Week 6: Pickups of the Week
Updated, Tuesday, 1:53 p.m. (Players in italics profiled below)
1) Nick Foles
2) Brandon Weeden
3) Chad Henne
4) Geno Smith
5) Josh Freeman
6) Ryan Fitzpatrick
Notes: Consider this order a la carte; pick and choose per your needs. If Nick Foles starts for the injured Michael Vick, he's a QB2 option (especially during a week many of the lesser quarterback options have tough matchups). That includes Chad Henne at Denver, but garbage time for the Jaguars probably starts in the second quarter. Henne may not be an ideal starting QB, but at least he gives the offense a puncher's chance. Right now he's just outside the top-20 fantasy quarterbacks for the week, but he could be inside that range by Sunday ...Still not a major Brandon Weeden backer, but Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron help the cause. He faces the Lions middle-of-the-pack pass defense in Week 6. ... Geno "Ice"Smith pulled off a huge road win Monday night. Now he's back home against a stingy Steelers defense. There is some hope here for Week 6, but he's more of a hold-and see. In that mode, take him over Weeden and Henne... Josh Freeman is a future play. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a desperate play.
More notes: Back to Foles, who I wrote about in my weekly "Sizzlers and Fizzlers" article for USA Today. "Absolutely nobody should have been surprised on Sunday when the oft-injured Michael Vick exited with a pulled hamstring. Some probably did a double take when backup Nick Foles efficiently ran the Eagles up-tempo offense, completing 16 of 25 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Expect a second look at the 6-foot-5 quarterback with initial reports putting Vick out for Week 6. Considering Philadelphia plays in high scoring games most weeks, Foles immediately offers bye week help and possibly more especially in the water downed NFC East." So, there's that.
Even more notes: Redraft leagues can drop E.J. Manuel because of injury. Some might want to drop Carson Palmer for performance. Understood. Eventually he and those talented receivers should start clicking, in theory.
1) Zac Stacy
2) Andre Ellington
3) Roy Helu Jr.
4) Ronnie Hillman
5) Marcel Reece
6) Brandon Bolden
7) Da'Rel Scott*
8) Johnathan Franklin
Others: Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, Mike Goodson, Da'Rel Scott, Donald Brown
Notes: Alfred Morris (rib) is good for Week 6, but the Redskins should get Roy Helu Jr. more involved in the passing game going forward. He doubles as one of the better backup RB lottery tickets ...If the Broncos live up to the minus-27 point spread, that should mean extra work for Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball. The risk isn't whether the blowout takes place, but how Denver divvies up the snaps. Still, that's the kind of risk worth taking for those dealing with injures or byes. ...At the very least Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings owners should grab Marcel Reece now in case their injured back can't go this week. ...Brandon Bolden received 40 snaps in Week 5 or nearly double LeGarrette Blount's 22 as the burly backed fumbled in the second quarter and New England went exclusively with the passing game. Even if Stevan Ridley returns this week, Bolden's role remains while Blount would drop back into the Pats' RB3 position. ... Same advice for David Wilson owners, though Brandon Jacobs and the re-signed Da'Rel Scott are marginal options. ...In his first action after a four-game suspension, Mike Goodson had four touches for 41 yards including a 26-yard run. The Jets will feature a run-heavy approach with rookie Geno Smith, though Bilal Powell is the lead back and Chris Ivory remains a factor.
*More notes: The Giants ruled Wilson out for Week 6. Before his release, the newly re-signed Scott received a healhty amount of snaps. Neither he nor Jacobs is a strong play against the Bears.
1) Terrence Williams
2) Keenan Allen
3) Harry Douglas
4) Rueben Randle
5) Percy Harvin*
6) Jerome Simpson
7) Robert Woods
8) Ted Ginn Jr.
