Update on actives/inactives (12:20 p.m. ET):
You know all about Branden Oliver and Andre Williams, but a few other nominal backup running backs should get a real chance to show something today. First, Bishop Sankey is in line for a ton of usage with Shonn Greene (hamstring) inactive. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt has done everything in his power to keep the rookie buried this season, but it looks like he'll have no choice but to ride him today. The Jaguars have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs this year. Get Sankey in your lineup.
There's another rookie on the opposite sideline stepping into a starting role that he could take a hold of this week. Storm Johnson will start for the Jaguars with Toby Gerhart (foot) out. The Jaguars' running game has been wholly ineffective this season, with Gerhart averaging just 2.5 yards per carry through five weeks. Johnson, a college teammate of quarterback Blake Bortles at UCF, should dominate the touches out of the Jacksonville backfield on Sunday. He's not a huge athlete (4.6 40, below-average vertical and broad jump), but he ran for 1,139 yards and 14 touchdowns in his final year of college last season. He was highly recruited out of high school, first going to Miami before transferring to UCF. He should be considered an RB3 this week with long-term upside.
As expected, Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush and A.J. Green are all inactive this week. You should have had your Plan Bs ready to roll all week. What's the impact on the Lions and Bengals, though? In Detroit, Joique Bell becomes a slam-dunk start. He should rack up plenty of touches against an unimposing Minnesota defense. Don't be surprised to see Theo Riddick with a decent role in the offense. Think something along the lines of eight to 10 touches.
Jeremy Hill becomes a reliable flex option for fantasy owners this week. The Bengals played one game earlier this season essentially without A.J. Green (he left after their first possession). Hill had 15 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown in that game, and the Bengals ran the ball a total of 42 times. Expect a similar breakdown on this week. Mohamed Sanu becomes the No. 1 receiver by default, and is a low-end WR2 in fantasy leagues. I'd be surprised to see him get fewer than eight targets.
Don't get too excited about Carson Palmer just yet. Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said that Palmer will have to show him he can make all the throws in warmups before he gives him the go-ahead to start. Given that Arizona and Washington kick off in the second set of games, we won't know if Palmer is starting for sure until about 3 p.m. ET. Even if we know he were starting, he'd be a major risk because of his shoulder. You should be able to find a better option this week.
It might just be mid-October, but a family that already has three Super Bowl rings to its name is going is going to enjoy this autumnal Sunday nearly as much as it did those winter Sundays years ago. The Manning family is set up for a banner week, with Peyton taking on the Jets to start the day, and Eli facing off with the division-rival Eagles in the nightcap.
The first of those is uncontroversial. Peyton Manning usually enjoys a good game every Sunday, and this week will be no different. The Jets have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this year. In their five games, they’ve surrendered a total of 12 touchdown passes, 1,303 yards and 7.5 yards per attempt. That includes a 151-yard, 4.7-YPA effort from Derek Carr in his first career start. Take that out of the equation and look at the four games in which they’ve faced Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers, and the numbers are downright laughable. Those four quarterbacks threw for a combined 1,152 yards, 8.1 YPA, 10 touchdowns and one interception. Manning is just five touchdown passes behind Brett Favre for the most in NFL history. He could very well get there on Sunday.
As good as Peyton will likely play this week, little brother could do even better. After a rocky start to the season, the Giants offense has been clicking the last three weeks. Eli has been the driving force behind that. He has thrown for 734 yards, 7.6 YPA, eight touchdowns and just one interception all while completing 70 percent of his passes.
In recent weeks, Larry Donnell and Odell Beckham Jr. have arrived to open up the passing game for the Giants. Even with Rashad Jennings on the shelf for the next couple games, it could be argued that the Giants – with Donnell and Beckham Jr. joining Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle – have one of the greatest collections of pass-catching weapons in the league. Eli is deploying those weapons with the greatest of skill, and that’s very bad news for a Philadelphia defense that has been terrible against the pass this season.
