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Fantasy Football Week 6 Preview: The Good, the Bad, and the Sleepers

Tis the season to be jocking

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If you're losing, must start shopping

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Andre Johson, he just screwed me

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Thanks to Britt I am now losing

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See my defunct 3 straight losses

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Its like I'm starting Jimmy Clausen

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I'm shutting down the league, If I don't win

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Changed my team to "Screw Ted Ginn"

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The Five Sleepers

5. Mark Sanchez versus the Dolphins

I have never hidden the fact that I dislike Mark Sanchez.  Not to imply that I have a personal problem with him, he could be a fine gentleman, but I think that his quarterbacking skills are overrated and that eventually he'll get booted out of New York, start somewhere else for a year or two, then spend a long time as a backup.  He's improving in his third year and his improvements so far are resulting in a QB rating of 80.4 and he'll probably never be a 4,500 yard passer or a 30 touchdown guy.  He is what he is.

That being said, I put Sanchez here last week and he threw a couple of touchdowns without a pick.  This week he faces a Miami Dolphins defense that 31st in the NFL in passing defense with only two interceptions in four games.  The last time Sanchez faced the Dolphins he didn't throw a TD, but in his first three career games against them he had 6 TD and 0 INT.  I expect him to throw for 250 yards, 2 TD and 0 picks.  If you're scrambling for a Philip Rivers replacement, you could give Sanchez a shot.

4. Percy Harvin versus the Bears

It seems as though the Bears should have one of the toughest defenses in the league because they are the Bears, but they are 27th against the pass and they've allowed the most completions in the NFL this season.  Harvin has struggled to get out of the gate with just 183 yards and 0 TDs, and Donovan McNabb has been perhaps the worst QB in the league, but this could be the right opportunity for Harvin.  And you never know, Christian Ponder is going to start getting the snaps sooner rather than later.

3. James Starks and Ryan Grant versus the Rams

I almost never recommend the Packers running backs because they are inconsistent, split carries, and they've combined for 1 TD all season long.  However, drawing the Rams at home, the leagues worst rushing defense, could spell blowout and both Starks and Grant could get some decent work in.  Starks has gotten the majority of the carries this year, and I would recommend him over Grant, but Grant could be a decent option if you are desperate.

2. Redskins offense versus the Eagles

The Redskins bread and butter to a 3-1 start this season has been a defense ranked third in points against and sixth in yards against.  Their offense is only 22nd in points per game behind the QB play of Rex Grossman but they draw a great matchup at home against Philadelphia this week.  The Eagles have given up 11 TD passes this season, 2nd most in the NFL, they are 30th in rushing defense, 26th in scoring defense and 15th in total defense.  Grossman only has 6 TD passes in four games, but he could add two or three more on Sunday, which is good news for Fred Davis, Santana Moss, and even Jabar Gaffney.  It should also be a good day for the hotly picked up Ryan Torain.

1. Reggie Bush versus the Jets

This is a tough one because I am fully aware of the struggles of Reggie Bush this season and how quickly he has fallen out of favor in Miami and with fantasy owners.  He's averaging only 3 yards per carry and has just 1 TD on the season.  Starter Daniel Thomas has been struggling with injuries all season and has been limited in practice again with a hamstring injury.  The Jets seem like a stout defense because that's what we've come to expect of the Jets but they are 26th against the run and have allowed the 2nd most rushing TD's in the NFL this season with 8.  Always wanting to be in the spotlight, Bush could also get an extra shot of motivation from playing on Monday night.  You'll hear his name said 246 times by the announcers, even if he fails to get a touch.

The Five That Struggle

5. Joe Flacco versus the Texans

Flacco really wanted everybody to know that he was more than a game manager and emphatically stated that he'd step to the next level this season.  Instead, he's competing less than 50% of his passes, and while he's beaten up on bad pass defense, he's been pretty much dominated by any team with a decent pass defense.  The Texans are sixth against the pass this season and have five interceptions in five games.  The only wild card with Houston is the injuries.  After losing Mario Williams for the season, the injury report this week looks like this:

Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Derrick Ward, Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones, James Casey, Bryant Johnson, Jason Allen, Brandon Harris, Kareem Jackson, Brice McCain, Sherrick McManis, DeMeco Ryans, Tim Dobbins, and Antonio Smith.  Not all of those players are out, obviously, but that's a lot of banged up guys and almost all of them intergral to the success of this team.  Thats FIVE cornerbacks by the way.

It's hard to say how well the Texans will do on Sunday, but they've done pretty well so far this season, having allowed less than 200 yards in four of five games, Drew Brees being the only exception.

4. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and other Patriots RBs against the Cowboys

Green-Ellis had a breakthrough game last week putting up 136 yards and 2 TDs on the Jets.  I know a lot of people don't like Green-Ellis but his 18 rushing TDs since the start of 2010 is the most in the NFL.  That may not happen this week as he draws Dallas and the #1 rushing defense in the league.  The Cowboys are allowing 61.8 yards per game, 3.1 YPC, and only 1 rushing TD against all year.  They're coming off of a bye week and healthy and I'd expect this to be a Tom Brady day, not a BJGE day. 

3. Arian Foster versus the Ravens

Who will win the battle between perhaps the leagues top rusher versus one of the leagues fiercest defenses?  I pretty much always go with the defense in a case like this and frankly I'd be worried for Fosters health again.  Foster was limited in practice with a quadriceps injury and he'll be limited on Sunday against a rushing D thats allowing 72.5 yards per game and has only given up a single TD on the ground.  Bench Foster if he's healthy?  Doubtful.  But this is not a good matchup.

2. Brandon Marshall versus the Jets

Captain Obvious here with another lesson for you kids: How many obstacles does Brandon Marshall have to face before you start someone else?  Darrelle Revis? Check. Matt Moore as the QB?  Check.  Jet's allowing the least about of passing TD's in the league?  Check.  It's going to be a bad Monday night for Marshall.  Not as bad as Hank Williams Jr, but still pretty bad.

1. Jahvid Best versus the 49ers

I've shown my affection for Best and the Lions many times, but this may not be his best day.  No pun intended, total accident!  But he hasn't found the end zone much this year and the San Francisco have not let a running back rush into the end zone all year long.  They're allowing 76.4 yards per game on the ground and 3.6 yards per carry.  Best's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield will help his value some, but the Lions will instead exploit the 23rd ranked passing defense and it should be a good day for Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson

The Five That Shine

5. Cedric Benson versus the Colts

I feel like I've put Benson on this list a number of times and he's failed to really blow up.  But I'm nothing if not stubborn.  Benson hasn't scored since week 1, but he draws a Colts rushing D ranked 31st that has also allowed 6 scores on the ground.  Benson keeps escaping a suspension and its really been frustrating to watch the commissioners office move so slowly on this, but the outlaw rides again.  The Bengals aren't a half-bad team in my opinion, they'll win this game, and Benson will lead the way at home.

4. Dez Bryant versus the Patriots

He was able to fully participate in practice and the Cowboys top wide reciever will get to suit up and play against the team that's allowed the most passing yards in the league.  I don't know that the Patriots are really the leagues worst passing defense, but because of their style of play and the way that teams play against them, they've given up the most yards.  It's also worth noting that they've intercepted the most passes, so while I like Tony Romo, I don't like him as much as I like Dez Bryant, and Miles Austin who is also probable to return.

3. Drew Brees versus the Buccaneers

Like Chicago and New York, the Bucs are a team known for defense that is actually struggling in some areas of defense.  Tampa, coming off their worse loss of this year and many other years, is 20th against the pass, and they've allowed 9 TDs against just 2 INTs.  Also, this just in across the newswire: Drew Brees is good.  How does 400 yards and 3 TDs without a pick sound?  If it doesn't sound good, lower your expectations man.  I know the NFL is setting a lot of passing records this year, but settle down.

2. Michael Turner versus the Panthers

The best thing Cam Newton provides Carolina is a distraction from the fact that their defense isn't very good.  Carolina is 27th against the run and 22nd in rushing TDs allowed.  Since taking over as the starting running back in Atlanta, Turner has scored 9 TDs in six games against Carolina and I expect him to score twice and put up over 100 yards for the first time since week two.

1. Ahmad Bradshaw versus the Bills

The Bills certainly are good this year, right?  I mean, they're 4-1 and in first place in the tough AFC East so they must excel in all facets of the game, correct?  Welp, let me tell you something: Buffalo is 30th in total defense.  They're 15th in scoring defense.  They're 29th against the run.  They've given up 5 rushing TDs.  And they've got a lot of defensive players listed on the injury report this week. 

The Bills haven't allowed less than 100 rushing yards in any of their five games this season, and now they travel to New York.  The Giants had no fun at home last week against the Seahawks, but the Seahawks have a good rushing defense.  The Bills don't.  Bradshaw will get probably 90% of the carries with Brandon Jacobs still hurting.  He's struggled a bit this year, but I expect him to have a very nice day against the Bills, even if the Giants offensive line hasn't been very good this year.  Bills defense has been worse.

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As always, here are more notes and thoughts:

  • Fans of the Lions and 49ers are both really excited for their teams unexpectedly hot starts, but inevitedbly one fanbase is going to come away disappointed after the 4-1 Niners travel to the 5-0 Lions.  But don't fret fans.  Neither of these teams are going to miss the playoffs because the Niners division is too bad, and the Lions team is too good, even if they are destined for a wild card.  I think the Lions are going to move to 6-0.
  • The Giants will rebound and both them and the Bills will be 4-2 after Sunday.  I expect a lot of good fantasy days to come out of this game.
  • If the Eagles lose at Washington, we can stop any playoff talk, and it shouldn't exist at this point anyway.  But if they win, people will start to wonder and speculate on if they can rebound to 5-5 or 6-6 and rally for a wild card berth.  I don't think that's going to happen and I don't think they'll be happy after facing a Redskins defense thats 8th against the pass and 6th against the run.  Vick will score 3 times and turn it over 3 times.  LeSean McCoy will have 100 total yards.  DeSean Jackson will do nothing.  Jeremy Maclin will have 2 TDs. 
  • Blaine Gabbert gets to face the Steelers on Sunday.  Since their embarassment in week one against the Ravens, the Steelers are allowing 13.5 points per game and overall have vaulted to 2nd in total defense.  Gabbert against the Steelers is like David versus Goliath, but I think what people always fail to understand is that 99 times out of 100, Goliath breaks David's arms and legs and answers life's ultimate question of "Does it taste like chicken?"  Underdog stories are great, but they are only great because of their unlikeliness to ever come out good for underdog.  The only thing that could make it interesting is that the Steelers are dead last in the NFL in turnover ratio at -11.  They've forced only two turnovers on the year and have coughed it up 13 times.  Gabbert should turn it over twice, and reach about 150 yards.
  • The Falcons draw the Panthers at home.  It seems like the Falcons should be good and that the offense should be explosive, but it's just not and they aren't.  Their defense isn't good, their offense isn't great and their win over Philadelphia seems so silly in retrospect.  They're pretty close to being 0-5 with near losses to the Eagles and Seahawks after already losing to a team like Tampa Bay.  Now they draw a 1-4 Carolina team that is desperate for another win and a hungry Cam Newton that needs to prove he's more than just an all yards, TD machine.  If the Falcons lose this game, they're done.  Not good news that Julio Jones is out.
  • Will the Rams knock out the Packers and knock out everybody remaining in survivor?  No.
  • In the "Did that game really take place? I didn't even notice." Game of the Week, Cleveland travels to Oakland.  Has Peyton Hillis really fallen that far out of favor this quickly?  The Madden Curse used to mean that a star player faced injury, and this year its just "Meh, we don't really like you anymore.'  His attempts per game went up, but his production is down across the board.  Montario Hardesty hasn't actually performed that much better in limited duty, but perception will always be that the backup is better.  Hold on Hillis, don't panic.  He fell out of favor in Denver too before becoming the Madden cover boy in Cleveland.
  • As far as the Raiders go, is Darrius Heyward-Bey finally breaking out?  Well, it would have been awesome to see what he would have done against rising superstar Joe Haden, but he's unlikely to play. 
  • What team is going to be in worse shape if they lose on Sunday: The Cowboys at Patriots or the Texans at Ravens?  If the Texans fall to 3-3, they'll fall out of first to a bye week 3-2 Titans team.  But we know for a fact that the only team they have to beat out this year in the South is the Titans, and how good are they really?  The Cowboys would fall to 2-3, but aren't they actually more talented than Washington and Philadelphia?  Their only competition would be the Giants and they wouldn't be far behind them.
  • If the Saints beat the Bucs and the Panthers beat the Falcons, I feel we can all but wrap up a division title for New Orleans.  None of those three other teams have what it takes to overcome a two or three game defecit to the Saints.
  • The Vikings play the Bears on Sunday night.  Sunday night.  We need to start this rescheduling games for national TV thing much sooner than what we already do.  This could be the worst game of the week.
  • Then of course the 0-4 Dolphins play the 2-3 Jets.  The Jets have lost three straight games and they just barely beat Dallas in week one.  Their only other win came over the Jags.  The Jets need to win this game because five of their next six games come against an opponent that is either in or tied for first place in their division. 
  • In the Suck for Luck sweepstakes, I still like either Miami, Jacksonville, or Indianapolis to "win" that race.  Miami will draft a QB in 2012 even if its Matt Barkley, but Jacksonville or Indy would probably fill other needs if they don't pick first.  For teams like Seattle and Kansas City, teams that are still looking for a "Quarterback of the Future" it would be bad news if Miami wound up with anything other than the first pick because other teams selecting after 1 would be more likely to trade down and nab extra draft picks.
  • Enjoy the games, follow me on twitter if you please, and good luck!