Here we stand, after another crazy week of NFL football. In a week kicked off with Andre Johnson’s rise from the grave, with the help of 40-year old, bacterial infected, 6 IV’s later, Matthew Hasselback, to the conclusion of the week where we saw the beginning stages of a burial for Antonio Brown, it shows there is no shortage of surprises on a week to week basis in the NFL, and that is what makes this game so enticing. Per usual, we will cover this past weeks big-time performers, as well as some of those who underachieved. Furthermore, we will scour the waiver wire for players who you should be targeting to help fill in for those bye-week players you may have.
Week 6 Byes: Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 5 MVP’s
Allen Robinson- As a guy who I had touted all offseason as that mid-round WR who could have immense upside, Robinson seems to be proving just that. Robinson finished a Week 5 shootout against Tampa Bay with a line of 7/72/2, and is on pace to finish with over 1,200 yards, and double digit touchdowns. It seems the Jaguars are giving away free points to opposing teams through five weeks, forcing this offense to chuck the ball around more than they would like. Blake Bortles has seemed more than competent in doing so, and has made Robinson and teammate Allen Hurns top-20 WR up to this point. I can not remember a time when the Jags had four fantasy relevant players (Bortles, Hurns, Robinson, Yeldon) since about a decade ago, with Brunell, Jimmy Smith, Keenan McCardell, and Fred Taylor.
Deandre Hopkins- Can you imagine if Hopkins had consistent QB play throwing him the football? Another game fetching balls from the carousel that is the Houston QB position, and he still finishes with an 11/169/0 statline. Hopkins has truly joined the upper echelon of fantasy WR, and if we were drafting today would easily be in the top five at the position. Hopkins has run a whopping 33 more routes than any other WR so far this season, and it does not look to be changing. He continues to see massive amounts of targets and is on pace for 134 catches. If he can stay healthy all season, there is no reason he can’t finish as the number one fantasy WR. When you take into consideration Antonio Brown’s drop-off without Big Ben, Julio’s always naggging injuries, Demaryius bogged by Peyton’s demise, Dalton’s willingness to spread the ball to players other than A.J Green, and Dez’s broken foot, we are looking at a player who can finish atop the leaderboard at the respective position.
Honorable mentions include Andre Johnson rising from the dead, finishing with a 6/77/2 line against his former team. Hear me out on this comparison. Andre was that 40-year-old dating that young and smoking hot 25-year-old (Andrew Luck), but the love and chemistry just was not there because the difference in maturity level. He just needed to date somebody his own age (Matthew Hasselback) to get that chemistry going and be the guy we all thought he was going to be. Nevertheless, I bet you everyone who drafted Johnson had him fully entrenched in bench-mode, or dropped him before last week. Next, is a guy who is fully deserving of being on this list on a week-to-week basis and never receives any love: Julian Edelman. For a guy who is going to catch a hundred balls and fall into the end zone 8-plus times, he was not drafted as a player with that output in mind. It could have been the looming suspension of Brady that never happened? Regardless, this guy has not put up a dud so far this season and has scored no less than 16 points in a PPR thus far. Straight GOLD in that format.
Week 5 Busts
Mike Evans- What a tough pill to swallow for owners of Mike Evans. In a game that saw 69 total points scored, arguably the most talented offensive weapon on both teams ended up with a 3/41/0. Evans just did not look like himself on the field Sunday, and with the effectiveness of the Buccaneers ground game, Winston was only forced to throw the ball 19 times. Fortunately, for Evans owners, they have a bye this week, and he will look to get fully healthy. Assuming the Buccaneers do not turn their fortunes around and will play from behind for the bulk of the season, expect Evans and teammate Vincent Jackson to have better days.
