Updated Week 6 RankingsSunday, October 14, 2012
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Fantasy owners are up there with sabermetricians when it comes to the habitual second-guessing of strategy and management. As stathead guru Bill James famously reminded us over a decade ago, though, we should be fair before we criticize.
Football and baseball organizations make thousands of decisions a year, from VP of operations to draft picks to designing and calling plays. James pointed out that asking “Is this the way I would have done this?” isn’t fair because we will not be able to form a comprehensive picture of the organization. “You cannot hold 7,000 decisions in your mind while you think them through,” explained James, “so what you inevitably begin to do is pick and choose those which serve to advance your prejudice.”
This maxim is even more true in football than baseball because we have no access to film rooms, meeting rooms or game plans.
That being said, chalk one up for 2011 Percy Harvin fantasy owners, who second-guessed not only the receiver’s low snap count but also coordinator Bill Musgraves’ lack of creativity. Coach Leslie Frazier acknowledged that it took echoed Harvin praise from coaches around the league before it dawned on him that his toughest player to defend should be the offensive focal point. "As I heard that, I made a note to myself," Frazier said. "I have to find a way to keep him on the field more."
Through five weeks of NFL Game Rewind, the three most dominant players I’ve seen have been J.J. Watt, Tom Brady and Harvin. The toughest player in the NFL to tackle, Harvin is already gaining notice as a darkhorse MVP candidate.
Credit Musgrave for the epiphany to utilize Harvin’s speed, physicality, elusiveness, athleticism and versatility with creative play-calls, taking advantage of the league’s most dangerous player in space. As Chet Gresham pointed out this week, Harvin already has 48 targets compared to just 26 at this point a year ago. His red-zone touches have doubled as well. Harvin has more than lived to our preseason expectations of a “slump proof” fantasy stud.
Week 6 Quarterbacks
QB Notes: Matt Ryan has the unique good fortune of facing the defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in consecutive weeks. His 18 game-winning, fourth-quarter or overtime drives are the most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2008 -- and the most by any QB in his first five seasons in the Super Bowl era.
Peyton Manning is second among QBs in fantasy points. After failing to complete a pass 20 yards downfield in his first two games, he has since gone 7-of-13 on such throws. … If Griffin gains clearance from doctors, he should be in your fantasy lineup. … One hypothesis for Michael Vick’s turnover-strewn first five games: He appears to be a step slower, allowing defenders to get cleaner hits. It’s a theory that will be given more weight if Vick can’t exploit the Lions’ secondary.
The Patriots’ Oregon-style uptempo no-huddle offense produced 77 rushes and completions in the win over the Broncos. NFL teams typically aim for a total of 50. Brady’s MVP-caliber play will be put to a stiff test against a Seahawks defense that has allowed just two QB scores through five games. Brady won’t be able to run as much no-huddle in what is arguably the best home-field advantage in the league.
Start your Steelers. The Titans are the first team since the 1954 Chicago Cardinals to allow 30+ points in each of five games to start the season. … The 49ers may have a shut-down defense, but the Giants offense is no slouch. Eli’s unit has gained 1,877 yards over the past four games, the highest total over any four-game span in franchise history.
Luck is on pace for 4,832 passing yards, which would shatter Cam Newton’s rookie record of 4,051. It took five years for the Falcons and Ravens to trust Ryan and Joe Flacco to operate out of the no-huddle as a major component of the offense. Luck ran the no-huddle on roughly 80 percent of the plays in the Colts’ upset victory over the Packers. Interim head coach Bruce Arians believes Luck’s development -- aided by a photographic memory -- is ahead of Peyton Manning’s as a rookie.
Ponder will have to throw to beat the Redskins, a defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing QBs. … Dalton has been lucky versus a soft schedule; that YPA rate will plummet. … If there was ever a week to gamble on Kevin Kolb, this it. The Cardinals have no running game with their top two backs sidelined, and the Bills’ 1,201 yards allowed the past two weeks is the highest total since the 1950 New York Yanks. … Tannehill may be playing well, but the matchup is nasty. The Rams are limiting opposing QBs to a passer rating of 66.6, allowing just two touchdowns in five games.