Fantasy: Matchups to avoid or exploit in Week 6

Justin Boone,
10/11/2012 11:27:10 AM
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As you prepare to set your lineup each week,'s NFL Editor Justin Boone breaks down some of the less obvious matchups you should capitalize on and those you should steer clear of for the weekend games.

For specific lineup decisions, consult the Weekly Fantasy Player Rankings.


Andrew Luck (at Jets) - Four games into his career, Luck has shown us that he's going to be a staple on fantasy rosters for the next decade. Luck has taken the defibrillator to Reggie Wayne, and returned him to WR1 status, both in real life and fantasy. Luck has also thrown for over 300 yards in three of his four outings and has averaged two touchdowns per game on the season (seven passing, one rushing). The first overall pick has shown incredible poise, leading his team to a 2-2 record, and has already had his bye for anyone considering rolling with him the rest of the way. Now, Luck gets to take on the Jets, who are coming off a short week after getting beat up by the Texans on Monday Night Football. Get Luck in your lineup and enjoy the results.
Christian Ponder (at Redskins) - I almost put Kevin Kolb in this slot, since he gets the luxury of facing the charity that is the Bills' defence. However, I couldn't bring myself to recommend starting Kolb as a QB1. Ponder has shown a veteran presence in the pocket, despite this only being his second year. Ponder will also benefit from a weak opponent, as the Redskins lead the NFL in most passing yards allowed. Hopefully you planned ahead for Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Jay Cutler's bye weeks and you already have Ponder on your roster and ready to do an admirable job as the perfect one-week replacement.
Tony Romo (at Ravens)
- The Cowboys may have had their bye in Week 5, but that wasn't enough time to make us forget about the five-interception performance he dropped on Monday Night Football against the Bears. Chicago may have one of the better defences when it comes to turnovers, but the Ravens are equally adept at stealing the football and that doesn't bode well for Romo. Ed Reed will have his eyes in the backfield all day long and unless the Cowboys used their week off to resolve some of their pass protection issues, you can be sure Reed will get his hands on the ball. The only thing Romo will be able to brag about after Sunday is that he got to visit the city where they filmed The Wire.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (at Cardinals) - It seems like just last week, Fitzpatrick had thrown the most touchdowns in the entire NFL and the Bills' offence was creative enough to put points on the board every week. A visit to San Francisco can change things in a hurry. Fitzpatrick had one of his worst days as a Bill, throwing for 126 yards and a pick, with no touchdowns to speak of. Fitzpatrick also averaged a mere 4.8 yards per attempt. The Bills spent the week in Arizona, preparing for a Cardinals defence that is also among the top units in the league. Fitzpatrick will get to right the ship next week against Tennessee, but for now, keep him secured to your bench.
Reggie Bush (vs. Rams) - Bush remains the main playmaker in the Dolphins' offence and against the Rams he will get a chance to earn yards. Rookie Ryan Tannehill is progressing as a passer, but the success of the Dolphins' attack revolves around Bush's ability to find running lanes and get the ball up field. The Rams dominated the Cardinals' rushers in Week 5, controlling the line and collapsing holes. The Dolphins' offensive line won't be so easy to manhandle and Bush might be in for a strong afternoon, bordering on RB1 numbers.
Vick Ballard (at Jets) - News broke on Wednesday that Donald Brown had a minor knee surgery and could miss up to three weeks, vaulting Ballard into the starting lineup. Ballard will lose some carries to Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore should return to the lineup and help out on third downs, but Ballard will start and likely see 15 or more carries. That kind of workload against the Jets' run defence makes him a low end RB2 or high upside flex play this week. Ballard isn't a dynamic talent, but his hardworking approach will fit well with Luck and the Colts' rejuvenated offence.
Ahmad Bradshaw (at 49ers)
- This spot should be reserved each week for the running back facing the 49ers' defence. Bradshaw is a tough runner, who will find little room to work with this week. I would go as far to suggest picking up his backup David Wilson, who is an explosive back that is a Bradshaw injury away from lighting up the league. Avoid the Giants' rushers in Week 6, but keep an eye on Wilson, especially if Bradshaw gets dinged up in this one.
Alex Green/James Starks (at Texans) - Cedric Benson is on the IR, and that leaves the door open in the Packers' backfield. Green and Starks will have first crack at the job, however it's more than likely that Mike McCarthy will go with a committee. Green is a better pass catcher, while Starks has handled early down duty for the Packers before. Either way, they will meet the Texans this week, and that is more than enough reason to take a wait-and-see approach here.