The Eagles kicked off their season by letting Chad Henne throw for 266 yards and two touchdowns, though they managed to come back and beat the Jaguars, 34-17. They somehow managed to hold Andrew Luck to 172 yards in Week 2, but he still threw for three scores. The following week, Kirk Cousins carved them up and set the fantasy world ablaze by throwing for 427 yards and three touchdowns of his own. Two weeks ago, Colin Kaepernick racked up 218 yards, two touchdowns and 58 rushing yards in the 49ers’ 26-21 win over the Eagles.
Finally, Austin Davis threw for a career-high 375 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions, nearly rallying the Rams back from a 27-point second-half deficit. Add it all up, and the Eagles have allowed the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this year. They’ve surrendered a 1,458 passing yards, second most in the league, and an NFL-high 13 passing touchdowns. It should come as no surprise that they’ve also allowed the most fantasy points per game to wide receivers. Eli should be able to shred this defense and lead the Giants to the top of the NFC East when there’s a bow on all the Week 6 action.
With that, let’s get to everything else you need to know before kickoff in the Week 6 Cheat Sheet.
With their Ferraris stuck in the garage, you can’t trust Stafford, Dalton behind the wheel of your fantasy team
Neither Calvin Johnson nor A.J. Green have officially been ruled out of their respective games this week. However, it looks like the high ankle sprain that has been hampering Johnson for a few weeks will force him to the miss a few games, while Green’s troublesome toe is expected to make him inactive, as well. With that being the case, Matthew Stafford and Andy Dalton belong on fantasy benches.
Let’s begin with Stafford, who struggled mightily with a clearly gimpy Johnson on the field last week. Megatron got just one target, and that didn’t come until the third quarter. He caught that pass, but the hit he took sent him to the sidelines, from which he did not return. Without the world’s greatest receiver lined up out wide, Stafford threw for just 231 yards, one touchdown and one interception, as the Lions’ passing attack was rendered completely toothless by the Bills. They were shut out in the second half, and scored just seven points total while gaining an anemic 273 yards from scrimmage.
Of course, this will not be the first time Stafford has had to play without Johnson. In the two games the Georgia Tech product missed last year, Stafford averaged 240 passing yards and one touchdown. Those may not be sky-is-falling numbers, but they certainly aren’t top-12 weekly quarterback stats, either. Golden Tate will be out there, and he’s better than anything Stafford had without Johnson last season. Still, the quarterback pool is deep this week, and Stafford just doesn’t have much of a ceiling with Johnson taking a seat. I’d rather start Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson or even Brian Hoyer.
Green has been one of the most durable receivers since entering the league in 2011, so this will be largely uncharted waters for Dalton. Green missed one game in his rookie season, a 31-24 loss to the Ravens. Dalton threw for 373 yards in that contest, but had just one touchdown against three interceptions. That was the only game he had missed in the first three years of his career. Green suffered the toe injury Week 1, and had to leave the Bengals’ Week 2 matchup with the Falcons after the team’s first possession. Dalton went on to throw for 252 yards and one touchdown, finishing with 14.14 points in standard-scoring leagues (he also had six rushing yards). That made him the No. 18 quarterback for the week. The Panthers have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, and I do prefer Dalton to Stafford, but I think he, too, will be outside the top-12 QBs for the week.
Justin Hunter – I have already said it in a few different places this week, but it bears repeating that you should not hold the first few weeks of the season against Hunter. He finally took over the starting X receiver role from Nate Washington last week, playing 97 percent of Tennessee’s snaps. He only caught three balls, but one of those was a 75-yard touchdown, showing exactly why he had so much upside coming into the season. Don’t worry about the possibility of Charlie Whitehurst starting, either. That long touchdown pass came from Whitehurst after Jake Locker had already left the game. Hunter is a great play against a Jacksonville defense that is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game to receivers this year.