9) Austin Pettis
10) Kendall Wright
Others: Mario Manningham, Jeremy Kerley, Doug Baldwin, Stephen Hill, Ted Ginn Jr., Kris Durham, Harry Douglas, Leonard Hankerson, Markus Wheaton, Justin Hunter
Notes: As long as Miles Austin is out, Terrence Williams should be in lineups even as a WR2 this week against the Redskins. Pat on the back time seeing as I touted Rueben Randle in Week 5 and he delivered with two touchdowns. The issue is that the Giants' offense is such a mess that counting on their WR3 most weeks won't be wise. Worth a stash based on talent and the reality that New York is all about garbage time passing right now. ...Jerome Simpson has two games with at least seven receptions and 124 yards. He also has two games with under 50 yards. That's what Simpson does, but he'll have a better shot at big plays once Freeman takes over at quarterback. ...Robert Woods and the entire Bills passing attack takes a sizeable step back with Thad Lewis taking over for the injured E.J. Manuel. If you want Woods, you think he's talented enough to overcome just about anything. Eh, he is pretty, pretty good ...Sneaky call alert: That's three straight productive games for Ted Ginn Jr. - as a receiver. However, this mention is less about Ginn and more about a Vikings pass defense allowing the eighth most points to fantasy receivers. Carolina's offense isn't clicking and this could be a spot for Steve Smith, so there is risk, obviously, but Ginn on turf is scary. ......Last week's mention for Kendall Wright and Nate Washington emphasized the downside with the streaky Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Wright offers more value in PPR formats, but in a run-first offense, eh ...49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on Monday he expects Mario Manningham back at practice when he's eligible to come off the PUP entering Week 7. Clearly, the wide situation outside of Anquan Boldin needs reinforcements.
More notes: Touched on Tavon Austin below in the Keenan Allen profile. If you have available roster space and want to play it out with a player that likely cost a mid-round pick, cool. Don't feel bad if you don't. Knowing when to move is part of the game. Seeing as Austin played fewer snaps in Week 5 than Chris Givens, Austin Pettis and Brian Quick, even the Rams aren't loving what's happening right now.
Even more notes: With news of Julio Jones' apparent season-ending injury, Harry Douglas could be Atlanta No. 1 wide out when the Falcons return after the bye week. Even with Roddy White limited much of this season, he's done little since posting 93 yards in Week 1. At least now he'd have a jump up in snaps and therefore projected targets. ...Percy Harvin is back in Seattle working out with the Seahawks. He's not eligible to return from the PUP list until Week 7 and coach Pete Carroll would not provide any timeframe. Owners with winning records and available roster space can stash.
1) Coby Fleener
2) Brandon Pettigrew
3) Jordan Reed
4) Garrett Graham
Others: Sean McGrath, Jeff Cumberland
Notes: For Week 6, Brandon Pettigrew trumps Jordan Reed simply because of track record and the Lions missing bodies. As a long-term play, Reed. ...Reports out of Houston have Owen Daniels possibly missing several weeks with a leg injury. If true, Garrett Graham becomes a TE2 play this week, offering more scoring potential than Pettigrew. ...Sean McGrath has at least four receptions in three straight games and and 118 receiving yards over the last two weeks. There isn't anything exciting about the Chiefs' de facto starter, but as long as others remained sidelined, he offers safe points.
