ninja Alerts
Donald Brown, IND at CIN: Delone Carter received the glory touch in place of Joseph Addai and scored in Week 5, but Brown was the more efficient tailback (eight carries for 38 yards). Addai is expected to miss Sunday’s tilt against the Bengals, thereby opening the door for a workload split.
Carter is also “Ninja”-worthy in this context, but my gut says that the former first-rounder still amasses 10-12 touches.
Ryan Grant, GB vs. STL: James Starks is still the top option in Green Bay, but Grant represents a sneaky Flex or RB3 option. The Packers are expected to pile up a mountain of points against the 31st-ranked St. Louis defense. As a result, you’re looking at a heavy dose of the running game in the second half to salt away the victory.
Earnest Graham, TB vs. NO: Graham pops onto the radar as a mid- to low-end RB2 pick this week with LeGarrette Blount sidelined because of a knee injury. His main value comes in the passing game. It should be noted, however, that Graham is also nicked up following Sunday’s loss at San Francisco.
Keep an eye on Kregg Lumpkin. Lumpkin caught six balls in the blowout loss and may take on a larger role alongside Graham.
Mark Ingram, NO at TB: The 49ers turned to the power running game and obliterated the Buccaneers in Week 5. Gerald McCoy will reportedly miss this contest, thereby giving Ingram to grind away between the tackles.
The Saints still rank among the league’s highest-scoring units, but the red zone attack has been inefficient (14 FG attempts). I anticipate a double-digit touch count and an end zone plunge from Ingram this week as the Saints lean on the Tampa Bay front.
Stevan Ridley, NE vs. DAL: Ridley was a hot pickup after scoring touchdowns in back-to-back games for the Patriots in tandem with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Fantasy owners then watched Ridley assume a minimal role in Week 5while Green-Ellis ran wild (136 yards and two touchdowns). Green-Ellis sustained a toe injury that is being dismissed as of this writing, although injury news out of New England always has to be taken with a grain of salt. Keep an eye on Green-Ellis’ status on Sunday morning. Ridley represents a strong goal-line option in what promises to be a high-scoring home affair.
Week 6 Flop Alerts
Jahvid Best, DET vs. SF: The Chicago run defense parted like The Red Sea and made Best a star, if only for a moment, in Week 5. Best ran untouched for an 88-yard touchdown in Monday’s win over Chicago, a single run that topped his previous career-high mark in a game (76 yards was his previous career mark).
I’m not anticipating a repeat performance against this strong front seven in San Francisco. The 49ers cede just 76.4 yards per game to opposing runners and have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. Hope for a long run or some action in the passing game, but Best is no better than a lower-end RB2 this week.
Steven Jackson, STL at GB: Longtime readers know of my affinity for Jackson as one of the few remaining workhorses in the new-look NFL. However, there isn’t much to love this matchup against the Packers. Perhaps the Bye week helped to solve some of the team’s early offensive woes (and to heal his quad injury), but this is a difficult spot for Jackson.
The 31st-ranked St. Louis defense will have its hands full with Aaron Rodgers and the robust Green Bay passing game. As a result, Jackson’s touch count will likely take a hit. Find some comfort in the fact that he caught four passes in the Rams’ Week 4 loss, but he’ll scuffle against the Green Bay run defense that allows 75.8 yards per game.
DeAngelo Williams, CAR at ATL: I know. I got excited about Williams’ 69-yard sprint to daylight last week after tabbing him a “Start” in the video series for the site. However, that single run accounted for the bulk of his output (115 yards overall) and he touched the ball only nine times. With Cam Newton effectively serving as the Panthers’ goal-line back, Jonathan Stewart’s value has been muted. Williams is a non-factor in the passing game and has not carried the ball more than 12 times in a game this season. I can’t bank on the big run against Atlanta’s eight-ranked run defense (89 yards and 0.8 touchdowns allowed per game).