TE Notes: On a team with Julio Jones and Roddy White, it’s impressive that Gonzalez leads the Falcons in targets (47) through five games. Call me crazy, but he’s actually playing better at age 36 than he was two years ago. … Vernon Davis leads all tight ends in fantasy points per target. … Antonio Gates is in the bottom 10 at turning targets into fantasy points. He’s due for a breakout game against a Broncos defense allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Owen Daniels is third among tight ends in receptions, yards and fantasy points. He’s a TE1 until we have reason to believe otherwise. … Aaron Hernandez will be a top-three option most weeks, but it’s a good idea to exercise a bit of caution in his first game back against arguably the NFL’s top defense. Check back Friday afternoon to ensure that Hernandez has the green light this week. No one at the position has a better matchup this week than Heath Miller, who faces a Titans defense allowing nearly two scores per game to opposing tight ends. … Rudolph is a good bet to find paydirt against a Redskins defense trailing only the Titans in fantasy points surrendered to tight ends. … Pitta is a good bounce-back candidate. … Celek’s targets take a tumble whenever Jeremy Maclin is healthy, but the matchup is enticing versus a Lions defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Fred Davis is third in yards and second in receptions among tight ends the past three weeks. … Pettigrew is healthy, but the Eagles have shut down tight ends so far. … Jacob Tamme’s 27 targets are second only to Tony Gonzalez the past three weeks, but he’s an afterthought in the red zone. … Drop-prone Jermichael Finley is headed toward a game-time decision versus the Texans. Backup D.J. Williams is a deep-league option if Finley can’t go. … Dustin Keller is expected to return this week, though Martellus Bennett’s (knee) status is up in the air.
Sunday Updates: Dropped Hernandez from 7th to 12th, as he could be limited to less than half of his normal snaps. Dropped Finley again, as he's 50-50 to play through a shoulder injury. Packers backup D.J. Williams is questionable with a hamstring injury.
Week 6 Defense/Special Teams
Week 6 Kickers
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. Week 6 Running Backs
RB Notes: Dynasty leaguers could reasonably argue that Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Trent Richardson are the three most valuable players in the league. All three are in the top-five in fantasy points at their respective positions through the first five weeks of their careers. Already the team-leader in targets (and third in the NFL among running backs), Richardson’s role is expected to be expanded to include all of the third-down work this week. Even with Ahmad Bradshaw’s career game, it was obvious last week that Richardson was the most explosive offensive player on the field. He’s here to stay as a no-brainer RB1.Chet Gresham tells us that Arian Foster has 33 targets + touches in the red zone. … Keep an eye on Bryce Brown curbing LeSean McCoy’s touchdown potential. Brown has taken roughly half of the snaps inside the 5-yards line. … Most of Jamaal Charles’ Week 5 production came on misdirection counter and stretch plays. The Ravens had no answer. … The Chargers may not be using Ryan Mathews correctly, but he does have eight targets in two of the past three games. The top three rushing performances of Mathews' young career have against the Broncos, his Week 6 opponent. If the Falcons have a team weakness, it’s consistency in the run game on both sides of the ball. Darren McFadden should be fine after the Raiders took an extra week to iron out the zone-blocking issues. … Adrian Peterson is third in the NFL in carries inside the 5-yard line. The touchdowns will come; buy now if possible. … I whiffed on Alfred Morris after Week 1. He’s legit. A power back with ideal vision and footwork, Morris could threaten 1,500 rushing yards this season. Behind the most dominant offensive line in football, the 49ers are averaging 6.1 yards per running play. Since the 1970 merger, only the 2006 Falcons have averaged more per carry over the first five games. … With Mendenhall sidelined, the Steelers’ three-game total of 195 rushing yards was the franchise’s lowest after three games since 1950. The Titans allow the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing backs. In consecutive weeks, the Patriots have posted the two biggest rushing performance of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era. Stevan Ridley had 14 carries for 85 yards in the no-huddle, proving that he’s not bench-bound in favor of Danny Woodhead out of that formation. He’s the first Pats back to top 100 yards in back-to-back weeks since Laurence Maroney in 2007.I didn’t like what I saw out of Doug Martin entering the bye week. LeGarrette Blount has shown more acceleration and playmaking the past two games, and now coach Greg Schiano is talking up a committee attack. … Bradshaw is the most obvious sell-high in fantasy coming off a career game. The Giants know he is best suited as a committee back, and the career-high