Fantasy football Risers/Sliders: Week 6 (cont.)
Andy Dalton, Bengals -- Who had more yards than Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick and Tony Romo? Who has more touchdown passes than Eli Manning or Tom Brady and more 300-yard games than Matt Ryan or Robert Griffin III? It's Dalton, who, despite throwing an uncharacteristic three picks in losing to the Browns, managed to throw three touchdown passes for his fourth multi-touchdown game of the year. Only Ryan has more. Overshadowed last season by Cam Newton, Dalton is becoming a fantasy force himself and worthy of starting duty in place of some bigger yet struggling names.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks -- On Sunday Wilson became one of only four rookies to ever beat the duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, joining the ranks of Ben Roethlisberger, Mark Sanchez and Colt McCoy. While most observers see Wilson's future as much more likely to follow that of the latter two, he had the moxie of the former on Sunday, driving his Seahawks down for the game-winning drive that was capped with a 50-yard throw to a double-covered Sidney Rice in the end zone. His 293 yards and three touchdowns made Week 6 his best day as a pro. We wouldn't run out and grab him for his Thursday night matchup against the angry 49ers at Candlestick, he is possibly someone to consider as a bye week replacement against the Lions, Jets or Dolphins.
Alex Smith, 49ers -- On the heels of a magical outing against the Bills, when he threw for three scores and 303 yards, reality crept back into Smith's fairy tale, compliments of a determined Giants defense that picked him off three times while limiting him to 200 yards. Complicating matters a little more than most may believe is the emergence of Colin Kaepernick as a threat in the Wildcat offense. Unlike some more famous specialists in that formation (like Brad Smith or Josh Cribbs ... am I missing someone?) Kaepernick has a rifle arm and can beat his opponents just as easily passing as running. However, for now, Smith's job is safe in San Francisco for the time being, but any prolonged slump would lead to calls for the 49ers to turn to the player who just might be the future of that offense.
Matt Schaub, Texans -- As much as fantasy owners want to believe in Schaub as a borderline starter, the yardage and touchdown numbers are just not there. When the Texans are going well, Schaub is counted on to get an occasional deep look down field to Andre Johnson as well as some mid-range passes to Owen Daniels or Kevin Walter and short dump-offs to Arian Foster. Otherwise, his main job is to give the ball to Foster and Ben Tate and let Houston's expert zone-blocking line do what they do best. It's a winning formula (except Sunday night), but not if all you're looking for are fantasy stats. God on the field, not so on the fantasy scoreboard.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings -- Unless you have one of the big guns at tight ends -- Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis, Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham -- all you realistically look for on a weekly basis is a few catches for some yards and a touchdown, or just enough to get 10 points out of the position. Well, that's what Rudolph has been doing on a pretty consistent basis. In four of his last five games, Christian Ponder's favorite red zone target has scored at least once, totaling five scores over those games. He's becoming one of those automatic players that's hard to find in fantasy, where consistency is always a virtue. Rudolph is a must start.
Jermaine Gresham, Bengals -- As Andy Dalton ascends to the realm of the starting fantasy quarterback, one of the players rising with him is Gresham, who is benefiting from the Bengals' lack of a clear No. 3 receiving threat. Over the last four weeks, Gresham is third in receiving yards and yards per game (59.8) for tight ends, tied for fourth in receptions (18) and in touchdowns (2). He's not only someone who should be on a roster, he should be starting as at least a flex option.
Martellus Bennett, Giants -- We can give Bennett a pass for his invisible one-catch, nine-yard showing against the 49ers as he was needed to help protect Eli Manning from the likes of Justin Smith, NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis, but it's now been three games since the breakout tight end star of the first three weeks has made a significant contribution to his fantasy owners. The emergence of receivers like Domenik Hixon, Rueben Randle and Ramses Barden, and the ascent to the stratosphere of slot man Victor Cruz, isn't helping his case, nor is the sudden surge in rushing prowess for Ahmad Bradshaw.
Brandon Pettigrew, Lions -- Called out by Lions president Tom Lewand two weeks ago for his lackluster play, Pettigrew came back with another lackluster performance against the Eagles, catching just thee passes for 38 yards while his backup, Tony Scheffler, came up huge late in the fourth quarter and overtime with three crucial catches for 81 yards, the last of which got Detroit into Jason Hanson field-goal range on the game-winning attempt. Pettigrew has now gone three straight games without a touchdown and four of five this season. He's also catching less than 62 percent of the targets thrown his way, which ranks 23rd among the tight ends who've been thrown two at least 20 times, so there's neither quantity nor quality being delivered.
Ed Dickson, Ravens -- There was a time not too long ago that Dickson was viewed as the up-and-coming pass catcher among the league's young tight ends while his cohort, Dennis Pitta, was seen more as a complementary player. Well, the roles have sure changed now as Dickson looks lost as a receiver. On Sunday, Dickson made his seventh catch of the year for a total of 69 yards. That's one good Jimmy Graham half. He's officially off the radar.
Greg Zuerlein, Rams -- Sure, he's 0 for his last three kicks, but the fact that Jeff Fisher had the confidence for him to try a 66-yard potential game-tying field goal against the Dolphins on a breezy Miami afternoon bodes well for his owners who play in leagues who are rewarded for longer kicks. Just six games into his rookie season he's already halfway to the most 50-plus yard field goals made in a season (eight by Morten Andersen) and has tried six, which is more than halfway to the record for attempts, 11, set by Tom Dempsey and tied two other times. (Dempsey made just one of his 11 attempts).
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