Fantasy Football Week 6: Versus Decision-Maker
Sorry about your Thursday night, optimistic Rashard Mendenhall owners. Ol’ Mendy toted the ball just six times in the Steelers’ shocking defeat at the hands of the Titans, totaling six whole yards before leaving the game with an Achilles injury. Isaac Redman randomly picked up 105 yards receiving before injuring his ankle in the third.
The five people on earth that own Baron Batch in fantasy were rewarded nicely, as he randomly scored a TD after being forced into duty. RELATED: The five people on earth that own Baron Batch in fantasy are probably Baron Batch’s immediate family members. And possibly Baron Batch himself.
Chris Johnson appeared to not be a corpse for the second time in three weeks (encouraging!) as he ran for 91 yards on 19 carries against a once-vaunted Steeler run defense. So, his two best games this year have come against intimidating Texans and Steelers defenses. With the horrendous Bills up next on the schedule, he’ll probably go back to being terrible again. Such is life.
Let’s go through a few other matchups for week six:
Peyton Manning (Broncos) vs. Alex Smith (49ers)
Three years ago, could you have imagined in your wildest dreams that Peyton Manning vs. Alex Smith would one day be an actual, legitimate fantasy football quandary? MADNESS.
Manning, despite the Broncos’ struggles as a team, has actually been a highly-productive fantasy QB so far this season, and he’s probably gotten you somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 points in four of five games thus far. He’s also topped 330 yards in each of the last three games. Manning also hasn’t thrown a pick since week three.
Alex Smith hasn’t been as consistently productive, if for no other reason than San Francisco has a more balanced offense than does Denver, and the 49ers have found themselves playing with comfortable leads for the majority of the season to this point. However, he exploded in the 45-3 thrashing of the Bills last week, topping 300 yards with three touchdowns.
Manning faces the Chargers on Monday night, while Smith takes on the Giants at Candlestick late Sunday afternoon. Both are favorable matchups.
Of the two, I’d say Manning has more upside here. He seems to have developed a great rapport with his new batch of receivers (it would probably help if Demaryius Thomas would stop fumbling at the end of long gains, though) and the Monday night matchup has the makings of a good, old fashioned, (additional cliche) back-and-forth AFC West shootout, buckaroos. Yee-haw!
Smith also has a sprained finger on his throwing hand.
Mikel Leshoure (Lions) vs. Shonn Greene (Jets)
Leshoure followed up his breakthrough effort in his debut (26 carries, 100 yards, TD) with a predictable stinker (13 carries, 26 yards) the next week against a tough Minnesota run D. The Lions are coming off the bye and are facing the Eagles Sunday.
Shonn Greene has been absolutely horrible in every game except for the opener against the Bills. He hasn’t even run for over 40 yards in any game since. He’s just terrible.
However, since the Jets seemingly have zero other running backs worth a shot, either, Greene is still New York’s primary ball carrier, which (unfortunately) makes him a fantasy factor. The woeful Jets will be facing an Indianapolis front that can be run upon, and Greene should see a solid workload with the team’s offense having been ravaged by injuries.
Leshoure is completely healthy now, and should take the majority of the carries back away from Kevin Smith. The Eagles gave up over 130 yards on the ground to the Steelers last week, so there’s some upside here.
I’ll give the nod to Leshoure as a decent play as an RB2.
Michael Turner (Falcons) vs. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Bengals)
There isn’t a much more inappropriate nickname than Michael “Burner” Turner. Seriously. He’s got to be pushing 300 by now. But nevertheless, the big, bruising Falcons back has been highly productive with four touchdowns in the last four games.
Green-Ellis was a complete non-factor in last week’s loss to Miami for the Bengals, carrying nine times for just 14 yards. He’ll be going up against a Browns defense that gave up over 200 yards on the ground last week to the Giants, so there’s reason for optimism here, of course.
Atlanta has been more pass-happy this year under their new offensive coordinator, and it’s cut into Turner’s reps. He hasn’t carried the ball more than 18 times in any game, and he’s also sharing a few of the carries with Jacquizz Rodgers. Fortunately, with the awful Raiders coming to town Sunday, Turner likely won’t need many carries to do his usual damage.
Go with “Burner”.
Wes Welker (Patriots) vs. Jordy Nelson (Packers)
Wes Welker’s 2012 got off to an inauspicious beginning after catching just three passes for 14 yards in the opener against the Titans, but since then, he’s gone back to doing Wes Welker-y type things. He caught five passes for 95 yards in week two, and has picked up no fewer than eight catches or 104 yards in any game since. Last week, he caught 13 passes and found the end zone for the first time this season.
Nelson, on the other hand, has struggled mightily following his massive 2011 season. He was very good with eight catches for 94 yards with a score in week four’s win over New Orleans, but that was bookended with a pair of two-catch games. His production has been massively hindered with the absence of Greg Jennings, as opposing defenses shift their focus to him, instead.
That’s why I’m saying you need to ride the hot hand and keep your faith in Welker here. Nelson is due for a big game or two, but why risk going away from Tom Brady’s most trusted target?
Miles Austin (Cowboys) vs. Michael Crabtree (49ers)
Dez Bryant has been getting the majority of the targets from Tony Romo, but that hasn’t stopped Miles Austin from putting together a decent season so far. He’s scored in three of the Cowboys’ four games so far, and is going up against a Baltimore secondary that can absolutely be thrown upon.
Crabtree was one of several 49ers to have a huge game last week against the Bills, topping 100 yards with a touchdown. He has at least six catches in four of the five games this year, and appears to have finally found his niche in the San Francisco offense. The matchup against the Giants shouldn’t be scaring you, as I mentioned above regarding Alex Smith.
With the woeful interior of their offensive line, I’m not expecting much from the Cowboys’ rushing attack going up against Haloti Ngata and company, so they’ll have to do their damage via the pass. It’s a tough decision, but I’m confident in Austin.
Dennis Pitta (Ravens) vs. Scott Chandler (Bills)
Pitta was a hot waiver wire pickup following a strong showing in his first three games of the year, racking up 18 catches with a pair of touchdowns. In the two games since, though, he’s caught just three passes (all last week) for 22 yards. Ugh.
Chandler, as he showed last season, is one Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite targets in the red zone. He’s caught four touchdowns already this season, including two a couple of weeks ago against the Patriots.
You’d better hope Chandler finds the end zone, though, because if he’s not scoring touchdowns, he’s not giving you much else in terms of yardage. I’ll go with Chandler here, just because he seems to have a more defined role in the offense than does Pitta for the Ravens.