Antonio Brown- We knew the Big Ben injury would hurt the value of Brown, somewhat. Although, I must admit, I did not see it being this bad. The last two weeks with Vick at the helm, Brown has a total of 8 catches for 87 yards. These are numbers that Antonio can compile in one half with Ben throwing him the football. Even when Vick was shining with the Falcons early in his career, or when he played well with Philadelphia, he was never a guy who was going to give you big numbers for your wide receivers. Brown was not even targeted in the second half, until the Steelers second-to-last drive that saw Marcus Wheaton go for a 72-yard catch and run. Big Ben is going to go through some 7-on-7 drills and could come back next week against the Chiefs, but for now you have to temper your expectations and hope he finds the end zone, as he will not be seeing volume.
Honorable mentions include Demaryius Thomas, who seems to have fallen victim of Peyton Manning’s jello arm as he flutters ducks left and right for defenders to eat up. Thomas will still remain in the WR1 category because he is still third in total targets, and fourth in the league in the rate of targets per route run with a healthy 31.9 percent. Another candidate here is Calvin Johnson, who has also been doomed by erratic play by his QB Matthew Stafford. Going forward, Megatron’s schedule gets really juicy, so he is a nice buy-low candidate. Mark my words.
Allen Hurns- It seems like this guy will keep making this list until further notice. As the Jags defense has trouble stopping teams, Bortles will be forced to air it out more often than not, and teams can not double him because their main priority is slowing the other Allen (Robinson) in this offense. He has three straight games with a touchdown, and back-to-back games with 115-plus yards.
Eric Decker- Obviously Brandon Marshall is the number one receiving option in this offense, but Decker could be in for a good game against an injury riddled Washington secondary. Decker has found the end zone in three out of four games this year, and after Sunday, I would not be surprised if he makes it four out of five. Who would have thought, he has a better quarterback situation at the moment in New York, rather than playing with the struggling Manning in Denver.
Anquan Boldin- Now this is a risky play, yet can very well pay off. If Kaepernick can play like he did the second half of their contest against the Giants, Boldin can be in line for a big day against his former team the Ravens. The Ravens have given up 285 passing yards a game to there opponents, and that number would be even loftier had they not faced a reeling Michael Vick led Steelers unit. When Kaepernick is on his game, Boldin is his obvious first choice, as he has 37 targets, nearly double any other 49er WR. Coming off a game where he went 8/107/1, I can see a similar stat line for Boldin at the conclusion of their contest against the Ravens.
Honorable mentions include Kamar Aiken, especially if Steve Smith is forced to miss another game. He would be Flacco’s number one target, and they just missed connecting on a couple of long balls last week that could have inflated his 4/78/0 line. Another guy taken off my waiver list last week is Willie Snead. In a Thursday night contest against the Falcons, this game could turn ugly, quickly, for New Orleans, and Brees will be heavily reliant on his new favorite pass catcher. Although the matchup presents some problems as Atlanta’s secondary has played well, this is more a product of game flow and situation. You Snead some upside? Start Em’.
Again these are players who usually would be starters for your teams going into any given week, but if you have any other intriguing options, it may be better to look their way.
Jordan Matthews- Sam Bradford, Chip Kelly, and the Eagles seemed to start turning the corner a bit. They have gotten there running game going with Murray and Mathews, as well as thriving in the passing game. With that being said, its been players like Josh Huff, Riley Cooper, and Miles Austin putting up the numbers on the receiving end. Jordan Matthews was drafted pretty high this year, as he was pegged to be the number one option in Philly and see a ton of targets. Nevertheless, that has not been the case. In Week 4, eight players caught passes, and in Week 5 nine players did. Combine that with a tough matchup on MNF against a Giants defense that has only allowed two scores to WR, and you should be exploring other options.
Brandin Cooks- Lets divulge into a couple of different factors that qualify Cooks for this list. First of all, the UDFA Willie Snead has caught the attention of Drew Brees and fantasy players around the globe, as he has emerged as the number one option in New Orleans. Couple that with the mostly ineffective Drew Brees, and you are looking at a secondary receiver on a plodding offense. Furthermore, in years past, the matchup against the Falcons may have been advantageous for opposing wideouts, but that’s just not the case here in 2015. The Falcons have allowed the fifth-fewest points to the WR position, and would be ranked even better had they not given up a bunch of garbage time production to Deandre Hopkins in Week 4. On a short week, going against a solid secondary, it would be beneficial for you to be looking elsewhere.
