Thursday is upon us and that means another week of football is already here. While the New England World Domination Tour heading to Indianapolis is the obvious storyline, there are plenty of other juicy matchups to keep an eye on. On the flipside, some perennial workhorses might be in for a down week, so let’s take a closer look at who’s worth it and who isn’t.
A couple of points as always: the prices listed will be for FanDuel, and the threshold for a success/failure in this column will be hitting value (read our article on properly calculating value here) or not. Next week, we can have a look at how we did.
Players I Love for Week 6
QB: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Boasting the second best QBR in the league (behind only the injured Ben Roethlisberger), Dalton’s FD price of $7,600 suggests Dalton’s reputation hasn’t caught up with his performance. After posting a remarkable 331/2/1 line through the air and an additional 18 yards and a score on the ground, it’s possible the 5th year signal-caller might be matchup-proof. Of course, this week, that wouldn’t matter as the Bengals travel to Buffalo to take on a defense allowing the 9th most fantasy points to QBs (and that’s after holding Marcus Mariota in check last week). Expect Dalton to shred the Bills’ porous pass D, though expectations might have to be tempered by the blowout potential of this game. E.J. Manuel will be making his first start this season in place of the injured Tyrod Taylor, and with LeSean McCoy still out, that offense is unlikely to do much at all. Still, Dalton’s likely good for around 300 yards and a pair of passing TDs, easily surpassing value.
RB: Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
This is a mea culpa of sorts for me. I’ve been highly resistant to the notion that Freeman is the real deal, and even talked myself out of starting him last week against a tough Washington run defense. What’s become obvious, however, is that Freeman has a big role in the offense, and can contribute both as a rusher and receiver, making him a rare value, even with his price still climbing ($8,000). This week he takes on a Saints defense allowing the 10th most points to running backs and star receiver Julio Jones may be on a pitch count this week, meaning Freeman could see even more touches Thursday night. Look for him to keep rolling this week to the tune of 100 yards and a score on the ground and another four catches for 40 yards through the air.
WR: Eric Decker, New York Jets
At a price of $6,100, you might think Decker is a sleeper pick this week, but I for one can’t imagine why. In his first game back from injury, he posted four catches for 46 yards and a TD, then had a long bye week to further recover. Squaring off against a Washington defense ranked as the 9th best matchup this week for WR2s, Decker presents a low risk option for fantasy owners who’d like to splurge elsewhere. Expect an average Decker performance, with four catches, 50 yards and a score.
TE: Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears
While it would be really tempting to start Gronk this week (and I can’t say it’s necessarily an unsound strategy to start as many Patriots as you can this week), there’s better value to be had elsewhere, in part because Gronkowski is priced so much higher than everyone else. With a salary of $5,800, Bennett offers a much more attractive option this week against a Detroit team allowing the 6th most points to opposing tight ends this season. With Alshon Jeffrey banged up, Bennett has been the primary receiver in the Bears’ offense. Despite a down week against the Chiefs (who, outside of Tyler Eifert in Week 4, have allowed fewer than 35 yards to every TE they’ve faced), Bennett should be an attractive option with around seven receptions for 75 yards.
Players I Hate for Week 6
QB: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Despite the possible return of Marshawn Lynch this week, it’s clear the Seahawks’ offense is a bit off. Failing to crack 17 fantasy points in all except one game this year, Wilson is overpriced at $8,000 and now faces a Panthers’ defense featuring Josh Norman at cornerback. Wilson’s best performance this season came when he scrambled for 78 yards against Green Bay, but he has seemed reluctant to escape the pocket as much of late. Especially with a suspect offensive line in front of him, Wilson will have a tough time hooking up for big passing gains due to both scheme and opponent. Steer clear.
RB: Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
In a game where Andrew Luck is expected to return and the visiting Patriots are expected to make it a shootout, Gore may quickly find himself phased out of the gameplan. Though his price ($7,000) seems appropriate given last week’s performance, I expect the Colts to have to air it out a lot this week against a mediocre New England pass defense. Since this recommendation comes down to game flow, if you think Chuck Pagano is going to force the run game to try and slow things down (and keep the pressure off of Andrew Luck’s injured shoulder), by all means, roll with Gore. But I think the better bet is to look elsewhere.
WR: Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Since lighting up Kansas City’s league-worst pass defense for 3 TDs on Monday Night Football, Cobb has been conspicuously quiet for fantasy owners. The Packers’ offense has been out of sync over the same period as well, and it’s possible they’ll need the upcoming bye week to reset. This week, Cobb faces a Chargers’ team ranked in the top 5 against WR1s, and top corner Jason Verrett had a strong showing shadowing Antonio Brown in his last game. Aaron Rodgers notably spreads the ball around and finds open receivers rather than force feeding a single target, so Cobb could be in store for another quiet outing. At a premium price of $8,100, it seems unlikely he’ll reach value this week.
TE: Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills
This is almost unfair to Clay, who finds himself on the “Hate” list through almost no fault of his own. After a string of strong showings, Clay was virtually silent against Tennessee, registering just one catch for seven yards. With Tyrod Taylor out with an MCL injury, Clay will now have to field passes from E.J. Manuel. Expect Clay to draw a lot of defensive attention this week from a Bengals defense that has not allowed a TD reception by a TE this season. Add to that the fact that Clay still has a lingering calf issue, and it’s clear that there are better options to choose from.