Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Filling in for the great James Ferguson in this week’s column. I shall do my best to meet his golden standard for fantasy selections.
Week 6 byes: Atlanta & Miami
Games with powerful fantasy appeal (Vegas total set at 47 or above): GB/BALT, JAX/DEN (Broncos -26), NO/NE, WASH/DAL and IND/SD
Put me in coach
QB: Mike Glennon –The Bucs are coming off a bye in week five giving top receiving threat, Vincent Jackson, a chance to heal his bruised ribs. In fact, Jackson is no longer listed on the injury report. Glennon was less than stellar in his debut – 24/43, 193 yards, 1 TD/2 INT – and particularly awful in crunch time. However, the Eagles defense will be a breath of fresh air in comparison to the Cardinals talented unit. Glennon struggled in the face of pressure, but the Eagles have the worst rated pass rush in the NFL. He should be able to utilize his big arm for some deep shots against Philly’s putrid, mistake prone coverage that’s allowing 326 yards per game. This is a risky play with potential for tremendous fantasy reward. UPDATE: WR Mike Williams is INACTIVE. Stance on Glennon softened..
RB: Stevan Ridley & Alfred Morris – Both downhill backs are expected to return in week six, albeit Ridley is less of a sure thing despite practicing on Wednesday. Ridley has resided near the top of the “bust rankings” so far, but he possesses the talent to get his mojo back in short order. Due to a dearth of weapons on the outside, the Patriots need to establish the run game. This is particularly critical against the Saints who are allowing 5.4 yards per rush.
Morris torched the undisciplined Cowboys for 313 yards and four touchdowns in their two meetings last season. Robert Griffin says he feels “rejuvenated”, which means a more effective read option and a bigger day for Morris.
WR: Stephen Hill – In weeks three and four, the Steelers gave up passing plays of 41, 51 and 70 yards. Hill isn’t a refined route runner, but he has elite vertical speed to rip off similar chunk gains. He was only targeted twice on Monday night at Atlanta (both completions on the game-winning drive), but in the previous four weeks he was targeted 7+ times. Again, weigh the risk/reward.
TE: Tyler Eifert – The Notre Dame product has caught up with veteran Jermaine Gresham when it comes to snap count. He’s played at least 40 snaps the past two weeks, catching 8 balls for 92 yards. The Bills bottled up Jordan Cameron nicely in week five, but I wouldn’t expect a similar outcome with A.J. Green occupying double and triple the attention. There should be plenty of opportunities to test the middle of the defense.
I’ve seen better plays
QB: Matthew Stafford – This is not a recommendation against Stafford specifically, but the Detroit WR’s are a mess. Calvin Johnson is participating in practice on Thursday on a “limited basis” and will clearly not be 100% for Sunday. Behind him the weapons are Kris Durham, Patrick Edwards and Ryan Broyles; against the Cleveland pass rush and Joe Haden? No thank you.
RB: Le’Veon Bell – Bell is slow to accelerate and the middle of the Jets front is stout. Bell ran for two touchdowns in his first taste of NFL action in week four, but he was held to 3.6 yards per rush with a long of 11. His fantasy value is reliant on goal line productivity and this is not a prime matchup.
WR: Josh Gordon – Despite getting burned by the big play last week at Green Bay, overall the Lions have graded out as a solid coverage defense (6.1 according to Pro Football Focus). They should have a healthier version of cornerback Chris Houston on the field this week as well. Gordon is freakishly dynamic with the rock and is certainly a viable #3 WR play. However, depending on Brandon Weeden to deliver him the ball against the Lions pass rush is reason enough for caution. Weeden is as trigger shy as they come.