workload could have repercussions for his chronic ankle and foot problems. It should also be noted that the coaches are talking up an increased role for David Wilson once again.Outside of his fluky 60-yard screen pass, Turner is averaging 1.0 yard per reception. … Green-Ellis hasn’t had a run over 20 yards in two years. He’s essentially been mired in the decline years of Clinton Portis’ career. … Fred Jackson has drawn slightly more snaps and touches than C.J. Spiller in the Bills’ committee attack, but the latter is the better bet for a big play at Arizona. Jackson has been downright slow since rushing to return from his knee sprain. Powell’s matchup couldn’t be better, but we have doubts that the Cardinals will run effectively at any point this season -- Bills defense or not. … Chris Johnson’s snap-count has dropped in four consecutive weeks. Before his contract extension, he had 34 rushing touchdowns in 47 games. Since then, he’s scored four times in 21 games. He’s been the same back all season -- hesitant, powerless and ineffective in space behind a turnstile offensive line.Steven Jackson is facing the league’s best run defense. How are the Rams going to move the offense without Danny Amendola? … Coach Mike McCarthy has “no time” for a running back competition, so Alex Green will get the first shot to replace Cedric Benson between the 20s. The Texans allow the 26th-most fantasy points to opposing backs, and the Packers pass (or hand the ball to John Kuhn) at the goal line. Week 6 Wide Receivers
WR Notes: Julio Jones just missed on three downfield strikes versus the Redskins that would have made him fantasy’s high point scorer for the week. He’s now facing a Raiders secondary that has been destroyed by Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace, and the Broncos receivers. … A.J. Green draws the Browns just in time for the return of shadow corner Joe Haden. That’s the matchup of the week.Demaryius Thomas’ talent level is on par with Jones and Green, and the Broncos have been utilizing him in similar fashion to Julio with a heavy reliance on bubble screens and slants while sprinkling in a few shots down the field. … Reggie Wayne is this year’s Steve Smith, an aging receiver revitalized by a dazzling rookie quarterback. Wayne’s total of 506 yards this year is the best four-game stretch of his career. Former teammate Edgerrin James expects Wayne to threaten Marvin Harrison’s single-season receptions record (143), and the NFL’s target leader is on pace to do so. Over the past three weeks, Wes Welker leads the NFL in receptions and yards and is second to Larry Fitzgerald in targets. His three consecutive 100-yard games has tied a career-high. That will be put to the test against Seattle’s speedy, physical secondary. … Jordy Nelson got open versus the Colts, but Aaron Rodgers had a hard time putting the ball on his hands. Nelson will bounce back, but he has a tough matchup on paper versus Johnathan Joseph, who may be extra motivated after getting worked by Jeremy Kerley on national television. Andre Johnson has just two red-zone targets all year. It certainly didn’t help matters that Jets defensive backs were flat-out mugging him Monday night. … Vincent Jackson can identify with Johnson’s mugging. His 42.1 percent reception rate is the worst among the NFL’s top receivers. Stevie Johnson is the only consistently targeted member of the Bills passing attack, but he’s yet to top 61 yards in a game this year. He will see plenty of Patrick Peterson on Sunday. … Lloyd’s targets have dipped to coincide with the Pats’ emphasis on the run game. It’s a brutal matchup this week versus Seattle’s physical corners. … Crabtree has been targeted between 7-9 times every game. It’s what he does with those targets that determine whether it’s a good fantasy day or not. The Giants linebackers aren’t as pathetic as the Bills’ poor-tackling group. At Indy, Aaron Rodgers had a perfect passer rating on throws to Randall Cobb, who leads all NFL receivers by converting 88 percent of his targets into catches. Among receivers with 100+ snaps, only six have a better YAC/reception rate than Cobb’s 7.7. He’s in the slot at least until Greg Jennings returns from his groin injury. Rice’s fantasy production is down in large part because Russell Wilson is the NFL’s least effective red-zone QB. … Kenny Wright’s snaps dropped last week with Kenny Britt back in the lineup. Now that Britt is close to full health, that trend should continue. … Jeremy Kerley is tied with James Jones for most fantasy points per target this year. With nine targets versus the Texans, he’s clearly the Jets’ No. 1 receiver. There’s WR3 potential with two months worth of garbage-time stats on the horizon. … Justin Blackmon, on the other hand, is the worst in the NFL at turning targets in fantasy points.
Sunday Updates: Dropped Pierre Garcon, as he's still hindered by the foot injury. Check back around 3:00 p.m. ET for an update on Garcon's status if you had planned to start him. Small matchup bumps for Andre Johnson, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, and Stevie Johnson.
Week 6 Tight Ends