Doug Martin – It’s getting harder and harder to recommend Martin as a starter, but he’s still holding on to a spot in fantasy lineups in Week 6. First, let’s dispose of the bad. He’s averaging just 2.5 yards per carry on 37 totes this season, and has yet to run for even 50 yards in a single game. He’s also facing a tough test, as the Ravens have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. Now for the silver linings. He did have his best yardage day last week, running for 45 yards on 14 carries and adding 29 yards through the air on three receptions. While some may be clamoring for Bobby Rainey, two people who don’t seem to be among that group are head coach Lovie Smith and interim offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo. Martin played 60 percent of the snaps in his first game back, with Rainey picking up the remaining 40 percent. Last week, those numbers moved to 65 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Go ahead and get Martin in a flex spot this week.
Jeremy Hill – Hill had some buzz last week, then proceeded to get a grand total of five touches. However, it’s a completely new world in Cincinnati with A.J. Green likely to sit, and that new world will involve a whole lot of running. With Green on the bench, I expect the Bengals to pound the run against a team in the Panthers that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to running backs this season. Hill likely won’t get more than 12-15 touches, but he won’t need more than that to put up a strong fantasy week. The Panthers have allowed 5.4 yards per carry and 32 receptions to running backs, the fourth-highest total in the league. Giovani Bernard may be a sure-fire RB1, but his running mate Hill is worth flexing into your lineup.
Darren McFadden – You may have heard something about new Oakland coach Tony Sparano and his new emphasis on the run. Don’t let that seduce you into starting McFadden this week. Focusing on the run could be a good thing for McFadden if the Raiders didn’t rank 25th in run blocking, according to Pro Football Focus. It would be even better if those same rankings didn’t have the Chargers as the 11th-best defense against the run. Unfortunately, both of those stats are true, and that makes it hard to trust McFadden, new emphasis or not. This also feels like a game that could get out of hand quickly, forcing the Raiders to abandon that emphasis for the pass.
Terrance Williams – Williams has ridden his five touchdown catches to the No. 12 ranking among receivers in fantasy points per game in standard-scoring leagues. He has just 16 receptions for 250 yards, however, and is likely to see a whole lot of Richard Sherman on Sunday. Sherman typically doesn’t shadow receivers, and rather sticks on the right side of the offense’s formation. With that knowledge, expect the Cowboys to line up Dez Bryant to the left, sacrificing Williams to the Sherman shutdown. Last week, Pierre Garcon had just two catches for 23 yards while being covered mostly by Sherman, while DeSean Jackson went off for 157 yards and a touchdown. Williams will be kept in check this week.
Michael Floyd – There were few people who were as high on Floyd as I was coming into the season. Of course, that assumed Carson Palmer would be under center. With Logan Thomas or Drew Stanton likely to start this week, I cannot in good conscience recommend Floyd as a starter. So much of his value is tied up in making big plays down the field. Stanton and Thomas simply don’t have the ability to throw the deep ball that Palmer does. The good news is it sounds like Palmer may finally be able to return from his shoulder injury soon, but it’s likely he misses one more week. That means Floyd should spend another week on your bench.
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
• Tom Brady surprisingly showed up on the injury report on Friday with a questionable designation because of a balky ankle. He’s a recommended sit in one-quarterback leagues. He could also be without his starting center, Bryan Stork. Chandler Jones (shoulder), however, is probable.
• Fred Jackson was limited in practice Friday and is questionable because of an ankle injury. He’s a low-end RB2 if he suits up.
Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals
• Greg Olsen didn’t participate in practice and is questionable with an ankle injury. This would be a huge blow to the Panthers and fantasy owners. The running back infirmary carries on for another week for the Panthers. DeAngelo Williams (ankle) has been ruled out. Jonathan Stewart (knee) is questionable, while Darrin Reaves (hip) is probable. You shouldn’t start either of them.