Malcom Floyd (vs. Broncos) - Floyd is quietly putting together a nice season, stepping into the role vacated by Vincent Jackson. If Floyd continues he will have more than 1,100 yards on the year. This week's matchup puts the Chargers in prime time on Monday Night Football, against an opponent they know well - the Broncos. In his lone meeting against Denver last season, Floyd had over a 100 yards and a score and it's those kind of numbers you should expect on Monday night. Antonio Gates has lost a step and Philip Rivers doesn't have another viable weapon in his passing arsenal. Floyd will give power to the Chargers' passing game and help you finish your week strong.
DeSean Jackson (vs. Lions) - So maybe Jackson wasn't lying when he said he held back last year, in fear he would get hurt and miss out on a contract. This season, Jackson has been the Eagles' best pass catcher, despite the struggles of the offence and his quarterback Michael Vick. Jackson is on pace for 76 receptions, 1,251 yards and three touchdowns. The touchdowns will come and that could begin this week, against the Lions' secondary that has battled injuries most of the season. The Lions are coming off a bye, but unless they gameplanned to specifically stop Jackson, he will beat them deep at least once.
Stevie Johnson (at Cardinals) - The Rams came out of the gates last week and challenged cornerback Patrick Peterson on the first drive of the game. They caught him off-guard and it ultimately led to a touchdown. After that Peterson returned to form and even made them pay later in the game with a red zone interception. This week, Peterson will match up with Johnson, who has yet to record more than 61 yards in a game this season. Johnson saved his fantasy owners in the first few weeks with touchdowns, but he's been held out of the end zone in the last two games and will struggle to find pay dirt Sunday.
Dez Bryant (at Ravens) - Prior to the bye week, Bryant may have had the ugliest 100-yard receiving game of the year. The Cowboys' receiver dropped balls, looked out of sync with the offence and often cut routes short. Bryant has all the skill in the world, but his dedication has been lacking and it shows on game day. On the road in Baltimore, the Cowboys will be facing a hostile crowd and an even more hostile defence. It's the kind of game that Dallas needs Bryant to assert himself in and it's exactly the kind of game he will fail to show up for.
Owen Daniels (vs. Packers)
- In a year where several tight ends have shown top 10 ability, Daniels has proven that you can rely on a veteran. Daniels has more than 70 yards receiving in three of the first five games and has caught a touchdown in each of the last three weeks. As the Texans' offence continues to be a run-first system, Daniels has remained relevant. Houston will need to open it up a bit more with the Packers coming to town and that will only help Daniels' stats improve.
Kyle Rudolph (at Redskins) - The Red Zone Reindeer has four touchdowns in five games, putting him on pace for double digit scores. The yards haven't been there, but that may change against the Redskins' porous pass defence. With Jerome Simpson nursing an injury, Rudolph should be called on more down field and Ponder has shown a connection with him. Do you believe the Vikings will be able to reach the end zone multiple times against Washington? If you do then it's hard to bet against Rudolph this week.
Martellus Bennett (at 49ers) - It's not so much the matchup with the 49ers that concerns me, it's the fact that Bennett admitted that he hurt his knee last week. Bennett laboured through the rest of the game, but wasn't nearly as effective as he has been this season. Bennett also missed practice on Wednesday. I assume he will play against the 49ers, however I don't think he will be as big a part of the passing attack. There are better options out there than Bennett.
Jermichael Finley (at Texans) - Reports are that Finley had a slight dislocation of his shoulder last week. Now he will miss practice until Friday at the earliest and may not even suit up this week. The Packers have a solid backup tight end in D.J. Williams and all things considered I'd be looking elsewhere for production this week, even if it is Williams.

Malcom Floyd (Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)


(Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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