Week 6 of the NFL schedule will get going Thursday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to take on the Tennessee Titans. It’s also a pivotal week for fantasy football owners to try and keep their teams on a successful track, or on the flipside turnaround a negative trend.
As I have done in this space each week to this point, I will recommend players fantasy owners should see some upside in (“Studs”) and show the downside in those that may not reach their potential this week (“Duds”).
Here are my “Studs and Duds” for Week 6.
Stud- Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Schaub went 14-for-28 for 209 yards with one touchdown and one interception last week against the New York Jets, and he now has seven touchdown passes over the last three games. A favorable matchup is coming in Week 6 against the Green Bay Packers, who have allowed over 800 passing yards in their last two games and have only intercepted one pass total in their last three games. In fact, outside of four interceptions of Jay Cutler in Week 2 against the Chicago Bears the Packers have only intercepted one pass in their other four games combined. Schaub’s fantasy upside is always kept in check by the Texans’ running game, but this looks like a week they may have to open up their offense a bit in what could be a high-scoring game. He makes for at least a solid low-end QB1, and any fantasy owner that has carried him as their backup should consider him a solid bye week fill-in.
Dud- Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
When we last saw Romo he was throwing five interceptions in Week 4 against the Chicago Bears, but he did throw for more than 300 yards in the game. Week 6 brings what could be a tough matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, who despite allowing at least 320 passing yards to an opposing quarterback in three straight games from Week 2-Week 4 have only allowed two passing touchdowns this season. The Ravens have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season (10.4 per game, ESPN scoring), and would be even better if not for a rushing touchdown allowed to Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles back in Week 2. It’s possible Romo will rebound from Week 4′s dismal performance coming off a bye, but there is significant downside here if his offensive line struggles to protect him and he can’t avoid mistakes.
Stud- Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
A Week 5 bye may have come at a good time for McFadden, as he has just one game with more than 50 rushing yards so far this season. Even that one game is deceiving, as he has a 64-yard touchdown run against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3 that helped propel him to 113 yards on the ground in that contest. But things have a chance to turn around in a big way in Week 6 against the Atlanta Falcons , who are 27th in the league against the run (142.8 yards per game) and have allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs (17.8 per game, ESPN scoring). The Raiders should run the ball plenty as they try to keep the Falcons’ offense off the field, and McFadden should also have a significant role in the passing game if they have to abandon the run at some point. Fantasy owners may not have much faith in him right now, but “Run DMC” is a legit RB1 with upside this week.
Dud- Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
Ridley has 256 yards and three touchdowns on 50 carries over the last two games, and now has three games with more than 20 carries and over 100 rushing yards on the season. Continuing that production level will be a big challenge this week against the Seattle Seahawks, who have allowed just 7.2 fantasy points to opposing running backs (ESPN scoring) and have not allowed more than 55 yards to an individual rusher in any of their five games. If the Patriots struggle to run the ball on Sunday, they will most certainly adjust quickly and look to throw the ball more. That would lead to smaller role and perhaps fewer snaps for Ridley, as he has just five receptions this season. Ridley is still the most consistent fantasy option in the New England running back mix, but this would be a week to consider benching him if you have other options.
Stud- Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
Despite what can be mildly considered lackluster quarterback play to this point, Bowe has been productive with 28 receptions for 349 yards and three touchdowns over the last four games. Brady Quinn will start under center for the Chiefs this week in place of Matt Cassel (concussion), but it’s hard to ignore a favorable matchup for Bowe against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers (31.3 per game, ESPN scoring) and the second-most total receiving yards (1,076) to the position despite having a Week 5 bye. If nothing else, Bowe is clearly the Chiefs’ top pass receiver and Quinn should look his way often on Sunday. With wide receivers like Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith and Marques Colston idle this week, Bowe has the makings of a must-start and at worst a WR2 with upside.
Dud- Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
Wayne had 13 receptions for 212 yards and a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers in Week 5, and has been the most targeted wide receiver in the NFL (60) despite only playing four games. It will be a big challenge to continue that momentum against the New York Jets in Week 6, as the Jets have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points (ESPN scoring) to opposing wide receivers thus far. Even with Darrelle Revis out, Antonio Cromartie has seamlessly stepped into being responsible for the opposition’s top wide receiver and is coming off holding Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans to one catch in Week 5. Wayne’s target total may drop significantly this Sunday as the Jets should make keeping him in check a priority, so lackluster production stands to follow suit.
Stud- Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
Miller did not catch a touchdown for the first time this season last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, but he did have four catches for 41 yards in the game to salvage some fantasy value. A very favorable matchup is on the slate this week against the Tennessee Titans, who have allowed by far the most receptions (46), yards (456) and touchdowns (eight) to opposing tight ends this season. Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should look his way often on Thursday night, particularly in the red zone, and if the running game struggles a nice overall target total could be coming. Simply put, there is little downside here for any fantasy owner looking to take advantage of a favorable matchup for a tight end.
Dud- Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
Pettigrew has been very productive so far this season, with at least five receptions in three out of four games and at least 61 yards in those same three games. But reports this week suggest he is dealing with some sort of injury ahead of what looks to be a tough matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends (4.0 per game, ESPN scoring), though it’s fair to mention the group of tight ends they have faced are not exactly stellar. Pettigrew looks on track to play Sunday at this point and is a top option in the Lions’ passing game, but any lingering effects of whatever is ailing him only adds to the downside here.
Review of Week 5 “Studs And Duds
Stud- Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens- 13-for-27 for 187 yards, one interception; three carries for 14 yards
Dud- Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers- 12-for-29 for 141 yards; seven carries for 42 yards
Stud- Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks- 21 carries for 85 yards; 1 reception for nine yards
Verdict: Low End Stud
Dud- Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars- 12 carries for 56 yards; one reception for three yards
Stud- Eric Decker, Denver Broncos- four receptions for 21 yards, one touchdown
Verdict: Low End Stud
Dud- Andre Johnson, Houston Texans- one reception for 15 yards
Stud- Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons- 13 receptions for 123 yards, one touchdown
Dud- Martellus Bennett, New York Giants- three receptions for 30 yards