• A.J. Green (toe) is likely to be out, and Marvin Jones (ankle) is questionable with an ankle injury. On the positive side, the Bengals expect to get Vontaze Burfict (concussion) back this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
• Ben Tate (knee) and Jordan Cameron (shoulder) are on the injury report, but merely as a formality. Both will start.
• Joe Haden is questionable with a hip injury. If he couldn’t go, an already great matchup for Ben Roethlisberger would get even better
Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins
• Knowshon Moreno (elbow) has been limited in practice all week and is questionable. You should start Lamar Miller no matter what, but he’d be an RB1 if Moreno sits again. Mike Wallace has been limited in practice because of a hamstring injury, but is expected to play.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
• Calvin Johnson (ankle) is doubtful, and Reggie Bush is questionable with an ankle injury of his own. He did not participate in practice all week, opening up the door for a huge game out of Joique Bell, who is probable after missing last week’s game due to a concussion.
• Teddy Bridgewater will start after missing last week’s game due to an ankle injury. Cordarrelle Patterson (hip) and Matt Asiata (groin) are both probable. Patterson should be on your bench, but Asiata is worth a start. Safety Harrison Smith is questionable because of an ankle injury, a sliver of good news for Matthew Stafford.
Denver Broncos at New York Jets
• Juwan Thompson was limited in practice because of a knee injury, but is probable. His role in a post-Montee-Ball world remains to be seen, but he did get goal-line carries last week.
• Eric Decker was limited all week because of his hamstring injury. He is questionable, but should not be trusted by fantasy owners, even if he does play.
Baltimore Ravens at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
• In a surprise, it looks like Mike Evans (groin) will play Sunday. He is officially listed as questionable, but the Buccaneers are optimistic he will be out there. Fantasy owners in a pinch can roll the dice with him. Vincent Jackson didn’t practice Friday, and is questionable with a rib injury. If he goes for the Bucs, he should go for you.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
• Toby Gerhart (foot) has been ruled out for Sunday. Expect to see a lot of Storm Johnson. Cecil Shorts (hamstring), Marqise Lee (hamstring) and Allen Hurns (foot) are all probable. This situation is muddled, however. Stay away from the Jacksonville receivers.
• Shonn Greene is doubtful because of a hamstring injury. Perhaps the Bishop Sankey era can finally begin. Get him in there with confidence. Jake Locker is questionable with a hand injury, but don’t let that sway you from Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright, who are both strong plays against a terrible Jacksonville defense.
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
• Keenan Allen was limited because of a quad injury, but he is expected to play. Malcom Floyd (calf) is also listed as probable.
• Derek Carr was limited in practice with ankle and knee injuries, but he is expected to start. He has essentially zero fantasy value.
Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons
• Brandon Marshall (ankle) is not even on the injury report for the Bears. Expect to see the dominant receiver we're used to in the navy No. 15 jersey. The Bears also expect to get center Roberto Garza back from an ankle injury this week, though left tackle Jermon Bushrod is out with a knee injury. Lance Briggs is also out because of a ribcage injury.
• Harry Douglas (foot) is out for the Falcons, while Devin Hester (hamstring) is listed as questionable. The latter would have some flex juice in very deep leagues.
Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals
• Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice this week. Given the late kickoff, fantasy owners would be wise to stay away from both him and Niles Paul.
• Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said he will take it all the way down to game time before making a call on starting Carson Palmer (shoulder), Drew Stanton (concussion) or Logan Thomas. Avoid this situation altogether. Patrick Peterson is probable with an ankle injury, but Calais Campbell is out because of his knee.
Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks
• Percy Harvin (thigh) is probable. Feel free to deploy him as usual. Safety Kam Chancellor is questionable with a hip injury. That could be a bit of good news for Tony Romo.
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
• No significant injuries
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams
• The official injury report for the Monday night game is not yet available, but the 49ers expect Vernon Davis (back) to be a game-time decision. Unless you can shift to Jared Cook, go in another direction.
• Zac Stacy is expected to start despite a mild calf strain, but he is not a strong play against a San Francisco defense allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs.