NFL Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Week 6 (cont.)
Lions -- Matthew Stafford, Mikel Leshoure, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Jason Hansen: This doesn't register as a great time to expect a rebound from your struggling Lions -- the Eagles are among the best vs. quarterbacks (fifth), running backs (11th), receivers (15th) and tight ends (fifth) -- but these options rate as solid starts against almost any opponents.
Eagles -- Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, Alex Henery, Eagles D/ST: The Lions, like the Eagles, are not necessarily a defense to try to exploit in fantasy, especially against the run (fifth-best in fantasy vs. running backs). These options should all be immune to the matchups during the bye season, though. Celek might be a question mark, but he has the best matchup of the group. The Lions have averaged the fourth-most points allowed to tight ends to date. Maclin proved healthy last week, so get him back in lineups, too.
Lions -- Joique Bell, Titus Young, Nate Burleson, Tony Scheffler, Lions D/ST: The Eagles might not be an opponent to rest studs against, but they are good enough to ignore these stopgaps this week.
Eagles -- Bryce Brown, Jason Avant, Darnaris Johnson, Clay Harbor: Save for Brown as a McCoy handcuff, these guys should stay off fantasy rosters, much less out of lineups.
Chiefs -- Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe: This isn't a great week for must-start Chiefs, but Charles and Bowe have proved worthy against good defenses. Keep them active, even if Matt Cassel (concussion) cannot play. The Bucs are third-worst in fantasy vs. wide receivers.
Buccaneers -- Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers D/ST: Martin has slipped after a hot start, but he should rebound here against the Chiefs, who are in the bottom 10 of fantasy vs. running backs. Jackson also has must-start status, despite the Chiefs secondary ranking in the top 10 against receivers. Josh Freeman and Mike Williams aren't great options in this matchup, but they are at least serviceable ones if you're in need of stopgaps due to byes or injuries. The Bucs defense has been surprisingly good, especially at home, so consider them a streaming option if you need a sleeper D/ST this week.
Chiefs -- Brady Quinn, Peyton Hillis, Shaun Draughn, Jon Baldwin, Steve Breaston, Tony Moeaki, Ryan Succop, Chiefs D/ST: Hillis (ankle) likely won't play and the rest of these guys are big question marks with Quinn expected to be under center with Cassel out.
Buccaneers -- LeGarrette Blount, Dallas Clark, Connor Barth: The Bucs say they want to get the ball to Blount more, but until they do, he's not a reliable fantasy option. Clark and Barth might be later on during the bye season, but don't trust them right now.
Bills -- Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, Stevie Johnson: The Cardinals are the sixth-best team in fantasy vs. running backs, but Jackson and Spiller owners should let out a huge breath now that the 49ers run defense is in the rear view on the schedule. Jackson and Spiller will be more productive, if only because the Bills re-affirm the best chance they have to move the ball. Johnson is a go against a Cardinals defense that is in the bottom half of fantasy vs. WRs to date.
Cardinals -- Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Cardinals D/ST: This is easily the Cardinals' best matchup of the year, but this trio represents the lone trustworthy options. Kevin Kolb is too up-and-down to completely trust, despite the Bills being the worst team in fantasy vs. quarterbacks, and the running back situation is still unclear, despite the Bills being the second-worst team in fantasy vs. running backs. William Powell might start, but if La'Rod Stephens-Howling plays, he might outscore Powell. Use Kolb and those two backs as needed. Lastly, the Bills are fourth-worst in fantasy vs. receivers, so the surprising Roberts is good start in deeper formats, especially three-receiver leagues.
Bills -- Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tashard Choice, Donald Jones, T.J. Graham, Scott Chandler, Rian Lindell, Bills D/ST: Last week should have taught you the Bills are going to be frustrating options on the road against a good defense. The Cardinals qualify. Jones is someone to watch if this game gets loose, but it is more likely the Cardinals play down to their competition here.
Cardinals -- Alfonso Smith, Michael Floyd, Early Doucet, Jay Feely: Floyd is the only one worth owning in fantasy and he's far too inconsistent in an inconsistent offense to dare starting him right now.
Patriots -- Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots D/ST: The Seahawks currently have the No. 1 defense in the NFL, performing No. 1 vs. quarterbacks, No. 4 vs. running backs, No. 6 vs. receivers and No. 4 vs. tight ends in fantasy. Seattle's victory over Green Bay at home was impressive, even if not referee-aided, but the Pats own the best offense in the NFL right now and takes the no-huddle to a whole new level. Keep the top-tier Pats fantasy stars active, including the defense, which gets to pin its ears back against a shaky rookie quarterback.
Seahawks -- Marshawn Lynch: The Pats defense is suspect in some respects, especially vs. quarterbacks (second worst), but it actually is in the top 10 vs. running backs in fantasy. Still, Lynch cannot be benched; he is too important to his team's offense and his fantasy owners. Russell Wilson should be able to post some numbers, despite his struggles, but don't use him, Sidney Rice or Golden Tate unless you're desperate.
Patriots -- Brandon Bolden, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez: The backup running backs aren't a great play against a very good Seahawks run defense, while Hernandez is a question mark due to his ankle and Lloyd is facing a very good secondary. These guys should be owned, but this might be one of their most unfavorable matchups of the year. Seattle's 12th man is tough at home. Ask the Packers.
Seahawks -- Doug Baldwin, Zach Miller, Steven Hauschka, Seahawks D/ST: The Seahawks defense will have better weeks than this one. They held up against the Packers, but the Pats present far more diverse challenges. Miller has the best matchup of this lot -- the Pats are second-worst against tight ends -- but Wilson just isn't functional enough as a downfield passer to trust any of these secondary Seahawks.
