Week 6 saw some major news on the injury front, most notably from Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb. The talented Packers receiver fractured his right fibula and will likely miss the next 6-8 weeks. It is a big blow for fantasy owners, who probably used a third to fourth round pick to acquire the talented slot receiver. At least he was hurt in game action though. The Pittsburgh Steelers traded a conditional pick to the Arizona Cardinals for T Levi Brown in the hopes that he could stabilize their offensive line. He hurt his triceps in warm-ups and the same injury that kept Brown out of action in 2012 is going to send him to the IR in 2013 before he even plays a down for the Steelers.
Still there are plenty of healthy players in the league. If you are looking for some help with who to start and sit this week, here are some excellent choices.
Start of the Week
Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard – Bernard has been an excellent addition to the Bengals offense. He is gradually seeing more carries, as last week he tallied 15 rushes and seven receptions. He currently ranks 12th among fantasy running backs, despite having only 60 rushing attempts on the season. His ability to catch passes and score four touchdowns in six games has helped maintain his fantasy value. It should only improve as the season progresses, as his workload is being increased by the week.
This week the Bengals travel to face the Detroit Lions. The Lions are currently the 26th ranked running back defense and have allowed five rushing touchdowns to go along with three receiving touchdowns to running backs in their first six games. I love Bernard to have a big week in Detroit. He is a RB2 with RB1 upside in this fantastic matchup.
Players to Start
New York Giants RB Brandon Jacobs – I hate chasing last week’s points, but the Giants running back tallied 22 carries for 106 yards rushing and two touchdowns against the Chicago Bears. Word out of New York is that RB David Wilson is likely to miss another 3-4 weeks with his neck injury. The only concern is that Jacobs tweaked his hamstring last week, but with 11 days of rest, he should be set to resume practice this week. He is a great flex option against the Minnesota Vikings, who allow the most points to fantasy running backs this season.
Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles – I may be jumping the gun on this one, but I do not see how QB Michael Vick starts this week. Tampa Bay has a good defense and Foles threw for 296 yards, three touchdowns, no picks and rushed for another touchdown. On deck are the Dallas Cowboys, who are the worst fantasy quarterback defense in the NFL. I think the Eagles go with Foles for another week and at home in this matchup he has QB1 upside. He is a great bye week replacement for New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, but you have to make sure he earns the start. If not, Vick is also an excellent start in this matchup.
New York Giants QB Eli Manning – It is becoming increasingly hard to play him with all the interceptions and low touchdown numbers, but the Minnesota Vikings are the second worst fantasy quarterback defense in the NFL and the game is in New York. I will not rate Manning as a QB1 this week, but he is a great QB2 that works as an injury replacement or a bye week substitute. That is how far Manning has fallen this season.
New York Giants WR Hakeem Nicks – Nicks is inconsistent and losing touches by the week to WR Reuben Randle. The Vikings allow the eighth most fantasy points to wide receivers. The theme of my Start / Sit article this week is starting your Giants if you have them. I think this is the week they earn their first victory and I think their offensive players shine in this game.
Miami Dolphins WR Mike Wallace – Wallace should benefit from an extra week of rest and goes against the second worst fantasy receiver defense in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills. I look for him to have solid WR2 value this week with WR1 upside. The Bills struggle to stop the deep pass, which is a Wallace specialty.
Philadelphia Eagles TE Brent Celek – The Dallas Cowboys have given up the fifth most points to fantasy tight ends this year. Head coach Chip Kelly explained Celek saw a decrease in snaps last week due to the Florida heat. Celek is a boom / bust TE2 play this week, but he has a good matchup and is a solid gamble for a bye week fill-in to New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham. If you need a flyer at tight end or have been using Celek as part of a committee, it could make sense to go with him this week.
Sit of the Week
Baltimore Ravens WR Torrey Smith – I hate to put a player on this list that is the 14th ranked fantasy receiver. That said, Smith has only one touchdown catch and is coming off a game where he had one reception for 12 yards. The Ravens inability to pass protect and throw the ball has made things difficult for Smith.
I also went back and looked at his history in this matchup. Last year, he had four receptions for 40 yards in two games against the Steelers. The year before that he was held catch-less in his first game and had five catches for 71 yards and one touchdown. Had it not been for the game winning touchdown, he would have finished with four receptions for 45 yards. He just does not have good games against the Steelers and the Steelers are ninth against fantasy receivers this year. Some of you will not be able to sit him, but if you have the depth at receiver, I would consider other options. He is a boom / bust WR3 play against the Steelers this week.
Players to Sit
San Francisco 49ers WR Anquan Boldin – Boldin has been very up and down this season and last week he caught only three passes for 28 yards and no touchdowns. This week, he faces a Tennessee Titans D that is fifth against fantasy receivers. I would keep Boldin on my bench again this week.
Jacksonville jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew – Jones-Drew has tallied 70 yards rushing in back-to-back games and scored a rushing touchdown against the Broncos last week. This is not a good week to go with him though; the San Diego Chargers allow the fewest points to running backs. He is moving up the running back rankings, but I would sit him this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell – The rookie did nothing against the Jets last week, tallying 16 rushing attempts for 34 yards. The Jets are the third ranked fantasy running back defense, this week they take on the Baltimore Ravens and their second ranked fantasy running back defense. I would sit Bell for another week.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith – The Houston Texans are a mess right now, but they still allow only the third fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks. Smith also has not thrown a touchdown in two weeks and has not topped 250 yards passing in those contests. I would sit Smith, even though the Texans are in free fall. It is not an appealing fantasy player in a terrible matchup.
St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford – Bradford had a great game last week, only because he threw three touchdowns and no interception. In the yardage department, he was terrible going for only 117 yards. The Rams go on the road to play a Carolina D that has allowed the second fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this year. They have allowed only four touchdown passes in five games and registered eight interceptions. I would leave Bradford parked on my bench this week; do not chase his three touchdown passes from last week.
Houston Texans TE Garrett Graham – I still think he will remain a borderline TE1 on an offense that loves to check down to the tight end. I just do not expect him to produce that way this week against a Kansas City Chiefs D that is the toughest in the NFL against the tight end. I would sit Graham this week and wait for an easier matchup.