Sometimes fantasy football start ’em, sit ’em decisions can feel like playing the lottery.
Last week, many owners probably sat Tampa Bay Buccaneers back Doug Martin, who hadn’t done much in the weeks leading up to the slate. He exploded for 33 points. Meanwhile, popular starts Jeremy Hill and Ronnie Hillman scored two points apiece.
It can be a deflating (too soon?) experience for owners, but it’s no reason to shy away from what looks like a great Week 6 slate. With time invested into research, owners can come away with the right decisions in hand. Here’s a look at notable decisions.
Start ‘Em: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (at GB)
Wary of San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers at Lambeau Field?
In fact, Rivers in a duel with Aaron Rodgers should have his stock higher than usual. There’s little doubt the veteran will have to sling it quite often to keep pace on the road, which means plenty of production for owners.
Rivers doesn’t need a shootout to produce, anyway. He’s gone for double digits four times already and has top target Antonio Gates back in the fold. Green Bay ranks well against quarterbacks, but only because of cupcake matchups (Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis). Rivers will hurt the rankings quite a bit this weekend.
Sit ‘Em: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (vs. CAR)
It’s not time to give up on Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, but it is time to become more realistic in the expectations department.
Wilson has scored more than 20 points just once this season despite tossing a touchdown in every game. He’s not using his legs as often, the Seahawks aren’t opening things up down the field and Jimmy Graham’s arrival hasn’t exactly helped Wilson take the next step as a fantasy gunslinger.
Going into a matchup with the Carolina Panthers, Wilson just posted his worst game of the year, a 12-point performance. To make matters worse, the Panthers have allowed the third-fewest points to the position this year through four games.
As a matchup-based play moving forward, Wilson shouldn’t be in lineups this weekend.
Start ‘Em: Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (at PIT)
He’s not CJ2K by any means, but Arizona Cardinals back Chris Johnson rests as a top-10 scorer at his position thanks to a handful of strong showings with the team this year.
Johnson has nine or more points in three games this year, including a 27-point outburst when he rushed for two scores in Week 2.
Even with Andre Ellington back in the fold and David Johnson playing well, Johnson led the Cardinals in rushes last week with 11 for 103 yards, good for 10 points. This week’s opponent is the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the few teams yet to play a good rushing squad.
Arizona looks like the league’s best, though, spearheaded by Johnson.
Sit ‘Em: Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (at BUF)
One of last year’s breakout stars, Hill hasn’t received more carries than backfield complement Giovani Bernard since Week 1.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Hill has three games with two points or less. It’s how the Cincinnati Bengals want to do business this year, and while it isn’t productive from a fantasy standpoint, it has the team undefeated.
This should concern owners ahead of the team’s encounter with the Buffalo Bills. The Bills surrender the seventh-fewest points to backs this year in large part because opposing offenses are too busy passing on the unit, which is a problem considering Bernard is Cincinnati’s pass-catching back.
Until Cincinnati returns to a run-first attack, Hill needs to sit on benches.
Start ‘Em: Brandon Marshall, New York Jets (vs. WAS)
It’s easy to write off the notion of Brandon Marshall. He has Ryan Fitzpatrick slinging him the ball, he plays on a team with a reputation as more defensive than offensive and there’s Eric Decker across from him soaking up targets.
Yet here Marshall is with three touchdowns and sitting in notable company, as ESPN’s Field Yates illustrated:
It’s a career turnaround for Marshall, which means good things for owners.
Next up is a matchup against Washington, a unit that ranks among the 10 worst when it comes to giving up points to wideouts on average. The defense has allowed three of five wideout corps encountered to go for at least 24 points, so Marshall gets a major green light this weekend.
Sit ‘Em: Travis Benjamin, Cleveland Browns (vs. DEN)
Everyone seems to want a piece of Cleveland Browns wideout Travis Benjamin, who entering Week 6 still rests as the fifth-highest scorer at the position.
The problem, though, is that Benjamin hasn’t reached double digits since Week 2, where he posted 29 points. While he’s been reliable with at least seven points in each game, it’s a situation where a strong defense could shut him out completely.
Denver might have the recipe. The Broncos rest tops in the league against wideouts on average, allowing just 11.8 points to entire receiving groups per game. This isn’t a case of a shootout helping Benjamin produce, either, considering Denver has offensive problems of its own as Peyton Manning struggles.
Benjamin will have a few more major outbursts this season, but not this weekend.
Start ‘Em: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers (at SEA)
Cam Newton’s favorite target, Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is a must-start option this weekend in Seattle.
It sounds like a brutal matchup, but the Seattle defense continues to give up leads and allow chunk plays, something Olsen happens to specialize in this year. In fact, the Seahawks allow the fifth-most points to tight ends on average and Olsen ranks seventh in scoring despite playing in just four games.
Coming out of a bye, Carolina’s No. 1 option won’t have any issues posting quality numbers on the road so long as he’s a major part of the game plan. Owners don’t have a choice but to bank on the notion that he will be.
Sit ‘Em: Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (vs. CIN)
Bills tight end Charles Clay might be the fifth-highest scorer at the position, but it doesn’t make him a plug-and-play option without looking at the matchup.
Clay was actually in a decent situation last week with Sammy Watkins out of the lineup while going against a sluggish Tennessee Titans defense, but wound up with one catch for seven yards and a big goose egg in the points column.
It doesn’t figure to get better in Week 6. Now Clay has to take on a Bengals defense that allows the fourth-fewest points to tight ends on average and it sounds like Watkins will make his return to soak up targets.
Owners should never drop Clay, but he looks like an especially bad start this in Week 6.
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