Hey y’all.  Please note that where fantasy position ranks are cited: they were pulled from www.pro-football-reference.com’s NFL Fantasy Rankings. Also note that these are non-PPR rankings.  This list only includes Un-Restricted Free Agents (UFAs), it does not include Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFAs) or Antonio Brown (We can rank Tony once we see if his QB is going to be future HOFer Big Ben or future Gym Teacher Blake Bortles or someone in between, but don’t think either spot or any in between really changes his value much).

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As we mark the halfway point of the NFL season, many fantasy football outlets are performing mid-year reviews. While reflecting on early season analysis can be beneficial, I know you are more concerned about who to start this week for your starter that is on bye and what is going on with the multiple backfield injuries. This is what I am here to give you…

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The heart of bye season is upon us. Packers, Raiders, Seahawks and Steelers are all on bye this week. Chargers, Cowboys, Falcons, and Titans next week. Melvin Gordon owners, next week might be your opportunity to pick up your handcuff– Austin Ekeler. Your league-mates are scrambling to plug in holes and valuable assets are hitting the wire. I’ll keep my soap box brief this week since I wrote about this previously, just keep an eye on your leagues transaction report to see if you can find any loot.

I promised you names and we have plenty to give you for week 7. Enjoy!

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Well that was one hell of a ride. My Bills had Houston right where we wanted them. And Nathan Peterman just… just… just did Nathan Peterman things and threw a pick-6. I really shouldn’t have been surprised when it happened. He has to have done that at least 2847 times by now in his 396 day career. Before I go on a long tirade about how bad Josh Allen looked before he got hurt, let’s just take care of this game in its’ entirety.

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What’s going on everyone?! Welcome back to another edition of my “Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em” series, where today I’ll be diving into some very good, and very bad fantasy matchups for Week 6. Can you believe it’s already the 6th week of the NFL season?! Time flies when you’re having fun!

Let’s get to it!

*Note* – My Week 6 Rankings can be found here, and be sure to check out Rudy’s projections for this week here!

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If you saw the arguments this week on twitter, then you know there’s a question. Does defense matter for overall fantasy production? Most of the reason why people say defense doesn’t matter is because the way we measure defense is pretty terrible, and until we can measure true talent defense much better, the appearance of being a good or bad defense is super noisy and the amount of signal there is very very low. And in terms of how to predict the production for fantasy, teams vary what they do (and some teams do this randomly and are bad at it), and you would need to know what their scheme is and what player(s) they plan to exploit, and then the adjustments on the initial game plan come into play. If you have that information, first, please share it with me, and second, you’d probably be able to obliterate DFS (and Vegas, for that matter). But if you have that information, you’re not reading this article right now. So for those of you without it – let’s attack this slate with what we do know – namely, #NeverRun, offenses score points when they throw a lot, and one of the only ways we legitimately do see defenses mattering is in pass rush versus protection – it’s hard to score points when you’re being thrown down to the ground before you can throw a pass. 

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My weekly goal is not only to inform you on critical RB pickups and injuries but to help equip you to win your league with my weekly strategy soap box. We are nearing the half way point of the fantasy football regular season and I have another nugget for you. 

Stop gloating about your undefeated or one loss team, no one cares and it does not matter. Regular season win/loss records do not mean anything if you are chasing a championship. If your team is great now it does not gaurantee your team to be great come playoffs. Exhibit A: a league-mate of mine last season went 11-2 and did not win the championship. Mid-season, I suggested he should make a trade to help improve his team for the post season. He felt his team was too good and he did not need to make any changes. He exited the playoffs first round and we all got the last laugh. 

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Yesterday was the cut off for franchise tags which makes the free agency picture a little bit clearer. Free agency is coming up next week so I suppose we should talk about the players on the market. What teams plan on doing in the draft seems as relevant as ever when it comes to free agency this year. There are a lot of teams in need of a quarterback. If you’ve been paying attention to mock draft related things, you’re well aware that there is a good chance that 5-7 quarterbacks go in the first round. Of these 5-7, my guess is 3 see more than a handful of starts this season depending on their landing spots. That leaves a few teams who need starters from the free agency pool.

In this free agency running back class, I don’t see much more than running back by committee contributors. The running back class is very deep as far as this upcoming draft goes, so I’m doubting anyone makes a huge financial splash. Wide receiver is going to be interesting. There are a couple of big playmakers whose services are available. Speculating is all that we can really do here, so let’s run through some of the players and talk about ideal landing spots.

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Adrian Peterson is free! On Tuesday, AP was traded from the New Orleans Saints (who seemingly never wanted him?) to the running back-desperate Arizona Cardinals. He is here to save the day for all fantasy owners who stashed him through the first few weeks or were able to submit a successful waiver claim for him after the trade. Our prayers are answered. All is right in the world. Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

Right?

Well, kind of. There is no doubt that getting traded from the pass-happy Saints, where Peterson was an odd fit from the second they signed him, to the Cardinal who lost David Johnson in Week 1 and have gotten zilch from the running back position in the weeks since, significantly improves Peterson’s fantasy value. The questions we have to answer now are: just how much has it improved? And what exactly can we expect going forward?

In the last few weeks, AP was not seeing regular touches, and his value was pretty much nonexistent. When he signed with the Saints in the offseason, you could hear a collective “huh?” from football fans and writers everywhere. We gave the Saints the benefit of the doubt and figured they knew what they were doing, but it turned out exactly how we all thought it would. Peterson was an odd fit for a Saints team that likes to pass the ball and likes to operate out of the shotgun, two things that don’t mess with Peterson’s style. Add to that the presence of Mark Ingram and youngster Alvin Kamara, and it is no surprise the team moved on from AP.

With the Cardinals, Peterson should get plenty of opportunities. Chris Johnson has not looked good in a couple years now, and he was a free agent until David Johnson got hurt. With Peterson entering the fold, the Cardinals did not even wait a week or two before cutting CJ. He got cut to make room for AP.

There are, however, a few reasons to roll our Peterson optimism back to “cautious optimism.” For starters, he is moving to a new team with a new playbook in the middle of a season. The complexity of NFL playbooks and schemes is why we don’t see a ton of in-season trading in the NFL. It is very difficult to fully learn everything while also preparing to play every week. To start out, they are going to have to feed him plays in bunches and get him acclimated a little bit more every week. Early playing time/snaps are question marks for Peterson right now.

Next, there is the issue of the Arizona offensive line. They’re bad. They’re really bad. They are particularly bad at run blocking, which is the primary reason the Cardinals have struggled so much on the ground this season. If they can’t open up some room for Peterson, he might have a fairly low ceiling in Arizona.

Lastly, the Cardinals are another team that likes to throw the ball. Carson Palmer currently leads the NFL in passing attempts. Part of that is likely because they have struggled to run the ball so much that they have been forced to pass, but they are not going to flip the script and decide to run the ball 60% of the time just because Adrian Peterson has arrived. Peterson is not much of a pass-catching back, so will he get enough touches to be valuable on a weekly basis for fantasy owners?

These are all valid questions that cause concern. Of course, the upside with Peterson is definitely worth taking the chance on him, even if just to stash him for a couple weeks while you see how he looks in that offense. Just don’t get your hopes up too high until we actually see him getting the ball with some space to work with.

Now, to the charts!

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Alright guys, welcome to Week 5 of the NFL season! We now have official hit #byeszn, so today I’ll be sprinkling in some under-the-radar plays so you guys can get some fillers for those players on bye this week. Enough chatter, let’s get to some Razzball-certified picks!

Check out Rudy’s exclusive DFS and season-long tools that are sure to help you be profitable this fantasy football season!

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