By a show of hands, how many of your fantasy teams are doing awesome right now? Ok, how many aren’t doing so great, but you’re keeping the faith? And how many of you are curled up in the fetal position under your desk because your fantasy team is 0-5? By now you’ve realized this is pointless exercise, because I clearly cannot see whether your hand is raised or not. But we had fun, didn’t we?
Anyway, Week 6 is upon us, and, like every week in our fake football lives, this week could be a make or break matchup in our fantasy championship aspirations. So get ridiculously pumped up for no reason, pound your chest and fist bump a few times, then head out to the waiver wire and add every single one of these players to your team. Every. Single. One.
So same deal as usual: these aren’t player you necessarily wanted to start this week, but due to injury, byes or general suckery, you have to. It’s your backup plan. Here’s a rundown of some of the top widely available fill-ins by position and which guys they’ll be better than this week.
Colt McCoy vs. Oakland
Yahoo: 33 percent owned, ESPN: 22 percent owned
McCoy has more than 200 passing yards in each of his four starts this season and he’s thrown two touchdowns in two of those games. Need I say more? Oh, you actually want me to say more? Well, the Raiders boast a passing defense ranked 30th in the NFL, and if McCoy can pass for 350 yards against a top-15 Titans unit, he should be able to put up similar numbers on Oakland.
Andy Dalton vs. Indianapolis
Yahoo: 17 percent owned, ESPN: 10 percent owned
Everybody’s favorite red-headed quarterback (sorry, Carson Palmer) has played pretty well in his rookie season, and there’s no reason that shouldn’t continue this weekend against an Indianapolis pass defense ranked 20th in the league. He’s shown some inconsistency, but he’s topped 18 standard fantasy points three time this season, and he should be able to do it for a fourth time against the soon-to-be 0-6 Colts.
Sam Bradford vs. Green Bay
Yahoo: 50 percent owned, ESPN: 73 percent owned
If there’s ever going to be a week where Sam Bradford starts playing quarterback well again, it’s going to be this week. The Packers’ pass defense has been atrocious so far this season, and Bradford has had a full bye week to prepare for it. Sure, Josh McDaniels is doing everything in his power to ruin Bradford and his receivers are awful, but if you’re in desperate need of a quarterback and he’s available, Bradford might finally be almost not terrible at playing quarterback.
Guys he’s better than this week: Josh Freeman, Jason Campbell
Earnest Graham vs. New Orleans
Yahoo: 29 percent owned, ESPN: 23 percent owned
Everybody’s favorite postgame sucker puncher Legarrette Blount is out this week, and possibly the next few. Sadly, that makes Earnest Graham a relevant fantasy player again and, to be honest, he’s a bit of a wildcard. Graham could easily give you six carries for 11 yards this week. But he could also give you 70 yards and a touchdown. And when you’re looking for painfully mediocre production during a bye week, isn’t the best part the thrill of having no idea what you’ll get?
Guys he’s better than this week: James Starks, Shonn Greene
Delone Carter vs. Cincinnati
Yahoo: 45 percent owned, ESPN: 17 percent owned
Carter isn’t fast. He isn’t a playmaker, either. Heck, he’s not even that great overall. But he’s got opportunity with Joseph Addai hurting. And, other than 140 yards and three touchdowns, what more can you ask for? He won’t get numbers anywhere near that lofty, especially since he’ll be splitting carries with Donald Brown. But he’ll definitely get the goal line carries, so 40 yards and a touchdown isn’t out of the question.
Guys he’s better than this week: Donald Brown, Mark Ingram
Stevan Ridley vs. Dallas
Yahoo: 37 percent owned, ESPN: 29 percent owned
Fool us once, shame on us. Fool us twice and we’ll riot outside of your house. You hurt the fantasy community with your paltry 13 yards rushing last week Stevan, and our hearts have barely healed. But BenJarvus Green-Ellis is on the injury report and there’s a chance he’ll be limited against Dallas this week. If he is, Ridley could be a good play, even against a tough Cowboys’ defense. One more chance, Ridley. One.
Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. Cleveland
Yahoo: 33 percent owned, ESPN: 20 percent owned
Well it only took him two seasons, but it looks like Heyward-Bey might be finally living up to his top-10 draft status. He’s not actually, but compared to the numbers he was putting up before, his 263 yards this season look absolutely world-changing. He’s been playing pretty well of late, and Browns’ top corner Joe Haden is likely out this week, meaning more opportunities for DHB. Look for 60+ yards and a score.
Guys he’s better than this week: Pierre Garcon, Denarius Moore
David Nelson vs. New York Giants
Yahoo: 55 percent owned, ESPN: 45 percent owned
David Nelson two good games—Weeks 2 and 3—and since then he’s done nothing, catching just three passes for 24 yards. But whoever Donald Jones is won’t be playing for the Bills this week, solidifying Nelson as the team’s No. 2 wide receiver. And if Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst can pass all over the Giants, it’s fair to think Ryan Fitzpatrick can too. Nelson will get some looks his way, so he has good value this week, especially in PPR formats.
Guys he’s better than this week: Mario Manningham, Anquan Boldin
Michael Crabtree vs. Detroit
Yahoo: 40 percent owned, ESPN: 53 percent owned
Is there anyone you hate more than Michael Crabtree? All the potential in the world, yet here he is listed below Darrius Heyward-Bey and David Nelson in a fantasy replacements column. Ouch. But he’s been almost mediocre the past three weeks, and as good as the Detroit offense has been, the 49ers will likely have to throw it around to keep up. Call it a hunch, but Crabsies could see 50+ yards this week and maybe—just maybe—a scoring opportunity.
Guys he’s better than this week: James Jones, Percy Harvin
Fred Davis vs. Philadelphia
Yahoo: 40 percent owned, ESPN: 42 percent owned
Davis’s performances in his last two games were lackluster at best, but that’s all going to change now that the Dream Team is rolling into town to give all of its opponents big fantasy days. The Eagles have not been good against opposing tight ends, so Davis should see plenty of looks from the Gross Man over the middle. He’ll get the better of Chris Cooley again this week with a 70-yard, one touchdown day.
Guys he’s better than this week: Dustin Keller, Brandon Pettigrew
Benjamin Watson vs. Oakland
Yahoo: 21 percent owned, ESPN: 10 percent owned
You probably forgot this guy was still in the NFL, didn’t you? Well, he is. Sure, you could argue that the Browns aren’t actually an NFL team, but for the purposes of this column, they are. Watson has actually played well at times this season, topping 40 yards three times in four games and scoring two touchdowns, and a 40-60 yard day definitely isn’t out of the question against a porous Oakland pass defense.
Guys he’s better than this week: Dallas Clark, Kellen Winslow
Notable DSTs on bye: Tennessee, San Diego
Cincinnati vs. Indianapolis
Yahoo: 35 percent owned, ESPN: 42 percent owned
As surprising as it still is, the Bengals have the best defense of any team that hasn’t had their bye week yet, and that success will surely continue this week against a Curtis Painter-led Colts offense. Painter has yet to throw an interception in two starts, but he has fumbled twice, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts chucking up picks. You’ll want to have the Cincinnati defense in your lineup if the interceptions come this week.
Defenses they’re better than this week: Detroit, New York Giants
Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago
Yahoo: 35 percent owned, ESPN: 10 percent owned
Jared Allen is licking his chops right now. No, seriously; I made Jared lamb chops for dinner, and he’s licking them. And it’s weird. Anyway, the Minnesota defense is taking on Happy-Feet Cutler this week, which is a pretty awesome matchup. The Bears’ offensive line is giving Cutler no time to throw, so he’s dancing around in the pocket, taking sacks and throwing the ball to opposing defenses. Great; now you’re licking your chops too.
Defenses they’re better than this week: Chicago, Philadelphia
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