Honorable mentions include Jarvis Landry, who has been a disappointment just like all of his other Dolphin teammates. Although, he may still get it done in a PPR setup, he is facing a daunting Titans secondary who has given up the second-fewest yards, and seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing WR. Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder (unless Desean Jackson returns) will be facing a tough Jets secondary featuring Revis and Cromartie. If Jackson sits out, Garcon will most likely draw attention from Revis. But even if Jackson plays, he would have a tough matchup with Cromartie. If Jackson does play, you can play Crowder, as he will avoid seeing a whole lot of Revis or Cromartie. It’s worth keeping track of if you are a Crowder owner. All in all, sit Garcon regardless of Jackson’s status.
Waiver Wire Picks
Not to toot my own horn here, but if you picked up any of the players listed in this section last week (Aiken, Crowder, or Snead) and spot started them, you faired pretty well in a week with a lot of big name disappointments. If any of those aforementioned players are still available I would advise you to snag them.
Brandon LaFell- LaFell could return in Week 7 from the foot injury that put him on the PUP list in the preseason. It’s not like the Patriots have missed him, but last year he did have 74 catches for 953 yards and seven touchdowns on 117 targets. He’s worth stashing now if you have an open roster spot.
Marquess Wilson- With the injury to Royal and the Bears yet to unleash Alshon, and seemingly in no hurry to do so, Wilson has been the main beneficiary. He is a big target like Jeffery, standing at 6-foot-4 with above average speed. Cutler has looked his way often in the past two weeks, totaling 12/165/1 on 17 targets, and coming off a great game against the Chiefs as he finished with 6/85/1. If Jeffery and Royal continue to miss time. Wilson is a must add in all formats.
Dwayne Harris- Geeze, we are really getting into the knitty-gritty now. Harris could be the No. 1 receiver for the Giants if Beckham and Randle somehow miss Week 6 at the Eagles. Beckham is expected to play, but Harris did well in Week 5 against the 49ers, finishing with 6/72 on eight targets. He had 5/51/1 on six targets in Week 4 at Buffalo. Even if both Randle and Beckham do go against the Eagles on MNF, this will be a fast paced game with a ton of passing, and Harris will still get looks.
If anybody dropped Andre Johnson in your leagues, feel free to acquire him if you have space on your roster. We will surely see if the revenge game against his former team was a fluke or not in the coming weeks. His two-touchdown performance came from the arm of Hasselback, and with Luck set to return, we will watch for Johnson to emerge from the shadows of Hilton and Moncrief. Remember, Johnson had 7 catches for 51 yards on the season prior to his resurgent effort. This attempt of a pick-up is more of a hope that it just took him five games to get acclimated to this offense, rather than father time doing his due diligence.
Bold Predictions for Week 6
Last week, I finally hit on one of these when I said that Andre Johnson would find the end zone. Otherwise, I’ve been pretty off with these. But that’s why they are called BOLD predictions. So lets keep the outlandish mindset here and fire off a few far-fetched predictions.
Minnesota hands Kansas City their fifth loss, because Adrian Peterson…no wait, backtrack. Because Mike Wallace scores twice and finishes with 6/98/2.
Thursday Night Football is relegated to be the night of the new Walking Dead, where Roddy White finds himself in the end-zone catching Matt Ryan’s only touchdown to a WR, and vultures it away from Julio Jones. (Because we know Freeman will probably score another three touchdowns.)
What-Sanu in Cincinnati? What’s new is the Bengals continue to be undefeated as Dalton throws TD passes to A.J Green, Marvin Jones, and Mohammed Sanu.
Even though the Packers face a stingy Chargers secondary, James Jones finds himself in the end zone twice, but doesn’t have a huge day in terms of catches or yardage.
So that is where we stand for Week 6 and going forward. If you have any lineup questions or need advice for your waiver moves you can find me on twitter @zaksauer
Good luck to all.
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@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.