Fantasy Cheat Sheet: Rodgers, Flacco poised for air show
Peyton Manning and Tony Romo treated us to a fireworks show in Dallas last week. Could we see a similar show this week in, of all places, Baltimore?
We know Aaron Rodgers will hold up his end of the deal. And we also know his defense will likely force him to keep his foot on the pedal all game. The Packers rank third from the bottom in the league in both pass coverage and pass rush, according to Pro Football Focus. They're allowing nearly 300 passing yards per game, and were torched by Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III earlier this year. Joe Flacco isn't anyone's idea of a rock-solid fantasy quarterback, but he and Torrey Smith should have a field day against the Packers. Flacco put up 347 yards against the Bills two weeks ago and posted an impressive 8.4 yards per attempt in a tough matchup with the Dolphins last week. This is his friendliest opponent to date. He's usually on the outside of the starting class, but I think he'll jump into that group on Sunday.
We'll be updating here Sunday morning with important news as it breaks. Meanwhile, Alessandro Miglio and Eric Edholm will be taking your start/sit questions in The MMQB's live chat from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.
10:40 a.m. update: Our first update of the morning holds good news for Andre Johnson owners. The Texans receiver says he will play today despite a shin injury. Official actives/inactives will come out in about an hour, but you should feel good about rolling with Johnson today.
10:50 a.m.: Thankfully, Marshawn Lynch will not make his owners wait until Seattle's late kickoff to learn whether or not they'll have his services this week. Lynch is starting despite a hip injury. Make sure he's in your lineup. Tennessee ranks 26th against the run, according to Pro Football Focus' metrics.
11:05 a.m.: Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Darren McFadden will play today. The news doesn't change much for me, though. I don't want any part of a banged-up McFadden, likely in a timeshare, against the Kansas City defense. Stay away unless you're desperate.
11:15 a.m.: Tim Twentyman of the Lions official website reports that Calvin Johnson is out on the field running routes. He did not do that before being a surprise inactive last week. That's a great sign. You want him in your lineup if he plays.
11:30 a.m.:The actives and inactives are official, and we've got some wide receiver news to discuss. First of all, Megatron is active. Play him and Matthew Stafford as you normally would. Mike Williams is inactive. That's good news for Vincent Jackson owners. He could end up pushing toward 20 targets today against a soft Philadelphia defense. Get him in your lineup.
11:45 a.m. Adam Schefter is now reporting that it's no guarantee Larry Fitzgerald plays through his hamstring injury. The Arizona passing game hasn't really delivered since Week 1, it has a tough matchup with San Francisco, and it plays late. There are simply too many red flags here. I'm benching Fitz today.
12:11 p.m. Time for this week's kicker update. Blair Walsh had to leave practice this week because of a hamstring injury, but he's active for the Vikings. The injury was to his plant leg, so he shouldn't have any problem following through on kicks. He could lose a yard or two off his range, though.
12:30 p.m. I'm getting a fair amount of questions on DeSean Jackson today. Don't let the matchup with Darrelle Revis scare you. Jackson is one of the top-10 fantasy receivers in the league. That doesn't change because Nick Foles is under center, and it doesn't change no matter who is lined up against him. You don't win by benching DeSean Jackson.
12:45 p.m. Stop me if you've heard this one before. It's going to be a big risk to play Danny Amendola today. NFL Network's Albert Breer reports that Amendola has a full tear of his hip adductor on one side and a three-quarters tear on the other. The tears are healing, but his playing time will depend on how he can tolerate the pain. I wouldn't dive down multiple tiers to avoid playing him, but I'd rather avoid him, if possible.
The Gronkowski Watch continues
It's another week in the life of a man with America's most discussed forearm. Ever since last Sunday, it appeared this would finally be the week that Rob Gronkowski would make his season debut. However, he has yet to be cleared by the omnipresent Dr. James Andrews and is a game-time decision for Sunday's main event against the Saints. Even if he were cleared, I wouldn't necessarily roll with him if you had another strong option on your roster. You never really know what a guy will look like or what his role will be in his first game back from injury. Given that this game doesn't kick until the late afternoon, relying on Gronk is way too great a risk this week. He clearly is getting close to playing, so the saga should end next week at the latest.
Garrett Graham, your time is now
What do you do when your big, pass-catching tight end out of Wisconsin goes down for at least eight weeks with a fractured fibula? You turn to your other big, pass-catching tight end out of Wisconsin. With Owen Daniels out, Garrett Graham steps into the breach for the Texans. Graham carried the tight end torch in Madison after Daniels graduated, and I don't see any reason why he can't keep the Daniels' flame burning in Houston, as well.
Daniels had a huge role in the Houston offense, owning the middle of the field for Matt Schaub. He had 40 targets this year, which ranks sixth among tight ends. The Texans aren't about to minimize the role of the tight end because Daniels is on the shelf. Graham only plays limited snaps and is rarely Schaub's first read, but he has managed 15 catches for 141 yards and three touchdowns this season. He's not the athlete Daniels is, but there's no reason he can't give the Texans a strong impression of their starting tight end. Schaub has completed 56.1 percent of his passes to the sidelines, but 73.9 percent of them in the middle of the field. On top of that, Andre Johnson is questionable with a shin injury. If he is out, as well, Graham could be in for a huge day. I've got him as a Top-10 tight end for the rest of the fantasy season.