Giants -- Eli Manning, Victor Cruz: This is the only week of the year to be pessimistic about the Giants offense. It wasn't good in Philly and it could be worse in San Francisco, especially if Hakeem Nicks (foot, hip) does not play. Nicks is a risk, even if he does. Despite facing the defense that is No. 6 in fantasy vs. quarterbacks, Manning should be good for 250 yards and a score or two, so keep him active if you don't mind those numbers from the quarterback position this week. Cruz figures to be heavily targeted in the short routes and maybe a shot or two deep, if the Giants can get some protection for Manning.
49ers -- Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, David Akers, 49ers D/ST: The Giants' defense shouldn't scare anyone off the red-hot 49ers. Even Mario Manningham, facing his former team, is a decent option against a banged-up secondary that is seventh-worst in fantasy vs. receivers. Most of these guys are must-starts at home, regardless of the matchup. Smith is a nice stopgap at the quarterback position, coming off his 300-yard, three-score week.
Giants -- Ahmad Bradshaw, David Wilson, Andre Brown, Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden, Rueben Randle, Martellus Bennett, Bear Pascoe, Lawrence Tynes, Giants D/ST: These guys can be fantasy stars in some weeks, but against the 49ers they shouldn't be touched. Bradshaw is the toughest sit, coming off his 200-yard performance. The 49ers are No. 1 in fantasy vs. running backs and No. 1 vs. receivers, too.
49ers -- Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, Anthony Dixon, Randy Moss, Kyle Williams: These guys can be factors in some blowout weeks like the past couple, but this doesn't figure to be one. The Giants are going to keep it close and they guys should have a minimal impact on the game.
Vikings -- Christian Ponder, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Kyle Rudolph, Blair Walsh, Vikings D/ST: The Redskins are third-worst in fantasy vs. quarterbacks and tight ends and the worst against receivers. This should be a good week for the Vikings offense, including their hot rookie kicker. The defense is more of a risk in a game that should be a shootout, but they have proved solid against the likes of the 49ers and Stafford's Lions. They remain one of the top 12 units to start this week.
Redskins -- Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, Fred Davis: These starts are all contingent on RGIII's health. We should expect him to play, so Garcon and Davis start as well, while Morris has earned must-start status. If Kirk Cousins starts, we might only like Morris.
Vikings -- Toby Gerhart, Jerome Simpson, Michael Jenkins: The Vikings are expecting Simpson to play with a back issue, but he was blanked against the Titans and is difficult to trust, along with these other also-rans.
Redskins -- Evan Royster, Ryan Grant, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, Aldrick Robinson, Kai Forbath: These guys might eventually be fantasy worthy in spurts this season, but they aren't worth owning right now.
Packers -- Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Mason Crosby: This is one of the few weeks to be wary of the Packers. The loss at Seattle wasn't that poor of a fantasy day for them, but this one might be worse, especially with the question marks around health at running back, receiver and tight end.
Texans -- Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Shayne Graham, Texans D/ST: Johnson is the only real question mark, coming off his quiet Monday night performance, but the Packers are 11th-worst in fantasy against receivers to date.
Packers -- Alex Green, James Starks, Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley, Packers D/ST: Green should start with Cedric Benson on the designated-for-return IR, but he will be facing a Texans defense that is in the top-10 in fantasy vs. running backs. Jennings (groin) is a risk if he plays, while Cobb is a sleeper but the Texans defense is tough and the targets just haven't been consistent. Finley is dealing with injury, too, and the Texans are the seventh-stingiest team vs. D/STs.
Texans -- Matt Schaub, Ben Tate, Justin Forsett, Kevin Walter, Keshawn Martin: Schaub had a frustrating performance against the Jets last Monday, so the safest course of action is to bench him, even if the Packers are in the bottom 10 of fantasy vs. quarterbacks. The Texans' backups are intriguing in more favorable matchups, but should be avoided here.
Broncos -- Peyton Manning, Willis McGahee, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Matt Prater: You shouldn't need a compelling argument to start Manning any longer, but the Chargers are 10th-worst in fantasy vs. quarterbacks. It should make for a productive week for the entire Broncos offense, including Jacob Tamme and maybe even Brandon Stokley if you need sleepers as stopgaps.
Chargers -- Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews, Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates, Nick Novak: While the Broncos defense is better than it has shown in a brutally tough early-season schedule, there isn't anything that should keep you from starting these primary Chargers. Gates, who has been a huge disappointment, should be given a go against a Broncos defense that has been ninth-worst in fantasy against tight ends. Even Robert Meachem might be viable. Start Novak at kicker, too, in Nate Kaeding's (leg) absence.
Broncos -- Ronnie Hillman, Lance Ball, Knowshon Moreno, Joel Dreessen, Broncos D/ST: This should be a shootout, but none of these options are consistent enough to own in fantasy, much less start right now.
Chargers -- Jackie Battle, Eddie Royal, Chargers D/ST: Battle might still get carries and goal-line touches, but the Broncos' run defense is a lot better than the middle of the pack unit it has performed like to date. Royal can be a sleeper in deeper leagues, but he and the Chargers defense just aren't high enough in this week's rankings to warrant a look.
For those of you that play in salary-cap games, here is the lineup we would advise:
QB -- Matt Ryan
RB -- Shonn Greene
RB -- Frank Gore
WR -- Larry Fitzgerald
WR -- Demaryius Thomas
TE -- Antonio Gates
FLEX -- Michael Turner
K -- Mike Nugent
D/ST -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Think you have a better lineup? Challenge me with it on Twitter @EricMackFantasy.
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. Track his weekly starts and sits every Thursday, his Scouting Report on Friday and his Fantasy Fast Forward on Sunday nights. You find also him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice or challenging him to a head-to-head fantasy game @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).
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