Others: Eagles, Steelers
Others: Browns, Eagles, BillsMyFantasyLeague availability: 100%
Let's state two obvious points: this is not a Week 6 recommendation and Josh Freeman stunk over his last eight or so games in Tampa. Now, let's proceed...as far as landing spots go, this isn't a bad one. Obviously there is Adrian Peterson to carry the ground game. Viable receiving threats with upside headlined by Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson and Kyle Rudolph fit into Freeman's downfield passing style. Minnesota's 30th ranked defense frequently puts the offense in shootout or catch up situations. Seeing as Freeman's one-year deal pays him more than Christian Ponder this season, he'll get into the lineup once he's looked at the playbook for more than a minute. Now, none of this means the former first round pick will start for fantasy owners soon or this year. Then again, Minnesota's future schedule includes games against the Giants, Cowboys, Redskins, and Eagles (Week 15) plus several matchups that should include garbage time opportunities. Don't cut viable players, but owners in 2QB leagues should jump on him. Everyone else, start debating.MyFantasyLeague availability: 75%
Even before Arizona's Week 5 win over Carolina, the optics indicated shifty Andre Ellington trumped plodding Rashard Mendenhall. The stat lines and the snap counts against the Panthers added tangible proof as to the direction of the Cardinals' backfield. First, Ellington and Mendenhall each received 30 snaps, which is a number coach Bruce Arians said on Monday he'd prefer for the slight rookie. Now, Mendenhall received 17 carries -10 more than Ellington - yet rushed for only 43 yards or nine fewer than you know who. Ellington is averaging a staggering 6.7 yards per carry and has at least three receptions in each of his last three games. Even if Arians limits the former Clemson star's snaps, expect his workload to rise.MyFantasyLeague availability: 100%
When your running game hasn't generated more than 69 yards in any of the opening four games, shaking up the backfield rotation is a logical decision. So rather than stick with Daryl Richardson as the lead back or turn to former second-round pick Isaiah Pead, the Rams started rookie Zac Stacy against the lowly Jaguars. After generating 78 yards on 14 carries, expect rotational stability this week. There is no reason to fret about the rib injury Stacy suffered in the win. Richardson received only one less carry, but managed less than four yards per carry in the plus matchup. He also received only 23 snaps compared to Stacy's 41. The upcoming schedule doesn't offer many safe harbors for the running game. If Sam Bradford doesn't pick up his performance, St. Louis won't have opportunities to run lots in the second half. Regardless, another solid outing or two from Stacy could prevent the Rams from making further changes. PPR owners should note that Stacy did not have a catch in Week 5 and he only had 10 during his senior season at Vanderbilt.
At one point in his college career, Allen had a first-round target. After a knee injury in 2012, he did not. Still, I slotted him early in the second round, 40th overall in my mock draft. Oops. The former Cal star - who went 98-1343-6 in 2011 before the injury - slipped to the third round where San Diego tabbed him with the No. 76 pick. Based on how the 6-foot-3 target has dynamically produced over the last two weeks, all those teams that were looking for a WR and passed are now the ones thinking oops. Garbage time or not, Allen caught six passes for 115 yards and a touchdown against Oakland after a 5-80 effort against Dallas. Rookie receivers are typically a tricky bunch to count on week-to-week. Allen may be no different, but his situation is all kinds of promising considering the Chargers' lack of proven WR options. Vincent Brown tops the list while the fantasy fraudulent Eddie Royal is dropping. Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead also rank ahead of Allen in the Chargers' passing game hierarchy, which puts his current value in the WR4 range. So what? Fantasy players have taken flyers on receivers with far less situational upside and expect San Diego in catch up mode more often than not going forward. Rather than hold Nate Washington (blame his QB) or Santonio Holmes (fantasy track record + rookie QB + can't stay healthy = headache inducing) or Sidney Rice (75 percent of MyFantasyLeague.com owners don't realize he's not worth owning) or Cordarrelle Patterson (six receptions YTD) or even Tavon Austin (23 snaps in Week 5), go for Allen. Seriously, go, right now, unless you're a fan of saying "oops."Injury Status: Injured Reserve
If you want oohs and aahs from the fantasy community, talk about a receiver's upside, his gaudy 40-time or his red-zone size. St. Louis has such juicy options in Tavon Austin, Chris Givens and Brian Quick. Yet the Rams' most productive target this season comes with a much less exciting label: "dependable." Boring tag or not, Austin Pettis is the one Sam Bradford eyes in key moments. Per ESPN.com's Rams beat writer Nick Wagoner, of Pettis' 22 catches, 14 have gone for first downs with another four going for touchdowns. In other words, "81 percent of Pettis' catches are either moving the chains or putting points on the board," a trend that started in 2012. No, fantasy players don't typically pick up points for first down receptions, but it's an indicator that Sam Bradford looks Pettis' way. Yes, in theory the other St. Louis receiving options offer more of that upside, as do the likes of Keenan Allen, Terrance Williams and even Rueben Randle in a good matchup. Only once this season has Pettis generated more than 60 receiving yards in a game. But with four touchdowns over his last four games, well, let's just say he's become a dependable scoring threat.