Garbage-time mania in Denver
Nobody doubts that the Broncos are going to pound the Jaguars. They may not cover the record-breaking spread, but this will almost certainly be a three- or four-touchdown game at some point. The potential for garbage-time scoring here is as high as we've ever seen. The Jaguars may be the worst team in the league, but that doesn't mean they can't provide a useful day for the fantasy community. In fact, you want to start your Jaguars this week. All of them. Perhaps even Chad Henne.
Justin Blackmon is my No. 7 receiver for the week
He's a guy I'm starting pretty much every week the rest of the year, regardless of matchup. With Henne likely pushing 50 pass attempts, Blackmon will have an opportunity to build on his 136-yard, one-score 2013 debut. Cecil Shorts is dealing with a bit of a groin issue, but he's listed as probable and should play. You want him in there, too. The run game will likely be squeezed out of the picture, but Maurice Jones-Drew could be a big factor in the passing game with the Broncos likely sitting in a deep protective shell. And yes, even Henne could be a sneaky start if you're willing to gamble a bit. Assuming he throws in that 50-attempt neighborhood, all he'll have to do to get to 300 yards is manage about six yards per attempt. That feels awfully realistic. If he can pick up two touchdown passes, he'll finish the week as a Top-12 guy. Start him in two-QB leagues.
But wait, there's more
Are you in a deep league or looking on the fringes for a running back or flex? How about Montee Ball? True, he hasn't done a thing in his rookie year, but the Broncos could be killing a whole lot of clock in the second half, and they may not want to risk Knowshon Moreno in that role. Ball may not touch the rock before halftime, but he could still get 12-15 garbage-time touches.
Nick Foles gets the call for the Eagles and your fantasy team
Few backup quarterbacks are as prepared to step in and lead as is Nick Foles. It was just two months ago that he and Michael Vick were locked in a legitimate battle for the starting role in Philadelphia. Even though it always felt like Vick had the edge, Foles got a fair shake in training camp and the preseason, and that means he got a ton of reps with the first-team offense. He also has the trust of Chip Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. The Eagles won't be able to do all the exotic things they do in the run game with Foles in place of the injured Vick, but they won't have to take any passing plays out of the playbook.
Foles put up a big day in relief of Vick last Sunday, throwing for 197 yards and two touchdowns. The matchup this week admittedly isn't great. Tampa Bay ranks 10th in the league in pass coverage, according to Pro Football Focus, and picked off Drew Brees twice while holding him to 7.0 YPA. Still, it's hard to sit the guy who is captaining the Eagles' ship. There's talk of Darrelle Revis shadowing DeSean Jackson all day, an unwelcome bit of news for the Eagles, but I've still got Foles as a Top-12 quarterback this week.
The Danny Woodhead Revolution continues
Undersized, scrappy pass catchers cast off by the Patriots are the new market inefficiency. Wes Welker is enjoying the fruits of a historic start in Denver, and Woodhead has emerged as a PPR monster in San Diego. He's a surefire start this week no matter the format. In the last four weeks, he has 17, 12, 10 and 18 touches, and is up to 36 targets this season. Ryan Mathews is expected to play despite suffering a concussion last week, but Woodhead could still see an increased role. The Colts defense struggles mightily against the run, which could help if Woodhead gets more carries, but he could easily push into double-digit targets this week. That could mean upwards of 100 yards and a touchdown.
Injury News lightning round
• Calvin Johnson (knee) has participated in practice most of this week, but he's a game-time decision on Sunday. The Lions play early, which makes this an easy decision.
• Larry Fitzgerald remains questionable because of his balky hamstring. Combine that with Arizona's shaky performance and the tough matchup with the 49ers, and I'd look elsewhere.
• You don't want any part of the Patriots' backfield. Stevan Ridley (knee) and Brandon Bolden (knee) are both healthy, but chances are they both play. LeGarrette Blount will also factor in heavily, making this a nightmare situation for fantasy owners. Stay away, unless you're desperate.
• Marshawn Lynch missed practice Friday because of his hip and popped up on the weekend injury report as questionable. He should be good to go, but be aware of it. The Seahawks play late, but you definitely want to roll the dice here, especially because it's not a huge risk. Make sure you have someone who plays late that you can plug in for him in case he can't go, though.
• Darren McFadden (hamstring), Rashad Jennings (hamstring) and Marcel Reece (knee) are all a bit banged up, though all could play against the Chiefs. This situation is just too muddy for me, and the matchup is terrible. I wouldn't play any of them unless I was forced.
• Vernon Davis (hamstring) was a full participant in practice and is good to go Sunday.
• Stevie Johnson is a game-time decision due to a back issue. He has a tough matchup with the Bengals and Thad Lewis under center. Stay away.
• Zac Stacy was a full participant in Friday's practice but is listed as questionable with a rib injury. Give more credence to the participation in practice. He's a solid flex play assuming he starts.
• Miles Austin should play against the Redskins on Sunday night, but don't trust him in his first game back. Terrance Williams has emerged for the Cowboys, it's a night game and you can't really be sure of how large a role Miles will have in the offense. You may want to get him back in your lineup in the future, but keep him on the bench this week.
MORE WEEK 6 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:
BELLER: Stat Focus -- How your roster can benefit from Justin Blackmon
GONOS: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em -- Is it worth starting any Raiders this week?
BELLER: Player Stat Projections -- A.J. Green primed for a huge game
SI STAFF: Composite Player Rankings -- Expect another strong week from Bryant
BELLER, FLOOD: Weekly Roundtable -- Is Alshon Jeffery the real deal?
FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- Stacy stepping up as Rams' starting running back
McQUADE: Risers & Sliders -- Top players struggling to produce stats
BELLER: Fast Forward -- Quarterbacks steal the spotlight in Week 5